A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“Is that all the articulation you have?”


“It’s a crime to send you back. They ought to get complete articulation.”

“It’s a lot better than it was. It was stiff as a board.”

Rinaldi bent it more. I watched his hands. He had fine surgeon’s hands. I looked at the top of his head, his hair shiny and parted smoothly. He bent the knee too far.

“Ouch!” I said.

“You ought to have more treatment on it with the machines,” Rinaldi said.

“It’s better than it was.”

“I see that, baby. This is something I know more about than you.” He stood up and sat down on the bed. “The knee itself is a good job.” He was through with the knee. “Tell me all about everything.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” I said. “I’ve led a quiet life.”

“You act like a married man,” he said. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing,” I said. “What’s the matter with you?”

“This war is killing me,” Rinaldi said, “I am very depressed by it.” He folded his hands over his knee.

“Oh,” I said.

“What’s the matter? Can’t I even have human impulses?”

“No. I can see you’ve been having a fine time. Tell me.”

“All summer and all fall I’ve operated. I work all the time. I do everybody’s work. All the hard ones they leave to me. By God, baby, I am becoming a lovely surgeon.”

“That sounds better.”

“I never think. No, by God, I don’t think; I operate.”

“That’s right.”

“But now, baby, it’s all over. I don’t operate now and I feel like hell. This is a terrible war, baby. You believe me when I say it. Now you cheer me up. Did you bring the phonograph records?”


They were wrapped in paper in a cardboard box in my rucksack. I was too tired to get them out.

“Don’t you feel good yourself, baby?”

“I feel like hell.”

“This war is terrible,” Rinaldi said. “Come on. We’ll both get drunk and be cheerful. Then we’ll go get the ashes dragged. Then we’ll feel fine.”

“I’ve had the jaundice,” I said, “and I can’t get drunk.”

“Oh, baby, how you’ve come back to me. You come back serious and with a liver. I tell you this war is a bad thing. Why did we make it anyway.”

“We’ll have a drink. I don’t want to get drunk but we’ll have a drink.”

Rinaldi went across the room to the washstand and brought back two glasses and a bottle of cognac.

“It’s Austrian cognac,” he said. “Seven stars. It’s all they captured on San Gabriele.”

“Were you up there?”

“No. I haven’t been anywhere. I’ve been here all the time operating. Look, baby, this is your old tooth-brushing glass. I kept it all the time to remind me of you.”

“To remind you to brush your teeth.”

“No. I have my own too. I kept this to remind me of you trying to brush away the Villa Rossa from your teeth in the morning, swearing and eating aspirin and cursing harlots. Every time I see that glass I think of you trying to clean your conscience with a toothbrush.” He came over to the bed. “Kiss me once and tell me you’re not serious.”

“I never kiss you. You’re an ape.”

“I know, you are the fine good Anglo-Saxon boy. I know. You are the remorse boy, I know. I will wait till I see the Anglo-Saxon brushing away harlotry with a toothbrush.”

“Put some cognac in the glass.”

We touched glasses and drank. Rinaldi laughed at me.

“I will get you drunk and take out your liver and put you in a good Italian liver and make you a man again.”

I held the glass for some more cognac. It was dark outside now. Holding the glass of cognac, I went over and opened the window. The rain had stopped falling. It was colder outside and there was a mist in the trees.

“Don’t throw the cognac out the window,” Rinaldi said. “If you can’t drink it give it to me.”

“Go something yourself,” I said. I was glad to see Rinaldi again. He had spent two years teasing me and I had always liked it. We understood each other very well.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest