A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

I remember waking in the morning. Catherine was asleep and the sunlight was coming in through the window. The rain had stopped and I stepped out of bed and across the floor to the window. Down below were the gardens, bare now but beautifully regular, the gravel paths, the trees, the stone wall by the lake and the lake in the sunlight with the mountains beyond. I stood at the window looking out and when I turned away I saw Catherine was awake and watching me.

“How are you, darling?” she said. “Isn’t it a lovely day?”

“How do you feel?”

“I feel very well. We had a lovely night.”

“Do you want breakfast?”

She wanted breakfast. So did I and we had it in bed, the November sunlight coming in the window, and the breakfast tray across my lap.

“Don’t you want the paper? You always wanted the paper in the hospital?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want the paper now.”

“Was it so bad you don’t want even to read about it?”

“I don’t want to read about it.”

“I wish I had been with you so I would know about it too.”

“I’ll tell you about it if I ever get it straight in my head.”

“But won’t they arrest you if they catch you out of uniform?”

“They’ll probably shoot me.”

“Then we’ll not stay here. We’ll get out of the country.”

“I’d thought something of that.”

“We’ll get out. Darling, you shouldn’t take silly chances. Tell me how did you come from Mestre to Milan?”

“I came on the train. I was in uniform then.”

“Weren’t you in danger then?”

“Not much. I had an old order of movement. I fixed the dates on it in Mestre.”

“Darling, you’re liable to be arrested here any time. I won’t have it. It’s silly to do something like that. Where would we be if they took you off?”

“Let’s not think about it. I’m tired of thinking about it.”

“What would you do if they came to arrest you?”

“Shoot them.”

“You see how silly you are, I won’t let you go out of the hotel until we leave here.”

“Where are we going to go?”

“Please don’t be that way, darling. We’ll go wherever you say. But please find some place to go right away.”

“Switzerland is down the lake, we can go there.”

“That will be lovely.”

It was clouding over outside and the lake was darkening.

“I wish we did not always have to live like criminals,” I said.

“Darling, don’t be that way. You haven’t lived like a criminal very long. And we never live like criminals. We’re going to have a fine time.”

“I feel like a criminal. I’ve deserted from the army.”

“Darling, please be sensible. It’s not deserting from the army. It’s only the Italian army.”

I laughed. “You’re a fine girl. Let’s get back into bed. I feel fine in bed.”

A little while later Catherine said, “You don’t feel like a criminal do you?”

“No,” I said. “Not when I’m with you.”

“You’re such a silly boy,” she said. “But I’ll look after you. Isn’t it splendid, darling, that I don’t have any morning-sickness?”

“It’s grand.”

“You don’t appreciate what a fine wife you have. But I don’t care. I’ll get you some place where they can’t arrest you and then we’ll have a lovely time.”

“Let’s go there right away.”

“We will, darling. I’ll go any place any time you wish.”

“Let’s not think about anything.”

“All right.”


Catherine went along the lake to the little hotel to see Ferguson and I sat in the bar and read the papers. There were comfortable leather chairs in the bar and I sat in one of them and read until the barman came in. The army had not stood at the Tagliamento. They were falling back to the Piave. I remembered the Piave. The railroad crossed it near San Dona going up to the front. It was deep and slow there and quite narrow. Down below there were mosquito marshes and canals. There were some lovely villas. Once, before the war, going up to Cortina D’Ampezzo I had gone along it for several hours in the hills. Up there it looked like a trout stream, flowing swiftly with shallow stretches and pools under the shadow of the rocks. The road turned off from it at Cadore. I wondered how the army that was up there would come down. The barman came in.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest