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A Pagan of the Hills   By: (1879-1930)

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Author of

"The Call of the Cumberlands," "The Battle Cry," "When Bearcat Went Dry," Etc., Etc.

Frontispiece by George W. Gage

[Frontispiece: Sometimes, in these days, she went to a crest from which the view reached far off for leagues over the valley.]

New York W. J. Watt & Company Publishers Copyright, 1919, by W. J. Watt & Company



"It's plum amazin' ter heer ye norate thet ye've done been tradin' and hagglin' with old man McGivins long enough ter buy his logs offen him and yit ye hain't never met up with Alexander. I kain't hardly fathom hit noways."

The shambling mountaineer stretched himself to his lean length of six feet two, and wagged an incredulous head. Out of pale eyes he studied the man before him until the newcomer from "down below" felt that, in the attitude, lay almost the force of rebuke. It was as though he stood self convicted of having visited Naples without seeing Vesuvius.

"But I haven't been haggling with Mr. McGivins," he hastened to remonstrate. "On the contrary we have done business most amicably."

The native of the tangled hills casually waved aside the distinction of terms as a triviality and went on: "I hain't nuver heered tell of no man's tradin' in these hyar Kentucky mountains without he haggled considerable. Why thet's what tradin' denotes. Howsomever what flabbergasts me air thet ye hain't met up with Alexander. Stranger, ye don't know nothin' about this neck o' the woods a tall!"

Parson Acup, so called for the funereal gravity of his bearing and expression, and Brent the timber buyer, stood looking down from beetling cliffs rigidly bestowed with collossal and dripping icicles. To their ears came a babel of shouts, the grating of trees, long sleet bound but stirring now to the thaw the roar of blasting powder and the rending of solid rock.

Brent laughed. "Now, that you've fathomed the density of my ignorance," he suggested, "proceed to enlighten me. Upon what does this Alexander rest his fame? What character of man is he?"

"Wa'al, stranger, I've done always held ther notion thet we folks up hyar in these benighted hills of old Kaintuck, war erbout the ign'rantest human mortals God ever suffered ter live but even us knows erbout Alexander. Fust place he hain't no man at all. He's a gal leastwise, Alexander was borned female but she's done lived a plum he life, ever since."

"A woman but the name "

"Oh, pshaw! Thar hain't nuthin' jedgmatic in a name. Old man McGivins he jest disgusts gals and so he up and named his fust born Alexander an' he's done reared her accordin'."

Brent arched his brows as his informant continued, gathering headway in the interest of his narrative. "Old man McGivins he's done read a lavish heap of books an' he talks a passel of printed wisdom. He 'lowed thet Alexander wa'nt no common man's name but thet hit signified a hell bustin' survigrous feller. By his tellin', ther fust Alexander whaled blazes outen all creation an' then sot down an' cried like a baby because ther job he'd done went an' petered out on him. Ter me, thet norration savers right strong of a damn lie."

Brent nodded as he smilingly replied, "I've read of that first Alexander, but he's been dead a good many centuries."

"Long enough ter leave him lay an' ferget about him, I reckon," drily observed the parson. "Anyhow atter a spell Old Man McGivins had another bornin' at his dwellin house an' thet time hit proved out to be a boy. His woman sought ter rechristen ther gal Lizzie or Lake Erie or somethin' else befittin petticoats. She 'lowed thet no godly man wouldn't hardly seek a woman in wedlock, ner crave fer her to be ther mother of his children with a name hung on her like Alexander Macedonia McGivins."

Brent's eye twinkled as he watched the unbending gravity of the other's face and since comment seemed expected he conceded, "There seems to be a germ of reason in that... Continue reading book >>

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