As Ernest Hemingway puts it on the �preceding page, an injured matador gets a "vacation without pay." His recent injury is not the first for Antonio Ord��ez this year. Here the wife of the novelist describes an earlier convalescence, and in so doing presents a seldom-seen picture of the life of a matador "at home."
Antonio Ord��ez, at 27 Spain's greatest bullfighter (SI, Jan. 26)—some say of any era—was gored in Aranjuez on May 30, this year at the end of a faena of such classic grace and discipline that he was awarded both ears and the tail of the bull, which he killed perfectly despite the goring. To Spaniards this disaster was comparable to Mickey Mantle's being hit between the eyes by one of Herb Score's fast balls and taken to the hospital with a broken skull. But the possible upset which could be created by Mantle's sudden incapacity would be nothing in comparison with the upsetting storm of emotion caused by Antonio's horn wound. It made an explosion of problems all over Spain, particularly in the dozen towns which had scraped together the highest of all bullfighter's fees, up to $107,142, to watch him maneuver and kill two bulls in thirty minutes of their annual fiesta days.
Ernest saw the goring and says: "Antonio was fighting the bull in the part of the ring where the bull had faced the picadors, and the bull's hoof slipped in the sand which had been disturbed by the horses. It was like a bad bounce in baseball, since the ring should have been smoothed and watered after the third bull. This was not done because of the lack of facilities in such a small and ancient ring."
Antonio's wound, in the left buttock, was 12 centimeters deep, almost five inches. If it had been one-quarter inch higher, or one-quarter inch to the right, it would have crippled him permanently or have been mortal. As it was, it required 25 days of convalescence. Unlike bullet or knife wounds, Ernest says: "This wound is made by a horn which is sharp-pointed but widens to the size of a baseball bat and tears and destroys the muscles as it enters. It must be opened by the surgeon and all the different trajectories laid bare and cleaned. The surgeon's art is not to destroy the muscles which the bullfighter must put to use as soon as possible after the goring."
While an ambulance with Antonio and his surgeon, Don Manuel Tamames, rushed from Aranjuez to Madrid, the news flashed around Spain, and there was little talk of any other matter that night in this country. In dimly lit mountain wine shops, in the evening promenades around the central squares of provincial towns, in the big, bright, busy resort hotels along Spain's coasts people asked each other: how deep the wound? how serious? only one penetration of the horn? would Antonio survive? how long would he be out of action? And they waited, preoccupied, for the formal announcement from Dr. Tamames, who released his statement to the press and radio at 10 o'clock. In a dozen towns and cities, among them Granada below its snow-capped mountains, Badajoz in Spain's wild western mountains and Algeciras on the sunny south coast, bull ring owners and village officials consulted in consternation over their abruptly ruined fiesta programs.
Meanwhile, Antonio's cuadrilla, his five bull ring employees, went home to Madrid. His sword handler and servant, Miguelillo Moraleda, prepared to go on duty night and day at the hospital. So did his wise and gallant wife, beautiful Carmen.
Antonio, our friend Bill Davis and Ernest had planned to drive together after the Aranjuez fight to the town of Bail�n, Antonio driving our car, which he enjoys doing after a fight, the three of them going over the bulls and events of the afternoon and their anticipations of Antonio's fight the following day in Granada. They would have been pleased at his getting the two ears and the tail.
On this night of May 30 Bill Davis and Ernest would have stopped at Bail�n to sleep and continued to Granada the next morning, while Antonio, switching to his own Mercedes-Benz with his chauffeur, would have pushed back his reclining seat and rested and dozed to Granada. Instead, Bill and Ernest returned to Madrid and the clinic where already visitors were arriving to present their sympathies and receive news.
During his busy Spanish summer, a bullfighter's life is almost never his own. He is the hub of a turning wheel of servants, secretaries, bull ring employees and impresarios, bull breeders, managers, admirers, detractors, friends and press, all demanding his time and attention. After a fight friends frequently accompany him as his car hurries along Spain's winding mountain roads to the town of the next day's bullfight. When he rests in a hotel before dressing in his 30-pound suit of lights, visitors come, and some must be admitted, on business or to sightsee or to give advice or because they are really friends. When he is gored, the visiting continues in the ' hospital, with scores to hundreds of callers dropping in from midmorning to early next morning, to inquire, advise, and sympathize.
Spanish doctors generally take a dim view of pain-alleviating drugs; and the doctors to bullfighters, Antonio's surgeon among them, fear that the drugs may slow the reflexes on which, in the baking afternoons, their lives depend. Along with his callers and the two thousand telegrams he had to read and remember for future courtesy, Antonio had to endure fever and acute pain during the two weeks he lay in the clinic. When the fever subsided and the wound was healing, Antonio and Carmen flew down to Malaga to rest at the house of our friends, Bill and Annie Davis, in the flowering hills overlooking the old town and the sea. For the first time since April, when the bullfight season begins, they were free from their demanding, ever-changing entourage, with only us other house guests, all friends, on hand. Their lives were private for a few days, and they spent them with the lazy grace and contentment of kittens let out of a box.