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Miss Mary's Lion
Ernest Hemingway
December 20, 1971
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December 20, 1971

Miss Mary's Lion

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"You can, honey. You're going to now."

Mary was at the edge of the trees where she could shoot now and we watched Charo kneel and Mary raise her rifle and lower her head. We heard the shot and the sound of the bullet striking bone almost at the same time and saw the black form of the old wildebeest bull rise up in the air and fall heavily on his side. The other wildebeest burst into a bounding gallop and we roared toward Mary and Charo and the black hump in the meadow.

Mary and Charo were standing close to the wildebeest when we all piled out of the hunting car. Charo was very happy and had his knife out. Everyone was saying, "Piga mzuri. Ulipiga mzuri sana, Memsahib. Mzuri, mzuri sana."

I put my arm around her and said, "It was a beautiful shot, Kitten, and a fine stalk. Now shoot him just at the base of the left ear for kindness."

"Shouldn't I shoot him in the forehead?"

"No, please, just at the base of the ear."

She waved everyone back, turned the safety bolt over, raised the rifle, cheeked it properly, took a deep breath, expelled it, put her weight on her left front foot and fired a shot that made a small hole at the exact juncture of the base of the left ear and the skull. The wildebeest's front legs relaxed slowly and his head turned very gently. He had a certain dignity in death and I put my arm around Mary and turned her away so she would not see Charo slip the knife into the sticking place which would make the bull legal meat for the Mohammedans.

"Kitten, you go and sit in the car and have a drink from the Jinny flask. I'll help them load him in the back."

"Come and have a drink with me. I've just fed eighteen people with my rifle and I love you and I want to have a drink. Didn't Charo and I get up close?"

"You got up beautifully. You couldn't have done better."

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