"Very bad. He has only just recovered consciousness. He has one leg broken to bits: a gore underneath the arm, and what besides, I know not!... The poor fellow is to me like my own saint.... We are going to take him home."
In his new existence Gallardo not only frequented this club, but some afternoons he went to the "Forty-Five," which was a kind of Senate of tauromachia. The toreros[Pg 151] as a rule did not gain easy access to its precincts, for their absence admitted of the fathers of the "sport" giving free vent to their various opinions.
Gallardo responded to the old man's obsequious bows by giving him a cigar, and then took leave of Lobato. He had agreed with the overseer which two bulls should be specially boxed for him. The other toreros would not object. They were good natured young fellows, full[Pg 315] of youthful ardour, who would kill anything that was put before them.
In the twinkling of an eye one of the electric globes was smashed to fragments, and in the bull's forehead a round black hole appeared surrounded by singed hair.
They all knew well enough that more would come out immediately, but they seemed furious that another instant should go by without fresh butcheries. The bull remained alone in the centre of the arena, superb and bellowing, his bloody horns held high, and the ribbon with the badge of his herd floating on his neck, which was covered with red and blue gashes.
"Juan, I have just seen your wife. Things are going worse and worse. Try and calm her and set yourself right with her."
"It is true ... it is true ..." said Gallardo, suddenly paling at the bandit's words.
Sometimes one of the "diestros" would be carried out of the Plaza by four of his companions, pale with the whiteness of paper, his eyes glassy, his head hanging, and his breast heaving like a broken bellows. The barber would arrive, reassuring them all as he saw no blood, it was only the shock the lad had suffered in being tossed to a distance of several yards, and falling on the ground like a bundle of clothes. At other times it was the agony of being trampled under foot by some enormously heavy animal; then a pail of water would be dashed on his head, and when he recovered his senses, he would be treated to a long draught of aguardiente from Cazalla de la Sierra. Not even a prince could be better cared for, and back he went to the Plaza again.