"I never felt that bad. It was just for a minute."
"_I_ thought he was going to be sick. You weren't bored, were you, Robert?"
"Let up on that, Mike. I said I was sorry I said it."
"He was, you know. He was positively green."
"Oh, shove it along, Michael."
"You mustn't ever get bored at your first bull-fight, Robert," Mike said. "It might make such a mess."
"Oh, shove it along, Michael," Brett said.
"He said Brett was a sadist," Mike said. "Brett's not a sadist. She's just a lovely, healthy wench."
"Are you a sadist, Brett?" I asked.
"He said Brett was a sadist just because she has a good, healthy stomach."
"Won't be healthy long."
Bill got Mike started on something else than Cohn. The waiter brought the absinthe glasses.
"Did you really like it?" Bill asked Cohn.
"No, I can't say I liked it. I think it's a wonderful show."
"Gad, yes! What a spectacle!" Brett said.
"I wish they didn't have the horse part," Cohn said.
"They're not important," Bill said. "After a while you never notice anything disgusting."
"It is a bit strong just at the start," Brett said. "There's a dreadful moment for me just when the bull starts for
"The bulls were fine," Cohn said.
"They were very good," Mike said.
"I want to sit down below, next time." Brett drank from her glass of absinthe.
"She wants to see the bull-fighters close by," Mike said.
"They are something," Brett said. "That Romero lad is just a child."
"He's a damned good-looking boy," I said. "When we were up in his room I never saw a better-looking kid."
"How old do you suppose he is?"
"Nineteen or twenty."
"Just imagine it."
The bull-fight on the second day was much better than on the first. Brett sat between Mike and me at the
barrera, and Bill and Cohn went up above. Romero was the whole show. I do not think Brett saw any other
bull-fighter. No one else did either, except the hard-shelled technicians. It was all Romero. There were two other
matadors, but they did not count. I sat beside Brett and explained to Brett what it was all about. I told her about
watching the bull, not the horse, when the bulls charged the picadors, and got her to watching the picador place the
point of his pic so that she saw what it was all about, so that it became more something that was going on with a
definite end, and less of a spectacle with unexplained horrors. I had her watch how Romero took the bull away from
a fallen horse with his cape, and how he held him with the cape and turned him, smoothly and suavely, never
wasting the bull. She saw how Romero avoided every brusque movement and saved his bulls for the last when he
wanted them, not winded and discomposed but smoothly worn down. She saw how close Romero always worked to
the bull, and I pointed out to her the tricks the other bull-fighters used to make it look as though they were working
closely. She saw why she liked Romero's cape-work and why she did not like the others.
Romero never made any contortions, always it was straight and pure and natural in line. The others twisted
themselves like corkscrews, their elbows raised, and leaned against the flanks of the bull after his horns had passed,
to give a faked look of danger. Afterward, all that was faked turned bad and gave an unpleasant feeling. Romero's
bull-fighting gave real emotion, because he kept the absolute purity of line in his movements and always quietly and
calmly let the horns pass him close each time. He did not have to emphasize their closeness. Brett saw how
something that was beautiful done close to the bull was ridiculous if it were done a little way off. I told her how
since the death of Joselito all the bull-fighters had been developing a technique that simulated this appearance of
danger in order to give a fake emotional feeling, while the bull-fighter was really safe. Romero had the old thing,
the holding of his purity of line through the maximum of exposure, while he dominated the bull by making him
realize he was unattainable, while he prepared him for the killing.
"I've never seen him do an awkward thing," Brett said.
"You won't until he gets frightened," I said.
"He'll never be frightened," Mike said. "He knows too damned much."
"He knew everything when he started. The others can't ever learn what he was born with."
"And God, what looks," Brett said.
"I believe, you know, that she's falling in love with this bullfighter chap," Mike said.
"I wouldn't be surprised."
"Be a good chap, Jake. Don't tell her anything more about him. Tell her how they beat their old mothers."
"Tell me what drunks they are."
"Oh, frightful," Mike said. "Drunk all day and spend all their time beating their poor old mothers."
"He looks that way," Brett said.
"Doesn't he?" I said.
They had hitched the mules to the dead bull and then the whips cracked, the men ran, and the mules, straining
forward, their legs pushing, broke into a gallop, and the bull, one horn up, his head on its side, swept a swath
smoothly across the sand and out the red gate.
"This next is the last one."
"Not really," Brett said. She leaned forward on the barrera. Romero waved his picadors to their places, then
stood, his cape against his chest, looking across the ring to where the bull would come out.
After it was over we went out and were pressed tight in the crowd.
"These bull-fights are hell on one," Brett said. "I'm limp as a rag."
"Oh, you'll get a drink," Mike said.
The next day Pedro Romero did not fight. It was Miura bulls, and a very bad bull-fight. The next day there
was no bull-fight scheduled. But all day and all night the fiesta kept on.
In the morning it was raining. A fog had come over the mountains from the sea. You could not see the tops of
the mountains. The plateau was dull and gloomy, and the shapes of the trees and the houses were changed. I walked
out beyond the town to look at the weather. The bad weather was coming over the mountains from the sea.
The flags in the square hung wet from the white poles and the banners were wet and hung damp against the
front of the houses, and in between the steady drizzle the rain came down and drove every one under the arcades
and made pools of water in the square, and the streets wet and dark and deserted; yet the fiesta kept up without any
pause. It was only driven under cover.
The covered seats of the bull-ring had been crowded with people sitting out of the rain watching the concourse
of Basque and Navarrais dancers and singers, and afterward the Val Carlos dancers in their costumes danced down
the street in the rain, the drums sounding hollow and damp, and the chiefs of the bands riding ahead on their big,
heavy-footed horses, their costumes wet, the horses' coats wet in the rain. The crowd was in the cafés and the
dancers came in, too, and sat, their tight-wound white legs under the tables, shaking the water from their belled caps,
and spreading their red and purple jackets over the chairs to dry. It was raining hard outside.
I left the crowd in the café and went over to the hotel to get shaved for dinner. I was shaving in my room when
there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," I called.
Montoya walked in.
"How are you?" he said.
"Fine," I said.
"No bulls to-day."
"No," I said, "nothing but rain."
"Where are your friends?"
"Over at the Iruña."
Montoya smiled his embarrassed smile.
"Look," he said. "Do you know the American ambassador?"
"Yes," I said. "Everybody knows the American ambassador."
"He's here in town, now."
"Yes," I said. "Everybody's seen them."
"I've seen them, too," Montoya said. He didn't say anything. I went on shaving.
"Sit down," I said. "Let me send for a drink."
"No, I have to go."
I finished shaving and put my face down into the bowl and washed it with cold water. Montoya was standing
there looking more embarrassed.
"Look," he said. "I've just had a message from them at the Grand Hotel that they want Pedro Romero and
Marcial Lalanda to come over for coffee to-night after dinner."
"Well," I said, "it can't hurt Marcial any."
"Marcial has been in San Sebastian all day. He drove over in a car this morning with Marquez. I don't think
they'll be back tonight."
Montoya stood embarrassed. He wanted me to say something.
"Don't give Romero the message," I said.
"You think so?"
Montoya was very pleased.
"I wanted to ask you because you were an American," he said.
"That's what I'd do."
"Look," said Montoya. "People take a boy like that. They don't know what he's worth. They don't know what
he means. Any foreigner can flatter him. They start this Grand Hotel business, and in one year they're through."
"Like Algabeno," I said.
"Yes, like Algabeno."
"They're a fine lot," I said. "There's one American woman down here now that collects bull-fighters."
"I know. They only want the young ones."
"Yes," I said. "The old ones get fat."
"Or crazy like Gallo."
"Well," I said, "it's easy. All you have to do is not give him the message."
"He's such a fine boy," said Montoya. "He ought to stay with his own people. He shouldn't mix in that stuff."
"Won't you have a drink?" I asked.
"No," said Montoya, "I have to go." He went out.
I went down-stairs and out the door and took a walk around through the arcades around the square. It was still
raining. I looked in at the Irufla for the gang and they were not there, so I walked on around the square and back to
the hotel. They were eating dinner in the down-stairs dining-room.
They were well ahead of me and it was no use trying to catch them. Bill was buying shoe-shines for Mike.
Bootblacks opened the street door and each one Bill called over and started to work on Mike.
"This is the eleventh time my boots have been polished," Mike said. "I say, Bill is an ass."
The bootblacks had evidently spread the report. Another came in.
"Limpia botas?" he said to Bill.
"No," said Bill. "For this Señor."
The bootblack knelt down beside the one at work and started on Mike's free shoe that shone already in the
"Bill's a yell of laughter," Mike said.
I was drinking red wine, and so far behind them that I felt a little uncomfortable about all this shoe-shining. I
looked around the room. At the next table was Pedro Romero. He stood up when I nodded, and asked me to come
over and meet a friend. His table was beside ours, almost touching. I met the friend, a Madrid bullfight critic, a little
man with a drawn face. I told Romero how much I liked his work, and he was very pleased. We talked Spanish and
the critic knew a little French. I reached to our table for my winebottle, but the critic took my arm. Romero laughed.
"Drink here," he said in English.
He was very bashful about his English, but he was really very pleased with it, and as we went on talking he
brought out words he was not sure of, and asked me about them. He was anxious to know the English for _Corrida
de toros_, the exact translation. Bull-fight he was suspicious of. I explained that bull-fight in Spanish was the
_lidia_ of a _toro_. The Spanish word _corrida_ means in English the running of bulls--the French translation is
_Course de taureaux_. The critic put that in. There is no Spanish word for bull-fight.
Pedro Romero said he had learned a little English in Gibraltar. He was born in Ronda. That is not far above
Gibraltar. He started bull-fighting in Malaga in the bull-fighting school there. He had only been at it three years. The
bull-fight critic joked him about the number of _Malagueno_ expressions he used. He was nineteen years old, he
said. His older brother was with him as a banderillero, but he did not live in this hotel. He lived in a smaller hotel
with the other people who worked for Romero. He asked me how many times I had seen him in the ring. I told him
only three. It was really only two, but I did not want to explain after I had made the mistake.
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