Chapter 34 Summary

Henry feels odd in his civilian clothes. Although the clothes that Simmons gives him are adequate, he cannot wear his old hat. He buys a new one and boards the train to Stresa. He sees some aviators staring at him with contempt because a man of his age should still be a civilian rather than a soldier. Henry does not feel insulted. He has a paper but does not want to read any news about the war.

At the train station in Stresa, Henry notices that there are no porters. The tourist season is now over, so he asks a station agent if there are any hotels open. The agent gives him a couple of suggestions. Henry gets a carriage and goes to one of the bigger hotels. There he tells the concierge that he is waiting for his wife, so he is given a large bridal chamber. He goes down to the bar where he finds that he knows the bartender. Henry explains that he is on convalescent leave. They share news, and then Henry asks if there are two English nurses around. The bartender finds out that they are at another small hotel near the train station. Henry eats dinner and refuses to answer the bartender’s questions about the war.

Henry goes to the hotel and sees Catherine and Helen Ferguson in the hotel restaurant. Catherine is overjoyed to see him, but Helen is furious with him for getting Catherine pregnant. She calls him a sneaking American Italian, like a snake. When Helen accuses Henry of sneaking off now that he’s got Catherine pregnant, Catherine says that they will both sneak off. Helen begins to cry, feeling deserted by Catherine. Helen tries show Catherine the shame of her situation, and Catherine promises to feel ashamed if she’ll just stop crying. Helen tells them to go, and Henry wants to because he is growing tired of Helen. Catherine says they will stay until after dinner.

Back in their hotel room, Henry and Catherine go to bed, sleeping and making love. Henry thinks about the great courage Catherine is showing, feeling that the world will kill such people in order to break them. In the morning, Henry and Catherine talk about their situation. Since Henry is out of uniform, he will be arrested and shot for desertion. He suggests that they go down the lake to Switzerland. Catherine agrees and tells Henry that he needs to stop feeling like a criminal. They agree to leave Italy immediately.