A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

The rain was not falling so heavily now and I thought it might clear. I went ahead along the edge of the road and when there was a small road that led off to the north between two fields with a hedge of trees on both sides, I thought that we had better take it and hurried back to the cars. I told Piani to turn off and went back to tell Bonello and Aymo.

“If it leads nowhere we can turn around and cut back in,” I said.

“What about these?” Bonello asked. His two sergeants were beside him on the seat. They were unshaven but still military looking in the early morning.

“They’ll be good to push,” I said. I went back to Aymo and told him we were going to try it across country.

“What about my virgin family?” Aymo asked. The two girls were asleep.

“They won’t be very useful,” I said. “You ought to have some one that could push.”

“They could go back in the car,” Aymo said. “There’s room in the car.”

“All right if you want them,” I said. “Pick up somebody with a wide back to push.”

“Bersaglieri,” Aymo smiled. “They have the widest backs. They measure them. How do you feel, Tenente?”

“Fine. How are you?”

“Fine. But very hungry.”

“There ought to be something up that road and we will stop and eat.”

“How’s your leg, Tenente?”

“Fine,” I said. Standing on the step and looking up ahead I could see Piani’s car pulling out onto the little side-road and starting up it, his car showing through the hedge of bare branches. Bonello turned off and followed him and then Piani worked his way out and we followed the two ambulances ahead along the narrow road between hedges. It led to a farmhouse. We found Piani and Bonello stopped in the farmyard. The house was low and long with a trellis with a grape-vine over the door. There was a well in the yard and Piani was getting up water to fill his radiator. So much going in low gear had boiled it out. The farmhouse was deserted. I looked back down the road, the farmhouse was on a slight elevation above the plain, and we could see over the country, and saw the road, the hedges, the fields and the line of trees along the main road where the retreat was passing. The two sergeants were looking through the house. The girls were awake and looking at the courtyard, the well and the two big ambulances in front of the farmhouse, with three drivers at the well. One of the sergeants came out with a clock in his hand.

“Put it back,” I said. He looked at me, went in the house and came back without the clock.

“Where’s your partner?” I asked.

“He’s gone to the latrine.” He got up on the seat of the ambulance. He was afraid we would leave him.

“What about breakfast, Tenente?” Bonello asked. “We could eat something. It wouldn’t take very long.”

“Do you think this road going down on the other side will lead to anything?”


“All right. Let’s eat.” Piani and Bonello went in the house.

“Come on,” Aymo said to the girls. He held his hand to help them down. The older sister shook her head. They were not going into any deserted house. They looked after us.

“They are difficult,” Aymo said. We went into the farmhouse together. It was large and dark, an abandoned feeling. Bonello and Piani were in the kitchen.

“There’s not much to eat,” Piani said. “They’ve cleaned it out.” Bonello sliced a big cheese on the heavy kitchen table.

“Where was the cheese?”

“In the cellar. Piani found wine too and apples.”

“That’s a good breakfast.”

Piani was taking the wooden cork out of a big wicker-covered wine jug. He tipped it and poured a copper pan full.

“It smells all right,” he said. “Find some beakers, Barto.”

The two sergeants came in.

“Have some cheese, sergeants,” Bonello said.

“We should go,” one of the sergeants said, eating his cheese and drinking a cup of wine.

“We’ll go. Don’t worry,” Bonello said.

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