Magdalena Flint had her own special gift. They say she could see. She got her eyes from her father and they had that same effect. She could look at you and peel you right open. She could expose your weakness and lay bare your sins. But she was Jacob Flintís sister, and his shadow was long and dark over her, yet that girl never did resent it. She protected him from the bigger boys and she could fight like one herself. One time she knocked a boy out cold with one thrust of her little hand. She had the prettiest hands and fingers. Small and refined. Itís strange they called her Magdalena. Thatís a name that hangs heavy on a child. Thatís a burden. In the bible she washed the feet of Jesus, and maybe thatís what she did for Jacob too, she took care of that boy before he could take care of himself. She was pretty like her mother and she had her fatherís dark hair and his mouth. She had his lips and she also had his way with words. She shared that with Jacob. She shared more with that boy than they give her credit and some say she could heal with those delicate hands. They were beautiful and strong.
They donít make men like Baxter Dawes. They stopped making them that way long before young Jacob Flint was born. He was the kind of man the earth itself would create if it could make a man, and he knew the woods and the birds like a fur-trapper from the days of flintlock rifles and wolves. He was an Indian. That much was true. He killed men with his bare hands and fought in the great first war. He lived in a house he built with his own two hands, a house made of logs and scrap, and he raised the finest hunting dogs the state has ever seen the likes of. He was known for all those things, but he was famous for one. The man knew snakes. They called him the snake-hunter and some claim he had been one himself. They said he must have been a serpent in another life. He had a way with those creatures that could not be explained in any other way. He could find them in places no one else could, and catch them, and he had a way of speaking to them that could make them obey him like a dog. The only thing he loved more then serpents was that boy. He was like a second father to Jacob and it was he who taught him how to talk to the trees and sing to the stars.
Now this was a man to be feared and admired. For this was a man who truly changed. They said he was a killer and a thief but that must have been some other man in some other life. Not Sylus Knox. You could tell by the look in his eyes that heíd seen more than his share of trouble, but you could also see heíd been redeemed. His eyes glowed with the radiance of a prophet, and most of the time he was as gentle as a lamb. The story is that Charles Flint found him living with bandits and thieves and chose him from among them because God sent him in a dream. He was a man touched by Satan and turned to God, and thereís a story about that too. Weíll never know what really happened on that mountain but this much is true, before he climbed it, Sylus Knox was a bad sinner. He was an outcast and a drunk. But he became a good friend to the Flints and just like all the others he took a shine to that boy. Every person who met Jacob Flint thought of him as their own. Every person who met Sylus Knox saw themselves in his eyes.
Another stranger. Another man redeemed. They say he was a wanderer in the service of the Lord but all he wanted was what he lost, not what he found. How he came to know the Flints is a story that will renew any manís faith in faith itself. Itís one of the miracles of living. He had seen all there was to see, or so he thought, but when he met Jacob Flint he saw something new. That boy lit a fire in that manís heart, as he did us all. Itís not easy living up to a name like Hosea. The say a bible nameís a blessing but what it is, is a living curse. And thatís why he burned it. He told that story much later on. Fire will cleanse a thing. Ashes are purer than dust. His name was a burden he carried with him like the color of his skin. Hosea Lee. A man who was searching for something else entirely before he found Jacob Flint. What he was truly searching for.
Tobias Cross, the bringer of fish. They say that the story of the Flints began with a fish. It started with Charles, when he was just a little boy and how he wanted a certain fish. Later on a fish changed their fate again. It was Tobias Cross whose want of a fish brought him to the woods where their paths would cross. He brought Charles to that mountain when he was a boy, and he had his own special gift. Tobias handled his first serpent at the age of nine. He enthralled the multitudes. He spoke to them the sacred language of the Holy Ghost. And they say he healed them all. He came to Charles Flint in the mist and left him in the afterglow of rag-torches, and the light of Jesus. He knew what Jacob Flint was the first time he laid eyes on that crooked boy. He knew. He heard the stories and he was ready. He was the son of a farmer, so he could read the signs. All signs of earth and sky are true if you know how to read them but the signs of God, now thatís a different story entirely. Thatís something you just canít learn.
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