For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 43

Robert Jordan lay behind the trunk of a pine tree on the slope of the hill above the road and the bridge and watched it become daylight. He loved this hour of the day always and now he watched it; feeling it gray within him, as though he were a part of the slow lightening that comes before the rising of the sun; when solid things darken and space lightens and the lights that have shone in the night go yellow and then fade as the day comes. The pine trunks below him were hard and clear now, their trunks solid and brown and the road was shiny with a wisp of mist over it. The dew had wet him and the forest floor was soft and he felt the give of the brown, dropped pine needles under his elbows. Below he saw, through the light mist that rose from the stream bed, the steel of the bridge, straight and rigid across the gap, with the wooden sentry boxes at each end. But as he looked the structure of the bridge was still spidery and fine in the mist that hung over the stream.

He saw the sentry now in his box as he stood, his back with the hanging blanket coat topped by the steel casque on his head showing as he leaned forward over the hole-punched petrol tin of the brazier, warming his hands. Robert Jordan heard the stream, far down in the rocks, and he saw a faint, thin smoke that rose from the sentry box.

He looked at his watch and thought, I wonder if Andrés got through to Golz? If we are going to blow it I would like to breathe very slowly and slow up the time again and feel it. Do you think he made it? Andrés? And if he did would they call it off? If they had time to call it off? Qué va. Do not worry. They will or they won’t. There are no more decisions and in a little while you will know. Suppose the attack is successful. Golz said it could be. That there was a possibility. With our tanks coming down that road, the people coming through from the right and down and past La Granja and the whole left of the mountains turned. Why don’t you ever think of how it is to win? You’ve been on the defensive for so long that you can’t think of that. Sure. But that was before all that stuff went up this road. That was before all the planes came. Don’t be so naïve. But remember this that as long as we can hold them here we keep the fascists tied up. They can’t attack any other country until they finish with us and they can never finish with us. If the French help at all, if only they leave the frontier open and if we get planes from America they can never finish with us. Never, if we get anything at all. These people will fight forever if they’re well armed.

No you must not expect victory here, not for several years maybe. This is just a holding attack. You must not get illusions about it now. Suppose we got a break-through today? This is our first big attack. Keep your sense of proportion. But what if we should have it? Don’t get excited, he told himself. Remember what went up the road. You’ve done what you could about that. We should have portable short-wave sets, though. We will, in time. But we haven’t yet. You just watch now and do what you should.

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It’s been that way all this year. It’s been that way so many times. All of this war is that way. You are getting very pompous in the early morning, he told himself. Look there what’s coming now.

He saw the two men in blanket capes and steel helmets come around the corner of the road walking toward the bridge, their rifles slung over their shoulders. One stopped at the far end of the bridge and was out of sight in the sentry box. The other came on across the bridge, walking slowly and heavily. He stopped on the bridge and spat into the gorge, then came on slowly to the near end of the bridge where the other sentry spoke to him and then started off back over the bridge. The sentry who was relieved walked faster than the other had done (because he’s going to coffee, Robert Jordan thought) but he too spat down into the gorge.

I wonder if that is superstition? Robert Jordan thought. I’ll have to take me a spit in that gorge too. If I can spit by then. No. It can’t be very powerful medicine. It can’t work. I’ll have to prove it doesn’t work before I am out there.

The new sentry had gone inside the box and sat down. His rifle with the bayonet fixed was leaning against the wall. Robert Jordan took his glasses from his shirt pocket and turned the eyepieces until the end of the bridge showed sharp and gray-painted-metal clear. Then he moved them onto the sentry box.

The sentry sat leaning against the wall. His helmet hung on a peg and his face showed clearly. Robert Jordan saw he was the same man who had been there on guard two days before in the afternoon watch. He was wearing the same knitted stocking-cap. And he had not shaved. His cheeks were sunken and his cheekbones prominent. He had bushy eyebrows that grew together in the center. He looked sleepy and as Robert Jordan watched him he yawned. Then he took out a tobacco pouch and a packet of papers and rolled himself a cigarette. He tried to make a lighter work and finally put it in his pocket and went over to the brazier, leaned over, reached inside, brought up a piece of charcoal, juggled it in one hand while he blew on it, then lit the cigarette and tossed the lump of charcoal back into the brazier.

Robert Jordan, looking through the Zeiss 8-power glasses, watched his face as he leaned against the wall of the sentry box drawing on the cigarette. Then he took the glasses down, folded them together and put them in his pocket.

I won’t look at him again, he told himself.

He lay there and watched the road and tried not to think at all. A squirrel chittered from a pine tree below him and Robert Jordan watched the squirrel come down the tree trunk, stopping on his way down to turn his head and look toward where the man was watching. He saw the squirrel’s eyes, small and bright, and watched his tail jerk in excitement. Then the squirrel crossed to another tree, moving on the ground in long, small-pawed, tail-exaggerated bounds. On the tree trunk he looked back at Robert Jordan, then pulled himself around the trunk and out of sight. Then Robert Jordan heard the squirrel chitter from a high branch of the pine tree and he watched him there, spread flat along the branch, his tail jerking.

Robert Jordan looked down through the pines to the sentry box again. He would like to have had the squirrel with him in his pocket. He would like to have had anything that he could touch. He rubbed his elbows against the pine needles but it was not the same. Nobody knows how lonely you can be when you do this. Me, though, I know. I hope that Rabbit will get out of this all right. Stop that now. Yes, sure. But I can hope that and I do. That I blow it well and that she gets out all right. Good. Sure. Just that. That is all I want now.

He lay there now and looked away from the road and the sentry box and across to the far mountain. Just do not think at all, he told himself. He lay there quietly and watched the morning come. It was a fine early summer morning and it came very fast now in the end of May. Once a motorcyclist in a leather coat and all-leather helmet with an automatic rifle in a holster by his left leg came across the bridge and went on up the road. Once an ambulance crossed the bridge, passed below him, and went up the road. But that was all. He smelled the pines and he heard the stream and the bridge showed clear now and beautiful in the morning light. He lay there behind the pine tree, with the submachine gun across his left forearm, and he never looked at the sentry box again until, long after it seemed that it was never coming, that nothing could happen on such a lovely late May morning, he heard the sudden, clustered, thudding of the bombs.

As he heard the bombs, the first thumping noise of them, before the echo of them came back in thunder from the mountain, Robert Jordan drew in a long breath and lifted the submachine gun from where it lay. His arm felt stiff from its weight and his fingers were heavy with reluctance.

The man in the sentry box stood up when he heard the bombs. Robert Jordan saw him reach for his rifle and step forward out of the box listening. He stood in the road with the sun shining on him. The knitted cap was on the side of his head and the sun was on his unshaved face as he looked up into the sky toward where the planes were bombing.

There was no mist on the road now and Robert Jordan saw the man, clearly and sharply, standing there on the road looking up at the sky. The sun shone bright on him through the trees.

Robert Jordan felt his own breath tight now as though a strand of wire bound his chest and, steadying his elbows, feeling the corrugations of the forward grip against his fingers, he put the oblong of the foresight, settled now in the notch of the rear, onto the center of the man’s chest and squeezed the trigger gently.

He felt the quick, liquid, spastic lurching of the gun against his shoulder and on the road the man, looking surprised and hurt, slid forward on his knees and his forehead doubled to the road. His rifle fell by him and lay there with one of the man’s fingers twisted through the trigger guard, his wrist bent forward. The rifle lay, bayonet forward on the road. Robert Jordan looked away from the man lying with his head doubled under on the road to the bridge, and the sentry box at the other end. He could not see the other sentry and he looked down the slope to the right where he knew Agustín was hidden. Then he heard Anselmo shoot, the shot smashing an echo back from the gorge. Then he heard him shoot again.

With that second shot came the cracking boom of grenades from around the corner below the bridge. Then there was the noise of grenades from well up the road to the left. Then he heard rifle-firing up the road and from below came the noise of Pablo’s cavalry automatic rifle spat-spat-spat-spatting into the noise of grenades. He saw Anselmo scrambling down the steep cut to the far end of the bridge and he slung the submachine gun over his shoulder and picked up the two heavy packs from behind the pine trunks and with one in each hand, the packs pulling his arms so that he felt the tendons would pull out of his shoulders, he ran lurching down the steep slope to the road.

As he ran he heard Agustín shouting, “Buena caza, Inglés. Buena caza!” and he thought, “Nice hunting, like hell, nice hunting,” and just then he heard Anselmo shoot at the far end of the bridge, the noise of the shot clanging in the steel girders. He passed the sentry where he lay and ran onto the bridge, the packs swinging.

The old man came running toward him, holding his carbine in one hand. “Sin novedad,” he shouted. “There’s nothing wrong. Tuve que rematarlo. I had to finish him.”

Robert Jordan, kneeling, opening the packs in the center of the bridge taking out his material, saw that tears were running down Anselmo’s cheeks through the gray beard stubble.

“Yo maté uno tambien,” he said to Anselmo. “I killed one too,” and jerked his head toward where the sentry lay hunched over in the road at the end of the bridge.

“Yes, man, yes,” Anselmo said. “We have to kill them and we kill them.”

Robert Jordan was climbing down into the framework of the bridge. The girders were cold and wet with dew under his hands and he climbed carefully, feeling the sun on his back, bracing himself in a bridge truss, hearing the noise of the tumbling water below him, hearing firing, too much firing, up the road at the upper post. He was sweating heavily now and it was cool under the bridge. He had a coil of wire around one arm and a pair of pliers hung by a thong from his wrist.

“Hand me that down a package at a time, viejo,” he called up to Anselmo. The old man leaned far over the edge handing down the oblong blocks of explosive and Robert Jordan reached up for them, shoved them in where he wanted them, packed them close, braced them, “Wedges, viejo! Give me wedges!” smelling the fresh shingle smell of the new whittled wedges as he tapped them in tight to hold the charge between the girders.

Now as he worked, placing, bracing, wedging, lashing tight with wire, thinking only of demolition, working fast and skillfully as a surgeon works, he heard a rattle of firing from below on the road. Then there was the noise of a grenade. Then another, booming through the rushing noise the water made. Then it was quiet from that direction.

“Damn,” he thought. “I wonder what hit them then?”

There was still firing up the road at the upper post. Too damned much firing, and he was lashing two grenades side by side on top of the braced blocks of explosive, winding wire over their corrugations so they would hold tight and firm and lashing it tight; twisting it with the pliers. He felt of the whole thing and then, to make it more solid, tapped in a wedge above the grenades that blocked the whole charge firmly in against the steel.

“The other side now, viejo,” he shouted up to Anselmo and climbed across through the trestling, like a bloody Tarzan in a rolled steel forest, he thought, and then coming out from under the dark, the stream tumbling below him, he looked up and saw Anselmo’s face as he reached the packages of explosive down to him. Goddamn good face, he thought. Not crying now. That’s all to the good. And one side done. This side now and we’re done. This will drop it like what all. Come on. Don’t get excited. Do it. Clean and fast as the last one. Don’t fumble with it. Take your time. Don’t try to do it faster than you can. You can’t lose now. Nobody can keep you from blowing one side now. You’re doing it just the way you should. This is a cool place. Christ, it feels cool as a wine cellar and there’s no crap. Usually working under a stone bridge it’s full of crap. This is a dream bridge. A bloody dream bridge. It’s the old man on top who’s in a bad spot. Don’t try to do it faster than you can. I wish that shooting would be over up above. “Give me some wedges, viejo.” I don’t like that shooting still. Pilar has got in trouble there. Some of the post must have been out. Out back; or behind the mill. They’re still shooting. That means there’s somebody still at the mill. And all that damned sawdust. Those big piles of sawdust. Sawdust, when it’s old and packed, is good stuff to fight behind. There must be several of them still. It’s quiet below with Pablo. I wonder what that second flare-up was. It must have been a car or a motorcyclist. I hope to God they don’t have any armored cars come up or any tanks. Go on. Put it in just as fast as you can and wedge it tight and lash it fast. You’re shaking, like a Goddamn woman. What the hell is the matter with you? You’re trying to do it too fast. I’ll bet that Goddamn woman up above isn’t shaking. That Pilar. Maybe she is too. She sounds as though she were in plenty trouble. She’ll shake if she gets in enough. Like everybody bloody else.

He leaned out and up into the sunlight and as he reached his hand up to take what Anselmo handed him, his head now above the noise of the falling water, the firing increased sharply up the road and then the noise of grenades again. Then more grenades.

“They rushed the sawmill then.”

It’s lucky I’ve got this stuff in blocks, he thought. Instead of sticks. What the hell. It’s just neater. Although a lousy canvas sack full of jelly would be quicker. Two sacks. No. One of that would do. And if we just had detonators and the old exploder. That son of a bitch threw my exploder in the river. That old box and the places that it’s been. In this river he threw it. That bastard Pablo. He gave them hell there below just now. “Give me some more of that, viejo.”

The old man’s doing very well. He’s in quite a place up there. He hated to shoot that sentry. So did I but I didn’t think about it. Nor do I think about it now. You have to do that. But then Anselmo got a cripple. I know about cripples. I think that killing a man with an automatic weapon makes it easier. I mean on the one doing it. It is different. After the first touch it is it that does it. Not you. Save that to go into some other time. You and your head. You have a nice thinking head old Jordan. Roll Jordan, Roll! They used to yell that at football when you lugged the ball. Do you know the damned Jordan is really not much bigger than that creek down there below. At the source, you mean. So is anything else at the source. This is a place here under this bridge. A home away from home. Come on Jordan, pull yourself together. This is serious Jordan. Don’t you understand? Serious. It’s less so all the time. Look at that other side. Para qué? I’m all right now however she goes. As Maine goes, so goes the nation. As Jordan goes so go the bloody Israelites. The bridge, I mean. As Jordan goes, so goes the bloody bridge, other way around, really.

“Give me some more of that, Anselmo old boy,” he said. The old man nodded. “Almost through,” Robert Jordan said. The old man nodded again.

Finishing wiring the grenades down, he no longer heard the firing from up the road. Suddenly he was working only with the noise of the stream. He looked down and saw it boiling up white below him through the boulders and then dropping down to a clear pebbled pool where one of the wedges he had dropped swung around in the current. As he looked a trout rose for some insect and made a circle on the surface close to where the chip was turning. As he twisted the wire tight with the pliers that held these two grenades in place, he saw, through the metal of the bridge, the sunlight on the green slope of the mountain. It was brown three days ago, he thought.

Out from the cool dark under the bridge he leaned into the bright sun and shouted to Anselmo’s bending face, “Give me the big coil of wire.”

The old man handed it down.

For God’s sake don’t loosen them any yet. This will pull them. I wish you could string them through. But with the length of wire you are using it’s O.K., Robert Jordan thought as he felt the cotter pins that held the rings that would release the levers on the hand grenades. He checked that the grenades, lashed on their sides, had room for the levers to spring when the pins were pulled (the wire that lashed them ran through under the levers), then he attached a length of wire to one ring, wired it onto the main wire that ran to the ring of the outside grenade, paid off some slack from the coil and passed it around a steel brace and then handed the coil up to Anselmo. “Hold it carefully,” he said.

He climbed up onto the bridge, took the coil from the old man and walked back as fast as he could pay out wire toward where the sentry was slumped in the road, leaning over the side of the bridge and paying out wire from the coil as he walked.

“Bring the sacks,” he shouted to Anselmo as he walked backwards. As he passed he stooped down and picked up the submachine gun and slung it over his shoulder again.

It was then, looking up from paying out wire, that he saw, well up the road, those who were coming back from the upper post.

There were four of them, he saw, and then he had to watch his wire so it would be clear and not foul against any of the outer work of the bridge. Eladio was not with them.

Robert Jordan carried the wire clear past the end of the bridge, took a ioop around the last stanchion and then ran along the road until he stopped beside a stone marker. He cut the wire and handed it to Anselmo.

“Hold this, viejo,” he said. “Now walk back with me to the bridge. Take up on it as you walk. No. I will.”

At the bridge he pulled the wire back out through the hitch so it now ran clear and unfouled to the grenade rings and handed it, stretching alongside the bridge but running quite clear, to Anselmo.

“Take this back to that high stone,” he said. “Hold it easily but firmly. Do not put any force on it. When thou pullest hard, hard, the bridge will blow. Comprendes?”


“Treat it softly but do not let it sag so it will foul. Keep it lightly firm but not pulling until thou pullest. Comprendes?”


“When thou pullest really pull. Do not jerk.”

Robert Jordan while he spoke was looking up the road at the remainder of Pilar’s band. They were close now and he saw Primitivo and Rafael were supporting Fernando. He looked to be shot through the groin for he was holding himself there with both hands while the man and the boy held him on either side. His right leg was dragging, the side of the shoe scraping on the road as they walked him. Pilar was climbing the bank into the timber carrying three rifles. Robert Jordan could not see her face but her head was up and she was climbing as fast as she could.

“How does it go?” Primitivo called.

“Good. We’re almost finished,” Robert Jordan shouted back.

There was no need to ask how it went with them. As he looked away the three were on the edge of the road and Fernando was shaking his head as they tried to get him up the bank.

“Give me a rifle here,” Robert Jordan heard him say in a choky voice.

“No, hombre. We will get thee to the horses.”

“What would I do with a horse?” Fernando said. “I am very well here.”

Robert Jordan did not hear the rest for he was speaking to Anselmo.

“Blow it if tanks come,” he said. “But only if they come onto it. Blow it if armored cars come. If they come onto it. Anything else Pablo will stop.”

“I will not blow it with thee beneath it.”

“Take no account of me. Blow it if thou needest to. I fix the other wire and come back. Then we will blow it together.”

He started running for the center of the bridge.

Anselmo saw Robert Jordan run up the bridge, coil of wire over his arm, pliers hanging from one wrist and the submachine gun slung over his back. He saw him climb down under the rail of the bridge and out of sight. Anselmo held the wire in his hand, his right hand, and he crouched behind the stone marker and looked down the road and across the bridge. Halfway between him and the bridge was the sentry, who had settled now closer to the road, sinking closer onto the smooth road surface as the sun weighed on his back. His rifle, lying on the road, the bayonet fixed, pointed straight toward Anselmo. The old man looked past him along the surface of the bridge crossed by the shadows of the bridge rail to where the road swung to the left along the gorge and then turned out of sight behind the rocky wall. He looked at the far sentry box with the sun shining on it and then, conscious of the wire in his hand, he turned his head to where Fernando was speaking to Primitivo and the gypsy.

“Leave me here,” Fernando said. “It hurts much and there is much hemorrhage inside. I feel it in the inside when I move.”

“Let us get thee up the slope,” Primitivo said. “Put thy arms around our shoulders and we will take thy legs.”

“It is inutile,” Fernando said. “Put me here behind a stone. I am as useful here as above.”

“But when we go,” Primitivo said.

“Leave me here,” Fernando said. “There is no question of my travelling with this. Thus it gives one horse more. I am very well here. Certainly they will come soon.”

“We can take thee up the hill,” the gypsy said. “Easily.”

He was, naturally, in a deadly hurry to be gone, as was Primitivo. But they had brought him this far.

“Nay,” Fernando said. “I am very well here. What passes with Eladio?”

The gypsy put his finger on his head to show where the wound had been.

“Here,” he said. “After thee. When we made the rush.”

“Leave me,” Fernando said. Anselmo could see he was suffering much. He held both hands against his groin now and put his head back against the bank, his legs straight out before him. His face was gray and sweating.

“Leave me now please, for a favor,” he said. His eyes were shut with pain, the edges of the lips twitching. “I find myself very well here.”

“Here is a rifle and cartridges,” Primitivo said.

“Is it mine?” Fernando asked, his eyes shut.

“Nay, the Pilar has thine,” Primitivo said. “This is mine.”

“I would prefer my own,” Fernando said. “I am more accustomed to it.”

“I will bring it to thee,” the gypsy lied to him. “Keep this until it comes.”

“I am in a very good position here,” Fernando said. “Both for up the road and for the bridge.” He opened his eyes, turned his head and looked across the bridge, then shut them as the pain came.

The gypsy tapped his head and motioned with his thumb to Primitivo for them to be off.

“Then we will be down for thee,” Primitivo said and started up the slope after the gypsy, who was climbing fast.

Fernando lay back against the bank. In front of him was one of the whitewashed stones that marked the edge of the road. His head was in the shadow but the sun shone on his plugged and bandaged wound and on his hands that were cupped over it. His legs and his feet also were in the sun. The rifle lay beside him and there were three clips of cartridges shining in the sun beside the rifle. A fly crawled on his hands but the small tickling did not come through the pain.

“Fernando!” Anselmo called to him from where he crouched, holding the wire. He had made a loop in the end of the wire and twisted it close so he could hold it in his fist.

“Fernando!” he called again.

Fernando opened his eyes and looked at him.

“How does it go?” Fernando asked.

“Very good,” Anselmo said. “Now in a minute we will be blowing it.”

“I am pleased. Anything you need me for advise me,” Fernando said and shut his eyes again and the pain lurched in him.

Anselmo looked away from him and out onto the bridge.

He was watching for the first sight of the coil of wire being handed up onto the bridge and for the Inglés’s sunburnt head and face to follow it as he would pull himself up the side. At the same time he was watching beyond the bridge for anything to come around the far corner of the road. He did not feel afraid now at all and he had not been afraid all the day. It goes so fast and it is so normal, he thought. I hated the shooting of the guard and it made me an emotion but that is passed now. How could the Inglés say that the shooting of a man is like the shooting of an animal? In all hunting I have had an elation and no feeling of wrong. But to shoot a man gives a feeling as though one had struck one’s own brother when you are grown men. And to shoot him various times to kill him. Nay, do not think of that. That gave thee too much emotion and thee ran blubbering down the bridge like a woman.

That is over, he told himself, and thou canst try to atone for it as for the others. But now thou has what thou asked for last night coming home across the hills. Thou art in battle and thou hast no problem. If I die on this morning now it is all right.

Then he looked at Fernando lying there against the bank with his hands cupped over the groove of his hip, his lips blue, his eyes tight shut, breathing heavily and slowly, and he thought, If I die may it be quickly. Nay I said I would ask nothing more if I were granted what I needed for today. So I will not ask. Understand? I ask nothing. Nothing in any way. Give me what I asked for and I leave all the rest according to discretion.

He listened to the noise that came, far away, of the battle at the pass and he said to himself, Truly this is a great day. I should realize and know what a day this is.

But there was no lift or any excitement in his heart. That was all gone and there was nothing but a calmness. And now, as he crouched behind the marker stone with the looped wire in his hand and another loop of it around his wrist and the gravel beside the road under his knees he was not lonely nor did he feel in any way alone. He was one with the wire in his hand and one with the bridge, and one with the charges the Inglés had placed. He was one with the Inglés still working under the bridge and he was one with all of the battle and with the Republic.

But there was no excitement. It was all calm now and the sun beat down on his neck and on his shoulders as he crouched and as he looked up he saw the high, cloudless sky and the slope of the mountain rising beyond the river and he was not happy but he was neither lonely nor afraid.

Up the hill slope Pilar lay behind a tree watching the road that came down from the pass. She had three loaded rifles by her and she handed one to Primitivo as he dropped down beside her.

“Get down there,” she said. “Behind that tree. Thou, gypsy, over there,” she pointed to another tree below. “Is he dead?”

“Nay. Not yet,” Primitivo said.

“It was bad luck,” Pilar said. “If we had had two more it need not have happened. He should have crawled around the sawdust pile. Is he all right there where he is?”

Primitivo shook his head.

“When the Inglés blows the bridge will fragments come this far?” the gypsy asked from behind his tree.

“I don’t know,” Pilar said. “But Agustín with the máquina is closer than thee. The Inglés would not have placed him there if it were too close.”

“But I remember with the blowing of the train the lamp of the engine blew by over my head and pieces of steel flew by like swallows.”

“Thou hast poetic memories,” Pilar said. “Like swallows. Joder! They were like wash boilers. Listen, gypsy, thou hast comported thyself well today. Now do not let thy fear catch up with thee.”

“Well, I only asked if it would blow this far so I might keep well behind the tree trunk,” the gypsy said.

“Keep it thus,” Pilar told him. “How many have we killed?”

“Pues five for us. Two here. Canst thou not see the other at the far end? Look there toward the bridge. See the box? Look! Dost see?” He pointed. “Then there were eight below for Pablo. I watched that post for the Inglés.”

Pilar grunted. Then she said violently and raging, “What passes with that Inglés? What is he obscenitying off under that bridge. Vaya mandanga! Is he building a bridge or blowing one?”

She raised her head and looked down at Anselmo crouched behind the stone marker.

“Hey, viejo!” she shouted. “What passes with thy obscenity of an Inglés?”

“Patience, woman,” Anselmo called up, holding the wire lightly but firmly. “He is terminating his work.”

“But what in the name of the great whore does he take so much time about?”

“Es muy concienzudo!” Anselmo shouted. “It is a scientific labor.”

“I obscenity in the milk of science,” Pilar raged to the gypsy. “Let the filth-faced obscenity blow it and be done. Maria!” she shouted in her deep voice up the hill. “Thy Inglés—” and she shouted a flood of obscenity about Jordan’s imaginary actions under the bridge.

“Calm yourself, woman,” Anselmo called from the road. “He is doing an enormous work. He is finishing it now.”

“The hell with it,” Pilar raged. “It is speed that counts.”

Just then they all heard firing start down the road where Pablo was holding the post he had taken. Pilar stopped cursing and listened. “Ay,” she said. “Ayee. Ayee. That’s it.”

Robert Jordan heard it as he swung the coil of wire up onto the bridge with one hand and then pulled himself up after it. As his knees rested on the edge of the iron of the bridge and his hands were on the surface he heard the machine gun firing around the bend below. It was a different sound from Pablo’s automatic rifle. He got to his feet, leaned over, passed his coil of wire clear and commenced to pay out wire as he walked backwards and sideways along the bridge.

He heard the firing and as he walked he felt it in the pit of his stomach as though it echoed on his own diaphragm. It was closer now as he walked and he looked back at the bend of the road. But it was still clear of any car, or tank or men. It was still clear when he was halfway to the end of the bridge. It was still clear when he was three quarters of the way, his wire running clear and unfouled, and it was still clear as he climbed around behind the sentry box, holding his wire out to keep it from catching on the iron work. Then he was on the road and it was still clear below on the road and then he was moving fast backwards up the little washed-out gully by the lower side of the road as an outfielder goes backwards for a long fly ball, keeping the wire taut, and now he was almost opposite Anselmo’s stone and it was still clear below the bridge.

Then he heard the truck coming down the road and he saw it over his shoulder just coming onto the long slope and he swung his wrist once around the wire and yelled to Anselmo, “Blow her!” and he dug his heels in and leaned back hard onto the tension of the wire with a turn of it around his wrist and the noise of the truck was coming behind and ahead there was the road with the dead sentry and the long bridge and the stretch of road below, still clear and then there was a cracking roar and the middle of the bridge rose up in the air like a wave breaking and he felt the blast from the explosion roll back against him as he dove on his face in the pebbly gully with his hands holding tight over his head. His face was down against the pebbles as the bridge settled where it had risen and the familiar yellow smell of it rolled over him in acrid smoke and then it commenced to rain pieces of steel.

After the steel stopped falling he was still alive and he raised his head and looked across the bridge. The center section of it was gone. There were jagged pieces of steel on the bridge with their bright, new torn edges and ends and these were all over the road. The truck had stopped up the road about a hundred yards. The driver and the two men who had been with him were running toward a culvert.

Fernando was still lying against the bank and he was still breathing. His arms straight by his sides, his hands relaxed.

Anselmo lay face down behind the white marking stone. His left arm was doubled under his head and his right arm was stretched straight out. The loop of wire was still around his right fist. Robert Jordan got to his feet, crossed the road, knelt by him and made sure that he was dead. He did not turn him over to see what the piece of steel had done. He was dead and that was all.

He looked very small, dead, Robert Jordan thought. He looked small and gray-headed and Robert Jordan thought, I wonder how he ever carried such big loads if that is the size he really was. Then he saw the shape of the calves and the thighs in the tight, gray herdsman’s breeches and the worn soles of the rope-soled shoes and he picked up Anselmo’s carbine and the two sacks, practically empty now and went over and picked up the rifle that lay beside Fernando. He kicked a jagged piece of steel off the surface of the road. Then he swung the two rifles over his shoulder, holding them by the muzzles, and started up the slope into the timber. He did not look back nor did he even look across the bridge at the road. They were still firing around the bend below but he cared nothing about that now.

He was coughing from the TNT fumes and he felt numb all through himself.

He put one of the rifles down by Pilar where she lay behind the tree. She looked and saw that made three rifles that she had again.

“You are too high up here,” he said. “There’s a truck up the road where you can’t see it. They thought it was planes. You better get farther down. I’m going down with Agustín to cover Pablo.”

“The old one?” she asked him, looking at his face.


He coughed again, wrackingly, and spat on the ground.

“Thy bridge is blown, Inglés,” Pilar looked at him. “Don’t forget that.”

“I don’t forget anything,” he said. “You have a big voice,” he said to Pilar. “I have heard thee bellow. Shout up to the Maria and tell her that I am all right.”

“We lost two at the sawmill,” Pilar said, trying to make him understand.

“So I saw,” Robert Jordan said. “Did you do something stupid?”

“Go and obscenity thyself, Inglés,” Pilar said. “Fernando and Eladio were men, too.”

“Why don’t you go up with the horses?” Robert Jordan said. “I can cover here better than thee.”

“Thou art to cover Pablo.”

“The hell with Pablo. Let him cover himself with mierda.”

“Nay, Inglés. He came back. He has fought much below there. Thou hast not listened? He is fighting now. Against something bad. Do you not hear?”

“I’ll cover him. But obscenity all of you. Thou and Pablo both.”

“Inglés,” Pilar said. “Calm thyself. I have been with thee in this as no one could be. Pablo did thee a wrong but he returned.”

“If I had had the exploder the old man would not have been killed. I could have blown it from here.”

“If, if, if—” Pilar said.

The anger and the emptiness and the hate that had come with the let-down after the bridge, when he had looked up from where he had lain and crouching, seen Anselmo dead, were still all through him. In him, too, was despair from the sorrow that soldiers turn to hatred in order that they may continue to be soldiers. Now it was over he was lonely, detached and unelated and he hated every one he saw.

“If there had been no snow—” Pilar said. And then, not suddenly, as a physical release could have been (if the woman would have put her arm around him, say) but slowly and from his head he began to accept it and let the hate go out. Sure, the snow. That had done it. The snow. Done itto others. Once you saw it again as it was to others, once you got rid of your own self, the always ridding of self that you had to do in war. Where there could be no self. Where yourself is only to be lost. Then, from his losing of it, he heard Pilar say, “Sordo—”

“What?” he said.


“Yes,” Robert Jordan said. He grinned at her, a cracked, stiff, too-tightened-facial-tendoned grin. “Forget it. I was wrong. I am sorry, woman. Let us do this well and all together. And the bridge is blown, as thou sayest.”

“Yes. Thou must think of things in their place.”

“Then I go now to Agustín. Put thy gypsy much farther down so that he can see well up the road. Give those guns to Primitivo and take this máquina. Let me show thee.”

“Keep the máquina,” Pilar said. “We will not be here any time. Pablo should come now and we will be going.”

“Rafael,” Robert Jordan said, “come down here with me. Here. Good. See those coming out of the culvert. There, above the truck? Coming toward the truck? Hit me one of those. Sit. Take it easy.”

The gypsy aimed carefully and fired and as he jerked the bolt back and ejected the shell Robert Jordan said, “Over. You threw against the rock above. See the rock dust? Lower, by two feet. Now, careful. They’re running. Good. Sigue tirando.”

“I got one,” the gypsy said. The man was down in the road halfway between the culvert and the truck. The other two did not stop to drag him. They ran for the culvert and ducked in.

“Don’t shoot at him,” Robert Jordan said. “Shoot for the top part of a front tire on the truck. So if you miss you’ll hit the engine. Good.” He watched with the glasses. “A little lower. Good. You shoot like hell. Mucho! Mucho! Shoot me the top of the radiator. Anywhere on the radiator. Thou art a champion. Look. Don’t let anything come past that point there. See?”

“Watch me break the windshield in the truck,” the gypsy said happily.

“Nay. The truck is already sick,” Robert Jordan said. “Hold thy fire until anything comes down the road. Start firing when it is opposite the culvert. Try to hit the driver. That you all should fire, then,” he spoke to Pilar who had come farther down the slope with Primitivo. “You are wonderfully placed here. See how that steepness guards thy flank?”

“That you should get about thy business with Agustín,” Pilar said. “Desist from thy lecture. I have seen terrain in my time.”

“Put Primitivo farther up there,” Robert Jordan said. “There. See, man? This side of where the bank steepens.”

“Leave me,” said Pilar. “Get along, Inglés. Thou and thy perfection. Here there is no problem.”

Just then they heard the planes.

Maria had been with the horses for a long time, but they were no comfort to her. Nor was she any to them. From where she was in the forest she could not see the road nor could she see the bridge and when the firing started she put her arm around the neck of the big white-faced bay stallion that she had gentled and brought gifts to many times when the horses had been in the corral in the trees below the camp. But her nervousness made the big stallion nervous, too, and he jerked his head, his nostrils widening at the firing and the noise of the bombs. Maria could not keep still and she walked around patting and gentling the horses and making them all more nervous and agitated.

She tried to think of the firing not as just a terrible thing that was happening, but to realize that it was Pablo below with the new men, and Pilar with the others above, and that she must not worry nor get into a panic but must have confidence in Roberto. But she could not do this and all the firing above and below the bridge and the distant sound of the battle that rolled down from the pass like the noise of a far-off storm with a dried, rolling rattle in it and the irregular beat of the bombs was simply a horrible thing that almost kept her from breathing.

Then later she heard Pilar’s big voice from away below on the hillside shouting up some obscenity to her that she could not understand and she thought, Oh, God no, no. Don’t talk like that with him in peril. Don’t offend any one and make useless risks. Don’t give any provocation.

Then she commenced to pray for Roberto quickly and automatically as she had done at school, saying the prayers as fast as she could and counting them on the fingers of her left hand, praying by tens of each of the two prayers she was repeating. Then the bridge blew and one horse snapped his halter when he rose and jerked his head at the cracking roar and he went off through the trees. Maria caught him finally and brought him back, shivering, trembling, his chest dark with sweat, the saddle down, and coming back through the trees she heard shooting below and she thought I cannot stand this longer. I cannot live not knowing any longer. I cannot breathe and my mouth is so dry. And I am afraid and I am no good and I frighten the horses and only caught this horse by hazard because he knocked the saddle down against a tree and caught himself kicking into the stirrups and now as I get the saddle up, Oh, God, I do not know. I cannot bear it. Oh please have him be all right for all my heart and all of me is at the bridge. The Republic is one thing and we must win is another thing. But, Oh, Sweet Blessed Virgin, bring him back to me from the bridge and I will do anything thou sayest ever. Because I am not here. There isn’t any me. I am only with him. Take care of him for me and that will be me and then I will do the things for thee and he will not mind. Nor will it be against the Republic. Oh, please forgive me for I am very confused. I am too confused now. But if thou takest care of him I will do whatever is right. I will do what he says and what you say. With the two of me I will do it. But this now not knowing I cannot endure.

Then, the horse tied again, she with the saddle up now, the blanket smoothed, hauling tight on the cinch she heard the big, deep voice from the timber below, “Maria! Maria! Thy Inglés is all right. Hear me? All right. Sin Novedad!”

Maria held the saddle with both hands and pressed her cropped head hard against it and cried. She heard the deep voice shouting again and she turned from the saddle and shouted, choking, “Yes! Thank you!” Then, choking again, “Thank you! Thank you very much!”

When they heard the planes they all looked up and the planes were coming from Segovia very high in the sky, silvery in the high sky, their drumming rising over all the other sounds.

“Those!” Pilar said. “There has only lacked those!”

Robert Jordan put his arm on her shoulders as he watched them. “Nay, woman,” he said. “Those do not come for us. Those have no time for us. Calm thyself.”

“I hate them.”

“Me too. But now I must go to Agustín.”

He circled the hillside through the pines and all the time there was the throbbing, drumming of the planes and across the shattered bridge on the road below, around the bend of the road there was the intermittent hammering fire of a heavy machine gun.

Robert Jordan dropped down to where Agustín lay in the clump of scrub pines behind the automatic rifle and more planes were coming all the time.

“What passes below?” Agustín said. “What is Pablo doing? Doesn’t he know the bridge is gone?”

“Maybe he can’t leave.”

“Then let us leave. The hell with him.”

“He will come now if he is able,” Robert Jordan said. “We should see him now.”

“I have not heard him,” Agustín said. “Not for five minutes. No. There! Listen! There he is. That’s him.”

There was a burst of the spot-spot-spotting fire of the cavalry submachine gun, then another, then another.

“That’s the bastard,” Robert Jordan said.

He watched still more planes coming over in the high cloudless blue sky and he watched Agustín’s face as he looked up at them. Then he looked down at the shattered bridge and across to the stretch of road which still was clear. He coughed and spat and listened to the heavy machine gun hammer again below the bend. It sounded to be in the same place that it was before.

“And what’s that?” Agustín asked. “What the unnameable is that?”

“It has been going since before I blew the bridge,” Robert Jordan said. He looked down at the bridge now and he could see the stream through the torn gap where the center had fallen, hanging like a bent steel apron. He heard the first of the planes that had gone over now bombing up above at the pass and more were still coming. The noise of their motors filled all the high sky and looking up he saw their pursuit, minute and tiny, circling and wheeling high above them.

“I don’t think they ever crossed the lines the other morning,” Primitivo said. “They must have swung off to the west and then come back. They could not be making an attack if they had seen these.”

“Most of these are new,” Robert Jordan said.

He had the feeling of something that had started normally and had then brought great, outsized, giant repercussions. It was as though you had thrown a stone and the stone made a ripple and the ripple returned roaring and toppling as a tidal wave. Or as though you shouted and the echo came back in rolls and peals of thunder, and the thunder was deadly. Or as though you struck one man and he fell and as far as you could see other men rose up all armed and armored. He was glad he was not with Golz up at the pass.

Lying there, by Agustín, watching the planes going over, listening for firing behind him, watching the road below where he knew he would see something but not what it would be, he still felt numb with the surprise that he had not been killed at the bridge. He had accepted being killed so completely that all of this now seemed unreal. Shake out of that, he said to himself. Get rid of that. There is much, much, much to be done today. But it would not leave him and he felt, consciously, all of this becoming like a dream.

“You swallowed too much of that smoke,” he told himself. But he knew it was not that. He could feel, solidly, how unreal it all was through the absolute reality and he looked down at the bridge and then back to the sentry lying on the road, to where Anselmo lay, to Fernando against the bank and back up the smooth, brown road to the stalled truck and still it was unreal.

“You better sell out your part of you quickly,” he told himself. “You’re like one of those cocks in the pit where nobody has seen the wound given and it doesn’t show and he is already going cold with it.”

“Nuts,” he said to himself. “You are a little groggy is all, and you have a let-down after responsibility, is all. Take it easy.”

Then Agustín grabbed his arm and pointed and he looked across the gorge and saw Pablo.

They saw Pablo come running around the corner of the bend in the road. At the sheer rock where the road went out of sight they saw him stop and lean against the rock and fire back up the road. Robert Jordan saw Pablo, short, heavy and stocky, his cap gone, leaning against the rock wall and firing the short cavalry automatic rifle and he could see the bright flicker of the cascading brass hulls as the sun caught them. They saw Pablo crouch and fire another burst. Then, without looking back, he came running, short, bowlegged, fast, his head bent down straight toward the bridge.

Robert Jordan had pushed Agustín over and he had the stock of the big automatic rifle against his shoulder and was sighting on the bend of the road. His own submachine gun lay by his left hand. It was not accurate enough for that range.

As Pablo came toward them Robert Jordan sighted on the bend but nothing came. Pablo had reached the bridge, looked over his shoulder once, glanced at the bridge, and then turned to his left and gone down into the gorge and out of sight. Robert Jordan was still watching the bend and nothing had come in sight. Agustín got up on one knee. He could see Pablo climbing down into the gorge like a goat. There had been no noise of firing below since they had first seen Pablo.

“You see anything up above? On the rocks above?” Robert Jordan asked.


Robert Jordan watched the bend of the road. He knew the wall just below that was too steep for any one to climb but below it eased and some one might have circled up above.

If things had been unreal before, they were suddenly real enough now. It was as though a reflex lens camera had been suddenly brought into focus. It was then he saw the low-bodied, angled snout and squat green, gray and brown-splashed turret with the projecting machine gun come around the bend into the bright sun. He fired on it and he could hear the spang against the steel. The little whippet tank scuttled back behind the rock wall. Watching the corner, Robert Jordan saw the nose just reappear, then the edge of the turret showed and the turret swung so that the gun was pointing down the road.

“It seems like a mouse coming out of his hole,” Agustín said. “Look, Inglés.”

“He has little confidence,” Robert Jordan said.

“This is the big insect Pablo has been fighting,” Agustín said. “Hit him again, Inglés.”

“Nay. I cannot hurt him. I don’t want him to see where we are.”

The tank commenced to fire down the road. The bullets hit the road surface and sung off and now they were pinging and clanging in the iron of the bridge. It was the same machine gun they had heard below.

“Cabrón!” Agustín said. “Is that the famous tanks, Inglés?”

“That’s a baby one.”

“Cabrón. If I had a baby bottle full of gasoline I would climb up there and set fire to him. What will he do, Inglés?”

“After a while he will have another look.”

“And these are what men fear,” Agustín said. “Look, Inglés! He’s rekilling the sentries.”

“Since he has no other target,” Robert Jordan said. “Do not reproach him.”

But he was thinking, Sure, make fun of him. But suppose it was you, way back here in your own country and they held you up with firing on the main road. Then a bridge was blown. Wouldn’t you think it was mined ahead or that there was a trap? Sure you would. He’s done all right. He’s waiting for something else to come up. He’s engaging the enemy. It’s only us. But he can’t tell that. Look at the little bastard.

The little tank had nosed a little farther around the corner.

Just then Agustín saw Pablo coming over the edge of the gorge, pulling himself over on hands and knees, his bristly face running with sweat.

“Here comes the son of a bitch,” he said.



Robert Jordan looked, saw Pablo, and then he commenced firing at the part of the camouflaged turret of the tank where he knew the slit above the machine gun would be. The little tank whirred backwards, scuttling out of sight and Robert Jordan picked up the automatic rifle, clamped the tripod against the barrel and swung the gun with its still hot muzzle over his shoulder. The muzzle was so hot it burned his shoulder and he shoved it far behind him turning the stock flat in his hand.

“Bring the sack of pans and my little máquina,” he shouted, “and come running.”

Robert Jordan ran up the hill through the pines. Agustín was close behind him and behind him Pablo was coming.

“Pilar!” Jordan shouted across the hill. “Come on, woman!”

The three of them were going as fast as they could up the steep slope. They could not run any more because the grade was too severe and Pablo, who had no load but the light cavalry submachine gun, had closed up with the other two.

“And thy people?” Agustín said to Pablo out of his dry mouth.

“All dead,” Pablo said. He was almost unable to breathe. Agustín turned his head and looked at him.

“We have plenty of horses now, Inglés,” Pablo panted.

“Good,” Robert Jordan said. The murderous bastard, he thought. “What did you encounter?”

“Everything,” Pablo said. He was breathing in lunges. “What passed with Pilar?”

“She lost Fernando and the brother—”

“Eladio,” Agustín said.

“And thou?” Pablo asked.

“I lost Anselmo.”

“There are lots of horses,” Pablo said. “Even for the baggage.”

Agustín bit his lip, looked at Robert Jordan and shook his head. Below them, out of sight through the trees, they heard the tank firing on the road and bridge again.

Robert Jordan jerked his head. “What passed with that?” he said to Pablo. He did not like to look at Pablo, nor to smell him, but he wanted to hear him.

“I could not leave with that there,” Pablo said. “We were barricaded at the lower bend of the post. Finally it went back to look for something and I came.”

“What were you shooting at, at the bend?” Agustín asked bluntly.

Pablo looked at him, started to grin, thought better of it, and said nothing.

“Did you shoot them all?” Agustín asked. Robert Jordan was thinking, keep your mouth shut. It is none of your business now. They have done all that you could expect and more. This is an intertribal matter. Don’t make moral judgments. What do you expect from a murderer? You’re working with a murderer. Keep your mouth shut. You knew enough about him before. This is nothing new. But you dirty bastard, he thought. You dirty, rotten bastard.

His chest was aching with climbing as though it would split after the running and ahead now through the trees he saw the horses.

“Go ahead,” Agustín was saying. “Why do you not say you shot them?”

“Shut up,” Pablo said. “I have fought much today and well. Ask the Inglés.”

“And now get us through today,” Robert Jordan said. “For it is thee who has the plan for this.”

“I have a good plan,” Pablo said. “With a little luck we will be all right.”

He was beginning to breathe better.

“You’re not going to kill any of us, are you?” Agustín said. “For I will kill thee now.”

“Shut up,” Pablo said. “I have to look after thy interest and that of the band. This is war. One cannot do what one would wish.”

“Cabrón,” said Agustín. “You take all the prizes.”

“Tell me what thou encountered below,” Robert Jordan said to Pablo.

“Everything,” Pablo repeated. He was still breathing as though it were tearing his chest but he could talk steadily now and his face and head were running with sweat and his shoulders and chest were soaked with it. He looked at Robert Jordan cautiously to see if he were really friendly and then he grinned. “Everything,” he said again. “First we took the post. Then came a motorcyclist. Then another. Then an ambulance. Then a camion. Then the tank. Just before thou didst the bridge.”


“The tank could not hurt us but we could not leave for it commanded the road. Then it went away and I came.”

“And thy people?” Agustín put in, still looking for trouble.

“Shut up,” Pablo looked at him squarely, and his face was the face of a man who had fought well before any other thing had happened. “They were not of our band.”

Now they could see the horses tied to the trees, the sun coming down on them through the pine branches and them tossing their heads and kicking against the botflies and Robert Jordan saw Maria and the next thing he was holding her tight, tight, with the automatic rifle leaning against his side, the flash-cone pressing against his ribs and Maria saying, “Thou, Roberto. Oh, thou.”

“Yes, rabbit. My good, good rabbit. Now we go.”

“Art thou here truly?”

“Yes. Yes. Truly. Oh, thou!”

He had never thought that you could know that there was a woman if there was battle; nor that any part of you could know it, or respond to it; nor that if there was a woman that she should have breasts small, round and tight against you through a shirt; nor that they, the breasts, could know about the two of them in battle. But it was true and he thought, good. That’s good. I would not have believed that and he held her to him once hard, hard, but he did not look at her, and then he slapped her where he never had slapped her and said, “Mount. Mount. Get on that saddle, guapa.”

Then they were untying the halters and Robert Jordan had given the automatic rifle back to Agustín and slung his own submachine gun over his back, and he was putting bombs out of his pockets into the saddlebags, and he stuffed one empty pack inside the other and tied that one behind his saddle. Then Pilar came up, so breathless from the climb she could not talk, but only motioned.

Then Pablo stuffed three hobbles he had in his hand into a saddlebag, stood up and said, “Qué tal, woman?” and she only nodded, and then they were all mounting.

Robert Jordan was on the big gray he had first seen in the snow of the morning of the day before and he felt that it was much horse between his legs and under his hands. He was wearing rope-soled shoes and the stirrups were a little too short; his submachine gun was slung over his shoulder, his pockets were full of clips and he was sitting reloading the one used clip, the reins under one arm, tight, watching Pilar mount into a strange sort of seat on top of the duffle lashed onto the saddle of the buckskin.

“Cut that stuff loose for God’s sake,” Primitivo said. “Thou wilt fall and the horse cannot carry it.”

“Shut up,” said Pilar. “We go to make a life with this.”

“Canst ride like that, woman?” Pablo asked her from the guardia civil saddle on the great bay horse.

“Like any milk peddler,” Pilar told him. “How do you go, old one?”

“Straight down. Across the road. Up the far slope and into the timber where it narrows.”

“Across the road?” Agustín wheeled beside him, kicking his soft-heeled, canvas shoes against the stiff, unresponding belly of one of the horses Pablo had recruited in the night.

“Yes, man. It is the only way,” Pablo said. He handed him one of the lead ropes. Primitivo and the gypsy had the others.

“Thou canst come at the end if thou will, Inglés,” Pablo said. “We cross high enough to be out of range of that máquina. But we will go separately and riding much and then be together where it narrows above.”

“Good,” said Robert Jordan.

They rode down through the timber toward the edge of the road. Robert Jordan rode just behind Maria. He could not ride beside her for the timber. He caressed the gray once with his thigh muscles, and then held him steady as they dropped down fast and sliding through the pines, telling the gray with his thighs as they dropped down what the spurs would have told him if they had been on level ground.

“Thou,” he said to Maria, “go second as they cross the road. First is not so bad though it seems bad. Second is good. It is later that they are always watching for.”

“But thou—”

“I will go suddenly. There will be no problem. It is the places in line that are bad.”

He was watching the round, bristly head of Pablo, sunk in his shoulders as he rode, his automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. He was watching Pilar, her head bare, her shoulders broad, her knees higher than her thighs as her heels hooked into the bundles. She looked back at him once and shook her head.

“Pass the Pilar before you cross the road,” Robert Jordan said to Maria.

Then he was looking through the thinning trees and he saw the oiled dark of the road below and beyond it the green slope of the hillside. We are above the culvert, he saw, and just below the height where the road drops down straight toward the bridge in that long sweep. We are around eight hundred yards above the bridge. That is not out of range for the Fiat in that little tank if they have come up to the bridge.

“Maria,” he said. “Pass the Pilar before we reach the road and ride wide up that slope.”

She looked back at him but did not say anything. He did not look at her except to see that she had understood.

“Comprendes?” he asked her.

She nodded.

“Move up,” he said.

She shook her head.

“Move up!”

“Nay,” she told him, turning around and shaking her head. “I go in the order that I am to go.”

Just then Pablo dug both his spurs into the big bay and he plunged down the last pine-needled slope and cross the road in a pounding, sparking of shod hooves. The others came behind him and Robert Jordan saw them crossing the road and slamming on up the green slope and heard the machine gun hammer at the bridge. Then he heard a noise come sweeeish-crack-boom! The boom was a sharp crack that widened in the cracking and on the hillside he saw a small fountain of earth rise with a plume of gray smoke. Sweeish-crack-boom! It came again, the swishing like the noise of a rocket and there was another up-pulsing of dirt and smoke farther up the hillside.

Ahead of him the gypsy was stopped beside the road in the shelter of the last trees. He looked ahead at the slope and then he looked back toward Robert Jordan.

“Go ahead, Rafael,” Robert Jordan said. “Gallop, man!”

The gypsy was holding the lead rope with the pack-horse pulling his head taut behind him.

“Drop the pack-horse and gallop!” Robert Jordan said.

He saw the gypsy’s hand extended behind him, rising higher and higher, seeming to take forever as his heels kicked into the horse he was riding and the rope came taut, then dropped, and he was across the road and Robert Jordan was kneeing against a frightened packhorse that bumped back into him as the gypsy crossed the hard, dark road and he heard his horse’s hooves clumping as he galloped up the slope.

Wheeeeeeish-ca-rack! The flat trajectory of the shell came and he saw the gypsy jink like a running boar as the earth spouted the little black and gray geyser ahead of him. He watched him galloping, slow and reaching now, up the long green slope and the gun threw behind him and ahead of him and he was under the fold of the hill with the others.

I can’t take the damned pack-horse, Robert Jordan thought. Though I wish I could keep the son of a bitch on my off side. I’d like to have him between me and that 47 mm. they’re throwing with. By God, I’ll try to get him up there anyway.

He rode up to the pack-horse, caught hold of the hackamore, and then, holding the rope, the horse trotting behind him, rode fifty yards up through the trees. At the edge of the trees he looked down the road past the truck to the bridge. He could see men out on the bridge and behind it looked like a traffic jam on the road. Robert Jordan looked around, saw what he wanted finally and reached up and broke a dead limb from a pine tree. He dropped the hackamore, edged the pack-horse up to the slope that slanted down to the road and then hit him hard across the rump with the tree branch. “Go on, you son of a bitch,” he said, and threw the dead branch after him as the pack-horse crossed the road and started across the slope. The branch hit him and the horse broke from a run into a gallop.

Robert Jordan rode thirty yards farther up the road; beyond that the bank was too steep. The gun was firing now with the rocket whish and the cracking, dirt-spouting boom. “Come on, you big gray fascist bastard,” Robert Jordan said to the horse and put him down the slope in a sliding plunge. Then he was out in the open, over the road that was so hard under the hooves he felt the pound of it come up all the way to his shoulders, his neck and his teeth, onto the smooth of the slope, the hooves finding it, cutting it, pounding it, reaching, throwing, going, and he looked down across the slope to where the bridge showed now at a new angle he had never seen. It crossed in profile now without foreshortening and in the center was the broken place and behind it on the road was the little tank and behind the little tank was a big tank with a gun that flashed now yellow-bright as a mirror and the screech as the air ripped apart seemed almost over the gray neck that stretched ahead of him, and he turned his head as the dirt fountained up the hillside. The pack-horse was ahead of him swinging too far to the right and slowing down and Robert Jordan, galloping, his head turned a little toward the bridge, saw the line of trucks halted behind the turn that showed now clearly as he was gaining height, and he saw the bright yellow flash that signalled the instant whish and boom, and the shell fell short, but he heard the metal sailing from where the dirt rose.

He saw them all ahead in the edge of the timber watching him and he said, “Arre caballo! Go on, horse!” and felt his big horse’s chest surging with the steepening of the slope and saw the gray neck stretching and the gray ears ahead and he reached and patted the wet gray neck, and he looked back at the bridge and saw the bright flash from the heavy, squat, mud-colored tank there on the road and then he did not hear any whish but only a banging acrid smelling clang like a boiler being ripped apart and he was under the gray horse and the gray horse was kicking and he was trying to pull out from under the weight.

He could move all right. He could move toward the right. But his left leg stayed perfectly flat under the horse as he moved to the right. It was as though there was a new joint in it; not the hip joint but another one that went sideways like a hinge. Then he knew what it was all right and just then the gray horse knee-ed himself up and Robert Jordan’s right leg, that had kicked the stirrup loose just as it should, slipped clear over the saddle and came down beside him and he felt with his two hands of his thigh bone where the left leg lay flat against the ground and his hands both felt the sharp bone and where it pressed against the skin.

The gray horse was standing almost over him and he could see his ribs heaving. The grass was green where he sat and there were meadow flowers in it and he looked down the slope across to the road and the bridge and the gorge and the road and saw the tank and waited for the next flash. It came almost at once with again no whish and in the burst of it, with the smell of the high explosive, the dirt clods scattering and the steel whirring off, he saw the big gray horse sit quietly down beside him as though it were a horse in a circus. And then, looking at the horse sitting there, he heard the sound the horse was making.

Then Primitivo and Agustín had him under the armpits and were dragging him up the last slope and the new joint in his leg let it swing any way the ground swung it. Once a shell whished close over them and they dropped him and fell flat, but the dirt scattered over them and and the metal sung off and they picked him up again. And then they had him up to the shelter of the long draw in the timber where the horses were, and Maria, Pilar and Pablo were standing over him.

Maria was kneeling by him and saying, “Roberto, what hast thou?”

He said, sweating heavily, “The left leg is broken, guapa.”

“We will bind it up,” Pilar said. “Thou canst ride that.” She pointed to one of the horses that was packed. “Cut off the load.”

Robert Jordan saw Pablo shake his head and he nodded at him.

“Get along,” he said. Then he said, “Listen, Pablo. Come here.”

The sweat-streaked, bristly face bent down by him and Robert Jordan smelt the full smell of Pablo.

“Let us speak,” he said to Pilar and Maria. “I have to speak to Pablo.”

“Does it hurt much?” Pablo asked. He was bending close over Robert Jordan.

“No. I think the nerve is crushed. Listen. Get along. I am mucked, see? I will talk to the girl for a moment. When I say to take her, take her. She will want to stay. I will only speak to her for a moment.”

“Clearly, there is not much time,” Pablo said.


“I think you would do better in the Republic,” Robert Jordan said.

“Nay. I am for Gredos.”

“Use thy head.”

“Talk to her now,” Pablo said. “There is little time. I am sorry thou hast this, Inglés.”

“Since I have it—” Robert Jordan said. “Let us not speak of it. But use thy head. Thou hast much head. Use it.”

“Why would I not?” said Pablo. “Talk now fast, Inglés. There is no time.”

Pablo went over to the nearest tree and watched down the slope, across the slope and up the road across the gorge. Pablo was looking at the gray horse on the slope with true regret on his face and Pilar and Maria were with Robert Jordan where he sat against the tree trunk.

“Slit the trouser, will thee?” he said to Pilar. Maria crouched by him and did not speak. The sun was on her hair and her face was twisted as a child’s contorts before it cries. But she was not crying.

Pilar took her knife and slit his trouser leg down below the lefthand pocket. Robert Jordan spread the cloth with his hands and looked at the stretch of his thigh. Ten inches below the hip joint there was a pointed, purple swelling like a sharp-peaked little tent and as he touched it with his fingers he could feel the snapped-off thigh bone tight against the skin. His leg was lying at an odd angle. He looked up at Pilar. Her face had the same expression as Maria’s.

“Anda,” he said to her. “Go.”

She went away with her head down without saying anything nor looking back and Robert Jordan could see her shoulders shaking.

“Guapa,” he said to Maria and took hold of her two hands. “Listen. We will not be going to Madrid—”

Then she started to cry.

“No, guapa, don’t,” he said. “Listen. We will not go to Madrid now but I go always with thee wherever thou goest. Understand?”

She said nothing and pushed her head against his cheek with her arms around him.

“Listen to this well, rabbit,” he said. He knew there was a great hurry and he was sweating very much, but this had to be said and understood. “Thou wilt go now, rabbit. But I go with thee. As long as there is one of us there is both of us. Do you understand?”

“Nay, I stay with thee.”

“Nay, rabbit. What I do now I do alone. I could not do it well with thee. If thou goest then I go, too. Do you not see how it is? Whichever one there is, is both.”

“I will stay with thee.”

“Nay, rabbit. Listen. That people cannot do together. Each one must do it alone. But if thou goest then I go with thee. It is in that way that I go too. Thou wilt go now, I know. For thou art good and kind. Thou wilt go now for us both.”

“But it is easier if I stay with thee,” she said. “It is better for me.”

“Yes. Therefore go for a favor. Do it for me since it is what thou canst do.”

“But you don’t understand, Roberto. What about me? It is worse for me to go.”

“Surely,” he said. “It is harder for thee. But I am thee also now.”

She said nothing.

He looked at her and he was sweating heavily and he spoke now, trying harder to do something than he had ever tried in all his life.

“Now you will go for us both,” he said. “You must not be selfish, rabbit. You must do your duty now.”

She shook her head.

“You are me now,” he said. “Surely thou must feel it, rabbit.

“Rabbit, listen,” he said. “Truly thus I go too. I swear it to thee.”

She said nothing.

“Now you see it,” he said. “Now I see it is clear. Now thou wilt go. Good. Now you are going. Now you have said you will go.”

She had said nothing.

“Now I thank thee for it. Now you are going well and fast and far and we both go in thee. Now put thy hand here. Now put thy head down. Nay, put it down. That is right. Now I put my hand there. Good. Thou art so good. Now do not think more. Now art thou doing what thou should. Now thou art obeying. Not me but us both. The me in thee. Now you go for us both. Truly. We both go in thee now. This I have promised thee. Thou art very good to go and very kind.”

He jerked his head at Pablo, who was half-looking at him from the tree and Pablo started over. He motioned with his thumb to Pilar.

“We will go to Madrid another time, rabbit,” he said. “Truly. Now stand up and go and we both go. Stand up. See?”

“No,” she said and held him tight around the neck.

He spoke now still calmly and reasonably but with great authority.

“Stand up,” he said. “Thou art me too now. Thou art all there will be of me. Stand up.”

She stood up slowly, crying, and with her head down. Then she dropped quickly beside him and then stood up again, slowly and tiredly, as he said, “Stand up, guapa.”

Pilar was holding her by the arm and she was standing there.

“Vamonos,” Pilar said. “Dost lack anything, Inglés?” She looked at him and shook her head.

“No,” he said and went on talking to Maria.

“There is no good-by, guapa, because we are not apart. That it should be good in the Gredos. Go now. Go good. Nay,” he spoke now still calmly and reasonably as Pilar walked the girl along. “Do not turn around. Put thy foot in. Yes. Thy foot in. Help her up,” he said to Pilar. “Get her in the saddle. Swing up now.”

He turned his head, sweating, and looked down the slope, then back toward where the girl was in the saddle with Pilar by her and Pablo just behind. “Now go,” he said. “Go.”

She started to look around. “Don’t look around,” Robert Jordan said. “Go.” And Pablo hit the horse across the crupper with a hobbling strap and it looked as though Maria tried to slip from the saddle but Pilar and Pablo were riding close up against her and Pilar was holding her and the three horses were going up the draw.

“Roberto,” Maria turned and shouted. “Let me stay! Let me stay!”

“I am with thee,” Robert Jordan shouted. “I am with thee now. We are both there. Go!” Then they were out of sight around the corner of the draw and he was soaking wet with sweat and looking at nothing.

Agustín was standing by him.

“Do you want me to shoot thee, Inglés?” he asked, leaning down close. “Quieres? It is nothing.”

“No hace falta,” Robert Jordan said. “Get along. I am very well here.”

“Me cago en la leche que me han dado!” Agustín said. He was crying so he could not see Robert Jordan clearly. “Salud, Inglés.”

“Salud, old one,” Robert Jordan said. He was looking down the slope now. “Look well after the cropped head, wilt thou?”

“There is no problem,” Agustín said. “Thou has what thou needest?”

“There are very few shells for this máquina, so I will keep it,” Robert Jordan said. “Thou canst now get more. For that other and the one of Pablo, yes.”

“I cleaned out the barrel,” Agustín said. “Where thou plugged it in the dirt with the fall.”

“What became of the pack-horse?”

“The gypsy caught it.”

Agustín was on the horse now but he did not want to go. He leaned far over toward the tree where Robert Jordan lay.

“Go on, viejo,” Robert Jordan said to him. “In war there are many things like this.”

“Qué puta es Ia guerra,” Agustín said. “War is a bitchery.”

“Yes, man, yes. But get on with thee.”

“Salud, Inglés,” Agustín said, clenching his right fist.

“Salud,” Robert Jordan said. “But get along, man.”

Agustín wheeled his horse and brought his right fist down as though he cursed again with the motion of it and rode up the draw. All the others had been out of sight long before. He looked back where the draw turned in the timber and waved his fist. Robert Jordan waved and then Agustín, too, was out of sight.. . . Robert Jordan looked down the green slope of the hillside to the road and the bridge. I’m as well this way as any, he thought. It wouldn’t be worth risking getting over on my belly yet, not as close as that thing was to the surface, and I can see better this way.

He felt empty and drained and exhausted from all of it and from them going and his mouth tasted of bile. Now, finally and at last, there was no problem. however all of it had been and however all of it would ever be now, for him, no longer was there any problem.

They were all gone now and he was alone with his back against a tree. He looked down across the green slope, seeing the gray horse where Agustín had shot him, and on down the slope to the road with the timber-covered country behind it. Then he looked at the bridge and across the bridge and watched the activity on the bridge and the road. He could see the trucks now, all down the lower road. The gray of the trucks showed through the trees. Then he looked back up the road to where it came down over the hill. They will be coming soon now, he thought.

Pilar will take care of her as well as any one can. You know that. Pablo must have a sound plan or he would not have tried it. You do not have to worry about Pablo. It does no good to think about Maria. Try to believe what you told her. That is the best. And who says it is not true? Not you. You don’t say it, any more than you would say the things did not happen that happened. Stay with what you believe now. Don’t get cynical. The time is too short and you have just sent her away. Each one does what he can. You can do nothing for yourself but perhaps you can do something for another. Well, we had all our luck in four days. Not four days. It was afternoon when I first got there and it will not be noon today. That makes not quite three days and three nights. Keep it accurate, he said. Quite accurate.

I think you better get down now, he thought. You better get fixed around some way where you will be useful instead of leaning against this tree like a tramp. You have had much luck. There are many worse things than this. Every one has to do this, one day or another. You are not afraid of it once you know you have to do it, are you? No, he said, truly. It was lucky the nerve was crushed, though. I cannot even feel that there is anything below the break. He touched the lower part of his leg and it was as though it were not part of his body.

He looked down the hill slope again and he thought, I hate to leave it, is all. I hate to leave it very much and I hope I have done some good in it. I have tried to with what talent I had. Have, you mean. All right, have.

I have fought for what I believed in for a year now. If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it. And you had a lot of luck, he told himself, to have had such a good life. You’ve had just as good a life as grandfather’s though not as long. You’ve had as good a life as any one because of these last days. You do not want to complain when you have been so lucky. I wish there was some way to pass on what I’ve learned, though. Christ, I was learning fast there at the end. I’d like to talk to Karkov. That is in Madrid. Just over the hills there, and down across the plain. Down out of the gray rocks and the pines, the heather and the gorse, across the yellow high plateau you see it rising white and beautiful. That part is just as true as Pilar’s old women drinking the blood down at the slaughterhouse. There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true. The way the planes are beautiful whether they are ours or theirs. The hell they are, he thought.

You take it easy, now, he said. Get turned over now while you still have time. Listen, one thing. Do you remember? Pilar and the hand? Do you believe that crap? No, he said. Not with everything that’s happened? No, I don’t believe it. She was nice about it early this morning before the show started. She was afraid maybe I believed it. I don’t, though. But she does. They see something. Or they feel something. Like a bird dog. What about extra-sensory perception? What about obscenity? he said. She wouldn’t say good-by, he thought, because she knew if she did Maria would never go. That Pilar. Get yourself turned over, Jordan. But he was reluctant to try it.

Then he remembered that he had the small flask in his hip pocket and he thought, I’ll take a good spot of the giant killer and then I’ll try it. But the flask was not there when he felt for it. Then he felt that much more alone because he knew there was not going to be even that. I guess I’d counted on that, he said.

Do you suppose Pablo took it? Don’t be silly. You must have lost it at the bridge. “Come on now, Jordan,” he said. “Over you go.”

Then he took hold of his left leg with both hands and pulled on it hard, pulling toward the foot while he lay down beside the tree he had been resting his back against. Then lying flat and pulling hard on the leg, so the broken end of the bone would not come up and cut through the thigh, he turned slowly around on his rump until the back of his head was facing downhill. Then with his broken leg, held by both hands, uphill, he put the sole of his right foot against the instep of his left foot and pressed hard while he rolled, sweating, over onto his face and chest. He got onto his elbows, stretched the left leg well behind him with both hands and a far, sweating, push with the right foot and there he was. He felt with his fingers on the left thigh and it was all right. The bone end had not punctured the skin and the broken end was well into the muscle now.

The big nerve must have been truly smashed when that damned horse rolled on it, he thought. It truly doesn’t hurt at all. Except now in certain changes of positions. That’s when the bone pinches something else. You see? he said. You see what luck is? You didn’t need the giant killer at all.

He reached over for the submachine gun, took the clip out that was in the magazine, felt in his pocket for clips, opened the action and looked through the barrel, put the clip back into the groove of the magazine until it clicked, and then looked down the hill slope. Maybe half an hour, he thought. Now take it easy.

Then he looked at the hillside and he looked at the pines and he tried not to think at all.

Then he looked at the stream and he remembered how it had been under the bridge in the cool of the shadow. I wish they would come, he thought. I do not want to get in any sort of mixed-up state before they come.

Who do you suppose has it easier? Ones with religion or just taking it straight? It comforts them very much but we know there is no thing to fear. It is only missing it that’s bad. Dying is only bad when it takes a long time and hurts so much that it humiliates you. That is where you have all the luck, see? You don’t have any of that.

It’s wonderful they’ve got away. I don’t mind this at all now they are away. It is sort of the way I said. It is really very much that way. Look how different it would be if they were all scattered out across that hill where that gray horse is. Or if we were all cooped up here waiting for it. No. They’re gone. They’re away. Now if the attack were only a success. What do you want? Everything. I want everything and I will take whatever I get. If this attack is no good another one will be. I never noticed when the planes came back. God, that was lucky I could make her go.

I’d like to tell grandfather about this one. I’ll bet he never had to go over and find his people and do a show like this. How do you know? He may have done fifty. No, he said. Be accurate. Nobody did any fifty like this one. Nobody did five. Nobody did one maybe not just like this. Sure. They must have.

I wish they would come now, he said. I wish they would come right now because the leg is starting to hurt now. It must be the swelling.

We were going awfully good when that thing hit us, he thought. But it was only luck it didn’t come while I was under the bridge. When a thing is wrong something’s bound to happen. You were bitched when they gave Golz those orders. That was what you knew and it was probably that which Pilar felt. But later on we will have these things much better organized. We ought to have portable short wave transmitters. Yes, there’s a lot of things we ought to have. I ought to carry a spare leg, too.

He grinned at that sweatily because the leg, where the big nerve had been bruised by the fall, was hurting badly now. Oh, let them come, he said. I don’t want to do that business that my father did. I will do it all right but I’d much prefer not to have to. I’m against that. Don’t think about that. Don’t think at all. I wish the bastards would come, he said. I wish so very much they’d come.

His leg was hurting very badly now. The pain had started suddenly with the swelling after he had moved and he said, Maybe I’ll just do it now. I guess I’m not awfully good at pain. Listen, if I do that now you wouldn’t misunderstand, would you? Who are you talking to? Nobody, he said. Grandfather, I guess. No. Nobody. Oh bloody it, I wish that they would come.

Listen, I may have to do that because if I pass out or anything like that I am no good at all and if they bring me to they will ask me a lot of questions and do things and all and that is no good. It’s much best not to have them do those things. So why wouldn’t it be all right to just do it now and then the whole thing would be over with? Because oh, listen, yes, listen, let them come now.

You’re not good at this, Jordan, he said. Not so good at this. And who is so good at this? I don’t know and I don’t really care right now. But you are not. That’s right. You’re not at all. Oh not at all, at all. I think it would be all right to do it now? Don’t you?

No, it isn’t. Because there is something you can do yet. As long as you know what it is you have to do it. As long as you remember what it is you have to wait for that. Come on. Let them come. Let them come. Let them come!

Think about them being away, he said. Think about them going through the timber. Think about them crossing a creek. Think about them riding through the heather. Think about them going up the slope. Think about them O.K. tonight. Think about them travelling, all night. Think about them hiding up tomorrow. Think about them. God damn it, think about them. That’s just as far as I can think about them, he said.

Think about Montana. I can’t. Think about Madrid. I can’t. Think about a cool drink of water. All right. That’s what it will be like. Like a cool drink of water. You’re a liar. It will just be nothing. That’s all it will be. Just nothing. Then do it. Do it. Do it now. It’s all right to do it now. Go on and do it now. No, you have to wait. What for? You know all right. Then wait.

I can’t wait any longer now, he said. If I wait any longer I’ll pass out. I know because I’ve felt it starting to go three times now and I’ve held it. I held it all right. But I don’t know about any more. What I think is you’ve got an internal hemorrhage there from where that thigh bone’s cut around inside. Especially on that turning business. That makes the swelling and that’s what weakens you and makes you start to pass. It would be all right to do it now. Really, I’m telling you that it would be all right.

And if you wait and hold them up even a little while or just get the officer that may make all the difference. One thing well done can make—

All right, he said. And he lay very quietly and tried to hold on to himself that he felt slipping away from himself as you feel snow starting to slip sometimes on a mountain slope, and he said, now quietly, then let me last until they come.

Robert Jordan’s luck held very good because he saw, just then, the cavalry ride out of the timber and cross the road. He watched them coming riding up the slope. He saw the trooper who stopped by the gray horse and shouted to the officer who rode over to him. He watched them both looking down at the gray horse. They recognized him of course. He and his rider had been missing since the early morning of the day before.

Robert Jordan saw them there on the slope, close to him now, and below he saw the road and the bridge and the long lines of vehicles below it. He was completely integrated now and he took a good long look at everything. Then he looked up at the sky. There were big white clouds in it. He touched the palm of his hand against the pine needles where he lay and he touched the bark of the pine trunk that he lay behind.

Then he rested easily as he could with his two elbows in the pine needles and the muzzle of the submachine gun resting against the trunk of the pine tree.

As the officer came trotting now on the trail of the horses of the band he would pass twenty yards below where Robert Jordan lay. At that distance there would be no problem. The officer was Lieutenant Berrendo. He had come up from La Granja when they had been ordered up after the first report of the attack on the lower post. They had ridden hard and had then had to swing back, because the bridge had been blown, to cross the gorge high above and come around through the timber. Their horses were wet and blown and they had to be urged into the trot.

Lieutenant Berrendo, watching the trail, came riding up, his thin face serious and grave. His submachine gun lay across his saddle in the crook of his left arm. Robert Jordan lay behind the tree, holding onto himself very carefully and delicately to keep his hands steady. He was waiting until the officer reached the sunlit place where the first trees of the pine forest joined the green slope of the meadow. He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.