“He may have only one leg,” said Westmoreland, when Flint had helped him all of one night with a desperately ill millworker, “but he certainly has two hands; he knows how to use his ears and eyes, he’s dumb until he ought to speak, and then he speaks to the point. Father, Something knew what It was about when you and I were allowed to drag that tramp out of the teeth of death! Yes, yes, I’m certainly glad and grateful we were allowed to save John Flint.”
From that time forth the big man gave his ex-patient a liking which grew with his years. Absent-minded as he was, he could thereafter always remember to find such things as he thought might interest him. Appleboro laughs yet about the day Dr. Westmoreland got some small butterflies for his friend, and having nowhere else to put them, clapped them under his hat, and then forgot all about them; until he lifted his hat to some ladies and the swarm of insects flew out.
Without being asked, and as unostentatiously as he did everything else, Flint had taken his place in church every Sunday.
“Because it’d sort of give you a black eye if I didn’t,” he explained. “Skypiloting’s your lay, father, and I’ll see you through with it as far as I can. I couldn’t fall down on any man that’s been as white to me as you’ve been.”
I must confess that his conception of religion was very, very hazy, and his notions of church services and customs barbarous. For instance, he disliked the statues of the saints exceedingly. They worried him.
“I can’t seem to stand a man dolled-up in skirts,” he confessed. “Any more than I’d be stuck on a dame with whiskers. It don’t somehow look right to me. Put the he-saints in pants instead of those brown kimonas with gold crocheting and a rope sash, and I’d have more respect for ’em.”
When I tried to give him some necessary instructions, and to penetrate the heathen darkness in which he seemed immersed, he listened with the utmost respect and attention—and wrinkled his brow painfully, and blinked, and licked his lips.
“That’s all right, father, that’s all right. If you say it’s so, I guess it’s so. I’ll take your word for it. If it’s good enough for you and Madame, there’s got to be something in it, and it’s sure good enough for me. Look here: the little girl and young Mayne have got a different brand from yours, haven’t they?”
“Neither of them is of the Old Faith.”
“Huh! Well, I tell you what you do: you just switch me in somewhere between you and Madame and him and her. That’ll give me a line on all of you—and maybe it’ll give all of you a line on me. See?”
I saw, but as through a glass darkly. So the matter rested. And I must in all humility set down that I have never yet been able to get at what John Flint really believes he believes.
THE GOING OF SLIPPY MCGEE