Most people know about Spanish bullfighting.
Less commonly known is the pastime called
"bull-baiting", which is done before the fights, mainly
for fun but also to test the character of the bulls. In
the incident described below, the Marques, the owner of
the bulls, brings some friends and relatives to try out
Dona Sol put spurs to her horse, which had been
plunging about in terror of the bulls. The Marques
wanted to go with her, but she would not let him. No,
she would rather have Gallardo, who, after all, was a
matador, a professional bullfighter. Gallardo took his
place beside her. They galloped together straight
towards the herd. Gallardo waved his garrocha,
roaring loudly at the bulls. It was easy enough to cut
off one animal from the herd. It was a white bull with
sharp pointed horns. It galloped to the far end of the
enclosure. Dona Sol galloped after it, followed by
"Take care, Senora," Gallardo shouted. "It's
an old bull, and may be tricky ! Be careful it doesn't
turn on you ?"
This was exactly what happened. As Dona
Sol was preparing to make the same stroke as her
uncle's, turning her horse at an angle so as to plant
the garrocha in the bull's rump, the bull
suddenly doubled back and faced its attacker. It started
to charge forward !
Dona Sol's horse was rushing on at
such a pace that she could not control it, with the bull
charging at her -- no longer pursued, but pursuing. Dona
Sol had no thought of flight. Thousands of people were
watching her ! She had no intention of looking foolish.
Anyway, Dona Sol had never in her life believed that she
would be the loser in any situation. She reined back her
horse and confronted the bull. She drove her garrocha
into the neck of the animal s it rushed forward
bellowing, with lowered head. A stream of blood reddened
the bull's shoulders, but still it rushed forward, till
it got its horn under the horse's belly, and lifted it
off the ground.
The rider was thrown from her saddle
and a cry of horror was heard from the hundreds of
onlookers. The horse forced itself from the horns, and
galloped away, with its stomach stained with blood. The
bull turned to follow it; but at that very moment
something nearby attracted its attention. It was Dona
Sol, who had got to her feet, picked up her garrocha
and was bravely preparing to challenge the bull once
more. It was an action of insane courage, but her
thoughts were on her audience. Better death, rather than
the ridicule of the crowd ! the crowd stood paralyzed in
The bull was already lowering its
head to attack the small figure who dared to threaten
it. One blow of those horns and all would be over. But,
at this moment, a fierce roar distracted the bull's
attention and something red passed before its eyes.
was Gallardo, who had thrown himself of his horse and
dropped his garrocha so as to snatch the coat
from his saddlebow.
"Eeeh ! Come on !"
The bull came
on. It found the crimson coat-lining a worthier
adversary than the small figure in purple and black,
still standing there.
"Don't be afraid, Dona Sol. I've
got him now," said the matador. With no other weapon but
his coat, he played the bull, gradually drawing it away
from the lady, and avoiding its furious attacks by
twisting and turning his body.
The crowd forgot its
recent alarm and began to applaud loudly. The matador
forgot Dona Sol and everything else, concentrating
entirely on defending himself. The infuriated beast,
finding that the man had again slipped away unharmed
from between its horns, turned and charged again, only
to come up against the shield of red cloth. At last,
tired out, it stood still on trembling legs, with its
head hanging and muzzle covered in foam. Gallardo took
advantage of its bewilderment to take off his hat and
lay it between the horns.