A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

I watched her brushing her hair, holding her head so the weight of her hair all came on one side. It was dark outside and the light over the head of the bed shone on her hair and on her neck and shoulders. I went over and kissed her and held her hand with the brush and her head sunk back on the pillow. I kissed her neck and shoulders. I felt faint with loving her so much.

“I don’t want to go away.”

“I don’t want you to go away.”

“I won’t go then.”

“Yes. Go. It’s only for a little while and then you’ll come back.” “We’ll have dinner up here.”

“Hurry and come back.”

I found the Count Greffi in the billiard-room. He was practising strokes, looking very fragile under the light that came down above the billiard table. On a card table a little way beyond the light was a silver icing-bucket with the necks and corks of two champagne bottles showing above the ice. The Count Greffi straightened up when I came toward the table and walked toward me. He put out his hand, “It is such a great pleasure that you are here. You were very kind to come to play with me.”

“It was very nice of you to ask me.”

“Are you quite well? They told me you were wounded on the Isonzo. I hope you are well again.”

“I’m very well. Have you been well?”

“Oh, I am always well. But I am getting old. I detect signs of age now.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“Yes. Do you want to know one? It is easier for me to talk Italian. I discipline myself but I find when I am tired that it is so much easier to talk Italian. So I know I must be getting old.”

“We could talk Italian. I am a little tired, too.”

“Oh, but when you are tired it will be easier for you to talk English.”


“Yes. American. You will please talk American. It is a delightful language.”

“I hardly ever see Americans.”

“You must miss them. One misses one’s countrymen and especially one’s countrywomen. I know that experience. Should we play or are you too tired?”

“I’m not really tired. I said that for a joke. What handicap will you give me?”

“Have you been playing very much?”

“None at all.”

“You play very well. Ten points in a hundred?”

“You flatter me.”


“That would be fine but you will beat me.”

“Should we play for a stake? You always wished to play for a stake.”

“I think we’d better.”

“All right. I will give you eighteen points and we will play for a franc a point.”

He played a lovely game of billiards and with the handicap I was only four ahead at fifty. Count Greffi pushed a button on the wall to ring for the barman.

“Open one bottle please,” he said. Then to me, “We will take a little stimulant.” The wine was icy cold and very dry and good.

“Should we talk Italian? Would you mind very much? It is my weakness now.”

We went on playing, sipping the wine between shots, speaking in Italian, but talking little, concentrated on the game. Count Greffi made his one hundredth point and with the handicap I was only at ninety-four. He smiled and patted me on the shoulder.

“Now we will drink the other bottle and you will tell me about the war.” He waited for me to sit down.

“About anything else,” I said.

“You don’t want to talk about it? Good. What have you been reading?”

“Nothing,” I said. “I’m afraid I am very dull.”

“No. But you should read.”

“What is there written in war-time?”

“There is ‘Le Feu’ by a Frenchman, Barbusse. There is ‘Mr. Britling Sees Through It.”

“No, he doesn’t.”


“He doesn’t see through it. Those books were at the hospital.”

“Then you have been reading?”

“Yes, but nothing any good.”

“I thought ‘Mr. Britling’ a very good study of the English middle-class soul.”

“I don’t know about the soul.”

“Poor boy. We none of us know about the soul. Are you Croyant?”

“At night.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest