from "Angeline", pt. 1

Angeline found a tall white man standing over her. First she noticed his boots. Simple brown leather, scuffed and cracked with age, but still heavy and stiff, and recently oiled.  Tucked into them were a pair of grey workpants, just this side of being called dirty.  A wide leather belt cinched the the pants tight around a waist that had no need of trimmin'.  From the belt hung a sheathed machete on a piece of rope.  He wore a white shirt of heavy cotton, halfway open 'cause of the heat, with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.  A workin' shirt.  'Top of his head was a broad black hat like you see on the pilgrims in pictures, battered and beaten down on the edges, but very serviceable all the same.  All of this would make a picture of an ordinary man but for the two things which impressed Angeline most, and which held her eyes for a few moments before she could even think straight about what was happenin'.

First was his hands: she wouldn't call him a small man; over six feet for sure, but his hands seemed out of all proportion to even that height. Heavy lookin' and solid, with thick fingers and square cut nails, they looked to her like hands that had done a lot.  The skin was rough, and seamed with many little cracks from workin' in the sun.  Hangin' loose by his sides, the fingers slightly curled, she could easily see the scars and rough calluses on the knuckles and palms.  Hands that could build a house as easily as kill a man.  She said to someone later that she remembered thinkin' they were hands she could trust.  Although how she knew this she had no way of saying.

Evenmore striking than his hands, though, was his face.  Under the brim of his hat, in the last dark of the mornin', she couldn't see more than a sketch of it, but even that told her a lot. Long and narrow, it was, with high cheeks and a bold nose that fell in sharp angle from his brow.  His chin was stuck out a little, and made a little dimple on either side where it fell back into his jawline.  He had long black hair that was pulled back into a ponytail and tied with a strap of leather, and it made his clean-shaven face look very severe, all the lines tight and firmset. His wide mouth was set straight across, and set into deep creases on either side; a mouth that was serious most of the time.  In the deep shadow of the brim of his Quaker hat, she could not see his eyes, but she said she had the feeling they were scrutinizing her, measuring her, but for what she did not know.  She said it made her feel more naked than any man ever did, but not in a dirty kind of way.

She must have stared at him like that for a full minute, before she realized how plain stupid she must look, lyin' there gawkin' at a stranger like she'd never seen his like afore.....

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