The yard is shaded with poinsettia and oleander trees, frangipani and citrus. "Do you like grapefruit?" Harry said, pulling down one of brilliant color. "We will pick some for our breakfasts in camp." He was an attentive host, hopping up and down to replenish the cashews or pour another drink as we sat on the terrace to watch the sun splash through the acacia trees and into the swamp. For himself, it was always Coke. An ulcer put him on the wagon seven years ago and he stayed there.
Except for the huge carcass of a Kodiak bear Harry had shot in Alaska and laid out on the veranda floor, the place is missing the horns and heads you would expect in a great white hunter's house. Harry said he was never much for collecting. "Can you imagine sitting down to dinner and having those bloody things staring you in the face?" He said the good ones he had bagged in East Africa had been passed on for safekeeping to an American friend, John Mecom. Mecom owns the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. He is one of Selby's regular clients. Others have been Walter O'Malley, Lauritz Melchior, the Maharaja of Jaipur, Prince Stanislaus Radziwill and ex-President Alem�n of Mexico. Mecom has been trying to talk Harry across the Atlantic to run a game farm in Texas. Harry has been to Texas.
The Selbys are four of the 60 whites who live in Maun. Harry married the tiny blond Miki during the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya. She was a stewardess for South African Airways when they met in Nairobi. There are two children—Mark, 13, a skinny big-eyed lad who just the week before had shot his first elephant, and Gail, 8, a tomboy who was growing a couple of teeth to fill a vacancy in front.
"Why Botswana?" I asked him as he circled again with the cashews.
"Well, in the first place, Donald Ker and Sid Downey knew its potential, and we couldn't just send anybody. We had to send a director. I was not averse to moving south." He sat down and crossed his legs and put a handful of nuts in his mouth. "I quite liked the idea, in fact. I had begun to think that there was not a whole lot of future in Kenya. The game was getting scarcer, and they had closed the Northern Frontier to hunting. Started controlling the tsetse fly and opening it up for farming. You eradicate the tsetse fly and the African moves in with his cattle, and the game goes. It would be wrong to say hunting is no longer good there, because it is good. Clients are being satisfied. But the game in East Africa has been under great pressure for the last 25, 26 years. For example, there are very few places you can still hunt rhino. People just have to accept it—you can't or won't get certain animals. On my first safari in 1946 we turned up 18 lions before we shot one. It wasn't being blas�. It was just what everyone did. You shopped around and picked the one you wanted. We do it here if we're looking for a good impala head. Lions used to be classified as vermin in East Africa and you shot all you wanted. Now they're on an expensive special license.
"I do miss Kenya, of course. It is a beautiful country, with its mountains and its great plains, and, of course, it is home. The country here, for the most part, is so flat you see a 20-foot rise and your ears pop. Still, it has its beauty, and we were fortunate in our transition that there was not a great change. Life is very similar. There is certainly no social life. If Miki missed that she would go absolutely mad, but she does not. She likes the bush. For someone dependent on others, Maun would be a disaster. We get by because we are self-sufficient. We make our own bricks from natural sand. I absolutely love carpentry and mechanics. I am happy breaking down an engine, grease to my elbows.
"The best thing about it is we see each other far more than we did in East Africa. We do not have those tremendous distances separating us. In Kenya sometimes, and in Tanganyika, a safari might be 1,700, 1,800 miles away, sometimes four days' traveling time. You might just as well be on the other side of the bloody world."
"Then you weren't thrown out of Kenya?"
"I promise you that is completely untrue. I don't know where Bob Ruark got that story. He could not have been more wrong. I left on my own free will. There was certainly no fear of Mau Mau reprisal. I can go back when I please. And I do. I still carry my British passport. K-D-S is still based in Nairobi. Seven-eighths of our business is there, including an interest in the Tree Tops Hotel, the game lodge built in a tree. My shares of the company are in Kenya. I was never asked to leave, and there is always the possibility I will someday go back."
The sun was long down. The eating turned from cashews on the stoop to curry on the screen-enclosed veranda and the conversation to more immediate concerns. We asked what was out there waiting for us. There were all sorts of pleasant things, Harry said. He told of having just beaten off a debilitating case of bilharzia, contracted from a worm in the water. "You can get it just washing your hands," Miki said cheerfully. Harry said the sleeping-sickness scare from tsetse fly bites was quite overrated, that the two men who had died, the white hunter and the client, would have been all right if they'd been less stubborn and rushed on back to Maun. "The whole thing was blown up out of proportion because they were safari people. Actually we get far less sleeping sickness here than they do in Tanganyika, only 102 cases out of 550,000 people two years ago."