The Madness of
John Harned by Jack London
I TELL this for a fact. It happened in the bull-ring at Quito.
I sat in the box with John Harned, and with Maria Valenzuela,
and with Luis Cervallos. I saw it happen. I saw it all from
first to last. I was on the steamer Ecuadore from Panama to
Guayaquil. Maria Valenzuela is my cousin. I have known her
always. She is very beautiful. I am a Spaniard--an Ecuadoriano,
true, but I am descended from Pedro Patino, who was one of
Pizarro's captains. They were brave men. They were heroes. Did
not Pizarro lead three hundred and fifty Spanish cavaliers and
four thousand Indians into the far Cordilleras in search of
treasure? And did not all the four thousand Indians and three
hundred of the brave cavaliers die on that vain quest? But
Pedro Patino did not die. He it was that lived to found the
family of the Patino. I am Ecuadoriano, true, but I am Spanish.
I am Manuel de Jesus Patino. I own many haciendas, and ten
thousand Indians are my slaves, though the law says they are
free men who work by freedom of contract. The law is a funny
thing. We Ecuadorianos laugh at it. It is our law. We make it
for ourselves. I am Manuel de Jesus Patino. Remember that name.
It will be written some day in history. There are revolutions
in Ecuador. We call them elections. It is a good joke is it
not?--what you call a pun?
John Harned was an American. I met him first at the Tivoli
hotel in Panama. He had much money--this I have heard. He was
going to Lima, but he met Maria Valenzuela in the Tivoli hotel.
Maria Valenzuela is my cousin, and she is beautiful. It is
true, she is the most beautiful woman in Ecuador. But also is
she most beautiful in every country--in Paris, in Madrid, in
New York, in Vienna. Always do all men look at her, and John
Harned looked long at her at Panama. He loved her, that I know
for a fact. She was Ecuadoriano, true--but she was of all
countries; she was of all the world. She spoke many languages.
She sang--ah! like an artiste. Her smile--wonderful, divine.
Her eyes--ah! have I not seen men look in her eyes? They were
what you English call amazing. They were promises of paradise.
Men drowned themselves in her eyes.
Maria Valenzuela was rich--richer than I, who am accounted very
rich in Ecuador. But John Harned did not care for her money. He
had a heart--a funny heart. He was a fool. He did not go to
Lima. He left the steamer at Guayaquil and followed her to
Quito. She was coming home from Europe and other places. I do
not see what she found in him, but she liked him. This I know
for a fact, else he would not have followed her to Quito. She
asked him to come. Well do I remember the occasion. She said:
"Come to Quito and I will show you the bullfight--brave,
But he said: "I go to Lima, not Quito. Such is my passage
engaged on the steamer."
"You travel for pleasure--no?" said Maria Valenzuela; and she
looked at him as only Maria Valenzuela could look, her eyes
warm with the promise.
And he came. No; he did not come for the bull-fight. He came
because of what he had seen in her eyes. Women like Maria
Valenzuela are born once in a hundred years. They are of no
country and no time. They are what you call goddesses. Men fall
down at their feet. They play with men and run them through
their pretty fingers like sand. Cleopatra was such a woman they
say; and so was Circe. She turned men into swine. Ha! ha! It is
It all came about because Maria Valenzuela said:
"You English people are--what shall I say?--savage--no? You
prize-fight. Two men each hit the other with their fists till
their eyes are blinded and their noses are broken. Hideous! And
the other men who look on cry out loudly and are made glad. It
"But they are men," said John Harned; "and they prize-fight out
of desire. No one makes them prize-fight. They do it because
they desire it more than anything else in the world."
Maria Valenzuela--there was scorn in her smile as she said:
"They kill each other often--is it not so? I have read it in
"But the bull," said John Harned.
"The bull is killed many times in the bull-fight, and the bull
does not come into the the ring out of desire. It is not fair
to the bull. He is compelled to fight. But the man in the
prize-fight--no; he is not compelled."
"He is the more brute therefore," said Maria Valenzuela.
"He is savage. He is primitive. He is animal. He strikes with
his paws like a bear from a cave, and he is ferocious. But the
bull-fight--ah! You have not seen the bullfight--no? The
toreador is clever. He must have skill. He is modern. He is
romantic. He is only a man, soft and tender, and he faces the
wild bull in conflict. And he kills with a sword, a slender
sword, with one thrust, so, to the heart of the great beast. It
is delicious. It makes the heart beat to behold--the small man,
the great beast, the wide level sand, the thousands that look
on without breath; the great beast rushes to the attack, the
small man stands like a statue; he does not move, he is
unafraid, and in his hand is the slender sword flashing like
silver in the sun; nearer and nearer rushes the great beast
with its sharp horns, the man does not move, and then--so--the
sword flashes, the thrust is made, to the heart, to the hilt,
the bull falls to the sand and is dead, and the man is unhurt.
It is brave. It is magnificent! Ah!--I could love the toreador.
But the man of the prize-fight--he is the brute, the human
beast, the savage primitive, the maniac that receives many
blows in his stupid face and rejoices. Come to Quito and I will
show you the brave sport of men, the toreador and the bull."
But John Harned did not go to Quito for the bull-fight. He went
because of Maria Valenzuela. He was a large man, more broad of
shoulder than we Ecuadorianos, more tall, more heavy of limb
and bone. True, he was larger of his own race. His eyes were
blue, though I have seen them gray, and, sometimes, like cold
steel. His features were large, too--not delicate like ours,
and his jaw was very strong to look at. Also, his face was
smooth-shaven like a priest's. Why should a man feel shame for
the hair on his face? Did not God put it there? Yes, I believe
in God--I am not a pagan like many of you English. God is good.
He made me an Ecuadoriano with ten thousand slaves. And when I
die I shall go to God. Yes, the priests are right.
But John Harned. He was a quiet man. He talked always in a low
voice, and he never moved his hands when he talked. One would
have thought his heart was a piece of ice; yet did he have a
streak of warm in his blood, for he followed Maria Valenzuela
to Quito. Also, and for all that he talked low without moving
his hands, he was an animal, as you shall see--the beast
primitive, the stupid, ferocious savage of the long ago that
dressed in wild skins and lived in the caves along with the
bears and wolves.
Luis Cervallos is my friend, the best of Ecuadorianos. He owns
three cacao plantations at Naranjito and Chobo. At Milagro is
his big sugar plantation. He has large haciendas at Ambato and
Latacunga, and down the coast is he interested in oil-wells.
Also has he spent much money in planting rubber along the
Guayas. He is modern, like the Yankee; and, like the Yankee,
full of business. He has much money, but it is in many
ventures, and ever he needs more money for new ventures and for
the old ones. He has been everywhere and seen everything. When
he was a very young man he was in the Yankee military academy
what you call West Point. There was trouble. He was made to
resign. He does not like Americans. But he did like Maria
Valenzuela, who was of his own country. Also, he needed her
money for his ventures and for his gold mine in Eastern Ecuador
where the painted Indians live. I was his friend. It was my
desire that he should marry Maria Valenzuela. Further, much of
my money had I invested in his ventures, more so in his gold
mine which was very rich but which first required the expense
of much money before it would yield forth its riches. If Luis
Cervallos married Maria Valenzuela I should have more money
But John Harned followed Maria Valenzuela to Quito, and it was
quickly clear to us--to Luis Cervallos and me that she looked
upon John Harned with great kindness. It is said that a woman
will have her will, but this is a case not in point, for Maria
Valenzuela did not have her will--at least not with John
Harned. Perhaps it would all have happened as it did, even if
Luis Cervallos and I had not sat in the box that day at the
bull-ring in Quito. But this I know: we DID sit in the box that
day. And I shall tell you what happened.
The four of us were in the one box, guests of Luis Cervallos. I
was next to the Presidente's box. On the other side was the box
of General Jose Eliceo Salazar. With him were Joaquiin Endara
and Urcisino Castillo, both generals, and Colonel Jacinto
Fierro and Captain Baltazar de Echeverria. Only Luis Cervallos
had the position and the influence to get that box next to the
Presidente. I know for a fact that the Presidente himself
expressed the desire to the management that Luis Cervallos
should have that box.
The band finished playing the national hymn of Ecuador. The
procession of the toreadors was over. The Presidente nodded to
begin. The bugles blew, and the bull dashed in--you know the
way, excited, bewildered, the darts in its shoulder burning
like fire, itself seeking madly whatever enemy to destroy. The
toreadors hid behind their shelters and waited. Suddenly they
appeared forth, the capadores, five of them, from every side,
their colored capes flinging wide. The bull paused at sight of
such a generosity of enemies, unable in his own mind to know
which to attack. Then advanced one of the capadors alone to
meet the bull. The bull was very angry. With its fore-legs it
pawed the sand of the arena till the dust rose all about it.
Then it charged, with lowered head, straight for the lone
It is always of interest, the first charge of the first bull.
After a time it is natural that one should grow tired, trifle,
that the keenness should lose its edge. But that first charge
of the first bull! John Harned was seeing it for the first
time, and he could not escape the excitement--the sight of the
man, armed only with a piece of cloth, and of the bull rushing
upon him across the sand with sharp horns, widespreading.
"See!" cried Maria Valenzuela. "Is it not superb?"
John Harned nodded, but did not look at her. His eyes were
sparkling, and they were only for the bull-ring. The capador
stepped to the side, with a twirl of the cape eluding the bull
and spreading the cape on his own shoulders.
"What do you think?" asked Maria Venzuela. "Is it not
"It is certainly," said John Harned. "It is very clever."
She clapped her hands with delight. They were little hands. The
audience applauded. The bull turned and came back. Again the
capadore eluded him, throwing the cape on his shoulders, and
again the audience applauded. Three times did this happen. The
capadore was very excellent. Then he retired, and the other
capadore played with the bull. After that they placed the
banderillos in the bull, in the shoulders, on each side of the
back-bone, two at a time. Then stepped forward Ordonez, the
chief matador, with the long sword and the scarlet cape. The
bugles blew for the death. He is not so good as Matestini.
Still he is good, and with one thrust he drove the sword to the
heart, and the bull doubled his legs under him and lay down and
died. It was a pretty thrust, clean and sure; and there was
much applause, and many of the common people threw their hats
into the ring. Maria Valenzuela clapped her hands with the
rest, and John Harned, whose cold heart was not touched by the
event, looked at her with curiosity.
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"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.
"It is a stupid bull," said Maria Valenzuela.
"I beg pardon," said John Harned; "but it would seem to me a
wise bull. He knows he must not fight man. See! He smells death
there in the ring."
True. The bull, pausing where the last one had died, was
smelling the wet sand and snorting. Again he ran around the
ring, with raised head, looking at the faces of the thousands
that hissed him, that threw orange-peel at him and called him
names. But the smell of blood decided him, and he charged a
capador, so without warning that the man just escaped. He
dropped his cape and dodged into the shelter. The bull struck
the wall of the ring with a crash. And John Harned said, in a
quiet voice, as though he talked to himself:
"I will give one thousand sucres to the lazar-house of Quito if
a bull kills a man this day."
"You like bulls?" said Maria Valenzuela with a smile.
"I like such men less," said John Harned. "A toreador is not a
brave man. He surely cannot be a brave man. See, the bull's
tongue is already out. He is tired and he has not yet begun."
"It is the water," said Luis Cervallos.
"Yes, it is the water," said John Harned. "Would it not be
safer to hamstring the bull before he comes on?"
Maria Valenzuela was made angry by this sneer in John Harned's
words. But Luis Cervallos smiled so that only I could see him,
and then it broke upon my mind surely the game he was playing.
He and I were to be banderilleros. The big American bull was
there in the box with us. We were to stick the darts in him
till he became angry, and then there might be no marriage with
Maria Valenzuela. It was a good sport. And the spirit of
bull-fighters was in our blood.
The bull was now angry and excited. The capadors had great game
with him. He was very quick, and sometimes he turned with such
sharpness that his hind legs lost their footing and he plowed
the sand with his quarter. But he charged always the flung
capes and committed no harm.
"He has no chance," said John Harned. "He is fighting wind."
"He thinks the cape is his enemy," explained Maria Valenzuela.
"See how cleverly the capador deceives him."
"It is his nature to be deceived," said John Harned. "Wherefore
he is doomed to fight wind. The toreadors know it, you know it,
I know it--we all know from the first that he will fight wind.
He only does not know it. It is his stupid beast-nature. He has
"It is very simple," said Luis Cervallos. "The bull shuts his
eyes when he charges. Therefore--"
"The man steps, out of the way and the bull rushes by," Harned
"Yes," said Luis Cervallos; "that is it. The bull shuts his
eyes, and the man knows it."
"But cows do not shut their eyes," said John Harned. "I know a
cow at home that is a Jersey and gives milk, that would whip
the whole gang of them."
"But the toreadors do not fight cows," said I.
'They are afraid to fight cows," said John Harned.
"Yes," said Luis Cervallos, "they are afraid to fight cows.
There would be no sport in killing toreadors."
"There would be some sport," said John Harned, "if a toreador
were killed once in a while. When I become an old man, and
mayhap a cripple, and should I need to make a living and be
unable to do hard work, then would I become a bull-fighter. It
is a light vocation for elderly gentlemen and pensioners."
"But see!" said Maria Valenzuela, as the bull charged bravely
and the capador eluded it with a fling of his cape. "It
requires skill so to avoid the beast."
"True," said John Harned. "But believe me, it requires a
thousand times more skill to avoid the many and quick punches
of a prize-fighter who keeps his eyes open and strikes with
intelligence. Furthermore, this bull does not want to fight.
Behold, he runs away."
It was not a good bull, for again it ran around the ring,
seeking to find a way out.
"Yet these bulls are sometimes the most dangerous," said Luis
Cervallos. "It can never be known what they will do next. They
are wise. They are half cow. The bull-fighters never like
them.--See! He has turned!"
Once again, baffled and made angry by the walls of the ring
that would not let him out, the bull was attacking his enemies
"His tongue is hanging out," said John Harned. "First, they
fill him with water. Then they tire him out, one man and then
another, persuading him to exhaust himself by fighting wind.
While some tire him, others rest. But the bull they never let
rest. Afterward, when he is quite tired and no longer quick,
the matador sticks the sword into him."
The time had now come for the banderillos. Three times one of
the fighters endeavored to place the darts, and three times did
he fail. He but stung the bull and maddened it. The banderillos
must go in, you know, two at a time, into the shoulders, on
each side the backbone and close to it. If but one be placed,
it is a failure. The crowd hissed and called for Ordonez. And
then Ordonez did a great thing. Four times he stood forth, and
four times, at the first attempt, he stuck in the banderillos,
so that eight of them, well placed, stood out of the back of
the bull at one time. The crowd went mad, and a rain of hats
and money fell on the sand of the ring
And just then the bull charged unexpectedly one of the
capadors. The man slipped and lost his head. The bull caught
him--fortunately, between his wide horns. And while the
audience watched, breathless and silent, John Harned stood up
and yelled with gladness. Alone, in that hush of all of us,
John Harned yelled. And he yelled for the bull. As you see
yourself, John Harned wanted the man killed. His was a brutal
heart. This bad conduct made those angry that sat in the box of
General Salazar, and they cried out against John Harned. And
Urcisino Castillo told him to his face that he was a dog of a
Gringo and other things. Only it was in Spanish, and John
Harned did not understand. He stood and yelled, perhaps for the
time of ten seconds, when the bull was enticed into charging
the other capadors and the man arose unhurt.
"The bull has no chance," John Harned said with sadness as he
sat down. "The man was uninjured. They fooled the bull away
from him." Then he turned to Maria Valenzuela and said: "I beg
your pardon. I was excited."
She smiled and in reproof tapped his arm with her fan.
"It is your first bull-fight," she said. "After you have seen
more you will not cry for the death of the man. You Americans,
you see, are more brutal than we. It is because of your
prize-fighting. We come only to see the bull killed."
"But I would the bull had some chance," he answered.
"Doubtless, in time, I shall cease to be annoyed by the men who
take advantage of the bull."
The bugles blew for the death of the bull. Ordonez stood forth
with the sword and the scarlet cloth. But the bull had changed
again, and did not want to fight. Ordonez stamped his foot in
the sand, and cried out, and waved the scarlet cloth. Then the
bull charged, but without heart. There was no weight to the
charge. It was a poor thrust. The sword struck a bone and bent.
Ordonez took a fresh sword. The bull, again stung to fight,
charged once more. Five times Ordonez essayed the thrust, and
each time the sword went but part way in or struck bone. The
sixth time, the sword went in to the hilt. But it was a bad
thrust. The sword missed the heart and stuck out half a yard
through the ribs on the opposite side. The audience hissed the
matador. I glanced at John Harned. He sat silent, without
movement; but I could see his teeth were set, and his hands
were clenched tight on the railing of the box.
All fight was now out of the bull, and, though it was no vital
thrust, he trotted lamely what of the sword that stuck through
him, in one side and out the other. He ran away from the
matador and the capadors, and circled the edge of the ring,
looking up at the many faces.
"He is saying: 'For God's sake let me out of this; I don't want
to fight,'" said John Harned.
That was all. He said no more, but sat and watched, though
sometimes he looked sideways at Maria Valenzuela to see how she
took it. She was angry with the matador. He was awkward, and
she had desired a clever exhibition.
The bull was now very tired, and weak from loss of blood,
though far from dying. He walked slowly around the wall of the
ring, seeking a way out. He would not charge. He had had
enough. But he must be killed. There is a place, in the neck of
a bull behind the horns, where the cord of the spine is
unprotected and where a short stab will immediately kill.
Ordonez stepped in front of the bull and lowered his scarlet
cloth to the ground. The bull would not charge. He stood still
and smelled the cloth, lowering his head to do so. Ordonez
stabbed between the horns at the spot in the neck. The bull
jerked his head up. The stab had missed. Then the bull watched
the sword. When Ordonez moved the cloth on the ground, the bull
forgot the sword and lowered his head to smell the cloth. Again
Ordonez stabbed, and again he failed. He tried many times. It
was stupid. And John Harned said nothing. At last a stab went
home, and the bull fell to the sand, dead immediately, and the
mules were made fast and he was dragged out.
"The Gringos say it is a cruel sport--no?" said Luis Cervallos.
"That it is not humane. That it is bad for the bull. No?"
"No," said John Harned. "The bull does not count for much. It
is bad for those that look on. It is degrading to those that
look on. It teaches them to delight in animal suffering. It is
cowardly for five men to fight one stupid bull. Therefore those
that look on learn to be cowards. The bull dies, but those that
look on live and the lesson is learned. The bravery of men is
not nourished by scenes of cowardice."
Maria Valenzuela said nothing. Neither did she look at him. But
she heard every word and her cheeks were white with anger. She
looked out across the ring and fanned herself, but I saw that
her hand trembled. Nor did John Harned look at her. He went on
as though she were not there. He, too, was angry, coldly angry.
"It is the cowardly sport of a cowardly people," he said.
"Ah," said Luis Cervallos softly, "you think you understand
"I understand now the Spanish Inquisition," said John Harned.
"It must have been more delightful than bull-fighting."
Luis Cervallos smiled but said nothing. He glanced at Maria
Valenzuela, and knew that the bull-fight in the box was won.
Never would she have further to do with the Gringo who spoke
such words. But neither Luis Cervallos nor I was prepared for
the outcome of the day. I fear we do not understand the
Gringos. How were we to know that John Harned, who was so
coldly angry, should go suddenly mad! But mad he did go, as you
shall see. The bull did not count for much--he said so himself.
Then why should the horse count for so much? That I cannot
understand. The mind of John Harned lacked logic. That is the
"It is not usual to have horses in the bull-ring at Quito,"
said Luis Cervallos, looking up from the program. "In Spain
they always have them. But to-day, by special permission we
shall have them. When the next bull comes on there will be
horses and picadors-you know, the men who carry lances and ride
"The bull is doomed from the first," said John Harned. "Are the
horses then likewise doomed!"
"They are blindfolded so that they may not see the bull," said
Luis Cervallos. "I have seen many horses killed. It is a brave
"I have seen the bull slaughtered," said John Harned "I will
now see the horse slaughtered, so that I may understand more
fully the fine points of this noble sport."
"They are old horses," said Luis Cervallos, "that are not good
for anything else."
"I see," said John Harned.
The third bull came on, and soon against it were both capadors
and picadors. One picador took his stand directly below us. I
agree, it was a thin and aged horse he rode, a bag of bones
covered with mangy hide.
"It is a marvel that the poor brute can hold up the weight of
the rider," said John Harned. "And now that the horse fights
the bull, what weapons has it?"
"The horse does not fight the bull," said Luis Cervallos.
"Oh," said John Harned, "then is the horse there to be gored?
That must be why it is blindfolded, so that it shall not see
the bull coming to gore it."
"Not quite so," said I. "The lance of the picador is to keep
the bull from goring the horse."
"Then are horses rarely gored?" asked John Harned.
"No," said Luis Cervallos. "I have seen, at Seville, eighteen
horses killed in one day, and the people clamored for more
"Were they blindfolded like this horse?" asked John Harned.
"Yes," said Luis Cervallos.
After that we talked no more, but watched the fight. And John
Harned was going mad all the time, and we did not know. The
bull refused to charge the horse. And the horse stood still,
and because it could not see it did not know that the capadors
were trying to make the bull charge upon it. The capadors
teased the bull their capes, and when it charged them they ran
toward the horse and into their shelters. At last the bull was
angry, and it saw the horse before it.
"The horse does not know, the horse does not know," John Harned
whispered to himself, unaware that he voiced his thought aloud.
The bull charged, and of course the horse knew nothing till the
picador failed and the horse found himself impaled on the
bull's horns from beneath. The bull was magnificently strong.
The sight of its strength was splendid to see. It lifted the
horse clear into the air; and as the horse fell to its side on
on the ground the picador landed on his feet and escaped, while
the capadors lured the bull away. The horse was emptied of its
essential organs. Yet did it rise to its feet screaming. It was
the scream of the horse that did it, that made John Harned
completely mad; for he, too, started to rise to his feet, I
heard him curse low and deep. He never took his eyes from the
horse, which, screaming, strove to run, but fell down instead
and rolled on its back so that all its four legs were kicking
in the air. Then the bull charged it and gored it again and
again until it was dead.
John Harned was now on his feet. His eyes were no longer cold
like steel. They were blue flames. He looked at Maria
Valenzuela, and she looked at him, and in his face was a great
loathing. The moment of his madness was upon him. Everybody was
looking, now that the horse was dead; and John Harned was a
large man and easy to be seen.
"Sit down," said Luis Cervallos, "or you will make a fool of
John Harned replied nothing. He struck out his fist. He smote
Luis Cervallos in the face so that he fell like a dead man
across the chairs and did not rise again. He saw nothing of
what followed. But I saw much. Urcisino Castillo, leaning
forward from the next box, with his cane struck John Harned
full across the face. And John Harned smote him with his fist
so that in falling he overthrew General Salazar. John Harned
was now in what-you-call Berserker rage--no? The beast
primitive in him was loose and roaring--the beast primitive of
the holes and caves of the long ago.
"You came for a bull-fight," I heard him say, "And by God I'll
show you a man-fight!"
It was a fight. The soldiers guarding the Presidente's box
leaped across, but from one of them he took a rifle and beat
them on their heads with it. From the other box Colonel Jacinto
Fierro was shooting at him with a revolver. The first shot
killed a soldier. This I know for a fact. I saw it. But the
second shot struck John Harned in the side. Whereupon he swore,
and with a lunge drove the bayonet of his rifle into Colonel
Jacinto Fierro's body. It was horrible to behold. The Americans
and the English are a brutal race. They sneer at our
bull-fighting, yet do they delight in the shedding of blood.
More men were killed that day because of John Harned than were
ever killed in all the history of the bull-ring of Quito, yes,
and of Guayaquil and all Ecuador.
It was the scream of the horse that did it, yet why did not
John Harned go mad when the bull was killed? A beast is a
beast, be it bull or horse. John Harned was mad. There is no
other explanation. He was blood-mad, a beast himself. I leave
it to your judgment. Which is worse--the goring of the horse by
the bull, or the goring of Colonel Jacinto Fierro by the
bayonet in the hands of John Harned! And John Harned gored
others with that bayonet. He was full of devils. He fought with
many bullets in him, and he was hard to kill. And Maria
Valenzuela was a brave woman. Unlike the other women, she did
not cry out nor faint. She sat still in her box, gazing out
across the bull-ring. Her face was white and she fanned
herself, but she never looked around.
From all sides came the soldiers and officers and the common
people bravely to subdue the mad Gringo. It is true--the cry
went up from the crowd to kill all the Gringos. It is an old
cry in Latin-American countries, what of the dislike for the
Gringos and their uncouth ways. It is true, the cry went up.
But the brave Ecuadorianos killed only John Harned, and first
he killed seven of them. Besides, there were many hurt. I have
seen many bull-fights, but never have I seen anything so
abominable as the scene in the boxes when the fight was over.
It was like a field of battle. The dead lay around everywhere,
while the wounded sobbed and groaned and some of them died. One
man, whom John Harned had thrust through the belly with the
bayonet, clutched at himself with both his hands and screamed.
I tell you for a fact it was more terrible than the screaming
of a thousand horses.
No, Maria Valenzuela did not marry Luis Cervallos. I am sorry
for that. He was my friend, and much of my money was invested
in his ventures. It was five weeks before the surgeons took the
bandages from his face. And there is a scar there to this day,
on the cheek, under the eye. Yet John Harned struck him but
once and struck him only with his naked fist. Maria Valenzuela
is in Austria now. It is said she is to marry an Arch-Duke or
some high nobleman. I do not know. I think she liked John
Harned before he followed her to Quito to see the bull-fight.
But why the horse? That is what I desire to know. Why should he
watch the bull and say that it did not count, and then go
immediately and most horribly mad because a horse screamed ?
There is no understanding the Gringos. They are barbarians.