A PRIDE OF LIONS
Everybody had warned Clare not to fall in love with Hugo Canning. Women meant nothing to him, they said, compared with his beloved lions.But Clare found it was one thing to listen to advice -- another thing altogether to follow it!
A lion pride is a hunting unit, and this would seem to be its sole reason for existence. And it is the extraordinary dominance of the male lion,and little else, that welds the society together.
(by permission of Collins Publishers)
MRS. FREEMAN poured the tea with a languid hand. This was her third pregnancy and her husband, Luke, had sent her down to the coast fora while ‘to put some flesh on her bones’, as he put it. Kate, happily, one might even say complacently, married for ten years, glanced at my flushed face and smiled.“Have you ever met Hugo Canning?” she asked.“No,” I answered doubtfully. Having reached the age of twenty-five without having been tempted into marriage, I rather resented thematchmaking proclivities of even my dearest married friends.“Ah!” said Kate.“And what is that supposed to mean?” I asked, slightly rattled.“My dear Clare, what should it mean? I don’t think you’re going to like him much. I must say they make very nice sandwiches here,” she addedgreedily, helping herself to a couple and sitting back to enjoy them with an almost feline grace.“Don’t they?” I agreed. I hesitated. “Tell me more about Mr. Canning!”Kate looked amused. “What is there to tell? He’s a male of the species and—and a bit of a fanatic. Luke admires him.” And if Luke admired him, she did too. Naturally.“Well, I’m only going to work for him—”“Oh, not for
surely? I thought you would be working for this Dutch architect? You’d better tell me about the job all over again. I don’tseem to have got it at all straight!”So I did. My name is Clare deJong. DeJong is an awkward name to have when one is English-speaking, but my father’s family were Boers fromthe south and came to Kenya in the last of the Great Treks northward. His side of the family have all the Afrikaner virtues. They are solid,hard-working and obstinate, with those flashes of brilliance that have given South Africa such a great heritage in art and letters. From him Ihave inherited a love of Africa and the ability to speak pure Dutch, as well as its awkward dialect of Afrikaanse.My mother is different. She is the daughter of a missionary and spent most of her childhood in a state of semi-starvation because her family never had enough money to live on. The marks of that childhood still lurk in the corners of her face, a face so lovely that there is apt to be asudden intake of breath when she walks into a room. My mother does not know that she is beautiful—she shares my grandmother’s convictionthat it is wrong to stare at oneself in a glass—and so she has never been able to understand why my father picked her to be his wife, a fact for which she is still pathetically grateful. From her I have inherited my looks, a pale shadow of her own, but nevertheless well enough with a littlecareful make-up. I do
see anything sinful in either cosmetics or a looking-glass!It was Mother who had insisted that I put my knowledge of languages to good use. In the Kenya of today where tourism is the second industry of the country, translators are badly needed, and I have a working knowledge of Swahili, the
of the whole area, as well as beingable to speak Kikuyu and Masai, picked up in childhood from the workers on my father’s farm. Up to now I had scraped a living in aninternational firm centred in Nairobi, but then, two days before, this marvellous opportunity had come my way and I was still hugging myself with glee at my good fortune.“They’re going to build another Safari Lodge in Tsavo National Park—”