In the morning it was bright, and they were sprinkling the streets of the town, and we all had breakfast in a
café. Bayonne is a nice town. It is like a very clean Spanish town and it is on a big river. Already, so early in the
morning, it was very hot on the bridge across the river. We walked out on the bridge and then took a walk through
I was not at all sure Mike's rods would come from Scotland in time, so we hunted a tackle store and finally
bought a rod for Bill up-stairs over a drygoods store. The man who sold the tackle was out, and we had to wait for
him to come back. Finally he came in, and we bought a pretty good rod cheap, and two landing-nets.
We went out into the street again and took a look at the cathedral. Cohn made some remark about it being a
very good example of something or other, I forget what. It seemed like a nice cathedral, nice and dim, like Spanish
churches. Then we went up past the old fort and out to the local Syndicat d'Initiative office, where the bus was
supposed to start from. There they told us the bus service did not start until the 1st of July. We found out at the
tourist office what we ought to pay for a motor-car to Pamplona and hired one at a big garage just around the corner
from the Municipal Theatre for four hundred francs. The car was to pick us up at the hotel in forty minutes, and we
stopped at the café on the square where we had eaten breakfast, and had a beer. It was hot, but the town had a cool,
fresh, early-morning smell and it was pleasant sitting in the café. A breeze started to blow, and you could feel that
the air came from the sea. There were pigeons out in the square, and the houses were a yellow, sun-baked color, and
I did not want to leave the café. But we had to go to the hotel to get our bags packed and pay the bill. We paid for
the beers, we matched and I think Cohn paid, and went up to the hotel. It was only sixteen francs apiece for Bill and
me, with ten per cent added for the service, and we had the bags sent down and waited for Robert Cohn. While we
were waiting I saw a cockroach on the parquet floor that must have been at least three inches long. I pointed him out
to Bill and then put my shoe on him. We agreed he must have just come in from the garden. It was really an awfully
Cohn came down, finally, and we all went out to the car. It was a big, closed car, with a driver in a white
duster with blue collar and cuffs, and we had him put the back of the car down. He piled in the bags and we started
off up the street and out of the town. We passed some lovely gardens and had a good look back at the town, and then
we were out in the country, green and rolling, and the road climbing all the time. We passed lots of Basques with
oxen, or cattle, hauling carts along the road, and nice farmhouses, low roofs, and all white-plastered. In the Basque
country the land all looks very rich and green and the houses and villages look well-off and clean. Every village had
a pelota court and on some of them kids were playing in the hot sun. There were signs on the walls of the churches
saying it was forbidden to play pelota against them, and the houses in the villages had red tiled roofs, and then the
road turned off and commenced to climb and we were going way up close along a hillside, with a valley below and
hills stretched off back toward the sea. You couldn't see the sea. It was too far away. You could see only hills and
more hills, and you knew where the sea was.
We crossed the Spanish frontier. There was a little stream and a bridge, and Spanish carabineers, with
patent-leather Bonaparte hats, and short guns on their backs, on one side, and on the other fat Frenchmen in kepis
and mustaches. They only opened one bag and took the passports in and looked at them. There was a general store
and inn on each side of the line. The chauffeur had to go in and fill out some papers about the car and we got out
and went over to the stream to see if there were any trout. Bill tried to talk some Spanish to one of the carabineers,
but it did not go very well. Robert Cohn asked, pointing with his finger, if there were any trout in the stream, and the
carabineer said yes, but not many.
I asked him if he ever fished, and he said no, that he didn't care for it.
Just then an old man with long, sunburned hair and beard, and clothes that looked as though they were made
of gunny-sacking, came striding up to the bridge. He was carrying a long staff, and he had a kid slung on his back,
tied by the four legs, the head hanging down.
The carabineer waved him back with his sword. The man turned without saying anything, and started back up
the white road into Spain.
"What's the matter with the old one?" I asked.
"He hasn't got any passport."
I offered the guard a cigarette. He took it and thanked me.
"What will he do?" I asked.
The guard spat in the dust.
"Oh, he'll just wade across the stream."
"Do you have much smuggling?"
"Oh," he said, "they go through."
The chauffeur came out, folding up the papers and putting them in the inside pocket of his coat. We all got in
the car and it started up the white dusty road into Spain. For a while the country was much as it had been; then,
climbing all the time, we crossed the top of a Col, the road winding back and forth on itself, and then it was really
Spain. There were long brown mountains and a few pines and far-off forests of beech-trees on some of the
mountainsides. The road went along the summit of the Col and then dropped down, and the driver had to honk, and
slow up, and turn out to avoid running into two donkeys that were sleeping in the road. We came down out of the
mountains and through an oak forest, and there were white cattle grazing in the forest. Down below there were
grassy plains and clear streams, and then we crossed a stream and went through a gloomy little village, and started
to climb again. We climbed up and up and crossed another high Col and turned along it, and the road ran down to
the right, and we saw a whole new range of mountains off to the south, all brown and baked-looking and furrowed
in strange shapes.
After a while we came out of the mountains, and there were trees along both sides of the road, and a stream
and ripe fields of grain, and the road went on, very white and straight ahead, and then lifted to a little rise, and off on
the left was a hill with an old castle, with buildings close around it and a field of grain going right up to the walls
and shifting in the wind. I was up in front with the driver and I turned around. Robert Cohn was asleep, but Bill
looked and nodded his head. Then we crossed a wide plain, and there was a big river off on the right shining in the
sun from between the line of trees, and away off you could see the plateau of Pamplona rising out of the plain, and
the walls of the city, and the great brown cathedral, and the broken skyline of the other churches. In back of the
plateau were the mountains, and every way you looked there were other mountains, and ahead the road stretched out
white across the plain going toward Pamplona.
We came into the town on the other side of the plateau, the road slanting up steeply and dustily with
shade-trees on both sides, and then levelling out through the new part of town they are building up outside the old
walls. We passed the bull-ring, high and white and concrete-looking in the sun, and then came into the big square by
a side street and stopped in front of the Hotel Montoya.
The driver helped us down with the bags. There was a crowd of kids watching the car, and the square was hot,
and the trees were green, and the flags hung on their staffs, and it was good to get out of the sun and under the shade
of the arcade that runs all the way around the square. Montoya was glad to see us, and shook hands and gave us
good rooms looking out on the square, and then we washed and cleaned up and went down-stairs in the dining-room
for lunch. The driver stayed for lunch, too, and afterward we paid him and he started back to Bayonne.
There are two dining-rooms in the Montoya. One is up-stairs on the second floor and looks out on the square.
The other is down one floor below the level of the square and has a door that opens on the back street that the bulls
pass along when they run through the streets early in the morning on their way to the ring. It is always cool in the
down-stairs dining-room and we had a very good lunch. The first meal in Spain was always a shock with the hors
d'ceuvres, an egg course, two meat courses, vegetables, salad, and dessert and fruit. You have to drink plenty of
wine to get it all down. Robert Cohn tried to say he did not want any of the second meat course, but we would not
interpret for him, and so the waitress brought him something else as a replacement, a plate of cold meats, I think.
Cohn had been rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayonne. He did not know whether we knew Brett had been
with him at San Sebastian, and it made him rather awkward.
"Well," I said, "Brett and Mike ought to get in to-night."
"I'm not sure they'll come," Cohn said.
"Why not?" Bill said. "Of course they'll come."
"They're always late," I said.
"I rather think they're not coming," Robert Cohn said.
He said it with an air of superior knowledge that irritated both of us.
"I'll bet you fifty pesetas they're here to-night," Bill said. He always bets when he is angered, and so he usually
"I'll take it," Cohn said. "Good. You remember it, Jake. Fifty pesetas."
"I'll remember it myself," Bill said. I saw he was angry and wanted to smooth him down.
"It's a sure thing they'll come," I said. "But maybe not tonight."
"Want to call it off?" Cohn asked.
"No. Why should I? Make it a hundred if you like."
"All right. I'll take that."
"That's enough," I said. "Or you'll have to make a book and give me some of it."
"I'm satisfied," Cohn said. He smiled. "You'll probably win it back at bridge, anyway."
"You haven't got it yet," Bill said.
We went out to walk around under the arcade to the Café Irufla for coffee. Cohn said he was going over and
get a shave.
"Say," Bill said to me, "have I got any chance on that bet?"
"You've got a rotten chance. They've never been on time anywhere. If their money doesn't come it's a cinch
they won't get in tonight."
"I was sorry as soon as I opened my mouth. But I had to call him. He's all right, I guess, but where does he get
this inside stuff? Mike and Brett fixed it up with us about coming down here."
I saw Cohn coming over across the square.
"Here he comes."
"Well, let him not get superior and Jewish."
"The barber shop's closed," Cohn said. "It's not open till four."
We had coffee at the Iruña, sitting in comfortable wicker chairs looking out from the cool of the arcade at the
big square. After a while Bill went to write some letters and Cohn went over to the barber-shop. It was still closed,
so he decided to go up to the hotel and get a bath, and I sat out in front of the café and then went for a walk in the
town. It was very hot, but I kept on the shady side of the streets and went through the market and had a good time
seeing the town again. I went to the Ayuntamiento and found the old gentleman who subscribes for the bull-fight
tickets for me every year, and he had gotten the money I sent him from Paris and renewed my subscriptions, so that
was all set. He was the archivist, and all the archives of the town were in his office. That has nothing to do with the
story. Anyway, his office had a green baize door and a big wooden door, and when I went out I left him sitting
among the archives that covered all the walls, and I shut both the doors, and as I went out of the building into the
street the porter stopped me to brush off my coat.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested