A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“I can’t stand him,” Ferguson said. “He’s done nothing but ruin you with his sneaking Italian tricks. Americans are worse than Italians.”

“The Scotch are such a moral people,” Catherine said.

“I don’t mean that. I mean his Italian sneakiness.”

“Am I sneaky, Fergy?”

“You are. You’re worse than sneaky. You’re like a snake. A snake with an Italian uniform: with a cape around your neck.”

“I haven’t got an Italian uniform now.”

“That’s just another example of your sneakiness. You had a love affair all summer and got this girl with child and now I suppose you’ll sneak off.”

I smiled at Catherine and she smiled at me.

“We’ll both sneak off,” she said.

“You’re two of the same thing,” Ferguson said. “I’m ashamed of you, Catherine Barkley. You have no shame and no honor and you’re as sneaky as he is.”

“Don’t, Fergy,” Catherine said and patted her hand. “Don’t denounce me. You know we like each other.”

“Take your hand away,” Ferguson said. Her face was red. “If you had any shame it would be different. But you’re God knows how many months gone with child and you think it’s a joke and are all smiles because your seducer’s come back. You’ve no shame and no feelings.” She began to cry. Catherine went over and put her arm around her. As she stood comforting Ferguson, I could see no change in her figure.

“I don’t care,” Ferguson sobbed. “I think it’s dreadful.”

“There, there, Fergy,” Catherine comforted her. “I’ll be ashamed. Don’t cry, Fergy. Don’t cry, old Fergy.”

“I’m not crying,” Ferguson sobbed. “I’m not crying. Except for the awful thing you’ve gotten into.” She looked at me. “I hate you,” she said. “She can’t make me not hate you. You dirty sneaking American Italian.” Her eyes and nose were red with crying.

Catherine smiled at me.

“Don’t you smile at him with your arm around me.”

“You’re unreasonable, Fergy.”

“I know it,” Ferguson sobbed. “You mustn’t mind me, either of you. I’m so upset. I’m not reasonable. I know it. I want you both to be happy.”

“We’re happy,” Catherine said. “You’re a sweet Fergy.”

Ferguson cried again. “I don’t want you happy the way you are. Why don’t you get married? You haven’t got another wife have you?”

“No,” I said. Catherine laughed.

“It’s nothing to laugh about,” Ferguson said. “Plenty of them have other wives.”

“We’ll be married, Fergy,” Catherine said, “if it will please you.”

“Not to please me. You should want to be married.”

“We’ve been very busy.”

“Yes. I know. Busy making babies.” I thought she was going to cry again but she went into bitterness instead. “I suppose you’ll go off with him now to-night?”

“Yes,” said Catherine. “If he wants me.”

“What about me?”

“Are you afraid to stay here alone?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then I’ll stay with you.”

“No, go on with him. Go with him right away. I’m sick of seeing both of you.”

“We’d better finish dinner.”

“No. Go right away.”

“Fergy, be reasonable.”

“I say get out right away. Go away both of you.”

“Let’s go then,” I said. I was sick of Fergy.

“You do want to go. You see you want to leave me even to eat dinner alone. I’ve always wanted to go to the Italian lakes and this is how it is. Oh, Oh,” she sobbed, then looked at Catherine and choked.

“We’ll stay till after dinner,” Catherine said. “And I’ll not leave you alone if you want me to stay. I won’t leave you alone, Fergy.”

“No. No. I want you to go. I want you to go.” She wiped her eyes. “I’m so unreasonable. Please don’t mind me.”

The girl who served the meal had been upset by all the crying. Now as she brought in the next course she seemed relieved that things were better.

That night at the hotel, in our room with the long empty hall outside and our shoes outside the door, a thick carpet on the floor of the room, outside the windows the rain falling and in the room light and pleasant and cheerful, then the light out and it exciting with smooth sheets and the bed comfortable, feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. It has only happened to me like that once. I have been alone while I was with many girls and that is the way that you can be most lonely. But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together. I know that the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started. But with Catherine there was almost no difference in the night except that it was an even better time. If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest