He longed for the time to return to the circus. He felt greedy of fame and the applause of the populace, and in order to get quite strong he decided to spend the rest of the winter with his family at La Rinconada. There, hunting and long walks would strengthen his leg. Besides, he could ride about to overlook the work, and visit the herds of goats, the droves of pigs, the dairies and the mares grazing in the meadows.
And he got into the carriage, making way for himself through the friends and neighbours assembled in front of the house to wish "Se?or Juan" good luck.
"What you ought to do is to come to the house. When there are many people there, there can be no rows."
The Se?ora Angustias, left with her two children, Encarnacion and Juan, had to sharpen her wits and develop a multiplicity of talents to carry the family along. She worked as charwoman in the wealthiest houses in the suburb, sewed for the neighbours, mended clothes and laces for a certain pawnbroking friend of hers, made[Pg 60] cigarettes for gentlemen, availing herself of the dexterity acquired in her youth when the Se?or Juan, an ardent and wheedling lover, used to wait for her at the entrance of the Tobacco factory.
So the two children lived there as if it were their own house, guessing, with their infantile cunning, what was expected of them by their parents, exaggerating their caresses and pettings of those rich relations, of whom they heard everyone speak with respect.
"I?" exclaimed El Nacional. "I will be a priest first!"
El Nacional was ten years older than his chief. When the latter was beginning to bait at the capeas, Sebastian was already banderillero in recognized cuadrillas, and had lately returned from America, where he had killed bulls in the Plaza at Lima. At the commencement of his career he had enjoyed a certain amount of popularity because he was young and agile. He also for some little time had figured as "the torero of the future," and the amateurs of Seville, fixing their eyes on him, hoped that he would have eclipsed the matadors from other towns. But this lasted only a short time. On his return from his American journey with the prestige of distant and possibly nebulous feats, all the populace of Seville rushed to the Plaza to see him kill. Thousands of people could not obtain admittance. But at this moment of decisive proof "his heart failed him," as the amateurs said. He planted the banderillas steadily as a serious[Pg 105] and conscientious worker fulfilling his duty, but when it was a case of killing, the instinct of self-preservation, stronger than his will, kept him at a distance from the bull, and he was unable to take advantage of his great stature and his strong arm.