"You're sure he wouldn't make a picture?" I asked.
"No," Miss Mary said. "You have to get close to get pictures."
So we let it go at that and we moved off to another more open piece of country where the hunting of the gerenuk resumed. This time I did not give a damn if I were criticized or told I was playing the nursemaid or the overgunned governess and stayed exactly where I should stay and moved as Pop had taught me. I had realized long before why white hunters were paid as well as they were and I understood why they shifted camp to hunt their clients where they could protect them accurately. Pop would never have hunted Miss Mary here I knew, and would have taken no nonsense. But I remembered how women almost always fell in love with their white hunters and I hoped something spectacular would come up where I could be my client's hero and thus become beloved as hunter by my lawful wedded wife instead of her unpaid and annoying bodyguard.
Such situations do not come up too often in real life and when they do they are over so quickly, since you do not permit them to develop, that the client thinks they were extremely facile. On this last stage of the usual unsuccessful, and doomed to unsuccess forever unless gerenuks became crazy or women walked on stilts as people do in the Landes, gerenuk hunt I had that detached clarity of mind which comes from lack of sleep and from having had drink before breakfast. When we had worked the country over and started back to camp I had become automatic in my reflexes and had disassociated myself from the exercise. It seemed natural if I should be reprimanded for this, and it was certainly not the way a white hunter, that iron-nerved panderer to what a woman expects, should behave. But instead Miss Mary was very gracious and said that it had been an exciting hunt, that I had been so good and understanding about not keeping too close, how wonderful the rhino had looked in his white armor and that we did not really need a gerenuk anyway. It was the hunting that counted, not the killing, and that she was glad the gerenuk were safe and happy. I never had known how happy a gerenuk was, browsing on semi-dry brush and beset by enemies both day and night and the last one I had killed, which bore a marvelous pair of horns for a gerenuk, and that is saying very little, was so old, so tired, so rotted with foul diseases and pus that his hide was unusable and his meat had to be burned. We did not want the vultures spreading whatever maladies he suffered from, or simply maintained. But in my suspended sleepiness I was delighted that we had participated in a good hunt and I hoped the lion would get down to the plain and become just a little bit confident and that we might get it over with.
It was quiet around camp and everyone had settled into the normal life. Miss Mary wrote her diary and seemed quite happy. Ngui had asked me if we were going out in the car before five o'clock as he would like to take a walk up the road and bathe in the river. He said he would get the word from the shamba and make a general check concerning Mau Mau activities. I asked him to take it easy on the general check aspect. He could make the general check with his eyes and not his mouth. About then Arap Maina came in from Loitokitok. He had gotten quite drunk but remembered everything he had seen and heard and it was very interesting. He did not think there was any likelihood of a Mau Mau raid on the camp but there was always the possibility. He had a low opinion of the Loitokitok Mau Mau and said the Masai Mau Mau missionary was a coward and a bluff and that the Masai did not take him or Mau Mau seriously. He said the local Masai were corrupted by drink as we had seen. He was well loved and respected in the district and I took everything he said very seriously. He said it would be a good thing if he and I went out into Loitokitok and both became a little drunk. He said many people had asked why I had not come into town lately. He said that The Informer had lost any real usefulness since the widow had cuckolded him. He explained that a man who has the status of the protector of a widow if he is publicly and notoriously made a cuckold by the widow he protects loses all caste. He thought it would be a sound idea if I protected the widow and disciplined her. The widow wished this, he said, and stated that it was only because The Informer was impotent that she had made him a cuckold. The widow wished that The Informer might be sent to some distant place if it were impossible to have him hanged.
I explained that I had no authority to hang The Informer or anyone else. He took this as a pleasantry and I asked him about Miss Mary's lion. He said the lion had killed once more on his way down to the swamp and the plain and we would have him any day now.
After that we had a drink together and I told him to get some sleep and come to camp before dark and we would take watch and watch during the night. I took some of his snuff and packed it under my upper lip and went to sleep in the big chair under the tree.
When I woke the clouds had come down from the Chyulus and were black across the flank of the mountain. The sun was still out but you could feel the wind coming and the rain behind it. I shouted to Mwendi and to Keiti and by the time the rain hit, coming across the plain and through the trees in a solid white, then torn, curtain everyone was pounding stakes, loosening and tightening guy ropes and then ditching. It was a heavy rain and the wind was wild. For a moment it looked as though the main sleeping tent might go but it held when we pegged the windward end heavily. Then the roar of the wind was gone and the rain held steadily. It rained all that night and nearly all of the next day.
It was pleasant in the mess tent with the heavy beating of the rain and I read and drank a little and did not worry at all about anything. Everything had been taken out of my control for a moment and I welcomed the lack of responsibility and the splendid inactivity with no obligation to kill, pursue, protect, intrigue, defend or participate and I welcomed the chance to read. We were getting a little far down into the book bag but there were still some hidden values mixed in with the required reading and there were 20 volumes of Simenon in French that I had not read. If you are to be rained in while camped in Africa there is nothing better than Simenon and with him I did not care how long it rained. You draw perhaps three good Simenons out of each five but an addict can read the bad ones when it rains and I would start them, mark them bad or good, there is no intermediate grade with Simenon except when he is tired, and then having classified a half dozen and cut the pages I would read, happily transferring all my problems to Maigret, bearing with him in his encounters with idiocy and the Quai des Orf�vres, and happy in his sagacity and true understanding of the French, a thing only a man of his nationality could achieve, since Frenchmen are barred by some obscure law from understanding themselves sous peine de travaux force a la perpetuite.