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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories.

“Of course you will give me the first chance at your card,” I answered.  “How many dances will you grant me?”

“As many as you want.  Uncle was very explicit in impressing upon me that I am to obey you unquestioningly and have no will of my own.”

“That was very unkind of him.  I shall be unwilling to claim any privilege which you do not of your own free will bestow upon me.”

“I didn’t mean it so,” she answered, impulsively, and by the passing light of a gas-lamp I caught a glimpse of her beaming, innocent face.  “I shall not be apt to forget that I am indebted to your kindness for all the pleasure I shall have to-night, and if you wish to dance with me, of course it is very kind of you.”

“Well, that is not much better,” I murmured, ruefully, feeling very guilty at heart.  “On that ground I should be still more reluctant to assert my claim on you.”

“Oh, what a bungler I am!” she exclaimed with half-amused regret.  “The truth is, I am so glad, and when I am very happy I always make blundering speeches.”

As we entered the magnificently lighted and decorated hall, I noticed, to my dismay, that the company was a little more mixed than I had anticipated.  I had, therefore, no scruples in putting down my name for four waltzes and a quadrille.  I observed, too, that my fair partner attracted much attention, partly, perhaps, on account of her beauty, and partly on account of her superb toilet.  Her dress was of satin, of a cool, lucid, sea-green tint, such as one sees in the fjords of Norway on a bright summer’s day; the illusion was so perfect that in dancing with her I expected every moment to see sea-weeds and pale-green things sprouting up along its border, and the white bunches of lilies-of-the-valley in her hair, as they wafted their faint fragrance toward me, seemed almost an anomaly.  She danced, not with vehement abandon, but with an airy, rhythmical grace, as if the music had entered into her soul and her limbs were but obeying their innate tuneful impulse.  When we had finished the first waltz, I left her in the company of one of her Milwaukee friends and started out in quest of some acceptable male partner whose touch of her I should not feel to be a positive desecration.  I had reached about the middle of the hall when an affectionate slap on my shoulder caused me to turn around.

“Dannevig!” I exclaimed, with frigid amazement “By Jove!  Where do you come from?  You are as unexpected as a thunderclap from a cloudless sky.”

“Which was a sign that Jupiter was wroth,” replied Dannevig, promptly, “and required new sacrifices.  Now the sacrifice I demand of you is that you shall introduce me to that charming little girl you have had the undeserved luck of securing.”

“You choose your metaphors well,” I remarked, calmly.  “But, as you know, even the Romans with all their reputed hardness of heart, were too conscientious to tolerate human sacrifices.  And I, being, in the present instance, the pontifex, would never be a party to such an atrocity.”

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