The Equator runs close to the Rongai Valley, and, even at so high an altitude as this we hunted in, the belly of the earth was hot as live ash under our feet. Except for an occasional gust of fretful wind that flattened the high, corn-like grass, nothing uttered — nothing in the valley stirred. The chirrup-like drone of grasshoppers was dead, birds left the sky unmarked. the sun reigned and there were no aspirants to his place. We stopped by the red salt-lick that cropped out of the ground in the path of our trail. I did not remember a time when the salt-lick was as deserted as this. Always before it had been crowded with grantii, impala, kongoni, eland, water-buck, and a dozen kinds of smaller animals. But it was empty today. It was like a marketplace whose flow and bustle of life you had witnessed ninety-nine times, but, on your hundredth visit, was vacant and still without even an urchin to tell you why. I put my hand on Arab Maina’s arm. ‘What are you thinking, Maina? Why is there no game today?’ ‘Be quiet, Lakweit, and do not move.’ I dropped the butt of my spear on the earth and watched the two Murani stand still as trees, their nostrils distended, their ears alert to all things. Arab Kosky’s hand was tight on his spear like the claw of an eagle clasping a branch. ‘It is an odd sign,’ murmured Arab Maina, ‘when the salt-lick is without company!’ I had forgotten Buller, but the dog had not forgotten us. He had not forgotten that, with all the knowledge of the two Murani, he still knew better about such things. He thrust his body roughly between Arab Maina and myself, holding his black wet nose close to the ground. And the hairs along his spine stiffened. His hackles rose and he trembled. We might have spoken, but we didn’t. In his way Buller was more eloquent. Without a sound, he said, as clearly as it could be said — ‘Lion.
man must seem a masterful and yet a forlorn animal; he has but two friends. In his almost universal unpopularity he points out, with pride, that these two are the dog and the horse. He believes, with an innocence peculiar to himself, that they are equally proud of this alleged confraternity. He says, ‘Look at my two noble friends — they are dumb, but they are loyal.’ I have for years suspected that they are only tolerant. Suspecting it, I have nevertheless depended on this tolerance all my life, and if I were, even now, without either a dog or a horse in my keeping, I should feel I had lost contact with the earth. I should be as concerned as a Buddhist monk having lost contact with Nirvana.
The young man tied his shuka on his shoulder one day and took his shield and his spear and went to war. He thought war was made of spears and shields and courage, and he brought them all. But they gave him a gun, so he left the spear and the shield behind him and took the courage, and went where they sent him because they said this was his duty and he believed in duty. He believed in duty and in the kind of justice that he knew, and in all the things that were of the earth — like the voice of the forest, the right of a lion to kill a buck, the right of a buck to eat grass, and the right of a man to fight. He believed in many wives, young as he was, and in the telling of stories by the shade of the singiri. He took the gun and held it the way they had told him to hold it, and walked where they told him to walk, smiling a little and looking for another man to fight. He was shot and killed by the other man, who also believed in duty, and he was buried where he fell. It was so simple and so unimportant.