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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesCogan Capeador
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Cogan Capeador Post by :imported_n/a Category :Short Stories Author :James B. Connolly Date :October 2011 Read :2312

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Cogan Capeador

Eight bells had gone, the morning watch was done, it was almost time to eat, and so Kieran, the pump-man, laid aside the tools of his berth and came strolling aft; and swinging down the long gangway he sang:


"There was a girl,--I knew her well,--a girl in Zanzibar--
A bulgeous man of science said you bet her avatar
Was Egypt's Cleopatra--and from off a man-o'-war
I met her first--and O, her eyes! A blazing polar star!
From which you couldn't head away no more than you could fly--
Gypsy one of Zanzy! For you who wouldn't die!"


It was one of those fine days in the Gulf of Mexico. Abreast of the ship the Florida reefs, low-crested, ragged, and white, loomed above the smooth sea.

Kieran contemplated the line of reefs; presently he leaned over the taffrail and stared down at the whirling propeller; from the screws his gaze shifted to the whirling water above and about them, and thence to the tow in their wake. He put his head to one side, studied the spectacle of the straining hawser and the wallowing barge on the end of it, as if it were a mysterious problem.

"Oh-h, shucks!" He sighed and came suddenly out of his reverie, looked up at the sky, turned wearily inboard, and sat himself on one of the towing bitts.

The passenger, from the other towing bitt, asked what it was.

"I was just thinking that some of us are tied to the end of a string, just like that barge, and we don't know it any more than she does, and no more able to help ourselves than she can--sometimes."

"I never looked at a towing barge in that light before," said the passenger, and lit a cigar. He made no offer of one to Kieran, because he had before this learned that Kieran never smoked.

The ship rolled, the barge yawed, the reefs kept sliding by. The passenger stole a look at the pump-man, and ventured: "Kieran, there used to be, a few years ago, a sprinter, pole-vaulter, and jumper, competing under the name of Campbell in the Hibernian and Caledonian games up north, and you're a ringer for him."

Kieran glanced sidewise at the passenger. "You must have been in athletics yourself--seems to me I've seen you somewhere too."

"Maybe. My name's Benson."

"I remember--a sprinter. And a good one, too."

"Good enough--with no Wefers or Duffey, or somebody like yourself around," protested the passenger, but immensely pleased nevertheless to be identified after so many years. And they were both pleased and exchanged rapid comment on a dozen incidents of athletic days; and when two ex-athletes get together they run on interminably.

By and by, but not prematurely, the passenger asked, "But was there a girl at Zanzibar?"

Kieran made no reply. He seemed to be considering the matter of the barge. After a time he went to the quarter-rail and gazed forward. He came back to his bitt. "I thought so. There's one of those wreckers up ahead. They're always along here--standing by or cruising for any loose wreckage." He waved his hand toward the reefs. "Look. Where their crests don't pierce the surface you know they're there by the surf playing over 'em. Where they lie a little deeper the paler green of the sea shows 'em up. In the deep pockets in between--see?--the sea's of a beautiful deep blue. That's all easy enough, isn't it, but where the drifting clouds shut out the sunlight, where the shadows fall it's all of a color, isn't it? No saying then where it's deep water and where it is shoal. It's the clouds. If the light was always good, there'd be few wrecks along here. And"--he waved toward the barge astern--"there she is tied to us. If this ship piles up on the reefs, she piles up behind us."

"Couldn't they cut her adrift?"

"H-m-m--a drifting barge and the Florida Keys tide-water, where would she fetch up?" And, after a pause, "no fault of hers either, and that seems hard, too. But there's that wrecker--listen."

A hailing voice came floating aft to them. "Ain't seen nothing 'long de way--nothin' to th' east'ard, has you, capt'n?"

"No, I didn't see nothin'. And if I did, d'y' s'pose I'd tell you, you green-sided, patch-sailed whelp's loafer of a black pirate, do you?"

Without turning their heads Kieran and the passenger could hear their captain's voice from the bridge, and also without turning their heads they shortly saw the wrecking schooner slide past their quarter. She was green-painted and her sails were a scandal, and it was a very black and big negro who was standing in her waist to catch the reply, and it was very like their captain to answer as he did.

The big negro only flashed his teeth and waved his arm. His little vessel went drifting astern.

"Pirates and wreckers--look pretty much like honest people, don't they?" commented Kieran. "And they are mostly. At least I've bunked with 'em--white ones, though--and I found 'em pretty much like you and me--except for their ideas in that and maybe one or two other lines. And most people, when you come to know them, aren't so different, except in one way--or maybe two or three ways in some cases. Don't you think so?"

The passenger countered with another question. "You've met a good many different kinds of people in your time, haven't you?"

The pump-man nodded. After a pause he added, "A few," in an absent manner.

The low-lying reefs sank out of sight, and far astern the green-painted schooner merged into the mists. It was a warm, pleasant day.

Kieran roused himself. "No, there wasn't any girl in Zanzibar. If there had been, a fellow couldn't be advertising her to the crew of an oil-tanker at high-noon, could he? No! But there was a girl, and there was a friend of mine--call him Cogan. Oh, not a bad fellow--no worse, maybe no better, than you or I, or most any of the old crowd we used to know, and he happened to drift down the Isthmus way--into Colon--during the Revolution. Ever there?"

"Once, just after the Revolution."

"And what did you think of it--the Revolution?"

"M-m--it surely did happen most opportunely for our interests."

"Didn't it, though? And did you ever notice that quite a few of the revolutions in those Central American latitudes happen most opportunely for some northern interest or other? Well, Cogan was there during the Revolution. He told me of a saloon there, about a minute's walk up from the big steamship dock on the street next the water-side--remember that street?"

"Where the railroad starts to cross the Isthmus to Panama?"

"That's it. And this saloon was on that street--it may be there yet--the Fourth of July saloon with its big American ensign painted on the wall opposite the bar. Remember it?"

"M-m-h-h."

"Well, it was run by a Brooklyn Irishman named Martin Jackson, and Cogan said he remembered the shock he got when he first heard him talk. His Irish brogue had a Spanish accent--do you get that? Well, he has nothing to do with the story, only this--Cogan used to have great ideas about revolutions, and Martin, he knocked most of them out of him. He'd seen twenty of them in his time, Martin had, and when he saw one of them coming now, he just ran up his iron shutters and let it roll by. Business was generally pretty good after a revolution. An easy-going sort of a man, Martin. He didn't even get mad with Cogan when he'd used up hours of his time and then only order ginger ale.

"Cogan saw the Panamanian army at dress parade one day--after the Revolution that was. About two hundred darkies, mostly boys of thirteen or fourteen, barefooted with high-water pants on. Cogan's notion of it was that a dozen good huskies with baseball bats could've landed on their peninsula any fine, sunny afternoon and in ten minutes rushed the whole Panamanian army into the Pacific Ocean--that is, if our warships would let them. If we'd only let the Colombians alone they'd soon've wound up the Revolution--so Cogan thought, and told Martin so. 'But I s'pose they've had hundreds of revolutions in South America?' he says to Martin.

"'Hundreds,' says Martin, and blows more smoke toward the sky. Out in front of the saloon they were sitting, both of 'em balancing between the sidewalk and the wall on the hind legs of their chairs.

"'Anybody ever killed?'

"'Oh, not more than maybe a few hundred to a time--sometimes a few thousand--'

"'Hundreds? Thousands?' says Cogan. 'We hadn't any more than three hundred killed--that is, killed fighting--in the whole Santiago campaign.' Cogan had been there.

"'And you have written a library of books about it,' says Martin. 'But of course when a few hundred are killed down this way--'tis a great joke. And those little black and tan lads of thirteen or fourteen having to go off shouldering a rifle and kill or get killed--they're jokes, too. But if a grown man up in your country does it--the band plays when he goes and comes, and he makes speeches about it at banquets--and sometimes he will draw a pension for the next sixty years after it--' says Martin and said it in his easy way, as if he didn't care much about it one way or the other; and maybe he didn't.

"Cogan didn't find much doing on the streets of Colon after the Revolution was over, so he got in the way of dropping into a place just around the corner from Martin's, a joint where they sold you drinks to tables in the front room and ran faro layouts in two rooms in back--one for whites and one for blacks.

"Cogan drifted in there with a man who looked like the pictures of grand dukes he'd seen--tall, fine broad shoulders, and dressed in white ducks, and wore a long, well-trimmed dark beard, and swung a gold-headed cane, and had a big ring on one finger. Cogan heard him on the wharf that day--he talked pretty good English--helping out a Chinese merchant who was kicking about the freight charges on some cases he wanted to ship across the peninsula. The American gang running the railroad down there used to charge what they pleased in those days, and Cogan had a sympathy for anybody that bucked them--he'd had to pay eight dollars gold for a run to Panama and back himself--and he and the grand duke got chummy and looked the town over together; but not much to look at, and this evening they drifted into this place--the Russian taking a high-ball and Cogan another ginger ale--to have an excuse to hang around and see what was doing.

"There wasn't much doing. Half a dozen discouraged looking girls were sitting to tables in the place. From California, Mexico, Jamaica they were, and had come on just as soon as they could when they heard about the Revolution, thinking that with the crowd of Americans who were sure to rush down to the peninsula, there ought to be a living for a few clever ladies like themselves. But up to this time the rush hadn't got beyond war correspondents and navy people, and now the poor things were sitting to tables and looking as if they wished somebody would loosen up and buy a drink--even if it was no more than a glass of moxie.

"Cogan's grand duke turned out to be a Peruvian, a dealer in Panama hats from Lima, and he told Cogan a lot about Panama hats, which weren't Panama hats at all, and other interesting things--South America politics and bull fighting especially. He had a brother Juan, who was a famous mounted capeador, he said--that's the man who sits with a red cloak on a horse in the first part of the bull fight and Cogan could see that he was very proud of him.

"Cogan and his Peruvian friend were getting on fine, when a tremendous old Indian woman filled up the doorway, and said something in Spanish to the Peruvian, and he got up, explaining to Cogan that his daughter Valera, who had come with him on this trip to see the strange peoples, had sent to say that he must not forget his good-night before she fell asleep. 'She never allows me to forget that,' said the Peruvian. 'Also possibly she knows,' he smiled, 'that if I am at home I shall not be in mis-cheef,' and he said he hoped they'd meet again next day and bowed himself out.

"Cogan went off later to his hotel. That's the same hotel which had been the George Washington Hotel, later the Cleveland House, and at this time was the Hotel McKinley, but with an intention soon to call it the Roosevelt House. If it's there now, it must be the Hotel Taft.

"Cogan had the end room of the lower floor of the hotel wing which ran down toward the beach. The ocean rolled almost up to the window of his room. It was a calm night with no sea on, and lying there, listening, Cogan could just catch the low swish of the surf.

"It was a hot, close night, and Cogan's bed no cooler for being wrapped four times around with mosquito netting, so after he had tossed around an hour or two, he guessed he might as well get up and have a swim. He had only to step through a window, take a hop, step, and jump, and he would be at the edge of the surf; but as he opened up his shutters softly, so as not to disturb anybody else in that wing of the house, he saw that it was already near dawn, and then wh-s-s-t, quick as that, the top edge of the sun popped up.

"Cogan looking out saw a young girl of maybe fourteen years with long black hair hanging loose behind her. It was a smooth, silver-like sea, with hardly surf enough to raise a white edge on the beach, and the girl, ankle deep in the water, was kicking her feet ahead of her, making a great splashing as she marched along. Her legs below her knees were bare, and she was gurgling with joy. By the time she was abreast of Cogan's window, it was full dawn.

"Suddenly she turned, ran in waist deep, and plunged seaward. Cogan, seeing her over her head and alone, began to worry; but he might have saved himself the worry--she came tumbling back like a young dolphin, found her feet on the beach, and flew to where was a cloak and a pair of Chinese slippers piled on the sand. The long rays of the just rising sun were now flashing level atop of the sea, and the sea-water clinging to her in a million twinkling drops as she ran. Cogan remembered a marble nymph he had once seen under a fountain in a square on a sunny morning in Rome, only the figure in Rome was a couple of hundred, or perhaps a couple of thousand, years old and needed washing, and being marble the water didn't cling so lingeringly.

"Her bare young legs, as they twinkled on the beach, were like a pair of moving poems to Cogan, and then the long cloak enveloped her. An instant later the little feet slipped out from beneath the cloak and into the sandals, and then a big woman came running down the beach. Cogan recognized her--the same big Indian who had come after his Peruvian friend the night before. He decided she must be a descendant of the old Incas that Pizarro conquered, and of course that didn't make it any less interesting. She began to scold the girl, peering distressfully around while she was talking as if to see if any early hotel riser had seen them. But the girl only made a face up at her, and that gave Cogan his first sight of her teeth. He thought her the most delightful looking creature he had ever seen. They disappeared between a row of trees further up the beach--a row of palms which guarded a line of cottages from the wash of the surf.

"'That,' said Cogan to himself, when his eyes couldn't make out the fluttering of her cloak any more--'that must be Valera.' And he sat down to the hotel breakfast with a great appetite, thinking happily that by and by he would see her father again.

"But Cogan, who was off a cruiser in Colon harbor, had to be back aboard for quarters that morning; and after quarters it was up the coast to Chiriqui Lagoon to coal ship, and it was three days more before he was back in Colon. His Peruvian friend he could not find, but he looked up the Chinese trader that he'd first seen him with and who had a shop on the corner between Martin Jackson's and the faro joint.

"The Chinaman could tell him. Señor Roca had taken the choo-choo back to Callao--si, si--Oh, yes, for Lima.

"Cogan asked for the name and address and got it. 'Señor Luis Roca,' he repeated. 'I'll remember that--and the street and number. And some day I'll take a run down to Peru--to Lima.'

"'Si, si--fine cit-ee. And bull fight--granda, señor,' said the Chinaman, who, like Martin Jackson, had also a Spanish accent."

* * * * *

The pump-man had come to a full stop. The third officer was standing near. A regurgitating and ruminating little animal was the third officer, who always after a meal came up on deck to lean over the after-rail, and spend a few enjoyable minutes in picking his teeth, and rechewing the lumps of food as they welled regularly into his throat; but otherwise a polite little man, plainly waiting for a chance to say a word to Kieran, but too well-bred to break in on any intimate conversation. However, Kieran remained silent so very long that the third officer turned and ventured: "'Adn't you better go below and have your bit o' dinner afore it's gone, mate?" And Kieran came out of his dream and said perhaps he'd better and stood up to go below; but on the top step of the ladder he paused and over his shoulder threw back to the passenger: "It was a long time, though, before Cogan saw Peru."


II

When Kieran came on deck again the third officer had gone forward, but the passenger was still on one of the towing bitts and still smoking. Kieran, strolling to the taffrail, resumed his study of the tossing ship's wake and the cavorting barge in tow. When he seemed to have settled the matter to his satisfaction, he seated himself on the other towing bitt.

"You can get an idea into your head and sometimes it'll swing you around like that barge on the end of that hawser, won't it? Or perhaps your mind don't run that way?"

"I don't see," retorted the passenger, "that that barge has to stick there forever. What's to prevent her from making a leap and fetching up suddenly, and if she did she'd part that hawser like a piece of twine."

"Yes, but she won't make the leap--not till something outside of herself drives her to it. If a sea should rise, or a gale of wind, she might. But it would take something like that. In the meantime she points this way and that, slewing now to this side--see--and now to the other--but never getting away from this ship which has her in tow. Our course must be her course."

"Yes, I suppose that is so."

"Well, then, Cogan that I've been telling you about was nearly always in tow of a force that seemed to be outside of himself. A storm, a high sea, or a gale of wind in his case would be an upheaval of his soul like. But in those days he hadn't come to that. Maybe he was still only half awake. Martin Jackson, sitting out on the sidewalk of his Fourth of July saloon, came nearer to making him think than all of the school teachers he'd ever seen. Maybe, too, life was too smooth in those days. However, he was always in tow of some fancy or other. And one day, being free of the navy, he went to Peru."

'"Twas love at first sight then with that young Peruvian girl on the beach?"

"No, I don't think so--not quite that. Even at that age Cogan could not fall in love with curves and color alone. At any rate, he put out to sea; and the beauty of the little Peruvian girl was with him in many a night-watch. Under the stars he could shut his eyes and see her--the flashing teeth as she grimaced up at the horrified nurse, and the eyes still rioting after the curved lips were closed. And yet it was not her beauty. A hundred rosy-marbled nymphs could have paraded the beach in a thousand silvery dawns and, once out of sight, his heart never quicken whatever it was--the innocence, the breathing innocence of her, it may have been that. And yet there was something more. There must have been. He gave it up, but he knew that if he had been born a girl he, too, would want to paddle in the sea at dawn."

"A sort of poet?" suggested the passenger.

Kieran shot a side glance at the passenger. "H-m-m--a good thing he didn't know it if he was. He was irresponsible enough without having that excuse. If he thought then that it was poetry in him which kept him hopping about the world, he'd have been no good at all. He did enough dreaming as it was. It was probably only the discipline of a warship, of having to do a daily stint, that kept him from loafing all his time away, for, as maybe I've said, a power used to take hold of him at times and swing him. An idea would come to him and he'd follow it like a guide to heaven.

"He wondered what had become of her, and one day, being now free of the navy, he took a bald-headed schooner out of Portland, Oregon, with a load of lumber for Callao. Between watches he studied a Spanish-Without-A-Master for one dollar. The lumber schooner never reached Callao, but she did make one of those volcanic islands to the south side of the harbor--piled up there and began to fill, which forced the crew to leave in a hurry and row into Callao harbor in their quarter-boat. From Callao the crew took a trolley to Lima to see the American consul. In Lima they became scattered, and Cogan and an old fellow named Tommie Jones found themselves together. Cogan had met Tommie in a restaurant in Portland at about the time Tommie was taking notice of a tall, well-nourished, red-headed lass waiting on table there. Tommie was a hearty lad of fifty-four or so, and Cogan had helped the little romance along, and because of his interest in the case was how Cogan and Tommie came to ship together. Well, here was Tommie adrift in Lima after five weeks to sea, and in all that time he hadn't had a drink, and he wanted one now. He had no money, but Cogan had a half-dollar, and American silver is good money in Peru; so Cogan bought Tommie three drinks of some kind of Spanish wine and himself one lemonade for the half-dollar.

"It couldn't have been the wine--he hadn't had enough of that. Maybe it was the reaction from the excitement of the wreck that made Tommie sleepy. He wanted to turn in, and it being now night-time they went into a park where a fine band was playing. It was a beautiful night, with a moon; and under the moon, while the music rolled out, dark-eyed señoritas with their mothers strolled up and down, and the young fellows hung around and got in a word when they could. On the edges the police kept an eye on the loafers.

"The night breeze which made the trees almost talk, the water of the fountain arching under the colored lights, the scent of the flowering bushes--Tommie and Cogan after their five weeks at sea just sat there till long after the music had stopped and everybody gone home. Then Tommie fell asleep, full length under a tree. Cogan tried to stand watch but he was tired, too, and after a while, with his back against the same tree, and the water-play of the fountain still tinkling in his ears, he fell asleep alongside Tommie.

"Cogan had a dream of somebody trying to pull his leg off and it woke him. He looked down and saw that the lace of one of his shoes was untied. He retied it and looked at his chum. He was still asleep, snoring, but there was something missing. In half a minute, his brain clearing, he saw that Tommie's shoes were gone, and also his hat, and his pockets turned inside out. Cogan then noticed that his own trousers pockets were turned inside out. He stood up and caught sight of two fellows just dropping over the tall iron fence surrounding the park. The gates of the park were closed, and locked, too, or so Cogan guessed, and wasted no time in trying them. The fence was pretty high and had iron spikes on top, and he felt somewhat stiff in his joints, but a hot temper is good as a bath and a rub-down any time--Cogan vaulted the fence, and the two natives just then turned and saw him. He was coming on pretty fast and they threw up their hands, dropped the shoes and hat, and went tearing away. Cogan had only to stoop down and pick up the stuff, but it wasn't property he was after. To steal the shoes off of a shipwrecked sailor! Even if they weren't told he was shipwrecked, they ought to have guessed, or so he thought, and he held on after them, and Cogan could run pretty well in those days. But so could one of those fellows. Cogan could soon have caught the slow one, but he kept always after the fast fellow and was feeling sure of his man when he took to turning corners. They had come to a part of the city where the streets were narrow and the blocks short. It seemed to Cogan there was a corner every twenty feet, and it was up hill. His man turned one corner and four seconds later Cogan turned it, and, his man not being in sight, Cogan kept on and turned the next corner. Another twenty yards and he ran up against a high wall. 'Wow,' says Cogan, but with a running high jump, he got his fingers on top of the wall and hauled himself up. There was nobody in sight on the other side. 'Trimmed!' says Cogan, and, sitting on the wall, began to fan himself.

"It was bright light now and the city beginning to come awake. People came out and took down the shutters of shops. Indian women went by with loaded baskets of fruit, and other people drove little burros in carts filled with eggs, chickens, and green stuff; and men and women, with fish to sell in big dishes on their heads, came sliding by, and all yelled loud enough to wake a watch below. Girls with baskets of flowers went by, and one, looking up, spied Cogan and stopped and held her basket up and made a motion for him to buy. He turned his pockets inside out and threw his hands apart. That made her laugh, and she took a flower from the basket, touched her lips to it and threw it up to him. She was a pretty girl,--all the girls were pretty this morning,--but she was prettiest of all, and the flower was of a big blue kind which Cogan had never seen before. He blew a kiss after her and she went singing on her way. Cogan sang a little himself. He was beginning to feel pretty good.

"Boys came and gazed up at Cogan, and sometimes men, and some of them laughed, but mostly they paid no attention to him. He heard a bell tolling and he saw people below him filing toward a gate. They all carried tin cups. He looked further and saw that it was a monastery they were heading for, and that at the gate of the monastery two monks in brown habits were passing out bread and filling the tin cups with coffee. Cogan dropped over the wall, and when he saw that one man had finished with his tin cup he asked him for it. He knew Spanish enough for that. The man smiled and handed it over. Cogan went up to the grating and a monk filled his tin cup with coffee. Another handed him three slices of dark bread. Cogan thanked them, but the monks seemed not to hear. He thanked them again, at which one monk, looking up, set a finger to his lips and motioned him to step aside for the next.

"Cogan finished his breakfast, thanked the native for the loan of the cup, and started to look around. He first tried to find the park where he had left Tommie, but there were so many parks with trees and flowers and fountains in them! He crossed a bridge over a river that must have come tumbling all the way from the top of the Andes, it had such a head of speed on. He patrolled he did not know how many streets, and at last gave up hunting for Tommie, on whose account, anyway, he wasn't worrying, for he knew that Tommie, an experienced old sailor man, had by this time laid his course for the Consul's and been taken care of. He sat on a bench at the curbstone in front of a fruit store to think things over. It was a comfortable seat, except that every time a trolley passed he had to lift his feet high so he wouldn't be swept off his perch.

"As he sat there, a group of well-muscled, well-set-up young fellows passed him. It was a cool, cheerful morning, and they appeared to be full of play. Everybody did that morning in Lima. Cogan knew these at once for some sort of athletes. They seemed to be well known to the store-keepers and the small boys along the street. Their hair, or what he could see of it, was clipped close. Not handsome men all, but all in high favor. Girls flung back light words at them, or tapped them on the arm in passing. Two girls pinned roses on the coats of two of them, who took it all as though they were used to it. 'Big leaguers of some kind,' thinks Cogan, and asked the fruit-stand keeper who they were, and the fruit-seller said 'Torero.'

"'Torero? Torero?--Ah-h-h'--Cogan recalled his 'Spanish Without A Master'--'Ah-h-h, of course, Toreros--Toreadors'--he remembered the opera 'Carmen'--bull-fighters. Cogan got up and followed them.

"If Cogan had never seen a bull-ring, he would right away have known this in Lima for one. It was a perfect circle, about two hundred feet across, packed with what looked like hard sand and surrounded by a stout stockade, and with seats enough for eight or ten thousand people. The bull-fighters had not minded when he followed them in, and now he took a seat on the empty benches and watched them at practice. They had a bull, a lively one, but a well trained one, too, for when he knocked one of them over he would stand still and not try to trample anybody. He would reach down and prod with his horns, but, as he had a brass knob on each horn, he couldn't hurt them much that way. The fellows with the red capes practised all their tricks, the men with wooden stakes all covered with paper streamers practised theirs, and Cogan's blood was racing in his veins before they were through. These were great athletes--he saw that at once--and with a savage bull with sharp-pointed hoofs and horns in place of that trained manicured one--well, these men would be taking chances which no athlete at home ever had to take, unless they were aerial-bar men in the circus or loop-the-loopers or something like that.

"A few of these men, as Cogan looked on, stood out from the others; and after a time from among those few stood one by himself. From the first Cogan had noticed that he was very fast and clever--and strong, yes. It was his quickness and skill, even more than his strength, which counted. He used the bull's strength against the bull himself. He wasn't much more than medium height or weight, but beautifully developed--they were all finely developed men--and behind his muscular power was all kinds of nervous energy. And a great way of doing things, not an extra motion of any kind--no wasteful flourishes or posings. Not that he didn't have style. Style!--he had so much of it that he didn't seem to be half trying. Everything and everybody seemed to be playing into his hands--even the bull. And he was such a human kind, laughing and joking as he bounded and ran about! And he must have said many funny things, they all laughed so; and he took a lot of trouble to coach some of them in their practice.

"Cogan later saw him in the dressing-room. He came off the field before the others, and while they were yet practising he had had his bath. He was now dressing and Cogan saw that he wore fine linen and fashionably-cut clothes. He had a room to himself off the main dressing-room, and two attendants jumped to serve him. From time to time, standing at the door of his dressing-room putting on a collar or adjusting his tie, he would sweep a glance at Cogan. His eyes were friendly. They were also of good size and deep-set, Cogan now had a chance to see; but they had also an absent, wistful expression which made Cogan wonder, for at this young fellow's age, and he the star of the troupe, it's little in life should have been bothering him.

"By and by the others came in, and with their coming Cogan's favorite was again lively and laughing. Soon he was ready for the street. And all dressed up he was a great swell. As he passed out those in his way skipped to one side, while those in the corners ran forward to catch his eye and smile at him. 'Torellas, Torellas,' Cogan heard again and again in the most admiring and affectionate tones.

"After he had gone out the door, Cogan asked one of the bull-fighters who he was. But his 'Spanish Without A Master' didn't seem to be working very well, and the man he questioned called out 'Ferrero--Oh, Ferrero!' saying to Cogan 'Ferrero spik the Ingliss--O fine-a--good-a Ingliss.'

"A man that Cogan recognized as one of the liveliest performers in the ring, though somewhat older than the others, came over and bowed politely.

"'Señor, if you will tell me--who is Torellas?' asked Cogan in English.

"'Torellas'--Ferrero pointed toward the door--'he departed only one moment ago.'

"'Señor, I saw, and thank you. But who is he?'

"'Torellas? Who ees Torellas?' Not only Ferrero, but every bull-fighter in the place took a peek at Cogan. Ferrero looked around the room to make sure the others had heard. 'He asks me'--or so Cogan guessed he said, for now he was speaking Spanish--'he asks me who is Torellas!' at which they all craned their necks to get another peek at Cogan, and there was a lot of sputtering talk among them. Cogan guessed that they were saying many very funny things about the man who did not know who Torellas was. Ferrero turned to Cogan, now in English, 'Sir, a stranger?' And Cogan said, 'Si, señor, a stranger--from the United States.'

"And Ferrero said, 'Ah-h--Americano--cer-tain-ly,' in the most charitable tone. 'Señor, I speak your language a leetla bit. It is true I lived one time in your contry--a fine contry is U-ni-ted Stat-es--two years--yes, sir, surely. Listen, please. Torellas, sir, he ees born here, in thees very city, a Peruvian. We are proud of him. The prodeegious skill, the strength, the light foot, the stroke of the espada, the sword of Torellas--a descending thunderbolt it ees--but oh, he ees not to be descripsheeoned. Some day you shall see--you shall not depart until you have seen. Even now he ees in Peru--yes, sir--in all South America the supreme matador. Soon--we have the assurance of it, señor--he shall go to Spain, to Madrid, and in the great bull-ring there he shall kill his bulls before the king and queen, and, have no fear, señor, Spain shall also proclaim his superiority. Already, if he so desires, fifty, seventy-five thousand--truly, sir--dollars gold in the year--shall be his for his splendid genius. Yes, sir--and renown without death. We are proud of him. Even now he ees with us--how shall I say it?--ah, señor, even now, but at twenty years of age he ees with us as the great John L. Sullivano was in United Stat-es when I lived there a leetle boy--in New Yorrik--twenty years ago.'

"And Cogan said to himself--'This Torellas person must surely be some class.'

"'And, señor--surely'--Ferrero had only stopped to get his breath--'it would be criminal not to view Torellas in all his splendor--not as you have viewed him this mor-rn-ing--that was play--but in the full strength of his science, his art--deliverin-g, señor, the final stroke to the ferocious bull.'

"Cogan also began to see that it would be a crime not to view the great man in action, and he was also told that even more than Torellas the matador they loved Torellas the man, the good comrade.

"Cogan became quite friendly with the bull-fighters. He inquired further of Ferrero, who in the ring was a banderillo--that is, one of the people who stick the decorated stakes in the bull's neck--possibly Señor Ferrero knew of a mounted capeador by the name of Juan Roca.

"'Juan? Who does not? Yes, sir. Very much, sir,' and went on to tell Cogan that Juan, the best mounted capeador in all South America, was that very morning breaking in a new horse on the ranch of Don Vicente Guillen outside the city.

"Ferrero was a most friendly person, and invited Cogan to eat with him, and Cogan went. Ten or a dozen bull-fighters boarded in one place near the bull-ring--a large, square, two-story adobe house; a grand house, with walls painted in colors and splendid high rooms arranged around a patio inside.

"It was now high noon, and warm enough in the sunny streets outside, but in the patio it was cool, with a breeze from the Pacific, and after lunch the bull-fighters sat around there and smoked cigarettes and played stringed instruments, all but a few wild ones who went leaping and springing about the garden walks. Cogan could not hide his interest in this jumping exercise, and Ferrero, seeing it, invited him to join in, which Cogan did, and beat everybody there jumping. He did so well that Ferrero asked him if he could jump over a horse, and he said he'd try it. So they went out and got a horse, and Cogan jumped over it. And then they brought in another and placed the two side by side, and Cogan jumped over the pair of them, at which they all shouted 'Bueno, bueno, Americano!' and Ferrero slapped him on the back and told him he must stay with them and practice bull-fighting.

"Cogan had another question. Was not the mounted capeador Juan Roca a brother of Luis Roca, the hat dealer? And he was told that he was, and that Luis Roca was now engaged in an enormous hat business with the United States, and had grown very wealthy, thanks to the increase of trade since the American occupation of the Isthmus. And Cogan inquired further--was there a daughter who would be now about eighteen? 'A daughter? Blood of a bull--surely.' And beautiful? Beautee-full! the Señorita Roca beautee-full? Mother of God!' If he wished, he could post himself on the Pasada that very afternoon--any afternoon--and see her driving with her jolly good father or her proud mother, or it might be with Señor Lorenzo de Guavera. 'And,' added Ferrero, 'you will meet Juan there also--if he ees returned from the ranch.'

"In the cool of the afternoon they went to the Pasada, which is where everybody in Lima who has a pair of horses and a coachman goes driving of an afternoon. They pace up one side and down the other. Cogan never saw so many fine horses and beautiful women in such a short time. And he saw the hat dealer--the same lively, good-humored Grand Duke man to look at, dressed in the same style of white ducks and big Panama hat, with the same great beard down on his chest. Beside him was a stately, beautiful girl. Cogan stared. He could see the resemblance right away. 'That must be an elder sister,' he thought, 'and that must be her mother.' The mother was beautiful, too; but also she knew it. There was also a well-set-up, well-dressed, well-groomed, distinguished looking man.

"Cogan was staring after the carriage, when he heard a voice in his ear. Ferrero was speaking to him. 'Ah-h, you know heem, Luis, Juan's brother, yes? And the señora?--and the Señorita Valera?'

"'Valera? But that is not the little girl--'

"'Leetle girl?'

"'Has she not--the señorita--a younger sister?'

"'Sister? There ees no sister--only herself.'

"And so his little Valera had grown into that stately, self-possessed young lady. Cogan felt sad.

"'And some say he ees to be betrothed to her, yes. Señor--Mister Guavera, yes--that ees heem. A splendid man. Poor Torellas. Ah-h, but here ees Juan coming. He speaks the most beautee-full English. Behold--Juan!'

"Ferrero was pointing out a square-shouldered, compactly built, bronzed man of five feet seven or so, who was carving curved shapes out of the air with his hands and pointing to one horse and then another in the parade to illustrate his words. To further illustrate, he carved beautiful figures with his cane and raised one knee after the other violently to depict the animal's action. A man full of gimp, Juan seemed to be. 'It is his new horse,' explained Ferrero. 'He will tell us of it, too.' And he did--went over it all again after he had been introduced to Cogan. 'Oh, a marvel of a horse,' he wound up, 'and I shall ride him in the next fiesta.'

"Ferrero reintroduced Cogan to Juan as one who knew his brother Luis.

"'But I met him only once,' added Cogan.

"'Once? It is sufficient,' assured Juan. 'Fully sufficient. To meet Luis once is to meet him forever. He is always the same. But some others--not so. You have been shipwrecked, yes? You lost everything? Ah-h, that is most hard luck, but do not despair. I, too, was a sailor--one time. One time only, gracias a Dios! My ancestors, I think, were of the land entirely. The sea-sickness--pir-r-h--no, no, not for me. But do not mind. But pardon, señor'--he turned to Ferrero--'attend to me, Ferrero. I am grieved to-day. It is the señora again. What matters it whether a man is a muletero, gaucho, toreador, or what? Torellas, now, has been all--so have I, her brother-in-law--or a seller of hats or a member of the cabinet? What, I ask you'--he turned to Cogan--'are we señor? We are men or we are not? So? Very well, let us say no more, but find a café and have our coffee. It has been very dusty to-day--very.'

"Two cups of coffee, and Juan was talking to Cogan like a brother. And he could talk like a highspeed dynamo. 'A man--can he be no greater than a man, I ask you, sir? Luis, he will be glad to see you, if you came in rags--no matter--he is always the same, always. But the señora--pir-r-h. That is it--you have it--Proud! A good woman, mind'--Juan leaned over and tapped Cogan's arm to let him know there must be no mistake on that point--'the best of women, but'--he sighed--'Luis, he is from home six months in the year, and she it is who has the training of Valera. And once she was as like her father as--oh, and such a heart! But she will become--I fear it now--like her mother. And her mother does not want Torellas.

"'And Torellas! A torero, yes. But whether a man is muletero, vaquero, or torero, what matters it? Torellas has been all three, and I, too--I, her brother-in-law, but what matters it? Luis, my brother, was, oh, so poor when they married, but, my friend, I who say it--I, his brother--a scamp possibly, yes, but we had family. A handsome boy was Luis, and she--I admit it--very beautiful and good. But Luis--Luis becomes wealthy. At once the señora must have a grand son-in-law. Torellas is a toreador,--yes,--but also Torellas is something more than that. The strong arm, the quick eye, the'--Juan slapped himself on the left breast--'the brave heart, yes. But more than that. I know, señor, I who have been'--he touched them off on succeeding finger-tips--'gaucho in Argentina, cowboy in your country, a soldier in the Chilean war, horse-breaker--but I have not fingers sufficient--I who have roamed far, I know men. And Torellas--but you have seen him, señor? Ah-h--then you, too, know. Is he not a man? Ah-h--and surely a man can be but a man. And Torellas,'--Juan pounded the table,--'he is a man--Pir-r'--Juan whirled in his chair--'Pedro, café--al instante. Tres, si, si--tres.'

"'But, Juan,' asks Ferrero when the coffee came, 'a few months ago we thought--'

"'Exactly--we all thought. It is the señora. Listen, Mr. Cogan. You have the warm heart, the friendly eye, you, too, shall know. Torellas and my niece they have regard for each other, and she, the señora, sees no harm until this Guavera, the politician, comes. Oh, a great man--he is to be in the next cabinet--possibly. I repeat--possibly. The señora waits for a chance to terminate with Torellas. Very well. Torellas receives many letters from foolish girls. So do I, and Ferrero. Pir-r-h--what torero of fame does not? And the señora, she points to me--as an example. It is true that I am a weak man and I have no wife--no family--'

"Ferrero began to laugh. 'Mr. Cogan, there was a lady'--begins Ferrero.

"'T-t-t, Ferrero allow me. If we shall have old woman's gossip, allow it also to be the truth. I was riding, señor, one fine, splendid Argentine horse--such a horse!--when a carriage approached and a lady--such a lady!--veiled, you understand, stands before me and a voice says--"Is this not Señor Juan Roca?" It is true that I had received a note that day--and why not, señor? What heart would not beat--but that is nothing. I had no more than kissed the tips of her fingers this beautiful evening, when a giant of a man leaps out. I did not even know that she had a husband. I do not know yet that he is her husband. I did not even know who she was, and he--he was as one sweeping down from a balloon, an aeroplane; but, señor, I who can be gentle, as you can without doubt understand, I can also be as the sea storm which wrecks great ships. I beat this interloper--ah-h--beau-tifully--'

"'The whole city knew of it--such a scandal'--concluded Ferrero for him.

"'Ferrero, enough. I am no destroyer of homes. But the señora, Mr. Cogan, takes occasion to point the finger at me. "There is your mounted capeador, your brave toreador," she says to Luis, "and they are all alike." But Torellas is not so. My heart withers for him. You must understand, señor'--Juan turned anew to Cogan--'that Torellas is as my own son. He tells me all. I have seen him burn in one day ten letters--yes, his own heart burning for love, you understand. Such a boy! He should be a Seminarian. But her mother, she says it is scandalous! As if he could stop them from writing! He must give up bull-fighting! Torellas give up bull-fighting! Our matador, the nation's hero, give up--pir-r-h--if I were Torellas--No matter, I tell him to come to the house as before. Luis favors him. I favor him. Old Tina favors him, and, I think--I think--Valera herself--but she is too proud to say. She, also, considers it--beseeched him to give up bull-fighting! That was the señora's influence. If he were an ordinary matador--but the great Torellas! Pir-r-h--but a moment.' Juan whirled to the waiter, 'Pedro, mas cafe!'

"Juan downed his coffee in a gulp. 'And you shall come with us to see Luis,' he goes on. 'Come in your shipwreck clothes, it shall not matter to Luis. I recollect now, sir, you are the American sailor he saw one time in Colon. He has conversed many times of you. The señora will not like it, you understand, you a sailor, but with the señorita, it is but to charm the more. She loves me, her hard dog of an uncle, because I, who have adventured, can tell her a thousand tales. You have adventured also and she is yet her father's child. Do not mind that I speak frankly, but come. If I speak thus to you, it is because I know that you, señor, are one to understand and to trust. We shall be glad to see you. You go with Ferrero now? Ver-ry good.' Juan stood up and with his cane he saluted profoundly. 'Good-by, sir. Ferrero, a Dios.' He went as he came, with a rush.

"Stirred up by Juan, Cogan thought of calling that very night on Luis Roca and his family. But he did not go, nor next day, nor that week. He saw Juan regularly in the bull-ring, and always Juan urged him afresh, but Cogan did not go to see the Rocas. 'Later,' perhaps, he said to Juan, who stared wonderingly at him but did not ask why.

"And so things went for several weeks, until that morning when the American battle fleet came steaming into Callao harbor. Cogan was one of twenty or thirty thousand who crowded to the stone pier that day, and when the beautiful white ships came rounding in, he felt very proud. And the yellow tongues of flame flashing and the white sides of the great war-ships gleaming through the smoke--it made a tremendous impression on everybody; but to Cogan's eyes the tears came. People near him said, 'Americano?' inquiringly, to which Cogan's bull-fighting friends replied--'Si, si, Americano,' and added a 'Heep, heep, hoo-raw!' to make Cogan feel more at home.

"That was the morning that Torellas told Cogan that if he wished he could go into the ring on the occasion of the festival which Peru was to hold in honor of the American fleet. And such an occasion it was to be! A welcome from a younger to the older republic. There was to be a great bull-fight, at which Torellas was to make his last appearance before going to Spain.

"Spain! Madrid! The highest of honors! Cogan looked at Torellas, but the matador didn't seem to be so very glad."

The pump-man seemed to be listening to something. "Hear 'em?" he asked.

The passenger cocked up his ears, and heard them--several voices from the depths of one of the tanks.

"It's No. 11," explained the pump-man, and hurried away. The passenger saw him disappear into a hatchway. Almost immediately the voices ceased and shortly four deck-hands hurriedly emerged. Kieran followed. "Beat it!" he ordered, and they somewhat sheepishly went forward.

Kieran came aft. "What was the trouble?" asked the passenger.

"That bunch of bone-heads,"--Kieran was talking. He was also pinching the crust from the wick of a candle he held--"they sneaked down there to have a little game. And brought this candle with them--for light. Three weeks ago, up to the dock in Bayonne, a bunch lit a candle to look for something in the corner of an oil ship's tank, and the coroner couldn't tell the buttons of one from the other. Gas, yes. Another half minute and these chaps would've got the surprise of their lives. But maybe I'd better go for'ard and give 'em a few chemical explanations, or some day, meaning no harm, they'll be blowing out the side of the ship. So long."


III

The pump-man roomed with Jenkins, the third officer, in the superstructure, amidships. The passenger sometimes, as on this night, looked in there.

Jenkins was an Englishman, and of him they told the story that when he first came to the country half the space in his yellow tin trunk was taken up with cakes of Pears' soap. Somebody had told him that he couldn't buy any in the United States. He still had some of his original load of soap, and now hauled the tin trunk out from under his bunk, took out a cake and made a lather, with which he slicked down his thin, sandy hair, smoothing it, the while he gossiped cheerfully with Kieran and the passenger, on each side of the middle parting until it made a straight line between the bottom of his ears to his eyebrows. His ears were stuck high up on the side of his head--a sign of high intelligence, he used to say.

Jenkins had to go on watch at midnight, and so now he was getting ready to turn in. The third officer had a minute way of telling his little experiences, to which Kieran always listened patiently. If Kieran had not, Jenkins would have had no audience at all, for the second officer, a Norwegian, and the first officer, a Vermont Yankee, had no use for any Englishman whatever; and besides that he was only the third officer.

The pump-man had sympathy for Jenkins, but not so much that he would sit and listen while Jenkins talked himself to sleep; so, once he saw Jenkins into his bunk, Kieran used to fly for the open deck.

And here it was the passenger joined him, pacing the long gangway. The passenger turned and they paced together.

The sound of the captain's voice floated down from the bridge. The passenger, who had small use for the captain, suggested that they go forward; and so they made for the bow of the ship and ascended the ladder to the forec's'le head, and here, after a decent interval, to allow Kieran to absorb the beauty of the tropic night, the passenger said, "How about that bull-fight in Peru?"

"Oh-h--" said Kieran, and after a silence went on to say:

"Well, the day of the bull-fight came, and that afternoon the bull-fighters marched into the ring; and in their smooth-fitting tights--black, white, green, pink, blue, purple, all colors--their short jackets, puffed-out shirts, with the queer little hats and the neat black slippers, well-built fellows, all of them--they made a great showing.

"They marched once around the ring, and then Torellas, who was leading them, halted in front of the Mayor's box and asked permission to kill the bull, and the Mayor, of course, said yes. Then, marching to the opposite side of the ring, to where was the President of Peru in the biggest box of all, with hangings of red and gold, and two American rear-admirals of the fleet on either side of him, Torellas saluted, and tossed up his hat, then his cloak, to the President. And as he did so, around the ring the less famous bull-fighters were picking out friends or great people and to them tossing their hats, by way of doing them honor. Cogan tossed his up among the American blue-jackets, and they, not knowing he wasn't a Peruvian, didn't know what to make of it, but they scuffled for it just the same.

"Torellas was in white tights with black slippers. A small gold cross was pinned to the breast of his fine white shirt. As he stepped back from the President's box he touched a white silk handkerchief to his lips, almost like a woman, but those graceful little movements were as much a part of him as were his strength and nerve. Cogan could hear women in the seats behind him whispering of the beauty of him. Until then it had never occurred to Cogan that the matador was any professional beauty. He surely was a finely developed fellow, a good deal of a man to look at, but for the beauty! No, he wasn't handsome--Cogan took another look--but any man would say a great looking one.

"The ring was now clear, with the bull-fighters hidden behind the stockade, or tucked away in the little places of refuge built against the inside of the stockade. These places of refuge were for the bull-fighters to run into when chased by a bull; and there were half a dozen of them, of heavy planking and about as high as a man's chest, with an entrance wide enough for a man, but not for a bull's horns. Cogan picked out his particular refuge because just above it, in front seats, were the Rocas and Guavera.

"It was now time for the bull-fight to begin, but this was such an extraordinary occasion that a compliment had first to be paid to the visiting fleet, so the Peruvian band played our national hymn, and at the first note every American blue-jacket there stood to attention. Cogan felt as proud as could be of them, in their fresh-washed suits of muster white with the beautiful blue collars and cuffs. Section after section was piled solid with them, and here and there Cogan saw an old shipmate. Just to look at them made Cogan homesick. Four thousand strong they stood stiff as statues to attention, right arms across body and caps held to their left breasts, while the 'Star-Spangled Banner' was played.

"It was all fine; and the 'Star-Spangled Banner' made such a hit that the Peruvian band played it again. And fine musicians they were, too, only as they played it, trying to be terribly respectful, it sounded like a funeral march. But, through it all, our blue-jackets, four thousand strong, stood frozen to attention in their beautiful suits of white with the blue trimmings and their caps held respectfully to their breasts.

"Great! Cogan could hear them all about him saying how noble and affecting. And it was--believe me, it was. And again that fine band arose to play the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' but this time our brave blue-jackets also arose, four thousand strong, in the beautiful muster white suits, and yelled as one--'Oh, cut it out, cut out any more music and bring on the bull.' And they brought on the bull.

"But first a bugle call rang out, and into the ring came the mounted capeador. And it was Juan, and he was riding his Argentine roan. And he took his station in the middle of the ring, and there he waited, in his left hand the reins, and in his right, drooping below his stirrup, a scarlet cape. Great cheers greeted him; and all around the ring Cogan could hear the residents from the high one in the box with the American admirals, from the President down, explaining that this was their famous mounted capeador, Juan Roca, and to have an eye out for Juan's unparalleled skill and his bravery--and did they notice that Juan wore no iron, nor even leather protection to his legs? Everyone called him Juan, as though he was an old friend. Cogan remembered how, on that night in Colon, the hat dealer was as proud as could be of his brother; but no more proud, he now saw, than was everybody here in Lima.

"A barrier of light boarding was raised, and there was the bull, a big, chocolate colored fellow, with heavy shoulders and horns that must have spread three feet. Again Cogan could hear the residents explaining to their American guests that this was one of a famous lot of bulls bred especially for the ring, from the ranch of Don Vicente Guillen, and for this afternoon's sport the government had provided six of these bulls, paying fifteen hundred pesos--about fifteen hundred dollars--in gold for them, and also that the bulls had been fed on half rations for the past forty-eight hours to make them of a high eagerness for this most widely advertised combat.

"Back there in the half light under the shed, Cogan could see the big bull weaving his head from side to side and swaying on his forelegs as he looked out on the ring. The sudden light probably blinded him, for he didn't seem to see, not for a few seconds at least, the scarlet cape Juan was holding up. But when he did! Out he came, head on, for Juan. And Juan stayed there with not a move, until Cogan thought the bull surely had him hooked. But no. At arm's length, and in front of the flaming eyes, Juan flirted the cape, and still in front of the blazing eyes he held it, and behind him, past his horse's withers, he whipped it, and with that, with but a single word, and drawing in on his reins, he seemed to lift his horse off the ground, to whirl him on his hind heels, almost without moving from his tracks; and the bull rushed on by.

"Juan spurred his horse, waved the scarlet cape aloft, took up a new position, and the people cheered. And again cheered as the bull charged, for once more Juan was safe away. Oh, Juan was the brave one! And Juan looked toward the other bull-fighters, as if to say: 'And now is not this Argentine a horse to talk about?' And that horse Juan patted and whispered to, and laughed and sang to him; and with the reins taut in the left hand and the flaming cape always in his right, he did as he pleased with that bull. He talked to the bull, too, but differently--he knew how--to make him angry, and the bull frothed and tore up the sand to get at him, and a dozen times it looked as if the bull would bowl over and gore both the horse and Juan, but always just in time Juan flashed the red cape, and always he and the wonderful horse would come safe away. Juan was certainly the champion horseman of all that Cogan had ever seen. And when Juan rode out of the ring and the bull stood there and looked after him, bewildered like, Cogan didn't half blame him, for the pair of them, Juan and his horse, certainly made a tough combination.

"And then into the ring came the capeadors on foot. Cogan took part with these. They were to play the bull on foot as Juan had been playing him on horseback, but instead of one there were eight of them in the ring together. And one after the other, five, ten, or a dozen paces away, they waved a red cape in front of the bull, at which he glared and lowered his head and charged; but always he charged in one way, head down and eyes only for the red cape, and there was the way the man beat the brute. The bull had his speed, strength, endurance, but nothing else. Once he put his head down he had eyes only for the red cape, and so long as the capeador handled his cape and himself with speed and skill, and no accident happened, he might count on getting safe away.

"Cogan only tried to repeat in the ring this day what he had been doing for weeks in practice. As the bull came charging, he used the cape to lead him to one side, allowing just room enough for the horns to pass. If he waited too long before he turned the bull, of course it would mean trouble; but if he turned the bull too soon, it would be clumsy. Whatever else he did the bull-fighter must not be clumsy. The first time he tried it, Cogan didn't do a good job--the bull was faster than he realized, and he had to run for one of the little places of refuge with the bull after him. Then the crowd roared, or they yelled 'Malo, malo,' which is the same as if a crowd of baseball fans yelled 'Rotten, rotten!' Next time Cogan did better, and then it was 'Bueno, bueno!' from everybody. Possibly the applause was all the louder because by this time the rumor had spread that he was not only a new-comer, a stranger, an American, but also a sailor, and these four thousand American sailors were this day the guests of the nation. Cogan could not help looking up to Valera and her father after he had done his good turn, and was thrilled to see them both cheering and smiling at him.

"So far it was clever, neat work on the part of the capeadors, but nothing wonderful, nothing to match Juan's work on the horse. The crowd wanted livelier action, and there were cries of 'Torellas! Torellas!' The bugle sounded, and Torellas came. 'Ah-h,' sighed they--you could hear them--'now we shall see something.' Torellas, holding the red cape before him, lured the bull, turned him skilfully, and, spinning on his heel, tempted the bull to wheel and charge again, and when the bull did so, and yet again and again, Torellas, holding him always at arm's length, swung him back and forth, himself retreating a step at a time, and with every step the bull plunging on after him. It was just as if he were snapping the bull on the end of the cape, snapping him back and forth across his path, as he made his way backward. Torellas was never so far away but what the bull, with one unexpected lunge, would get him. But Torellas kept the bull too well in hand for any accidental lunge. At short range he kept him going, drawing him half way across the ring at one time, until at last the bull himself, seeming to understand that he was being fooled, stopped short, and Torellas pulled up, too, and let his cape hang loosely by his side; but as he did so, instantly and at full tilt at Torellas went the bull again; but that seeming carelessness on the part of Torellas was part of his play. With a light upward bound, as the bull lowered his head to gore him, Torellas stepped between the horns, and when the great head came up, with the spring of his leap to the toss of the bull's head, away he went sailing, twenty feet beyond the bull and landing like a breath of air on his feet.

"While the people were still making the air explode with their applause, Cogan saw Torellas look wistfully up to where Valera and her people sat. Cogan looked too. She, leaning back between her mother and Señor Guavera, with her face cloaked, was almost hidden. Her mother and Guavera were talking across her as if all this bull-fighting was of all in the world the thing least interesting to them. Cogan looked back to the matador. He was bowing, even smiling, to the audience, but Cogan, who was close enough to mark every line of his face, saw that he was getting no great joy of his triumph.

"Torellas left the ring, and the banderilleros took possession. These were the men with the wooden stakes of the length of a man's arm and the thickness of a thumb, and wrapped around in gay colored paper ribbon streamers, and at one end a thin iron spike about as long as a man's little finger. The banderilleros had to stand in front of the bull, with a stake in each hand, and, as he charged, to step in between his horns and reach over and plant a stake on each side of his neck. 'It is most simple,' explained Ferrero, as he left Cogan to do his part--'only--surely--we must not make mistake.' And Cogan could not help thinking that bull-fighting was like a thousand other games, a man mustn't make mistakes.

"Ferrero, who was rated the best banderillero in Peru, first faced the bull. He held his stakes up near the end furthest from the bull, to get as much distance at the start as possible, though it wasn't that alone which saved him from the bull's rush. That helped, but the bull stopping up short when he felt the spikes going into his neck, was what Ferrero reckoned on, when it wasn't done too late. An instant after the stakes were planted in his neck, the bull continued his charge, but by then Ferrero was out of the way.

"Cogan, watching Ferrero and his companions from his retreat, began to get the bull-fighting fever. He thought he would like to try the banderillero's game--that is, after he'd had a few weeks' training at it. These were fine athletes--and something more. They were risking their lives every minute.

"They leaped like panthers. The jabbing in of the stakes and the wiggling aside to escape the bull's plunge, it was like one movement. Soon the bull was going round the ring, with five or six pairs of banderillas decorating his neck. Of these Ferrero had planted the first and last pair. When he came back to his place in the refuge beside Cogan, the air was quivering with buenos. 'Buenos!' said Cogan also to him. 'Not bad--no.' said Ferrero very well pleased.

"But the great thing was to come. 'El matador, el matador! Torellas, Torellas,' they were shouting. And again Torellas came. He crossed the ring, with his even, unhurried walk to Cogan's place of refuge, and asked for his cape--'You will allow me--please--yes? Gracias, señor,' and, with the one word 'Americano,' and a nod of his head toward Cogan, Torellas held the cape to the nearest section of American blue-jackets who had been wondering, ever since the word had been passed, which was the American among the bull-fighters. Cogan, of course, was dressed like any other bull-fighter, and being dark-haired and pretty well tanned wasn't to be picked out easily, especially as he buried himself to the eyes in his place of refuge. He didn't want to be recognized--not then, and so he stayed hid away, and so it was Ferrero, in the same refuge with Cogan, but looming above him, who was cheered by the many blue-jackets for their countryman. And Ferrero gleefully bowed and bowed again to their applause.

"Torellas wrapped the cape around his left forearm. He then took from an attendant and gripped in his right hand the espada, the short sword, with which he was to give the bull the finishing stroke.

"Now, to Cogan's way of thinking, Ferrero and the other banderilleros took a chance when they placed their beribboned stakes, but they had the length of their stakes the start of the bull, and they did not have to linger over doing it. A light touch, the stakes were in, and they were off. But to drive a knife through twelve or fourteen inches of bull gristle! Cogan pictured himself walking into a butcher's shop, picking out twelve or fourteen inches of tough gristle and driving a knife through it. He could do it, of course he could, or any man, but he would have to brace legs and back to get enough power in the stroke. But to stop to brace for that stroke and a rampant seventeen-hundred-pound bull piling down on top of you, and to pick out a spot on his neck no bigger than a fifty-cent piece! And if you missed your spot! Or were a little bit slow! Even in being too soon there was danger, if you could imagine a man being too quick.

"That was how Cogan looked at it, and he felt himself worrying for Torellas. He looked toward the Rocas. The mother and Guavera were no longer talking, and Valera was again drawn back between them, but her father was leaning well forward with eyes fixed on Torellas.

"There was great shouting when Torellas faced the bull--and then a great silence. Torellas moved his cape-draped forearm--up, down, coaxingly. The bull headed for him. Torellas stepped aside. The bull passed on and wheeled. Torellas took half a dozen dancing steps. The bull followed. Torellas waved his arm, the bull charged. Torellas leaped easily to one side. The bull passed on. More light play, a charge, another charge, yet another, all beautiful athletic play, and Torellas had worked his way across the ring to near the place of refuge where Cogan and Ferrero were. This also brought the bull under the seats of the Rocas. Cogan, studying the matador's face, had a feeling that he had drawn the bull there purposely. It was as if he had said to her up there on the seats: 'Here--here is the product of my highest skill. To do this well I have dedicated my abounding youth. I offer them a sacrifice to you.' So Cogan viewed it. Cogan, to be sure, had a sympathy for Torellas, had liked him from the first. Torellas--he was one who adventured to give the spirit play as now; and Cogan would have liked just then to be in the shoes of Torellas.

"The bull was at last properly worked up. Torellas took his final stand. His feet were well apart, but not too far apart, body and legs set so that he could have leaped instantly forward, backward, sideways. Cogan, watching, thought what a painting, or better, what a bit of sculpture could have been made of him so. He was standing on the balls of his feet, with his torso canted slightly forward from the waist. His head was forward, too, but inclining a little to one side, toward his right shoulder. His eyes were so narrowed that they could hardly be seen, but the glitter of them was plain enough. The sword up to this time he held loose in his right hand, palm up and shoulder-high, with the blade horizontal, the point toward the bull. His left arm held forward, well clear of the body, was the final effect in the miracle of his balance. Standing like that, he was planted solidly enough on the earth, but he gave out, too, such an impression of energy, force, power bottled up, that he made you feel that he could fly if he tried.

"Standing so, he didn't seem to breathe. But the crowd were breathing for him. From the seats behind him Cogan could hear, almost feel, their hot breaths.

"The bull now stopped and studied this last enemy. The others had come at him in groups, but here was one all alone.

"The bull stood with half-lowered head, weaving it from side to side, like when from behind the barrier he first appeared to the crowd. He eyed the red cape. It must have flamed like blood in the sun to him. His nostrils, his eyes, were flaming like blood, too. He ceased his weaving, raised, lowered his head, and bounded toward Torellas. And everybody there knew that it was the bull or the matador this time. The red cape of the matador seemed to leap forward, no loose ends now for a flying horn to catch, but a tight roll around the matador's left forearm. Standing now four feet away Torellas, to blind the charging bull as the capeadors had done, had to step close in. And now he was close in and his forearm was across the bull's forehead. It was hard to follow, the action was so fast, but Cogan saw that Torellas was already between his horns. Cogan looked for the flash of the heavy blade, but already Torellas' right arm had gone forward, that eye of his had marked the little vital spot, and, as the bull lowered his head and lunged to gore him, the blade was driven forward, and onto the point of it rushed the bull. The blade went home--clear to the hilt--eighteen inches or so. Before the people could clear their choked-up throats to applaud, before many could realize what had happened, the bull was stumbling to his knees and Torellas was unwrapping the cape from his left forearm. One long, thundering in-and-out breath and they were mobbing Torellas with applause.

"The bull rolled from side to side on his knees, tried to balance himself there for four, five, six seconds, and then rolled over. He half lifted his head from the sand, he kicked, once, twice, again, and then the head fell back, a quiver, and he lay limp. It was sad in a way.

"A bugle rang out. Two Peruvian boys came galloping in on horses. The bugle sounded again, they took a bridle hitch on the bull and went galloping out of the ring, bugles going and the bull dragging behind. The noise and whirl of it made Cogan think of a fire-engine coming down the middle of a street up home.

"As the bull was hauled out, Cogan felt a new sorrow for him. Up to that last stroke there was a chance that he would hurt somebody, but he hadn't killed or hurt anybody, and now, when he was dragged out dead, Cogan felt half sad. And he said as much to Ferrero.

"Ferrero looked at him puzzled. 'Such ideas you have in your country? Why? Leesen now, my friend, I also have a sadness, but consider if you was a bull, or I was a bull. Would you prefair to go to your death in a bull-ring or to be led to a man who demolished you on the temple with an axe, or cut your throat with a long knife--a man in a white garment? Which?'

"Cogan said that if he was a bull, no doubt he'd prefer the bull-ring, but would the bull?

"'Of a certainty, yes--if he was a blooded bull--yes,' said Ferrero. 'A high class bull always. He should be keeled no other way. No. And in the ring there was always a hope to make man pay--but in a slaughter-house--p-ff-f. And some day, my friend, the bull will obtain his revenge. Have no doubt of it. Bull-fighters die one way--all matadors surely. Let them attend to it long enough and no fear--some day the bull shall get heem. View Torellas now. He is strong, brave, agile, superb, triumphant as he stands there, let him continue and some day a slip shall come and he shall go.'

"Cogan said no doubt, at the same time wishing he were in the place of Torellas. The matador--he had had his supreme moment.

"Cogan looked up to the Roca's party. Her father was still wildly cheering Torellas. Her mother and Guavera were applauding, too, but their applause did not have the quality of Señor Roca's. Valera's face was still hidden by her fan. Cogan looked to the matador. He seemed to be limp, apathetic. 'The reaction,' Cogan thought, and Torellas, being so young and such a high-strung fellow, maybe it was only natural, and yet, thinking a moment later, it had come rather soon for an athlete in his fine condition.

"In the sand lay the sword with which he had killed the bull, and while the people were cheering, stamping, hurling words of applause, endearment, love, at Torellas, he picked it up. Already the President of the Republic was standing up in his box with the cloak and hat of the master, to hand them back to him with words of appreciation, and to him and the crowd Torellas was bowing.

"Cogan, with eyes only for Torellas and the Rocas, did not see the beginning of what happened next. He first heard a cry, then a loud voice or two, then a hundred, a thousand voices. He turned. The gate which held the next bull in confinement had been opened or else it had burst out. The gateman was there, but with despairing hands on high, and across the ring the fresh bull was coming. Torellas was standing with his back to the gate, and not twenty feet from it, almost in the spot where he had killed his bull, and wiping the sword blade in a fold of Cogan's cape, which he was now holding loosely. He was looking up at the Rocas and seemed at first not to hear the cries. He turned--slowly, with horrible slowness, Cogan thought, when he recalled how fast he could move when he wanted to.

"He turned too slowly. The bull caught him sideways, and when he came down, it was astraddle of the bull's back, from which he fell to the sand beside the bull, who had wheeled and was waiting. He must have been stunned when he landed, for the sword and cape had fallen from him, and he lay motionless. The bull lunged like lightning. The horn went into the left thigh, just above the knee, and, not done then, the bull ripped on upward with that same horn until it came out under the matador's left breast.

"The white tights turned red. The bull was lowering his head to gore him again, but Ferrero had leaped from his place of refuge. Cogan was with him. Ferrero picked up the cape and flouted it in the bull's eyes. The bull lifted his head from Torellas, looked at the cape, and charged. And as he did, Cogan snatched up the matador's sword and waited. The bull charged past Ferrero, then, wheeling quickly, made again for Torellas, and his head was lowered to gore again. Ferrero got desperate and threw the cape from him, and it caught on the horns, and while the bull was entangled and enraged afresh, Cogan stepped close, picked out the little spot the size of a fifty-cent piece at the head of the spine, stood on his toes and came down with all his force. It wasn't any approved matador's stroke, for Cogan, standing behind instead of in front of the bull's horns, drove home in just the reverse fashion, but it wasn't a bad stroke at that. The knife went home. The bull rolled over, and Cogan stood there and looked and looked. Nobody was more surprised than he. Not once in ten times he was saying to himself could he have done it in cold blood. Only when Ferrero pulled him by the arm did he think to turn and bow with the banderillero to the cheering audience, especially to some blue-jackets who had now recognized him as an old shipmate and were calling him by name--hundreds of them.

"In the middle of the excitement he looked up to see how Valera was taking it. She and her father were both leaning far over the rail toward him--he with both arms extended and yelling, she with her handkerchief pressed to her lips. Her eyes met Cogan's, and Cogan was satisfied. His little Valera of the beach was on deck again. No matter about the rest. That must have been a full minute after it happened and after the surgeon had called out 'It is well. Torellas will live!'

"But the bull-fighters in the ring did not believe that all was well. 'Torellas! Oh, Torellas!' they were saying, and some were shedding tears, as they carried him to the dressing-room. Torellas was now conscious. He smiled at Ferrero, and he was smiling while they were undressing him, and he took Cogan's hand and held it while the others were telling him how it was. Not until the surgeon said, 'You will live, but your bull-fighting days are done,' did he lose his nerve. He had been pale, but he went paler then. The globes of sweat collected on his forehead. 'Oh, no, no, doctor!' he cried and fainted.

"That night Cogan slipped away from a party of American blue-jackets who wanted to paint Lima in high colors for him, and went down to see Torellas, who had been taken to his home, a fine, large house on a wide street. A crowd was in the street, waiting for word of his condition.

"Ferrero met him at the door. 'They wait for you, good friend.'

"'They? Who?'

"'Oh, you shall see.' And he led Cogan to the second floor, to where a fine suite of rooms opened from the wide hall. Her father and Juan were in the outer room.

"These two clasped him to their bosoms. 'You brave one,' said her father--and 'Bueno Americano!'--said Uncle Juan, and patted him on the head as if he were a son. 'He will live--Oh, be sure of that. But never will he fight bulls again. Never, never. And that is sad. But we have him. Let us not mourn. And you'--Juan raised both hands high--'you and Torellas--I love you both.'

"Cogan thought he heard her voice, the voice which never in his life he had heard, and hesitated. 'Proceed,' said her father, and pushed him toward the door of the middle room. 'She is there. And Tina--you remember Tina--that night in Colon? She is also there. The señora'--he looked at Juan and Juan smiled back at him--'she is too fatigued to come, but Tina came.'

"Cogan softly crossed the second room, but paused on the threshold of the inner room. He saw a great, stout woman back to. He knew her--Tina. He looked further, and under the half light saw the face of the matador. She was beside the bed. He could not see her face, but he heard her voice, and it was over her shoulder that he saw the matador's face.

"There were murmured words in Spanish which he did not understand, and then a phrase at which he could guess, then words which there was no mistaking, and which were not for him or any other man to hear. He backed out.

"Juan, Ferrero, and her father were still at the outer door of the outer room. They were not looking. He saw that from this middle room a window led on to a balcony. He stepped through the window, found a post, dropped to the ground, made his way through the garden in the rear, and so on to a back street. He ran on--one street, another, a dozen, and then uphill to a wall which he seemed to know. He looked about, and saw that near by was the monastery where he had been given his first breakfast in Lima. It was the same old wall.

"He climbed the wall and sat there. He had been sitting so that morning when the pretty flower girl had tossed him the blue flower--blue as the sky. Only now it was night and no one to see and smile. He looked up to the sky, the night sky of the tropics. The twisted Southern Cross shone on him. He turned and faced the north.

"Somewhere he could hear a band playing. In one of the parks probably, and there would be leaves rustling there, and the scent of flowers, and the señoritas walking with their mothers, while the young men hung around the edges, striving to get a word, a look. And there would be the arched jets of a fountain playing under colored lights, and back in Portland, Oregon, by this time was perhaps Tommie Jones married to his plump waitress.

"It was a good band--playing something he had never heard before, but something very soothing. He looked toward the Pacific. He knew where the harbor of Callao should lie, and in the middle of the harbor he could see them, one great cluster of lights, the lights of the battle fleet. And there were the fleet's search-lights playing on the great stone pier.

"The band was playing again--something fine.

"And then the monastery bell tolled. And presently he heard a chanting--a slow sad chanting! And then the chanting also died away.

"He had been lying on the wall with his hat in his hand and staring up at the sky. Now he sat up, put on his hat, took another look to the lights in the harbor, and hummed softly the Philippine service song--

"It's home, boy, home, it's home you ought to be."
"And you've no kick coming. Dreams dreams, always dreams, but you've had your hour, too.' He took another look at the lights of the fleet--another to the lights of the city below him--'Good night, Lima,' he whispered, and dropped off the wall."

The pump-man had begun his story this evening while sitting with back to the rail and feet stretched out on the deck before him. He finished while lying on his back, hands clasped under the back of his head, and wide eyes on the sky.

The passenger leaned on the rail, studied the stem of the ship, and listened to the surge of back wash against the ship's bow as she drove on. Abeam, the young moon drooped.

Kieran said nothing more. The passenger nothing for a long time. Then it was:

"And they were married?"

"I don't know--Cogan didn't wait to see--but of course."

"Of course," echoed the passenger, and in silence resumed his study of the ship's bow cutting through the little seas.

The passenger turned inboard. "But Cogan--where is he?"

"There was no Cogan."

"No Cogan."

"No, no Cogan."

"And no bull-fight, and no Valera, and no Torellas, nor Juan, and it never happened?"

"Why, of course it happened, and just as I've told it. But not to anybody named Cogan. There was no Cogan, or rather"--Kieran rolled over on his side and rested his head on his elbow--"I'm Cogan."

"Oh-h-h. Oh-h-h. And you're Campbell, the old champion athlete?"

"Yes, I'm Campbell. And I'm Cogan. And I'm Kieran, pump-man on this wall-sided oil-tanker at fifty-five per month."

"But why?"

"Why, why?" He sat up. The passenger could see the thick, dark eyebrows draw together. "Why? Why anything? What would you do?"

"Forget it."

"Forget it. But can you?--everything? No--you betcher you can't. And it's every man to his own cure. Some I know get drunk and fight. And some I know who get drunk and cry. Some worry their friends to death, and some others beat their wives. Every man to his way. I have no wife"--he laughed softly--"and I want to keep my friends. So I run my heart out in races and beat up bully bosons, and fight bulls--when I can."

"But when you can't?"

"When I can't? Why, when I can't, I lay out on the fo'c's'le head and bay up at a two-horned moon."

The passenger turned and looked down. "Thank your God, Kieran," he said, "you can laugh when you say that."

The pump-man's smile died away. "Maybe I'm thanking God," he said softly, "for more than that."


(The end)
James B. Connolly's short story: Cogan Capeador

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