In 1947 the British district commissioner of Las Anod, in northern Somalia, was a Colonel Smith. He carried out a court order to seize camels from a bandit of the Majerteen clan. Some Somalis were killed in the ensuing fracas. In 1967, having been abroad for many years, “Somali Smith” asked a friend-my narrator-if it would be safe to return briefly to the country with his Somali wife. They decided that, after so much time had lapsed, it probably was. But the day after his arrival, at the door of his hotel room, Somali Smith was stabbed to death by the son of one of the men he had killed in the 1947 raid.