Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508
Catherine leaves Henry to visit with Helen Ferguson down by the lake. Henry sits in the bar and reads the newspapers. He is at last ready to learn about the progress of the war. He recognizes some of the places mentioned in the articles.
The barman tells Henry that Count Greffi has asked to see him. Greffi is a ninety-four-year-old man Henry had met on a previous visit. The focus of their relationship was billiards, and the Count wants to play once again with Henry. In the meantime, Henry asks the barman, who has nothing to do at the moment, to go fishing with him. The barman agrees, and they row out into the lake. Not catching any fish, they decide to get a drink at a café on an island. The barman offers to row back and again asks how the war is going. Henry tells him that it is going rotten. The barman says that, like Count Greffi, he is old and so will not have to go. Henry warns him that he might have to if the war continues much longer. The barman states that he will instead leave the country. He had previously fought in the war with Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and that is enough for him. When the barman asks why he went to war, Henry says he does not know but that he was a fool to do so. The men row back and again catch nothing. The barman tells Henry that he may have the key to the boat any time he wants.
Catherine returns and tells Henry that Helen will join them for lunch. Henry says that he doesn’t mind. Catherine can tell something is wrong and asks Henry about it, but he says he doesn’t know. Catherine feels bad about leaving him to visit with Helen and encourages him to go out and do something. He tells her that he went fishing with the barman. She says that it would be easier if he tried not to think about her when she was absent. Henry tells her that he did this at the front, but there was something to do then, unlike here.
At lunch with Catherine and Helen, Henry sees Count Greffi with his niece, who reminds Henry of his grandmother. Helen leaves after lunch, and Catherine says she wants to lie down for a nap. The Count sends an invitation to billiards up to Henry’s room, and Henry accepts. As they play, the Count talks of getting old. He finds it easier to speak Italian than his native German. They talk of literature (Henry hasn’t read anything good for a while) and life after death. Henry asks Count Greffi what he really thinks of the war. Greffi’s reply is that it is stupid and that Italy will win because it is the younger nation. As he leaves, Count Greffi asks Henry to pray for him after he dies. He has lost his faith in religion, so he relies on the faith of others.
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