For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 11

As they came up, still deep in the shadow of the pines, after dropping down from the high meadow into the wooden valley and climbing up it on a trail that paralleled the stream and then left it to gain, steeply, the top of a rim-rock formation, a man with a carbine stepped out from behind a tree.

“Halt,” he said. Then, “Hola, Pilar. Who is this with thee?”

“An Inglés,” Pilar said. “But with a Christian name—Roberto. And what an obscenity of steepness it is to arrive here.”

“Salud, Camarada,” the guard said to Robert Jordan and put out his hand. “Are you well?”

“Yes,” said Robert Jordan. “And thee?”

“Equally,” the guard said. He was very young, with a light build, thin, rather hawk-nosed face, high cheekbones and gray eyes. He wore no hat, his hair was black and shaggy and his handclasp was strong and friendly. His eyes were friendly too.

“Hello, Maria,” he said to the girl. “You did not tire yourself?”

“Qué va, Joaquín,” the girl said. “We have sat and talked more than we have walked.”

“Are you the dynamiter?” Joaquín asked. “We have heard you were here.”

“We passed the night at Pablo’s,” Robert Jordan said. “Yes, I am the dynamiter.”

“We are glad to see you,” Joaquín said. “Is it for a train?”

“Were you at the last train?” Robert Jordan asked and smiled.

“Was I not,” Joaquín said. “That’s where we got this,” he grinned at Maria. “You are pretty now,” he said to Maria. “Have they told thee how pretty?”

“Shut up, Joaquín, and thank you very much,” Maria said. “You’d be pretty with a haircut.”

“I carried thee,” Joaquín told the girl. “I carried thee over my shoulder.”

“As did many others,” Pilar said in the deep voice. “Who didn’t carry her? Where is the old man?”

“At the camp.”

“Where was he last night?”

“In Segovia.”

“Did he bring news?”

“Yes,” Joaquín said, “there is news.”

“Good or bad?”

“I believe bad.”

“Did you see the planes?”

“Ay,” said Joaquín and shook his head. “Don’t talk to me of that. Comrade Dynamiter, what planes were those?”

“Heinkel one eleven bombers. Heinkel and Fiat pursuit,” Robert Jordan told him.

“What were the big ones with the low wings?”

“Heinkel one elevens.”

“By any names they are as bad,” Joaquín said. “But I am delaying you. I will take you to the commander.”

“The commander?” Pilar asked.

Joaquín nodded seriously. “I like it better than ‘chief,” he said. “It is more military.”

“You are militarizing heavily,” Pilar said and laughed at him.

“No,” Joaquín said. “But I like military terms because it makes orders clearer and for better discipline.”

“Here is one according to thy taste, Inglés,” Pilar said. “A very serious boy.”

“Should I carry thee?” Joaquín asked the girl and put his arm on her shoulder and smiled in her face.

“Once was enough,” Maria told him. “Thank you just the same.”

“Can you remember it?” Joaquín asked her.

“I can remember being carried,” Maria said. “By you, no. I remember the gypsy because he dropped me so many times. But I thank thee, Joaquín, and I’ll carry thee sometime.”

“I can remember it well enough,” Joaquín said. “I can remember holding thy two legs and thy belly was on my shoulder and thy head over my back and thy arms hanging down against my back.”

“Thou hast much memory,” Maria said and smiled at him. “I remember nothing of that. Neither thy arms nor thy shoulders nor thy back.”

“Do you want to know something?” Joaquín asked her.

“What is it?”

“I was glad thou wert hanging over my back when the shots were coming from behind us.”

“What a swine,” Maria said. “And was it for this the gypsy too carried me so much?”

“For that and to hold onto thy legs.”

“My heroes,” Maria said. “My saviors.”

“Listen, guapa,” Pilar told her. “This boy carried thee much, and in that moment thy legs said nothing to any one. In that moment only the bullets talked clearly. And if he would have dropped thee he could soon have been out of range of the bullets.”

“I have thanked him,” Maria said. “And I will carry him sometime. Allow us to joke. I do not have to cry, do I, because he carried me?”

“I’d have dropped thee,” Joaquín went on teasing her. “But I was afraid Pilar would shoot me.”

“I shoot no one,” Pilar said.

“No hace falta,” Joaquín told her. “You don’t need to. You scare them to death with your mouth.”

“What a way to speak,” Pilar told him. “And you used to be such a polite little boy. What did you do before the movement, little boy?”

“Very little,” Joaquín said. “I was sixteen.”

“But what, exactly?”

“A few pairs of shoes from time to time.”

“Make them?”

“No. Shine them.”

“Qué va,” said Pilar. “There is more to it than that.” She looked at his brown face, his lithe build, his shock of hair, and the quick heel-and-toe way that he walked. “Why did you fail at it?”

“Fail at what?”

“What? You know what. You’re growing the pigtail now.”

“I guess it was fear,” the boy said.

“You’ve a nice figure,” Pilar told him. “But the face isn’t much. So it was fear, was it? You were all right at the train.”

“I have no fear of them now,” the boy said. “None. And we have seen much worse things and more dangerous than the bulls. It is clear no bull is as dangerous as a machine gun. But if I were in the ring with one now I do not know if I could dominate my legs.”

“He wanted to be a bullfighter,” Pilar explained to Robert Jordan. “But he was afraid.”

“Do you like the bulls, Comrade Dynamiter?” Joaquín grinned, showing white teeth.

“Very much,” Robert Jordan said. “Very, very much.”

“Have you seen them in Valladolid?” asked Joaquín.

“Yes. In September at the feria.”

“That’s my town,” Joaquín said. “What a fine town but how the buena gente, the good people of that town, have suffered in this war.” Then, his face grave, “There they shot my father. My mother. My brother-in-law and now my sister.”

“What barbarians,” Robert Jordan said.

How many times had he heard this? How many times had he watched people say it with difficulty? How many times had he seen their eyes fill and their throats harden with the difficulty of saying my father, or my brother, or my mother, or my sister? He could not remember how many times he had heard them mention their dead in this way. Nearly always they spoke as this boy did now; suddenly and apropos of the mention of the town and always you said, “What barbarians.”

You only heard the statement of the loss. You did not see the father fall as Pilar made him see the fascists die in that story she had told by the stream. You knew the father died in some courtyard, or against some wall, or in some field or orchard, or at night, in the lights of a truck, beside some road. You had seen the lights of the car from the hills and heard the shooting and afterwards you had come down to the road and found the bodies. You did not see the mother shot, nor the sister, nor the brother. You heard about it; you heard the shots; and you saw the bodies.

Pilar had made him see it in that town.

If that woman could only write. He would try to write it and if he had luck and could remember it perhaps he could get it down as she told it. God, how she could tell a story. She’s better than Quevedo, he thought. He never wrote the death of any Don Faustino as well as she told it. I wish I could write well enough to write that story, he thought. What we did. Not what the others did to us. He knew enough about that. He knew plenty about that behind the lines. But you had to have known the people before. You had to know what they had been in the village.

Because of our mobility and because we did not have to stay afterwards to take the punishment we never knew how anything really ended, he thought. You stayed with a peasant and his family. You came at night and ate with them. In the day you were hidden and the next night you were gone. You did your job and cleared out. The next time you came that way you heard that they had been shot. It was as simple as that.

But you were always gone when it happened. The partizans did their damage and pulled out. The peasants stayed and took the punishment. I’ve always known about the other, he thought. What we did to them at the start I’ve always known it and hated it and I have heard it mentioned shamelessly and shamefully, bragged of, boasted of, defended, explained and denied. But that damned woman made me see it as though I had been there.

Well, he thought, it is part of one’s education. It will be quite an education when it’s finished. You learn in this war if you listen. You most certainly did. He was lucky that he had lived parts of ten years ifl Spain before the war. They trusted you on the language, principally. They trusted you on understanding the language completely and speaking it idiomatically and having a knowledge of the different places. A Spaniard was only really loyal to his village in the end. First Spain of course, then his own tribe, then his province, then his village, his family and finally his trade. If you knew Spanish he was prejudiced in your favor, if you knew his province it was that much better, but if you knew his village and his trade you were in as far as any foreigner ever could be. He never felt like a foreigner in Spanish and they did not really treat him like a foreigner most of the time; only when they turned on you.

Of course they turned on you. They turned on you often but they always turned on every one. They turned on themselves, too. If you had three together, two would unite against one, and then the two would start to betray each other. Not always, but often enough for you to take enough cases and start to draw it as a conclusion.

This was no way to think; but who censored his thinking? Nobody but himself. He would not think himself into any defeatism. The first thing was to win the war. If we did not win the war everything was lost. But he noticed, and listened to, and remembered everything. He was serving in a war and he gave absolute loyalty and as complete a performance as he could give while he was serving. But nobody owned his mind, nor his faculties for seeing and hearing, and if he were going to form judgments he would form them afterwards. And there would be plenty of material to draw them from. There was plenty already. There was a little too much sometimes.

Look at the Pilar woman, he thought. No matter what comes, if there is time, I must make her tell me the rest of that story. Look at her walking along with those two kids. You could not get three better-looking products of Spain than those. She is like a mountain and the boy and the girl are like young trees. The old trees are all cut down and the young trees are growing clean like that. In spite of what has happened to the two of them they look as fresh and clean and new and untouched as though they had never heard of misfortune. But according to Pilar, Maria has just gotten sound again. She must have been in an awful shape.

He remembered a Belgian boy in the Eleventh Brigade who had enlisted with five other boys from his village. It was a village Of about two hundred people and the boy had never been away froni the village before. When he first saw the boy, out at Hans’ Brigade Staff, the other five from the village had all been killed and the boy was in very bad shape and they were using him as an orderly to wait on table at the staff. He had a big, blond, ruddy Flemish face and huge awkward peasant hands and he moved, with the dishes, as powerfully and awkwardly as a draft horse. But he cried all the time. All during the meal he cried with no noise at all.

You looked up and there he was, crying. If you asked for the wine, he cried and if you passed your plate for stew, he cried; turning away his head. Then he would stop; but if you looked up at him, tears would start coming again. Between courses he cried in the kitchen. Every one was very gentle with him. But it did no good. He would have to find out what became of him and whether he ever cleared up and was fit for soldiering again.

Maria was sound enough now. She seemed so anyway. But he was no psychiatrist. Pilar was the psychiatrist. It probably had been good for them to have been together last night. Yes, unless it stopped. It certainly had been good for him. He felt fine today; sound and good and unworried and happy. The show looked bad enough but he was awfully lucky, too. He had been in others that announced themselves badly. Announced themselves; that was thinking in Spanish. Maria was lovely.

Look at her, he said to himself. Look at her.

He looked at her striding happily in the sun; her khaki shirt open at the neck. She walks like a colt moves, he thought. You do not run onto something like that. Such things don’t happen. Maybe it never did happen, he thought. Maybe you dreamed it or made it up and it never did happen. Maybe it is like the dreams you have when some one you have seen in the cinema comes to your bed at night and is so kind and lovely. He’d slept with them all that way When he was asleep in bed. He could remember Garbo still, and Harlow. Yes, Harlow many times. Maybe it was like those dreams.

But he could still remember the time Garbo came to his bed the flight before the attack at Pozoblanco and she was wearing a soft silky wool sweater when he put his arm around her and when she leaned forward her hair swept forward and over his face and she said why had he never told her that he loved her when she had loved him all this time? She was not shy, nor cold, nor distant. She was just lovely to hold and kind and lovely and like the old days with Jack Gilbert and it was as true as though it happened and he loved her much more than Harlow though Garbo was only there once while Harlow—maybe this was like those dreams.

Maybe it isn’t too, he said to himself. Maybe I could reach over and touch that Maria now, he said to himself. Maybe you are afraid to he said to himself. Maybe you would find out that it never happened and it was not true and it was something you made up like those dreams about the people of the cinema or how all your old girls come back and sleep in that robe at night on all the bare floors, in the straw of the haybarns, the stables, the corrales and the cortijos, the woods, the garages, the trucks and all the hills of Spain. They all came to that robe when he was asleep and they were all much nicer than they ever had been in life. Maybe it was like that. Maybe you would be afraid to touch her to see if it was true. Maybe you would, and probably it is something that you made up or that you dreamed.

He took a step across the trail and put his hand on the girl’s arm. Under his fingers he felt the smoothness of her arm in the worn khaki. She looked at him and smiled.

“Hello, Maria,” he said.

“Hello, Inglés,” she answered and he saw her tawny brown face and the yellow-gray eyes and the full lips smiling and the cropped sun-burned hair and she lifted her face at him and smiled in his eyes. It was true all right.

Now they were in sight of El Sordo’s camp in the last of the pines, where there was a rounded gulch-head shaped like an upturned basin. All these limestone upper basins must be full of caves, he thought. There are two caves there ahead. The scrub pines growing in the rock hide them well. This is as good or a better place than Pablo’s.

“How was this shooting of thy family?” Pilar was saying to Joaquín.

“Nothing, woman,” Joaquín said. “They were of the left as many others in Valladolid. When the fascists purified the town they shot first the father. He had voted Socialist. Then they shot the mother. She had voted the same. It was the first time she had ever voted. After that they shot the husband of one of the sisters. He was a member of the syndicate of tramway drivers. Clearly he could not drive a tram without belonging to the syndicate. But he was without politics. I knew him well. He was even a little hit shameless. I do not think he was even a good comrade. Then the husband of the other girl, the other sister, who was also in the trams, had gone to the hills as I had. They thought she knew where he was. But she did not. So they shot her because she would not tell them where he was.”

“What barbarians,” said Pilar. “Where is El Sordo? I do not see him.”

“He is here. He is probably inside,” answered Joaquín and stopping now, and resting the rifle butt on the ground, said, “Pilar, listen to me. And thou, Maria. Forgive me if I have molested you speaking of things of the family. I know that all have the same troubles and it is more valuable not to speak of them.”

“That you should speak,” Pilar said. “For what are we born if not to aid one another? And to listen and say nothing is a cold enough aid.”

“But it can molest the Maria. She has too many things of her own.”

“Qué va,” Maria said. “Mine are such a big bucket that yours falling in will never fill it. I am sorry, Joaquín, and I hope thy sister is well.”

“So far she’s all right,” Joaquín said. “They have her in prison and it seems they do not mistreat her much.”

“Are there others in the family?” Robert Jordan asked.

“No,” the boy said. “Me. Nothing more. Except the brother-inlaw who went to the hills and I think he is dead.”

“Maybe he is all right,” Maria said. “Maybe he is with a band in other mountains.”

“For me he is dead,” Joaquín said. “He was never too good at getting about and he was conductor of a tram and that is not the best preparation for the hills. I doubt if he could last a year. He was Somewhat weak in the chest too.”

“But he may be all right,” Maria put her arm on his shoulder.

“Certainly, girl. Why not?” said Joaquín.

As the boy stood there, Maria reached up, put her arms around his neck and kissed him. Joaquín turned his head away because he was crying.

“That is as a brother,” Maria said to him. “I kiss thee as a brother.”

The boy shook his head, crying without making any noise.

“I am thy sister,” Maria said. “And I love thee and thou hast a family. We are all thy family.”

“Including the Inglés,” boomed Pilar. “Isn’t it true, Inglés?”

“Yes,” Robert Jordan said to the boy, “we are all thy family, Joaquín.”

“He’s your brother,” Pilar said. “Hey Inglés?”

Robert Jordan put his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “We are all brothers,” he said. The boy shook his head.

“I am ashamed to have spoken,” he said. “To speak of such things makes it more difficult for all. I am ashamed of molesting you.”

“I obscenity in the milk of my shame,” Pilar said in her deep lovely voice. “And if the Maria kisses thee again I will commence kissing thee myself. It’s years since I’ve kissed a bullfighter, even an unsuccessful one like thee, I would like to kiss an unsuccessful bullfighter turned Communist. Hold him, Inglés, till I get a good kiss at him.”

“Deja,” the boy said and turned away sharply. “Leave me alone. I am all right and I am ashamed.”

He stood there, getting his face under control. Maria put her hand in Robert Jordan’s. Pilar stood with her hands on her hips looking at the boy mockingly now.

“When I kiss thee,” she said to him, “it will not be as any sister. This trick of kissing as a sister.”

“It is not necessary to joke,” the boy said. “I told you I am all right, I am sorry that I spoke.”

“Well then let us go and see the old man,” Pilar said. “I tire myself with such emotion.”

The boy looked at her. From his eyes you could see he was suddenly very hurt.

“Not thy emotion,” Pilar said to him. “Mine. What a tender thing thou art for a bullfighter.”

“I was a failure,” Joaquín said. “You don’t have to keep insisting on it.”

“But you are growing the pigtail another time.”

“Yes, and why not? Fighting stock serves best for that purpose economically. It gives employment to many and the State will control it. And perhaps now I would not be afraid.”

“Perhaps not,” Pilar said. “Perhaps not.”

“Why do you speak in such a brutal manner, Pilar?” Maria said to her. “I love thee very much but thou art acting very barbarous.”

“It is possible that I am barbarous,” Pilar said. “Listen, Inglés. Do you know what you are going to say to El Sordo?”


“Because he is a man of few words unlike me and thee and this sentimental menagerie.”

“Why do you talk thus?” Maria asked again, angrily.

“I don’t know,” said Pilar as she strode along. “Why do you think?”

“I do not know.”

“At times many things tire me,” Pilar said angrily. “You understand? And one of them is to have forty-eight years. You hear me? Forty-eight years and an ugly face. And another is to see panic in the face of a failed bullfighter of Communist tendencies when I say, as a joke, I might kiss him.”

“It’s not true, Pilar,” the boy said. “You did not see that.”

“Qué va, it’s not true. And I obscenity in the milk of all of you. Ah, there he is. Hola, Santiago! Qué tal?”

The man to whom Pilar spoke was short and heavy, brownfaced, with broad cheekbones; gray haired, with wide-set yellowbrown eyes, a thin-bridged, hooked nose like an Indian’s, a long Upper lip and a wide, thin mouth. He was clean shaven and he walked toward them from the mouth of the cave, moving with the bow-legged walk that went with his cattle herdsman’s breeches and boots. The day was warm but he had on a sheep’s-wool-lined short leather jacket buttoned up to the neck. He put out a big brown hand toPilar. “Hola, woman,” he said. “ Hola,” he said to Robert Jordan and shook his hand and looked him keenly in the face. Robert Jordan saw his eyes were yellow as a cat’s and flat as reptile’s eyes are. “ Guapa,” he said to Maria and patted her shoulder.

“Eaten?” he asked Pilar. She shook her head.

“Eat,” he said and looked at Robert Jordan. “Drink?” he asked, making a motion with his hand decanting his thumb downward.

“Yes, thanks.”

“Good,” El Sordo said. “Whiskey?”

“You have whiskey?”

El Sordo nodded. “Inglés?” he asked. “Not Ruso?”


“Few Americans here,” he said.

“Now more.”

“Less bad. North or South?”


“Same as Inglés. When blow bridge?”

“You know about the bridge?”

El Sordo nodded.

“Day after tomorrow morning.”

“Good,” said El Sordo.

“Pablo?” he asked Pilar.

She shook her head. El Sordo grinned.

“Go away,” he said to Maria and grinned again. “Come back,” he looked at a large watch he pulled out on a leather thong from inside his coat. “Half an hour.”

He motioned to them to sit down on a flattened log that served as a bench and looking at Joaquín, jerked his thumb down the trail in the direction they had come from.

“I’ll walk down with Joaquín and come back,” Maria said.

El Sordo went into the cave and came out with a pinch bottle of Scotch whiskey and three glasses. The bottle was under one arm, and three glasses were in the hand of that arm, a finger in each glass, and his other hand was around the neck of an earthenware jar of water. He put the glasses and the bottle down on the log and set the jug on the ground.

“No ice,” he said to Robert Jordan and handed him the bottle.

“I don’t want any,” Pilar said and covered her glass with her hand.

“Ice last night on ground,” El Sordo said and grinned. “All melt. Ice up there,” El Sordo said and pointed to the snow that showed on the bare crest of the mountains. “Too far.”

Robert Jordan started to pour into El Sordo’s glass but the deaf man shook his head and made a motion for the other to pour for himself.

Robert Jordan poured a big drink of Scotch into the glass and El Sordo watched him eagerly and when he had finished, handed him the water jug and Robert Jordan filled the glass with the cold water that ran in a stream from the earthenware spout as he tipped up the jug.

El Sordo poured himself half a glassful of whiskey and filled the glass with water.

“Wine?” he asked Pilar.

“No. Water.”

“Take it,” he said. “No good,” he said to Robert Jordan and grinned. “Knew many English. Always much whiskey.”


“Ranch,” El Sordo said. “Friends of boss.”

“Where do you get the whiskey?”

“What?” he could not hear.

“You have to shout,” Pilar said. “Into the other ear.”

El Sordo pointed to his better ear and grinned.

“Where do you get the whiskey?” Robert Jordan shouted.

“Make it,” El Sordo said and watched Robert Jordan’s hand check on its way to his mouth with the glass.

“No,” El Sordo said and patted his shoulder. “Joke. Comes from La Granja. Heard last night comes English dynamiter. Good. Very happy. Get whiskey. For you. You like?”

“Very much,” said Robert Jordan. “It’s very good whiskey.”

“Am contented,” Sordo grinned. “Was bringing tonight with information”

“What information?”

Much troop movement.”


“Segovia. Planes you saw.”


“Bad, eh?”


“Troop movement?”

“Much between Villacastín and Segovia. On Valladolid road. Much between Villacastín and San Rafael. Much. Much.”

“What do you think?”

“We prepare something?”


“They know. Prepare too.”

“It is possible.”

“Why not blow bridge tonight?”


“Whose orders?”

“General Staff.”


“Is the time of the blowing important?” Pilar asked.

“Of all importance.”

“But if they are moving up troops?”

“I will send Anselmo with a report of all movement and concentrations. He is checking the road.”

“You have some one at road?” Sordo asked.

Robert Jordan did not know how much he had heard. You never know with a deaf man.

“Yes,” he said.

“Me, too. Why not blow bridge now?”

“I have my orders.”

“I don’t like it,” El Sordo said. “This I do not like.”

“Nor I,” said Robert Jordan.

El Sordo shook his head and took a sip of the whiskey. “You want of me?”

“How many men have you?”


“To cut the telephone, attack the post at the house of the roadmenders, take it, and fall back on the bridge.”

“It is easy.”

“It will all be written out.”

“Don’t trouble. And Pablo?”

“Will cut the telephone below, attack the post at the sawmill, take it and fall back on the bridge.”

“And afterwards for the retreat?” Pilar asked. “We are seven men, two women and five horses. You are,” she shouted into Sordo’s ear.

“Eight men and four horses. Faltan caballos,” he said. “Lacks horses.”

“Seventeen people and nine horses,” Pilar said. “Without accounting for transport.”

Sordo said nothing.

“There is no way of getting horses?” Robert Jordan said into Sordo’s best ear.

“In war a year,” Sordo said. “Have four.” He showed four fingers. “Now you want eight for tomorrow.”

“Yes,” said Robert Jordan. “Knowing you are leaving. Having no need to be careful as you have been in this neighborhood. Not having to be cautious here now. You could not cut out and steal eight head of horses?”

“Maybe,” Sordo said. “Maybe none. Maybe more.”

“You have an automatic rifle?” Robert Jordan asked.

Sordo nodded.


“Up the hill.”

“What kind?”

“Don’t know name. With pans.”

“How many rounds?”

“Five pans.”

“Does any one know how to use it?”

“Me. A little. Not shoot too much. Not want make noise here. Not want use cartridges.”

“I will look at it afterwards,” Robert Jordan said. “Have you hand grenades?”


“How many rounds per rifle?”


“How many?”

“One hundred fifty. More maybe.”

“What about other people?”

“For what?”

“To have sufficient force to take the posts and cover the bridge While I am blowing it. We should have double what we have.”

“Take posts don’t worry. What time day?”


“Don’t worry.”

“I could use twenty more men, to be sure,” Robert Jordan said.

“Good ones do not exist. You want undependables?”

“No. How many good ones?”

“Maybe four.”

“Why so few?”

“No trust.”

“For horseholders?”

“Must trust much to be horseholders.”

“I’d like ten more good men if I could get them.”


“Anselmo told me there were over a hundred here in these hills.”

“No good.”

“You said thirty,” Robert Jordan said to Pilar. “Thirty of a certain degree of dependability.”

“What about the people of Elias?” Pilar shouted to Sordo. He shook his head.

“No good.”

“You can’t get ten?” Robert Jordan asked. Sordo looked at him with his flat, yellow eyes and shook his head.

“Four,” he said and held up four fingers.

“Yours are good?” Robert Jordan asked, regretting it as he said it.

Sordo nodded.

“Dentro de la gravedad,” he said in Spanish. “Within the limits of the danger.” He grinned. “Will be bad, eh?”


“Is the same to me,” Sordo said simply and not boasting. “Better four good than much bad. In this war always much bad, very little good. Every day fewer good. And Pablo?” he looked at Pilar.

“As you know,” Pilar said. “Worse every day.”

Sordo shrugged his shoulders.

“Take drink,” Sordo said to Robert Jordan. “I bring mine and four more. Makes twelve. Tonight we discuss all. I have sixty sticks dynamite. You want?”

“What per cent?”

“Don’t know. Common dynamite. I bring.”

“We’ll blow the small bridge above with that,” Robert Jordan said. “That is fine. You’ll come down tonight? Bring that, will you? I’ve no orders for that but it should be blown.”

“I come tonight. Then hunt horses.”

“What chance for horses?”

“Maybe. Now eat.”

Does he talk that way to every one? Robert Jordan thought. Or is that his idea of how to make foreigners understand?

“And where are we going to go when this is done?” Pilar shouted into Sordo’s ear.

He shrugged his shoulders.

“All that must be arranged,” the woman said.

“Of course,” said Sordo. “Why not?”

“It is bad enough,” Pilar said. “It must be planned very well.”

“Yes, woman,” Sordo said. “What has thee worried?”

“Everything,” Pilar shouted.

Sordo grinned at her.

“You’ve been going about with Pablo,” he said.

So he does only speak that pidgin Spanish for foreigners, Robert Jordan thought. Good. I’m glad to hear him talking straight.

“Where do you think we should go?” Pilar asked.


“Yes, where?”

“There are many places,” Sordo said. “Many places. You know Gredos?”

“There are many people there. All these places will be cleaned up as soon as they have time.”

“Yes. But it is a big country and very wild.”

“It would be very difficult to get there,” Pilar said.

“Everything is difficult,” El Sordo said. “We can get to Gredos as well as to anywhere else. Travelling at night. Here it is very dangerous now. It is a miracle we have been here this long. Gredos is safer country than this.”

“Do you know where I want to go?” Pilar asked him.

“Where? The Paramera? That’s no good.”

“No,” Pilar said. “Not the Sierra de Paramera. I want to go to the Republic.”

“That is possible.”

“Would your people go?”

“Yes. If I say to.”

“Of mine, I do not know,” Pilar said. “Pablo would not want to although, truly, he might feel safer there. He is too old to have to go for a soldier unless they call more classes. The gypsy will not wish to go. I do not know about the others.”

“Because nothing passes her for so long they do not realize the danger,” El Sordo said.

“Since the planes today they will see it more,” Robert Jordan said. “But I should think you could operate very well from the Gredos.”

“What?” El Sordo said and looked at him with his eyes very flat. There was no friendliness in the way he asked the question.

“You could raid more effectively from there,” Robert Jordan said.

“So,” El Sordo said. “You know Gredos?”

“Yes. You could operate against the main line of the railway from there. You could keep cutting it as we are doing farther south in Estremadura. To operate from there would be better than returning to the Republic,” Robert Jordan said. “You are more useful there.”

They had both gotten sullen as he talked.

Sordo looked at Pilar and she looked back at him.

“You know Gredos?” Sordo asked. “Truly?”

“Sure,” said Robert Jordan.

“Where would you go?”

“Above Barco de Avila. Better places than here. Raid against the main road and the railroad between Béjar and Plasencia.”

“Very difficult,” Sordo said.

“We have worked against that same railroad in much more dangerous country in Estremadura,” Robert Jordan said.

“Who is we?”

“The guerrilleros group of Estremadura.”

“You are many?”

“About forty.”

“Was the one with the bad nerves and the strange name from there?” asked Pilar.


“Where is he now?”

“Dead, as I told you.”

“You are from there, too?”


“You see what I mean?” Pilar said to him.

And I have made a mistake, Robert Jordan thought to himself. I have told Spaniards we can do something better than they can when the rule is never to speak of your own exploits or abilities. When I should have flattered them I have told them what I think they should do and now they are furious. Well, they will either get over it or they will not. They are certainly much more useful in the Gredos than here. The proof is that here they have done nothing since the train that Kashkin organized. It was not much of a show. It cost the fascists one engine and killed a few troops but they all talk as though it were the high point of the war. Maybe they will shame into going to the Gredos. Yes and maybe I will get thrown out of here too. Well, it is not a very rosy-looking dish anyway that you look into it.

“Listen Inglés,” Pilar said to him. “How are your nerves?”

“All right,” said Robert Jordan. “O.K.”

“Because the last dynamiter they sent to work with us, although a formidable technician, was very nervous.”

“We have nervous ones,” Robert Jordan said.

“I do not say that he was a coward because he comported himself very well,” Pilar went on. “But he spoke in a very rare and windy way.” She raised her voice. “Isn’t it true, Santiago, that the last dynamiter, he of the train, was a little rare?”

“Algo raro,” the deaf man nodded and his eyes went over Robert Jordan’s face in a way that reminded him of the round opening at the end of the wand of a vacuum cleaner. “Si, algo raro, pero bueno.”

“Murió,” Robert Jordan said into the deaf man’s ear. “He is dead.”

“How was that?” the deaf man asked, dropping his eyes down from Robert Jordan’s eyes to his lips.

“I shot him,” Robert Jordan said. “He was too badly wounded to travel and I shot him.”

“He was always talking of such a necessity,” Pilar said. “It was his obsession.”

“Yes,” said Robert Jordan. “He was always talking of such a necessity and it was his obsession.”

“Como fué?” the deaf man asked. “Was it a train?”

“It was returning from a train,” Robert Jordan said. “The train was successful. Returning in the dark we encountered a fascist patrol and as we ran he was shot high in the back but without hitting any bone except the shoulder blade. He travelled quite a long way, but with the wound was unable to travel more. He was unwilling to be left behind and I shot him.”

“Menos mal,” said El Sordo. “Less bad.”

“Are you sure your nerves are all right?” Pilar said to Robert Jordan.

“Yes,” he told her. “I am sure that my nerves are all right and I think that when we terminate this of the bridge you would do well to go to the Gredos.”

As he said that, the woman started to curse in a flood of obscene invective that rolled over and around him like the hot white water splashing down from the sudden eruption of a geyser.

The deaf man shook his head at Robert Jordan and grinned in delight. He continued to shake his head happily as Pilar went on vilifying and Robert Jordan knew that it was all right again now. Finally she stopped cursing, reached for the water jug, tipped it up and took a drink and said, calmly, “Then just shut up about what we are to do afterwards, will you, Inglés? You go back to the Republic and you take your piece with you and leave us others alone here to decide what part of these hills we’ll die in.”

“Live in,” El Sordo said. “Calm thyself, Pilar.”

“Live in and die in,” Pilar said. “I can see the end of it well enough. I like thee, Inglés, but keep thy mouth off of what we must do when thy business is finished.”

“It is thy business,” Robert Jordan said. “I do not put my hand in it.”

“But you did,” Pilar said. “Take thy little cropped-headed whore and go back to the Republic but do not shut the door on others who are not foreigners and who loved the Republic when thou wert wiping thy mother’s milk off thy chin.”

Maria had come up the trail while they were talking and she heard this last sentence which Pilar, raising her voice again, shouted at Robert Jordan. Maria shook her head at Robert Jordan violently and shook her finger warningly. Pilar saw Robert Jordan looking at the girl and saw him smile and she turned and said, “Yes. I said whore and I mean it. And I suppose that you’ll go to Valencia together and we can eat goat crut in Gredos.”

“I’m a whore if thee wishes, Pilar,” Maria said. “I suppose I am in all case if you say so. But calm thyself. What passes with thee?”

“Nothing,” Pilar said and sat down on the bench, her voice calm now and all the metallic rage gone out of it. “I do not call thee that. But I have such a desire to go to the Republic.”

“We can all go,” Maria said.

“Why not?” Robert Jordan said. “Since thou seemest not to love the Gredos.”

Sordo grinned at him.

“We’ll see,” Pilar said, her rage gone now. “Give me a glass of that rare drink. I have worn my throat out with anger. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”

“You see, Comrade,” El Sordo explained. “It is the morning that is difficult.” He was not talking the pidgin Spanish now and he was looking into Robert Jordan’s eyes calmly and explainingly; not searchingly nor suspiciously, nor with the flat superiority of the old campaigner that had been in them before. “I understand your needs and I know the posts must be exterminated and the bridge covered while you do your work. This I understand perfectly. This is easy to do before daylight or at daylight.”

“Yes,” Robert Jordan said. “Run along a minute, will you?” he said to Maria without looking at her.

The girl walked away out of hearing and sat down, her hands clasped over her ankles.

“You see,” Sordo said. “In that there is no problem. But to leave afterward and get out of this country in daylight presents a grave problem”

“Clearly,” said Robert Jordan. “I have thought of it. It is daylight for me also.”

“But you are one,” El Sordo said. “We are various.”

“There is the possibility of returning to the camps and leaving from there at dark,” Pilar said, putting the glass to her lips and then lowering it.

“That is very dangerous, too,” El Sordo explained. “That is perhaps even more dangerous.”

“I can see how it would be,” Robert Jordan said.

“To do the bridge in the night would be easy,” El Sordo said. “Since you make the condition that it must be done at daylight, it brings grave consequences.”

“I know it.”

“You could not do it at night?”

“I would be shot for it.”

“It is very possible we will all be shot for it if you do it in the daytime.”

“For me myself that is less important once the bridge is blown,” Robert Jordan said. “But I see your viewpoint. You cannot work Out a retreat for daylight?”

“Certainly,” El Sordo said. “We will work out such a retreat. But I explain to you why one is preoccupied and why one is irritated. You speak of going to Gredos as though it were a military manceuvre to be accomplished. To arrive at Gredos would be a miracle.”

Robert Jordan said nothing.

“Listen to me,” the deaf man said. “I am speaking much. But it is so we may understand one another. We exist here by a miracle. By a mixacle of laziness and stupidity of the fascists which they will remedy in time. Of course we are very careful and we make no disturbance in these hills.”

“I know.”

“But now, with this, we must go. We must think much about the manner of our going.”


“Then,” said El Sordo. “Let us eat now. I have talked much.”

“Never have I heard thee talk so much,” Pilar said. “Is it this?” she held up the glass.

“No,” El Sordo shook his head. “It isn’t whiskey. It is that never have I had so much to talk of.”

“I appreciate your aid and your loyalty,” Robert Jordan said. “I appreciate the difficulty caused by the timing of the blowing of the bridge.”

“Don’t talk of that,” El Sordo said. “We are here to do what we can do. But this is complicated.”

“And on paper very simple,” Robert Jordan grinned. “On paper the bridge is blown at the moment the attack starts in order that nothing shall come up the road. It is very simple.”

“That they should let us do something on paper,” El Sordo said. “That we should conceive and execute something on paper.”

“Paper bleeds little,” Robert Jordan quoted the proverb.

“But it is very useful,” Pilar said. “Es muy util. What I would like to do is use thy orders for that purpose.”

“Me too,” said Robert Jordan. “But you could never win a war like that.”

“No,” the big woman said. “I suppose not. But do you know what I would like?”

“To go to the Republic,” El Sordo said. He had put his good ear close to her as she spoke. “Ya irás, mujer. Let us win this and it will all be Republic.”

“All right,” Pilar said. “And now, for God’s sake let us eat.”