The shrines lowered, a large part of the assistants leaves the black church, returns to the dazzling exterior.

As the crowd disgorges through the narrow side doors, a new crowd, advancing with difficulty, taking two steps every quarter of an hour, presses under the large gate, all hot from the sun, in sweat, in a cloud. luminous dust.

Many young people are there, for the joy of being squeezed, by the push of the crowd, against the beautiful girls, their beloved ones, whose sinuous bodies they feel close to them, and who, there, can escape them. How many hands, pressed sizes, without the mothers being able to see anything!

And very low:

“I love you, Lionette.

“Finished, Francois!”

“Leave me alone, Tiennet!…

Thus, alongside the infirm, the incurable, who experience nothing of the good things in life, brazen love plays and laughs, seeks and feels itself. incense{249}of the church serves only to excite his desire, and more than one offers his good friend a rosary of which he has, under her eyes, ardently kissed the boxwood cross, so that she finds there this kiss again under her eyes. lips.

And all day new pilgrims, new sick people enter the church. Many will spend the night there, watching, with candles, on their knees or prostrate before the shrines; more than one, each in turn, lying on it, and on cushions brought expressly.

For now (it’s the first day), all you can hear in the streets of the city are conversations about bulls and horseshoes.

“Are you going to the races?”


“Is the prince running?” He is the best horse in all herds!

“He doesn’t run, no; Renaud, who usually cleans it, told me that he tired it too much.

—Ah! never mind!

“And the bulls?” Will we have some wicked ones?

—There is the Sirous , the Dogue , and Machicoulis . I sorted them myself with Bernard and Renaud. They gave us a lot of trouble! They refused to leave the herd. Barely sorted, they returned there. But we unleashed them in the shanks Martin and{250} Commetoi , two bulldogs who have no equal; and Machicoulis himself ended up obeying!

“Martin and Commetoi?” Here are some names for a dog!

-It’s for fun. When someone asks, “What’s your dog’s name?” The master replies: “Like you!” The other gets angry, and we laugh!

“And the Spanish Thoroughbred, with its horns twisted into a lyre, will we see it?”

” Angel Pastor?” He’s sick. I like our straight-horned bulls much better. The main thing is that two horns should be far enough apart so that a man’s body can pass between them!

“And vaquettes, are there any?”

—A villain, the Serpentine .

“And the bioullets?”

“Young bulls?” Renaud kept six, expressly to give strangers the spectacle of a ferrade.

“And when will the ferrade take place?”

-In a moment. Let’s go.

The gipsy was present at the ferrade.

The circus was against the church, at the end opposite the gate.

The polygonal enclosure, with unequal sides, was for{251}led, on one side, by the high wall of the church; on another, by an isolated house, against which leaned a stepped platform, roughly built; on another side still, by three or four little houses, the windows of which each framed more than fifteen faces of girls and boys, huddled together and all laughing. At the bottom of one of these houses, a cafe opened its glass door onto the circus, barricaded by means of a few tables and a few overturned chairs. On each side of this door are painted, in violent black, on the very white wall, two silhouettes of well-horned bulls, very Camargue, that is to say with very straight horns.

All the sides of the enclosure, which were not formed by stone walls, were made of unhitched carts, hemmed one inside the other by their strongly secured shafts.

At the angle of the church wall, there were three large iron bracelets, fixed, superimposed, and into which entered three wooden bars, stepped and parallel, sliding at will.

This barrier had to open in front of the young bulls which, one after the other, once marked, are released from the arena and return alone to the desert. Outside this barrier, a system of barricades closed the exits from the town to them, and—forcing them to pass behind these few houses.{252}whose facade overlooked the circus—led them necessarily to the very edge of the open plain, in less than a hundred paces.

Zinzara, standing on a cart, therefore attended the circus games. She followed all the adventures with an impassive eye, whether they were grotesque or heroic.

These duels between beast and man indeed take on ugliness or beauty depending on the character of the adversaries. It happens that the man attacks cowardly, or that the beast, either in astonishment or fatigue, retreats and looks for the stable. Good fights are even rare.

Sometimes a sharp stone is thrown from afar by a disloyal enemy… The surprised animal received it right in the muzzle; the blood flows from his nostrils, in long streams, to the ground…. He looks straight ahead, with his big eyes still full of mirage, and doesn’t move, as if saddened and contemptuous.

Sometimes, a clever guy imagines coming and throwing sand in his eyes, very close, with both hands. Another, smarter still, covers it with rubbish picked up at the corner of a bollard! But now the first, hit by this rubbish, grabs a handful, and the two heroes fight with manure, with dung collected smoking on the ground, under the very tail of the bull, to the applause and laughter of an entire people, until suddenly{253}two champions, dirty and stinking, are separated by the bull, which finally gets emotional and charges them.

-This way! this way, Livette!

Livette arrives. A place is made for him on the bleachers of the platform. His girlfriends call him. We gladly hug for her.

A stable which is there, next to the café, has been transformed into a toril. Just above the door to this stable, the hayloft window opens flush with the floor. Two herdsmen framed in this window, legs dangling outside, rise from time to time, and we see them up there, who, through the hay holes opened in the floor, above the mangers, prick the dondaire, the cowbell, beloved leader of the herd. The dondaire leaves, and comes to fetch the tired bull which he brings back to the stable. A skilful man, each time a new animal leaves the toril or a tired animal enters it, nimbly closes the door.

All these things, doubtless not new to the gipsy, who must, moreover, have known of the tragic races in Madrid and Seville, left her indifferent. His eye did not light up; he looked on, dull, vague, like that of heifers.

The “amateurs” played with some bulls. They weren’t mean. We took one by the{254}tail. A whole farandole attached itself to it… soon dispersed. The race so far wasn’t pretty, but it was fun.

Behind the glass door of the cafe, open to the circus itself, a few drinkers were emptying bottles and smoking, while enjoying the spectacle. The doorway was protected by a rampart of overturned tables, their four legs in the air passed through a tangle of bedraggled chairs.

Suddenly, the bull, shoving tables and chairs, put the drinkers to flight: he had stuck his heavy head through a pane of glass…. The cafe resounded with joyful cries of alarm. The circus carts shook with a stamping of joy; the planks were unnailed by delirious hands; the people who were at the windows of the low houses rattled the shutters with a loud crash of gaiety. To see laughing the groups piled up on the roofs one could fear a collapse. Thus was the jaunty bull applauded. The gypsy alone was not laughing.

A large chest of oats was there, perhaps on purpose, in a corner of the circus. A very old man, still a joker, armed with an old red umbrella, lifted the lid, entered the trunk, opened his bright red umbrella. The bull rushed forward…. The old man let the lid fall. Umbrella and{255}trunk closed at the same time on the laughing bald head. The hilarity of the public was brought to its height. The gipsy didn’t seem amused by the old man’s facetiousness. She didn’t laugh either when a dummy was planted in the middle of the circus, which the bull carried on its horns and hurled at top speed into the midst of the spectators; and she did not even smile when, a window on the ground floor having opened, we saw, behind the iron bars, a very small child on his mother’s arms teasing the furious animal. Laughingly, he held out his toy, a little cardboard windmill, whose wing, made of pink and blue paper, turned with the monster’s breath, through the grating.

Then came a tragic episode. A man, “an amateur”, affected by the sharp horns; the thigh pierced right through; the first cowardly flight move of the other wrestlers; the return of the valiant who came to distract the bull, to draw it against them, while the man was carried home, accompanied by the shrill cries of his wife and daughter.

Finally, it was getting serious. At this moment, the ferrade was announced…. And immediately after would take place the game of cockades, which consists in tearing off a cockade fixed by a string between the two horns of the bull. By hand or with a hook, the runner breaks the string, tears off the rosette…. Crac, un tour{256}on himself, and the winner won the scarf!

The ferrade is a work, turned into play, which consists in branding the bioullets with the number of the master.

A young bull having therefore been let loose in the arena, Renaud walked up to him and, as the beast rushed forward, he skilfully avoided it by pivoting on himself. The bull having then stopped short, Renaud seized it by the horns.

By his two fists, clenched like steel knots, the man, attached to the beast, was for a moment dragged upright across the arena which his strong soles scratched, hollowed out in ribbons. We clapped our hands. The bull, head down, became motionless. Renaud, with both legs apart, slightly bent, both feet riveted to the ground, carried all the weight of his effort to the left. You could see, under the guardian’s shirt, stuck to his skin with sweat, all the knots of his torso and his arms. The beast, with all its heavy strength, tried to throw itself in the opposite direction. Renaud suddenly yielded to him, and the bull, losing the support of the man’s resistance, fell under a sudden opposite effort. Here he was, panting, lying, glued to the ground, on his side, full length.

The man, who hadn’t let go, pinned her head to the ground.

“Bravo, King! well done, King! cried the crowd.{257}

In a brazier, Bernard took the hot iron, brought it to Renaud. And he, then, letting go of a horn, leaning with his knee on the neck, seized the red-hot iron with his right hand, and leaned it on the beast’s shoulder. The hairs, the flesh were smoking. Renaud got up very quickly and the bull, suddenly on his feet, shook himself whole, whipped his side with his tail, moaned with anger, dug into the ground with his foot, then, amidst cries, threw over the barrier that was open at that moment. .. We saw him, a little later, fleeing at full gallop, far away, in the middle of the desert. He was returning to the herd, which they know how to find on their own, even on the other side of the Rhone, often crossed by swimming.

Six bulls in turn were knocked down by Renaud.

This game animated him, he was intoxicated by its strength. Still excited by the applause of a people, he quivered with all his being. He was sweating profusely and from time to time he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.

A band of sunlight cut off, on one of the edges, the arena where the wall of the high church threw all its great shadow. Renaud ran there without a hat, in shirt sleeves, his red headdress very tight, shaking the short twisted locks of his thick, very black hair.{258}

The girls clapped, I swear, louder than the boys, a little jealous. The eyes of Zinzara, whose cart was in the ray of sunlight, had at last brightened. And Livette, flushed, felt proud of her King.

When the sixth fallen bull was under him, Renaud made a sign to Bernard. Bernard ran up, knelt beside him and seized the bull with the horns in his place. Another herdsman came to help Bernard hold the beast, and Renaud got up.

He crossed the arena and, having arrived in front of Livette, he called her. Everyone understood and applauded.

She advanced to the edge of the platform and lightly set her foot on the strong crosspiece which served as a support for the spectators in the first row; and from there, springing confidently, she fell into the arms of Renaud who, having seized her by the waist, laid her on the ground as he would have done a very small child. He took her by the hand and led her to the bull.

If Renaud, at that moment, had looked at Zinzara, he would have caught the flash in her eyes which she hid as best she could under her half-closed eyelids. The smile on his mocking lips had faded.

But Livette and Renaud, the handsome brides, were all at the party, all to themselves, at this strange engagement where all their people were present, and such as princes could not give each other the like, for{259}they want rare strength and address from the bridegroom. It was here, truly, the triumph of a male king.

“Bravo, King! Well done, Queen!

Passing near the brazier, in the middle of the circus, he bent down quickly, seized with his free hand—without stopping and without leaving Livette’s hand—the red-hot iron, which he presented to her as soon as they came near the bull. She took it and, having bowed, marked the bull on the shoulder; and when, under the iron which she held with her firm little arm, the flesh was seen to smoke, when the bull began to make its skin shiver with anger—the people’s enthusiasm burst forth. Hats, hands, scarves waved:

“Bravo, King! Well done, Queen!

And Renaud, envied by all, led the pretty girl back to her place, while the bull, let go, rushed out of the circus in its turn and reached the plain. No, Zinzara was no longer laughing.

Now the cockade game was about to take place.

The first two or three were fairly easily carried off, one even from the forehead of Angel Pastor, the Spanish bull, by young people from Les Saintes, without Renaud thinking of getting involved.

Finally, the Serpentine, a nervous little cow, was released into the arena. Everyone immediately understood that she was mean, and that she was going to defend herself.{260}

Several tried their hand against it, but, at the moment when one stretched out one’s hand towards the rosette, the Serpentine turned round with such a sudden movement, so supple for a heifer, so unexpected, that one let go. Ah! the morning! Zinzara took an interest in the game. Renaud descended into the circus.

-The king! the king! long live the king! shouted the crowd.

And Renaud worked wonders.

Three times he put his foot on the lowered forehead of the Serpentine, and was thrown into space to fall back on his elastic legs. And at the moment when, for the third time, he fell to the ground, he turned round as quick as a flash, ran straight to the cow, tore off her cockade—all the while avoiding the blow of the horn which she tore at him, furious, —and he was walking away quietly… when the supple animal came back at him in the charge.

Renaud took his run, without choosing his direction, pursued closely by the animal, and, when he had leaped at random on the nearest cart, he found himself near the gypsy he had, with a necessary movement, entered by size.

The heifer had already turned against other players, and very fortunately, because the gypsy, standing at the edge of her cart, barely leaning her hips against the planking, lost her balance and made the jump by force. in the arena, with Renaud.{261}

Livette over there was pale.

The vaquette came back full speed towards Renaud and Zinzara who, embarrassed in the folds of her tinsel, believed herself lost. Insolently, she faced the danger, too proud to flee, at least without use. But Renaud had already passed in front of her to protect her, and, seized by who knows what crazy idea—bravado of a tamer, perhaps of a lover—instead of entering into a struggle with the heifer, grabbing the horns or the legs, he stopped, and without ceasing to look the animal straight in the face, he quickly put one knee on the ground, sat down on his heel, crossed his arms and, his chest thrown back, he challenged her. Like the experienced “runners”, he counted on the surprise of the beast which indeed stopped short, to judge with suspicion; and the gipsy having gone up again, her lips pressed, in her place, on the cart, could still see his protector in this attitude of singular audacity. Everyone, as you might imagine, was shouting “Vive Renaud!” We didn’t get tired of it.

When he got up, charged by the Serpentine, he had barely time to regain his refuge with the gypsy; and the raging beast came and attacked, just below their feet, the floor of their cart, with such a furious blow of its strongly armed head, that it remained there for a moment pinned down by its two{262}horns, the tip of which Renaud had to kick away with the heel of his heavy metal boot.

This time the gypsy had smiled, and, leaning slightly towards the guardian’s ear, she whispered two words which in turn made the handsome tamer smile.

Livette—who, however, was very far from there, at the other end of the circus, but almost opposite them, and who saw them in full light—had not lost a single one of their gestures, not a single one. of their eyes.

What jealousy does not see, it guesses, and this is not surprising, because what is not, it sees.