“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 bullring 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 bullfighters 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 towards 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 passage-way 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 bullfight 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 notebook, “large and with enough horns to satisfy the cash customers, Campagnero showed a tendency to cut into the terrain of the bullfighters.”

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 cape 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.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Categories: Hemingway, Ernest