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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWest Wind Drift - Book 2 - Chapter 7
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West Wind Drift - Book 2 - Chapter 7 Post by :rankwarforum Category :Long Stories Author :George Barr Mccutcheon Date :May 2012 Read :1963

Click below to download : West Wind Drift - Book 2 - Chapter 7 (Format : PDF)

West Wind Drift - Book 2 - Chapter 7

BOOK II CHAPTER VII

She quickly closed the door behind her and sped off down the line of now lightless cabins. A man stepped out of the black shadow beyond the second cabin and stood in her path. She did not pause, but walked swiftly, fearlessly up to him, her heart quickening under the thrill of exultation. He was waiting for her! He had been waiting for her all the long evening. The time had come!

The night was dark now; a strong wind had sprung up to drive the black and storm-laden clouds across the moonlit sky. She held out her hands with a little moan of ecstasy,--and then she was in his strong, crushing arms, pressed fiercely to his breast.

"God, can I believe,--is it true? You have come,--you have come of your own free will,--you are here in my arms!" His hot lips found hers in a wild, passionate kiss. "Speak to me! Tell me it is all real,--that I am not dreaming. Oh, Ruth, Ruth,--darling!"

Her body stiffened. A convulsive shudder raced over her, and then, for an instant, she was limp and heavy in his embrace. Then suddenly she threw her arms about his neck and kissed him furiously, savagely, again and again,--breaking away at last with a low, suffocating laugh.

"Now,--now,-" she cried, "now, what are you going to do with me?"

He lifted his head with a jerk, peering into her face, slow to realize the incredible mistake he had made. He was still under the spell of the riotous passion that her lustful response had aroused. It had rushed over him like a great, resistless wave,--hot, delicious, tingling. He had been amazed, bewildered by the unbelievable craving,--furious and uncontrolled,--which she revealed in her momentary surrender to the elemental. The truth began to dawn upon him even before she spoke. Could this be Ruth,--could this unbridled, voluptuous wanton who clung to him and smothered him with kisses be the pure, high-minded girl he had grown to love and revere? She spoke, and then he knew that the consuming fire in his blood was unholy,--as unholy as the spark that set it ablaze.

"Damn you!" he whispered hoarsely,--but he did not put her away from him. The lure of the flesh was upon him. It was stronger than his will, stronger than his love.

For months this woman had beguiled him. There had been times when he was compelled to fight himself,--times when he asked: "Why not?"

She was alluring, she was frankly a sensualist; but she was patient, she was crafty. She knew that he was honourably in love with another, but she was not deterred by that nor by the conviction that her conquest, if she prevailed, would be transitory. She had a code of her own. It included an uncertain element of honour, fixed rather rigidly upon what she would have called constancy. Singleness of purpose was her notion of morality. She would not have believed herself to be a bad woman any more than she would have looked upon her lover as a bad man. To her, morality in its accepted sense signified no more than the suppression of human emotions and human sensations. As a matter of fact, she considered herself a good woman if for no other reason than that she steadfastly had repelled the munificent appeals of countless infatuated men. Treasure had been laid at her feet, only to be kicked aside. She calmly spoke of herself as a pearl without price. She was content to possess, but not to be possessed. That was what she called self-respect. She was a pagan, but she was her own idol. She worshipped herself. She would never permit her idol to be desecrated.

All this Percival knew,--or rather sensed. He was not above feeling a queer sort of respect and admiration for her. She was not without integrity.

He had reached the pinnacle of happiness in believing that the girl he loved was in his arms. He was blind and deaf with ecstasy. The awakening was a shock. His senses reeled for an instant,--and then Ruth Clinton went out of his thoughts entirely!

"Damn you!" he cried again, and drew her close. "She hates me,--she will always hate me," he was mumbling. "Why should I care? Why should I refuse to take--" Her lips were on his again, warm, firm, voluptuous, drawing his heart's blood with the resistless power of a magnet.

They did not hear the rapid approach of footsteps--heavy, swift as of one running. A dark, panting figure raced past them, and then another but a few paces behind.

Percival's senses were released. They cast off the bewitching bonds. His head went up again. In a flash his brain was clear. His arms were still about her, she was still lying close against him,--but the current of passion that consumed both of them was checked.

"What was that?" she gasped, as if coming out of a dream.

He released her, and sprang out into the path to peer fruitlessly after the unseen runners. The sound of footsteps was rapidly diminishing.

They were suddenly aware of women's voices far away to the right. They were indistinct but there was a sinister significance in the ever-increasing volume.

"There's trouble out there," said Percival. "Something wrong. Come,--come along! You must get indoors at once." He grasped her arm and started rapidly off in the direction of her cabin. She stumbled at first, but quickly fell into stride with him. Men's shouts were now added to the clamour.

"I know,--I know," she cried in his ear. "It has happened, just as I said it would. Some of these men are beasts."

"Then, there's hell to pay," he grated.

They reached her cabin just as the door was thrown open. The three startled coryphees filled the entrance. Recognition was followed by a clatter of agitated voices. Olga was fairly dragged into the cabin.

"Bolt your door," was Percival's command as he turned away.

She stood in the door for a moment, looking after him. He passed out of the radius of light. The chorus of voices grew louder down the way,--like the make-believe mob in the theatre.

Then she closed the door slowly, reluctantly. The three girls watched her in silence as she stood for many seconds with her hand on the knob, her eyes tightly shut.

She turned and faced them. There was a wry smile on her lips as she shrugged her shoulders and spread out her hands in a gesture of resignation.

"Yes,--bolt the door," she said. As Alma hesitated, her eyes grew hard, her voice imperative. "Do you know of any reason why you should not do as both Mr. Percivail and I have commanded?"

"No,--no, Madame," cried Alma hastily.

As the heavy wooden bolt fell into place, Olga again shrugged her shoulders and threw herself into a chair in front of the fireplace.

"Put on your clothes," she ordered.

"What is happening, Madame? What is all the noise about?" questioned one of the girls.

But there was no answer. Olga was staring into the fire.

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BOOK II CHAPTER VIIIPercival's blood was still in a tumult as he ran down the line of cabins. From every doorway men were now stumbling, half-dressed, half-asleep. Behind them, in many cabins, alarmed, agitated women appeared. Farther on there were lanterns and a chaotic mass of moving objects. Above the increasing clamour rose the horrible, uncanny wail of a woman. Percival's blood cooled, his brain cleared. Men shouted questions as he passed, and obeyed his command to follow. The ugly story is soon told. Philippa, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Pedro, the head-farmer, had gone out from her father's cabin at dusk
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BOOK II CHAPTER IVThe death of Betty Cruise occurred the second day after her baby was born. In a way, this lamentable occurrence solved a knotty problem and pacified two warring sexes, so to speak. For, be it known, the women of the Doraine took a most determined stand against the manner in which the men, viva voce, had arrogated unto themselves the right to name the baby. Not that any one of the women objected to the name they had given her; they were, in fact, pleased with it. But, they protested, this was a matter over which but one
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