For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 37

Now Robert Jordan lay with the girl and he watched time passing on his wrist. It went slowly, almost imperceptibly, for it was a small watch and he could not see the second hand. But as he watched the minute hand he found he could almost check its motion with his concentration. The girl’s head was under his chin and when he moved his head to look at the watch he felt the cropped head against his cheek, and it was as soft but as alive and silkily rolling as when a marten’s fur rises under the caress of your hand when you spread the trap jaws open and lift the marten clear and, holding it, stroke the fur smooth. His throat swelled when his cheek moved against Maria’s hair and there was a hollow aching from his throat all through him as he held his arms around her; his head dropped, his eyes close to the watch where the lance-pointed, luminous splinter moved slowly up the left face of the dial. He could see its movement clearly and steadily now and he held Maria close now to slow it. He did not want to wake her but he could not leave her alone now in this last time and he put his lips behind her ear and moved them up along her neck, feeling the smooth skin and the soft touch of her hair on them. He could see the hand moving on the watch and he held her tighter and ran the tip of his tongue along her cheek and onto the lobe of her ear and along the lovely convolutions to the sweet, firm rim at the top, and his tongue was trembling. He felt the trembling run through all of the hollow aching and he saw the hand of the watch now mounting in sharp angle toward the top where the hour was. Now while she still slept he turned her head and put his lips to hers. They lay there, just touching lightly against the sleep-firm mouth and he swung them softly across it, feeling them brush lightly. He turned himself toward her and he felt her shiver along the long, light lovely body and then she sighed, sleeping, and then she, still sleeping, held him too and then, unsleeping, her lips were against his firm and hard and pressing and he said, “But the pain.”

And she said, “Nay, there is no pain.”


“Nay, speak not.”

“My rabbit.”

“Speak not. Speak not.”

Then they were together so that as the hand on the watch moved, unseen now, they knew that nothing could ever happen to the one that did not happen to the othei that no other thing could happen more than this; that this was all and always; this was what had been and now and whatever was to come. This, that they were not to have, they were having. They were having now and before and always and now and now and now. Oh, now, now, now, the only now, and above all now, and there is no other now but thou now and now is thy prophet. Now and forever now. Come now, now, for there is no now but now. Yes, now. Now, please now, only now, not anything else only this now, and where are you and where am I and where is the other one, and not why, not ever why, only this now; and on and always please then always now, always now, for now always one now; one only one, there is no other one but one now, one, going now, rising now, sailing now, leaving now, wheeling now, soaring now, away now, all the way now, all of all the way now; one and one is one, is one, is one, is one, is still one, is still one, is one descendingly, is one softly, is one longingly, is one kindly, is one happily, is one in goodness, is one to cherish, is one now on earth with elbows against the cut and slept-on branches of the pine tree with the smell of the pine boughs and the night; to earth conclusively now, and with the morning of the day to come. Then he said, for the other was only in his head and he had said nothing, “Oh, Maria, I love thee and I thank thee for this.”

Maria said, “Do not speak. It is better if we do not speak.”

“I must tell thee for it is a great thing.”



But she held him tight and turned her head away and he asked softly, “Is it pain, rabbit?”

“Nay,” she said. “It is that I am thankful too to have been another time in la gloria.”

Then afterwards they lay quiet, side by side, all length of ankle, thigh, hip and shoulder touching, Robert Jordan now with the watch where he could see it again and Maria said, “We have had much good fortune.”

“Yes,” he said, “we are people of much luck.”

“There is not time to sleep?”

“No,” he said, “it starts soon now.”

“Then if we must rise let us go to get something to eat.”

“All right.”

“Thou. Thou art not worried about anything?”



“No. Not now.”

“But thou hast worried before?”

“For a while.”

“Is it aught I can help?”

“Nay,” he said. “You have helped enough.”

“That? That was for me.”

“That was for us both,” he said. “No one is there alone. Come, rabbit, let us dress.”

But his mind, that was his best companion, was thinking La Gloria. She said La Gloria. It has nothing to do with glory nor La Gloire that the French write and speak about. It is the thing that is in the Cante Hondo and in the Saetas. It is in Greco and in San Juan de la Cruz, of course, and in the others. I am no mystic, but to deny it is as ignorant as though you denied the telephone or that the earth revolves around the sun or that there are other planets than this.

How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think, than in all the other time. I’d like to be an old man and to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew about so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.

“You taught me a lot, guapa,” he said in English.

“What did you say?”

“I have learned much from thee.”

“Qué va,” she said, “it is thou who art educated.”

Educated, he thought. I have the very smallest beginnings of an education. The very small beginnings. If I die on this day it is a waste because I know a few things now. I wonder if you only learn them now because you are oversensitized because of the shortness of the time? There is no such thing as a shortness of time, though. You should have sense enough to know that too. I have been all my life in these hills since I have been here. Anselmo is my oldest friend. I know him better than I know Charles, than I know Chub, than I know Guy, than I know Mike, and I know them well. Agustín, with his vile mouth, is my brother, and I never had a brother. Maria is my true love and my wife. I never had a true love. I never had a wife. She is also my sister, and I never had a sister, and my daughter, and I never will have a daughter. I hate to leave a thing that is so good. He finished tying his rope-soled shoes.

“I find life very interesting,” he said to Maria. She was sitting beside him on the robe, her hands clasped around her ankles. Some one moved the blanket aside from the entrance to the cave and they both saw the light. It was night still and here was no promise of morning except that as he looked up through the pines he saw how low the stars had swung. The morning would be coming fast now in this month.

“Roberto,” Maria said.

“Yes, guapa.”

“In this of today we will be together, will we not?”

“After the start, yes.”

“Not at the start?”

“No. Thou wilt be with the horses.”

“I cannot be with thee?”

“No. I have work that only I can do and I would worry about thee.”

“But you will come fast when it is done?”

“Very fast,” he said and grinned in the dark. “Come, guapa, let us go and eat.”

“And thy robe?”

“Roll it up, if it pleases thee.”

“It pleases me,” she said.

“I will help thee.”

“Nay. Let me do it alone.”

She knelt to spread and roll the robe, then changed her mind and stood up and shook it so it flapped. Then she knelt down again to straighten it and roll it. Robert Jordan picked up the two packs, holding them carefully so that nothing would spill from the slits in them, and walked over through the pines to the cave mouth where the smoky blanket hung. It was ten minutes to three by his watch when he pushed the blanket aside with his elbow and went into the cave.