Chapter 40 Summary

As Robert Jordan slept through the night, Andres made slow progress on his mission to deliver the dispatch to General Golz. The company commander still accompanies him, but once inside the Republican lines, things move more slowly. He should have had no problem since he had the safe-conduct pass, but people are very suspicious.

At the battalion headquarters, the battalion commander (Gomez) meets him with enthusiasm. Instead of sending him on to brigade headquarters, Gomez offers to take him on his motorbike. As they reach the mountain town where headquarters is located, Gomez commands the sentry at the entrance to let him see the Lieutenant-Colonel. The sentry says he is asleep and refuses to get him. Gomez tries to make the sentry understand that Andres has an important dispatch for General Golz concerning the attack the next day, but the sentry does not seem to care, having never heard of Golz or word of any attack. Gomez pulls out his pistol, points it at the sentry, and threatens to kill him if he does not retrieve the Lieutenant-Colonel. The sentry tells them that the Lieutenant-Colonel is with his fiancée, but he goes to get him. Gomez despairs that the army is either cynical or ignorant.

The Lieutenant-Colonel Miranda enters. His wife had fallen out of love with him but it was impossible for him to get a divorce, so he joined the army of the Republic. All he cares about is leaving the army with the same rank with which he entered it. Miranda looks at Andres’s papers and questions him about the conditions up in the hills. He writes a strongly worded safe-conduct pass for Andres and tells Gomez to take him up to headquarters on the motorcycle.

Miranda asks Andres if he had seen any movement at the front. Andres says that everything was, as usual, very quiet. Miranda then recognizes Andres from an encounter three months previously. He asks how Anselmo is doing, and Andres tells him that the old man is doing fine. After Andres leaves, Miranda expresses relief that Golz, not himself, must undertake this mission. He looks at the officer on duty and sees that he is asleep with his head on the desk. He takes the two phones on the desk and pushes them close to the officer’s head.

In the meantime, Andres, hangs on very tightly on the back of Gomez’s motorcycle. As they climb up the mountain, their headlight shines on the gray bulk of empty trucks coming down toward them.