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            AT A BULL-FIGHT.

"BORN under Taurus," said I, as I elbowed,
jostled, pushed, and twined through the
black, fluent crowd that poured in a dark
tide,  heads all one way, one burning afternoon
in August down the street of the Holy
Body in the upper part of the flourishing
city of Malaga. "Born under Taurus and
littered under Mercury," said a
Shakespearan echo; but I did not quite agree
with the voice, for the people seemed too
intent on the one topic of bulls to care even
for thieving.

"A Moorish custom," says a learned friend,
a reading man, who is with us, eyeing everything
through student-spectacles, using the
world to understand books by, not using
books as a comment on the world. Let us
call him the Reverend Walter Monoculus,
travelling tutor; "a custom peculiar to the
Moors of Spain, much resembling the bloody
struggles of the Colosseum prize-ring, and
enabling a reading man" (what quiet pride he
throws in those simple words) "to realise
those death grapples, where blue-daubed
Britons fought with black Nubians shining
with palm oil, fur-clad Tartars with sinewy
Gauls, et cetera."

I know he aims at the manner of Gibbon,
does Monoculus; but, not answering, I push
on, careless of corns and elbows, through the
noisy, well-dressed crowd.

More narrow streets; more balconies
purple with small oleander thickets; more
pyramids of green and golden melons at
shop-doors, and we at last reach the boarded
gate of the Plaza de Toros, or bull-ring. I
show my dark brown talisman slip of a
ticket, marked Secunda Funcion (second
exhibition), and am pushed past the quick-eyed
Spaniard who takes the money.

The inside crowd is wider and more fluent,
more scattered, and conflicting than that
which has forced us in. No longer a black
moving column of sight-seers; but a broad
fan, as of sharpshooters spreading out to begin
an engagement. Let us get to our seats.
Monoculus is fretful and discomposed by the
jostle and tidal war. Two young officers
have joined us, hot from Gibraltar; Ensign
Spanker, of the Light Infantry, and Lieutenant
Driver, of the Bombardiers; lion-
hearted fellows, thoughtless as Mercutios,
audaciously English, and travelling, as far as
I find, with the scientific purpose of ascertaining
the effect of climate upon bitter beer. I
had seen them all the morning from my
hotel balcony (they lodge opposite), conning
Bass's yellow nectar in silver tankards, which
they carry with them in their portmanteaus
for that scientific purpose. We had
made friends, and had taken a box together.
This was their tenth bull-fight, and they
were great on the subject of correct blows,
chulos' dresses, half-moons, and such
tauromachian technicalities.

Our ticket was, of course, a Boletin de
Sombra (a shade-ticket); for Sol (sunshine), as
the living-fire called sunlight is denominated in
Spain, is only to be borne by muleteers, grooms,
and the poorer amateurs in general. We were
to be under shadow; but we stop first at
the door before an immense basket of cheap
red and yellow fansa farthing eachbuy
one a-piece, pass the outer wall of the arena
to which a row of raw-boned, shaky cab-
horses are tied up ready for consumption
and mount a wooden staircase to the row of
upper boxes. There are mechanical-looking
sentinels in brown great-coats with capes,
and red epaulettes, who recognise us by a
garlicky smile, as foreigners. We take our
front-seats, close to the central governor's
box, next to which sit some Spanish ladies;
a greasy mother and a graceful daughter, who
plies her fan with languid perseverance.

Below our ring of upper boxes, running in
a crescent of shade along the one side of the
Plaza, are sloping rows of seats for small tradesmen
and the lower middle-class. On the opposite
side, perspiring full in the eye of Phœbus
(who is specially aggravated just now by the
dunning visit of the comet) are the plebs:
noisy, turbulent; blasting at conch-shells, and
working their red and yellow fans like
tulip-beds in a state of insurrection. Their
peeled sticksthe true Andalusian buck
never moves without his stickare rapping
in a perturbed way, because the fat
phlegmatic-looking city governor has just arrived,
and is bowing to the boxes. The pit below us
is shouting for the music, howling pass-words
and street-cries, and waving flags. Amongst
them rears up a mountain fan, big enough
for the wife of Og King of Bashau, four feet

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