The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter 5, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 5

and Further Narrates How Barnabas Tore a Wonderful Bottle-Green Coat Now in a while Barnabas came to where was a stile with a path
beyond--a narrow path that led up over a hill until it lost itself
in a wood that crowned the ascent; a wood where were shady dells
full of a quivering green twilight; where broad glades led away
beneath leafy arches, and where a stream ran gurgling in the shade of
osiers and willows; a wood that Barnabas had known from boyhood.
Therefore, setting his hand upon the stile, he vaulted lightly over,
minded to go through the wood and join the high road further on.
This he did by purest chance, and all unthinking followed the winding
path.

Now had Barnabas gone on by the road how different this history
might have been, and how vastly different his career! But, as it
happened, moved by Chance, or Fate, or Destiny, or what you will,
Barnabas vaulted over the stile and strode on up the winding path,
whistling as he went, and, whistling, plunged into the green twilight
of the wood, and, whistling still, swung suddenly into a broad and
grassy glade splashed green and gold with sunlight, and then stopped
all at once and stood there silent, dumb, the very breath in check
between his lips.

She lay upon her side--full length upon the sward, and her tumbled
hair made a glory in the grass, a golden mane. Beneath this silken
curtain he saw dark brows that frowned a little--a vivid mouth, and
lashes thick and dark like her eyebrows, that curled upon the pallor
of her cheek.

Motionless stood Barnabas, with eyes that wandered from the small
polished riding-boot, with its delicately spurred heel, to follow
the gracious line that swelled voluptuously from knee to rounded hip,
that sank in sweetly to a slender waist, yet rose again to the
rounded beauty of her bosom.

So Barnabas stood and looked and looked, and looking sighed, and
stole a step near and stopped again, for behold the leafy screen was
parted suddenly, and Barnabas beheld two boots--large boots they
were but of exquisite shape--boots that strode strongly and planted
themselves masterfully; Hessian boots, elegant, glossy and
betasselled. Glancing higher, he observed a coat of a bottle-green,
high-collared, close-fitting and silver-buttoned; a coat that served
but to make more apparent the broad chest, powerful shoulders, and
lithe waist of its wearer. Indeed a truly marvellous coat (at least,
so thought Barnabas), and in that moment, he, for the first time,
became aware how clumsy and ill-contrived were his own garments; he
understood now what Natty Bell had meant when he had said they were
not polite enough; and as for his boots--blunt of toe, thick-soled
and ponderous--he positively blushed for them. Here, it occurred to
him that the wearer of the coat possessed a face, and he looked at
it accordingly. It was a handsome face he saw, dark of eye,
square-chinned and full-lipped. Just now the eyes were lowered, for
their possessor stood apparently lost in leisurely contemplation of
her who lay outstretched between them; and as his gaze wandered to
and fro over her defenceless beauty, a glow dawned in the eyes, and
the full lips parted in a slow smile, whereat Barnabas frowned darkly,
and his cheeks grew hot because of her too betraying habit.

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