时届九月，先是夜里阴 凉，接着白天也阴凉起来，公园里的树叶一一褪色，于是我们知道夏季已经完了。前线战事失利，他们攻不下圣迦伯烈山。培恩西柴高原上的战事已经结束，到了九 月中旬，圣迦伯烈山的战事也快结束了。他们攻不下这山峰。爱多亚已经回前线。马匹已运往罗马，米兰已经没有赛马了。克罗威也上罗马去了，准备从那儿回美 国。米兰城里有两次反对战争的骚乱，都灵也有一次激烈的骚乱。有位英国少校在俱乐部里告诉我说，意军在培恩西柴高原和圣迦伯烈山损失达十五万人。他说，他 们在卡索高原上还损失了四万人。我们喝了杯酒，他便扯开了。他说今年这儿的战事已完，意军贪心多吃了一口，已经吃不消了。他说法兰德斯的总攻击看样子也是 不行的①。盟军倘若老是像今年秋天这么以士兵去乱拼，一年内就要垮台。他说我们大家都垮了，但只要大家不知道就没什么要紧。我们都垮了。不过是装做不知道 罢了。哪一国拼死熬到最后才发觉这一点，便会打赢这场战争。我们又喝了一杯酒。我是不是谁的参谋？不是。他倒是的。全是胡闹。俱乐部里只有我们两人靠坐在 大皮沙发上。他那暗色的皮靴，擦得闪闪发亮。好漂亮的靴子。他说全是胡闹。上级官员想的只是师团和人力。大家都为着师团争吵，一调拨给他们，便拿去拼个精 光。他们都垮了。德国人打胜仗。天啊，德国佬才是真正的军人。不过他们也垮了。我问他俄罗斯怎么样？他说他们已经垮了。我宁愿看到他们垮台。还有奥军也垮 了。他们倘若有几师德国兵，就可以打胜仗。照他想，今年秋天他们会不会来进攻？当然会来的。意军垮了。谁都知道意军垮了。等德国佬从特兰提诺地区冲下来， 在维琴察把铁路切断，到那时候意军还能怎么样呢？他们在一九一六年就试过了，我说。那次德军没有一同来。是的，我说。他又说，他们大概不会这么做。太简单 了。他们准备来个复杂一点的，弄一个大垮特垮。我得走了，我说。我得回医院了。“再会，“他说。随后又愉快地说：“万事顺利！“他对世界的悲观和他个人的 乐观成了一种强烈的对照。
我在一家理发店歇下来，修了个脸才回医院。我的腿经过长期疗养，有现在的成绩也算好的了。三天前我检查过一次。我在马焦莱医院所受的机械治疗，还得 去几趟才算完事，所以我特地抄小道，练习不瘸腿走路。有个老头儿在一条拱廊下替人家剪影。我停下来看他剪。有两个姑娘一起站着由他剪影，他剪得好快，边剪 边侧着头看她们。姑娘们娇笑个不停。他把剪好的侧面像先拿给我看，然后贴在白纸上递给姑娘们。
① 法兰德斯地区包括比利时西部和法国北部，这里讲的总攻击是指1916 年英法联军与德国军队沿索谟河的争夺战，联军运用了新武器坦克，还是没有多大成就。
我走回医院去。我有些信件，一封是公函，还有其他的。公函通知我有三星期的“疗养休假“，以后就回前线。我细心地读过一遍。也好，那就定当了。我的 疗养休假自十月四日算起，我的机械治疗也就在那天结束。三星期是二十一天。那么十月二十五日我就得走了。我给他们讲一声我出去一趟，就跑到医院斜对面一家 馆子去吃晚饭，就在饭桌上看信件和晚报。祖父来了一封信，讲了些家里的事以及为国尽忠的话，附有一张两百元的汇票和一些剪报；旧日同饭堂那位教士也来了一 封沉闷的信；一个参加法国空军的朋友来了一封信，他现在交了一帮野朋友，满纸讲的都是荒唐事；雷那蒂也来了一封短简，问我在米兰还要躲多久，有什么新闻？ 他要我带些唱片回去，还开了一个单子。我吃饭时喝了一小瓶基安蒂酒。饭后一杯咖啡，一杯科涅克白兰地，读完了晚报，把信件揣在口袋里，把报纸和小账搁在桌 上便走了。回到医院的房间里，我脱了衣服，换上睡衣裤和便袍，拉下通阳台的门帘，坐在床上看波士顿的报纸——那叠报纸原是迈耶斯太太留在医院里给她的“孩 子们“ 看的。芝加哥的“白短袜“队在美国联赛中夺到冠军，而纽约“巨人队“在全国联赛中的分数遥遥领先①。宝贝鲁思②当时正在波斯顿队里当投手。报纸很沉闷，消 息偏于一处地方，陈旧过时，战事报道也都是陈旧的。美国新闻讲的都是训练营的情况。幸喜我没进训练营。报纸上可以看的只有棒球比赛消息，但我对于这全没兴 趣。报纸堆成一大叠，翻来翻去，无法叫人读得上劲。它们虽则已失去了时间性，我还是看了一会儿。我想，不知道美国是否真的卷入了战争，会不会把这两大联赛 停下来。也许不会吧。意大利打得够糟了，米兰还不是照样有赛马。法国已停止赛马了。那匹叫做贾巴拉克的马就是从法国运来的。凯瑟琳要到九点钟才上夜班。她 初上班时，我听见她在我这一层楼上的走动声响，有一次还看见她从门外走廊上走过。她到过几间病房后才走进我的这一间。
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 and they could not take San Gabriele. The fighting on the Bainsizza plateau was over and by the middle of the month the fighting for San Gabriele was about over too. They could not take it. Ettore was gone back to the front. The horses were gone to Rome and there was no more racing. Crowell had gone to Rome too, to be sent back to America. 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 San Gabriele. He said they had lost forty thousand on the Carso besides. We had a drink and he talked. He said the fighting was over for the year down here and that the Italians had bitten off more than they could chew. He said the offensive in Flanders was going to the bad. If they killed men as they did this fall the Allies would be cooked in another year. He said we were all cooked but we were all right as long as we did not know it. We were all cooked. The thing was not to recognize it. The last country to realize they were cooked would win the war. We had another drink. Was I on somebody's staff? No. He was. It was all balls. We were alone in the club sitting back in one of the big leather sofas. His boots were smoothly polished dull leather. They were beautiful boots. He said it was all balls. They thought only in divisions and man-power. They all squabbled about divisions and only killed them when they got them. They were all cooked. The Germans won the victories. By God they were soldiers. The old Hun was a soldier. But they were cooked too. We were all cooked. I asked about Russia. He said they were cooked already. I'd soon see they were cooked. Then the Austrians were cooked too. If they got some Hun divisions they could do it. Did he think they would attack this fall? Of course they would. The Italians were cooked. Everybody knew they were cooked. The old Hun would come down through the Trentino and cut the railway at Vicenza and then where would the Italians be? They tried that in 'sixteen, I said. Not with Germans. Yes, I said. But they probably wouldn't do that, he said. It was too simple. They'd try something complicated and get royally cooked. I had to go, I said. I had to get back to the hospital. "Good-by," he said. Then cheerily, "Every sort of luck!" There was a great contrast between his world pessimism and personal cheeriness.
I stopped at a barber shop and was shaved and went home to the hospital. My leg was as well as it would get for a long time. I had been up for examination three days before. There were still some treatments to take before my course at the Ospedale.
Maggiore was finished and I walked along the side street practising not limping. An old man was cutting silhouettes under an arcade. I stopped to watch him. Two girls were posing and he cut their silhouettes together, snipping very fast and looking at them, his head on one side. The girls were giggling. He showed me the silhouettes before he pasted them on white paper and handed them to the girls.
"They're beautiful," he said. "How about you, Tenente?"
The girls went away looking at their silhouettes and laughing. They were nice-looking girls. One of them worked in the wine shop across from the hospital.
"All right," I said.
"Take your cap off."
"No. With it on."
"It will not be so beautiful," the old man said. "But," he brightened, "it will be more military."
He snipped away at the black paper, then separated the two thicknesses and pasted the profiles on a card and handed them to me.
"That's all right." He waved his hand. "I just made them for you."
"Please." I brought out some coppers. "For pleasure."
"No. I did them for a pleasure. Give them to your girl."
"Many thanks until we meet."
"Until I see thee."
I went on to the hospital. There were some letters, an official one, and some others. I was to have three weeks' convalescent leave and then return to the front. I read it over carefully. Well, that was that. The convalescent leave started October fourth when my course was finished. Three weeks was twenty-one days. That made October twenty-fifth. I told them I would not be in and went to the restaurant a little way up the street from the hospital for supper and read my letters and the Corriere Della Sera at the table. There was a letter from my grandfather, containing family news, patriotic encouragement, a draft for two hundred dollars, and a few clippings; a dull letter from the priest at our mess, a letter from a man I knew who was flying with the French and had gotten in with a wild gang and was telling about it, and a note from Rinaldi asking me how long I was going to skulk in Milano and what was all the news? He wanted me to bring him phonograph records and enclosed a list. I drank a small bottle of chianti with the meal, had a coffee afterward with a glass of cognac, finished the paper, put my letters in my pocket, left the paper on the table with the tip and went out. In my room at the hospital I undressed, put on pajamas and a dressing-gown, pulled down the curtains on the door that opened onto the balcony and sitting up in bed read Boston papers from a pile Mrs. Meyers had left for her boys at the hospital. The Chicago White Sox were winning the American League pennant and the New York Giants were leading the National League. Babe Ruth was a pitcher then playing for Boston. The papers were dull, the news was local and stale, and the war news was all old. The American news was all training camps. I was glad I wasn't in a training camp. The baseball news was all I could read and I did not have the slightest interest in it. A number of papers together made it impossible to read with interest. It was not very timely but I read at it for a while. I wondered if America really got into the war, if they would close down the major leagues. They probably wouldn't. There was still racing in Milan and the war could not be much worse. They had stopped racing in France. That was where our horse Japalac came from. Catherine was not due on duty until nine o'clock. I heard her passing along the floor when she first came on duty and once saw her pass in the hall. She went to several other rooms and finally came into mine.
"I'm late, darling," she said. "There was a lot to do. How are you?"
I told her about my papers and the leave.
"That's lovely," she said. "Where do you want to go?"
"Nowhere. I want to stay here."
"That's silly. You pick a place to go and I'll come too."
"How will you work it?"
"I don't know. But I will."
"You're pretty wonderful."
"No I'm not. But life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose."
"How do you mean?"
"Nothing. I was only thinking how small obstacles seemed that once were so big."
"I should think it might be hard to manage."
"No it won't, darling. If necessary I'll simply leave. But it won't come to that."
"Where should we go?"
"I don't care. Anywhere you want. Anywhere we don't know people."
"Don't you care where we go?"
"No. I'll like any place."
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 me."
"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. Wouldn't you like a drink, darling? I know a drink always makes you feel cheerful."
"No. I feel cheerful. And you're pretty wonderful."
"No I'm not. But I'll fix everything to be together if you pick out a place for us to go. It ought to be lovely in October. We'll have a lovely time, darling, and I'll write you every day while you're at the front."
"Where will you be?"
"I don't know yet. But somewhere splendid. I'll look after all that."
We were quiet awhile and did not talk. Catherine was sitting on the bed and I was looking at her but we did not touch each other. We were apart as when some one comes into a room and people are self-conscious. She put out her hand and took mine.
"You aren't angry are you, darling?"
"And you don't feel trapped?"
"Maybe a little. But not by you."
"I didn't mean by me. You mustn't be stupid. I meant trapped at all."
"You always feel trapped biologically."
She went away a long way without stirring or removing her hand.
"'Always' isn't a pretty word."
"It's all right. But you see I've never had a baby and I've never even loved any one. And I've tried to be the way you wanted and then you talk about 'always."
"I could cut off my tongue," I offered.
"Oh, darling!" she came back from wherever she had been. "You mustn't mind me." We were both together again and the self-consciousness was gone. "We really are the same one and we mustn't misunderstand on purpose."
"But people do. They love each other and they misunderstand on purpose and they fight and then suddenly they aren't the same one."
"We won't fight."
"We mustn't. Because there's only us two and in the world there's all the rest of them. If anything comes between us we're gone and then they have us."
"They won't get us," I said. "Because you're too brave. Nothing ever happens to the brave."
"They die of course."
"But only once."
"I don't know. Who said that?"
"The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one?"
"Of course. Who said it?"
"I don't know."
"He was probably a coward," she said. "He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them."
"I don't know. It's hard to see inside the head of the brave."
"Yes. That's how they keep that way."
"You're an authority."
"You're right, darling. That was deserved."
"No," she said. "But I would like to be."
"I'm not," I said. "I know where I stand. I've been out long enough to know. I'm like a ball-player that bats two hundred and thirty and knows he's no better."
"What is a ball-player that bats two hundred and thirty? It's awfully impressive."
"It's not. It means a mediocre hitter in baseball."
"But still a hitter," she prodded me.
"I guess we're both conceited," I said. "But you are brave."
"No. But I hope to be."
"We're both brave," I said. "And I'm very brave when I've had a drink."
"We're splendid people," Catherine said. She went over to the armoire and brought me the cognac and a glass. "Have a drink, darling," she said. "You've been awfully good."
"I don't really want one."
"All right." I poured the water glass a third full of cognac and drank it off.
"That was very big," she said. "I know brandy is for heroes. But you shouldn't exaggerate."
"Where will we live after the war?"
"In an old people's home probably," she said. "For three years I looked forward very childishly to the war ending at Christmas. But now I look forward till when our son will be a lieutenant commander."
"Maybe he'll be a general."
"If it's an hundred years' war he'll have time to try both of the services."
"Don't you want a drink?"
"No. It always makes you happy, darling, and it only makes me dizzy."
"Didn't you ever drink brandy?"
"No, darling. I'm a very old-fashioned wife."
I reached down to the floor for the bottle and poured another drink.
"I'd better go to have a look at your compatriots," Catherine said. "Perhaps you'll read the papers until I come back."
"Do you have to go?"
"Now or later."
"All right. Now."
"I'll come back later."
"I'll have finished the papers," I said.