The judge smiled. “Spoken like a true bughunter,” said he. “As a matter of fact, this fellow is a remarkable man. Does he intend to remain here for good?”
“Yes,” said I, “I think he intends to remain here—for good.” I could not keep the pride out of my voice and eyes. Let me again admit my grave fault: I am a vain and proud old man, God forgive me!
“Your goose turned out a butterfly,” said the judge. “One may well be pardoned a little natural vanity when one has engineered a feat like that! Common tramp, too, wasn’t he?”
“No, he wasn’t. He was a most uncommon one.”
“I could envy the man his spontaneity and originality,” admitted the judge, rubbing his nose. “Well, father, I’m perfectly satisfied, so far, to have my only son tramp with him.”
“So is my mother,” said I.
At that the judge lifted his hat with a fine old-fashioned courtesy good to see in this age when a youth walks beside a maid and blows cigarette smoke in her face upon the public streets.
“When such a lady approves of any man,” said he, gallantly, “it confers upon him letters patent of nobility.”
“We shall have to consider John Flint knighted, then,” said my mother merrily, when I repeated the conversation. “Let’s see,” she continued gaily. “We’ll put on his shield three butterflies, or, rampant on a field, azure; in the lower corner a net, argent. Motto, ’In Hoc Signo Vinces.’ There’ll be no sign of the cyanide jar. I’ll have nothing sinister shadowing; the Butterfly Man’s escutcheon!”
She knew nothing about the trust St. Stanislaus kept; she had never met Slippy McGee.
Laurence at last hung out that shingle which was to tingle Appleboro into step with the Time-spirit. It was a very happy and important day for the judge and his immediate friends, though Appleboro at large looked on with but apathetic interest. One more little legal light flickering “in our midst” didn’t make much difference; we literally have lawyers to burn. So we aren’t too enthusiastic over our fledglings; we wait for them to show us—which is good for them, and sometimes better for us.
This fledgling, however, was of the stuff which endures. Laurence was one of those dynamic and dangerous people who not only think independently themselves, but have the power to make other people think. No one who came in contact with him escaped this; it seemed to crackle electrically in the air around him; he was a sort of human thought-conductor, and he shocked many a smug and self-satisfied citizen into horrific life before he had done with him.
If this young man had not been one of the irreproachable Maynes Appleboro might have set him down as a pestilent and radical theorist and visionary. But fortunately for us and himself he was a Mayne; and the Maynes have been from the dawn of things Carolinian “a good family.”