They had seen him full of courage, throwing himself blindly into danger, and so they wished him to be always, till death should cut short his career. He had played almost suicidally with fate, when he was anxious to make a name for himself, and now people could not reconcile themselves to his prudence. Insults were always hurled at any attempt at self preservation. As certainly as he spread the muleta at a certain distance from the bull, so certainly the protests broke forth. He[Pg 284] did not throw himself on the bull! He was afraid! And it was sufficient for him to throw himself one step back for the people to greet this precaution with filthy insults.
During one of these walks on a Friday afternoon, Gallardo, who was going towards the Calle de las Sierpes, felt a wish to enter the church of San Lorenzo.
When this Virgin with her pink cheeks and long eye-lashes appeared, beneath a canopy of velvet, which swayed with every step of the concealed carriers, a deafening acclamation rose from the populace assembled in the Plaza. Ah! how beautiful she was; the Queen of Heaven! A beauty which never aged!
They all ate and drank with that almost savage voracity usual at nocturnal feasts, where every one goes with the fullest intention of exceeding in everything, a gipsy band stationed at the further end of the room intoning their somewhat melancholy songs, varied by sprightly dance music, added to the general hilarity.
He spent the night watching with the men of the cuadrilla and Gallardo's brother-in-law, and next morning early he went to the station to meet the Madrid express. It arrived and with it Dr. Ruiz. He came without any luggage, as carelessly dressed as ever, smiling behind his yellowish beard, bobbing along in his loose coat, with the swinging of his little short legs and his big stomach like a Buddha.
A whole perfumer's shop accompanied him on his journeys, and the most feminine scents anointed his body as he went down into the arena amongst the scattered entrails of dead horses and their blood-stained dung.