A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“Not very firmly.”

“That doesn’t matter. Look how you are wounded. Look at your valorous conduct in asking to go always to the first line. Besides, the operation was successful.”

“Did they cross the river all right?”

“Enormously. They take nearly a thousand prisoners. It’s in the bulletin. Didn’t you see it?”


“I’ll bring it to you. It is a successful coup de main.”

“How is everything?”

“Splendid. We are all splendid. Everybody is proud of you. Tell me just exactly how it happened. I am positive you will get the silver. Go on tell me. Tell me all about it.” He paused and thought. “Maybe you will get an English medal too. There was an English there. I’ll go and see him and ask if he will recommend you. He ought to be able to do something. Do you suffer much? Have a drink. Orderly, go get a corkscrew. Oh you should see what I did in the removal of three metres of small intestine and better now than ever. It is one for The Lancet. You do me a translation and I will send it to The Lancet. Every day I am better. Poor dear baby, how do you feel? Where is that damn corkscrew? You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” He slapped his gloves on the edge of the bed.

“Here is the corkscrew, Signor Tenente,” the orderly said.

“Open the bottle. Bring a glass. Drink that, baby. How is your poor head? I looked at your papers. You haven’t any fracture. That major at the first post was a hog-butcher. I would take you and never hurt you. I never hurt anybody. I learn how to do it. Every day I learn to do things smoother and better. You must forgive me for talking so much, baby. I am very moved to see you badly wounded. There, drink that. It’s good. It cost fifteen lire. It ought to be good. Five stars. After I leave here I’ll go see that English and he’ll get you an English medal.”

“They don’t give them like that.”

“You are so modest. I will send the liaison officer. He can handle the English.”

“Have you seen Miss Barkley?”

“I will bring her here. I will go now and bring her here.”

“Don’t go,” I said. “Tell me about Gorizia. How are the girls?”

“There are no girls. For two weeks now they haven’t changed them. I don’t go there any more. It is disgraceful. They aren’t girls; they are old war comrades.”

“You don’t go at all?”

“I just go to see if there is anything new. I stop by. They all ask for you. It is a disgrace that they should stay so long that they become friends.”

“Maybe girls don’t want to go to the front any more.”

“Of course they do. They have plenty of girls. It is just bad administration. They are keeping them for the pleasure of dugout hiders in the rear.”

“Poor Rinaldi,” I said. “All alone at the war with no new girls.”

Rinaldi poured himself another glass of the cognac.

“I don’t think it will hurt you, baby. You take it.”

I drank the cognac and felt it warm all the way down. Rinaldi poured another glass. He was quieter now. He held up the glass. “To your valorous wounds. To the silver medal. Tell me, baby, when you lie here all the time in the hot weather don’t you get excited?”


“I can’t imagine lying like that. I would go crazy.”

“You are crazy.”

“I wish you were back. No one to come in at night from adventures. No one to make fun of. No one to lend me money. No blood brother and roommate. Why do you get yourself wounded?”

“You can make fun of the priest.”

“That priest. It isn’t me that makes fun of him. It is the captain. I like him. If you must have a priest have that priest. He’s coming to see you. He makes big preparations.”

“I like him.”

“Oh, I knew it. Sometimes I think you and he are a little that way. You know.”

“No, you don’t.”

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