A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“Here’s a place,” she said. I stopped the driver and Catherine got out, walked across the sidewalk and went inside. I sat back in the carriage and waited for her. It was raining and I could smell the wet street and the horse steaming in the rain. She came back with a package and got in and we drove on.

“I was very extravagant, darling,” she said, “but it’s a fine night-gown.”

At the hotel I asked Catherine to wait in the carriage while I went in and spoke to the manager. There were plenty of rooms. Then I went out to the carriage, paid the driver, and Catherine and I walked in together. The small boy in buttons carried the package.

The manager bowed us toward the elevator. There was much red plush and brass. The manager went up in the elevator with us.

“Monsieur and Madame wish dinner in their rooms?”

“Yes. Will you have the menu brought up?” I said.

“You wish something special for dinner. Some game or a soufflé?”

The elevator passed three floors with a click each time, then clicked and stopped.

“What have you as game?”

“I could get a pheasant, or a woodcock.”

“A woodcock,” I said. We walked down the corridor. The carpet was worn. There were many doors. The manager stopped and unlocked a door and opened it.

“Here you are. A lovely room.”

The small boy in buttons put the package on the table in the centre of the room. The manager opened the curtains.

“It is foggy outside,” he said. The room was furnished in red plush. There were many mirrors, two chairs and a large bed with a satin coverlet. A door led to the bathroom.

“I will send up the menu,” the manager said. He bowed and went out.

I went to the window and looked out, then pulled a cord that shut the thick plush curtains. Catherine was sitting on the bed, looking at the cut glass chandelier. She had taken her hat off and her hair shone under the light. She saw herself in one of the mirrors and put her hands to her hair. I saw her in three other mirrors. She did not look happy. She let her cape fall on the bed.

“What’s the matter, darling?”

“I never felt like a whore before,” she said. I went over to the window and pulled the curtain aside and looked out. I had not thought it would be like this.

“You’re not a whore.”

“I know it, darling. But it isn’t nice to feel like one.” Her voice was dry and flat.

“This was the best hotel we could get in,” I said. I looked out the window. Across the square were the lights of the station. There were carriages going by on the street and I saw the trees in the park. The lights from the hotel shone on the wet pavement. Oh, hell, I thought, do we have to argue now?

“Come over here please,” Catherine said. The flatness was all gone out of her voice. “Come over, please. I’m a good girl again.” I looked over at the bed. She was smiling.

I went over and sat on the bed beside her and kissed her.

“You’re my good girl.”

“I’m certainly yours,” she said.

After we had eaten we felt fine, and then after, we felt very happy and in a little time the room felt like our own home. My room at the hospital had been our own home and this room was our home too in the same way.

Catherine wore my tunic over her shoulders while we ate. We were very hungry and the meal was good and we drank a bottle of Capri and a bottle of St. Estephe. I drank most of it but Catherine drank some and it made her feel splendid. For dinner we had a woodcock with soufflé potatoes and purée de marron, a salad, and zabaione for dessert.

“It’s a fine room,” Catherine said. “It’s a lovely room. We should have stayed here all the time we’ve been in Milan.”

“It’s a funny room. But it’s nice.”

“Vice is a wonderful thing,” Catherine said. “The people who go in for it seem to have good taste about it. The red plush is really fine. It’s just the thing. And the mirrors are very attractive.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest