A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“We’ll be back,” I said. We walked down the path under the giant umbrella and out through the dark wet gardens to the road and across the road to the trellised pathway along the lake. The wind was blowing offshore now. It was a cold, wet November wind and I knew it was snowing in the mountains. We came along past the chained boats in the slips along the quay to where the barman’s boat should be. The water was dark against the stone. The barman stepped out from beside the row of trees.

“The bags are in the boat,” he said.

“I want to pay you for the boat,” I said.

“How much money have you?”

“Not so much.”

“You send me the money later. That will be all right.”

“How much?”

“What you want.”

“Tell me how much.”

“If you get through send me five hundred francs. You won’t mind that if you get through.”

“All right.”

“Here are sandwiches.” He handed me a package. “Everything there was in the bar. It’s all here. This is a bottle of brandy and a bottle of wine.” I put them in my bag. “Let me pay you for those.”

“All right, give me fifty lire.”

I gave itto him. “The brandy is good,” he said. “You don’t need to be afraid to give itto your lady. She better get in the boat.” He held the boat, it rising and falling against the stone wall and I helped Catherine in. She sat in the stern and pulled her cape around her.

“You know where to go?”

“Up the lake.”

“You know how far?”

“Past Luino.”

“Past Luino, Cannero, Cannobio, Tranzano. You aren’t in Switzerland until you come to Brissago. You have to pass Monte Tamara.”

“What time is it?” Catherine asked.

“It’s only eleven o’clock,” I said.

“If you row all the time you ought to be there by seven o’clock in the morning.”

“Is it that far?”

“It’s thirty-five kilometres.”

“How should we go? In this rain we need a compass.”

“No. Row to Isola Bella. Then on the other side of Isola Madre go with the wind. The wind will take you to Pallanza. You will see the lights. Then go up the shore.”

“Maybe the wind will change.”

“No,” he said. “This wind will blow like this for three days. It comes straight down from the Mattarone. There is a can to bail with.”

“Let me pay you something for the boat now.”

“No, I’d rather take a chance. If you get through you pay me all you can.”

“All right.”

“I don’t think you’ll get drowned.”

“That’s good.”

“Go with the wind up the lake.”

“All right.”

I stepped in the boat.

“Did you leave the money for the hotel?”

“Yes. In an envelope in the room.”

“All right. Good luck, Tenente.”

“Good luck. We thank you many times.”

“You won’t thank me if you get drowned.”

“What does he say?” Catherine asked.

“He says good luck.”

“Good luck,” Catherine said.

“Thank you very much.”

“Are you ready?”


He bent down and shoved us off. I dug at the water with the oars, then waved one hand. The barman waved back deprecatingly. I saw the lights of the hotel and rowed out, rowing straight out until they were out of sight. There was quite a sea running but we were going with the wind.


I rowed in the dark keeping the wind in my face. The rain had stopped and only came occasionally in gusts. It was very dark, and the wind was cold. I could see Catherine in the stern but I could not see the water where the blades of the oars dipped. The oars were long and there were no leathers to keep them from slipping out. I pulled, raised, leaned forward, found the water, dipped and pulled, rowing as easily as I could. I did not feather the oars because the wind was with us. I knew my hands would blister and I wanted to delay it as long as I could. The boat was light and rowed easily. I pulled it along in the dark water. I could not see, and hoped we would soon come opposite Pallanza.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest