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Chapter 16

       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 Iru?a."

       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 Se?or."

       The bootblack knelt down beside the one at work and started on Mike's free shoe that shone already in the electric light.

       "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.

       "Where did you see me the other time? In Madrid?"

       "Yes," I lied. I had read the accounts of his two appearances in Madrid in the bull-fight papers, so I was all right.

       "The first or the second time?"

       "The first."

       "I was very bad," he said. "The second time I was better. You remember?" He turned to the critic.

       He was not at all embarrassed. He talked of his work as something altogether apart from himself. There was nothing conceited or braggartly about him.

       "I like it very much that you like my work," he said. "But you haven't seen it yet. To-morrow, if I get a good bull, I will try and show it to you."

       When he said this he smiled, anxious that neither the bull-fight critic nor I would think he was boasting.

       "I am anxious to see it," the critic said. "I would like to be convinced."

       "He doesn't like my work much." Romero turned to me. He was serious.

       The critic explained that he liked it very much, but that so far it had been incomplete.

       "Wait till to-morrow, if a good one comes out."

       "Have you seen the bulls for to-morrow?" the critic asked me.

       "Yes. I saw them unloaded."

       Pedro Romero leaned forward.

       "What did you think of them?"

       "Very nice," I said. "About twenty-six arrobas. Very short horns. Haven't you seen them?"

       "Oh, yes," said Romero.

       "They won't weigh twenty-six arrobas," said the critic.

       "No," said Romero.

       "They've got bananas for horns," the critic said.

       "You call them bananas?" asked Romero. He turned to me and smiled. "_You_ wouldn't call them bananas?"

       "No," I said. "They're horns all right."

       "They're very short," said Pedro Romero. "Very, very short. Still, they aren't bananas."

       "I say, Jake," Brett called from the next table, "you _have_ deserted us."

       "Just temporarily," I said. "We're talking bulls."

       "You _are_ superior."

       "Tell him that bulls have no balls," Mike shouted. He was drunk.

       Romero looked at me inquiringly.

       "Drunk," I said. "Borracho! Muy borracho!"

       "You might introduce your friends," Brett said. She had not stopped looking at Pedro Romero. I asked them if they would like to have coffee with us. They both stood up. Romero's face was very brown. He had very nice manners.

       I introduced them all around and they started to sit down, but there was not enough room, so we all moved over to the big table by the wall to have coffee. Mike ordered a bottle of Fundador and glasses for everybody. There was a lot of drunken talking.

       "Tell him I think writing is lousy," Bill said. "Go on, tell him. Tell him I'm ashamed of being a writer."

       Pedro Romero was sitting beside Brett and listening to her.

       "Go on. Tell him!" Bill said.

       Romero looked up smiling.

       "This gentleman," I said, "is a writer."

       Romero was impressed. "This other one, too," I said, pointing at Cohn.

       "He looks like Villalta," Romero said, looking at Bill. "Rafael, doesn't he look like Villalta?"

       "I can't see it," the critic said.

       "Really," Romero said in Spanish. "He looks a lot like Villalta. What does the drunken one do?"


       "Is that why he drinks?"

       "No. He's waiting to marry this lady."

       "Tell him bulls have no balls!" Mike shouted, very drunk, from the other end of the table.

       "What does he say?"

       "He's drunk."

       "Jake," Mike called. "Tell him bulls have no balls!"

       "You understand?" I said.


       I was sure he didn't, so it was all right.

       "Tell him Brett wants to see him put on those green pants."

       "Pipe down, Mike."

       "Tell him Brett is dying to know how he can get into those pants."

       "Pipe down."

       During this Romero was fingering his glass and talking with Brett. Brett was talking French and he was talking Spanish and a little English, and laughing.

       Bill was filling the glasses.

       "Tell him Brett wants to come into--"

       "Oh, pipe down, Mike, for Christ's sake!"

       Romero looked up smiling. "Pipe down! I know that," he said.

       Just then Montoya came into the room. He started to smile at me, then he saw Pedro Romero with a big glass of cognac in his hand, sitting laughing between me and a woman with bare shoulders, at a table full of drunks. He did not even nod.

       Montoya went out of the room. Mike was on his feet proposing a toast. "Let's all drink to--" he began. "Pedro Romero," I said. Everybody stood up. Romero took it very seriously, and we touched glasses and drank it down, I rushing it a little because Mike was trying to make it clear that that was not at all what he was going to drink to. But it went off all right, and Pedro Romero shook hands with every one and he and the critic went out together.

       "My God! he's a lovely boy," Brett said. "And how I would love to see him get into those clothes. He must use a shoe-horn."

       "I started to tell him," Mike began. "And Jake kept interrupting me. Why do you interrupt me? Do you think you talk Spanish better than I do?"

       "Oh, shut up, Mike! Nobody interrupted you."

       "No, I'd like to get this settled." He turned away from me. "Do you think you amount to something, Cohn? Do you think you belong here among us? People who are out to have a good time? For God's sake don't be so noisy, Cohn!"

       "Oh, cut it out, Mike," Cohn said.

       "Do you think Brett wants you here? Do you think you add to the party? Why don't you say something?"

       "I said all I had to say the other night, Mike."

       "I'm not one of you literary chaps." Mike stood shakily and leaned against the table. "I'm not clever. But I do know when I'm not wanted. Why don't you see when you're not wanted, Cohn? Go away. Go away, for God's sake. Take that sad Jewish face away. Don't you think I'm right?"

       He looked at us.

       "Sure," I said. "Let's all go over to the Iru?a."

       "No. Don't you think I'm right? I love that woman."

       "Oh, don't start that again. Do shove it along, Michael," Brett said.

       "Don't you think I'm right, Jake?"

       Cohn still sat at the table. His face had the sallow, yellow look it got when he was insulted, but somehow he seemed to be enjoying it. The childish, drunken heroics of it. It was his affair with a lady of title.

       "Jake," Mike said. He was almost crying. "You know I'm right. Listen, you!" He turned to Cohn: "Go away! Go away now!"

       "But I won't go, Mike," said Cohn.

       "Then I'll make you!" Mike started toward him around the table. Cohn stood up and took off his glasses. He stood waiting, his face sallow, his hands fairly low, proudly and firmly waiting for the assault, ready to do battle for his lady love.

       I grabbed Mike. "Come on to the café," I said. "You can't hit him here in the hotel."

       "Good!" said Mike. "Good idea!"

       We started off. I looked back as Mike stumbled up the stairs and saw Cohn putting his glasses on again. Bill was sitting at the table pouring another glass of Fundador. Brett was sitting looking straight ahead at nothing.

       Outside on the square it had stopped raining and the moon was trying to get through the clouds. There was a wind blowing. The military band was playing and the crowd was massed on the far side of the square where the fi............

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