A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“You will please stay where you are,” the lieutenant said. He went back into the building with our passports.

“You’re splendid, darling,” Catherine said. “Keep on the same track. You want to do the winter sport.”

“Do you know anything about art?”

“Rubens,” said Catherine.

“Large and fat,” I said.

“Titian,” Catherine said.

“Titian-haired,” I said. “How about Mantegna?”

“Don’t ask hard ones,” Catherine said. “I know him though– very bitter.”

“Very bitter,” I said. “Lots of nail holes.”

“You see I’ll make you a fine wife,” Catherine said. “I’ll be able to talk art with your customers.”

“Here he comes,” I said. The thin lieutenant came down the length of the custom house, holding our passports.

“I will have to send you into Locarno,” he said. “You can get a carriage and a soldier will go in with you.”

“All right,” I said. “What about the boat?”

“The boat is confiscated. What have you in those bags?”

He went all through the two bags and held up the quarterbottle of brandy. “Would you join me in a drink?” I asked.

“No thank you.” He straightened up. “How much money have you?”

“Twenty-five hundred lire.”

He was favorably impressed. “How much has your cousin?”

Catherine had a little over twelve hundred lire. The lieutenant was pleased. His attitude toward us became less haughty.

“If you are going for winter sports,” he said, “Wengen is the place. My father has a very fine hotel at Wengen. It is open all the time.”

“That’s splendid,” I said. “Could you give me the name?”

“I will write it on a card.” He handed me the card very politely.

“The soldier will take you into Locarno. He will keep your passports. I regret this but it is necessary. I have good hopes they will give you a visa or a police permit at Locarno.”

He handed the two passports to the soldier and carrying the bags we started into the village to order a carriage. “Hi,” the lieutenant called to the soldier. He said something in a German dialect to him. The soldier slung his rifle on his back and picked up the bags.

“It’s a great country,” I said to Catherine.

“It’s so practical.”

“Thank you very much,” I said to the lieutenant. He waved his hand.

“Service!” he said. We followed our guard into the village.

We drove to Locarno in a carriage with the soldier sitting on the front seat with the driver. At Locarno we did not have a bad time. They questioned us but they were polite because we had passports and money. I do not think they believed a word of the story and I thought it was silly but it was like a law-court. You did not want something reasonable, you wanted something technical and then stuck to it without explanations. But we had passports and we would spend the money. So they gave us provisional visas.

At any time this visa might be withdrawn. We were to report to the police wherever we went.

Could we go wherever we wanted? Yes. Where did we want to go?

“Where do you want to go, Cat?”


“It is a very nice place,” the official said. “I think you will like that place.”

“Here at Locarno is a very nice place,” another official said. “I am sure you would like it here very much at Locarno. Locarno is a very attractive place.”

“We would like some place where there is winter sport.”

“There is no winter sport at Montreux.”

“I beg your pardon,” the other official said. “I come from Montreux. There is very certainly winter sport on the Montreux Oberland Bernois railway. It would be false for you to deny


“I do not deny it. I simply said there is no winter sport at Montreux.”

“I question that,” the other official said. “I question that statement.”

“I hold to that statement.”

“I question that statement. I myself have _luge-ed_ into the streets of Montreux. I have done it not once but several times. Luge-ing is certainly winter sport.”

The other official turned to me.

“Is luge-ing your idea of winter sport, sir? I tell you you would be very comfortable here in Locarno. You would find the climate healthy, you would find the environs attractive. You would like it very much.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest