The Island of Sheep HTML version

motoring, and voice not high-pitched like ours to override the din of our
environment. I saw his smile, the odd quick lift of his chinÑand I real-
ized that I was growing old and had left some wonderful things behind
The compartment filled up with City men going home to their com-
fortable southern suburbs. They all had evening papers, and some had
morning papers to finish. Most of them appeared to make this journey
regularly, for they knew each other, and exchanged market gossip or
commented on public affairs. A friendly confidential party; and I sat in
my corner looking out of the window at another landscape than what
some poet has called 'smoky dwarf houses,' and seeing a young man's
face which was very different from theirs.
Lombard had come out to East Africa as secretary to a Government
Commission, a Commission which he very soon manipulated as he
pleased. I met him there when I was sent up on a prospecting job. He
was very young then, not more than twenty-five, and he was in his first
years at the Bar. He had been at one of the lesser public schools and at
Cambridge, had been a good scholar, and was as full as he could hold of
books. I remembered our first meeting in a cold camp on the Uasin
Gishu plateau, when he quoted and translated a Greek line about the bit-
ter little wind before dawn. But he never paraded his learning, for his de-
sire was to be in complete harmony with his surroundings, and to look
very much the pioneer. Those were the old days in East Africa, before
the 'Happy Valley' and the remittance man and settlers who wanted self-
government, and people's hopes were high. He was full of the heroes of
the past, like Roddy Owen and Vandeleur and the Portals, and, except
that he was a poor horseman, he had something in common with them.
With his light figure and bleached fair hair and brown skin he looked the
very model of the adventurous Englishman. I thought that there might
be a touch of the Jew in his ancestryÑsomething high-coloured and for-
eign at any rate, for he was more expansive and quickly fired than the
rest of us. But on the whole he was as English as a Hampshire water-
meadowÉ .
The compartment was blue with pipe-smoke. My companions were
talking about rock-gardens. The man in the corner opposite me was ap-
parently an authority on the subject, and he had much to say about dif-
ferent firms of nursery gardeners. He was blond, plump, and baldish,
and had a pleasant voice whose tones woke a recollection which I could
not fix. I thought that I had probably seen him at some company
meetingÉ .