‘To Sweden.’

‘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 to Sweden. 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 more severely.’

‘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 be alone. 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’m running 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. ‘Run away to Sweden, Yossarian. And I’ll stay here and persevere. Yes. I’ll persevere. I’ll nag and badger Colonel Cathcart 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 shirt inside. ‘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 on General Scheisskopf. And do you know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to punch Captain Black in the nose the 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 so that 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 tortured awe 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 him around with his elbows extended for a waltz. ‘A real miracle. If Orr could row to Sweden, then I can triumph over 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 brow with 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 I can 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 two left 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 his feet. ‘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 seemed absolutely 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 and Captain Black, and maybe even Corporal Whitcomb. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I found I didn’t have to be afraid of Corporal Whitcomb 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 blurted out, and suddenly was waving both arms toward the door in a gesture of exuberant urgency. ‘Of course I won’t stop 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 Italian currency upon Yossarian and clasped his hand in both his own, as much to still his own trembling fingers as to give encouragement to Yossarian. ‘It must be nice to be in Sweden now,’ he observed yearningly. ‘The girls are so 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 again when 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 and earth to catch you.’

‘I’ll keep on my toes every minute.’

‘You’ll have to jump.’

‘I’ll jump.’

‘Jump!’ Major Danby cried.

Yossarian jumped. Nately’s whore was hiding just outside the door. The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.

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