第 二天下午，我打山中的第一救护站回来，把车子停在后送站门口，伤病员就在那儿按照各人的病历卡，分门别类，送往不同的医院。那天由我开车，我坐在车子里 等，叫司机拿看病历卡进去。那天天气炎热，天空非常明亮青碧，道路干燥得变成白色，满是尘沙。我坐在菲亚特牌汽车的高座上，什么事都不想。路上有一团兵走 过，我看着他们经过我身边。士兵们热得汗水直淌。有的还戴着钢盔，但是大部分的人则把钢盔斜吊在各人的背包上。钢盔大多太大，戴着它的人，差不多连耳朵都 给遮住了。军官们都戴钢盔；大小比较合适。这些士兵是巴西利卡塔②旅的一半兵力。这是我从他们领章上的红白条纹辨识出来的。这一团兵开过好久后，还有些散 兵——跟不上队伍的人们。他们一身是汗和灰尘，十分疲乏。有的看模样很不行。掉队的人走完后，还来了一个士兵。他跛着脚走。他停下了，在路边坐下来。我下 车走近他。
“回头见，“我说。车子继续上路，朝前开了约摸一英里就追上了那团士兵，随后过了河。河水混浊，掺杂有雪水，在桥桩间疾流着。车子沿着平原上的路驶 去，把伤员送交那两家医院。回去的时候由我开车，空车子开得快，要赶回去找那个到过匹兹堡的士兵。我们首先碰到的又是那团士兵，他们现在走得更热更慢了； 接着便是那些掉队的散兵。随后我们看到有一辆救护马车停在路边。有两个人正抬着那患疝病的士兵上车。他所属的部队派人来接他回去了。他对我摇摇头。他的钢 盔已经掉了，额上的头发的边沿在流血。他的鼻子擦破了皮，流血的伤口和头发上都有尘土。
随后我回房去打报告，坐在敞开的窗前，只穿着长裤和汗衫。进攻将于后天开始，我得带上一批车子到普拉伐去。我已经好久没写信回美国，心里明知道该写 信，只是已经拖了那么长久，现在就是想写，也差不多不晓得该从哪儿写起了。没什么可写的。我寄了几张战区明信片去，什么都不写，只说我身体平安。这些明信 片大概可以敷衍亲友一下。这些明信片到了美国一定行；又新奇又神秘。这战区是又新奇又神秘的，不过比起过去跟奥军打的那几次战役，已经算是更有效率，更凶 残的了。奥军的存在，本是方便拿破仑打胜仗的；随便哪一个拿破仑都行。我希望我们现在最好也有一位拿破仑，可惜我们只有卡多那大将军①，又肥胖又得发，还 有国王维多利奥·埃马努埃莱，一个长着细长脖子和山羊须的小个子。坐在他们右边的是亚俄斯塔公爵。也许他长得太漂亮，不像个大将军，但是他可像个人。许多 意大利人希望他来当国王。他的样子就像国王。他是国王的叔叔，现任第三军总指挥。我们是属于第二军的。第三军里有些英国炮队。我在米兰曾碰到两个英国炮 兵。他们俩很不错，我们那天晚上玩得好痛快。他们俩个子大，很害臊，忸怩不安，凡事体贴人意。我倒希望能够跟英国军队在一起。那样的话，事情就简单多了。 不过那就有死亡的危险。干救护车这种工作是不会死的。不，那也说不定。英国救护车的驾驶员有时也有阵亡的。哼，我知道我是不会死的。不会死于这次战争中。 因为它与我根本就没有什么关系。照我看来，这次战争对我的危险性，就好比是电影中的战争。但愿战争就结束。也许今年夏天就会结束。也许奥军会垮掉。他们以 前打仗，岂不是次次都垮的吗？这次战争出了什么毛病？人人都说法军不济事了。雷那蒂说法军哗变了，转向巴黎进军。我问他后来怎么样了，他说：“噢，人家拦 住了他们。“我很想在太平时代到奥地利去一趟。我想去黑森林 ①。我想上哈尔兹山②。哈尔兹山究竟在哪儿啊？他们正在喀尔巴阡山作战。喀尔巴阡山其实我本来就不想去。不过那地方也许也不错。假如没有战争的话，我可以 到西班牙去。太阳在下山了，天气凉了一点。晚饭后找凯瑟琳去。我希望她现在就在这儿。我希望我和她现在就在米兰。在科伐咖啡店吃一顿饭，顺着曼佐尼大街散 步以消磨这炎热的夏晚，然后过桥去，沿着运河和凯瑟琳·巴克莱一同走进旅馆。也许她肯的。也许她会把我当做那个阵亡的爱人，我们于是一同走进旅馆的前门， 看门人连忙摘帽，我找掌柜的拿钥匙，她则站在电梯边等，随后我们一同走进电梯，电梯开得很慢，的的嗒嗒地过了一层又一层，到了我们那一层时，小郎打开门， 站在一边，她走出去，我走出去，一同顺着走廊走，我拿钥匙去开门，门开了，我们进去，拿下电话机，吩咐他们送一瓶装在放满冰块的银桶子里的卡普里白葡萄酒 来，你听得见走廊上有冰块碰着提桶的响声，小郎敲敲门，我就说请放在门外。因为我们一丝不挂，因为天气太热；窗子打开着，燕子在人家屋顶上飞掠，后来天黑 了，你走到窗口去，几只很小的蝙蝠在屋顶上找东西吃，低低地贴着树梢飞，我们喝卡普里酒，门儿锁上了，天气炎热，只盖一条单被，整个夜晚，整夜相亲相爱， 在米兰度过一个炎热的夜晚。这样子才对劲啦。我还是快点吃饭，早一点找凯瑟琳·巴克莱去吧。
饭堂里人们话说得太多。我喝了一点酒，因为我不喝一点的话，人家会说我不够亲热友爱。我和教士谈起大主教爱尔兰③的事，他似乎是位高尚的人物，他在 美国受了冤枉，作为美国人的我，对于这种冤枉行为也是有份的，这些事我根本听都没有听见过，教士既在说，我只好装做知道的样子。教士长篇大论地解释主教受 迫害的原因，怎样遭到人家的误解，我听了以后再说完全不知道，未免不够礼貌了。我觉得这大主教的姓氏倒也不错，而且还是从那个名字很好听的明尼苏达州来 的：明尼苏达州的爱尔兰，威斯康星州的爱尔兰，密执安州的爱尔兰。
这姓氏念起来很像爱兰④，因此特别好听。不，不是这样。没有那么简单。是，神父。真的，神父。也许是吧，神父。不，神父。嗯，也许是吧，神父。你知 道的比我多，神父。教士是个好人，可是没趣。军官们不是好人，也很没趣。国王是个好人，同样没趣。酒并不好，但不会使人感到没趣。酒剥掉牙齿上的珐琅，把 它留在上颚上。
“那么他怎么说呢？“教士问。罗卡不理睬教士所提的问题，只是继续对我讲着这个笑话。“你懂了吧？“他的意思好像是说：倘若你真懂的话，这故事是非 常好笑的。他们又给我倒了一些酒，于是我讲了一个人家叫英国小兵被逼冲淋浴的故事。少校讲了一个十一个捷克斯洛伐克兵和一个匈牙利下士的故事。再喝了一些 酒后，我又讲了一个骑师寻到铜板的故事。少校说意大利也有这么一个故事，讲公爵夫人夜里睡不着。这当儿教士走了，我就讲了一个旅行推销员的故事，说他于清 早五时到达马赛，当时正刮着又干又冷的北风。少校说他听人家讲我很能喝酒。我否认。他说我一定能喝，凭酒神巴克斯的尸体起誓，我们来试试看。不要凭巴克 斯，我说。不要巴克斯。要巴克斯，他说。我得和菲利波·文森柴·巴锡一杯一杯比酒。巴锡说不行，他不能比，他已经比我多喝了一倍啦。我说他撒谎不漂亮，什 么巴克斯不巴克斯，菲利波·文森柴·巴锡或是巴锡·菲利波·文森柴今天晚上都没喝过一滴酒，再说，他的姓名究竟怎么叫啊？他说我的姓名究竟是费德里科·恩 里科①还是恩里科·费德里科？我说别管他什么巴克斯，比过算数，少校于是拿大杯来倒红酒。比赛到一半，我忽然不干了。我想起我还得去找凯瑟琳。
I came back the next afternoon from our first mountain post and stopped the car at the smistimento where the wounded and sick were sorted by their papers and the papers marked for the different hospitals. I had been driving and I sat in the car and the driver took the papers in. It was a hot day and the sky was very bright and blue and the road was white and dusty. I sat in the high seat of the Fiat and thought about nothing. A regiment went by in the road and I watched them pass. The men were hot and sweating. Some wore their steel helmets but most of them carried them slung from their packs. Most of the helmets were too big and came down almost over the ears of the men who wore them. The officers all wore helmets; better-fitting helmets. It was half of the brigata Basilicata. I identified them by their red and white striped collar mark. There were stragglers going by long after the regiment had passed--men who could not keep up with their platoons. They were sweaty, dusty and tired. Some looked pretty bad. A soldier came along after the last of the stragglers. He was walking with a limp. He stopped and sat down beside the road. I got down and went over.
"What's the matter?"
He looked at me, then stood up.
"I'm going on."
"What's the trouble?"
"-- the war."
"What's wrong with your leg?"
"It's not my leg. I got a rupture."
"Why don't you ride with the transport?" I asked. "Why don't you go to the hospital?"
"They won't let me. The lieutenant said I slipped the truss on purpose."
"Let me feel it."
"It's way out."
"Which side is it on?"
I felt it.
"Cough," I said.
"I'm afraid it will make it bigger. It's twice as big as it was this morning."
"Sit down," I said. "As soon as I get the papers on these wounded I'll take you along the road and drop you with your medical officers."
"He'll say I did it on purpose."
"They can't do anything," I said. "It's not a wound. You've had it before, haven't you?"
"But I lost the truss."
"They'll send you to a hospital."
"Can't I stay here, Tenente?"
"No, I haven't any papers for you."
The driver came out of the door with the papers for the wounded in the car.
"Four for 105. Two for 132," he said. They were hospitals beyond the river.
"You drive," I said. I helped the soldier with the rupture up on the seat with us.
"You speak English?" he asked.
"How you like this goddam war?"
"I say it's rotten. Jesus Christ, I say it's rotten."
"Were you in the States?"
"Sure. In Pittsburgh. I knew you was an American."
"Don't I talk Italian good enough?"
"I knew you was an American all right."
"Another American," said the driver in Italian looking at the hernia man.
"Listen, lootenant. Do you have to take me to that regiment?"
"Because the captain doctor knew I had this rupture. I threw away the goddam truss so it would get bad and I wouldn't have to go to the line again."
"Couldn't you take me no place else?"
"If it was closer to the front I could take you to a first medical post. But back here you've got to have papers."
"If I go back they'll make me get operated on and then they'll put me in the line all the time."
I thought it over.
"You wouldn't want to go in the line all the time, would you?" he asked.
"Jesus Christ, ain't this a goddam war?"
"Listen," I said. "You get out and fall down by the road and get a bump on your head and I'll pick you up on our way back and take you to a hospital. We'll stop by the road here, Aldo." We stopped at the side of the road. I helped him down.
"I'll be right here, lieutenant," he said.
"So long," I said. We went on and passed the regiment about a mile ahead, then crossed the river, cloudy with snow-water and running fast through the spiles of the bridge, to ride along the road across the plain and deliver the wounded at the two hospitals. I drove coming back and went fast with the empty car to find the man from Pittsburgh. First we passed the regiment, hotter and slower than ever: then the stragglers. Then we saw a horse ambulance stopped by the road. Two men were lifting the hernia man to put him in. They had come back for him. He shook his head at me. His helmet was off and his forehead was bleeding below the hair line. His nose was skinned and there was dust on the bloody patch and dust in his hair.
"Look at the bump, lieutenant!" he shouted. "Nothing to do. They come back for me."
When I got back to the villa it was five o'clock and I went out where we washed the cars, to take a shower. Then I made out my report in my room, sitting in my trousers and an undershirt in front of the open window. In two days the offensive was to start and I would go with the cars to Plava. It was a long time since I had written to the States and I knew I should write but I had let it go so long that it was almost impossible to write now. There was nothing to write about. I sent a couple of army Zona di Guerra post-cards, crossing out everything except, I am well. That should handle them. Those post-cards would be very fine in America; strange and mysterious. This was a strange and mysterious war zone but I supposed it was quite well run and grim compared to other wars with the Austrians. The Austrian army was created to give Napoleon victories; any Napoleon. I wished we had a Napoleon, but instead we had Ii Generale Cadorna, fat and prosperous and Vittorio Emmanuele, the tiny man with the long thin neck and the goat beard. Over on the right they had the Duke of Aosta. Maybe he was too good-looking to be a. great general but he looked like a man. Lots of them would have liked him to be king. He looked like a king. He was the King's uncle and commanded the third army. We were in the second army. There were some British batteries up with the third army. I had met two gunners from that lot, in Milan. They were very nice and we had a big evening. They were big and shy and embarrassed and very appreciative together of anything that happened. I wish that I was with the British. It would have been much simpler. Still I would probably have been killed. Not in this ambulance business. Yes, even in the ambulance business. British ambulance drivers were killed sometimes. Well, I knew I would not be killed. Not in this war. It did not have anything to do with me. It seemed no more dangerous to me myself than war in the movies. I wished to God it was over though. Maybe it would finish this summer. Maybe the Austrians would crack. They had always cracked in other wars. 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 wish 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 and turn off along the canal and go to the hotel with Catherine Barkley. Maybe she would. Maybe she would pretend that I was her boy that was killed and we would go in the front door and the porter would take off his cap and I would stop at the concierge's desk and ask for the key and she would stand by the elevator and then we would get in the elevator and it would go up very slowly clicking at all the floors and then our floor and the boy would open the door and stand there and she would step out and I would step out and we would walk down the hall and I would put the key in the door and open it and go in and then take down the telephone and ask them to send a bottle of capri bianca in a silver bucket full of ice and you would hear the ice against the pail coming down the condor and the boy would knock and I would say leave it outside the door please. Because we would not wear any clothes because it was so hot and the window open and the swallows flying over the roofs of the houses and when it was dark afterward and you went to the window very small bats hunting over the houses and close down over the trees and we would drink the capri and the door locked and it hot and only a sheet and the whole night and we would both love each other all night in the hot night in Milan. That was how it ought to be. I would eat quickly and go and see Catherine Barkley.
They talked too much at the mess and I drank wine because tonight we were not all brothers unless I drank a little and talked with the priest about Archbishop Ireland who was, it seemed, a noble man and with whose injustice, the injustices he had received and in which I participated as an American, and of which I had never heard, I feigned acquaintance. It would have been impolite not to have known something of them when I had listened to such a splendid explanation of their causes which were, after all, it seemed, misunderstandings. I thought he had a fine name and he came from Minnesota which made a lovely name: Ireland of Minnesota, Ireland of Wisconsin, Ireland of Michigan. What made it pretty was that it sounded like Island. No that wasn't it. There was more to it than that. Yes, father. That is true, father. Perhaps, father. No, father. Well, maybe yes, father. You know more about it than I do, father. The priest was good but dull. The officers were not good but dull. The King was good but dull. The wine was bad but not dull. It took the enamel off your teeth and left it on the roof of your mouth.
"And the priest was locked up," Rocca said, "because they found the three per cent bonds on his person. It was in France of course. Here they would never have arrested him. He denied all knowledge of the five per cent bonds. This took place at B