For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 16

“El Sordo was here,” Pilar said to Robert Jordan. They had come in out of the storm to the smoky warmth of the cave and the woman had motioned Robert Jordan over to her with a nod of her head. “He’s gone to look for horses.”

“Good. Did he leave any word for me?”

“Only that he had gone for horses.”

“And we?”

“No sé,” she said. “Look at him.”

Robert Jordan had seen Pablo when he came in and Pablo had grinned at him. Now he looked over at him sitting at the board table and grinned and waved his hand.

“Inglés,” Pablo called. “It’s still falling, Inglés.”

Robert Jordan nodded at him.

“Let me take thy shoes and dry them,” Maria said. “I will hang them here in the smoke of the fire.”

“Watch out you don’t burn them,” Robert Jordan told her. “I don’t want to go around here barefoot. What’s the matter?” he turned to Pilar. “Is this a meeting? Haven’t you any sentries out?”

“In this storm? Qué va.”

There were six men sitting at the table and leaning back against the wall. Anselmo and Fernando were still shaking the snow from their jackets, beating their trousers and rapping their feet against the wall by the entrance.

“Let me take thy jacket,” Maria said. “Do not let the snow melt on it.”

Robert Jordan slipped out of his jacket, beat the snow from his trousers, and untied his shoes.

“You will get everything wet here,” Pilar said.

“It was thee who called me.”

“Still there is no impediment to returning to the door for thy brushing.”

“Excuse me,” Robert Jordan said, standing in his bare feet on the dirt floor. “Hunt me a pair of socks, Maria.”

“The Lord and Master,” Pilar said and poked a piece of wood into the fire.

“Hay que aprovechar el tiempo,” Robert Jordan told her. “You have to take advantage of what time there is.”

“It is locked,” Maria said.

“Here is the key,” and he tossed it over.

“It does not fit this sack.”

“It is the other sack. They are on top and at the side.”

The girl found the pair of socks, closed the sack, locked it and brought them over with the key.

“Sit down and put them on and rub thy feet well,” she said. Robert Jordan grinned at her.

“Thou canst not dry them with thy hair?” he said for Pilar to hear.

“What a swine,” she said. “First he is the Lord of the Manor. Now he is our ex-Lord Himself. Hit him with a chunk of wood, Maria.”

“Nay,” Robert Jordan said to her. “I am joking because I am happy.”

“You are happy?”

“Yes,” he said. “I think everything goes very well.”

“Roberto,” Maria said. “Go sit down and dry thy feet and let me bring thee something to drink to warm thee.”

“You would think that man had never dampened foot before,” Pilar said. “Nor that a flake of snow had ever fallen.”

Maria brought him a sheepskin and put it on the dirt floor of the cave.

“There,” she said. “Keep that under thee until thy shoes are dry.”

The sheepskin was fresh dried and not tanned and as Robert Jordan rested his stocking feet on it he could feel it crackle like parchment.

The fire was smoking and Pilar called to Maria, “Blow up the fire, worthless one. This is no smokehouse.”

“Blow it thyself,” Maria said. “I am searching for the bottle that El Sordo left.”

“It is behind his packs,” Pilar told her. “Must you care for him as a sucking child?”

“No,” Maria said. “As a man who is cold and wet. And a man who has just come to his house. Here it is.” She brought the bottle to where Robert Jordan sat. “It is the bottle of this noon. With this bottle one could make a beautiful lamp. When we have electricity again, what a lamp we can make of this bottle.” She looked at the pinch-bottle admiringly. “How do you take this, Roberto?”

“I thought I was Inglés,” Robert Jordan said to her.

“I call thee Roberto before the others,” she said in a low voice and blushed. “How do you want it, Roberto?”

“Roberto,” Pablo said thickly and nodded his head at Robert Jordan. “How do you want it, Don Roberto?”

“Do you want some?” Robert Jordan asked him.

Pablo shook his head. “I am making myself drunk with wine,” he said with dignity.

“Go with Bacchus,” Robert Jordan said in Spanish.

“Who is Bacchus?” Pablo asked.

“A comrade of thine,” Robert Jordan said.

“Never have I heard of him,” Pablo said heavily. “Never in these mountains.”

“Give a cup to Anselmo,” Robert Jordan said to Maria. “It is he who is cold.” He was putting on the dry pair of socks and the whiskey and water in the cup tasted clean and thinly warming. But it does not curl around inside of you the way the absinthe does, he thought. There is nothing like absinthe.

Who would imagine they would have whiskey up here, he thought. But La Granja was the most likely place in Spain to find it when you thought it over. Imagine Sordo getting a bottle for the visiting dynamiter and then remembering to bring it down and leave it. It wasn’t just manners that they had. Manners would have been producing the bottle and having a formal drink. That was what the French would have done and then they would have saved what was left for another occasion. No, the true thoughtfulness of thinking the visitor would like it and then bringing it down for him to enjoy when you yourself were engaged in something where there was every reason to think of no one else but yourself and of nothing but the matter in hand—that was Spanish. One kind of Spanish, he thought. Remembering to bring the whiskey was one of the reasons you loved these people. Don’t go romanticizing them, he thought. There are as many sorts of Spanish as there are Americans. But still, bringing the whiskey was very handsome.

“How do you like it?” he asked Anselmo.

The old man was sitting by the fire with a smile on his face, his big hands holding the cup. He shook his head.

“No?” Robert Jordan asked him.

“The child put water in it,” Anselmo said.

“Exactly as Roberto takes it,” Maria said. “Art thou something special?”

“No,” Anselmo told her. “Nothing special at all. But I like to feel it burn as it goes down.”

“Give me that,” Robert Jordan told the girl, “and pour him some of that which burns.”

He tipped the contents of the cup into his own and handed it back empty to the girl, who poured carefully into it from the bottle.

“Ah,” Anselmo took the cup, put his head back and let it run down his throat. He looked at Maria standing holding the bottle and winked at her, tears coming from both eyes. “That,” he said. “That.” Then he licked his lips. “That is what kills the worm that haunts us.”

“Roberto,” Maria said and came over to him, still holding the bottle. “Are you ready to eat?”

“Is it ready?”

“It is ready when you wish it.”

“Have the others eaten?”

“All except you, Anselmo and Fernando.”

“Let us eat then,” he told her. “And thou?”

“Afterwards with Pilar.”

“Eat now with us.”

“No. It would not be well.”

“Come on and eat. In my country a man does not eat before his woman.”

“That is thy country. Here it is better to eat after.”

“Eat with him,” Pablo said, looking up from the table. “Eat with him. Drink with him. Sleep with him. Die with him. Follow the customs of his country.”

“Are you drunk?” Robert Jordan said, standing in front of Pablo. The dirty, stubble-faced man looked at him happily.

“Yes,” Pablo said. “Where is thy country, Inglés, where the women eat with the men?”

“In Estados Unidos in the state of Montana.”

“Is it there that the men wear skirts as do the women?”

“No. That is in Scotland.”

“But listen,” Pablo said. “When you wear skirts like that, Inglés—”

“I don’t wear them,” Robert Jordan said.

“When you are wearing those skirts,” Pablo went on, “what do you wear under them?”

“I don’t know what the Scotch wear,” Robert Jordan said. “I’ve wondered myself.”

“Not the Escoceses,” Pablo said. “Who cares about the Escoceses? Who cares about anything with a name as rare as that? Not me. I don’t care. You, I say, Inglés. You. What do you wear under your skirts in your country?”

“Twice I have told you that we do not wear skirts,” Robert Jordan said. “Neither drunk nor in joke.”

“But under your skirts,” Pablo insisted. “Since it is well known that you wear skirts. Even the soldiers. I have seen photographs and also I have seen them in the Circus of Price. What do you wear under your skirts, Inglés?”

“Los cojones,” Robert Jordan said.

Anselmo laughed and so did the others who were listening; all except Fernando. The sound of the word, of the gross word spoken before the women, was offensive to him.

“Well, that is normal,” Pablo said. “But it seems to me that with enough cojones you would not wear skirts.”

“Don’t let him get started again, Inglés,” the flat-faced man with the broken nose who was called Primitivo said. “He is drunk. Tell me, what do they raise in your country?”

“Cattle and sheep,” Robert Jordan said. “Much grain also and beans. And also much beets for sugar.”

The three were at the table now and the others sat close by except Pablo, who sat by himself in front of a bowl of the wine. It was the same stew as the night before and Robert Jordan ate it hungrily.

“In your country there are mountains? With that name surely there are mountains,” Primitivo asked politely to make conversation. He was embarrassed at the drunkenness of Pablo.

“Many mountains and very high.”

“And are there good pastures?”

“Excellent; high pasture in the summer in forests controlled by the government. Then in the fall the cattle are brought down to the lower ranges.”

“Is the land there owned by the peasants?”

“Most land is owned by those who farm it. Originally the land was owned by the state and by living on it and declaring the intent~on of improving it, a man could obtain a title to a hundred and fifty hectares.”

“Tell me how this is done,” Agustín asked. “That is an agrarian reform which means something.”

Robert Jordan explained the process of homesteading. He had never thought of it before as an agrarian reform.

“That is magnificent,” Primitivo said. “Then you have a communism in your country?”

“No. That is done under the Republic.”

“For me,” Agustín said, “everything can be done under the Republic. I see no need for other form of government.”

“Do you have no big proprietors?” Andrés asked.


“Then there must be abuses.”

“Certainly. There are many abuses.”

“But you will do away with them?”

“We try to more and more. But there are many abuses still.”

“But there are not great estates that must be broken up?”

“Yes. But there are those who believe that taxes will break them up.”


Robert Jordan, wiping out the stew bowl with bread, explained how the income tax and inheritance tax worked. “But the big estates remain. Also there are taxes on the land,” he said.

“But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes. Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary. They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here,” Primitivo said.

“It is possible.”

“Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here.”

“Yes, we will have to fight.”

“But are there not many fascists in your country?”

“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”

“But you cannot destroy them until they rebel?”

“No,” Robert Jordan said. “We cannot destroy them. But we can educate the people so that they will fear fascism and recognize it as it appears and combat it.”

“Do you know where there are no fascists?” Andrés asked.


“In the town of Pablo,” Andrés said and grinned.

“You know what was done in that village?” Primitivo asked Robert Jordan.

“Yes. I have heard the story.”

“From Pilar?”


“You could not hear all of it from the woman,” Pablo said heavily. “Because she did not see the end of it because she fell from a chair outside of the window.”

“You tell him what happened then,” Pilar said. “Since I know not the story, let you tell it.”

“Nay,” Pablo said. “I have never told it.”

“No,” Pilar said. “And you will not tell it. And now you wish it had not happened.”

“No,” Pablo said. “That is not true. And if all had killed the fascists as I did we would not have this war. But I would not have had it happen as it happened.”

“Why do you say that?” Primitivo asked him. “Are you changing your politics?”

“No. But it was barbarous,” Pablo said. “In those days I was very barbarous.”

“And now you are drunk,” Pilar said.

“Yes,” Pablo said. “With your permission.”

“I liked you better when you were barbarous,” the woman said. “Of all men the drunkard is the foulest. The thief when he is not stealing is like another. The extortioner does not practise in the home. The murderer when he is at home can wash his hands. But the drunkard stinks and vomits in his own bed and dissolves his organs in alcohol.”

“You are a woman and you do not understand,” Pablo said equably. “I am drunk on wine and I would be happy except for those people I have killed. All of them fill me with sorrow.” He shook his head lugubriously.

“Give him some of that which Sordo brought,” Pilar said. “Give him something to animate him. He is becoming too sad to bear.”

“If I could restore them to life, I would,” Pablo said.

“Go and obscenity thyself,” Agustín said to him. “What sort of place is this?”

“I would bring them all back to life,” Pablo said sadly. “Every one.”

“Thy mother,” Agustín shouted at him. “Stop talking like this or get out. Those were fascists you killed.”

“You heard me,” Pablo said. “I would restore them all to life.”

“And then you would walk on the water,” Pilar said. “In my life I have never seen such a man. Up until yesterday you preserved some remnants of manhood. And today there is not enough of you left to make a sick kitten. Yet you are happy in your soddenness.”

“We should have killed all or none,” Pablo nodded his head. “All or none.”

“Listen, Inglés,” Agustín said. “How did you happen to come to Spain? Pay no attention to Pablo. He is drunk.”

“I came first twelve years ago to study the country and the language,” Robert Jordan said. “I teach Spanish in a university.”

“You look very little like a professoi” Primitivo said.

“He has no beard,” Pablo said. “Look at him. He has no beard.”

“Are you truly a professor?”

“An instructor.”

“But you teach?”


“But why Spanish?” Andrés asked. “Would it not be easier to teach English since you are English?”

“He speaks Spanish as we do,” Anselmo said. “Why should he not teach Spanish?”

“Yes. But it is, in a way, presumptuous for a foreigner to teach Spanish,” Fernando said. “I mean nothing against you, Don Roberto.”

“He’s a false professor,” Pablo said, very pleased with himself. “He hasn’t got a beard.”

“Surely you know English better,” Fernando said. “Would it not be better and easier and clearer to teach English?”

“He doesn’t teach it to Spaniards—” Pilar started to intervene.

“I should hope not,” Fernando said.

“Let me finish, you mule,” Pilar said to him. “He teaches Spanish to Americans. North Americans.”

“Can they not speak Spanish?” Fernando asked. “South Americans can.”

“Mule,” Pilar said. “He teaches Spanish to North Americans who speak English.”

“Still and all I think it would be easier for him to teach English if that is what he speaks,” Fernando said.

“Can’t you hear he speaks Spanish?” Pilar shook her head hopelessly at Robert Jordan.

“Yes. But with an accent.”

“Of where?” Robert Jordan asked.

“Of Estremadura,” Fernando said primly.

“Oh my mother,” Pilar said. “What a people!”

“It is possible,” Robert Jordan said. “I have come here from there.”

“As he well knows,” Pilar said. “You old maid,” she turned to Fernando. “Have you had enough to eat?”

“I could eat more if there is a sufficient quantity,” Fernando told her. “And do not think that I wish to say anything against you, Don Roberto—”

“Milk,” Agustín said simply. “And milk again. Do we make the revolution in order to say Don Roberto to a comrade?”

“For me the revolution is so that all will say Don to all,” Fernando said. “Thus should it be under the Republic.”

“Milk,” Agustín said. “Black milk.”

“And I still think it would be easier and clearer for Don Roberto to teach English.”

“Don Roberto has no beard,” Pablo said. “He is a false professor.”

“What do you mean, I have no beard?” Robert Jordan said. “What’s this?” He stroked his chin and his cheeks where the threeday growth made a blond stubble.

“Not a beard,” Pablo said. He shook his head. “That’s not a beard.” He was almost jovial now. “He’s a false professor.”

“I obscenity in the milk of all,” Agustín said, “if it does not seem like a lunatic asylum here.”

“You should drink,” Pablo said to him. “To me everything appears normal. Except the lack of beard of Don Roberto.”

Maria ran her hand over Robert Jordan’s cheek.

“He has a beard,” she said to Pablo.

“You should know,” Pablo said and Robert Jordan looked at him.

I don’t think he is so drunk, Robert Jordan thought. No, not so drunk. And I think I had better watch myself.

“Thou,” he said to Pablo. “Do you think this snow will last?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you.”

“Ask another,” Pablo told him. “I am not thy service of information. You have a paper from thy service of information. Ask the woman. She commands.”

“I asked thee.”

“Go and obscenity thyself,” Pablo told him. “Thee and the woman and the girl.”

“He is drunk,” Primitivo said. “Pay him no heed, Inglés.”

“I do not think he is so drunk,” Robert Jordan said.

Maria was standing behind him and Robert Jordan saw Pablo watching her over his shoulder. The small eyes, like a boar’s, were watching her out of the round, stubble-covered head and Robert Jordan thought: I have known many killers in this war and some before and they were all different; there is no common trait nor feature; nor any such thing as the criminal type; but Pablo is certainly not handsome.

“I don’t believe you can drink,” he said to Pablo. “Nor that you’re drunk.”

“I am drunk,” Pablo said with dignity. “To drink is nothing. It is to be drunk that is important. Estoy muy borracho.”

“I doubt it,” Robert Jordan told him. “Cowardly, yes.”

It was so quiet in the cave, suddenly, that he could hear the hissing noise the wood made burning on the hearth where Pilar cooked. He heard the sheepskin crackle as he rested his weight on his feet. He thought he could almost hear the snow falling outside. He could not, but he could hear the silence where it fell.

I’d like to kill him and have it over with, Robert Jordan was thinking. I don’t know what he is going to do, but it is nothing good. Day after tomorrow is the bridge and this man is bad and he constitutes a danger to the success of the whole enterprise. Come on. Let us get it over with.

Pablo grinned at him and put one finger up and wiped it across his throat. He shook his head that turned only a little each way on his thick, short neck.

“Nay, Inglés,” he said. “Do not provoke me.” He looked at Pilar and said to her, “It is not thus that you get rid of me.”

“Sinverguenza,” Robert Jordan said to him, committed now in his own mind to the action. “Cobarde.”

“It is very possible,” Pablo said. “But I am not to be provoked. Take something to drink, Inglés, and signal to the woman it was not successful.”

“Shut thy mouth,” Robert Jordan said. “I provoke thee for myself.”

“It is not worth the trouble,” Pablo told him. “I do not provoke.”

“Thou art a bicho raro,” Robert Jordan said, not wanting to let it go; not wanting to have it fail for the second time; knowing as he spoke that this had all been gone through before; having that feeling that he was playing a part from memory of something that he had read or had dreamed, feeling it all moving in a circle.

“Very rare, yes,” Pablo said. “Very rare and very drunk. To your health, Inglés.” He dipped a cup in the wine bowl and held it up. “Salud y cojones.”

He’s rare, all right, Robert Jordan thought, and smart, and very complicated. He could no longer hear the fire for the sound of his own breathing.

“Here’s to you,” Robert Jordan said, and dipped a cup into the wine. Betrayal wouldn’t amount to anything without all these pledges, he thought. Pledge up. “Salud,” he said. “ Salud and Salud again,” you salud, he thought. Salud, you salud.

“Don Roberto,” Pablo said heavily.

“Don Pablo,” Robert Jordan said.

“You’re no professor,” Pablo said, “because you haven’t got a beard. And also to do away with me you have to assassinate me and, for this, you have not cojones.”

He was looking at Robert Jordan with his mouth closed so that his lips made a tight line, like the mouth of a fish, Robert Jordan thought. With that head it is like one of those porcupine fish that swallow air and swell up after they are caught.

“Salud, Pablo,” Robert Jordan said and raised the cup up and drank from it. “I am learning much from thee.”

“I am teaching the professor,” Pablo nodded his head. “Come on, Don Roberto, we will be friends.”

“We are friends already,” Robert Jordan said.

“But now we will be good friends.”

“We are good friends already.”

“I’m going to get out of here,” Agustín said. “Truly, it is said that we must eat a ton of it in this life but I have twenty-five pounds of it stuck in each of my ears this minute.”

“What is the matter, negro?” Pablo said to him. “Do you not like to see friendship between Don Roberto and me?”

“Watch your mouth about calling me negro.” Agustín went over to him and stood in front of Pablo holding his hands low.

“So you are called,” Pablo said.

“Not by thee.”

“Well, then, blanco—”

“Nor that, either.”

“What are you then, Red?”

“Yes. Red. Rojo. With the Red star of the army and in favor of the Republic. And my name is Agustín.”

“What a patriotic man,” Pablo said. “Look, Inglés, what an exemplary patriot.”

Agustín hit him hard across the mouth with his left hand, bringing it forward in a slapping, backhand sweep. Pablo sat there. The corners of his mouth were wine-stained and his expression did not change, but Robert Jordan watched his eyes narrow, as a cat’s pupils close to vertical slits in a strong light.

“Nor this,” Pablo said. “Do not count on this, woman.” He turned his head toward Pilar. “I am not provoked.”

Agustín hit him again. This time he hit him on the mouth with his closed fist. Robert Jordan was holding his pistol in his hand under the table. He had shoved the safety catch off and he pushed Maria away with his left hand. She moved a little way and he pushed her hard in the ribs with his left hand again to make her get really away. She was gone now and he saw her from the corner of his eye, slipping along the side of the cave toward the fire and now Robert Jordan watched Pablo’s face.

The round-headed man sat staring at Agustín from his flat little eyes. The pupils were even smaller now. He licked his lips then, put up an arm and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, looked down and saw the blood on his hand. He ran his tongue over his lips, then spat.

“Nor that,” he said. “I am not a fool. I do not provoke.”

“Cabrón,” Agustín said.

“You should know,” Pablo said. “You know the woman.”

Agustín hit him again hard in the mouth and Pablo laughed at him, showing the yellow, bad, broken teeth in the reddened line of his mouth.

“Leave it alone,” Pablo said and reached with a cup to scoop some wine from the bowl. “Nobody here has cojones to kill me and this of the hands is silly.”

“Cobarde,” Agustín said.

“Nor words either,” Pablo said and made a swishing noise rinsing the wine in his mouth. He spat on the floor. “I am far past words.”

Agustín stood there looking down at him and cursed him, speaking slowly, clearly, bitterly and contemptuously and cursing as steadily as though he were dumping manure on a field, lifting it with a dung fork out of a wagon.

“Nor of those,” Pablo said. “Leave it, Agustín. And do not hit me more. Thou wilt injure thy hands.”

Agustín turned from him and went to the door.

“Do not go out,” Pablo said. “It is snowing outside. Make thyself comfortable in here.”

“And thou! Thou!” Agustín turned from the door and spoke to him, putting all his contempt in the single, “Tu.”

“Yes, me,” said Pablo. “I will be alive when you are dead.”

He dipped up another cup of wine and raised it to Robert Jordan. “To the professor,” he said. Then turned to Pilar. “To the Señora Commander.” Then toasted them all, “To all the illusioned ones.”

Agustín walked over to him and, striking quickly with the side of his hand, knocked the cup out of his hand.

“That is a waste,” Pablo said. “That is silly.”

Agustín said something vile to him.

“No,” Pablo said, dipping up another cup. “I am drunk, seest thou? When I am not drunk I do not talk. You have never heard me talk much. But an intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend his time with fools.”

“Go and obscenity in the milk of thy cowardice,” Pilar said to him. “I know too much about thee and thy cowardice.”

“How the woman talks,” Pablo said. “I will be going out to see the horses.”

“Go and befoul them,” Agustín said. “Is not that one of thy customs?”

“No,” Pablo said and shook his head. He was taking down his big blanket cape from the wall and he looked at Agustín. “Thou,” he said, “and thy violence.”

“What do you go to do with the horses?” Agustín said.

“Look to them,” Pablo said.

“Befoul them,” Agustín said. “Horse lover.”

“I care for them very much,” Pablo said. “Even from behind they are handsomer and have more sense than these people. Divert yourselves,” he said and grinned. “Speak to them of the bridge, Inglés. Explain their duties in the attack. Tell them how to conduct the retreat. Where will you take them, Inglés, after the bridge? Where will you take your patriots? I have thought of it all day while I have been drinking.”

“What have you thought?” Agustín asked.

“What have I thought?” Pablo said and moved his tongue around exploringly inside his lips. “Qué te importa, what have I thought.”

“Say it,” Agustín said to him.

“Much,” Pablo said. He pulled the blanket coat over his head, the roundness of his head protruding now from the dirty yellow folds of the blanket. “I have thought much.”

“What?” Agustín said. “What?”

“I have thought you are a group of illusioned people,” Pablo said. “Led by a woman with her brains between her thighs and a foreigner who comes to destroy you.”

“Get out,” Pilar shouted at him. “Get out and fist yourself into the snow. Take your bad milk out of here, you horse exhausted maricon.”

“Thus one talks,” Agustín said admiringly, but absent-mindedly. He was worried.

“I go,” said Pablo. “But I will be back shortly.” He lifted the blanket over the door of the cave and stepped out. Then from the door he called, “It’s still falling, Inglés.”