In Praise of Savagery
wives, as was the custom of their tribes.
    Kibiriti’s house was a wattle-and-daub hut, iron-roofed, and it sat within a gated picket-fence, in the middle of a garden in which grew flowers and vegetables—the only garden of its kind in all of Maralal, he told us, proudly. He had got the idea from pictures of English houses shown to him by his adoptive father. The house was cool and surprisingly spacious inside, though simply furnished, and the walls of dried red mud were decorated all over with a pattern of white clay spots, and with framed black-and-white photographs of Thesiger.
    We sat and drank tea, hot and sweet, and talked about our lives; and then Kibiriti prepared for us a huge and hugely filling meal. It had something of a theme to it: the theme was
goat
.
    First came a plate of dried goat-meat nibbles, followed by agreat bowl of goat with boiled rice. This was followed in turn by an even bigger platter of roasted goat meat.
    It would have been very bad form, I think, and rude and ungrateful in the extreme, to mention the fact that back then I was—and still am, I ought to say—a vegetarian. That I was the sort of vegetarian who hadn’t eaten meat or fish of any kind for many years; who would, as a matter of course, go out of his way to avoid stepping on an insect; who would never dream of wearing a leather jacket; just the sort of irritating, holier-than-thou vegetarian you would find it an absolute chore to cater for at a dinner-party. And a non-drinker, too. A bundle of fun, in fact.
    I ate what I was given, though, fighting back the instinct to gag at the surprisingly gristly toughness of it—which was not at all how I remember the meat I ate as a child; and when I had finished I smiled and rubbed my stomach, and heaped the cook with praise.
    I think I must have succeeded, to some extent, because when we finished Kibiriti smiled and winked at my companions and said, ‘He likes his meat, this one—well, we will have a treat for him tomorrow!’

Upon the Etiquette of Massacre

    In February 1692, a party of 120 soldiers of the first and second companies of the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot, under the command of Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, marched out from Fort William on the shores of Loch Linnhe, through the bleak winter landscape. There was snow on the mountainsides and an icy wind blowing.
    They crossed the water by boat at Ballachulish and then headed along the shores of Loch Leven for some sixteen miles, until they saw thin streams of smoke spiralling upwards in the bleak winter sky from the stone-hut village of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, which lay by the shore of the River Coe, beneath the mountainous ridge of Aonach Eagach, to the north, and, to the South, the twin peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, the great and little shepherds of Etive.
    They made their way to the house of the chief of that clan, whose name was MacIain, and there they were met by his sons, who came out to greet them.
    The eldest son spoke out.
    ‘Greetings, Robert Campbell,’ he said, holding up his hand towards them. ‘Do you come in war or in peace?’
    ‘In peace,’ said Campbell, ‘from Fort William.’
    ‘What brings you here to our village?’
    ‘Building-work,’ said Campbell, ‘and the movement of men at the Fort.’
    MacIain’s son inclined his head for Campbell to continue.
    ‘There have been new units admitted,’ he said, ‘and the old barracks are full. The new barracks are not yet ready, and we have been sent to quarter in Glencoe with your people.’
    ‘You are welcome here,’ said MacIain’s son, though there was no love lost between the men, but Campbell had requested hospitality, and it was the custom in those parts that such requests could not be refused.
    There had been much blood shed between the Campbells of Glenlyon and the MacDonalds of Glencoe over the years. Mostly it had been over questions of cattle theft and ownership of land and grazing rights. Not

Similar Books

Going Home

Angery American

Bailey's Irish Dream

DEBBY CONRAD

Heart of the Demon

Cynthia Garner

The Princess and the Pauper

Alexandra Benedict

Last Night's Scandal

Loretta Chase