For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 32

On that same night in Madrid there were many people at the Hotel Gaylord. A car pulled up under the porte-cochere of the hotel, its headlights painted over with blue calcimine and a little man in black riding boots, gray riding breeches and a short, gray high-buttoned jacket stepped out and returned the salute of the two sentries as he opened the door, nodded to the secret policeman who sat at the concierge’s desk and stepped into the elevator. There were two sentries seated on chairs inside the door, one on each side of the marble entrance hall, and these only looked up as the little man passed them at the door of the elevator. It was their business to feel every one they did not know along the flanks, under the armpits, and over the hip pockets to see if the person entering carried a pistol and, if he did, have him check it with the concierge. But they knew the short man in riding boots very well and they hardly looked up as he passed.

The apartment where he lived in Gaylord’s was crowded as he entered. People were sitting and standing about and talking together as in any drawing room and the men and the women were drinking vodka, whiskey and soda, and beer from small glasses filled from great pitchers. Four of the men were in uniform. The others wore windbreakers or leather jackets.and three of the four women were dressed in ordinary street dresses while the fourth, who was haggardly thin and dark, wore a sort of severely cut militiawoman’s uniform with a skirt with high boots under it.

When he came into the room, Karkov went at once to the woman in the uniform and bowed to her and shook hands. She was his wife and he said something to her in Russian that no one could hear and for a moment the insolence that had been in his eyes as he entered the room was gone. Then it lighted again as he saw the mahoganycolored head and the love-lazy face of the well-constructed girl who was his mistress and he strode with short, precise steps over to her and bowed and shook her hand in such a way that no one could tell it was not a mimicry of his greeting to his wife. His wife had not looked after him as he walked across the room. She was standing with a tall, good-looking Spanish officer and they were talking Russian now.

“Your great love is getting a little fat,” Karkov was saying to the girl. “All of our heroes are fattening now as we approach the second year.” He did not look at the man he was speaking of.

“You are so ugly you would be jealous of a toad,” the girl told him cheerfully. She spoke in German. “Can I go with thee to the offensive tomorrow?”

“No. Nor is there one.”

“Every one knows about it,” the girl said. “Don’t be so mysterious. Dolores is going. I will go with her or Carmen. Many people are going.”

“Go with whoever will take you,” Karkov said. “I will not.”

Then he turned to the girl and asked seriously, “Who told thee of it? Be exact.”

“Richard,” she said as seriously.

Karkov shrugged his shoulders and left her standing.

“Karkov,” a man of middle height with a gray, heavy, sagging face, puffed eye pouches and a pendulous under-lip called to him in a dyspeptic voice. “Have you heard the good news?”

Karkov went over to him and the man said, “I only have it now. Not ten minutes ago. It is wonderful. All day the fascists have been fighting among themselves near Segovia. They have been forced to quell the mutinies with automatic rifle and machine-gun fire. In the afternoon they were bombing their own troops with planes.”

“Yes?” asked Karkov.

“That is true,” the puffy-eyed man said. “Dolores brought the news herself. She was here with the news and was in such a state of radiant exultation as I have never seen. The truth of the news shone from her face. That great face—” he said happily.

“That great face,” Karkov said with no tone in his voice at all.

“If you could have heard her,” the puffy-eyed man said. “The news itself shone from her with a light that was not of this world. In her voice you could tell the truth of what she said. I am putting it in an article for Izvestia. It was one of the greatest moments of the war to me when I heard the report in that great voice where pity, compassion and truth are blended. Goodness and truth shine from her as from a true saint of the people. Not for nothing is she called La Pasionaria.”

“Not for nothing,” Karkov said in a dull voice. “You better write it for Izvestia now, before you forget that last beautiful lead.”

“That is a woman that is not to joke about. Not even by a cynic like you,” the puffy-eyed man said. “If you could have been here to hear her and to see her face.”

“That great voice,” Karkov said. “That great face. Write it,” he said. “Don’t tell it to me. Don’t waste whole paragraphs on me. Go and write it now.”

“Not just now.”

“I think you’d better,” Karkov said and looked at him, and then looked away. The puffy-eyed man stood there a couple of minutes more holding his glass of vodka, his eyes, puffy as they were, absorbed in the beauty of what he had seen and heard and then he left the room to write it.

Karkov went over to another man of about forty-eight, who was short, chunky, jovial-looking with pale blue eyes, thinning blond hair and a gay mouth under a bristly yellow moustache. This man was in uniform. He was a divisional commander and he was a Hungarian.

“Were you here when the Dolores was here?” Karkov asked the man.


“What was the stuff?”

“Something about the fascists fighting among themselves. Beautiful if true.”

“You hear much talk of tomorrow.”

“Scandalous. All the journalists should be shot as well as most of the people in this room and certainly the intriguing German unmentionable of a Richard. Whoever gave that Sunday fuggler command of a brigade should be shot. Perhaps you and me should be shot too. It is possible,” the General laughed. “Don’t suggest it though.”

“That is a thing I never like to talk about,” Karkov said. “That American who comes here sometimes is over there. You know the one, Jordan, who is with the partizan group. He is there where this business they spoke of is supposed to happen.”

“Well, he should have a report through on it tonight then,” the General said. “They don’t like me down there or I’d go down and find out for you. He works with Golz on this, doesn’t he? You’ll see Golz tomorrow.”

“Early tomorrow.”

“Keep out of his way until it’s going well,” the General said. “He hates you bastards as much as I do. Though he has a much better temper.”

“But about this—”

“It was probably the fascists having manoeuvres,” the General grinned. “Well, we’ll see if Golz can manceuvre them a little. Let Golz try his hand at it. We manoeuvred them at Guadalajara.”

“I hear you are travelling too,” Karkov said, showing his bad teeth as he smiled. The General was suddenly angry.

“And me too. Now is the mouth on me. And on all of us always. This filthy sewing circle of gossip. One man who could keep his mouth shut could save the country if he believed he could.”

“Your friend Prieto can keep his mouth shut.”

“But he doesn’t believe he can win. How can you win without belief in the people?”

“You decide that,” Karkov said. “I am going to get a little sleep.”

He left the smoky, gossip-filled room and went into the back bedroom and sat down on the bed and pulled his boots off. He could still hear them talking so he shut the door and opened the window. He did not bother to undress because at two o’clock he would be starting for the drive by Colmenar, Cerceda, and Navacerrada up to the front where Golz would be attacking in the morning.