The old man took it and drank it.
“They beat me, Manolin,” he said. “They truly beat me.”
“He didn’t beat you. Not the fish.”
“No. Truly. It was afterwards.”
“Pedrico is looking after the skiff and the gear. What do you want done with the head?”
“Let Pedrico chop it up to use in fish traps.”
“And the spear?”
“You keep it if you want it.”
“I want it,” the boy said. “Now we must make our plans about the other things.”
“Did they search for me?”
“Of course. With coast guard and with planes.”
“The ocean is very big and a skiff is small and hard to see,” the old man said. He noticed how pleasant it was to have someone to talk to instead of speaking only to himself and to the sea. “I missed you,” he said. “What did you catch?”
“One the first day. One the second and two the third.”
“Now we fish together again.”
“No. I am not lucky. I am not lucky anymore.”
“The hell with luck,” the boy said. “I’ll bring the luck with me.”
“What will your family say?”
“I do not care. I caught two yesterday. But we will fish together now for I still have much to learn.”
“We must get a good killing lance and always have it on board. You can make the blade from a spring leaf from an old Ford. We can grind it in Guanabacoa. It should be sharp and not tempered so it will break. My knife broke.”
“I’ll get another knife and have the spring ground.” How many days of heavy brisa have we?”
“Maybe three. Maybe more.”
“I will have everything in order,” the boy said. “You get your hands well old man.”
“I know how to care for them. In the night I spat something strange and felt something in my chest was broken.”
“Get that well too,” the boy said. “Lie down, old man, and I will bring you your clean shirt. And something to eat.”
“Bring any of the papers of the time that I was gone,” the old man said.
“You must get well fast for there is much that I can learn and you can teach me everything. How much did you suffer?”
“Plenty,” the old man said.
“I’ll bring the food and the papers,” the boy said. “Rest well, old man. I will bring stuff from the drugstore for your hands.”
“Don’t forget to tell Pedrico the head is his.”
“No. I will remember.”
As the boy went out the door and down the worn coral rock road he was crying again.
That afternoon there was a party of tourists at the Terrace and looking down in the water among the empty beer cans and dead barracudas a woman saw a great long white spine with a huge tail at the end that lifted and swung with the tide while the east wind blew a heavy steady sea outside the entrance to the harbour.
“What’s that?” she asked a waiter and pointed to the long backbone of the great fish that was now just garbage waiting to go out with the tide.
“Tiburon,” the waiter said. “Shark.” He was meaning to explain what had happened.
“I didn’t know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails.”
“I didn’t either,” her male companion said.
Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again. He was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about the lions.
About the Author
Ernest Hemingway was horn in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899, and began his writing career for The Kansas City Star in 1917. During the First World War he volunteered as an ambulance driver on the Italian front but was invalided home, having been seriously wounded while serving with the infantry. In 1921 Hemingway settled in Paris, where he became part of the American expatriate circle of Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Ford Maddox Ford. His first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published in Paris in 1923 and was followed by the short story selection In Our Time, which marked his American debut in 1925. With the appearance of The Sun Also Rises in 1926, Hemingway became not only the voice of the “lost generation” but the preeminent writer of his time. This was followed by Men Without Women in 1927, when Hemingway returned to the United States, and his novel of the Italian front, A Farewell to Arms (1929). In the 1930s, Hemingway settled in Key West, and later in Cuba, but he traveled widely—to Spain, Florida, Italy and Africa—and wrote about his experiences in Death in the Afternoon (1932), his classic treatise on bullfighting, and Green Hills of Africa (1935), an account of big-game hunting in Africa. Later he reported on the Spanish Civil War, which became the background for his brilliant war novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1939), hunted U-boats in the Caribbean, and covered the European front during the Second World War. Hemingway’s most popular work, The Old Man and the Sea, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and in 1954 Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his powerful, style-forming mastery of the art of narration.” One of the most important influences on the development of the short story and novel in American fiction, Hemingway has seized the imagination of the American public like no other twentieth-century author. He died, by suicide, in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961. His other works include The Torrents of Spring (1926), Winner Take Nothing (1933), To Have and Have Not (1937), The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938), Across The River and Into the Trees (1950), and posthumously A Moveable Feast (1964), Islands in the Stream (1970), The Dangerous Summer (1985), and The Garden of Eden (1986).