In the morning it was bright, and they were sprinkling the streets of the town, and we all had breakfast in a café. Bayonne is a nice town. It is like a very clean Spanish town and it is on a big river. Already, so early in the morning, it was very hot on the bridge across the river. We walked out on the bridge and then took a walk through the town.
I was not at all sure Mike’s rods would come from Scotland in time, so we hunted a tackle store and finally bought a rod for Bill up-stairs over a drygoods store. The man who sold the tackle was out, and we had to wait for him to come back. Finally he came in, and we bought a pretty good rod cheap, and two landing-nets.
We went out into the street again and took a look at the cathedral. Cohn made some remark about it being a very good example of something or other, I forget what. It seemed like a nice cathedral, nice and dim, like Spanish churches. Then we went up past the old fort and out to the local Syndicat d’Initiative office, where the bus was supposed to start from. There they told us the bus service did not start until the 1st of July. We found out at the tourist office what we ought to pay for a motor-car to Pamplona and hired one at a big garage just around the corner from the Municipal Theatre for four hundred francs. The car was to pick us up at the hotel in forty minutes, and we stopped at the café on the square where we had eaten breakfast, and had a beer. It was hot, but the town had a cool, fresh, early-morning smell and it was pleasant sitting in the café. A breeze started to blow, and you could feel that the air came from the sea. There were pigeons out in the square, and the houses were a yellow, sun-baked color, and I did not want to leave the café. But we had to go to the hotel to get our bags packed and pay the bill. We paid for the beers, we matched and I think Cohn paid, and went up to the hotel. It was only sixteen francs apiece for Bill and me, with ten per cent added for the service, and we had the bags sent down and waited for Robert Cohn. While we were waiting I saw a cockroach on the parquet floor that must have been at least three inches long. I pointed him out to Bill and then put my shoe on him. We agreed he must have just come in from the garden. It was really an awfully clean hotel.
Cohn came down, finally, and we all went out to the car. It was a big, closed car, with a driver in a white duster with blue collar and cuffs, and we had him put the back of the car down. He piled in the bags and we started off up the street and out of the town. We passed some lovely gardens and had a good look back at the town, and then we were out in the country, green and rolling, and the road climbing all the time. We passed lots of Basques with oxen, or cattle, hauling carts along the road, and nice farmhouses, low roofs, and all white-plastered. In the Basque country the land all looks very rich and green and the houses and villages look well-off and clean. Every village had a pelota court and on some of them kids were playing in the hot sun. There were signs on the walls of the churches saying it was forbidden to play pelota against them, and the houses in the villages had red tiled roofs, and then the road turned off and commenced to climb and we were going way up close along a hillside, with a valley below and hills stretched off back toward the sea. You couldn’t see the sea. It was too far away. You could see only hills and more hills, and you knew where the sea was.
We crossed the Spanish frontier. There was a little stream and a bridge, and Spanish carabineers, with patent-leather Bonaparte hats, and short guns on their backs, on one side, and on the other fat Frenchmen in kepis and mustaches. They only opened one bag and took the passports in and looked at them. There was a general store and inn on each side of the line. The chauffeur had to go in and fill out some papers about the car and we got out and went over to the stream to see if there were any trout. Bill tried to talk some Spanish to one of the carabineers, but it did not go very well. Robert Cohn asked, pointing with his finger, if there were any trout in the stream, and the carabineer said yes, but not many.
I asked him if he ever fished, and he said no, that he didn’t care for it.
Just then an old man with long, sunburned hair and beard, and clothes that looked as though they were made of gunny-sacking, came striding up to the bridge. He was carrying a long staff, and he had a kid slung on his back, tied by the four legs, the head hanging down.
The carabineer waved him back with his sword. The man turned without saying anything, and started back up the white road into Spain.
“What’s the matter with the old one?” I asked.
“He hasn’t got any passport.”
I offered the guard a cigarette. He took it and thanked me.
“What will he do?” I asked.
The guard spat in the dust.
“Oh, he’ll just wade across the stream.”
“Do you have much smuggling?”
“Oh,” he said, “they go through.”
The chauffeur came out, folding up the papers and putting them in the inside pocket of his coat. We all got in the car and it started up the white dusty road into Spain. For a while the country was much as it had been; then, climbing all the time, we crossed the top of a Col, the road winding back and forth on itself, and then it was really Spain. There were long brown mountains and a few pines and far-off forests of beech-trees on some of the mountainsides. The road went along the summit of the Col and then dropped down, and the driver had to honk, and slow up, and turn out to avoid running into two donkeys that were sleeping in the road. We came down out of the mountains and through an oak forest, and there were white cattle grazing in the forest. Down below there were grassy plains and clear streams, and then we crossed a stream and went through a gloomy little village, and started to climb again. We climbed up and up and crossed another high Col and turned along it, and the road ran down to the right, and we saw a whole new range of mountains off to the south, all brown and baked-looking and furrowed in strange shapes.
After a while we came out of the mountains, and there were trees along both sides of the road, and a stream and ripe fields of grain, and the road went on, very white and straight ahead, and then lifted to a little rise, and off on the left was a hill with an old castle, with buildings close around it and a field of grain going right up to the walls and shifting in the wind. I was up in front with the driver and I turned around. Robert Cohn was asleep, but Bill looked and nodded his head. Then we crossed a wide plain, and there was a big river off on the right shining in the sun from between the line of trees, and away off you could see the plateau of Pamplona rising out of the plain, and the walls of the city, and the great brown cathedral, and the broken skyline of the other churches. In back of the plateau were the mountains, and every way you looked there were other mountains, and ahead the road stretched out white across the plain going toward Pamplona.
We came into the town on the other side of the plateau, the road slanting up steeply and dustily with shade-trees on both sides, and then levelling out through the new part of town they are building up outside the old walls. We passed the bull-ring, high and white and concrete-looking in the sun, and then came into the big square by a side street and stopped in front of the Hotel Montoya.
The driver helped us down with the bags. There was a crowd of kids watching the car, and the square was hot, and the trees were green, and the flags hung on their staffs, and it was good to get out of the sun and under the shade of the arcade that runs all the way around the square. Montoya was glad to see us, and shook hands and gave us good rooms looking out on the square, and then we washed and cleaned up and went down-stairs in the dining-room for lunch. The driver stayed for lunch, too, and afterward we paid him and he started back to Bayonne.
There are two dining-rooms in the Montoya. One is up-stairs on the second floor and looks out on the square. The other is down one floor below the level of the square and has a door that opens on the back street that the bulls pass along when they run through the streets early in the morning on their way to the ring. It is always cool in the down-stairs dining-room and we had a very good lunch. The first meal in Spain was always a shock with the hors d’œuvres, an egg course, two meat courses, vegetables, salad, and dessert and fruit. You have to drink plenty of wine to get it all down. Robert Cohn tried to say he did not want any of the second meat course, but we would not interpret for him, and so the waitress brought him something else as a replacement, a plate of cold meats, I think. Cohn had been rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayonne. He did not know whether we knew Brett had been with him at San Sebastian, and it made him rather awkward.
“Well,” I said, “Brett and Mike ought to get in to-night.”
“I’m not sure they’ll come,” Cohn said.
“Why not?” Bill said. “Of course they’ll come.”
“They’re always late,” I said.
“I rather think they’re not coming,” Robert Cohn said.
He said it with an air of superior knowledge that irritated both of us.
“I’ll bet you fifty pesetas they’re here to-night,” Bill said. He always bets when he is angered, and so he usually bets foolishly.
“I’ll take it,” Cohn said. “Good. You remember it, Jake. Fifty pesetas.”
“I’ll remember it myself,” Bill said. I saw he was angry and wanted to smooth him down.
“It’s a sure thing they’ll come,” I said. “But maybe not tonight.”
“Want to call it off?” Cohn asked.
“No. Why should I? Make it a hundred if you like.”
“All right. I’ll take that.”
“That’s enough,” I said. “Or you’ll have to make a book and give me some of it.”
“I’m satisfied,” Cohn said. He smiled. “You’ll probably win it back at bridge, anyway.”
“You haven’t got it yet,” Bill said.
We went out to walk around under the arcade to the Café Iruña for coffee. Cohn said he was going over and get a shave.
“Say,” Bill said to me, “have I got any chance on that bet?”
“You’ve got a rotten chance. They’ve never been on time anywhere. If their money doesn’t come it’s a cinch they won’t get in tonight.”
“I was sorry as soon as I opened my mouth. But I had to call him. He’s all right, I guess, but where does he get this inside stuff? Mike and Brett fixed it up with us about coming down here.”
I saw Cohn coming over across the square.
“Here he comes.”
“Well, let him not get superior and Jewish.”
“The barber shop’s closed,” Cohn said. “It’s not open till four.”
We had coffee at the Iruña, sitting in comfortable wicker chairs looking out from the cool of the arcade at the big square. After a while Bill went to write some letters and Cohn went over to the barber-shop. It was still closed, so he decided to go up to the hotel and get a bath, and I sat out in front of the café and then went for a walk in the town. It was very hot, but I kept on the shady side of the streets and went through the market and had a good time seeing the town again. I went to the Ayuntamiento and found the old gentleman who subscribes for the bull-fight tickets for me every year, and he had gotten the money I sent him from Paris and renewed my subscriptions, so that was all set. He was the archivist, and all the archives of the town were in his office. That has nothing to do with the story. Anyway, his office had a green baize door and a big wooden door, and when I went out I left him sitting among the archives that covered all the walls, and I shut both the doors, and as I went out of the building into the street the porter stopped me to brush off my coat.
“You must have been in a motor-car,” he said.
The back of the collar and the upper part of the shoulders were gray with dust.
“Well, well,” he said. “I knew you were in a motor-car from the way the dust was.” So I gave him two copper coins.
At the end of the street I saw the cathedral and walked up toward it. The first time I ever saw it I thought the facade was ugly but I liked it now. I went inside. It was dim and dark and the pillars went high up, and there were people praying, and it smelt of incense, and there were some wonderful big windows. I knelt and started to pray and prayed for everybody I thought of, Brett and Mike and Bill and Robert Cohn and myself, and all the bull-fighters, separately for the ones I liked, and lumping all the rest, then I prayed for myself again, and while I was praying for myself I found I was getting sleepy, so I prayed that the bull-fights would be good, and that it would be a fine fiesta, and that we would get some fishing. I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money, and then I started to think how I would make it, and thinking of making money reminded me of the count, and I started wondering about where he was, and regretting I hadn’t seen him since that night in Montmartre, and about something funny Brett told me about him, and as all the time I was kneeling with my forehead on the wood in front of me, and was thinking of myself as praying, I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious and maybe I would the next time; and then I was out in the hot sun on the steps of the cathedral, and the forefingers and the thumb of my right hand were still damp, and I felt them dry in the sun. The sunlight was hot and hard, and I crossed over beside some buildings, and walked back along side-streets to the hotel.
At dinner that night we found that Robert Cohn had taken a bath, had had a shave and a haircut and a shampoo, and something put on his hair afterward to make it stay down. He was nervous, and I did not try to help him any. The train was due in at nine o’clock from San Sebastian, and, if Brett and Mike were coming, they would be on it. At twenty minutes to nine we were not half through dinner. Robert Cohn got up from the table and said he would go to the station. I said I would go with him, just to devil him. Bill said he would be damned if he would leave his dinner. I said we would be right back.
We walked to the station. I was enjoying Cohn’s nervousness. I hoped Brett would be on the train. At the station the train was late, and we sat on a baggage-truck and waited outside in the dark. I have never seen a man in civil life as nervous as Robert Cohn—nor as eager. I was enjoying it. It was lousy to enjoy it, but I felt lousy. Cohn had a wonderful quality of bringing out the worst in anybody.
After a while we heard the train-whistle way off below on the other side of the plateau, and then we saw the headlight coming up the hill. We went inside the station and stood with a crowd of people just back of the gates, and the train came in and stopped, and everybody started coming out through the gates.
They were not in the crowd. We waited till everybody had gone through and out of the station and gotten into buses, or taken cabs, or were walking with their friends or relatives through the dark into the town.
“I knew they wouldn’t come,” Robert said. We were going back to the hotel.
“I thought they might,” I said.
Bill was eating fruit when we came in and finishing a bottle of wine.
“Didn’t come, eh?”
“Do you mind if I give you that hundred pesetas in the morning, Cohn?” Bill asked. “I haven’t changed any money here yet.”
“Oh, forget about it,” Robert Cohn said. “Let’s bet on something else. Can you bet on bull-fights?”
“You could,” Bill said, “but you don’t need to.”
“It would be like betting on the war,” I said. “You don’t need any economic interest.”
“I’m very curious to see them,” Robert said.
Montoya came up to our table. He had a telegram in his hand. “It’s for you.” He handed it to me.
It read: “Stopped night San Sebastian.”
“It’s from them,” I said. I put it in my pocket. Ordinarily I should have handed it over.
“They’ve stopped over in San Sebastian,” I said. “Send their regards to you.”
Why I felt that impulse to devil him I do not know. Of course I do know. I was blind, unforgivingly jealous of what had happened to him. The fact that I took it as a matter of course did not alter that any. I certainly did hate him. I do not think I ever really hated him until he had that little spell of superiority at lunch—that and when he went through all that barbering. So I put the telegram in my pocket. The telegram came to me, anyway.
“Well,” I said. “We ought to pull out on the noon bus for Burguete. They can follow us if they get in to-morrow night.”
There were only two trains up from San Sebastian, an early morning train and the one we had just met.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Cohn said.
“The sooner we get on the stream the better.”
“It’s all one to me when we start,” Bill said. “The sooner the better.”
We sat in the Iruña for a while and had coffee and then took a little walk out to the bull-ring and across the field and under the trees at the edge of the cliff and looked down at the river in the dark, and I turned in early. Bill and Cohn stayed out in the café quite late, I believe, because I was asleep when they came in.
In the morning I bought three tickets for the bus to Burguete. It was scheduled to leave at two o’clock. There was nothing earlier. I was sitting over at the Iruña reading the papers when I saw Robert Cohn coming across the square. He came up to the table and sat down in one of the wicker chairs.
“This is a comfortable café,” he said. “Did you have a good night, Jake?”
“I slept like a log.”
“I didn’t sleep very well. Bill and I were out late, too.”
“Where were you?”
“Here. And after it shut we went over to that other café. The old man there speaks German and English.”
“The Café Suizo.”
“That’s it. He seems like a nice old fellow. I think it’s a better café than this one.”
“It’s not so good in the daytime,” I said. “Too hot. By the way, I got the bus tickets.”
“I’m not going up to-day. You and Bill go on ahead.”
“I’ve got your ticket.”
“Give it to me. I’ll get the money back.”
“It’s five pesetas.”
Robert Cohn took out a silver five-peseta piece and gave it to me.
“I ought to stay,” he said. “You see I’m afraid there’s some sort of misunderstanding.”
“Why,” I said. “They may not come here for three or four days now if they start on parties at San Sebastian.”
“That’s just it,” said Robert. “I’m afraid they expected to meet me at San Sebastian, and that’s why they stopped over.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, I wrote suggesting it to Brett.”
“Why in hell didn’t you stay there and meet them, then?” I started to say, but I stopped. I thought that idea would come to him by itself, but I do not believe it ever did.
He was being confidential now and it was giving him pleasure to be able to talk with the understanding that I knew there was something between him and Brett.
“Well, Bill and I will go up right after lunch,” I said.
“I wish I could go. We’ve been looking forward to this fishing all winter.” He was being sentimental about it. “But I ought to stay. I really ought. As soon as they come I’ll bring them right up.”
“Let’s find Bill.”
“I want to go over to the barber-shop.”
“See you at lunch.”
I found Bill up in his room. He was shaving.
“Oh, yes, he told me all about it last night,” Bill said. “He’s a great little confider. He said he had a date with Brett at San Sebastian.”
“The lying bastard!”
“Oh, no,” said Bill. “Don’t get sore. Don’t get sore at this stage of the trip. How did you ever happen to know this fellow anyway?”
“Don’t rub it in.”
Bill looked around, half-shaved, and then went on talking into the mirror while he lathered his face.
“Didn’t you send him with a letter to me in New York last winter? Thank God, I’m a travelling man. Haven’t you got some more Jewish friends you could bring along?” He rubbed his chin with his thumb, looked at it, and then started scraping again.
“You’ve got some fine ones yourself.”
“Oh, yes. I’ve got some darbs. But not alongside of this Robert Cohn. The funny thing is he’s nice, too. I like him. But he’s just so awful.”
“He can be damn nice.”
“I know it. That’s the terrible part.”
“Yes. Go on and laugh,” said Bill. “You weren’t out with him last night until two o’clock.”
“Was he very bad?”
“Awful. What’s all this about him and Brett, anyway? Did she ever have anything to do with him?”
He raised his chin up and pulled it from side to side.
“Sure. She went down to San Sebastian with him.”
“What a damn-fool thing to do. Why did she do that?”
“She wanted to get out of town and she can’t go anywhere alone. She said she thought it would be good for him.”
“What bloody-fool things people do. Why didn’t she go off with some of her own people? Or you?”—he slurred that over—“or me? Why not me?” He looked at his face carefully in the glass, put a big dab of lather on each cheek-bone. “It’s an honest face. It’s a face any woman would be safe with.”
“She’d never seen it.”
“She should have. All women should see it. It’s a face that ought to be thrown on every screen in the country. Every woman ought to be given a copy of this face as she leaves the altar. Mothers should tell their daughters about this face. My son”—he pointed the razor at me—“go west with this face and grow up with the country.”
He ducked down to the bowl, rinsed his face with cold water, put on some alcohol, and then looked at himself carefully in the glass, pulling down his long upper lip.
“My God!” he said, “isn’t it an awful face?”
He looked in the glass.
“And as for this Robert Cohn,” Bill said, “he makes me sick, and he can go to hell, and I’m damn glad he’s staying here so we won’t have him fishing with us.”
“You’re damn right.”
“We’re going trout-fishing. We’re going trout-fishing in the Irati River, and we’re going to get tight now at lunch on the wine of the country, and then take a swell bus ride.”
“Come on. Let’s go over to the Iruña and start,” I said.