Chapter 24: Higher Mathematics

“Mr. Hemingway, the years from 1940 to 1950 look like a long dry spell in your career, with nothing published other than the Men At War anthology you edited and the journalism you did for PM and Collier’s. Did this long dry spell worry you?”

“Of course it did. I had lost five years of my career.”

“Five? Not ten?”

“I didn’t publish for ten years, but the only time lost was from 1940 to October, 1945, when the mechanism started working again. I was hoping to write about the war, but I couldn’t start there. I needed to reconnect with the man I had been before the war. So I went back to a story I had started years earlier, that was set in Bimini in 1936. It centered on two friends, a writer named Roger Davis and a painter named Thomas Hudson. They were middle-aged men living with what life and their own errors had left them.

“Roger Davis was a writer who had prostituted his talent and wasted a good deal of his life in Hollywood. Visiting Thomas Hudson, he resolves to try again to get his life straight. Thomas Hudson was a good painter, and he had not prostituted his talents. But he had lost plenty too, especially including his wives, one of whom he still loved. He was trying to keep himself in harmony by a careful routine. He worked, he read, he fished, he drank. He had lost plenty, but he still had the world, and the use of his talents, and sometimes his three children.

“I had Roger and his girl fly to Miami, intent on driving to Thomas Hudson’s place out West so Roger can write. He drives and observes himself and observes the countryside. He is politically aware, and he reads about the revolt in Spain and thinks he is going to have to go fight fascism at some point. But I couldn’t figure out what to do with Roger. I got them as far as New Orleans, but all I could think to do was set that part aside and return to Thomas Hudson. Maybe Roger was going to be killed in Spain. Spain killed enough idealists, God knows, even cynical ones. But I had already written about Spain.

“Hudson’s part of the story is pretty happy, and then it turns, in the abrupt and sickening way life can, sometimes. He gets a telegram telling him that the younger two boys have been killed in an accident.”

“So now Thomas Hudson has lost two out of three of his sons.”

“Yes. That’s what the story is about, loss and carrying on after loss. From that prewar scene, I went to Thomas Hudson in wartime Havana, trying to live with his emptiness and grief after young Tom got killed flying Spitfires. I had wanted to write about air warfare, but I needed more experience than a few hours in the air. I didn’t have it and couldn’t get it. So young Tom died off-stage. I could imagine his emotions easily enough, from the time I had heard that Jack had been shot and captured and maybe killed. Then I wrote up a sea chase in a Q-boat, with Thomas Hudson and his men pursuing the survivors of a sunken U-Boat. These were things I knew.

“I worked on that book on and off for years, and finished it mostly to my satisfaction, but I never quite found a way to make the transition between the prewar section and the war years. It’s a manuscript sitting in my bank, ‘The Island and the Stream.’ I thought I’d have another 10 or 15 productive years, so there wasn’t any hurry about getting it right. I didn’t count on Max dying, and Charlie Scribner.”

“This trial centers on you and not your work, but your stories help make certain things clear. In 1936, Roger Davis sees the absolute danger that fascism represents, and believes he has a duty to oppose it. In 1943, Thomas Hudson wasn’t engaged in the world war with his heart, only with his head.”

“Maybe Thomas Hudson was Roger with fewer illusions.”

“In any case, both men are different aspects of yourself.”

“Let’s say both men are aspects of the way I sometimes experienced myself.”

“You did not publish ‘The Island and the Stream,’ but you did publish Across The River And Into The Trees, your story about land warfare.”

“Yes, and apparently it didn’t please anybody but the public. It did make the best-seller lists.”

“Perhaps after that long wait for a new Hemingway novel, the critics expected another epic.”

He shrugged. “Possibly. They would have loved set-piece battles, I imagine, and I could have written them. But why would I want to do the same thing twice? That wasn’t what I was after. I wanted to write about a heart-sick soldier looking back at his life. He was sick of war, sick of stupidity and suffering, even sick of himself. I was showing a dying man in love with a young woman – Beatrice to his Dante – seeking absolution for the things he had done and not done. I showed him touching painful  memories and then backing away, and then finding healing in her understanding. But a lot of people seemed to miss the point. Maybe the book wasn’t right for the times. Maybe a worn-out soldier was not everybody’s idea of a hero. But my old buddy Chink was a career soldier, and when he read it he said why hadn’t I ever told him that I understood sorrow.”

“Do you think maybe you pushed your iceberg theory too far in this book?”

“Well, maybe. It shouldn’t have been too far. Readers should have been able to get it, and, after all, many of them did. Maybe it’s just that fewer people can do trigonometry than can do simple math. But anyway, it was worth doing for its own sake. The indirect description of the aftereffects of battle and warfare was as well done as I could. If it was too far for my critics, I can’t help that. In time the book will rise or sink, and it won’t have much to do with the judgment of the critics of 1950.”

“Then let us proceed to Colonel Richard Cantwell and you.”

“You aren’t taking my stories as biography, I hope.”

“Hardly. But this is a convenient way to examine certain aspects of the writer and the man at the mid-century mark. Across the River and Into the Trees. Autobiography? Wish-fulfillment? What?”

Across the River was the most misrepresented of all my stories, and perhaps the one the most underrated. I told people, I was trying to achieve the fourth dimension in my writing. I suppose nobody knew what I was talking about. Instead of reading the story as a story, the critics practiced psychiatry without a license on me. They couldn’t seem to grasp what I was doing.”

“Here’s your chance to enlighten us.”

“I was telling the story not quite from inside Colonel Cantwell’s point of view. It was more like God was showing you Cantwell’s mental world. So you see things that Cantwell could never have explained, and you see other things he couldn’t see in himself. Within his mind, he remembers his past, both what he has experienced and what he has experienced second-hand from reading, say, or from other instruction or from appreciating a painting. I was trying to achieve a viewpoint beyond viewpoint, you see, what I called the fourth dimension. You can’t actually do it, but even hinting at going beyond viewpoint is difficult. I believe I came pretty close to achieving it there, and it was disappointing to have it not recognized. And here is something nobody saw. A couple of years later, in The Old Man and the Sea, with Santiago, I achieved the fifth dimension.”

“How did you do that?”

“I got the reader beyond time, by sitting on the very edge of the moving line. There are other ways – Tolstoy did it on a mammoth scale – but this was how I did it. By carefully recounting his actions, his thoughts, his memories, his emotions, moment by moment, I stayed so close to the moving present that we got beyond time to the timeless. That’s where that strange aura around the story came from. It wasn’t told from Santiago’s viewpoint, or from Manolin’s. It may be said to be narrated by God, in a way. It was life described from neither within life nor outside of life. Beyond the story itself, there is something that people feel but don’t quite understand.”

“That story came as a gift to you, perhaps.”

“Oh, I’m clear on that. I had been honing my skill for decades, but I could not have produced the story to order. As you say, it was a gift. I had been thinking about The Old Man and the Sea that for 15 years, but I wrote it in the first six weeks of 1951, and it came to me as nothing else ever did. It was a gift from somewhere. The people who thought it was simple or simpleminded are the ones who couldn’t sense the presence of that extra dimension.”

“It was the most successful love story you ever published.”

“Yes it was, the one that finally shamed the committee into giving me the Nobel Prize. The old man loved the world, and his life, and everything in his life, including the boy who loved him. He loved the fish he caught, and God who had put him there, and even certain things about the sharks. I called him a tough old man of great unconscious pride and no arrogance. Probably he would have seemed arrogant in his strength in his middle years but he had learned humility, the way a man at night in the ocean might see his place in the world.”

“Because he had learned through defeat, perhaps?”

“No, because he wasn’t defeated. He had been defeated in one specific thing, that’s all. That’s one reason I ended the book with him dreaming about the lions. It was to make clear that he was still himself, in essence undefeated. He had had a full life and it had come down to a few symbols that came to him when he dreamed. He didn’t dream of his wife, or of women he had known, or the Negro he had beaten at arm wrestling. He did not dream of triumphs or defeats, but of lions as he had seen them and heard them on a far-off shore long before when he was a boy, and when he was a young man. They were beyond being taken away by anything that could happen to him. He didn’t know what caused precisely those things to remain, he just knew that this is what he had left. Perhaps the connection could be broken if he were to do something unworthy, but no external event could break it.”

“His life had come down to himself alone, then. Himself and maybe the boy and the baseball scores.”

“No, no, that isn’t it at all. He wasn’t alone, not in the way a secular American would be. That’s why I had him pray a Hail Mary and then add, `Blessed Virgin, pray for the death of this fish. Wonderful though he is.’ The Virgin, the saints, are company for him as they are for all believers. That is what unbelievers do not understand, because they have not experienced it, and because of what they do believe in: science, politics, ideology, whatever. It stops them from understanding that old man. But maybe this story made them feel what they couldn’t understand. I think it did.”

“So what was the point of the talk of beisbol and Joe DiMaggio? Was it to show that Santiago was only a simple man?”

“It was to show that he and the boy were not educated. It also showed a valid aspect of their lives, tied in second hand to Yanqui baseball teams that practiced in Cuba. The old man followed the box scores and sometimes wished for a radio so that he could hear the games. He had heard of DiMaggio having a bone spur and knew that it was painful but didn’t quite know what it was. He used DiMaggio’s bone spur to give himself courage against pain. And that gave American reader a common reference point. The fact that it means something different to the old man reminds the reader that it is a different society. That the boy and others share the obsession and the way of seeing it reminds the reader that it is not the old man’s peculiarity.”

“In 1952 Life magazine published `The Old Man and the Sea’ complete in one issue, and in 48 hours sold six million copies. The following week, Scribner’s published the book and it moved straight to the best-sellers list. The following year, it won you the Pulitzer Prize. Tell the court how you were affected by this concentrated success.”

“There’s a big difference between success and recognition, counselor. The recognition was nice, but it didn’t affect me much. If you let yourself get dependent on people’s reaction to what you write, you put yourself out of business. The success was being able to put that story into words, and I had savored that, months before. By the time everybody got all het up about `The Old Man and the Sea,’ I was living another story I thought of as `The Last Good Country.’ What people don’t realize is that the kick comes not from external success but from the process of getting it right. And you know I’m telling the truth, because I don’t have any choice here.”

“Thank you. I think that gives us a good portrait of Hemingway the artist steadily at work in the postwar years.”


Chapter 23: Starting Over

“When you returned to Cuba, what did you find?”

“The war had run over the Finca like everything else. I had the staff and the money to do what was needed, but you don’t overcome years of neglect in ten minutes. Even my cats were half-starved.”

“And you? What shape were you in?”

“I was tired. It was like recuperating from a fever. You have to push through this gray haze of fatigue that muffles things and makes it hard to think anything is worth bothering about. You inch your way back into life, you make adjustments.” A pause. “I was having nightmares. I was having these terrific headaches. I couldn’t do any mental work. I was finding that I thought slower and spoke slower, I was forgetting words. Sometimes I had ringing in my ears, sometimes I couldn’t hear right. Jose Herrera said it was because I drank after the concussion, and didn’t rest. He said there wasn’t much I could do to repair the mechanism other than take it easy and get myself in shape.”

“Did you ask him about resuming writing?”

“I wasn’t ready to do that even if I had been in good condition, but he said I should do only a little brain work each day, take my time, and hope to God the old writing machinery wasn’t gone for good.”

“And then Mary Welsh arrived to take up residence. Your honor, the prosecution recalls Mary Hemingway.”


“Mrs. Hemingway, in May, just before VE Day, you arrived in Cuba, an entirely new environment, beginning a new life. How would you describe your situation, those first months?”

“It was difficult. Everything seemed so chaotic, and everything revolved around Ernest and his friends and his interests, mainly hunting and fishing, which were things I didn’t know anything about. I had no place for myself, nothing that was mine. I had no experience with servants or with running a household larger than two people, and I hadn’t yet begun to learn Spanish. And I was very much aware that I had no independent source of income. Sometimes it felt like I had put myself into prison. Today we would say, `golden handcuffs.’ That’s a perfect description of my life at the time.”

“Yet you stayed.”

“Well – I almost didn’t. In June I was supposed to fly back to the States to complete my divorce, and if I had gotten on that airplane, I might never have returned. But we had a car crash on the way to the airport, and it took me two months at the finca to recover. Ernest was a different man during those months, very solicitous, really listening when I told him I needed an orderly life, rather than a continuous round of surprises and disruptions. And I began to be really happy.”

“Did that happiness last after you returned to the States?”

“Whenever I was away, his letters were very loving, and filled with the best intentions. And he meant what he said, I knew that. But then when we were together, things would flare up again. So, when I returned to Cuba, I was happy to be back and he was happy to have me back, but it was only a matter of a few days before I was feeling smothered.”

“So, would you say you were happy, or not?”

“Well, it is sometimes difficult to know what’s realistic. Life is never going to be all sweetness and light. So, we make allowances. How much darkness can we accommodate and still say we are happy? We learn that the question of whether we are happy is more than any particular moment.”

“Would you agree that the relationship was volatile right from the beginning?”

“I would have to. Between the time I met him in May and the time he left for America, I had learned what he could be like in a rage. I had had all those ardent letters from the front, then the first time I see him in Paris, he gives me a tongue-lashing for supposedly being rude to his drunken friends. It showed me another side to him that I had heard about but hadn’t really believed in.”

“Did it give you pause?”

“Mr. Prosecutor, many things gave me pause. In some ways, there was just too much of him for any one person to handle. I wrote him one day that I had avoided him because I needed to have a few hours without feeling overwhelmed by his intensity. The thought of living with that intensity, day by day, for the rest of my life – it terrified me, sometimes. Not always, and not only that. Mostly it exhilarated me, filled me with excitement, but it terrified me, too.”

“Nonetheless, you decided to be with him after the war?”

“How many people get to be with Ernest Hemingway? I could see that it was going to be difficult, perhaps impossible, but I was willing to take the chance. And I’m not saying all our problems were Ernest’s fault.”

“Would you say that you and he developed a sort of routine around that volatility? A dance? A sort of call-and-response?”

A long hesitation. “Do you mean, do I see my own responsibility for what went on?”

“Mrs. Hemingway, I remind you, this proceeding centers on the defendant, not on you. We merely seek to obtain a clear understanding of the situation as you experienced it.”

Slowly: “There was a pattern, of course. If he attacked, I would attack right back. I had to: It would have been impossible to live with him if I had let him run all over me. There was a big streak of bully in Ernest, and sometimes he would get his way by being as ugly as he could, in public as well as in private, until the woman gave in. I don’t think that worked with Martha, and I wasn’t about to let it work with me. I’d keep at him until he apologized.”

“And when he apologized?”

“It depended on how bad it had gotten. If I said I was going to leave, he would beg me to stay, and for a while he would be very loving again.”

“So you understood what was going on, if only instinctively? And you evolved a strategy to cope with it? Perhaps secure advantage from it?”

“I understood his part in it, certainly, and I did what I had to in order to maintain my self-respect.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Hemingway. No further questions. The prosecution recalls the defendant.”


“Mr. Hemingway, would you agree with your wife’s description of your marriage?”

“You want me to say I was a bully?”

“I want you – this court wants you – to look into the pattern of your relationship.”

A sigh. “Getting used to this.” A moment to settle in, and then he found himself drawing unexpected connections. “With Hadley, it was simple. Her mother and sister were always telling her she couldn’t do anything, and she half believed it. She was shy and pretty much afraid of the world, so I could be the front man for the two of us and we were both happy that way. That’s why she didn’t object to my making all the decisions about money; it’s what she expected. But with Pauline, well she had her own career and her own money – a lot more money than I had – and I had to be careful that she didn’t get the upper hand. I see that now, People noticed how rough I treated her, sometimes. I’d have to think more about it, but I’d bet those were pretty much always times I felt I had to keep control.”

“And with Miss Gellhorn?”

He laughed. “Marty, there was no controlling Marty, she’d just wear you down. She had all those firm opinions about things, whether she knew what she was talking about or not, and she let you know.”

“Did she remind you of your mother, then?”

“No, she wasn’t interested in reshaping me, she just never stopped complaining when I did things she didn’t like. Marty, you know, did what she wanted to do. That was okay with me up to a point, but when she went off to Finland, I knew I’d never be first with her.”

“But Mary?”

“Look, I know she tried. She was willing to give up her job with Time and live without an independent income. She learned another language and another way of living, I recognize all that. But that doesn’t mean our life together was ever going to be easy.”

“Mr. Hemingway, your divorce with Martha Gellhorn was finalized on December 21, 1945. You married Mary Welsh on March 14, 1946. Why the delay?”

A shrug. “We had been living together since May; we didn’t see any urgency.”

“Were there, perhaps, second thoughts?”

“There were on Mary’s part, as you know. On mine, no.”

“No wistful memories of Martha? No regrets?”

“None. That chapter of my life was closed.”

“Tell us, then, why did you keep Miss Gellhorn’s belongings after the divorce?”

A blank look. “I sued her for desertion. Under Cuban law, in such cases all joint possessions go to the injured party.

“Yes, that gave you legal ownership. Did that it mean it was right to keep them?”

“Ownership is ownership, Mr. Prosecutor.”

“But not in the case of the Miro painting, `The Farm,’ that you borrowed from your first wife and never returned?”

“Well – I’m the one who paid for that painting.”

“And Miss Gellhorn is the one who paid for her possessions.”

He couldn’t think of a response.

“Defense? Your witness.”

“Mr. Hemingway,  I suggest that it would be in your best interest to examine the question posed by the prosecutor. You were a man capable of much generosity. Why in this instance did you act as you did?”

“This is a funny trial, where the two lawyers cooperate with each other.”

“Our intent is for you to better understand yourself. So, please examine your motives.”

“There wasn’t a lot of stuff involved. It wasn’t any big deal.”

The defense attorney looked at him, and waited,  then said, “No further questions, your honor.”

The prosecutor said, “The prosecution recalls Martha Gellhorn.”


“Miss Gellhorn, when you and your husband agreed that he would sue you for divorce in Cuba, did the question of your possessions come up?”

“I never thought about it. I just assumed he would do the right thing. Stupid of me.”

“The defendant has testified that little was involved. Do you agree?”

“He kept everything! My family silver and china and stemware, my clothes, even my typewriter. My furniture, which I didn’t care about, but still it was mine. He kept it all. Eventually Mary offered to return the things that had come down through my family. But when the package arrived, the china was all chipped and the crystal was shattered.  And I had even paid for the shipment. But what can you do? Getting free of Ernest was still worth the price.”


“No questions.”

“Mr. Hemingway, does Miss Gellhorn’s testimony refresh your memory?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“This court would like you to answer the question. Why did you act that particular way in that particular instance?”

He sighed. “I guess I was just being a bastard.”

“But the question remains, why? What caused those actions? Examine it, Mr. Hemingway.”

Yet more dredging, and he didn’t much like what he was finding. “Having it both ways, I suppose. I was glad to get free of her, but I resented that she was glad to be free of me. So I took it out however I could, and told myself whatever I needed to hear to justify it.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hemingway. We can go on to other things.”

“I certainly hope so. God, how much more of this?” He hadn’t intended to say it; it had come on its own.

The prosecutor considered him. “There are serious things that need to be examined, but we aren’t going to go through everything that you did and thought and said in your final 15 years, if that concerns you. And we will not neglect to consider your life as artist. For instance: Would we be wrong to describe your life in Cuba as a form of exile? Compared, say, to your time in Paris after the first war?”

“Apples and oranges, Mr. Prosecutor. In Paris in the twenties, I was young and I was surrounded by genius and near-genius and maybe-who-knows genius. It was an active, varied, interesting life full of promise and I was working well among comrades even if they were rivals. In Cuba I wasn’t just one among many. Havana was not a literary center! So the stimulus of personal competition among peers was gone. And life in your 40s and 50s is bound to be different anyway. Maybe it was easier to live only at the periphery. I had money in the bank, and I could work at my own pace. I was living mentally, spiritually, in an earlier version of America that no longer existed.”


“Mr. Hemingway, the year 1947. The writing machinery was working again and you were piling up manuscript. Every so often you received visits from friends such as Buck Lanham. Your sons had accepted Mary as they had accepted her predecessors. In many respects, as 1947 dawned, you were doing well.”

“At first. But that turned into a bitch of a year, like 1941. Patrick in April, and then Max dies in June, and the Dominican thing in August, and Katy getting killed in September in a car accident.”

“Please tell the court about Patrick.”

“At the time Pat must have been about 18. He and Gigi had been visiting Pauline, and he came back to the finca and resumed studying for his college boards. But he kept complaining about headaches. I knew that he and Gigi had been in an accident in a car while they were in Key West, and he had banged his head. It sounded to me like he’d had a concussion and nobody had done anything to help him recover from it.”

“He didn’t treat it by drinking massive amounts of alcohol, at any rate.”

He grinned. “No, he didn’t try his old man’s therapy.” The grin faded. “But he was doing all that brain-work. One day he’s taking his boards in Havana, and a couple of days later he runs a fever, becomes delirious, and turns violent, and has to be watched day and night. And this is Patrick, who has always been such a quiet friendly boy.”

“So what did you do?”

“Mary’s father had prostate cancer, and she had to fly off to Chicago to be with him. She went, and she should have gone. But it left me short-handed, so I called in Sinsky and Roberto Herrera to take shifts with me. And then Pauline flew over to help take care of her son.”

“Did you tell Mary Pauline was there?”

“Of course I did, and in fact Pauline wrote to her directly. She stayed three weeks, and was a big help. And then after Mary came back, Pauline came over again, and to my surprise, they liked each other, I guess because there was no rivalry between them. Anyway, by then the worst was over with Patrick, and in a few more months he made a full recovery, but I’ll tell you, it wore me out. I took the midnight-to-eight a.m. shift, you see, which meant that the sleep I got was mostly catnaps. You can do that for quite a while, but not forever.”

“So then, Maxwell Perkins?”

“Max was the middle of June, just a couple of days after the army gave me the Bronze Star. He just up and died, of pneumonia and exhaustion. Dammit, it always took an act of Congress to get him to take time off from work. Yes, he was a great editor. But wouldn’t he have been an even greater editor if he had had more years to do the job? I always wanted him to give himself more time off, but there was no reasoning with him, he always had reasons why this wasn’t a good time. And then he was gone, and I can’t tell you how much I missed him. He was a great editor and a great friend, and when you lose somebody like Max you can feel it, something’s gaining on you.”

“And then there was the incident of the revolutionaries and the Dominican Republic.”

“Yeah.” He was embarrassed. “Agent 007 versus the dictator. I guess you know the background. Rafael Trujillo, another son of a bitch like Franco, was running the Dominican Republic. He still had the army and the ricos, but these rebels were organizing an army in Cuba to throw him out.”

“And you thought they could succeed?”

“I had hope, let’s put it that way. This particular bunch contacted me, and I got involved a little bit, and maybe I would have gotten in further, but just at the time their preparations for an invasion were coming to a head, Patrick got so sick, and I was nursing him day and night. Who knows, maybe that’s what saved my neck. As it is, it was bad enough. The Dominican rebels had greased the Cuban Minister of Defense to look the other way, naturally, but either he decided what he was doing wasn’t safe, or he got a better offer. On the 6th of August he announced that he’d captured some airplanes and pilots that were to be used against Trujillo. This meant I was in trouble. Jose Luis Herrera called me, told me to get out that day. Rene packed a bag for me and my chauffer got me to the airport just in time to get the afternoon plane to New York. I mean, just in time. The plane was ready to go. But I got out.”

“And why would you have been in danger from the Cuban authorities?”

Embarrassed: “Because they’d find my checks.”

His attorney delayed for a beat, merely for effect. “Mr. Hemingway, do I understand you to say that you were giving a revolutionary group financial support in the form of signed checks?”

“Look, you don’t have to tell me how reckless that was. All I could say is, it’s a lot more obviously stupid after the fact than it seemed at the time.”

“So you left in a hurry. Did you later decide that perhaps this was an overreaction?”

“Not at all. They named me in the newspapers. But I was safely out of the country, and I spent the winter in Idaho. I didn’t go back until February, 1948, when it had all blown over. But that’s the kind of year 1947 was.”

“Let me ask, how did it happen that you went from famous author to covert participant in revolutionary activities?”

“You could say it started in 1918, those months in the hospital listening to wounded veterans talking among themselves. It taught me that the hell that war is can’t be justified even by the brave things, even the splendid things, that men may do in war. When you’re in a war, you have to win it, but when you win, you have to ask what you bought with what you paid. It was clear to me that the World War made political violence into the defining element of our time. That’s why I called my book of violent sketches in our time.”

“All right. But I don’t quite see how this led you to sympathize with revolutionary politics.”

“You don’t? World War I bitched the world, and brought us communism and then fascism. How could you enlist in either side? Yet, how could you stay on the sidelines? From the first time I saw Mussolini, I knew him for what he was, and I said so in print. And even after I got rich, my sympathies were with the poor, never on the side of the rich or of the forces of reaction.”

“So you were willing to risk being used by Stalin?”

“It got hard. In the Spanish Civil War, the republic had nobody else on its side. How could you criticize  Russia in those circumstances? It seemed like treason to the republic. But to support the Soviet government after the war, you’d have to have a stronger stomach than I did.”

“So after the war, you were tempted to dabble in revolutions.”

Angrily: “You think World War II was a happy ending to anything? Maybe if you get involved with revolutions you can’t keep your hands entirely clean, but maybe sitting by and doing nothing isn’t so clean either. Let’s say my politics was revolutionary but cautious. It was always a question, when a chance came up, whether to play it to win, or risk a few bucks on a longshot, or shake your head at and wait for another day. Mostly I stayed on the sidelines, waiting.”

“So the perpetual party at Hemingway’s was cover for your other activities?”

“People don’t do things for just one reason usually. But if you have a place owned by a celebrity and he holds parties all the time, it’s easy for people to meet there while holding drinks.”

“So, later, Batista’s police weren’t so far wrong in suspecting you of helping their enemies.”

“Hell no they weren’t wrong, and the nice thing is, they knew they weren’t wrong, but they couldn’t do anything much about it, because I was too famous, and it would have hurt them. And I lived with this background tension for years. But it did cost me where it hurt – in my reputation. If people had known what I tried to do, it would have showed them where my heart was.”

“Thank you, that’s very clear. The prosecution calls Aaron Hotchner.”


He half-listened to Hotch promising to tell the truth. He ought to be in his early forties, sort of middle aged, but apparently he had decided to look 28, the way he did when they first met.

“Mr. Hotchner, please describe for the court when, where, why and how you met the defendant.”

“In 1948, I was working for Cosmopolitan magazine, and they sent me to Havana to persuade Ernest Hemingway to write an article on `The Future of Literature’! I needed that job, but, you know, Hemingway had been my hero ever since college, and I couldn’t imagine myself calling him up out of the blue with such a stupid request. I spent a couple of days hiding in my hotel, then I said to hell with it, and if it costs me my job, all right. I wrote him a note and asked him to provide me with a written refusal so maybe I wouldn’t get fired. To my amazement, he calls me up and invites me to have a drink with him at the Floridita! Which, naturally, I jump at, and we spent the evening with him asking me questions and telling me stories and getting me drunk on papa dobles.

“Seeing if you would pass inspection?”

“That was my guess, and evidently I passed, because he invited me to go out on his boat next day, and he started right in teaching me deep-sea fishing, and that was the beginning of a friendship that lasted more than a dozen years.”

“Would you describe the defendant as a true and loyal friend?”

“Absolutely. The best. Never had a better friend in my life.”

“The defendant was famous for having close friendships and then ending them on some pretext or other. Why do you think that was?”

“When I was in law school. I believe they called that hearsay.”

“Then let me ask a somewhat different question. Do you feel that your own friendship with him was following that pattern?”

“Not at all. We were friends from the time we met.”

“Even in 1960 and 1961?”

“That’s not a fair comparison. These past couple of years, his illness prevented him from seeing anybody clearly.” Speaking directly to him, instead of to the prosecutor: “It’s good to see you your old self, Papa. The past couple of years were pretty terrible.”

“Yeah, I’m getting that. Paranoia is hard to see when you’re on the inside of it.” Saying that, he felt a sudden blast of unscripted emotion, as Hotch let go of the burden he had carried so long. Pain, sorrow, guilt, indecision, helplessness, loss. Anguish, there was no softer word for it.

The prosecutor allowed him to experience the depth of his friend’s emotion. “Mr. Hotchner, I for one wish it were possible for you to remember these proceedings in your waking hours in the physical world.”

“It would make life a lot easier, I’m tell you that!”

“At least, you can feel the defendant’s present comprehension of the effect his illness had on others. And that is the point of this procedure.”

Hotchner shrugged non-existent shoulders. “Well, I’m here as a character witness, if one is needed.”

“It appears that you became a sort of adopted younger brother.”

“Remember, I was old enough that I had done things. I had been an officer in the war; I had begun a career as a writer. So I wasn’t just a wide-eyed kid with nothing to offer.”

“Then tell the court the nature of your relationship.”

“Well, for one thing, we had a lot of fun together. Surely people have told you that Papa loved doing things, and loved doing them with somebody. He loved having good times, and he planned and worked to make them happen, and good times always involved other people. Sometimes it would be a mob, and if need be he would settle for a mob of one. And he was a born teacher, and he liked nothing more than having someone eager and able to learn what he knew.”

“So, not just a wide-eyed kid but a sidekick. A court jester?”

“Listen, mister, I paid my way. I acted as intermediary with my editors, and later I made quite a bit of money for him, adapting his stories for television.”

“Made the money for the defendant, or for yourself?”

“For both of us. Whatever I negotiated, we split down the middle.”

“Did he regard this as a fair division?”

“Of course I did! They were my stories, but it was Hotch that picked them out, and adapted them, and got them produced. For me, it was found money and it kept my name out there.”

“Mr. Hotchner, when you first knew the defendant, did he exhibit signs of mental illness?”

Cautiously: “No more than any of us do, I’d say. We all get into bad moods. We all have bad days and good days. I know what you’re asking about, and for any time prior to the two airplane crashes in Africa in 1954, I would say no.”

“Very well. No further questions. We recall the defendant.”


“Mr. Hemingway, in 1948 you and your wife set out to spend several months in Europe. Would you describe that trip for the court?”

“In other words, you want me to talk about Adriana.”

“We would like you to tell the court the reasons behind your behavior at that time.”

He squirmed, just a bit. “It’s a pattern, clear enough from here. That doesn’t mean I was aware of it when I was still in the body.”

“Doesn’t it, Mr. Hemingway?”

“Well, not quite aware, or not entirely aware. There’s two things going on, and they’re all mixed together. One is my temper, and the other is my fantasy life. If you give me a chance, I think I can make you see it the way I do.”

“Do proceed.”

“Take my temper. We are talking here of sitting on a volcano. You don’t know what you’re going to do ahead of time – I mean, it isn’t like you’re planning to lose your temper. Sometimes after a particularly violent attack you feel sick. Drained, shaking, and a sensation almost like nausea, almost like a headache. In just a few minutes, you spent the energy you might normally have used in a week. It flowed through you so hot and so fast that sometimes it really did need physical release or it felt like your body would explode. That’s when the physical danger would arise. You could kill somebody, easily, if the fit was still on you and a weapon was at hand. A chair, your fists, a gun, anything. But who ever wanted to make himself sick, and maybe do damage he’d feel guilty about, and maybe kill somebody? I’m talking here about being so fighting mad that you lose sight of limits, or if you keep yourself within limits, it’s just barely. And others are criticizing you for not having enough self-control. They’re controlling a ten horsepower engine and you’re controlling a ten-horse team, and they figure if they can do it, you can do it.”

“But do you not agree that in life individuals need self-control?”

“Sure, but the normal everyday you is not the same as the rage-machine. You try to keep it from going hog-wild, and you pick up the pieces afterward. But you and it aren’t the same thing.”

“Doesn’t this amount to trying to evade responsibility for your own lack of self-control?”

“Looking at it that way is comfortable, isn’t it? It puts distance between you and behavior you disapprove of. Hell, who doesn’t disapprove of behavior like that? Who isn’t ashamed of it? But what if I wasn’t in control of it? What if I, who wouldn’t ever do something like that, am being held responsible because it was done with my body? And what about the fact that when I muscle myself back into control, or at least when the rage-machine lets me back in, then I have to live with the consequences and I don’t even know what happened? People say, `You have to take responsibility for your own actions.’ But if you were an officer commanding a company of men, and one of the men fucked up, yes, it would be your responsibility, but nobody in his right mind would treat you as though you had done it personally. You have the responsibility to prevent it, or, if it happened, to clean up after it, but you yourself didn’t do it, and treating you as if you did would just muddy the waters. You wind up trying to defend yourself not for failing to prevent something, but for doing the something. That doesn’t help you keep the rage-machine under control. In fact, it makes it harder.”

“All right, you said temper and fantasy. Shall we move on to fantasy?”

“You know I was a story-teller. That’s what I was, not just what I did. My whole life, I was making it up and rewriting it as I went along. so sometimes when I was among pretty girls, I was imagining I was young again, and single.”

“And at such times, your actual wife ceased to exist for you. You couldn’t hear her, you couldn’t see her, and then you regarded her as one of the servants. You insulted her verbally, then sometimes you went beyond that, making it clear that you wished she didn’t exist.”

A flash of the old familiar irritation. “I am trying to explain something, here. Yes, that’s how it would affect me sometimes. But Mary could never seem to see that it didn’t have anything to do with her as a person, it was that having a wife didn’t fit in with the scenarios in my mind. I was being a carefree boy again, and she was being my ball and chain.”

“However, look at the position this put her in. She didn’t cease to exist just because you were pretending you were young and unattached.”

It was hopeless, even here where people could read each other’s thoughts.

“Not hopeless, Mr. Hemingway. Don’t give up just because things are difficult. You are not responsible for making things clear to anyone but yourself – but you are responsible for doing that.”

He let it well up. “Okay, I am aware that I treated her badly when she wasn’t fitting in the pretend-life I was enjoying. Pauline, same thing. I remember one time telling Ingrid Bergman I had written Pilar with her in mind, and Pauline butted in and said I had told her I’d had her in mind. You see? It was interfering with the stories I was telling myself. I was retelling my life the way it might have been.”

“Like your stories about your service in the Italian army in World War I.”

“Same thing, yes. But Mary never understood that, and neither did Pauline.”

“Nor Martha Gellhorn, apparently.”

He snorted. “Marty! She didn’t believe the stories I told that were true, let alone the ones I was making up! But that’s another subject altogether.”

“Well, the topic of story telling is a natural segue to a discussion of Hemingway as artist.”

“You won’t hear any objections from me!”


Chapter 22: Ground War

“You had contracted to write about the RAF, and you did make some flights with them. Did you enjoy the experience?”

“Very much. Those were great boys, young like the way I was in 1918. Also, for some reason my headache would go away as long as we were in the air, and that was a relief. And being in the air gave me an unfamiliar perspective, plus something could happen at any moment.”

“But you didn’t spend much time in the air.”

“No, writing up the RAF was just me paying for my ride over. Collier’s was paying me to be at the front lines. On D-Day I went across the channel on a troop transport and transferred to a landing ship and went in with the seventh wave, at 7 a.m., but they brought me out again on the same ship. That was not the day for non-essential personnel to be on the ground.”

“When it came time for you to decide what unit to attach yourself to, you considered George Patton’s armored divisions.”

“I did, but with armor, everything was dust, and my throat couldn’t take it. I found my home in the infantry, with Buck Lanham’s regiment.”

“Your honor, I should like to call Gen. Charles T. Lanham and question him and the defendant together.”

“Without objection, proceed.”


And there was Buck, a general now, but in the colonel’s uniform he had been wearing during that long fall and winter. “It’s so good to see you looking like this, Ernest, very good to know you’re all right. Any chance I will remember this, back in the body?

The judge: “I’m afraid not, Colonel. I’m sorry.”

“Well, I wish I could.” He smiled. “So. Ernest, you were quite a handsome young man, weren’t you? Or are you embellishing?”

“Huh? Oh, you mean, am I improving this body? No, this is what I looked like when I was in my thirties. Or actually, I guess it’s what I would have looked like if I hadn’t gotten blown up in Italy.”

A dry chuckle. “Just like life, then. Always telling the truth, but always improving on the facts.”

He laughed. “I suppose so.”

“Col. Lanham, would you tell the court who and what you were in 1944?”

“I was career army, out of West Point, and in 1944 I was in command of the 22nd regiment, 4th infantry, under Tubby Barton.”

He grinned at him. “Just that, huh? Mr. Prosecutor, you should know, among other things, his unit was the first to break through the Siegfried Line, he survived Hurtgen Forest, and he led a breakout in the Battle of the Bulge. He was also my model for Colonel Cantwell, and he was the man I described, in print, as the finest and bravest and most intelligent military commander I have known.”

“Yes, well, maybe you didn’t know all that many military commanders. But thanks.”

“Hurtgen Forest won you the Distinguished Service Cross.”

“A lot of brave men won that for me,” Lanham said softly. “A lot of men who died there.”

“Col. Lanham, many people have said the defendant was just playing soldier, that he didn’t really know anything about warfare. Would you please give this court your impression of the defendant’s military knowledge?”

“I had heard of Hemingway the writer, naturally, so I watched him pretty close, to see what he really was. I saw right away that he could read a map, and visualize terrain, and he understood the briefing I gave him. He asked good questions, quietly and appropriately. As time went on, it became clear that he could size up a tactical situation, and he knew our weapons and the enemy’s weapons as well as any of us.”

“Would you describe the man as you observed him?”

“He was as brave a man as I ever saw, and I saw a lot of brave men. He was a born leader, and I was glad to have him there. He seemed to be absolutely fearless, sometimes in situations where a little fear would have been a good idea.” He smiled a tight reminiscent smile. “One night a group of us were in a house eating supper, and they started shelling. A shell came through one wall and went out the opposite wall. Everybody hit the deck, but I looked up and there he was, still sitting at the table, picking splinters out of his food, and he point-blank refused to take cover or even to put on his helmet. He said it can’t kill you unless it has your number on it, some nonsense like that.” A pause. “He also had this spooky ability to know when people were going to die sometimes. One time, he had been with me while I was talking to one of my officers, and as we were walking away I said I was going to have to relieve him, but Ernest said I wouldn’t have to, because he was going to get killed. And he got killed minutes later. When I asked Ernest how he had known, he said the man had smelled of death. And that wasn’t the only time that happened.”

“Colonel, why do you think the defendant’s reputation came to differ so widely from the man you observed at close hand?”

“Simple. He was always shooting himself in the ass with his crazy stories, like how he killed hundreds of Germans, or how he knew the whole German order of battle, or how he’d made his living as a professional prize-fighter. He could really pull you into his stories, and people started not believing anything he said. It’s too bad.”

“I was just being a story-teller, Buck. That’s what I was.”

“Colonel, would you have wanted him as an officer?”

“I’d have been glad to have had him.”


“Mr. Hemingway, please tell this court what happened in August, 1944, on the army’s road to Paris. Bear in mind, the intent is not to point a finger or to ask for a mea culpa, but to assist you to accurately assess your own motivations, judgments, and actions.”

Slowly, choosing his words: “That big storm in July that wrecked our mulberry harbors meant that we got fewer supplies and reinforcements than was planned. And hedgerow fighting was murder; it was perfect defensive terrain, and the Germans knew how to use it. But once we broke out into open country at the end of July, suddenly we had all the advantages. We had command of the air, which is everything. We had informants and guides everywhere, and they had nobody they could trust. From the breakout to the German border, the krauts were the fox and we were the hounds.”

“It became a chase.”

“It became a chase. But you can chase well or you can chase badly, and the difference determines how many of your boys you get killed.”

“And you viewed this as your opportunity to participate, rather than remaining on the sidelines.”

“Listen, you say you want my own judgment, here it is. I knew France and Frenchmen and Paris and the country around Paris. Frenchmen trusted me, because they knew me by name and reputation. All the French partisans knew which side I had been on. And I had the skills. I could read terrain as well as any officer, and the Crook Factory had given me recent experience in running a group of intelligence agents and evaluating their reports. In mid-August, while I was spending the night at Mont St. Michel, I met an OSS officer and told him what I could do, and I wound up acting as an unofficial liaison officer between the army and the Free French underground. I sent men here and there and they reported to me on where the Germans were setting mines, and which roads they were covering and which ones were open, and I told the army what I learned, as fast as I could put it together. I worked with the OSS and with Army intelligence both, and specifically I helped my old friend David Bruce from the OSS to defend Rambouillet, and I helped him interrogate prisoners. And since you know I can’t lie here, you tell me. Was I posing? Was I pretending? Or was I doing what I could?”

“Mr. Hemingway, you say the OSS officer sanctioned your activities?”

“That’s right.”

“Even though they contravened the Geneva Convention?”

A look of disgust. “This was warfare. Real bullets, and real soldiers getting killed. The OSS was like the army, they wanted to get the job done. If they found a way to save American lives and shorten the war, would you have told them they shouldn’t take it?”

“But you admit that what you did was illegal.”

“It also saved lives. And we could have saved more, if they’d used the information I gathered to move into Paris sooner. The extra five days it took to throw the Germans out of Paris cost the lives of 1,500 Free French irregulars and French civilians. None of that was necessary.”

“But the Geneva Convention forbids accredited war correspondents from engaging in combat operations. After some of your fellow correspondents filed a formal complaint about your activities in August, the army convened a formal inquiry, and in October you testified under oath that you had done nothing to violate your status as a war correspondent. You explained away the sworn testimony of your fellow correspondents that you had carried arms, and had kept a huge stash of arms in your hotel room, and had participated in military operations as the de facto chief of a band of French irregulars. Speaking to the court in an environment which makes a lie an impossibility, I put it to you directly. Did you lie to that military court?”

“I did.”

“You did engage in those activities forbidden to war correspondents under the Geneva Convention?”

“I did.”

“Knowing that you were thereby jeopardizing the protection that convention offered to your fellow correspondents?”

“I don’t know how much protection it ever offered them, and I don’t think I actually jeopardized anybody. But I couldn’t tell that court what I had done, and the court didn’t want me to. It was something that needed doing, and the best thing would have been to pass over it in silence. Instead, I had to squirm around like a worm on a hook, flat-out lying sometimes. Everybody in the room knew I was lying and wanted me to lie. I was covering for a lot of people, including Bruce and the OSS.”

“So it was merely theater?”

“The Army knew I had done a good job, but it had to pretend to investigate. And I think the worst of it was that I had to lie about something I was proud of. If I had been able to tell the truth, people might have understood why I had the respect of men like Buck. Anyway, to hell with it. I was exonerated.”

“It hurt.”

“Of course it hurt.”

“Very well, let us examine the day the allied armies liberated Paris. You remember that day well, I would imagine. I believe that day is sometimes known as the day that Hemingway liberated the Ritz.”

A grin. “Yeah.”

“You reached the city with the liberating armies, and found a city hysterical with joy.”

“People in the streets everywhere. People wild, just wild. They had had four years of occupation, and they were blowing it all out of their systems as best they could. Cheering, singing, offering us anything they had to drink, surrounding our vehicles so we could hardly move. Never got kissed so much in my life.”

“Sounds like wonderful material for Collier’s.”

“It would have been, but it was completely indescribable. We all knew we’d never see anything like it.”

“So what did you do?”

“Well one thing, we decided to get inside. Everybody with a weapon was shooting it off in the air, and all those rounds had to come down someplace. Would have been a hell of a thing to survive the Germans and get shot accidentally by somebody in another street, celebrating. So we took off – me and Bruce and Red Pelkey.”

“Pelkey being Private Archie Pelkey, your driver?”

“That’s right. We got onto the Champs Elysees – we were the only car on it – and we liberated the Travelers Club. We were the first ones to get that far, so they opened a bottle and toasted us in champagne, and then we headed out for the Ritz, which was totally empty except for Ausiello, the manager. Since we were the first ones there, we got rooms – and I had them set up fifty martini cocktails for the boys and me.”

“There was a formal surrender ceremony, but you did not cover it.”

“No need. Collier’s hired me as a feature writer, not a news reporter. Plenty of other people would get the story, and the Ritz was more comfortable.”

“You were not concerned that you were missing a bit of history?”

“Nope. That’s the kind of thing Martha wouldn’t dream of missing and I wouldn’t dream of covering.”

“And the victory parade through the city?”

“Not that either. Mary watched it, I found out later. No, I stayed at the hotel, and I ate and drank with whatever friends came by, and I was plenty happy to relax after what we’d just been through. When I went out, it was to revisit places I knew and loved. What did I care about parades and ceremonies? But, if I had known that the reason Paris was still standing was because von Choltitz had defied Hitler’s orders to destroy it, I would have tried to shake his hand for saving the city I loved best in the world.”


“In context of the liberation of Paris, your honor, the defense would like to call a witness.”

“Without objection, you may proceed.”

“The defense recalls Sylvia Beach.”


Sylvia looked as she looked that day in 1944, a little underweight, a little drawn.

“May I do the questioning this time?”

“It’s irregular, but go ahead, and we’ll see.”

“Sylvia, would you tell the court where you were in August, 1944, when the Germans were driven out of Paris?”

“In 1944, Adrienne and I were living for the day when our lives would resume. I had had to close my shop and hide the books when the Germans came in.”

“Would you tell the court about the last time we met?”

Her eyes widened. “But of course! It is the very last anecdote I tell in Shakespeare and Company! As you know, Adrienne and I were in Paris for the whole time of the occupation, and it was very hard. At the end, there were still German snipers on the roofs of our street, and we were very tired of it all, and we were trying just to stay alive long enough to see the end. And one day I am in my apartment and I look down and there are several American jeeps, and I hear a voice calling my name. `Sylvia! Sylvia!,` and of course everyone else starts calling `Sylvia,’ and Adrienne says, `It’s Hemingway,’ and I went running downstairs and you were running upstairs and we crashed together and you picked me up and whirled me around and kissed me, and all the people were cheering.”

“Not the Germans, probably.”

“No, not the Germans. You remember? You asked me if Adrienne had collaborated, and when I said she had not, you knew we were in no danger from the resistance, and you asked if there was anything you could do for me, and I asked you to get rid of the German snipers. You got your men out of the jeeps and led them on to the roofs, and that was the last time we heard guns fire on our street. You came down from the roof bloody and dirty, but no worse when you arrived.”

“Yes, and Adrienne offered me a glass of wine and her next-to-last bar of soap.”

“Then you said you were off to liberate the wine cellar at the Ritz, and that was the last time we saw you. I heard that as a war correspondent you should not have been doing those things, but I assure you, you had no critics on the rue de l’Odeon that day.”

“Thank you Sylvia. You were a lovely person, and I loved knowing you.”

“Why, Hemingway, I thought you were prejudiced against lesbians!” They laughed again, and he felt like he had tears in his eyes. Good times. “Was that okay, Mr. Defense Attorney?”

“Yes, well done. No further questions, your honor.”



“Very well, Mr. Hemingway, you were there on the day the city you loved was freed. You ate, drank and were merry. Then what?”

“I gave myself a few days off, and hung around with the boys , and then a couple of days later, on the first of September, Buck sent me a message: `Go hang yourself, brave Hemingstein. We have fought at Landrecies and you were not there.’ Taking off from Henry V, you know. So I went off to join the division up near the Belgian border. But by the time I got there, the task force was disbanding, and there wasn’t much to see, so I went back to Paris for a short sweet reunion with Mary.”

“And then?”

“And then on the 7th, Red and I were able to drive east along with two cars and another jeep and a motorcycle; much safer that way. By the time we got back to the regiment, it was already well inside Belgium, chasing Germans and defending against their counter-attacks. This kept up for another week and then we topped a hill and there was Germany ahead.”

“Were you off scouting again?”

“No, I was staying with the unit. My action with the irregulars around Paris was a one-time operation, taking advantage of the fact that I knew the area and could talk to the locals. None of that applied in Belgium, nor when we crossed over into Germany, which we did on the 12th.” A pause. “And I suppose that was the happiest day, and evening, and night of the war.”

“Because the army had reached German soil?”

“No. Because of what followed, how bad it was.”

Another pause, a long one.

“Mr. Hemingway?”

“You know, we go along rummaging through these old memories, and even the things I’m not proud of, the things I bitterly regret, the things that still sting, it hasn’t been as bad as I would have thought. But –.”

Another pause.

“When Buck’s combat team seized the high ground just beyond a village and we halted for the night, I decided to organize a feast. I took over a farmhouse, and got one of the German women to cooking some chickens I shot, and after the nightly staff conference, we ate chicken and peas and carrots and onions and salad and some preserved fruit for dessert. Naturally, we drank everything in sight. Everybody was laughing and drinking and telling stories, and since I was the one who had organized the feast, it was like they were my guests. We were happy that night.”

“And what happened next?”

“What happened next is that the division attacked Hitler’s West wall defenses. They cracked it after heavy casualties, but that first assault was nothing next to what was ahead.” Another pause. “It’s funny, all those years, I thought the feelings hadn’t dulled any, but I guess they must have. I see I hadn’t remembered how it felt fresh, not really.”

“Without a body to be numbed or diverted, you have no way to dull feelings, Mr. Hemingway. That’s one of the reasons for this procedure, to help you deal with them.”

“But I’m as dead now as those boys that got killed. Wouldn’t you think I’d feel differently about them? About the whole fuck-up that put them in the ground?”

“Why should you feel different, just because you are dead? You knew then that sooner or later everybody dies. What’s different now?”

“I don’t know, it just seems like it ought to feel different.”

“Please proceed.”

“You had to know what we were up against. The Germans had had years to plan their defenses, and Germans are always competent, always thorough. The 50 square miles of hill country that 4th was supposed to clear had been made into a fortress. Mines, mortars, machine guns, heavy artillery, you name it, all sighted and interlocked. Plus the trees and the underbrush were so thick. we couldn’t see, and the upper branches of the trees would shatter incoming shells, sending fragments flying, what we called tree bursts. The weather was lousy, first cold rain, then sleet. The ground was mud. You couldn’t get dry.”

Yet another pause.

“I’ll just give you the numbers. Between November 16 and December 3 Buck’s regiment lost 12 officers and 126 men killed and nearly 1,900 wounded in battle, and 180 men missing, as well as 500 non-battle casualties. That’s an 87% casualty rate, in 13 days. Replacements were getting killed before they even got to the front. The few of us that made it across wondered why we were spared when nearly nine out of ten of us weren’t. I wrote Mary a poem that said `Those of us who know walk very slowly, and we look at one another with infinite love and compassion.’ That’s what it came down to. Endurance, and love, and compassion.”

The prosecutor gave him a moment, then said, “It gave you nightmares.”

“Yes it did, as a matter of fact. For years. I thought, if I get out of this alive, I’m going to try to write it. But I couldn’t, really.”

“You needn’t fear going back into those memories, Mr. Hemingway. As I said earlier, the point is to free you from the need to forget. Please tell the court what you experienced.”

“I’m not going to talk about how I reacted to combat. You want to know, ask Buck, or any of the officers or men.”

“Very well, let’s do that.”


“Colonel, the defendant has declined to talk about his own participation in the Hurtgen Forest, and asked that you speak for his conduct.”

“I can do that. What do you want to know?”

“You have already testified that he was knowledgeable and competent. My questions now are somewhat less tangible. You said he was brave, and occasionally foolhardy. Would you say he had a death-wish?”

Weighing it: “He was a complicated man, variable.”

“Are you saying he was `mad north northwest’?”

“He wasn’t mad, at all. He was as sane as any of us”

I did not mean that literally, I was quoting Shakespeare –“

Hamlet, I know, but your question can’t be answered yes or no. Ernest was sane, but it seemed to me that he was caught between a death-wish and an equally powerful fear of death, and sometimes one would gain the upper hand and sometimes the other. Three forces, I suppose, because he told me that he had regained the old sense of invulnerability that he had lost in Italy in 1918.”

“It’s true. In September, I had been having premonitions that I was going to be killed, but suddenly I knew I was going to be all right.”

“Colonel, here, where you needn’t fear legal consequences, I ask you if his actions were those of a correspondent or a soldier.”

“We were in a desperate situation, Mr. Prosecutor, and every man was needed. We couldn’t afford to be too particular about the rules.”

“Even in the face of the inquiry that had investigated just such charges, a few weeks before?”

“I always thought those correspondents filed those charges more because Ernest annoyed them and made them jealous than because they really thought what he did was wrong. But that kind of correspondent wasn’t up in the lines among us.”

“But still, according to the letter of the law—“

“I know, and I’m not saying the Geneva Convention was a bad thing. It was better for all concerned that it be followed, and usually it was. But sometimes, it wasn’t practical. Correspondent status was not going to protect you from a shell burst, or mortar fire, or machine gun fire. Somebody 100 yards away from you is going to see a target, not a protected observer. And if you’re fighting off a counter-attack, do you think the attackers are going to be making fine distinctions? You can’t be safe unless you stay way behind the lines and live off the official handouts. And when the guys under fire are your friends, is that the right time to worry about the Geneva Convention?”

“Colonel, that brings me to perhaps the central question here. What effect on him do you think it had? Not just Hurtgen Forest, but the war?”

Long thought. “I suppose you want a simple answer, but the answer is as complicated as he was, and he was the most complicated man I ever met. He had always had this deep longing to emulate his grandfather, who had fought in the Civil War. Maybe in France in 1944 he finally got his chance to be a soldier. Perhaps it reassured him of his bravery, too. You mightn’t think it – and he never would have admitted it – but he had his doubts about himself.”

“You’re only as good as your last fight, Buck.”

“Right, see, that’s what I mean. And Ernest was always a student. The war in Europe gave him first-hand experience of modern infantry warfare, and he enjoyed learning and storing it up for possible use in a book. And, clearly, he enjoyed living a life with the emotional complications stripped away. It let him run away from his marital problems, for one thing. A lot of men find that.”

A hesitation. “But I think the most profound effect was that he came out of it with combat fatigue. Not that any of us could have come out of Hurtgen Forest without it, but of course he would be more prone to it than most. After the war, I heard about his depressions, and I was witness to a couple of his sudden irrational rages – sorry, Ernest, but you know it’s the truth. Those are common symptoms of combat fatigue.”

“You say `more susceptible than most.’ Why do you say that, colonel?”

“Combat fatigue is more than being tired. It comes from seeing too many boys die, too many terrible wounds, too many sights that soldiers see and never talk about. It’s the result of having experienced too much, for too long, with nothing you can do to forget, and no way to deal with it but to stuff it away as best you can. The most sensitive ones suffer the worst, especially if they tell themselves they’re tough and they can take it. I don’t think Ernest ever got over it, not really.”

“Col. Lanham, you accepted the defendant as a fellow soldier.”

“De facto. Quietly. But yes, absolutely.”

“And as a man?”

“As a man, he was a Godsend. In September, when our attack stalled out for lack of supplies, and division left my regiment practically unprotected for two weeks, he and I sweated it out together. And in November, on the night before Hurtgen Forest, he and I sat up until 3 a.m., telling each other our life’s stories. Only somebody who had been in my position would know what it meant to have somebody like him to talk to. We became brothers, those nights, no matter what happened afterwards.”


“As you no doubt know, Ernest was capable of lashing out against his friends, as much as anyone else. His behavior after the war could be erratic. Such incidents affect friendships, even though you don’t want them to. I knew what he had been through. I’d been there myself. I still valued him as a friend, but I learned to be a little careful, I taught myself to expect a little less.”

“Thank you colonel. Mr. Hemingway, we are finished with the war, except for tying up loose ends.”



“I note that you returned to the front in December, despite fever and sweating that had put you in the infirmary, to see the culmination of the Battle of the Bulge.”

“Yeah, but that was the last combat action I saw. When it was clear that the Krauts were whipped, I went back to Paris and started thinking about how to get home.”

“You didn’t want to observe the battle for Germany.”

“No. I was glad to be able to leave without having to see any more kids get killed. On March 6th, I was in the air, hitching a ride home with General Anderson.”

“Did you see Miss Gellhorn before you left?”

“Yeah, in her hotel room for maybe five minutes. She was in bed with the flu. I told her I’d give her a divorce, and I beat it, and that’s the last time we ever saw each other.”

“As you look back, do you regret going to France in 1944?’

He waited for his feelings and thoughts to clarify, waited for the words to come.

“That is a harder question than maybe you know. I value my experiences in France, particularly with Buck Lanham’s outfit, but maybe I paid too high a price.”

“If you had to sum up your experience in the European theater, what would you say?”

“I put it into Across The River And Into The Trees. War can be exciting, but it isn’t glamorous. It had to be done, and we did it, but that didn’t blind us to how dirty it was. I wrote a short story I never got published, that I call `Black Ass at the Crossroads,’ that shows how the men hated what we were doing. It marked you, you couldn’t help being marked by it, and you were glad to be done with it. As soon as you were able to, you flew home to pick up the pieces of your life.”


Chapter 21: War at Sea

“Mr. Hemingway, after you returned from China and reported, you went on to Cuba instead of remaining in the States. Why?”

“Because if I didn’t spend six months of the year outside the US, taxes were going to eat me alive. I had been gone three months on the China trip, but now I had to stay in Cuba at least until September.” He sighed. “That was a hard year. I would have gotten the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but Nicholas Murray Butler overruled the unanimous decision of the board, so they didn’t give it out at all. I made nearly $140,000 that year, the first year I’d ever made any real money, and they took $90,000 of it in taxes! Sinclair Lewis gave an impromptu speech about me and Scribner’s didn’t send a stenographer to take it down, even though I had asked them to and told them I’d pay for it, so now I’d never know what he said. And Mr. Josie died in a Havana hospital after a minor operation, and he had been like my big brother. Hard year, 1941. Brutal. About the only good thing that happened that fall was Marty’s book of short stories, The Heart of Another. Otherwise, not much to cheer about. And then Pearl Harbor.”

“Although you were in Cuba, you thought up a way to help the war effort.”

“You mean the Crook Factory? No, that was more Spruill Braden’s idea.”

“Mr. Braden, the American Ambassador to Cuba, was a friend of yours.”

“He was. He was an ambassador, but he wasn’t just some political stuffed shirt. He was a literate man, an author. He had done things in the real world. He knew that Havana was full of Franco Spaniards and Nazi sympathizers. We didn’t have any counter-intelligence on the ground, and Braden knew I knew all kinds of people: celebrities, sportsmen, diplomats, government functionaries, reporters, headwaiters, whores, the rich I partied with and the raggedy-ass kids in the neighborhood and the people I used to give fish meat to when I came in from a good day fishing. He asked me to put it together as an intelligence network, and I did, at the same time I was putting together Men At War, a 1,000-page anthology of war writing. I called it the Crook Factory. The operation only lasted a few months, just long enough to fill the gap before the Gestapo came in. The FBI, I mean.”

The prosecutor smiled. “Then you persuaded the ambassador to let you refit the Pilar to go looking for submarines to attack.”

“That isn’t quite what happened. In 1942, U-Boats are sinking ships all up and down our Atlantic and Gulf coastlines, and the Navy doesn’t have enough ships to patrol with, due to the usual government stupidity. We’ve been attacking U-boats in the North Atlantic all during 1941, but nobody made plans to deal with the absolutely predictable retaliation. So now they need boats, and the only way they can get them is for civilians to volunteer their boats as auxiliaries. I don’t know how many boats the Navy enlisted, but I imagine it was a lot.”

“It was, Mr. Hemingway. Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, more than 2,000 boats.”

“Well, I knew it had to be a lot. But we’re in Cuba, so we have to do things quietly. Batista’s government knew about our operation, but it had to pretend not to know. Cuban nationalistic sensibilities, you understand.” He let his face show just the shadow of his perpetual disgust with hypocrisy.

“They wanted us to use the Pilar as a Q-Boat along Cuba’s northern coast, to search various uninhabited keys for hidden submarine supply dumps, and to patrol certain waters while prepared to report U-Boat sightings. That was a valid mission, but I thought, `Okay, let’s carry the idea a little farther.’ We knew that sometimes subs would sometimes stop small boats to get fresh food. We’d look like an easy target to a sub. What if we were ready to run up to it and throw a bomb into the conning tower, maybe do enough damage to prevent it from submerging?”

“And the Navy went along with the scheme.”

“A few civilians putting themselves at risk wouldn’t cost them anything. They supplied us with ammo, and radio gear, and a Navy man to work the radio, and we took her out for a shakedown cruise in November 1942, supposedly engaging in scientific research into fish populations.” He snorted, remembering. “As if anybody was going to believe that, in wartime! “

“So you went cruising, looking for trouble.”

“We did. We were out from January through March 1943, and again from May to July, which turned out to be our longest, hardest cruise. After we came in, our redeployment kept getting delayed – not our fault – and we didn’t get out again until November, and that one didn’t amount to much. We went out one last time in January, 1944, and by then it was clear that we weren’t needed on the north coast anymore.”

“If you ever were.”

Ignoring her: “I volunteered us to patrol in the Caribbean, working out of Guantanamo, but we weren’t needed there either, because the U-Boats were finished.”

“Now, Miss Gellhorn, you have said that the defendant’s Q-boat operations were just an excuse to go fishing using government gasoline. Is that still your opinion?”

“All I can tell you is what I observed. There was Ernest surrounded by his fishing buddies, fortified by the usual wall of hard liquor, and the time I went out with them he brought his young sons, and they were taking potshots at junk in the water, claiming it was target practice. Does that sound like real war to you, or does it sound like pretense?”

“Often wrong, never in doubt.”

She turned on him, a familiar movement. “Oh sure, the usual. I saw but didn’t understand.”

“Marty, it’s all on the record. You think it was a year of partying because you don’t have the slightest idea of what it involved. You think the Navy gave us ammunition and installed communications gear and made arrangements for our refueling and re-provisioning, because they wanted to help me go fishing? You think the boats doing the same job in American coastal waters were just using government gasoline to go fishing?”

“I don’t know what the others were doing. I only know what I saw with my own eyes.”

“You know what you think you saw. You didn’t see the context. You don’t have any idea what it’s like, that many men on a small boat, six weeks at a time.” He could feel himself having to make the attempt to be reasonable, just like the old days. “Listen, instead of criticizing an operation you didn’t understand, why not go to the people who knew, and ask them?”

“No thanks. I can find other things to report on.”

He turned to the prosecutor. “The trouble with Marty is that she could never tell the difference between the way things looked and the way they really were. To use Pilar as a Q-Boat, we had to have cover. We made it look like a scientific expedition, but if people thought we were just conning the government so we could go fishing, that was all the better. The boys and I had our fun as we went along, but it was still a lot of men on a small boat for a long time. And we were ready to make an attempt on a submarine, if circumstances had allowed. It didn’t happen, but it could have happened. One time, a sub surfaced just where we should have been patrolling, but they had called us in to Havana for consultations. And the only time we did see a sub surface, it went off in the opposite direction, and it was doing 12 knots and we couldn’t catch it.”

“Which perhaps saved all your lives.”

“Perhaps. But suppose it had worked! It would have been something to remember all your life, if you happened to survive it. You could ask Wolfie.”


“Winston Guest. Ask him.”

“That sounds like a good idea. Without objection from the defense, I think we should call Mr. Guest.”

“No objection, your honor. The defense looks forward his testimony.”


Wolfie looked like he had during all those days on Pilar. “It’s very good to see you looking young and healthy, Papa,” he said. “I don’t know that I would have expected it.”

“Wolfie, Marty still tells people we were just out there having a good time on government gasoline. You want to say something about that?”

“Papa, I liked you and the rest of the boys, but eight men in a small boat for six weeks at a time is not my idea of a pleasure cruise. Neither is getting eaten alive by mosquitoes while we were searching up and down Romano Key looking for fuel dumps. And the hours we spent scanning for periscopes! I thought I’d go blind sometimes.”

“Mr. Guest, this court knows your background, including the fact that you were born rich, you were a graduate of Columbia Law School, and at 36, were considered too old for military service. We wish to ask you about the submarine patrols. Did you think the defendant’s plan could succeed?”

“We knew the specs, so we knew the odds. And the only time we did see a submarine, when that thing surfaced, I thought, `They call that a boat? It’s an aircraft carrier! ‘Chances were, we were going to get killed before we could get into range. Probably a good thing we never caught one.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’m dead anyway, and what a thing if we’d been able to do it! If they’d had to scuttle the thing, or if we could keep them topside, and the Navy could get there soon enough, a 38-foot converted civilian yacht would have put a U-Boat out of commission. Or, maybe we could capture the whole crew. Maybe we would have gotten code books, a lot of things.”

Wolfie was watching him brighten with remembered enthusiasm, and he laughed, partly just from the joy that had always come with being around him. “And you knew as well as anybody did how bad the odds were.”

“Well, yeah, but it was worth taking that chance, if we could.”

“I said it was all right with me, didn’t I?”

“You sure did, and I never forgot it, you standing there with me on the flying bridge, the muscles jumping in your cheeks, saying, `Papa it’s all right with me. Don’t worry for a moment Papa it’s all right with me.’ But the point is, we weren’t just fooling around out there.”

“No. We burned a lot of government gas, but they got their money’s worth.”

“I was going to write about you, Wolfie. Did write about you, and the others, but I couldn’t get it into publishable shape. I wish I could have, you all deserved that.”

“Cross examination?”

“Can’t think of anything we could add, Mr. Prosecutor.”


“Mr. Hemingway, it sounds like you and your friends expected to die in that boat.”

“You go attack a submarine in a 38-foot boat and tell me if you expect to survive. But the war gods smiled on us, and we couldn’t catch the only son of a bitch we sighted, so we lived.”

“All very dramatic, Ernest, and there you are as usual, casting yourself in another heroic pose.”

“And there you are as usual, disparaging what you don’t understand. If we had bagged a sub, you would have said, `Oh, did the submarine interrupt the fishing?’”

“Mr. Hemingway, if you expected to die engaging the sub – why engage it? What good would it do to be killed when you couldn’t do it any harm?”

“We had our plans and here was the chance. What should we have done? Play possum? Run? Would you want to live with that memory for the rest of your life? And – maybe it would’ve worked!”

“I see. Yet your Q-Boat experience did not lead you to want to participate in the war in Europe.”

“I would have been happy to participate in Europe, but being a correspondent wasn’t participating, it was being in the audience. I could have been of great use to the OSS, but they turned me down.”

“Miss Gellhorn, in retrospect, would you still urge the defendant to report the war in Europe rather than remain in Cuba?”

“In retrospect I should have left him to play on his boat, but in 1942 and 1943 I still thought, if he got close enough to the war, later on he could do for it what he had done for the Spanish war. You see, until I saw him in Europe, I still believed he was the man I knew in Spain.”

“Even while we were still in Cuba, she had washed her hands of me, but she didn’t quite know it. And I was about finished with her, too, and I was a lot closer to knowing it than she was.”

“I’m afraid we need to talk about that last year together in Cuba.”

“Yes, Ernest, we can talk about our own little war.”

“Miss Gellhorn…”

“Hell, she’s right, that’s about what it amounted to.”

“Mr. Hemingway, when you and your wife were away from each other, you each expressed great love and tenderness, and then your coming together again drew sparks. How would you explain that?”

“I don’t know, it just kept happening.”

“Miss Gellhorn?”

“Maybe distance brought out the best in us.”

“Now what kind of sense would that make?”

“Well, Ernest, I don’t know. But whenever I left you, the things I loved about you got bigger, and as soon as we were together again, all I could see were the things I couldn’t stand. And then at the end, your behavior toward me was intolerable. No one should have to put up with people screaming at them, and insulting them in public.”

“How about the fact that it made you feel guilty, being safe and comfortable while a war was going on?”

“How about your going so long between baths and clean clothes?”

“How about your hating having to keep up any household routine?”

“How about your making it impossible to have a household routine? Living with you was living with chaos!”

“And living with you was like living with a record player, always playing the same tune.”

“What tune? That there’s a war on? That you ought to be pulling your weight and doing the one thing you could do better than anybody else in the world instead of playing war?”

“Why did you always think you knew what was best for me?”

“Because I could see what was happening to you, and you couldn’t! Because I respected the craftsman and I admired the writer and I remembered the man who had cared about the Spanish people, and instead of the man I knew, you were becoming `papa.’ Plus, you were drinking like a fish, and that always meant you were under pressure.”

“Yes I was! Living with you!”

“Not living with me, living with yourself! You knew you were wasting your life and you were working hard not to know it, so you drank.”

“Maybe that wasn’t the source of the pressure, did you ever think of that? I was doing what I could for the war effort, no matter what you thought, but I was hearing the clock ticking, and wondering if I would ever get back to my real work after the war was over. And I was sick of living with someone who was so cocksure about her own opinions about anything and everything.”

“That was another thing, wasn’t it? You were losing your ability to hear anybody say anything you disagreed with. Why do you think you couldn’t keep your friends? Dos Passos, MacLeish, you know the list – men of ability and integrity, and you and they had been comrades in arms, so to speak. But they all had one great fault, they wouldn’t become your disciples.”

“We’re not talking about other people, we’re talking about living with you and your illusions. You couldn’t just see things as they were; you had to see them as they ought to be. Roosevelt had to be God, and the New Deal the new dispensation, and World War II a glorious crusade to free mankind and bring in the millennium.”

“And you had to see everything in light of how it would affect Ernest Hemingway. Every month, you seemed to become more superficial.” To the prosecutor: “We’d go into Havana and he’d drink, and as soon as he was surrounded with admirers, he’d start on these self-aggrandizing stories, and the thing I could never figure out was why. He was Ernest Hemingway, for God’s sake! Why couldn’t that be enough? Why did he have to make himself into a war hero and a professional prize fighter and God knows what else?”

“You never could tell the difference between lying and story-telling.”

“You’d tell these stupid lies to the point that your friends – our friends – were embarrassed. And what did it mean to me, to be married to a liar?”

“It meant you had an excuse to try to tear me down, with your sarcasms and your lectures and your warnings that you were losing respect for me.”

“And that meant you had an excuse for raging at me like a crazy man whenever you got drunk enough, like the night you slapped me in the car when I was driving us home.”

“You were a model of self control yourself, as I remember. You deliberately drove my Lincoln into a tree.”

“What was I supposed to do, give you the idea it was okay to hit me? If I hadn’t given as good as I got, you would have walked all over me.”

“You know what I think? I think you secretly liked us fighting. I think if we had been poor, you would have liked me better.”

“If we’d been poor, at least you would have had to be more you, instead of having to be `papa.’”

“All right, both of you. I will take that as an adequate explanation of why you fought when you were together. But whenever you were apart, other feelings surfaced. Miss Gellhorn’s reasons for her reactions are her own business, but Mr. Hemingway, when she was away, what was going on with you? It is your reactions we are trying to understand.”

“I got lonely”

“For Martha specifically, for just to have a woman in your bed?”

“I answered your question. That’s all I feel like saying.”

“Your honor, may I ask a few questions of Miss Gellhorn?”

“Proceed, counselor.”

“Miss Gellhorn, you spent some weeks in the Caribbean in the summer of 1943, investigating conditions, gathering material for an article for Collier’s magazine.”

“That’s right, and Ernest objected strenuously, even though I needed to earn the money to pay my share of our expenses.”

“And, just in case you think we were rolling in dough, I was in the 80% tax bracket, and my 1941 tax bill was $103,000. I made a lot, but I didn’t get to keep much of it.”

“And after a few weeks at home, Miss Gellhorn, you went on to Europe, did you not?”

I did. I went up to New York in September, and it took nearly a month to get my papers, but I did get over to England, and then I got to see the war in Italy.”

“While you were in Europe, your novel Liana was published. Did it do well?”

“Max Perkins thought it would be chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection, and he was quite embarrassed when it wasn’t. Still, over time it did become a best seller.”

“The defendant had helped you with that book, had he not, while he was out on patrol in his boat?”

“I would read successive installments at night while we were on patrol, and pencil in my suggestions, and get it back to her next time we made port.”

“I never said he wasn’t a good editor. Maybe the thing we had most in common, by that point, was writing.”

“Thank you, Miss Gellhorn. No further questions.”


“Well, let’s follow up on that line of inquiry, Miss Gellhorn. You returned from Europe in March, 1944. What sort of reaction did you meet?”

“It was Ernest at his murderous worst, storming at me day and night. I was desperately tired but he was not letting me sleep, with his accusations and his tirades. He was more like a crazy man than the man I had used to know.”

“Did you think about leaving him?”

“There wasn’t any time for that. The invasion was coming, everybody knew that, and I had to be there. Only, fool that I was, I still wanted him there too. I couldn’t help thinking, if he just gets where he obviously belongs, he’ll find himself again.”

“Meanwhile, Mr. Hemingway, you had made up your mind to go.”

“Yeah, I didn’t like it, but I guess Marty finally wore me down. Up until May, I still had hopes of doing something active. Marty and I were already in New York, getting our papers to get across, when I learned that the OSS had turned me down. I gather they concluded I wouldn’t work well in harness.”

“No kidding. How in the world would they get an idea like that?”

“For somebody who lived with me for all those years, you’re amazingly consistent in failing to understand me. All the time Pilar was operating as a Q-Boat, we were under orders, or didn’t that ever occur to you? We didn’t just go where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go. They told us what to do and we did it.”

“But in any case, the OSS option was closed to you.”

“It was, and it’s the kind of work I should have been doing. Anybody could be a reporter; they had hundreds of ’em. How many people knew what I knew, and who I knew, in France? In fact, it’s just the kind of work I did do that summer on the way from Normandy to Paris.”

“We’ll get to that. First, let’s talk about how you got to England.”

“I flew. The Brits flew me over, in return for my promise to write about the RAF.”

“Which came about because I talked to Roald Dahl, a British assistant air attaché. Ernest forgets to mention that.”

“All right, it’s true, you talked to Dahl, and he got me a seat.”

“Also he forgets to mention that in New York, he signed up to report on the invasion for Collier’s, even though I had been writing for Collier’s for years, which automatically meant that I couldn’t, because magazines were limited to one correspondent each.”

“Mr. Prosecutor, she has it in her head that I stopped her from being their front-line correspondent. But the War Department had ruled that female correspondents couldn’t go any further than women’s services went, which meant they couldn’t go to the front. She knows that.”

He forgets to mention that he refused to try to get a seat for me on the airplane he got to ride in because of me, and I wound up as the only passenger on a ship that was carrying dynamite.”


“Mr. Hemingway?”

“Maybe I wasn’t anxious to cross the Atlantic hearing about my duty all the way.”

“Mr. Hemingway?”

“All right, it was spite, I admit it.”

“Mr. Hemingway, another opportunity. Find the complex of reasons and look at them.”

Apparently this was going to go on forever. He sighed and dredged, and came out sighing some more.

“It was a lot of things. I really didn’t want to be doing this. Either I wanted a position of responsibility, or I wanted to be left alone, and I wasn’t getting either. The OSS turned me down, and Collier’s didn’t really need me, they just wanted my name. And I was tired. A year at sea was like a year of warfare anywhere. It wears you down. The physical hardships, the uncertainty, the responsibility, it all takes its toll. And I went there already feeling the losses – the loss of time, the loss of energy, the loss of whatever I might have written. None of that was going to be recoverable. Also, I guess I blamed Marty for spending so much of the past year chasing moonbeams: I think I was feeling, she was spending time and energy that really should have been spent with me.”

“You mean on you.”

“Well, all right, on me. Why was I less important than everything else? By the time we got up to New York, part of me hated you, and that part was growing.”

“So you took it out on me.”

Grudgingly: “Maybe I did. But Marty, it was China all over again. Who wanted to go to the war in Europe?”

“At least I didn’t have to hear that every few days.”

“No, because by the time you got to England, we were finished.”

“Not on my part, not quite. When I arrived, I was leaning that way, but I was still undecided. It was only after seeing you in that hospital room that I knew.”

“Mr. Hemingway, Let’s talk about that.”

“I had been in London about a week. It was clear to everybody, we were days away from invading France. Everything was eat, drink and be merry. A party at Capa’s broke up at about 3 a.m., and Pete Gorer offered to drive me back to the Dorchester. Blackout conditions, of course, and he’d been drinking like everybody else. We hit a steel water tank that was in the road, and I got smacked into the windshield. I had a scalp wound pouring blood, and both knees were swelling up from hitting the dashboard, but the really serious thing was that I had another concussion. They got me to St. George’s Hospital – 57 stitches – and sent me to recuperate at the London Clinic. This was early morning, May 25th.”

“And I got to England two days later, and as soon as I get off the boat, people are asking me about Ernest’s accident. He’s in the London Clinic, and he’s supposed to be in terrible shape after a car wreck. So I go up to see him, and he’s turned the room into a goddamned cocktail party. He’s wearing a bandage like a turban and he’s drinking, and he has surrounded himself with cronies and celebrity-gazers, and I knew right away we were through.”

“She was livid. She disapproved of the fact that I had been out partying in wartime, that I was drinking in the clinic, that I was having a good time there with my friends. She figured that I didn’t really have a concussion, and the bandages were just window dressing – but if I was hurt, it was my own fault. Terrific amount of sympathy I got from my wife.”

Drily: “Under the circumstances, did you expect her to have any sympathy for you?”

Sheepishly: “You mean because of the ammunition ship? Maybe not. But it didn’t matter, we were through. Looking back, I think she and I had a long shipboard romance. Marty was a writer, she was passionately anti-fascist, and she was young and beautiful. She admired my work, which made us both think she admired me. In Spain we shared danger and work and fun and bed and friends and it looked like we belonged together. But she always had to work hard, and it looked to her like I didn’t. She started to think I was superficial, especially when I started picking apart her politics. She was always for the people against the fascists, and so far so good. But she wound up in a cheering-box, and you can’t do that and stay honest. The only time I did it, I wound up excusing Stalin’s murder of Andres Nin and Pepe Robles and others, and it cost me my friendship with dos Passos. Fundamentally she and I were on different courses. It just took a while to work itself out.”

“No further questions for Miss Gellhorn, your honor.”

“Mr. Hemingway, before Miss Gellhorn even arrived in England, you had met Mary Welsh and had already decided you were going to marry her.”

“It wasn’t so much decided, as recognized. Somehow as soon as we were introduced, I knew that this person and I belonged together the way you know that dawn is going to follow nighttime.”

“And after all that happened in the following seventeen years, do you still think you and she belonged together?”

“All I know is what I told you. How can I know what our lives would have been if we had done something else?”

“Very well. When you were discharged on May 29th, you were told not only to refrain from alcohol, but to rest quietly. Why didn’t you follow doctor’s orders?”

“Were they going to call off the invasion until I felt better? Besides, that isn’t how I handled injury. I paid for it, sure. I lived with continuous headaches all the next year, not to mention getting another concussion in the field. But it would have been silly to put myself to bed when we were any of us liable to be killed at any odd time for any reason, or for no particular reason.”

“Then perhaps we should look at your war experience in Europe.”



Chapter 20: A Long Way from Home

“Miss Gellhorn, you said that when you returned from Finland, you joined the defendant in Cuba intending not to return to the war. How did it happen, then, that in November you began lobbying for Collier’s to send you to China?”

“Mr. Prosecutor, when you were in the physical world, did you ever change your mind? I didn’t start asking to be sent to China until I have been home a good ten months. By then, the Nazis had taken most of Europe, and then there was the Battle of Britain, and I hadn’t done anything useful. Japan’s war on China had been going on for years, and I thought Ernest and I could report on it.”

“I’m tired and I’m ready to relax after a year and a half’s hard writing. The book is getting excellent reviews. Scribner’s has ordered a 100,000-copy initial press run, and so has Book of the Month Club. I want to celebrate, and she has to see about the war in China. Why go halfway around the world with her?”

“Well, Mr. Hemingway, since you did go, why?”

The equivalent of a shrug. “I can’t remember. True love, I guess, or maybe not enough sales resistance. Marty clearly had her heart set on it, and she was going to do it whether I liked it or not. And besides, I had noticed that I liked pretty nearly anything I did, once I got started on it.”

“Were you perhaps influenced by traces of your boyhood thoughts of seeing China, like your missionary uncle Willoughby?”

Another shrug. “Not consciously.”

“Miss Gellhorn, how did you prepare for the trip?”

“Eleanor got me a letter from the President asking U.S. officials to help if I requested it, and we arranged to leave from L.A. at the end of January, and meanwhile we went to Cuba to spend Christmas.”

“And since I had the money, I bought us the Finca as a joint Christmas present.”

“Which you didn’t buy in both our names, and which eventually turned out to be yours alone.”

“Not until after you practically deserted me, wandering around the Caribbean.”

“Could we return to the matter at hand? Your honor, with your permission I propose to question them about this matter jointly.”

“Seems to me you are doing that already, counselor. Proceed.”

“So, Mr. Hemingway, in January 1941 you went to China. The trip had unexpected and wide-ranging consequences, did it not?”

“You mean the report to Morgenthau?”

“That, and everything that followed from that. Would you briefly explain to the court how it came about that you wound up committed to producing a secret report for the government?”

“It was one thing leading to another. Once I agreed to go, I decided I’d get Ralph Ingersoll to pay for it. He had started an afternoon tabloid in New York called PM, and of course like any new paper he had to build up circulation. I proposed sending him a series of reports on the strategic situation in the Pacific, and he could see the value for his paper, so he said yes.”

“Did this involve enough money to be worthwhile?”

“You can always use more money, especially when you’re in the 60% tax bracket, but the point for me was to get some kind of official status as a journalist, rather than just travel as my wife’s traveling companion. But then I get a phone call from this guy in the Treasury Department, Harry Dexter White, a top assistant to Henry Morgenthau, the Secretary of the Treasury at the time. Years later it would turn out that he was a member of the Communist Party, which is ironic as hell, because it was at just this time that the lefties started to attack my book as a betrayal of the cause in Spain. But all I knew about White was that he worked for Treasury. He says he wants me to keep my eyes open over there and when I came back, tell him if I thought Chiang Kai-shek going to be able to stay in power, and if he would continue fighting the Japanese. We were shoveling a lot of  money in Chiang’s direction, and White was sure a lot of it being stolen or wasted, but he wanted an informed opinion on whether the effort was worth continuing.”

“Did you object to the idea of filing a secret report?”

“Why should I object? It was my government asking me to help. And it was my tax money they were sending over there.”

“So you became an unpaid spy.”

“It was really just reporting. I kept my eyes open, I talked to people, I figured things out.”

To skip ahead for the moment, when you returned you wrote up a report summarizing your conclusions.”

“I reported to Morgenthau and White in person, and then at the end of June I sent Morgenthau a confidential letter spelling out the ins and outs of the military and political situation. And, by the way, I said the Japanese would probably attack us, and probably not sooner than December, 1941. It was a nice piece of work, even if I do say it myself. But I didn’t dream that the Japs would attack Pearl Harbor, or that the Navy would let them get away with it!”

“At the proper time we will want to examine how that report changed your life in the longer term. But we need to look at the trip itself.”

“You mean the Oriental luxury tour.”

The ghost of a smile, from the ghost of a prosecutor. “That’s the one.”

He looked over at her. “Hey Marty, who wanted to go to China?”

“Oh, shut up.” But she said it without heat.

“You and Miss Gellhorn left Los Angeles for China on the Mauretania, on January 31, 1941. Is that correct?”

“Yeah, it is – unfortunately. From Hawaii on, Colliers was sending us by China Clippers, but they couldn’t get us seats from L.A. to Hawaii, so we had to go by boat, getting thrown around in rough weather all the way. Then, from Hawaii, we flew. Those flying boats were comfortable, and they stopped at the end of each leg of the trip. Hawaii to Wake, Wake to Midway, and Midway to Guam, with a good hotel on each of the atolls. So you’d fly all day, and you’d get a good meal and you spent the night in an honest-to-God bed, and then you’d get up and do it all over again the next day. It took you several days to get there, but you were comfortable on the way.”

“Did you get impatient?”

He didn’t, but I did, more fool me. We didn’t land in Hong Kong until the 22nd of February, three weeks after we left L.A., and it took another month in Hong Kong before we got permission to enter China itself. All I wanted to do was get to China, and it seemed like we weren’t ever going to get to.”

“And when we did get there, you couldn’t wait to get out.”

“But I didn’t know that ahead of time. I had no idea.”

“And what did I tell you at the time? You could hardly stand the crowding and noise and filth in Hong Kong, which had been governed by the English for a hundred years. Why wouldn’t you know that China in the middle of a war would be worse?”

“It’s always easy to see things clearly after the fact.” She sizzled.

He laughed. “Reminds me of old times,” he said.

“Miss Gellhorn, we appreciate your continued assistance. Your testimony can be of great value in assisting the defendant to see himself as he appeared to others.”

That would be an achievement, getting Ernest to see anybody’s point of view but his own.”

“Doesn’t apply to you, of course.”

“Miss Gellhorn. during your month of enforced inactivity in Hong Kong while you waited for your papers, how did you and the defendant spend your time?”

I spent it moving around, seeing what I could see, trying to understand the city. He spent it at the bar, talking with all the new buddies he made. That’s how he worked. That was his system. He just stood there, or sat there, and the information came to him. I used to tell people, I’m the part of the team who has to work. But not him! Within days – within minutes, it sometimes seemed – he had made friends everywhere.”

“Because as a best-selling author he was a celebrity?”

“Probably that helped with some people, but it doesn’t explain how he could become instant buddies with just anybody he’d meet. In a couple of days he was able to carry on animated conversations in the street, full of laughing and joking, and I wouldn’t understand a word. Just like in Spain. I don’t know how grammatical he was, but he could always make himself understood.”

“Mr. Prosecutor, do you mind if I explain my way of working?”

“Please do.”

“Think about it. You’re in a strange place for a few days, a week – a month, even. How much are you going to understand? Marty went all over the place trying to see for herself, because that’s the way she worked, she had to see. But I knew you needed context, and the way to get it was to pick the brains of people who have been around forever, then go see. If you do it that way, it’s like you’ve lived there for years.”

“But how would you know the right people to talk to?”

“You don’t. You can’t. So you talk to as many people as you can, and you try to find out their story. If you talk to enough people, you’re going to put together a picture in your mind. It will be a simplified picture, but it will be better than anything you could put together by relying on your own observation alone.”

“Is that why you didn’t read up on the subject ahead of time?”

“Much faster and more reliable to talk to people. The people I learned the most from don’t write books.”

“But were you not concerned that people might be trying to use you for their own purposes?”

He stared at the prosecutor. “Of course they were. You think I believed everything anybody told me? But sometimes people’s lies tell you more than you could have learned by them telling the truth. And if you listen to enough different people, the contradictions among them are going to tell you things. You can pick up all sorts of things if you listen – and I knew how to listen.”

“It’s true, you know. Sometimes he’d tell me something and I would say, how can you know that, and he’d say this one told me this, but that one told me that, and a third one told me something else, and what I just told you is the only way it makes sense.”

“It’s what we used to do covering the economic conferences, and what I did in Spain, and in France later, in the second war. It’s just basic intelligence work, really, and for that matter, basic journalism. There isn’t any magic to it, but you have to talk to enough people.”

“Miss Gellhorn, the defendant mentioned your reaction to conditions in Hong Kong, and later in China. Would you spell out what he was referring to?”

“It makes me ill, remembering it. The crowding, the filth, the continuous unending noise. People spitting everywhere, all the time, so that you walked down sidewalks covered with spittle. I had to get away from it. I was glad to move to the British sector where things weren’t so bad. I was ashamed, a little, but glad.”

“And the defendant?”

“He said to me, `The trouble with you is that you think everybody else is going to feel about things the same way you do. If these people were as miserable as you think they are, they wouldn’t keep having kids and they wouldn’t keep shooting off firecrackers in the street.’”

“And did he convince you?”

“No.” A moment’s thought. “That would be too much like saying the way things were was all right.”

“You were always wanting to remake the world, Mart, but it never seemed to occur to you that the mess the world was in was the result of other people remaking the world earlier. And wasn’t Hitler trying to remake the world?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can just –“

“And even supposing you’re right, we weren’t going to cure anything in a month. The whole idea of traveling is to understand what you see, not criticize it for not being what you want it to be. Before you can change anything, you have to know what you’re changing, or you’re just going to make an even bigger mess. That’s one reason I stayed away from politics. Politics leads people to believe in easy answers, and there aren’t any.”

“You stayed away from politics? How can you say that?? What was For Whom the Bell Tolls about, if not politics?”

“Not politics in the way you mean it. I was on the side of the people, but I didn’t have to see everything as either left or right. I believed in the individual, and I had compassion for the little guy. So what does that make me?”

“It makes you infuriating and inconsistent. Those weren’t the beliefs that made you the man I fell in love with in Spain, when you were doing what you could to help the Spanish workers against the fascists.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. You understood that sometimes you have to chose between two evils, but you never could understand that sometimes the evil that exists is better than the evil you’re likely to call forth by resisting it.”

“Perhaps the two of you should agree to disagree. Meanwhile, let’s proceed to your time in China after you left Hong Kong.”

“I will concede that Ernest was right about one thing: China was even worse than Hong Kong. If I’d known ahead of time how it was going to be, I never would have done it.”

“Miss Gellhorn, in the six weeks after you received your papers, you and the defendant entered the 7th war zone, near Canton, observed the army there, then flew on to the seat of China’s wartime government at Chunking. After interviewing members of the government, you flew to Burma, and then he returned to Hong Kong and you went on to Java and then Singapore. Is that an accurate precis?”

“It took longer than it sounds when you put it that way, but yes.”

“A challenging trip. And precisely because the trip turned out to be so challenging, it gives us an interest in hearing your view of the defendant’s actions and demeanor during those weeks.”

“I know what you want. In everyday life, he could be totally impossible, but in emergencies, or in situations requiring ingenuity and endurance, he was as good as anybody I’ve ever met. That’s certainly how he was in China.”

“You mean I did something right?”

“Proceed, please, Miss Gellhorn.”

“He was always at his best in difficult circumstances, and China provided them. We didn’t dare drink the water without boiling it, we could eat nothing uncooked, unless it was a fruit that could be peeled. Exposure of any kind to their water could be dangerous. He even told me I was crazy to try to get clean by washing.”

“Which you ignored, and which gave you a good case of China Rot, and at that you were lucky it wasn’t worse.”

“China Rot, Miss Gellhorn?”

“Whatever it was, it was affecting the skin of my hands. Ernest made sure I found a doctor, who prescribed some kind of stinky ointment for it, and I had to wear gloves from then until the trip was over.”

“And if I hadn’t made you get medical attention, sure as hell you would have picked up leprosy.”

“It was pretty bad. And then there was the transportation. Except for getting over the Japanese lines, and then getting to Chunking and out to Burma, all our travel was by the most primitive means imaginable. We were jolted along theoretical roads in poor excuses for trucks, we rode diminutive horses that were scarcely able to carry us, we walked through great expanses where there were no roads at all, we took one long river journey on the deck of the only motorized craft on the river, a Chris-Craft towing a barge.”

“And did these hardships get him down?”

“In the half dozen years we lived together, I  never saw him so patient and so considerate. And not just to me, but to everyone he came into contact with. During the whole trip, I saw him blow his stack only once, and that was well deserved. That was after we’d been up to the front lines, and we were trying to get to Chunking to talk to government officials. Before we even left for the front, right after we landed on the other side of Japanese lines from Hong Kong, Ernest had carefully arranged for an airplane to fly us to Kunming after we returned from the front lines. When we got back, no airplane and no prospect of an airplane. Nobody had bothered to do what had to be done to get the plane, and nobody was in any particular hurry to do it.”

He remembered it well. Bland incompetence, smugly certain that Oriental inertia would overcome Occidental impatience.

“So on this occasion he lost his temper?”

“He erupted! He went into full Hemingway-volcano mode, and he seared everything and everybody within half a mile. He chewed them out as they’d never been chewed in their life, whether they understood English or not, and we got our airplane. But, as I said, this was the only time, and well deserved.”

“So you have no complaints of his treatment of you during the trip?”

“I could have done with fewer renditions of `Who wanted to come to China,’ but I’m sure he could have done with me doing less complaining. It really did throw me off my stride, the whole situation.”

“Marty, it was all about learning to roll with the punches. There’s an old saying, ‘What can’t be remedied must be borne.’ I put it into poker terms, ‘What you draw is what you get.’ As you know.”

“I should!”

He laughed. “I still remember that night, you’re lying across the room, on one of those pallets that passed for beds, and out of nowhere, no preamble, I hear you matter-of-factly saying, `I wish to die.’”

“Yes, there I am at the end of my rope and I say I wish to die, and you say, `Too late. Who wanted to come to China?’”

“Doesn’t it seem funny now? At least a little?”

A small smile. “Three percent, perhaps. And certainly not at the time.”

“No, not at the time. If I remember right, we’d run through all the whiskey I had so carefully brought along to share with our thirsty military hosts. I’m surprised I didn’t wish to die.”

“Why should you? You were just as happy drinking snake wine with them.”

“The only two things we could safely share in China were cooked food and liquor. You just had to learn to make allowances.” He smiled. “Snake wine, with the dead snake in the bottom of the bottle. Not too bad, actually, once you get used to it, if you don’t have anything better. If war had broken out while we were over there, I was supposed to be PM’s on-site correspondent. I might have wound up drinking snake wine for four years.”

“Did you see any real action, Mr. Hemingway?”

“Nah. The closest we came to seeing the war was when we inspected the army in the field, and they pretended to attack Japanese lines. It was just a dog-and-pony show for our benefit. The enemy wasn’t even in sight.”

“Why would they go to that trouble for two American journalists?”

“Do you really think that’s how they saw us, as two American journalists? When we were traveling with a letter from the president of the United States, and Marty was known to be a personal friend of Eleanor Roosevelt?”

“Do you think they knew about your own investigative mission?”

“Mr. Prosecutor, the term `Government secrecy’ is a contradiction in terms. Chiang naturally would have had agents all over D.C., trying to find out what was going on and what was likely to go on. It wouldn’t surprise me if they knew my mission before I did.”

“In any case the Chinese government attempted to influence your judgment by determining what you would see.”

“Well, sure, you’d expect that. But their bigger problem was preventing us from seeing what was too big to be missed. For instance, it was clear that nobody in power gave a good goddamn for the welfare of the troops. They’d conscript these poor boys and send them off somewhere and the families would never hear from them again. How could they? Even if the boys had known how to write, which they didn’t, there wasn’t any postal system. So China’s armies were full of kids whose old world was lost forever. Even if China somehow beat the Japs, who was going to see that these kids got home? And as to what it was all about, all they knew is that the Japs had invaded their country. All this was all right there to be seen.”

“And how did you react?”

“You mean, how did I feel about it, or what did I do? How I felt was that just like everything else in China, it was worse than the worst I’d seen in Spain. But what did I do? I acted like we were the honored guests we were supposed to be. I looked at what I was shown, I ate and drank with the generals, I kept my eyes open, and I made speeches to the troops whenever the generals asked me to.”

“May I say something, Mr. Prosecutor?”

“Of course. That’s why you’re here, for your insights and memories.”

“Ernest was always passing himself off as hard and calloused. But sometimes you could get a glimpse of something else. You see, I heard those speeches to those boys. He told me he felt sorry for them. They took it for granted that they would have no control over their lives, because they’d never known anything different. He said it was like Frost’s poem about the hired man, with nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope. So he tried to give them a sense that they were part of something larger, a struggle to make a better world.”

“At least, that’s what I said. God knows what they actually heard after it was translated.”

She looked over at him. “My point, though, is that you cared for those boys, even if you were afraid to realize it.”

“It wasn’t a question of being afraid to realize it, I couldn’t afford to really feel it. If you’re going to get torn up about everything you can’t do anything about, you’re going to spend your whole life like that. There wasn’t anything I could do about any of it. All I could do was smile and exchange toasts, and uphold the honor of the Western World.” A specific memory brightened his mood. “Remember that luncheon, our last day on the front?” And suddenly they were laughing together. “Tell them, Mart.”

“You have to understand, Mr. Prosecutor, this was the big farewell luncheon to the visiting journalists, representatives of America, etc., etc. There was plenty of food, for once, but after a while I realized that they were trying to get Ernest drunk. There were fourteen officers around that table, and each one of them in turn stood up and toasted Ernest. That meant he had to stand up and say something in return, and then they’d empty their glass of this god-awful rice wine. Time and again, until some of them are turning strange colors and falling over. But Ernest is still on his feet, ready for more if need be. He looked a little grim, and I was afraid he was going to kill himself, but finally the general announced that there was no more wine, and we were able to get away.”

“She asked me how I felt, and I said, `Like a man who’s never going to make a speech or a toast ever again.’ Showed ’em, though.”

“So, Mr. Hemingway, after your visit to the front, you made your way to the wartime capital, Chunking, arriving in April. And there you found your way smoothed, somewhat, by the Finance Minister, did you not?”

“H.H. Kung, sure. Our first day there, we had all three meals with him. He was married to Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s sister, which made him one of the chief insiders in the government, not just the finance minister.”

“And I was so surprised when he called you Ernie!”

“That was me reaping the benefit of the good deeds of my Uncle Willoughby, who had gotten Kung into Oberlin College. Kung and I had met several times when I was a boy and he visited my family in Oak Park. I remember him teaching my sisters and me how to sing `Jesus Loves Me’ in Chinese. One of life’s little tricks. Kung didn’t actually have all that much power, but it was a good connection.”

“If you don’t count his avaricious, empty, calculating wife, living like a princess and clearly all that appalling poverty on every side never bothered her.”

“Well, Marty, she was what she was. Who knows what we would have been, raised the way she was? And how different is it anywhere? People who have been given a lot tend to think they deserve it, and when you’re surrounded by enormous social problems that you don’t understand, it’s tempting to assume that nothing can be done, so you might as well enjoy your own life.”

“It was still revolting.”

“You never had any use for missionaries, but you have to admit, people like my uncle did what they could. They put their lives on the line.”

“A drop in the bucket. If you’re going to change things, you have to organize. Missionaries didn’t change China, the Communist Party did.”

“Mr. Hemingway, do you agree?”

“Well, what the reds produced isn’t a society I could live in, but it’s head and shoulders above the situation we experienced. Granted, we were there during a war, but Chiang’s government was never going to do what the communists did. You could see it in the difference between the government men we were meeting and Chou En-lai.”

He was an impressive man.”

“He certainly was. I knew of him as a friend of Joris Ivens, the guy who made the `Spanish Earth’ film, who was a communist himself. I think they met when Chou was living in Paris in the 1920s. We only saw Chou the one day, for an hour or two – after a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff to be sure the government didn’t know what we were doing – but you could see that he was somebody.”

“He was the only decent man we met in China.”

“On the other hand, I’d seen the communists close up in Spain, and one way they prepared themselves to govern was to lie like governments. So I didn’t believe everything Chou told me. But he was a force in himself, no question about it.”

“Your newspaper articles did not mention your meeting him. Why was that?”

“Because I had been told not to write anything that would stir up animosity between the reds and the government, and I felt bound by that. I wasn’t there to make the situation worse. All I could do was report on what I had learned, and hoped that somebody in the government would listen.”

“Did you ever consider going public?”

“No I didn’t. Who wanted to give aid and comfort to the Japs? If I wasn’t going to lie, I had to keep my mouth shut, and that is what I did.”

“And years later?”

“It never came up. After I got back from Europe in 1945, my days as correspondent were over.”

“You left the wartime capital, you and Miss Gellhorn flew to Rangoon, to see what you could learn about the effectiveness of the Burma Road, and then you returned to Hong Kong. Were you sorry to leave?”

“Sorry? No. But China was an interesting experience. I never forgot the day I watched 100,000 men building an airfield. They were working with the crudest tools you could imagine – carrying dirt in buckets, smashing rocks with sledges – but they got it done. That taught me that it was true, what a guy had said to me, that China could do anything it set its mind to. So, it was all interesting, and I never hated it like Marty. But I had spent weeks not writing, and ahead of me were more days of travel, and then sometime in May I’d need to write my articles for PM, and prepare a report for Treasury. After that, with luck, I would be able to return to my normal life.”

“But that didn’t happen.”

“It did not. We had a few months of recuperation, and then we got Pearl Harbor for an early Christmas present, and that was the end of the world between the wars.”

“So, the China trip took nearly half a year of your life, but never used the material in a book or story. Why was that?”

“Same reason I didn’t write about Eskimos or penguins. I didn’t know enough about it. And by the time the war was over, the China trip was ancient history.”

“You returned home by way of New York City, where you wrote the articles you had promised PM.”

“Well, I wrote three of them in Hong Kong, and smuggled them out in my shoes so the limeys couldn’t censor them. I wrote the others in New York. Ingersoll came up to my suite at the Barclay and interviewed me at length, with a secretary taking shorthand, and he used those notes to write another article, introducing my series. He and I didn’t get along so well, but he was a good newsman, a professional.”

“Looking back, any thoughts about the job you did?”

“I think it stands up. But whether it was worth the time and effort, I don’t know. I did get Martha out of China alive. I’m not sure that would have happened if she’d gone in alone.”

“I hope it won’t astonish you if I say that I agree.”

“Well, good. I thought maybe later events made you choose to forget.”

“I wasn’t going to advertise it, but I didn’t forget.”

“So in mid-June, you were reunited in New York City.”

“And then we went to Washington, D.C. so I could report, and I wound up talking to the Navy. That’s when I met John Thomason, at ONI. He was quite a guy, half a dozen years older than me, a Marine, and in 1918 when I was handing out chocolates and cigarettes on the Italian front, he was winning the Silver Star and the Navy Cross. He could draw, he wrote short stories, and he wrote a biography of Jeb Stuart. He knew how to listen, both him and his boss Colonel Charlie Sweeney, and they asked good questions. But they were sure wrong about what Japan would do in the Pacific. I didn’t argue with them. A few weeks on the ground doesn’t make you an expert. They were wrong, but hell, it was in their favor that they listened to us at all.”



Chapter 19: Key West – Final Years

“Mrs. Hemingway, what was it like when the defendant returned from Spain for the final time in 1938?”

“By that time, it was all over between us. I could feel it in myself and I could feel it in him. For years, we used to laugh and play, and plan our fun as we went along. Even though we wanted very different things from life, we left plenty of space between ourselves, and fashioned a life together. There was none of that now. It was like living with a crazy man.”

“Could you give the court a specific example of crazy behavior?”

“You want the story about the gun and the lock and the costume party?”

“Yes, I’m afraid we do.”

He’d seen this one coming, but still it made him wince.

“I had planned a costume party at the Havana Madrid nightclub to celebrate the opening of the highway from Miami. Ernest didn’t want to go, which was fine with me; he went fishing with Joe Russell. Charles and Lorine came over to pick me up, and they were there when Ernest came home early. He still didn’t want to go, which was still fine – but then when he wanted to go to his writing room, it was locked and he couldn’t find the key. He got enraged, and suddenly he was standing in the living room brandishing his pistol. I was petrified that he was going to hurt somebody.”

“Deliberately, you mean?”

“No, of course not deliberately, but what consolation would that have been? He didn’t shoot anybody, but he did fire a shot into the ceiling. He fired a pistol shot into the ceiling of the living room! And then he stormed off to his writing room and shot the lock off the door and disappeared inside.”

“How did you react?”

“Really it seemed best to get away. Lorine said it would be all right for me to send the children to her house, just to be safe, and we went on to the party. And, a while later, he showed up there, all calmed down and acting as if nothing unusual had happened. But before the night was over, he got involved in a fight, right on the dance floor. And I don’t mean he exchanged a couple of punches, I mean a brawl that resulted in broken furniture. It’s amazing, in retrospect, considering his temper and his wild impulses and the amount of drinking he did, that he never killed anyone. I was mortified, and left. But by that time, it hardly made any difference. As I said, I knew it was all over between us. I knew it and I didn’t want to know it.”

“When did you finally decide that there wasn’t any going back?”

He decided, really. In July, 1939, I left the boys in the house with Ada and went to Paris with a couple of friends. It was the first time I’d gone off by myself since we were married. I was trying to regain my balance. When I returned to New York, just about the time the war broke out in Europe, I learned that he and Martha had crossed over from Cuba to Key West, picked up his car and the boys, and had driven to St. Louis. He left Martha to visit her mother, and he drove the boys to Montana, to the L-Bar-T. I called him from New York and told him I wanted to fly out to join him. I was still hoping for one last miracle, I suppose.”

“He agreed?”

“Oh, what could he say? I don’t want you? That was a little too direct for Ernest. He agreed to meet me in Billings, but everything worked against me. I got a cold on the way, and within hours of my getting there, I was running a fever. It rained continuously, which meant that we couldn’t get away from each other, and he had to take care of me when his feelings for me were gone. It made him even more irritable than before. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took my being sick to be emotional blackmail.”

That struck him. “I never reasoned it out, Pauline, but you’re right, that was exactly how it felt.” Another sudden knowing: “And that’s why your crying over the buttons was the last straw!”

“The buttons, Mrs. Hemingway?”

“He’s right, it was the last straw for him, and now I can see why. He couldn’t stand living with the guilt, watching me suffer. Here was something that couldn’t be blamed on him, so he couldn’t defend himself by finding reasons why it was my fault.”

“Explain, please.”

“A few days after I got there, I finally felt well enough to unpack, but when I opened a suitcase and found that the wax buttons on one of my favorite dresses had melted into the fabric, I started to cry, and I couldn’t stop. It just seemed so symbolic. It felt like I was losing everything in my life that I valued. I couldn’t stop crying, and then when I did, I couldn’t get away from that feeling, and finally Ernest told Toby Bruce to drive me and the boys back to Key West, by way of my family home in Arkansas. And that was the end.”

“Defense, cross-examination?”

“Mrs. Hemingway, in this final phase of your marriage, did you think it was all about Martha Gellhorn?”

“Really the problem was that Ernest was no longer content with our marriage or our life, and he was terrible about accepting the responsibility for endings. But Catholics who were party to a civil divorce could not remarry, so breaking up the marriage was an absolutely monumental step for me, and I hesitated a long time. We found ourselves in a sort of death spiral. It did not happen all at once. It was prolonged. Prolonged and painful.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Hemingway, no further questions.”

“Your honor, the prosecution recalls the defendant.”


“You heard your second wife’s testimony, Mr. Hemingway. Were you, in fact, acting crazy sometimes?”

“It’s an interesting thing, sitting here, watching what happens inside me while I’m hearing all this. Back in the physical world, I would have been boiling. So why not now? Even when I’m being criticized for the wrong reasons, it doesn’t seem to get to me here. Why is that?”

“Don’t ask the question rhetorically, Mr. Hemingway. Here, when you want to know, ask.”

“I thought I just did.”

“You don’t really need to ask others. Just – ask.”

The defense attorney leaned over to him. (Or, at least, that’s one way to describe it. That’s what would have happened in 3D reality.) “One of the things that happens here is that as you acclimate yourself, gradually the training wheels come off. So, it’s going to look to you like the rules keep changing. Remember how at first we pretended to speak, because you assumed that speech was necessary? You have been receiving your answers from others because that’s how you expected it to work. But really, you don’t need somebody else to tell you the answers.”

“Then why are you having to tell me this?”

“Because you still think you don’t know. It’s easy. Do the same thing you learned to do to relive your past. Remember. Sink into the question. When the answer emerges, you’ll know, the same way you remembered what it was to be 18 years old and unwounded. So ask why your reaction to criticism is different here than when you were in the physical world.”

Well, okay, he knew how to do the sinking-into trick now. He let his mind center on his question, and dropped into it. The defense attorney – and the entire court – knew when he returned.

“You see, Mr. Hemingway, how easy it really is to get information?”

“Yeah, I do. I’m starting to feel like Robert Jordan, when he said `I was learning fast there, at the end.’ In some ways this isn’t any different from the way it worked in life, is it?”

The equivalent of a smile. “This is life, Mr. Hemingway, in somewhat different conditions. But yes, in material life, it works the same way, only you don’t always realize it. Before you return to the prosecutor’s question, what did you learn? Why do you react differently here than in life?”

“Because here I’m awake, and there sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t.”

“Close enough. Another way to say it is that while you were in the body, you could erect screens and filters to protect yourself from knowing things you didn’t want to know, and here you can’t. Here, you have no defense against the truth, because your consciousness extends to your entire being.”

“Yeah, I’m noticing.”

“Everybody here knows what you’re going through. The more open you become to learning how you really experienced life, the faster and less painful the process. I can assure you of that.”

“I sure hope so.”

“Thank you, counselor. Mr. Hemingway, to return to my question? In your last years living with Pauline, were you, in fact, sometimes acting crazy?”

“Hell, I wasn’t just acting crazy. I was crazy sometimes. I’ve got to agree with Pauline, it’s a miracle nobody got killed. I was drawn so tight! You know how, when a fish pulls the line tight enough, the water pops off the line? That was me.” He paused. “It’s complicated. There were a lot of strands to it.”

“Pick it apart, Mr. Hemingway. Nobody here is pressed for time.”

“Well, there was Marty. She was young, beautiful, and uninhibited, which was quite a bit different from Pauline. After Pauline’s second Caesarian, the doctors said she couldn’t risk becoming pregnant again, and she was Catholic enough not to use artificial birth control, so for years we had had to use coitus interruptus, which isn’t the best way to preserve intimacy. Plus, Marty was like me in some ways that Pauline wasn’t. She was a writer, and she knew what it was to be in a war, and she cared for the Republic. But I couldn’t have Marty and Pauline both, and if I went to live with Marty, I’d be giving up my home, and my Key West friends, and I’d lose my boys, too, before they became old enough to be interesting.

“But the decisive thing was that I needed home to be a place for me to refill my wells, not just a place to work. I needed peace and quiet, not an armed truce. We used to have people eat with us, because we liked to enjoy meals the way they do in Europe, or Cuba, sitting around the table for hours. You can’t do that when the two of you are so much at odds that it’s all you can do to keep up appearances. If you can’t relax, you can’t enjoy it, and if you don’t enjoy it, why do it?

“And I guess there was the guilt, too. People in Spain were hungry, and they were being bombed and shelled, and I was sitting safely in my big house, doing what? The new Spanish story that was emerging was a big one, I could feel that, like when you got a big fish on the line and you hadn’t had a look at him yet, but you could feel the drag. But how was I supposed to land it if I was living in chaos? You have to have a still place to write from, and I no longer had it! I was still writing – that was the last thing I was going to give up in life – but to write under those circumstances pulled me even tighter, and finally something had to give.”

“So you left.”

“Mr. Prosecutor, the Germans have an expression, `flug nach vorn,’ you know what it means? It’s like saying, the only way to retreat is to go straight ahead. That’s the situation I was in. I couldn’t stay where I was, Somehow Pauline’s crying over the damned buttons crystallized in me that I had to get out of the situation. I fled forward.”

“Understood. Does the defense have any questions?”

“No questions.”

“Your honor, the prosecution recalls Martha Gellhorn.”


“Miss Gellhorn, when you came home from Spain for the final time, what were your plans?”

“I wanted to be with Ernest, and I wanted to continue to write. Spain made me into a war correspondent, and clearly the world was going to need plenty of war correspondents.”

“Had you and the defendant come to an understanding by the end of 1938?”

“Let’s say that at some point it became inevitable that he was going to leave Pauline and take up with me. But, as I came to learn, bringing things to a conclusion was something he wouldn’t do if he could avoid it. Toward the end of the year, he all but moved over to Havana, living in the Sevilla-Biltmore, supposedly so he could get enough peace and quiet to keep writing. By then he was defining `peace and quiet’ as not just freedom from visitors but freedom from Pauline.”

“So you went to be with him. Were you intending to be with him permanently?”

“Oh, I don’t know. This was 1939, we could see that war was coming, it wasn’t a time to think about permanence. You were led by events. But I was there, and we liked being together, I was willing to see what would happen.”

“And you were responsible for his buying the Finca.”

“His room in the Sevilla-Biltmore was a dump, as bad as the Hotel Florida in Madrid, but he was so far into the book, I think he didn’t even notice. He didn’t have time and attention to spend looking for another place, but I couldn’t stand living like that, so I took it on myself to do the looking. That should have taught me something, too. Ernest was always happy to let someone else do the uninteresting things in life. But I found a big house on 15 acres with a great view, a few miles outside of Havana: Finca Vigia, which means lookout farm. It wasn’t in great shape, and he wasn’t much impressed by it when I took him out to see it, but I could see its possibilities. I arranged to rent it, and I spent my own money fixing it up, and in mid-May we moved in.”

“Best thing you ever did for me Marty, and I appreciated it.”

“You had a damn funny way of showing it, sometimes. Anyway, we settled in.”

“Miss Gellhorn, as I understand it, you and the defendant shared expenses.”

“Except for his booze bill, yes. If you want to keep your independence, you have to pay your own way. So Ernest kept working on his novel, and I continued on mine, my second novel, I don’t think I mentioned that. He and Paula kept edging closer to divorce, but they were keeping up appearances. He continued to get his mail at the Ambos Mundos for propriety’s sake, but he moved into the finca with me. Then in September he packed Pauline off to Key West and called me and asked me to fly to Billings to meet him.”

“Which you did.”

“Which I did, yes, and we drove to the Sun Valley Lodge. They were just getting started, and they were comping celebrities in return for them letting themselves be used to publicize the lodge.”

“In your experience, was that typical of the defendant, to let himself be used for publicity purposes?”

“He was working on his manuscript; it was coming along well, but he needed a good place to work. He wasn’t rich yet, and obviously he could no longer rely on Pauline’s family money. Free lodgings at Sun Valley helped, and it was a beautiful setting that provided wonderful hunting.”

“And then?”

“And then Charles Colebough of Collier’s asked me to go to Finland, because it looked Finland and Russia might go to war.”

“What was the defendant’s reaction to the idea?”

“Initially Ernest was quite supportive. He said I ought to be able to do it in a few weeks and then meet him in Cuba. He said the assignment would give me a nest egg, and then I could afford to write my short stories without having to resort to journalism to keep body and soul together. So of course as soon as I had things arranged, Ernest started going around telling everybody I was abandoning him. But that was Ernest. He got over it, after a while.”

“So you went.”

“I went. It took nearly three weeks in a Dutch freighter – a neutral vessel, you know — to get to Belgium by way of England and a heavily mined sea. Then a flight to Helsinki, and within hours after my arrival, late in November, the Russians started dropping bombs. It didn’t take long. By Christmas Eve I was in Sweden, writing my articles for Colliers, and then I was marking time in Lisbon, waiting for the weather to improve enough for the Yankee Clipper to take me back to America. By the time I got home, Ernest had packed up his things from Key West and he was in Cuba for good.”

“Questions from the defense?”

“Miss Gellhorn, you said the defendant `got over’ the fact that you were going to Finland. What was he like after he got over it?”

“These were still early days between us. He was sweet, actually. He praised me to my face and behind my back, saying how brave I was. And when I was in Finland he sent me cables saying how proud of me he was, which made me miss him terribly.”

“And when you returned to him, in Cuba?”

“He was very glad to have me back, and he wanted me to never leave him again. At the moment, that’s what I wanted too. I did have offers to cover the war, but I turned them down. I was tired, and  I was happy just to be with him, and to be with his friends from Spain who partied with him at the Finca every Sunday. And of course I was waiting for A Stricken Field, my novel, to come out in March.”

“Had the defendant helped you write it?”

“He was plenty busy with For Whom the Bell Tolls! Where he helped me most was with the legal aspects of the publishing contract. He had Max Perkins send him a copy of the most stringent Scribner’s contract so he could compare and negotiate with my publishers, and he was able to get the terms improved considerably.”

“Thank you, Miss Gellhorn. No further questions at this time.”

“Your honor, the prosecution recalls the defendant to the stand.”


“Mr. Hemingway, all during the time your second marriage was disintegrating, no matter where you were, you kept writing For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

“Seventeen months, all told.”

“Yes. Seventeen months. During that time, would you say you were living more in your mind than in the external physical world?”

“Let’s not forget, I’m the guy who had to deal with Pauline and Marty and Max and everybody. In December of ’39, when I went down to Key West I found that she had discharged all the house servants and taken herself and the kids to New York, and it was up to me to pack my manuscripts and my clothes and gear. Some of it I stored at Sloppy Joe’s, and the rest of it I packed in the big Buick, and then I put it in the car and took the ferry to Havana. You think that got done by remote control?”

“My question really is, did you sometimes find your inner world overwhelming the outer world? Clearly, seventeen months devoted to visualizing and writing one story is an intense prolonged effort. It seems reasonable to ask if you found it harder to concentrate on the outer world during that period.”

“You ever try catching marlin while you’re thinking about something else? When I finished working for the day, I turned it all off. I had to, or I couldn’t work the next day. That’s one way I used drinking, to retune the radio in my mind.”

“I see. While we’re on the subject, let’s finish with For Whom the Bell Tolls. You wrote it with unwavering foreknowledge of defeat.”

“Everybody who read the book in 1940 knew the Republic’s fate. It didn’t die in the dark. Spain was betrayed by everybody: by its own army, by England, by France by the United States, by the Soviet Union in a different way. It was betrayed by just about everybody except Mexico and the International Brigade. So where was the opportunity for a happy ending? It wasn’t that kind of story. I wasn’t out to make people feel good. I was telling the truth, as best I could.”

“Did you not experience some internal conflict about including some things? The massacres by the people, for instance?”

“I wasn’t writing propaganda. I wrote it as true as I could write. This was an elegy, and I wasn’t going to spoil it by writing things that time would reveal as false, or by leaving out anything that ought to be in it. I’ll tell you what surprised me, though. Very few people seemed to realize that the book less about Spain than about an idealistic American who loved Spain.

“Robert Jordan was modeled on Robert Merriman, who got killed over there. He was a product of an America the Spaniards could never be brought to understand, living in a sort of no-man’s-land of his own, living among people who called him ingles even after he corrected them. He spoke their language, and could think inside their heads, but he wasn’t one of them. He was tied to untrustworthy allies because they were fighting the same enemies. By the time the book came out, that was America’s situation, too, and people were beginning to realize it. That’s what the book was really about.”

“Yes. It was a remarkable achievement. And Spain led indirectly to your trip to Chine in 1941, which had equally major consequences for you. Let’s look at that experience. The prosecution recalls Martha Gellhorn.”


Chapter 18: Spain

“Mr. Dos Passos, in the Spring of 1937 you and the defendant were among the foreigners observing the Spanish Civil War from the side of the elected government. You both loved Spain, you were both committed anti-fascists, you had been friends for more than fifteen years. Would you please tell this court what happened in Spain, in 1937, to end your friendship?”

“As I said earlier, Katy and I had watched Hem change under the pressure of fame and money. You need to keep this in mind. He was starting to believe his own press releases, as they say.”

Dos glanced over at him, held his eyes for a long moment. He squirmed, and saw them register the fact that he’d recognized the portrait that was being painted.

“Jose Robles and I had been friends ever since a long night in 1916 in a third-class compartment on a train from Toledo to Madrid. He and I were both fluent in English and Spanish, and we were both studying art and architecture at the Centro de Estudios Historicos, in Madrid. Like me, Pepe was a radical in a conservative family. My father was a wealthy corporate lawyer, his family were aristocrats, friends of royalty. I became part of his circle of friends, then my father died and I had to go home. After the war I stayed in Europe to escape America. Meanwhile, Pepe went to America to escape Spain, and wound up teaching Spanish at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore. It was just Pepe’s bad luck that he was visiting Spain at the time of Franco’s revolt. He let them make him a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, and because he spoke not only English but Russian, they made him translator to an NKVD officer named Aleksandr Orlov.”

“Please tell the court what the NKVD was and what an NKVD officer was doing in Spain.”

“The NKVD was the Soviet secret police organization, the equivalent of the German Gestapo. It came to Spain as a condition of Soviet military aid, and Orlov was doing what the NKVD always did – he was organizing purges of `unreliable elements,’ which meant anyone who wouldn’t follow orders. Purges meant shootings, you understand.”

Dos Passos hardened, reliving it. “Pepe’s job guaranteed that he would learn too much. Maybe they started to worry that he couldn’t be trusted to keep his mouth shut. One night they took him from his home. His wife didn’t know what had happened to him, and neither did his teenage son, who was working as a translator in a government office.”

“And that’s where you came in.”

“That’s where I came in. Until now, I’ve been welcome, because the Loyalists know I am a good friend to the republic. But when I land in Valencia, right away I sense this coolness toward me in the government, from top to bottom. Mostly, it’s because I’m known to be a close friend of Pepe Robles. When I ask, nobody will tell me where he is. They hardly admit to knowing who he is! Here is one of the top men in the government, and people aren’t admitting that they know him, and I’m making people nervous, asking about him. Why? I finally find his wife and children, terrified, with no one to trust, still with no idea who took him or why, or if he’s still alive. I figure that maybe I can find out. I’m a best-selling author; I’ve been on the cover of Time magazine. It would be embarrassing all around if I were to disappear. So, I think I’m fairly safe. But I don’t learn anything in Valencia, so I go to Madrid.”

“And there you found the defendant.”

“Yes, and well ensconced. I can see right away, he’s being courted. He may think it’s his genius for scrounging that keeps him in food and gasoline, but it’s the government, or rather the power behind the government, doing everything it can to rope him in. He can feel his influence, or what he thinks is influence, and it’s changing him.”

“Did the defendant help you find out what happened to your friend Pepe?”

“You know he didn’t. Or, well, he did, but –“

“Tell it your own way.”

“He and I had a mutual friend, Josie Herbst, sort of a literary hanger-on. What we didn’t know is that she was a communist, following orders. She told Ernest that Robles had been killed because he was a fascist spy. Ernest believed her, and he picked a very public occasion to tell me that Pepe had been tried and condemned, and there wasn’t any doubt about his guilt. Almost crowed over the fact that Pepe was my friend, and he was a spy, and he was dead. He was crowing over his having inside information, you see, and exercising his tough-guy persona.”

It was all true. He writhed.

“Mr. Dos Passos, you have given a very lucid description of yourself and the defendant at cross-purposes. Let me ask you how you construe his motivations.”

“I think the elements just all came together in the wrong way, and he wasn’t reflective enough to see it. I mean, here he was, the man with the inside dope, the man who knew. He was well-connected, and apparently trusted. He loved that, always did. I think he was telling himself that he was tough and politically sophisticated. `These things happen in war, get used to it,’ that kind of thing. I think otherwise he would have reacted the way I did. I went home with my vision cleared.

“The NKVD was spreading terror in Spain, the show trials were going on in Moscow, and you could watch the zigs and zags of the party loyalists, always scurrying to approve any new thing that happened. I started to see what was really happening, as opposed to what we were being told was happening, what we had wanted to believe was happening. I didn’t come to a clear understanding right away, but it started then, and that’s when people said I moved to the right. I didn’t. I was just as anti-fascist as I had ever been. But I saw that the communists weren’t any better than the fascists, which, of course, left me between the two sides, undefended. But that was the price I had to pay, if I was going to stick with the truth.”

“And another part of the price was severing your relations with the defendant?”

“Oh, even before I sailed for home, I knew the best days of our friendship were over. I knew that Ernest knew what he had done, and I knew he would find it intolerable to remember, and I knew that he would have to re-write it as a morality play, and the villain wasn’t going to be him. Sure enough, when we met that fall at the Murphy’s place in New York, he was so outrageous that I walked out. The next spring he wrote me an absolutely savage letter, the kind of letter you’d write an enemy, and that was the end of it.”

“Because you couldn’t forgive him?”

“No, It wasn’t my choice. I knew there would be no going back, because Ernest never went back.”

No, he never went back. He just kept burning bridges.

“Cross examination? No? Your honor, the prosecution recalls the defendant.”


“All right, I’ll say right off, I was wrong about Dos, and it was wrong what I said about him. He was as honest a man as I ever knew.”

“So do you now see it as Dos Passos being loyal to his friend and you being wrong to attack him for it?”

“Yes. It’s clear enough, now.”

“And when you were no longer friends, you missed him,”


“But you weren’t able to tell him this in life. Why was that? Pride?”

It puzzled him. “I don’t know any more. Somehow there was a wall and he was on the other side, and the wall didn’t have any doors I ever found.”

“Very well, let us pass on to the war itself. First, please tell the court how often during the war you visited Spain, and for how long.”

“Let’s see. In 1937 I was there from mid-March to May and from September to December, and then in 1938, from April to mid-May and a few weeks in November. Four visits, all told.”

“Wasted time, Mr. Hemingway?”

“Certainly not. But it did cost me.”

“Professionally? Personally?”


“Mr. Hemingway, everybody knows you loved Spain and despised fascism. But we also know how little you thought of governments. So what makes a non-political man into a partisan, risking his life reporting a war on the other side of the ocean?”

“If the Republic won, we might not have to fight another world war. The Spanish government was fighting our fight against fascism. It was clear enough.”

“Not clear to everyone, not then and perhaps not now. Tell the court, please, how did you see it?”

“The army’s coup didn’t come off, and the workers rose up and took over a lot of the cities, including Madrid. So the Spanish fascists were going to lose, and with them the landowners and the church, and, by extension, Mussolini and Hitler, who up to this point had been casting an illusion of invincibility. They couldn’t afford that, so Mussolini sent in troops and Hitler sent his Air Force ‘volunteers’ to get practice in actual war conditions. The Western governments got scared by the workers’ uprisings, and by the Soviet involvement, so they refused to sell arms to the Spanish government. But the Spaniards refused to quit. You see?”

“Not quite. Why was this important?”

“Spanish resistance put the fascist intervention on the world’s front pages, month after month, and slowly conservatives came to realize that Germany was more of an immediate threat than Russia, and liberals decided that fighting fascism trumped fighting militarism. That took time, and the time was bought with Spanish blood.”

“And yet the Spanish republic accepted arms and equipment and officers and commissars from Russia, so there was excuse for fears that Spain might become a Soviet republic, at the gates of the Mediterranean.”

“True. But it’s hard to see what choice the Spanish government had, with all the western governments refusing to let it buy arms.”

“Mr. Hemingway, the politics of the Spanish conflict are a bit beside the point here, but as a matter of interest, do you think that in more fortunate circumstances it could have been avoided?”

He felt for it. “No, I can’t say I do. The whole tragedy was lying there waiting. That’s what happens when you try to keep your country isolated. Everything the outside world brings in is disruptive: the telegraph, the radio, the airplane, the automobile, banking, foreign ideas, even tourism. The result was something that nobody liked – not the peasants, not the landlords, not the workers, not the factory owners, not the church or the Army or the bureaucracy or the intelligentsia. The republic was a bunch of pieces moving in different directions at different speeds. So the loudmouths and the know-it-alls and the impractical visionaries all started to fight one another for center stage. Politics is stupid and dishonest at best, but when fanatics take charge, watch out.”

“Your honor, the prosecution calls Martha Gellhorn.”


“Miss Gellhorn, before you went to Key West in 1936, you held the defendant in high regard as a writer. When you met him, were you disappointed?”

“Not at all. He was smart, quick, knowledgeable. The things he knew, like writing, he really knew. He wasn’t much interested in politics, though. Until he met me, the defendant hardly had any politics!”

“None that you would recognize, you mean.” But the prosecutor and Martha ignored him.

“By all accounts, before the defendant met you, he was more or less apolitical. Yet when you and he return from your first trip to Spain in 1937, the man who hates making speeches makes a speech promoting the film `The Spanish Earth’ and raises money for the Loyalist cause. Seemingly, he has moved considerably to the left in a very short time. Would you agree that your influence is very largely responsible for this shift?

“Well, I hope so. But if so, it looks like the influence wore off about the same time I did.”

“Miss Gellhorn, you have been a committed leftist throughout your life, have you not?”

“I have been, I am, and I expect to continue to be. Those are my beliefs.”

“You have not become more conservative as the years have passed and, I gather, you have little patience with those who have.”

“None at all.”

“You have been quoted as saying that the ideal of objectivity in journalism is nonsense.”

“We all have beliefs, and they shape how we see things. It’s stupid or dishonest to pretend otherwise.”

“So you would not be offended if someone accused you of using your journalism to promote your political views.”

“Of course not. What should I do? Support those I disagree with? Make excuses for Hitler?”

“You were an early and consistent opponent of fascism. However, you were not equally critical of Stalin and Communism. Is that not so?”

“In the 1930s, you had to choose between Hitler and Stalin, and I chose Stalin. So did Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.”

“And after the war?”

“After the war the issue did not arise in the same way.”

“Not even in the case of the treason trial of Alger Hiss?”

“The whole thing, including Joe McCarthy and his committee, was nothing but a witch-hunt. They said Hiss was a communist and a traitor, and I didn’t believe Whittaker Chambers then and I don’t now. And I am always happy to disbelieve anything that Richard Nixon believes.”

“Was the subject of politics a point of contention between you and the defendant?”

Somehow everybody in the courtroom knew more or less what she would say before she opened her mouth. “Everything was a point of contention between us!”

The prosecutor was smiling. “Yes, I think we understand that, but talk to us about politics.”

“Ernest was never on the side of reaction, but that didn’t mean you could count on him being on the liberal side of the issues. Mostly he didn’t seem to care.”

“Yeah? I had Mussolini’s number before you were 15 years old.”

“Miss Gellhorn, I take it that the defendant is indicating that he doesn’t consider himself politically naïve.”

“If you had lived with him, that wouldn’t surprise you any.”

“Well, let’s ask him. Remain on the stand, if you please. Mr. Hemingway, you were aware of Miss Gellhorn’s politics?”

He snorted. “Anybody who ever met Marty was aware of her politics.”

“Initially you didn’t share her ideas. In one of your `letters’ for Esquire, you had warned that the dictators needed another European war, and it was on its way, and you hoped that the United States would stay out of this one. Yet you became so deeply involved in the Spanish civil war that you changed the novel you were working on. You narrated a film by a leftist movie producer, even wound up fund-raising for the Spanish republic among the Hollywood crowd. You broke with your long-time friend John Dos Passos. What happened, Mr. Hemingway? Can it all be blamed on your involvement with Miss Gellhorn?”

He seemed to feel the time passing as he sat there pondering. “Enough of it can be,” he said after a while. “She turned out to be very expensive. Getting involved with the war in Spain moved me into an intensely political orbit for a while, and getting too involved with a cause always costs you your clarity of perception. You lose the ability to see things you don’t want to see. A part of you gets hard and cynical, willing to do things or approve of things that you know are wrong, but you tell yourself you’re being realistic. A writer can’t afford to lie to himself like that. That’s what cost me my friendship with Dos.”

“And I suppose that’s all my fault? How about the fact that you getting involved with Spain resulted in For Whom The Bell Tolls? Wouldn’t you say it was worthwhile, looking at it now?”

He hesitated, and again felt the moment stretch out around him.

“Marty, I have to say, I don’t know. If I hadn’t gone to Spain, who knows what I would have written? Maybe I would have made To Have And Have Not the great revolutionary novel that it should have been. Maybe I would have written other things, better things.”

“And just left the Spanish people to their own devices.”

“We’ve had this argument, how many times? My job wasn’t to tilt at windmills, it was  to write as truly as I could.”

“You can’t write if you don’t experience!”

“But not every experience leaves you better able to write. From the time I finished For Whom the Bell Tolls until I came home from Europe in 1945, I didn’t get to write a thing except an introduction to a book of other people’s war stories. You think that experience helped me write better?”

“It was damned inconsiderate of them to have a world war when you wanted to write, wasn’t it? But –”

“Please, Miss Gellhorn, Mr. Hemingway, let’s concentrate on the prewar years. Miss Gellhorn, would you say that you influenced the defendant to go to Spain?”

“You never could tell what made Ernest come to his decisions, finally, but I certainly pushed him hard enough. He wanted to stay down there and fish and write his books, and I kept telling him he was a voice, he could be heard, he had a duty to show the world what he knew. It had to have helped, but maybe he would have gone anyway.”

“And in the event, he arrived there before you did.”

“Well, sure, he was the big-shot writer, he got a contract to report for the North American Newspaper Alliance, he wangled his way into Spain, where they already knew him, he got there in the middle of March. I didn’t get there for another two weeks, because I had to do everything the hard way, including getting a letter from Collier’s pretending I was a correspondent. And then when I do get there, after all that, I find him presiding over a feast and he looks up and says that he knew I’d get there because he had arranged it! I set him straight on that! Ernest wasn’t used to people talking back to him, especially women, but he took it. Maybe it helped that we hadn’t been to bed yet, I don’t know.”

“But you say you had a letter `pretending’ you were a correspondent for Collier’s. Isn’t Spain where you became one?”

A hesitation. “I owe that to Ernest, actually. After a while, he saw I wasn’t writing, and asked why, so I sat down and wrote a piece and sent it to Collier’s. I didn’t think they’d publish it, but they did, and from then on I was a real war correspondent, not just someone who had used a fake letter to get into the country.”

“So, if you would, describe the defendant as you observed him in Spain.”

Ever so slightly, the tense features softened. “That’s when I fell in love with Ernest, you know. I had admired him as a writer, and I liked him as a man, I loved hearing his stories and getting a sense of all the things he’d done, and that he knew, but in Spain I saw him in another light. I expected he would be resourceful and skillful, but what surprised me was the depth of his commitment to the Spanish people, and his absolute courage. I never saw him to better advantage than in Spain, not even years later, in China.”

“No reservations?”

“Oh hell yes, tons of reservations. He was bossy, and arrogant, and presumptuous. He kept trying to take over my life. He could be quarrelsome and petty and lots of other things. But when you come down to it, he was courageous and he was committed, and that made up for a lot.”

He was moved, which surprised him. It had been a long time since Marty had thought of him in those terms. Or maybe she always had, and had kept it to herself. Or maybe she had kept that image of him in a separate compartment.

“After you and the defendant returned from your first wartime visit to Spain, you were beside him on the platform when he was one of those who spoke to the American Writers Conference. What kind of an impression did he make there?”

“The house was packed – 3,500 people – and when MacLeish introduced him, I thought they’d never stop applauding. He hated public speaking, and he only spoke for a few minutes, but what he said was just what needed to be said, `Fascism is a lie told by bullies.’ When he finished, the crowd was on its feet, but Ernest took himself offstage as soon as he was finished, and he sure wasn’t coming back for a curtain call. This wasn’t about him, it was about the cause, and everybody in that hall knew that he was absolutely sincere, and absolutely right. I was very proud of him, that night.”

“And a few weeks later, after he recorded the film’s narrative track, you and he and the filmmaker were invited to the White House for a special filming.”

“Eleanor Roosevelt and I had been friends for years, and of course she approved of the cause.”

“And was the defendant excited to be the guest of the President of the United States?”

“If he was, he sure didn’t show it. He wasn’t a big Roosevelt fan.”

“Well, Mr. Hemingway, were you excited?”

“Hardly! The food was as bad as Marty had warned us it would be, and the dinner conversation wasn’t any better. And he didn’t impress me either. I didn’t trust him. He and Eleanor said they liked the film, and they said we should make it stronger, and all that – but who signed the proclamation of so-called neutrality that made it impossible for the Spanish republic to defend itself? If America hadn’t gone along with England and France, the embargo would have collapsed. Did he think we didn’t know that?”

“Eleanor said he didn’t have any choice, Ernest.”

“Yeah, I know that’s what she said.”


“No cross-examination, your honor. Miss Gellhorn seems to have presented a very fair and balanced portrait.”

“Then, Mr. Prosecutor?”

“Your honor, the prosecution recalls Pauline Hemingway.”


“Mrs. Hemingway, the years 1937 and 1938 must have been difficult for you.”

“They were. It isn’t easy to see your husband slipping away from you, and nothing you can do.”

“Those who live by the sword die by the sword, Pauline. I told you that.”

“You needn’t respond to that, Mrs. Hemingway. This proceeding centers on the defendant, not on you or anyone else.”

“It doesn’t matter. The accusation isn’t even wrong, but it certainly isn’t the whole truth. For one thing, I didn’t really lose him to Martha, I lost him to Spain, and his boyhood dreams, and his restlessness. He was becoming ever-more involved in international affairs, and I was associated with the responsibilities of home and children. It was hard not to be bitter. But in time I realized that he left me, and left our life, for the same reason he left Hadley.”

“So, do I understand you to say that this reconciled you to the breakup of your marriage?”

“Reconciled? No, not at all. And it didn’t reconcile me to him, either. Even years after we were divorced, sometimes we fought as bitterly as when we were still tied together. In fact, the strain of our last long-distance shouting match brought me here to the non-physical, as you may know. But I did come to realize, the same thing that made him a literary genius made his home life impossible. Ernest needed a wife and a home, but he needed to be free of the responsibilities of everyday life. He went from sitting at home writing To Have and Have Not to being at war again, and he was reminded what it was like to be a boy, free of wife and children and house and career and even Pilar. We were all things he loved that nevertheless weighed him down.”

“That’s true. That’s exactly how it felt, at first, those couple of weeks when I was alone, before Martha got there.”

“Yes, but Ernest, you can’t have it both ways, no matter how talented you are, or how much money you make, or how willing your wife is to go on safari with you. Day-to-day responsibilities bored you, and you avoided them as much as possible. But it isn’t enough to write the book, you have to check the galleys, you know that.”

“Yeah, but the walls were closing in.”

“You wanted incompatible things, I understand. But life isn’t like that!”

“I did say I was tempted to make a colossal mistake.”

“Yes, and you said it in print, too, which was very nice for me to have to read and pretend to not understand.”

“But, Mrs. Hemingway, you did understand.”

“Of course I did, I wasn’t blind and I wasn’t naïve. Martha wasn’t the first. Jane Mason had been a problem, too, but we had gotten through that. We could have gotten through Martha, too, even if they had had an affair. In fact, that might have been the fastest way to bring him back to his senses.”

“Boy, that’s the truth!”

“But how was I to compete with Spain, and all the new friends and experiences, and the dangers of war, and the glamour of having a cause, especially when I didn’t believe in the cause? Nothing I could say was getting through to him. All I could do was keep the home fires burning, and hope for the best. In December, 1937, I tried to join him in Spain, so I could understand what was drawing him there. Maybe if I could have gotten to Madrid, it would have helped Ernest to see me in a different context. But the fates were against me. Before I could get a visa to enter Spain, Ernest came out on his way home.”

“It probably wouldn’t have helped even if you had gotten there, Pauline. You weren’t born to get involved in a war.”

“Neither were the Spanish women, but they had to deal with it. Maybe you would have been surprised to see how I coped. And maybe having me and Martha in the same hotel would have cramped your style.”

“In any case, Mrs. Hemingway, your attempt at joining the defendant in Madrid failed.”

“It did, and we spent a very unhappy Christmas season in Paris and on the boat home, quarreling. And sometime in 1938 there came a point when I realized that it no longer mattered what I was willing to do; he had turned his face from his old life and he was going to make his colossal mistake.”

“Your honor, the prosecution recalls the defendant.”


“You were potentially quite valuable to the Republic. Besides being an experienced journalist, you were a world-famous author. Whatever you chose to write would reach millions, and might influence your government’s action. Did this not open doors for you that perhaps remained closed to others?”

“Sure, but that applied to anybody with a wide enough readership. Herb Matthews, Tom Delmer, Bob Capa, lots of them. Dos, before he fell out of favor.”

“Were you perhaps particularly favored, as John Dos Passos suggested?”

“Well, maybe. But I wasn’t one of those guys who would just rewrite official press releases. I traveled plenty, sometimes with Marty and sometimes with Herb Matthews or Bob Capa and sometimes without any of them. I went to the fronts, I talked to the officers and men; I saw how things really were. In a war, you have to have to see for yourself. I learned that we were in for years of war, maybe decades of it, and I learned not to trust the Russians any more than the British or French or my own government. I learned that I still liked living on the edge, and that I was still good in emergencies. And eventually, when it was too late, I learned that anybody who fought for the Republic came to the attention of the FBI as a possible communist sympathizer.”

“Let’s stick to what you learned in those four trips to the war.”

He dug into his past, examining. “It wasn’t like when I went to Italy as a kid, believing what I was told. I knew Spain. I knew the language. I had Spanish friends. I knew the Spanish mind. I had traveled all over the country, many times. And by this time I knew how to read through official lies to figure out the truth they were trying to conceal. I understood strategy and tactics and the use of terrain. I had spent a dozen years preparing to understand the situation. But Marty saw the Spanish war as part of the great crusade against fascism. She wasn’t able to see that maybe for me it was also about Spain itself. Maybe if she had realized that, she would have understood, a few years later, why I wasn’t particularly anxious to report on the war in France. But then, Marty wasn’t ever very good at seeing another point of view.”

“The two of you were able to cooperate in Spain.”

“Yeah, as long as I was the one who knew the language and the situation and how to be a war correspondent and she didn’t. Once she figured out all that, or thought she did, she was back to being Marty until the next new situation. Often wrong, never in doubt.”

“And from Spain, you returned to your stateside life.”

“What was left of it, yes.”

“Your honor, the prosecution wishes to return Pauline Hemingway to the stand.”