Eleven o'clock. Suppose he went to see Do?a Sol? Why not! The night before he had angrily rejected this thought. It would be lowering himself. She had gone away without any explanation, and afterwards, knowing him to be in danger of death, she had scarcely enquired after him. Only a telegram just at first, not even a short[Pg 293] letter, not even a line. She who was so fond of writing to her friends. No, he would not go to see her.
He always spoke of the taurine profession with a kind of remorse, apologising for belonging to it in spite of his many years' service. The committee of his district who had decreed the expulsion from the party of all their co-religionists who attended corridas, as being barbarous and retrograde, had made an exception in his favour, keeping him on the list of voters.
The first to arrive were always the saddler and his wife, two of whose children lived in the espada's house. Carmen, as though she wished to forget her own sterility, and felt the silence of the big house oppress her, kept her sister-in-law's two youngest children with her. These children, from natural affection and also probably by their parents' express orders, were perpetually petting their beautiful aunt and their generous and popular uncle, kissing them and purring on their knees like kittens.
"Don't be foolish, Sebastian, get all these cobwebs out of your brain.... Now don't answer me. Don't start telling me all sorts of impieties like the other night; remember I am going to hear Mass at La Macarena to-morrow morning."
The tavern-keeper, without consulting his son, had organized corridas in Tetuan and Vallecas, always "bearing all the expenses." These outlying Plazas were open to all those who wished to be gored or trampled by bulls, under the eyes of a few hundred spectators. But those amusements were not to be had for nothing. To enjoy the pleasure of being rolled over in the sand, to have his breeches torn to rags, and his body covered with blood and dirt, it was necessary to pay for all the seats in the Plaza, the diestro or his representative undertaking to distribute the tickets.