Across the River and Into the Trees/Chapter XXXIV

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◄  Chapter XXXIII Across the River and Into the Trees
Chapter XXXIV
written by Ernest Hemingway
Chapter XXXV  ►
Charles Scribner's Sons 1950 (pages 253-254)

Chapter XXXIV

SLEEP softly, my true love, and when you wake, this will be over and I will joke you out of trying to learn details of the triste métier of war and we will go to buy the little negro, or moor, carved in ebony with his fine features, and his jeweled turban. Then you will pin him on, and we will go to have a drink at Harry’s and see whoever or whatever of our friends that will be afoot at that hour.

We will lunch at Harry’s, or we’ll come back here, and I will be packed. We will say good-bye and I will get into the motoscafo with Jackson, and make some cheerful crack to the Gran Maestro and wave to any other members of the Order, and ten to one, the way I feel right now, or two will get you thirty, we will not ever see one another again.

Hell, he said to no one, and certainly not aloud, I’ve felt this way before many fights and almost always at some time in the fall of the year, and always when leaving Paris. Probably it doesn’t mean a thing.

Who gives a damn anyway except me and the Gran Maestro and this girl; I mean at command level.

I give very much of a damn myself. But I certainly should be trained and adjusted by this time not to give a muck for nothing; like the definition of a whore. A woman who does not etc.

But we won’t think about that boy, lieutenant, captain, major, colonel, general sir. We will just lay it on the line once more and the hell with it, and with its ugly face that old Hieronymus Bosch really painted. But you can sheathe your scythe, old brother death, if you have got a sheath for it. Or, he added, thinking of Hurtgen now, you can take your scythe and stick it up your ass.

It was Passchendaele with tree bursts, he told nobody except the wonder light on the ceiling. Then he looked at the girl, to see that she was sleeping well enough so even his thoughts would not hurt her.

Then he looked at the portrait and he thought, I have her in two positions, lying down, turned a little on her side, and looking at me straight in front. I’m a lucky son of a bitch and I should never be sad about anything.