Chapter 12 Summary
Mary is still feeling unwell. Mwindi says it is because of the lion, but Hemingway argues with him that Mary was sick even before eating the lion. He points out that he ate the lion and feels fine. He tells Mwindi that he will take Mary into Nairobi to be treated by a doctor.
Hemingway and Ngui shoot two birds for Mary. Hemingway decides that he will have Mary look them up in her bird book to determine what kind they are. Mary returns and Hemingway fixes her a drink, but he does not force her to take medicine. She says she seems to be thirsty all the time. She is upset that she has become ill when they were having such a wonderful time. She suggests sending for a plane to take her to a doctor in Nairobi to treat her dysentery.
Although she seems to have bad luck, Mary is loved by everyone else. Arap Meina especially worships her. He also has great affection for Hemingway, to so great an extent that Hemingway has to explain that he cares for women rather than for men.
Mary again condemns Hemingway for the cruel things he and G.C. do to animals at night in their idea of fun. Hemingway promises to be good while she is in Nairobi. Mary suggests that he spend the time writing. She also tells him that she does not mind his fiancée (Debba) as long as he loves her more. She reminds him that he promised Bill to get a leopard by Christmas.
The next day Willie arrives with the plane. It is raining, so he and Mary have to put off their departure until the afternoon.
In his loneliness, Hemingway reads his letters. One is from a woman in Iowa who thinks his books are a disappointment, even emotionally immature. The other letters contain news, both good and bad, of friends and acquaintances. One of his female friends is slowly dying of cancer. Hemingway thinks that Mary is at her hotel in Nairobi by now. He stops thinking about her and thinks about Debba instead. He had promised to take her and the Widow shopping for new dresses. He must make arrangements to fulfill that promise. He thinks about how the author Henry James would handle this situation. From that thought, he remembers the time he met James. He imagines Debba and James together.