When this Virgin with her pink cheeks and long eye-lashes appeared, beneath a canopy of velvet, which swayed with every step of the concealed carriers, a deafening acclamation rose from the populace assembled in the Plaza. Ah! how beautiful she was; the Queen of Heaven! A beauty which never aged!
"All right, I'll take it off," said El Nacional, with the sulkiness of a thwarted child, as he saw the cross moving off, "I'll take it off but it is to the dead man!"
As Gallardo spoke of his convalescence at the Grange, his memory recalled the image of the man who had seen Do?a Sol and himself there together.
"El Manitas," still trembling from his recent perils, found himself surrounded, seized and lifted on to the shoulders of the noisy loafers, and carried in triumph from the Plaza to Las Ventas, through the Calle de Alcala, followed by the inquisitive looks of the people on the tramways, which remorselessly cut through the glorious manifestation. The father walked along with his stick under his arm, pretending to have nothing to do with it, but whenever the shouting slackened he forgot himself and ran to the head of the crowd, like a man who does not think he is getting his money's worth, himself giving the signal, "Viva Manitas," when the ovation would recommence with tremendous shouting.
The chapel was full of people. The aficionados of humble class assembled in it so as to see the great men close at hand. In the darkness some stood bareheaded in the front row, whilst others sat on benches and chairs, the greater part of them turning their backs on the Virgin, looking eagerly towards the door to call out a name as soon as the glitter of a gala dress appeared.
He looked in for a moment at the Club of the "Forty-Five," to see if his manager were there; this was a very aristocratic club, and, as its name indicated, limited as to numbers, in which nothing was talked of save horses and bulls. It was composed of rich amateurs and [Pg 121]breeders, among whom figured as an oracle in the first rank, the Marquis de Moraima.