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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 332 pages of information about Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man.

CHAPTER XII

JOHN FLINT, GENTLEMAN

Almost up to Christmas the weather had been so mild and warm that folks lived out of doors.  Girls clothed like the angels in white raiment fluttered about and blessed the old streets with their fresh and rosy faces.  In the bright sunshine the flowers seemed to have lost all thought of winter; they forgot to fade; and roses rioted in every garden as if it were still summer.  Nobody but the Butterfly Man grumbled at this springlike balminess, and he only because he was impatient to resume experiments carried over from year to year—­the effect of varying degrees of natural cold upon the colors of butterflies whose chrysalids were exposed to it.  He generally used the chrysalids of the Papilio Turnus, whose females are dimorphic, that is, having two distinct forms.  He did not care to resort to artificial freezing, preferring to allow Nature herself to work for him.  And the jade repaid him, as usual, by showing him what she could do but refusing to divulge the moving why she did it.  She gave him for his pains sometimes a light, and sometimes a dark butterfly, with different degrees of blurred or enlarged and vivid markings, from chrysalids subjected to exactly the same amount of exposure.

The Butterfly Man was burning to complete his notes, already assuming the proportions of that very exact and valuable book they were afterward to become.  He chafed at the enforced delay, and wished himself at the North Pole.

In the meantime, having nothing else on hand just then, it occurred to him to put some of these notes, covering the most interesting and curious of the experiments, into papers which the general run of folks might like to read.  Dabney had been after him for some time to do some such work as this for the Clarion.

I think Flint himself was genuinely surprised when he read over those enchanting papers, though he did not then and never has learned to appreciate their unique charm and value.  Instead, however, of sending them to Dabney, he thought they might possibly interest a somewhat wider public, and with great diffidence, and some misgivings, he sent one or two of them to certain of the better known magazines.  They did not come back.  He received checks instead, and a request for more.

Now the book and the several monographs he had already gotten out had been, although very interesting, strictly scientific; they could appeal only to students and scholars.  But these papers were entirely different.  Scientific enough, very clear and lucid and most quaintly flavored with what Laurence called Flintishness, they were so well received, and the response of the reading public to this fresh and new presentment of an ever-fascinating subject was so immediate and so hearty, that the Butterfly Man found himself unexpectedly confronting a demand he was hard put to it to supply.

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