The Thorn Tree Cafe

Lisa Marie Courtney was her name, and she’d written Newland, Tarlton & Co. in Nairobi to inquire about a safari in Kenya.  She was a writer who wanted to see Africa in order to gather information for a book about the country, the animals, and the native people.  At their convenience, she would like to reserve four weeks for said safari.  Newland, Tarlton & Co. had contacted me about my availability, and had engaged my services from June 1 to June 29 of 1910.  Such requests were not new to me, because I made part of my living as a safari guide and had since I was twenty five.  

I am English by virtue of my father and mother, but have never lived in England.  My father was a career officer in The Royal Army, and I first saw the light of day in India.  During my formative years, my father was also stationed in various locations in China and Africa.  Of the three countries, I loved Africa the most.  Africa was sparsely populated by people, heavily populated by wild animals, and held the promise of the great adventures craved by all young boys.

Also like all boys I would suppose, my thoughts were not on the voice of the schoolmaster in his attempts to teach me proper English, mathematics, geography, and the sciences.  I would look out the window of the classroom, see the thorn trees on the plains outside Nairobi in my mind, and was instantly taken away on a hunt for elephant, rhino, or cape buffalo.  

Every shop in Nairobi had at least one head or hide on the wall, and I saw many elephant tusks being shipped out on the train.  In my imagination, I saw myself bravely standing in front of a charging animal, rifle trained on the exact spot that would bring the beast down, then pulling the trigger and watching the animal fall dead at my feet.  I vowed that one day I would be one of those hunters.

Instead of studying my school subjects, I studied the catalogues of Purdey, Holland and Holland and the other English companies that manufactured the large caliber double rifles used to hunt the largest African game animals.  I absorbed anything I could find to read about the animals of Africa and of British East Africa in particular.  I fear I also made somewhat of a pest of myself with my questions to the men in khaki who led expeditions of discovery into the interior.

All this was much to the dismay of my dear mother, who wished me to become a doctor or barrister.  My father, being a lover of adventure himself and understanding my frustration with school, quietly approved of my ambition.  He did mandate that I pass my final examinations in all subjects but promised that upon my doing so, he would assist in finding me a position with the British Government in Nairobi.

Pass the examinations I did, though a couple were, as the saying goes, by the skin of my teeth.  Father was good to his word, and secured my employment as an assistant to one Harrison McClard, a professional hunter employed by the government of British East Africa to control the population of animals.

I was in my element with Harrison, and accompanied him on his many forays into the bush as a controller of the local game animals.  Elephants and rhinos often destroyed native crops, and lions and leopards occasionally became partial to the taste of the native cattle.  It was the responsibility of the government hunter of that time to dispatch the offenders in order to protect the natives.  Under his tutelage, I learned the skills of a hunter and guide.  

Harrison retired to Scotland just after my twenty fifth birthday, and I was appointed to take his place.  As a parting gift, Harrison gave me one of his several double rifles – a beautiful Holland and Holland chambered for the .470 Nitro Express cartridge.  I took my first elephant as a game controller with that rifle, though after the years with Harrison, I did not enjoy the task.  True, by the efforts of the professional hunter, the raids by elephants and rhinos of the native fields did decline, and fewer cattle were taken by lions and leopards, but this was because of the decline in the numbers of these wondrous beasts.  

I witnessed this decline over only a few years, and came to realize continuance would quickly result in the elimination of the larger beasts and predators.  Reason dictated that since the large predators controlled the size of the herds of antelope and zebra, without such predation those populations would explode and become a secondary threat to native agriculture.  Without a significant number of elephants to remove the bottom mud and spread it on their backs, the water holes would not be excavated deep enough to retain water during the dry season and many other animals would die of thirst.

With the opening of the railroad from Mombassa to Uganda, it became much easier to access the wilds of British East Africa, and a strong demand for sport hunting was created.  Mostly, the hunters came from wealthy families in England and Europe, though there were several from the United States, Russia, and India as well.  Most came for the adventure of trekking through the bush and shipping home the hides, heads, and tusks that would decorate their game rooms.

Some came with the misguided hope of finding courage in facing a charging elephant or lion.  With these hunters, their trophies often sported a hole in the hide from one of my .470 caliber bullets. I had little sympathy for these clients as they stood paralyzed by fear and not even putting rifle to shoulder, but I had a high regard for my own life. It was either shoot the animal myself or stand there watching my client wet himself before we were both killed.

I did not relish the idea of killing more animals for the sake of decorating some wealthy hunter’s wall or floor, but guiding others in their quest to do so helped put food on my table and clothing on my back.  Hunting also contributed to the economy of British East Africa through license fees and the employment of the natives as trackers, porters, and other camp help.  

As the animals desired by these hunters were the largest and therefore oldest, it was some comfort to know they were mostly past the age of breeding.  Just as She does with we humans, Nature tends to select the young and fit over the aged and weak to further the species.  Removing the older animals, and mostly males at that, did little if anything to reduce the population of game.

I was not surprised by the contract to lead a safari for Lisa Courtney, though I was both surprised and uneasy about her sex.  Never before had a woman been on any safari in which I took part.  The rigors of the bush were severe, and it was then my belief that women with any sense at all should stay in their drawing rooms and parlors while their husbands went in search of trophies from Africa.

Apparently, Lisa Courtney either had no sense or at least did not share my belief.  Newland, Tarlton & Co. informed me she would be traveling alone and cautioned me to not overexert the woman lest she fall ill or be injured.

She was due to arrive on the train from Mombassa on May 30, and I was to meet her there to explain my plans for her safari.  At one on that Saturday afternoon, I was standing on the station platform and holding a sign that read, William Blakely - Newland, Tarlton & Co.

When the train stopped and the passengers began disembarking, I saw her and my worst fears were realized. The woman was absolutely beautiful in her long dress with several tiers of lace on the front and puffy sleeves.  Her waist was obviously made very small by a tightly laced corset.  The big hat she wore was outrageously flamboyant, and nearly covered her face and the blond hair she wore up in several thick braids.  I envisioned her walking through the brush in that dress and getting snagged by thorns or other brambles with every step.  

She also looked a bit delicate for such an effort as well.  She wasn’t tall, perhaps five and a half feet, and while I could not estimate her weight due to the layers of clothing in which she was clad, she was not a heavy woman at all.  I would be leading her to see all of British East Africa possible in four weeks, and that would mean walking through heavy brush at times, crawling on all fours at others, and fording rivers by wading.  All that could be exhausting for even the strongest of men.

She saw the sign I held and began walking in my direction.  Her walk brought to mind the casual walk of a lioness at ease.  There was no wasted movement; the motion of her body was smooth, flowing, and sensuous.  It wasn’t the typical finishing school walk I’d seen on my infrequent visits to London.  She didn’t put one foot in front of the other or even appear to be trying to walk that way.  It was too natural to be learned.

As she approached, she smiled and I saw a sparkle in her azure eyes.

“Mr. William Blakely?”

“Yes, and you must be Miss Lisa Courtney.”

“Oh, splendid.  I thought I might have to wait at the station.  I do not enjoy waiting on anything.  I also abhor the title of ‘Miss”.  I am well past the age of being described as a “Miss’ though I have never married.  As we appear to be about the same age, please call me Lisa.  Now, if I am to understand the letter correctly, you will escort me and my luggage to a hotel for the night?”

“Yes, that’s part of the service.  One of the finest rooms in the Norfolk Hotel has been reserved for you.  If you would consent to call me William, I will be happy to take you and your luggage there.”

She smiled again.

“Excellent, William.  I simply must change my dress.  The windows of the train car were open for the entire trip and I surely must reek of train smoke.”

I had a porter bring her luggage – a heavy trunk and two smaller bags – to my lorry and then drove Miss Courtney to the hotel.  There, I engaged two men to take her luggage to her room while she signed the register.  I was looking forward to getting her settled and then a night in my own hotel room at the Stanley after a glass or two of scotch whisky in the hotel bar.  Those anticipatory thoughts came to an end when she asked if I would accompany her to dinner.

“Would you care to escort me to dinner?  I despise eating alone and I would not have any idea where or what to eat in Nairobi.”

I was reluctant to accept for two reasons. I had driven my Daimler lorry to Nairobi for the purpose of transporting Miss Courtney and supplies from Nairobi to my base camp.  It had no top over the single bench seat so Lisa would be exposed to the dust of the streets while in her evening dress.  I feared she would not enjoy puffing the dust from her skirts before entering the eating establishment.

My other reservation was my own attire.  I had come to Nairobi dressed in my bush clothing.  My khaki pants and shirt, and high, brown leather boots all bore the scrapes and scuffs of life in the bush, and my pith helmet that had begun life a brilliant white had weathered over time to a dull yellow as a result of frequent wettings and dust.  Even though Nairobi was in the heart of British East Africa, lacking the dress uniform of the Royal Army, a dinner suit and tie were the norm for a gentleman escorting a lady to dinner in any restaurant of renown.

It would have been rude to refuse her request and my refusal would have made its way back to Newland, Tarlton & Co.  Their first mandate to all employees and contractors was that the client must always receive that for which they ask as long as the request can be fulfilled at reasonable cost.  Refusing would have threatened my engagement with them for future safaris.  I explained my reluctance to Lisa.  She listened, then smiled, and then chuckled.

“Mr. Blakely, I have often been wined and dined in the best establishments in London.  I did not spend twenty nine days aboard a steamship to Africa to repeat those evenings.  I wish to experience the true Africa, not some reconstruction of London society.  Can you not find a dining place where your dress will be acceptable?”

I said I could do such but my lorry would not be the most comfortable transportation.  Lisa chuckled again.

“Though they remain hidden by my dress, I am equipped with two very serviceable legs.  Could we not walk to our meal?  If not, your lorry would be more than suitable to me.  It brought me safely from the train station to here, did it not?”

After waiting for an hour while Lisa did whatever women do when they change clothing, we walked to the Thorn Tree Café.  I had intended upon taking my evening meal there as it was a popular stopping place for travelers of all backgrounds and my bush clothes would not seem out of place.  I was also looking forward to the food.

The food at The Thorn Tree Café was mostly East African with a few Indian curries thrown in for those people of Indian origin who had stayed in Nairobi after the railroad was constructed.  I enjoyed the native dishes, but as those were my usual fare when in the bush, I had wanted a good, spicy curry to enliven my taste buds.  

I explained the various items on the menu to Lisa, after which she stated she wanted to experience African food as well as everything else.  She selected nyama choma with ugali – kudu meat roasted over charcoal with maize meal cake.  I ordered a fiery curry of lamb, though the waiter admitted the meat was Thompson’s Gazelle.

I was surprised that she also wanted a scotch whisky while waiting for our meals to be cooked.  She only smiled when I remarked most women would have asked for wine.

“I have heard whisky is an acquired taste, and I suppose I acquired it at a very early age.  Father always had a glass of scotch whisky before bed, and began giving me a small glass at night when I was thirteen.  I grew to enjoy it very much.”

I said she surely must take it with water to which she chuckled.

“No, no water please, nor anything else.  Father always said scotch whisky should be enjoyed like a beautiful woman, first gazed upon to feast the eyes, and then taken warm and naked as the day it was born.”

I choked back my chuckle, and she grinned.

“I suppose even in Africa, proper ladies do not say such things.”

“Well, we don’t have many proper ladies visiting us, but yes, they usually are quite mum about such things.”

Lisa smiled.

“You will find me to be a proper lady when the occasion requires such, but quite different otherwise.  My father had no sons, so I received a somewhat unusual education.  Mother taught me to be what London society would call a proper lady.  Father taught me to be…well, let us just say his teaching was not so proper nor ladylike.  I found his teaching to be more interesting than Mother’s, though of course, being female, certain of her lessons were somewhat more important to me than Father’s.”

After our meal, Lisa insisted upon another glass of scotch whisky.  She claimed it was to assist in the digestive process.  While we sipped the amber liquid, she remarked she had never seen a tree growing in the middle of a restaurant as there was in the Thorn Tree Café.  She listened intently while I explained.

“It’s a thorn tree and it’s been there since the café was built, hence the name.  Do you see all the papers pinned to the trunk?  The tree serves as a mail service of sorts between the people who come to Nairobi.  One writes a note to one he believes will stop by and checks the others for one addressed to him.”

She beamed a wonderful smile at me.

“Oh, how very interesting.  I simply must copy a few of them for my book.”

So saying, she retrieved a small notepad and a fountain pen from her purse, then rose and walked to the thorn tree.  I followed her to help her understand.

“What does this one mean”, she asked with a confused look on her face.

I read the note and smiled.  I knew the author, one Reginald Perry, another safari guide.  The note read, “Frank, Nairobi on six Aug with Baxter party.  Owe you a drachm or two.  8ft black mane.  Perry.”

“This one is from another safari guide named Perry.  He is telling Frank he owes him a drink for telling him about a very large lion.  I’m not sure who Frank is, but the lion Perry’s client shot was eight feet from nose to the start of the tail and had a black mane.  That’s a very large loin, so I’d guess Perry’s client is really happy.  Whoever Frank is must have told Perry where to find that lion.”

Lisa frowned.

“I fail to understand why killing such a magnificent creature is considered sport.”

I attempted to explain what I had seen with various clients in the past.

“Over the years I’ve developed some theories after guiding several clients.  I think some men hunt in order to prove to themselves they are superior to the animals.  To others it’s a test of their manhood, I suppose.  I feel neither though I have killed many animals as a professional hunter.”

“You hunt animals and kill them for a living?”

“Yes.  I’m employed by the British Government to do so.  Sometimes killing a lion is a necessity.  Lions often raid the cattle of the natives, and once they develop a taste for cattle, they usually don’t stop.  A pride of lions would need to feed at least every couple of days, so they can quickly do some severe damage to a native herd.  There also have been a few that developed a taste for humans.  Perhaps you heard of the two that terrorized the workers who built the railroad”

“Yes, the newspapers in London printed the story.  I can understand why they were killed.  What do you mean by a pride of lions?”

“That’s what a group of lions is called.  Female lions form a group of four or more, and there will be a couple of males in the group.  It’s like a family in some respects in that the males are there to breed the females, but the lionesses determine who belongs to the pride and which male they choose.”

Lisa laughed.

“You simply must show me one of these prides then.  It would be interesting to see females in charge of things for a change.”

After Lisa read a few more of the notes and I explained their meanings, she wrote them down in her notebook.  Then I walked her to the Norfolk Hotel, made arrangements to call for her at seven the next morning, and then bade her good night.

As I lay on my own bed, I wondered at this woman who was somewhat of a riddle.  She was more beautiful than any woman I’d seen in the past several years, and carried herself like any lady, all be it with a walk so sensuous it would have raised the eyebrows of another “proper” woman, and yet, she was not embarrassed by comparing scotch whisky to a naked woman.  It would be an interesting four weeks in the bush, I thought.

At seven the next morning, I parked the lorry outside the Norfolk Hotel and walked into the lobby.  Lisa was sitting there with her two small bags and it was somewhat of a shock to see how she was dressed.

She had exchanged the lavish dresses of yesterday for khaki pants and a khaki shirt.  Instead of slippers, she wore the same style boots I wore – brown leather with thick soles and shafts that reached almost to her knees.  Her blonde hair cascaded in waves over her shoulders and was topped off by a white pith helmet.

I had not seen a woman in pants before, much less pants such as Lisa wore.  They were of the same Jodhpur style I favored, but much more snug than the usual fit on a man.  The reason for the fit was obvious, as they were cut for a man’s slender hips, not the wider, rounder hips of a woman such as Lisa.  Her shirt, also obviously a man's shirt as indicated by the side on which the buttons were sewn, was not sufficiently roomy in the chest for her breasts.  In order to get it on, Lisa had left the top three buttons undone, and the resulting gap revealed the soft swell of her left breast.  She giggled when she saw me staring.

“Mr. Blakely, perhaps you expected me to wear a dress, but my reading about the African bush indicated this clothing would be more appropriate.  I rather enjoy the freedom of movement given by the pants.  All those underskirts over a union suit restrict the movement of the legs so and make the heat of the day unbearable.  The lack of a corset makes the shirt a pleasure since my bosom is not squeezed into such an unnatural shape and I can breathe as deeply as I desire.”

I was mute for a few seconds.  Women of that time would never breathe a word about any undergarment while in the presence of a man.  Like most men, I was aware women wore underclothes, but they never spoke of them in mixed company.

“Well, khaki’s and boots are much better in the bush.  I am just surprised a woman would wear them.”

“Why? It is not as if I were standing here naked, now is it?”

I had a fleeting vision of what Lisa might look like naked before answering.

“No, but…”

Lisa chuckled.

“Are you trying to say my appearance is somehow upsetting to you?”

“Not upsetting…perhaps interesting is a better word.”

“As you are a man, by interesting, I assume you mean titillating.  I fail to see how it might be since I am completely covered.  I fear you must accustom yourself to my way of dress.  Other than my nightdress, this is the only clothing I brought, and it is not likely you will observe me in my nightdress.  Now, should we not be getting started?”

Lisa was indeed interesting, and her unusual dress was indeed arousing.  She seemed to turn this way or that at times I happened to be looking, and those turns would either widen the gap of her shirt or tighten the pants around her hips.  The ride from the hotel to my base camp was thankfully somewhat rough, and all the jostling about allowed my cock to find a comfortable position pointing up at my belt buckle.  Unfortunately, as the brassiere had yet to be invented, the jostling also caused Lisa’s unrestrained breasts to move softly about and maintain my state of arousal.

It took all morning for the porters and cook staff to get all the supplies and equipment packed into the loads they would carry.  The cook fixed lunch for us at about eleven, and at one the rest of the safari – the second and third gunbearers, the cook staff, and of course the porters – began the trip to the first camping spot of the safari.  I started off through the bush with Lisa and Mjumba, my head gun bearer and tracker. .Lisa said she wanted to see as much of the animal life as possible, and I knew there was usually a herd of Thompson’s gazelles grazing the area about half a mile from my base camp.  Where there were tommies, there were sure to be lions and possibly a leopard.

Even if we didn’t find a lion or two, I needed meat for the porters as well as for Lisa and myself.  Tommies were plentiful and one would feed the entire safari for two meals.  Since there was no portable refrigeration back then, meat hunting was something I did every other day or so.

Half an hour’s walk from the base camp, Mjumba quickly walked in a crouch to the crest of a small rise.  After peeking over the edge for a few moments, he ran back with a grin on his face.

“Tommies and zebra, and lions.”

We walked up to the crest and when our silhouettes would have been seen against the horizon, I told Lisa we’d have to crawl the rest of the way.  She didn’t so much as bat an eye.  She just dropped to all fours and began following Mjumba.  When we were close to the edge, Mjumba dropped to his belly and inched forward.  Lisa did the same.  I was a bit behind her then, and the sight of her hips working as she crawled along made me forget about anything else until she peeked over the edge and gasped.

I smiled at her reaction to the sight.  Most people spend a lot of time doing that on their first trip to Africa, and the same sight never fails to cause a feeling of awe in me too.

The herd of a couple hundred Tommies grazed over several acres of grassland, though there were always several of their delicate, horned heads raised and looking in all directions for predators.  A few of this year’s fawns kept to the sides of their mothers.  I suspected the lone females on the edges of the herd also had fawns, but the fawns were hiding in the grass where the does had left them.  

The bucks had each staked out a territory and spent most of the time running back and forth among the grazing does hoping to find one in season.  If two bucks got too close to each other, a mock fight would commence, though neither touched the other.  It was only a warning for each buck to stay in his own territory.

When a buck approached a doe, he would sniff under her tail, then raise his head in the air and curl his upper lip up towards his nostrils.  I knew he was testing each doe to determine if she was ready to breed.

Behind the tommies a herd of about a hundred zebras also grazed, their black and white stripes blending into a confusing mass that made it difficult to distinguish one zebra from another.  Under a thorn tree off to the left, a small pride of lions languished in the shade.  Though both the tommies and the zebras were aware of the lions and kept looking in that direction, they weren’t concerned.  Lions tend to stay in the shade during the hot afternoons and hunt when the heat of the day cools.

Lisa started to stand up, but I put my hand on her back to keep her on her stomach.
“Stay down or they’ll run.”

Her eyes were open wide and her mouth was hanging open.  She looked at me.

“There are so many.”

“Yes, tommies and zebra are pretty common.”

“Why are some of the tommies running about while the others just move slowly and graze?”

I pointed to one side of the herd.  

“The ones running are the bucks –males – like that one over there.  They’re trying to find a doe who is ready to breed.”

Lisa chuckled.

“That would be why he’s smelling her backside then.”

“Yes, if she’s ready, he’ll know by the way she smells.  When he curls up his upper lip like he just did, he’s finding out how ready she is.  If she’s ready, he’ll mount her and breed her.  There, in the center, that’s what’s going on right now.”

 The buck followed the doe until she stopped walking, then reared up and straddled her body with his front legs.  They were too far away to see any detail, but once he held the doe between his legs, the buck began thrusting with his hips.  The doe began to walk again, and he followed her by using his back legs while his hips continued the thrusting motion.  The doe stopped again, the buck gave a few rapid thrusts, and then dropped back to the ground panting.  The doe just moved off to graze some more.

Lisa giggled.

“It looked like the buck enjoyed himself.  I’m not sure the doe even knew what was happening.”

“Oh, she knew or she wouldn’t have let him.  She’d have run off if she wasn’t as ready as he thought she was.  He’d have kept trying though.  It’s Nature’s way of making sure there are plenty of tommies around.”

Lisa chuckled.

“He’s just like a man I once knew – always wanting to try.”

I wasn’t sure how to reply to that, so I didn’t say anything for a while.  We just stayed down and watched.  As sometimes happens, the zebra thought the grass looked better in the area closest to our position and moved toward us.  As the zebras began to slowly mill closer, they were still watching the lions.  In a few minutes time, they were only a hundred yards or so away.

Lisa giggled softly.

“I see zebra males are the same as the tommies.  That’s what that one closest to us is doing, isn’t it?”

It was.  The stallion was walking slowly behind three mares and sniffing.  One of the mares raised her tail and a stream of urine splashed on the ground.  The stallion squealed, trotted up to the wet place on the ground, and lowered his muzzle.  After inhaling a couple of times, he raised his head high, curled up his lip and stood there inhaling the mare’s scent.  

“Yes, he’s doing the same thing.  He thinks at least one of those mares is ready.  He’s testing one now.”

Lisa caught her breath.

“That’s not all he’s doing.”

The stallion’s organ had distended from the sheath and hung down in an arc almost to the ground.  He dropped his head then, trotted to the mare, and started nuzzling her sides.  The mare spread her back legs a little and moved her tail to the side.

In a second, the stallion mounted her and clamped his teeth onto her neck.  His organ stiffened straight, and he began probing under the mare’s tail.  After a few tries, he found the right place and staggered forward as his organ slid inside the mare.  

Lisa whispered.

“He’s so long.”

His hips pumped rapidly a few times, and then a gush of white flowed out around his pumping organ and dripped to the ground.  

After a few more thrusts, the stallion slid off the mare’s back and another stream of white spewed from the tip of his rigid member.  Lisa gasped.

“Is there always so much…so much…semen?”

“Yes, for the same reason as his length.  The mare’s…the place he has to reach is pretty far inside her.  His length lets him get there and the amount is to better his chances of successfully breeding her.”

“So there are lots of zebras too?”

“Well, yes.  Tommies and zebras are two of the animals lions eat so there are a lot of them.  If there were fewer tommies and zebras, there would be fewer lions.  It’s Nature’s way of controlling the population of animals.”

“It looks like there are lots of mares and only a few stallions.  How do the lions know not to kill the stallions?”

“They don’t know, but it doesn’t matter.  Lions can’t run fast enough or long enough to bring down a tommie or a zebra, male or female, that’s young and in good health.  They only kill the old and the weak.  That’s Nature again, culling out the worst of the herd.  Lions and leopards and wild dogs will take a foal or a fawn if they get the chance though.  That’s another reason the tommie and zebra males work so hard to breed the females.  There have to be enough young each year to make up for the ones the lions and other predators take.”

The lion pride was moving, and Lisa noticed.

“Are the lions going to hunt now?”

“Probably not.  It’s still too hot.  They’re just moving back in the shade.”

She chuckled.

“I can understand that.  I’m sweating.”

I had been too interested in the animals to look at Lisa, but I did then and she was right.  There were dark stains under her arms that extended around to the swell of the sides of her breasts, and the seat of her pants was starting to get dark as well.  The way she was lying, the pants had molded themselves to her firm hips.  I willed my cock to stay down and asked if she was done watching for a while.  

“You’re going to shoot one now, aren’t you?”

“Yes, we need the meat, but don’t worry.  There are more and bigger herds than this.  We’ll also see wildebeest, kudu, and lots of other animals that are prey for lions.”

“I suppose we do have to eat, don’t we?  You won’t shoot a male though, will you?”

“Yes, I will.  I don’t know which does have young, and there are always plenty of bucks.  That group off to the right are young bucks who couldn’t chase an older buck away from his breeding territory.  The strongest of them will take his place.”

I tapped Mjumba on the shoulder and he handed me my bolt-action Rigby Mauser.  The closest tommie buck jumped straight into the air when the .275  caliber bullet smashed through his heart and then fell flat on the ground.  The rest of the two herds immediately ran off over the next ridge, and the lions grudgingly got up and slowly followed them.

Mjamba quickly skinned the buck and cut the carcass into quarters.  He carried two and I carried two as we made our way back to the new camp.  When we arrived, my cook and his helpers took the quarters to the kitchen tent.  I asked Lisa if she wanted a cup of tea.  She chuckled.

“I believe I should use the facilities first.  You do have facilities, do you not?”

“Yes…not what you had in the hotel in Nairobi though.  The small tent behind yours is the latrine.  There is a seat over a pit and tissue for your use.”

“Ah…I see.  Well, I did wish to experience Africa.  Would you have facilities for washing as well?”

“I have a shower with cold water.  If you would rather, I can have one of my men bring a pail of hot water to your tent.”

She smiled.

“I think the pail of water will suffice today.  If you would be so kind…”

With that, she walked off to the latrine.  I asked the cook to warm a pail of water and take it to her tent, then sat down in a chair under the dining fly.  An hour later, Lisa came out of her tent in fresh khakis and smiled at me.

“I’d love that cup of tea now.  I feel like a person again.”

After one of the cook’s helpers brought our tea, I asked Lisa what type of book she was writing.  She smiled.

“I think it’s probably going to be a romantic story about a woman who goes to Africa, falls in love with the country, then finds a man and falls in love with him and decides to stay there.  Women like reading that sort of thing, or so the publishers tell me.  I’m not really certain why.  I’d much prefer to go out and experience the real thing rather than reading about another woman doing it.  I suppose I might think differently if I was like most women with a household to run and children to take care of.”

I had to chuckle.

“Most women I know don’t really like Africa.  It’s usually hot, in the rainy season everything turns to mud, and there aren’t many places to socialize in Nairobi like there are in London.”

“Well, my heroine wouldn’t like it at first either, but once she’d seen the animals and the country, she would realize it was a paradise.  Once she met the man, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Lisa chuckled.

“Some women are like that, you know.  When they find the man of their dreams, they’ll go anywhere and do anything to stay with him.  I don’t think I’d like being tied down to a family and all that entails, but some women live for that.”

I nodded my head.

“I know, because my mother did.  My father was in the Royal Army, and she followed him to India, then to China, and finally to Africa.  She always said she liked China because the people were so polite.  I don’t think she liked Africa much and she definitely didn’t like India, but she stayed with him.”

“Do they still live here?”

“No.  When my father retired, they moved back to England.”

I chuckled.

“She wrote me that the best things about England were the temperature, running water, and toilets.”

Lisa smiled.

“After using your facilities, I can understand.  It’s rather odorous and the seat is a bit rough.  If the facilities in India and China are as bad, I think I’d have gone back to England and stayed there.”

“Oh, she had a modern toilet at home in Nairobi, but if she was away from home, the facilities were much the same as mine except with no paper.  India was worse.  There were no facilities except on the garrison grounds.  The general population used the fields or railroad tracks.”

“And China?”

“China is different in a lot of ways, and the toilets are more so.  You must squat to use them.  They do sometimes have paper though.”

Lisa laughed.

“I believe I can do without visiting India or China then.”

We talked about what we would do the next day then, but in the back of my mind, I was still amazed by Lisa.  She seemed to have no modesty about things most women would never speak of.  Perhaps a woman might talk about toilets with her husband, but never with anyone else except another woman and then only in private.  Lisa was quickly becoming the most remarkable woman I’d ever met.

After dinner, Lisa and I sat in chairs at the edge of camp and watched the sun drop below the thorn trees.  She asked if I’d brought any whisky along.  

I had, of course.  I always took along a few bottles of spirits on every safari.  Most men enjoy a drink or two after a day in the bush.  I usually had two bottles each of the best bourbon, gin, vodka, and of course scotch whisky.  Americans seemed to prefer bourbon though I could not accustom myself to the sweet taste.  The English would want either scotch whisky or gin with the requisite dose of tonic water, the Russians, vodka straight from the bottle.  The Indians tended to request any of the four, and sometimes brought their own.  The spirits traveled in a special padded case carried by one porter, and I’d made sure the case was filled before meeting Lisa.

A lion roared somewhere in the distance as I handed Lisa a small glass of my favorite single malt.  She took a sip, mouthed it a bit, and then swallowed.

“Ah…the perfect way to end my first day in Africa – a beautiful sunset, the sounds of the animals in the distance, and a really good whisky to relax.  Would you not agree?”

I chuckled.

“I do enjoy hearing the animals, and of course, a good whisky is always a pleasure.  I don’t look at the sunset very often.  I’m usually too busy.”

Lisa looked at me and smiled.

“Busy doing what?”

“Most men on safari want some entertainment in the evening.  Usually that’s a game of cards, or maybe chess, and I sit in on the games.  They also want to hear stories about Africa and hunting, so I have a few I tell.”

Lisa swirled the whisky in her glass.

“I don’t play cards or chess, but I do like hearing stories.  I would suppose your stories are all about facing death from some charging animal.”

I shrugged.

“I have done that, so some of them are.  They seem to like those the best.”

“Tell me one.”

I told the story of being charged by a lion a client had wounded.  It is always the practice of a professional hunter to never leave a wounded animal in the bush.  A wounded animal will suffer grievously before it finally dies, and often will attack anyone who comes near.  We follow the blood trail until we find the animal and then either finish it off ourselves, or if it is a client’s trophy, let him do the honors if he’s able.  This was one of those cases.

“My client wasn’t a particularly good shot, and had hit the lion in the foreleg instead of the chest.  His leg was injured badly but not broken and he ran off.  I waited for half an hour to let the lion stop running, find a place to hide, and stiffen up a little.  Then, my tracker began following the blood trail.

“We heard the growl of a lion coming from a stand of brush in front of us.  Lions usually don’t make a sound if they’re surprised.  They just slink away quietly.  The growl told me this had to be the wounded lion warning us to stay away.  I cautioned my client to be ready with his rifle safety off and the butt on his shoulder because if the lion charged, it would happen fast.  We began walking toward the stand of brush and looking for the lion.

“We were twenty feet from the brush when the lion growled again and then burst from the growth.  Lions get up to speed within a couple of leaps, and that only takes them seconds.  I had my rifle to my shoulder and trained on the lion, waiting for my client to shoot.  I finally did when the lion made the second leap into the air.  Another would have brought him right on top of us.

“The bullet from my double rifle knocked him down, but he got back up.  It took the second barrel to put him down for good.  I turned to apologize to my client for shooting his lion, but saw only his rifle lying on the ground.  My tracker was grinning.”

“Lion come out, man run away.”

“I stepped off the distance from where my client had stood to where the lion fell.  It was about six feet.  If I hadn’t shot, my client would have been ripped to shreds.  My tracker skinned out the lion while I went looking for my client.  I found him up a thorn tree about thirty feet away.  The tree was pretty large so it didn’t have many thorns on the trunk, but what there were had scratched the man pretty badly when he shinnied up the trunk.  I told him he was no longer in danger and to come down.  It took me an hour to disinfect all the scratches from the thorns and bandage them.  

“He must have thought he could run away and save himself.  I didn’t tell him the lion would have caught him before he’d gotten ten feet.  I figured he was shaken up enough.  Anyway, he got his lion hide and skull for the rug he wanted, and I imagine the story he told back in Chicago wasn’t quite the one I just told you.”

Lisa frowned.

“If he was such a bad shot, why did you let him shoot the lion in the first place?”

“Well, the man paid to hunt a lion, and if he didn’t get one, he’d have demanded his money back.  I found him a lion standing still fifty yards way and broadside to him, the perfect shot.  It should have been hard for him to miss, but he did.”

“At least you saved his life.”

I laughed.

“At the time, his life was the furthest thing from my mind.  When a lion charges, he’s not really particular about who he attacks.  That person might have been me.”

“Well, it should have attacked the coward who ran.”

I waved my hand.

“Don’t be too hard on the man.  He was just scared.  I was scared too.  I just knew what to expect and reacted from experience.  He didn’t and he reacted just like most people probably would.”

“So, you think most people are cowards?”

“No, not really.  To me, a coward is someone who knows what is going to happen and is capable of doing what he should do, but chooses to run away instead.  The man wasn’t a coward.  He was just doing what his instincts told him to do because he couldn’t do anything else.

While I was talking, the sun had gone down and stars now dotted the night sky.  Lisa looked up and gasped.

“I didn’t realize there were so many stars.  They’re as beautiful as the sunset.”

“It’s because there aren’t any artificial lights here like in a city.  Even the smallest stars shine in the bush.  I agree it is beautiful.”

Lisa sighed.

“It must be wonderful to live here amongst all the animals and under these stars.”

“Well, I think so, but I would suppose I’m not like most men.  Most men I’ve run across like Africa for a couple weeks to a month, but they’re ready to go home then.  They like sleeping in a comfortable bed instead of a cot, and they like riding in automobiles or carriages instead of walking everywhere.  They also like the normal accommodations for washing and other functions.”

Lisa sipped her whisky, then smiled.

“I could live here, I think.  Not here in the bush, of course, at least not all the time, but I could live here.”

I chuckled.

“If you tell me that in a couple of weeks, I might believe you.”

“Lisa yawned.

“I believe the day has tired me out.  If you would be so good as to walk me to my tent, I believe I will curl up on my cot until morning.”

I demonstrated to Lisa how to light her lamp and then how to arrange the mosquito netting once she was on her cot.  After she tied the flaps of her tent behind me, I went back to my chair to wait half an hour or so after her lamp went out.  Doing so was a standard practice for me when guiding a client.  It was usual for a client to lie down for half an hour and then come to find me to complain about insects or an uncomfortable bed.  Most clients expected an instant response to any complaint, and staying awake saved getting up and dressing again to solve his problem.  

The next morning, I was up and having my tea under the dining fly when Lisa walked out of her tent and down the path to the latrine.  A few minutes later she walked under the dining fly and smiled.  I asked if she had slept well.  She grinned.

“You expect me to say I did not, don’t you?”

I shrugged.

“Most of my clients have some difficulty falling asleep the first few nights in the bush.  Some of them say it’s the sounds of the animals or the insects.  Others say it’s the lack of a soft mattress.”

She smiled.

“I slept like a baby.  My cot is comfortable, and the sound of the animals and insects only served to lull me to sleep last night.  I woke this morning to the sounds of chattering birds just as I would have in London.  As of this moment, I am starved.  What is on the menu for breakfast?”

“Well, we won’t be fixing one of the typical English breakfasts with sausage, bacon, eggs, and tomatoes, but we do have warthog ham and eggs with potatoes.  The cook baked bread yesterday while we were out, so you’ll have fresh toast with butter and marmalade, and of course, tea.”

“I was hoping for something a little less English.”

I chuckled.

“I could have one of the porters run to the local Maasai village and fetch you a gourd of milk mixed with cows blood.”

Lisa made a sour face.

“Perhaps another day.  Ham and eggs will do me just fine.”

The safari began in earnest that morning, but in a different fashion than most.  Most hunters came to British East Africa in search of what would later be known as the “Big Five”, namely, elephant, black rhino, cape buffalo, lion and leopard.  While these five animals all lived in the country, they preferred different habitats from each other.  For instance, one would find lions and a few leopards in the open plains, while the cape buffalo preferred the cover of some brush near water.  Leopards prefer to live where there are trees where they may store their kills to protect them from hyenas and other scavengers.    Elephant, huge though they are, prefer taller grasses or dense forest to provide the vast quantity of food they require and in which they can nearly disappear from view.

A lot of every safari is usually consumed in traveling from one area to another.  A hunter on a two week safari often had only two or three days in which to collect a trophy before moving on to a different area.  True, in walking from one area to another, they were afforded ample opportunities to hunt various antelope and the ever-present warthogs, and most did so.  Those trophies would later occupy space in a lavish game room, but the “Big Five” were those most sought.

As Lisa was only interested in seeing animals, I had decided to move camp only three times.  The first week and a half would be spent on the plains, for there we would find the most wildlife Africa has to offer.  Most species of grass eaters prefer the open, grassland.  There they find ample food, and the open space gives them plenty of room to run to escape predators.  Water is important for most species, but many can go for weeks without drinking if there is sufficient grass.  The predators of those grass eaters, mostly lions and hyenas and the smaller wild dogs that scavenge their kills, could also be found there.

Over the first week and a half, I guided Lisa through the grasslands by making use of the cover of the sparse thorn trees and gently rolling terrain to cover our movements.  She proved to be adept at the stalk, never shying away from actions most women would consider to be both soiling and unladylike.  Many were the times we crawled on hands and knees up a low rise to peek over the top at a herd of wildebeast or to spy upon a pride of lions resting in the shade.

If the rise in the land was low enough, even remaining as upright as being on all fours would spook the game, and we were forced to lie upon our bellies and crawl along like lizards.  This means of travel produced some surprising results at times.

The second incident that forced this happened to be on ground that was rather sandy and resulted in Lisa’s open bush shirt scooping up a small quantity of that sandy soil.  

Once we had viewed the herd of grant’s gazelles to Lisa’s satisfaction, we stood.  The sentries throughout the herd took notice, and in seconds, they were thundering away over the plains.  I turned to ask Lisa if she would enjoy a short break before walking to a nearby water hole.  The sight rendered me unable to speak for a few moments.

Lisa had turned away so her back was to me and Mjamba, and was in the process of unbuttoning her shirt.  She had already pulled it from the tucked-in security of her trousers and as she fumbled with the buttons, the shirt rose up and bared her lower back.

She pulled the shirt open once all the buttons were undone and it was obvious she was brushing her hands over her breasts.  I waited silently until she began buttoning up again, and then cleared my throat.

“Lisa, is there a problem with which you need some assistance.”

Lisa giggled.

“No.  I seem to have scooped some of Africa down the front of my shirt, but I have remedied that situation.  It is of no consequence.”

It might not have been of any consequence to her, but the sight of her bare back was very erotic to me, so much so in fact, I was forced to rearrange my cock from it’s position of pushing out my bush pants to lying upright against my belly.  

Lisa unbuttoned the front of her pants then and began stuffing the shirt back inside.  I saw no more bare skin, but the sight of her hands smoothing the shirt down over her hips was nearly as erotic.

Such an effect upon me might seem a bit of an exaggeration to modern readers, but one must remember, women seldom bared even their ankles in those times, much less so personal a part of there bodies as their backs.  I was truly stricken with an erection of my manhood at the sight.

“There”, Lisa chuckled as she turned around, “I am decent again, dirty, but decent.  I believe your cold shower will get my use when we return to camp.”

I only smiled.  Would that I had that cold shower available to me at the very instant.  It would have helped reduce my embarrassment to a great degree.

We secreted ourselves in some dense brush some distance from a waterhole for almost two hours that afternoon, and it was a profitable two hours.  With the exception of certain antelope species, all animals must drink daily.  A waterhole is an ideal place to see many species in a small area.  Of course, lions and other predators realize this, so one must be cautious not to surprise a lion hiding in wait of an unwary zebra or gazelle.

Fortunately, we were alone in our hide, and were able to observe zebras drinking as well as several other species.  Lisa was all smiles when we quietly stole away so as not to disturb remaining wildlife.

“The zebra foals are so beautiful, all legs and bright eyes, just as are the horse foals on father’s estate.  I could watch them for hours, and the birds that came to drink - such bright colors and there were so many.”

I smiled.

“Water is life, so most animals must have it daily.  Waterholes are like the nightclubs in London to the animals.  One will see many different species gather there at the same time.”

Lisa grinned.

“In some respects I believe you are correct.  In others…I did not see any male zebras attempting to lure away a female as often happens in London clubs.”

“Well, their purpose at the waterhole is to refresh themselves.  As you saw before, stallions are more than adept at finding a willing mare under different conditions.”

She grinned again.

“Yes, I remember, though their method is greatly different.  I believe any man placing his nose anywhere near a woman’s backside would be met with a firm slap to the face rather than the invitation of the mare I saw before.”

I chuckled.

“Well, zebra’s have many things with which to concern themselves, survival being the utmost.  They have no time for lengthy courtships lest some lion or lepoard end that courtship by making the suitor into a meal.  It is seek and find a mate, then follow through.”

Lisa smiled a rather wicked smile, I thought.

“At least the stallion makes his intentions known to the mare.  I can not say the same for some of the men who have wooed me in London.  They say many things, but their true goal is the same as the stallion’s.  A woman must be as careful in a London club as the zebra at a waterhole, that is, unless she is of like mind.”

At the end of the week and a half, I had shown Lisa nearly all the wildlife of the grasslands.  There were some species active only at night, so we were not able to see them as the moon was not full during that time.  The morning of the tenth day, we upped-stakes and began the trek to a more densely forested area.  There I hoped to find cape buffalo, giraffe, and rhino.  All three species favor trees and brush as food as well as to hide themselves, though buffalo and rhino have no need to do so.  They are large and strong enough few fall prey to lions unless aged and weak.  Giraffe prefer the trees because they browse the thorny branches of the thorn tree for food.

Of the three, Lisa was impressed most by the cape buffalo, and she was not at all modest in her explanation.

We were at a safe distance from a small group of buffalo, “safe” meaning we were far enough away they could not easily see or smell us.  Mjamba also continuously tested the breezes by dropping small amounts of fine dust and watching its path on the breeze.  Our scent, though usually not detectable by humans, would have alarmed the beasts and caused them to either gallop away, or far worse, to become defensive.  A cape buffalo on the defensive is no small matter that may be ignored.  They have little to fear from any other animal and have no fear whatsoever of humans.  They are heavy, powerful animals with pointed, hooked horns.  Many times in my career I had come across the carcass of a lion that was gored by a buffalo.  Those horns make frightful wounds.

Lisa stared at the herd for a while and then remarked, “The largest, there slightly away from the rest, is a bull is it not?”

“Yes.  He is the dominant bull, and is the bull that will breed all the cows in the herd.”

“He looks very virile.  His…his…sack is so large and heavy.”

I wondered then, as I had in the past, at Lisa’s seeming fascination with the reproductive methods of the animals. She had immediately focused her attention on the bull’s testicle sack and desired an explanation.  I chose my words carefully for fear of causing Lisa some embarrassment.

“With all those cows to breed, he must be so.  If he were not so large and strong, or if he could not manage to breed them all, another bull would drive him away.  His sack, as you call it, ensures he has sufficient…that he can cover them all and produce calves the next spring.”

Lisa giggled.

“I would wager he has not the slightest difficulty in accomplishing that feat.”

We remained in the forested area for another week, then moved to a heavier forest.  There, I would show Lisa the animals who prefer heavy cover such as the bongo and forest elephant.  She marveled at the way both animals could hide only to appear as if by magic in some open area.  At the end of that week, we began the walk back through the plains to my base camp.  Once there, I would drive Lisa back to Nairobi in the lorry and then see her onto the train to Mombassa.

It was just afternoon on the first day of our trip back to my base camp that the large egyptian cobra reared up in front of us.  It is relatively unusual to encounter snakes of any type, for they are secretive creatures who will usually slither away upon feeling the ground vibrations caused by walking nearby.  Evidently, we had surprised this cobra and it resorted to its usual defense, that being rearing up to its maximum ability and spreading its hood to appear larger.

As I touched Lisa on the shoulder to stop her, I was thankful it was not one of the spitting cobra varieties sometimes encountered on the plains.  I had seen natives permanently blinded by the twin spurts of venom these snakes can project to a distance of over six feet.

I needn’t have stopped her.  She had already frozen in place and was shaking in fear.

“Lisa, do not make any sudden movements, but back away very slowly.”

At our first movement, the snake bobbed toward us slightly, and Lisa caught her breath.  I gently squeezed her soft shoulder.

“Keep backing up.  The snake is only telling us to leave it alone.”

We had retreated about ten feet when the snake dropped back to the ground and moved off toward a termite mound a few yards away.  I knew it would find a hole in the mound left by a foraging aardvark and hide until evening.  I turned to Lisa.

“You can relax now.  The cobra will not come back.”

She was still shaking when she turned to face me.

“I was terrified and thought you would have to kill it before it bit one of us.  They are deadly, are they not?”

“There was no reason to kill it.  It was only giving us a warning.  I’m surprised it was out in the open at this time of day because they usually stay hidden somewhere until the cool of the evening or morning.  Yes, the bite of the cobra can cause death, but they don’t kill as many people as other snakes in Africa, and they won’t attack unless they can’t get away.  We weren’t in any real danger unless we’d kept walking.”

Lisa touched my arm.

“Thank you for saving me, even if there wasn’t much danger.”

My plan for the safari was to stop by a Maasai village on the way back to my base camp.  Lisa wanted to see how the natives lived.  On the last day of the safari, we walked around a small hill and spied the enkang of thorn tree branches that surrounded the village.  Outside the enkang, we could see young boys herding the many cows that are the wealth of and furnish food for the Maasai people.

I had known this particular group of Maasai for years, and upon recognizing me, most of the village ran to greet us.  Lisa was amazed by their appearance.

“The women have no hair, and neither do the children or older men, but the young men have very long hair.  How odd.”

I chuckled.

“The Maasai women shave their heads because hair is considered a mark of authority.  The men with hair are warriors, and are the decision makers in Maasai society.  They spend hours caring for and plaiting their hair.”

Lisa grinned.

“I might have guessed men would run things.  It’s that way everywhere else I’ve been.”

As the people got closer, they began to jabber away and point at Lisa, and when they were standing in front of us, a few of the women reached out to touch Lisa’s long blonde hair.  She looked at me with worry on her face.

“They’re not thinking of shaving off my hair, are they?”

I laughed.

“No.  They just rarely see a white woman and they’re curious.  They’re a friendly bunch.  Let me explain why we’re here and you’ll see that.”

In the Maa language, I explained that Lisa wanted to see how the Maasai lived so she could tell other people about them.  One of the men standing remarked that the enuto ceremonies were in progress, and the young men and women would dance that afternoon.  He asked if we would like to stay to witness the dance.

I knew of this ceremony because I had seen it several times before.  The enuto marked the transition from boy to man, and only after the ceremony could men marry.  Since the number of legitimate children a man has is half the measure of his social worth – the other being the number of cattle he owns – it is very important for a man to marry.  The dances done are actually mating dances designed to convey a man’s physical prowess to the woman of the village, and to determine which men and women are interested in each other.

I relayed this information to Lisa who beamed.

“It is more than I hoped for.   Perhaps the women would show me one of their houses and how they prepare for the dance.”

I spoke again to the man who seemed to be in charge and asked Lisa’s question.  He smiled and spoke to the two older women nearest Lisa.  They nodded and each grasped one of Lisa’s hands.  Lisa looked up at me.

“I will see you at the dance.  We women have things to do.”

The two women walked away with Lisa in tow while I and Mjamba spoke with the men of the village.

They had been plagued by a certain lion in the area and had lost several cows over the past few months.  Their warriors had been able to track the lion and had managed to spear it once, but it had always escaped before they could surround it and finish the kill.  They wished to know if I could kill the lion.  I told them I would attempt to do so once I had escorted Lisa back to the train station in Nairobi.  

Our conversation had turned to the more mundane subjects of weather and if there would be a drought this year when I heard a commotion behind me.  When I turned, there was Lisa dressed in the same type of red sheet-dress worn by the Maasai women.  Around her slender neck was a wide collar of beads.  She grinned.

“I thought since we were going to a dance, I should dress for the occasion.  What do you think of my gown?”

I smiled.

“It’s very becoming, but how did you explain that to the women?”

“Women can communicate even though we do not share the same language.  I would have thought a man as old as you would have learned that by now.”

It was without thinking I replied that perhaps I needed a woman to teach me.  Lisa gave me an odd look for a moment, then waved.

“We are off to the dance if you would care to join us.”

The first dance, called the aduma is a sort of jumping thing done by the young men and looks very simple to do.  It is not.  As the women begin to sing, the young men form part of a circle, the open side of which faces the young girls singing with the women.  One or two of the young men will step into the circle, grow ramrod straight, and launch themselves into the air using only the muscles of their feet without ever resting on their heels.  

The first time I saw this I was amazed at the heights the men can achieve in this way.  Once I attempted it, much to the laughter of the Maasai men and women, I was in awe of their physical strength.  I could barely get my body six inches off the ground.

Lisa was fascinated as well.

“They make it seem so easy, and they jump so high.”

“Well, they’ve been practicing practically since they could walk.”

“Will you give it a go?”

I laughed.

“I think not.  I did once, and embarrassed myself.  Physical strength is important to the Maasai people because they have been warriors forever.  I would think civilized women care about other things than a man’s strength.”

I chuckled.

“A few I have known seem to be more impressed by the size of a man’s wallet than the size of his muscles.”

“I can understand how a young woman would be attracted to the highest jumper.  It is somewhat like young women gushing over the best footballer on the local team.  I was never been particularly impressed by a man’s strength nor his looks, but I do understand.  Yes, a woman does enjoy living comfortably, be we think about other traits as well.”

“And what might those be?”

Lisa smiled coyly.

“Surely you would not have me give up all the secrets we women have?”

The last of the warriors had done their jumps to the increasing pitch and tempo of the singing, and now formed a line in front of us.  The unmarried young women of the village did the same, one woman across from the man of her choice.  As the singing continued, the each man began to chant and thrust his pelvis at the woman in front of him.

Lisa tugged on my sleeve.

“Are they doing what it looks as if they are doing?”

“Yes.  This is another mating dance.  If the girl is interested she will respond in kind.  There, in the center, see?”

The woman across from the man was matching his actions with thrusts of her own pelvis.  The actions of the two in the center quickly became that of most of the couples.  I felt Lisa brush against me for a second, and then she walked in front of me.  She smiled as she thrust her pelvis at me, then raised her eyebrows.  The singing became intermixed with a series of titters and giggles from the other women.

Lisa said, “Well?” and gave me the same look again.

It felt really odd to be thrusting my pelvis at Lisa.  It was rather like making love to a woman in front of the entire village.  Of course I understood the reason for the dance and knew there would be no actual coupling of the pairs before marriage, but it was still embarrassing.  It was also more than a bit intriguing because Lisa had initiated it.  None of the women I had known in my life would never ever have made such a randy display, much lest done so of their own accord.

Lisa kept moving closer and closer until finally, her thrusts nearly brushed the front of my bush trousers.  I managed to keep my own thrusts within what I considered the bounds of propriety, much to Lisa’s glee.

“I do believe the man who shoots charging lions and remains calm when a huge snake is about to strike is afraid of a woman”, she chuckled.

“No, this is just somewhat of an odd situation.  I’m not certain how to react.”

She smiled.

“One should always react as one feels like reacting…barring violence, of course.”

The singing and dancing stopped a few minutes later and the people began filing back to their individual huts.  The two women who had taken Lisa into their hut came back with her clothing in their arms.  As they handed Lisa her boots, pants, shirt and hat, they jabbered in Maa.  Lisa asked what they were saying.

“The women say you should keep the dress and collar because you are a good woman and will need them to dance for me so I will think you are beautiful and marry you.  They say you will have many, many children for me and make me rich.”

Lisa turned to the women, nodded and then hugged each in turn.  I believe the women were a bit taken aback by the hug, but they smiled and walked back to their huts.  Lisa, Mjamba and I continued on toward my base camp.  We were about an hour’s walk away, and I knew our side trip to the Maasai village would allow the rest of the safari to already be at the base camp and getting things ready for our dinner.

After our last dinner in the bush, Lisa and I sat in chairs overlooking the plains and sipped at our glasses of scotch whisky.  She was quiet for several minutes, just staring out at the darkening grassland, then turned to me.

“A month ago, I believed I would learn enough about the animals and people to write my book.  I would achieve a certain renown for my work, and would live out my life in the comforts of London.”

She chuckled then.

“What I have learned is there is more to learn than I could ever hope to learn in such a short time.”

“Yes, Africa is a place of many layers.  On the surface, the part most people read about or see when they take part in a hunt, are the sights of the animals and people.  Under that, the part most people do not care to see, is the way the animals and people live and why they do as they do.  Beneath that still are the creatures almost never seen, but that play their role just as adeptly as the others.  All these things and more are interwoven into the real Africa.  

“You should not feel discouraged.  I have lived in Africa for ten years and have seen more than any visitor, and yet I am still fascinated by new things every day.  I am sure your book will enlighten many who believe they know all there is to know about Africa, for you have seen and experienced more than most by only observing and not hunting.

“I do hope that is true.  I will do my very best to portray Africa as I experienced it and not as have other authors.  Africa is indeed the paradise I told you I would write into my book.”

“It sounds as if you have come to like the country.”

Lisa sipped her scotch, then swallowed.

“I have given that matter much thought.  On that first evening, you asked me to tell you my opinion once I had spent two weeks here.  It has been a month, and I can truthfully say Africa is a wonderful place.  I could indeed live here, though it would be difficult at times.”

I shrugged.

“Nairobi would seem much like London after a time.  I am certain you would fit into white society there.”

“It is not fitting in that would make living here difficult.  It would be living here by myself.  I would need someone…a partner and friend…to enjoy life with who understands.  I fear the people of Nairobi society would be very much like those in London – comfortable in their fancy dress and lavish parties, but not understanding life for what it truly is.”

“And what would that be?”

“Life is the understanding of where we fit in the grand scheme of things without the trappings of all that money and status can buy.  It is you understanding that the cobra was only warning us.  It is the zebra stallion doing everything he can to continue the species because that is what a zebra stallion does.  It is the lions taking only the old and weak that there may continue to be lions in the future.  It is the Maasai women who do most of the work of life so their men can protect them and raise cattle so they can survive.”

“If you can put all that into a book about a woman finding romance in Africa, you will have accomplished your goal.”

Lisa put her hand on my arm.

“No, I will have not, for there is yet one thing I have yet to experience.”

Her hand on my arm had set me atingle, so I was a few seconds in asking her what that experience might be.  She stroked my arm as she answered.

“I have found romance in Africa, I believe, but I have not experienced the result.  I do so need to have that experience if I am to write about it in an intelligent manner.”

The realization of what Lisa had just said took me by surprise.

“Lisa, are you saying…”

She stroked my cheek.

“I need to feel what the mare felt with the stallion to understand.”

 My tent was further from the rest of the camp and would afford more privacy, so I took her there.  My cot was only large enough for one, but with Lisa’s naked body pressed tight against mine and her soft thigh over my legs, we managed.

It was with some surprise that once inside, she did not blow out the lamp.  She merely smiled as she unbuttoned the shirt, pulled it from her shoulders and tossed it on the small table on the other side.  Her bare, soft, lush breasts swayed gently as she unbuckled the belt of her trousers and rocked her hips to remove them.

Lisa wore no other undergarments, and as the trousers moved down her smooth thighs, the tuft of blonde hair that covered her mound and sex became visible.  She sat down on the bed to finish taking the trousers off and then tossed them aside.

“Are you going to remain dressed?” she asked.

Once I had disrobed, an undertaking made more complicated by my rigid cock, I joined Lisa on my cot and then arranged the mosquito netting around us.  She snuggled into my arms to make room for me when I stretched out.

I kissed her then, and as her lips mouthed mine, I gently cupped her right breast, then rubbed my thumb over the nipple.  Lisa moaned and flicked her tongue over my lower lip, then eased away.

“William, you don’t need to be so gentle.  This isn’t my first time.  There was a man in Paris…”

I put my finger on her lips to hush her, then stroked down her back, over the curve of her hip, and then between her thighs until I felt the soft hair over he lips.

“It’s not mine either.”

Lisa moaned a little as I separated the blonde hairs, and she caught her breath when my fingertip slipped between them.  She stroked her breast, then lifted it to my waiting lips.  I mouthed the stiffening nipple as I stroked up and down just inside her slit.

Her hand on my back tensed when my finger found her entrance and slipped just inside the satin passage.  She moaned again when I moved it out and smoothed the slipperyness to her slender inner lips.  When that fingertip touched the small bump at the top of her slit, Lisa rocked her pelvis into mine.  I felt the mass of blonde hair on her mound rubbing against my cock as she tried to excite herself on my fingertip.

My finger had found her to be moist when it first entered her passage.  The second time, she was nearly flowing with arousal.  I nipped the nipple in my mouth gently as my finger plunged deep inside her and then slowly stroked out and back up to her clit again.  After a rock of her hips, Lisa moaned.

“Oh, William, yes…yes….yes.”

I pulled gently on her hip to open her a little more, then moved my body until my cock head was pressing on her now swollen lips.  A few thrusting motions let it part those lips and slip between them.  For a while, I stroked slowly between them and up and over her clit.  When Lisa began lifting her hips in an attempt to move my cock head lower, I let it do as she wanted.

Lisa’s entrance felt snug, but slippery with the wet and slightly sticky flow of her juices.  After gently pushing until I was sure I was positioned correctly, I pressed in earnest.  Lisa gasped and rocked her body a little, and my cock slid inside her half its length.  I pulled back, made a few short strokes and then pushed in again.  When Lisa’s swollen lips pressed against the base of my cock, she moved her thigh high upon my leg and pushed into me firmly.  Her voice had a dreamy quality that made her words just that much more arousing.

“Mmm…yesssss… just like this.”

I began with slow strokes that were quickly met by Lisa thrusting her body against me.  I had been with two other women in my life, and neither had done so much to arouse the lust I was feeling.  I was making love to Lisa, but she was making love to me at the same time.  It was an experience I’d not had before, and it was incredibly arousing.  I found myself having to think of something other than the woman attempting to stroke herself over my cock in order to not end the pleasure much too fast.

Holding back became more and more difficult.  Lisa changed quickly from only rocking into my thrusts to ramming her body into mine and using her nails to rake my back.  Her breath was coming in gasps interspersed with moans, and her passage became more slippery.  When the end came, it did so because I was no longer in control.  The tightness of Lisa’s contracting passage as the first waves of her orgasm swept through her caused a tightening in my loins.  I held back as long as I could, but then gave in to that tightening.  As Lisa cried out and dug her nails into my back, I groaned and felt the surge of seed fly through my cock and splash inside Lisa’s pulsing body.

Lisa cried out again and then yet again as I rammed my cock deep inside her with each spurt.  I had shot my last after three more, but Lisa’s passage continued to milk at my cock with little contractions that slowly became less strong.  

When she stopped panting, Lisa pulled her breasts into my chest, kissed me, and then sighed.

“Now I can write about what my character will feel.”

The next morning, I woke up with Lisa holding me tight.  Her eyes fluttered and she smiled.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning to you too.  Did you sleep well?”

“Mmmm…better than ever before.”

“We need to get up if I’m going to get you to Nairobi in time to catch the train.”

Lisa sighed.

“I know.”

We ate breakfast under the dining fly while a few vultures soared over the plains.  Sometime during the night, lions had probably made a kill, and the vultures were biding their time until the other scavengers had left.  Lisa didn’t say anything.  She appeared to be thinking, so I didn’t offer to converse.

I put her on the train to Mombasa that afternoon after stopping by the Norfolk Hotel to pick up her other things.  She was again dressed in a frilly dress, huge hat and slippers, and she hugged me good-bye just before the conductor called out the train was ready to depart.  I saw her sitting by a window and waving as the steam poured from the engine drivers.  A minute later, she was gone.


Two days after she left, Mjumba and I were trailing the lion that had been wreaking havoc among the Maasai cattle herd.  We found the lioness in a thick stand of brush and approached it slowly.  The lioness growled, a low warning growl, then leapt from the brush and headed for us.  The heavy .470 bullet smashed through her chest and then spine.  She collapsed on the ground, pawed at the grass for a minute or so and then lay still.

As I examined the lioness, it was plain to see the cause of her cattle raids.  At some point in her life she had met up with a porcupine and had taken several quills to her face.  It was probable she was nearly blind and would have been in pain.  The slow moving cattle were the only prey she was able to take down in order to eat.

As I stepped away from the dead lioness, Lisa’s words came back to me.

“Life is the understanding of where we fit in the grand scheme of things without the trappings of all that money and status can buy.”

I knew where I fit.  I fit just where I was, shooting a lion to protect the food source and wealth of the Maasai village.  Mjamba was where he fit as well, using his knowledge and skills to assist me.  The lioness had known where she fit as well, and had only been trying to survive.  I wondered if Lisa had figured out where she fit.

After I’d watched Lisa board the train for Mombasa and before it left, I’d toyed with the idea of asking her to stay.  That was ridiculous, of course.  While Lisa was unlike any other woman I’d ever known, she was not a woman to live in Africa, no matter what she said.  Her background was life on her father’s estates, elite balls in London, and probably the fame of her book once she had written it.

I then rationalized making love to her that night as just something I’d done to comply with the directive from Newland, Tarlton & Company to always please the client.  I was a bit uncomfortable with that justification because it made me feel a little like the women in Nairobi who sell their bodies.  

No, it couldn’t be that, because I could never lower myself to that state, no matter what Newland, Tarlton & Company might direct.  I had felt something for Lisa.  I just didn’t think she felt anything for me, but that wasn’t surprising.  My other intimate encounters with women had been the result of their learning of my profession.  I supposed what Lisa had said about women and footballers could also be true about women and professional hunters, and that was the reason she’d wanted me to make love to her.

That final explanation to myself was somewhat painful, but served to allow me to mostly forget.  Only when I sat in a chair sipping scotch whisky and staring out at the vast expanse of grass land of an evening did her memory come back, and then it was more of a haze than an actual picture in my mind.

Six months later, I drove the lorry from the train station in Nairobi to the Thorn Tree Café.  I’d just put a hunter from England on the train along with several cases of trophy heads and hides salted down to make the trip and be mounted by some London taxidermist.  He was happy and I was several pounds richer.  I’d decided to spend a couple of those pounds on a good meal and a couple glasses of scotch before returning to my base camp.

I’d finished eating and carried my glass of scotch to the thorn tree to check for any messages from someone I knew.  The bright pink paper caught my eye immediately.  No man in Nairobi would ever use pink paper.  Usually they used white or even a strip torn from a cigarette package.  I bent slightly to look at the writing.

The words were made by a fountain pen and were obviously in the flourishing hand of a woman.  I felt a surge of emotion when I read those words.

Book done and selling.  In Norfolk Hotel 2 months.  Have khakis and want to see the stallion again.  If he’s of like mind, please come get me.

Lisa came down the stairs of the Norfolk with a sheepish grin on her face.  She wore a dress as before, and was as radiant as she’d been on that first day at the train station.  All the thoughts I’d been afraid to think flooded back as she made that sensuous walk from the stair to where I stood.

“So, William, does this mean you like me?”

“Does this mean you intend to stay?”

“I can do the Maasai mating dance again if that will answer your question.”

“I thought you didn’t want to be tied down with a household.”

“I didn’t…not until I came here and met you.  I thought that would mean I would lose my independence.  That’s what happened to my mother when she married my father.  I started thinking about that on the ship back to England.  You’re not like my father, not at all, and you didn’t treat me like I was a woman, well, except for that one night, and even then, you were different from any other man I’ve known.  You treated me like an actual person.  That’s what changed my mind.”

I smiled.

“I don’t know.  Can you live in the bush?  I don’t have a house.”

Lisa grinned.

“If you get a bigger cot for your tent I can.”

We did get a house on the outskirts of Nairobi, but that was after we were married six months later.  Lisa still goes on safari with me, and she’s always a big hit with my clients.  At first, they think it’s a bit odd for a woman to subject herself to the rigors of long marches through the country, but they quickly change their minds once she shows them she can not only keep up, but usually outlast them.

It doesn’t hurt anything that she always wears the same type of bush clothes with the tight trousers and open buttons at the neck.  Most of my clients have never seen a woman dress like that, and at times, it’s difficult to pull their attention from her to the plan for the next day.  I’m sure Lisa enjoys the attention, because she never tries to change how she looks, and she smiles when she sees a man staring at her.

She did stay at our house for four months three years ago.  The doctor in Nairobi was adamant that a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy had no business tramping around in the wilderness.  Lisa was just adamant that there was nothing wrong with her and that if Maasai women could continue to work up until the birth of their child she could do just as well and wouldn’t be working hard at all.  

She argued with him for half an hour until he threw up his hands and said he couldn’t be responsible for her welfare and that of the baby if she didn’t stay home to rest.  I finally convinced her that staying home was best by telling her we’d hire a native girl once the baby was born and she had recovered enough to come back to the bush.

Little Jack was a month old when I took them both to my base camp and introduced them to Naeku.  She’s a widow from the local Maasai tribe who didn’t want to be second wife to her dead husband’s brother.  Except for nursing him, Naeku took care of Jack and while Lisa taught her English, Naeku taught Lisa to speak Maa.  Now that Jack’s three, they both have their hands full keeping him out of trouble.  Lisa says that because he’s like me, but she wouldn’t have him any other way.

Last night, while we watched the sun go down over the thorn trees, Lisa put her arm around my shoulder.

“Remember that day when I told you what life really means to me?”

“Yes, I remember.  I used to think about that a lot.  You said it was knowing where you fit in everything.  Why?”

“I came back to Africa because I thought I’d figured out where I fit.  I wasn’t sure, but I thought it was with you.”

“That was over four years ago.  Have you figured it out yet?”

“Yes.  I fit right where I am, beside you in the middle of Africa with Jack being a pest to the gunbearers and porters.  There is only one thing missing.”

“Oh…what is that?”

Lisa stroked my cheek.

“It would be nice for Jack to have a sister, don’t you think?”

“That would mean you’d have to stay home for a while again.”

“I know, but it would still be nice.  Do you think we could figure out how to make that happen?”

I reached over and fondled Lisa’s full breast.

“I’m pretty sure we already know how.  We could go to our tent and see.”

“Will you take me like the stallion takes a mare?”

“As many times as it takes, Lisa, as many times as it takes.”