He is dressed with faultless nicety and elegance, though in a fashion now out of date. Perhaps, in graceful recognition of the advance of age, he has adhered to the style in vogue when age first began to weigh upon his shoulders. He gazes mildly out from the embrasure of an upright collar and tall stock; below spreads a wide expanse of spotless shirt-front. His trousers are always gray, except in the heat of summer, when they become snowy white. They are uniformly too long; yet he never dispenses with his straps, nor with the gaiters that crown his gentlemanly shoes.
Although not a stimulating companion, one loves to be where Amos MacGentle is; to watch his quiet movements, and listen to his meditative talk. What he says generally bears the stamp of thought and intellectual capacity, and at first strikes the listener as rare good sense; yet, if reconsidered afterwards, or applied to the practical tests of life, his wisdom is apt to fall mysteriously short. Is Mr. MacGentle aware of this curious fact? There sometimes is a sadly humorous curving of the lips and glimmering in the eyes after he has uttered something especially profound, which almost warrants the suspicion. The lack of accord between the old gentleman and the world has become to him, at last, a dreary sort of jest.
But we might go on forever touching the elusive chords of Mr. MacGentle’s being; one cannot help loving him, or, if he be not real enough to love, bestowing upon him such affection as is inspired by some gentle symphony. Unfortunately, he figures but little in the coming pages, and in no active part; such, indeed, were unsuited to him. But it is pleasant to pass through his retired little office on our way to scenes less peaceful and subdued; and we would gladly look forward to seeing him once more, when the heat of the day is over and the sun has gone down.
A new man with an old face.
About an hour before noon on this same twenty-seventh of May, Mr. Dyke heard a voice in the outer room. He had held his position in the house as confidential clerk for nearly or quite twenty-five years, was blessed with a good memory, and was fond of saying that he never forgot a face or a voice. So, as this voice from the outer room reached his ears, he turned one eye up towards the door and muttered, “Heard that before, somewhere!”
The ground-glass panel darkened, and the door was thrown wide open. Upon the threshold stood a young man about six feet in height, of figure rather graceful and harmonious than massive. A black velveteen jacket fitted closely to his shape; he had on a Tyrolese hat; his boots, of thin, pliant leather, reached above the knee. He carried a stout cane, with a handle of chamois-horn; to a couple of straps, crossing each shoulder, were attached a travelling-scrip and a telescope-case.