Chapter 20 Summary

Ready to bed down for the night, Robert Jordan prepares his sleeping spot by cutting down some pine boughs, spreading them on the snow, and securing them with a log and a plank he takes from inside the cave. Pilar objects that he has destroyed her new-made shelves. Robert Jordan apologizes, but Pilar says there are more planks at the sawmill. When she asks him what type of bed he has made, Robert Jordan replies that it is made in the style of his country. He asks her if there will not be sentries now that the storm is over. Pilar tells him that Fernando will stand sentry, so Robert Jordan bids them all good-night. Pilar asks him if he would like to take a sheep hide for his bed, but he declines.

Fernando goes out into the night with Robert Jordan, telling him that he has strange ideas to sleep outside on such a night. Robert Jordan answers that he is accustomed to it. He asks Fernando when he is relieved from guard duty. Fernando tells him at four o’clock. When Robert Jordan states that it will be very cold between then and four, Fernando teasingly says he is accustomed to it.

Robert Jordan places his sleeping robe on the pine boughs, undresses, and waits for Maria. He thinks about Pilar and her scent of death. To eradicate that from his mind, he concentrates on the scents of the pine trees. He remembers the smells of his youth in Montana, with the cattle, wood smoke, and the burning autumn leaves. It is the odor of nostalgia, he believes.

He sees someone come out of the cave, look around, then go back in. He prays that Maria will come out soon rather than wait until the rest are asleep. Not long after, he sees her come running barefoot through the snow, wearing only a chemise that she calls her wedding shirt. He recognizes it from the night before. She begs him to tell her again how much he loves her. She states that she loves him too and that she is his wife. They undress and hold each other close in the cold. Soon they make love, and afterward Maria cuddles against him. She apologizes for saying that making love to him was like moving into death, but he knows what she meant. They soon go to sleep. When Robert Jordan awakens in the night, he holds her tightly, but she does not wake up. He kisses her neck, pulls his pistol up closer to his side, and thinks throughout the night.