Homecoming

Homecoming

Homecoming

Homecoming

Excerpt

On the track of someone she might serve, Sheila worked as fast as a confidence trickster. It must have been that same week, probably the very next day, that R. S. Robinson came to dine. Certainly I arrived straight from Lufkin's office; for long afterwards the juxtaposition struck me as ironic.

I had spent all day in Lufkin's suite. To begin, he had asked me to be available in the early morning and had then kept me waiting, which was not unusual, for a couple of hours. Outside his office, in an ante-room so thickly carpeted that men walked through it with no noise at all, I passed the time with the member of Lufkin's entourage whom I knew best, a man of my own age called Gilbert Cooke. He was a kind of personal assistant to Lufkin, in theory giving advice on export problems, just as in theory I gave advice on legal ones; but in practice Lufkin used us both as utility men. The company was one of the smaller oil-businesses, but the smallness was relative tive, and in 1938, the fourth year of Lufkin's chairmanship, he had already a turnover of thirty million pounds. He had also his own legal staff, and when he offered me a consultant's job he did not want another lawyer; but it suited him to pick up young men like me and Cooke, keep them on call, and then listen to them.

In the ante-room, Gilbert Cooke pointed to the office door.

"He's running behind time," he said, as thought Lufkin were a train. Cooke was fleshly, powerfully muscled, with a high-coloured Corinthian face and hot brown eyes; he gave at . . .

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