For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 29

Anselmo found Robert Jordan sitting at the plank table inside the cave with Pablo opposite him. They had a bowl poured full of wine between them and each had a cup of wine on the table. Robert Jordan had his notebook out and he was holding a pencil. Pilar and Maria were in the back of the cave out of sight. There was no way for Anselmo to know that the woman was keeping the girl back there to keep her from hearing the conversation and he thought that it was odd that Pilar was not at the table.

Robert Jordan looked up as Anselmo came in under the blanket that hung over the opening. Pablo stared straight at the table. His eyes were focused on the wine bowl but he was not seeing it.

“I come from above,” Anselmo said to Robert Jordan.

“Pablo has told us,” Robert Jordan said.

“There were six dead on the hill and they had taken the heads,” Anselmo said. “I was there in the dark.”

Robert Jordan nodded. Pablo sat there looking at the wine bowl and saying nothing. There was no expression on his face and his small pig-eyes were looking at the wine bowl as though he had never seen one before.

“Sit down,” Robert Jordan said to Anselmo.

The old man sat down at the table on one of the hide-covered stools and Robert Jordan reached under the table and brought up the pinch-bottle of whiskey that had been the gift of Sordo. It was about half-full. Robert Jordan reached down the table for a cup and poured a drink of whiskey into it and shoved it along the table to Anselmo.

“Drink that, old one,” he said.

Pablo looked from the wine bowl to Anselmo’s face as he drank and then he looked back at the wine bowl.

As Anselmo swallowed the whiskey he felt a burning in his nose, his eyes and his mouth, and then a happy, comforting warmth in his stomach. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Then he looked at Robert Jordan and said, “Can I have another?”

“Why not?” Robert Jordan said and poured another drink from the bottle and handed it this time instead of pushing it.

This time there was not the burning when he swallowed but the warm comfort doubled. It was as good a thing for his spirit as a saline injection is for a man who has suffered a great hemorrhage.

The old man looked toward the bottle again.

“The rest is for tomorrow,” Robert Jordan said. “What passed on the road, old one?”

“There was much movement,” Anselmo said. “I have it all noted down as you showed me. I have one watching for me and noting now. Later I will go for her report.”

“Did you see anti-tank guns? Those on rubber tires with the long barrels?”

“Yes,” Anselmo said. “There were four camions which passed on the road. In each of them there was such a gun with pine branches spread across the barrels. In the trucks rode six men with each gun.”

“Four guns, you say?” Robert Jordan asked him.

“Four,” Anselmo said. He did not look at his papers.

“Tell me what else went up the road.”

While Robert Jordan noted Anselmo told him everything he had seen move past him on the road. He told it from the beginning and in order with the wonderful memory of those who cannot read or write, and twice, while he was talking, Pablo reached out for more wine from the bowl.

“There was also the cavalry which entered La Granja from the high country where El Sordo fought,” Anselmo went on.

Then he told the number of the wounded he had seen and the number of the dead across the saddles.

“There was a bundle packed across one saddle that I did not understand,” he said. “But now I know it was the heads.” He went on without pausing. “It was a squadron of cavalry. They had only one officer left. He was not the one who was here in the early morning when you were by the gun. He must have been one of the dead. Two of the dead were officers by their sleeves. They were lashed face down over the saddles, their arms hanging. Also they had the máquina of El Sordo tied to the saddle that bore the heads. The barrel was bent. That is all,” he finished.

“It is enough,” Robert Jordan said and dipped his cup into the wine bowl. “Who beside you has been through the lines to the side of the Republic?”

“Andrés and Eladio.”

“Which is the better of those two?”


“How long would it take him to get to Navacerrada from here?”

“Carrying no pack and taking his precautions, in three hours with luck. We came by a longer, safer route because of the material.”

“He can surely make it?”

“No sé, there is no such thing as surely.”

“Not for thee either?”


That decides that, Robert Jordan thought to himself. If he had said that he could make it surely, surely I would have sent him.

“Andrés can get there as well as thee?”

“As well or better. He is younger.”

“But this must absolutely get there.”

“If nothing happens he will get there. If anything happens it could happen to any one.”

“I will write a dispatch and send it by him,” Robert Jordan said. “I will explain to him where he can find the General. He will be at the Estado Mayor of the Division.”

“He will not understand all this of divisions and all,” Anselmo said. “Always has it confused me. He should have the name of the General and where he can be found.”

“But it is at the Estado Mayor of the Division that he will be found.”

“But is that not a place?”

“Certainly it is a place, old one,” Robert Jordan explained patiently. “But it is a place the General will have selected. It is where he will make his headquarters for the battle.”

“Where is it then?” Anselmo was tired and the tiredness was making him stupid. Also words like Brigades, Divisions, Army Corps confused him. First there had been columns, then there were regiments, then there were brigades. Now there were brigades and divisions, both. He did not understand. A place was a place.

“Take it slowly, old one,” Robert Jordan said. He knew that if he could not make Anselmo understand he could never explain it clearly to Andrés either. “The Estado Mayor of the Division is a place the General will have picked to set up his organization to command. He commands a division, which is two brigades. I do not know where it is because I was not there when it was picked. It will probably be a cave or dugout, a refuge, and wires will run to it. Andrés must ask for the General and for the Estado Mayor of the Division. He must give this to the General or to the Chief of his Estado Mayor or to another whose name I will write. One of them will surely be there even if the others are out inspecting the preparations for the attack. Do you understand now?”


“Then get Andrés and I will write it now and seal it with this seal.” He showed him the small, round, wooden-backed rubber stamp with the seal of the S. I. M. and the round, tin-covered inking pad no bigger than a fifty-cent piece he carried in his pocket. “That seal they will honor. Get Andrés now and I will explain to him. He must go quickly but first he must understand.”

“He will understand if I do. But you must make it very clear. This of staffs and divisions is a mystery to me. Always have I gone to such things as definite places such as a house. In Navacerrada it is in the old hotel where the place of command is. In Guadarrama it is in a house with a garden.”

“With this General,” Robert Jordan said, “it will be some place very close to the lines. It will be underground to protect from the planes. Andrés will find it easily by asking, if he knows what to ask for. He will only need to show what I have written. But fetch him now for this should get there quickly.”

Anselmo went out, ducking under the hanging blanket. Robert Jordan commenced writing in his notebook.

“Listen, Inglés,” Pablo said, still looking at the wine bowl.

“I am writing,” Robert Jordan said without looking up.

“Listen, Inglés,” Pablo spoke directly to the wine bowl. “There is no need to be disheartened in this. Without Sordo we have plenty of people to take the posts and blow thy bridge.”

“Good,” Robert Jordan said without stopping writing.

“Plenty,” Pablo said. “I have admired thy judgment much today, Inglés,” Pablo told the wine bowl. “I think thou hast much picardia. That thou art smarter than I am. I have confidence in thee.”

Concentrating on his report to Golz, trying to put it in the fewest words and still make it absolutely convincing, trying to put it so the attack would be cancelled, absolutely, yet convince them he wasn’t trying to have it called off because of any fears he might have about the danger of his own mission, but wished only to put them in possession of all the facts, Robert Jordan was hardly half listening.

“Inglés,” Pablo said.

“I am writing,” Robert Jordan told him without looking up.

I probably should send two copies, he thought. But if I do we will not have enough people to blow it if I have to blow it. What do I know about why this attack is made? Maybe it is only a holding attack. Maybe they want to draw those troops from somewhere else. Perhaps they make it to draw those planes from the North. Maybe that is what it is about. Perhaps it is not expected to succeed. What do I know about it? This is my report to Golz. I do not blow the bridge until the attack starts. My orders are clear and if the attack is called off I blow nothing. But I’ve got to keep enough people here for the bare minimum necessary to carry the orders out.

“What did you say?” he asked Pablo.

“That I have confidence, Inglés.” Pablo was still addressing the wine bowl.

Man, I wish I had, Robert Jordan thought. He went on writing.