For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 14

By the time they reached the camp it was snowing and the flakes were dropping diagonally through the pines. They slanted through the trees, sparse at first and circling as they fell, and then, as the cold wind came driving down the mountain, they came whirling and thick and Robert Jordan stood in front of the cave in a rage and watched them.

“We will have much snow,” Pablo said. His voice was thick and his eyes were red and bleary.

“Has the gypsy come in?” Robert Jordan asked him.

“No,” Pablo said. “Neither him nor the old man.”

“Will you come with me to the upper post on the road?”

“No,” Pablo said. “I will take no part in this.”

“I will find it myself.”

“In this storm you might miss it,” Pablo said. “I would not go now.”

“It’s just downhill to the road and then follow it up.”

“You could find it. But thy two sentries will be coming up now with the snow and you would miss them on the way.”

“The old man is waiting for me.”

“Nay. He will come in now with the snow.

Pablo looked at the snow that was blowing fast now past the mouth of the cave and said, “You do not like the snow, Inglés?”

Robert Jordan swore and Pablo looked at him through his bleary eyes and laughed.

“With this thy offensive goes, Inglés,” he said. “Come into the cave and thy people will be in directly.”

Inside the cave Maria was busy at the fire and Pilar at the kitchen table. The fire was smoking but, as the girl worked with it, poking in a stick of wood and then fanning it with a folded paper, there was a puff and then a flare and the wood was burning, drawing brightly as the wind sucked a draft out of the hole in the roof.

“And this snow,” Robert Jordan said. “You think there will be much?”

“Much,” Pablo said contentedly. Then called to Pilar, “You don’t like it, woman, either? Now that you command you do not like this snow?”

“A mi qué?” Pilar said, over her shoulder. “If it snows it snows.”

“Drink some wine, Inglés,” Pablo said. “I have been drinking all day waiting for the snow.”

“Give me a cup,” Robert Jordan said.

“To the snow,” Pablo said and touched cups with him. Robert Jordan looked him in the eyes and clinked his cup. You bleary-eyed murderous sod, he thought. I’d like to clink this cup against your teeth. Take it easy, he told himself, take it easy.

“It is very beautiful the snow,” Pablo said. “You won’t want to sleep outside with the snow falling.”

So that’s on your mind too is it? Robert Jordan thought. You’ve a lot of troubles, haven’t you, Pablo?

“No?” he said, politely.

“No. Very cold,” Pablo said. “Very wet.”

You don’t know why those old eiderdowns cost sixty-five dollars, Robert Jordan thought. I’d like to have a dollar for every time I’ve slept in that thing in the snow.

“Then I should sleep in here?” he asked politely.


“Thanks,” Robert Jordan said. “I’ll be sleeping outside.”

“In the snow?”

“Yes” (damn your bloody, red pig-eyes and your swine-bristly swines-end of a face). “In the snow.” (In the utterly damned, ruinous, unexpected, slutting, defeat-conniving, bastard-cessery of the snow.)

He went over to where Maria had just put another piece of pine on the fire.

“Very beautiful, the snow,” he said to the girl.

“But it is bad for the work, isn’t it?” she asked him. “Aren’t you worried?”

“Qué va,” he said. “Worrying is no good. When will supper be ready?”

“I thought you would have an appetite,” Pilar said. “Do you want a cut of cheese now?”

“Thanks,” he said and she cut him a slice, reaching up to unhook the big cheese that hung in a net from the ceiling, drawing a knife across the open end and handing him the heavy slice. He stood, eating it. It was just a little too goaty to be enjoyable.

“Maria,” Pablo said from the table where he was sitting.

“What?” the girl asked.

“Wipe the table clean, Maria,” Pablo said and grinned at Robert Jordan.

“Wipe thine own spillings,” Pilar said to him. “Wipe first thy chin and thy shirt and then the table.”

“Maria,” Pablo called.

“Pay no heed to him. He is drunk,” Pilar said.

“Maria,” Pablo called. “It is still snowing and the snow is beautiful.”

He doesn’t know about that robe, Robert Jordan thought. Good old pig-eyes doesn’t know why I paid the Woods boys sixty-five dollars for that robe. I wish the gypsy would come in though. As soon as the gypsy comes I’ll go after the old man. I should go now but it is very possible that I would miss them. I don’t know where he is posted.

“Want to make snowballs?” he said to Pablo. “Want to have a snowball fight?”

“What?” Pablo asked. “What do you propose?”

“Nothing,” Robert Jordan said. “Got your saddles covered up good?”


Then in English Robert Jordan said, “Going to grain those horses or peg them out and let them dig for it?”


“Nothing. It’s your problem, old pal. I’m going out of here on my feet.”

“Why do you speak in English?” Pablo asked.

“I don’t know,” Robert Jordan said. “When I get very tired sometimes I speak English. Or when I get very disgusted. Or baffled, say. When I get highly baffled I just talk English to hear the sound of it. It’s a reassuring noise. You ought to try it sometime.”

“What do you say, Inglés?” Pilar said. “It sounds very interesting but I do not understand.”

“Nothing,” Robert Jordan said. “I said, ‘nothing’ in English.”

“Well then, talk Spanish,” Pilar said. “It’s shorter and simpler in Spanish.”

“Surely,” Robert Jordan said. But oh boy, he thought, oh Pablo, oh Pilar, oh Maria, oh you two brothers in the corner whose names I’ve forgotten and must remember, but I get tired of it sometimes. Of it and of you and of me and of the war and why in all why did it have to snow now? That’s too bloody much. No, it’s not. Nothing is too bloody much. You just have to take it and fight out of it and now stop prima-donnaing and accept the fact that it is snowing as you did a moment ago and the next thing is to check with your gypsy and pick up your old man. But to snow! Now in this month. Cut it out, he said to himself. Cut it out and take it. It’s that cup, you know. How did it go about that cup? He’d either have to improve his memory or else never think of quotations because when you missed one it hung in your mind like a name you had forgotten and you could not get rid of it. How did it go about that cup?

“Let me have a cup of wine, please,” he said in Spanish. Then, “Lots of snow? Eh?” he said to Pablo. “Mucha nieve.”

The drunken man looked up at him and grinned. He nodded his head and grinned again.

“No offensive. No aviones. No bridge. Just snow,” Pablo said.

“You expect it to last a long time?” Robert Jordan sat down by him. “You think we’re going to be snowed in all summer, Pablo, old boy?”

“All summer, no,” Pablo said. “Tonight and tomorrow, yes.”

“What makes you think so?”

“There are two kinds of storms,” Pablo said, heavily and judiciously. “One comes from the Pyrenees. With this one there is great cold. It is too late for this one.”

“Good,” Robert Jordan said. “That’s something.”

“This storm comes from the Cantabrico,” Pablo said. “It comes from the sea. With the wind in this direction there will be a great storm and much snow.”

“Where did you learn all this, old timer?” Robert Jordan asked.

Now that his rage was gone he was excited by this storm as he was always by all storms. In a blizzard, a gale, a sudden line squall, a tropical storm, or a summer thunder shower in the mountains there was an excitement that came to him from no other thing. It was like the excitement of battle except that it was clean. There is a wind that blows through battle but that was a hot wind; hot and dry as your mouth; and it blew heavily; hot and dirtily; and it rose and died away with the fortunes of the day. He knew that wind well.

But a snowstorm was the opposite of all of that. In the snowstorm you came close to wild animals and they were not afraid. They travelled across country not knowing where they were and the deer stood sometimes in the lee of the cabin. In a snowstorm you rode up to a moose and he mistook your horse for another moose and trotted forward to meet you. In a snowstorm it always seemed, for a time, as though there were no enemies. In a snowstorm the wind could blow a gale; but it blew a white cleanness and the air was full of a driving whiteness and all things were changed and when the wind stopped there would be the stillness. This was a big storm and he might as well enjoy it. It was ruining everything, but you might as well enjoy it.

“I was an arroyero for many years,” Pablo said. “We trucked freight across the mountains with the big carts before the camions came into use. In that business we learned the weather.”

“And how did you get into the movement?”

“I was always of the left,” Pablo said. “We had many contacts with the people of Asturias where they are much developed politically. I have always been for the Republic.”

“But what were you doing before the movement?”

“I worked then for a horse contractor of Zaragoza. He furnished horses for the bull rings as well as remounts for the army. It was then that I met Pilar who was, as she told you, with the matador Finito de Palencia.”

He said this with considerable pride.

“He wasn’t much of a matador,” one of the brothers at the table said looking at Pilar’s back where she stood in front of the stove.

“No?” Pilar said, turning around and looking at the man. “He wasn’t much of a matador?”

Standing there now in the cave by the cooking fire she could see him, short and brown and sober-faced, with the sad eyes, the cheeks sunken and the black hair curled wet on his forehead where the tightfitting matador’s hat had made a red line that no one else noticed. She saw him stand, now, facing the five-year-old bull, facing the horns that had lifted the horses high, the great neck thrusting the horse up, up, as that rider poked into that neck with the spiked pole, thrusting up and up until the horse went over with a crash and the rider fell against the wooden fence and, with the bull’s legs thrusting him forward, the big neck swung the horns that searched the horse for the life that was in him. She saw him, Finito, the not-so-good matador, now standing in front of the bull and turning sideways toward him. She saw him now clearly as he furled the heavy flannel cloth around the stick; the flannel hanging blood-heavy from the passes where it had swept over the bull’s head and shoulders and the wet streaming shine of his withers and on down and over his back as the bull raised into the air and the banderillas clattered. She saw Finito stand five paces from the bull’s head, profiled, the bull standing still and heavy, and draw the sword slowly up until it was level with his shoulder and then sight along the dipping blade at a point he could not yet see because the bull’s head was higher than his eyes. He would bring that head down with the sweep his left arm would make with the wet, heavy cloth; but now he rocked back a little on his heels and sighted along the blade, profiled in front of the splintered horn; the bull’s chest heaving and his eyes watching the cloth.

She saw him very clearly now and she heard his thin, clear voice as he turned his head and looked toward the people in the first row of the ring above the red fence and said, “Let’s see if we can kill him like this!”

She could hear the voice and then see the first bend of the knee as he started forward and watch his voyage in onto the horn that lowered now magically as the bull’s muzzle followed the low swept cloth, the thin, brown wrist controlled, sweeping the horns down and past, as the sword entered the dusty height of the withers.

She saw its brightness going in slowly and steadily as though the bull’s rush plucked it into himself and out from the man’s hand and she watched it move in until the brown knuckles rested against the taut hide and the short, brown man whose eyes had never left the entry place of the sword now swung his sucked-in belly clear of the horn and rocked clear from the animal, to stand holding the cloth on the stick in his left hand, raising his right hand to watch the bull die.

She saw him standing, his eyes watching the bull trying to hold the ground, watching the bull sway like a tree before it falls, watching the bull fight to hold his feet to the earth, the short man’s hand raised in a formal gesture of triumph. She saw him standing there in the sweated, hollow relief of it being over, feeling the relief that the bull was dying, feeling the relief that there had been no shock, no blow of the horn as he came clear from it and then, as he stood, the bull could hold to the earth no longer and crashed over, rolling dead with all four feet in the air, and she could see the short, brown man walking tired and unsmiling to the fence.

She knew he could not run across the ring if his life depended on it and she watched him walk slowly to the fence and wipe his mouth on a towel and look up at her and shake his head and then wipe his face on the towel and start his triumphant circling of the ring.

She saw him moving slowly, dragging around the ring, smiling, bowing, smiling, his assistants walking behind him, stooping, picking up cigars, tossing back hats; he circling the ring sad-eyed and smiling, to end the circle before her. Then she looked over and saw him sitting now on the step of the wooden fence, his mouth in a towel.

Pilar saw all this as she stood there over the fire and she said, “So he wasn’t a good matador? With what class of people is my life passed now!”

“He was a good matador,” Pablo said. “He was handicapped by his short stature.”

“And clearly he was tubercular,” Primitivo said.

“Tubercular?” Pilar said. “Who wouldn’t be tubercular from the punishment he received? In this country where no poor man can ever hope to make money unless he is a criminal like Juan March, or a bullfighter, or a tenor in the opera? Why wouldn’t he be tubercular? In a country where the bourgeoisie over-eat so that their stomachs are all ruined and they cannot live without bicarbonate of soda and the poor are hungry from their birth till the day they die, why wouldn’t he be tubercular? If you travelled under the seats in third-class carriages to ride free when you were following the fairs learning to fight as a boy, down there in the dust and dirt with the fresh spit and the dry spit, wouldn’t you be tubercular if your chest was beaten out by horns?”

“Clearly,” Primitivo said. “I only said he was tubercular.”

“Of course he was tubercular,” Pilar said, standing there with the big wooden stirring spoon in her hand. “He was short of stature and he had a thin voice and much fear of bulls. Never have I seen a man with more fear before the bullfight and never have I seen a man with less fear in the ring. “You,” she said to Pablo. “You are afraid to die now. You think that is something of importance. But Finito was afraid all the time and in the ring he was like a lion.”

“He had the fame of being very valiant,” the second brother said.

“Never have I known a man with so much fear,” Pilar said. “He would not even have a bull’s head in the house. One time at the feria of Valladolid he killed a bull of Pablo Romero very well—”

“I remember,” the first brother said. “I was at the ring. It was a soap-colored one with a curly forehead and with very high horns. It was a bull of over thirty arrobas. It was the last bull he killed in Valladolid.”

“Exactly,” Pilar said. “And afterwards the club of enthusiasts who met in the Café Colon and had taken his name for their club had the head of the bull mounted and presented it to him at a small banquet at the Café Colon. During the meal they had the head on the wall, but it was covered with a cloth. I was at the table and others were there, Pastora, who is uglier than I am, and the Nina de los Peines, and other gypsies and whores of great category. It was a banquet, small but of great intensity and almost of a violence due to a dispute between Pastora and one of the most significant whores over a question of propriety. I, myself, was feeling more than happy and I was sitting by Finito and I noticed he would not look up at the bull’s head, which was shrouded in a purple cloth as the images of the saints are covered in church duing the week of the passion of our former Lord.

“Finito did not eat much because he had received a palotaxo, a blow from the flat of the horn when he had gone in to kill in his last corrida of the year at Zaragoza, and it had rendered him unconscious for some time and even now he could not hold food on his stomach and he would put his handkerchief to his mouth and deposit a quantity of blood in it at intervals throughout the banquet. What was I going to tell you?”

“The bull’s head,” Primitivo said. “The stuffed head of the bull.”

“Yes,” Pilar said. “Yes. But I must tell certain details so that you will see it. Finito was never very merry, you know. He was essentially solemn and I had never known him when we were alone to laugh at anything. Not even at things which were very comic. He took everything with great seriousness. He was almost as serious as Fernando. But this was a banquet given him by a club of aficionados banded together into the Club Finito and it was necessary for him to give an appearance of gaiety and friendliness and merriment. So all during the meal he smiled and made friendly remarks and it was only I who noticed what he was doing with the handkerchief. He had three handkerchiefs with him and he filled the three of them and then he said to me in a very low voice, ‘Pilar, I can support this no further. I think I must leave.’

“‘Let us leave then,’ I said. For I saw he was suffering much. There was great hilarity by this time at the banquet and the noise was tremendous.

“‘No. I cannot leave,’ Finito said to me. ‘After all it is a club flamed for me and I have an obligation.’

“‘If thou art ill let us go,’ I said.

“‘Nay,’ he said. ‘I will stay. Give me some of that manzanilla.’

“I did not think it was wise of him to drink, since he had eaten nothing, and since he had such a condition of the stomach; but he was evidently unable to support the merriment and the hilarity and the noise longer without taking something. So I watched him drink, very rapidly, almost a bottle of the manzanilla. Having exhausted his handkerchiefs he was now employing his napkin for the use he had previously made of his handkerchiefs.

“Now indeed the banquet had reached a stage of great enthusiasm and some of the least heavy of the whores were being paraded around the table on the shoulders of various of the club members. Pastora was prevailed upon to sing and El Niño Ricardo played the guitar and it was very moving and an occasion of true joy and drunken friendship of the highest order. Never have I seen a banquet at which a higher pitch of real flamenco enthusiasm was reached and yet we had not arrived at the unveiling of the bull’s head which was, after all, the reason for the celebration of the banquet.

“I was enjoying myself to such an extent and I was so busy clapping my hands to the playing of Ricardo and aiding to make up a team to clap for the singing of the Nina de los Peines that I did not notice that Finito had filled his own napkin by now, and that he had taken mine. He was drinking more manzanilla now and his eyes were very bright, and he was nodding very happily to every one. He could not speak much because at any time, while speaking, he might have to resort to his napkin; but he was giving an appearance of great gayety and enjoyment which, after all, was what he was there for.

“So the banquet proceeded and the man who sat next to me had been the former manager of Rafael el Gallo and he was telling me a story, and the end of it was, ‘So Rafael came to me and said, “You are the best friend I have in the world and the noblest. I love you like a brother and I wish to make you a present.” So then he gave me a beautiful diamond stick pin and kissed me on both cheeks and we were both very moved. Then Rafael el Gallo, having given me the diamond stick pin, walked out of the café and I said to Retana who was sitting at the table, “That dirty gypsy had just signed a contract with another manager.”‘

“‘“What do you mean?” Retana asked.’

“‘I’ve managed him for ten years and he has never given me a present before,’ the manager of El Gallo had said. ‘That’s the only thing it can mean.’ And sure enough it was true and that was how El Gallo left him.

“But at this point, Pastora intervened in the conversation, not perhaps as much to defend the good name of Rafael, since no one had ever spoken harder against him than she had herself, but because the manager had spoken against the gypsies by employing the phrase, ‘Dirty gypsy.’ She intervened so forcibly and in such terms that the manager was reduced to silence. I intervened to quiet Pastora and another Gitana intervened to quiet me and the din was such that no one could distinguish any words which passed except the one great word ‘whore’ which roared out above all other words until quiet was restored and the three of us who had intervened sat looking down into our glasses and then I noticed that Finito was staring at the bull’s head, still draped in the purple cloth, with a look of horror on his face.

“At this moment the president of the Club commenced the speech which was to precede the unveiling of the head and all through the speech which was applauded with shouts of ‘Ole!’ and poundings on the table I was watching Finito who was making use of his, no, my, napkin and sinking further back in his chair and staring with horror and fascination at the shrouded bull’s head on the wall opposite him.

“Toward the end of the speech, Finito began to shake his head and he got further back in the chair all the time.

“‘How are you, little one?’ I said to him but when he looked at me he did not recognize me and he only shook his head and said, ‘No. No. No.’

“So the president of the Club reached the end of the speech and then, with everybody cheering him, he stood on a chair and reached up and untied the cord that bound the purple shroud over the head and slowly pulled it clear of the head and it stuck on one of the horns and he lifted it clear and pulled it off the sharp polished horns and there was that great yellow bull with black horns that swung Way out and pointed forward, their white tips sharp as porcupine quills, and the head of the bull was as though he were alive; his forehead was curly as in life and his nostrils were open and his eyes were bright and he was there looking straight at Finito.

“Every one shouted and applauded and Finito sunk further back in the chair and then every one was quiet and looking at him and he said, ‘No. No,’ and looked at the bull and pulled further back and then he said, ‘No!’ very loudly and a big blob of blood came out and he didn’t even put up the napkin and it slid down his chin and he was still looking at the bull and he said, ‘All season, yes. To make money, yes. To eat, yes. But I can’t eat. Hear me? My stomach’s bad. But now with the season finished! No! No! No!’ He looked around at the table and then he looked at the bull’s head and said, ‘No,’ once more and then he put his head down and he put his napkin up to his mouth and then he just sat there like that and said nothing and the banquet, which had started so well, and promised to mark an epoch in hilarity and good fellowship was not a success.”

“Then how long after that did he die?” Primitivo asked.

“That winter,” Pilar said. “He never recovered from that last blow with the flat of the horn in Zaragoza. They are worse than a goring, for the injury is internal and it does not heal. He received one almost every time he went in to kill and it was for this reason he was not more successful. It was difficult for him to get out from over the horn because of his short stature. Nearly always the side of the horn struck him. But of course many were only glancing blows.”

“If he was so short he should not have tried to be a matador,” Primitivo said.

Pilar looked at Robert Jordan and shook her head. Then she bent over the big iron pot, still shaking her head.

What a people they are, she thought. What a people are the Spaniards, “and if he was so short he should not have tried to be a matador.” And I hear it and say nothing. I have no rage for that and having made an explanation I am silent. How simple it is when one knows nothing. Qué sencillo! Knowing nothing one says, “He was not much of a matador.” Knowing nothing another says, “He was tubercular.” And another says, after one, knowing, has explained, “If he was so short he should not have tried to be a matador.”

Now, bending over the fire, she saw on the bed again the naked brown body with the gnarled scars in both thighs, the deep, seared whorl below the ribs on the right side of the chest and the long white welt along the side that ended in the armpit. She saw the eyes closed and the solemn brown face and the curly black hair pushed back now from the forehead and she was sitting by him on the bed rubbing the legs, chafing the taut muscles of the calves, kneading them, loosening them, and then tapping them lightly with her folded hands, loosening the cramped muscles.

“How is it?” she said to him. “How are the legs, little one?”

“Very well, Pilar,” he would say without opening his eyes.

“Do you want me to rub the chest?”

“Nay, Pilar. Please do not touch it.”

“And the upper legs?”

“No. They hurt too badly.”

“But if I rub them and put liniment on, it will warm them and they will be better.”

“Nay, Pilar. Thank thee. I would rather they were not touched.”

“I will wash thee with alcohol.”

“Yes. Do it very lightly.”

“You were enormous in the last bull,” she would say to him and he would say, “Yes, I killed him very well.”

Then, having washed him and covered him with a sheet, she would lie by him in the bed and he would put a brown hand out and touch her and say, “Thou art much woman, Pilar.” It was the nearest to a joke he ever made and then, usually, after the fight, he would go to sleep and she would lie there, holding his hand in her two hands and listening to him breathe.

He was often frightened in his sleep and she would feel his hand grip tightly and see the sweat bead on his forehead and if he woke, she said, “It’s nothing,” and he slept again. She was with him thus five years and never was unfaithful to him, that is almost never, and then after the funeral, she took up with Pablo who led picador horses in the ring and was like all the bulls that Finito had spent his life killing. But neither bull force nor bull courage lasted, she knew now, and what did last? I last, she thought. Yes, I have lasted. But for what?

“Maria,” she said. “Pay some attention to what you are doing. That is a fire to cook with. Not to burn down a city.”

Just then the gypsy came in the door. He was covered with snow and he stood there holding his carbine and stamping the snow from his feet.

Robert Jordan stood up and went over to the door, “Well?” he said to the gypsy.

“Six-hour watches, two men at a time on the big bridge,” the gypsy said. “There are eight men and a corporal at the roadmender’s hut. Here is thy chronometer.”

“What about the sawmill post?”

“The old man is there. He can watch that and the road both.”

“And the road?” Robert Jordan asked.

“The same movement as always,” the gypsy said. “Nothing out of the usual. Several motor cars.”

The gypsy looked cold, his dark face was drawn with the cold and his hands were red. Standing in the mouth of the cave he took off his jacket and shook it.

“I stayed until they changed the watch,” he said. “It was changed at noon and at six. That is a long watch. I am glad I am not in their army.”

“Let us go for the old man,” Robert Jordan said, putting on his leather coat.

“Not me,” the gypsy said. “I go now for the fire and the hot soup. I will tell one of these where he is and he can guide you. Hey, loafers,” he called to the men who sat at the table. “Who wants to guide the Inglés to where the old man is watching the road?”

“I will go,” Fernando rose. “Tell me where it is.”

“Listen,” the gypsy said. “It is here—” and he told him where the old man, Anselmo, was posted.