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|The Night-Born||Jack London|
The Madness Of John Harned
|Page 5 of 12||
"You like it?" he asked.
"Always," she said, still clapping her hands.
"From a little girl," said Luis Cervallos. "I remember her first fight. She was four years old. She sat with her mother, and just like now she clapped her hands. She is a proper Spanish woman.
"You have seen it," said Maria Valenzuela to John Harned, as they fastened the mules to the dead bull and dragged it out. "You have seen the bull-fight and you like it--no? What do you think?
"I think the bull had no chance," he said. "The bull was doomed from the first. The issue was not in doubt. Every one knew, before the bull entered the ring, that it was to die. To be a sporting proposition, the issue must be in doubt. It was one stupid bull who had never fought a man against five wise men who had fought many bulls. It would be possibly a little bit fair if it were one man against one bull."
"Or one man against five bulls," said Maria Valenzuela; and we all laughed, and Luis Ceryallos laughed loudest.
"Yes," said John Harned, "against five bulls, and the man, like the bulls, never in the bull ring before--a man like yourself, Senor Crevallos."
"Yet we Spanish like the bull-fight," said Luis Cervallos; and I swear the devil was whispering then in his ear, telling him to do that which I shall relate.
"Then must it be a cultivated taste," John Harned made answer. "We kill bulls by the thousand every day in Chicago, yet no one cares to pay admittance to see."
"That is butchery," said I; "but this--ah, this is an art. It is delicate. It is fine. It is rare."
"Not always," said Luis Cervallos. "I have seen clumsy matadors, and I tell you it is not nice."
He shuddered, and his face betrayed such what-you-call disgust, that I knew, then, that the devil was whispering and that he was beginning to play a part.
"Senor Harned may be right," said Luis Cervallos. "It may not be fair to the bull. For is it not known to all of us that for twenty-four hours the bull is given no water, and that immediately before the fight he is permitted to drink his fill?"
"And he comes into the ring heavy with water?" said John Harned quickly; and I saw that his eyes were very gray and very sharp and very cold.
"It is necessary for the sport," said Luis Cervallos. "Would you have the bull so strong that he would kill the toreadors?"
"I would that he had a fighting chance," said John Harned, facing the ring to see the second bull come in.
It was not a good bull. It was frightened. It ran around the ring in search of a way to get out. The capadors stepped forth and flared their capes, but he refused to charge upon them.
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