"Every one with his own, Juaniyo. It is all right for you to mix with gentlefolk, but you ought to think that the poor have always loved you, and that now they are speaking against you, because they think you despise them."
By a miracle he had emerged with his life from his passion for bull-fighting, and the cruel part of it was that people used to laugh at his misfortunes, and seemed to take a pleasure in seeing him trampled and mangled by the bulls.
The espada was equally ill-humoured in the solitude of his hotel, not on account of the weather, but on account of his ill luck.
Juan Gallardo, the hero of Blood and Sand, has from earliest childhood exhibited a natural aptitude for the bull ring. He is aided in his career by interested parties, and soon jumps to the forefront of his idolized profession, without having to thread his way arduously up the steep ascent of the bull fighters' hierarchy. Fame and fortune come to him, and he is able to gratify the desires of his early days, as if the mirage of hunger and desire had suddenly been converted into dazzling reality. He[Pg ix] lavishes largess upon his mother and his childless wife, and there comes, too, a love out of wedlock.
As Gallardo took his way through the narrow street on his way to San Gil he met the company of "Jews," that is to say, of armed men, fierce soldiers, their faces framed by their helmets' metal chin strap, wearing wine-coloured tunics, flesh-coloured cotton stockings and high sandals, round their waists was fastened the Roman sword, and over their shoulders, like a modern gun strap, was the cord which supported their lances. These soldiers, young and old, marched to the roll of drums and carried a Roman banner with the senatorial inscription.
But El Nacional refused the preferred civility. No wine, thanks, he never drank. Wine was the cause of all the working classes being so hopelessly behindhand. All the assembly burst out laughing, as if something amusing had been said which they were expecting, and the banderillero began at once to air his opinions.
The peons, throwing their capes in front of the bull, endeavoured to attract him towards the sunny side of the circus. The populace saw this man?uvre and welcomed it with joyful surprise. The supreme moment, the death of the bull, would be enacted under their eyes instead of at a distance for the convenience of the wealthy people on the shady side.
She remembered the danger in which she found herself, so nearly perishing beneath the bull's horns; she thought of that breakfast with the bandit, to whom she[Pg 300] had listened stupefied with admiration, ending by giving him a flower. What follies! And how far off it all now seemed!
Chiripa was a past master of a vagabond life. On the days of a corrida he would make up his mind to get[Pg 70] into the Plaza de Toros somehow with his comrade, and would employ for this end every sort of stratagem, such as scaling the walls, slipping in among the people unperceived, or even softening the officials by humble prayers. A fiesta taurina, and they who were of the profession not there to see it!... When there were no "capeas" in the provincial towns, they would go and spread their cloaks before the young bulls in the pastures of Tablada. These attractions of Sevillian life, however, were not sufficient to satisfy their ambition.
"He has a new gala dress made by the best tailor, who dresses Gallardo and the other matadors. Seven thousand reals it cost me. I think he ought to be fine in that!... But I would spend my last peseta to get him on. Ah! if others had a father like me!..."
His feelings as a rough fellow were touched by the theatrical agony of Christ, with His cross on His back; the perspiring, agonized and livid face, reminded him of some of his comrades whom he had seen lying in the bull-ring infirmary. One must stand well with that powerful Lord; and he recited fervently several paternosters, as he stood before the image, the lights of whose wax[Pg 122] tapers were reflected like stars on the whites of his Moorish eyes.
The bull continued its rush with the impetus of the first charge. On its broad neck, the red pommel of the sword, buried up to the hilt scarcely could be seen. Suddenly it stopped short in its career, rolling with a painful curtseying motion; then folded its fore-legs, bent its head till its bellowing muzzle touched the sand, and finally subsided in convulsions of agony.
Everything was absolutely silent. Above the trees the stars were shining, and below on the ground only the slightest rustle; the faintest murmur betrayed in the darkness the presence of crowds of people. The wait seemed very long, till at last in the far distance, the faint sound of deep bells was heard. "They are coming! They will soon be here!"...