Chapter 24 Summary
Instead of taking the elevator, Henry and Catherine go down the stairs to the hotel lobby, where the waiter is waiting for them. The manager, who is a friend of Henry’s, had refused payment in advance but positioned the waiter by the exit just in case Henry decided to leave without paying. Evidently his “friends” had stiffed him previously. Friends are easy to make in wartime but do not always prove trustworthy.
After paying, Henry asks the waiter to get them a carriage. He takes Catherine’s package (her nightgown) and goes out to the street. It is raining, so Henry and Catherine wait inside. Henry asks Catherine how she feels. She tells him she feels sleepy. Henry feels hollow and hungry. Catherine asks if he has something to eat on the train; he does.
The carriage takes Henry and Catherine through the rain to the train station. Henry dismisses a porter who comes to carry the baggage. Henry and Catherine say good-bye simply and without emotion. The carriage takes Catherine back to the hospital. Catherine gestures to Henry to go inside out of the rain. He goes in, but he watches the carriage until it turns a corner.
On the train platform, the porter Henry had sent to save his seat is waiting. He follows Henry onto the train, past a crowd of people, to the seat a machine gunner is holding for him. His luggage is above on the rack. Many soldiers are standing in the isle and look resentfully at Henry. When Henry sits, someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns to see a captain of the artillery with a red scar along his jaw. The captain tells Henry that he can’t have a soldier save a seat for him. (It is obvious from his uniform that he is only an ambulance driver.) Henry tells him simply, “I have done it.” All the others look at Henry through the compartment window. No one inside the compartment says anything. The captain tells Henry that he has been waiting two hours for a seat, and he wants the seat. Henry says that he wants it as well. Eventually, Henry acknowledges that the captain is right and stands up to give him the seat. Though he searches for a spot in other parts of the train, he finds only a place in the aisle where he can lie down. He arranges himself, hoping that men will get off at the next stop although the machine gunner warns him that more men will come on. Henry goes to sleep in the aisle in the overcrowded train.