A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“I see.”

“The Italians didn’t want women so near the front. So we’re all on very special behavior. We don’t go out.”

“I can come here though.”

“Oh, yes. We’re not cloistered.”

“Let’s drop the war.”

“It’s very hard. There’s no place to drop it.”

“Let’s drop it anyway.”

“All right.”

We looked at each other in the dark. I thought she was very beautiful and I took her hand. She let me take it and I held it and put my arm around under her arm.

“No,” she said. I kept my arm where it was.

“Why not?”


“Yes,” I said. “Please.” I leaned forward in the dark to kiss her and there was a sharp stinging flash. She had slapped my face hard. Her hand had hit my nose and eyes, and tears came in my eyes from the reflex.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. I felt I had a certain advantage.

“You were quite right.”

“I’m dreadfully sorry,” she said. “I just couldn’t stand the nurse’s-eveningoff aspect of it. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I did hurt you, didn’t I?”

She was looking at me in the dark. I was angry and yet certain, seeing it all ahead like the moves in a chess game.

“You did exactly right,” I said. “I don’t mind at all.”

“Poor man.”

“You see I’ve been leading a sort of a funny life. And I never even talk English. And then you are so very beautiful.” I looked at her.

“You don’t need to say a lot of nonsense. I said I was sorry. We do get along.”

“Yes,” I said. “And we have gotten away from the war.”

She laughed. It was the first time I had ever heard her laugh. I watched her face.

“You are sweet,” she said.

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes. You are a dear. I’d be glad to kiss you if you don’t mind.”

I looked in her eyes and put my arm around her as I had before and kissed her. I kissed her hard and held her tight and tried to open her lips; they were closed tight. I was still angry and as I held her suddenly she shivered. I held her close against me and could feel her heart beating and her lips opened and her head went back against my hand and then she was crying on my shoulder.

“Oh, darling,” she said. “You will be good to me, won’t you?”

What the hell, I thought. I stroked her hair and patted her shoulder. She was crying.

“You will, won’t you?” She looked up at me. “Because we’re going to have a strange life.”

After a while I walked with her to the door of the villa and she went in and I walked home. Back at the villa I went upstairs to the room. Rinaldi was lying on his bed. He looked at me.

“So you make progress with Miss Barkley?”

“We are friends.”

“You have that pleasant air of a dog in heat.”

I did not understand the word.

“Of a what?”

He explained.

“You,” I said, “have that pleasant air of a dog who–”

“Stop it,” he said. “In a little while we would say insulting things.” He laughed.

“Good-night,” I said.

“Good-night, little puppy.”

I knocked over his candle with the pillow and got into bed in the dark.

Rinaldi picked up the candle, lit it and went on reading.


I was away for two days at the posts. When I got home it was too late and I did not see Miss Barkley until the next evening. She was not in the garden and I had to wait in the office of the hospital until she came down. There were many marble busts on painted wooden pillars along the walls of the room they used for an office. The hall too, that the office opened on, was lined with them. They had the complete marble quality of all looking alike. Sculpture had always seemed a dull business–still, bronzes looked like something. But marble busts all looked like a cemetery. There was one fine cemetery though–the one at Pisa. Genoa was the place to see the bad marbles. This had been the villa of a very wealthy German and the busts must have cost him plenty. I wondered who had done them and how much he got. I tried to make out whether they were members of the family or what; but they were all uniformly classical. You could not tell anything about them.

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