A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

We went up in the grand-stand to watch the race. They had no elastic barrier at San Siro then and the starter lined up all the horses, they looked very small way up the track, and then sent them off with a crack of his long whip. They came past us with the black horse well in front and on the turn he was running away from the others. I watched them on the far side with the glasses and saw the jockey fighting to hold him in but he could not hold him and when they came around the turn and into the stretch the black horse was fifteen lengths ahead of the others. He went way on up and around the turn after the finish.

“Isn’t it wonderful,” Catherine said. “We’ll have over three thousand lire. He must be a splendid horse.”

“I hope his color doesn’t run,” Crowell said, “before they pay off.”

“He was really a lovely horse,” Catherine said. “I wonder if Mr. Meyers backed him.”

“Did you have the winner?” I called to Meyers. He nodded.

“I didn’t,” Mrs. Meyers said. “Who did you children bet on?”


“Really? He’s thirty-five to one!”

“We liked his color.”

“I didn’t. I thought he looked seedy. They told me not to back him.”

“He won’t pay much,” Meyers said.

“He’s marked thirty-five to one in the quotes,” I said.

“He won’t pay much. At the last minute,” Meyers said, “they put a lot of money on him.”


“Kempton and the boys. You’ll see. He won’t pay two to one.”

“Then we won’t get three thousand lire,” Catherine said. “I don’t like this crooked racing!”

“We’ll get two hundred lire.”

“That’s nothing. That doesn’t do us any good. I thought we were going to get three thousand.”

“It’s crooked and disgusting,” Ferguson said.

“Of course,” said Catherine, “if it hadn’t been crooked we’d never have backed him at all. But I would have liked the three thousand lire.”

“Let’s go down and get a drink and see what they pay,” Crowell said. We went out to where they posted the numbers and the bell rang to pay off and they put up 18.50 after Japalac to win. That meant he paid less than even money on a ten-lira bet.

We went to the bar under the grand-stand and had a whiskey and soda apiece. We ran into a couple of Italians we knew and McAdams, the vice-consul, and they came up with us when we joined the girls. The Italians were full of manners and McAdams talked to Catherine while we went down to bet again. Mr. Meyers was standing near the pari-mutuel.

“Ask him what he played,” I said to Crowell.

“What are you on, Mr. Meyers?” Crowell asked. Meyers took out his programme and pointed to the number five with his pencil.

“Do you mind if we play him too?” Crowell asked.

“Go ahead. Go ahead. But don’t tell my wife I gave it to you.”

“Will you have a drink?” I asked.

“No thanks. I never drink.”

We put a hundred lire on number five to win and a hundred to place and then had another whiskey and soda apiece. I was feeling very good and we picked up a couple more Italians, who each had a drink with us, and went back to the girls. These Italians were also very mannered and matched manners with the two we had collected before. In a little while no one could sit down. I gave the tickets to Catherine.

“What horse is it?”

“I don’t know. Mr. Meyers’ choice.”

“Don’t you even know the name?”

“No. You can find it on the programme. Number five I think.”

“You have touching faith,” she said. The number five won but did not pay anything. Mr. Meyers was angry.

“You have to put up two hundred lire to make twenty,” he said. “Twelve lire for ten. It’s not worth it. My wife lost twenty lire.”

“I’ll go down with you,” Catherine said to me. The Italians all stood up. We went downstairs and out to the paddock.

“Do you like this?” Catherine asked.

“Yes. I guess I do.”

“It’s all right, I suppose,” she said. “But, darling, I can’t stand to see so many people.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest