Dear Gianfranco:The rest of the letter is in this month's Harper's Magazine.
Just after I finished writing you and was putting the letter in the envelope Mary came down from the Torre and said, “Something terrible has happened to Willie.” I went out and found Willie with both his right legs broken: one at the hip, the other below the knee. A car must have run over him or somebody hit him with a club. He had come all the way home on the two feet of one side. It was a multiple compound fracture with much dirt in the wound and fragments protruding. But he purred and seemed sure that I could fix it.
I had René get a bowl of milk for him and René held him and caressed him and Willie was drinking the milk while I shot him through the head. I don’t think he could have suffered and the nerves had been crushed so his legs had not begun to really hurt. Monstruo wished to shoot him for me, but I could not delegate the responsibility or leave a chance of Will knowing anybody was killing him...
Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years. Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.
15 July 2012
Ernest Hemingway has to put down one of his cats
From a February 22, 1953, letter from Ernest Hemingway to his close friend Gianfranco Ivancich...