A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“They won’t get us,” I said. “Because you’re too brave. Nothing ever happens to the brave.”

“They die of course.”

“But only once.”

“I don’t know. Who said that?”

“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one?”

“Of course. Who said it?”

“I don’t know.”

“He was probably a coward,” she said. “He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he’s intelligent. He simply doesn’t mention them.”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to see inside the head of the brave.”

“Yes. That’s how they keep that way.”

“You’re an authority.”

“You’re right, darling. That was deserved.”

“You’re brave.”

“No,” she said. “But I would like to be.”

“I’m not,” I said. “I know where I stand. I’ve been out long enough to know. I’m like a ball-player that bats two hundred and thirty and knows he’s no better.”

“What is a ball-player that bats two hundred and thirty? It’s awfully impressive.”

“It’s not. It means a mediocre hitter in baseball.”

“But still a hitter,” she prodded me.

“I guess we’re both conceited,” I said. “But you are brave.”

“No. But I hope to be.”

“We’re both brave,” I said. “And I’m very brave when I’ve had a drink.”

“We’re splendid people,” Catherine said. She went over to the armoire and brought me the cognac and a glass. “Have a drink, darling,” she said. “You’ve been awfully good.”

“I don’t really want one.”

“Take one.”

“All right.” I poured the water glass a third full of cognac and drank it off.

“That was very big,” she said. “I know brandy is for heroes. But you shouldn’t exaggerate.”

“Where will we live after the war?”

“In an old people’s home probably,” she said. “For three years I looked forward very childishly to the war ending at Christmas. But now I look forward till when our son will be a lieutenant commander.”

“Maybe he’ll be a general.”

“If it’s an hundred years’ war he’ll have time to try both of the services.”

“Don’t you want a drink?”

“No. It always makes you happy, darling, and it only makes me dizzy.”

“Didn’t you ever drink brandy?”

“No, darling. I’m a very old-fashioned wife.”

I reached down to the floor for the bottle and poured another drink.

“I’d better go to have a look at your compatriots,” Catherine said. “Perhaps you’ll read the papers until I come back.”

“Do you have to go?”

“Now or later.”

“All right. Now.”

“I’ll come back later.”

“I’ll have finished the papers,” I said.


It turned cold that night and the next day it was raining. Coming home from the Ospedale Maggiore it rained very hard and I was wet when I came in. Up in my room the rain was coming down heavily outside on the balcony, and the wind blew it against the glass doors. I changed my clothing and drank some brandy but the brandy did not taste good. I felt sick in the night and in the morning after breakfast I was nauseated.

“There is no doubt about it,” the house surgeon said. “Look at the whites of his eyes, Miss.”

Miss Gage looked. They had me look in a glass. The whites of the eyes were yellow and it was the jaundice. I was sick for two weeks with it. For that reason we did not spend a convalescent leave together. We had planned to go to Pallanza on Lago Maggiore. It is nice there in the fall when the leaves turn. There are walks you can take and you can troll for trout in the lake. It would have been better than Stresa because there are fewer people at Pallanza. Stresa is so easy to get to from Milan that there are always people you know. There is a nice village at Pallanza and you can row out to the islands where the fishermen live and there is a restaurant on the biggest island. But we did not go.

One day while I was in bed with jaundice Miss Van Campen came in the room, opened the door into the armoire and saw the empty bottles there. I had sent a load of them down by the porter and I believe she must have seen them going out and come up to find some more. They were mostly vermouth bottles, marsala bottles, capri bottles, empty chianti flasks and a few cognac bottles. The porter had carried out the large bottles, those that had held vermouth, and the straw-covered chianti flasks, and left the brandy bottles for the last. It was the brandy bottles and a bottle shaped like a bear, which had held kümmel, that Miss Van Campen found. The bear shaped bottle enraged her particularly. She held it up, the bear was sitting up on his haunches with his paws up, there was a cork in his glass head and a few sticky crystals at the bottom. I laughed.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest