It was now lunch time and they were all sitting under the double green fly
of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened.
"Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?" Macomber asked.
"I'll have a gimlet," Robert Wilson told him.
"I'll have a gimlet too. I need something," Macomber's wife said.
suppose it's the thing to do," Macomber agreed. "Tell him to make three
The mess boy had started them already, lifting the bottles out of the
canvas cooling bags that sweated wet in the wind that blew through the
trees that shaded the tents.
"What had I ought to give them?" Macomber
"A quid would be plenty," Wilson told him. "You don't want to spoil
"Will the headman distribute it?"
Macomber had, half an hour before, been carried to his tent from the edge
of the camp in triumph on the arms and shoulders of the cook, the
personal boys, the skinner and the porters. The gun-bearers had taken no
part in the demonstration. When the native boys put him down at the
door of his tent, he had shaken all their hands, received their
congratulations, and then gone into the tent and sat on the bed until his
wife came in. She did not speak to him when she came in and he left the
tent at once to wash his face and hands in the portable wash basin
outside and go over to the dining tent to sit in a comfortable canvas
chair in the breeze and the shade.
"You've got your lion," Robert Wilson said to him, "and a damned fine
Mrs. Macomber looked at Wilson quickly. She was an extremely
handsome and well kept woman of the beauty and social position which had,
five years before, commanded five thousand dollars as the price of
endorsing, with photographs, a beauty product which she had never used.
She had been married to Francis Macomber for eleven years.
"He is a
good lion, isn't he?" Macomber said. His wife looked at him now. She
looked at both these men as though she had never seen them before.
One, Wilson, the white hunter, she knew she had never truly seen
before. He was about middle height with sandy hair, a stubby mustache, a
very red face and extremely cold blue eyes with faint white wrinkles at
the corners that grooved merrily when he smiled. He smiled at her now and
she looked away from his face at the way his shoulders sloped in the
loose tunic he wore with the four big cartridges held in loops where the
left breast pocket should have been, at his big brown hands, his old
slacks, his very dirty boots and back to his red face again. She noticed
where the baked red of his face stopped in a white line that marked the
circle left by his Stetson hat that hung now from one of the pegs of the
"Well, here's to the lion," Robert Wilson said. He smiled at
her again and, not smiling, she looked curiously at her husband.
Francis Macomber was very tall, very well built if you did not mind
that length of bone, dark, his hair cropped like an oarsman, rather
thin-lipped, and was considered handsome. He was dressed in the same sort
of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new, he was
thirty-five years old, kept himself very fit, was good at court games,
had a number of big-game fishing records, and had just shown himself,
very publicly, to be a coward.
"Here's to the lion," he said. "I can't
ever thank you for what you did."
Margaret, his wife, looked away from
him and back to Wilson.
"Let's not talk about the lion," she
Wilson looked over at her without smiling and now she smiled at
"It's been a very strange day," she said. "Hadn't you ought to put
your hat on even under the canvas at noon? You told me that, you know."
"Might put it on," said Wilson.
"You know you have a very red face,
Mr. Wilson," she told him and smiled again.
"Drink," said Wilson.
don't think so," she said. "Fran cis drinks a great deal, but his face is
"It's red today," Macomber tried a joke.
Margaret. "It's mine that's red today. But Mr. Wilson's is always
"Must be racial," said Wilson. "I say, you wouldn't like to drop
my beauty as a topic, would you?"
"I've just started on it."
"Let's chuck it," said
"Conversation is going to be so difficult," Margaret
"Don't be silly, Margot," her husband said.
Wilson said. "Got a damn fine lion."
Margot looked at them both and
they both saw that she was going to cry. Wilson had seen it coming for a
long time and he dreaded it. Macomber was past dreading it.
"I wish it
hadn't happened. Oh, I wish it hadn't happened," she said and started for
her tent. She made no noise of crying but they could see that her
shoulders were shaking under the rose-colored, sun-proofed shirt she
"Women upset," said Wilson to the tall man. "Amounts to nothing.
Strain on the nerves and one thing'n another."
"No," said Macomber. "I suppose that I rate that for the rest of my
"Nonsense. Let's have a spot of the giant killer," said
Wilson. "Forget the whole thing. Nothing to it anyway."
"We might try,"
said Macomber. "I won't forget what you did for me though."
said Wilson. All nonsense."
So they sat there in the shade where the
camp was pitched under some wide-topped acacia trees with a
boulder-strewn cliff behind them, and a stretch of grass that ran to the
bank of a boulder-filled stream in front with forest beyond it, and drank
their just-cool lime drinks and avoided one another's eyes while the boys
all knew about it now and when he saw Macomber's personal boy looking
curiously at his master while he was putting dishes on the table he
snapped at him in Swahili. The boy turned away with his face
"What were you telling him?" Macomber asked.
"Nothing. Told him to look alive or I'd see he got about fifteen of
"What's that? Lashes?"
"It's quite illegal," Wilson said.
"You're supposed to fine them."
"Do you still have them whipped?"
"Oh, yes. They could raise a row if they chose to complain. But they
don't. They prefer it to the fines."
"How strange!" said
"Not strange, really," Wilson said. "Which would you rather
do? Take a good birching or lose your pay?"
Then he felt embarrassed at
asking it and before Macomber could answer he went on, "We all take a
beating every day, you know, one way or another."
This was no better.
"Good God," he thought. "I am a diplomat, aren't I?"
"Yes, we take a
beating," said Macomber, still not looking at him. "I'm awfully sorry
about that lion business. It doesn't have to go any further, does it? I
mean no one will hear about it, will they?"
"You mean will I tell it at the Mathaiga Club?" Wilson looked at h im
now coldly. He had not expected this. So he's a bloody four-letter man as
well as a bloody coward, he thought. I rather liked him too until today.
But how is one to know abut an American?
"No," said Wilson. "I'm a professional hunter. We never talk about our
clients. You can be quite easy on that. It's supposed to be bad form to
ask us not to talk though."
He had decided now that to break would be
much easier. He would eat, then, by himself and could read a book with
his meals. They would eat by themselves. He would see them through the
safari on a very formal basiswhat was it the French called it?
Distinguished considerationand it would be a damn sight easier than
having to go through this emotional trash. He'd insult him and make a
good clean break. Then he could read a book with his meals and he'd still
be drinking their whisky. That was the phrase for it when a safari
went bad. You ran into another while hunter and you asked, "How is
everything going?" and he answered, "Oh, I'm still drinking their
whisky," and you knew everything had gone to pot.
"I'm sorry," Macomber said and looked at him with his American face
that would stay adolescent until it became middle-aged, and Wilson noted
his crew-cropped hair, fine eyes only faintly shifty, good nose, thin
lips and handsome jaw. "I'm sorry I didn't realize that. There are
lots of things I don't know."
So what could he do, Wilson thought. He
was all ready to break it off quickly and neatly and here the beggar was
apologizing after he had just insulted him. He made one more attempt.
"Don't worry about me talking," he said. "I have a living to make. You
know in Africa no woman ever misses her lion and no white man ever
"I bolted like a rabbit," Macomber said.
Now what in hell were
you going to do about a man who talked like that, Wilson
Wilson looked at Macomber with his flat, blue,
machinegunner's eyes and the other smiled back at him . He had a pleasant
smile if you did not notice how his eyes showed when he was
"Maybe I can fix it up on buffalo," he said. "We're after them
next, aren't we?
"In the morning if you like," Wilson told him. Perhaps he had been
wrong. This was certainly the way to take it. You most certainly could
not tell a damned thing about an American. He was all for Macomber again.
If you could forget the morning. But, of course, you couldn't. The
morning had been about as bad as they come.
"Here comes the Memsahib,"
he said. She was walking over from her tent looking refreshed and
cheerful and quite lovely. She had a very perfect oval face, so perfect
that you expected her to be stupid. But she wasn't stupid, Wilson
thought, no, not stupid.
"How is the beautiful red-faced Mr. Wilson? Are you feeling
better, Francis, my pearl?"
"Oh, much," said Macomber.
"I've dropped the whole thing," she said, sitting down at the table.
"What importance is the re to whether Francis is any good at killing
lions? That's not his trade. That's Mr. Wilson's trade. Mr. Wilson is
really very impressive killing anything. You do kill anything, don't
"Oh, anything," said Wilson. "Simply anything." They are, he thought,
the hardest in the world; the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory
and the most attractive and their men have softened or gone to pieces
nervously as they have hardened. Or is it that they pick men they can
handle? They can't know that much at the age they marry, he thought. He
was grateful that he had gone through his education on American women
before now because this was a very attractive one.
"We're going after buff in the morning," he told her.
"No, you're not."
"Oh, yes, I am. Mayn't I, Francis?"
"Why not stay in camp"
"Not for anything," she said. "I wouldn't miss something like today
When she left, Wilson was thinking, when she went off to cry, she
seemed a hell of a fine woman. She seemed to understand, to realize, to
be hurt to him and for herself and to know how things really stood. She
is away for twenty minutes and now she is back, simply enameled in that
American female cruelty. They are the damnedest women. Really the
"We'll put on another show for you tomorrow," Francis Macomber said.
"You're not coming," Wilson said.
"You're very mistaken," she told
him. "And I want so to see you perform again. You were lovely this
morning. That is if blowing things' heads of is lovely."
"Here's the lunch," said Wilson. "You're very merry, aren't
"Why not? I didn't come out here to be dull."
"Well, it hasn't been dull," Wilson said. He could see the boulders in
the river and the high bank beyond with the trees and he remembered the
"Oh, no," she said. "It's been charming. And tomorrow. You
don't know how I look forward to tomorrow."
"That's eland he's offering you," Wilson said.
"They're the big cowy
things that jump like hares, aren't they?"
"I suppose that describes
them," Wilson said.
"It's very good meat," Macomber
They're not dangerous, are they?"
"Only if they fall
on you," Wilson told her.
"I'm so glad."
"Why not let up on the bitchery just a little, Margot," Macomber said,
cutting the eland steak and putting some mashed potato, gravy and carrot
on the down=-turned fork that tined through the piece of meat.
suppose I could," she said, "since you put it so prettily."
we'll have champagne for the lion," Wilson said. "It's a bit too hot at
"Oh, the lion," Margot said. "I'd forgotten the lion!"
Robert Wilson thought to himself, she is giving him a ride, isn't she? Or
do you suppose that's her idea of putting up a good show? How should a
woman act when she discovers her husband is a bloody coward? She's damn
cruel but they're all cruel. They govern, of course, and to govern one
has to be cruel sometimes. Still, I've seen enough of their damn
"Have some more eland," he said to her politely.
That afternoon, late, Wilson and Macomber went out in the motor car
with the native driver and the two gun-bearers. Mrs. Macomber stayed in
the camp. It was too hot to go out, she said, and she was going with them
in the early morning. As they drove off Wilson saw her standing under the
the big tree, looking pretty rather than beautiful in her faintly rosy
khaki, her dark hair drawn back off her forehead and gathered in a knot
low on her neck, her face as fresh, he thought, as though she were in
England. She waved to them as the car went off through the swale of high
grass and curved around through the trees into the small hills of orchard
In the orchard bush they found a herd of impala, and leaving the
car they stalked one old ram with long, wide-spread horns and Macomber
killed it with a very creditable shot that knocked the buck down at a
good two hundred yards and sent the herd off bounding wildly and leaping
over one another's backs in long, leg-drawn-up leaps as unbelievable and
as floating as those one makes sometimes in dreams.
"That was a good
shot," Wilson said. "They're a small target."
"Is it a worth-while head?" Macomber asked.
"It's excellent," Wilson
told him. "You shoot like that and you'll have no trouble."
think we'll find buffalo tomorrow?"
"There's good chance of it. They
feed out early in the morning and with luck we may catch them in the
I'd like to clear away that lion business," Macomber
"It's not very pleasant to have your wife see you do something
I should think it would be even more unpleasant to do it,
Wilson thought, wife or no wife, or the talk about it having done it. But
he said, "I wouldn't think about that any more. Any one could be upset by
his first lion. That's all over."
But that night after dinner and a whisky and soda by the fire before
going to bed, as Francis Macomber lay on his cot with the mosquito bar
over him and listened to the night noises it was not all over. It was
neither all over nor was it beginning. It was there exactly as it
happened with some parts of it indelibly emphasized and he was miserably
ashamed at it. But more than shame he felt cold, hollow fear in him. The
fear was still there like a cold slimy hollow in all the emptiness where
once his confidence had been and it made him feel sick. It was still
there with him now.
It had started the night before when he had wakened
and heard the lion roaring somewhere up along the river. It was a deep
sound and at the and there were sort of coughing grunts that made him
seem just outside the tent, and when Francis Macomber woke in the night
to hear it he was afraid. He could hear his wife breathing quietly,
asleep. There was no one to tell he was afraid, nor to be afraid with
him, and, lying alone, he did not know the Somali proverb that says a
brave man is always frightened three times by a lion; when he first sees
his track, when he first hears him roar and when he first confronts him.
Then while they were eating breakfast by lantern light out in the dining
tent, before the sun was up, the lion roared again and Francis thought he
was just at the edge of camp.
"Sounds like an old-timer," Robert Wilson said, looking up from his
kippers and coffee. "Listen to him cough."
"Is he very close?"
mile or so up the stream."
"Will we see him?"
"We'll have a
"Does his roaring carry that far? It sounds as though he were
right in camp."
"Carries a hell of a long way," said Robert Wilson.
"It's strange the way it carries. Hope he's a shootable cat. The boys
said there was a very big one about here."
"If I get a shot, where
should I hi t him," Macomber asked. "to stop him?"
"In the shoulders,"
Wilson said. "In the neck if you can make it. Shoot for bone. Break him
"I hope I can place it properly," Macomber said.
very well, "Wilson told him. "Take your time. Make sure of him. The first
one in is the one that counts."
"What range will it be?"
Lion has something to say about that. Won't shoot unless it's close
enough so you can make sure."
"At under a hundred yards?" Macomber
Wilson looked at him quickly.
"Hundred's about right. Might have to take him a bit under. Shouldn't
chance a shot at much over that. A hundred's a decent range. You can hit
him wherever you want at that. Here comes the Memsahib."
morning," she said. "Are we going after that lion?"
"As soon as you
deal with your breakfast," Wilson said.
"How are you
"Marvelous," she said. "I'm very excited."
"I'll just go a
nd see that everything is ready," Wilson went off. As he left the lion
"Noisy beggar," Wilson said. "We'll put a stop to that."
matter, Francis?" his wife asked him.
"Nothing," Macomber said.
there is," she said. "What are you upset about?"
"Tell me," she looked at him. "Don't you feel well?"
damned roaring," she said. "It's been going on all night, you
"Why didn't you wake me, she said. I'd love to heard it.
got to kill the damned thing," Macomber said, miserably.
what you're out here for, isn't it?"
"Yes. But I'm nervous. Hearing the
thing roar gets on my nerves."
"Well then, as Wilson said, kill him and
stop his roaring."
"Yes, darling," said Francis Macomber. "It sounds
easy, doesn't it?"
"You're not afraid, are you?"
"Of course not. But
I'm nervous from hearing him roar all night."
"You'll kill him marvelously," she said. "I know you will. I'm awfully
anxious to see it."
"Finish your breakfast and we'll be
It's not light yet," she said. "This is a ridiculous
Just then as the lion roared in a deep-chested moaning, suddenly
guttural, ascending vibration that seemed to shake the air and ended in a
sigh and a heavy, deep-chested grunt.
"He sounds almost here,"
Macomber's wife said.
"My God," said Macomber. "I hate that damned
"It's very impressive."
Robert Wilson came up then carrying his short, ugly,
shockingly big-bored .505 Gibbs and grinning.
"Come on," he said. "Your
gun-bearer has your Springfield and the big gun. Everything's in the car.
Have you solids?"
"I'm ready," Mrs. Macomber said.
make him stop that racket," Wilson said. "You got in front. The Memsahib
can sit back here with me."
They climbed into the motor car and, in the gray first day-light,
moved off up the river through the trees. Macomber opened the breech of
his rifle and saw had metal-cased bullets, shut the bolt and put the
rifle on safety. He saw his hand was trembling. He felt in his pocket for
more cartridges and moved his fingers over the cartridges in the loops of
his tunic front. He turned back to where Wilson sat in the rear seat of
the doorless, box-bodied motor car beside his wife, them both
grinning with excitement, and Wilson leaned forward and
whispered, "See the birds dropping. Means the old boy has left his
On the far bank of the stream Macomber could see, above
the trees, vultures circling and plummeting down.
"Chances are he'll
come to drink along here," Wilson whispered. Before he goes to lay up.
Keep an eye out."
They were driving slowly along the high bank of the
stream which here cut deeply to its boulder-filled bed, and they wound in
and o ut through big trees as they drove. Macomber was watching the
opposite bank when he felt Wilson take hold of his arm. The car
"There he is," he heard the whisper. "Ahead and to the right.
Get out and take him. He's marvelous lion."
Macomber saw the lion now. He was standing almost broadside, his great
head up and turned toward them. The early morning breeze that blew toward
them was just stirring his dark mane, and the lion looked huge,
silhouetted on the rise of bank in the gray morning light, his shoulders
heavy, his barrel of a body bulking smoothly.
"How far is he?" asked
Macomber, raising his rifle.
"About seventy-five. Get out and take
"Why not shoot from where I am?"
"You don't shoot them from
cars," he heard Wilson saying in his car. "Get out. He's not going to
stay there all day."
Macomber stepped out of the curved opening at the side of the front
seat, onto the step and down onto the ground. The lion still stood
looking majestically and coolly toward this object that his eyes only
showed in silhouette, bulking like some superrhino. There was no man
smell carried toward his and he watched the object, moving his great head
a little from side to side. Then watching the object, not afraid, but
hesitating before going down the bank to drink with such a thing opposite
him, he saw a man figure detach itself from it and he turned his heavy
head and swung away toward the cover for the trees as he heard a cracking
crash and felt the slam of a .30-06 220-grain solid bullet that bit his
flank and ripped in sudden hot scalding nausea through his stomach. He
trotted, heavy, big-footed, swinging wounded lull-bellied, the trees
toward the tall grass and cover, and the crash came again to go past him
ripping the air apart. Then it crashed again and he felt the blow as it
hit his lower ribs and ripped on through, blood sudden hot and frothy in
his mouth, and he galloped toward the high grass where he could crouch
and not be seen and make them bring the crashing thing close enough so he
could make a rush and get the man that held it.
Macomber had not thought how the lion felt as he got out of the car.
He only knew his hands were shaking and as he walked away from the car it
was almost impossible for him to make his legs move. They were stiff in
the thighs, but he could feel the muscles fluttering. He raised the
rifle, sighted on the junction of the lion's head and shoulders and
pulled the trigger. Nothing happened though he pulled until he thought
his finger would break. Then he knew he had the safety on and as he
lowered the rifle to move the safety over he moved another frozen pace
forward, and the lion seeing his silhouette now clear of the silhouette
of the car, turned an started off at a trot, and, as Macomber fired, he
heard a whunk that meant that the bullet was home; but the lion
kept on going. Macomber shot again and every one saw the bullet throw a
spout of dirt beyond the trotting lion. He shot again, remembering to
lower his aim, and they all heard the bullet hit, and the lion went into
a gallop and was in the tall grass before he had the bolt pushed forward.
Macomber stood there feeling sick at his stomach, his hands that held
the springfield still cocked, shaking, and his wife and Robert Wilson
were standing by him. Beside him too were the two gun-bearers chattering
"I hit him," Macomber said. "I hit him twice."
gut-shot him and you hit him somewhere forward," Wilson said without
enthusiasm. The gun-bearers looked very grave. They were silent
"You may have killed him" Wilson went on. "We'll have to wait a
while before we go in to find out."
"What do you mean?"
"Let him get
sick before we follow him up."
"Oh," said Macomber.
"He's a hell of a
fine lion," Wilson said cheerfully. "He's gotten into a bad place
"Why is it bad?"
"Can't see him until you 're on
"Oh," said Macomber.
"Come on," said Wilson. "The Memsahib can stay here in the car. We'll
go to have a look at the blood spoor."
"Stay here, Margot," Macomber
said to his wife. His mouth was very dry and it was hard for him to
"Why?" she asked.
"Wilson says to."
"We're going to have a
look," Wilson said. "You stay her. You can see even better from
Wilson spoke in Swahili to the driver. He nodded
and said, "Yes, Bwana."
Then they went down the steep bank and across
the stream, climbing over and around the boulders and up the other bank,
pulling up by some projecting roots, and along it until they found where
the lion had been trotting when Macomber first shot. There was dark blood
on the short grass that the gun-bearers pointed out with grass stems, and
that ran away behind the river bank trees.
"What do we do?" asked Macomber.
"Not much choice," said Wilson. "We
can't br ing the car over. Bank's too steep. We'll let him stiffen up a
bit and then you and I'll go in and have a look for him."
"Can't we set
the grass on fire?" Macomber asked.
"Can't we send
Wilson looked at him appraisingly. "Of course we can," he
said. "But it's just a touch murderous. You see we know the lion's
wounded. You can drive an unwounded lionhe'll move on ahead of a
noisebut a wounded lion's going to charge. You can't see him until
you're right on him. He'll make himself perfectly flat in cover you
wouldn't think would hide a hare. You can't very well send boys in there
to that sort of a show. Somebody bound to get mauled."
about the gun-bearers?"
"Oh, they'll go with us. It's their shauri. You see, they signed on
for it. They don't look too happy though, do they?"
"I don't want to go
in there," said Macomber. It was out before he knew he'd said
"Neither do I," said Wilson very chee rily. "Really no choice
though." Then, as an afterthought, he glanced at Macomber and saw
suddenly how he was trembling and the pitiful look on his face.
don't have to go in, of course," he said. "that's what I'm hired for, you
know. That's why I'm so expensive."
"You mean you'd go in by yourself?
Why not leave him there?"
Robert Wilson, whose entire occupation had
been with the lion ands the problem he presented, and who had not been
thinking about Macomber except to note that he was rather windy, suddenly
felt as though he had opened the wrong door in a hotel and seen something
"What do you mean?"
"Why not just leave him?"
pretend to ourselves he hasn't been hit?"
"No. Just drop it.
"For one thing, he's certain to be suffering.
For another, some one else might run on to him."
don't have to have anything to do with it."
"I'd like to," Macomber said. "I'm just scared, you know."
ahead when we go in," Wilson said, "with Kongoni tracking. You keep
behind me and a little to one side. Chances are we'll hear him growl. If
we see him we'll both shoot. Don't worry about anything. I'll keep you
backed up. As a matter of fact, you know, perhaps you'd better not go. It
might be much better. Why don't you go over and join the Memsahib while I
just get it over with?"
"No, I want to go."
"All right," said Wilson.
"But don't go in if you don't want to. This is my shauri now, you
"I want to go," said Macomber.
They sat under a tree and
"What to go back and speak to the Memsahib while we're
waiting?" Wilson asked.
"I'll just step back and tell her to be
"Good," said Macomber. He sat there, sweating under his arms,
his mouth dry, his stomach hollow feeling, wanting to find courage to
tell Wilson to go on and finish off the lion without him. He could not
know that Wilson was furious because he had not noticed the state he was
in earlier and sent him back to his wife. While he sat there Wilson came
up. "I have your big gun," he said. "Take it. We've given him time, I
think. Come on."
Macomber took the big gun and Wilson said"
"Keep behind me and about
five yards to the right and do exactly as I tell you." Then he spoke in
Swahili to the two gun-bearers who looked the picture of gloom.
go," he said.
"Could I have a drink of water?" Macomber asked. Wilson
spoke to the older gun-bearer, who wore a canteen on his belt, and the
man unbuckled it, unscrewed the top and handed it to Macomber, who took
it noticing how heavy it seemed and how hairy and shoddy the felt
covering was in his hand. He raised it to drink and looked ahead at the
high grass with the flat-topped trees behind it. A breeze was blowing
toward them and the grass rippled gently in the wind. He looked at the
gun-bearer and he could see the gun-bearer was suffering too with fear.
Thirty-five yards into the grass the big lion lay flattened out along
the ground. His ears where back and his only movement was a slight
twitching up and down of his long, black-tufted tail. He had turned at
bay as soon as he had reached this cover and he was sick with the wound
through his full belly, and weakening with the wound through his lungs
that brought a thin foamy red to his mouth each time he breathed. His
flanks were wet and hot and flies were on the little openings the solid
bullets had made in his tawny hide, and his big yellow eyes, narrowed
with hate, looked straight ahead, only blinking when the pain came as he
breathed, and his claws dug in the soft baked earth. All of him, pain,
sickness, hatred and all of his remaining strength, was tightening into
an absolute concentration for a rush. He could hear the men talking and
he waited, gathering all of himself into this preparation for a charge as
soon as the men would come into the grass. As he heard their voices his
tail stiffened to twitch up and down, and, as they came into the edge of
the grass, he made a coughing grunt and charged.
Kongoni, the old gun-bearer, in the lead watching the blood spoor,
Wilson watching the grass for any movement, his big gun ready, the second
gun-bearer looking ahead and listening, Macomber close to Wilson, his
rifle cocked, they had just moved into the grass when Macomber hear the
blood-choked coughing grunt, and saw the swishing rush in the grass. The
next thing he knew he was running; running wildly, in panic in the open,
running toward the stream.
He heard the ca-ra-wong! of Wilson's big rifle, and again in a second
crashing carawong! and turning saw the lion, horrible-looking now, with
half his head seeming to be gone, crawling toward Wilson in the edge of
the tall grass while the red-faced man worked the belt on the short ugly
rifle and aimed carefully as another blasting carawong! came from the
muzzle, and the crawling, heavy, yellow bulk of the lion stiffened and
the huge, mutilated head slid forward and Macomber, standing by himself
in the clearing where he had run, holding a loaded rifle, while two black
men and a white man looked back at him in contempt, knew the lion was
dead. He came toward Wilson, his tallness all seeming a naked reproach,
and Wilson looked at him and said:
"Want to take pictures?"
"No," he said.
That was all any one had
said until they reached the motor car. Then Wilson had said:
"Hell of a
fine lion. Boys will skin him out. We might as well stay here in the
Macomber's wife had not looked at him nor he at her and he had
sat by her in the back seat with Wilson sitting in the front seat. Once
he had reached over and taken his wife's hand without looking at her and
she had removed her hand from his. Looking across the stream to where the
gun-bearers were skinning out the lion he could see that she had been
able to see the whole thing. While they sat there his wife had reached
forward and put her hand on Wilson's shoulder. He turned and she
had leaned forward over the low seat and kissed him on the mouth.
I say," said Wilson, going redder than his natural baked color.
"Mr. Robert Wilson," she said. "The beautiful red-faced Mr. Robert
Then she sat down beside Macomber again and looked away across
the stream to where the lion lay, with uplifted, white-muscled,
tendon-marked naked forearms, and white bloating belly, as the black men
fleshed away the skin. Finally the gun-bearer brought the skin over, wet
and heavy, and climbed in behind with it, rolling it up before they got
in, and the motor car started. No one had said anything more until they
were back in camp.
That was the story of the lion. Macomber did not
know how the lion had felt before he started his rush, nor during it when
the unbelievable smash of the .505 with a muzzle velocity of two tons had
hit him in the mouth, nor what kept him coming after that, when the
second ripping crash had smashed his hind quarters and he had come
crawling on toward the crashing, blasting thing that had destroyed him.
Wilson knew something about it and only expressed it by saying, "Damned
fine lion," but Macomber did not know how Wilson felt abut things either.
He did not know how his wife felt except that she was through with him.
His wife had been through with him before but it never lasted. He was
very wealthy, and would be much wealthier, and he knew she would not
leave him ever now. That was one of the few things that he really knew.
He knew about that, about motorcyclesthat was earliestabout motor
cars, about duck-shooting, about fishing, trout, salmon and big-sea,
about sex in books, many books, too many books, about all court games,
about dogs, not much about horses, about hanging on to his money, abut
most of the other things his world dealt in, and about his wife not
leaving him. His wife had been a great beauty and she was still a great
beauty in Africa, but she was not a great enough beauty any more at home
to be able to leave him and better herself and she knew it and he knew
it. She had missed the chance to leave him and he knew it. If he had been
better with women she would probably have started to worry about him
getting another new, beautiful wife; but she knew too much about him to
worry about him either. Also he had always had a great tolerance which
seemed the nicest thing about him if it were not the most sinister.
All in all they were known as a comparatively happily married couple,
one of those whose disruption is often rumored but never occurs, and as
the society columnist put it, they were adding more than a spice of
adventure to their much envied and ever enduring romance by a Safari in
what was known as Darkest Africa until the Martin Johnsons lighted it on
so many silver screens where they were pu rsuing Old Simba the lion, the
buffalo, Tembo the elephant and as well collecting specimens for the
Museum of Natural History. This same columnist had reported them on the
verge as least three times in the past and they had been. But they always
made it up. They had a sound basis of union. Margot was too beautiful for
Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money for Margot ever
to leave him.
It was now about three o'clock in the morning and Francis macomber,
who had been asleep a little while after he had stopped thinking about
the lion, wakened and then slept again, woke suddenly, frightened in a
dream of the bloody-headed lion standing over him, and listening while
his heart pounded, he realized that his wife was not in the other cot in
the tent. He lay awake with the knowledge of two hours.
At the end of
that time his wife came into the tent, lifted her mosquito bar and
crawled cozily into bed.
"Where have you been?" Macomber asked in the
"Hello," she said. "Are you awake?"
"Where have you been?"
went out to get a breath of air."
"You did, like hell."
"What do you
want me to say, darling?"
"Where have you been?"
"Out to get a breath
"That's a new name for it. You are a bitch."
"All right," he said. "What of it?"
"Nothing as far as I'm
concerned. But please let's not talk, darling, because I'm very
"You think that I'll take anything."
"I know you will,
"Well, I won't."
"Please, darling, let's not talk. I'm so
"There wasn't going to be any of that. You promised there
"Well, there is now," she said sweetly.
"You said if we made this
trip that there would be none of that. You promised."
That's the way I meant it to be. But the trip was spoiled yesterday. We
don't have to talk about it, do we?"
"You don't wait long when you
have an advantage, do you?"
"Please let's not talk. I"m so sleepy,
"I'm going to talk."
"Don't mind me then, because I'm going
to sleep." And she did.
At breakfast they were all three at the table
before daylight and Francis Macomber found that, of all the many men that
he had hated, he hated Robert Wilson the most.
"Sleep well?" Wilson
asked in his throaty voice, filling a pipe.
white hunter told him.
You bastard, thought Macomber, you insolent
So she woke him when she came in, Wilson thought, looking at
them both with his flat, cold eyes. Well, why doesn't he keep his wife
where she belongs?" What does he think I am, a bloody plaster saint? Let
him keep her where she belongs. It's his own fault.
"Do you think we'll find buffalo?" Margot asked, pushing away a dish
"Chance of it," Wilson said and smiled at her. "Why do
n't you stay in camp?"
"Not for anything," she told him.
order her to stay in camp?" Wilson said to Macomber.
"Your order her,"
said Macomber coldly.
"Let's not have any ordering, nor," turning to
Macomber, "any silliness, Francis," Margot said quite pleasantly.
you ready to start?" Macomber asked.
"Any time," Wilson told him. "Do
you want the Memsahib to go?"
"Does it make any difference whether I do
The hell with it, thought Robert Wilson. The utter complete
hell with it. So this is what it's going to be like. Well, this is what
it's going to be like, then.
"Makes no difference," he said.
sure you wouldn't like to stay in camp with her yourself and let me go
out and hunt the buffalo? Macomber asked.
"Can't do that," said Wilson.
"Wouldn't talk rot if I were you."
"I'm not talking rot. I'm
"Bad word, disgusted."
"Francis, will you please try to s peak
sensibly!" his wife said.
"I speak too damned sensibly," Macomber said.
"Did you ever eat such filthy food?"
"Something wrong with the food?"
asked Wilson quietly.
"No more than with everything else."
yourself together, laddybuck," Wilson said very quietly. "There's a boy
waits at table that understands a little English."
"The hell with
Wilson stood up and puffing on his pipe strolled away, speaking a
few words in Swahili to one of the gun-bearers who was standing waiting
for him. Macomber and his wife sat on at the table. He was staring at his
"If you make a scene I'll leave you, darling," Margot said
"No, you won't."
"You can try it and see."
"You won't leave me."
"No," she said. "I won't leave you and you'll
"Behave myself? That's a way to talk. Behave
"Yes. Behave yourself."
"Why don't you try
"I've tried it so long. So very long."
"I hate that
red-faced swine," Macomber said. "I loathe the sight of him."
really very nice."
"Oh, shut up," Macomber almost shouted. Just then
the car came up and stopped in front of the dining tent and the driver
and the two gun-bearers got out. Wilson walked over and looked at the
husband and wife sitting there at the table.
"Going, shooting?" he
"Yes," said Macomber, standing up. "Yes."
"Better bring a
woolly. It will be cool in the car," Wilson said.
"I'll get my leather jacket," Margot said.
"The boy has it," Wilson
told her. He climbed into the front with the driver and Francis Macomber
and his wife sat, not speaking, in the back seat.
Hope the silly beggar
doesn't take a notion to blow the back of my head off, Wilson thought to
himself. Women are a nuisance on safari.
The car was grinding down to
cross the river at a pebbly ford in the gray daylight and then climb ed,
angling up the steep bank, where Wilson had ordered a way shoveled out
the day before so they could reach the parklike wooded rolling country on
the far side.
It was a good morning, Wilson thought. There was a heavy dew and as
the wheels went through the grass and low bushes he could smell the odor
of the crushed fronds. It was an odor like verbena and he liked this
early morning smell of the dew, the crushed bracken and the look of the
tree trunks showing black through the early morning mist, as the car made
its way through the untracked, parklike country. He had put the two in
the back seat out of his mind now and was thinking about buffalo. The
buffalo that he was after stayed in the daytime in a thick swamp where it
was impossible to get a shot, but in the night they fed out into an open
stretch of country and if he could come between them and their swamp with
the car, Macomber would have a good chance at them in the open. He did
not want to hunt buff or anything else with Macomber at all, but he was a
professional hunter and he had hunted with some rare ones in his time. If
they got buff today there would only be rhino to come and the poor man
would have gone through his dangerous game and things might pick up. He'd
have nothing more to do with the woman and Macomber would get over that
too. He must have gone through plenty of that before by the look of
things. Poor beggar. He must have a way of getting over it. Well, it was
the poor sod's own bloody fault.
He, Robert Wilson, carried a double
size cot on safari to accommodate any windfalls he might receive. He had
hunted for a certain clientele, the international, fast, sporting set,
where the women did not feel they were getting their money's worth unless
they had shared that cot with the white hunter. He despised them when he
was away from them although he liked some of them well enough at the
time, but he made his living by them; and their standards were his
standards as long as they were hiring him.
They were his standards in all except the shooting. He had his own
standards about the killing and they could live up to them or get some
one else to hunt them. He knew, too, that they all respected him for
this. This Macomber was an odd one though. Damned if he wasn't. Now the
wife. Well, the wife. Yes, the wife. Hm, the wife. Well he's dropped all
that. He looked around at them. Macomber sat grim and furious. Margot
smiled at him. She looked younger today, more innocent and fresher and
not so professionally beautiful. What's in her heart God knows, Wilson
thought. She hadn't talked much last night. At that it was a pleasure to
The motor car climbed up a slight rise and went on through the
trees and then out into a grassy prairie-like opening and kept in the
shelter of the trees along the edge, the driver going slowly and Wilson
looking carefully out across the prairie and all along its far side. He
stopped the car and studied the opening with his field glasses. Then he
motioned to the driver to go on and the car moved slowly along, the
driver avoiding wart-hog holes and driving around the mud castles ants
had built. Then, looking across the opening, Wilson suddenly turned and
said, "By God, there they are!"
And looking where he pointed, while the car jumped forward and Wilson
spoke in rapid Swahili to the driver, Macomber saw three huge, black
animals looking almost cylindrical in their long heaviness, like big
black tank cars, moving at a gallop across the far edge of the open
prairie. They moved at a stiff-necked, stiff bodied gallop and he could
see the upswept wide black horns on their heads as they galloped heads
out; the heads not moving.
"They're three old bulls," Wilson said. "We'll cut them off before
they get to the swamp."
The car was going a wild forty-five miles an
hour across the open and as Macomber watched, the buffalo got bigger and
bigger until he could see the gray, hairless, scabby l ook of one huge
bull and how his neck was a part of his shoulders and the shiny black of
his horns as he galloped a little behind the others that were strung out
in that steady plunging gait; and then, the car swaying as though it had
just jumped a road, they drew up close ands he could see the plunging
hugeness of the bull, and the dust in his sparsely haired hide, the wide
boss of horn and his outstretched, wide-nostrilled muzzle, and he was
raising his rifle when Wilson shouted, "Not from the car, you fool!" and
he had no fear, only hatred of Wilson, while the brakes clamped on and
the car skidded, plowing sideways to an almost stop and Wilson was out on
one side and he on the other, stumbling as his feet hit the still
speeding-by of the earth, and then he was shooting at the bull as he
moved away, hearing the bullets whunk into him, emptying his riffle at
him as he moved steadily away, finally remembering to get his shots
forward into the shoulder, and as he fumbled to reload, he saw the bull
was down. Down on his knees, his big head tossing, and seeing the other
two still galloping he shot at the leader and hit him. He shot again and
missed and he heard the carawonging roar as Wilson shot and saw the
leading bull slide forward onto his nose.
"Get that other," Wilson said. "Now you're shooting!"
But the other
bull was moving steadily at the same gallop and he missed, throwing a
spout of dirt, and Wilson missed and the dust rose in a cloud and Wilson
shouted, "Come on." He's too far!" and grabbed his arm and they were in
the car again, Macomber and Wilson hanging on the sides and rocketing
swayingly over the uneven ground, drawing up on the steady, plunging,
heavy-necked, straight-moving gallop of the bull.
They were behind him
and Macomber was filling his rifle, dropping shells onto the ground,
jamming it, clearing the jam, then they were almost up with the bull when
Wilson yelled "Stop," and the car skidded so that it almost swung over
and Macomber fell forward as he aimed into the galloping, rounded black
back, aimed and shot again, then again, then again, and the bullets, all
of them hitting, had no effect on the buffalo that he could see. Then
Wilson shot, the roar deafening him, and he could see the bull stagger.
Macomber shot again, aiming carefully, and down he came, onto his
"All right," Wilson said. "Nice work. That's the
Macomber felt a drunken elation.
"How many times did you shoot?" he asked.
"Just three," Wilson said.
"You killed the first bull. The biggest one. I helped you finish the
other two. Afraid they might have got into cover. You had them killed. I
was just mopping up a little. You shot damn well.
"Let's go to the
car," said Macomber. "I want a drink."
"Got to finish off that buff first," Wilson told him. The buffalo was
on his knees and he jerked his head furiously and bellowed in pig-eyed,
roaring rage as they came toward him.
"Watch h e doesn't get up,"
Wilson said. Then, "Get a little broadside and take him in the neck just
behind the ear."
Macomber aimed carefully at the center of the huge,
jerking, rage-driven neck and shot. At the shot the head dropped
"That does it," said Wilson. "Got the spine. They're a hell of
a fine-looking thing, aren't they?"
"Let's get the drink," said
Macomber. In his life he had never felt so good.
"In the car Macomber's
wife sat very white-faced. "You were marvelous, darling," she said to
Macomber. "What a ride."
"Was it rough?" Wilson asked.
"It was frightful. I've never been
more frightened in my life."
"Let's all have a drink," Macomber
"By all means," said Wilson. "Give it to the Memsahib." She drank
the neat whisky from the flask and shuddered a little when she
swallowed. She handed the flask to Macomber who handed it to
"It was frightfully exciting," she said. "It's given me a
dreadful headache. I didn't know you were allowed to shoot them from cars
"No one shot from cars," said Wilson coldly.
"I mean chase
them from cars."
"Wouldn't ordinarily," Wilson said. "Seemed sporting enough to me
though while we were doing it. Taking more chance driving that way across
the plain full of holes and one thing and another than hunting on foot.
Buffalo could have charged us each time we shot if he liked. Gave
him every chance. Wouldn't mention it to anyone though. It's illegal if
that's what you mean."
"It seemed very unfair to me," Margot said,
"chasing those big helpless things in a motor car."
"Did it?" said
"What would happen if they heard about it in Nairobi?"
"I'd lose my
license for one thing. Other unpleasantnesses," Wilson said, taking a
drink from the flask. "I'd be out of business."
said Macomber, and he smiled for the first time all
day. "Now she has something on you."
"You have such a pretty way of putting things, Francis," Margot
Macomber said. Wilson looked at them both. If a four-letter man
marries a five-letter woman, he was thinking, what number of
letters would their children be? What he said was, "We lost a
gun-bearer. Did you notice it?"
"My God, no," Macomber said.
"Here he comes," Wilson said. "He's all
right. He must have fallen off when we left the first bull."
Approaching them was the middle-aged gun-bearer, limping along in his
knitted cap, khaki tunic, shorts and rubber sandals, gloomy-faced and
disgusted looking. As he came up he called out to Wilson in Swahili and
they all saw the change in the white hunter's face.
"What does he say?" asked Margot.
"He says the first bull got up and went into the bush," Wilson said
with no expression in his voice.
"Oh," said Macomber blankly.
"Then it's going to be just like the lion," said Margot, full of
"It's not going to be a dammed bit like the lion," Wilson told her.
"Did you want another drink Macomber?"
"Thanks, yes, Macomber said. He expected the feeling he had had about
the lion to come back but it did not. For the first time in his life he
rally felt wholly without fear. Instead of fear he had a feeling of
"We'll go and have a look at the second bull," Wilson said. "I'll tell
the driver to put the car in the shade."
"What are you going to do?" asked Margaret Macomber.
"Take a look at the buff," Wilson said.
The three of them walked over to where the second buffalo
bulked blackly in the open, head forward on the grass, the massive horns
"He's a very good head," Wilson said. "That's close to a
Macomber was looking at him with delight.
"He's hateful looking," said Margot. "Can't we go into the shade?"
"Of course," Wilson said. "Look," he said to Macomber, and pointed.
"See that patch of bush?"
"That's where the first bull went
in. The gun-bearer said when he fell off the bull was down. He was
watching us helling along and the other two buff galloping. When he
looked up there was the bull up and looking at him. Gun-bearer ran like
hell and the bull went off slowly into the bush."
"Can we go in after
him now?" asked Macomber eagerly.
Wilson looked at him appraisingly.
Damned if this isn't a strange one, he thought. Yesterday he's scared
sick and today he's a ruddy fire eater.
"No, we'll give him a
"Let's please go into the shade," Margot said. Her face was
white and she looked ill.
They made their way to the car where it stood under a single,
wide-spreading tree and all climbed in.
"Chances are he's dead in
there," Wilson remarked. "After a little we'll have a look."
felt a wild unreasonable happiness that he h ad never known before.
"By God, that was a chase," he said. "I've never felt any such
feeling. Wasn't it marvelous, Margot?"
"I hated it."
hated it," she said bitterly. "I loathed it."
"You know I don't think
I'd ever be afraid of anything again," Macomber said to Wilson.
"Something happened in me after we first saw the buff and started after
him. Like a dam bursting. It was pure excitement."
"Cleans out your
liver," said Wilson." Damn funny things happen to people."
face was shining. "You know something did happen to me," he said. "I feel
His wife said nothing and eyed him strangely.
She was sitting far back in the seat and Macomber was sitting forward
talking to Wilson who turned sideways talking over the back of the front
"You know, I'd like to try another lion," Macomber said. "I'm
really not afraid of them now. After all, what can they do to you?"
"That's it," said Wilson. "Worst one can do is kill you. How does it
go? Shakespeare. Damned good. See if I can remember. Oh, damned good.
Used to quote it to myself at one time. Let's see. 'By my troth, I care
not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death and let it go which way
it will he that dies this year is quit for the next.' Damned fine,
He was very embarrassed, having brought out this
thing he had lived by, but he had seen men come of age before and it
always moved him. It was not a matter of their twenty-first birthday.
It had taken a strange chance of hunting, a sudden precipitation into
action without opportunity for worrying beforehand, to bring this about
with Macomber, but regardless of how it had happened it had most
certainly happened. Look at the beggar now, Wilson thought. It's that
some of them stay little boys so long, Wilson thought. Sometimes all
their lives. Their figures stay boyish when they're fifty. The great
American boy-men. Damned strange people. But he like this Macomber now.
Damned strange fellow. Probably meant the end of cuckoldry too. Well,
that would be a damned good thing. Damned good thing. Beggar had probably
been afraid all his life. Don't know what started it. But over now.
Hadn't had time to be afraid with the buff. That and being angry too.
Motor car too. Motor cars made it familiar. Be a damn fire eater now.
He'd seen it in the war work the same way. More of a change than any loss
of virginity. Fear gone like an operation. Something else grew in its
place. Main thing a man had. Made him into a man. Women knew it too. No
From the far corner of the seat Margaret Macomber looked
at the two of them. There was no change in Wilson. She saw Wilson as she
had seen him the day before when she had first realized what his great
talent was. But she saw the change in Francis Macomber now.
have that feeling of happiness about what's going to happen?" Macomber
asked, still exploring his new wealth.
"You're not supposed to mention it," Wilson said, looking in the
other's face. "Much more fashionable to say you're scared. Mind you,
you'll be scared too, plenty of times."
But you have a feeling of
happiness about action to come?"
"Yes," said Wilson. "There's that.
Doesn't do to talk too much about all this. Talk the whole thing away. No
pleasure in anything if you mouth it up too much.
"You're both talking
rot," said Margot. "Just because you've chased some helpless animals in a
motor car you talk like heroes.
"Sorry," said Wilson. "I have been
gassing too much." She's worried about it already, he thought.
don't know what we're talking about why not keep out of it?" Macomber
asked his wife.
"You've gotten awfully brave, awfully suddenly," his
wife said contemptuously, but her contempt was not secure. She was very
afraid of something.
Macomber laughed, a very natural hearty laugh.
"You know I have," he said. "I really have."
"Isn't it sort of late?" Margot said bitterly. Because she had done
the best she could for many years back and the way they were together now
was no one person's fault.
"Not for me," said Macomber.
nothing but sat back in the corner of the seat.
"Do you think we've
given him time enough?" Macomber asked Wilson cheerfully.
have a look," Wilson said. "Have you any solids left?"
Wilson called in Swahili and the older gun-bearer, who was
skinning out one of the heads, straightened up, pulled a box of solids
out of his pocket end brought them over to Macomber, who filled his
magazine and put the remaining shells in his pocket.
"You might as well shoot the Springfield," Wilson said. "You're used
to it. We'll leave the Mannlicher in the car with the Memsahib.
Your gun-bearer can carry your heavy gun. I've this damned cannon. Now
let me tell you about them." He had saved this until the last because he
did not want to worry Macomber. "When a buff comes he comes with his head
high and thrust straight out. The boss of the horns covers any sort of a
brain shot. The only shot is straight into the nose. The only other shot
is into his chest or, if you're to one side, into the neck or the
shoulders. After they've been hit once they take a hell of a lot of
killing. Don't try anything fancy. Take the easiest shot there is.
They've finished skinning out that head now. Should we get started.?"
He called to the gun-bearers, who came up wiping their hands, and the
older one got into the back.
"I'll only take Kongoni," Wilson said.
"The other can watch to keep the birds away."
As the car moved slowly
across the open space toward the island of brushy trees that ran in a
tongue of foliage along a dry water course that cut the open swale,
Macomber felt his heart pounding and his mouth was dry again, but it was
excitement, not fear.
"Here's where he went in," Wilson said. Then to the gun-bearer in
Swahili, "Take the blood spoor."
The car was parallel to the patch of
bush. Macomber, Wilson and the gun-bearer got down. Macomber, looking
back, saw his wife, with the rifle by her side, looking at him. He waved
to her and she did not wave back.
The brush was very thick ahead and
the ground was dry. The middle-aged gun-bearer was sweating heavily and
Wilson had his hat down over his eyes and his red neck showed just ahead
of Macomber. Suddenly the gun-bearer said something in Swahili to Wilson
and ran forward.
"He's dead in there," Wilson said. "Good work," and he
turned to grip. Macomber's hand and as they shook hands, grinning at each
other, the gun-bearer shouted wildly and they saw him coming out of the
bush sideways, fast as a crab, and the bull coming, nose out, mouth tight
closed, blood dripping, missive head straight out, coming in a charge,
his little pig eyes bloodshot as he looke d at them. Wilson who was ahead
was kneeling shooting, and Macomber, as he fired, unhearing his shot in
the roaring of Wilson's gun, saw fragments like slate burst from the huge
boss of the horns, and the head jerked, he shot again at the wide
nostrils and saw the horns jolt again and fragment fly, and he did not
see Wilson now and, aiming carefully, shot again with the buffalo's huge
bulk almost on him and his rifle almost level with the on-coming head,
nose out, and he could see the little wicked eyes and the head started to
lower and he felt a sudden white-hot, blinding flash explode inside his
head and that was all he ever felt.
Wilson had ducked to one side to get in a shoulder shot. Macomber had
stood solid and shot for the nose, shooting a touch high each time and
hitting the heavy horns, splintering and chipping them like hitting a
slate roof, and Mrs. Macomber, in the car, had shot at the buffalo with
the 6.5 Mannlicher as it seemed about to gore Macomber and had hit her
husband about two inches up and a little to one side of the base of his
Francis Macomber lay now, face down, not two yards from where the
buffalo lay on his side and his wife knelt over him with Wilson beside
"I wouldn't turn him over," Wilson said.
The woman was crying
"I'd get back in the car," Wilson said. "Where's the
She shook her head, her face contorted. The gun-bearer picked
up the rifle.
Leave it as it is," said Wilson. Then, "Go get Abdulla so
that he may witness the manner of the accident."
He knelt down, took a handkerchief from his pocket, and spread it over
Francis Macomber's crew-cropped head where it lay. The blood sank into
the dry, loose earth.
Wilson stood up and saw the buffalo on his side,
his legs out, his thinly-haired belly crawling with ticks. "Hell of a
good bull," his brain registered automatically. "A good fifty inches, or
better. Better." He called to the driver and told him to spread a blanket
over the body and stay by it. Then he walked over to the motor car where
the woman sat crying in the corner.
"That was a pretty thing to do," he
said in a toneless voice. "He would have left you too."
"Stop it," she
"Of course it's an accident," he said. "I know that."
"Stop it," she
"Don't worry," he said. "There will be a certain amount of
unpleasantness but I will have some photographs taken that will be very
useful at the inquest. There's the testimony of the gun-bearer and the
driver too. You're perfectly all right."
"Stop it," she
"There's a hell of a lot to be done," he said. "And I'll have to
send a truck off to the lake to wireless for a plane to take the three of
us into Nairobi. Why didn't you poison him? That's what they do in
"Stop it. Stop it. Stop it," the woman cried.
at her with his flat blue eyes.
"I'm through now," he said. "I was a
little angry. I'd begun to like your husband."
"Oh, please stop it," she said. "Please, please stop it."
"That's better," Wilson said. "Please is much better. Now I'll stop."