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Let Us Go and Risk Our Lives Unnecessarily

I thought it over; it went against me to lay out strychnine for lions, and I told him that I could not see my way to do it. At that his excitement changed over into exasperation. The lions, he said, if they were left in peace over this crime, would come back another time. The bullocks they had killed were our best working bullocks, and we could not afford to lose any more. The stable of my ponies, he reminded me, was not far from the oxen’s enclosure, had I thought of that? I explained that I did not mean to keep the lions on the farm, only I thought that they should be shot and not poisoned.

“And who is going to shoot them?” asked Nichols. “I am no coward, but I am a married man and I have no wish to risk my life unnecessarily.” It was true that he was no coward, he was a plucky little man. “There would be no sense in it,” he said. No, I said, I did not mean to make him shoot the lions. But Mr. Finch-Hatton had arrived the night before and was in the house, he and I would go. “Oh, that is O.K.” said Nichols.

I then went in to find Denys. “Come now,” I said to him, “and let us go and risk our lives unnecessarily. For if they have got any value at all it is this that they have got none. Frei lebt wer sterben kann.”

—Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa

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