A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

I sat on a chair and held my cap. We were supposed to wear steel helmets even in Gorizia but they were uncomfortable and too bloody theatrical in a town where the civilian inhabitants had not been evacuated. I wore one when we went up to the posts and carried an English gas mask. We were just beginning to get some of them. They were a real mask. Also we were required to wear an automatic pistol; even doctors and sanitary officers. I felt it against the back of the chair. You were liable to arrest if you did not have one worn in plain sight. Rinaldi carried a holster stuffed with toilet paper. I wore a real one and felt like a gunman until I practised firing it. It was an Astra 7.65 caliber with a short barrel and it jumped so sharply when you let it off that there was no question of hitting anything. I practised with it, holding below the target and trying to master the jerk of the ridiculous short barrel until I could hit within a yard of where I aimed at twenty paces and then the ridiculousness of carrying a pistol at all came over me and I soon forgot it and carried it flopping against the small of my back with no feeling at all except a vague sort of shame when I met English-speaking people. I sat now in the chair and an orderly of some sort looked at me disapprovingly from behind a desk while I looked at the marble floor, the pillars with the marble busts, and the frescoes on the wall and waited for Miss Barkley. The frescoes were not bad. Any frescoes were good when they started to peel and flake off.

I saw Catherine Barkley coming down the hall, and stood up. She did not seem tall walking toward me but she looked very lovely.

“Good-evening, Mr. Henry,” she said.

“How do you do?” I said. The orderly was listening behind the desk.

“Shall we sit here or go out in the garden?”

“Let’s go out. It’s much cooler.”

I walked behind her out into the garden, the orderly looking after us. When we were out on the gravel drive she said, “Where have you been?”

“I’ve been out on post.”

“You couldn’t have sent me a note?”

“No,” I said. “Not very well. I thought I was coming back.”

“You ought to have let me know, darling.”

We were off the driveway, walking under the trees. I took her hands, then stopped and kissed her.

“Isn’t there anywhere we can go?”

“No,” she said. “We have to just walk here. You’ve been away a long time.”

“This is the third day. But I’m back now.”

She looked at me, “And you do love me?”


“You did say you loved me, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” I lied. “I love you.” I had not said it before.

“And you call me Catherine?”


We walked on a way and were stopped under a tree.

“Say, ‘I’ve come back to Catherine in the night.”

“I’ve come back to Catherine in the night.”

“Oh, darling, you have come back, haven’t you?”


“I love you so and it’s been awful. You won’t go away?”

“No. I’ll always come back.”

“Oh, I love you so. Please put your hand there again.”

“It’s not been away.” I turned her so I could see her face when I kissed her and I saw that her eyes were shut. I kissed both her shut eyes. I thought she was probably a little crazy. It was all right if she was. I did not care what I was getting into. This was better than going every evening to the house for officers where the girls climbed all over you and put your cap on backward as a sign of affection between their trips upstairs with brother officers. I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards. Like bridge you had to pretend you were playing for money or playing for some stakes. Nobody had mentioned what the stakes were. It was all right with me.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest