A lady was passing through the kneeling devotees and attracting their attention; she was tall, slight, and of startling beauty, dressed in light colours, with a dark hat covered with feathers, beneath which flamed the shining gold of her hair.
Gallardo told her one evening of a short excursion he was obliged to make to his farm of La Rinconada. He wanted to see some olive yards his manager had bought for him during his absence, and added to the property. He wanted also to look after the general work.
Blessed be the mother who bore so brave a son!...
He went from one province to another like one perfectly acquainted with the country, and the landed proprietors of Seville and Cordova contributed largely to his support.... Whole weeks passed and nothing would be heard of him, then suddenly he would appear in some farm or village, utterly regardless of danger.
El Nacional hardly saw the body. The doctors were[Pg 353] surrounding the wounded man, consulting each other by their looks. It must be a collapse which had apparently deprived him of life. There was no blood to be seen, and the rents in his clothes were no doubt the result of his toss by the bull.
When they arrived at Tablada, they saw on the green plain a large concourse of people and carriages drawn up close to the palisades which separated the meadow from the animals' enclosure.
"Leave me, Antonio," said Gallardo half angrily, and yet respectfully, as if he were speaking to an elder brother.
He longed, as a relief for his nervousness, for the time to come as soon as possible for him to dress and go to[Pg 15] the Plaza. The people, the noise, the general curiosity, the desire to show himself calm and at ease before an admiring public, and above all the near approach of danger, real and personal, would instantly blot out this anguish of solitude, in which the espada, with no external excitement to assist him, felt himself face to face with something very like fear.
They talked a long time about things appertaining to the art. El Pescadero, like all elderly men embittered by bad luck, was pessimistic. There were very few good[Pg 316] toreros, there were no longer men of "corazon." Only Gallardo and one or two others killed bulls "truly," even the animals seemed less powerful than formerly. As he had met the matador he insisted on his going with him to his house, indeed as an old friend he could do no less. So Gallardo turned with him into one of the small streets surrounding the Plaza, and entered the tavern, which was much like any other, its fa?ade painted red, windows with curtains of the same colour, a larger show window, in which were displayed, on dusty plates, cooked cutlets, fried birds, bottles of pickles, and inside, a zinc counter, barrels and bottles, round tables with wooden stools by them, and several coloured prints representing celebrated toreros or remarkable episodes in corridas.下载
She no longer used the familiar "tu," to which he had responded with the respectful address of a lover of inferior class. That "usted," which seemed to make them equals, drove the torero to despair. He had wished to be as a servant raised by love to the arms of the great lady, and now he found himself treated with the cold but courteous consideration of an ordinary friend.