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I ceased to tap the leather—was, indeed, calculating the cost of the shed—when I felt my relaxed hand taken and turned softly between the soft hands of a child. So at last I had triumphed. In a moment I would turn and acquaint myself with those quick-footed wanderers. . . . The little brushing kiss fell in the centre of my palm—as a gift on which the fingers were, once, expected to close: as the all faithful half-reproachful signal of a waiting child not used to neglect even when grown-ups were busiest—a fragment of the mute code devised very long ago.

This is from "They" by Rudyard Kipling.
http://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/TrafficsDiscoveries/they.html

I don't understand the meaning of---
as a gift on which the fingers were, once, expected to close.

I am glad if someone would kindly teach me.

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    This is really a literature question, but it seems that the narrator has lost a child (as Kipling himself had) and remembers how that child used to kiss his palm and he would then close his fingers as though to keep hold of the kiss. Aug 20 at 8:25
  • Kate, thank you for your impressive answer! Aug 20 at 23:45

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