“I can’t talk the language well enough.”

“You talk it fine. To hell with talking the language. You don’t have to talk to them. Marry them.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You know some girls, don’t you?”


“Well, you marry the one with the most money. Over here, the way they’re brought up, they’ll all make you a good wife.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Don’t think about it, Signor Tenente. Do it.”

“All right.”

“A man ought to be married. You’ll never regret it. Every man ought to be married.”

“All right,” I said. “Let’s try and sleep a while.”

“All right Signor Tenente. I’ll try it again. But you remember what I said.”

“I’ll remember it,” I said. “Now let’s sleep a while, John.”

“All right,” he said. “I hope you sleep, Signor Tenente.”

I heard him roll in his blankets on the straw and then he was very quiet and I listened to him breathing regularly. Then he started to snore. I listened to him snore for a long time and then I stopped listening to him snore and listened to the silk-worms eating. They ate steadily, making a dropping in the leaves. I had a new thing to think about and I lay in the dark with my eyes open and thought of all the girls I had ever known and what kind of wives they would make. It was a very interesting thing to think about and for a while it killed off trout-fishing and interfered with my prayers. Finally, though, I went back to trout-fishing, because I found that I could remember all the streams and there was always something new about them, while the girls, after I had thought about them a few times, blurred and I could not call them into my mind and finally they all blurred and all became rather the same and I gave up thinking about them almost altogether. But I kept on with my prayers and I prayed very often for John in the nights and his class was removed from active service before the October offensive. I was glad he was not there, because he would have been a great worry to me. He came to the hospital in Milan to see me several months after and he was very disappointed that I had not yet married, and I know he would feel very badly if he knew that, so far, I have never married. He was going back to America and he was very certain about marriage and knew it would fix up everything.


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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest