The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter 3, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 3

It was upon a certain glorious morning, some three weeks later, that
Barnabas fared forth into the world; a morning full of the thousand
scents of herb and flower and ripening fruits; a morning glad with
the song of birds. And because it was still very early, the dew yet
lay heavy, it twinkled in the grass, it sparkled in the hedges, and
gemmed every leaf and twig with a flaming pendant. And amidst it all,
fresh like the morning and young like the sun, came Barnabas, who,
closing the door of the "Coursing Hound" behind him, leapt lightly
down the stone steps and, turning his back upon the ancient inn, set
off towards that hill, beyond which lay London and the Future.
Yet--being gone but a very little way--he halted suddenly and came
striding back again. And standing thus before the inn he let his
eyes wander over its massive crossbeams, its leaning gables, its
rows of gleaming lattices, and so up to the great sign swinging
above the door--an ancient sign whereon a weather-beaten hound,
dim-legged and faded of tail, pursued a misty blur that, by common
report, was held to be a hare. But it was to a certain casement that
his gaze oftenest reverted, behind whose open lattice he knew his
father lay asleep, and his eyes, all at once, grew suffused with a
glittering brightness that was not of the morning, and he took a
step forward, half minded to clasp his father's hand once more ere
he set out to meet those marvels and wonders that lay waiting for
him over the hills--London-wards. Now, as he stood hesitating, he
heard a voice that called his name softly, and, glancing round and up,
espied Natty Bell, bare of neck and touzled of head, who leaned far
out from the casement of his bedchamber above.

"Ah, Barnabas, lad!" said he with a nod--"So you're going to leave us,
then?"

"Yes!" said Barnabas.

"And all dressed in your new clothes as fine as ever was!--stand
back a bit and let me have a look at you."

"How are they, Natty Bell?" inquired Barnabas with a note of anxiety
in his voice--"the Tenderden tailor assured me they were of the very
latest cut and fashion--what do you think, Natty Bell?"

"Hum!" said the ex-pugilist, staring down at Barnabas, chin in hand.
"Ha! they're very good clothes, Barnabas, yes indeed; just the very
thing--for the country."

"The country!--I had these made for London, Natty Bell."

"For London, Barnabas--hum!"

"What do you mean by 'hum,' Natty Bell?"

"Why--look ye now--'t is a good sensible coat, I'll not deny,
Barnabas; likewise the breeches is serviceable--but being only a
coat and breeches, why--they ain't per-lite enough. For in the world
of London, the per-lite world, Barnabas, clothes ain't garments to
keep a man warm--they're works of art; in the country a man puts 'em
on, and forgets all about 'em--in the per-lite world he has 'em put
on for him, and remembers 'em. In the country a man wears his clothes,
in the per-lite world his clothes wears him, ah! and they're often
the perlitest thing about him, too!"

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