“How about eating?” John asked.

“You order,” I said. “Do you think it’s true?” I asked the innkeeper.

“Sure it’s true,” he said. “These peasants are beasts.”

“Where did he go now?”

“He’s gone to drink at my colleague’s, the Lowen!”

“He didn’t want to drink with me,” said the sexton.

“He didn’t want to drink with him, after he knew about his wife,” said the innkeeper.

“Say,” said John. “How about eating?”

“All right,” I said.


WILLIAM CAMPBELL had been in a pursuit race with a burlesque show ever since Pittsburgh. In a pursuit race, in bicycle racing, riders start at equal intervals to ride after one another. They ride very fast because the race is usually limited to a short distance and if they slow their riding another rider who maintains his pace will make up the space that separated them equally at the start. As soon as a rider is caught and passed he is out of the race and must get down from his bicycle and leave the track. If none of the riders are caught the winner of the race is the one who has gained the most distance. In most pursuit races, if there are only two riders, one of the riders is caught inside of six miles. The burlesque show caught William Campbell at Kansas City.

William Campbell had hoped to hold a slight lead over the burlesque show until they reached the Pacific coast. As long as he preceded the burlesque show as advance man he was being paid. When the burlesque show caught up with him he was in bed. He was in bed when the manager of the burlesque troupe came into his room and after the manager had gone out he decided that he might as well stay in bed. It was very cold in Kansas City and he was in no hurry to go out. He did not like Kansas City. He reached under the bed for a bottle and drank. It made his stomach feel better. Mr. Turner, the manager of the burlesque show, had refused a drink.

William Campbell’s interview with Mr. Turner had been a little strange. Mr. Turner had knocked on the door. Campbell had said: “Come in!” When Mr. Turner came into the room he saw clothing on a chair, an open suitcase, the bottle on a chair beside the bed, and someone lying in the bed completely covered by bedclothes.

“Mister Campbell,” Mr. Turner said.

“You can’t fire me,” William Campbell said from underneath the covers. It was warm and white and close under the covers. “You can’t fire me because I’ve got down off my bicycle.”

“You’re drunk,” Mr. Turner said.

“Oh, yes,” William Campbell said, speaking directly against the sheet and feeling the texture with his lips.

“You’re a fool,” Mr. Turner said. He turned off the electric light. The electric light had been burning all night. It was now ten o’clock in the morning. “You’re a drunken fool. When did you get into this town?”

“I got into this town last night,” William Campbell said, speaking against the sheet. He found he liked to talk through a sheet. “Did you ever talk through a sheet?”

“Don’t try to be funny. You aren’t funny.”

“I’m not being funny. I’m just talking through a sheet.”

“You’re talking through a sheet all right.”

“You can go now, Mr. Turner,” Campbell said. “I don’t work for you any more.”

“You know that anyway.”

“I know a lot,” William Campbell said. He pulled down the sheet and looked at Mr. Turner. “I know enough so I don’t mind looking at you at all. Do you want to hear what I know?”


“Good,” said William Campbell. “Because really I don’t know anything at all. I was just talking.” He pulled the sheet up over his face again. “I love it under a sheet,” he said. Mr. Turner stood beside the bed. He was a middle-aged man with a large stomach and a bald head and he had many things to do. “You ought to stop off here, Billy, and take a cure,” he said. “I’ll fix it up if you want to do it.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest