In the middle of the plot stood a gentleman, elderly, round shouldered, and stout, red faced, with large stiff grey moustache, in his shirt sleeves, with a banderilla in either hand. Close to the wall seated on a chair, and leaning on another, was a lady of about the same age, and not less stout and rubicund, in a hat covered with[Pg 318] flowers. Each time her husband executed some good stroke the piles of flowers and false curls shook and waved wildly as she threw herself back in her chair laughing and applauding loudly.
Alongside of the pasos walked lads carrying jars of water. As soon as the platform halted, a corner of the velvet hangings was raised, and twenty or thirty men appeared, perspiring, half naked, purple with fatigue, with kerchiefs tied round their heads and the look of exhausted savages. These were the Gallicians, the strong porters, for any of that calling were merged in that nationality; they drank the water greedily, and if there were a tavern at hand mutinied against the conductor of the paso to obtain wine or food.
The following Sunday was the last corrida of the year in which Gallardo was to take part. The morning passed without those vague terrors, and superstitious anxieties which usually assailed him; he dressed gaily, with a nervous excitability which seemed to double the strength of his muscles. What a joy to tread again the yellow sand, to astonish over twelve thousand spectators with his grace and reckless daring! Nothing was true but his art, which gained him the applause of the populace, and money like heaps of corn. Everything else, family and amours were only complications of life, serving to create worries. Ay! what estocades he would give! He felt the strength of a giant: he felt another man free from fears and anxieties. He was even impatient it was not yet time to go to the Plaza, so contrary to other occasions; and he longed to pour out on the bulls the concentrated anger caused by his domestic dissensions and Do?a Sol's insulting flight.
As soon as the second bull came out, Gallardo, thanks to his mobility and his desire to shine, seemed to fill the whole Plaza. His cape was constantly close to the beast's muzzle. A picador of his own cuadrilla, the one named Potaje, was thrown from his horse, and lay helpless close to the horns. The maestro seizing the fierce beast's tail, pulled with such herculean strength, that he obliged it to turn round till the dismounted rider was safe. This was a feat that the public applauded wildly.
Gallardo, protected by his companions' capes, took advantage of any opportunity of wounding the beast with his sword, deaf to the sarcastic jests of the populace;[Pg 329] but they were thrusts the animal scarcely seemed to feel. His terror at being caught lengthened his arm, making him stand far off, only wounding the beast with the point of the sword.
Besides, now he was away from Seville, he felt a greater affection for the banderillero, a kind of reflected tenderness. Sebastian knew of his loves with Do?a Sol; he had seen her, though from afar, and she had often laughed when Gallardo told her of the picador's originalities.
He had given orders to all the overseers at his farms and in all his shepherds' hovels to give Plumitas whatever he asked for; consequently, as the overseers and cowherds related, the bandit, with the respect of a country peasant for a kind and generous master, spoke of him with the greatest gratitude, offering to kill anyone who offended the "Zeno Marque" in the very slightest degree. Poor fellow! For the wretched little sums which he demanded, when he made his appearance, wearied and starving, it was not worth while drawing down on oneself his anger and revenge.
 A proverbially learned Bishop.
Gallardo frowned, annoyed by this ferocious story.
The Se?ora Angustias was a strong woman, obese and mustachioed, who feared no man, and compelled respect from other women by her energetic determination, but with her son she was weak and soft-hearted. What could she do?... She had laid violent hands on every part of the boy's body, and broom sticks had been broken with no apparent result. That cursed one, said she, had the hide of a dog. Accustomed out of the house to the tremendous butting of the calves, the cruel tramplings of the cows, to the sticks of the herdsmen and slaughtermen, who thrashed the tauric aspirants without mercy, his mother's blows seemed a natural event, a continuation of his out-door life prolonged into his family life, which he accepted without the slightest intention of amendment, as a fine he had to pay in return for food. So he gnawed the hard bread with starving gluttony, while the maternal blows and maledictions rained on his shoulders.下载
"Last month I was at the farm of 'the five chimnies' breaking fast as I am here to-day, though not in such good company, when I saw six civiles on foot coming. I am quite sure they did not know I was there, and only came for refreshment. It was an unlucky chance, for neither they nor I could turn tail in the presence of all the farm people. The owner locked the gates, and the civiles began to knock for them to be opened. I ordered him and a shepherd to stand by the two leaves of the door. 'When I say "now" open them wide.' I mounted my mare, with my revolver in my hand. 'Now!' The door was opened wide, and I galloped out like the devil. They fired two or three shots, but did not touch me. I also fired as I went out, and I understand wounded two of the civiles.... To cut it short, I fled lying on the mare's neck, so that they should not make a target of me, and the civiles revenged themselves by thrashing the farm servants; for which reason, Se?o Juan, it is best to say nothing about my visits. For if you do, down come the three cornered hats, sickening you with enquiries and declarations, as if they were going to catch me with those."
The brotherhood continued their triumphal march, leaving deserters in every tavern and fallen all along the streets. When the sun rose it found them at the extreme opposite end of Seville from their own parish, and the image and its remaining supporters looked like a dissolute band returning from an orgy.