For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 8

It was cold in the night and Robert Jordan slept heavily. Once he woke and, stretching, realized that the girl was there, curled far down in the robe, breathing lightly and regularly, and in the dark, bringing his head in from the cold, the sky hard and sharp with stars, the air cold in his nostrils, he put his head under the warmth of the robe and kissed her smooth shoulder. She did not wake and he rolled onto his side away from her and with his head out of the robe in the cold again, lay awake a moment feeling the long, seeping luxury of his fatigue and then the smooth tactile happiness of their two bodies touching and then, as he pushed his legs out deep as they would go in the robe, he slipped down steeply into sleep.

He woke at first daylight and the girl was gone. He knew it as he woke and, putting out his arm, he felt the robe warm where she had been. He looked at the mouth of the cave where the blanket showed frost-rimmed and saw the thin gray smoke from the crack in the rocks that meant the kitchen fire was lighted.

A man came out of the timber, a blanket worn over his head like a poncho Robert Jordan saw it was Pablo and that he was smoking a cigarette. He’s been down corralling the horses, he thought.

Pablo pulled open the blanket and went into the cave without looking toward Robert Jordan.

Robert Jordan felt with his hand the light frost that lay on the worn, spotted green balloon silk outer covering of the five-year-old down robe, then settled into it again. Bueno, he said to himself, feeling the familiar caress of the flannel lining as he spread his legs wide, then drew them together and then turned on his side so that his head would be away from the direction where he knew the sun would come. Qué más da, I might as well sleep some more.

He slept until the sound of airplane motors woke him.

Lying on his back, he saw them, a fascist patrol of three Fiats, tiny, bright, fast-moving across the mountain sky, headed in the direction from which Anselmo and he had come yesterday. The three passed and then came nine more, flying much higher in the minute, pointed formations of threes, threes and threes.

Pablo and the gypsy were standing at the cave mouth, in the shadow, watching the sky and as Robert Jordan lay still, the sky now full of the high hammering roar of motors, there was a new droning roar and three more planes came over at less than a thousand feet above the clearing. These three were Heinkel one-elevens, twin-motor bombers.

Robert Jordan, his head in the shadow of the rocks, knew they would not see him, and that it did not matter if they did. He knew they could possibly see the horses in the corral if they were looking for anything in these mountains. If they were not looking for anything they might still see them but would naturally take them for some of their own cavalry mounts. Then came a new and louder droning roar and three more Heinkel one-elevens showed coming steeply, stiffly, lower yet, crossing in rigid formation, their pounding roar approaching in crescendo to an absolute of noise and then receding as they passed the clearing.

Robert Jordan unrolled the bundle of clothing that made his pillow and pulled on his shirt. It was over his head and he was pulling it down when he heard the next planes coming and he pulled his trousers on under the robe and lay still as three more of the Heinkel bimotor bombers came over. Before they were gone over the shoulder of the mountain, he had buckled on his pistol, rolled the robe and placed it against the rocks and sat now, close against the rocks, tying his rope-soled shoes when the approaching droning turned to a greater clattering roar than ever before and nine more Heinkel light bombers came in echelons; hammering the sky apart as they went over.

Robert Jordan slipped along the rocks to the mouth of the cave where one of the brothers, Pablo, the gypsy, Anselmo, Agustín and the woman stood in the mouth looking out.

“Have there been planes like this before?” he asked.

“Never,” said Pablo. “Get in. They will see thee.”

The sun had not yet hit the mouth of the cave. It was just now shining on the meadow by the stream and Robert Jordan knew they could not be seen in the dark, early morning shadow of the trees and the solid shade the rocks made, but he went in the cave in order not to make them nervous.

“They are many,” the woman said.

“And there will be more,” Robert Jordan said.

“How do you know?” Pablo asked suspiciously.

“Those, just now, will have pursuit planes with them.”

Just then they heard them, the higher, whining drone, and as they passed at about five thousand feet, Robert Jordan counted fifteen Fiats in echelon of echelons like a wild-goose flight of the V-shaped threes.

In the cave entrance their faces all looked very sober and Robert Jordan said, “You have not seen this many planes?”

“Never,” said Pablo.

“There are not many at Segovia?”

“Never has there been, we have seen three usually. Sometimes six of the chasers. Perhaps three Junkers, the big ones with the three motors, with the chasers with them. Never have we seen planes like this.”

It is bad, Robert Jordan thought. This is really bad. Here is a concentration of planes which means something very bad. I must listen for them to unload. But no, they cannot have brought up the troops yet for the attack. Certainly not before tonight or tomorrow night, certainly not yet. Certainly they will not be moving anything at this hour.

He could still hear the receding drone. He looked at his watch. By now they should be over the lines, the first ones anyway. He Pushed the knob that set the second hand to clicking and watched it move around. No, perhaps not yet. By now. Yes. Well over by now. Two hundred and fifty miles an hour for those one-elevens anyway. Five minutes would carry them there. By now they’re well beyond the pass with Castile all yellow and tawny beneath them now in the morning, the yellow crossed by white roads and spotted with the small villages and the shadows of the Heinkels moving over the land as the shadows of sharks pass over a sandy floor of the ocean.

There was no bump, bump, bumping thud of bombs. His watch ticked on.

They’re going on to Colmenar, to Escorial, or to the flying field at Manzanares el Real, he thought, with the old castle above the lake with the ducks in the reeds and the fake airfield just behind the real field with the dummy planes, not quite hidden, their props turning in the wind. That’s where they must be headed. They can’t know about the attack, he told himself and something in him said, why can’t they? They’ve known about all the others.

“Do you think they saw the horses?” Pablo asked.

“Those weren’t looking for horses,” Robert Jordan said.

“But did they see them?”

“Not unless they were asked to look for them.”

“Could they see them?”

“Probably not,” Robert Jordan said. “Unless the sun were on the trees.”

“It is on them very early,” Pablo said miserably.

“I think they have other things to think of besides thy horses,” Robert Jordan said.

It was eight minutes since he had pushed the lever on the stop watch and there was still no sound of bombing.

“What do you do with the watch?” the woman asked.

“I listen where they have gone.”

“Oh,” she said. At ten minutes he stopped looking at the watch knowing it would be too far away to hear, now, even allowing a minute for the sound to travel, and said to Anselmo, “I would speak to thee.”

Anselmo came out of the cave mouth and they walked a little way from the entrance and stood beside a pine tree.

“Qué tal?” Robert Jordan asked him. “How goes it?”

“All right.”

“Hast thou eaten?”

“No. No one has eaten.”

“Eat then and take something to eat at mid-day. I want you to go to watch the road. Make a note of everything that passes both up and down the road.”

“I do not write.”

“There is no need to,” Robert Jordan took out two leaves from his notebook and with his knife cut an inch from the end of his pencil. “Take this and make a mark for tanks thus,” he drew a slanted tank, “and then a mark for each one and when there are four, cross the four strokes for the fifth.”

“In this way we count also.”

“Good. Make another mark, two wheels and a box, for trucks. If they are empty make a circle. If they are full of troops make a straight mark. Mark for guns. Big ones, thus. Small ones, thus. Mark for cars. Mark for ambulances. Thus, two wheels and a box with a cross on it. Mark for troops on foot by companies, like this, see? A little square and then mark beside it. Mark for cavalry, like this, you see? Like a horse. A box with four legs. That is a troop of twenty horse. You understand? Each troop a mark.”

“Yes. It is ingenious.”

“Now,” he drew two large wheels with circles around them and a short line for a gun barrel. “These are anti-tanks. They have rubber tires. Mark for them. These are anti-aircraft,” two wheels with the gun barrel slanted up. “Mark for them also. Do you understand? Have you seen such guns?”

“Yes,” Anselmo said. “Of course. It is clear.”

“Take the gypsy with you that he will know from what point you will be watching so you may be relieved. Pick a place that is safe, not too close and from where you can see well and comfortably. Stay until you are relieved.”

“I understand.”

“Good. And that when you come back, I should know everything that moved upon the road. One paper is for movement up. One is for movement down the road.”

They walked over toward the cave.

“Send Rafael to me,” Robert Jordan said and waited by the tree. He watched Anselmo go into the cave, the blanket falling behind him. The gypsy sauntered out, wiping his mouth with his hand.

“Qué tal?” the gypsy said. “Did you divert yourself last night?”

“I slept.”

“Less bad,” the gypsy said and grinned. “Have you a cigarette?”

“Listen,” Robert Jordan said and felt in his pocket for the cigarettes. “I wish you to go with Anselmo to a place from which he will observe the road. There you will leave him, noting the place in order that you may guide me to it or guide whoever will relieve him later. You will then go to where you can observe the saw mill and note if there are any changes in the post there.”

“What changes?”

“How many men are there now?”

“Eight. The last I knew.”

“See how many are there now. See at what intervals the guard is relieved at that bridge.”


“How many hours the guard stays on and at what time a change is made.”

“I have no watch.”

“Take mine.” He unstrapped it.

“What a watch,” Rafael said admiringly. “Look at what complications. Such a watch should be able to read and write. Look at what complications of numbers. It’s a watch to end watches.”

“Don’t fool with it,” Robert Jordan said. “Can you tell time?”

“Why not? Twelve o’clock mid-day. Hunger. Twelve o’clock midnight. Sleep. Six o’clock in the morning, hunger. Six o’clock at night, drunk. With luck. Ten o’clock at night—”

“Shut up,” Robert Jordan said. “You don’t need to be a clown. I want you to check on the guard at the big bridge and the post on the road below in the same manner as the post and the guard at the saw mill and the small bridge.”

“It is much work,” the gypsy smiled. “You are sure there is no one you would rather send than me?”

“No, Rafael. It is very important. That you should do it very carefully and keeping out of sight with care.”

“I believe I will keep out of sight,” the gypsy said. “Why do you tell me to keep out of sight? You think I want to be shot?”

“Take things a little seriously,” Robert Jordan said. “This is serious.”

“Thou askest me to take things seriously? After what thou didst last night? When thou needest to kill a man and instead did what you did? You were supposed to kill one, not make one! When we have just seen the sky full of airplanes of a quantity to kill us back to our grandfathers and forward to all unborn grandsons including all cats, goats and bedbugs. Airplanes making a noise to curdle the milk in your mother’s breasts as they pass over darkening the sky and roaring like lions and you ask me to take things seriously. I take them too seriously already.”

“All right,” said Robert Jordan and laughed and put his hand on the gypsy’s shoulder. “Don’t take them too seriously then. Now finish your breakfast and go.”

“And thou?” the gypsy asked. “What do you do?”

“I go to see El Sordo.”

“After those airplanes it is very possible that thou wilt find nobody in the whole mountains,” the gypsy said. “There must have been many people sweating the big drop this morning when those passed.”

“Those have other work than hunting guerillas.”

“Yes,” the gypsy said. Then shook his head. “But when they care to undertake that work.”

“Qué va,” Robert Jordan said. “Those are the best of the German light bombers. They do not send those after gypsies.”

“They give me a horror,” Rafael said. “Of such things, yes, I am frightened.”

“They go to bomb an airfield,” Robert Jordan told him as they went into the cave. “I am almost sure they go for that.”

“What do you say?” the woman of Pablo asked. She poured him a bowl of coffee and handed him a can of condensed milk.

“There is milk? What luxury!”

“There is everything,” she said. “And since the planes there is much fear. Where did you say they went?”

Robert Jordan dripped some of the thick milk into his coffee from the slit cut in the can, wiped the can on the rim of the cup, and stirred the coffee until it was light brown.

“They go to bomb an airfield I believe. They might go to Escorial and Colmenar. Perhaps a!! three.”

“That they should go a long way and keep away from here,” Pablo said.

“And why are they here now?” the woman asked. “What brings them now? Never have we seen such planes. Nor in such quantity. Do they prepare an attack?”

“What movement was there on the road last night?” Robert Jordan asked. The girl Maria was close to him but he did not look at her.

“You,” the woman said. “Fernando. You were in La Granja last night. What movement was there?”

“Nothing,” a short, open-faced man of about thirty-five with a cast in one eye, whom Robert Jordan had not seen before, answered. “A few camions as usual. Some cars. No movement of troops while I was there.”

“You go into La Granja every night?” Robert Jordan asked him.

“I or another,” Fernando said. “Some one goes.”

“They go for the news. For tobacco. For small things,” the woman said.

“We have people there?”

“Yes. Why not? Those who work the power plant. Some others.”

“What was the news?”

“Pues nada. There was nothing. It still goes badly in the north. That is not news. In the north it has gone badly now since the beginning.”

“Did you hear anything from Segovia?”

“No, hombre. I did not ask.”

“Do you go into Segovia?”

“Sometimes,” Fernando said. “But there is danger. There are controls where they ask for your papers.”

“Do you know the airfield?”

“No, hombre. I know where it is but I was never close to it. There, there is much asking for papers.”

“No one spoke about these planes last night?”

“In La Gnanja? Nobody. But they will talk about them tonight certainly. They talked about the broadcast of Quiepo de Llano. Nothing more. Oh, yes. It seems that the Republic is preparing an offensive.”

“That what?”

“That the Republic is preparing an offensive.”


“It is not certain. Perhaps here. Perhaps for another pant of the Sierra. Hast thou heard of it?”

“They say this in La Granja?”

“Yes, hombre. I had forgotten it. But there is a!ways much talk of offensives.”

“Where does this talk come from?”

“Where? Why from different people. The officers speak in the cafés in Segovia and Avila and the waiters note it. The rumors come running. Since some time they speak of an offensive by the Republic in these parts.”

“By the Republic or by the Fascists?”

“By the Republic. If it were by the Fascists all would know of it. No, this is an offensive of quite some size. Some say there are two. One here and the other over the Alto del Leon near the Escorial. Have you heard aught of this?”

“What else did you hear?”

“Nada, hombre. Nothing. Oh, yes. There was some talk that the Republicans would try to blow up the bridges, if there was to be an offensive. But the bridges are guarded.”

“Art thou joking?” Robert Jordan said, sipping his coffee.

“No, hombre,” said Fernando.

“This one doesn’t joke,” the woman said. “Bad luck that he doesn’t.”

“Then,” said Robert Jordan. “Thank you for all the news. Did you hear nothing more?”

“No. They talk, as always, of troops to be sent to clear out these mountains. There is some talk that they are on the way. That they Rave been sent already from Valladolid. But they always talk in that Way. It is not to give any importance to.”

“And thou,” the woman of Pablo said to Pablo almost viciously. “With thy talk of safety.”

Pablo looked at her reflectively and scratched his chin. “Thou,” he said. “And thy bridges.”

“What bridges?” asked Fernando cheerfully.

“Stupid,” the woman said to him. “Thick head. Tonto. Take another cup of coffee and try to remember more news.”

“Don’t be angry, Pilar,” Fernando said calmly and cheerfully. “Neither should one become alarmed at rumors. I have told thee and this comrade all that I remember.”

“You don’t remember anything more?” Robert Jordan asked.

“No,” Fernando said with dignity. “And I am fortunate to remember this because, since it was but rumors, I paid no attention to any of it.”

“Then there may have been more?”

“Yes. It is possible. But I paid no attention. For a year I have heard nothing but rumors.”

Robert Jordan heard a quick, control-breaking sniff of laughter from the girl, Maria, who was standing behind him.

“Tell us one more rumor, Fernandito,” she said and then her shoulders shook again.

“If I could remember, I would not,” Fernando said. “It is beneath a man’s dignity to listen and give importance to rumors.”

“And with this we will save the Republic,” the woman said.

“No. You will save it by blowing bridges,” Pablo told her.

“Go,” said Robert Jordan to Anselmo and Rafael. “If you have eaten.”

“We go now,” the old man said and the two of them stood up. Robert Jordan felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Maria. “Thou shouldst eat,” she said and let her hand rest there. “Eat well so that thy stomach can support more rumors.”

“The rumors have taken the place of the appetite.”

“No. It should not be so. Eat this now before more rumors come.” She put the bowl before him.

“Do not make a joke of me,” Fernando said to her. “I am thy good friend, Maria.”

“I do not joke at thee, Fernando. I only joke with him and he should eat or he will be hungry.”

“We should all eat,” Fernando said. “Pilar, what passes that we are not served?”

“Nothing, man,” the woman of Pablo said and filled his bowl with the meat stew. “Eat. Yes, that’s what you can do. Eat now.”

“It is very good, Pilar,” Fernando said, all dignity intact.

“Thank you,” said the woman. “Thank you and thank you again.”

“Are you angry at me?” Fernando asked.

“No. Eat. Go ahead and eat.”

“I will,” said Fernando. “Thank you.”

Robert Jordan looked at Maria and her shoulders started shaking again and she looked away. Fernando ate steadily, a proud and dignified expression on his face, the dignity of which could not be affected even by the huge spoon that he was using or the slight dripping of juice from the stew which ran from the corners of his mouth.

“Do you like the food?” the woman of Pablo asked him.

“Yes, Pilar,” he said with his mouth full. “It is the same as usual.”

Robert Jordan felt Maria’s hand on his arm and felt her fingers tighten with delight.

“It is for that that you like it?” the woman asked Fernando.

“Yes,” she said. “I see. The stew; as usual. Como siempre. Things are bad in the north; as usual. An offensive here; as usual. That troops come to hunt us out; as usual. You could serve as a monument to as usual.”

“But the last two are only rumors, Pilar.”

“Spain,” the woman of Pablo said bitterly. Then turned to Robert Jordan. “Do they have people such as this in other countries?”

“There are no other countries like Spain,” Robert Jordan said politely.

“You are right,” Fernando said. “There is no other country in the world like Spain.”

“Hast thou ever seen any other country?” the woman asked him.

“Nay,” said Fernando. “Nor do I wish to.”

“You see?” the woman of Pablo said to Robert Jordan.

“Fernandito,” Maria said to him. “Tell us of the time thee went to Valencia”

“I did not like Valencia.”

“Why?” Maria asked and pressed Robert Jordan’s arm again. “Why did thee not like it?”

“The people had no manners and I could not understand them. All they did was shout ché at one another.”

“Could they understand thee?” Maria asked.

“They pretended not to,” Fernando said.

“And what did thee there?”

“I left without even seeing the sea,” Fernando said. “I did not like the people.”

“Oh, get out of here, you old maid,” the woman of Pablo said. “Get out of here before you make me sick. In Valencia I had the best time of my life. Vamos! Valencia. Don’t talk to me of Valencia.”

“What did thee there?” Maria asked. The woman of Pablo sat down at the table with a bowl of coffee, a piece of bread and a bowl of the stew.

“Qué? what did we there. I was there when Finito had a contract for three fights at the Feria. Never have I seen so many people. Never have I seen cafés so crowded. For hours it would be impossible to get a seat and it was impossible to board the tram cars. In Valencia there was movement all day and all night.”

“But what did you do?” Maria asked.

“All things,” the woman said. “We went to the beach and lay in the water and boats with sails were hauled up out of the sea by oxen. The oxen driven to the water until they must swim; then harnessed to the boats, and, when they found their feet, staggering up the sand. Ten yokes of oxen dragging a boat with sails out of the sea in the morning with the line of the small waves breaking on the beach. That is Valencia.”

“But what did thee besides watch oxen?”

“We ate in pavilions on the sand. Pastries made of cooked and shredded fish and red and green peppers and small nuts like grains of rice. Pastries delicate and flaky and the fish of a richness that was incredible. Prawns fresh from the sea sprinkled with lime juice. They were pink and sweet and there were four bites to a prawn. Of those we ate many. Then we ate paella with fresh sea food, clams in their shells, mussels, crayfish, and small eels. Then we ate even smaller eels alone cooked in oil and as tiny as bean sprouts and curled in all directions and so tender they disappeared in the mouth without chewing. All the time drinking a white wine, cold, light and good at thirty centimos the bottle. And for an end, melon. That is the home of the melon.”

“The melon of Castile is better,” Fernando said.

“Qué va,” said the woman of Pablo. “The melon of Castile is for self abuse. The melon of Valencia for eating. When I think of those melons long as one’s arm, green like the sea and crisp and juicy to cut and sweeter than the early morning in summer. Aye, when I think of those smallest eels, tiny, delicate and in mounds on the plate. Also the beer in pitchers all through the afternoon, the beer sweating in its coldness in pitchers the size of water jugs.”

“And what did thee when not eating nor drinking?”

“We made love in the room with the strip wood blinds hanging over the balcony and a breeze through the opening of the top of the door which turned on hinges. We made love there, the room dark in the day time from the hanging blinds, and from the streets there was the scent of the flower market and the smell of burned powder from the firecrackers of the traca that ran though the streets exploding each noon during the Feria. It was a line of fireworks that ran through all the city, the firecrackers linked together and the explosions running along on poles and wires of the tramways, exploding with great noise and a jumping from pole to pole with a sharpness and a cracking of explosion you could not believe.

“We made love and then sent for another pitcher of beer with the drops of its coldness on the glass and when the girl brought it, I took it from the door and I placed the coldness of the pitcher against the back of Finito as he lay, now, asleep, not having wakened when the beer was brought, and he said, ‘No, Pilar. No, woman, let me sleep.’ And I said, ‘No, wake up and drink this to see how cold,’ and he drank without opening his eyes and went to sleep again and I lay with my back against a pillow at the foot of the bed and watched him sleep, brown and dark-haired and young and quiet in his sleep, and drank the whole pitcher, listening now to the music of a band that was passing. You,” she said to Pablo. “Do you know aught of such things?”

“We have done things together,” Pablo said.

“Yes,” the woman said. “Why not? And thou wert more man than Finito in your time. But never did we go to Valencia. Never did we lie in bed together and hear a band pass in Valencia.”

“It was impossible,” Pablo told her. “We have had no opportunity to go to Valencia. Thou knowest that if thou wilt be reasonable. But, with Finito, neither did thee blow up any train.”

“No,” said the woman. “That is what is left to us. The train. Yes. Always the train. No one can speak against that. That remains of all the laziness, sloth and failure. That remains of the cowardice of this moment. There were many other things before too. I do not want to be unjust. But no one can speak against Valencia either. You hear me?”

“I did not like it,” Fernando said quietly. “I did not like Valencia.”

“Yet they speak of the mule as stubborn,” the woman said. “Clean up, Maria, that we may go.”

As she said this they heard the first sound of the planes returning.