A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“I see.”

He stood there, his coat wet, holding his wet hat and said nothing.

“Why are they going to arrest me?”

“For something about the war.”

“Do you know what?”

“No. But I know that they know you were here before as an officer and now you are here out of uniform. After this retreat they arrest everybody.”

I thought a minute.

“What time do they come to arrest me?”

“In the morning. I don’t know the time.”

“What do you say to do?”

He put his hat in the washbowl. It was very wet and had been dripping on the floor.

“If you have nothing to fear an arrest is nothing. But it is always bad to be arrested–especially now.”

“I don’t want to be arrested.”

“Then go to Switzerland.”


“In my boat.”

“There is a storm,” I said.

“The storm is over. It is rough but you will be all right.”

“When should we go?”

“Right away. They might come to arrest you early in the morning.”

“What about our bags?”

“Get them packed. Get your lady dressed. I will take care of them.”

“Where will you be?”

“I will wait here. I don’t want any one to see me outside in the hall.”

I opened the door, closed it, and went into the bedroom. Catherine was awake.

“What is it, darling?”

“It’s all right, Cat,” I said. “Would you like to get dressed right away and go in a boat to Switzerland?”

“Would you?”

“No,” I said. “I’d like to go back to bed.”

“What is it about?”

“The barman says they are going to arrest me in the morning.”

“Is the barman crazy?”


“Then please hurry, darling, and get dressed so we can start.” She sat up on the side of the bed. She was still sleepy. “Is that the barman in the bathroom?”


“Then I won’t wash. Please look the other way, darling, and I’ll be dressed in just a minute.”

I saw her white back as she took off her night-gown and then I looked away because she wanted me to. She was beginning to be a little big with the child and she did not want me to see her. I dressed hearing the rain on the windows. I did not have much to put in my bag.

“There’s plenty of room in my bag, Cat, if you need any.”

“I’m almost packed,” she said. “Darling, I’m awfully stupid, but why is the barman in the bathroom?”

“Sh–he’s waiting to take our bags down.”

“He’s awfully nice.”

“He’s an old friend,” I said. “I nearly sent him some pipetobacco once.”

I looked out the open window at the dark night. I could not see the lake, only the dark and the rain but the wind was quieter.

“I’m ready, darling,” Catherine said.

“All right.” I went to the bathroom door. “Here are the bags, Emilio,” I said. The barman took the two bags.

“You’re very good to help us,” Catherine said.

“That’s nothing, lady,” the barman said. “I’m glad to help you just so I don’t get in trouble myself. Listen,” he said to me. “I’ll take these out the servants’ stairs and to the boat. You just go out as though you were going for a walk.”

“It’s a lovely night for a walk,” Catherine said.

“It’s a bad night all right.”

“I’m glad I’ve an umbrella,” Catherine said.

We walked down the hall and down the wide thickly carpeted stairs. At the foot of the stairs by the door the porter sat behind his desk.

He looked surprised at seeing us.

“You’re not going out, sir?” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “We’re going to see the storm along the lake.”

“Haven’t you got an umbrella, sir?”

“No,” I said. “This coat sheds water.”

He looked at it doubtfully. “I’ll get you an umbrella, sir,” he said. He went away and came back with a big umbrella. “It is a little big, sir,” he said. I gave him a ten-lira note. “Oh you are too good, sir. Thank you very much,” he said. He held the door open and we went out into the rain. He smiled at Catherine and she smiled at him. “Don’t stay out in the storm,” he said. “You will get wet, sir and lady.” He was only the second porter, and his English was still literally translated.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest