A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“What do you have to do to get me ready for Valentini?”

“Not much. But quite unpleasant.”

“I wish you didn’t have to do it.”

“I don’t. I don’t want any one else to touch you. I’m silly. I get furious if they couch you.”

“Even Ferguson?”

“Especially Ferguson and Gage and the other, what’s her name?”


“That’s it. They’ve too many nurses here now. There must be some more patients or they’ll send us away. They have four nurses now.”

“Perhaps there’ll be some. They need that many nurses. It’s quite a big hospital.”

“I hope some will come. What would I do if they sent me away? They will unless there are more patients.”

“I’d go too.”

“Don’t be silly. You can’t go yet. But get well quickly, darling, and we will go somewhere.”

“And then what?”

“Maybe the war will be over. It can’t always go on.”

“I’ll get well,” I said. “Valentini will fix me.”

“He should with those mustaches. And, darling, when you’re going under the ether just think about something else–not us. Because people get very blabby under an anaesthetic.”

“What should I think about?”

“Anything. Anything but us. Think about your people. Or even any other girl.”


“Say your prayers then. That ought to create a splendid impression.”

“Maybe I won’t talk.”

“That’s true. Often people don’t talk.”

“I won’t talk.”

“Don’t brag, darling. Please don’t brag. You’re so sweet and you don’t have to brag.”

“I won’t talk a word.”

“Now you’re bragging, darling. You know you don’t need to brag. Just start your prayers or poetry or something when they tell you to breathe deeply. You’ll be lovely that way and I’ll be so proud of you. I’m very proud of you anyway. You have such a lovely temperature and you sleep like a little boy with your arm around the pillow and think it’s me. Or is it some other girl? Some fine Italian girl?”

“It’s you.”

“Of course it’s me. Oh I do love you and Valentini will make you a fine leg. I’m glad I don’t have to watch it.”

“And you’ll be on night duty to-night.”

“Yes. But you won’t care.”

“You wait and see.”

“There, darling. Now you’re all clean inside and out. Tell me. How many people have you ever loved?”


“Not me even?”

“Yes, you.”

“How many others really?”


“How many have you–how do you say it?–stayed with?”


“You’re lying to me.”


“It’s all right. Keep right on lying to me. That’s what I want you to do. Were they pretty?”

“I never stayed with any one.”

“That’s right. Were they very attractive?”

“I don’t know anything about it.”

“You’re just mine. That’s true and you’ve never belonged to any one else. But I don’t care if you have. I’m not afraid of them. But don’t tell me about them. When a man stays with a girl when does she say how much it costs?”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course not. Does she say she loves him? Tell me that. I want to know that.”

“Yes. If he wants her to.”

“Does he say he loves her? Tell me please. It’s important.”

“He does if he wants to.”

“But you never did? Really?”


“Not really. Tell me the truth.”

“No,” I lied.

“You wouldn’t,” she said. “I knew you wouldn’t. Oh, I love you, darling.”

Outside the sun was up over the roofs and I could see the points of the cathedral with the sunlight on them. I was clean inside and outside and waiting for the doctor.

“And that’s it?” Catherine said. “She says just what he wants her to?”

“Not always.”

“But I will. I’ll say just what you wish and I’ll do what you wish and then you will never want any other girls, will you?” She looked at me very happily. “I’ll do what you want and say what you want and then I’ll be a great success, won’t I?”


“What would you like me to do now that you’re all ready?”

“Come to the bed again.”

“All right. I’ll come.”

“Oh, darling, darling, darling,” I said.

“You see,” she said. “I do anything you want.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest