For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 3

They came down the last two hundred yards, moving carefully from tree to tree in the shadows and now, through the last pines of the steep hillside, the bridge was only fifty yards away. The late afternoon sun that still came over the brown shoulder of the mountain showed the bridge dark against the steep emptiness of the gorge. It was a steel bridge of a single span and there was a sentry box at each end. It was wide enough for two motor cars to pass and it spanned, in solid-flung metal grace, a deep gorge at the bottom of which, far below, a brook leaped in white water through rocks and boulders down to the main stream of the pass.

The sun was in Robert Jordan’s eyes and the bridge showed only in outline. Then the sun lessened and was gone and looking up through the trees at the brown, rounded height that it had gone behind, he saw, now, that he no longer looked into the glare, that the mountain slope was a delicate new green and that there were patches of old snow under the crest.

Then he was watching the bridge again in the sudden short trueness of the little light that would be left, and studying its construction. The problem of its demolition was not difficult. As he watched he took out a notebook from his breast pocket and made several quick line sketches. As he made the drawings he did not figure the charges. He would do that later. Now he was noting the points where the explosive should be placed in order to cut the support of the span and drop a section of it into the gorge. It could be done unhurriedly, scientifically and correctly with a half dozen charges laid and braced to explode simultaneously; or it could be done roughly with two big ones. They would need to be very big ones, on opposite sides and should go at the same time. He sketched quickly and happily; glad at last to have the problem under his hand; glad at last actually to be engaged upon it. Then he shut his notebook, pushed the pencil into its leather holder in the edge of the flap, put the notebook in his pocket and buttoned the pocket.

While he had sketched, Anselmo had been watching the road, the bridge and the sentry boxes. He thought they had come too close to the bridge for safety and when the sketching was finished, he was relieved.

As Robert Jordan buttoned the flap of his pocket and then lay flat behind the pine trunk, looking out from behind it, Anselmo put his hand on his elbow and pointed with one finger.

In the sentry box that faced toward them up the road, the sentry was sitting holding his rifle, the bayonet fixed, between his knees. He was smoking a cigarette and he wore a knitted cap and blanket style cape. At fifty yards, you could not see anything about his face. Robert Jordan put up his field glasses, shading the lenses carefully with his cupped hands even though there was now no sun to make a glint, and there was the rail of the bridge as clear as though you could reach out and touch it and there was the face of the senty so clear he could see the sunken cheeks, the ash on the cigarette and the greasy shine of the bayonet. It was a peasant’s face, the cheeks hollow under the high cheekbones, the beard stubbled, the eyes shaded by the heavy brows, big hands holding the rifle, heavy boots showing beneath the folds of the blanket cape. There was a worn, blackened leather wine bottle on the wall of the sentry box, there were some newspapers and there was no telephone. There could, of course, be a telephone on the side he could not see; but there were no wires running from the box that were visible. A telephone line ran along the road and its wires were carried over the bridge. There was a charcoal brazier outside the sentry box, made from an old petrol tin with the top cut off and holes punched in it, which rested on two stones; but he held no fire. There were some fire-blackened empty tins in the ashes under it.

Robert Jordan handed the glasses to Anselmo who lay flat beside him. The old man grinned and shook his head. He tapped his skull beside his eye with one finger.

“Ya lo veo,” he said in Spanish. “I have seen him,” speaking from the front of his mouth with almost no movement of his lips in the way that is quieter than any whisper. He looked at the sentry as Robert Jordan smiled at him and, pointing with one finger, drew the other across his throat. Robert Jordan nodded but he did not smile.

The sentry box at the far end of the bridge faced away from them and down the road and they could not see into it. The road, which was broad and oiled and well constructed, made a turn to the left at the far end of the bridge and then swung out of sight around a curve to the right. At this point it was enlarged from the old road to its present width by cutting into the solid bastion of the rock on the far side of the gorge; and its left or western edge, looking down from the pass and the bridge, was marked and protected by a line of upright cut blocks of stone where its edge fell sheer away to the gorge. The gorge was almost a canyon here, where the brook, that the bridge was flung over, merged with the main stream of the pass.

“And the other post?” Robert Jordan asked Anselmo.

“Five hundred meters below that turn. In the roadmender’s hut that is built into the side of the rock.”

“How many men?” Robert Jordan asked.

He was watching the sentry again with his glasses. The sentry rubbed his cigarette out on the plank wall of the box, then took a leather tobacco pouch from his pocket, opened the paper of the dead cigarette and emptied the remnant of used tobacco into the pouch. The sentry stood up, leaned his rifle against the wall of the box and stretched, then picked up his rifle, slung it over his shoulder and walked out onto the bridge. Anselmo flattened on the ground and Robert Jordan slipped his glasses into his shirt pocket and put his head well behind the pine tree.

“There are seven men and a corporal,” Anselmo said close to his ear. “I informed myself from the gypsy.”

“We will go now as soon as he is quiet,” Robert Jordan said. “We are too close.”

“Hast thou seen what thou needest?”

“Yes. All that I need.”

It was getting cold quickly now with the sun down and the light was failing as the afterglow from the last sunlight on the mountains behind them faded.

“How does it look to thee?” Anselmo said softly as they watched the sentry walk across the bridge toward the other box, his bayonet bright in the last of the afterglow, his figure unshapely in the blanket coat.

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

“I am glad,” Anselmo said. “Should we go? Now there is no chance that he sees us.”

The sentry was standing, his back toward them, at the far end of the bridge. From the gorge came the noise of the stream in the boulders. Then through this noise came another noise, a steady, racketing drone and they saw the sentry looking up, his knitted cap slanted back, and turning their heads and looking up they saw, high in the evening sky, three monoplanes in V formation, showing minute and silvery at that height where there still was sun, passing unbelievably quickly across the sky, their motors now throbbing steadily.

“Ours?” Anselmo asked.

“They seem so,” Robert Jordan said but knew that at that height you never could be sure. They could be an evening patrol of either side. But you always said pursuit planes were ours because it made people feel better. Bombers were another matter.

Anselmo evidently felt the same. “They are ours,” he said. “I recognize them. They are Moscas.”

“Good,” said Robert Jordan. “They seem to me to be Moscas, too.”

“They are Moscas,” Anselmo said.

Robert Jordan could have put the glasses on them and been sure instantly but he preferred not to. It made no difference to him who they were tonight and if it pleased the old man to have them be ours, he did not want to take them away. Now, as they moved out of sight toward Segovia, they did not look to be the green, red wing-tipped, low wing Russian conversion of the Boeing P32 that the Spaniards called Moscas. You could not see the colors but the cut was wrong. No. It was a Fascist Patrol coming home.

The sentry was still standing at the far box with his back turned.

“Let us go,” Robert Jordan said. He started up the hill, moving carefully and taking advantage of the cover until they were out of sight. Anselmo followed him at a hundred yards distance. When they were well out of sight of the bridge, he stopped and the old man came up and went into the lead and climbed steadily through the pass, up the steep slope in the dark.

“We have a formidable aviation,” the old man said happily.


“And we will win.”

“We have to win.”

“Yes. And after we have won you must come to hunt.”

“To hunt what?”

“The boar, the bear, the wolf, the ibex—”

“You like to hunt?”

“Yes, man. More than anything. We all hunt in my village. You do not like to hunt?”

“No,” said Robert Jordan. “I do not like to kill animals.”

“With me it is the opposite,” the old man said. “I do not like to kill men.”

“Nobody does except those who are disturbed in the head,” Robert Jordan said. “But I feel nothing against it when it is necessary. When it is for the cause.”

“It is a different thing, though,” Anselmo said. “In my house, when I had a house, and now I have no house, there were the tusks of boar I had shot in the lower forest. There were the hides of wolves I had shot. In the winter, hunting them in the snow. One very big one, I killed at dusk in the outskirts of the village on my way home one night in November. There were four wolf hides on the floor of my house. They were worn by stepping on them but they were wolf hides. There were the horns of ibex that I had killed in the high Sierra, and there was an eagle stuffed by an embalmer of birds of Avila, with his wings spread, and eyes as yellow and real as the eyes of an eagle alive. It was a very beautiful thing and all of those things gave me great pleasure to contemplate.”

“Yes,” said Robert Jordan.

“On the door of the church of my village was nailed the paw of a bear that I killed in the spring, finding him on a hillside in the snow, overturning a log with this same paw.”

“When was this?”

“Six years ago. And every time I saw that paw, like the hand of a man, but with those long claws, dried and nailed through the palm to the door of the church, I received a pleasure.”

“Of pride?”

“Of pride of remembrance of the encounter with the bear on that hillside in the early spring. But of the killing of a man, who is a man as we are, there is nothing good that remains.”

“You can’t nail his paw to the church,” Robert Jordan said.

“No. Such a barbarity is unthinkable. Yet the hand of a man is like the paw of a bear.”

“So is the chest of a man like the chest of a bear,” Robert Jordan said. “With the hide removed from the bear, there are many similarities in the muscles.”

“Yes,” Anselmo said. “The gypsies believe the bear to be a brother of man.”

“So do the Indians in America,” Robert Jordan said. “And when they kill a bear they apologize to him and ask his pardon. They put his skull in a tree and they ask him to forgive them before they leave it.”

“The gypsies believe the bear to be a brother to man because he has the same body beneath his hide, because he drinks beer, because he enjoys music and because he likes to dance.”

“So also believe the Indians.”

“Are the Indians then gypsies?”

“No. But they believe alike about the bear.”

“Clearly. The gypsies also believe he is a brother because he steals for pleasure.”

“Have you gypsy blood?”

“No. But I have seen much of them and clearly, since the movement, more. There are many in the hills. To them it is not a sin to kill outside the tribe. They deny this but it is true.”

“Like the Moors.”

“Yes. But the gypsies have many laws they do not admit to having. In the war many gypsies have become bad again as they were in olden times.”

“They do not understand why the war is made. They do not know for what we fight.”

“No,” Anselmo said. “They only know now there is a war and people may kill again as in the olden times without a surety of punishment.”

“You have killed?” Robert Jordan asked in the intimacy of the dark and of their day together.

“Yes. Several times. But not with pleasure. To me it is a sin to kill a man. Even Fascists whom we must kill. To me there is a great difference between the bear and the man and I do not believe the wizardry of the gypsies about the brotherhood with animals. No. I am against all killing of men.”

“Yet you have killed.”

“Yes. And will again. But if I live later, I will try to live in such a way, doing no harm to any one, that it will be forgiven.”

“By whom?”

“Who knows? Since we do not have God here any more, neither His Son nor the Holy Ghost, who forgives? I do not know.”

“You have not God any more?”

“No. Man. Certainly not. If there were God, never would He have permitted what I have seen with my eyes. Let them have God.”

“They claim Him.”

“Clearly I miss Him, having been brought up in religion. But now a man must be responsible to himself.”

“Then it is thyself who will forgive thee for killing.”

“I believe so,” Anselmo said. “Since you put it clearly in that way I believe that must be it. But with or without God, I think it is a sin to kill. To take the life of another is to me very grave. I will do it whenever necessary but I am not of the race of Pablo.”

“To win a war we must kill our enemies. That has always been true.”

“Clearly. In war we must kill. But I have very rare ideas,” Anselmo said.

They were walking now close together in the dark and he spoke softly, sometimes turning his head as he climbed. “I would not kill even a Bishop. I would not kill a proprietor of any kind. I would make them work each day as we have worked in the fields and as we work in the mountains with the timbet all of the rest of their lives. So they would see what man is born to. That they should sleep where we sleep. That they should eat as we eat. But above all that they should work. Thus they would learn.”

“And they would survive to enslave thee again.”

“To kill them teaches nothing,” Anselmo said. “You cannot exterminate them because from their seed comes more with greater hatred. Prison is nothing. Prison only makes hatred. That all our enemies should learn.”

“But still thou hast killed.”

“Yes,” Anselmo said. “Many times and will again. But not with pleasure and regarding it as a sin.”

“And the sentry. You joked of killing the sentry.”

“That was in joke. I would kill the sentry. Yes. Certainly and with a clear heart considering our task. But not with pleasure.”

“We will leave them to those who enjoy it,” Robert Jordan said. “There are eight and five. That is thirteen for those who enjoy it.”

“There are many of those who enjoy it,” Anselmo said in the dark. “We have many of those. More of those than of men who would serve for a battle.”

“Hast thou ever been in a battle?”

“Nay,” the old man said. “We fought in Segovia at the start of the movement but we were beaten and we ran. I ran with the others. We did not truly understand what we were doing, nor how it should be done. Also I had only a shotgun with cartridges of large buckshot and the guardia civil had Mausers. I could not hit them with buckshot at a hundred yards, and at three hundred yards they shot us as they wished as though we were rabbits. They shot much and well and we were like sheep before them.” He was silent. Then asked, “Thinkest thou there will be a battle at the bridge?”

“There is a chance.”

“I have never seen a battle without running,” Anselmo said. “I do not know how I would comport myself. I am an old man and I have wondered.”

“I will respond for thee,” Robert Jordan told him.

“And hast thou been in many battles?”


“And what thinkest thou of this of the bridge?”

“First I think of the bridge. That is my business. It is not difficult to destroy the bridge. Then we will make the dispositions for the rest. For the preliminaries. It will all be written.”

“Very few of these people read,” Anselmo said.

“It will be written for every one’s knowledge so that all know, but also it will be clearly explained.”

“I will do that to which I am assigned,” Anselmo said. “But remembering the shooting in Segovia, if there is to be a battle or even much exchanging of shots, I would wish to have it very clear what I must do under all circumstances to avoid running. I remember that I had a great tendency to run at Segovia.”

“We will be together,” Robert Jordan told him. “I will tell you what there is to do at all times.”

“Then there is no problem,” Anselmo said. “I can do anything that I am ordered.”

“For us will be the bridge and the battle, should there be one,” Robert Jordan said and saying it in the dark, he felt a little theatrical but it sounded well in Spanish.

“It should be of the highest interest,” Anselmo said and hearing him say it honestly and clearly and with no pose, neither the English pose of understatement nor any Latin bravado, Robert Jordan thought he was very lucky to have this old man and having seen the bridge and worked out and simplified the problem it would have been to surprise the posts and blow it in a normal way, he resented Golz’s orders, and the necessity for them. He resented them for what they could do to him and for what they could do to this old man. They were bad orders all right for those who would have to carry them out.

And that is not the way to think, he told himself, and there is not you, and there are no people that things must not happen to. Neither you nor this old man is anything. You are instruments to do your duty. There are necessary orders that are no fault of yours and there is a bridge and that bridge can be the point on which the future of the human race can turn. As it can turn on everything that happens in this war. You have only one thing to do and you must do it. Only one thing, hell, he thought. If it were one thing it was easy. Stop worrying, you windy bastard, he said to himself. Think about something else.

So he thought about the girl Maria, with her skin, the hair and the eyes all the same golden tawny brown, the hair a little darker than the rest but it would be lighter as her skin tanned deeper, the smooth skin, pale gold on the surface with a darkness underneath. Smooth it would be, all of her body smooth, and she moved awkwardly as though there were something of her and about her that embarrassed her as though it were visible, though it was not, but only in her mind. And she blushed with he looked at her, and she sitting, her hands clasped around her knees and the shirt open at the throat, the cup of her breasts uptilted against the shirt, and as he thought of her, his throat was choky and there was a difficulty in walking and he and Anselmo spoke no more until the old man said, “Now we go down through these rocks and to the camp.”

As they came through the rocks in the dark, a man spoke to them, “Halt. Who goes?” They heard a rifle bolt snick as it was drawn back and then the knock against the wood as it was pushed forward and down on the stock.

“Comrades,” Anselmo said.

“What comrades?”

“Comrades of Pablo,” the old man told him. “Dost thou not know us?”

“Yes,” the voice said. “But it is an order. Have you the password?”

“No. We come from below.”

“I know,” the man said in the dark. “You come from the bridge.I know all of that. The order is not mine. You must know the second half of a password.”

“What is the first half then?” Robert Jordan said.

“I have forgotten it,” the man said in the dark and laughed. “Go then unprintably to the campfire with thy obscene dynamite.”

“That is called guerilla discipline,” Anselmo said. “Uncock thy piece.”

“It is uncocked,” the man said in the dark. “I let it down with my thumb and forefinger.”

“Thou wilt do that with a Mauser sometime which has no knurl on the bolt and it will fire.”

“This is a Mauser,” the man said. “But I have a grip of thumb and forefinger beyond description. Always I let it down that way.”

“Where is the rifle pointed?” asked Anselmo into the dark.

“At thee,” the man said, “all the time that I descended the bolt. And when thou comest to the camp, order that some one should relieve me because I have indescribable and unprintable hunger and I have forgotten the password.”

“How art thou called?” Robert Jordan asked.

“Agustín,” the man said. “I am called Agustín and I am dying with boredom in this spot.”

“We will take the message,” Robert Jordan said and he thought how the word aburmiento which means boredom in Spanish was a word no peasant would use in any other language. Yet it is one of the most common words in the mouth of a Spaniard of any class.

“Listen to me,” Agustín said, and coming close he put his hand on Robert Jordan’s shoulder. Then striking a flint and steel together he held it up and blowing on the end of the cork, looked at the young man’s face in its glow.

“You look like the other one,” he said. “But something different. Listen,” he put the lighter down and stood holding his rifle. “Tell me this. Is it true about the bridge?”

“What about the bridge?”

“That we blow up an obscene bridge and then have to obscenely well obscenity ourselves off out of these mountains?”

“I know not.”

“You know not,” Agustín said. “What a barbarity! Whose then is the dynamite?”


“And knowest thou not what it is for? Don’t tell me tales.”

“I know what it is for and so will you in time,” Robert Jordan said. “But now we go to the camp.”

“Go to the unprintable,” Agustín said. “And unprint thyself. But do you want me to tell you something of service to you?”

“Yes,” said Robert Jordan. “If it is not unprintable,” naming the principal obscenity that had larded the conversation. The man, Agustín, spoke so obscenely, coupling an obscenity to every noun as an adjective, using the same obscenity as a verb, that Robert Jordan wondered if he could speak a straight sentence. Agustín laughed in the dark when he heard the word. “It is a way of speaking I have. Maybe it is ugly. Who knows? Each one speaks according to his manner. Listen to me. The bridge is nothing to me. As well the bridge as another thing. Also I have a boredom in these mountains. That we should go if it is needed. These mountains say nothing to me. That we should leave them. But I would say one thing. Guard well thy explosive.”

“Thank you,” Robert Jordan said. “From thee?”

“No,” Agustín said. “From people less unprintably equipped than I.”

“So?” asked Robert Jordan.

“You understand Spanish,” Agustín said seriously now. “Care well for thy unprintable explosive.”

“Thank you.”

“No. Don’t thank me. Look after thy stuff.”

“Has anything happened to it?”

“No, or I would not waste thy time talking in this fashion.”

“Thank you all the same. We go now to camp.”

“Good,” said Agustín, “and that they send some one here who knows the password.”

“Will we see you at the camp?”

“Yes, man. And shortly.”

“Come on,” Robert Jordan said to Anselmo.

They were walking down the edge of the meadow now and there was a gray mist. The grass was lush underfoot after the pineneedle floor of the forest and the dew on the grass wet through their canvas rope-soled shoes. Ahead, through the trees, Robert Jordan Could see a light where he knew the mouth of the cave must be.

“Agustín is a very good man,” Anselmo said. “He speaks very filthily and always in jokes but he is a very serious man.”

“You know him well?”

“Yes. For a long time. I have much confidence in him.”

“And what he says?”

“Yes, man. This Pablo is bad now, as you could see.”

“And the best thing to do?”

“One shall guard it at all times.”


“You. Me. The woman and Agustín. Since he sees the danger.”

“Did you think things were as bad as they are here?”

“No,” Anselmo said. “They have gone bad very fast. But it was necessary to come here. This is the country of Pablo and of El Sordo. In their country we must deal with them unless it is something that can be done alone.”

“And El Sordo?”

“Good,” Anselmo said. “As good as the other is bad.”

“You believe now that he is truly bad?”

“All afternoon I have thought of it and since we have heard what we have heard, I think now, yes. Truly.”

“It would not be better to leave, speaking of another bridge, and obtain men from other bands?”

“No,” Anselmo said. “This is his country. You could not move that he would not know it. But one must move with much precautions.”