A Farewell to Arms / Ernest Hemingway / Ch-16


That night a bat flew into the room through the open door that led onto the balcony and through which we watched the night over the roofs of the town. It was dark in our room except for the small light of the night over the town and the bat was not frightened but hunted in the room as though he had been outside. We lay and watched him and I do not think he saw us because we lay so still. After he went out we saw a searchlight come on and watched the beam move across the sky and then go off and it was dark again. A breeze came in the night and we heard the men of the anti-aircraft gun on the next roof talking. It was cool and they were putting on their capes. I worried in the night about some one coming up but Catherine said they were all asleep. Once in the night we went to sleep and when I woke she was not there but I heard her coming along the hall and the door opened and she came back to the bed and said it was all right she had been downstairs and they were all asleep. She had been outside Miss Van Campen’s door and heard her breathing in her sleep. She brought crackers and we ate them and drank some vermouth. We were very hungry but she said that would all have to be gotten out of me in the morning. I went to sleep again in the morning when it was light and when I was awake I found she was gone again. She came in looking fresh and lovely and sat on the bed and the sun rose while I had the thermometer in my mouth and we smelled the dew on the roofs and then the coffee of the men at the gun on the next roof.

“I wish we could go for a walk,” Catherine said. “I’d wheel you if we had a chair.”

“How would I get into the chair?”

“We’d do it.”

“We could go out to the park and have breakfast outdoors.” I looked out the open doorway.

“What we’ll really do,” she said, “is get you ready for your friend Dr. Valentini.”

“I thought he was grand.”

“I didn’t like him as much as you did. But I imagine he’s very good.”

“Come back to bed, Catherine. Please,” I said.

“I can’t. Didn’t we have a lovely night?”

“And can you be on night duty to-night?”

“I probably will. But you won’t want me.”

“Yes, I will.”

“No, you won’t. You’ve never been operated on. You don’t know how you’ll be.”

“I’ll be all right.”

“You’ll be sick and I won’t be anything to you.”

“Come back then now.”

“No,” she said. “I have to do the chart, darling, and fix you up.”

“You don’t really love me or you’d come back again.”

“You’re such a silly boy.” She kissed me. “That’s all right for the chart. Your temperature’s always normal. You’ve such a lovely temperature.”

“You’ve got a lovely everything.”

“Oh no. You have the lovely temperature. I’m awfully proud of your temperature.”

“Maybe all our children will have fine temperatures.”

“Our children will probably have beastly temperatures.”

“What do you have to do to get me ready for Valentini?”

“Not much. But quite unpleasant.”

“I wish you didn’t have to do it.”

“I don’t. I don’t want any one else to touch you. I’m silly. I get furious if they touch you.”

“Even Ferguson?”

“Especially Ferguson and Gage and the other, what’s her name?”


“That’s it. They’ve too many nurses here now. There must be some more patients or they’ll send us away. They have four nurses now.”

“Perhaps there’ll be some. They need that many nurses. It’s quite a big hospital.”

“I hope some will come. What would I do if they sent me away? They will unless there are more patients.”

“I’d go too.”

“Don’t be silly. You can’t go yet. But get well quickly, darling, and we will go somewhere.”

“And then what?”

“Maybe the war will be over. It can’t always go on.”

“I’ll get well,” I said. “Valentini will fix me.”

“He should with those mustaches. And, darling, when you’re going under the ether just think about something else—not us. Because people get very blabby under an anæsthetic.”

“What should I think about?”

“Anything. Anything but us. Think about your people. Or even any other girl.”


“Say your prayers then. That ought to create a splendid impression.”

“Maybe I won’t talk.”

“That’s true. Often people don’t talk.”

“I won’t talk.”

“Don’t brag, darling. Please don’t brag. You’re so sweet and you don’t have to brag.”

“I won’t talk a word.”

“Now you’re bragging, darling. You know you don’t need to brag. Just start your prayers or poetry or something when they tell you to breathe deeply. You’ll be lovely that way and I’ll be so proud of you. I’m very proud of you anyway. You have such a lovely temperature and you sleep like a little boy with your arm around the pillow and think it’s me. Or is it some other girl? Some fine Italian girl?”

“It’s you.”

“Of course it’s me. Oh I do love you and Valentini will make you a fine leg. I’m glad I don’t have to watch it.”

“And you’ll be on night duty to-night.”

“Yes. But you won’t care.”

“You wait and see.”

“There, darling. Now you’re all clean inside and out. Tell me. How many people have you ever loved?”


“Not me even?”

“Yes, you.”

“How many others really?”


“How many have you—how do you say it?—stayed with?”


“You’re lying to me.”


“It’s all right. Keep right on lying to me. That’s what I want you to do. Were they pretty?”

“I never stayed with any one.”

“That’s right. Were they very attractive?”

“I don’t know anything about it.”

“You’re just mine. That’s true and you’ve never belonged to any one else. But I don’t care if you have. I’m not afraid of them. But don’t tell me about them. When a man stays with a girl when does she say how much it costs?”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course not. Does she say she loves him? Tell me that. I want to know that.”

“Yes. If he wants her to.”

“Does he say he loves her? Tell me please. It’s important.”

“He does if he wants to.”

“But you never did? Really?”


“Not really. Tell me the truth?”

“No,” I lied.

“You wouldn’t,” she said. “I knew you wouldn’t. Oh, I love you, darling.”

Outside the sun was up over the roofs and I could see the points of the cathedral with the sunlight on them. I was clean inside and outside and waiting for the doctor.

“And that’s it?” Catherine said. “She says just what he wants her to?”

“Not always.”

“But I will. I’ll say just what you wish and I’ll do what you wish and then you will never want any other girls, will you?” She looked at me very happily. “I’ll do what you want and say what you want and then I’ll be a great success, won’t I?”


“What would you like me to do now that you’re all ready?”

“Come to the bed again.”

“All right. I’ll come.”

“Oh, darling, darling, darling,” I said.

“You see,” she said. “I do anything you want.”

“You’re so lovely.”

“I’m afraid I’m not very good at it yet.”

“You’re lovely.”

“I want what you want. There isn’t any me any more. Just what you want.”

“You sweet.”

“I’m good. Aren’t I good? You don’t want any other girls, do you?”


“You see? I’m good. I do what you want.”

Popular Posts