For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 21

A warm wind came with daylight and he could hear the snow melting in the trees and the heavy sound of its falling. It was a late spring morning. He knew with the first breath he drew that the snow had been only a freak storm in the mountains and it would be gone by noon. Then he heard a horse coming, the hoofs balled with the wet snow thumping dully as the horseman trotted. He heard the noise of a carbine scabbard slapping loosely and the creak of leather.

“Maria,” he said, and shook the girl’s shoulder to waken her. “Keep thyself under the robe,” and he buttoned his shirt with one hand and held the automatic pistol in the othet loosening the safety catch with his thumb. He saw the girl’s cropped head disappear with a jerk under the robe and then he saw the horseman coming through the trees. He crouched now in the robe and holding the pistol in both hands aimed it at the man as he rode toward him. He had never seen this man before.

The horseman was almost opposite him now. He was riding a big gray gelding and he wore a khaki beret, a blanket cape like a poncho, and heavy black boots. From the scabbard on the right of his saddle projected the stock and the long oblong clip of a short automatic rifle. He had a young, hard face and at this moment he saw Robert Jordan.

He reached his hand down toward the scabbard and as he swung low, turning and jerking at the scabbard, Robert Jordan saw the scarlet of the formalized device he wore on the left breast of his khaki blanket cape.

Aiming at the center of his chest, a little lower than the device, Robert Jordan fired.

The pistol roared in the snowy woods.

The horse plunged as though he had been spurred and the young man, still tugging at the scabbard, slid over toward the ground, his right foot caught in the stirrup. The horse broke off through the trees dragging him, bumping, face downward, and Robert Jordan stood up holding the pistol now in one hand.

The big gray horse was galloping through the pines. There was a broad swath in the snow where the man dragged with a scarlet streak along one side of it. People were coming out of the mouth of the cave. Robert Jordan reached down and unrolled his trousers from the pillow and began to put them on.

“Get thee dressed,” he said to Maria.

Overhead he heard the noise of a plane flying very high. Through the trees he saw where the gray horse had stopped and was standing, his rider still hanging face down from the stirrup.

“Go catch that horse,” he called to Primitivo who had started over toward him. Then, “Who was on guard at the top?”

“Rafael,” Pilar said from the cave. She stood there, her hair still down her back in two braids.

“There’s cavalry out,” Robert Jordan said. “Get your damned gun up there.”

He heard Pilar call, “Agustín,” into the cave. Then she went into the cave and then two men came running out, one with the automatic rifle with its tripod swung on his shoulder; the other with a sackful of the pans.

“Get up there with them,” Robert Jordan said to Anselmo. “You lie beside the gun and hold the legs still,” he said.

The three of them went up the trail through the woods at a run.

The sun had not yet come up over the tops of the mountains and Robert Jordan stood straight buttoning his trousers and tightening his belt, the big pistol hanging from the lanyard on his wrist. He put the pistol in its holster on his belt and slipped the knot down on the lanyard and passed the ioop over his head.

Somebody will choke you with that sometime, he thought. Well, this has done it. He took the pistol out of the holster, removed the clip, inserted one of the cartridges from the row alongside of the holster and shoved the clip back into the butt of the pistol.

He looked through the trees to where Primitivo, holding the reins of the horse, was twisting the rider’s foot out of the stirrup. The body lay face down in the snow and as he watched Primitivo was going through the pockets.

“Come on,” he called. “Bring the horse.”

As he knelt to put on his rope-soled shoes, Robert Jordan could feel Maria against his knees, dressing herself under the robe. She had no place in his life now.

That cavalryman did not expect anything, he was thinking. He was not following horse tracks and he was not even properly alert, let alone alarmed. He was not even following the tracks up to the post. He must have been one of a patrol scattered out in these hills. But when the patrol misses him they will follow his tracks here. Unless the snow melts first, he thought. Unless something happens to the patrol.

“You better get down below,” he said to Pablo.

They were all out of the cave now, standing there with the carbines and with grenades on their belts. Pilar held a leather bag of grenades toward Robert Jordan and he took three and put them in his pocket. He ducked into the cave, found his two packs, opened the one with the submachine gun in it and took out the barrel and stock, slipped the stock onto the forward assembly and put one clip into the gun and three in his pockets. He locked the pack and started for the door. I’ve got two pockets full of hardware, he thought. I hope the seams hold. He came out of the cave and said to Pablo, “I’m going up above. Can Agustín shoot that gun?”

“Yes,” Pablo said. He was watching Primitivo leading up the horse.

“Mira qué caballo,” he said. “Look, what a horse.”

The big gray was sweating and shivering a little and Robert Jordan patted him on the withers.

“I will put him with the others,” Pablo said.

“No,” Robert Jordan said. “He has made tracks into here. He must make them out.”

“True,” agreed Pablo. “I will ride him out and will hide him and bring him in when the snow is melted. Thou hast much head today, Inglés.”

“Send some one below,” Robert Jordan said. “We’ve got to get up there.”

“It is not necessary,” Pablo said. “Horsemen cannot come that way. But we can get out, by there and by two other places. It is better not to make tracks if there are planes coming. Give me the bota with wine, Pilar.”

“To go off and get drunk,” Pilar said. “Here, take these instead.” He reached over and put two of the grenades in his pockets.

“Qué va, to get drunk,” Pablo said. “There is gravity in the situation. But give me the bota. I do not like to do all this on water.”

He reached his arms up, took the reins and swung up into the saddle. He grinned and patted the nervous horse. Robert Jordan saw him rub his leg along the horse’s flank affectionately.

“Qué caballo más bonito,” he said and patted the big gray again. “Qué caballo más hermoso. Come on. The faster this gets out of here the better.”

He reached down and pulled the light automatic rifle with its ventilated barrel, really a submachine gun built to take the 9 mm. pistol cartridge, from the scabbard, and looked at it. “Look how they are armed,” he said. “Look at modern cavalry.”

“There’s modern cavalry over there on his face,” Robert Jordan said. “Vamonos.”

“Do you, Andrés, saddle and hold the horses in readiness. If you hear firing bring them up to the woods behind the gap. Come with thy arms and leave the women to hold the horses. Fernando, see that my sacks are brought also. Above all, that my sacks are brought carefully. Thou to look after my sacks, too,” he said to Pilar. “Thou to verify that they come with the horses. Vamonos,” he said. “Let us go.”

“The Maria and I will prepare all for leaving,” Pilar said. Then to Robert Jordan, “Look at him,” nodding at Pablo on the gray horse, sitting him in the heavy-thighed herdsman manner, the horse’s nostrils widening as Pablo replaced the clip in the automatic rifle. “See what a horse has done for him.”

“That I should have two horses,” Robert Jordan said fervently.

“Danger is thy horse.”

“Then give me a mule,” Robert Jordan grinned.

“Strip me that,” he said to Pilar and jerked his head toward where the man lay face down in the snow. “And bring everything, all the letters and papers, and put them in the outside pocket of my sack. Everything, understand?”


“Vamonos,” he said.

Pablo rode ahead and the two men followed in a single file in order not to track up the snow. Robert Jordan carried the submachine gun muzzle down, carrying it by its forward hand grip. I wish it took the same ammunition that saddle gun takes, he thought. But it doesn’t. This is a German gun. This was old Kashkin’s gun.

The sun was coming over the mountains now. A warm wind was blowing and the snow was melting. It was a lovely late spring morning.

Robert Jordan looked back and saw Maria now standing with Pilar. Then she came running up the trail. He dropped behind Primitivo to speak to her.

“Thou,” she said. “Can I go with thee?”

“No. Help Pilar.”

She was walking behind him and put her hand on his arm.

“I’m coming.”


She kept on walking close behind him.

“I could hold the legs of the gun in the way thou told Anselmo.”

“Thou wilt hold no legs. Neither of guns nor of nothing.”

Walking beside him she reached forward and put her hand in his pocket.

“No,” he said. “But take good care of thy wedding shirt.”

“Kiss me,” she said, “if thou goest.”

“Thou art shameless,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “Totally.”

“Get thee back now. There is much work to do. We may fight here if they follow these horse tracks.”

“Thou,” she said. “Didst thee see what he wore on his chest?”

“Yes. Why not?”

“It was the Sacred Heart.”

“Yes. All the people of Navarre wear it.”

“And thou shot for that?”

“No. Below it. Get thee back now.”

“Thou,” she said. “I saw all.”

“Thou saw nothing. One man. One man from a horse. Vete. Get thee back.”

“Say that you love me.”

“No. Not now.”

“Not love me now?”

“Déjamos. Get thee back. One does not do that and love all at the same moment.”

“I want to go to hold the legs of the gun and while it speaks love thee all in the same moment.”

“Thou art crazy. Get thee back now.”

“I am crazy,” she said. “I love thee.”

“Then get thee back.”

“Good. I go. And if thou dost not love me, I love thee enough for both.”

He looked at her and smiled through his thinking.

“When you hear firing,” he said, “come with the horses. Aid the Pilar with my sacks. It is possible there will be nothing. I hope so.”

“I go,” she said. “Look what a horse Pablo rides.”

The big gray was moving ahead up the trail.

“Yes. But go.”

“I go.”

Her fist, clenched tight in his pocket, beat hard against his thigh. He looked at her and saw there were tears in her eyes. She pulled her fist out of his pocket and put both arms tight around his neck and kissed him.

“I go,” she said. “Me voy. I go.”

He looked back and saw her standing there, the first morning sunlight on her brown face and the cropped, tawny, burned-gold hair. She lifted her fist at him and turned and walked back down the trail, her head down.

Primitivo turned around and looked after her.

“If she did not have her hair cut so short she would be a pretty girl,” he said.

“Yes,” Robert Jordan said. He was thinking of something else.

“How is she in the bed?” Primitivo asked.


“In the bed.”

“Watch thy mouth.”

“One should not be offended when—”

“Leave it,” Robert Jordan said. He was looking at the position.