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Practice Observation

With a little practice in observation, you can tell pretty accurately a man's character from his dress.

The shoes are very generally the best test of all the details of clothing.

Sometime ago, I was with a lady in the country, and a young lady was walking just in front of us.

"I wonder who she is?" said my friend.

"Well," I said, "maybe you will know if you know whose maid she is."

The girl was very well dressed, but when I saw her shoes I guessed that the dress had belonged to some one else, had been given to her and refitted by herself-but that as regards shoes she felt more comfortable in her own. She went up to the house at which we were staying-to the servants' entrance-and we found that she was one of the maids.

I once was able to be of service to a lady who was in poor circumstances. I had guessed it from noticing, while walking behind her, that though she was well dressed the soles of her shoes were in the last stage of disrepair. I don't suppose she ever knew how I guessed that she needed help.

But it is surprising how much of the sole of the shoe you can see when walking behind a person-and it is equally surprising how much meaning you can read from that shoe. It is said that to wear out soles and heels equally is to give evidence of business capacity and honesty; to wear your heels down on the outside means that you are a man of imagination and love of adventure; but heels worn down on the inside signify weakness and indecision of character, and this last sign is more infallible in the case of man than in that of woman.

It is an amusing practice, when you are in a railway carriage or omnibus with other people, to look only at their feet and guess, without looking any higher, what sort of people they are, old or young well-to-do oV poor, fat or thin, and so on, and then look up and see how near you have been to the truth.

I was speaking with a detective not long ago about a gentleman we had both been talking to, and we were trying to make out his character.

I remarked, "Well, at any rate, he is a fisherman."

My companion could not see why-but then he was not a fisherman himself.

I had noticed a lot of little tufts of cloth sticking up on the left cuff of his coat. A good many fishermen, when they take their flies off the line, stick them into their cap to dry; others stick them into their sleeve. When dry they pull them out, which often tears a thread or two of the cloth.

Remember how Sherlock Holmes met a stranger and noticed that he was looking fairly well-to-do, in new clothes with a mourning band on his sleeve, with a soldierly bearing, and a sailor's way of walking, sunburnt, with tattoo marks on his hand. What should you have supposed that man to be? Well, Sherlock Holmes guessed, correctly, that he had lately retired from the Royal Marines as a Sergeant, his wife had died, and he had some small children at home.

Author

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation

1908

Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: Sun Round A Dead Dody

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: Details Of People


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