For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 42

During the time that Pablo had ridden back from the hills to the cave and the time the band had dropped down to where they had left the horses Andrés had made rapid progress toward Golz’s headquarters. Where they came onto the main highroad to Navacerrada on which the trucks were rolling back from the mountain there was a control. But when Gomez showed the sentry at the control his safe-conduct from the Lieutenant-Colonel Miranda the sentry put the light from a flashlight on it, showed it to the other sentry with him, then handed it back and saluted.

“Siga,” he said. “Continue. But without lights.”

The motorcycle roared again and Andrés was holding tight onto the forward seat and they were moving along the highway, Gomez riding carefully in the traffic. None of the trucks had lights and they were moving down the road in a long convoy. There were loaded trucks moving up the road too, and all of them raised a dust that Andrés could not see in that dark but could only feel as a cloud that blew in his face and that he could bite between his teeth.

They were close behind the tailboard of a truck now, the motorcycle chugging, then Gomez speeded up and passed it and another, and another, and another with the other trucks roaring and rolling down past them on the left. There was a motorcar behind them now and it blasted into the truck noise and the dust with its klaxon again and again; then flashed on lights that showed the dust like a solid yellow cloud and surged past them in a whining rise of gears and a demanding, threatening, bludgeoning of klaxoning.

Then ahead all the trucks were stopped and riding on, working his way ahead past ambulances, staff cars, an armored car, another, and a third, all halted, like heavy, metal, gun-jutting turtles in the hot yet settled dust, they found another control where there had been a smash-up. A truck, halting, had not been seen by the truck which followed it and the following truck had run into it smashing the rear of the first truck in and scattering cases of small-arms ammunition over the road. One case had burst open on landing and as Gomez and Andrés stopped and wheeled the motorcycle forward through the stalled vehicles to show their safe-conduct at the control Andrés walked over the brass hulls of the thousand of cartridges scattered across the road in the dust. The second truck had its radiator completely smashed in. The truck behind it was touching its tail gate. A hundred more were piling up behind and an overbooted officer was running back along the road shouting to the drivers to back so that the smashed truck could be gotten off the road.

There were too many trucks for them to be able to back unless the officer reached the end of the ever mounting line and stopped it from increasing and Andrés saw him running, stumbling, with his flashlight, shouting and cursing and, in the dark, the trucks kept coming up.

The man at the control would not give the safe-conduct back. There were two of them, with rifles slung on their backs and flashlights in their hands and they were shouting too. The one carrying the safe-conduct in his hand crossed the road to a truck going in the downhill direction to tell it to proceed to the next control and tell them there to hold all trucks until his jam was straightened out. The truck driver listened and went on. Then, still holding the safeconduct, the control patrol came over, shouting, to the truck driver whose load was spilled.

“Leave it and get ahead for the love of God so we can clear this!” he shouted at the driver.

“My transmission is smashed,” the driver, who was bent over by the rear of his truck, said.

“Obscene your transmission. Go ahead, I say.”

“They do not go ahead when the differential is smashed,” the driver told him and bent down again.

“Get thyself pulled then, get ahead so that we can get this other obscenity off the road.”

The driver looked at him sullenly as the control man shone the electric torch on the smashed rear of the truck.

“Get ahead. Get ahead,” the man shouted, still holding the safeconduct pass in his hand.

“And my paper,” Gomez spoke to him. “My safe-conduct. We are in a hurry.”

“Take thy safe-conduct to hell,” the man said and handing it to him ran across the road to halt a down-coming truck.

“Turn thyself at the crossroads and put thyself in position to pull this wreck forward,” he said to the driver.

“My orders are—”

“Obscenity thy orders. Do as I say.”

The driver let his truck into gear and rolled straight ahead down the road and was gone in the dust.

As Gomez started the motorcycle ahead onto the now clear right-hand side of the road past the wrecked truck, Andrés, holding tight again, saw the control guard halting another truck and the driver leaning from the cab and listening to him.

Now they went fast, swooping along the road that mounted steadily toward the mountain. All forward traffic had been stalled at the control and there were only the descending trucks passing, passing and passing on their left as the motorcycle climbed fast and steadily now until it began to overtake the mounting traffic which had gone on ahead before the disaster at the control.

Still without lights they passed four more armored cars, then a long line of trucks loaded with troops. The troops were silent in the dark and at first Andrés only felt their presence rising above him, bulking above the truck bodies through the dust as they passed. Then another staff came behind them blasting with its klaxon and flicking its lights off and on, and each time the lights shone Andrés saw the troops, steel-helmeted, their rifles vertical, their machine guns pointed up against the dark sky, etched sharp against the night that they dropped into when the light flicked off. Once as he passed close to a troop truck and the lights flashed he saw their faces fixed and sad in the sudden light. In their steel helmets, riding in the trucks in the dark toward something that they only knew was an attack, their faces were drawn with each man’s own problem in the dark and the light revealed them as they would not have looked in day, from shame to show it to each other, until the bombardment and the attack would commence, and no man would think about his face.

Andrés now passing them truck after truck, Gomez still keeping successfully ahead of the following staff car, did not think any of this about their faces. He only thought, “What an army. What equipment. What a mechanization. Vaya gente! Look at such people. Here we have the army of the Republic. Look at them. Camion after camion. All uniformed alike. All with casques of steel on their heads. Look at the máquinas rising from the trucks against the coming of planes. Look at the army that has been builded!”

And as the motorcycle passed the high gray trucks full of troops, gray trucks with high square cabs and square ugly radiators, steadily mounting the road in the dust and the flicking lights of the pursuing staff car, the red star of the army showing in the light when it passed over the tail gates, showing when the light came onto the sides of the dusty truck bodies, as they passed, climbing steadily now, the air colder and the road starting to turn in bends and switchbacks now, the trucks laboring and grinding, some steaming in the light flashes, the motorcycle laboring now too, and Andrés clinging tight to the front seat as they climbed, Andrés thought this ride on a motorcycle was mucho, mucho. He had never been on a motorcycle before and now they were climbing a mountain in the midst of all the movement that was going to an attack and, as they climbed, he knew now there was no problem of ever being back in time for the assault on the posts. In this movement and confusion he would be lucky to get back by the next night. He had never seen an offensive or any of the preparations for one before and as they rode up the road he marvelled at the size and power of this army that the Republic had built.

Now they rode on a long slanting, rising stretch of road that ran across the face of the mountain and the grade was so steep as they neared the top that Gomez told him to get down and together they pushed the motorcycle up the last steep grade of the pass. At the left, just past the top, there was a loop of road where cars could turn and there were lights winking in front of a big stone building that bulked long and dark against the night sky.

“Let us go to ask there where the headquarters is,” Gomez said to Andrés and they wheeled the motorcycle over to where two sentries stood in front of the closed door of the great stone building. Gomez leaned the motorcycle against the wall as a motorcyclist in a leather suit, showing against the light from inside the building as the door opened, came out of the door with a dispatch case hung over his shoulder, a wooden-holstered Mauser pistol swung against his hip. As the light went off, he found his motorcycle in the dark by the door, pushed it until it sputtered and caught, then roared off up the road.

At the door Gomez spoke to one of the sentries. “Captain Gomez of the Sixty-Fifth Brigade,” he said. “Can you tell me where to find the headquarters of General Golz commanding the ThirtyFifth Division?”

“It isn’t here,” the sentry said.

“What is here?”

“The Comandancia.”

“What comandancia?”

“Well, the Comandancia.”

“The comandancia of what?”

“Who art thou to ask so many questions?” the sentry said to Gomez in the dark. Here on the top of the pass the sky was very clear with the stars out and Andrés, out of the dust now, could see quite clearly in the dark. Below them, where the road turned to the right, he could see clearly the outline of the trucks and cars that passed against the sky line.

“I am Captain Rogelio Gomez of the first battalion of the Sixty-Fifth Brigade and I ask where is the headquarters of General Golz,” Gomez said.

The sentry opened the door a little way. “Call the corporal of the guard,” he shouted inside.

Just then a big staff car came up over the turn of the road and circled toward the big stone building where Andrés and Gomez were standing waiting for the corporal of the guard. It came toward them and stopped outside the door.

A large man, old and heavy, in an oversized khaki beret, such as chasseurs a pied wear in the French Army, wearing an overcoat, carrying a map case and wearing a pistol strapped around his greatcoat, got out of the back of the car with two other men in the uniform of the International Brigades.

He spoke in French, which Andrés did not understand and of which Gomez, who had been a barber, knew only a few words, to his chauffeur telling him to get the car away from the door and into shelter.

As he came into the door with the other two officers, Gomez saw his face clearly in the light and recognized him. He had seen him at political meetings and he had often read articles by him in Mundo Obrero translated from the French. He recognized his bushy eyebrows, his watery gray eyes, his chin and the double chin under it, and he knew him for one of France’s great modern revolutionary figures who had led the mutiny of the French Navy in the Black Sea. Gomez knew this man’s high political place in the International Brigades and he knew this man would know where Golz’s headquarters were and be able to direct him there. He did not know what this man had become with time, disappointment, bitterness both domestic and political, and thwarted ambition and that to question him was one of the most dangerous things that any man could do. Knowing nothing of this he stepped forward into the path of this man, saluted with his clenched fist and said, “Comrade Marty, we are the bearers of a dispatch for General Golz. Can you direct us to his headquarters? It is urgent.”

The tall, heavy old man looked at Gomez with his outthrust head and considered him carefully with his watery eyes. Even here at the front in the light of a bare electric bulb, he having just come in from driving in an open car on a brisk night, his gray face had a look of decay. His face looked as though it were modelled from the waste material you find under the claws of a very old lion.

“You have what, Comrade?” he asked Gomez, speaking Spanish with a strong Catalan accent. His eyes glanced sideways at Andrés, slid over him, and went back to Gomez.

“A dispatch for General Golz to be delivered at his headquarters, Comrade Marty.”

“Where is it from, Comrade?”

“From behind the fascist lines,” Gomez said.

André Marty extended his hand for the dispatch and the other papers. He glanced at them and put them in his pocket.

“Arrest them both,” he said to the corporal of the guard. “Have them searched and bring them to me when I send for them.”

With the dispatch in his pocket he strode on into the interior of the big stone house.

Outside in the guard room Gomez and Andrés were being searched by the guard.

“What passes with that man?” Gomez said to one of the guards.

“Está loco,” the guard said. “He is crazy.”

“No. He is a political figure of great importance,” Gomez said. “He is the chief commissar of the International Brigades.”

“Apesar de eso, está loco,” the corporal of the guard said. “All the same he’s crazy. What do you behind the fascist lines?”

“This comrade is a guerilla from there,” Gomez told him while the man searched him. “He brings a dispatch to General Golz. Guard well my papers. Be careful with that money and that bullet on the string. It is from my first wound at Guadarama.”

“Don’t worry,” the corporal said. “Everything will be in this drawer. Why didn’t you ask me where Golz was?”

“We tried to. I asked the sentry and he called you.”

“But then came the crazy and you asked him. No one should ask him anything. He is crazy. Thy Golz is up the road three kilometers from here and to the right in the rocks of the forest.”

“Can you not let us go to him now?”

“Nay. It would be my head. I must take thee to the crazy. Besides, he has thy dispatch.”

“Can you not tell some one?”

“Yes,” the corporal said. “I will tell the first responsible one I see. All know that he is crazy.”

“I had always taken him for a great figure,” Gomez said. “For one of the glories of France.”

“He may be a glory and all,” the corporal said and put his hand on Andrés’s shoulder. “But he is crazy as a bedbug. He has a mania for shooting people.”

“Truly shooting them?”

“Como lo oyes,” the corporal said. “That old one kills more than the bubonic plague. Mata más que la peste bubonica. But he doesn’t kill fascists like we do. Qué va. Not in joke. Mata bichos raros. He kills rare things. Trotzkyites. Divagationers. Any type of rare beasts.”

Andrés did not understand any of this.

“When we were at Escorial we shot I don’t know how many for him,” the corporal said. “We always furnish the firing party. The men of the Brigades would not shoot their own men. Especially the French. To avoid difficulties it is always us who do it. We shot French. We have shot Belgians. We have shot others of divers nationality. Of all types. Tiene mania de fusilar gente. Always for political things. He’s crazy. Purifica más que el Salvarsán. He purifies more than Salvarsan.”

“But you will tell some one of this dispatch?”

“Yes, man. Surely. I know every one of these two Brigades. Every one comes through here. I know even up to and through the Russians, although only a few speak Spanish. We will keep this crazy from shooting Spaniards.”

“But the dispatch.”

“The dispatch, too. Do not worry, Comrade. We know how to deal with this crazy. He is only dangerous with his own people. We understand him now.”

“Bring in the two prisoners,” came the voice of André Marty.

“Quereis echar un trago?” the corporal asked. “Do you want a drink?”

“Why not?”

The corporal took a bottle of anis from a cupboard and both Gomez and Andrés drank. So did the corporal. He wiped his mouth on his hand.

“Vamonos,” he said.

They went out of the guard room with the swallowed burn of the anis warming their mouths, their bellies and their hearts and walked down the hall and entered the room where Marty sat behind a long table, his map spread in front of him, his red-and-blue pencil, with which he played at being a general officer, in his hand. To Andrés it was only one more thing. There had been many tonight. There were always many. If your papers were in order and your heart was good you were in no danger. Eventually they turned you loose and you were on your way. But the Inglés had said to hurry. He knew now he could never get back for the bridge but they had a dispatch to deliver and this old man there at the table had put it in his pocket.

“Stand there,” Marty said without looking up.

“Listen, Comrade Marty,” Gomez broke out, the anis fortifying his anger. “Once tonight we have been impeded by the ignorance of the anarchists. Then by the sloth of a bureaucratic fascist. Now by the oversuspicion of a Communist.”

“Close your mouth,” Marty said without looking up. “This is not a meeting.”

“Comrade Marty, this is a matter of utmost urgence,” Gomez said. “Of the greatest importance.”

The corporal and the soldier with them were taking a lively interest in this as though they were at a play they had seen many times but whose excellent moments they could always savor.

“Everything is of urgence,” Marty said. “All things are of importance.” Now he looked up at them, holding the pencil. “How did you know Golz was here? Do you understand how serious it is to come asking for an individual general before an attack? How could you know such a general would be here?”

“Tell him, tu,” Gomez said to Andrés.

“Comrade General,” Andrés started—André Marty did not correct him in the mistake in rank—”I was given that packet on the other side of the lines—”

“On the other side of the lines?” Marty said. “Yes, I heard him say you came from the fascist lines.”

“It was given to me, Comrade General, by an Inglés named Roberto who had come to us as a dynamiter for this of the bridge. Understandeth?”

“Continue thy story,” Marty said to Andrés; using the term story as you would say lie, falsehood, or fabrication.

“Well, Comrade General, the Inglés told me to bring it to the General Golz with all speed. He makes an attack in these hills now on this day and all we ask is to take it to him now promptly if it pleases the Comrade General.”

Marty shook his head again. He was looking at Andrés but he was not seeing him.

Golz, he thought in a mixture of horror and exultation as a man might feel hearing that a business enemy had been killed in a particularly nasty motor accident or that some one you hated but whose probity you had never doubted had been guilty of defalcation. That Golz should be one of them, too. That Golz should be in such obvious communication with the fascists. Golz that he had known for nearly twenty years. Golz who had captured the gold train that winter with Lucacz in Siberia. Golz who had fought against Kolchak, and in Poland. In the Caucasus. In China, and here since the first October. But he had been close to Tukachevsky. To Voroshilov, yes, too. But to Tukachevsky. And to who else? Here to Karkov, of course. And to Lucacz. But all the Hungarians had been intriguers. He hated Gall. Golz hated Gall. Remember that. Make a note of that. Golz has always hated Gall. But he favors Putz. Remember that. And Duval is his chief of staff. See what stems from that. You’ve heard him say Copic’s a fool. That is definitive. That exists. And now this dispatch from the fascist lines. Only by pruning out of these rotten branches can the tree remain healthy and grow. The rot must become apparent for it is to be destroyed. But Golz of all men. That Golz should be one of the traitors. He knew that you could trust no one. No one. Ever. Not your wife. Not your brother. Not your oldest comrade. No one. Ever.

“Take them away,” he said to the guards. “Guard them carefully.” The corporal looked at the soldier. This had been very quiet for one of Marty’s performances.

“Comrade Marty,” Gomez said. “Do not be insane. Listen to me, a loyal officer and comrade. That is a dispatch that must be delivered. This comrade has brought it through the fascist lines to give to Comrade General Golz.”

“Take them away,” Marty said, now kindly, to the guard. He was sorry for them as human beings if it should be necessary to liquidate them. But it was the tragedy of Golz that oppressed him. That it should be Golz, he thought. He would take the fascist communication at once to Varloff. No, better he would take it to Golz himself and watch him as he received it. That was what he would do. How could he be sure of Varloff if Golz was one of them? No. This was a thing to be very careful about.

Andrés turned to Gomez, “You mean he is not going to send the dispatch?” he asked, unbelieving.

“Don’t you see?” Gomez said.

“Me cago en su puta madre!” Andrés said. “Está loco.”

“Yes,” Gomez said. “He is crazy. You are crazy! Hear! Crazy!” he shouted at Marty who was back now bending over the map with his red-and-blue pencil. “Hear me, you crazy murderer?”

“Take them away,” Marty said to the guard. “Their minds are unhinged by their great guilt.”

There was a phrase the corporal recognized. He had heard that before.

“You crazy murderer!” Gomez shouted.

“Hijo de la gran puta,” Andrés said to him. “Loco.”

The stupidity of this man angered him. If he was a crazy let him be removed as a crazy. Let the dispatch be taken from his pocket. God damn this crazy to hell. His heavy Spanish anger was rising out of his usual calm and good temper. In a little while it would blind him.

Marty, looking at his map, shook his head sadly as the guards took Gomez and Andrés out. The guards had enjoyed hearing him cursed but on the whole they had been disappointed in the performance. They had seen much better ones. André Marty did not mind the men cursing him. So many men had cursed him at the end. He was always genuinely sorry for them as human beings. He always told himself that and it was one of the last true ideas that was left to him that had ever been his own.

He sat there, his moustache and his eyes focused on the map, on the map that he never truly understood, on the brown tracing of the contours that were traced fine and concentric as a spider’s web. He could see the heights and the valleys from the contours but he never really understood why it should be this height and why this valley was the one. But at the General Staff where, because of the system of Political Commissars, he could intervene as the political head of the Brigades, he would put his finger on such and such a numbered, brown-thin-lined encircled spot among the greens of woods cut by the lines of roads that parallel the never casual winding of a river and say, “There. That is the point of weakness.”

Gall and Copic, who were men of politics and of ambition, would agree and later, men who never saw the map, but heard the number of the hill before they left their starting place and had the earth of diggings on it pointed out, would climb its side to find their death along its slope or, being halted by machine guns placed in olive groves would never get up it at all. Or on other fronts they might scale it easily and be no better off than they had been before. But when Marty put his finger on the map in Golz’s staff the scarheaded, white-faced General’s jaw muscles would tighten and he would think, “I should shoot you, André Marty, before I let you put that gray rotten finger on a contour map of mine. Damn you to hell for all the men you’ve killed by interfering in matters you know nothing of. Damn the day they named tractor factories and villages and co-operatives for you so that you are a symbol that I cannot touch. Go and suspect and exhort and intervene and denounce and butcher some other place and leave my staff alone.”

But instead of saying that Golz would only lean back away from the leaning bulk, the pushing finger, the watery gray eyes, the graywhite moustache and the bad breath and say, “Yes, Comrade Marty. I see your point. It is not well taken, however, and I do not agree. You can try to go over my head if you like. Yes. You can make it a Party matter as you say. But I do not agree.”

So now André Marty sat working over his map at the bare table with the raw light on the unshaded electric light bulb over his head, the overwide beret pulled forward to shade his eyes, referring to the mimeographed copy of the orders for the attack and slowly and laboriously working them out on the map as a young officer might work a problem at a staff college. He was engaged in war. In his mind he was commanding troops; he had the right to interfere and this he believed to constitute command. So he sat there with Robert Jordan’s dispatch to Golz in his pocket and Gomez and Andrés waited in the guard room and Robert Jordan lay in the woods above the bridge.

It is doubtful if the outcome of Andrés’s mission would have been any different if he and Gomez had been allowed to proceed without André Marty’s hindrance. There was no one at the front with sufficient authority to cancel the attack. The machinery had been in motion much too long for it to be stopped suddenly now. There is a great inertia about all military operations of any size. But once this inertia has been overcome and movement is under way they are almost as hard to arrest as to initiate.

But on this night the old man, his beret pulled forward, was still sitting at the table with his map when the door opened and Karkov the Russian journalist came in with two other Russians in civilian clothes, leather coats and caps. The corporal of the guard closed the door reluctantly behind them. Karkov had been the first responsible man he had been able to communicate with.

“Tovarich Marty,” said Karkov in his politely disdainful lisping voice and smiled, showing his bad teeth.

Marty stood up. He did not like Karkov, but Karkov, coming from Pravda and in direct communication with Stalin, was at this moment one of the three most important men in Spain.

“Tovarich Karkov,” he said.

“You are preparing the attack?” Karkov said insolently, nodding toward the map.

“I am studying it,” Marty answered.

“Are you attacking? Or is it Golz?” Karkov asked smoothly.

“I am only a commissar, as you know,” Marty told him.

“No,” Karkov said. “You are modest. You are really a general. You have your map and your field glasses. But were you not an admiral once, Comrade Marty?”

“I was a gunner’s mate,” said Marty. It was a lie. He had really been a chief yeoman at the time of the mutiny. But he thought now, always, that he had been a gunner’s mate.

“Ah. I thought you were a first-class yeoman,” Karkov said. “I always get my facts wrong. It is the mark of the journalist.”

The other Russians had taken no part in the conversation. They were both looking over Marty’s shoulder at the map and occasionally making a remark to each other in their own language. Marty and Karkov spoke French after the first greeting.

“It is better not to get facts wrong in Pravda,” Marty said. He said it brusquely to build himself up again. Karkov always punctured him. The French word is dégonfler and Marty was worried and made wary by him. It was hard, when Karkov spoke, to remember with what importance he, André Marty, came from the Central Committee of the French Communist Party. It was hard to remember, too, that he was untouchable. Karkov seemed always to touch him so lightly and whenever he wished. Now Karkov said, “I usually correct them before I send them to Pravda, I am quite accurate in Pravda. Tell me, Comrade Marty, have you heard anything of any message coming through for Golz from one of our partizan groups operating toward Segovia? There is an American comrade there named Jordan that we should have heard from. There have been reports of fighting there behind the fascist lines. He would have sent a message through to Golz.”

“An American?” Marty asked. Andrés had said an Inglés. So that is what it was. So he had been mistaken. Why had those fools spoken to him anyway?”

“Yes,” Karkov looked at him contemptuously, “a young American of slight political development but a great way with the Spaniards and a fine partizan record. Just give me the dispatch, Comrade Marty. It has been delayed enough.”

“What dispatch?” Marty asked. It was a very stupid thing to say and he knew it. But he was not able to admit he was wrong that quickly and he said it anyway to delay the moment of humiliation, not accepting any humiliation. “And the safe-conduct pass,” Karkov said through his bad teeth.

André Marty put his hand in his pocket and laid the dispatch on the table. He looked Karkov squarely in the eye. All right. He was wrong and there was nothing he could do about it now but he was not accepting any humiliation. “And the safe-conduct pass,” Karkov said softly.

Marty laid it beside the dispatch.

“Comrade Corporal,” Karkov called in Spanish.

The corporal opened the door and came in. He looked quickly at André Marty, who stared back at him like an old boar which has been brought to bay by hounds. There was no fear on Marty’s face and no humiliation. He was only angry, and he was only temporarily at bay. He knew these dogs could never hold him.

“Take these to the two comrades in the guard room and direct them to General Golz’s headquarters,” Karkov said. “There has been too much delay.”

The corporal went out and Marty looked after him, then looked at Karkov.

“Tovarich Marty,” Karkov said, “I am going to find out just how untouchable you are.”

Marty looked straight at him and said nothing.

“Don’t start to have any plans about the corporal, either,” Karkov went on. “It was not the corporal. I saw the two men in the guard room and they spoke to me” (this was a lie). “I hope all men always will speak to me” (this was the truth although it was the corpora! who had spoken). But Karkov had this belief in the good which could come from his own accessibility and the humanizing possibility of benevolent intervention. It was the one thing he was never cynical about.

“You know when I am in the U.S.S.R. people write to me in Pravda when there is an injustice in a town in Azerbaijan. Did you know that? They say ‘Karkov will help us.”

André Marty looked at him with no expression on his face except anger and dislike. There was nothing in his mind now but that Karkov had done something against him. All right, Karkov, power and all, could watch out.

“This is something else,” Karkov went on, “but it is the same principle. I am going to find Out just how untouchable you are, Comrade Marty. I would like to know if it could not be possible to change the name of that tractor factory.”

André Marty looked away from him and back to the map.

“What did young Jordan say?” Karkov asked him.

“I did not read it,” André Marty said. “Et maintenant fiche moi la paix, Comrade Karkov.”

“Good,” said Karkov. “I leave you to your military labors.”

He stepped out of the room and walked to the guard room. Andrés and Gomez were already gone and he stood there a moment looking up the road and at the mountain tops beyond that showed now in the first gray of daylight. We must get on up there, he thought. It will be soon, now.

Andrés and Gomez were on the motorcycle on the road again and it was getting light. Now Andrés, holding again to the back of the seat ahead of him as the motorcycle climbed turn after switchback turn in a faint gray mist that lay over the top of the pass, felt the motorcycle speed under him, then skid and stop and they were standing by the motorcycle on a long, down-slope of road and in the woods, on their left, were tanks covered with pine branches. There were troops here all through the woods. Andrés saw men carrying the long poles of stretchers over their shoulders. Three staff cars were off the road to the right, in under the trees, with branches laid against their sides and other pine branches over their tops.

Gomez wheeled the motorcycle up to one of them. He leaned it against a pine tree and spoke to the chauffeur who was sitting by the car, his back against a tree.

“I’ll take you to him,” the chauffeur said. “Put thy moto out of sight and cover it with these.” He pointed to a pile of cut branches.

With the sun just starting to come through the high branches of the pine trees, Gomez and Andrés followed the chauffeur, whose name was Vicente, through the pines across the road and up the slope to the entrance of a dugout from the roof of which signal wires ran on up over the wooded slope. They stood outside while the chauffeur went in and Andrés admired the construction of the dugout which showed only as a hole in the hillside, with no dirt scattered about, but which he could see, from the entrance, was both deep and profound with men moving around in it freely with no need to duck their heads under the heavy timbered roof.

Vicente, the chauffeur, came out.

“He is up above where they are deploying for the attack,” he said. “I gave it to his Chief of Staff. He signed for it. Here.”

He handed Gomez the receipted envelope. Gomez gave it to Andrés, who looked at it and put it inside his shirt.

“What is the name of him who signed?” he asked.

“Duval,” Vicente said.

“Good,” said Andrés. “He was one of the three to whom I might give it.”

“Should we wait for an answer?” Gomez asked Andrés.

“It might be best. Though where I will find the Inglés and the others after that of the bridge neither God knows.”

“Come wait with me,” Vicente said, “until the General returns. And I will get thee coffee. Thou must be hungry.”

“And these tanks,” Gomez said to him.

They were passing the branch-covered, mud-colored tanks, each with two deep-ridged tracks over the pine needles showing where they had swung and backed from the road. Their 45-mm. guns jutted horizontally under the branches and the drivers and gunners in their leather coats and ridged helmets sat with their backs against the trees or lay sleeping on the ground.

“These are the reserve,” Vicente said. “Also these troops are in reserve. Those who commence the attack are above.”

“They are many,” Andrés said.

“Yes,” Vicente said. “It is a full division.”

Inside the dugout Duval, holding the opened dispatch from Robert Jordan in his left hand, glancing at his wrist watch on the same hand, reading the dispatch for the fourth time, each time feeling the sweat come out from under his armpit and run down his flank, said into the telephone, “Get me position Segovia, then. He’s left? Get me position Avila.”

He kept on with the phone. It wasn’t any good. He had talked to both brigades. Golz had been up to inspect the dispositions for the attack and was on his way to an observation post. He called the observation post and he was not there.

“Get me planes one,” Duval said, suddenly taking all responsibility. He would take responsibility for holding it up. It was better to hold it up. You could not send them to a surprise attack against an enemy that was waiting for it. You couldn’t do it. It was just murder. You couldn’t. You mustn’t. No matter what. They could shoot him if they wanted. He would call the airfield directly and get the bombardment cancelled. But suppose it’s just a holding attack? Suppose we were supposed to draw off all that material and those forces? Suppose that is what it is for? They never tell you it is a holding attack when you make it.

“Cancel the call to planes one,” he told the signaller. “Get me the Sixty-Ninth Brigade observation post.”

He was still calling there when he heard the first sound of the planes.

It was just then he got through to the observation post.

“Yes,” Golz said quietly.

He was sitting leaning back against the sandbag, his feet against a rock, a cigarette hung from his lower lip and he was looking up and over his shoulder while he was talking. He was seeing the expanding wedges of threes, silver and thundering in the sky that were coming over the far shoulder of the mountain where the first sun was striking. He watched them come shining and beautiful in the sun. He saw the twin circles of light where the sun shone on the propellers as they came.

“Yes,” he said into the telephone, speaking in French because it was Duval on the wire. “Nous sommes foutus. Oui. Comme toujours. Oui. C’est dommage. Oui. It’s a shame it came too late.”

His eyes, watching the planes coming, were very proud. He saw the red wing markings now and he watched their steady, stately roaring advance. This was how it could be. These were our planes. They had come, crated on ships, from the Black Sea through the Straits of Marmora, through the Dardanelles, through the Mediterranean and to here, unloaded lovingly at Alicante, assembled ably, tested and found perfect and now flown in lovely hammering precision, the V’s tight and pure as they came now high and silver in the morning sun to blast those ridges across there and blow them roaring high so that we can go through.

Golz knew that once they had passed overhead and on, the bombs would fall, looking like porpoises in the air as they tumbled. And then the ridge tops would spout and roar in jumping clouds and disappear in one great blowing cloud. Then the tanks would grind clanking up those two slopes and after them would go his two brigades. And if it had been a surprise they could go on and down and over and through, pausing, cleaning up, dealing with, much to do, much to be done intelligently with the tanks helping, with the tanks wheeling and returning, giving covering fire and others bringing the attackers up then slipping on and over and through and pushing down beyond. This was how it would be if there was no treason and if all did what they should.

There were the two ridges, and there were the tanks ahead and there were his two good brigades ready to leave the woods and here came the planes now. Everything he had to do had been done as it should be.

But as he watched the planes, almost up to him now, he felt sick at his stomach for he knew from having heard Jordan’s dispatch over the phone that there would be no one on those two ridges. They’d be withdrawn a little way below in narrow trenches to escape the fragments, or hiding in the timber and when the bombers passed they’d get back up there with their machine guns and their automatic weapons and the anti-tank guns Jordan had said went up the road, and it would be one famous balls up more. But the planes, now coming deafeningly, were how it could have been and Golz watching them, looking up, said into the telephone, “No. Rien a faire. Rien. Faut pas penser. Faut accepter.”

Golz watched the planes with his hard proud eyes that knew how things could be and how they would be instead and said, proud of how they could be, believing in how they could be, even if they never were, “Bon. Nous ferons notre petit possible,” and hung up.

But Duval did not hear him. Sitting at the table holding the receiver, all he heard was the roar of the planes and he thought, now, maybe this time, listen to them come, maybe the bombers will blow them all off, maybe we will get a break-through, maybe he will get the reserves he asked for, maybe this is it, maybe this is the time. Go on. Come on. Go on. The roar was such that he could not hear what he was thinking.