"I did not wish to stop you. You are not one of those rich men. You are a poor man like myself, only you have better luck, more than enough in your profession; if you have made money you have earned it well. I like you because you are a fine matador, and I have a weakness for brave men. The two of us are like comrades; we both live by exposing our lives. For this reason, although you did not know me, I was there, seeing you pass without even asking a cigarette from you, for fear that some rascal should take advantage by going on the highway and saying he was Plumitas; stranger things have happened...."
As the matador came near the building a troup of squalid beggars, vagabonds who were allowed to sleep in the stables from charity, wretches who lived on the alms of the aficionados or the scraps from neighbouring taverns, gathered round him cap in hand. Many had come from Andalusia with a consignment of bulls, and had remained hanging about the precincts of the Plaza.
When this Virgin with her pink cheeks and long eye-lashes appeared, beneath a canopy of velvet, which swayed with every step of the concealed carriers, a deafening acclamation rose from the populace assembled in the Plaza. Ah! how beautiful she was; the Queen of Heaven! A beauty which never aged!
Slow of speech, dull of thought, this centaur, who smelt of leather and manure, could still speak eloquently, even poetically of his pastoral life herding the wild bulls. The sky of Madrid seemed to him lower and with fewer stars. He could describe with picturesque laconicism the nights on the pastures, with his bulls sleeping beneath the soft light of the stars, the dense silence only broken by the mysterious noises of the forest. In this silence the mountain vipers sang with strange song, yes, Se?or, certainly they sang. It was a thing that could not be discussed with Lobato: he had heard them a thousand times, and to doubt it was to call him a cheat and a liar, and to expose oneself to the weight of his fists. As the reptiles sang, so also did the bulls speak, only he had not yet succeeded in mastering all the mysteries of their idiom. They were really just like Christians, except that they went on four legs and had horns. You should see them wake when the sun rose, bounding about as happy as children, pretending in fun to cross their horns and fight each other, chasing each other with noisy enjoyment, as if they were saluting the coming of the sun, which is the glory of God. Then he spoke of his toilsome excursions through the Sierra de Guadarrama, following the course of the crystal-clear rivulets, which brought the melted snow from the mountains to feed the rivers; of[Pg 313] the meadows, with their verdure enamelled by flowers; of the birds who came fluttering to settle between the horns of the sleeping bulls; of the wolves who howled afar off in the night, always far off, for they feared the long procession of wild bulls following the bells of the cabestros, come to dispute with them their terrible solitudes. Don't let any one speak to him of Madrid, where one suffocated! The only good thing in that forest of houses was Gallina's good wine and his savoury stews.
Gallardo, as though he still carried about his person the pungent odour of the poverty of his early years, perfumed himself abundantly. His enemies laughed at this athletic young fellow who by his love of scent belied the strength of his sex. Even his admirers smiled at his weakness, though often they had to turn their heads aside, sickened by the diestro's excess.
"Yes, indeed," said Gallardo, with almost childish pride. "Really I was not bad in that."
Gallardo recognized her. It was Do?a Sol, the niece of the Marquis de Moraima, the Ambassadress, as she was called in Seville. She passed through the women, taking no notice of their curiosity, but pleased at their glances and their murmured words, as if these were a natural homage due to her wherever she appeared. The foreign elegance of her dress and the enormous hat, stood out from among the dark mass of mantillas. She knelt and bent her head for an instant in prayer, and then her clear eyes of a greenish blue with golden lights wandered tranquilly through the church as though she were in a theatre seeking for friends among the audience. Her eyes seemed to smile when they lighted on a friend, and pursuing their wanderings, they at last met those of Gallardo fixed on her.下载
As soon as the way was clear the carriage resumed its former speed, travelling as fast as the mules could trot and passing all the other vehicles which were converging on the Plaza. On arriving there it turned to the left, making for the door, named "de Caballerizas," which led to the yards and stables, but compelled to pass slowly through the compact crowd.