“I suppose you can’t be blamed for not wanting to go back to the front. But I should think you would try something more intelligent than producing jaundice with alcoholism. . . . With alcoholism. You heard me say it.” I did not say anything. “Unless you find something else I’m afraid you will have to go back to the front when you are through with your jaundice. I don’t believe self-inflicted jaundice entitles you to a convalescent leave.”
I paid for the cartridges and the pistol, filled the magazine and put it in place, put the pistol in my empty holster, filled the extra clips with cartridges and put them in the leather slots on the holster, and then buckled on my belt. The pistol felt heavy on the belt. Still, I thought, it was better to have a regulation pistol. You could always get shells. “Now we’re fully armed,” I said. “That was the one thing I had to remember to do. Some one got my other one going to the hospital.”
I went to the window and looked out, then pulled a cord that shut the thick plush curtains. Catherine was sitting on the bed, looking at the cut glass chandelier. She had taken her hat off and her hair shone under the light. She saw herself in one of the mirrors and put her hands to her hair. I saw her in three other mirrors. She did not look happy. She let her cape fall on the bed. . . . “I never felt like a whore before,” she said. I went over to the window and pulled the curtain aside and looked out. I had not thought it would be like this.
I slept all night, waking at Brescia and Verona when more men got on the train, but going back to sleep at once. I had my head on one of the musettes and my arms around the other and I could feel the pack and they could all walk over me if they wouldn’t step on me. Men were sleeping on the floor all down the corridor. Others stood holding onto the window rods or leaning against the doors. That train was always crowded.
“There are two up in the mountains and four still on the Bainsizza. The other two ambulance sections are in the Carso with the third army. . . . You can go and take over the four cars on the Bainsizza if you like. Gino has been up there a long time. You haven’t seen it up there, have you? . . . It was very bad. We lost three cars. . . ,” the major said. “You couldn’t believe how bad it’s been. I’ve often thought you were lucky to be hit when you were . . . Next year it will be worse. . . . Perhaps they will attack now. They say they are to attack but I can’t believe it.”