Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/241

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out and they sent me to England for a few months, but I shall have to go back, I’m afraid, before my time is up. Gets on my nerves here—too much sand on the axles—too much friction and noise—such a lot of people, too, chasing bubbles. Seems queer when you’ve been away from it as long as I have. How do you stand it, old man?”

Herbert tapped the table-cloth absently with the handle of his knife and remarked slowly:

“I don’t stand it. I lie down and let it roll over me. If I ever thought about it at all I’d lose my grip. Sometimes a longing to be again in the jungle sweeps over me—to feel its dangers—its security—its genuineness and freedom from all shams, if you will”—and a strange haunting look settled in his eyes.

“But you always used to dream of getting home; I’ve lain awake by the hour and heard you talk.”

“Yes, I know,” he answered rousing himself, “it was a battle even in those days. I would think about it and then decide to stay a year or two longer; and then the hunger for home would come upon me again and I’d begin to shape things so I could get back to England. Sometimes it took a year to decide—sometimes