True at First Light Chapters 19 and 20 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Chapters 19 and 20 Summary

Mary tells Hemingway that Mwindi is worried about his hunting barefoot and going out at night. Hemingway dismisses this. Mary wonders why sometimes he takes so many precautions and at other times he takes no precautions at all. Hemingway says that he feels the time is getting shorter. Mary worries about him, but he says there is nothing to worry about, that they are both safe.

Mary says that for Christmas she wants to see the Belgian Congo. Hemingway resists the idea. Arap Meina comes with a report about lion trouble at the Manyatta. Hemingway decides to go to Laitokitok to see if anyone has heard anything. He invites Mary to come along. On the way, Hemingway ruminates over Mary’s request to go to the Belgian Congo. Hopefully he can put it off for as long as possible.

Hemingway had been told to keep away from Laitokitok, but he is here on business. He drops in at Singh’s and buys beer for the Masai elders. Marry returns from buying supplies. Hemingway thinks of the last time he was here shopping with Debba and the Widow, but he says nothing about this to Mary. On the way back they share a bottle of beer. Charo does not approve; he thinks they should drink out of glasses. Before they get to camp they spot a hartebeest and stop to watch it. Mary shoots it and feels pleased with herself that she spotted it first.

The next afternoon Hemingway and Mary go out again. They stop and watch dung beetles at work, which fascinates Hemingway. Mary gets bored and asks to go see something else. They drive off and try to find a rhino. When they find it, they stop to watch its movements. They find the tracks of the two lionesses. Hemingway suspects that the lion is off hunting somewhere else. Hemingway and Mary make plans to go to bed early, make love, then listen to the night.

The night is very cold. Hemingway and Mary are huddled together for warmth when they hear a hyena very close to the tent wall. Mary imitates his sounds under the blanket. Hemingway laughingly warns her that she’ll have hyenas coming into the tent.

Mary wishes that they never had to leave Africa, but she suggests that there may be more wonderful places to visit before they die. As they go to sleep, they listen to the roar of a nearby lion.