Chapter 17 Summary

In the morning, when Mwindi brings him tea, he remembers Keiti and goes to see him. He is stopped by Arap Meina, who tells him there are “small problems.” Two Masai have come about lion trouble in their villages. Hemingway judges that their complaints are legitimate and tells them he will attend to their problems.

Mwindi then announces that there are two Masai women with sexually transmitted diseases. Msembi mixes medicine for the lesions, and Hemingway applies it. He also gives them some penicillin.

The next patient is a prematurely old man with a very high temperature, along with other symptoms. Hemingway treats it with malaria medication and penicillin, though he believes the latter is wasted on this illness.

A young warrior who also has a venereal disease arrives. Hemingway treats it, telling the boy that he must come back six more times. The patient is happy that he got to be treated with a needle.

Mthuka arrives and suggests that they go to the Shamba. Hemingway agrees and gathers some of the other men. Keiti is bothered by the fact that Hemingway has no religion, but Hemingway tells him that he does have one, a religion older than the mountain. Mary hates this religion that Hemingway invented, but people consider her as being part of it.

The men drive to the Shamba and pick up Debba. She responds to the crowds according to what she has seen royalty do in the photographs in the magazines Hemingway gives her. They drive up the mountain, where Hemingway hopes to shoot some magnificent beast. However, no such beast appears, so he shoots a gazelle instead. Debba cries at the animal’s death. They put the gazelle in the car and drive back to the Shamba. They butcher the gazelle, and Hemingway sends some of its internal organs to Debba’s father.

When they get back to camp, Hemingway takes a bath and gets ready for bed. Then Keiti appears. Hemingway thanks him for his correction the night before. Keiti had acted appropriately, especially considering that Debba’s own father is worthless. He tells Keiti that if Debba becomes pregnant, he will treat the child well.

In bed, Hemingway listens to the animals. He agrees with Keiti’s statement: no one knows the night. He thinks about his exwives, whom the Africans believe are taking care of Hemingway’s Shamba in America. He thinks again of Mary and wonders what she is doing in Nairobi.