|◄ Book IV|| A Farewell to Arms
written by Ernest Hemingway
|Jonathan Cape (pages 305-350)|
That fall the snow came very late. We lived in a brown wooden house in the pine trees on the side of the mountain and at night there was frost so that there was thin ice over the water in the two pitchers on the dresser in the morning. Mrs. Guttingen came into the room early in the morning to shut the windows and started a fire in the tall porcelain stove. The pine wood crackled and sparked and then the fire roared in the stove and the second time Mrs. Guttingen came into the room she brought big chunks of wood for the fire and a pitcher of hot water. When the room was warm she brought in breakfast. Sitting up in bed eating breakfast we could see the lake and the mountains across the lake on the French side. There was snow on the tops of the mountains and the lake was a gray steel-blue.
Outside, in front of the chalet a road went up the mountain. The wheel ruts and ridges were iron hard with the frost, and the road climbed steadily through the forest and up and around the mountain to where there were meadows, and barns and cabins in the meadows at the edge of the woods looking across the valley. The valley was deep and there was a stream at the bottom that flowed down into the lake and when the wind blew across the valley you could hear the stream in the rocks.
Sometimes we went off the road and on a path through the pine forest. The floor of the forest was soft to walk on; the frost did not harden it as it did the road. But we did not mind the hardness of the road because we had nails in the soles and heels of our boots and the heel nails bit on the frozen ruts and with nailed boots it was good walking on the road and invigorating. But it was lovely walking in the woods.
In front of the house where we lived the mountain went down steeply to the little plain along the lake and we sat on the porch of the house in the sun and saw the winding of the road down the mountain-side and the terraced vineyards on the side of the lower mountain, the vines all dead now for the winter and the fields divided by stone walls, and below the vineyards the houses of the town on the narrow plain along the lake shore. There was an island with two trees on the lake and the trees looked like the double sails of a fishing-boat. The mountains were sharp and steep on the other side of the lake and down at the end of the lake was the plain of the Rhone Valley flat between the two ranges of mountains; and up the valley where the mountains cut it off was the Dent du Midi. It was a high snowy mountain and it dominated the valley but it was so far away that it did not make a shadow.
When the sun was bright we ate lunch on the porch but the rest of the time we ate upstairs in a small room with plain wooden walls and a big stove in the corner. We bought books and magazines in the town and a copy of Hoyle and learned many two-handed card games. The small room with the stove was our living-room. There were two comfortable chairs and a table for books and magazines and we played cards on the dining-table when it was cleared away. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen lived downstairs and we would hear them talking sometimes in the evening and they were very happy together too. He had been a headwaiter and she had worked as maid in the same hotel and they had saved their money to buy this place. They had a son who was studying to be a headwaiter. He was at a hotel in Zurich. Downstairs there was a parlor where they sold wine and beer, and sometimes in the evening we would hear carts stop outside on the road and men come up the steps to go in the parlor to drink wine.
There was a box of wood in the hall outside the living-room and I kept up the fire from it. But we did not stay up very late. We went to bed in the dark in the big bedroom and when I was undressed I opened the windows and saw the night and the cold stars and the pine trees below the window and then got into bed as fast as I could. It was lovely in bed with the air so cold and clear and the night outside the window. We slept well and if I woke in the night I knew it was from only one cause and I would shift the feather bed over, very softly so that Catherine would not be wakened and then go back to sleep again, warm and with the new lightness of thin covers. The war seemed as far away as the football games of some one else’s college. But I knew from the papers that they were still fighting in the mountains because the snow would not come.
Sometimes we walked down the mountain into Montreux. There was a path went down the mountain but it was steep and so usually we took the road and walked down on the wide hard road between fields and then below between the stone walls of the vineyards and on down between the houses of the villages along the way. There were three villages; Chernex, Fontanivent, and the other I forget. Then along the road we passed an old square-built stone château on a ledge on the side of the mountain-side with the terraced fields of vines, each vine tied to a stick to hold it up, the vines dry and brown and the earth ready for the snow and the lake down below flat and gray as steel. The road went down a long grade below the château and then turned to the right and went down very steeply and paved with cobbles, into Montreux.
We did not know any one in Montreux. We walked along beside the lake and saw the swans and the many gulls and terns that flew up when you came close and screamed while they looked down at the water. Out on the lake there were flocks of grebes, small and dark, and leaving trails in the water when they swam.
In the town we walked along the main street and looked in the windows of the shops. There were many big hotels that were closed but most of the shops were open and the people were very glad to see us. There was a fine coiffeur’s place where Catherine went to have her hair done. The woman who ran it was very cheerful and the only person we knew in Montreux. While Catherine was there I went up to a beer place and drank dark Munich beer and read the papers. I read the Corriere della Sera and the English and American papers from Paris. All the advertisements were blacked out, supposedly to prevent communication in that way with the enemy. The papers were bad reading. Everything was going very badly everywhere. I sat back in the corner with a heavy mug of dark beer and an opened glazed-paper package of pretzels and ate the pretzels for the salty flavor and the good way they made the beer taste and read about disaster. I thought Catherine would come by but she did not come, so I hung the papers back on the rack, paid for my beer and went up the street to look for her. The day was cold and dark and wintry and the stone of the houses looked cold. Catherine was still in the hairdresser’s shop. The woman was waving her hair. I sat in the little booth and watched. It was exciting to watch and Catherine smiled and talked to me and my voice was a little thick from being excited. The tongs made a pleasant clicking sound and I could see Catherine in three mirrors and it was pleasant and warm in the booth. Then the woman put up Catherine’s hair, and Catherine looked in the mirror and changed it a little, taking out and putting in pins; then stood up. “I’m sorry to have taken such a long time.”
“Monsieur was very interested. Were you not, monsieur?” the woman smiled.
“Yes,” I said.
We went out and up the street. It was cold and wintry and the wind was blowing. “Oh, darling, I love you so,” I said.
“Don’t we have a fine time?” Catherine said. “Look. Let’s go some place and have beer instead of tea. It’s very good for young Catherine. It keeps her small.”
“Young Catherine,” I said. “That loafer.”
“She’s been very good,” Catherine said. “She makes very little trouble. The doctor says beer will be good for me and keep her small.”
“If you keep her small enough and she’s a boy, maybe he will be a jockey.”
“I suppose if we really have this child we ought to get married,” Catherine said. We were in the beer place at the corner table. It was getting dark outside. It was still early but the day was dark and the dusk was coming early.
“Let’s get married now,” I said.
“No,” Catherine said. “It’s too embarrassing now. I show too plainly. I won’t go before any one and be married in this state.”
“I wish we’d gotten married.”
“I suppose it would have been better. But when could we, darling?”
“I don’t know.”
“I know one thing. I’m not going to be married in this splendid matronly state.”
“You’re not matronly.”
“Oh yes, I am, darling. The hairdresser asked me if this was our first. I lied and said no, we had two boys and two girls.”
“When will we be married?”
“Any time after I’m thin again. We want to have a splendid wedding with every one thinking what a handsome young couple.”
“And you’re not worried?”
“Darling, why should I be worried? The only time I ever felt badly was when I felt like a whore in Milan and that only lasted seven minutes and besides it was the room furnishings. Don’t I make you a good wife?”
“You’re a lovely wife.”
“Then don’t be too technical, darling. I’ll marry you as soon as I’m thin again.”
“Do you think I ought to drink another beer? The doctor said I was rather narrow in the hips and it’s all for the best if we keep young Catherine small.”
“What else did he say?” I was worried.
“Nothing. I have a wonderful blood-pressure, darling. He admired my blood-pressure greatly.”
“What did he say about you being too narrow in the hips?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. He said I shouldn’t ski.”
“He said it was too late to start if I’d never done it before. He said I could ski if I wouldn’t fall down.”
“He’s just a big-hearted joker.”
“Really he was very nice. We’ll have him when the baby comes.”
“Did you ask him if you ought to get married?”
“No. I told him we’d been married four years. You see, darling, if I marry you I’ll be an American and any time we’re married under American law the child is legitimate.”
“Where did you find that out?”
“In the New York World Almanac in the library.”
“You’re a grand girl.”
“I’ll be very glad to be an American and we’ll go to America won’t we, darling? I want to see Niagara Falls.”
“You’re a fine girl.”
“There’s something else I want to see but I can’t remember it.”
“No. I can’t remember it.”
“The Woolworth building?”
“The Grand Canyon?”
“No. But I’d like to see that.”
“What was it?”
“The Golden Gate! That’s what I want to see. Where is the Golden Gate?”
“Then let’s go there. I want to see San Francisco anyway.”
“All right. We’ll go there.”
“Now let’s go up the mountain. Should we? Can we get the M.O.B.?”
“There’s a train a little after five.”
“Let’s get that.”
“All right. I’ll drink one more beer first.”
When we went out to go up the street and climb the stairs to the station it was very cold. A cold wind was coming down the Rhone Valley. There were lights in the shop windows and we climbed the steep stone stairway to the upper street, then up another stairs to the station. The electric train was there waiting, all the lights on. There was a dial that showed when it left. The clock hands pointed to ten minutes after five. I looked at the station clock. It was five minutes after. As we got on board I saw the motorman and conductor coming out of the station wine-shop. We sat down and opened the window. The train was electrically heated and stuffy but fresh cold air came in through the window.
“Are you tired, Cat?” I asked.
“No. I feel splendid.”
“It isn’t a long ride.”
“I like the ride,” she said. “Don’t worry about me, darling. I feel fine.”
Snow did not come until three days before Christmas. We woke one morning and it was snowing. We stayed in bed with the fire roaring in the stove and watched the snow fall. Mrs. Guttingen took away the breakfast trays and put more wood in the stove. It was a big snow storm. She said it had started about midnight. I went to the window and looked out but could not see across the road. It was blowing and snowing wildly. I went back to bed and we lay and talked.
“I wish I could ski,” Catherine said. “It’s rotten not to be able to ski.”
“We’ll get a bobsled and come down the road. That’s no worse for you than riding in a car.”
“Won’t it be rough?”
“We can see.”
“I hope it won’t be too rough.”
“After a while we’ll take a walk in the snow.”
“Before lunch,” Catherine said, “so we’ll have a good appetite.”
“I’m always hungry.”
“So am I.”
We went out in the snow but it was drifted so that we could not walk far. I went ahead and made a trail down to the station but when we reached there we had gone far enough. The snow was blowing so we could hardly see and we went into the little inn by the station and swept each other off with a broom and sat on a bench and had vermouths.
“It is a big storm,” the barmaid said.
“The snow is very late this year.”
“Could I eat a chocolate bar?” Catherine asked. “Or is it too close to lunch? I’m always hungry.”
“Go on and eat one,” I said.
“I’ll take one with filberts,” Catherine said.
“They are very good,” the girl said, “I like them the best.”
“I’ll have another vermouth,” I said.
When we came out to start back up the road our track was filled in by the snow. There were only faint indentations where the holes had been. The snow blew in our faces so we could hardly see. We brushed off and went in to have lunch. Mr. Guttingen served the lunch.
“To-morrow there will be ski-ing,” he said. “Do you ski, Mr. Henry?”
“No. But I want to learn.”
“You will learn very easily. My boy will be here for Christmas and he will teach you.”
“That’s fine. When does he come?”
When we were sitting by the stove in the little room after lunch looking out the window at the snow coming down Catherine said, “Wouldn’t you like to go on a trip somewhere by yourself, darling, and be with men and ski?”
“No. Why should I?”
“I should think sometimes you would want to see other people besides me.”
“Do you want to see other people?”
“Neither do I.”
“I know. But you’re different. I’m having a child and that makes me contented not to do anything. I know I’m awfully stupid now and I talk too much and I think you ought to get away so you won’t be tired of me.”
“Do you want me to go away?”
“No. I want you to stay.”
“That’s what I’m going to do.”
“Come over here,” she said. “I want to feel the bump on your head. It’s a big bump.” She ran her finger over it. “Darling, would you like to grow a beard?”
“Would you like me to?”
“It might be fun. I’d like to see you with a beard.”
“All right. I’ll grow one. I’ll start now this minute. It’s a good idea. It will give me something to do.”
“Are you worried because you haven’t anything to do?”
“No. I like it. I have a fine life. Don’t you?”
“I have a lovely life. But I was afraid because I’m big now that maybe I was a bore to you.”
“Oh, Cat. You don’t know how crazy I am about you.”
“Just the way you are. I have a fine time. Don’t we have a good life?”
“I do, but I thought maybe you were restless.”
“No. Sometimes I wonder about the front and about people I know but I don’t worry. I don’t think about anything much.”
“Who do you wonder about?”
“About Rinaldi and the priest and lots of people I know. But I don’t think about them much. I don’t want to think about the war. I’m through with it.”
“What are you thinking about now?”
“Yes you were. Tell me.”
“I was wondering whether Rinaldi had the syphilis.”
“Was that all?”
“Has he the syphilis?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m glad you haven’t. Did you ever have anything like that?”
“I had gonorrhea.”
“I don’t want to hear about it. Was it very painful, darling?”
“I wish I’d had it.”
“No you don’t.”
“I do. I wish I’d had it to be like you. I wish I’d stayed with all your girls so I could make fun of them to you.”
“That’s a pretty picture.”
“It’s not a pretty picture you having gonorrhea.”
“I know it. Look at it snow now.”
“I’d rather look at you. Darling, why don’t you let your hair grow?”
“Just grow a little longer.”
“It’s long enough now.”
“No, let it grow a little longer and I could cut mine and we’d be just alike only one of us blonde and one of us dark.”
“I wouldn’t let you cut yours.”
“It would be fun. I’m tired of it. It’s an awful nuisance in the bed at night.”
“I like it.”
“Wouldn’t you like it short?”
“I might. I like it the way it is.”
“It might be nice short. Then we’d both be alike. Oh, darling, I want you so much I want to be you too.”
“You are. We’re the same one.”
“I know it. At night we are.”
“The nights are grand.”
“I want us to be all mixed up. I don’t want you to go away. I just said that. You go if you want to. But hurry right back. Why, darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you.”
“I won’t ever go away,” I said. “I’m no good when you’re not there. I haven’t any life at all any more.”
“I want you to have a life. I want you to have a fine life. But we’ll have it together, won’t we?”
“And now do you want me to stop growing my beard or let it go on?”
“Go on. Grow it. It will be exciting. Maybe it will be done for New Year’s.”
“Now do you want to play chess?”
“I’d rather play with you.”
“No. Let’s play chess.”
“And afterward we’ll play?”
I got out the chess-board and arranged the pieces. It was still snowing hard outside.
One time in the night I woke up and knew that Catherine was awake too. The moon was shining in the window and made shadows on the bed from the bars on the window-panes.
“Are you awake, sweetheart?”
“Yes. Can’t you sleep?”
“I just woke up thinking about how I was nearly crazy when I first met you. Do you remember?”
“You were just a little crazy.”
“I’m never that way any more. I’m grand now. You say grand so sweetly. Say grand.”
“Oh, you’re sweet. And I’m not crazy now. I’m just very, very, very happy.”
“Go on to sleep,” I said.
“All right. Let’s go to sleep at exactly the same moment.”
But we did not. I was awake for quite a long time thinking about things and watching Catherine sleeping, the moonlight on her face. Then I went to sleep, too.
By the middle of January I had a beard and the winter had settled into bright cold days and hard cold nights. We could walk on the roads again. The snow was packed hard and smooth by the hay-sleds and wood-sledges and the logs that were hauled down the mountain. The snow lay over all the country, down almost to Montreux. The mountains on the other side of the lake were all white and the plain of the Rhone Valley was covered. We took long walks on the other side of the mountain to the Bains de l’Alliaz. Catherine wore hobnailed boots and a cape and carried a stick with a sharp steel point. She did not look big with the cape and we would not walk too fast but stopped and sat on logs by the roadside to rest when she was tired.
There was an inn in the trees at the Bains de l’Alliaz where the woodcutters stopped to drink, and we sat inside warmed by the stove and drank hot red wine with spices and lemon in it. They called it glühwein and it was a good thing to warm you and to celebrate with. The inn was dark and smoky inside and afterward when you went out the cold air came sharply into your lungs and numbed the edge of your nose as you inhaled. We looked back at the inn with light coming from the windows and the woodcutters’horses stamping and jerking their heads outside to keep warm. There was frost on the hairs of their muzzles and their breathing made plumes of frost in the air. Going up the road toward home the road was smooth and slippery for a while and the ice orange from the horses until the wood-hauling track turned off. Then the road was clean-packed snow and led through the woods, and twice coming home in the evening, we saw foxes.
It was a fine country and every time that we went out it was fun.
“You have a splendid beard now,” Catherine said. “It looks just like the woodcutters’. Did you see the man with the tiny gold earrings?”
“He’s a chamois hunter,” I said. “They wear them because they say it makes them hear better.”
“Really? I don’t believe it. I think they wear them to show they are chamois hunters. Are there chamois near here?”
“Yes, beyond the Dent de Jaman.”
“It was fun seeing the fox.”
“When he sleeps he wraps that tail around him to keep warm.”
“It must be a lovely feeling.”
“I always wanted to have a tail like that. Wouldn’t it be fun if we had brushes like a fox?”
“It might be very difficult dressing.”
“We’d have clothes made, or live in a country where it wouldn’t make any difference.”
“We live in a country where nothing makes any difference. Isn’t it grand how we never see any one? You don’t want to see people do you, darling?”
“Should we sit here just a minute? I’m a little bit tired.”
We sat close together on the logs. Ahead the road went down through the forest.
“She won’t come between us, will she? The little brat.”
“No. We won’t let her.”
“How are we for money?”
“We have plenty. They honored the last sight draft.”
“Won’t your family try and get hold of you now they know you’re in Switzerland?”
“Probably. I’ll write them something.”
“Haven’t you written them?”
“No. Only the sight draft.”
“Thank God I’m not your family.”
“I’ll send them a cable.”
“Don’t you care anything about them?”
“I did, but we quarrelled so much it wore itself out.”
“I think I’d like them. I’d probably like them very much.”
“Let’s not talk about them or I’ll start to worry about them.” After a while I said, “Let’s go on if you’re rested.”
We went on down the road. It was dark now and the snow squeaked under our boots. The night was dry and cold and very clear.
“I love your beard,” Catherine said. “It’s a great success. It looks so stiff and fierce and it’s very soft and a great pleasure.”
“Do you like it better than without?”
“I think so. You know, darling, I’m not going to cut my hair now until after young Catherine’s born. I look too big and matronly now. But after she’s born and I’m thin again I’m going to cut it and then I’ll be a fine new and different girl for you. We’ll go together and get it cut, or I’ll go alone and come and surprise you.”
I did not say anything.
“You won’t say I can’t, will you?”
“No. I think it would be exciting.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet. And maybe I’d look lovely, darling, and be so thin and exciting to you and you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said, “that’s what I want too.”
We had a fine life. We lived through the months of January and February and the winter was very fine and we were very happy. There had been short thaws when the wind blew warm and the snow softened and the air felt like spring, but always the clear hard cold had come again and the winter had returned. In March came the first break in the winter. In the night it started raining. It rained on all morning and turned the snow to slush and made the mountain-side dismal. There were clouds over the lake and over the valley. It was raining high up the mountain. Catherine wore heavy overshoes and I wore Mr. Guttingen’s rubber-boots and we walked to the station under an umbrella, through the slush and the running water that was washing the ice of the roads bare, to stop at the pub before lunch for a vermouth. Outside we could hear the rain.
“Do you think we ought to move into town?”
“What do you think?” Catherine asked.
“If the winter is over and the rain keeps up it won’t be fun up here. How long is it before young Catherine?”
“About a month. Perhaps a little more.”
“We might go down and stay in Montreux.”
“Why don’t we go to Lausanne? That’s where the hospital is.”
“All right. But I thought maybe that was too big a town.”
“We can be as much alone in a bigger town and Lausanne might be nice.”
“When should we go?”
“I don’t care. Whenever you want, darling. I don’t want to leave here if you don’t want.”
“Let’s see how the weather turns out.”
It rained for three days. The snow was all gone now on the mountain-side below the station. The road was a torrent of muddy snow-water. It was too wet and slushy to go out. On the morning of the third day of rain we decided to go down into town.
“That is all right, Mr. Henry,” Guttingen said. “You do not have to give me any notice. I did not think you would want to stay now the bad weather is come.”
“We have to be near the hospital anyway on account of Madame,” I said.
“I understand,” he said. “Will you come back some time and stay, with the little one?”
“Yes, if you would have room.”
“In the spring when it is nice you could come and enjoy it. We could put the little one and the nurse in the big room that is closed now and you and Madame could have your same room looking out over the lake.”
“I’ll write about coming,” I said. We packed and left on the train that went down after lunch. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen came down to the station with us and he hauled our baggage down on a sled through the slush. They stood beside the station in the rain waving good-by.
“They were very sweet,” Catherine said.
“They were fine to us.”
We took the train to Lausanne from Montreux. Looking out the window toward where we had lived you could not see the mountains for the clouds. The train stopped in Vevey, then went on, passing the lake on one side and on the other the wet brown fields and the bare woods and the wet houses. We came into Lausanne and went into a medium-sized hotel to stay. It was still raining as we drove through the streets and into the carriage entrance of the hotel. The concierge with brass keys on his lapels, the elevator, the carpets on the floors, and the white washbowls with shining fixtures, the brass bed and the big comfortable bedroom all seemed very great luxury after the Guttingens. The windows of the room looked out on a wet garden with a wall topped by an iron fence. Across the street, which sloped steeply, was another hotel with a similar wall and garden. I looked out at the rain falling in the fountain of the garden.
Catherine turned on all the lights and commenced unpacking. I ordered a whiskey and soda and lay on the bed and read the papers I had bought at the station. It was March, 1918, and the German offensive had started in France. I drank the whiskey and soda and read while Catherine unpacked and moved around the room.
“You know what I have to get, darling,” she said.
“Baby clothes. There aren’t many people reach my time without baby things.”
“You can buy them.”
“I know. That’s what I’ll do to-morrow. I’ll find out what is necessary.”
“You ought to know. You were a nurse.”
“But so few of the soldiers had babies in the hospitals.”
She hit me with the pillow and spilled the whiskey and soda.
“I’ll order you another,” she said. “I’m sorry I spilled it.”
“There wasn’t much left. Come on over to the bed.”
“No. I have to try and make this room look like something.”
“Like our home.”
“Hang out the Allied flags.”
“Oh shut up.”
“Say it again.”
“You say it so cautiously,” I said. “As though you didn’t want to offend any one.”
“Then come over to the bed.”
“All right.” She came and sat on the bed. “I know I’m no fun for you, darling. I’m like a big flour-barrel.”
“No you’re not. You’re beautiful and you’re sweet.”
“I’m just something very ungainly that you’ve married.”
“No you’re not. You’re more beautiful all the time.”
“But I will be thin again, darling.”
“You’re thin now.”
“You’ve been drinking.”
“Just whiskey and soda.”
“There’s another one coming,” she said. “And then should we order dinner up here?”
“That will be good.”
“Then we won’t go out, will we? We’ll just stay in to-night.”
“And play,” I said.
“I’ll drink some wine,” Catherine said. “It won’t hurt me. Maybe we can get some of our old white capri.”
“I know we can,” I said. “They’ll have Italian wines at a hotel this size.”
The waiter knocked at the door. He brought the whiskey in a glass with ice and beside the glass on a tray a small bottle of soda.
“Thank you,” I said. “Put it down there. Will you please have dinner for two brought up here and two bottles of dry white capri in ice.”
“Do you wish to commence your dinner with soup?”
“Do you want soup, Cat?”
“Bring soup for one.”
“Thank you, sir.” He went out and shut the door. I went back to the papers and the war in the papers and poured the soda slowly over the ice into the whiskey. I would have to tell them not to put ice in the whiskey. Let them bring the ice separately. That way you could tell how much whiskey there was and it would not suddenly be too thin from the soda. I would get a bottle of whiskey and have them bring ice and soda. That was the sensible way. Good whiskey was very pleasant. It was one of the pleasant parts of life.
“What are you thinking, darling?”
“What about whiskey?”
“About how nice it is.”
Catherine made a face. “All right,” she said.
We stayed at that hotel three weeks. It was not bad; the diningroom was usually empty and very often we ate in our room at night. We walked in the town and took the cogwheel railway down to Ouchy and walked beside the lake. The weather became quite warm and it was like spring. We wished we were back in the mountains but the spring weather lasted only a few days and then the cold rawness of the breaking-up of winter came again.
Catherine bought the things she needed for the baby, up in the town. I went to a gymnasium in the arcade to box for exercise. I usually went up there in the morning while Catherine stayed late in bed. On the days of false spring it was very nice, after boxing and taking a shower, to walk along the streets smelling the spring in the air and stop at a café to sit and watch the people and read the paper and drink a vermouth; then go down to the hotel and have lunch with Catherine. The professor at the boxing gymnasium wore mustaches and was very precise and jerky and went all to pieces if you started after him. But it was pleasant in the gym. There was good air and light and I worked quite hard, skipping rope, shadowboxing, doing abdominal exercises lying on the floor in a patch of sunlight that came through the open window, and occasionally scaring the professor when we boxed. I could not shadow-box in front of the narrow long mirror at first because it looked so strange to see a man with a beard boxing. But finally I just thought it was funny. I wanted to take off the beard as soon as I started boxing but Catherine did not want me to.
Sometimes Catherine and I went for rides out in the country in a carriage. It was nice to ride when the days were pleasant and we found two good places where we could ride out to eat. Catherine could not walk very far now and I loved to ride out along the country roads with her. When there was a good day we had a splendid time and we never had a bad time. We knew the baby was very close now and it gave us both a feeling as though something were hurrying us and we could not lose any time together.
One morning I awoke about three o’clock hearing Catherine stirring in the bed.
“Are you all right, Cat?”
“I’ve been having some pains, darling.”
“No, not very.”
“If you have them at all regularly we’ll go to the hospital.”
I was very sleepy and went back to sleep. A little while later I woke again.
“Maybe you’d better call up the doctor,” Catherine said. “I think maybe this is it.”
I went to the phone and called the doctor. “How often are the pains coming?” he asked.
“How often are they coming, Cat?”
“I should think every quarter of an hour.”
“You should go to the hospital, then,” the doctor said. “I will dress and go there right away myself.”
I hung up and called the garage near the station to send up a taxi. No one answered the phone for a long time. Then I finally got a man who promised to send up a taxi at once. Catherine was dressing. Her bag was all packed with the things she would need at the hospital and the baby things. Outside in the hall I rang for the elevator. There was no answer. I went downstairs. There was no one downstairs except the night-watchman. I brought the elevator up myself, put Catherine’s bag in it, she stepped in and we went down. The night-watchman opened the door for us and we sat outside on the stone slabs beside the stairs down to the driveway and waited for the taxi. The night was clear and the stars were out. Catherine was very excited.
“I’m so glad it’s started,” she said. “Now in a little while it will be all over.”
“You’re a good brave girl.”
“I’m not afraid. I wish the taxi would come, though.”
We heard it coming up the street and saw its headlights. It turned into the driveway and I helped Catherine in and the driver put the bag up in front.
“Drive to the hospital,” I said.
We went out of the driveway and started up the hill.
At the hospital we went in and I carried the bag. There was a woman at the desk who wrote down Catherine’s name, age, address, relatives and religion, in a book. She said she had no religion and the woman drew a line in the space after that word. She gave her name as Catherine Henry.
“I will take you up to your room,” she said. We went up in an elevator. The woman stopped it and we stepped out and followed her down a hall. Catherine held tight to my arm.
“This is the room,” the woman said. “Will you please undress and get into bed? Here is a night-gown for you to wear.”
“I have a night-gown,” Catherine said.
“It is better for you to wear this night-gown,” the woman said.
I went outside and sat on a chair in the hallway.
“You can come in now,” the woman said from the doorway. Catherine was lying in the narrow bed wearing a plain, square-cut night-gown that looked as though it were made of rough sheeting. She smiled at me.
“I’m having fine pains now,” she said. The woman was holding her wrist and timing the pains with a watch.
“That was a big one,” Catherine said. I saw it on her face.
“Where’s the doctor?” I asked the woman.
“He’s lying down sleeping. He will be here when he is needed.”
“I must do something for Madame, now,” the nurse said. “Would you please step out again?”
I went out into the hall. It was a bare hall with two windows and closed doors all down the corridor. It smelled of hospital. I sat on the chair and looked at the floor and prayed for Catherine.
“You can come in,” the nurse said. I went in.
“Hello, darling,” Catherine said.
“How is it?”
“They are coming quite often now.” Her face drew up. Then she smiled.
“That was a real one. Do you want to put your hand on my back again, nurse?”
“If it helps you,” the nurse said.
“You go away, darling,” Catherine said. “Go out and get something to eat. I may do this for a long time the nurse says.”
“The first labor is usually protracted,” the nurse said.
“Please go out and get something to eat,” Catherine said. “I’m fine, really.”
“I’ll stay awhile,” I said.
The pains came quite regularly, then slackened off. Catherine was very excited. When the pains were bad she called them good ones. When they started to fall off she was disappointed and ashamed.
“You go out, darling,” she said. “I think you are just making me self-conscious.” Her face tied up. “There. That was better. I so want to be a good wife and have this child without any foolishness. Please go and get some breakfast, darling, and then come back. I won’t miss you. Nurse is splendid to me.”
“You have plenty of time for breakfast,” the nurse said.
“I’ll go then. Good-by, sweet.”
“Good-by,” Catherine said, “and have a fine breakfast for me too.”
“Where can I get breakfast?” I asked the nurse.
“There’s a café down the street at the square,” she said. “It should be open now.”
Outside it was getting light. I walked down the empty street to the café. There was a light in the window. I went in and stood at the zinc bar and an old man served me a glass of white wine and a brioche. The brioche was yesterday’ s. I dipped it in the wine and then drank a glass of coffee.
“What do you do at this hour?” the old man asked.
“My wife is in labor at the hospital.”
“So. I wish you good luck.”
“Give me another glass of wine.”
He poured it from the bottle slopping it over a little so some ran down on the zinc. I drank this glass, paid and went out. Outside along the street were the refuse cans from the houses waiting for the collector. A dog was nosing at one of the cans.
“What do you want?” I asked and looked in the can to see if there was anything I could pull out for him; there was nothing on top but coffee-grounds, dust and some dead flowers.
“There isn’t anything, dog,” I said. The dog crossed the street. I went up the stairs in the hospital to the floor Catherine was on and down the hall to her room. I knocked on the door. There was no answer. I opened the door; the room was empty, except for Catherine’s bag on a chair and her dressing-gown hanging on a hook on the wall. I went out and down the hall, looking for somebody. I found a nurse.
“Where is Madame Henry?”
“A lady has just gone to the delivery room.”
“Where is it?”
“I will show you.”
She took me down to the end of the hall. The door of the room was partly open. I could see Catherine lying on a table, covered by a sheet. The nurse was on one side and the doctor stood on the other side of the table beside some cylinders. The doctor held a rubber mask attached to a tube in one hand.
“I will give you a gown and you can go in,” the nurse said. “Come in here, please.”
She put a white gown on me and pinned it at the neck in back with a safety pin.
“Now you can go in,” she said. I went into the room.
“Hello, darling,” Catherine said in a strained voice. “I’m not doing much.”
“You are Mr. Henry?” the doctor asked.
“Yes. How is everything going, doctor?”
“Things are going very well,” the doctor said. “We came in here where it is easy to give gas for the pains.”
“I want it now,” Catherine said. The doctor placed the rubber mask over her face and turned a dial and I watched Catherine breathing deeply and rapidly. Then she pushed the mask away. The doctor shut off the petcock.
“That wasn’t a very big one. I had a very big one a while ago. The doctor made me go clear out, didn’t you, doctor?” Her voice was strange. It rose on the word doctor.
The doctor smiled.
“I want it again,” Catherine said. She held the rubber tight to her face and breathed fast. I heard her moaning a little. Then she pulled the mask away and smiled.
“That was a big one,” she said. “That was a very big one. Don’t you worry, darling. You go away. Go have another breakfast.”
“I’ll stay,” I said.
We had gone to the hospital about three o’clock in the morning. At noon Catherine was still in the delivery room. The pains had slackened again. She looked very tired and worn now but she was still cheerful.
“I’m not any good, darling,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I thought I would do it very easily. Now—there’s one—” she reached out her hand for the mask and held it over her face. The doctor moved the dial and watched her. In a little while it was over.
“It wasn’t much,” Catherine said. She smiled. “I’m a fool about the gas. It’s wonderful.”
“We’ll get some for the home,” I said.
“There one comes,” Catherine said quickly. The doctor turned the dial and looked at his watch.
“What is the interval now?” I asked.
“About a minute.”
“Don’t you want lunch?”
“I will have something pretty soon,” he said.
“You must have something to eat, doctor,” Catherine said. “I’m so sorry I go on so long. Couldn’t my husband give me the gas?”
“If you wish,” the doctor said. “You turn it to the numeral two.”
“I see,” I said. There was a marker on a dial that turned with a handle.
“I want it now,” Catherine said. She held the mask tight to her face. I turned the dial to number two and when Catherine put down the mask I turned it off. It was very good of the doctor to let me do something.
“Did you do it, darling?” Catherine asked. She stroked my wrist.
“You’re so lovely.” She was a little drunk from the gas.
“I will eat from a tray in the next room,” the doctor said. “You can call me any moment.” While the time passed I watched him eat, then, after a while, I saw that he was lying down and smoking a cigarette. Catherine was getting very tired.
“Do you think I’ll ever have this baby?” she asked.
“Yes, of course you will.”
“I try as hard as I can. I push down but it goes away. There it comes. Give it to me.”
At two o’clock I went out and had lunch. There were a few men in the café sitting with coffee and glasses of kirsch or marc on the tables. I sat down at a table. “Can I eat?” I asked the waiter.
“It is past time for lunch.”
“Isn’t there anything for all hours?”
“You can have choucroute.”
“Give me choucroute and beer.”
“A demi or a bock?”
“A light demi.”
The waiter brought a dish of sauerkraut with a slice of ham over the top and a sausage buried in the hot wine-soaked cabbage. I ate it and drank the beer. I was very hungry. I watched the people at the tables in the café. At one table they were playing cards. Two men at the table next me were talking and smoking. The café was full of smoke. The zinc bar, where I had breakfasted, had three people behind it now; the old man, a plump woman in a black dress who sat behind a counter and kept track of everything served to the tables, and a boy in an apron. I wondered how many children the woman had and what it had been like.
When I was through with the choucroute I went back to the hospital. The street was all clean now. There were no refuse cans out. The day was cloudy but the sun was trying to come through.
I rode upstairs in the elevator, stepped out and went down the hail to Catherine’s room, where I had left my white gown. I put it on and pinned it in back at the neck. I looked in the glass and saw myself looking like a fake doctor with a beard. I went down the hail to the delivery room. The door was closed and I knocked. No one answered so I turned the handle and went in. The doctor sat by Catherine. The nurse was doing something at the other end of the room.
“Here is your husband,” the doctor said.
“Oh, darling, I have the most wonderful doctor,” Catherine said in a very strange voice. “He’s been telling me the most wonderful story and when the pain came too badly he put me all the way out. He’s wonderful. You’re wonderful, doctor.”
“You’re drunk,” I said.
“I know it,” Catherine said. “But you shouldn’t say it.” Then Give it to me. Give it to me. She clutched hold of the mask and breathed short and deep, pantingly, making the respirator click. Then she gave a long sigh and the doctor reached with his left hand and lifted away the mask.
“That was a very big one,” Catherine said. Her voice was very strange. “I’m not going to die now, darling. I’m past where I was going to die. Aren’t you glad?”
“Don’t you get in that place again.”
“I won’t. I’m not afraid of it though. I won’t die, darling.”
“You will not do any such foolishness,” the doctor said. “You would not die and leave your husband.”
“Oh, no. I won’t die. I wouldn’t die. It’s silly to die. There it comes. Give it to me.”
After a while the doctor said, “You will go out, Mr. Henry, for a few moments and I will make an examination.”
“He wants to see how I am doing,” Catherine said. “You can come back afterward, darling, can’t he, doctor?”
“Yes,” said the doctor. “I will send word when he can come back.”
I went out the door and down the hall to the room where Catherine was to be after the baby came. I sat in a chair there and looked at the room. I had the paper in my coat that I had bought when I went out for lunch and I read it. It was beginning to be dark outside and I turned the light on to read. After a while I stopped reading and turned off the light and watched it get dark outside. I wondered why the doctor did not send for me. Maybe it was better I was away. He probably wanted me away for a while. I looked at my watch. If he did not send for me in ten minutes I would go down anyway.
Poor, poor dear Cat. And this was the price you paid for sleeping together. This was the end of the trap. This was what people got for loving each other. Thank God for gas, anyway. What must it have been like before there were anaesthetics? Once it started, they were in the mill-race. Catherine had a good time in the time of pregnancy. It wasn’t bad. She was hardly ever sick. She was not awfully uncomfortable until toward the last. So now they got her in the end. You never got away with anything. Get away hell! It would have been the same if we had been married fifty times. And what if she should die? She won’t die. People don’t die in childbirth nowadays. That was what all husbands thought. Yes, but what if she should die? She won’t die. She’s just having a bad time. The initial labor is usually protracted. She’s only having a bad time. Afterward we’d say what a bad time and Catherine would say it wasn’t really so bad. But what if she should die? She can’t die. Yes, but what if she should die? She can’t, I tell you. Don’t be a fool. It’s just a bad time. It’s just nature giving her hell. It’s only the first labor, which is almost always protracted. Yes, but what if she should die? She can’t die. Why would she die? What reason is there for her to die? There’s just a child that has to be born, the by-product of good nights in Milan. It makes trouble and is born and then you look after it and get fond of it maybe. But what if she should die? She won’t die. But what if she should die? She won’t. She’s all right. But what if she should die? She can’t die. But what if she should die? Hey, what about that? What if she should die?
The doctor came into the room.
“How does it go, doctor?”
“It doesn’t go,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Just that. I made an examination—” He detailed the result of the examination. “Since then I’ve waited to see. But it doesn’t go.”
“What do you advise?”
“There are two things. Either a high forceps delivery which can tear and be quite dangerous besides being possibly bad for the child, and a Caesarean.”
“What is the danger of a Caesarean?” What if she should die!
“It should be no greater than the danger of an ordinary delivery.”
“Would you do it yourself?”
“Yes. I would need possibly an hour to get things ready and to get the people I would need. Perhaps a little less.”
“What do you think?”
“I would advise a Caesarean operation. If it were my wife I would do a Caesarean.”
“What are the after effects?”
“There are none. There is only the scar.”
“What about infection?”
“The danger is not so great as in a high forceps delivery.”
“What if you just went on and did nothing?”
“You would have to do something eventually. Mrs. Henry is already losing much of her strength. The sooner we operate now the safer.”
“Operate as soon as you can,” I said.
“I will go and give the instructions.”
I went into the delivery room. The nurse was with Catherine who lay on the table, big under the sheet, looking very pale and tired.
“Did you tell him he could do it?” she asked.
“Isn’t that grand. Now it will be all over in an hour. I’m almost done, darling. I’m going all to pieces. Please give me that. It doesn’t work. Oh, it doesn’t work!”
“I am. Oh, it doesn’t work any more. It doesn’t work!”
“Get another cylinder,” I said to the nurse.
“That is a new cylinder.”
“I’m just a fool, darling,” Catherine said. “But it doesn’t work any more.” She began to cry. “Oh, I wanted so to have this baby and not make trouble, and now I’m all done and all gone to pieces and it doesn’t work. Oh, darling, it doesn’t work at all. I don’t care if I die if it will only stop. Oh, please, darling, please make it stop. There it comes. Oh Oh Oh!” She breathed sobbingly in the mask.
“It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. Don’t mind me, darling. Please don’t cry. Don’t mind me. I’m just gone all to pieces. You poor sweet. I love you so and I’ll be good again. I’ll be good this time. Can’t they give me something? If they could only give me something.”
“I’ll make it work. I’ll turn it all the way.”
“Give it to me now.”
I turned the dial all the way and as she breathed hard and deep her hand relaxed on the mask. I shut off the gas and lifted the mask. She came back from a long way away.
“That was lovely, darling. Oh, you’re so good to me.”
“You be brave, because I can’t do that all the time. It might kill you.”
“I’m not brave any more, darling. I’m all broken. They’ve broken me. I know it now.”
“Everybody is that way.”
“But it’s awful. They just keep it up till they break you.”
“In an hour it will be over.”
“Isn’t that lovely? Darling, I won’t die, will I?”
“No. I promise you won’t.”
“Because I don’t want to die and leave you, but I get so tired of it and I feel I’m going to die.”
“Nonsense. Everybody feels that.”
“Sometimes I know I’m going to die.”
“You won’t. You can’t.”
“But what if I should?”
“I won’t let you.”
“Give it to me quick. Give it to me!”
Then afterward, “I won’t die. I won’t let myself die.”
“Of course you won’t.”
“You’ll stay with me?”
“Not to watch it.”
“No, just to be there.”
“Sure. I’ll be there all the time.”
“You’re so good to me. There, give it to me. Give me some more. It’s not working!”
I turned the dial to three and then four. I wished the doctor would come back. I was afraid of the numbers above two.
Finally a new doctor came in with two nurses and they lifted Catherine onto a wheeled stretcher and we started down the hall. The stretcher went rapidly down the hall and into the elevator where every one had to crowd against the wall to make room; then up, then an open door and out of the elevator and down the hall on rubber wheels to the operating room. I did not recognize the doctor with his cap and mask on. There was another doctor and more nurses.
“They’ve got to give me something,” Catherine said. “They’ve got to give me something. Oh please, doctor, give me enough to do some good!”
One of the doctors put a mask over her face and I looked through the door and saw the bright small amphitheatre of the operating room.
“You can go in the other door and sit up there,” a nurse said to me. There were benches behind a rail that looked down on the white table and the lights. I looked at Catherine. The mask was over her face and she was quiet now. They wheeled the stretcher forward. I turned away and walked down the hall. Two nurses were hurrying toward the entrance to the gallery.
“It’s a Caesarean,” one said. “They’re going to do a Caesarean.”
The other one laughed, “We’re just in time. Aren’t we lucky?” They went in the door that led to the gallery.
Another nurse came along. She was hurrying too.
“You go right in there. Go right in,” she said.
“I’m staying outside.”
She hurried in. I walked up and down the hall. I was afraid to go in. I looked out the window. It was dark but in the light from the window I could see it was raining. I went into a room at the far end of the hall and looked at the labels on bottles in a glass case. Then I came out and stood in the empty hall and watched the door of the operating room.
A doctor came out followed by a nurse. He held something in his two hands that looked like a freshly skinned rabbit and hurried across the corridor with it and in through another door. I went down to the door he had gone into and found them in the room doing things to a new-born child. The doctor held him up for me to see. He held him by the heels and slapped him.
“Is he all right?”
“He’s magnificent. He’ll weigh five kilos.”
I had no feeling for him. He did not seem to have anything to do with me. I felt no feeling of fatherhood.
“Aren’t you proud of your son?” the nurse asked. They were washing him and wrapping him in something. I saw the little dark face and dark hand, but I did not see him move or hear him cry. The doctor was doing something to him again. He looked upset.
“No,” I said. “He nearly killed his mother.”
“It isn’t the little darling’s fault. Didn’t you want a boy?”
“No,” I said. The doctor was busy with him. He held him up by the feet and slapped him. I did not wait to see it. I went out in the hail. I could go in now and see. I went in the door and a little way down the gallery. The nurses who were sitting at the rail motioned for me to come down where they were. I shook my head. I could see enough where I was.
I thought Catherine was dead. She looked dead. Her face was gray, the part of it that I could see. Down below, under the light, the doctor was sewing up the great long, forcep-spread, thickedged, wound. Another doctor in a mask gave the anaesthetic. Two nurses in masks handed things. It looked like a drawing of the Inquisition. I knew as I watched I could have watched it all, but I was glad I hadn’t. I do not think I could have watched them cut, but I watched the wound closed into a high welted ridge with quick skilful-looking stitches like a cobbler’s, and was glad. When the wound was closed I went out into the hall and walked up and down again. After a while the doctor came out.
“How is she?”
“She is all right. Did you watch?”
He looked tired.
“I saw you sew up. The incision looked very long.”
“You thought so?”
“Yes. Will that scar flatten out?”
After a while they brought out the wheeled stretcher and took it very rapidly down the hallway to the elevator. I went along beside it. Catherine was moaning. Downstairs they put her in the bed in her room. I sat in a chair at the foot of the bed. There was a nurse in the room. I got up and stood by the bed. It was dark in the room. Catherine put out her hand. “Hello, darling,” she said. Her voice was very weak and tired.
“Hello, you sweet.”
“What sort of baby was it?”
“Sh—don’t talk,” the nurse said.
“A boy. He’s long and wide and dark.”
“Is he all right?”
“Yes,” I said. “He’s fine.”
I saw the nurse look at me strangely.
“I’m awfully tired,” Catherine said. “And I hurt like hell. Are you all right, darling?”
“I’m fine. Don’t talk.”
“You were lovely to me. Oh, darling, I hurt dreadfully. What does he look like?”
“He looks like a skinned rabbit with a puckered-up old-man’s face.”
“You must go out,” the nurse said. “Madame Henry must not talk.”
“I’ll be outside.”
“Go and get something to eat.”
“No. I’ll be outside.” I kissed Catherine. She was very gray and weak and tired.
“May I speak to you?” I said to the nurse. She came out in the hall with me. I walked a little way down the hall.
“What’s the matter with the baby?” I asked.
“Didn’t you know?”
“He wasn’t alive.”
“He was dead?”
“They couldn’t start him breathing. The cord was caught around his neck or something.”
“So he’s dead.”
“Yes. It’s such a shame. He was such a fine big boy. I thought you knew.”
“No,” I said. “You better go back in with Madame.”
I sat down on the chair in front of a table where there were nurses’reports hung on clips at the side and looked out of the window. I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the window. So that was it. The baby was dead. That was why the doctor looked so tired. But why had they acted the way they did in the room with him? They supposed he would come around and start breathing probably. I had no religion but I knew he ought to have been baptized. But what if he never breathed at all. He hadn’t. He had never been alive. Except in Catherine. I’d felt him kick there often enough. But I hadn’t for a week. Maybe he was choked all the time. Poor little kid. I wished the hell I’d been choked like that. No I didn’t. Still there would not be all this dying to go through. Now Catherine would die. That was what you did. You died. You did not know what it was about. You never had time to learn. They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you. Or they killed you gratuitously like Aymo. Or gave you the syphilis like Rinaldi. But they killed you in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you.
Once in camp I put a log on top of the fire and it was full of ants. As it commenced to burn, the ants swarmed out and went first toward the centre where the fire was; then turned back and ran toward the end. When there were enough on the end they fell off into the fire. Some got out, their bodies burnt and flattened, and went off not knowing where they were going. But most of them went toward the fire and then back toward the end and swarmed on the cool end and finally fell off into the fire. I remember thinking at the time that it was the end of the world and a splendid chance to be a messiah and lift the log off the fire and throw it out where the ants could get off onto the ground. But I did not do anything but throw a tin cup of water on the log, so that I would have the cup empty to put whiskey in before I added water to it. I think the cup of water on the burning log only steamed the ants.
So now I sat out in the hall and waited to hear how Catherine was. The nurse did not come out, so after a while I went to the door and opened it very softly and looked in. I could not see at first because there was a bright light in the hall and it was dark in the room. Then I saw the nurse sitting by the bed and Catherine’s head on a pillow, and she was all flat under the sheet. The nurse put her finger to her lips, then stood up and came to the door.
“How is she?” I asked.
“She’s all right,” the nurse said. “You should go and have your supper and then come back if you wish.”
I went down the hall and then down the stairs and out the door of the hospital and down the dark street in the rain to the café. It was brightly lighted inside and there were many people at the tables. I did not see a place to sit, and a waiter came up to me and took my wet coat and hat and showed me a place at a table across from an elderly man who was drinking beer and reading the evening paper. I sat down and asked the waiter what the plat du jour was.
“Veal stew—but it is finished.”
“What can I have to eat?”
“Ham and eggs, eggs with cheese, or choucroute.”
“I had choucroute this noon,” I said.
“That’s true,” he said. “That’s true. You ate choucroute this noon.” He was a middle-aged man with a bald top to his head and his hair slicked over it. He had a kind face.
“What do you want? Ham and eggs or eggs with cheese?”
“Ham and eggs,” I said, “and beer.”
“Yes,” I said.
“I remembered,” he said. “You took a demi-blonde this noon.”
I ate the ham and eggs and drank the beer. The ham and eggs were in a round dish—the ham underneath and the eggs on top. It was very hot and at the first mouthful I had to take a drink of beer to cool my mouth. I was hungry and I asked the waiter for another order. I drank several glasses of beer. I was not thinking at all but read the paper of the man opposite me. It was about the break through on the British front. When he realized I was reading the back of his paper he folded it over. I thought of asking the waiter for a paper, but I could not concentrate. It was hot in the café and the air was bad. Many of the people at the tables knew one another. There were several card games going on. The waiters were busy bringing drinks from the bar to the tables. Two men came in and could find no place to sit. They stood opposite the table where I was. I ordered another beer. I was not ready to leave yet. It was too soon to go back to the hospital. I tried not to think and to be perfectly calm. The men stood around but no one was leaving, so they went out. I drank another beer. There was quite a pile of saucers now on the table in front of me. The man opposite me had taken off his spectacles, put them away in a case, folded his paper and put it in his pocket and now sat holding his liqueur glass and looking out at the room. Suddenly I knew I had to get back. I called the waiter, paid the reckoning, got into my coat, put on my hat and started out the door. I walked through the rain up to the hospital.
Upstairs I met the nurse coming down the hall.
“I just called you at the hotel,” she said. Something dropped inside me.
“What is wrong?”
“Mrs. Henry has had a hemorrhage.”
“Can I go in?”
“No, not yet. The doctor is with her.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“It is very dangerous.” The nurse went into the room and shut the door. I sat outside in the hail. Everything was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going to die and I prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Please, please, please, dear God, don’t let her die. Dear God, don’t let her die. Please, please, please don’t let her die. God please make her not die. I’ll do anything you say if you don’t let her die. You took the baby but don’t let her die. That was all right but don’t let her die. Please, please, dear God, don’t let her die.
The nurse opened the door and motioned with her finger for me to come. I followed her into the room. Catherine did not look up when I came in. I went over to the side of the bed. The doctor was standing by the bed on the opposite side. Catherine looked at me and smiled. I bent down over the bed and started to cry.
“Poor darling,” Catherine said very softly. She looked gray.
“You’re all right, Cat,” I said. “You’re going to be all right.”
“I’m going to die,” she said; then waited and said, “I hate it.”
I took her hand.
“Don’t touch me,” she said. I let go of her hand. She smiled. “Poor darling. You touch me all you want.”
“You’ll be all right, Cat. I know you’ll be all right.”
“I meant to write you a letter to have if anything happened, but I didn’t do it.”
“Do you want me to get a priest or any one to come and see you?”
“Just you,” she said. Then a little later, “I’m not afraid. I just hate it.”
“You must not talk so much,” the doctor said.
“All right,” Catherine said.
“Do you want me to do anything, Cat? Can I get you anything?”
Catherine smiled, “No.” Then a little later, “You won’t do our things with another girl, or say the same things, will you?”
“I want you to have girls, though.”
“I don’t want them.”
“You are talking too much,” the doctor said. “Mr. Henry must go out. He can come back again later. You are not going to die. You must not be silly.”
“All right,” Catherine said. “I’ll come and stay with you nights,” she said. It was very hard for her to talk.
“Please go out of the room,” the doctor said. “You cannot talk.” Catherine winked at me, her face gray. “I’ll be right outside,” I said.
“Don’t worry, darling,” Catherine said. “I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick.”
“You dear, brave sweet.”
I waited outside in the hall. I waited a long time. The nurse came to the door and came over to me. “I’m afraid Mrs. Henry is very ill,” she said. “I’m afraid for her.”
“Is she dead?”
“No, but she is unconscious.”
It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die.
Outside the room, in the hall, I spoke to the doctor, “Is there anything I can do to-night?”
“No. There is nothing to do. Can I take you to your hotel?”
“No, thank you. I am going to stay here a while.”
“I know there is nothing to say. I cannot tell you—”
“No,” I said. “There’s nothing to say.”
“Good-night,” he said. “I cannot take you to your hotel?”
“No, thank you.”
“It was the only thing to do,” he said. “The operation proved—”
“I do not want to talk about it,” I said.
“I would like to take you to your hotel.”
“No, thank you.”
He went down the hall. I went to the door of the room.
“You can’t come in now,” one of the nurses said.
“Yes I can,” I said.
“You can’t come in yet.”
“You get out,” I said. “The other one too.”
But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.