The Indiscreet Letter
The Railroad Journey was very long and slow. The Traveling Salesman was rather short and quick. And the Young Electrician who lolled across the car aisle was neither one length nor another, but most inordinately flexible, like a suit of chain armor.
More than being short and quick, the Traveling Salesman was distinctly fat and unmistakably dressy in an ostentatiously new and pure-looking buff-colored suit, and across the top of the shiny black sample-case that spanned his knees he sorted and re-sorted with infinite earnestness a large and varied consignment of “Ladies’ Pink and Blue Ribbed Undervests.”
Surely no other man in the whole southward-bound Canadian train could have been at once so ingenuous and so nonchalant. There was nothing dressy, however, about the Young Electrician. From his huge cowhide boots to the lead smouch that ran from his rough, square chin to the very edge of his astonishingly blond curls, he was one delicious mess of toil and old clothes and smiling, blue-eyed indifference. And every time that he shrugged his shoulders or crossed his knees he jingled and jangled incongruously among his coil-boxes and insulators, like some splendid young Viking of old, half blacked up for a modern minstrel show.
More than being absurdly blond and absurdly messy, the Young Electrician had one of those extraordinarily sweet, extraordinarily vital, strangely mysterious, utterly unexplainable masculine faces that fill your senses with an odd, impersonal disquietude, an itching unrest, like the hazy, teasing reminder of some previous existence in a prehistoric cave, or, more tormenting still, with the tingling, psychic prophecy of some amazing emotional experience yet to come. The sort of face, in fact, that almost inevitably flares up into a woman’s startled vision at the one crucial moment in her life when she is not supposed to be considering alien features.