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Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man

Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man
Title: Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man
Release Date: 2005-05-17
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
Count views: 20
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1917, by
The Century Co.

Published, April, 1917.
Reprinted, August, 1917; February, 1918;
August, 1918; March, 1919; August, 1919;
November, 1919; February, 1920.



I have known life and love, I have known death and disaster;
Foregathered with fools, succumbed to sin, been not unacquainted with shame;
Doubted, and yet held fast to a faith no doubt could o'ermaster.
Won and lost:—and I know it was all a part of the Game.
Youth and the dreams of youth, hope, and the triumph of sorrow:
I took as they came, I played them all; and I trumped the trick when I could.
And now, O Mover of Men, let the end be to-day or to-morrow—
I have staked and played for Myself, and You and the Game were good!


Chapter Page
I. Appleboro 3
II. The Coming Of Slippy McGee 19
III. Neighbors 37
IV. Underwings 48
V. Enter Kerry 65
VI. "Thy Servant Will Go And Fight With This Philistine." 1 Sam. 17-32 94
VII. The Going Of Slippy McGee 111
VIII. The Butterfly Man 131
IX. Nests 145
X. The Bluejay 172
XI. A Little Girl Grown Up 189
XII. John Flint, Gentleman 203
XIII. "Each In His Own Coin" 226
XIV. The Wishing Curl 258
XV. In The Middle Of The Night 283
XVI. "Will You Walk Into My Parlor" 302
XVII. "—Said The Spider To The Fly—" 319
XVIII. St. Stanislaus Crooks His Elbow 343
XIX. The I O U Of Slippy McGee 364
XX. Between A Butterfly's Wings 382



Father Armand Jean De Rancé, Catholic Priest of Appleboro, SouthCarolina

Madame De Rancé, his Mother

Clélie, their Servant

Laurence Mayne, the Boy

Mary Virginia Eustis, the Girl

James Eustis, Man of the New South

Mrs. Eustis, a Lady

Doctor Walter Westmoreland, the Beloved Physician

JIM DABNEY, Editor of the Appleboro "Clarion"

Major Appleby Cartwright
Miss Sally Ruth Dexter
Judge Hammond Mayne
} Neighbors

George Inglesby, the Boss of Appleboro

J. Howard Hunter, his Private Secretary

Kerry, an Irish Setter

Pitache, the Parish House Dog

The Moths And Butterflies Of South Carolina
The Children, The Mill-hands, The Factory Folks
, and
Slippy McGee, sometimes known as the Butterfly Man




"Now there was my cousin Eliza," Miss Sally Ruth Dexter once said tome, "who was forced to make her home for thirty years in Vienna! Shemarried an attaché of the Austrian legation, you know; met him whileshe was visiting in Washington, and she was such a pretty girl and hewas such a charming man that they fell in love with each other and gotmarried. Afterward his family procured him a very influential post atcourt, and of course poor Cousin Eliza had to stay there with him.Dear mama often said she considered it a most touching proof ofwoman's willingness to sacrifice herself—for there's no doubt it musthave been very hard on poor Cousin Eliza. She was born and raisedright here in Appleboro, you see."

Do not think that Miss Sally Ruth was anything but most transparentlysincere in thus sympathizing with the sad fate of poor Cousin Eliza,who was born and raised in Appleboro, South Carolina, and yetsacrificed herself by dragging out thirty years of exile in the courtcircles of Vienna! Any trueborn Appleboron would be equally sorry forCousin Eliza for the same reason that Miss Sally Ruth was. Getyourself born in South Carolina and you will comprehend.

"What did you see in your travels that you liked most?" I was curiousto discover from an estimable citizen who had spent a summer abroad.

"Why, General Lee's standin' statue in the Capitol an' his recumbentfigure in Washington an' Lee chapel, of co'se!" said the colonelpromptly. "An' listen hyuh, Father De Rancé, I certainly needed him totake the bad taste out of my mouth an' the red out of my eye afterviewin' Bill Sherman on a brass hawse in New York, with an angelthat'd lost the grace of God prancin' on ahead of him!" He addedreflectively: "I had my own ideah as to where any angel leadin' himwas most likely headed for!"

"Oh, I meant in Europe!" hastily.

"Well, father, I saw pretty near everything in Europe, I reckon;likewise New York. But comin' home I ran up to Washington an' Lee tovisit the general lyin' there asleep, an' it just needed one glance toassure me that the greatest an' grandest work of art in this roundworld was right there before me! What do folks want to rush off toforeign parts for, where they can't talk plain English an' a man can'tget a satisfyin' meal of home cookin', when we've got the greatestwork of art an' the best hams ever cured, right in Virginia? SeeAmerica first, I say. Why, suh, I was so glad to get back to good oldAppleboro that I let everybody else wait until I'd gone around to themonument an' looked up at our man standin' there on top of it, an' Ifound myself sayin' over the names he's guardin' as if I was sayin' myprayers: our names.

"Uh huh, Europe's good enough for Europeans an' the Nawth's a God'splenty good enough for Yankees, but Appleboro for me. Why, father,they haven't got anything like our monument to their names!"

They haven't. And I should hate to think that any Confederate livingor dead ever even remotely resembled the gray granite one on ourmonument. He is a brigandish and bearded person in a foraging cap,leaning forward to rest himself on his gun. His long skirted coat isbuckled tightly about his waist to form a neat bustle effect in theback, and the solidity of his granite shoes and the fell rigidity ofhis granite breeches are such as make the esthetic shudder; one has toadmit that as a work of art he is almost as bad as the statuescluttering New York City. But in Appleboro folks are not critical;they see him not with the eyes of art but with the deeper vision ofthe heart. He stands for something that is gone on the wind and thenames he guards are our names.

This is not irrelevant. It is merely to explain something that isinherent in the living spirit of all South Carolina; wherefore itexplains my Appleboro, the real inside-Appleboro.

Outwardly Appleboro is just one of those quiet, conservative, oldCarolina towns where, loyal to the customs and traditions of theirfathers, they would as lief white-wash what they firmly believe to bethe true and natural character of General William Tecumseh Sherman asthey would their own front fences. Occasionally somebody will give abackyard henhouse a needed coat or two; but a front fence? Never! Itisn't the thing. Nobody does it. All normal South Carolinians comeinto the world with a native horror of paint and whitewash and theydepart hence even as they were born. In consequence, towns likeAppleboro take on the venerable aspect of antiquity, peacefullydrowsing among immemorial oaks draped with long, gray, melancholymoss.

Not that we are cut off from the world, or that we have escaped theclutch of commerce. We have the usual shops and stores, even anemporium or two, and street lights until twelve, and the mills andfactory. We have the river trade, and two railroads tap our richterritory to fetch and carry what we take and give. And, except in thepoor parish of which I, Armand De Rancé, am pastor, and some fewwealthy families like the Eustises, Agur's wise and noble prayer hasbeen in part granted to us; for if it has not been possible to removefar from us all vanity and lies, yet we have been given neitherpoverty nor riches, and we are fed with food convenient for us.

In Appleboro the pleasant and prejudiced Old looks askance at thenoisy and intruding New, before which, it is forced to retreat—alwayswithout undue or undignified haste, however, and always unpainted andunreconstructed. It is a town where families live in houses that havesheltered generations of the same name, using furniture that was notnew when Marion's men hid in the swamps and the redcoats overran thecountry-side. Almost everybody has a garden, full of old-fashionedshrubs and flowers, and fine trees. In such a place men and women growold serenely and delightfully, and youth flourishes all the fairer forthe rich soil which has brought it forth.

One has twenty-four hours to the day in a South Carolina town—plentyof time to live in, so that one can afford to do things unhurriedlyand has leisure to be neighborly. For you do have neighbors here. Itis true that they know all your business and who and what yourgrandfather was and wasn't, and they are prone to discuss it with afrankness to make the scalp prickle. But then, you know theirs, too,and you are at liberty to employ the same fearsome frankness, providedyou do it politely and are not speaking to an outsider. It isperfectly permissible for you to say exactly what you please aboutyour own people to your own people, but should an outsider and analien presume to do likewise, the Carolina code admits of but onecourse of conduct; borrowing the tactics of the goats against thewolf, they close in shoulder to shoulder and present to the audaciousintruder an unbroken and formidable front of horns.

And it is the last place left in all America where decent poverty isin nowise penalized. You can be poor pleasantly—a much rarer and farfiner art than being old gracefully. Because of this, life in SouthCarolina sometimes retains a simplicity as fine and sincere as it ischarming.

I deplore the necessity, but I will be pardoned if I pause here tobecome somewhat personal, to explain who and what I am and how I cameto be a pastor in Appleboro. To explain myself, then, I shall have togo back to a spring morning long ago, when I was not a poor parishpriest, no, nor ever dreamed of becoming one, but was young Armand DeRancé, a flower-crowned and singing pagan, holding up to the morningsun the chalice of spring; joyous because I was of a perishablebeauty, dazzled because life gave me so much, proud of an old andhonored name, secure in ancestral wealth, loving laughter so much thatI looked with the raised eyebrow and the twisted lip at austeritiesand prayers.

If ever I reflected at all, it was to consider that I had nothing topray for, save that things might ever remain as they were: that Ishould remain me, myself, young Armand De Rancé, loving and above allbeloved of that one

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