“Colonel Korn says,” said Major Danby to Yossarian with a prissy, gratified smile, “that the deal is still on.
Everything is working out fine.”
“No it isn't.”
“Oh, yes, indeed,” Major Danby insisted benevolently. “In fact, everything is much better. It was really a strokeof luck that you were almost murdered by that girl. Now the deal can go through perfectly.”
“I'm not making any deals with Colonel Korn.”
Major Danby's effervescent optimism vanished instantly, and he broke out all at once into a bubbling sweat.
“But you do have a deal with him, don't you?” he asked in anguished puzzlement. “Don't you have anagreement?”
“I'm breaking the agreement.”
“But you shook hands on it, didn't you? You gave him your word as a gentleman.”
“I'm breaking my word.”
“Oh, dear,” sighed Major Danby, and began dabbing ineffectually at his careworn brow with a folded whitehandkerchief. “But why, Yossarian? It's a very good deal they're offering you.”
“It's a lousy deal, Danby. It's an odious deal.”
“Oh, dear,” Major Danby fretted, running his bare hand over his dark, wiry hair, which was already soaked withperspiration to the tops of the thick, close-cropped waves. “Oh dear.”
“Danby, don't you think it's odious?”
Major Danby pondered a moment. “Yes, I suppose it is odious,” he conceded with reluctance. His globular,exophthalmic eyes were quite distraught. “But why did you make such a deal if you didn't like it?”
“I did it in a moment of weakness,” Yossarian wisecracked with glum irony. “I was trying to save my life.”
“Don't you want to save your life now?”
“That's why I won't let them make me fly more missions.”
“Then let them send you home and you'll be in no more danger.”
“Let them send me home because I flew more than fifty missions,” Yossarian said, “and not because I wasstabbed by that girl, or because I've turned into such a stubborn son of a bitch.”
Major Danby shook his head emphatically in sincere and bespectacled vexation. “They'd have to send nearlyevery man home if they did that. Most of the men have more than fifty missions. Colonel Cathcart couldn'tpossibly requisition so many inexperienced replacement crews at one time without causing an investigation. He'scaught in his own trap.”
“That's his problem.”
“No, no, no, Yossarian,” Major Danby disagreed solicitously. “It's your problem. Because if you don't gothrough with the deal, they're going to institute court-martial proceedings as soon as you sign out of thehospital.”
Yossarian thumbed his nose at Major Danby and laughed with smug elation. “The hell they will! Don't lie to me,Danby. They wouldn't even try.”
“But why wouldn't they?” inquired Major Danby, blinking with astonishment.
“Because I've really got them over a barrel now. There's an official report that says I was stabbed by a Naziassassin trying to kill them. They'd certainly look silly trying to court-martial me after that.”
“But, Yossarian!” Major Danby exclaimed. “There's another official report that says you were stabbed by aninnocent girl in the course of extensive black-market operations involving acts of sabotage and the sale ofmilitary secrets to the enemy.”
Yossarian was taken back severely with surprise and disappointment. “Another official report?”
“Yossarian, they can prepare as many official reports as they want and choose whichever ones they need on anygiven occasion. Didn't you know that?”
“Oh, dear,” Yossarian murmured in heavy dejection, the blood draining from his face. “Oh, dear.”
Major Danby pressed forward avidly with a look of vulturous well-meaning. “Yossarian, do what they want andlet them send you home. It's best for everyone that way.”
“It's best for Cathcart, Korn and me, not for everyone.”
“For everyone,” Major Danby insisted. “It will solve the whole problem.”
“Is it best for the men in the group who will have to keep flying more missions?”
Major Danby flinched and turned his face away unorgfortably for a second. “Yossarian,” he replied, “it willhelp nobody if you force Colonel Cathcart to court-martial you and prove you guilty of all the crimes with whichyou'll be charged. You will go to prison for a long time, and your whole life will be ruined.”
Yossarian listened to him with a growing feeling of concern. “What crimes will they charge me with?”
“Inorgpetence over Ferrara, insubordination, refusal to engage the enemy in orgbat when ordered to do so, anddesertion.”
Yossarian sucked his cheeks in soberly. “They could charge me with all that, could they? They gave me a medalfor Ferrara. How could they charge me with inorgpetence now?”
“Aarfy will swear that you and McWatt lied in your official report.”
“I'll bet the bastard would!”
“They will also find you guilty,” Major Danby recited, “of rape, extensive black-market operations, acts ofsabotage and the sale of military secrets to the enemy.”
“How will they prove any of that? I never did a single one of those things.”
“But they have witnesses who will swear you did. They can get all the witnesses they need simply by persuadingthem that destroying you is for the good of the country. And in a way, it would be for the good of the country.”
“In what way?” Yossarian demanded, rising up slowly on one elbow with bridling hostility.
Major Danby drew back a bit and began mopping his forehead again. “Well, Yossarian,” he began with anapologetic stammer, “it would not help the war effort to bring Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn into disreputenow. Let's face it, Yossarianin spite of everything, the group does have a very good record. If you were courtmartialedand found innocent, other men would probably refuse to fly missions, too. Colonel Cathcart would bein disgrace, and the military efficiency of the unit might be destroyed. So in that way it would be for the good ofthe country to have you found guilty and put in prison, even though you are innocent.”
“What a sweet way you have of putting things!” Yossarian snapped with caustic resentment.
Major Danby turned red and squirmed and squinted uneasily. “Please don't blame me,” he pleaded with a look ofanxious integrity. “You know it's not my fault. All I'm doing is trying to look at things objectively and arrive ata solution to a very difficult situation.”
“I didn't create the situation.”
“But you can resolve it. And what else can you do? You don't want to fly more missions.”
“I can run away.”
“Desert. Take off I can turn my back on the whole damned mess and start running.”
Major Danby was shocked. “Where to? Where could you go?”
“I could get to Rome easily enough. And I could hide myself there.”
“And live in danger every minute of your life that they would find you? No, no, no, no, Yossarian. That wouldbe a disastrous and ignoble thing to do. Running away from problems never solved them. Please believe me. Iam only trying to help you.”
“That's what that kind detective said before he decided to jab his thumb into my wound,” Yossarian retortedsarcastically.
“I am not a detective,” Major Danby replied with indignation, his cheeks flushing again. “I'm a universityprofessor with a highly developed sense of right and wrong, and I wouldn't try to deceive you. I wouldn't lie toanyone.”
“What would you do if one of the men in the group asked you about this conversation?”
“I would lie to him.”
Yossarian laughed mockingly, and Major Danby, despite his blushing disorgfort, leaned back with relief, asthough welorging the respite Yossarian's changing mood promised. Yossarian gazed at him with a mixture ofreserved pity and contempt. He sat up in bed with his back resting against the headboard, lit a cigarette, smiledslightly with wry amusement, and stared with whimsical sympathy at the vivid, pop-eyed horror that hadimplanted itself permanently on Major Danby's face the day of the mission to Avignon, when General Dreedlehad ordered him taken outside and shot. The startled wrinkles would always remain, like deep black scars, andYossarian felt sorry for the gentle, moral, middle-aged idealist, as he felt sorry for so many people whoseshortorgings were not large and whose troubles were light.
With deliberate amiability he said, “Danby, how can you work along with people like Cathcart and Korn?
Doesn't it turn your stomach?”
Major Danby seemed surprised by Yossarian's question. “I do it to help my country,” he replied, as though theanswer should have been obvious. “Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn are my superiors, and obeying theirorders is the only contribution I can make to the war effort. I work along with them because it's my duty. Andalso,” he added in a much lower voice, dropping his eyes, “because I am not a very aggressive person.”
“Your country doesn't need your help any more,” Yossarian reasoned with antagonism. “So all you're doing ishelping them.”
“I try not to think of that,” Major Danby admitted frankly. “But I try to concentrate on only the big result and toforget that they are succeeding, too. I try to pretend that they are not significant.”
“That's my trouble, you know,” Yossarian mused sympathetically, folding his arms. “Between me and everyideal I always find Scheisskopfs, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal.”
“You must try not to think of them,” Major Danby advised affirmatively. “And you must never let them changeyour values. Ideals are good, but people are sometimes not so good. You must try to look up at the big picture.”
Yossarian rejected the advice with a skeptical shake of his head. “When I look up, I see people cashing in. Idon't see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.”
“But you must try not to think of that, too,” Major Danby insisted. “And you must try not to let it upset you.”
“Oh, it doesn't really upset me. What does upset me, though, is that they think I'm a sucker. They think thatthey're smart, and that the rest of us are dumb. And, you know, Danby, the thought occurs to me right now, forthe first time, that maybe they're right.”
“But you must try not to think of that too,” argued Major Danby. “You must think only of the welfare of yourcountry and the dignity of man.”
“Yeah,” said Yossarian.
“I mean it, Yossarian. This is not World War One. You must never forget that we're at war with aggressors whowould not let either one of us live if they won.”
“I know that,” Yossarian replied tersely, with a sudden surge of scowling annoyance. “Christ, Danby, I earnedthat medal I got, no matter what their reasons were for giving it to me. I've flown seventy goddam orgbatmissions. Don't talk to me about fighting to save my country. I've been fighting all along to save my country.
Now I'm going to fight a little to save myself. The country's not in danger any more, but I am.”
“The war's not over yet. The Germans are driving toward Antwerp.”
“The Germans will be beaten in a few months. And Japan will be beaten a few months after that. If I were to giveup my life now, it wouldn't be for my country. It would be for Cathcart and Korn. So I'm turning my bombsightin for the duration. From now on I'm thinking only of me.”
Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile, “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.”
“Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?” Yossarian sat up straighter with aquizzical expression. “You know, I have a queer feeling that I've been through this exact conversation beforewith someone. It's just like the chaplain's sensation of having experienced everything twice.”
“The chaplain wants you to let them send you home,” Major Danby remarked.
“The chaplain can jump in the lake.”
“Oh, dear.” Major Danby sighed, shaking his head in regretful disappointment. “He's afraid he might haveinfluenced you.”
“He didn't influence me. You know what I might do? I might stay right here in this hospital bed and vegetate. Icould vegetate very orgfortably right here and let other people make the decisions.”
“You must make decisions,” Major Danby disagreed. “A person can't live like a vegetable.”
A distant warm look entered Major Danby's eyes. “It must be nice to live like a vegetable,” he concededwistfully.
“It's lousy,” answered Yossarian.
“No, it must be very pleasant to be free from all this doubt and pressure,” insisted Major Danby. “I think I'd liketo live like a vegetable and make no important decisions.”
“What kind of vegetable, Danby?”
“A cucumber or a carrot.”
“What kind of cucumber? A good one or a bad one?”
“Oh, a good one, of course.”
“They'd cut you off in your prime and slice you up for a salad.”
Major Danby's face fell. “A poor one, then.”
“They'd let you rot and use you for fertilizer to help the good ones grow.”
“I guess I don't want to live like a vegetable, then,” said Major Danby with a smile of sad resignation.
“Danby, must I really let them send me home?” Yossarian inquired of him seriously.
Major Danby shrugged. “It's a way to save yourself.”
“It's a way to lose myself, Danby. You ought to know that.”
“You could have lots of things you want.”
“I don't want lots of things I want,” Yossarian replied, and then beat his fist down against the mattress in anoutburst of rage and frustration. “Goddammit, Danby! I've got friends who were killed in this war. I can't makea deal now. Getting stabbed by that bitch was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Would you rather go to jail?”
“Would you let them send you home?”
“Of course I would!” Major Danby declared with conviction. “Certainly I would,” he added a few moments later,in a less positive manner. “Yes, I suppose I would let them send me home if I were in your place,” he decidedunorgfortably, after lapsing into troubled contemplation. Then he threw his face sideways disgustedly in agesture of violent distress and blurted out, “Oh, yes, of course I'd let them send me home! But I'm such a terriblecoward I couldn't really be in your place.”
“But suppose you weren't a coward?” Yossarian demanded, studying him closely. “Suppose you did have thecourage to defy somebody?”
“Then I wouldn't let them send me home,” Major Danby vowed emphatically with vigorous joy and enthusiasm.
“But I certainly wouldn't let them court-martial me.”
“Would you fly more missions?”
“No, of course not. That would be total capitulation. And I might be killed.”
“Then you'd run away?”
Major Danby started to retort with proud spirit and came to an abrupt stop, his half-opened jaw swinging closeddumbly. He pursed his lips in a tired pout. “I guess there just wouldn't be any hope for me, then, would there?”
His forehead and protuberant white eyeballs were soon glistening nervously again. He crossed his limp wrists inhis lap and hardly seemed to be breathing as he sat with his gaze drooping toward the floor in acquiescent defeat.
Dark, steep shadows slanted in from the window. Yossarian watched him solemnly, and neither of the two menstirred at the rattling noise of a speeding vehicle skidding to a stop outside and the sound of racing footstepspounding toward the building in haste.
“Yes, there's hope for you,” Yossarian remembered with a sluggish flow of inspiration. “Milo might help you.
He's bigger than Colonel Cathcart, and he owes me a few favors.”
Major Danby shook his head and answered tonelessly. “Milo and Colonel Cathcart are pals now. He madeColonel Cathcart a vice-president and promised him an important job after the war.”
“Then ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen will help us,” Yossarian exclaimed. “He hates them both, and this will infuriatehim.”
Major Danby shook his head bleakly again. “Milo and ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen merged last week. They're allpartners now in M & M Enterprises.”
“Then there is no hope for us, is there?”
“No hope at all, is there?”
“No, no hope at all,” Major Danby conceded. He looked up after a while with a half-formed notion. “Wouldn't itbe nice if they could disappear us the way they disappeared the others and relieve us of all these crushingburdens?”
Yossarian said no. Major Danby agreed with a melancholy nod, lowering his eyes again, and there was no hopeat all for either of them until footsteps exploded in the corridor suddenly and the chaplain, shouting at the top ofhis voice, came bursting into the room with the electrifying news about Orr, so overorge with hilariousexcitement that he was almost incoherent for a minute or two. Tears of great elation were sparkling in his eyes,and Yossarian leaped out of bed with an incredulous yelp when he finally understood.
“Sweden?” he cried.
“Orr!” cried the chaplain.
“Orr?” cried Yossarian.
“Sweden!” cried the chaplain, shaking his head up and down with gleeful rapture and prancing aboutuncontrollably from spot to spot in a grinning, delicious frenzy. “It's a miracle, I tell you! A miracle! I believe inGod again. I really do. Washed ashore in Sweden after so many weeks at sea! It's a miracle.”
“Washed ashore, hell!” Yossarian declared, jumping all about also and roaring in laughing exultation at thewalls, the ceiling, the chaplain and Major Danby. “He didn't wash ashore in Sweden. He rowed there! He rowedthere, Chaplain, he rowed there.”
“He planned it that way! He went to Sweden deliberately.”
“Well, I don't care!” the chaplain flung back with undiminished zeal. “It's still a miracle, a miracle of humanintelligence and human endurance. Look how much he acorgplished!” The chaplain clutched his head with bothhands and doubled over in laughter. “Can't you just picture him?” he exclaimed with amazement. “Can't you justpicture him in that yellow raft, paddling through the Straits of Gibraltar at night with that tiny little blue oar““With that fishing line trailing out behind him, eating raw codfish all the way to Sweden, and serving himself teaevery afternoon““I can just see him!” cried the chaplain, pausing a moment in his celebration to catch his breath. “It's a miracle ofhuman perseverance, I tell you. And that's just what I'm going to do from now on! I'm going to persevere. Yes,I'm going to persevere.”
“He knew what he was doing every step of the way!” Yossarian rejoiced, holding both fists aloft triumphantly asthough hoping to squeeze revelations from them. He spun to a stop facing Major Danby. “Danby, you dope!
There is hope, after all. Can't you see? Even Clevinger might be alive somewhere in that cloud of his, hidinginside until it's safe to orge out.”
“What are you talking about?” Major Danby asked in confusion. “What are you both talking about?”
“Bring me apples, Danby, and chestnuts too. Run, Danby, run. Bring me crab apples and horse chestnuts beforeit's too late, and get some for yourself.”
“Horse chestnuts? Crab apples? What in the world for?”
“To pop into our cheeks, of course.” Yossarian threw his arms up into the air in a gesture of mighty anddespairing selfrecrimination. “Oh, why didn't I listen to him? Why wouldn't I have some faith?”
“Have you gone crazy?” Major Danby demanded with alarm and bewilderment. “Yossarian, will you please tellme what you are talking about?”
“Danby, Orr planned it that way. Don't you understandhe planned it that way from the beginning. He evenpracticed getting shot down. He rehearsed for it on every mission he flew. And I wouldn't go with him! Oh, whywouldn't I listen? He invited me along, and I wouldn't go with him! Danby, bring me buck teeth too, and a valveto fix and a look of stupid innocence that nobody would ever suspect of any cleverness. I'll need them all. Oh,why wouldn't I listen to him. Now I understand what he was trying to tell me. I even understand why that girlwas hitting him on the head with her shoe.”
“Why?” inquired the chaplain sharply.
Yossarian whirled and seized the chaplain by the shirt front in an importuning grip. “Chaplain, help me! Pleasehelp me. Get my clothes. And hurry, will you? I need them right away.”
The chaplain started away alertly. “Yes, Yossarian, I will. But where are they? How will I get them?”
“By bullying and browbeating anybody who tries to stop you. Chaplain, get me my uniform! It's around thishospital somewhere. For once in your life, succeed at something.”
The chaplain straightened his shoulders with determination and tightened his jaw. “Don't worry, Yossarian. I'llget your uniform. But why was that girl hitting Orr over the head with her shoe? Please tell me.”
“Because he was paying her to, that's why! But she wouldn't hit him hard enough, so he had to row to Sweden.
Chaplain, find me my uniform so I can get out of here. Ask Nurse Duckett for it. She'll help you. She'll doanything she can to be rid of me.”
“Where are you going?” Major Danby asked apprehensively when the chaplain had shot from the room. “Whatare you going to do?”
“I'm going to run away,” Yossarian announced in an exuberant, clear voice, already tearing open the buttons ofhis pajama tops.
“Oh, no,” Major Danby groaned, and began patting his perspiring face rapidly with the bare palms of both hands.
“You can't run away. Where can you run to? Where can you go?”
“To Sweden?” Major Danby exclaimed in astonishment. “You're going to run to Sweden? Are you crazy?”
“Orr did it.”
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” Major Danby pleaded. “No, Yossarian, you'll never get there. You can't run away toSweden. You can't even row.”
“But I can get to Rome if you'll keep your mouth shut when you leave here and give me a chance to catch a ride.
Will you do it?”
“But they'll find you,” Major Danby argued desperately, “and bring you back and punish you even moreseverely.”
“They'll have to try like hell to catch me this time.”
“They will try like hell. And even if they don't find you, what kind of way is that to live? You'll always bealone. No one will ever be on your side, and you'll always live in danger of betrayal.”
“I live that way now.”
“But you can't just turn your back on all your responsibilities and run away from them,” Major Danby insisted.
“It's such a negative move. It's escapist.”
Yossarian laughed with buoyant scorn and shook his head. “I'm not running away from my responsibilities. I'mrunning to them. There's nothing negative about running away to save my life. You know who the escapists are,don't you, Danby? Not me and Orr.”
“Chaplain, please talk to him, will you? He's deserting. He wants to run away to Sweden.”
“Wonderful!” cheered the chaplain, proudly throwing on the bed a pillowcase full of Yossarian's clothing. “Runaway to Sweden, Yossarian. And I'll stay here and persevere. Yes. I'll persevere. I'll nag and badger ColonelCathcart and Colonel Korn every time I see them. I'm not afraid. I'll even pick on General Dreedle.”
“General Dreedle's out,” Yossarian reminded, pulling on his trousers and hastily stuffing the tails of his shirtinside. “It's General Peckem now.”
The chaplain's babbling confidence did not falter for an instant. “Then I'll pick on General Peckem, and even onGeneral Scheisskopf. And do you know what else I'm going to do? I'm going to punch Captain Black in the nosethe very next time I see him. Yes, I'm going to punch him in the nose. I'll do it when lots of people are around sothat he may not have a chance to hit me back.”
“Have you both gone crazy?” Major Danby protested, his bulging eyes straining in their sockets with torturedawe and exasperation. “Have you both taken leave of your senses? Yossarian, listen““It's a miracle, I tell you,” the chaplain proclaimed, seizing Major Danby about the waist and dancing himaround with his elbows extended for a waltz. “A real miracle. If Orr could row to Sweden, then I can triumphover Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn, if only I persevere.”
“Chaplain, will you please shut up?” Major Danby entreated politely, pulling free and patting his perspiring browwith a fluttering motion. He bent toward Yossarian, who was reaching for his shoes. “What about Colonel““I couldn't care less.”
“But this may actua-““To hell with them both!”
“This may actually help them,” Major Danby persisted stubbornly. “Have you thought of that?”
“Let the bastards thrive, for all I care, since I can't do a thing to stop them but embarrass them by running away.
I've got responsibilities of my own now, Danby. I've got to get to Sweden.”
“You'll never make it. It's impossible. It's almost a geographical impossibility to get there from here.”
“Hell, Danby, I know that. But at least I'll be trying. There's a young kid in Rome whose life I'd like to save if Ican find her. I'll take her to Sweden with me if I can find her, so it isn't all selfish, is it?”
“It's absolutely insane. Your conscience will never let you rest.”
“God bless it.” Yossarian laughed. “I wouldn't want to live without strong misgivings. Right, Chaplain?”
“I'm going to punch Captain Black right in the nose the next time I see him,” gloried the chaplain, throwing twoleft jabs in the air and then a clumsy haymaker. “Just like that.”
“What about the disgrace?” demanded Major Danby.
“What disgrace? I'm more in disgrace now.” Yossarian tied a hard knot in the second shoelace and sprang to hisfeet. “Well, Danby, I'm ready. What do you say? Will you keep your mouth shut and let me catch a ride?”
Major Danby regarded Yossarian in silence, with a strange, sad smile. He had stopped sweating and seemedabsolutely calm. “What would you do if I did try to stop you?” he asked with rueful mockery. “Beat me up?”
Yossarian reacted to the question with hurt surprise. “No, of course not. Why do you say that?”
“I will beat you up,” boasted the chaplain, dancing up very close to Major Danby and shadowboxing. “You andCaptain Black, and maybe even Corporal Whitorgb. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I found I didn't have to beafraid of Corporal Whitorgb any more?”
“Are you going to stop me?” Yossarian asked Major Danby, and gazed at him steadily.
Major Danby skipped away from the chaplain and hesitated a moment longer. “No, of course not!” he blurtedout, and suddenly was waving both arms toward the door in a gesture of exuberant urgency. “Of course I won'tstop you. Go, for God sakes, and hurry! Do you need any money?”
“I have some money.”
“Well, here's some more.” With fervent, excited enthusiasm, Major Danby pressed a thick wad of Italiancurrency upon Yossarian and clasped his hand in both his own, as much to still his own trembling fingers as togive encouragement to Yossarian. “It must be nice to be in Sweden now,” he observed yearningly. “The girls areso sweet. And the people are so advanced.”
“Goodbye, Yossarian,” the chaplain called. “And good luck. I'll stay here and persevere, and we'll meet againwhen the fighting stops.”
“So long, Chaplain. Thanks, Danby.”
“How do you feel, Yossarian?”
“Fine. No, I'm very frightened.”
“That's good,” said Major Danby. “It proves you're still alive. It won't be fun.”
Yossarian started out. “Yes it will.”
“I mean it, Yossarian. You'll have to keep on your toes every minute of every day. They'll bend heaven andearth to catch you.”
“I'll keep on my toes every minute.”
“You'll have to jump.”
“Jump!” Major Danby cried.
Yossarian jumped. Nately's whore was hiding just outside the door. The knife came down, missing him byinches, and he took off.