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GRAN CORRIDA OF SIX SPANISH BULLS
TO BE FOUGHT BY THE MATADORES GUERRITA
Guerrita, the most famous "espadeo" in concerned myself on the subject or dreamSpain, and Minuto—the tiniest of crea- ed of attending a corrida.
On the way tures, but possessed of courage and daring to Nîmes it seemed to me that every one which were absolutely marvellous-were was talking toros, and at even the smallto be the matadores. Everything and est stopping - places along the road goreverybody connected with the corrida geous bill - posters with pictures of the was to come from Spain. It was sure to arenas, the paseo, and groups of toreros, be fine, and it would be impossible for me picadores, banderilleros, etc., flaunted to see one under better circumstances, as their vivid colors in my face. I read their friend Monsieur D— knew Guer- them over and over until I fairly knew rita, Minuto, and everybody connected every name by heart. with the management, and through his influence I could meet these interesting
Sunday, the 26th of September, 1897, at 3 o'clock. matadores, and be taken behind the scenes the day before the corrida took place. As subscribers they were entitled to the best
FROM THE GANADERIA OF D. JOSE MANUEL of seats, and she was sure a good one
DE LA CAMARA, could be procured for me. It would be very crowded at Nîmes. Should she se
AND MINUTO, cure a room for me at the little hotel they were accustomed to stay at? Our
Accompanied by their Complete Cuadrillas. mutual friend Mademoiselle R- of Marseilles had hoped to be one of our And underneath were the names of the little party, but she was quite ill, poor members of these cuadrillas—their real child, and would probably have to give up accompanying her father, who was to sit in the president's loge to help preside, and who would always journey any distance to witness a good corrida. evident, after reading all this, that a great deal of trouble had been taken in my behalf, and although I possessed absolutely no curiosity to see a bull-fight, and held the usual ideas concerning its barbarity, I felt that matters had gone too far for me to be able to excuse myself on the plea of scruples as to the immorality of the exhibition.
a day's journey to Nimes, but at least I would have all the next day in which to recover from my fatigue. A telegram must be sent off at once to say that I would arrive Friday night, September 24, and I could only hope that, once there, my distaste for the disagreeable features of the spectacle would not prevent me from meeting all this enthusiasm with some degree of responsiveness.
I had often heard that Spain's national sport had taken the deepest possible root in the land of its adoption, but when one does not come in contact with those who are interested in a special diversion of this kind, it may exist on all sides, thrive and increase, and yet scarcely attract the notice of the uninitiated. I had often travelled through the Midi, knew vaguely names, and the still more familiar ones that bull-fights were extensively patron- by which they were publicly known in ized by its inhabitants, but had never the exercise of their profession:
CUADRILLA DE GUERRITA.
CUADRILLA DE MINCTO.
ed from the moment of his birth by every MATADOR.
influence which could serve to make the Rafael Guerra-Guerrita. Enrique Vargas – Minuto. adoption of such a career as he eventually PICADORES.
chose especially legitimate and wise. His Antonio Bejarano— Pegote. Manuel Vargas, Tornero. father was concierge in an abattoir at Rafael Moreno-Beao. Réserve: Antonio Medina. Réserve: Teodoro Amare. Cordova; and one of the most famous
matadores of that time, Jose Rodriguez, or BANDERILLEROS. Juan Molina-Lajartijo.
Pequete, as he was called,
stood sponsor Antonio Guerra.
Jose Gonzalo-Gonzalito. Francisco Gonzalez-Patatero. José Vargas-Noteveas.
for the little Rafael when he was chris
tened. Pequete met with a tragic death Joachin del Rio-Alones. Francisco Roig-Pastoret.
in the arena while the child was still an
infant in arms, but from the time that he Seeing my interest in one of these af- could think for himself he determined to fiches, a woman selling books and papers become as celebrated as this renowned at a stand near where it
godfather, whose memory was posted up offered me
was held dear, and whose a little pamphlet with
great deeds were cited for sketches of Guerrita and
the purpose of firing the Minuto. I gained from it
imagination of the child a good deal of informa
and of arousing his ambition that surprised me, for
tion. one could not follow the
a pretty developments in the lives
story* of the way in which of these men without real
Guerrita, at twelve years izing what I had previous
of age, killed his first toly failed to take into con
ros, arising from his bed sideration-that in order
in the middle of the night to work up from the ranks
to steal his father's keys, to a consummate master
and going forth alone by ship of the matador's art
moonlight to do battle phenomenal strength of
with and conquer the anipurpose and complete
mals which were to have self-control are required.
been slaughtered on the Minuto's parents destined
following day. It seemed him for a profession, but
too picturesque an episode the boy's absorbing desire
to be quite natural, and to be a torero evinced
likely enough was itself in childhood, and
aggerated. His having failing to overcome predilections which killed full-grown toros at that age and seemed inborn, they abandoned their unassisted was in a high degree improbaambitions in favor of his own. His ble. I should certainly ask him if it was public career began at an extremely ear- true, when I met him-if I really did meet ly age, and when only sixteen he figured him. I wondered if this would come to as matador in a celebrated cuadrilla of pass. Sevilian youths — niños Sevillanos. It Nîmes was crowded when I reached seemed strange, handicapped as he was there; but that was nothing to what it by diminutive proportions, that he should would be on the morrow, my friends ashave been able to achieve the long list of sured me, according me the warmest of triumphs recorded in the notes as to his welcomes, and telling me of all the kind different successful appearances, but the plans they had made — by which forefact that he had served as alternative thought I was to gain many privileges, with such noted diestros as Lajartijo and it was easy to believe. The next mornMazzantini, for example, was proof as to ing Monsieur D— arrived, and at once his ability. And now, at twenty-seven assured us he was at our disposal and in years of age, he was to appear with the readiness to take us anywhere, everygreat Guerrita, his senior by ten years, where. Mademoiselle was an American, and far and a way the most experienced and unfamiliar with all the details in reand finished of all these swordsmen. gard to a corrida? He would do his best Guerrita seems to have been surround
* A true one, as I found.
to enlighten her.
He should suggest walking out to the corral, if we did not mind a little exercise, and on the way he would try to tell me about toros and toreros. He certainly kept his word, and by the time our walk was over I felt that I had begun to grasp the meaning of much which I had hitherto felt puzzled about. It was interesting to hear that there were regular schools for the training of toreros. They were made athletic and supple by every conceivable form of exercise, he assured me, and the scientific parts of their art were systematized and developed there in all the perfection of minute detail. A great torero was born a torero-it was in him to become one. The necessary gifts could not be acquired; only cultivated when possessed.
The ceremony of the giving of the sword was very impressive, and it was a THE CLUMSY CREATURES WERE SET IN MOTION." thoroughly solemn moment when a torero was created. The sword and muleta -the red scarf used by toreros to place mony marked the withdrawal of a matathe bull in position for the death-thrust- dor from public life. The coleta, or long were handed to him with the words, lock of hair (to which the mona, or small "Toma usted, y quiera Dios que le salga silken waterfall, was fastened—the badge con provecho" (Take these, and please of a torero, and of use in the support of God you may prove an honor to your his capa during some of the passes execountry). A still more beautiful cere- cuted), was then cut off with a golden
I asked about the duties of the different members of the cuadrillas, and was told in just what ways the clever picadores could save their horses; of how adroit banderilleros were best able to fulfil their dangerous task of piercing the toro with pairs of banderillas, or little decorated javelins, and of the faena, or particular style of work identified with each torero, individuality entering into the use of capa, muleta, or sword, although conventional passes were rigidly adhered to and traditions sustained. Naturally much of the success of a corrida depends on the toros, and the ganaderias where they are raised are therefore a very important feature of the enterprise.
I was curious to know something about the prices paid for the different animals, and was told that six fine toros would cost nine thousand francs, and that the horses averaged about two hundred and fifty francs apiece. And the matador, how much does he make," I asked, " for risking his life, as I suppose he does every time he enters the arena?” “Guerrita receives a thousand dollars for each corrida." The answer was given in English,
pending from the saddles so as to protect the horses from the horns of the toro. The stirrups were very cumbersome, and had great iron foot-pieces, the right shoe being completely boxed in. It was from this side that the picador was to lunge with his pica at the toro, therefore it was necessary that his foot should be encased in this massive shield; but one wondered how he could disentangle himself from his horse while thus fastened, in the event of his falling.
With the mayoral, or head keeper, as our guide, we went to the upper story to look down at the bulls in the open. We conferred in whispers, it being against the rule to speak out loud, and took turns in trying to see the animals througlı small
peep-holes made for that purpose in a so that I should not fail to realize the im- temporary door which shut off the galportance of the sum. ** And the less dis- lery surrounding the enclosure outside. tinguished ones?" "Well, they of course It was not very satisfactory, and I, for my have less. I suppose I may say between part, felt anything but content with the four and six hundred dollars, accord- mere glimpse I had bad of one large black ing to the reputations they may have toro reposing beneath the shadow of a achieved.”
tree. I had brought my camera, hoping We had at last arrived at the corral, and to snatch a photographı of the scene, and were allowed to pass through the heavily my disappointment must have been evibarred doors at sight of our escort, who dent, for our friend the mayoral signed was evidently a great favorite with the to me to follow him, and smuggling me officials, besides being a privileged mem- quickly outside, led the way to the exber of various toro clubs. The strictest treme end of the enclosure, where favorpossible discipline was in force, and ad- able conditions as to light and view were mittance was withheld from all save those to be obtained. A peculiar low whistle, identified with the management.
The a handful of gravel lightly thrown in men moved about silently and gravely in their direction, and the clumsy creatures the fulfilment of their tasks, it being con- were set in motion, and several pictures sidered important to avoid any disturb- secured. A word to my silent guide as we ance likely to excite the toros in the ad- were about to retrace our steps, and with joining enclosure.
ready acquiescence--as being happy to The stables to the right of the main gratify a lady's passing whim, and with entrance contained twenty-four horses, absolute freedom from self-consciousness ranged in their stalls-a dozen on each side-peacefully disposing of their rations and happily unconscious of their impending doom. Before each corrida the picadores have a trial of their mounts in the arena, and are thus able to discard such animals as promise to especially imperil their own and their riders' lives through inability to fulfil what is required of them. There was a good deal to be seen in the harness-room, for two of the head nen were superintending the packing of saddles, gay trappings for the mules, and various accoutrements, all of which were to be transported to the arena during the course of the day. My attention was called to the chain-armor bangings de
PLACING THE BANDERILLAS.
row—they certainly could not have been better. We watched the carpenters at work on the extra benches erected to meet the unusual demand for additional tickets; saw the decorators drape a few flags here and there, effectively interweaving the Spanish colors with those of France;. but the splendid lines of the superb old structure needed very little adornment, and the draperies were neither elaborate por profuse. Some photographers were busy taking views of the interior; an occasional sight-seer would enter-a priest, a woman wearing the costume of an Arlesienne, a soldier in vivid scarlet, would glance curiously at the preparations and then disappear. We climbed to the summit and
looked at the centre of the arena. I tried —the man drew himself up against the to fancy what it would be like as the scene wall as simply and as naturally as if he of a corrida, but somehow it was an easier had spent the better part of his life in matter to people it with the audiences of having his picture taken.
the past, and to conjure up a vision of the The opposite side of the stables from Roman games. Here and there, blossomwhere the horses were kept was devoted ing from a handful of earth hidden withto the toros. It was there that we in- in the crevices of the rock, were occasional spected the simple but effective apparatus wild flowers, and the sombre gray stones for transferring them from the cars they were lighted by many a patch of delicate came in to box-stalls, and later from these verdure, tempted into existence by the compartments to the covered enclosure warmth of the sun and the protection of annexed to the one we had just come from. the neighboring arched walls. Caught up The cars were mammoth wooden vehicles, high in one of the apertures and stretchlike square boxes on wheels, each one just ing out its branches to the light was a large enough to hold a toro. They were fig-tree. How strangely it had taken root tremendously thick through, unwieldy there, and how odd that it should thus enough in their empty state, and I could flourish with only the capricious elements not understand how it was possible to to give it care! move them about the country when once We lost our way while wandering the bulls were inside of them. But it was through some curious cavernous passages, in these same cars that the very animals for the points of exit were irregular and we had been looking at had journeyed somewhat difficult to discover. When we from the ganaderia near Seville. They regained the lower part of the building had been nine days en route, and had we crossed to the opposite side and sought travelled by land and water. Everything in this section was massive, bolts, bars, and ropes being suggestively thick and strong, and the mechanical processes of the simplest order. A system of trap-doors worked by ropes and pulleys was adopted whenever the transferrences were made, the men being stationed in safety overhead, and the door being raised up to allow of the animal passing out or in.
In the afternoon we visited the arena. First, the places we were to occupy the next day were hunted up, and I was shown how the seats selected were situated directly to the left of the president's box and on the same