A Farewell to Arms / Ernest Hemingway / Ch-22


It turned cold that night and the next day it was raining. Coming home from the Ospedale Maggiore it rained very hard and I was wet when I came in. Up in my room the rain was coming down heavily outside on the balcony, and the wind blew it against the glass doors. I changed my clothing and drank some brandy but the brandy did not taste good. I felt sick in the night and in the morning after breakfast I was nauseated.

“There is no doubt about it,” the house surgeon said. “Look at the whites of his eyes, Miss.”

Miss Gage looked. They had me look in a glass. The whites of the eyes were yellow and it was the jaundice. I was sick for two weeks with it. For that reason we did not spend a convalescent leave together. We had planned to go to Pallanza on Lago Maggiore. It is nice there in the fall when the leaves turn. There are walks you can take and you can troll for trout in the lake. It would have been better than Stresa because there are fewer people at Pallanza. Stresa is so easy to get to from Milan that there are always people you know. There is a nice village at Pallanza and you can row out to the islands where the fishermen live and there is a restaurant on the biggest island. But we did not go.

One day while I was in bed with jaundice Miss Van Campen came in the room, opened the door into the armoire and saw the empty bottles there. I had sent a load of them down by the porter and I believe she must have seen them going out and come up to find some more. They were mostly vermouth bottles, marsala bottles, capri bottles, empty chianti flasks and a few cognac bottles. The porter had carried out the large bottles, those that had held vermouth, and the straw-covered chianti flasks, and left the brandy bottles for the last. It was the brandy bottles and a bottle shaped like a bear, which had held kümmel, that Miss Van Campen found. The bear-shaped bottle enraged her particularly. She held it up; the bear was sitting up on his haunches with his paws up; there was a cork in his glass head and a few sticky crystals at the bottom. I laughed.

“It was kümmel,” I said. “The best kümmel comes in those bear-shaped bottles. It comes from Russia.”

“Those are all brandy bottles, aren’t they?” Miss Van Campen asked.

“I can’t see them all,” I said. “But they probably are.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“I bought them and brought them in myself,” I said. “I have had Italian officers visit me frequently and I have kept brandy to offer them.”

“You haven’t been drinking it yourself?” she said.

“I have also drunk it myself.”

“Brandy,” she said. “Eleven empty bottles of brandy and that bear liquid.”


“I will send for some one to take them away. Those are all the empty bottles you have?”

“For the moment.”

“And I was pitying you having jaundice. Pity is something that is wasted on you.”

“Thank you.”

“I suppose you can’t be blamed for not wanting to go back to the front. But I should think you would try something more intelligent than producing jaundice with alcoholism.”

“With what?”

“With alcoholism. You heard me say it.” I did not say anything. “Unless you find something else I’m afraid you will have to go back to the front when you are through with your jaundice. I don’t believe self-inflicted jaundice entitles you to a convalescent leave.”

“You don’t?”

“I do not.”

“Have you ever had jaundice, Miss Van Campen?”

“No, but I have seen a great deal of it.”

“You noticed how the patients enjoyed it?”

“I suppose it is better than the front.”

“Miss Van Campen,” I said, “did you ever know a man who tried to disable himself by kicking himself in the scrotum?”

Miss Van Campen ignored the actual question. She had to ignore it or leave the room. She was not ready to leave because she had disliked me for a long time and she was now cashing in.

“I have known many men to escape the front through self-inflicted wounds.”

“That wasn’t the question. I have seen self-inflicted wounds also. I asked you if you had ever known a man who had tried to disable himself by kicking himself in the scrotum. Because that is the nearest sensation to jaundice and it is a sensation that I believe few women have ever experienced. That was why I asked you if you had ever had the jaundice, Miss Van Campen, because—” Miss Van Campen left the room. Later Miss Gage came in.

“What did you say to Van Campen? She was furious.”

“We were comparing sensations. I was going to suggest that she had never experienced childbirth——”

“You’re a fool,” Gage said. “She’s after your scalp.”

“She has my scalp,” I said. “She’s lost me my leave and she might try and get me court-martialled. She’s mean enough.”

“She never liked you,” Gage said. “What’s it about?”

“She says I’ve drunk myself into jaundice so as not to go back to the front.”

“Pooh,” said Gage. “I’ll swear you’ve never taken a drink. Everybody will swear you’ve never taken a drink.”

“She found the bottles.”

“I’ve told you a hundred times to clear out those bottles. Where are they now?”

“In the armoire.”

“Have you a suitcase?”

“No. Put them in that rucksack.”

Miss Gage packed the bottles in the rucksack. “I’ll give them to the porter,” she said. She started for the door.

“Just a minute,” Miss Van Campen said. “I’ll take those bottles.” She had the porter with her. “Carry them, please,” she said. “I want to show them to the doctor when I make my report.”

She went down the hall. The porter carried the sack. He knew what was in it.

Nothing happened except that I lost my leave.

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