Manuel Garcia climbed the stairs to Don Miguel Retana's office. He set down his suitcase and knocked on the door. There was no answer. Manuel, standing in the hallway, felt there was some one in the room. He felt it through the door.
"Retana," he said, listening.
There was no answer.
He's there, all right, Manuel thought.
"Retana," he said and banged the door.
"Who's there?" said some one in the office.
"Me, Manolo," Manuel said.
"What do you want?" asked the voice.
"I want to work," Manuel said.
Something in the door clicked several times and it swung open. Manuel went in, carrying his suitcase.
A little man sat behind a desk at the far side of the room. Over his head was a bull's head, stuffed by a Madrid taxidermist; on the walls were framed photographs and bull-fight posters.
The little man sat looking at Manuel.
"I thought they'd killed you," he said.
Manuel knocked with his knuckles on the desk. The little man sat looking at him across the desk.
"How many corridas you had this year?" Retana asked.
"One," he answered.
"Just that one?" the little man asked.
"I read about it in the papers," Retana said. He leaned back in the chair and looked at Manuel.
Manuel looked up at the stuffed bull. He had seen it often before. He felt a certain family interest in it. It had killed his brother, the promising one, about nine years ago. Manuel remembered the day. There was a brass plate on the oak shield the bull's head was mounted on. Manuel could not read it, but he imagined it was in memory of his brother. Well, he had been a good kid.
The plate said: "The Bull 'Mariposa' of the Duke of Veragua, which accepted 9 varas for 7 caballos, and caused the death of Antonio Garcia, Novillero, April 27, 1909."
Retana saw him looking at the stuffed bull's head.
"The lot the Duke sent me for Sunday will make a scandal," he said. "They're all bad in the legs. What do they say about them at the Café?"
"I don't know," Manuel said. "I just got in."
"Yes," Retana said. "You still have your bag."
He looked at Manuel, leaning back behind the big desk.
"Sit down," he said. "Take off your cap."
Manuel sat down; his cap off, his face was changed. He looked pale, and his coleta pinned forward on his head, so that it would not show under the cap, gave him a strange look.
"You don't look well," Retana said.
"I just got out of the hospital," Manuel said.
"I heard they'd cut your leg off," Retana said.
"No," said Manuel. "It got all right."
Retana leaned forward across the desk and pushed a wooden box of cigarettes toward Manuel.
"Have a cigarette," he said.
Manuel lit it.
"Smoke?" he said, offering the match to Retana.
"No," Retana waved his hand, "I never smoke."
Retana watched him smoking.
"Why don't you get a job and go to work?" he said.
"I don't want to work," Manuel said. "I am a bull-fighter."
"There aren't any bull-fighters any more," Retana said.
"I'm a bull-fighter," Manuel said.
"Yes, while you're in there," Retana said.
Retana sat, saying nothing and looking at Manuel.
"I'll put you in a nocturnal if you want," Retana offered.
"When?" Manuel asked.
"I don't like to substitute for anybody," Manuel said. That was the way they all got killed. That was the way Salvador got killed. He tapped with his knuckles on the table.
"It's all I've got," Retana said.
"Why don't you put me on next week?" Manuel suggested.
"You wouldn't draw," Retana said. "All they want is Litri and Rubito and La Torre. Those kids are good."
"They'd come to see me get it," Manuel said, hopefully.
"No, they wouldn't. They don't know who you are any more."
"I've got a lot of stuff," Manuel said.
"I'm offering to put you on to-morrow night," Retana said. "You can work with young Hernandez and kill two novillos after the Chariots."
"Whose novillos?" Manuel asked.
"I don't know. Whatever stuff they've got in the corrals. What the veterinaries won't pass in the daytime."
"I don't like to substitute," Manuel said.
"You can take it or leave it," Retana said. He leaned forward over the papers. He was no longer interested. The appeal that Manuel had made to him for a moment when he thought of the old days was gone. He would like to get him to substitute for Larita because he could get him cheaply. He could get others cheaply too. He would like to help him though. Still he had given him the chance. It was up to him.
"How much do I get?" Manuel asked. He was still playing with the idea of refusing. But he knew he could not refuse.
"Two hundred and fifty pesetas," Retana said. He had thought of five hundred, but when he opened his mouth it said two hundred and fifty.
"You pay Villalta seven thousand," Manuel said.
"You're not Villalta," Retana said.
"I know it," Manuel said.
"He draws it, Manolo," Retana said in explanation.
"Sure," said Manuel. He stood up. "Give me three hundred, Retana."
"All right," Retana agreed. He reached in the drawer for a paper.
"Can I have fifty now?" Manuel asked.
"Sure," said Retana. He took a fifty peseta note out of his pocket-book and laid it, spread out flat, on the table.
Manuel picked it up and put it in his pocket.
"What about a cuadrilla?" he asked.
"There's the boys that always work for me nights," Retana said. "They're all right."
"How about picadors?" Manuel asked.
"They're not much," Retana admitted.
"I've got to have one good pic," Manuel said.
"Get him then," Retana said. "Go and get him."
"Not out of this," Manuel said. "I'm not paying for any cuadrilla out of sixty duros."
Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel across the big desk.
"You know I've got to have one good pic," Manuel said.
Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel from a long way off.
"It isn't right," Manuel said.
Retana was still considering him, leaning back in his chair, considering him from a long way away.
"There're the regular pics," he offered.
"I know," Manuel said. "I know your regular pics."
Retana did not smile. Manuel knew it was over.
"All I want is an even break," Manuel said reasoningly. "When I go out there I want to be able to call my shots on the bull. It only takes one good picador."
He was talking to a man who was no longer listening.
"If you want something extra," Retana said, "go and get it. There will be a regular cuadrilla out there. Bring as many of your own pics as you want. The charlotada is over by 10.30."
"All right," Manuel said. "If that's the way you feel about it."
"That's the way," Retana said.
"I'll see you to-morrow night," Manuel said.
"I'll be out there," Retana said.
Manuel picked up his suitcase and went out.
"Shut the door," Retana called.
Manuel looked back. Retana was sitting forward looking at some papers. Manuel pulled the door tight until it clicked.
He went down the stairs and out of the door into the hot brightness of the street. It was very hot in the street and the light on the white buildings was sudden and hard on his eyes. He walked down the shady side of the steep street toward the Puerta del Sol. The shade felt solid and cool as running water. The heat came suddenly as he crossed the intersecting streets. Manuel saw no one he knew in all the people he passed.
Just before the Puerta del Sol he turned into a café.
It was quiet in the café. There were a few men sitting at tables against the wall. At one table four men played cards. Most of the men sat against the wall smoking, empty coffee-cups and liqueur-glasses before them on the tables. Manuel went through the long room to a small room in back. A man sat at a table in the corner asleep. Manuel sat down at one of the tables.
A waiter came in and stood beside Manuel's table.
"Have you seen Zurito?" Manuel asked him.
"He was in before lunch," the waiter answered. "He won't be back before five o'clock."
"Bring me some coffee and milk and a shot of the ordinary," Manuel said.
The waiter came back into the room carrying a tray with a big coffee-glass and a liqueur-glass on it. In his left hand he held a bottle of brandy. He swung these down to the table and a boy who had followed him poured coffee and milk into the glass from two shiny, spouted pots with long handles.
Manuel took off his cap and the waiter noticed his pigtail pinned forward on his head. He winked at the coffee-boy as he poured out the brandy into the little glass beside Manuel's coffee. The coffee-boy looked at Manuel's pale face curiously.
"You fighting here?" asked the waiter, corking up the bottle.
"Yes," Manuel said. "To-morrow."
The waiter stood there, holding the bottle on one hip.
"You in the Charlie Chaplins?" he asked.
The coffee-boy looked away, embarrassed.
"No. In the ordinary."
"I thought they were going to have Chaves and Hernandez," the waiter said.
"No. Me and another."
"Who? Chaves or Hernandez?"
"Hernandez, I think."
"What's the matter with Chaves?"
"He got hurt."
"Where did you hear that?"
"Hey, Looie," the waiter called to the next room, "Chaves got cogida."
Manuel had taken the wrapper off the lumps of sugar and dropped them into his coffee. He stirred it and drank it down, sweet, hot, and warming in his empty stomach. He drank off the brandy.
"Give me another shot of that," he said to the waiter.
The waiter uncorked the bottle and poured the glass full, slopping another drink into the saucer. Another waiter had come up in front of the table. The coffee-boy was gone.
"Is Chaves hurt bad?" the second waiter asked Manuel.
"I don't know," Manuel said, "Retana didn't say."
"A hell of a lot he cares," the tall waiter said. Manuel had not seen him before. He must have just come up.
"If you stand in with Retana in this town, you're a made man," the tall waiter said. "If you aren't in with him, you might just as well go out and shoot yourself."
"You said it," the other waiter who had come in said. "You said it then."
"You're right I said it," said the tall waiter. "I know what I'm talking about when I talk about that bird."
"Look what he's done for Villalta," the first waiter said.
"And that ain't all," the tall waiter said. "Look what he's done for Marcial Lalanda. Look what he's done for Nacional."
"You said it, kid," agreed the short waiter.
Manuel looked at them, standing talking in front of his table. He had drunk his second brandy. They had forgotten about him. They were not interested in him.
"Look at that bunch of camels," the tall waiter went on. "Did you ever see this Nacional II?"
"I seen him last Sunday didn't I?" the original waiter said.
"He's a giraffe," the short waiter said.
"What did I tell you?" the tall waiter said. "Those are Retana's boys."
"Say, give me another shot of that," Manuel said. He had poured the brandy the waiter had slopped over in the saucer into his glass and drank it while they were talking.
The original waiter poured his glass full mechanically, and the three of them went out of the room talking.
In the far corner the man was still asleep, snoring slightly on the intaking breath, his head back against the wall.
Manuel drank his brandy. He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do. He wanted to see Zurito. He would go to sleep while he waited. He kicked his suitcase under the table to be sure it was there. Perhaps it would be better to put it back under the seat, against the wall. He leaned down and shoved it under. Then he leaned forward on the table and went to sleep.
When he woke there was some one sitting across the table from him. It was a big man with a heavy brown face like an Indian. He had been sitting there some time. He had waved the waiter away and sat reading the paper and occasionally looking down at Manuel, asleep, his head on the table. He read the paper laboriously, forming the words with his lips as he read. When it tired him he looked at Manuel. He sat heavily in the chair, his black Cordoba hat tipped forward.
Manuel sat up and looked at him.
"Hello, Zurito," he said.
"Hello, kid," the big man said.
"I've been asleep." Manuel rubbed his forehead with the back of his fist.
"I thought maybe you were."
"Good. How is everything with you?"
"Not so good."
They were both silent. Zurito, the picador, looked at Manuel's white face. Manuel looked down at the picador's enormous hands folding the paper to put away in his pocket.
"I got a favor to ask you, Manos," Manuel said.
Manosduros was Zurito's nickname. He never heard it without thinking of his huge hands. He put them forward on the table self-consciously.
"Let's have a drink," he said.
"Sure," said Manuel.
The waiter came and went and came again. He went out of the room looking back at the two men at the table.
"What's the matter, Manolo?" Zurito set down his glass.
"Would you pic two bulls for me to-morrow night?" Manuel asked, looking up at Zurito across the table.
"No," said Zurito. "I'm not pic-ing."
Manuel looked down at his glass. He had expected that answer; now he had it. Well, he had it.
"I'm sorry, Manolo, but I'm not pic-ing." Zurito looked at his hands.
"That's all right," Manuel said.
"I'm too old," Zurito said.
"I just asked you," Manuel said.
"Is it the nocturnal to-morrow?"
"That's it. I figured if I had just one good pic, I could get away with it."
"How much are you getting?"
"Three hundred pesetas."
"I get more than that for pic-ing."
"I know," said Manuel. "I didn't have any right to ask you."
"What do you keep on doing it for?" Zurito asked. "Why don't you cut off your coleta, Manolo?"
"I don't know," Manuel said.
"You're pretty near as old as I am," Zurito said.
"I don't know," Manuel said. "I got to do it. If I can fix it so that I get an even break, that's all I want. I got to stick with it, Manos."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do. I've tried keeping away from it."
"I know how you feel. But it isn't right. You ought to get out and stay out."
"I can't do it. Besides, I've been going good lately."
Zurito looked at his face.
"You've been in the hospital."
"But I was going great when I got hurt."
Zurito said nothing. He tipped the cognac out of his saucer into his glass.
"The papers said they never saw a better faena," Manuel said.
Zurito looked at him.
"You know when I get going I'm good," Manuel said.
"You're too old," the picador said.
"No," said Manuel. "You're ten years older than I am."
"With me it's different."
"I'm not too old," Manuel said.
They sat silent, Manuel watching the picador's face.
"I was going great till I got hurt," Manuel offered.
"You ought to have seen me, Manos," Manuel said, reproachfully.
"I don't want to see you," Zurito said. "It makes me nervous."
"You haven't seen me lately."
"I've seen you plenty."
Zurito looked at Manuel, avoiding his eyes.
"You ought to quit it, Manolo."
"I can't," Manuel said. "I'm going good now, I tell you."
Zurito leaned forward, his hands on the table.
"Listen. I'll pic for you and if you don't go big to-morrow night, you'll quit. See? Will you do that?"
Zurito leaned back, relieved.
"You got to quit," he said. "No monkey business. You got to cut the coleta."
"I won't have to quit," Manuel said. "You watch me. I've got the stuff."
Zurito stood up. He felt tired from arguing.
"You got to quit," he said. "I'll cut your coleta myself."
"No, you won't," Manuel said. "You won't have a chance."
Zurito called the waiter.
"Come on," said Zurito. "Come on up to the house."
Manuel reached under the seat for his suitcase. He was happy. He knew Zurito would pic for him. He was the best picador living. It was all simple now.
"Come on up to the house and we'll eat," Zurito said.
Manuel stood in the patio de caballos waiting for the Charlie Chaplins to be over. Zurito stood beside him. Where they stood it was dark. The high door that led into the bull-ring was shut. Above them they heard a shout, then another shout of laughter. Then there was silence. Manuel liked the smell of the stables about the patio de caballos. It smelt good in the dark. There was another roar from the arena and then applause, prolonged applause, going on and on.
"You ever seen these fellows?" Zurito asked, big and looming beside Manuel in the dark.
"No," Manuel said.
"They're pretty funny." Zurito said. He smiled to himself in the dark.
The high, double, tight-fitting door into the bull-ring swung open and Manuel saw the ring in the hard light of the arc-lights, the plaza, dark all the way around, rising high; around the edge of the ring were running and bowing two men dressed like tramps, followed by a third in the uniform of a hotel bell-boy who stooped and picked up the hats and canes thrown down onto the sand and tossed them back up into the darkness.
The electric light went on in the patio.
"I'll climb onto one of those ponies while you collect the kids," Zurito said.
Behind them came the jingle of the mules, coming out to go into the arena and be hitched onto the dead bull.
The members of the cuadrilla, who had been watching the burlesque from the runway between the barrera and the seats, came walking back and stood in a group talking, under the electric light in the patio. A good-looking lad in a silver-and-orange suit came up to Manuel and smiled.
"I'm Hernandez," he said and put out his hand.
Manuel shook it.
"They're regular elephants we've got to-night," the boy said cheerfully.
"They're big ones with horns," Manuel agreed.
"You drew the worst lot," the boy said.
"That's all right," Manuel said. "The bigger they are, the more meat for the poor."
"Where did you get that one?" Hernandez grinned.
"That's an old one," Manuel said. "You line up your cuadrilla, so I can see what I've got."
"You've got some good kids," Hernandez said. He was very cheerful. He had been on twice before in nocturnals and was beginning to get a following in Madrid. He was happy the fight would start in a few minutes.
"Where are the pics?" Manuel asked.
"They're back in the corrals fighting about who gets the beautiful horses," Hernandez grinned.
The mules came through the gate in a rush, the whips snapping, bells jangling and the young bull ploughing a furrow of sand.
They formed up for the paseo as soon as the bull had gone through.
Manuel and Hernandez stood in front. The youths of the cuadrillas were behind, their heavy capes furled over their arms. In back, the four picadors, mounted, holding their steel-tipped push-poles erect in the half-dark of the corral.
"It's a wonder Retana wouldn't give us enough light to see the horses by," one picador said.
"He knows we'll be happier if we don't get too good a look at these skins," another pic answered.
"This thing I'm on barely keeps me off the ground," the first picador said.
"Well, they're horses."
"Sure, they're horses."
They talked, sitting their gaunt horses in the dark.
Zurito said nothing. He had the only steady horse of the lot. He had tried him, wheeling him in the corrals and he responded to the bit and the spurs. He had taken the bandage off his right eye and cut the strings where they had tied his ears tight shut at the base. He was a good, solid horse, solid on his legs. That was all he needed. He intended to ride him all through the corrida. He had already, since he had mounted, sitting in the half-dark in the big, quilted saddle, waiting for the paseo, pic-ed through the whole corrida in his mind. The other picadors went on talking on both sides of him. He did not hear them.
The two matadors stood together in front of their three peones, their capes furled over their left arms in the same fashion. Manuel was thinking about the three lads in back of him. They were all three Madrileños, like Hernandez, boys about nineteen. One of them, a gypsy, serious, aloof, and dark-faced, he liked the look of. He turned.
"What's your name, kid?" he asked the gypsy.
"Fuentes," the gypsy said.
"That's a good name," Manuel said.
The gypsy smiled, showing his teeth.
"You take the bull and give him a little run when he comes out," Manuel said.
"All right," the gypsy said. His face was serious. He began to think about just what he would do.
"Here she goes," Manuel said to Hernandez.
"All right. We'll go."
Heads up, swinging with the music, their right arms swinging free, they stepped out, crossing the sanded arena under the arc-lights, the cuadrillas opening out behind, the picadors riding after, behind came the bull-ring servants and the jingling mules. The crowd applauded Hernandez as they marched across the arena. Arrogant, swinging, they looked straight ahead as they marched.
They bowed before the president, and the procession broke up into its component parts. The bull-fighters went over to the barrera and changed their heavy mantles for the light fighting capes. The mules went out. The picadors galloped jerkily around the ring, and two rode out the gate they had come in by. The servants swept the sand smooth.
Manuel drank a glass of water poured for him by one of Retana's deputies, who was acting as his manager and sword-handler. Hernandez came over from speaking with his own manager.
"You got a good hand, kid," Manuel complimented him.
"They like me," Hernandez said happily.
"How did the paseo go?" Manuel asked Retana's man.
"Like a wedding," said the handler. "Fine. You came out like Joselito and Belmonte."
Zurito rode by, a bulky equestrian statue. He wheeled his horse and faced him toward the toril on the far side of the ring where the bull would come out. It was strange under the arc-light. He pic-ed in the hot afternoon sun for big money. He didn't like this arc-light business. He wished they would get started.
Manuel went up to him.
"Pic him, Manos," he said. "Cut him down to size for me."
"I'll pic him, kid," Zurito spat on the sand. "I'll make him jump out of the ring."
"Lean on him, Manos," Manuel said.
"I'll lean on him," Zurito said. "What's holding it up?"
"He's coming now," Manuel said.
Zurito sat there, his feet in the box-stirrups, his great legs in the buckskin-covered armor gripping the horse, the reins in his left hand, the long pic held in his right hand, his broad hat well down over his eyes to shade them from the lights, watching the distant door of the toril. His horse's ears quivered. Zurito patted him with his left hand.
The red door of the toril swung back and for a moment Zurito looked into the empty passageway far across the arena. Then the bull came out in a rush, skidding on his four legs as he came out under the lights, then charging in a gallop, moving softly in a fast gallop, silent except as he woofed through wide nostrils as he charged, glad to be free after the dark pen.
In the first row of seats, slightly bored, leaning forward to write on the cement wall in front of his knees, the substitute bull-fight critic of El Heraldo scribbled: "Campagnero, Negro, 42, came out at 90 miles an hour with plenty of gas----"
Manuel, leaning against the barrera, watching the bull, waved his hand and the gypsy ran out, trailing his cape. The bull, in full gallop, pivoted and charged the cape, his head down, his tail rising. The gypsy moved in a zigzag, and as he passed, the bull caught sight of him and abandoned the cape to charge the man. The gyp sprinted and vaulted the red fence of the barrera as the bull struck it with his horns. He tossed into it twice with his horns, banging into the wood blindly.
The critic of El Heraldo lit a cigarette and tossed the match at the bull, then wrote in his note-book, "large and with enough horns to satisfy the cash customers, Campagnero showed a tendency to cut into the terrane of the bull-fighters."
Manuel stepped out on the hard sand as the bull banged into the fence. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Zurito sitting the white horse close to the barrera, about a quarter of the way around the ring to the left. Manuel held the cape close in front of him, a fold in each hand, and shouted at the bull. "Huh! Huh!" The bull turned, seemed to brace against the fence as he charged in a scramble, driving into the cape as Manuel side-stepped, pivoted on his heels with the charge of the bull, and swung the cape just ahead of the horns. At the end of the swing he was facing the bull again and held the cape in the same position close in front of his body, and pivoted again as the bull recharged. Each time, as he swung, the crowd shouted.
Four times he swung with the bull, lifting the cape so it billowed full, and each time bringing the bull around to charge again. Then, at the end of the fifth swing, he held the cape against his hip and pivoted, so the cape swung out like a ballet dancer's skirt and wound the bull around himself like a belt, to step clear, leaving the bull facing Zurito on the white horse, come up and planted firm, the horse facing the bull, its ears forward, its lips nervous, Zurito, his hat over his eyes, leaning forward, the long pole sticking out before and behind in a sharp angle under his right arm, held half-way down, the triangular iron point facing the bull.
El Heraldo's second-string critic, drawing on his cigarette, his eyes on the bull, wrote: "the veteran Manolo designed a series of acceptable veronicas, ending in a very Belmontistic recorte that earned applause from the regulars, and we entered the tercio of the cavalry."
Zurito sat his horse, measuring the distance between the bull and the end of the pic. As he looked, the bull gathered himself together and charged, his eyes on the horse's chest. As he lowered his head to hook, Zurito sunk the point of the pic in the swelling hump of muscle above the bull's shoulder, leaned all his weight on the shaft, and with his left hand pulled the white horse into the air, front hoofs pawing, and swung him to the right as he pushed the bull under and through so the horns passed safely under the horse's belly and the horse came down, quivering, the bull's tail brushing his chest as he charged the cape Hernandez offered him.
Hernandez ran sideways, taking the bull out and away with the cape, toward the other picador. He fixed him with a swing of the cape, squarely facing the horse and rider, and stepped back. As the bull saw the horse he charged. The picador's lance slid along his back, and as the shock of the charge lifted the horse, the picador was already half-way out of the saddle, lifting his right leg clear as he missed with the lance and falling to the left side to keep the horse between him and the bull. The horse, lifted and gored, crashed over with the bull driving into him, the picador gave a shove with his boots against the horse and lay clear, waiting to be lifted and hauled away and put on his feet.
Manuel let the bull drive into the fallen horse; he was in no hurry, the picador was safe; besides, it did a picador like that good to worry. He'd stay on longer next time. Lousy pics! He looked across the sand at Zurito a little way out from the barrera, his horse rigid, waiting.
"Huh!" he called to the bull, "Tomar!" holding the cape in both hands so it would catch his eye. The bull detached himself from the horse and charged the cape, and Manuel, running sideways and holding the cape spread wide, stopped, swung on his heels, and brought the bull sharply around facing Zurito.
"Campagnero accepted a pair of varas for the death of one rosinante, with Hernandez and Manolo at the quites," El Heraldo's critic wrote. "He pressed on the iron and clearly showed he was no horse-lover. The veteran Zurito resurrected some of his old stuff with the pike-pole, notably the suerte----"
"Olé Olé!" the man sitting beside him shouted. The shout was lost in the roar of the crowd, and he slapped the critic on the back. The critic looked up to see Zurito, directly below him, leaning far out over his horse, the length of the pic rising in a sharp angle under his armpit, holding the pic almost by the point, bearing down with all his weight, holding the bull off, the bull pushing and driving to get at the horse, and Zurito, far out, on top of him, holding him, holding him, and slowly pivoting the horse against the pressure, so that at last he was clear. Zurito felt the moment when the horse was clear and the bull could come past, and relaxed the absolute steel lock of his resistance, and the triangular steel point of the pic ripped in the bull's hump of shoulder muscle as he tore loose to find Hernandez's cape before his muzzle. He charged blindly into the cape and the boy took him out into the open arena.
Zurito sat patting his horse and looking at the bull charging the cape that Hernandez swung for him out under the bright light while the crowd shouted.
"You see that one?" he said to Manuel.
"It was a wonder," Manuel said.
"I got him that time," Zurito said. "Look at him now."
At the conclusion of a closely turned pass of the cape the bull slid to his knees. He was up at once, but far out across the sand Manuel and Zurito saw the shine of the pumping flow of blood, smooth against the black of the bull's shoulder.
"I got him that time," Zurito said.
"He's a good bull," Manuel said.
"If they gave me another shot at him, I'd kill him," Zurito said.
"They'll change the thirds on us," Manuel said.
"Look at him now," Zurito said.
"I got to go over there," Manuel said, and started on a run for the other side of the ring, where the monos were leading a horse out by the bridle toward the bull, whacking him on the legs with rods and all, in a procession, trying to get him toward the bull, who stood, dropping his head, pawing, unable to make up his mind to charge.
Zurito, sitting his horse, walking him toward the scene, not missing any detail, scowled.
Finally the bull charged, the horse leaders ran for the barrera, the picador hit too far back, and the bull got under the horse, lifted him, threw him onto his back.
Zurito watched. The monos, in their red shirts, running out to drag the picador clear. The picador, now on his feet, swearing and flopping his arms. Manuel and Hernandez standing ready with their capes. And the bull, the great, black bull, with a horse on his back, hooves dangling, the bridle caught in the horns. Black bull with a horse on his back, staggering short-legged, then arching his neck and lifting, thrusting, charging to slide the horse off, horse sliding down. Then the bull into a lunging charge at the cape Manuel spread for him.
The bull was slower now, Manuel felt. He was bleeding badly. There was a sheen of blood all down his flank.
Manuel offered him the cape again. There he came, eyes open, ugly, watching the cape. Manuel stepped to the side and raised his arms, tightening the cape ahead of the bull for the veronica.
Now he was facing the bull. Yes, his head was going down a little. He was carrying it lower. That was Zurito.
Manuel flopped the cape; there he comes; he side-stepped and swung in another veronica. He's shooting awfully accurately, he thought. He's had enough fight, so he's watching now. He's hunting now. Got his eye on me. But I always give him the cape.
He shook the cape at the bull; there he comes; he side-stepped. Awful close that time. I don't want to work that close to him.
The edge of the cape was wet with blood where it had swept along the bull's back as he went by.
All right, here's the last one.
Manuel, facing the bull, having turned with him each charge, offered the cape with his two hands. The bull looked at him. Eyes watching, horns straight forward, the bull looked at him, watching.
"Huh!" Manuel said, "Toro!" and leaning back, swung the cape forward. Here he comes. He side-stepped, swung the cape in back of him, and pivoted, so the bull followed a swirl of cape and then was left with nothing, fixed by the pass, dominated by the cape. Manuel swung the cape under his muzzle with one hand, to show the bull was fixed, and walked away.
There was no applause.
Manuel walked across the sand toward the barrera, while Zurito rode out of the ring. The trumpet had blown to change the act to the planting of the banderillos while Manuel had been working with the bull. He had not consciously noticed it. The monos were spreading canvas over the two dead horses and sprinkling sawdust around them.
Manuel came up to the barrera for a drink of water. Retana's man handed him the heavy porous jug.
Fuentes, the tall gypsy, was standing holding a pair of banderillos, holding them together, slim, red sticks, fish-hook points out. He looked at Manuel.
"Go on out there," Manuel said.
The gypsy trotted out. Manuel set down the jug and watched. He wiped his face with his handkerchief.
The critic of El Heraldo reached for the bottle of warm champagne that stood between his feet, took a drink, and finished his paragraph.
"--the aged Manolo rated no applause for a vulgar series of lances with the cape and we entered the third of the palings."
Alone in the centre of the ring the bull stood, still fixed. Fuentes, tall, flat-backed, walking toward him arrogantly, his arms spread out, the two slim, red sticks, one in each hand, held by the fingers, points straight forward. Fuentes walked forward. Back of him and to one side was a peon with a cape. The bull looked at him and was no longer fixed.
His eyes watched Fuentes, now standing still. Now he leaned back, calling to him. Fuentes twitched the two banderillos and the light on the steel points caught the bull's eye.
His tail went up and he charged.
He came straight, his eyes on the man. Fuentes stood still, leaning back, the banderillos pointing forward. As the bull lowered his head to hook, Fuentes leaned backward, his arms came together and rose, his two hands touching, the banderillos two descending red lines, and leaning forward drove the points into the bull's shoulder, leaning far in over the bull's horns and pivoting on the two upright sticks, his legs tight together, his body curving to one side to let the bull pass.
"Olé!" from the crowd.
The bull was hooking wildly, jumping like a trout, all four feet off the ground. The red shaft of the banderillos tossed as he jumped.
Manuel standing at the barrera, noticed that he hooked always to the right.
"Tell him to drop the next pair on the right," he said to the kid who started to run out to Fuentes with the new banderillos.
A heavy hand fell on his shoulder. It was Zurito.
"How do you feel, kid?" he asked.
Manuel was watching the bull.
Zurito leaned forward on the barrera, leaning the weight of his body on his arms. Manuel turned to him.
"You're going good," Zurito said.
Manuel shook his head. He had nothing to do now until the next third. The gypsy was very good with the banderillos. The bull would come to him in the next third in good shape. He was a good bull. It had all been easy up to now. The final stuff with the sword was all he worried over. He did not really worry. He did not even think about it. But standing there he had a heavy sense of apprehension. He looked out at the bull, planning his faena, his work with the red cloth that was to reduce the bull, to make him manageable.
The gypsy was walking out toward the bull again, walking heel-and-toe, insultingly, like a ball-room dancer, the red shafts of the banderillos twitching with his walk. The bull watched him, not fixed now, hunting him, but waiting to get close enough so he could be sure of getting him, getting the horns into him.
As Fuentes walked forward the bull charged. Fuentes ran across the quarter of a circle as the bull charged and, as he passed running backward, stopped, swung forward, rose on his toes, arms straight out, and sunk the banderillos straight down into the tight of the big shoulder muscles as the bull missed him.
The crowd were wild about it.
"That kid won't stay in this night stuff long," Retana's man said to Zurito.
"He's good," Zurito said.
"Watch him now."
Fuentes was standing with his back against the barrera. Two of the cuadrilla were back of him, with their capes ready to flop over the fence to distract the bull.
The bull, with his tongue out, his barrel heaving, was watching the gypsy. He thought he had him now. Back against the red planks. Only a short charge away. The bull watched him.
The gypsy bent back, drew back his arms, the banderillos pointing at the bull. He called to the bull, stamped one foot. The bull was suspicious. He wanted the man. No more barbs in the shoulder.
Fuentes walked a little closer to the bull. Bent back. Called again. Somebody in the crowd shouted a warning.
"He's too damn close," Zurito said.
"Watch him," Retana's man said.
Leaning back, inciting the bull with the banderillos, Fuentes jumped, both feet off the ground. As he jumped the bull's tail rose and he charged. Fuentes came down on his toes, arms straight out, whole body arching forward, and drove the shafts straight down as he swung his body clear of the right horn.
The bull crashed into the barrera where the flopping capes had attracted his eye as he lost the man.
The gypsy came running along the barrera toward Manuel, taking the applause of the crowd. His vest was ripped where he had not quite cleared the point of the horn. He was happy about it, showing it to the spectators. He made the tour of the ring. Zurito saw him go by, smiling, pointing at his vest. He smiled.
Somebody else was planting the last pair of banderillos. Nobody was paying any attention.
Retana's man tucked a baton inside the red cloth of a muleta, folded the cloth over it, and handed it over the barrera to Manuel. He reached in the leather sword-case, took out a sword, and holding it by its leather scabbard, reached it over the fence to Manuel. Manuel pulled the blade out by the red hilt and the scabbard fell limp.
He looked at Zurito. The big man saw he was sweating.
"Now you get him, kid," Zurito said.
"He's in good shape," Zurito said.
"Just like you want him," Retana's man assured him.
The trumpeter, up under the roof, blew for the final act, and Manuel walked across the arena toward where, up in the dark boxes, the president must be.
In the front row of seats the substitute bull-fight critic of El Heraldo took a long drink of the warm champagne. He had decided it was not worth while to write a running story and would write up the corrida back in the office. What the hell was it anyway? Only a nocturnal. If he missed anything he would get it out of the morning papers. He took another drink of the champagne. He had a date at Maxim's at twelve. Who were these bull-fighters anyway? Kids and bums. A bunch of bums. He put his pad of paper in his pocket and looked over toward Manuel, standing very much alone in the ring, gesturing with his hat in a salute toward a box he could not see high up in the dark plaza. Out in the ring the bull stood quiet, looking at nothing.
"I dedicate this bull to you, Mr. President, and to the public of Madrid, the most intelligent and generous of the world," was what Manuel was saying. It was a formula. He said it all. It was a little long for nocturnal use.
He bowed at the dark, straightened, tossed his hat over his shoulder, and, carrying the muleta in his left hand and the sword in his right, walked out toward the bull.
Manuel walked toward the bull. The bull looked at him; his eyes were quick. Manuel noticed the way the banderillos hung down on his left shoulder and the steady sheen of blood from Zurito's pic-ing. He noticed the way the bull's feet were. As he walked forward, holding the muleta in his left hand and the sword in his right, he watched the bull's feet. The bull could not charge without gathering his feet together. Now he stood square on them, dully.
Manuel walked toward him, watching his feet. This was all right. He could do this. He must work to get the bull's head down, so he could go in past the horns and kill him. He did not think about the sword, not about killing the bull. He thought about one thing at a time. The coming things oppressed him, though. Walking forward, watching the bull's feet, he saw successively his eyes, his wet muzzle, and the wide, forward-pointing spread of his horns. The bull had light circles about his eyes. His eyes watched Manuel. He felt he was going to get this little one with the white face.
Standing still now and spreading the red cloth of the muleta with the sword, pricking the point into the cloth so that the sword, now held in his left hand, spread the red flannel like the jib of a boat, Manuel noticed the points of the bull's horns. One of them was splintered from banging against the barrera. The other was sharp as a porcupine quill. Manuel noticed while spreading the muleta that the white base of the horn was stained red. While he noticed these things he did not lose sight of the bull's feet. The bull watched Manuel steadily.
He's on the defensive now, Manuel thought. He's reserving himself. I've got to bring him out of that and get his head down. Always get his head down. Zurito had his head down once, but he's come back. He'll bleed when I start him going and that will bring it down.
Holding the muleta, with the sword in his left hand widening it in front of him, he called to the bull.
The bull looked at him.
He leaned back insultingly and shook the wide-spread flannel.
The bull saw the muleta. It was a bright scarlet under the arc-light. The bull's legs tightened.
Here he comes. Whoosh! Manuel turned as the bull came and raised the muleta so that it passed over the bull's horns and swept down his broad back from head to tail. The bull had gone clean up in the air with the charge. Manuel had not moved.
At the end of the pass the bull turned like a cat coming around a corner and faced Manuel.
He was on the offensive again. His heaviness was gone. Manuel noted the fresh blood shining down the black shoulder and dripping down the bull's leg. He drew the sword out of the muleta and held it in his right hand. The muleta held low down in his left hand, leaning toward the left, he called to the bull. The bull's legs tightened, his eyes on the muleta. Here he comes, Manuel thought. Yuh!
He swung with the charge, sweeping the muleta ahead of the bull, his feet firm, the sword following the curve, a point of light under the arcs.
The bull recharged as the pase natural finished and Manuel raised the muleta for a pase de pecho. Firmly planted, the bull came by his chest under the raised muleta. Manuel leaned his head back to avoid the clattering banderillo shafts. The hot, black bull body touched his chest as it passed.
Too damn close, Manuel thought. Zurito, leaning on the barrera, spoke rapidly to the gypsy, who trotted out toward Manuel with a cape. Zurito pulled his hat down low and looked out across the arena at Manuel.
Manuel was facing the bull again, the muleta held low and to the left. The bull's head was down as he watched the muleta.
"If it was Belmonte doing that stuff, they'd go crazy," Retana's man said.
Zurito said nothing. He was watching Manuel out in the centre of the arena.
"Where did the boss dig this fellow up?" Retana's man asked.
"Out of the hospital," Zurito said.
"That's where he's going damn quick," Retana's man said.
Zurito turned on him.
"Knock on that," he said, pointing to the barrera.
"I was just kidding, man," Retana's man said.
"Knock on the wood."
Retana's man leaned forward and knocked three times on the barrera.
"Watch the faena," Zurito said.
Out in the centre of the ring, under the lights, Manuel was kneeling, facing the bull, and as he raised the muleta in both hands the bull charged, tail up.
Manuel swung his body clear and, as the bull recharged, brought around the muleta in a half-circle that pulled the bull to his knees.
"Why, that one's a great bull-fighter," Retana's man said.
"No, he's not," said Zurito.
Manuel stood up and, the muleta in his left hand, the sword in his right, acknowledged the applause from the dark plaza.
The bull had humped himself up from his knees and stood waiting, his head hung low.
Zurito spoke to two of the other lads of the cuadrilla and they ran out to stand back of Manuel with their capes. There were four men back of him now. Hernandez had followed him since he first came out with the muleta. Fuentes stood watching, his cape held against his body, tall, in repose, watching lazy-eyed. Now the two came up. Hernandez motioned them to stand one at each side. Manuel stood alone, facing the bull.
Manuel waved back the men with the capes. Stepping back cautiously, they saw his face was white and sweating.
Didn't they know enough to keep back? Did they want to catch the bull's eye with the capes after he was fixed and ready? He had enough to worry about without that kind of thing.
The bull was standing, his four feet square, looking at the muleta. Manuel furled the muleta in his left hand. The bull's eyes watched it. His body was heavy on his feet. He carried his head low, but not too low.
Manuel lifted the muleta at him. The bull did not move. Only his eyes watched.
He's all lead, Manuel thought. He's all square. He's framed right. He'll take it.
He thought in bull-fight terms. Sometimes he had a thought and the particular piece of slang would not come into his mind and he could not realize the thought. His instincts and his knowledge worked automatically, and his brain worked slowly and in words. He knew all about bulls. He did not have to think about them. He just did the right thing. His eyes noted things and his body performed the necessary measures without thought. If he thought about it, he would be gone.
Now, facing the bull, he was conscious of many things at the same time. There were the horns, the one splintered, the other smoothly sharp, the need to profile himself toward the left horn, lance himself short and straight, lower the muleta so the bull would follow it, and, going in over the horns, put the sword all the way into a little spot about as big as a five-peseta piece straight in back of the neck, between the sharp pitch of the bull's shoulders. He must do all this and must then come out from between the horns. He was conscious he must do all this, but his only thought was in words: "Corto y derecho."
"Corto y derecho," he thought, furling the muleta. Short and straight. Corto y derecho, he drew the sword out of the muleta, profiled on the splintered left horn, dropped the muleta across his body, so his right hand with the sword on the level with his eye made the sign of the cross, and, rising on his toes, sighted along the dipping blade of the sword at the spot high up between the bull's shoulders.
Corto y derecho he lanced himself on the bull.
There was a shock, and he felt himself go up in the air. He pushed on the sword as he went up and over, and it flew out of his hand. He hit the ground and the bull was on him. Manuel, lying on the ground, kicked at the bull's muzzle with his slippered feet. Kicking, kicking, the bull after him, missing him in his excitement, bumping him with his head, driving the horns into the sand. Kicking like a man keeping a ball in the air, Manuel kept the bull from getting a clean thrust at him.
Manuel felt the wind on his back from the capes flopping at the bull, and then the bull was gone, gone over him in a rush. Dark, as his belly went over. Not even stepped on.
Manuel stood up and picked up the muleta. Fuentes handed him the sword. It was bent where it had struck the shoulder-blade. Manuel straightened it on his knee and ran toward the bull, standing now beside one of the dead horses. As he ran, his jacket flopped where it had been ripped under his armpit.
"Get him out of there," Manuel shouted to the gypsy. The bull had smelled the blood of the dead horse and ripped into the canvas-cover with his horns. He charged Fuentes's cape, with the canvas hanging from his splintered horn, and the crowd laughed. Out in the ring, he tossed his head to rid himself of the canvas. Hernandez, running up from behind him, grabbed the end of the canvas and neatly lifted it off the horn.
The bull followed it in a half-charge and stopped still. He was on the defensive again. Manuel was walking toward him with the sword and muleta. Manuel swung the muleta before him. The bull would not charge.
Manuel profiled toward the bull, sighting along the dipping blade of the sword. The bull was motionless, seemingly dead on his feet, incapable of another charge.
Manuel rose to his toes, sighting along the steel, and charged.
Again there was the shock and he felt himself being borne back in a rush, to strike hard on the sand. There was no chance of kicking this time. The bull was on top of him. Manuel lay as though dead, his head on his arms, and the bull bumped him. Bumped his back, bumped his face in the sand. He felt the horn go into the sand between his folded arms. The bull hit him in the small of the back. His face drove into the sand. The horn drove through one of his sleeves and the bull ripped it off. Manuel was tossed clear and the bull followed the capes.
Manuel got up, found the sword and muleta, tried the point of the sword with his thumb, and then ran toward the barrera for a new sword.
Retana's man handed him the sword over the edge of the barrera.
"Wipe off your face," he said.
Manuel, running again toward the bull, wiped his bloody face with his handkerchief. He had not seen Zurito. Where was Zurito?
The cuadrilla had stepped away from the bull and waited with their capes. The bull stood, heavy and dull again after the action.
Manuel walked toward him with the muleta. He stopped and shook it. The bull did not respond. He passed it right and left, left and right before the bull's muzzle. The bull's eyes watched it and turned with the swing, but he would not charge. He was waiting for Manuel.
Manuel was worried. There was nothing to do but go in. Corto y derecho. He profiled close to the bull, crossed the muleta in front of his body and charged. As he pushed in the sword, he jerked his body to the left to clear the horn. The bull passed him and the sword shot up in the air, twinkling under the arc-lights, to fall red-hilted on the sand.
Manuel ran over and picked it up. It was bent and he straightened it over his knee.
As he came running toward the bull, fixed again now, he passed Hernandez standing with his cape.
"He's all bone," the boy said encouragingly.
Manuel nodded, wiping his face. He put the bloody handkerchief in his pocket.
There was the bull. He was close to the barrera now. Damn him. Maybe he was all bone. Maybe there was not any place for the sword to go in. The hell there wasn't! He'd show them.
He tried a pass with the muleta and the bull did not move. Manuel chopped the muleta back and forth in front of the bull. Nothing doing.
He furled the muleta, drew the sword out, profiled and drove in on the bull. He felt the sword buckle as he shoved it in, leaning his weight on it, and then it shot high in the air, end-over-ending into the crowd. Manuel had jerked clear as the sword jumped.
The first cushions thrown down out of the dark missed him. Then one hit him in the face, his bloody face looking toward the crowd. They were coming down fast. Spotting the sand. Somebody threw an empty champagne-bottle from close range. It hit Manuel on the foot. He stood there watching the dark, where the things were coming from. Then something whished through the air and struck by him. Manuel leaned over and picked it up. It was his sword. He straightened it over his knee and gestured with it to the crowd.
"Thank you," he said. "Thank you."
Oh, the dirty bastards! Dirty bastards! Oh, the lousy, dirty bastards! He kicked into a cushion as he ran.
There was the bull. The same as ever. All right, you dirty, lousy bastard!
Manuel passed the muleta in front of the bull's black muzzle.
You won't! All right. He stepped close and jammed the sharp peak of the muleta into the bull's damp muzzle.
The bull was on him as he jumped back and as he tripped on a cushion he felt the horn go into him, into his side. He grabbed the horn with his two hands and rode backward, holding tight onto the place. The bull tossed him and he was clear. He lay still. It was all right. The bull was gone.
He got up coughing and feeling broken and gone. The dirty bastards!
"Give me the sword," he shouted. "Give me the stuff."
Fuentes came up with the muleta and the sword.
Hernandez put his arm around him.
"Go on to the infirmary, man," he said. "Don't be a damn fool."
"Get away from me," Manuel said. "Get to hell away from me."
He twisted free. Hernandez shrugged his shoulders. Manuel ran toward the bull.
There was the bull standing, heavy, firmly planted.
All right, you bastard! Manuel drew the sword out of the muleta, sighted with the same movement, and flung himself onto the bull. He felt the sword go in all the way. Right up to the guard. Four fingers and his thumb into the bull. The blood was hot on his knuckles, and he was on top of the bull.
The bull lurched with him as he lay on, and seemed to sink; then he was standing clear. He looked at the bull going down slowly over on his side, then suddenly four feet in the air.
Then he gestured at the crowd, his hand warm from the bull blood.
All right, you bastards! He wanted to say something, but he started to cough. It was hot and choking. He looked down for the muleta. He must go over and salute the president. President hell! He was sitting down looking at something. It was the bull. His four feet up. Thick tongue out. Things crawling around on his belly and under his legs. Crawling where the hair was thin. Dead bull. To hell with the bull! To hell with them all! He started to get to his feet and commenced to cough. He sat down again, coughing. Somebody came and pushed him up.
They carried him across the ring to the infirmary, running with him across the sand, standing blocked at the gate as the mules came in, then around under the dark passageway, men grunting as they took him up the stairway, and then laid him down.
The doctor and two men in white were waiting for him. They laid him out on the table. They were cutting away his shirt. Manuel felt tired. His whole chest felt scalding inside. He started to cough and they held something to his mouth. Everybody was very busy.
There was an electric light in his eyes. He shut his eyes.
He heard some one coming very heavily up the stairs. Then he did not hear it. Then he heard a noise far off. That was the crowd. Well, somebody would have to kill his other bull. They had cut away all his shirt. The doctor smiled at him. There was Retana.
"Hello, Retana!" Manuel said. He could not hear his voice.
Retana smiled at him and said something. Manuel could not hear it.
Zurito stood beside the table, bending over where the doctor was working. He was in his picador clothes, without his hat.
Zurito said something to him. Manuel could not hear it.
Zurito was speaking to Retana. One of the men in white smiled and handed Retana a pair of scissors. Retana gave them to Zurito. Zurito said something to Manuel. He could not hear it.
To hell with this operating-table! He'd been on plenty of operating-tables before. He was not going to die. There would be a priest if he was going to die.
Zurito was saying something to him. Holding up the scissors.
That was it. They were going to cut off his coleta. They were going to cut off his pigtail.
Manuel sat up on the operating-table. The doctor stepped back, angry. Some one grabbed him and held him.
"You couldn't do a thing like that, Manos," he said.
He heard suddenly, clearly, Zurito's voice.
"That's all right," Zurito said. "I won't do it. I was joking."
"I was going good," Manuel said. "I didn't have any luck. That was all."
Manuel lay back. They had put something over his face. It was all familiar. He inhaled deeply. He felt very tired. He was very, very tired. They took the thing away from his face.
"I was going good," Manuel said weakly. "I was going great."
Retana looked at Zurito and started for the door.
"I'll stay here with him," Zurito said.
Retana shrugged his shoulders.
Manuel opened his eyes and looked at Zurito.
"Wasn't I going good, Manos?" he asked, for confirmation.
"Sure," said Zurito. "You were going great."
The doctor's assistant put the cone over Manuel's face and he inhaled deeply. Zurito stood awkwardly, watching.