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Hemingway's direct and deceptively simple style shapes these stories into true masterpieces. From "Up in Michigan, " written in 1921, to "Old Man at the Bridge, " penned in Barcelona in 1938, these narratives trace, through setting and theme, the author's life, his evolving literary style, and the development of the "Hemingway hero"--be he soldier, boxer, expatriate, or bullfighter.Edition/Copyright: 38
The first four stories are the last ones I have written. The others follow in the order in which they were originally published.
The first one I wrote was Up in Michigan, written in Paris in 1921. The last was Old Man at the Bridge cabled from Barcelona in April Of 1938.
Beside The Fifth Column, I wrote The Killers, Today Is Friday, Ten Indians, part of The Sun Also Rises and the first third of To Have and Have Not in Madrid. It was always a good place for working. So was Paris, and so were Key West, Florida, in the cool months; the ranch, near Cooke City, Montana; Kansas City; Chicago; Toronto, and Havana, Cuba.
Some other places were not so good but maybe we were not so good when we were in them.
There are many kinds of stories in this book. I hope that you will find some that you like. Reading them over, the ones I liked the best, outside of those that have achieved some notoriety so that school teachers include them in story collections that their pupils have to buy in story courses, and you are always faintly embarrassed to read them and wonder whether you really wrote them or did you maybe hear them somewhere, are The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, In Another Country, Hills Like White Elephants, A Way You'll Never Be, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, A Clean Well-Lighted Place, and a story called The Light of the World which nobody else ever liked. There are some others too. Because if you did not like them you would not publish them.
In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.
Now it is necessary to get to the grindstone again. I would like to live long enough to write three more novels and twenty-five more stories. I know some pretty good ones.
Copyright © 1938 by Ernest Hemingway
from The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
It was now lunch time and they were all sitting under the double green fly of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened.
"Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?" Macomber asked.
"I'll have a gimlet," Robert Wilson told him.
"I'll have a gimlet too. I need something," Macomber's wife said.
"I suppose it's the thing to do," Macomber agreed. "Tell him to make three gimlets."
The mess boy had started them already, lifting the bottles out of the canvas cooling bags that sweated wet in the wind that blew through the trees that shaded the tents.
"What had I ought to give them?" Macomber asked.
"A quid would be plenty," Wilson told him. "You don't want to spoil them."
"Will the headman distribute it?"
Francis Macomber had, half an hour before, been carried to his tent from the edge of the camp in triumph on the arms and shoulders of the cook, the personal boys, the skinner and the porters. The gun-bearers had taken no part in the demonstration. When the native boys put him down at the door of his tent, he had shaken all their hands, received their congratulations, and then gone into the tent and sat on the bed until his wife came in. She did not speak to him when she came in and he left the tent at once to wash his face and hands in the portable wash basin outside and go over to the dining tent to sit in a comfortable canvas chair in the breeze and the shade.
"You've got your lion," Robert Wilson said to him, "and a damned fine one too."
Mrs. Macomber looked at Wilson quickly. She was an extremely handsome and well-kept woman of the beauty and social position which had, five years before, commanded five thousand dollars as the price of endorsing, with photographs, a beauty product which she had never used. She had been married to Francis Macomber for eleven years.
"He is a good lion, isn't he?" Macomber said. His wife looked at him now. She looked at both these men as though she had never seen them before.
One, Wilson, the white hunter, she knew she had never truly seen before. He was about middle height with sandy hair, a stubby mustache, a very red face and extremely cold blue eyes with faint white wrinkles at the corners that grooved merrily when he smiled. He smiled at her now and she looked away from his face at the way his shoulders sloped in the loose tunic he wore with the four big cartridges held in loops where the left breast pocket should have been, at his big brown hands, his old slacks, his very dirty boots and back to his red face again. She noticed where the baked red of his face stopped in a white line that marked the circle left by his Stetson hat that hung now from one of the pegs of the tent pole.
"Well, here's to the lion," Robert Wilson said. He smiled at her again and, not smiling, she looked curiously at her husband.
Francis Macomber was very tall, very well built if you did not mind that length of bone, dark, his hair cropped like an oarsman, rather thin-lipped, and was considered handsome. He was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new, he was thirty-five years old, kept himself very fit, was good at court games, had a number of big-game fishing records, and had just shown himself, very publicly, to be a coward.
"Here's to the lion," he said. "I can't ever thank you for what you did."
Margaret, his wife, looked away from him and back to Wilson.
"Let's not talk about the lion," she said.
Wilson looked over at her without smiling and now she smiled at him.
"It's been a very strange day," she said. "Hadn't you ought to put your hat on even under the canvas at noon? You told me that, you know."
"Might put it on," said Wilson.
"You know you have a very red face, Mr. Wilson," she told him and smiled again.
"Drink," said Wilson.
"I don't think so," she said. "Francis drinks a great deal, but his face is never red."
"It's red today," Macomber tried a joke.
"No," said Margaret. "It's mine that's red today. But Mr. Wilson's is always red."
"Must be racial," said Wilson. "I say, you wouldn't like to drop my beauty as a topic, would you?"
"I've just started on it."
"Let's chuck it," said Wilson.
"Conversation is going to be so difficult," Margaret said.
"Don't be silly, Margot," her husband said.
"No difficulty," Wilson said. "Got a damn fine lion."
Margot looked at them both and they both saw that she was going to cry. Wilson had seen it coming for a long time and he dreaded it. Macomber was past dreading it.
"I wish it hadn't happened. Oh, I wish it hadn't happened," she said and started for her tent. She made no noise of crying but they could see that her shoulders were shaking under the rose-colored, sun-proofed shirt she wore.
"Women upset," said Wilson to the tall man. "Amounts to nothing. Strain on the nerves and one thing'n another."
"No," said Macomber. "I suppose that I rate that for the rest of my life now."
"Nonsense. Let's have a spot of the giant killer," said Wilson. "Forget the whole thing. Nothing to it anyway."
"We might try," said Macomber. "I won't forget what you did for me though."
"Nothing," said Wilson. "All nonsense."
So they sat there in the shade where the camp was pitched under some wide-topped acacia trees with a boulder-strewn cliff behind them, and a stretch of grass that ran to the bank of a boulder-filled stream in front with forest beyond it, and drank their just-cool lime drinks and avoided one another's eyes while the boys set the table for lunch. Wilson could tell that the boys all knew about it now and when he saw Macomber's personal boy looking curiously at his master while he was putting dishes on the table he snapped at him in Swahili. The boy turned away with his face blank.
"What were you telling him?" Macomber asked.
"Nothing. Told him to look alive or I'd see he got about fifteen of the best."
"What's that? Lashes?"
"It's quite illegal," Wilson said. "You're supposed to fine them."
"Do you still have them whipped?"
"Oh, yes. They could raise a row if they chose to complain. But they don't. They prefer it to the fines."
"How strange!" said Macomber.
"Not strange, really," Wilson said. "Which would you rather do? Take a good birching or lose your pay?"
Then he felt embarrassed at asking it and before Macomber could answer he went on, "We all take a beating every day, you know, one way or another."
This was no better. "Good God," he thought. "I am a diplomat, aren't I?"
"Yes, we take a beating," said Macomber, still not looking at him. "I'm awfully sorry about that lion business. It doesn't have to go any further, does it? I mean no one will hear about it, will they?"
"You mean will I tell it at the Mathaiga Club?" Wilson looked at him now coldly. He had not expected this. So he's a bloody four-letter man as well as a bloody coward, he thought. I rather liked him too until today. But how is one to know about an American?
"No," said Wilson. "I'm a professional hunter. We never talk about our clients. You can be quite easy on that. It's supposed to be bad form to ask us not to talk though."
He had decided now that to break would be much easier. He would eat, then, by himself and could read a book with his meals. They would eat by themselves. He would see them through the safari on a very formal basis -- what was it the French called it? Distinguished consideration -- and it would be a damn sight easier than having to go through this emotional trash. He'd insult him and make a good clean break. Then he could read a book with his meals and he'd still be drinking their whisky. That was the phrase for it when a safari went bad. You ran into another white hunter and you asked, "How is everything going?" and he answered, "Oh, I'm still drinking their whisky," and you knew everything had gone to pot.
"I'm sorry," Macomber said and looked at him with his American face that would stay adolescent until it became middle-aged, and Wilson noted his crew-cropped hair, fine eyes only faintly shifty, good nose, thin lips and handsome jaw. "I'm sorry I didn't realize that. There are lots of things I don't know."
So what could he do, Wilson thought. He was all ready to break it off quickly and neatly and here the beggar was apologizing after he had just insulted him. He made one more attempt. "Don't worry about me talking," he said. "I have a living to make. You know in Africa no woman ever misses her lion and no white man ever bolts."
"I bolted like a rabbit," Macomber said.
Now what in hell were you going to do about a man who talked like that, Wilson wondered.
Wilson looked at Macomber with his flat, blue, machine-gunner's eyes and the other smiled back at him. He had a pleasant smile if you did not notice how his eyes showed when he was hurt.
"Maybe I can fix it up on buffalo," he said. "We're after them next, aren't we?"
"In the morning if you like," Wilson told him. Perhaps he had been wrong. This was certainly the way to take it. You most certainly could not tell a damned thing about an American. He was all for Macomber again. If you could forget the morning. But, of course, you couldn't. The morning had been about as bad as they come.
"Here comes the Memsahib," he said. She was walking over from her tent looking refreshed and cheerful and quite lovely. She had a very perfect oval face, so perfect that you expected her to be stupid. But she wasn't stupid, Wilson thought, no, not stupid.
"How is the beautiful red-faced Mr. Wilson? Are you feeling better, Francis, my pearl?"
"Oh, much," said Macomber.
"I've dropped the whole thing," she said, sitting down at the table. "What importance is there to whether Francis is any good at killing lions? That's not his trade. That's Mr. Wilson's trade. Mr. Wilson is really very impressive killing anything. You do kill anything, don't you?"
"Oh, anything," said Wilson. "Simply anything." They are, he thought, the hardest in the world; the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory and the most attractive and their men have softened or gone to pieces nervously as they have hardened. Or is it that they pick men they can handle? They can't know that much at the age they marry, he thought. He was grateful that he had gone through his education on American women before now because this was a very attractive one.
"We're going after buff in the morning," he told her.
"I'm coming," she said.
"No, you're not."
"Oh, yes, I am. Mayn't I, Francis?"
"Why not stay in camp?"
"Not for anything," she said. "I wouldn't miss something like today for anything."
When she left, Wilson was thinking, when she went off to cry, she seemed a hell of a fine woman. She seemed to understand, to realize, to be hurt for him and for herself and to know how things really stood. She is away for twenty minutes and now she is back, simply enamelled in that American female cruelty. They are the damnedest women. Really the damnedest.
"We'll put on another show for you tomorrow," Francis Macomber said.
"You're not coming," Wilson said.
"You're very mistaken," she told him. "And I want so to see you perform again. You were lovely this morning. That is if blowing things' heads off is lovely."
"Here's the lunch," said Wilson. "You're very merry, aren't you?"
"Why not? I didn't come out here to be dull."
"Well, it hasn't been dull," Wilson said. He could see the boulders in the river and the high bank beyond with the trees and he remembered the morning.
"Oh, no," she said. "It's been charming. And tomorrow. You don't know how I look forward to tomorrow."
"That's eland he's offering you," Wilson said.
"They're the big cowy things that jump like hares, aren't they?"
"I suppose that describes them," Wilson said.
"It's very good meat," Macomber said.
"Did you shoot it, Francis?" she asked.
"They're not dangerous, are they?"
"Only if they fall on you," Wilson told her.
"I'm so glad."
"Why not let up on the bitchery just a little, Margot," Macomber said, cutting the eland steak and putting some mashed potato, gravy and carrot on the down-turned fork that tined through the piece of meat.
"I suppose I could," she said, "since you put it so prettily."
"Tonight we'll have champagne for the lion," Wilson said.
"It's a bit too hot at noon."
"Oh, the lion," Margot said. "I'd forgotten the lion!"
So, Robert Wilson thought to himself, she is giving him a ride, isn't she? Or do you suppose that's her idea of putting up a good show? How should a woman act when she discovers her husband is a bloody coward? She's damn cruel but they're all cruel. They govern, of course, and to govern one has to be cruel sometimes. Still, I've seen enough of their damn terrorism.
"Have some more eland," he said to her politely.
That afternoon, late, Wilson and Macomber went out in the motor car with the native driver and the two gun-bearers. Mrs. Macomber stayed in the camp. It was too hot to go out, she said, and she was going with them in the early morning. As they drove off Wilson saw her standing under the big tree, looking pretty rather than beautiful in her faintly rosy khaki, her dark hair drawn back off her forehead and gathered in a knot low on her neck, her face as fresh, he thought, as though she were in England. She waved to them as the car went off through the swale of high grass and curved around through the trees into the small hills of orchard bush.
In the orchard bush they found a herd of impala, and leaving the car they stalked one old ram with long, wide-spread horns and Macomber killed it with a very creditable shot that knocked the buck down at a good two hundred yards and sent the herd off bounding wildly and leaping over one another's backs in long, leg-drawn-up leaps as unbelievable and as floating as those one makes sometimes in dreams.
"That was a good shot," Wilson said. "They're a small target."
"Is it a worth-while head?" Macomber asked.
"It's excellent," Wilson told him. "You shoot like that and you'll have no trouble."
"Do you think we'll find buffalo tomorrow?"
"There's a good chance of it. They feed out early in the morning and with luck we may catch them in the open."
"I'd like to clear away that lion business," Macomber said. "It's not very pleasant to have your wife see you do something like that."
I should think it would be even more unpleasant to do it, Wilson thought, wife or no wife, or to talk about it having done it. But he said, "I wouldn't think about that any more. Any one could be upset by his first lion. That's all over."
But that night after dinner and a whisky and soda by the fire before going to bed, as Francis Macomber lay on his cot with the mosquito bar over him and listened to the night noises it was not all over. It was neither all over nor was it beginning. It was there exactly as it happened with some parts of it indelibly emphasized and he was miserably ashamed at it. But more than shame he felt cold, hollow fear in him. The fear was still there like a cold slimy hollow in all the emptiness where once his confidence had been and it made him feel sick. It was still there with him now.
It had started the night before when he had wakened and heard the lion roaring somewhere up along the river. It was a deep sound and at the end there were sort of coughing grunts that made him seem just outside the tent, and when Francis Macomber woke in the night to hear it he was afraid. He could hear his wife breathing quietly, asleep. There was no one to tell he was afraid, nor to be afraid with him, and, lying alone, he did not know the Somali proverb that says a brave man is always frightened three times by a lion; when he first sees his track, when he first hears him roar and when he first confronts him. Then while they were eating breakfast by lantern light out in the dining tent, before the sun was up, the lion roared again and Francis thought he was just at the edge of camp.
"The Capital of the World"; "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"; "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" copyright © 1936 Ernest Hemingway;
renewal copyright © 1964 Mary Hemingway
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