Spitball Army

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Hemingway vignette

January 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment

There  was an upright piano in the far corner of the room beyond the wooden tables and Bill went over and started to play.

“I got to keep warm,” he said.

I went out to find the woman and ask her how much the room and board was.  She put her hands under her apron and looked away from me.

“Twelve pesetas.”

“Why, we only paid that in Pamplona.”

She did not say anything, just took off her glasses and wiped them on her apron.

“That’s too much,” I said.  “We didn’t pay more than that at a big hotel.”

“We’ve put in a bathroom.”

“Haven’t you got anything cheaper?”

“Not in the summer.  Now is the big season.”

We were the only people in the inn.  Well, I thought, it’s only a few days.

“Is the wine included?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Well,” I said.  “It’s all right.”

I went back to Bill.  He blew his breath at me to show how cold it was, and went on playing.  I sat at one of the tables and looked at the pictures on the wall.  There was one panel of rabbits, dead, one of pheasants, also dead, and one panel of dead ducks.  The panels were all dark and smoky-looking.  There was a cupboard full of liqueur bottles.  I looked at them all.  Bill was still playing.  “How about a hot rum punch?” he said.  “This isn’t going to keep me warm permanently.”

I went out and told the woman what a rum punch was and how to make it.  In a few minutes a girl brought a stone pitcher, steaming, into the room.  Bill came over from the piano and we drank the hot punch and listened to the wind.

“There isn’t too much rum in that.”

I went over to the cupboard and brought the rum bottle and poured a half-tumblerful into the pitcher.

“Direct action,” said Bill.  “It beats legislation.”

- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Tags: fiction · language

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Cuz // Feb 17, 2008 at 9:56 PM

    I have been meaning to read some Hemingway – I think I’ll start with this one – exquisite writing.

    xoxo M

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