Here is a sample passage of Hemingway’s writing style:
‘Tell me about the town.’
‘I’ll tell you,’ the Colonel said. ‘But I don’t want to hurt you.’
‘You never hurt me. We are an old town and we had fighting men, always. We respect them more than all others and I hope we understand them a little. We also know they are difficult. Usually, as people, they are very boring to women.’
‘Do I bore you?’
‘What do you think?’ the girl asked.
‘I bore myself, Daughter.’
‘I don’t think you do, Richard, you would not have done something all your life if you were bored by it. Don’t lie to me, please, darling, when we have so little time.
‘Don’t you see you need to tell me things to purge your bitterness?’
‘I know I tell them to you.’
‘Don’t you know I want you to die with the grace of a happy death? Oh, I’m getting all mixed up. Don’t let me get too mixed up.’
‘I won’t, Daughter.’
‘Tell me some more, please, and be just as bitter as you want.’
END OF CHAPTER 30
The following exerpt is at the end of the book:
They were on the old road that he knew so well and the Colonel thought, well, I sent four of the ducks I promised to those I promised them to at the Gritti. There wasn’t enough shooting to be enough feathers to do that boy’s wife any good with feathers. But they are all big ducks and fat and they will be good eating. I forgot to give Bobby the sausage.
There was no time to write Renata a note. But what could I say, in a note, that we did not say?
He reached into his pocket and found a pad and pencil. He put on the map-reading light, and with his bad hand, printed a short message in block letters.
‘Put that in your pocket, Jackson, and act on it if necessary. If the circumstances described occur, it is an order.’
‘Yes, sir,’ Jackson said, and took the folded order blank with one hand and put it in the top left-hand pocket of his tunic.
Now take it easy, the Colonel said to himself. Any further concern you may have is about yourself and that is just a luxury.
You are no longer of any real use to the Army of the United States. That has been made quite clear.
You have said good-bye to your girl and she has said good-bye to you. That is certainly simple.
You shot well and Alvarito understands. That is that.
So what the hell do you have to worry about, boy? I hope you’re not the type of jerk who worries about what happens to him when there’s nothing to be done. Let’s certainly hope not.
Just then it hit him as he had known it would since they had picked up the decoys.
Three strikes is out, he thought, and they gave me four. I’ve always been a lucky son of a bitch.
It hit him again badly.
‘Jackson,’ he said. ‘Do you know what General Thomas J. Jackson said on one occasion? On the occasion of his unfortunate death. I memorized it once. I can’t respond for its accuracy of course. But this is how it was reported: “Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action.” Then some more delirious stuff. Then he said, “No, no, let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”‘
‘That’s very interesting, sir,’ Jackson said. ‘That must have been Stonewall Jackson, sir.’
The Colonel started to speak but he stopped while it hit him the third time and gripped him so he knew he could not live.
‘Jackson,’ the Colonel said. ‘Pull up at the side of the road and cut to your parking lights. Do you know the way to Trieste from here?’
‘Yes, sir, I have my map.’
‘Good. I’m now going to get into the large back seat of this god-damned, over-sized luxurious automobile.’
That was the last thing the Colonel ever said. But he made the back seat all right and he shut the door. He shut it carefully and well.
After a while Jackson drove the car down the ditch and willow lined road with the car’s big lights on, looking for a place to turn. He found one, finally, and turned carefully. When he was on the right-hand side of the road, facing south towards the road junction that would put him on the highway that led to Trieste, the one he was familiar with, he put his map light on and took out the order blank and read:
IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH THE WRAPPED PAINTING AND THE TWO SHOT GUNS IN THIS CAR WILL BE RETURNED TO THE HOTEL GRITTI WHERE THEY WILL BE CLAIMED BY THEIR RIGHTFUL OWNER SIGNED RICHARD CANTWELL, COL., INFANTRY, U.S.A.
‘They’ll return them all right, through channels,’ Jackson thought, and put the car in gear.
[End of Across the River and Into the Trees, by Ernest Hemingway]
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