A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“All right.”

The porter came in. He was trying to keep from laughing.

“Is that barber crazy?”

“No, signorino. He made a mistake. He doesn’t understand very well and he thought I said you were an Austrian officer.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Ho ho ho,” the porter laughed. “He was funny. One move from you he said and he would have–” he drew his forefinger across his throat.

“Ho ho ho,” he tried to keep from laughing. “When I tell him you were not an Austrian. Ho ho ho.”

“Hoho ho,” I said bitterly. “How funny if he would cut my throat. Ho ho ho.”

“No, signorino. No, no. He was so frightened of an Austrian. Ho ho ho.”

“Ho ho ho,” I said. “Get out of here.”

He went out and I heard him laughing in the hall. I heard some one coming down the hallway. I looked toward the door. It was Catherine Barkley.

She came in the room and over to the bed.

“Hello, darling,” she said. She looked fresh and young and very beautiful. I thought I had never seen any one so beautiful.

“Hello,” I said. When I saw her I was in love with her. Everything turned over inside of me. She looked toward the door, saw there was no one, then she sat on the side of the bed and leaned over and kissed me. I pulled her down and kissed her and felt her heart beating.

“You sweet,” I said. “Weren’t you wonderful to come here?”

“It wasn’t very hard. It may be hard to stay.”

“You’ve got to stay,” I said. “Oh, you’re wonderful.” I was crazy about her. I could not believe she was really there and held her tight to me.

“You mustn’t,” she said. “You’re not well enough.”

“Yes, I am. Come on.”

“No. You’re not strong enough.”

“Yes. I am. Yes. Please.”

“You do love me?”

“I really love you. I’m crazy about you. Come on please.”

“Feel our hearts beating.”

“I don’t care about our hearts. I want you. I’m just mad about you.”

“You really love me?”

“Don’t keep on saying that. Come on. Please. Please, Catherine.”

“All right but only for a minute.”

“All right,” I said. “Shut the door.”

“You can’t. You shouldn’t.”

“Come on. Don’t talk. Please come on.”

Catherine sat in a chair by the bed. The door was open into the hall. The wildness was gone and I felt finer than I had ever felt.

She asked, “Now do you believe I love you?”

“Oh, you’re lovely,” I said. “You’ve got to stay. They can’t send you away. I’m crazy in love with you.”

“We’ll have to be awfully careful. That was just madness. We can’t do that.”

“We can at night.”

“We’ll have to be awfully careful. You’ll have to be careful in front of other people.”

“I will.”

“You’ll have to be. You’re sweet. You do love me, don’t you?”

“Don’t say that again. You don’t know what that does to me.”

“I’ll be careful then. I don’t want to do anything more to you. I have to go now, darling, really.”

“Come back right away.”

“I’ll come when I can.”


“Good-by, sweet.”

She went out. God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with her. I had not wanted to fall in love with any one. But God knows I had and I lay on the bed in the room of the hospital in Milan and all sorts of things went through my head but I felt wonderful and finally Miss Gage came in.

“The doctor’s coming,” she said. “He telephoned from Lake Como.”

“When does he get here?”

“He’ll be here this afternoon.”


Nothing happened until afternoon. The doctor was a thin quiet little man who seemed disturbed by the war. He took out a number of small steel splinters from my thighs with delicate and refined distaste. He used a local anaesthetic called something or other “snow,” which froze the tissue and avoided pain until the probe, the scalpel or the forceps got below the frozen portion. The anxsthetized area was clearly defined by the patient and after a time the doctor’s fragile delicacy was exhausted and he said it would be better to have an X-ray. Probing was unsatisfactory, he said.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest