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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 experienced what was rare with me--a considerable dissatisfaction with life.
I remembered our first meeting in a cold camp on the Uasin Gishu plateau, when he quoted and translated a Greek line about the bitter little wind before dawn. I was about his own age, but I had knocked about a bit and saw its crudity. There were fire and poetry in it, and there was also a pleasant shrewdness. Lombard had been absorbed into the great, solid, complacent middle class which he had once despised, and was apparently happy in it.
He had not made up his mind, but ways and means did not greatly trouble him. I say had 'hoped for,' for it was the conventional notion most fathers entertain, though I doubt if I should have had much patience with the reality. He didn't care a rush for the public-school spirit.
His goal was so clear that he would find a road to it. He was rather a delicate child, but after he had passed his seventh birthday his health improved, and at his preparatory school he was a sturdy young ruffian who had no ailments except the conventional mumps and measles.
We must bring air into it, and instead of a blind alley give 'em open country. Golf 'shop' is to me the most dismal thing on earth, and I shut my ears to it. My eyes cleared, and a response clicked in my brain. I have been thinking of you ever since.' He grinned and he held out his hand. I've often heard of you, and read about you in the papers, and I've been hoping to run across you some day. I noticed a shining Daimler drawn up at the station entrance, and on the platform was a woman like a full-blown peony, to whom Lombard waved his hand. Instead of feeling, as I usually did, that it was the only life for a white man, I had an ugly suspicion that satisfaction with it meant that I had grown decrepit.
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. Beryl will write to you.' I continued my journey--I was going down to the Solent to see about laying up my boat, for I had lately taken to a mild sort of yachting--in an odd frame of mind.
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.