On the night they arrived, Antonio looked exhausted, his face drawn and bony. He leaned heavily on a cane. But he smiled and said, "I'm splendidly well. But the doctor says I must throw away this crutch soon." It looked impossible.
Ernest and Carmen together helped him up the marble staircase to the second-floor dining room, and he went to bed right after dinner, which was served at 11 o'clock. Before we sat down Antonio asked to have Annie's bowl of roses removed from the center of the table and explained that they remind him of funerals. He does not object to indoor flowers on other tables. Carmen's lovely, slender ankles were swollen and bulbous, the result of her having stood 12 hours every day on the tiled floor of the clinic receiving her husband's visitors. But she stood about and chatted with us a bit after dinner, as is required by Spanish courtesy. Antonio's father, who was the great bullfighter Nino de la Palma, and Ernest were friends 33 years ago, before Ernest wrote The Sun Also Rises, and they had a pleasant reunion this year. We have been friends with Antonio and Carmen since 1953, before they were married, and they are among our closest and dearest young friends today.
Next morning they were both up and dressed earlier than most of us in the house. Outdoors, Antonio put aside his cane, and with Ernest holding his arm walked slowly and painfully around the Davis' bright, fragrant—and big—rose garden. For his second tour of the garden, he released Ernest's arm and went it alone, although slowly. From then on, no more cane, no helping arms. He and Carmen splashed in the pool, swam together, each with an arm around the other, pushed the Davis children about in their rubber canoes. When Antonio put out his swimming trunks to dry, they were stained red by the mercurochrome.
Antonio bought a camera in New York last March, and he now uses it expertly. So he with his new camera and I with my old ones decided to have a competition: who could make the six best pictures while we were together, Bill Davis to be the judge.
Because his doctor had advised it, Antonio went with Carmen to sun and swim at the long, empty beaches nearby. Back in the big, cool house we chattered endlessly—of bulls and cars and countries, of bull breeding and farming, of gadgets and clothes, of our plans and of people. Antonio dutifully took siestas in the afternoons, no difficult discipline for him since in the bullfight season he customarily drives at night and sleeps during the day. Toward evening the house party would move out to the olive groves behind the house and shoot clay pigeons thrown from a hand trap. Next to Ernest, Carmen was the best shot.
From M�laga friends of the Ord��ezes came out to tea the second day, were persuaded to stay on to dinner, and we had a fine long evening full of jokes and homemade music—Carmen and Antonio singing together their favorite folk songs from every province of Spain, Ernest whistling old Navarre tunes and all of us joining in some songs. While singing, Carmen's black eyes flashed a message to Antonio, and they were up from the table and down in a corner of the dining room bouncing on their knees and thrusting one foot, then the other, out toward each other in a classic folk dance of Navarre. Antonio had almost recovered his usual speed, grace and economy of motion.
Next morning we learned it was the Catholic Church's day of St. Anthony and therefore Antonio's saint's day—which in Spain is more important than a birthday. We found presents: an English medal which had been struck to honor Cromwell in June 1650, now embedded in a tortoise-shell box; antique cuff links with the carved golden heads and ruby eyes of a lion and lioness; and a new, gold-plated razor. We presented them at a happy lunch on the long upstairs balcony of the house. There was fresh caviar brought from London by Rupert Bellville, an English friend of ours and a lifelong friend of Spain, and Chinese chicken and pineapple, since the Ord��ezes admire Chinese food as much as the rest of us do.
Antonio's big blue station wagon on a truck chassis arrived next day from Madrid, driven by the chauffeur of his cuadrilla. The transport must be big and strong to hold seven or eight men, including his secretary, and all of the heavy gear and clothes they need on a long tour of Spain's sometimes bad roads. Antonio took the wheel, and Carmen in a black shirt and pants—very advanced for Spanish women—got in beside him. Off they went along the blossoming Mediterranean coast to their new bull ranch, Valcargado, in the rolling, empty hills (like our Nevada but greener), inland from the west coast port of Cadiz. A day later, after seeing the bullfight at Algeciras in which Carmen's brother, Luis Miguel Domingu�n, in black satin and gold embroidery, fought a classically beautiful fight, the Davises, Bellville and Ernest and I followed on to Valcargado. When Antonio came out of his house to greet us at midnight, we saw that his face with its smile of welcome was already less thin and less weary.
"Come in, come in, my stomach tells me it is well beyond supper time," he said. And in reply to our inquiries, "I have only slight pain from the wound now."
Antonio and Carmen bought this ranch of 3,000 acres only 18 months ago and began to stock it with fighting bulls, cows of two different breeds and two seed bulls, began raising wheat, fava beans as fodder for the beasts when the grazing is thin, and such staples as potatoes and chickpeas for the house. It is an old ranch, formerly used for raising grain rather than bulls, and is blessed with a constant water supply, rare in much of Spain, with one spring bubbling consistently out of a hilltop and other wells which do not go dry even in the burning Andalusian summer. The kitchen and sitting room of the house had been used by former owners, important names in Spain, on their one-day visits to inspect their properties. Carmen transformed former granaries into bedrooms and shiny modern bathrooms and installed country-style furniture, a motor for making electricity and a telephone. The bedrooms are simple to austere, but the sheets beneath the bedcovers, which harmonize with the curtains and rugs in different colors for each room, are hand-embroidered. She has made a house both sensible and charming.