عندي ذي الاقتباسات
In the late summer of that year we lived in a house
in a village that looked across the river and the plain to
the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles
and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the
water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the
channels. Troops went by the house and down the road
and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the
trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the
leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching
along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred
by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and
afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.
The plain was rich with crops; there were many
orchards of fruit trees and beyond the plain the mountains
were brown and bare. There was fighting in the
mountains and at night we could see the flashes from
the artillery. In the dark it was like summer lightning,
but the nights were cool and there was not the feeling
of a storm coming.
Sometimes in the dark we heard the troops marching
under the window and guns going past pulled by motortractors.
There was much traffic at night and many
mules on the roads with boxes of ammunition on each
side of their pack-saddles and gray motor-trucks that
carried men, and other trucks with loads covered with
canvas that moved slower in the traffic. There were big
guns too that passed in the day drawn by tractors, the
long barrels of the guns covered with green branches
and green leafy branches and vines laid over the tractors.
To the north we could look across a valley …..
At the start of the winter came the permanent rain
and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked
and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the
When I came back to the front we still lived in that
town. There were many more guns in the country
around and the spring had come. The fields were green
and there were small green shoots on the vines, the trees
along the road had small leaves and a breeze came from
the sea. I saw the town with the hill and the old castle
above it in a cup in the hills with the mountains beyond,
brown mountains with a little green on their slopes. In
the town there were more guns, there were some new
hospitals, you met British men and sometimes women,
on the street, and a few more houses had been hit by
shell fire. It was warm and like the spring and I
walked down the alleyway of trees, warmed from the
sun on the wall, and found we still lived in the same
house and that it all looked the same as when I had left
it. The door was open, there was a soldier sitting on a
bench outside in the sun, an ambulance was waiting by
the side door and inside the door, as I went in, there
was the smell of marble floors and hospital. It was all
as I had left it except that now it was spring. I looked
in the door of the big room and saw the major sitting
at his desk, the window open and the sunlight coming
into the room. He did not see me and I did not know
whether to go in and report or go upstairs first and
clean up. I decided to go on upstairs.
The room I shared with the lieutenant Rinaldi looked
out on the courtyard. The window was open, my bed
was made up with blankets and my things hung on the
wall, the gas mask in an oblong tin can, the steel helmet
on the same peg.
"How do you do?" Miss Barkley said. "You're not
an Italian, are you ?"
Rinaldi was talking with the other nurse. They were
"What an odd thing—to be in the Italian army."
"It's not really the army. It's only the ambulance."
"It's very odd though. Why did you do it?"
"I don't know," I said. "There isn't always an explanation
"Oh, isn't there? I was brought up to think there
"That's awfully nice."
"Do we have to go on and talk this way?"
"No," I said.
"That's a relief. Isn't it?"
"What is the stick?" I asked. Miss Barkley was
quite tall. She wore what seemed to me to be a nurse's
uniform, was blonde and had a tawny skin and gray
eyes. I thought she was very beautiful. She was carrying
a thin rattan stick like a toy riding-crop, bound in
"It belonged to a boy who was killed last year."
"I'm awfully sorry."
"He was a very nice boy. He was going to marry
me and he was killed in the Somme."
"It was a ghastly show."
"Were you there ?"
"I've heard about it," she said. "There's not really
any war of that sort down here. They sent me the little
stick. His mother sent it to me. They returned it with
"Had you been engaged long?"
"Eight years. We grew up together."
"And why didn't you marry?"
"I don't know," she said. "I was a fool not to. I
could have given him that anyway. But I thought it
would be bad for him."
"Have you ever loved any one?"
"No," I said
We sat down on a bench and I looked at her.
"You have beautiful hair," I said.
"Do you like it?"
"I was going to cut it all off when he died."
"I can come here though."
"Oh, yes. We're not cloistered."
"Let's drop the war."
"It's very hard. There's no place to drop it."
"Let's drop it anyway."
We looked at each other in the dark. I thought she
was very beautiful
I knew I did not love Catherine
Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a
game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of
playing cards. Like bridge you had to pretend you
were playing for money or playing for some stakes.
Nobody had mentioned what the stakes were. It was
all right with me.
"I wish there was some place we could go," I said.
I was experiencing the masculine difficulty of making
love very long standing up.
"There isn't any place," she said. She came back
from wherever she had been.
"We might sit there just for a little while."
She looked down at the grass.
"This is a rotten game we play, isn't it?"
"Don't be dull."
"I'm not, on purpose."
"You're a nice boy," she said. "And you play it as
well as you know how. But it's a rotten game."
"Do you always know what people think?"
"Not always. But I do with you. You don't have to
pretend you love me. That's over for the evening. Is
there anything you'd like to talk about?"
"But I do love you."
"Please let's not lie when we don't have to. I had
a very fine little show and I'm all right now. You see
I'm not mad and I'm not gone off. It's only a little
I pressed her hand, "Dear Catherine."
"It sounds very funny now—Catherine. You don't
pronounce it very much alike. But you're very nice.
You're a very good boy."
"That's what the priest said."
"Yes, you're very good. And you will come and see
"And you don't have to say you love me. That's all
over for a while." She stood up and put out her hand.
What was the matter with this war? Everybody
said the French were through. Rinaldi said that
the French had mutinied and troops marched on Paris.
I asked him what happened and he said, "Oh, they
stopped them." I wanted to go to Austria without war.
I wanted to go to the Black Forest. I wanted to go to
the Hartz Mountains. Where were the Hartz Mountains
anyway? They were fighting in the Carpathians.
I did not want to go there anyway. It might be good
though. I could go to Spain if there was no war. The
sun was going down and the day was cooling off. After
supper I would go and see Catherine Barkley. I wished
she were here now. I wished I were in Milan with her.
I would like to eat at the Cova and then walk down the
Via Manzoni in the hot evening and cross over
I sat in the reception hall of the villa, waiting for
Catherine Barkley to come down. Some one was coming
down the hall-way. I stood up, but it was not
Catherine. It was Miss Ferguson.
"Hello," she said. "Catherine asked me to tell you
she was sorry she couldn't see you this evening."
"I'm so sorry. I hope she's not ill."
"She's not awfully well."
"Will you tell her how sorry I am?"
"Yes, I will."
"Do you think it would be any good to try and see
her to-morrow ?"
"Yes, I do."
"Thank you very much," I said. "Good-night."
I went out the door and suddenly I felt lonely and
empty. I had treated seeing Catherine very lightly, I
had gotten somewhat drunk and had nearly forgotten
to come but when I could not see her there I was feeling
lonely and hollow.
"It could not be worse," Passini said respectfully.
"There is nothing worse than war."
"Defeat is worse."
"I do not believe it," Passini said still respectfully.
"What is defeat? You go home."
"They come after you. They take your home. They
take your sisters."
"I don't believe it," Passini said. "They can't do that
to everybody. Let everybody defend his home. Let
them keep their sisters in the house."
"They hang you. They come and make you be a
soldier again. Not in the auto-ambulance, in the infantry."
"They can't hang every one."
"An outside nation can't make you be a soldier,"
Manera said. "At the first battle you all run."
"Like the Tchecos."
"I think you do not know anything about being conquered
and so you think it is not bad."
"Tenente," Passini said. "We understand you let us
talk. Listen. There is nothing as bad as war. We in
the auto-ambulance cannot even realize at all how bad
it is. When people realize how bad it is they cannot do
anything to stop it because they go crazy. There are
some people who never realize. There are people who
are afraid of their officers. It is with them that war is
"I know it is bad but we must finish it."
"It doesn't finish. There is no finish to a war."
The adjutant, looking up from the paper, "What inflicted
the wounds ?"
The medical captain, "What hit you ?"
Me, with the eyes shut, "A trench mortar shell."
The captain, doing things that hurt sharply and
severing tissue—"Are you sure?"
In the ward at the field hospital they told me a visitor
was coming to see me in the afternoon. It was a hot
day and there were many flies in the room. My orderly
had cut paper into strips and tied the strips to a stick to
make a brush that swished the flies away. I watched
them settle on the ceiling. When he stopped swishing
and fell asleep they came down and I blew them away
and finally covered my face with my hands and slept
too. It was very hot and when I woke my legs itched.
I waked the orderly and he poured mineral water on the
dressings. That made the bed damp and cool. Those of
us that were awake talked across the ward. The afternoon
was a quiet time. In the morning they came to
each bed in turn, three men nurses and a doctor and
picked you up out of bed and carried you into the
dressing room so that the beds could be made while
we were having our wounds dressed. It was not a
pleasant trip to the dressing room and I did not know
until later that beds could be made with men in them.
My orderly had finished pouring water and the bed felt
cool and lovely and I was telling him where to scratch
on the soles of my feet against the itching when one
of the doctors brought in Rinaldi. He came in very
fast and bent down over the bed and kissed me. I saw
he wore gloves.
"How are you, baby? How do you feel? I bring
you this—" It was a bottle of cognac. The orderly
brought a chair and he sat down, "and good news.
You will be decorated. They want to get you the
It was dusk when the priest came. They had brought
the soup and afterward taken away the bowls and I was
lying looking at the rows of beds and out the window
at the tree-top that moved a little in the evening
breeze. The breeze came in through the window and it
was cooler with the evening. The flies were on the ceiling
now and on the electric light bulbs that hung on
wires. The lights were only turned on when some one
was brought in at night or when something was being
done. It made me feel very young to have the dark
come after the dusk and then remain. It was like being
put to bed after early supper. The orderly came down
between the beds and stopped. Some one was with him.
It was the priest. He stood there small, brown-faced,
away in the morning, baby, Rinaldi said. To Rome, I
said. No, to Milan. To Milan, said the major, to the
Crystal Palace, to the Cova, to Campari's, to Biffi's, to
the galleria. You lucky boy. To the Gran Italia I said,
where I will borrow money from George. To the Scala,
said Rinaldi. You will go to the Scala. Every night,
I said. You won't be able to afford it every night, said
We must go, said the major.
This becomes sentimental. Listen, I have a surprise for
you. Your English. You know? The English you go
to see every night at their hospital? She is going to
Milan too. She goes with another to be at the American
hospital. They had not got nurses yet from America.
I talked to-day with the head of their riparto.
They have too many women here at the front. They
send some back. How do you like that, baby? All
right. Yes ? You go to live in a big city and have your
English there to cuddle you. Why don't I get wounded ?
Maybe you will, I said. We must go, said the major.
We drink and make noise and disturb Federico. Don't
go. Yes, we must go. Good-by. Good luck. Many
things. Ciaou. Ciaou. Ciaou. Come back quickly,
baby. Rinaldi kissed me. You smell of lysol. Goodby,
baby. Good-by. Many things. The major patted
my shoulder. They tiptoed out. I found I was quite
drunk but went to sleep.
Book Two: Chapter XIII
I was alone in the room. It was cool and did not
smell like a hospital. The mattress was firm and comfortable
and I lay without moving, hardly breathing,
happy in feeling the pain lessen. After a while I wanted
a drink of water and found the bell on a cord by the
bed and rang it but nobody came. I went to sleep.
When I woke I looked around. There was sunlight
coming in through the shutters. I saw the big armoire,
the bare walls, and two chairs. My legs in the dirty
bandages, stuck straight out in the bed. I was careful
not to move them. I was thirsty and I reached for the
bell and pushed the button.
I watched for a
while and then went to sleep. I slept heavily except
once I woke sweating and scared and then went back
to sleep trying to stay outside of my dream. I woke
for good long before it was light and heard roosters
crowing and stayed on awake until it began to be light.
I was tired and once it was really light I went back to
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.
"You sweet," I said. "Weren't you wonderful to
"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.
"You do love me?"
"I really love you. I'm crazy about you.
"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.
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. 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.
"Will you come to our wedding, Fergy?" I said to
"You'll never get married."
"No you won't."
"You'll fight before you'll marry."
"We never fight."
"You've time yet."
"We don't fight."
"You'll die then. Fight or die. That's what people
do. They don't marry."
I reached for her hand. "Don't take hold of me,"
she said. "I'm not crying. Maybe you'll be all right
you two. But watch out you don't get her in trouble.
You get her in trouble and I'll kill you."
"I won't get her in trouble."
"Well watch out then. I hoge you'll be all right.
You have a good time."
"We have a fine time."
"Don't fight then and don't get her into trouble."
1 won t.
"Mind you watch out. I don't want her with any of
these war babies."
We said to each other that we were married the firmonths from our wedding day. I wanted to be really
married but Catherine said that if we were they would
send her away and if we merely started on the formalities
they would watch her and would break us up.
We would have to be married under Italian law and
the formalities were terrific. I wanted us to be married
really because I worried about having a child if I
thought about it, but we pretended to ourselves we were
married and did not worry much and I suppose I enjoyed
not being married, really. I know one night we
talked about it and Catherine said, "But, darling,
they'd send me away."
"Maybe they wouldn't."
"They would. They'd send me home and then we
would be apart until after the war."
"I'd come on leave."
"You couldn't get to Scotland and back on a leave.
Besides, I won't leave you. What good would it do to
marry now? We're really married. I couldn't be any
"I only wanted to for you."
"There isn't any me. I'm you. Don't make up a
"I thought girls always wanted to be married."
"They do. But, darling, I am married. I'm married
to you. Don't I make you a good wife?"
"You're a lovely wife."
"You see, darling, I had one experience of waiting
to be married."
"I don't want to hear about it."
"You know I don't love any one but you. You
shouldn't mind because some one else loved me."
"It's raining hard."
"And you'll always love me, won't you?"
"And the rain won't make any difference?"
"That's good. Because I'm afraid of the rain."
"Why?" I was sleepy. Outside the rain was falling
"I don't know, darling. I've always been afraid of
"I like it."
"I like to walk in it. But it's very hard on loving."
"I'll love you always."
"I'll love you in the rain and in the snow and in the
hail and—what else is there?"
"I don't know. I guess I'm sleepy."
"Go to sleep, darling, and I'll love you no matter
how it is."
"You're not really afraid of the rain are you?"
"Not when I'm with you."
"Why are you afraid of it?"
"I don't know."
"Don't make me."
"All right. I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes
I see me dead in it."
"And sometimes I see you dead in it."
"That's more likely."
"No it's not, darling. Because I can keep you safe.
I know I can. But nobody can help themselves."
"Please stop it. I don't want you to get Scotch and
crazy to-night. We won't be together much longer."
"No, but I am Scotch and crazy. But I'll stop it.
It's all nonsense."
"Yes it's all nonsense."
"It's all nonsense. It's only nonsense. Fm not afraid
of the rain. I'm not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh, God,
I wish I wasn't." She was crying. I comforted her
and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining.
In September the first cool nights came, then the
days were cool and the leaves on the trees in the park
began to turn color and we knew the summer was gone.
The fighting at the front went very badly .
There were riots twice in the town against
the war and bad rioting in Turin. A British major at
the club told me the Italians had lost one hundred and
fifty thousand men on the Bainsizza plateau and on
She seemed upset and taut.
"What's the matter, Catherine?"
"Nothing. Nothing's the matter."
"Yes there is."
"No nothing. Really nothing."
"I know there is. Tell me, darling. You can tell
"I don't want to. I'm afraid I'll make you unhappy
or worry you."
"No it won't."
"You're sure? It doesn't worry me but I'm afraid
to worry you."
"It won't if it doesn't worry you."
"I don't want to tell."
"Do I have to?"
"I'm going to have a baby, darling. It's almost three
months along. You're not worried, are you? Please
please don't. You mustn't worry."
"Is it all right?"
"I did everything. I took everything but it didn't
make any difference."
"I'm not worried."
"I couldn't help it, darling, and I haven't worried
about it. You mustn't worry or feel badly."
"I only worry about you."
"That's it. That's what you mustn't do. People
have babies all the time. Everybody has babies. It's
a natural thing."
"You're pretty wonderful."
"No I'm not. But you mustn't mind, darling. I'll
try and not make trouble for you. I know I've made
trouble now. But haven't I been a good girl until now ?
You never knew it, did you?"
"It will all be like that. You simply mustn't worry.
I can see you're worrying. Stop it. Stop it right away.
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.
"Come in a minute. I have to buy a gun."
"What sort of gun?"
"A pistol." We went in and I unbuttoned my belt
and laid it with the empty holster on the counter. Two
women were behind the counter. The women brought
out several pistols.
"It must fit this," I said, opening the holster. It
was a gray leather holster and I had bought it secondhand
to wear in the town.
"Have they good pistols?" Catherine asked.
"They're all about the same. Can I try this one?"
I asked the woman.
"I have no place now to shoot," she said. "But it
is very good. You will not make a mistake with it."
I snapped it and pulled back the action. The spring
was rather strong but it worked smoothly. I sighted
it and snapped it again.
"It is used," the woman said. "It belonged to an officer
who was an excellent shot."
"Did you sell it to him?"
"How did you get it back?"
"From his orderly."
"Maybe you have mine," I said. "How much is
"Fifty lire. It is very cheap."
"All right. I want two extra clips and a box of
She brought them from under the counter.
"Have you any need for a sword?" she asked. "I
have some used swords very cheap."
"I'm going to the front*" I said.
"Oh yes, then you won't need a sword," she said.
"It's nearly time to go."
"I know. You can make it time if you want."
"Then don't worry, darling. You were fine until now
and now you're worrying."
"I won't. How often will you write?"
"Every day. Do they read your letters?"
"They can't read English enough to hurt any."
"I'll make them very confusing," Catherine said.
"But not too confusing."
"I'll just make them a little confusing."
"I'm afraid we have to start to go."
"All right, darling."
"I hate to leave our fine house."
"So do I."
"But we have to go."
"AH right. But we're never settled in our home
"We will be."
"I'll have a fine home for you when you come back."
"Maybe I'll be back right away."
"Perhaps you'll be hurt just a little in the foot."
"Or the lobe of the ear."
"No I want your ears the way they are."
"And not my feet?"
"Your feet have been hit already."
"We have to go, darling. Really."
"All right. You go first."
"Good-by," I said. I stepped out into the rain and
the carriage started. Catherine leaned out and I saw
her face in the light. She smiled and waved. The
carriage went up the street, Catherine pointed in toward
the archway. I looked, there were only the two
carabinieri and the archway. I realized she meant for
me to get in out of the rain. I went in and stood and
watched the carriage turn the corner. Then I started
through the station and down the runway to the train.