For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 31

So now they were in the robe again together and it was late in the last night. Maria lay close against him and he felt the long smoothness of her thighs against his and her breasts like two small hills that rise out of the long plain where there is a well, and the far country beyond the hills was the valley of her throat where his lips were. He lay very quiet and did not think and she stroked his head with her hand.

“Roberto,” Maria said very softly and kissed him. “I am ashamed. I do not wish to disappoint thee but there is a great soreness and much pain. I do not think I would be any good to thee.”

“There is always a great soreness and much pain,” he said. “Nay, rabbit. That is nothing. We will do nothing that makes pain.”

“It is not that. It is that I am not good to receive thee as I wish to.”

“That is of no importance. That is a passing thing. We are together when we lie together.”

“Yes, but I am ashamed. I think it was from when things were done to me that it comes. Not from thee and me.”

“Let us not talk of that.”

“Nor do I wish to. I meant I could not bear to fail thee now on this night and so I sought to excuse myself.”

“Listen, rabbit,” he said. “All such things pass and then there is no problem.” But he thought; it was not good luck for the last night.

Then he was ashamed and said, “Lie close against me, rabbit. I love thee as much feeling thee against me in here in the dark as I love thee making love.”

“I am deeply ashamed because I thought it might be again tonight as it was in the high country when we came down from El Sordo’s.”

“Qué va,” he said to her. “That is not for every day. I like it thus as well as the other.” He lied, putting aside disappointment. “We will be here together quietly and we will sleep. Let us talk together. I know thee very little from talking.”

“Should we speak of tomorrow and of thy work? I would like to be intelligent about thy work.”

“No,” he said and relaxed completely into the length of the robe and lay now quietly with his cheek against her shoulder, his left arm under her head. “The most intelligent is not to talk about tomorrow nor what happened today. In this we do not discuss the losses and what we must do tomorrow we will do. Thou art not afraid?”

“Qué va,” she said. “I am always afraid. But now I am afraid for thee so much I do not think of me.”

“Thou must not, rabbit. I have been in many things. And worse than this,” he lied.

Then suddenly surrendering to something, to the luxury of going into unreality, he said, “Let us talk of Madrid and of us in Madrid.”

“Good,” she said. Then, “Oh, Roberto, I am sorry I have failed thee. Is there not some other thing that I can do for thee?”

He stroked her head and kissed her and then lay close and relaxed beside her, listening to the quiet of the night.

“Thou canst talk with me of Madrid,” he said and thought: I’ll keep any oversupply of that for tomorrow. I’ll need all of that there is tomorrow. There are no pine needles that need that now as I will need it tomorrow. Who was it cast his seed upon the ground in the Bible? Onan. How did Onan turn out? he thought. I don’t remember ever hearing any more about Onan. He smiled in the dark.

Then he surrendered again and let himself slip into it, feeling a voluptuousness of surrender into unreality that was like a sexual acceptance of something that could come in the night when there was no understanding, only the delight of acceptance.

“My beloved,” he said, and kissed her. “Listen. The other night I was thinking about Madrid and I thought how I would get there and leave thee at the hotel while I went up to see people at the hotel of the Russians. But that was false. I would not leave thee at any hotel.”

“Why not?”

“Because I will take care of thee. I will not ever leave thee. I will go with thee to the Seguridad to get papers. Then I will go with thee to buy those clothes that are needed.”

“They are few, and I can buy them.”

“Nay, they are many and we will go together and buy good ones and thou wilt be beautiful in them.”

“I would rather we stayed in the room in the hotel and sent Out for the clothes. Where is the hotel?”

“It is on the Plaza del Callao. We will be much in that room in that hotel. There is a wide bed with clean sheets and there is hot running water in the bathtub and there are two closets and I will keep my things in one and thou wilt take the other. And there are tall, wide windows that open, and outside, in the streets, there is the spring. Also I know good places to eat that are illegal but with good food, and I know shops where there is still wine and whiskey. And we will keep things to eat in the room for when we are hungry and also whiskey for when I wish a drink and I will buy thee manzanilla.”

“I would like to try the whiskey.”

“But since it is difficult to obtain and if thou likest manzanilla.”

“Keep thy whiskey, Roberto,” she said. “Oh, I love thee very much. Thou and thy whiskey that I could not have. What a pig thou art.”

“Nay, you shall try it. But it is not good for a woman.”

“And I have only had things that were good for a woman,” Maria said. “Then there in bed I will still wear my wedding shirt?”

“Nay. I will buy thee various nightgowns and pajamas too if you should prefer them.”

“I will buy seven wedding shirts,” she said. “One for each day of the week. And I will buy a clean wedding shirt for thee. Dost ever wash thy shirt?”


“I will keep everything clean and I will pour thy whiskey and put the water in it as it was done at Sordo’s. I will obtain olives and salted codfish and hazel nuts for thee to eat while thou drinkest and we will stay in the room for a month and never leave it. If I am fit to receive thee,” she said, suddenly unhappy.

“That is nothing,” Robert Jordan told her. “Truly it is nothing. It is possible thou wert hurt there once and now there is a scar that makes a further hurting. Such a thing is possible. All such things pass. And also there are good doctors in Madrid if there is truly anything.”

“But all was good before,” she said pleadingly.

“That is the promise that all will be good again.”

“Then let us talk again about Madrid.” She curled her legs between his and rubbed the top of her head against his shoulder. “But will I not be so ugly there with this cropped head that thou wilt be ashamed of me?”

“Nay. Thou art lovely. Thou hast a lovely face and a beautiful body, long and light, and thy skin is smooth and the color of burnt gold and every one will try to take thee from me.”

“Qué va, take me from thee,” she said. “No other man will ever touch me till I die. Take me from thee! Qué va.”

“But many will try. Thou wilt see.”

“They will see I love thee so that they will know it would be as unsafe as putting their hands into a caldron of melted lead to touch me. But thou? When thou seest beautiful women of the same culture as thee? Thou wilt not be ashamed of me?”

“Never. And I will marry thee.”

“If you wish,” she said. “But since we no longer have the Church I do not think it carries importance.”

“I would like us to be married.”

“If you wish. But listen. If we were ever in another country where there still was the Church perhaps we could be married in it there.”

“In my country they still have the Church,” he told her. “There we can be married in it if it means aught to thee. I have never been married. There is no problem.”

“I am glad thou hast never been married,” she said. “But I am glad thou knowest about such things as you have told me for that means thou hast been with many women and the Pilar told me that it is only such men who are possible for husbands. But thou wilt not run with other women now? Because it would kill me.”

“I have never run with many women,” he said, truly. “Until thee I did not think that I could love one deeply.”

She stroked his cheeks and then held her hands clasped behind his head. “Thou must have known very many.”

“Not to love them.”

“Listen. The Pilar told me something—”

“Say it.”

“No. It is better not to. Let us talk again about Madrid.”

“What was it you were going to say?”

“I do not wish to say it.”

“Perhaps it would be better to say it if it could be important.”

“You think it is important?”


“But how can you know when you do not know what it is?”

“From thy manner.”

“I will not keep it from you then. The Pilar told me that we would all die tomorrow and that you know it as well as she does and that you give it no importance. She said this not in criticism but in admiration.”

“She said that?” he said. The crazy bitch, he thought, and he said, “That is more of her gypsy manure. That is the way old market women and café cowards talk. That is manuring obscenity.” He felt the sweat that came from under his armpits and slid down between his arm and his side and he said to himself, So you are scared, eh? and aloud he said, “She is a manure-mouthed superstitious bitch. Let us talk again of Madrid.”

“Then you know no such thing?”

“Of course not. Do not talk such manure,” he said, using a stronger, ugly word.

But this time when he talked about Madrid there was no slipping into make-believe again. Now he was just lying to his girl and to himself to pass the night before battle and he knew it. He liked to do it, but all the luxury of the acceptance was gone. But he started again.

“I have thought about thy hair,” he said. “And what we can do about it. You see it grows now all over thy head the same length like the fur of an animal and it is lovely to feel and I love it very much and it is beautiful and it flattens and rises like a wheatfield in the wind when I pass my hand over it.”

“Pass thy hand over it.”

He did and left his hand there and went on talking to her throat, as he felt his own throat swell. “But in Madrid I thought we could go together to the coiffeur’s and they could cut it neatly on the sides and in the back as they cut mine and that way it would look better in the town while it is growing out.”

“I would look like thee,” she said and held him close to her. “And then I never would want to change it.”

“Nay. It will grow all the time and that will only be to keep it neat at the start while it is growing long. How long will it take it to grow long?”

“Really long?”

“No. I mean to thy shoulders. It is thus I would have thee wear it.”

“As Garbo in the cinema?”

“Yes,” he said thickly.

Now the making believe was coming back in a great rush and he would take it all to him. It had him now, and again he surrendered and went on. “So it will hang straight to thy shoulders and curl at the ends as a wave of the sea curls, and it will be the color of ripe wheat and thy face the color of burnt gold and thine eyes the only color they could be with thy hair and thy skin, gold with the dark flecks in them, and I will push thy head back and look in thy eyes and hold thee tight against me—”


“Anywhere. Wherever it is that we are. How long will it take for thy hair to grow?”

“I do not know because it never had been cut before. But I think in six months it should be long enough to hang well below my ears and in a year as long as thou couldst ever wish. But do you know what will happen first?”

“Tell me.”

“We will be in the big clean bed in thy famous room in our famous hotel and we will sit in the famous bed together and look into the mirror of the armoire and there will be thee and there will be me in the glass and then I will turn to thee thus, and put my arms around thee thus, and then I will kiss thee thus.”

Then they lay quiet and close together in the night, hot-aching, rigid, close together and holding her, Robert Jordan held closely too all those things that he knew could never happen, and he went on with it deliberately and said, “Rabbit, we will not always live in that hotel.”

“Why not?”

“We can get an apartment in Madrid on that street that runs along the Parque of the Buen Retiro. I know an American woman who furnished apartments and rented them before the movement and I know how to get such an apartment for only the rent that was paid before the movement. There are apartments there that face on the park and you can see all of the park from the windows; the iron fence, the gardens, and the gravel walks and the green of the lawns where they touch the gravel, and the trees deep with shadows and the many fountains, and now the chestnut trees will be in bloom. In Madrid we can walk in the park and row on the lake if the water is back in it now.”

“Why would the water be out?”

“They drained it in November because it made a mark to sight from when the planes came over for bombing. But I think that the water is back in it now. I am not sure. But even if there is no water in it we can walk through all the park away from the lake and there is a part that is like a forest with trees from all parts of the world with their names on them, with placards that tell what trees they are and where they came from.”

“I would almost as soon go the cinema,” Maria said. “But the trees sound very interesting and I will learn them all with thee if I can remember them.”

“They are not as in a museum,” Robert Jordan said. “They grow naturally and there are hills in the park and part of the park is like a jungle. Then below it there is the book fair where along the sidewalks there are hundreds of booths with second-hand books in them and now, since the movement, there are many books, stolen in the looting of the houses which have been bombed and from the houses of the fascists, and brought to the book fair by those who stole them. I could spend all day every day at the stalls of the book fair as I once did in the days before the movement, if I ever could have any time in Madrid.”

“While thou art visiting the book fair I will occupy myself with the apartment,” Maria said. “Will we have enough money for a servant?”

“Surely. I can get Petra who is at the hotel if she pleases thee. She cooks well and is clean. I have eaten there with newspapermen that she cooks for. They have electric stoves in their rooms.”

“If you wish her,” Maria said. “Or I can find some one. But wilt thou not be away much with thy work? They would not let me go with thee on such work as this.”

“Perhaps I can get work in Madrid. I have done this work now for a long time and I have fought since the start of the movement. It is possible that they would give me work now in Madrid. I have never asked for it. I have always been at the front or in such work as this.

“Do you know that until I met thee I have never asked for anything? Nor wanted anything? Nor thought of anything except the movement and the winning of this war? Truly I have been very pure in my ambitions. I have worked much and now I love thee and,” he said it now in a complete embracing of all that would not be, “I love thee as I love all that we have fought for. I love thee as I love liberty and dignity and the rights of all men to work and not be hungry. I love thee as I love Madrid that we have defended and as I love all my comrades that have died. And many have died. Many. Many. Thou canst not think how many. But I love thee as I love what I love most in the world and I love thee more. I love thee very much, rabbit. More than I can tell thee. But I say this now to tell thee a little. I have never had a wife and now I have thee for a wife and I am happy.”

“I will make thee as good a wife as I can,” Maria said. “Clearly I am not well trained but I will try to make up for that. If we live in Madrid; good. If we must live in any other place; good. If we live nowhere and I can go with thee; better. If we go to thy country I will learn to talk Inglés like the most Inglés that there is. I will study all their manners and as they do so will I do.”

“Thou wilt be very comic.”

“Surely. I will make mistakes but you will tell me and I will never make them twice, or maybe only twice. Then in thy country if thou art lonesome for our food I can cook for thee. And I will go to a school to learn to be a wife, if there is such a school, and study at it.”

“There are such schools but thou dost not need that schooling.”

“Pilar told me that she thought they existed in your country. She had read of them in a periodical. And she told me also that I must learn to speak Inglés and to speak it well so thou wouldst never be ashamed of me.”

“When did she tell you this?”

“Today while we were packing. Constantly she talked to me about what I should do to be thy wife.”

I guess she was going to Madrid too, Robert Jordan thought, and said, “What else did she say?”

“She said I must take care of my body and guard the line of my figure as though I were a bullfighter. She said this was of great importance.”

“It is,” Robert Jordan said. “But thou hast not to worry about that for many years.”

“No. She said those of our race must watch that always as it can come suddenly. She told me she was once as slender as I but that in those days women did not take exercise. She told me what exercises I should take and that I must not eat too much. She told me which things not to eat. But I have forgotten and must ask her again.”

“Potatoes,” he said.

“Yes,” she went on. “It was potatoes and things that are fried. Also when I told her about this of the soreness she said I must not tell thee but must support the pain and not let thee know. But I told thee because I do not wish to lie to thee ever and also I feared that thou might think we did not have the joy in common any longer and that other, as it was in the high country, had not truly happened.”

“It was right to tell me.”

“Truly? For I am ashamed and I will do anything for thee that thou should wish. Pilar has told me of things one can do for a husband.”

“There is no need to do anything. What we have we have together and we will keep it and guard it. I love thee thus lying beside thee and touching thee and knowing thou art truly there and when thou art ready again we will have all.”

“But hast thou not necessities that I can care for? She explained that to me.”

“Nay. We will have our necessities together. I have no necessities apart from thee.”

“That seems much better to me. But understand always that I will do what you wish. But thou must tell me for I have great ignorance and much of what she told me I did not understand clearly. For I was ashamed to ask and she is of such great and varied wisdom.”

“Rabbit,” he said. “Thou art very wonderful.”

“Qué va,” she said. “But to try to learn all of that which goes into wifehood in a day while we are breaking camp and packing for a battle with another battle passing in the country above is a rare thing and if I make serious mistakes thou must tell me for I love thee. It could be possible for me to remember things incorrectly and much that she told me was very complicated.”

“What else did she tell thee?”

“Pues so many things I cannot remember them. She said I could tell thee of what was done to me if I ever began to think of it again because thou art a good man and already have understood it all. But that it were better never to speak of it unless it came on me as a black thing as it had been before and then that telling it to thee might rid me of it.”

“Does it weigh on thee now?”

“No. It is as though it had never happened since we were first together. There is the sorrow for my parents always. But that there will be always. But I would have thee know that which you should know for thy own pride if I am to be thy wife. Never did I submit to any one. Always I fought and always it took two of them or more to do me the harm. One would sit on my head and hold me. I tell thee this for thy pride.”

“My pride is in thee. Do not tell it.”

“Nay, I speak of thy own pride which it is necessary to have in thy wife. And another thing. My father was the mayor of the village and an honorable man. My mother was an honorable woman and a good Catholic and they shot her with my father because of the politics of my father who was a Republican. I saw both of them shot and my father said, ‘Viva la Republica,’ when they shot him standing against the wall of the slaughterhouse of our village.

“My mother standing against the same wall said, ‘Viva my husband who was the Mayor of this village,’ and I hoped they would shoot me too and I was going to say ‘Viva la Republica y vivan mis padres,’ but instead there was no shooting but instead the doing of the things.

“Listen. I will tell thee of one thing since it affects us. After the shooting at the matadero they took us, those relatives who had seen it but were not shot, back from the matadero up the steep hill into the main square of the town. Nearly all were weeping but some were numb with what they had seen and the tears had dried in them. I myself could not cry. I did not notice anything that passed for I could only see my father and my mother at the moment of the shooting and my mother saying, ‘Long live my husband who was Mayor of this village,’ and this was in my head like a scream that would not die but kept on and on. For my mother was not a Republican and she would not say, ‘Viva la Republica,’ but only Viva my father who lay there, on his face, by her feet.

“But what she had said, she had said very loud, like a shriek and then they shot and she fell and I tried to leave the line to go to her but we were all tied. The shooting was done by the guardia civil and they were still there waiting to shoot more when the Falangists herded us away and up the hill leaving the guardias civiles leaning on their rifles and leaving all the bodies there against the wall. We were tied by the wrists in a long line of girls and women and they herded us up by the hill and through the streets to the square and in the square they stopped in front of the barbershop which was across the square from the city hail.

“Then the two men looked at us and one said, ‘That is the daughter of the Mayor,’ and the other said, ‘Commence with her.’

“Then they cut the rope that was on each of my wrists, one saying to others of them, ‘Tie up the line,’ and these two took me by the arms and into the barbershop and lifted me up and put me in the barber’s chair and held me there.

“I saw my face in the mirror of the barbershop and the faces of those who were holding me and the faces of three others who were leaning over me and I knew none of their faces but in the glass I saw myself and them, but they saw only me. And it was as though one were in the dentist’s chair and there were many dentists and they were all insane. My own face I could hardly recognize because my grief had changed it but I looked at it and knew that it was me. But my grief was so great that I had no fear nor any feeling but my grief.

“At that time I wore my hair in two braids and as I watched in the mirror one of them lifted one of the braids and pulled on it so it hurt me suddenly through my grief and then cut it off close to my head with a razor. And I saw myself with one braid and a slash where the other had been. Then he cut off the other braid but without pulling on it and the razor made a small cut on my ear and I saw blood come from it. Canst thou feel the scar with thy finger?”

“Yes. But would it be better not to talk of this?”

“This is nothing. I will not talk of that which is bad. So he had cut both braids close to my head with a razor and the others laughed and I did not even feel the cut on my ear and then he stood in front of me and struck me across the face with the braids while the other two held me and he said, ‘This is how we make Red nuns. This will show thee how to unite with thy proletarian brothers. Bride of the Red Christ!’

“And he struck me again and again across the face with the braids which had been mine and then he put the two of them in my mouth and tied them tight around my neck, knotting them in the back to make a gag and the two holding me laughed.

“And all of them who saw it laughed and when I saw them laugh in the mirror I commenced to cry because until then I had been too frozen in myself from the shooting to be able to cry.

“Then the one who had gagged me ran a clippers all over my head; first from the forehead all the way to the back of the neck and then across the top and then all over my head and close behind my ears and they held me so I could see into the glass of the barber’s mirror all the time that they did this and I could not believe it as I saw it done and I cried and I cried but I could not look away from the horror that my face made with the mouth open and the braids tied in it and my head coming naked under the clippers.

“And when the one with the clippers was finished he took a bottle of iodine from the shelf of the barber (they had shot the barber too for he belonged to a syndicate, and he lay in the doorway of the shop and they had lifted me over him as they brought me in) and with the glass wand that is in the iodine bottle he touched me on the ear where it had been cut and the small pain of that came through my grief and through my horror.

“Then he stood in front of me and wrote U. H. P. on my forehead with the iodine, lettering it slowly and carefully as though he were an artist and I saw all of this as it happened in the mirror and I no longer cried for my heart was frozen in me for my father and my mother and what happened to me now was nothing and I knew it.

“Then when he had finished the lettering, the Falangist stepped back and looked at me to examine his work and then he put down the iodine bottle and picked up the clippers and said, ‘Next,’ and they took me out of the barbershop holding me tight by each arm and I stumbled over the barber lying there still in the doorway on his back with his gray face up, and we nearly collided with Concepción GracIa, my best friend, that two of them were bringing in and when she saw me she did not recognize me, and then she recognized me, and she screamed, and I could hear her screaming all the time they were shoving me across the square, and into the doorway, and up the stairs of the city hall and into the office of my father where they laid me onto the couch. And it was there that the bad things were done.”

“My rabbit,” Robert Jordan said and held her as close and as gently as he could. But he was as full of hate as any man could be. “Do not talk more about it. Do not tell me any more for I cannot bear my hatred now.”

She was stiff and cold in his arms and she said, “Nay. I will never talk more of it. But they are bad people and I would like to kill some of them with thee if I could. But I have told thee this only for thy pride if I am to be thy wife. So thou wouldst understand.”

“I am glad you told me,” he said. “For tomorrow, with luck, we will kill plenty.”

“But will we kill Falangists? It was they who did it.”

“They do not fight,” he said gloomily. “They kill at the rear. It is not them we fight in battle.”

“But can we not kill them in some way? I would like to kill some very much.”

“I have killed them,” he said. “And we will kill them again. At the trains we have killed them.”

“I would like to go for a train with thee,” Maria said. “The time of the train that Pilar brought me back from I was somewhat crazy. Did she tell thee how I was?”

“Yes. Do not talk of it.”

“I was dead in my head with a numbness and all I could do was cry. But there is another thing that I must tell thee. This I must. Then perhaps thou wilt not marry me. But, Roberto, if thou should not wish to marry me, can we not, then, just be always together?”

“I will marry thee.”

“Nay. I had forgotten this. Perhaps you should not. It is possible that I can never bear thee either a son or a daughter for the Pilar says that if I could it would have happened to me with the things which were done. I must tell thee that. Oh, I do not know why I had forgotten that.”

“It is of no importance, rabbit,” he said. “First it may not be true. That is for a doctor to say. Then I would not wish to bring either a son or a daughter into this world as this world is. And also you take all the love I have to give.”

“I would like to bear thy son and thy daughter,” she told him. “And how can the world be made better if there are no children of us who fight against the fascists?”

“Thou,” he said. “I love thee. Hearest thou? And now we must sleep, rabbit. For I must be up long before daylight and the dawn comes early in this month.”

“Then it is all right about the last thing I said? We can still be married?”

“We are married, now. I marry thee now. Thou art my wife. But go to sleep, my rabbit, for there is little time now.”

“And we will truly be married? Not just a talking?”


“Then I will sleep and think of that if I wake.”

“I, too.”

“Good night, my husband.”

“Good night,” he said. “Good night, wife.”

He heard her breathing steadily and regularly now and he knew she was asleep and he lay awake and very still not wanting to waken her by moving. He thought of all the part she had not told him and he lay there hating and he was pleased there would be killing in the morning. But I must not take any of it personally, he thought.

Though how can I keep from it? I know that we did dreadful things to them too. But it was because we were uneducated and knew no better. But they did that on purpose and deliberately. Those who did that are the last flowering of what their education has produced. Those are the flowers of Spanish chivalry. What a people they have been. What sons of bitches from Cortez, Pizarro, Menéndez de Avila all down through Enrique Lister to Pablo. And what wonderful people. There is no finer and no worse people in the world. No kinder people and no crueler. And who understands them? Not me, because if I did I would forgive it all. To understand is to forgive. That’s not true. Forgiveness has been exaggerated. Forgiveness is a Christian idea and Spain has never been a Christian country. It has always had its own special idol worship within the Church. Otra Virgen más. I suppose that was why they had to destroy the virgins of their enemies. Surely it was deeper with them, with the Spanish religion fanatics, than it was with the people. The people had grown away from the Church because the Church was in the government and the government had always been rotten. This was the only country that the reformation never reached. They were paying for the Inquisition now, all right.

Well, it was something to think about. Something to keep your mind from worrying about your work. It was sounder than pretending. God, he had done a lot of pretending tonight. And Pilar had been pretending all day. Sure. What if they were killed tomorrow? What did it matter as long as they did the bridge properly? That was all they had to do tomorrow.

It didn’t. You couldn’t do these things indefinitely. But you weren’t supposed to live forever. Maybe I have had all my life in three days, he thought. If that’s true I wish we would have spent the last night differently. But last nights are never any good. Last nothings are any good. Yes, last words were good sometimes. “Viva my husband who was Mayor of this town” was good.

He knew it was good because it made a tingle run all over him when he said it to himself. He leaned over and kissed Maria who did not wake. In English he whispered very quietly, “I’d like to marry you, rabbit. I’m very proud of your family.”