He was about forty or so, dark, exceedingly well dressed in black, - being in mourning, - and the hand he extended with a polite air, had a particularly well-fitting black-kid glove upon it. His hair, which was elaborately brushed and oiled, was parted straight up the middle; and he presented this parting to the clerk, exactly (to my thinking) as if he had said, in so many words: 'You must take me, if you please, my friend, just as I show myself. Come straight up here, follow the gravel path, keep off the grass, I allow no trespassing.'
I conceived a very great aversion to that man the moment I thus saw him.
He had asked for some of our printed forms, and the clerk was giving them to him and explaining them. An obliged and agreeable smile was on his face, and his eyes met those of the clerk with a sprightly look. (I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance, any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.)
I saw, in the corner of his eyelash, that he became aware of my looking at him. Immediately he turned the parting in his hair toward the glass partition, as if he said to me with a sweet smile, 'Straight up here, if you please. Off the grass!'
In a few moments he had put on his hat and taken up his umbrella, and was gone.
I beckoned the clerk into my room, and asked, 'Who was that?'
He had the gentleman's card in his hand. 'Mr. Julius Slinkton, Middle Temple.'
'A barrister, Mr. Adams?'
'I think not, sir.'
'I should have thought him a clergyman, but for his having no Reverend here,' said I.
'Probably, from his appearance,' Mr. Adams replied, 'he is reading for orders.'
I should mention that he wore a dainty white cravat, and dainty linen altogether.
'What did he want, Mr. Adams?'
'Merely a form of proposal, sir, and form of reference.'
'Recommended here? Did he say?'
'Yes, he said he was recommended here by a friend of yours. He noticed you, but said that as he had not the pleasure of your personal acquaintance he would not trouble you.'
'Did he know my name?'
'O yes, sir! He said, "There IS Mr. Sampson, I see!"'
'A well-spoken gentleman, apparently?'
'Remarkably so, sir.'
'Insinuating manners, apparently?'
'Very much so, indeed, sir.'
'Hah!' said I. 'I want nothing at present, Mr. Adams.'
Within a fortnight of that day I went to dine with a friend of mine, a merchant, a man of taste, who buys pictures and books, and the first man I saw among the company was Mr. Julius Slinkton. There he was, standing before the fire, with good large eyes and an open expression of face; but still (I thought) requiring everybody to come at him by the prepared way he offered, and by no other.
I noticed him ask my friend to introduce him to Mr. Sampson, and my friend did so. Mr. Slinkton was very happy to see me. Not too happy; there was no over-doing of the matter; happy in a thoroughly well-bred, perfectly unmeaning way.
'I thought you had met,' our host observed.
'No,' said Mr. Slinkton. 'I did look in at Mr. Sampson's office, on your recommendation; but I really did not feel justified in troubling Mr. Sampson himself, on a point in the everyday, routine of an ordinary clerk.