Across the River and Into the Trees/Chapter XXXVI

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◄  Chapter XXXV Across the River and Into the Trees
Chapter XXXVI
written by Ernest Hemingway
Chapter XXXVII  ►
Charles Scribner's Sons 1950 (pages 259-261)

Chapter XXXVI

IT was a sharp, cold bright day, and they stood outside the window of the jeweler’s shop and studied the two small negro heads and torsos that were carved in ebony and adorned with studded jewels. One was as good as the other, the Colonel thought.

“Which do you like the best, Daughter?”

“I think the one on the right. Don’t you think he has the nicer face?”

“They both have nice faces. But I think I would rather have him attend you if it was the old days.”

“Good. We’ll take him. Let’s go in and see them. I must ask the price.”

“I will go in.”

“No, let me ask the price. They will charge me less than they would charge you. After all you are a rich American.”

“Et toi, Rimbaud?”

“You’d make an awfully funny Verlaine,” the girl told him. “We’ll be some other famous characters.”

“Go on in, Majesty, and we’ll buy the god damn jewel.”

“You wouldn’t make a very good Louis Sixteenth either.”

“I’d get up in that tumbril with you and still be able to spit.”

“Let’s forget all the tumbrils and everyone’s sorrows, and buy the small object and then we can walk to Cipriani’s and be famous people.”

Inside the shop they looked at the two heads and she asked the price, and then, there was some very rapid talk and the price was much lower. But still it was more money than the Colonel had.

“I’ll go to Cipriani’s and get some money.”

“No,” the girl said. Then to the clerk, “Put it in a box and send it to Cipriani’s and say the Colonel said to pay for it and hold it for him.”

“Please,” the clerk said. “Exactly as you say.”

They went out into the street and the sunlight and the unremitting wind.

“By the way,” the Colonel said. “Your stones are in the safe at the Gritti in your name.”

“Your stones.”

“No,” he told her, not rough, but to make her understand truly. “There are some things that a person cannot do. You know about that. You cannot marry me and I understand that, although I do not approve it.”

“Very well,” the girl said. “I understand. But would you take one for a lucky stone?”

“No. I couldn’t. They are too valuable.”

“But the portrait has value.”

“That is different.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “I suppose so. I think I begin to understand.”

“I would accept a horse from you, if I was poor and young, and riding very well. But I could not take a motor-car.”

“I understand it now very well. Where can we go now, at this minute, where you can kiss me?”

“In this side alley, if you know no one who lives in it.”

“I don’t care who lives in it. I want to feel you hold me tight and kiss me.”

They turned into the side street and walked toward its blind end.

“Oh, Richard,” she said. “Oh, my dear.”

“I love you.”

“Please love me.”

“I do.”

The wind had blown her hair up and around his neck and he kissed her once more with it beating silkily against both his cheeks.

Then she broke away, suddenly, and hard, and looked at him, and said, “I suppose we had better go to Harry’s.”

“I suppose so. Do you want to play historical personages?”

“Yes,” she said. “Let us play that you are you and I am me.”

“Let’s play,” the Colonel said.