With his long hair as ragged as rain and as black as thunder, he would have looked quite at home upon a windswept moor, or lurking in some pitch-black alleyway, or perhaps in a novel by Mrs Radcliffe.
Mr Segundus took down The Instructions of Jacques Belasis and, despite Mr Norrell's poor opinion of it, instantly hit upon two extraordinary passages. Then, conscious of time passing and of the queer, dark eye of the man of business upon him, he opened The Excellences of Christo-Judaic Magick.
.. the unbusinesslike man of business..
Mr Segundus had not told Mrs Pleasance that Mr Norrell was old and yet she fancied that he must be. From what Mr Segundus had told her she thought of him as a sort of miser who hoarded magic instead of gold, and as our narrative progresses, I will allow the reader to judge the justice of this portrait of Mr Norrell's character. <...> As to whether or not Mr Norell was in fact old, he was the sort of man who had been old at seventeen.
Someone was standing in the snow alone directly in front of the Minster. He was a dark sort of someone, a not-quite-respectable someone who was regarding Mr Segundus and Dr Foxcastle with an air of great interest. His ragged hair hung about his shoulders like a fall of black water; he had a strong, thin face with something twisted in it, like a tree root; and a long, thin nose; and, though his skin was very pale, something made it seem a dark face - perhaps it was the darkness of his eyes, or the proximity of that long, black greasy hair. <...> He said that his name was John Childermass, and that he was Mr Norrell's steward in certain matters (though he did not say what these were).
Now it may have been due entirely to Mr Segundus's lowness of spirits, but he suspected that, in spite of Childermass's manner which was very respectful, in some other part of Childermass's person he was laughing at the York magicians. Childermass was one of that uncomfortable class of men whose birth is lowly and who are destined all their lives to serve their betters, but whose clever brains and quick abilities make them wish for recognition and rewards far beyond their reach.
Snow began to fall; a few flakes at first - then rather more than a few; until a million little flakes were drifting down from a soft, heavy greenish-grey sky. All the buildings of York became a little fainter, a little greyer in the snow; the people all seemed a little smaller; the cries and shouts, the footsteps and hoofsteps, the creaks of carriages and the slammings of doors were all a little more distant. And all these things became somehow less important until all the world contained was the falling snow, the sea-green sky, the dim, grey ghost of York Cathedral - and Childermass.