That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald
by Morley Callaghan


IT was in the back of my mind the next afternoon when I called for Ernest. He was waiting, and he had a friend with him, Joan Miro, the great Spanish surrealist painter. At that time Miro was at the beginning’ of his great international reputation. He looked to be about the same age as Ernest and he was small enough in stature to make me feel like a big man. He was about the size of Napoleon. He wore a neat dark business suit, and the kind of shirt I hadn’t seen for a long time; it had a stiffly starched front with stripes running crosswise. His hair was clipped close, and he had a quick warm smile and lively eager eyes. Unfortunately for me, he couldn’t speak a word of English. Ernest said’ that Miro was coming with us to act as timekeeper. Miro beamed proudly. Outside, walking over to the American Club, we must have presented a strange spectacle: big Ernest over six feet and heavy, me, four or five inches shorter, and Miro, who might have been a little over five feet. Steps and stairs on the Paris street! And to make it a better picture, Miro not only had that stiff cross-stripes shirt, he wore one of those hard black bowler hats!

Taking advantage of the fact that Miro had no English, I told Ernest that Scott had called for us and we had dinner with him and Zelda and I now liked Scott very much. I remember the little conversation. About the proposition that we all get together he made no comment.

“You didn’t tell Scott where I live, did you?” he said after a moment’s reflection.

“No, I didn’t.”

“If you’re going to be seeing a lot of Scott, don’t tell him where we live, eh?”

“Why not? What’s the matter?”

“The Fitzgeralds will come walking in on us at all hours.”

“Can’t you tell them there’s a baby in the house? Tell them Pauline has to get some sleep.”

“It won’t stop them,” and then he shrugged. “And besides, Zelda is crazy.”

“How do you mean?”

“She’s just crazy. You’ll find out.”

“Okay,” I said.

At the time I thought he meant that Zelda wasn’t predictable in the sense that Scott wasn’t predictable either when a little drunk. Yet I felt troubled. A man as sensitive as Ernest would know beyond a doubt of Scott’s admiration for him, and his liking too. Scott apparently had some need of the kind of close friendship he thought he could get from Ernest. It seemed to me Scott wanted to offer incredible loyalty to him. Look what had happened when Scott had believed I wasn’t sufficiently impressed by that passage from A Farewell to Arms. Yet Ernest, for some reason I couldn’t understand, some ridiculous scene between them, no doubt, or some series of irritations, or maybe because of some view he had of Scott and Scott’s work, simply didn’t want to be bothered with him. Yet they lived only a few blocks from each other. Scott didn’t know it, and I was not to tell him.

Due, no doubt, to Mire’s presence, it was one of our best boxing afternoons. At other times in our boxing Ernest and I would laugh and kid each other. Miro added a touch of solemn Spanish dignity to the affair. Taking off his neat coat, he carefully folded it. Moving with brusque efficiency, he studied his watch so he could call out accurately the beginning of the three-minute round and the minute rest. All his movements became precise, stem, polite and yet dominating. Never had I had a timekeeper so immersed in a match, and so commanding with his splendid dignified earnestness. To have laughed or not been workmanlike in our boxing would have been an insult to his dignity; he would have been disappointed in us. So it was a good afternoon. We were all happy and satisfied, and I thought Miro, especially, had enjoyed himself.

Miro was having dinner with the Hemingways, but after the boxing I told them I was meeting Loretto at the Select. And here again was the charm of Hemingway. I didn’t have to say to him, “Loretto, I know, would like to meet Miro.” He simply said, “We’ll walk up with you.” When we got to the cafe there was Loretto, and Hemingway introduced Miro and they sat down with us for a few minutes.

I remember it was a dull grey day, but not dark enough to promise rain. Along the other side of the street passed those two boys, “the clever little devils,” whom I had got to like by this time. Their bland superiority and their awareness of what was going on in the Quarter was often amusing. Now they sat down across the street at the Coupole. By the way they were staring over at us I knew they had recognized Hemingway, whom they had never seen at the cafes.

“Did you read that ’Confessions of a Young Man’ piece?” I asked Ernest. The piece had appeared in This Quarter. It must have been written when the boy was eighteen or nineteen. “Well, the fellow who wrote it,” I said, “is sitting over there looking at us.”

“Which one?”

“The one on the right.”

“It was a very funny piece,” Hemingway said, laughing, “You tell McAlmon that if he’ll publish it I’ll buy ten copies to give to my friends.”

When they were leaving, Miro picked up the bag containing the boxing gloves. He seemed to like carrying that bag. They went slowly along the street, big Ernest, little Miro in his bowler hat and neatly pressed dark suit, erect, precise in his step.

When Miro and Ernest had got only fifty feet beyond the cafe, the two boys, who had been watching carefully, came hurrying across the street.

“Wasn’t that Hemingway?” Graeme asked.

“Yes, that was Hemingway.”

“And the other one,” Buffy blandly, watching the two retreating figures. “His butler, I presume? Does he really bring his butler along with him now to carry his bag?”

Their little snicker, in view of the picture Hemingway and Miro made, was perfect. The remark indeed was bright. I let them enjoy their mirth for a moment. Knowing I was going to leave them feeling they had committed the most terrible of sins around the Quarter, the sin of unawareness of what was going on, I said quietly, “No, that was Miro.”

“Miro! The Spanish painter?”

“Yes. Not Hemingway’s butler.”

“Oh,” and their faces fell, and they took a couple of quick steps out to the sidewalk so they could see the hard hat and the neat square shoulders of the little man carrying the bag, in an entirely different light. Then somewhat embarrassed, they sauntered away.

Sitting by ourselves I told Loretto we had a situation on our hands; there was to be no getting together with the Hemingways and the Fitzgeralds. Ernest had warned me not to give Scott his address. Naturally we wondered, speculated, tried to come to some conclusion about who had put out the story that they were great and good friends. Come to think of it, I had never heard Ernest praise a book of Scott’s. Yet Scott was still fiercely devoted to him. Was there something in Ernest’s nature that made him want to slough off anyone who had affection for him? I wondered. On the other hand, aside from the impression I had got from Max Perkins, was there any evidence they had ever been as close as Scott wanted them to be?

“There’s something about all this that doesn’t make sense,” Loretto said suddenly.

“What doesn’t make sense?”

“Ernest doesn’t see Scott because Scott is a drunk. Right?”

“And would upset his life and his work. That’s right.”

“But look, Morley. What about that manuscript copy of Farewell to Arms Scott showed us? Where would Scott get it?”

“Probably from Ernest.”

Exactly. Well, you don’t go around handing out manuscripts to people you want to hide from, do you? So the decision that Scott is a nuisance must have been made pretty recently. A drunk! Are you sure that’s all there is to it? You know it can’t be. What goes on between them, anyway? Will Ernest ever tell us? Will Scott go on pretending he doesn’t know?“By this time Hemingway and Miro, far along the street, were just about out of sight, but I craned my neck, taking a last look at them. I was sure Scott would keep pushing away till he came along some afternoon with Ernest and me, came into that little area of interest and friendship thai had nothing to do with our being writers…

Next Chapter 21

Published as That Summer In Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald by Morley Callaghan (New York: Coward-Mccann, 1963).