“Can’t you sleep, Signor Tenente?” he asked.


“I can’t sleep, either.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know. I can’t sleep.”

“You feel all right?”

“Sure. I feel good. I just can’t sleep.”

“You want to talk a while?” I asked.

“Sure. What can you talk about in this damn place.”

“This place is pretty good,” I said.

“Sure,” he said. “It’s all right.”

“Tell me about out in Chicago,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, “I told you all that once.”

“Tell me about how you got married.”

“I told you that.”

“Was the letter you got Monday—from her?”

“Sure. She writes me all the time. She’s making good money with the place.”

“You’ll have a nice place when you go back.”

“Sure. She runs it fine. She’s making a lot of money.”

“Don’t you think we’ll wake them up, talking?” I asked.

“No. They can’t hear. Anyway, they sleep like pigs. I’m different,” he said. “I’m nervous.”

“Talk quiet,” I said. “Want a smoke?”

We smoked skillfully in the dark.

“You don’t smoke much, Signor Tenente.”

“No. I’ve just about cut it out.”

“Well,” he said, “it don’t do you any good and I suppose you get so you don’t miss it. Did you ever hear a blind man won’t smoke because he can’t see the smoke come out?”

“I don’t believe it.”

“I think it’s all bull, myself,” he said. “I just heard it somewhere. You know how you hear things.”

We were both quiet and I listened to the silk-worms.

“You hear those damn silk-worms?” he asked. “You can hear them chew.”

“It’s funny,” I said.

“Say, Signor Tenente, is there something really the matter that you can’t sleep? I never see you sleep. You haven’t slept nights ever since I been with you.”

“I don’t know, John,” I said. “I got in pretty bad shape along early last spring and at night it bothers me.”

“Just like I am,” he said. “I shouldn’t have ever got in this war. I’m too nervous.”

“Maybe it will get better.”

“Say, Signor Tenente, what did you get in this war for anyway?”

“I don’t know, John. I wanted to, then.”

“Wanted to,” he said. “That’s a hell of a reason.”

“We oughtn’t to talk so loud,” I said.

“They sleep like pigs,” he said. “They can’t understand the English language, anyway. They don’t know a damn thing. What are you going to do when it’s over and we go back to the States?”

“I’ll get a job on a paper.”

“In Chicago?”


“Do you ever read what this fellow Brisbane writes? My wife cuts it out for me and sends it to me.”


“Did you ever meet him?”

“No, but I’ve seen him.”

“I’d like to meet that fellow. He’s a fine writer. My wife don’t read English but she takes the paper just like when I was home and she cuts out the editorials and the sport page and sends them to me.”

“How are your kids?”

“They’re fine. One of the girls is in the fourth grade now. You know, Signor Tenente, if I didn’t have the kids I wouldn’t be your orderly now. They’d have made me stay in the line all the time.”

“I’m glad you’ve got them.”

“So am I. They’re fine kids but I want a boy. Three girls and no boy. That’s a hell of a note.”

“Why don’t you try and go to sleep.”

“No, I can’t sleep now, I’m wide awake now, Signor Tenente. Say, I’m worried about you not sleeping, though.”

“It’ll be all right, John.”

“Imagine a young fellow like you not to sleep.”

“I’ll get all right. It just takes a while.”

“You got to get all right. A man can’t get along that don’t sleep. Do you worry about anything? You got anything on your mind?”

“No, John, I don’t think so.”

“You ought to get married, Signor Tenente. Then you wouldn’t worry.”

“I don’t know.”

“You ought to get married. Why don’t you pick out some nice Italian girl with plenty of money? You could get any one you want. You’re young and you got good decorations and you look nice. You been wounded a couple of times.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Categories: Hemingway, Ernest