A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation. Although that ceased when the carabiniere put his hands on my collar. I would like to have had the uniform off although I did not care much about the outward forms. I had taken off the stars, but that was for convenience. It was no point of honor. I was not against them. I was through. I wished them all the luck. There were the good ones, and the brave ones, and the calm ones and the sensible ones, and they deserved it. But it was not my show any more and I wished this bloody train would get to Mestre and I would eat and stop thinking. I would have to stop.

Piani would tell them they had shot me. They went through the pockets and took the papers of the people they shot. They would not have my papers. They might call me drowned. I wondered what they would hear in the States. Dead from wounds and other causes. Good Christ I was hungry. I wondered what had become of the priest at the mess. And Rinaldi. He was probably at Pordenone. If they had not gone further back. Well, I would never see him now. I would never see any of them now. That life was over. I did not think he had syphilis. It was not a serious disease anyway if you took it in time, they said. But he would worry. I would worry too if I had it. Any one would worry.

I was not made to think. I was made to eat. My God, yes. Eat and drink and sleep with Catherine. To-night maybe. No that was impossible. But to-morrow night, and a good meal and sheets and never going away again except together. Probably have to go damned quickly. She would go. I knew she would go. When would we go? That was something to think about. It was getting dark. I lay and thought where we would go. There were many places.



I dropped off the train in Milan as it slowed to come into the station early in the morning before it was light. I crossed the track and came out between some buildings and down onto the street. A wine shop was open and I went in for some coffee. It smelled of early morning, of swept dust, spoons in coffee-glasses and the wet circles left by wine-glasses. The proprietor was behind the bar. Two soldiers sat at a table. I stood at the bar and drank a glass of coffee and ate a piece of bread. The coffee was gray with milk, and I skimmed the milk scum off the top with a piece of bread. The proprietor looked at me.

“You want a glass of grappa?”

“No thanks.”

“On me,” he said and poured a small glass and pushed it toward me. “What’s happening at the front?”

“I would not know.”

“They are drunk,” he said, moving his hand toward the two soldiers. I could believe him. They looked drunk.

“Tell me,” he said, “what is happening at the front?”

“I would not know about the front.”

“I saw you come down the wall. You came off the train.”

“There is a big retreat.”

“I read the papers. What happens? Is it over?”

“I don’t think so.”

He filled the glass with grappa from a short bottle. “If you are in trouble,” he said, “I can keep you.”

“I am not in trouble.”

“If you are in trouble stay here with me.”

“Where does one stay?”

“In the building. Many stay here. Any who are in trouble stay here.”

“Are many in trouble?”

“It depends on the trouble. You are a South American?”


“Speak Spanish?”

“A little.”

He wiped off the bar.

“It is hard now to leave the country but in no way impossible.”

“I have no wish to leave.”

“You can stay here as long as you want. You will see what sort of man I am.”

“I have to go this morning but I will remember the address to return.”

He shook his head. “You won’t come back if you talk like that. I thought you were in real trouble.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest