For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 9

They stood in the mouth of the cave and watched them. The bombers were high now in fast, ugly arrow-heads beating the sky apart with the noise of their motors. They are shaped like sharks, Robert Jordan thought, the wide-finned, sharp-nosed sharks of the Gulf Stream. But these, wide-finned in silver, roaring, the light mist of their propellers in the sun, these do not move like sharks. They move like no thing there has ever been. They move like mechanized doom.

You ought to write, he told himself. Maybe you will again some time. He felt Maria holding to his arm. She was looking up and he said to her, “What do they look like to you, guapa?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Death, I think.”

“They look like planes to me,” the woman of Pablo said. “‘Where are the little ones?”

“They may be crossing at another part,” Robert Jordan said. “Those bombers are too fast to have to wait for them and have come back alone. We never follow them across the lines to fight. There aren’t enough planes to risk it.”

Just then three Heinkel fighters in V formation came low over the clearing coming toward them, just over the tree tops, like clattering, wing-tilting, pinch-nosed ugly toys, to enlarge suddenly, fearfully to their actual size; pouring past in a whining roar. They were so low that from the cave mouth all of them could see the pilots, helmeted, goggled, a scarf blowing back from behind the patrol leader’s head.

“Those can see the horses,” Pablo said.

“Those can see thy cigarette butts,” the woman said. “Let fall the blanket.”

No more planes came over. The others must have crossed farther up the range and when the droning was gone they went out of the cave into the open.

The sky was empty now and high and blue and clear.

“It seems as though they were a dream that you wake from,” Maria said to Robert Jordan. There was not even the last almost unheard hum that comes like a finger faintly touching and leaving and touching again after the sound is gone almost past hearing.

“They are no dream and you go in and clean up,” Pilar said to her. “What about it?” she turned to Robert Jordan. “Should we ride or walk?”

Pablo looked at her and grunted.

“As you will,” Robert Jordan said.

“Then let us walk,” she said. “I would like it for the liver.”

“Riding is good for the liver.”

“Yes, but hard on the buttocks. We will walk and thou—” She turned to Pablo. “Go down and count thy beasts and see they have not flown away with any.”

“Do you want a horse to ride?” Pablo asked Robert Jordan.

“No. Many thanks. What about the girl?”

“Better for her to walk,” Pilar said. “She’ll get stiff in too many places and serve for nothing.”

Robert Jordan felt his face reddening.

“Did you sleep well?” Pilar asked. Then said, “It is true that there is no sickness. There could have been. I know not why there wasn’t. There probably still is God after all, although we have abolished Him. Go on,” she said to Pablo. “This does not concern thee. This is of people younger than thee. Made of other material. Get on.” Then to Robert Jordan, “Agustín is looking after thy things. We go when he comes.”

It was a clear, bright day and warm now in the sun. Robert Jordan looked at the big, brown-faced woman with her kind, widely set eyes and her square, heavy face, lined and pleasantly ugly, the eyes merry, but the face sad until the lips moved. He looked at her and then at the man, heavy and stolid, moving off through the trees toward the corral. The woman, too, was looking after him.

“Did you make love?” the woman said.

“What did she say?”

“She would not tell me.”

“I neither.”

“Then you made love,” the woman said. “Be as careful with her as you can.”

“What if she has a baby?”

“That will do no harm,” the woman said. “That will do less harm.”

“This is no place for that.”

“She will not stay here. She will go with you.”

“And where will I go? I can’t take a woman where I go.”

“Who knows? You may take two where you go.”

“That is no way to talk.”

“Listen,” the woman said. “I am no coward, but I see things very clearly in the early morning and I think there are many that we know that are alive now who will never see another Sunday.”

“In what day are we?”


“Qué va,” said Robert Jordan. “Another Sunday is very far. If we see Wednesday we are all right. But I do not like to hear thee talk like this.”

“Every one needs to talk to some one,” the woman said. “Before we had religion and other nonsense. Now for every one there should be some one to whom one can speak frankly, for all the valor that one could have one becomes very alone.”

“We are not alone. We are all together.”

“The sight of those machines does things to one,” the woman said. “We are nothing against such machines.”

“Yet we can beat them.”

“Look,” the woman said. “I confess a sadness to you, but do not think I lack resolution. Nothing has happened to my resolution.”

“The sadness will dissipate as the sun rises. It is like a mist.”

“Clearly,” the woman said. “If you want it that way. Perhaps it came from talking that foolishness about Valencia. And that failure of a man who has gone to look at his horses. I wounded him much with the story. Kill him, yes. Curse him, yes. But wound him, no.”

“How came you to be with him?”

“How is one with any one? In the first days of the movement and before too, he was something. Something serious. But now he is finished. The plug has been drawn and the wine has all run out of the skin.”

“I do not like him.”

“Nor does he like you, and with reason. Last night I slept with him.” She smiled now and shook her head. “ Vamos a ver,” she said. “I said to him, ‘Pablo, why did you not kill the foreigner?’

“‘He’s a good boy, Pilar,’ he said. ‘He’s a good boy.’

“So I said, ‘You understand now that I command?’

“‘Yes, Pilar. Yes,’ he said. Later in the night I hear him awake and he is crying. He is crying in a short and ugly manner as a man cries when it is as though there is an animal inside that is shaking him.

“‘What passes with thee, Pablo?’ I said to him and I took hold of him and held him.

“‘Nothing, Pilar. Nothing.’

“‘Yes. Something passes with thee.’

“‘The people,’ he said. ‘The way they left me. The gente.’

“‘Yes, but they are with me,’ I said, ‘and I am thy woman.’

“‘Pilar,’ he said, ‘remember the train.’ Then he said, ‘May God aid thee, Pilar.’

“‘What are you talking of God for?’ I said to him. ‘What way is that to speak?’

“‘Yes,’ he said. ‘God and the Virgen.’

“‘Qué va, God and the Virgen,’ I said to him. ‘Is that any way to talk?’

“‘I am afraid to die, Pilar,’ he said. ‘Tengo miedo de morir. Dost thou understand?’

“‘Then get out of bed,’ I said to him. ‘There is not room in one bed for me and thee and thy fear all together.’

“Then he was ashamed and was quiet and I went to sleep but, man, he’s a ruin.”

Robert Jordan said nothing.

“All my life I have had this sadness at intervals,” the woman said. “But it is not like the sadness of Pablo. It does not affect my resolution.”

“I believe that.”

“It may be it is like the times of a woman,” she said. “It may be it is nothing,” she paused, then went on. “I put great illusion in the Republic. I believe firmly in the Republic and I have faith. I believe in it with fervor as those who have religious faith believe in the mysteries.”

“I believe you.”

“And you have this same faith?”

“In the Republic?”


“Yes,” he said, hoping it was true.

“I am happy,” the woman said. “And you have no fear?”

“Not to die,” he said truly.

“But other fears?”

“Only of not doing my duty as I should.”

“Not of capture, as the other had?”

“No,” he said truly. “Fearing that, one would be so preoccupied as to be useless.”

“You are a very cold boy.”

“No,” he said. “I do not think so.”

“No. In the head you are very cold.”

“It is that I am very preoccupied with my work.”

“But you do not like the things of life?”

“Yes. Very much. But not to interfere with my work.”

“You like to drink, I know. I have seen.”

“Yes. Very much. But not to interfere with my work.”

“And women?”

“I like them very much, but I have not given them much importance.”

“You do not care for them?”

“Yes. But I have not found one that moved me as they say they should move you.”

“I think you lie.”

“Maybe a little.”

“But you care for Maria.”

“Yes. Suddenly and very much.”

“I, too. I care for her very much. Yes. Much.”

“I, too,” said Robert Jordan, and could feel his voice thickening. “I, too. Yes.” It gave him pleasure to say it and he said it quite formally in Spanish. “I care for her very much.”

“I will leave you alone with her after we have seen El Sordo.”

Robert Jordan said nothing. Then he said, “That is not necessary.”

“Yes, man. It is necessary. There is not much time.”

“Did you see that in the hand?” he asked.

“No. Do not remember that nonsense of the hand.”

She had put that away with all the other things that might do ill to the Republic.

Robert Jordan said nothing. He was looking at Maria putting away the dishes inside the cave. She wiped her hands and turned and smiled at him. She could not hear what Pilar was saying, but as she smiled at Robert Jordan she blushed dark under the tawny skin and then smiled at him again.

“There is the day also,” the woman said. “You have the night, but there is the day, too. Clearly, there is no such luxury as in Valencia in my time. But you could pick a few wild strawberries or something.” She laughed.

Robert Jordan put his arm on her big shoulder. “I care for thee, too,” he said. “I care for thee very much.”

“Thou art a regular Don Juan Tenorio,” the woman said, embarrassed now with affection. “There is a commencement of caring for every one. Here comes Agustín.”

Robert Jordan went into the cave and up to where Maria was standing. She watched him come toward her, her eyes bright, the blush again on her cheeks and throat.

“Hello, little rabbit,” he said and kissed her on the mouth. She held him tight to her and looked in his face and said, “Hello. Oh, hello. Hello.”

Fernando, still sitting at the table smoking a cigarette, stood up, shook his head and walked out, picking up his carbine from where it leaned against the wall.

“It is very unformal,” he said to Pilar. “And I do not like it. You should take care of the girl.”

“I am,” said Pilar. “That comrade is her novio.”

“Oh,” said Fernando. “In that case, since they are engaged, I encounter it to be perfectly normal.”

“I am pleased,” the woman said.

“Equally,” Fernando agreed gravely. “Salud, Pilar.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the upper post to relieve Primitivo.”

“Where the hell are you going?” Agustín asked the grave little man as he came up.

“To my duty,” Fernando said with dignity.

“Thy duty,” said Agustín mockingly. “I besmirch the milk of thy duty.” Then turning to the woman, “Where the un-nameable is this vileness that I am to guard?”

“In the cave,” Pilar said. “In two sacks. And I am tired of thy obscenity.”

“I obscenity in the milk of thy tiredness,” Agustín said.

“Then go and befoul thyself,” Pilar said to him without heat.

“Thy mother,” Agustín replied.

“Thou never had one,” Pilar told him, the insults having reached the ultimate formalism in Spanish in which the acts are never stated but only implied.

“What are they doing in there?” Agustín now asked confidentially.

“Nothing,” Pilar told him. “Nada. We are, after all, in the spring, animal.”

“Animal,” said Agustín, relishing the word. “Animal. And thou. Daughter of the great whore of whores. I befoul myself in the milk of the springtime.”

Pilar slapped him on the shoulder.

“You,” she said, and laughed that booming laugh. “You lack variety in your cursing. But you have force. Did you see the planes?”

“I un-name in the milk of their motors,” Agustín said, nodding his head and biting his lower lip.

“That’s something,” Pilar said. “That is really something. But really difficult of execution.”

“At that altitude, yes,” Agustín grinned. “Desde luego. But it is better to joke.”

“Yes,” the woman of Pablo said. “It is much better to joke, and you are a good man and you joke with force.”

“Listen, Pilar,” Agustín said seriously. “Something is preparing. It is not true?”

“How does it seem to you?”

“Of a foulness that cannot be worse. Those were many planes, woman. Many planes.”

“And thou hast caught fear from them like all the others?”

“Qué va,” said Agustín. “What do you think they are preparing?”

“Look,” Pilar said. “From this boy coming for the bridges obviously the Republic is preparing an offensive. From these planes obviously the Fascists are preparing to meet it. But why show the planes?”

“In this war are many foolish things,” Agustín said. “In this war there is an idiocy without bounds.”

“Clearly,” said Pilar. “Otherwise we could not be here.”

“Yes,” said Agustín. “We swim within the idiocy for a year now. But Pablo is a man of much understanding. Pablo is very wily.”

“Why do you say this?”

“I say it.”

“But you must understand,” Pilar explained. “It is now too late to be saved by wiliness and he has lost the other.”

“I understand,” said Agustín. “I know we must go. And since we must win to survive ultimately, it is necessary that the bridges must be blown. But Pablo, for the coward that he now is, is very smart.”

“I, too, am smart.”

“No, Pilar,” Agustín said. “You are not smart. You are brave. You are loyal. You have decision. You have intuition. Much decision and much heart. But you are not smart.”

“You believe that?” the woman asked thoughtfully.

“Yes, Pilar.”

“The boy is smart,” the woman said. “Smart and cold. Very cold in the head.”

“Yes,” Agustín said. “He must know his business or they would not have him doing this. But I do not know that he is smart. Pablo I know is smart.”

“But rendered useless by his fear and his disinclination to action.”

“But still smart.”

“And what do you say?”

“Nothing. I try to consider it intelligently. In this moment we need to act with intelligence. After the bridge we must leave at once. All must be prepared. We must know for where we are leaving and how.”


“For this—Pablo. It must be done smartly.”

“I have no confidence in Pablo.”

“In this, yes.”

“No. You do not know how far he is ruined.”

“Pero es muy vivo. He is very smart. And if we do not do this smartly we are obscenitied.”

“I will think about it,” Pilar said. “I have the day to think about it.”

“For the bridges; the boy,” Agustín said. “This he must know. Look at the fine manner in which the other organized the train.”

“Yes,” Pilar said. “It was really he who planned all.”

“You for energy and resolution,” Agustín said. “But Pablo for the moving. Pablo for the retreat. Force him now to study it.”

“You are a man of intelligence.”

“Intelligent, yes,” Agustín said. “But sin picardia. Pablo for that.”

“With his fear and all?”

“With his fear and all.”

“And what do you think of the bridges?”

“It is necessary. That I know. Two things we must do. We must leave here and we must win. The bridges are necessary if we are to Win.”

“If Pablo is so smart, why does he not see that?”

“He wants things as they are for his own weakness. He wants tO stay in the eddy of his own weakness. But the river is rising. Forced to a change, he will be smart in the change. Es muy vivo.”

“It is good that the boy did not kill him.”

“Qué va. The gypsy wanted me to kill him last night. The gypsy is an animal.”

“You’re an animal, too,” she said. “But intelligent.”

“We are both intelligent,” Agustín said. “But the talent is Pablo!”

“But difficult to put up with. You do not know how ruined.”

“Yes. But a talent. Look, Pilar. To make war all you need is intelligence. But to win you need talent and material.”

“I will think it over,” she said. “We must start now. We are late.” Then, raising her voice, “English!” she called. “Inglés! Come on! Let us go.”