One morning I went down to breakfast and the Englishman, Harris, was already at the table. He was reading the paper through spectacles. He looked up and smiled.
“Good morning,” he said. “Letter for you. I stopped at the post and they gave it me with mine.”
The letter was at my place at the table, leaning against a coffee-cup. Harris was reading the paper again. I opened the letter. It had been forwarded from Pamplona. It was dated San Sebastian, Sunday:
We got here Friday, Brett passed out on the train, so brought her here for 3 days rest with old friends of ours. We go to Montoya Hotel Pamplona Tuesday, arriving at I don’t know what hour. Will you send a note by the bus to tell us what to do to rejoin you all on Wednesday. All our love and sorry to be late, but Brett was really done in and will be quite all right by Tues. and is practically so now. I know her so well and try to look after her but it’s not so easy. Love to all the chaps,
“What day of the week is it?” I asked Harris.
“Wednesday, I think. Yes, quite. Wednesday. Wonderful how one loses track of the days up here in the mountains.”
“Yes. We’ve been here nearly a week.”
“I hope you’re not thinking of leaving?”
“Yes. We’ll go in on the afternoon bus, I’m afraid.”
“What a rotten business. I had hoped we’d all have another go at the Irati together.”
“We have to go into Pamplona. We’re meeting people there.”
“What rotten luck for me. We’ve had a jolly time here at Burguete.”
“Come on in to Pamplona. We can play some bridge there, and there’s going to be a damned fine fiesta.”
“I’d like to. Awfully nice of you to ask me. I’d best stop on here, though. I’ve not much more time to fish.”
“You want those big ones in the Irati.”
“I say, I do, you know. They’re enormous trout there.”
“I’d like to try them once more.”
“Do. Stop over another day. Be a good chap.”
“We really have to get into town,” I said.
“What a pity.”
After breakfast Bill and I were sitting warming in the sun on a bench out in front of the inn and talking it over. I saw a girl coming up the road from the centre of the town. She stopped in front of us and took a telegram out of the leather wallet that hung against her skirt.
I looked at it. The address was: “Barnes, Burguete.”
“Yes. It’s for us.”
She brought out a book for me to sign, and I gave her a couple of coppers. The telegram was in Spanish: “Vengo Jueves Cohn.”
I handed it to Bill.
“What does the word Cohn mean?” he asked.
“What a lousy telegram!” I said. “He could send ten words for the same price. ‘I come Thursday.’ That gives you a lot of dope, doesn’t it?”
“It gives you all the dope that’s of interest to Cohn.”
“We’re going in, anyway,” I said. “There’s no use trying to move Brett and Mike out here and back before the fiesta. Should we answer it?”
“We might as well,” said Bill. “There’s no need for us to be snooty.”
We walked up to the post-office and asked for a telegraph blank.
“What will we say?” Bill asked.
“ ‘Arriving to-night.’ That’s enough.”
We paid for the message and walked back to the inn. Harris was there and the three of us walked up to Roncesvalles. We went through the monastery.
“It’s a remarkable place,” Harris said, when we came out. “But you know I’m not much on those sort of places.”
“Me either,” Bill said.
“It’s a remarkable place, though,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t not have seen it. I’d been intending coming up each day.”
“It isn’t the same as fishing, though, is it?” Bill asked. He liked Harris.
“I say not.”
We were standing in front of the old chapel of the monastery.
“Isn’t that a pub across the way?” Harris asked. “Or do my eyes deceive me?”
“It has the look of a pub,” Bill said.
“It looks to me like a pub,” I said.
“I say,” said Harris, “let’s utilize it.” He had taken up utilizing from Bill.
We had a bottle of wine apiece. Harris would not let us pay. He talked Spanish quite well, and the innkeeper would not take our money.
“I say. You don’t know what it’s meant to me to have you chaps up here.”
“We’ve had a grand time, Harris.”
Harris was a little tight.
“I say. Really you don’t know how much it means. I’ve not had much fun since the war.”
“We’ll fish together again, some time. Don’t you forget it, Harris.”
“We must. We have had such a jolly good time.”
“How about another bottle around?”
“Jolly good idea,” said Harris.
“This is mine,” said Bill. “Or we don’t drink it.”
“I wish you’d let me pay for it. It does give me pleasure, you know.”
“This is going to give me pleasure,” Bill said.
The innkeeper brought in the fourth bottle. We had kept the same glasses. Harris lifted his glass.
“I say. You know this does utilize well.”
Bill slapped him on the back.
“Good old Harris.”
“I say. You know my name isn’t really Harris. It’s Wilson-Harris. All one name. With a hyphen, you know.”
“Good old Wilson-Harris,” Bill said. “We call you Harris because we’re so fond of you.”
“I say, Barnes. You don’t know what this all means to me.”
“Come on and utilize another glass,” I said.
“Barnes. Really, Barnes, you can’t know. That’s all.”
“Drink up, Harris.”
We walked back down the road from Roncesvalles with Harris between us. We had lunch at the inn and Harris went with us to the bus. He gave us his card, with his address in London and his club and his business address, and as we got on the bus he handed us each an envelope. I opened mine and there were a dozen flies in it. Harris had tied them himself. He tied all his own flies.
“I say, Harris—” I began.
“No, no!” he said. He was climbing down from the bus. “They’re not first-rate flies at all. I only thought if you fished them some time it might remind you of what a good time we had.”
The bus started. Harris stood in front of the post-office. He waved. As we started along the road he turned and walked back toward the inn.
“Say, wasn’t that Harris nice?” Bill said.
“I think he really did have a good time.”
“Harris? You bet he did.”
“I wish he’d come into Pamplona.”
“He wanted to fish.”
“Yes. You couldn’t tell how English would mix with each other, anyway.”
“I suppose not.”
We got into Pamplona late in the afternoon and the bus stopped in front of the Hotel Montoya. Out in the plaza they were stringing electric-light wires to light the plaza for the fiesta. A few kids came up when the bus stopped, and a customs officer for the town made all the people getting down from the bus open their bundles on the sidewalk. We went into the hotel and on the stairs I met Montoya. He shook hands with us, smiling in his embarrassed way.
“Your friends are here,” he said.
“Yes. Mr. Cohn and Mr. Campbell and Lady Ashley.”
He smiled as though there were something I would hear about.
“When did they get in?”
“Yesterday. I’ve saved you the rooms you had.”
“That’s fine. Did you give Mr. Campbell the room on the plaza?”
“Yes. All the rooms we looked at.”
“Where are our friends now?”
“I think they went to the pelota.”
“And how about the bulls?”
Montoya smiled. “To-night,” he said. “To-night at seven o’clock they bring in the Villar bulls, and to-morrow come the Miuras. Do you all go down?”
“Oh, yes. They’ve never seen a desencajonada.”
Montoya put his hand on my shoulder.
“I’ll see you there.”
He smiled again. He always smiled as though bull-fighting were a very special secret between the two of us; a rather shocking but really very deep secret that we knew about. He always smiled as though there were something lewd about the secret to outsiders, but that it was something that we understood. It would not do to expose it to people who would not understand.
“Your friend, is he aficionado, too?” Montoya smiled at Bill.
“Yes. He came all the way from New York to see the San Fermines.”
“Yes?” Montoya politely disbelieved. “But he’s not aficionado like you.”
He put his hand on my shoulder again embarrassedly.
“Yes,” I said. “He’s a real aficionado.”
“But he’s not aficionado like you are.”
Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about the bull-fights. All the good bull-fighters stayed at Montoya’s hotel; that is, those with aficion stayed there. The commercial bull-fighters stayed once, perhaps, and then did not come back. The good ones came each year. In Montoya’s room were their photographs. The photographs were dedicated to Juanito Montoya or to his sister. The photographs of bull-fighters Montoya had really believed in were framed. Photographs of bull-fighters who had been without aficion Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk. They often had the most flattering inscriptions. But they did not mean anything. One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket. He did not want them around.
We often talked about bulls and bull-fighters. I had stopped at the Montoya for several years. We never talked for very long at a time. It was simply the pleasure of discovering what we each felt. Men would come in from distant towns and before they left Pamplona stop and talk for a few minutes with Montoya about bulls. These men were aficionados. Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full. Montoya introduced me to some of them. They were always very polite at first, and it amused them very much that I should be an American. Somehow it was taken for granted that an American could not have aficion. He might simulate it or confuse it with excitement, but he could not really have it. When they saw that I had aficion, and there was no password, no set questions that could bring it out, rather it was a sort of oral spiritual examination with the questions always a little on the defensive and never apparent, there was this same embarrassed putting the hand on the shoulder, or a “Buen hombre.” But nearly always there was the actual touching. It seemed as though they wanted to touch you to make it certain.
Montoya could forgive anything of a bull-fighter who had aficion. He could forgive attacks of nerves, panic, bad unexplainable actions, all sorts of lapses. For one who had aficion he could forgive anything. At once he forgave me all my friends. Without his ever saying anything they were simply a little something shameful between us, like the spilling open of the horses in bull-fighting.
Bill had gone up-stairs as we came in, and I found him washing and changing in his room.
“Well,” he said, “talk a lot of Spanish?”
“He was telling me about the bulls coming in to-night.”
“Let’s find the gang and go down.”
“All right. They’ll probably be at the café.”
“Have you got tickets?”
“Yes. I got them for all the unloadings.”
“What’s it like?” He was pulling his cheek before the glass, looking to see if there were unshaved patches under the line of the jaw.
“It’s pretty good,” I said. “They let the bulls out of the cages one at a time, and they have steers in the corral to receive them and keep them from fighting, and the bulls tear in at the steers and the steers run around like old maids trying to quiet them down.”
“Do they ever gore the steers?”
“Sure. Sometimes they go right after them and kill them.”
“Can’t the steers do anything?”
“No. They’re trying to make friends.”
“What do they have them in for?”
“To quiet down the bulls and keep them from breaking horns against the stone walls, or goring each other.”
“Must be swell being a steer.”
We went down the stairs and out of the door and walked across the square toward the Café Iruña. There were two lonely looking ticket-houses standing in the square. Their windows, marked SOL, SOL Y SOMBRA, and SOMBRA, were shut. They would not open until the day before the fiesta.
Across the square the white wicker tables and chairs of the Iruña extended out beyond the Arcade to the edge of the street. I looked for Brett and Mike at the tables. There they were. Brett and Mike and Robert Cohn. Brett was wearing a Basque beret. So was Mike. Robert Cohn was bare-headed and wearing his spectacles. Brett saw us coming and waved. Her eyes crinkled up as we came up to the table.
“Hello, you chaps!” she called.
Brett was happy. Mike had a way of getting an intensity of feeling into shaking hands. Robert Cohn shook hands because we were back.
“Where the hell have you been?” I asked.
“I brought them up here,” Cohn said.
“What rot,” Brett said. “We’d have gotten here earlier if you hadn’t come.”
“You’d never have gotten here.”
“What rot! You chaps are brown. Look at Bill.”
“Did you get good fishing?” Mike asked. “We wanted to join you.”
“It wasn’t bad. We missed you.”
“I wanted to come,” Cohn said, “but I thought I ought to bring them.”
“You bring us. What rot.”
“Was it really good?” Mike asked. “Did you take many?”
“Some days we took a dozen apiece. There was an Englishman up there.”
“Named Harris,” Bill said. “Ever know him, Mike? He was in the war, too.”
“Fortunate fellow,” Mike said. “What times we had. How I wish those dear days were back.”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“Were you in the war, Mike?” Cohn asked.
“Was I not.”
“He was a very distinguished soldier,” Brett said. “Tell them about the time your horse bolted down Piccadilly.”
“I’ll not. I’ve told that four times.”
“You never told me,” Robert Cohn said.
“I’ll not tell that story. It reflects discredit on me.”
“Tell them about your medals.”
“I’ll not. That story reflects great discredit on me.”
“What story’s that?”
“Brett will tell you. She tells all the stories that reflect discredit on me.”
“Go on. Tell it, Brett.”
“I’ll tell it myself.”
“What medals have you got, Mike?”
“I haven’t got any medals.”
“You must have some.”
“I suppose I’ve the usual medals. But I never sent in for them. One time there was this wopping big dinner and the Prince of Wales was to be there, and the cards said medals will be worn. So naturally I had no medals, and I stopped at my tailor’s and he was impressed by the invitation, and I thought that’s a good piece of business, and I said to him: ‘You’ve got to fix me up with some medals.’ He said: ‘What medals, sir?’ And I said: ‘Oh, any medals. Just give me a few medals.’ So he said: ‘What medals have you, sir?’ And I said: ‘How should I know?’ Did he think I spent all my time reading the bloody gazette? ‘Just give me a good lot. Pick them out yourself.’ So he got me some medals, you know, miniature medals, and handed me the box, and I put it in my pocket and forgot it. Well, I went to the dinner, and it was the night they’d shot Henry Wilson, so the Prince didn’t come and the King didn’t come, and no one wore any medals, and all these coves were busy taking off their medals, and I had mine in my pocket.”
He stopped for us to laugh.
“Is that all?”
“That’s all. Perhaps I didn’t tell it right.”
“You didn’t,” said Brett. “But no matter.”
We were all laughing.
“Ah, yes,” said Mike. “I know now. It was a damn dull dinner, and I couldn’t stick it, so I left. Later on in the evening I found the box in my pocket. What’s this? I said. Medals? Bloody military medals? So I cut them all off their backing—you know, they put them on a strip—and gave them all around. Gave one to each girl. Form of souvenir. They thought I was hell’s own shakes of a soldier. Give away medals in a night club. Dashing fellow.”
“Tell the rest,” Brett said.
“Don’t you think that was funny?” Mike asked. We were all laughing. “It was. I swear it was. Any rate, my tailor wrote me and wanted the medals back. Sent a man around. Kept on writing for months. Seems some chap had left them to be cleaned. Frightfully military cove. Set hell’s own store by them.” Mike paused. “Rotten luck for the tailor,” he said.
“You don’t mean it,” Bill said. “I should think it would have been grand for the tailor.”
“Frightfully good tailor. Never believe it to see me now,” Mike said. “I used to pay him a hundred pounds a year just to keep him quiet. So he wouldn’t send me any bills. Frightful blow to him when I went bankrupt. It was right after the medals. Gave his letters rather a bitter tone.”
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
“What brought it on?”
“Friends,” said Mike. “I had a lot of friends. False friends. Then I had creditors, too. Probably had more creditors than anybody in England.”
“Tell them about in the court,” Brett said.
“I don’t remember,” Mike said. “I was just a little tight.”
“Tight!” Brett exclaimed. “You were blind!”
“Extraordinary thing,” Mike said. “Met my former partner the other day. Offered to buy me a drink.”
“Tell them about your learned counsel,” Brett said.
“I will not,” Mike said. “My learned counsel was blind, too. I say this is a gloomy subject. Are we going down and see these bulls unloaded or not?”
“Let’s go down.”
We called the waiter, paid, and started to walk through the town. I started off walking with Brett, but Robert Cohn came up and joined her on the other side. The three of us walked along, past the Ayuntamiento with the banners hung from the balcony, down past the market and down past the steep street that led to the bridge across the Arga. There were many people walking to go and see the bulls, and carriages drove down the hill and across the bridge, the drivers, the horses, and the whips rising above the walking people in the street. Across the bridge we turned up a road to the corrals. We passed a wine-shop with a sign in the window: Good Wine 30 Centimes A Liter.
“That’s where we’ll go when funds get low,” Brett said.
The woman standing in the door of the wine-shop looked at us as we passed. She called to some one in the house and three girls came to the window and stared. They were staring at Brett.
At the gate of the corrals two men took tickets from the people that went in. We went in through the gate. There were trees inside and a low, stone house. At the far end was the stone wall of the corrals, with apertures in the stone that were like loopholes running all along the face of each corral. A ladder led up to the top of the wall, and people were climbing up the ladder and spreading down to stand on the walls that separated the two corrals. As we came up the ladder, walking across the grass under the trees, we passed the big, gray painted cages with the bulls in them. There was one bull in each travelling-box. They had come by train from a bull-breeding ranch in Castile, and had been unloaded off flat-cars at the station and brought up here to be let out of their cages into the corrals. Each cage was stencilled with the name and the brand of the bull-breeder.
We climbed up and found a place on the wall looking down into the corral. The stone walls were whitewashed, and there was straw on the ground and wooden feed-boxes and water-troughs set against the wall.
“Look up there,” I said.
Beyond the river rose the plateau of the town. All along the old walls and ramparts people were standing. The three lines of fortifications made three black lines of people. Above the walls there were heads in the windows of the houses. At the far end of the plateau boys had climbed into the trees.
“They must think something is going to happen,” Brett said.
“They want to see the bulls.”
Mike and Bill were on the other wall across the pit of the corral. They waved to us. People who had come late were standing behind us, pressing against us when other people crowded them.
“Why don’t they start?” Robert Cohn asked.
A single mule was hitched to one of the cages and dragged it up against the gate in the corral wall. The men shoved and lifted it with crowbars into position against the gate. Men were standing on the wall ready to pull up the gate of the corral and then the gate of the cage. At the other end of the corral a gate opened and two steers came in, swaying their heads and trotting, their lean flanks swinging. They stood together at the far end, their heads toward the gate where the bull would enter.
“They don’t look happy,” Brett said.
The men on top of the wall leaned back and pulled up the door of the corral. Then they pulled up the door of the cage.
I leaned way over the wall and tried to see into the cage. It was dark. Some one rapped on the cage with an iron bar. Inside something seemed to explode. The bull, striking into the wood from side to side with his horns, made a great noise. Then I saw a dark muzzle and the shadow of horns, and then, with a clattering on the wood in the hollow box, the bull charged and came out into the corral, skidding with his forefeet in the straw as he stopped, his head up, the great hump of muscle on his neck swollen tight, his body muscles quivering as he looked up at the crowd on the stone walls. The two steers backed away against the wall, their heads sunken, their eyes watching the bull.
The bull saw them and charged. A man shouted from behind one of the boxes and slapped his hat against the planks, and the bull, before he reached the steer, turned, gathered himself and charged where the man had been, trying to reach him behind the planks with a half-dozen quick, searching drives with the right horn.
“My God, isn’t he beautiful?” Brett said. We were looking right down on him.
“Look how he knows how to use his horns,” I said. “He’s got a left and a right just like a boxer.”
“It goes too fast.”
“Wait. There’ll be another one in a minute.”
They had backed up another cage into the entrance. In the far corner a man, from behind one of the plank shelters, attracted the bull, and while the bull was facing away the gate was pulled up and a second bull came out into the corral.
He charged straight for the steers and two men ran out from behind the planks and shouted, to turn him. He did not change his direction and the men shouted: “Hah! Hah! Toro!” and waved their arms; the two steers turned sideways to take the shock, and the bull drove into one of the steers.
“Don’t look,” I said to Brett. She was watching, fascinated.
“Fine,” I said. “If it doesn’t buck you.”
“I saw it,” she said. “I saw him shift from his left to his right horn.”
The steer was down now, his neck stretched out, his head twisted, he lay the way he had fallen. Suddenly the bull left off and made for the other steer which had been standing at the far end, his head swinging, watching it all. The steer ran awkwardly and the bull caught him, hooked him lightly in the flank, and then turned away and looked up at the crowd on the walls, his crest of muscle rising. The steer came up to him and made as though to nose at him and the bull hooked perfunctorily. The next time he nosed at the steer and then the two of them trotted over to the other bull.
When the next bull came out, all three, the two bulls and the steer, stood together, their heads side by side, their horns against the newcomer. In a few minutes the steer picked the new bull up, quieted him down, and made him one of the herd. When the last two bulls had been unloaded the herd were all together.
The steer who had been gored had gotten to his feet and stood against the stone wall. None of the bulls came near him, and he did not attempt to join the herd.
We climbed down from the wall with the crowd, and had a last look at the bulls through the loopholes in the wall of the corral. They were all quiet now, their heads down. We got a carriage outside and rode up to the café. Mike and Bill came in half an hour later. They had stopped on the way for several drinks.
We were sitting in the café.
“That’s an extraordinary business,” Brett said.
“Will those last ones fight as well as the first?” Robert Cohn asked. “They seemed to quiet down awfully fast.”
“They all know each other,” I said. “They’re only dangerous when they’re alone, or only two or three of them together.”
“What do you mean, dangerous?” Bill said. “They all looked dangerous to me.”
“They only want to kill when they’re alone. Of course, if you went in there you’d probably detach one of them from the herd, and he’d be dangerous.”
“That’s too complicated,” Bill said. “Don’t you ever detach me from the herd, Mike.”
“I say,” Mike said, “they were fine bulls, weren’t they? Did you see their horns?”
“Did I not,” said Brett. “I had no idea what they were like.”
“Did you see the one hit that steer?” Mike asked. “That was extraordinary.”
“It’s no life being a steer,” Robert Cohn said.
“Don’t you think so?” Mike said. “I would have thought you’d loved being a steer, Robert.”
“What do you mean, Mike?”
“They lead such a quiet life. They never say anything and they’re always hanging about so.”
We were embarrassed. Bill laughed. Robert Cohn was angry. Mike went on talking.
“I should think you’d love it. You’d never have to say a word. Come on, Robert. Do say something. Don’t just sit there.”
“I said something, Mike. Don’t you remember? About the steers.”
“Oh, say something more. Say something funny. Can’t you see we’re all having a good time here?”
“Come off it, Michael. You’re drunk,” Brett said.
“I’m not drunk. I’m quite serious. Is Robert Cohn going to follow Brett around like a steer all the time?”
“Shut up, Michael. Try and show a little breeding.”
“Breeding be damned. Who has any breeding, anyway, except the bulls? Aren’t the bulls lovely? Don’t you like them, Bill? Why don’t you say something, Robert? Don’t sit there looking like a bloody funeral. What if Brett did sleep with you? She’s slept with lots of better people than you.”
“Shut up,” Cohn said. He stood up. “Shut up, Mike.”
“Oh, don’t stand up and act as though you were going to hit me. That won’t make any difference to me. Tell me, Robert. Why do you follow Brett around like a poor bloody steer? Don’t you know you’re not wanted? I know when I’m not wanted. Why don’t you know when you’re not wanted? You came down to San Sebastian where you weren’t wanted, and followed Brett around like a bloody steer. Do you think that’s right?”
“Shut up. You’re drunk.”
“Perhaps I am drunk. Why aren’t you drunk? Why don’t you ever get drunk, Robert? You know you didn’t have a good time at San Sebastian because none of our friends would invite you on any of the parties. You can’t blame them hardly. Can you? I asked them to. They wouldn’t do it. You can’t blame them, now. Can you? Now, answer me. Can you blame them?”
“Go to hell, Mike.”
“I can’t blame them. Can you blame them? Why do you follow Brett around? Haven’t you any manners? How do you think it makes me feel?”
“You’re a splendid one to talk about manners,” Brett said. “You’ve such lovely manners.”
“Come on, Robert,” Bill said.
“What do you follow her around for?”
Bill stood up and took hold of Cohn.
“Don’t go,” Mike said. “Robert Cohn’s going to buy a drink.”
Bill went off with Cohn. Cohn’s face was sallow. Mike went on talking. I sat and listened for a while. Brett looked disgusted.
“I say, Michael, you might not be such a bloody ass,” she interrupted. “I’m not saying he’s not right, you know.” She turned to me.
The emotion left Mike’s voice. We were all friends together.
“I’m not so damn drunk as I sounded,” he said.
“I know you’re not,” Brett said.
“We’re none of us sober,” I said.
“I didn’t say anything I didn’t mean.”
“But you put it so badly,” Brett laughed.
“He was an ass, though. He came down to San Sebastian where he damn well wasn’t wanted. He hung around Brett and just looked at her. It made me damned well sick.”
“He did behave very badly,” Brett said.
“Mark you. Brett’s had affairs with men before. She tells me all about everything. She gave me this chap Cohn’s letters to read. I wouldn’t read them.”
“Damned noble of you.”
“No, listen, Jake. Brett’s gone off with men. But they weren’t ever Jews, and they didn’t come and hang about afterward.”
“Damned good chaps,” Brett said. “It’s all rot to talk about it. Michael and I understand each other.”
“She gave me Robert Cohn’s letters. I wouldn’t read them.”
“You wouldn’t read any letters, darling. You wouldn’t read mine.”
“I can’t read letters,” Mike said. “Funny, isn’t it?”
“You can’t read anything.”
“No. You’re wrong there. I read quite a bit. I read when I’m at home.”
“You’ll be writing next,” Brett said. “Come on, Michael. Do buck up. You’ve got to go through with this thing now. He’s here. Don’t spoil the fiesta.”
“Well, let him behave, then.”
“He’ll behave. I’ll tell him.”
“You tell him, Jake. Tell him either he must behave or get out.”
“Yes,” I said, “it would be nice for me to tell him.”
“Look, Brett. Tell Jake what Robert calls you. That is perfect, you know.”
“Oh, no. I can’t.”
“Go on. We’re all friends. Aren’t we all friends, Jake?”
“I can’t tell him. It’s too ridiculous.”
“I’ll tell him.”
“You won’t, Michael. Don’t be an ass.”
“He calls her Circe,” Mike said. “He claims she turns men into swine. Damn good. I wish I were one of these literary chaps.”
“He’d be good, you know,” Brett said. “He writes a good letter.”
“I know,” I said. “He wrote me from San Sebastian.”
“That was nothing,” Brett said. “He can write a damned amusing letter.”
“She made me write that. She was supposed to be ill.”
“I damned well was, too.”
“Come on,” I said, “we must go in and eat.”
“How should I meet Cohn?” Mike said.
“Just act as though nothing had happened.”
“It’s quite all right with me,” Mike said. “I’m not embarrassed.”
“If he says anything, just say you were tight.”
“Quite. And the funny thing is I think I was tight.”
“Come on,” Brett said. “Are these poisonous things paid for? I must bathe before dinner.”
We walked across the square. It was dark and all around the square were the lights from the cafés under the arcades. We walked across the gravel under the trees to the hotel.
They went up-stairs and I stopped to speak with Montoya.
“Well, how did you like the bulls?” he asked.
“Good. They were nice bulls.”
“They’re all right”—Montoya shook his head—“but they’re not too good.”
“What didn’t you like about them?”
“I don’t know. They just didn’t give me the feeling that they were so good.”
“I know what you mean.”
“They’re all right.”
“Yes. They’re all right.”
“How did your friends like them?”
“Good,” Montoya said.
I went up-stairs. Bill was in his room standing on the balcony looking out at the square. I stood beside him.
“Up-stairs in his room.”
“How does he feel?”
“Like hell, naturally. Mike was awful. He’s terrible when he’s tight.”
“He wasn’t so tight.”
“The hell he wasn’t. I know what we had before we came to the café.”
“He sobered up afterward.”
“Good. He was terrible. I don’t like Cohn, God knows, and I think it was a silly trick for him to go down to San Sebastian, but nobody has any business to talk like Mike.”
“How’d you like the bulls?”
“Grand. It’s grand the way they bring them out.”
“To-morrow come the Miuras.”
“When does the fiesta start?”
“Day after to-morrow.”
“We’ve got to keep Mike from getting so tight. That kind of stuff is terrible.”
“We’d better get cleaned up for supper.”
“Yes. That will be a pleasant meal.”
As a matter of fact, supper was a pleasant meal. Brett wore a black, sleeveless evening dress. She looked quite beautiful. Mike acted as though nothing had happened. I had to go up and bring Robert Cohn down. He was reserved and formal, and his face was still taut and sallow, but he cheered up finally. He could not stop looking at Brett. It seemed to make him happy. It must have been pleasant for him to see her looking so lovely, and know he had been away with her and that every one knew it. They could not take that away from him. Bill was very funny. So was Michael. They were good together.
It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people.