A Farewell to Arms / Ernest Hemingway / Ch-14


It was bright sunlight in the room when I woke. I thought I was back at the front and stretched out in bed. My legs hurt me and I looked down at them still in the dirty bandages, and seeing them knew where I was. I reached up for the bell-cord and pushed the button. I heard it buzz down the hall and then some one coming on rubber soles along the hall. It was Miss Gage and she looked a little older in the bright sunlight and not so pretty.

“Good-morning,” she said. “Did you have a good night?”

“Yes. Thanks very much,” I said. “Can I have a barber?”

“I came in to see you and you were asleep with this in the bed with you.”

She opened the armoire door and held up the vermouth bottle. It was nearly empty. “I put the other bottle from under the bed in there too,” she said. “Why didn’t you ask me for a glass?”

“I thought maybe you wouldn’t let me have it.”

“I’d have had some with you.”

“You’re a fine girl.”

“It isn’t good for you to drink alone,” she said. “You mustn’t do it.”

“All right.”

“Your friend Miss Barkley’s come,” she said.


“Yes. I don’t like her.”

“You will like her. She’s awfully nice.”

She shook her head. “I’m sure she’s fine. Can you move just a little to this side? That’s fine. I’ll clean you up for breakfast.” She washed me with a cloth and soap and warm water. “Hold your shoulder up,” she said. “That’s fine.”

“Can I have the barber before breakfast?”

“I’ll send the porter for him.” She went out and came back. “He’s gone for him,” she said and dipped the cloth she held in the basin of water.

The barber came with the porter. He was a man of about fifty with an upturned mustache. Miss Gage was finished with me and went out and the barber lathered my face and shaved. He was very solemn and refrained from talking.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you know any news?” I asked.

“What news?”

“Any news. What’s happened in the town?”

“It is time of war,” he said. “The enemy’s ears are everywhere.”

I looked up at him. “Please hold your face still,” he said and went on shaving. “I will tell nothing.”

“What’s the matter with you?” I asked.

“I am an Italian. I will not communicate with the enemy.”

I let it go at that. If he was crazy, the sooner I could get out from under the razor the better. Once I tried to get a good look at him. “Beware,” he said. “The razor is sharp.”

I paid him when it was over and tipped him half a lira. He returned the coins.

“I will not. I am not at the front. But I am an Italian.”

“Get the hell out of here.”

“With your permission,” he said and wrapped his razors in newspaper. He went out leaving the five copper coins on the table beside the bed. I rang the bell. Miss Gage came in. “Would you ask the porter to come please?”

“All right.”

The porter came in. He was trying to keep from laughing.

“Is that barber crazy?”

“No, signorino. He made a mistake. He doesn’t understand very well and he thought I said you were an Austrian officer.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Ho ho ho,” the porter laughed. “He was funny. One move from you he said and he would have—” he drew his forefinger across his throat.

“Ho ho ho,” he tried to keep from laughing. “When I tell him you were not an Austrian. Ho ho ho.”

“Ho ho ho,” I said bitterly. “How funny if he would cut my throat. Ho ho ho.”

“No, signorino. No, no. He was so frightened of an Austrian. Ho ho ho.”

“Ho ho ho,” I said. “Get out of here.”

He went out and I heard him laughing in the hall. I heard some one coming down the hallway. I looked toward the door. It was Catherine Barkley.

She came in the room and over to the bed.

“Hello, darling,” she said. She looked fresh and young and very beautiful. I thought I had never seen any one so beautiful.

“Hello,” I said. When I saw her I was in love with her. Everything turned over inside of me. She looked toward the door, saw there was no one, then she sat on the side of the bed and leaned over and kissed me. I pulled her down and kissed her and felt her heart beating.

“You sweet,” I said. “Weren’t you wonderful to come here?”

“It wasn’t very hard. It may be hard to stay.”

“You’ve got to stay,” I said. “Oh, you’re wonderful.” I was crazy about her. I could not believe she was really there and held her tight to me.

“You mustn’t,” she said. “You’re not well enough.”

“Yes, I am. Come on.”

“No. You’re not strong enough.”

“Yes. I am. Yes. Please.”

“You do love me?”

“I really love you. I’m crazy about you. Come on please.”

“Feel our hearts beating.”

“I don’t care about our hearts. I want you. I’m just mad about you.”

“You really love me?”

“Don’t keep on saying that. Come on. Please. Please, Catherine.”

“All right but only for a minute.”

“All right,” I said. “Shut the door.”

“You can’t. You shouldn’t.”

“Come on. Don’t talk. Please come on.”

Catherine sat in a chair by the bed. The door was open into the hall. The wildness was gone and I felt finer than I had ever felt.

She asked, “Now do you believe I love you?”

“Oh, you’re lovely,” I said. “You’ve got to stay. They can’t send you away. I’m crazy in love with you.”

“We’ll have to be awfully careful. That was just madness. We can’t do that.”

“We can at night.”

“We’ll have to be awfully careful. You’ll have to be careful in front of other people.”

“I will.”

“You’ll have to be. You’re sweet. You do love me, don’t you?”

“Don’t say that again. You don’t know what that does to me.”

“I’ll be careful then. I don’t want to do anything more to you. I have to go now, darling, really.”

“Come back right away.”

“I’ll come when I can.”


“Good-by, sweet.”

She went out. God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with her. I had not wanted to fall in love with any one. But God knows I had and I lay on the bed in the room of the hospital in Milan and all sorts of things went through my head but I felt wonderful and finally Miss Gage came in.

“The doctor’s coming,” she said. “He telephoned from Lake Como.”

“When does he get here?”

“He’ll be here this afternoon.”

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