Somewhere to start

He rose and offered his hand.

She accepted it in her own, wondering what it expressed of the man.

It had the colour of polished mahogany, the texture of gnarled oak and exerted a gentle pressure.

This hand had been held close to the harshness and uncertainties of nature rather than clothed in calf-leather gloves, bathed in protective creams and softened in soothing oils by night.

It was a kindly hand, living a natural, moral life.

It was the hand of friendship, she decided.

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