Sunday, March 22, 2015

For Whom The Bell Tolls Excerpt 1-2

Continued from 1-1 (Chapter 1)

     That was the last he had seen of Golz with his strange white face that never tanned, his hawk eyes, the big nose and thin lips and the shaven head crossed with wrinkles and with scars. Tomorrow night they would be outside the Escorial in the dark along the road; the long lines of trucks loading the infantry in the darkness; the men, heavy loaded, climbing up into the trucks; the machine-gun sections lifting their guns into the trucks; the tanks being run up on the skids onto the long-bodied tank trucks; pulling the Division out to move them in the night for the attack on the pass. He would not think about that. That was not his business. That was Golz’s business. He had only one thing to do and that was what he should think about and he must think it out clearly and take everything as it came along, and not worry. To worry was as bad as to be afraid. It simply made things more difficult.
     He sat now by the stream watching the clear water flowing between the rocks and, across the stream, he noticed there was a thick bed of watercress. He crossed the stream, picked a double handful, washed the muddy roots clean in the current and then sat down again beside his pack and ate the clean, cool green leaves and the crisp, peppery-tasting stalks. He knelt by the stream and, pushing his automatic pistol around on his belt to the small of his back so that it would not be wet, he lowered himself with a hand on each of two boulders and drank from the stream. The water was achingly cold.
     Pushing himself up on his hands he turned his head and saw the old man coming down the ledge. With him was another man, also in a black peasant’s smock and the dark gray trousers that were almost a uniform in that province, wearing rope-soled shoes and with a carbine slung over his back. This man was bareheaded. The two of them came scrambling down the rock like goats.
     They came up to him and Robert Jordan got to his feet.
     “Salud, Camarada,” he said to the man with the carbine and smiled.
     “Salud,” the other said, grudgingly. Robert Jordan looked at the man’s heavy, beardstubbled face. It was almost round and his head was round and set close on his shoulders. His eyes were small and set too wide apart and his ears were small and set close to his head. He was a heavy man about five feet ten inches tall and his hands and feet were large. His nose had been broken and his mouth was cut at one corner and the line of the scar across the upper lip and lower jaw showed through the growth of beard over his face.
     The old man nodded his head at this man and smiled.
     “He is the boss here,” he grinned, then flexed his arms as though to make the muscles    stand out and looked at the man with the carbine in a half-mocking admiration. “A very strong man.”
     “I can see it,” Robert Jordan said and smiled again. He did not like the look of this man and inside himself he was not smiling at all.
     “What have you to justify your identity?” asked the man with the carbine.
     Robert Jordan unpinned a safety pin that ran through his pocket flap and took a folded paper out of the left breast pocket of his flannel shirt and handed it to the man, who opened it, looked at it doubtfully and turned it in his hands.
     So he cannot read, Robert Jordan noted.
     “Look at the seal,” he said.
     The old man pointed to the seal and the man with the carbine studied it, turning it in his fingers.
     “What seal is that?”
     “Have you never seen it?”
     “There are two,” said Robert Jordan. “One is S. I. M., the service of the military intelligence. The other is the General Staff.”
     “Yes, I have seen that seal before. But here no one commands but me,” the other said sullenly. “What have you in the packs?”
     “Dynamite,” the old man said proudly. “Last night we crossed the lines in the dark and all day we have carried this dynamite over the mountain.”
     “I can use dynamite,” said the man with the carbine. He handed back the paper to Robert Jordan and looked him over. “Yes. I have use for dynamite. How much have you brought me?”
     “I have brought you no dynamite,” Robert Jordan said to him evenly. “The dynamite is for another purpose. What is your name?”
     “What is that to you?”
     “He is Pablo,” said the old man. The man with the carbine looked at them both sullenly.
     “Good. I have heard much good of you,” said Robert Jordan.
     “What have you heard of me?” asked Pablo.
     “I have heard that you are an excellent guerilla leader, that you are loyal to the republic and prove your loyalty through your acts, and that you are a man both serious and valiant. I bring you greetings from the General Staff.”
     “Where did you hear all this?” asked Pablo. Robert Jordan registered that he was not taking any of the flattery.
     “I heard it from Buitrago to the Escorial,” he said, naming all the stretch of country on the other side of the lines.
     “I know no one in Buitrago nor in Escorial,” Pablo told him.
     “There are many people on the other side of the mountains who were not there before. Where are you from?”
     “Avila. What are you going to do with the dynamite?”
     “Blow up a bridge.”
     “What bridge?”
     “That is my business.”
     “If it is in this territory, it is my business. You cannot blow bridges close to where you live. You must live in one place and operate in another. I know my business. One who is alive, now, after a year, knows his business.”
     “This is my business,” Robert Jordan said. “We can discuss it together. Do you wish to help us with the sacks?”
     “No,” said Pablo and shook his head.
     The old man turned toward him suddenly and spoke rapidly and furiously in a dialect that Robert Jordan could just follow. It was like reading Quevedo. Anselmo was speaking old Castilian and it went something like this, “Art thou a brute? Yes. Art thou a beast? Yes, many times Hast thou a brain? Nay. None. Now we come for something of  consummate importance and thee, with thy dwelling place to be undisturbed, puts thy fox-hole before the interests of humanity. Before the interests of thy people. I this and that in the this and that of thy father. I this and that and that in thy this. Pick up that bag.”
     Pablo looked down.
     “Every one has to do what he can do according to how it can be truly done,” he said. “I live here and I operate beyond Segovia. If you make a disturbance here, we will be hunted out of these mountains. It is only by doing nothing here that we are able to live in these mountains. It is the principle of the fox.”
     “Yes,” said Anselmo bitterly. “It is the principle of the fox when we need the wolf.”
     “I am more wolf than thee,” Pablo said and Robert Jordan knew that he would pick up the sack.
     “Hi. Ho. . . ,” Anselmo looked at him. “Thou art more wolf than me and I am sixty-eight years old.”
     He spat on the ground and shook his head.
     “You have that many years?” Robert Jordan asked, seeing that now, for the moment, it would be all right and trying to make it go easier.
     “Sixty-eight in the month of July.”
     “If we should ever see that month,” said Pablo. “Let me help you with the pack,” he said to Robert Jordan. “Leave the other to the old man.” He spoke, not sullenly, but almost sadly now. “He is an old man of great strength.”
     “I will carry the pack,” Robert Jordan said.
     “Nay,” said the old man. “Leave it to this other strong man.”
     “I will take it,” Pablo told him, and in his sullenness there was a sadness that was disturbing to Robert Jordan. He knew that sadness and to see it here worried him.
     “Give me the carbine then,” he said and when Pablo handed it to him, he slung it over his back and, with the two men climbing ahead of him, they went heavily, pulling and climbing up the granite shelf and over its upper edge to where there was a green clearing in the forest.

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