I am reading "Quality" by John Galsworthy and there are some phrases and lines which I could not grasp. I thought that this site would be the perfect place to ask this question.

My Questions:

  1. What does the following mean? I think it means that by looking at those shoes one could understand that the shoes were the epitome of endurance.
  • "…the tall brown riding boots with marvelous sooty glow, as if, though new, they had been worn a hundred years"
  1. What does the next passage mean? I think that the first sentence means that the shoes made by him were affordable so one never fell into debts with them. I am unsure of the second part of the paragraph
  • "When one grew old and wild and ran up bills, one somehow never ran them up with Gessler Brothers. It would not have seemed becoming to go in there and stretch out one’s foot to that blue iron-spectacled glance, owing him for more than — say — two pairs, just the comfortable reassurance that one was still his client.".

You can read the story here: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/g/galsworthy/john/inn/chapter2.html

Thanks for your help.


1 Answer 1

  1. New brown boots have an even colour and a dull sheen. Repeated polishing over time gives darker (sooty) areas and more of a shine, as this website demonstrates.

  2. The first sentence has nothing to do with the affordability of the shoes. The narrator is "a gentleman" who can afford to pay his bills, but has reached an age where he has become careless in doing so. However, he enjoys the service of Gessler Brothers so much that he wouldn't risk being refused service because he had run up too large a debt.

  • What is the significance of "as if, though new, they had been worn a hundred years""?
    – MrAP
    May 1, 2018 at 15:05
  • 1
    I think if you cite this piece from the link the meaning should become clearer The purpose of shoe antiquing (or darkening certain areas of the leather) is to allow a newer shoe to have the character of an older shoe without the wear.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 1, 2018 at 15:21

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