A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“You know what I have to get, darling,” she said.


“Baby clothes. There aren’t many people reach my time without baby things.”

“You can buy them.”

“I know. That’s what I’ll do to-morrow. I’ll find out what is necessary.”

“You ought to know. You were a nurse.”

“But so few of the soldiers had babies in the hospitals.”

“I did.”

She hit me with the pillow and spilled the whiskey and soda.

“I’ll order you another,” she said. “I’m sorry I spilled it.”

“There wasn’t much left. Come on over to the bed.”

“No. I have to try and make this room look like something.”

“Like what?”

“Like our home.”

“Hang out the Allied flags.”

“Oh shut up.”

“Say it again.”

“Shut up.”

“You say it so cautiously,” I said. “As though you didn’t want to offend any one.”

“I don’t.”

“Then come over to the bed.”

“All right.” She came and sat on the bed. “I know I’m no fun for you, darling. I’m like a big flour-barrel.”

“No you’re not. You’re beautiful and you’re sweet.”

“I’m just something very ungainly that you’ve married.”

“No you’re not. You’re more beautiful all the time.”

“But I will be thin again, darling.”

“You’re thin now.”

“You’ve been drinking.”

“Just whiskey and soda.”

“There’s another one coming,” she said. “And then should we order dinner up here?”

“That will be good.”

“Then we won’t go out, will we? We’ll just stay in to-night.”

“And play,” I said.

“I’ll drink some wine,” Catherine said. “It won’t hurt me. Maybe we can get some of our old white capri.”

“I know we can,” I said. “They’ll have Italian wines at a hotel this size.”

The waiter knocked at the door. He brought the whiskey in a glass with ice and beside the glass on a tray a small bottle of soda.

“Thank you,” I said. “Put it down there. Will you please have dinner for two brought up here and two bottles of dry white capri in ice.”

“Do you wish to commence your dinner with soup?”

“Do you want soup, Cat?”


“Bring soup for one.”

“Thank you, sir.” He went out and shut the door. I went back to the papers and the war in the papers and poured the soda slowly over the ice into the whiskey. I would have to tell them not to put ice in the whiskey. Let them bring the ice separately. That way you could tell how much whiskey there was and it would not suddenly be too thin from the soda. I would get a bottle of whiskey and have them bring ice and soda. That was the sensible way. Good whiskey was very pleasant. It was one of the pleasant parts of life.

“What are you thinking, darling?”

“About whiskey.”

“What about whiskey?”

“About how nice it is.”

Catherine made a face. “All right,” she said.

We stayed at that hotel three weeks. It was not bad; the diningroom was usually empty and very often we ate in our room at night. We walked in the town and took the cogwheel railway down to Ouchy and walked beside the lake. The weather became quite warm and it was like spring. We wished we were back in the mountains but the spring weather lasted only a few days and then the cold rawness of the breaking-up of winter came again.

Catherine bought the things she needed for the baby, up in the town. I went to a gymnasium in the arcade to box for exercise. I usually went up there in the morning while Catherine stayed late in bed. On the days of false spring it was very nice, after boxing and taking a shower, to walk along the streets smelling the spring in the air and stop at a café to sit and watch the people and read the paper and drink a vermouth; then go down to the hotel and have lunch with Catherine. The professor at the boxing gymnasium wore mustaches and was very precise and jerky and went all to pieces if you started after him. But it was pleasant in the gym. There was good air and light and I worked quite hard, skipping rope, shadowboxing, doing abdominal exercises lying on the floor in a patch of sunlight that came through the open window, and occasionally scaring the professor when we boxed. I could not shadow-box in front of the narrow long mirror at first because it looked so strange to see a man with a beard boxing. But finally I just thought it was funny. I wanted to take off the beard as soon as I started boxing but Catherine did not want me to.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest