Yes, I recalled all this. Even so, in the quiet of the tropic evening I could relax, back again in Gombe—back home. Many old chimp friends were there, familiar members of the community that has been the subject of scientific study, under my direction, since 1960.
Melissa and her 7-year-old daughter, Gremlin, were enjoying their last meal of the day, the yellow blossoms of the msiloti tree. Nearby sat my old friend Fifi. I had first known her as an infant: Now she was mother of two. Fifi's older son, Freud, was playing a wild game with his friend Prof, a 6-year-old like himself. As they sparred and grappled, I heard outbursts of chuckling chimpanzee laughter from Prof as the bigger, stronger Freud dug tickling fingers into his playmate's neck or groin.
Passion and Pom, Prof's mother and adolescent older sister, occupied the same tree. Five of the community's six adult males were in the group. Figan, top-ranking male, fed in another tree with Humphrey.
There was a sudden swishing of branches behind me. I looked around at a bristling figure, head and chest just topping the grass, eyes glaring. He swaggered there a moment, working himself up. Wham! With a sudden lunge he slammed my back with both hands and charged off, slapping and stamping the ground. Satisfied with his display of male superiority, he climbed a tree near Melissa and fed.
This was Goblin, Melissa's 12-year-old son, now on the brink of social maturity. In adolescent male chimpanzee style, he had bullied and blustered at the adult females until they had begun to defer to him.
When the chimps moved on into the forest, I followed close behind and watched as they made their tree nests for the night. There were 21 individuals all told, including the infants. Such a group is not stable: Soon, perhaps next day, the chimpanzees would be scattering in the small temporary groups of three to six that are most common in their society.