Study Guide

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Section 3

By Ernest Hemingway

Section 3

  • Meanwhile, the lion is lying in wait, his wound aching and blood frothing at his mouth. He's burning for revenge against his shooter.
  • He charges, and Macomber goes running. The sound of Wilson's rifle going off echoes in the air.
  • The lion is dead and Wilson and the two black men glare at Macomber (who's probably just happy, at this moment, that he's the one still alive).
  • Back in the car, Margot won't even look at Macomber or hold his hand. Instead, she punishes him by kissing Wilson on the mouth. The black men skin the lion, and then they all return to town.
  • And now we jump back to the present:
  • Macomber never knew the agony the lion had experienced. In fact he doesn't know how anyone feels. The one thing he does know for sure is that his wife is disgusted with him.
  • But hey, it's not the first time. She has been disgusted with him before. But he is sporty, athletic, and very, very rich, so he knows she will never buck up and leave him.
  • Let's also not forget that though he'll become richer, she won't become more beautiful. She had been a "great beauty," and she looked good in Africa, but back at home she was nothing special.
  • The way Macomber sees it, Margot missed her chance to leave him, and he (and she) know it.
  • Others see them as a happy couple, including the tabloids, which had paid some attention over the years, even reporting that the Macombers were going on a safari.
  • It's now 3am. Macomber is lying in bed all alone, agonizing over his failure.
  • Two hours later, his wife comes into the tent, and they immediately get into a whopper of an argument. Macomber thinks that she has been in bed with Wilson, but she insists she was out to get some fresh air. She doesn't want to talk about it anymore, so she goes to sleep.
  • Of course Margot had promised not to cheat, but when Macomber wimped out on the lion hunt, she decided that all bets were off.
  • The next morning, they have a mighty tense breakfast; Macomber is majorly mad at Wilson. We're talking serious hate.
  • Wilson, on the other hand, thinks Margot's behavior is Macomber's fault.
  • When Margot threatens to leave Macomber, he just brushes her off. After some more arguing, they all set off to hunt buffalo.
  • Sitting in the front seat, Wilson considers the fact that Macomber just might blow his head off. The guy is armed, after all. What a pain women are to have on safari, he thinks.
  • Wilson also knows that Macomber will not give up until he gets his game; he has some making up to do. But Macomber has no one to blame but himself, Wilson thinks.
  • Still, Wilson has to serve his clients. He's a professional, and this is his job.
  • Oh, and sometimes the women want to sleep with him, so he always brings along a double cot. Yeah, real professional, Wilson.
  • In the car, Wilson spots three buffalo through his field glasses. He directs the driver toward them. Macomber sizes up the buffalo: they're crusty and old, but plenty big. As he raises his gun, Wilson reprimands him: No shooting from cars, dude. That's a rule of the hunt.
  • But then they chuck those rules out the window and an exciting chase ensues. They shoot the buffalo as they pursue it.
  • Finally, the job is done, and Wilson congratulates Macomber on his newfound hunting success.
  • Macomber is anxious to celebrate with a drink but, as it turns out, the job isn't finished just yet.
  • Nevertheless, he has never felt so happy. Margot is thrilled too. But then she has to go and spoil the moment by reminding them all that they shot from the car, which an embarrassed Wilson admits is illegal.
  • When Margot presses Wilson, he tells her that he would lose his license if they found out about it back in Nairobi. Macomber, for one, loves the fact that Wilson is the one squirming now.
  • A gun-bearer approaches to announce that one of the bulls is not yet dead. Margot voices her disappointment that they're just going to replay the lion situation. She assumes that Macomber will once again act cowardly.