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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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"I didn't ask you to remind me."

"Why don't you get angry at the lion instead of me?"

"I'm not angry at the lion in any way. Do you think there is enough light for you to see now?"

"Kwenda kwa simba," I said to Muthoka. Then to Ngui: "Stand up in back to watch."

We started off, the tires taking hold very well on the drying trail; me leaning out with both boots outside the cut-out door, the morning air cold off the mountain, the rifle feeling good. I put it to my shoulder and aimed a few times. Even with the big yellow light-concentrating glasses I wore there was not enough light yet to shoot safely. But it was twenty minutes to where we were going and the light was strengthening every minute.

"Light's going to be fine," I said.

"I thought it would," Mary said. I looked around. She was sitting with great dignity and she was chewing gum.

We went on up the track past the improvised airstrip. There was game everywhere and the new grass seemed to have grown an inch since the morning of the day before. There were white flowers coming up too, solid in the spread of the grass and making whole fields white. There was still some water in the low parts of the tracks and I motioned to Muthoka to turn off the trail to the left to avoid some standing water. The flowered grass was slippery under the tires. The light was getting better all the time.

Muthoka saw the birds perched heavily in the two trees off to the right beyond the next two glades and pointed. If they were still up it should mean the lion was on the kill. Ngui tapped on the top of the car with the palm of his hand and we stopped. I remember thinking that it was strange that Muthoka should have seen the birds before Ngui when Ngui was much higher. Ngui dropped to the ground and came alongside of the car crouching low so his body would not break its outline. He grabbed my foot and pointed to the left in the direction of the forest.

The great black-maned lion, his body looking almost black and his huge head and shoulders swinging, was trotting into the tall grass.

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