But to all his arguments Carmen replied with the same obstinacy.
The night wind did not disperse the torero's [Pg 278]drunkenness. When his friend dropped him at the corner of his own street, Gallardo turned with unsteady steps towards his house. Close to the door he stopped, leaning against the wall with both hands, resting his head on his arms as though he could no longer endure the weight of his thoughts.
They all went in except El Nacional, who leaving his wife and children, remained in the little square.
The Lord of Great Power did not deceive her. When she returned to her house the little blue paper arrived, which she opened with trembling hands. "Nothing new." She could breathe again, and sleep, like the criminal who is freed for the moment from the fear of instant death, but in two or three days the torment of uncertainty, the terrible fear of the unknown, would begin afresh.
Engagements began to pour in to the new espada. In[Pg 85] all the Plazas of the Peninsula they were curious to see him. The professional papers popularized his portrait and his life, not without adding romantic episodes to this latter. No matador had as many engagements as he had, and it would not be long before he made a fortune.
The torero knew it but too well. The turbulent populace who sat on the sunny side of the Plaza were beginning to show a certain animosity against him, thinking themselves forgotten. They criticised his constant intercourse with wealthy people, and his desertion of those who had been his first admirers. Gallardo wished therefor to take advantage of every means of flattering those whose applause he wanted. A few days before the procession, he informed the most influential members of la Macarena of his intention to follow in it. He did not wish the people to know it, it was purely an act of devotion, and he wished his intention to remain a secret.
The audience started with surprise, and their plaudits ceased suddenly. They looked around at each other unable to make up their minds as to the gravity of the accident.... Soon optimistic news circulated, but no one knew from whence it came.... It was nothing, only a tremendous blow in the stomach which had deprived him of consciousness, but no one had seen any blood.