For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 20

Now in the night he lay and waited for the girl to come to him. There was no wind now and the pines were still in the night. The trunks of the pines projected from the snow that covered all the ground, and he lay in the robe feeling the suppleness of the bed under him that he had made, his legs stretched long against the warmth of the robe, the air sharp and cold on his head and in his nostrils as he breathed. Under his head, as he lay on his side, was the bulge of the trousers and the coat that he had wrapped around his shoes to make a pillow and against his side was the cold metal of the big automatic pistol he had taken from the holster when he undressed and fastened by its lanyard to his right wrist. He pushed the pistol away and settled deeper into the robe as he watched, across the snow, the dark break in the rocks that was the entrance to the cave. The sky was clear and there was enough light reflected from the snow to see the trunks of the trees and the bulk of the rocks where the cave was.

Earlier in the evening he had taken the ax and gone outside of the cave and walked through the new snow to the edge of the clearing and cut down a small spruce tree. In the dark he had dragged it, butt first, to the lee of the rock wall. There close to the rock, he had held the tree upright, holding the trunk firm with one hand, and, holding the ax-haft close to the head had lopped off all the boughs until he had a pile of them. Then, leaving the pile of boughs, he had laid the bare pole of the trunk down in the snow and gone into the cave to get a slab of wood he had seen against the wall. With this slab he scraped the ground clear of the snow along the rock wall and then picked up his boughs and shaking them clean of snow laid them in rows, like overlapping plumes, until he had a bed. He put the pole across the foot of the bough bed to hold the branches in place and pegged it firm with two pointed pieces of wood he split from the edge of the slab.

Then he carried the slab and the ax back into the cave, ducking under the blanket as he came in, and leaned them both against the wall.

“What do you do outside?” Pilar had asked.

“I made a bed.”

“Don’t cut pieces from my new shelf for thy bed.”

“I am sorry.”

“It has no importance,” she said. “There are more slabs at the sawmill. What sort of bed hast thou made?”

“As in my country.”

“Then sleep well on it,” she had said and Robert Jordan had opened one of the packs and pulled the robe out and replaced those things wrapped in it back in the pack and carried the robe out, ducking under the blanket again, and spread it over the boughs so that the closed end of the robe was against the pole that was pegged cross-wise at the foot of the bed. The open head of the robe was protected by the rock wall of the cliff. Then he went back into the cave for his packs but Pilar said, “They can sleep with me as last night.”

“Will you not have sentries?” he asked. “The night is clear and the storm is over.”

“Fernando goes,” Pilar said.

Maria was in the back of the cave and Robert Jordan could not see her.

“Good night to every one,” he had said. “I am going to sleep.”

Of the others, who were laying out blankets and bedrolls on the floor in front of the cooking fire, pushing back the slab tables and the rawhide-covered stools to make sleeping space, Primitivo and Andrés looked up and said, “Buenas noches.”

Anselmo was already asleep in a corner, rolled in his blanket and his cape, not even his nose showing. Pablo was asleep in his chair.

“Do you want a sheep hide for thy bed?” Pilar asked Robert Jordan softly.

“Nay,” he said. “Thank thee. I do not need it.”

“Sleep well,” she said. “I will respond for thy material.”

Fernando had gone out with him and stood a moment where Robert Jordan had spread the sleeping robe.

“You have a curious idea to sleep in the open, Don Roberto,” he said standing there in the dark, muffled in his blanket cape, his carbine slung over his shoulder.

“I am accustomed to it. Good night.”

“Since you are accustomed to it.”

“When are you relieved?”

“At four.”

“There is much cold between now and then.”

“I am accustomed to it,” Fernando said.

“Since, then, you are accustomed to it—” Robert Jordan said politely.

“Yes,” Fernando agreed. “Now I must get up there. Good night, Don Roberto.”

“Good night, Fernando.”

Then he had made a pillow of the things he took off and gotten into the robe and then lain and waited, feeling the spring of the boughs under the flannelly, feathered lightness of the robe warmth, watching the mouth of the cave across the snow; feeling his heart beat as he waited.

The night was clear and his head felt as clear and cold as the air. He smelled the odor of the pine boughs under him, the piney smell of the crushed needles and the sharper odor of the resinous sap from the cut limbs. Pilar, he thought. Pilar and the smell of death. This is the smell I love. This and fresh-cut clover, the crushed sage as you ride after cattle, wood-smoke and the burning leaves of autumn. That must be the odor of nostalgia, the smell of the smoke from the piles of raked leaves burning in the streets in the fall in Missoula. Which would you rather smell? Sweet grass the Indians used in their baskets? Smoked leather? The odor of the ground in the spring after rain? The smell of the sea as you walk through the gorse on a headland in Galicia? Or the wind from the land as you come in toward Cuba in the dark? That was the odor of the cactus flowers, mimosa and the sea-grape shrubs. Or would you rather smell frying bacon in the morning when you are hungry? Or coffee in the morning? Or a Jonathan apple as you bit into it? Or a cider mill in the grinding, or bread fresh from the oven? You must be hungry, he thought, and he lay on his side and watched the entrance of the cave in the light that the stars reflected from the snow.

Some one came out from under the blanket and he could see whoever it was standing by the break in the rock that made the entrance. Then he heard a slithering sound in the snow and then whoever it was ducked down and went back in.

I suppose she won’t come until they are all asleep, he thought. It is a waste of time. The night is half gone. Oh, Maria. Come now quickly, Maria, for there is little time. He heard the soft sound of snow falling from a branch onto the snow on the ground. A little wind was rising. He felt it on his face. Suddenly he felt a panic that she might not come. The wind rising now reminded him how soon it would be morning. More snow fell from the branches as he heard the wind now moving the pine tops.

Come now, Maria. Please come here now quickly, he thought. Oh, come here now. Do not wait. There is no importance any more to your waiting until they are asleep.

Then he saw her coming out from under the blanket that covered the cave mouth. She stood there a moment and he knew it was she but he could not see what she was doing. He whistled a low whistle and she was still at the cave mouth doing something in the darkness of the rock shadow. Then she came running, carrying something in her hands and he saw her running long-legged through the snow. Then she was kneeling by the robe, her head pushed hard against him, slapping snow from her feet. She kissed him and handed him her bundle.

“Put it with thy pillow,” she said. “I took these off there to save time.”

“You came barefoot through the snow?”

“Yes,” she said, “and wearing only my wedding shirt.”

He held her close and tight in his arms and she rubbed her head against his chin.

“Avoid the feet,” she said. “They are very cold, Roberto.”

“Put them here and warm them.”

“Nay,” she said. “They will warm quickly. But say quickly now that you love me.”

“I love thee.”

“Good. Good. Good.”

“I love thee, little rabbit.”

“Do you love my wedding shirt?”

“It is the same one as always.”

“Yes. As last night. It is my wedding shirt.”

“Put thy feet here.”

“Nay, that would be abusive. They will warm of themselves. They are warm to me. It is only that the snow has made them cold toward thee. Say it again.”

“I love thee, my little rabbit.”

“I love thee, too, and I am thy wife.”

“Were they asleep?”

“No,” she said. “But I could support it no longer. And what importance has it?”

“None,” he said, and felt her against him, slim and long and warmly lovely. “No other thing has importance.”

“Put thy hand on my head,” she said, “and then let me see if I can kiss thee.

“Was it well?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “Take off thy wedding shirt.”

“You think I should?”

“Yes, if thou wilt not be cold.”

“Qué va, cold. I am on fire.”

“I, too. But afterwards thou wilt not be cold?”

“No. Afterwards we will be as one animal of the forest and be so close that neither one can tell that one of us is one and not the other. Can you not feel my heart be your heart?”

“Yes. There is no difference.”

“Now, feel. I am thee and thou art me and all of one is the other. And I love thee, oh, I love thee so. Are you not truly one? Canst thou not feel it?”

“Yes,” he said. “It is true.”

“And feel now. Thou hast no heart but mine.”

“Nor any other legs, nor feet, nor of the body.”

“But we are different,” she said. “I would have us exactly the same.”

“You do not mean that.”

“Yes I do. I do. That is a thing I had to tell thee.”

“You do not mean that.”

“Perhaps I do not,” she said speaking softly with her lips against his shoulder. “But I wished to say it. Since we are different I am glad that thou art Roberto and I Maria. But if thou should ever wish to change I would be glad to change. I would be thee because I love thee so.”

“I do not wish to change. It is better to be one and each one to be the one he is.”

“But we will be one now and there will never be a separate one.” Then she said, “I will be thee when thou are not there. Oh, I love thee so and I must care well for thee.”






“Oh, yes. Please.”

“Art thou not cold?”

“Oh, no. Pull the robe over thy shoulders.”


“I cannot speak.”

“Oh, Maria. Maria. Maria.”

Then afterwards, close, with the night cold outside, in the long warmth of the robe, her head touching his cheek, she lay quiet and happy against him and then said softly, “And thou?”

“Como tu,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “But it was not as this afternoon.”


“But I loved it more. One does not need to die.”

“Ojala no,” he said. “I hope not.”

“I did not mean that.”

“I know. I know what thou meanest. We mean the same.”

“Then why did you say that instead of what I meant?”

“With a man there is a difference.”

“Then I am glad that we are different.”

“And so am I,” he said. “But I understood about the dying. I only spoke thus, as a man, from habit. I feel the same as thee.”

“However thou art and however thou speakest is how I would have thee be.”

“And I love thee and I love thy name, Maria.”

“It is a common name.”

“No,” he said. “It is not common.”

“Now should we sleep?” she said. “I could sleep easily.”

“Let us sleep,” he said, and he felt the long light body, warm against him, comforting against him, abolishing loneliness against him, magically, by a simple touching of flanks, of shoulders and of feet, making an alliance against death with him, and he said, “Sleep well, little long rabbit.”

She said, “I am asleep already.”

“I am going to sleep,” he said. “Sleep well, beloved.” Then he was asleep and happy as he slept.

But in the night he woke and held her tight as though she were all of life and it was being taken from him. He held her feeling she was all of life there was and it was true. But she was sleeping well and soundly and she did not wake. So he rolled away onto his side and pulled the robe over her head and kissed her once on her neck under the robe and then pulled the pistol lanyard up and put the pistol by his side where he could reach it handily and then he lay there in the night thinking.