A Farewell to Arms Chapter 4
The next morning, Fred wakes to guns firing from the battery. He goes out to inspect the ambulances over which he has command. One of the mechanics explains that the battery will never be hit because it is sheltered by a hill. They talk briefly about his leave and then Fred wanders off. He speaks to the sergeant mechanic and finds he isn't really needed, so he goes to the mess house and then visits some of the mountain posts. He feels useless and does not seem to fit in the surroundings. Rinaldi wants him to meet Miss Barkley and Fred goes with him reluctantly. Before they go, they drink some strong grappa. When they get to the British hospital where Miss Barkley works, she immediately notes that Fred is not an Italian, but is serving in the Italian army nevertheless. Fred finds her very attractive.
"Miss Barkley was quite tall. She wore what seemed to be a nurse's uniform, was blonde and had a tawny skin and gray eyes. I thought she was very beautiful." Chapter 4, pg. 18
Her fiancée was killed in the Somme the year before and she has a stick, sent from his final days, hanging around her neck. Fred and Miss Barkley talk about the war. They are both detached from it and cynical about its outcome. She asks him if he has ever loved anyone--after he says no, he tells her she has very beautiful hair. She tells him that she considered cutting it off after her fiancée's death. She regrets not having married him. During this conversation, Rinaldi is talking to the other nurse, Miss Ferguson. Miss Barkley thinks that the front is silly and she tells Fred that she has been nursing since 1915. Together, they wonder if the war will ever end, implicitly believing that it will not. Rinaldi asks Miss Ferguson if she loves Italy; she says that she loves it more than England. Rinaldi doesn't understand that Miss Ferguson is from Scotland, not England. As they leave, Rinaldi tells Fred that Miss Barkley prefers Fred to him. Rinaldi says he doesn't mind, because he doesn't like her anyway.