“THY SERVANT WILL GO AND FIGHT WITH THIS PHILISTINE”
1 Sam. 17: 32.
Mary Virginia had gone, weeping and bewept, and the spirit of youth seemed to have gone with her, leaving the Parish House darkened because of its absence. A sorrowful quiet brooded over the garden that no longer echoed a caroling voice. Kerry, seeking vainly for the little mistress, would come whining back to John Flint, and look up mutely into his face; and finding no promise there, lie down, whimpering, at his feet. The man seemed as desolate as the dog, because of the child’s departure.
“When I come back,” Mary Virginia said to him at parting, “I expect you’ll know more about moths and butterflies than anybody else in the world does. You’re that sort. I’d love to be here, watching you grow up into it, but I’ve got to go away and grow up into something myself. I’m very glad you came here, Mr. Flint. You’ve helped me, lots.”
“Me?” with husky astonishment.
“You, of course,” said the child, serenely. “Because you are such a good man, Mr. Flint, and so patient, and you stick at what you try to do until you do it better than anybody else does. Often and often when I’ve been trying to do sums—I’m frightfully stupid about arithmetic—and I wanted to give up, I’d think of you over here just trying and trying and keeping right on trying, until you’d gotten what you wanted to know; and then I’d keep on trying, too. The funny part is, that I like you for making me do it. You see, I’m a very, very bad person in some things, Mr. Flint,” she said frankly. “Why, when my mother has to tell me to look at so and so, and see how well they behave, or how nicely they can do certain things, and how good they are, and why don’t I profit by such a good example, a perfectly horrid raging sort of feeling comes all over me, and I want to be as naughty as naughty! I feel like doing and saying things I’d never want to do or say, if it wasn’t for that good example. I just can’t seem to bear being good-exampled. But you’re different, thank goodness. Most really good people are different, I guess.”
He looked at her, dumbly—he had no words at his command. She missed the irony and the tragedy, but she sensed the depths of feeling under that mute exterior.
“I’m glad you’re sorry I’m going away,” said she, with the directness that was so engaging. “I perfectly love people to feel sorry to part with me. I hope and hope they’ll keep on being sorry—because they’ll be that much gladder when I come back. I don’t believe there’s anything quite so wonderful and beautiful as having other folks like you, except it’s liking other folks yourself!”
“I never had to be bothered about it, either way,” said he dryly. His face twitched.
“Maybe that’s because you never stayed still long enough in any one place to catch hold,” said she, and laughed at him.