A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“That wasn’t a very big one. I had a very big one a while ago. The doctor made me go clear out, didn’t you, doctor?” Her voice was strange. It rose on the word doctor.

The doctor smiled.

“I want it again,” Catherine said. She held the rubber tight to her face and breathed fast. I heard her moaning a little. Then she pulled the mask away and smiled.

“That was a big one,” she said. “That was a very big one. Don’t you worry, darling. You go away. Go have another breakfast.”

“I’ll stay,” I said.

We had gone to the hospital about three o’clock in the morning. At noon Catherine was still in the delivery room. The pains had slackened again. She looked very tired and worn now but she was still cheerful.

“I’m not any good, darling,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I thought I would do it very easily. Now–there’s one–” she reached out her hand for the mask and held it over her face. The doctor moved the dial and watched her. In a little while it was over.

“It wasn’t much,” Catherine said. She smiled. “I’m a fool about the gas. It’s wonderful.”

“We’ll get some for the home,” I said.

“There one comes,” Catherine said quickly. The doctor turned the dial and looked at his watch.

“What is the interval now?” I asked.

“About a minute.”

“Don’t you want lunch?”

“I will have something pretty soon,” he said.

“You must have something to eat, doctor,” Catherine said. “I’m so sorry I go on so long. Couldn’t my husband give me the gas?”

“If you wish,” the doctor said. “You turn it to the numeral two.”

“I see,” I said. There was a marker on a dial that turned with a handle.

“I want it now,” Catherine said. She held the mask tight to her face. I turned the dial to number two and when Catherine put down the mask I turned it off. It was very good of the doctor to let me do something.

“Did you do it, darling?” Catherine asked. She stroked my wrist.


“You’re so lovely.” She was a little drunk from the gas.

“I will eat from a tray in the next room,” the doctor said. “You can call me any moment.” While the time passed I watched him eat, then, after a while, I saw that he was lying down and smoking a cigarette. Catherine was getting very tired.

“Do you think I’ll ever have this baby?” she asked.

“Yes, of course you will.”

“I try as hard as I can. I push down but it goes away. There it comes. Give it to me.”

At two o’clock I went out and had lunch. There were a few men in the café sitting with coffee and glasses of kirsch or marc on the tables. I sat down at a table. “Can I eat?” I asked the waiter.

“It is past time for lunch.”

“Isn’t there anything for all hours?”

“You can have choucroute.”

“Give me choucroute and beer.”

“A demi or a bock?”

“A light demi.”

The waiter brought a dish of sauerkraut with a slice of ham over the top and a sausage buried in the hot wine-soaked cabbage. I ate it and drank the beer. I was very hungry. I watched the people at the tables in the café. At one table they were playing cards. Two men at the table next me were talking and smoking. The café was full of smoke. The zinc bar, where I had breakfasted, had three people behind it now; the old man, a plump woman in a black dress who sat behind a counter and kept track of everything served to the tables, and a boy in an apron. I wondered how many children the woman had and what it had been like.

When I was through with the choucroute I went back to the hospital. The street was all clean now. There were no refuse cans out. The day was cloudy but the sun was trying to come through.

I rode upstairs in the elevator, stepped out and went down the hail to Catherine’s room, where I had left my white gown. I put it on and pinned it in back at the neck. I looked in the glass and saw myself looking like a fake doctor with a beard. I went down the hail to the delivery room. The door was closed and I knocked. No one answered so I turned the handle and went in. The doctor sat by Catherine. The nurse was doing something at the other end of the room.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest