Consequently they wished to become acquainted with the celebrated torero, the most elegant of all the espadas, that Gallardo whose portrait they had so often admired in popular prints and on the tops of match-boxes.
"He does not behave so badly," ... said Potaje in a conciliatory voice.... "The beast is better than I thought. He has a tender mouth and good legs.... You are quite right. Put him on one side."
"You may almost say that he who is not killed outright in the Plaza is saved. The cure becomes then only a matter of time."
Others compared the animal to a pincushion full of pins.
"Let us see," he said. "What is it all about? A woman of no importance. Every one is as he is, and Juaniyo is a personage who must mix with influential people. And if this lady did go to the farm, what then? One must cultivate good friendships, for in that way one can ask favours and help on one's family. There was nothing wrong. It was all calumny. El Nacional was there, who is a man of good character.... I know him very well."
Cursed witch! Why did she come and remind him, on the day of a Corrida, of poor Lechuguero, the companion of his early years, whom he had seen killed almost instantaneously, gored to the heart, in the Plaza[Pg 12] of Lebrija, when the two were bull-fighting as Novilleros? Foul hag of evil omen!
But this first feeling of shyness and timidity soon vanished, and Do?a Sol laughed at his abstemiousness and the dread with which he touched the plates and glasses. Gallardo looked at her admiringly, certainly the golden-haired lady had a fine appetite! Accustomed as he was to the prudery and abstentions of ladies he had known, who thought it bad form to eat anything, he was astonished at Do?a Sol's appetite.
When he was seated in his carriage, passing down the Calle de Alcala, hailed by the crowds who had not seen the corrida but who had already heard of his triumphs, a smile of pride, of delight in his own strength, illuminated his face perspiring and pale with excitement.
"A bull!... He is the noblest animal in the world. If only men were more like him things would go on better in the world. There you have a portrait of poor Coronel. Do any of you remember that jewel?"