Laurence stared. The Butterfly Man stared back at him.
“Look here,” said he slowly. “You remember my nest, and what that bluejay did for it? And what you said? Well, I’ve looked about a bit, and I’ve seen the bluejay at work.... Oh, hell, I can’t talk about this thing, but I’ve watched the putty-faced, hollow-chested, empty-bellied kids—that don’t even have guts enough left to laugh.... Somebody ought to sock it to that brute, on account of those kids. He ought to be headed off ... make him feel he’s to be shoo’d outside! And I think I know the one man that can shoo him.” He paused again, with his head sunk forward. This was so new a John Flint to me that I had no words. I was too lost in sheer wonder.
“The man I mean hates politics. I’ve been told he has said openly it’s not a gentleman’s game any more. You’ve got to make him see it can be made one. You’ve got to make him see it as a duty. Well, once make him see that, and he’ll smash Inglesby.”
“You can’t mean—for heaven’s sake—”
“I do mean. James Eustis.”
Laurence got up, and walked about, whistling.
“Good Lord!” said he, “and I never even thought of him in that light. Why ... he’d sweep everything clean before him!”
I am a priest. I am not even an Irish priest. Therefore politics do not interest me so keenly as they might another. But even to my slow mind the suitability of Eustis was apparent. Of an honored name, just, sure, kind, sagacious, a builder, a teacher, a pioneer, the plainer people all over the state leaned upon his judgment. A sane shrewd man of large affairs, other able men of affairs respected and admired him. The state, knowing what he stood for, what he had accomplished for her farmers, what he meant to her agricultural interests, admired and trusted him. If Eustis wanted any gift within the power of the people to give, he had but to signify that desire. And yet, it had taken my Butterfly Man to show us this!
“Bughunter,” said Laurence, respectfully. “If you ever take the notion to make me president, will you stand behind and show me how to run the United States on greased wheels?”
“I?” John Flint was genuinely astounded. “The boy’s talking in his sleep: turn over—you ’re lying on your back!”
“I will not!” said the Butterfly Man severely. “I have got something much more important on my hands than running states, I’ll have you know. Lord, man, I’m getting ready some sheets that will tell pretty nearly all there is to tell about Catocala Moths!”
I remembered that sunset hour, and the pretty child of James Eustis putting in this man’s hand a gray moth. I think he was remembering, too, for his eyes of a sudden melted, as if he saw again her face that was so lovely and so young. Glancing at me, he smiled fleetingly.