A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“Miss Van Campen had some sherry put in this,” she said. “You shouldn’t be rude to her. She’s not young and this hospital is a big responsibility for her. Mrs. Walker’s too old and she’s no use to her.”

“She’s a splendid woman,” I said. “Thank her very much.”

“I’m going to bring your supper right away.”

“That’s all right,” I said. “I’m not hungry.”

When she brought the tray and put it on the bed table I thanked her and ate a little of the supper. Afterward it was dark outside and I could see the beams of the search-lights moving in the sky. I watched for a while and then went to sleep. I slept heavily except once I woke sweating and scared and then went back to sleep trying to stay outside of my dream. I woke for good long before it was light and heard roosters crowing and stayed on awake until it began to be light. I was tired and once it was really light I went back to sleep again.


It was bright sunlight in the room when I woke. I thought I was back at the front and stretched out in bed. My legs hurt me and I looked down at them still in the dirty bandages, and seeing them knew where I was. I reached up for the bell-cord and pushed the button. I heard it buzz down the hall and then some one coming on rubber soles along the hall. It was Miss Gage and she looked a little older in the bright sunlight and not so pretty.

“Good-morning,” she said. “Did you have a good night?”

“Yes. Thanks very much,” I said. “Can I have a barber?”

“I came in to see you and you were asleep with this in the bed with you.”

She opened the armoire door and held up the vermouth bottle. It was nearly empty. “I put the other bottle from under the bed in there too,” she said. “Why didn’t you ask me for a glass?”

“I thought maybe you wouldn’t let me have it.”

“I’d have had some with you.”

“You’re a fine girl.”

“It isn’t good for you to drink alone,” she said. “You mustn’t do it.”

“All right.”

“Your friend Miss Barkley’s come,” she said.


“Yes. I don’t like her.”

“You will like her. She’s awfully nice.”

She shook her head. “I’m sure she’s fine. Can you move just a little to this side? That’s fine. I’ll clean you up for breakfast.” She washed me with a cloth and soap and warm water. “Hold your shoulder up,” she said. “That’s fine.”

“Can I have the barber before breakfast?”

“I’ll send the porter for him.” She went out and came back. “He’s gone for him,” she said and dipped the cloth she held in the basin of water.

The barber came with the porter. He was a man of about fifty with an upturned mustache. Miss Gage was finished with me and went out and the barber lathered my face and shaved. He was very solemn and refrained from talking.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you know any news?” I asked.

“What news?”

“Any news. What’s happened in the town?”

“It is time of wai” he said. “The enemy’s ears are everywhere.”

I looked up at him. “Please hold your face still,” he said and went on shaving. “I will tell nothing.”

“What’s the matter with you?” I asked.

“I am an Italian. I will not communicate with the enemy.”

I let it go at that. If he was crazy, the sooner I could get out from under the razor the better. Once I tried to get a good look at him. “Beware,” he said. “The razor is sharp.”

I paid him when it was over and tipped him half a lira. He returned the coins.

“I will not. I am not at the front. But I am an Italian.”

“Get the hell out of here.”

“With your permission,” he said and wrapped his razors in newspaper. He went out leaving the five copper coins on the table beside the bed. I rang the bell. Miss Gage came in. “Would you ask the porter to come please?”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest