‘I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after’
This Hemingway was not like the other Hemingway, the old one. She was a different Hemingway. She was his granddaughter. She was very good. There were things she would not talk about, her ex-husband for one.
She wanted to forget him, she said. “All experience is good,” she said. “But you have to move on to better things.” She giggled and looked at the one she was with now. It was a warm look. “Love for me,” she said, “is truth.”
They were in Venice, this Hemingway, the one they call Margaux, and the one she was with, whose name is Bernard Foucher. She is 23; Bernard, a Venezuelan, is 39, and is, Margaux said, “my best friend and lover.” And Venice is a good place to be with someone like that—just as Ernest, the old Hemingway, said it was.
On television Margaux rides the inner tube for Fabergé commercials, while the voices sing: “You’re one of the boys, but you’re a real girl, Babe.” It is what one must do for $1 million. But not in Venice. There Margaux was not one of the boys. There she was, as the grandfather wrote of the fantasy woman he loved in his novel, Across the River and into the Trees: “Shining in her youth and tall striding beauty, and the carelessness the wind had made of her hair. She had pale, almost olive colored skin, a profile that could break your, or any one else’s heart and her dark hair, of an alive texture, hung down over her shoulders.”
Nobody mentioned the old one, the grandfather, but the couple did as he wrote: “They got down into the gondola and there was the same magic, as always, of the light hull and the sudden displacement that you made.” And that was the way it was, for Margaux and Bernard in the gondola. And in Harry’s Bar it was that way, too, although this young Hemingway liked Harry’s in Paris better, she said, because in that one there was more of the old Hemingway—the photographs, the memories.
She and Bernard, her lover, with whom she had spent three weeks on the Amazon while they filmed a documentary, were in Italy to play tennis to help the Venice in Peril Fund. There, too, were Sonny Bono and Susie Coelho, Valerie Perrine and Charlton (whom his friends call “Chuck”) Heston. But Margaux had a pulled tendon. As Jake Barnes might have said, “It was a rotten way to be wounded.”
And so it happened, just as the old one had written, after she and Bernard “had paid the gondoliere, who was unknowing, yet knowing all, solid, sound, respectful and trustworthy, they walked into the Piazzetta and then across the great, cold wind-swept square that was hard and old under their feet. They walked holding close and hard in their sorrow and their happiness.”