A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

So now I sat out in the hall and waited to hear how Catherine was. The nurse did not come out, so after a while I went to the door and opened it very softly and looked in. I could not see at first because there was a bright light in the hall and it was dark in the room. Then I saw the nurse sitting by the bed and Catherine’s head on a pillow, and she was all flat under the sheet. The nurse put her finger to her lips, then stood up and came to the door.

“How is she?” I asked.

“She’s all right,” the nurse said. “You should go and have your supper and then come back if you wish.”

I went down the hall and then down the stairs and out the door of the hospital and down the dark street in the rain to the café. It was brightly lighted inside and there were many people at the tables. I did not see a place to sit, and a waiter came up to me and took my wet coat and hat and showed me a place at a table across from an elderly man who was drinking beer and reading the evening paper. I sat down and asked the waiter what the plat du jour was.

“Veal stew–but it is finished.”

“What can I have to eat?”

“Ham and eggs, eggs with cheese, or choucroute.”

“I had choucroute this noon,” I said.

“That’s true,” he said. “That’s true. You ate choucroute this noon.” He was a middle-aged man with a bald top to his head and his hair slicked over it. He had a kind face.

“What do you want? Ham and eggs or eggs with cheese?”

“Ham and eggs,” I said, “and beer.”

“A demi-blonde?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I remembered,” he said. “You took a demi-blonde this noon.”

I ate the ham and eggs and drank the beer. The ham and eggs were in a round dish–the ham underneath and the eggs on top. It was very hot and at the first mouthful I had to take a drink of beer to cool my mouth. I was hungry and I asked the waiter for another order. I drank several glasses of beer. I was not thinking at all but read the paper of the man opposite me. It was about the break through on the British front. When he realized I was reading the back of his paper he folded it over. I thought of asking the waiter for a paper, but I could not concentrate. It was hot in the café and the air was bad. Many of the people at the tables knew one another. There were several card games going on. The waiters were busy bringing drinks from the bar to the tables. Two men came in and could find no place to sit. They stood opposite the table where I was. I ordered another beer. I was not ready to leave yet. It was too soon to go back to the hospital. I tried not to think and to be perfectly calm. The men stood around but no one was leaving, so they went out. I drank another beer. There was quite a pile of saucers now on the table in front of me. The man opposite me had taken off his spectacles, put them away in a case, folded his paper and put it in his pocket and now sat holding his liqueur glass and looking out at the room. Suddenly I knew I had to get back. I called the waiter, paid the reckoning, got into my coat, put on my hat and started out the door. I walked through the rain up to the hospital.

Upstairs I met the nurse coming down the hall.

“I just called you at the hotel,” she said. Something dropped inside me.

“What is wrong?”

“Mrs. Henry has had a hemorrhage.”

“Can I go in?”

“No, not yet. The doctor is with her.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“It is very dangerous.” The nurse went into the room and shut the door. I sat outside in the hail. Everything was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going to die and I prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Please, please, please, dear God, don’t let her die. Dear God, don’t let her die. Please, please, please don’t let her die. God please make her not die. I’ll do anything you say if you don’t let her die. You took the baby but don’t let her die. That was all right but don’t let her die. Please, please, dear God, don’t let her die.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest