A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“I wish there was some place we could go,” I said. I was experiencing the masculine difficulty of making love very long standing up.

“There isn’t any place,” she said. She came back from wherever she had been.

“We might sit there just for a little while.”

We sat on the flat stone bench and I held Catherine Barkley’s hand. She would not let me put my arm around her.

“Are you very tired?” she asked.


She looked down at the grass.

“This is a rotten game we play, isn’t it?”

“What game?”

“Don’t be dull.”

“I’m not, on purpose.”

“You’re a nice boy,” she said. “And you play it as well as you know how. But it’s a rotten game.”

“Do you always know what people think?”

“Not always. But I do with you. You don’t have to pretend you love me. That’s over for the evening. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?”

“But I do love you.”

“Please let’s not lie when we don’t have to. I had a very fine little show and I’m all right now. You see I’m not mad and I’m not gone off. It’s only a little sometimes.”

I pressed her hand, “Dear Catherine.”

“It sounds very funny now–Catherine. You don’t pronounce it very much alike. But you’re very nice. You’re a very good boy.”

“That’s what the priest said.”

“Yes, you’re very good. And you will come and see me?”

“Of course.”

“And you don’t have to say you love me. That’s all over for a while.” She stood up and put out her hand. “Good-night.”

I wanted to kiss her.

“No,” she said. “I’m awfully tired.”

“Kiss me, though,” I said.

“I’m awfully tired, darling.”

“Kiss me.”

“Do you want to very much?”


We kissed and she broke away suddenly. “No. Good-night, please, darling.” We walked to the door and I saw her go in and down the hall. I liked to watch her move. She went on down the hall. I went on home. It was a hot night and there was a good deal going on up in the mountains. I watched the flashes on San Gabriele.

I stopped in front of the Villa Rossa. The shutters were up but it was still going on inside. Somebody was singing. I went on home. Rinaldi came in while I was undressing.

“Ah, ha!” he said. “It does not go so well. Baby is puzzled.”

“Where have you been?”

“At the Villa Rossa. It was very edifying, baby. We all sang. Where have you been?”

“Calling on the British.”

“Thank God I did not become involved with the British.”


I came back the next afternoon from our first mountain post and stopped the car at the smistimento where the wounded and sick were sorted by their papers and the papers marked for the different hospitals. I had been driving and I sat in the car and the driver took the papers in. It was a hot day and the sky was very bright and blue and the road was white and dusty. I sat in the high seat of the Fiat and thought about nothing. A regiment went by in the road and I watched them pass. The men were hot and sweating. Some wore their steel helmets but most of them carried them slung from their packs. Most of the helmets were too big and came down almost over the ears of the men who wore them. The officers all wore helmets; better-fitting helmets. It was half of the brigata Basilicata. I identified them by their red and white striped collar mark. There were stragglers going by long after the regiment had passed–men who could not keep up with their platoons. They were sweaty, dusty and tired. Some looked pretty bad. A soldier came along after the last of the stragglers. He was walking with a limp. He stopped and sat down beside the road. I got down and went over.

“What’s the matter?”

He looked at me, then stood up.

“I’m going on.”

“What’s the trouble?”

“– the war.”

“What’s wrong with your leg?”

“It’s not my leg. I got a rupture.”

“Why don’t you ride with the transport?” I asked. “Why don’t you go to the hospital?”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest