But suddenly uncertainty and fear crept through her beliefs, rending them. The Virgin was only a woman, and women can do so little! Their fate is to suffer and to weep, as she was weeping for her husband, as that other had wept for her Son. She must confide in stronger powers, so with the egoism of pain, she abandoned la Macarena without scruple, like a useless friend, and went to the church of San Lorenzo in search of "Our Father, Jesus of Great Power." The Man-God with His crown of thorns, and His cross by His side, perspiring, and tearful, an image that the sculptor Monta?es had known how to make terrifying.
But thousands of inimical fingers pointed to the bull without ceasing their protests, and the whole Plaza joined them in a deafening storm of whistling.
"By the life of the blue dove!" he groaned. "Are there no doctors? Is there no help anywhere?"
"Jesus! How smart our Morena will be," said they often, speaking of the Virgin. "Se?o Juan intends to pay for everything. It will make half Seville rage!"
After an absence of some years, she had returned to Seville a few months previously. After her long stay abroad she was enamoured of all the habits and popular customs of the country, pronouncing them all very interesting and very ... artistic. She went to the bull-fights in the ancient maja costume, imitating the manners and dress of the graceful ladies painted by Goya. She was a strong woman accustomed to all sports and a great rider, and the people saw her galloping in the outskirts of Seville in a dark riding habit, a red cravat, and a white felt hat poised on the golden glory of her hair. Often too she carried the garrocha across her saddle, and with a party of friends as picadors, would ride out to the pastures to spear and overthrow bulls, delighting in this rough sport, so full of danger.
The terrible Plumitas showed an almost childish pride in speaking of his fame. The modest silence with which he had entered the farm had vanished, that desire that they should forget his personality, and see in him only a poor wayfarer pressed by hunger. He warmed at the thought that his name was famous, and that his deeds received at once the honours of publicity.
"By the life of the blue dove! To think of the father of a family mixing himself up in such ugly doings!... What will Carmen and the Se?ora Angustias say of me when they come to hear of it?"
He gathered up his reins.
El Nacional was ten years older than his chief. When the latter was beginning to bait at the capeas, Sebastian was already banderillero in recognized cuadrillas, and had lately returned from America, where he had killed bulls in the Plaza at Lima. At the commencement of his career he had enjoyed a certain amount of popularity because he was young and agile. He also for some little time had figured as "the torero of the future," and the amateurs of Seville, fixing their eyes on him, hoped that he would have eclipsed the matadors from other towns. But this lasted only a short time. On his return from his American journey with the prestige of distant and possibly nebulous feats, all the populace of Seville rushed to the Plaza to see him kill. Thousands of people could not obtain admittance. But at this moment of decisive proof "his heart failed him," as the amateurs said. He planted the banderillas steadily as a serious[Pg 105] and conscientious worker fulfilling his duty, but when it was a case of killing, the instinct of self-preservation, stronger than his will, kept him at a distance from the bull, and he was unable to take advantage of his great stature and his strong arm.
He had only one son, small of stature, and feeble in constitution, whom his father destined to be one of the great lights of tauromachia. The tavern-keeper, a great admirer of Gallardo and of all celebrated espadas, had quite made up his mind to this.
The supporters of the other matadors who by this time had become calm, and had recovered from the wave of enthusiasm which had mastered them in common with everyone else, began to justify their former spontaneous outburst by criticising Gallardo.下载
Gallardo drank deeper and deeper, and the women who had quarrelled for a place by his side, finding him dull and unresponsive, now turned their backs with insulting taunts on his gloom. The guitarists scarcely played any longer, but, overcome with wine, bent drowsily over their instruments.下载
Do?a Sol also remembered this vaguely. She had probably read about it in one of the Parisian papers, which spoke of the bandit as a most interesting type of picturesque Spain.下载
Gallardo turned against the public the rage he felt at his failure, and his sudden weakness. What did those people want? Was he to let himself be killed for their pleasure?... Did he not carry marks enough of his mad daring on his body? He had no need to prove his courage. That he was still alive was a miracle and owing to celestial intervention, because God is good, and had listened to the prayers of his mother and his poor wife. He had seen the fleshless face of Death closer than most people, and he now knew better than any one the value of living.下载
Gallardo's powerful muscles stood out beneath these clothes in superb swellings. A hollow in one thigh betrayed a place where the flesh had disappeared owing to a gash from a horn. The swarthy skin of his arms was marked with white wheals, the scars of ancient wounds. His dark hairless chest was crossed by two irregular purple lines, record also of bloody feats. On one of his heels the flesh was of a violet colour, with a round depression which looked as if it had been the mould for a coin. All this fighting machine exhaled an odour of clean and healthy flesh blended with that of women's pungent scents.下载
"You must have struck many women," she said, looking at him curiously; "do not deny it, it interests me[Pg 167] greatly! No, not your wife, I know she is very good, but all those that toreros mix with; women who love better when they are beaten. No? Say truly, have you never struck any one?"下载
Under their breath the old aficionados muttered "monkey tricks!" "Buffooneries that would not have been tolerated in former days!"... But amidst the general shouts of approval they were obliged to keep their opinion to themselves.下载
This readiness to "bear all the expenses" to help the lad on in his career had already caused the tavern-keeper heavy losses. But he still persisted, being supported by that commercial spirit which made him overlook the failures, in the hope of the enormous gains his son would make when he was a full-fledged matador.
Amid a clash of kettledrums and trumpets the first bull rushed out. Gallardo, with his working cloak devoid of ornament hanging on his arm, remained by the barrier, close to the benches where his partizans sat, disdainfully motionless, as though the eyes of the whole audience were fixed on him. That bull was for some one else. He would give signs of existence when his own bull came out. But the applause at the cloak play executed by his companions, drew him out of this immobility, and in spite of his intentions he joined in the fray, performing several feats in which he showed more audacity than skill. The whole Plaza applauded him, roused by the delight they felt at his daring.
In spite of Gallardo's wish to accompany Do?a Sol[Pg 170] he was unable to do so; his manager opposed it, alleging the necessity of his keeping himself fresh and vigorous for the following afternoon. At midnight the road leading from the pastures to the Plaza was as lively as a fair. In the country villas the windows were lighted up, and shadows passed before them, dancing to the sound of pianos. In the little inns, whose open doors threw broad streaks of light across the road, the tinkling of guitars, the clinking of glasses, and shouts and laughter let it be known that wine was circulating freely.