"Do you think me a fool, Sebastian? I have seen it all along. From the first moment he began to think of that lady ... or whatever she is, I have known what Juan was thinking. The day he pledged the bull to her, and she gave him that diamond ring, I guessed what there was between the two, and I should have liked to snatch the ring and trample on it.... Very soon I knew everything. Everything! There are always people ready to carry rumours because it hurts others. Besides, they have never hidden themselves, going everywhere like man and wife, in the sight of every one, on horseback, just like gipsies who ride from fair to fair. When we were at the farm I had news of everything Juan was doing, and afterwards in San Lucar also."
"You see, Se?a Angustias, the bureau is a thing that depends on the Government, and I have my principles. I figure on the register of my party and am also on the committee. What would my co-religionists say?"
A mysterious inspiration seemed to tell the people of[Pg 33] the coming of the last cuadrilla on its way to the Plaza. The group of ragamuffins who had run after the carriage acclaiming Gallardo had lost their breath and had scattered amongst the traffic, but all the same, people glanced behind them as though they felt the proximity of the famous torero and slackened their pace, lining the edge of the pavement so as to get a better view of him.
The torero knew it but too well. The turbulent populace who sat on the sunny side of the Plaza were beginning to show a certain animosity against him, thinking themselves forgotten. They criticised his constant intercourse with wealthy people, and his desertion of those who had been his first admirers. Gallardo wished therefor to take advantage of every means of flattering those whose applause he wanted. A few days before the procession, he informed the most influential members of la Macarena of his intention to follow in it. He did not wish the people to know it, it was purely an act of devotion, and he wished his intention to remain a secret.
The first to arrive were always the saddler and his wife, two of whose children lived in the espada's house. Carmen, as though she wished to forget her own sterility, and felt the silence of the big house oppress her, kept her sister-in-law's two youngest children with her. These children, from natural affection and also probably by their parents' express orders, were perpetually petting their beautiful aunt and their generous and popular uncle, kissing them and purring on their knees like kittens.
On the death of her mother, she became possessed of a very good fortune. She had married in Madrid a personage much older than herself who had as Ambassador, represented Spain at the principal Courts of Europe, a prospect which could not fail to be attractive to a woman anxious for splendour and novelty.
But the clouds rolled together again, and the leaden sky continued to pour down its torrents. The aficionados were furious with the weather, which seemed to have set itself against the national sport. Horrid climate! which made even corridas impossible.
 The Virgin of Seven Sorrows whose heart is pierced with swords.
Of that past nothing remained but that man, standing motionless before her, with his imploring eyes, and his childish desire to revive those days.... Poor man! As if follies could be repeated when one's thoughts were cold and the illusion wanting. The blind enchantment of life!
She looked through the window at the dull rainy sky, at the wet Plaza, at the flakes of snow, and then she turned her eyes on the espada, looking with astonishment at the long lock of hair plastered on his head, at his clothes, his hat, at all the details which betrayed his profession, which contrasted so strongly with his smart and modern dress.下载
Gallardo was very thoughtful for some time after reading these letters. To retire!... What nonsense! Women's worries! Affection might easily dictate this, but it was impossible to carry it out. Cut off his pigtail before he was thirty! How his enemies would laugh! He had no right to retire as long as his limbs were sound and he was able to fight. Such an absurdity had never been heard of. Money was not everything. How about[Pg 304] his fame? And his professional pride? What would his thousands and thousands of admiring partisans say? What could they reply to his enemies if those latter threw it in their teeth that Gallardo had retired through fear?
It was the chaplain of the Plaza, an enthusiast in Tauromachia, who had arrived with the Holy Oils concealed beneath his coat. He was priest of the suburb of la Prosperidad and for years past had maintained a heated controversy with another parish priest in the centre of Madrid who claimed a better right to monopolise the religious service of the Plaza. He came to the Plaza accompanied by a neighbour, who served him as sacristan in return for a seat for the corrida.