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Knowing that Burrell's having problems with the first district councilman, Valchek says he can take care of it, but he wants a favor in exchange. He wants Burrell to have Rawls appoint a six-man detail to look into the activities of Sobotka. In the morning, however, she presses him for the meaning of their relationship. But she becomes upset when he tells her that if his wife would take him back, he'd be gone.
Valchek, not realizing he's been given humps, visits them in their new detail office and tells them to get to work on Sobotka. It's payback time for Valchek, and at the cargo terminal, the longshoremen drive the van into a cargo container and ship it around to a series of domestic and international ports.
They are preceded, however, by Serge, who kidnaps the ship's engineer and takes him away. Freamon and Bunk arrive later, unaware of what's happened, and are stonewalled at every turn as they try to interview a crew that can suddenly speak no English. When she resisted, he killed her, and since the other girls were witnesses, they all had to die. Omar has established that Darnell's kid brother leaves the building twice a day with a laundry basket in which the day's drug earnings are stashed.
Omar plans to take out the kid and steal the cash. Astonishingly, before his eyes, two black women - Kimmy and Tosha - who've been lounging around the doorway, spring into action, drawing guns and making off with the cash. Rather than steal it from them, however, he teams up with them. Later, they stake out another drug dealer and their plan to pull a heist goes off without a hitch.
Nick protests that he doesn't have the money to get a place, but says that as soon as he does, it can happen. Later, at the cargo pier, Nick and Ziggy are again without work, and none too happy about it. I got a girl who wants to get married. As they discuss their mutually regretful fates, Daniels tells McNulty that with his twenty-two years in the force and his law degree, he's resigning, putting in his papers immediately.
Shortly thereafter, he receives an anonymous photo in the mail of the van, taken by longshoremen at the port in Wilmington, Delaware. Back at the office, the medical examiner tells McNulty that based on dental work, he's determined that at least some of the girls are Eastern European. And one of them had breast enhancements in Budapest, which he deduced from the serial numbers on the implants.
McNulty is puzzled by the deaths of the women, considering their potential earning power in the U. In a meeting with the INS, he also learns that there are 50, undocumented girls working in the States. Casmir's Church, the union's lobbyist throws a party to put the touch on state legislators.
Sobotka's lobbyist instructs him as to how his time and money are best spent. The Major is disappointed to learn that the investigation is moving very slowly. Prez explains that the unit is not doing wire taps, not pulling phone logs, DMV records, political campaign contributions, as they had in the Barksdale case.
When he tells Valchek that the Barksdale investigation would have been a major case had Burrell not stopped it, Valchek seems to hear - and comprehend Burrell's role - for the first time. Meanwhile, pictures of the missing surveillance van continue to arrive periodically, mocking Valchek as it makes its way from port to port. Sparks fly however, and the two are soon in bed together.
Meanwhile, Avon visits 'DAngelo in the prison library, trying to win his affection once again. When Dee remains hostile, Avon tells him if he's cool, 'DAngelo won't be doing but a piece of his 20 years. You need to get your head right.
Glekas later visits Spiros and asks if Nick is to be trusted. When Spiros says yes, Glekas seals the deal for the cameras. He leaves, angry, and shows up at City Hall, where Burrell is lobbying the city council members who will vote soon on a new police commissioner. Avon warns his nephew to stay away from drugs.
Heading his uncle's previous warnings to lay off the dope, 'DAngelo passes on a hit the same night the hot shots are passed out to the inmates. He hears unholy screams through the prison, and then seeing the bodies carried away, Dee is suddenly aware of the coincidence of the hot shots and his uncle's warning. Nick says it's too late; the cameras have been fenced. And Nick explains that he can't survive with the little bit of legitimate work he's getting at the dock.
I can't get by on five days a month. Avon and Stringer's scheme progresses when they have real dope planted in Tilghman's car. When Tilghman's car is searched and drugs are found, he is arrested. When Daniels tells him he's resigning, Burrell promises him a major's slot if he'll stay. Realizing Burrell is under pressure from Valchek, Daniels bargains hard, agreeing to stay and take the assignment with two provisos: Burrell will let him pick his people and — should the unit actually mount a case against Sobotka — Burrell will make the squad a permanent, major case unit.
Burrell, over a barrel, agrees. And, she warns, because they're all loyal union members, there's no chance any longshoreman can ever be flipped and serve as a police informant. Bunk schools her that a police is only as good as his, or her, informants. Eventually, finding Bubbles and Johnny, he convinces Bubbles to help him find Omar. When Nick investigates, he learns that chemicals come through a different pier nearby called Fairfield, and also that one of the checkers they work with has a brother who works at Fairfield and that he might help them.
Meanwhile Nick tells Aimee that he's received a couple thousand in back pay and that they can now afford to set up house together. Bell, who is continuing to study economics at the University of Baltimore, flicks it off. I got to study. Later, they drop in at the Clement Street Bar, which is in full longshoreman swing, sending the message that since it was determined the girls were murdered, they are not going away any time soon.
Stunned, Sobotka escapes to the bathroom, where the reality of what he's been involved with eats away at him. Frustrated but too soft-hearted to get tough with the dealer, Ziggy leaves, only to be surrounded suddenly by Cheese and his gang. Ziggy owes Cheese for the package he was fronted, and since he hasn't paid up, Cheese drags him from his car, slaps him around and take his leather coat.
Cheese warns he'd better pay up by Friday or he'll be dead on Saturday. The dealer takes off in Ziggy's car, leaving him stranded on the corner. When I fuck you over, you'll know it. He asks them to figure out where the longshoremen cop dope on a Saturday night and set up some hand-to-hand buys.
When Freamon arrives, he explains that Sobotka has been a focus of the homicide investigation of the dead girls in the container. When they got no more use for you, that family shit disappears, it just about biz. Bodie, nearby, returns quickly, angry over the commotion. Bodie realizes he needs to discuss the quality problem with Stringer Bell.
Cheese walks them around the corner where Ziggy's car has been set afire. He lifts a clean print from the picture, and tells Greggs there's no van available. After class, he asks the professor what the options are for a businessman who has an inferior product in an aggressive marketplace.
When they appear before the grand jury, however, the longshoremen reveal nothing. In a vacant house near a drug corner, Greggs and Carver set up surveillance on white dealers, Frog and Dirt. When Vondas inquires again about the chemicals, Nick demands to know who wants them, but gets no answer.
Later, The Greek tells Vondas he doesn't want to meet with Sobotka, but that he'll double his fee to pay for lawyers. Vondas looks across the water to the huge industrial plant now largely abandoned and reminds Sobotka of his union's growing vulnerability. She explores the idea of his becoming a confidential informant for her, he refuses, but does tell her that if she wants to understand how containers come and go on the docks, she needs to crack the computer system.
Freamon pushes Daniels to take on the 14 murders from their Detail Room, since Freamon is convinced the cases are intertwined. Daniels reluctantly tells them they can work the murders on the side, so long as ultimate responsibility remains with Rawls' homicide unit. They soon figure out that it's not bombs he's interested in making but drugs, since the chemicals he wants are all used to process cocaine.
Later, Nick sees Vondas at the diner, who gives him numbers for three more containers Vondas wants retrieved. Vondas realizes how smart Nick is and that he might be worth more to them. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. That money, however, does not show up on the union's books, and the wiretaps police have run don't reveal any dirt so far.
The hand-to-hand buys are ongoing but seem to lead nowhere. Russell suggests that maybe it's the checkers who generate income for the union. Like with that can full of dead girls. But I was hoping maybe you do.
Serge explains the nature of the conflict between Ziggy and Cheese. When they go to dinner, McNulty drinks only wine and tells Elena that he's not drinking so much anymore. She says she's still angry with him but when McNulty asks for a chance to reunite with her, she invites him to bed instead. Greggs wants to know about the Russian girls in another club in which Shardene worked.
Shardene says they're hard to get to know because the guys running them keep them on a short leash, but she gives Greggs the name of a friend who still works at the club, called Nightshift, who can provide more information. If they get too close to their customers, they're immediately moved to a different city, Greggs learns.
A refurbished grain pier alone might bring a couple hundred more ships to the docks next year, Sobotka says, but warns that a developer friend of Valchek may try to derail the project so he can build condos along the waterfront. They realize there are probably hundreds of other instances in which this has happened, and that in order to establish patterns and learn what the patterns reveal, they must dig deep into the cargo operation's computer records.
Scott Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby. Later, he goes for a walk with Sobotka, who is curious about where the money came from and angry that Ziggy would waste a hundred dollar bill in a bar full of poor, mostly under-employed working men. They have further established that only containers from the shipping line Talco go missing. They again push Daniels to take on the case of the dead girls, but Daniels resists. When Vondas offers to pay them either in cash or in heroin, Nick takes half in cash and half in drugs.
The deed is performed so by a con named Mugs, who garrotes 'DAngelo with a leather strap, then ties it to a doorknob so it appears he committed suicide. He asks for an arrangement of flowers in the shape of The Fremont Towers, with the numbers signifying the address that was Dee's turf.
Landsman that they've cloned a computer and can now track cargo as it comes off ships at the cargo terminal. When Landsman learns that Daniels now has a detail, he wonders aloud if Daniels will take the murders. Frog resists the split Nick offers for the heroin he and Ziggy have scored. He get to thinking he can't do the years, he might coulda rolled again. Stringer visits 'DAngelo's mom, Brianna, bringing the weeping woman food and false sympathy.
The owner lets them but not before putting a security deposit on Carver's credit card. They place the bug in a tennis ball and leave it on the street near the spot where the dealer Frog plies his trade. The bug works beautifully, picking up conversations clearly until Nick arrives to talk with Frog, who, noticing the tennis ball, picks it up absent-mindedly, bounces it a few times and throws it. It lands in the street and is run over and destroyed by a truck.
They also conspire to attribute the information they learned from the bug to a confidential informant to get back the lost money. They see a gaggle of ladies come out of the club and get into a car with two thuggish chaperones, and they follow the working girls to a high-end apartment building. I got the best product, but could stand a little more territory.
So you see where this thing needs to go. They can also pay down their truck and even have enough left over to get a nice place in the county. Sobotka is furious and insults the lobbyist, but gives him a shoebox full of cash, insisting that the union wants the grain pier rebuilt and the canal dredged, and that the lobbyist had better take care of it. When the latest Talco ship arrives, Russell and Freamon observe the unloading process on their computer, while Greggs is on the scene posing as a utility worker in a hardhat.
The more difficult conversation comes when Daniels tries to explain his change of heart to his wife Marla. She is now fed up with her husband, who can't seem to understand how to play this game to win. But how the hell do I trust you? Barely able to sit behind the wheel, he leaves the bar to drive home and sideswipes a bridge abutment while making a turn.
Undaunted, he backs up to try the turn again, to improve on his technique, but crashes his car even harder, damaging the front end severely. Nursing a bleeding hand, he goes to a nearby restaurant, and proceeds to pick up a waitress, spending the rest of the night having wild sex at her apartment.
Bunk Moreland is sent to the detail, much to his own dismay, as part of the agreement between Rawls and Daniels. Looking for probable cause to justify a tap on the warehouse phone, Freamon reports that the phone company shows calls from the warehouse to Proposition Joe, White Mike and other big eastside drug traffickers.
They also now have Herc and Carver's discovery of Nick Sobotka. Pearlman is convinced that they have probable cause to justify a tap on Sergei Malatov's cell phone as well as the warehouse. In order to get back the money lost on the mike, they need to register an actual person, so they visit Herc's cousin Bernard and persuade him to pretend that he is the CI who provided them with details of Nick's drug dealing. I need to do a case. And in meeting later, Daniels reminds Rawls that he'd promised anything if Daniels would take on the 14 murders.
Rawls still resists. Feel my tits or somethin', y'know. But not this. Ziggy wants to be more deeply involved in Nick's drug dealing, and is hurt and angry when Nick rebuffs him, impetuously throwing the wad of bills Nick's just given him out the window of the truck. Later, when Nick calls Serge to discuss a deal, the call is overheard at the detail room on the newly installed tap.
McNulty's first task back from the boat is to talk his way into the brothel. Surveillance there reveals a customer who is shuttled back to a distant parking lot by one of the thugs, and after the thug departs, McNulty confronts the customer — a well-dressed man — and prevails upon him to reveal how one gains entrance to the brothel.
Through the tap on Serge's phone, they confirm that the container is on the move, and Herc and Carver, sitting outside the port in an unmarked car, follow. Moments later, Sobotka encounters two port authority cops making their innocent rounds and asks when Russell is coming back from the Fairfield piers. His suspicions are further aroused when they tell him that she's not on the piers as she told Sobotka, but has been detailed to the city police. Watching the clean container disappear back in the detail room, Daniels suddenly realizes he has no one at the dock to follow this container and orders McNulty to race over and track it to its destination.
As McNulty flies into action, Russell calls the port authority cops and has them stop the truck with the clean container long enough to give McNulty time to arrive. He calls Vondas at the diner, warning him that the wrong container is coming his way as a test, and demanding that a meeting with The Greek be arranged. George calls Vondas to complain, and is told to get rid of the stuff.
You guys wanna go for a taste or two? While McNulty has ideas, he finds the domesticity of Russell's home life and kids off-putting, and leaves before any sparks fly. Vondas tries to persuade them to meet with him, but Sobotka is angry and adamant, and only when he begins to leave does The Greek appear. Sobotka explains the reasons for his paranoia and advises that The Greek shut down the warehouse.
A new car, a new coat It's why we get up in the morning. In an apartment overlooking the scene, a young mother readies her children for school, but soon hits the floor when the rival gang shows up and shooting begins. Both gangs fire wildly, dispersing only when police sirens are heard. Upstairs, the mother discovers that one of her kids has been killed getting ready for school.
The people they've been monitoring seem spooked. In a matter of two days, the warehouse thugs have gone from speaking in barely guarded language about drug sales to offering no information whatsoever. And surveillance of the warehouse has turned up no traffic entering or leaving it, either. Furthermore, Russell observes, Sobotka hasn't used his cell phone lately.
Stringer, meeting with Bodie, says he must now shut down the entire operation until the cops calm down. Following orders, Bodie throws the guns off a bridge, but they land on a barge passing under at the moment, and are recovered by the police.
They tell him they are laying low temporarily, but give him the number of White Mike, another dealer whom it turns out Nick went to high school with. After Nick leaves, they ponder how much the police know and if they're still on the case.
Spiros and Eton have another problem, too. The Columbians to whom they sold the chemicals Nick helped them land are claiming the quality was not good are reneging on the payment they'd promised. Glekas is interested but concerned he'll have trouble unloading new cars without titles. I'll be you got family in some place that don't give two fucks about whether an American car got title on it. Freamon asks to try to get a check on Glekas, too. Calling Agent Koutris in that office, Fitz is told that the Glekas business was of little consequence and no charges were brought.
Herc and Carver, alerted that the container may be coming to the warehouse they're watching, see it arrive, with Serge at the wheel. Bodie registers surprise when they bring the guns his crew supposedly tossed in the water into the interrogation room, but the cops screw up when they tell Bodie they even have his fingerprints on the gun. Bodie had carefully wiped them off before throwing the guns away. And when he asks them which gun is his, they answer incorrectly.
Vondas is upbeat, however, noting that they've been running clean containers from the dock and no one has stopped them, no one has followed them, nothing. Later, when Eton conveys this news to Serge, Bunk and Russell are listening in the detail office. They also pick up the number of Eton's new phone and immediately ask Pearlman for an affidavit to tap it.
It is assumed he is there for sex, so there is no discussion of the subject — or of money — just the presentation of girls. McNulty chooses two and repairs to a bedroom, where they begin to disrobe and remove his clothing. He is so undone by their aggressiveness that he can't remember the code he's supposed to utter to bring in his squad for the bust. Finally it comes to him, and arrests are made all around. In the midst of the party, though, FBI agents and others cops arrive to open the container with the cocaine.
Koutris has a career-making bust on his hands. I ain't got Wee-Bey, or Stink, or Bird — and the wolves are at the door. Valchek tells Daniels that if something like that could be pinned on Sobotka, he would die happy. Rawls wants to know if they're any closer to solving the murders, and Daniels says that if the same people who are running the brothel are also importing the girls, then they are in fact much closer.
Avon assures her he's looking for better product and meanwhile is bringing in muscle from New York to keep out rival dealers, a man named Brother Mouzone. Amazed, Stringer takes this news to Proposition Joe, who is none too happy to hear it, either. Stringer reassures him that their deal is still on, and that they must deal with this problem together. Brother Mouzone has arrived. So Bodie is puzzled when Stringer stops by to tell him that henceforth, dealers from the east side of Baltimore will be working three buildings formerly controlled by the Barksdale crew.
Bodie is instructed to be courteous to them and let them do their work. Puzzled, he questions Stringer, who explains that this is part of an agreement that's brought good-quality dope back to the neighborhood. McNulty shows the detail a laptop into which the multiple GPS devices they've attached are feeding signals.
With the tap of a button, the vehicles of any of the prime targets in the investigation can be tracked at that moment, as well as any of their travels for the previous seven days. I always say it pays to go with the union card every time. Instead of driving the cars out of the lot through the holes, Ziggy drives each one onto the docks and into a shipping container.
Mouzone tells Cheese that he's there to represent the interests of Mr. Barksdale, and asks Cheese to remove himself from the premises. Cheese, puzzled, begins to explain that he's got permission to be selling there when Mouzone pulls out a pistol and shoots him in the shoulder. Stunned, Cheese departs at once. Daniels points out that the case is bigger than the union, and is reminded that nevertheless, the FBI is interested in the union's activities and that they can work together only if he can accept that fact.
Ziggy tells Glekas that the cars sailed two hours ago on the Caspia and gives him the bill of lading. Glekas hands him his payment, but it's half what he had promised, and when Ziggy protests, Glekas laughs at him. Enraged, Ziggy takes the money and leaves, but once outside, he stews. Instead of leaving, he returns to the store with his Glock and first shoots the clerk who works for Glekas, then Glekas himself. Once he is down, Ziggy finishes Glekas off and turns to leave.
Out front, he sits in his car trying to light a cigarette but is shaking too violently to do so. Instead he begins to cry as the police arrive. Kima and her lover, Cheryl, now pregnant, spar good naturedly. Using text messaging, The Greeks tries to shut his entire operation down immediately. Sobotka is shocked and appalled, and curses at Nick for not being with Ziggy. When Daniels tries to intercede, Valchek shuts him up, too.
And what did you give me? Right up the fuckin' ass, Lieutenant. Valchek leaves and Prez puts his gun on the table and walks into Daniels' office. He also observes Vondas sending a text message shutting down the operation. Vondas tells Eton to go to Glekas's store and to the warehouse and remove any evidence that's still there, everything the police didn't take. Sure enough, they track it down, but when they get it, it must be translated.
Finally, the message comes back to them that the Greeks have shut down their operations. The cops storm Glekas's appliance store but find the place utterly cleaned out, with only a bloodstain where Glekas died left behind.
The cops also burst into Nick's row house, rousting his parents and Aimee from their beds, although Nick is nowhere to be found. They do find a large stash of both heroin and cash, handcuff Aimee and toss the rest of the house. Sobotka, emerging from his house, is followed but not arrested, Valchek having sent word that he wants to perform that chore personally.
After finding his son accused of murder in the morning paper, Sobotka tellingly drives to the union hall, not the jail where Ziggy is incarcerated. Arriving home, he finds his mother and father — consumed by shame and anger — barely able to speak to him, although his father does inform him that the cops want him.
At the union hall, smug and happy, Valchek arrests Sobotka. The same homicide unit that can't put two and two together and pick up a phone, leaving me to read it a day and a half later in the Baltimore Sun. My bad. The offices and warehouse the Greeks used have been sanitized. When Sobotka asks them what they want, they tell him full cooperation.
You help yourself and your union. Dry-docks rustin', piers standin' empty. My friends and their kids. Like we got the cancer. No lifeline got throwed, all that time. Nuthin' from nobody And now you wanna help us. Help me. Where the fuck were you?
He, however, is ready to chirp, especially after McNulty plays him a compelling audio tape that in court will nail him as a drug dealer. The problem is, as a low-level outsider, Mike's knowledge of the Greeks and their organization is limited. Got tired of bein' the punch line to every joke. He also reveals to Sobotka that he's known for years that Frank is not his real father. Stringer has decided to defy Avon and have Brother Mouzone offed so that he can uphold his deal to cede territory to Proposition Joe in exchange for quality dope.
Taking the bait, Omar shoots Mouzone, wounding but not killing him. Bleeding badly, Mouzone convinces Omar that he had nothing to do with Brandon's killing, and, believing him, Omar calls an ambulance instead of shooting Mouzone. He volunteers for stevedore work at the union hiring hall, and spends the day loading ships and securing the loads to the decks.
When Vondas leaves the hotel with his lawyer, however, The Greek trails behind, and neither Russell nor any of the more seasoned cops pick up on his presence. Worse, they manage to lose Vondas altogether. He accepts, agreeing to meet with Daniels and Pearlman, ready to spill his guts. Pearlman, playing by the book, stops him however, and tells him to return in the morning with a lawyer at his side. The most obvious way, they decide, is to pressure the young clerk Ziggy shot in Glekas's store to change his story and tell the cops that Ziggy fired in self-defense.
Vondas feels certain that Sobotka, able suddenly to spring his son from jail, would be less inclined to talk to the police. And of Nick, whom Vondas has grown fond, Vondas says don't worry. When he meets Nick later and tells him of the plan to pressure the clerk, he asks to meet with Sobotka in person, to be sure of his cooperation. Nick urges him to reconsider, telling Sobotka of the Greek's scheme to lift some of Ziggy's weight by leaning on the clerk to change his story.
Intrigued, Sobotka agrees to meet with Vondas, but forbids Nick to come with him. As Sobotka makes his way to the lonely spot under the Key Bridge for his meeting with Vondas, the FBI agent Koutris sends a message to The Greek and warns him of Sobotka's intention to tell the police what he knows.
With Sobotka in sight, The Greek tells Vondas that the union leader must not leave their meeting alive. Always business. About the same time, Nick knocks on his uncle Frank Sobotka's door and learns he never returned home the previous evening. Fearing the worst, he races to the desolate spot under the Key Bridge where Sobotka was to meet Vondas and The Greek the evening before and finds Sobotka's truck parked and locked.
Nick arrives at the same moment and sees, as the policemen lift off a body — Frank Sobotka — stabbed, throat slashed and blue from 18 hours in the water. Inform Mr. Barksdale that any obligation he feels might have with regards to this incident, it's absolved, along with our agreement. Instead, with his father, he turns himself in at police headquarters.
He didn't actually kill Mouzone, Omar explains, because Mouzone seemed genuinely puzzled when Omar accused him of killing Brandon. When the conversation turns to the contretemps with Prez, Valchek says he intends to bring charges against his son-in-law. Daniels, at his cunning best, explains all the witnesses to the incident — FBI agents and his own detail — wrote up reports on what they saw, and included the fact that Valchek incited Prez, a subordinate officer.
Valchek backs down and demands a slap-on-the-wrist punishment for Prez. Daniels smiles secretly, having saved his man. Burrell wonders if they have a leak in the squad. Daniels trusts his people, he says, and Pearlman has everything under lock and key at the courthouse. Only Fitzhugh seems uncertain, but he says nothing. But when he's picked up, Pearlman says, they have a solid case of racketeering, drugs and prostitution against him.
As for the union, Reese explains, with Sobotka dead, the FBI has an inconsequential case against a subordinate or two of his. Either the union jettisons the current leadership, or we have enough to get that local decertified.
They do not realize that he is visiting The Greek at a hotel in downtown Baltimore to discuss how much effort should be put into killing Nick, who, having realized they've killed his uncle, is more inclined to spill his guts to the police.
They also discuss the kilos of heroin soon to arrive at the cargo dock, and decide to let it remain there. He tells Pearlman, Freamon and Bunk not to bother with a lawyer for him. He knows the Greeks killed Sobotka, he says, because Sobotka met with them the previous evening, after having told Nick of his intention to finger them.
Nick felt he had convinced Sobotka to change his mind by revealing the Greeks' plan to bring pressure on the clerk in Glekas's store to change his story. If Ziggy could claim self-defense, he'd walk, Nick says. And Sobotka, apparently agreeing with him, had left to meet with the Greeks. That's all. Bunk explains to Nick that Sobotka had cut a deal to make things easier on Nick and on Ziggy before he was killed, and the police are willing to extend that deal to Nick.
The only lie he tells, trying to save one of his own, is that Horseface is clean. He also tells them it was Serge who went to Philly and killed the Atlantic Light seaman because he was responsible for the death of the girls. And he I'Ds a photo of The Greek, marking their primary target for the first time.
Realizing Nick is a prime target now for the Greeks, the police pick up his girlfriend Aimee and his daughter and sequester the three of them in a motel room. Troubled, Fitz calls the San Diego Field Office and is speechless when he learns that Agent Koutris is no longer there, and in fact was transferred to the D.
Avon is irritated when Stringer tells him he asked Mouzone who shot him. Either he gonna say, or he gonna go to work on it. But either way, you ain't askin' such shit. Confronted with the evidence back at the interrogation room, Serge flips, fingering Vondas as the seaman's killer and explaining that he was murdered because he had killed the women in the container. The fourteen homicides solved at last, the cops press Serge for details on the whereabouts of Vondas and The Greek.
He directs them to a downtown hotel room, but by the time the cops arrive, the two are gone, passing through customs at the airport. Nick has copped to smuggling on the cargo docks and dealing drugs; Serge has cleared up the murder of the girls; White Mike is down for narcotics. The question is whether to bring Proposition Joe in, too, since they have enough to indict him.
Greggs suggests they wait, revealing a surveillance photo of Stringer meeting with Proposition Joe. Hooked up like that over who knows what. But Frank is still gonna be dead and the port is still screwed and the guy who killed the girls, he got killed anyway. And the girls — I mean the ones we locked up, they're probably back in Europe right now getting into another shipping container.
Poot responds that he has a lot of good memories growing up there, including losing his virginity to Chantay in 7th Grade. Bodie suggests that she gave Poot the clap — more than once. Daniels' taskforce is still chasing drug dealers — notably Proposition Joe's drug enterprise, and Detectives McNulty and Sydnor are holed up in a vacant house in East Baltimore watching Prop Joe's soldier Cheese working the corner.
After six months of taps and no real case to make, Daniels is frustrated, too, and to McNulty's consternation, suggests they don't renew the wiretap order when it expires in two weeks. The dilemma they face is that their prime drug territory — the Towers — no longer exists. The crew focuses on new corners they want to take over, but Bell has a bigger plan.
Because he has the best product, he's confident the idea will work. Their latest scheme — heisting a cast-iron radiator for a few bucks, goes perilously awry when the grocery cart they're pushing the radiator in crashes into a Cadillac SUV that belongs to a crewmember of the Barksdale rival drug lord Marlo Stanfield.
Marlo emerges as his soldier owner holds a gun to Johnny's head. After the meeting, Carcetti takes Burrell to lunch and makes him an offer. If Burrell will quietly let Carcetti know when the Mayor won't give Burrell what he needs to run the police force properly, Carcetti will deliver.
Cutty is due for release after 14 years in prison, and Avon wants to recruit him. He gives Cutty a number to call for help making a reentry, and tells him he can offer employment as a soldier in his operation. The reason: Daniels wife, from whom he is now estranged, wants to run for City Council, which means she'll be running against a friend of the Mayor's, Eunetta Perkins. Her team wants to picture Daniels in his police uniform in her campaign literature, and Daniels — distraught about his estrangement from Marla — is more than willing to cooperate.
He also sees her new boyfriend and is none too happy. Soon, Bunk's cell phone rings and he's called in to work on his day off because a raft of new cases has come in. In a meeting later with the Mayor and his Chief of Staff, they share their disdain for Carcetti. Not a lot of favors we can call in over that side of town.
Rawls orders that felony cases must drop by 5 percent for the year, and murders must be kept under So there is no excuse I want to hear. I don't care how you do it, just fucking do it. But how do you make a body disappear? Obsessed with the case, he pulls out the two year old Barksdale records and looks through them for new leads. When Massey observes the mess he's made, she asks him what in hell he's doing.
Instead of cash, however, Avon's soldier gives him a package of heroin ready for sale. Cutty is nervous, and cuts a deal with a Marlo Stanfield soldier named Fruit to sell for the dope for him. But when Cutty comes back to collect his share of the proceeds, Fruit pulls a gun on him and tells him to get lost. What he sees is not reassuring. Stopped at a red light, Colvin is incredulous when a young dealer pops his head in the car window and offers to sell the Major some heroin.
With friend and partner in crime Kimmy, the two con their way into a Barksdale stash house, and in a heist that's almost too easy, make off with the drugs and the cash. Avon is philosophical when he learns that the Towers are gone. No threats. Indeed, when Barksdale's drug crews fan out to new territory, pitching their scheme, they encounter a fair amount of skepticism from mid-level dealers.
When Marlo finally shows up and Bodie approaches him, Marlo brushes him off. What they see is not convincing, and McNulty suspects 'DAngelo was murdered. Later, he pays a visit to Donette, fishing for clues as to who might have taken 'DAngelo out. Donette is openly hostile to him. Giving in, Burrell tells Carcetti he's having trouble getting out-of-service squad cars back on the street, which means beats on every shift go uncovered.
Burrell reveals to the Councilman that in spite of the fact that 70 cops are retiring by year's end, the Mayor has cancelled the Academy Class in which new recruits are inducted. Cause I know that money was in the budget. Confident that his pit bull will win the match with a dog owned by the dealer Dazz, Cheese's cocky demeanor turns to shock as his dog goes down quickly.
Cheese then shoots his dog rather than give him medical help, and grows even angrier when another dealer, Triage, points out a red rag on the floor that Dazz rubbed down his dog with before the match. Implying that some chemical may have been on the rag, Triage suggests that Cheese was gamed. All of a sudden, this case has legs. McNulty argues that the arrests will force them to reveal the tap's existence, and pushes Daniels to be patient to see what else the wire will bring.
Cheese is arrested, nevertheless, and when Bunk and McNulty sweat him for details, their error finally becomes apparent. The only thing Cheese has killed is his dog. Bunk and McNulty are appalled at the mistake. And sure enough, the wire soon goes silent, and gloom overtakes the Detail. She ignores him, and after he leaves, Pearlman goes home with Daniels instead. One night when Greggs comes in late, the house is a wreck and Cheryl is asleep on their bed with the baby.
Greggs heads back out into the night, visiting a lesbian bar. Colvin sits bolt upright when he learns the news in the middle of the night. Carver, who sent Dozerman out solo, is wracked with guilt. I shoulda teamed him. I fucked up. After Colvin visits the crime scene, he unburdens himself over a cup of coffee with a deacon from his church. Because my shot cop didn't die. And it hit me This is what makes a good night on my watch: absence of a negative.
But somewhere back in the '50s, there was a small moment of goddamn genius by some nameless smokehound who comes out of a cut-rate one day and on his way to the corner, slips that just-bought pint of elderberry into a paper bag. A great moment of civic compromise. That small wrinkled-ass paper bag allowed the corner boys to drink in peace while giving us permission to go do police work.
Until now. After being raked over the coals in front of his peers, Major Marvin Taylor, the Eastern District Commander, is further humiliated as Burrell publicly relieves him of his duties and names Taylor's second in command to replace him. But when they return later to pull off the heist, things go terribly wrong. Barksdale soldiers in another part of the house are alerted to the robbery and open fire.
In the fierce shootout that follows, Tosha is shot in the head and killed, accidentally by Dante, and one of Barksdale's team is killed. Bell is furious when he learns that Omar is still intent on pursuing revenge. He also reveals that he sold Dozerman's gun to a street punk named Peanut. Landsman orders Bunk to recover the gun, as a matter of principle. He explains to Bell that the cops believed Cheese was talking about killing a person when in fact he was talking about having killed his dog.
Carcetti then calls Burrell to let him know he'll be getting a call from the reporter, and Burrell is furious. Calming the Commissioner down, Carcetti urges Burrell simply to inform the Mayor that someone has leaked the information to the press.
Later, when Burrell meets with Mayor Royce, the Mayor is indeed annoyed about the leak and tells Burrell that he must take the heat when the story goes public. That way the Mayor can step in and announce that there will in fact be an academy class, and he'll look like the hero.
Burrell is none too happy about this, but in the end, as Carcetti reminds him, the goal of reinstating the academy class, is in fact, achieved. Greggs complains loudly that all the work they've put in on Bell and Prop Joe will go to waste, but Daniels is firm. The biggest priority is bringing down the murder rate.
At the prison, McNulty puts the belt around his neck that 'DAngelo used, but finds it won't tighten properly when he simulates the suicide, proving to him that 'DAngelo was murdered. And they know you're police when they move in. And they know you're police when they decide to start a family with you. And all that shit is just fine until one day it ain't no more. One day, it's 'You should have a regular job. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
It's Baltimore gentlemen, the gods will not save you. Fruit explains that the Barksdale dealers have taken up residence on his block and are stealing customers. Marlo tells him to do something about it. She's married, drives a nice car and teaches school in another part of town. She is less than thrilled to see Cutty, a face from her past, but she is civil to him and even offers to introduce him to a friend who might help Cutty find a decent job.
The idea is to warn the street level dealers that they can continue to sell drugs, but they must limit their activities to one of three areas of the city full of abandoned buildings. As long as they confine their dealing to these areas, the cops will let them be. But if they don't get with the program, they will be arrested and rearrested until they get the picture. The cops are outraged by the proposal, which in effect sanctions the illegal activity. Once we have them all comfortable, and all rounded up, once they've been there a bit and get used to putting their feet up, playing with the remote, then we move.
Then we go back to being police. Look at it this way, gentlemen: would you rather shoot at fish in the ocean? Or gather 'em all up in a few small barrels and start emptying your clips then? Spotting an attractive woman, he sends his family home and makes a move, later ending up in the woman's room. With Cole lying in state on a pool table, amidst much revelry and maudlin toasts, the cops bid him farewell.
He put down some good cases and he dogged a few bad ones. But the motherfucker had his moments. Yes, he fucking did. The place is crawling with Barksdale soldiers, hoping Omar shows his face. Omar mourns from across the street, hidden in the shadows, smoking a cigarette. West Baltimore residents get surprising straight talk at a community meeting from Major Colvin. Bubbles finds gainful employment; Stringer lunches uptown; and Bunk dangles the promise of immunity to a group of corner boys, in exchange for help.
Greggs learns how Marlo takes care of business as Bubbles instructs her on the next big thing: disposable cell phones. Frustrated in his grass-roots reform efforts, Colvin arms himself with intelligence from Daniels's detail and personally delivers a message to the next level of corner management. McNulty sees Stringer Bell's legitimate business dealings as a sign that he is now unreachable as a drug target. Bubbles shakes the tree for Johnny one more time.
Stringer Bell gets an education in construction management; Bunk uses shoe-leather to catch up with Omar and deliver a searing message; a frustrated Colvin unleashes the troops on the corner boys, ignoring his new edict; Avon sends Cutty and Slim Charles against Marlo; Bubbles refocuses the picture for Greggs. Herc discovers a blast from the past, which he belatedly reveals to his ex-colleagues. Daniels blows a gasket over the real reason the detail was reassigned from an investigation in Pimlico to the Western District.
Stringer Bell learns from Donette that she's told Brianna about McNulty's visit and that Brianna is likely to talk to him. With Amsterdam running full-tilt, Carver and Truck discover there really is no honor among thieves.
Prez impresses the detail with what he's found out from Bodie's cell phone, information that sends McNulty and Greggs on a road trip. Colvin sees the benefits of his plan working but has overlooked the human toll, until the Deacon points out the deficiencies. Responding to an officer's call for help, McNulty and Prez turn down the wrong alley, with unanticipated results. A Barksdale crew violates the unspoken Sunday truce with gunplay, increasing discontent among the New Day Co-op members.
Stymied in his effort to open a gym, Cutty is surprised to find help from within Baltimore's power structure. Brother Mouzone returns to Baltimore on a mission of revenge and casts a wide net in his search for Omar, who has his own plan. Colvin manages, for now, to put off a 'Sun' reporter inquiring about Amsterdam. Carver learns how much he doesn't know about good policing, while Pearlman and Daniels plead their case for a new kind of wiretap to Judge Phelan.
The wire begins to yield information about the Barksdale organization, though finding links to the top proves elusive. Stringer and Avon reflect on how far they've come, with each harboring plans for the future. Tipped by Burrell, Carcetti sees Amsterdam for himself and weighs the benefits against the political reality. In the Season Three finale, a reticent Avon readies his troops for a war against Marlo.
Meanwhile, as the detail works towards the top rungs of the Barksdale organization, McNulty reassesses his pursuit of Stringer Bell and the path he's chosen for himself. While Royce continues to grapple with Amsterdam, Burrell offers a deal to minimize the fallout. Freamon, for his part, is mildly disappointed in their target: Marlo Stanfield hasn't turned out to be as sharp or as fierce as they thought - no bodies that would suggest violence can be traced to the drug organization, and the group's liberal use of cellphones means that eventually, it will be relatively simple to build a conspiracy case.
Marlo, Freamon reasons, is no Avon Barksdale. Nonetheless, they want another 30 days on the taps, as well as subpoenas for documents - the latter not for Stanfield, but to follow up on the Barksdale money trail. Why now, Pearlman wonders? Freamon tells her he couldn't back to researching the Barksdale finances because other casework intervened. Freamon assures her the Lieutenant approves and feigns indifference to the coming election.
Deputy campaign manager Norman Wilson cuts them off - Carcetti's behind schedule once again. Asher's office with a stack of mundane paperwork for his signature, burying the drug money subpoenas between a fan requisition and vehicle logs.
Distracted by blueprints for his beach house, Asher signs them, no problem. As Lex carries on about his girl, Patrice, taking up with one of Marlo's guys - Fruit - Slim Charles pulls up, checking in on why things are so slow. Bodie complains that he has been forced off the Fayette Street because Marlo wanted that real estate and the new corner isn't prime. He is angry at being pushed off his old strip and would like to beef with Marlo's crew, but Slim Charles cautions him.
Royce fields messages from his secretary as they head out, putting off a donor - developer Andy Krawcyzk, it seems - and playing games with Carcetti's people, who are demanding two debates. Nonetheless, with business slow, Bodie relents and pays Namond for a half day. He complains to Lex about Namond's work ethic, saying he only employs the boy out of respect for his father. Least I hope it ain't. Snoop pours quicklime on the body which is then wrapped in a shower curtain.
They exit with their box of tools. As they try to catch the bird, Dukie throws a bug bomb - a bottle with bugs trapped inside - and the sound scares away the quarry. Namond and Dukie trade insults and then a few blows before Michael interposes. The boys all walk away from Dukie - save for Randy, to whom Dukie confides to Randy that the pigeon wasn't a homer - it didn't have a metal tag. Nemo's been letting Dukie clean out the coop.
He hasn't received his certification yet, but staff shortages in the system mean he will be getting classes nonetheless. They are dubious about his qualifications until he tells them he used to be a city police. That, at least, bodes well in their minds. Dennis Mello, when patrolman Jimmy McNulty knocks and is urged - not for the first time - to get out of a radio car and return to investigative duties, for which there is a desperate need in the district.
For us, yes, Daniels concedes. But for McNulty, maybe not. Sergeant Ellis Carver and Off. Anthony Colicchio pull up. Carver waits for Bodie to say a proper farewell. Though I do care about what your cute little blonde wife thinks about so many things Eventually, and with reluctance, he begins to make the calls. He surprises them as they leave, shoots Fruit in the head, then greets Patrice, who flees horrified.
Lex saunters away, leaving Fruit dead on the pavement. When Freamon joins homicide detectives Bunk Moreland and Ed Norris to review the details of the shooting, Norris asks him if this hurts Freamon's investigation, losing a guy they had wired. But Freamon notes they've got several wires at the street level and with or without Fruit, they are progressing. Bunk gives Freamon Fruit's cellphone as a consolation prize - he can pull other numbers off it - and they discuss the fact that Marlo, who seems to be the new power in West Baltimore, has been so quiet.
Disappointed in the bluster and lack of logic shown by some of his lieutenants, Marlo shares a look with Chris before rejecting their offer to kill everyone on Bodie's corner in retaliation. He did one of ours, so he need to fall. Namond wants to hit back, but harder, and Randy gets an idea.
It starts with Michael stealing a bike off a Terrace kid, setting the gang off after him, until they turn a corner and are ambushed by our boys - all of whom have armed themselves with balloons filled with their own urine. For a moment, it seems perfect until Namond wets himself with his own balloon and the rest of the boys panic, dumping their balloons and fleeing. He can barely contain himself by the time he meets with local activist Victorine Simmons, but once he calms down and takes a tour of her drug-addled community, Carcetti is moved to actually help - even though Royce has instructed city agencies not to take constituent service calls from his challenger.
Nonetheless, Carcetti - calling bureaucrats at him and pulling favors - finds a way to get it done. Later, on the campaign trail, Carcetti encounters his fellow Councilman and one-time friend, Tony Gray, who he tacetly allowed to challenge Royce before revealing his own intention to run, thereby using Gray to split the city's black vote.
McNulty, laughing at the roll-call room rebellion, is accosted by Bunk, who tries to squeeze McNulty for info on Lex - and plan a boy's night out with Jameson's and Glen Livet. Instead McNulty directs Bunk to Carver, who he says has learned the job, and offers an invite to dinner with Beadie and the kids, much to Bunk's dismay. He loves it. Or perhaps, the idea of what he will soon make it. Meanwhile, Carver and Bunk stake out Bodie's corner a short distance away, looking for Lex, but see no sign of him and Carver assures Bunk he will come back tomorrow to jack Lex when he returns to the corner.
Convinced he can't win, he storms out. Contemplating his future, Carcetti gets a warning from a cop for drinking in Federal Hill park after curfew. And, as a siren goes by, Randy sitting up late on his front stoop, worried about Little Kevin's words, is ordered back inside by a foster mother who seems to parent him closely. Opening doors in his search for his supervisor, Herc is surprised to encounter Mayor Clarence Royce on the receiving end of a robust act of fellatio, courtesy of his secretary.
Stunned like a cow with a sledgehammer, Herc stares at the sight for a moment before slamming shut the door. In that moment, the Mayor sees him. Sydnor is having second thoughts about whether their pursuit of the money will blow back on them by antagonizing the powerful and politically connected elements in the city.
Pearlman, too, is wishing she had run the subpoenas by her front office, alerting her bosses to the coming controversy and thereby protecting herself from retribution. Freamon quickly realizes that Pearlman has not forwarded signed subpoenas for two notable targets --developer Andrew Kracyzk and State Sen.
How large and beautiful the patio was 1 How broad and lustrous the leaves of the plantains flourishing in their green boxes! There he had spent the best years of his childhood. To enjoy these recollections of childhood and the pleasure of finding himself once more at home, after several months in Madrid, he stood for some time motionless in the patio, looking up at the balconies THE TORRENT S of the first story, then at the attic windows — from which in mischievous years gone by he had many a time withdrawn his head at the sound of his moth- er's scolding voice — and lastly, at the veil of lumi- nous blue above — a patch of sky drenched in that Spanish sunlight which ripens the oranges to clus- ters of flaming gold.
He thought he could still see his father — the im- posing, solemn don Ramon — sauntering about the patio, his hands behind his back, answering in a few impressive words the questions flung at him by his party adherents, who followed him about with idol- atrous eyes.
If the old man could only have come back to life that morning to see how his son had been acclaimed by the entire city! A barely perceptible sound like the buzzing of two flies broke the deep silence of the mansion.
The deputy looked toward the only balcony window that was open, though but slightly. His mother and don Andres were still talking in the dining-room — and of him, as usual, without a doubt! And, lest they should call him, and suddenly deprive him of his keen enjoyment at being alone, he left the patio and went out into the street. It was only the month of March; but at two in the afternoon the air was almost uncomfortably hot.
Accustomed to the cold wind of Madrid and to the winter rains, Rafael inhaled, with a sense of voluptuous pleasure, the warm breeze that wafted the perfume of the blossoming orchards through the narrow lanes of the ancient town. A memory of a Venetian calle now came back to Rafael's mind as he traversed the streets of old Alcira — shadowy, cramped, sunk deep as wells between rows of high houses. With all the economy of a city built on an island, Alcira rears its edifices higher and higher as its population grows, leaving just enough space free for the bare needs of traffic.
The streets were deserted. The noisy, orchard workers who had welcomed Rafael had gone back to the fields again. All the idlers had fled to the cafes, and as the deputy walked smartly by in front of these, warm waves of air came out upon him through the windows, with the clatter of poker chips, the noise of billiard balls, and the uproar of heated argument. Rafael reached the Suburban Bridge, one of the two means of egress from the Old City The Jucar was combing its muddy, reddish waters on the piles of the ancient structure.
A number of row-boats, made fast to the houses on the shore, were tugging at their moorings. Rafael recognized among them the fine craft that he had once used for lonely trips on the river. It lay there quite forgotten, gradu- ally shedding its coat of white paint out in the weather. Then he looked at the bridge itself; the Gothic- arched gate, a rehc of the old fortifications ; the bat- tlements of yellowish, chipped rock, which looked as if all the rats of the river had come at night to nrbble at them ; then two niches with a collection of mutilated, dust-laden images — San Bernardo, patron Saint of Alcira, and his estimable sisters.
As Rafael walked past the rude, disfigured statue he thought of all the stories his mother, an uncom- promising clerical and a woman of credulous faith, had told him of the patron of Alclra, particularly the legend of the enmity and struggle between San Vicente and San Bernardo, an ingenuous fancy of popular superstition. Saint Vincent, who was an eloquent preacher ar- rived at Alclra on one of his tours, and stopped at a blacksmith's shop near the bridge to get his don- key shod.
When the work was done the horseshoer asked for the usual price for his labor; but San Vicente, accustomed to living on the bounty of the faithful, waxed Indignant, and looking at the Jucar, exclaimed, vindictively : "Some day folks will say: 'This Is where Alcira used to be'.
And there the statue of the saint still stood, like an eternal sentinel, watching over the Jucar to exor- cise the curse of the rancorous Saint Vincent! To be sure the river would rise and overflow its banks every year, reaching to the very feet of San Bernardo sometimes, and coming within an ace of pulling the wily saint down from his perch.
It is also true that every five or six years the flood would shake houses loose from their foundations, destroy good farm land, drown people, and commit other horrible dep- redations — all in obedience to the curse of Valencia's patron; but the saint of Alclra was the better man 6 THE TORRENT of the two for all of that! And, if you didn't be- lieve it, there the city was, still planted firmly on its feet and quite unscathed, except for a scratch here and there from times when the rains were excep- tionally heavy and the waters came down from Cu- enca in a great roaring torrent!
The deputy paused at the head of the street on which his club was located. Even from there he could hear the talking and laughing of the many members, who had gathered in much greater number than usual because of his arrival. What would he be in for down there?
A speech, probably! A speech on local politics! Or, if not a speech, idle talk about the orange crop, or cock-fighting. He would be expected to tell them what kind of a man the Premier was — and then spend the afternoon ana- lyzing the character of every minister!
Then don Andres would be there, that boresome Mentor who, at the instance of Rafael's mother, would never let him out of sight for a moment. The Club could wait! He would have plenty of time later in the day to stifle in that smoke-filled parlor where, the moment he showed his face, everybody would be upon him and pester the life out of him with ques- tions and wire-pulling!
As he emerged from the ancient Ghetto and found himself in the open country, he drew a deep breath, as if to imprison in his lungs all the life, bloom and color of his native soil. The orange orchards lined both banks of the stream with straight rows of green, round tree-tops. The sun glistened off the varnished leaves ; the wheels of irrigating machines sounded from the distance like humming insects.
To one side rose the hill of San Salvador, its crest topped with the Hermitage, and the pines, the cypresses, and the prickly pears around that rough testimonial of popular piety. The sanctuary seemed to be talking to him like an indiscreet friend, betraying the real motive that had caused him to evade his appointment with his political friends and disobey his mother into the bargain. Something more than the beauty of the fields had enticed him from the city.
When the rays of the rising sun had awakened him that morning on the train, the first thing he had seen, before opening his eyes even, was an orange orchard, the bank of the Jucar, and a house painted blue, — the very one that was now in sight away off there, among the round tree-tops along the river. How many times in past months his thoughts had lingered on the memory of that same scene! Before his closed eyes a dark veil would begin to unroll as If the moist, cellar-like gloom in which the Chamber Is always plunged, had thickened suddenly, and against this curtain, like a cinema dream, rows of orange -trees would come into view, and a blue house with open windows; and pour- ing through the windows a stream of notes from a soft voice, ever so sweet, singing lieder and ballads as an accompaniment to the hard, sonorous para- graphs snapping from the Premier's teeth.
Then applause and disorder! The moment for voting had arrived, and the fading outlines of the Blue House still hovering before his dreamy eyes, the member for Alclra would ask his neighbor: "How do we vote?
Yes or no? Now that blue house was actually before his eyes! And he was hurrying toward it, — not without some hesitation; a vague uneasiness he could not explain. Orchard workers came along the road, occasional- ly, stepping aside to make room for the famous man, though he answered their greeting absent-mindedly. What a nuisance! They would all be sure to tell where they had seen him!
His mother would know all about it within half an hour! And, that evening, a scene in the dining-room! As Rafael walked on toward the Blue House, he thought bitterly of his situation. Why was he going there anyhow? Why insist on living in a stew all the time? He had had two or three short but violent scenes with his mother a few months before. What a fury that stern, pious, and puritanic woman became when she found out that her son had been calling down at the Blue House and was on friendly terms with a strange lady, an outsider, whom the respectable folk of the city would have nothing to do with, and of whom not a good word was ever heard except from the men at the Club, when they were sure their wives were not in hearing distance!
Tempestuous scenes they had been! He was running for Congress at the time. Was he trying — she wanted to know — to dishonor the family and compromise his political future? Was that what his poor father had lived for — a life of sacrifice and struggle, of service to "the Party," which, many a time, had meant shouldering a gun? And a loose woman was to be allowed to ruin the House of BruU, which for thirty years had been putting every cent it owned into politics, for the benefit of My Lords up in Madrid!
Rafael had been no match for that energetic mother, the soul of ''the Party. However, the upshot of it all had been that Ra- fael simply discovered how weak he was. Despite his promise, he returned to the Blue House often, but by round-about ways and over long detours, skulking from cover to cover, as he had done in childhood days when stealing oranges from the or- chards.
There he was, a man whose name was on the lips of the whole county, and who at any mo- ment might be invested with authority from the peo- ple, thus realizing the life-long dream of his father! But the sight of a woman in the fields, a child, a beg- gar, would make him blanch with terror! And that was not the worst of it!
Whenever he entered the Blue House now he had to pretend he came openly, without any fear whatever. And so things had gone on down to the very eve of his departure for Madrid. As Rafael reached this point In his reminiscences, he asked himself what hope had led him to disobey his mother and brook her truly formidable wrath. In that blue house he had found only frank, disin- terested friendship, — a somewhat ironic comrade- ship, the condescending tolerance of a person com- pelled by solitude to choose as her comrade the least repulsive among a host of inferiors.
How clearly he remembered and could again foresee the THE TORRENT 11 sceptical, cold smile with which his words were al- ways received, though he was sure he had crammed them with burning passion! If you want us to go on being friends, all right, but It's on condition you treat me as a man.
Comrades, eh, and nothing more. On another occasion, she was irritable rather; Rafael's appealing eyes, his words of amorous ado- ration, seemed to provoke her, and she had said with brutal frankness: ''Don't waste your breath, please I I am through with love. I know men too well! But even if any- one were to upset me again, it would not be you, Rafaellto dear. He tried to free himself from his infatuation, but unsuccessfully.
With that In view he fixed his at- tention on the woman's past; it was said that de- spite her beauty, her arlstrocratic manners, the bril- liancy of mind with which she had dazzled him — a poor country boy — she was only an adventuress who had made her way over half the globe from one pair of arms to another. But since that was Im- possible, why go on, why continue endangering his career and having trouble with his mother all the time?
To forget her, he stressed, before his own mind, words and attitudes of hers that might be judged defects ; and he would taste the joy of duty well done when, after such gymnastics of the will, he could think of her without great emotion.
At the beginning of his life in Madrid he Im- agined he had recovered. New surroundings; con- tinuous and petty satisfactions to vanity; the kow- towing of doorkeepers in Congress; the flattery of visitors from here, there and everywhere who came with requests for passes to admit them to the gal- leries; the sense of being treated as a comrade by celebrities, whose names his father had always men- tioned with bated breath; the "honorable" always written before his name; all Alcira speaking to him with affectionate familiarity; this rubbing elbows, on the benches of the conservative majority, with a battalion of dukes, counts and marquises — young men who had become deputies to round out the dis- tinction conferred by beautiful sweethearts or win- ning thoroughbreds, — all this had intoxicated him, filled his mind completely, crowding out all other thoughts, and persuading him that he had been com- pletely cured.
But as he grew familiar with his new life, and the novelty of all this adulation wore off, tenacious recol- lections rose again in his memory. At night, when sleep relaxed the will to forget, which his vigilance kept at painful tension, that blue house, the green.
THE TORRENT 13 diabolical eyes of its principal denizen, that pair of fresh lips with their Ironic smile that seemed to quiver between two rows of gleaming white teeth, would become the inevitable center of all his dreams. Why resist any longer? He could think of her as much as he pleased — that, at least, his mother would never learn.
And he gave himself up to the Imagi- nation of love, where distance lent an ever stronger enchantment to that woman. He felt a vehement longing to return to his city. Absence seemed to do away with all the obstacles at home. His mother was not so formidable as he had thought. After so much isolation and solitude she might receive him In more cordial fashion!
As he approached the place that afternoon he was almost sick with nervousness and emotion. For one last time he thought of his mother, so intent upon maintaing her prestige and so fearful of hos- tile gossip; of the demagogues who had thronged the doors of the cafes that morning, making fun of the demonstration in his honor; but all his scruples van- ished at sight of the hedge of tall rose-bays and prickly hawthorns and of the two blue pillars sup- porting a barrier of green wooden bars.
Resolutely he pushed the gate open, and entered the garden. Orange-trees stretched in rows along broad straight walks of red earth. On either side of the approach to the house was a tangle of tall rose- bushes on which the first buds, heralds of an early spring, were already beginning to appear. Above the chattering of the sparrows and the rustle of the wind in the trees, Rafael could hear the sound of a piano — the keys barely touched by the player's fingers — and a soft, timid voice, as if the song were meant for the singer alone.
It was she. The young man advanced slowly, cautiously, as if THE TORRENT 15 afraid lest the sound of his footsteps break in upon that melody which seemed to be rocking the garden lovingly to sleep in the afternoon's golden sunlight. He reached the open space in front of the house and once more found there the same murmuring palms, the same rubblework benches with seats and backs of flowered tile that he knew so well.
There, in fact, she had so often laughed at his feverish pro- testations. The door was closed; but through a half-opened window he could see a patch of silk; a woman's back, bending slightly forward over the music. As Rafael came up a dog began to bark at the end of the garden. Some hens that had been scratch- ing about in sand of the drive, scampered off cackling with fright. The music stopped. The lady was rising to her feet. At the balcony a flowing gown of blue appeared; but all that Rafael saw was a pair of eyes — green eyes, that seemed to fill the entire window with a flood of light.
Open the door. I don't know why, but I was expecting you this afternoon. We have heard all about your triumphs; the music and the tumult reached even to our desert. My congratulations to the Honorable don Rafael BruU. As if national unity had not yet been effected and the country were still divided into taifas and waliatos as in the days when one Moorish King reigned over Carlct, another over Denia, and a third over Jativa, the election system maintained a sort of inviolable rulership in every district; and when the Administration people came to Alcira in forecasting their political prospects, they always said the same thing : "We're all right there.
We can rely on Brull. The founder of this sovereign house had been Rafael's grandfather, the shrewd don Jaime, who had established the family fortune by fifty years of slow exploitation of ignorance and poverty. He began life as a clerk in the Ayuntamiento of Alcira; then he became secretary to the municipal judge, then assistant to the city clerk, then assistant-regis- trar of deeds.
There was not a subordinate position in those offices where the poor come in contact with the law that he did not get his hands on; and from such points of vantage, by selling justice as a favor i6 THE TORRENT 17 and using power or adroitness to subdue the refrac- tory, he felt his way along, appropriating parcel after parcel of that fertile soil which he adored with a miser's covctousness.
A brazen charlatan he was, every moment talking of "Article Number So-and-So" of the law that ap- plied to the case. The poor orchard workers came to have as much awe for his learning as fear of his malice, and in all their controversies they sought his advice and paid for It, as if he were a lawyer. When he had gotten a small fortune together, he continued holding his menial posts in the city ad- ministration to retain the superstitious respect which is inspired in peasant-folk by all who are on good terms with the law; but not content with playing the eternal beggar, dependent on the humble gratui- ties of the poor, he took to pulling them out of their financial difficulties, lending them money on the col- lateral of their future harvests.
But six per cent seemed too petty a profit for him. The real plight of these folk came when a horse died and they had to buy another. Don Jaime became a dealer in dray horses, buying more or less defective animals from gypsies in Valencia, praising their virtues to the skies, and reselling them as thor- oughbreds. And no sale on the instalment plan! Cash down! The horses did not belong to him — as he vowed with his hand pressed solemnly to his bosom — and their owners Vvished to realize on their value at once.
The best he could do in the circum- stances — prompted by his greatness of heart, which always overflowed at the sight of poverty — was to borrow money for the purchase from a friend of his. For the don Jaime who spoke for the unknown party in the deal transferred the cash to the same don Jaime who spoke for the owner of the horse.
Result: the rustic bought an animal, without chaffering, at double its value, hav- ing in addition borrowed a lot of money at cut-throat interest. In every turn-over of this sort don Jaime doubled his principal. New straits inevitably de- veloped for the dupe; the interest kept piling up; hence new concessions, still more ruinous than the first, that don Jaime might be placated and give the purchaser a month's reprieve.
Every Wednesday, which was market-day in Al- cira and brought a great crowd of orchard-folk to town, the street where don Jaime lived was the busiest in the city. People came in droves to ask for renewal of their notes, each leaving a tip of several pesetas usually, not to be counted against the debt itself. Others, humbly, timidly, as if they had come to rob the grasping Shylock, would ask for loans; and the strange thing about it, as the malicious noted, was that all these people, after leaving every- thing they owned in don Jaime's hands, went off con- tent, their faces beaming with satisfaction, as if they had just been rescued from a danger.
This was don Jaime's chief skill. The burdens he thus THE TORRENT 19 supposedly assumed won him a reputation as a kind-hearted soul, and such confidence was the wily old demon able to instill in his victims that when mortgages were foreclosed on homes or fields, many of the unfortunates despoiled, would say, resignedly: "It's not his fault. What could the poor man do if they forced him to it? It's those other fellows who are sucking the blood of us poor folks. Thus his property went on increasing, and, with his radiant smile, his spectacles on his forehead and his paunch growing fatter and fatter, he could be seen sur- rounded by new victims, addressing them with the af- fectionate tu, patting them on the back, and vow- ing that this weakness he had for the doing of favors would some day bring him to dying like a dog in the gutter.
Thus he went on prospering. Nor was all the scoffing of city people of any avail in shaking the confidence reposed in him by that flock of rustics, who feared him as they feared the Law Itself and be- lieved In him as they believed In God. In his eyes now, the only peo- ple in Alcira were such as collected thousands of duros, whenever harvest time came around.
The rest were rabble, rabble, sir! Then, at last he resigned the petty offices he had been filling; and handing his usury business over to those who formerly had served him as go-betweens, he set himself to the task of marrying off his son and sole heir, Ramon, an idling ne'er-do-well, who was always getting into trouble and upsetting the tranquil comfort that surrounded old BruU as he rested from his plunderings.
The father felt the satisfaction of a bully in hav- ing such a tall, strong, daring and insolent son, a boy who compelled respect in cafes and clubs more with his fists than with the special privileges con- ferred in small towns by wealth.
Let anyone dare make fun of the old usurer when he had such a fire- eater to protect him! Ramon had wanted to join the Army; but every time he referred to what he called his vocation, his father would fly into a rage. He did not want a boy of his to be shoved about hither and thither like a mere machine. But after all, a slave, a slave! Ramon must be- come a lawyer, the only career for a man destined to rule others. It was a passionate ambition the old pettifogger had, to see his scion enter through the front door and with head proudly erect, the precincts of the law, into which he had crawled so cautiously and at the risk, more than once, of being dragged out with a chain fastened to his ankle.
Ramon spent several years in Valencia without getting beyond the elementary courses In Common Law. The cursed classes were held In the morn- ing, you see, and he had to go to bed at dawn — the hour when the lights in the pool-rooms went out. Besides, in his quarters at the hotel he had a mag- nificent shotgun — a present from his father; and homesickness for the orchards made him pass many an afternoon at the pigeon traps where he was far better known than at the University. This fine specimen of masculine youth — tall, mus- cular, tanned, with a pair of domineering eyes to which thick eyebrows gave a touch of harshness — had been born for action, and excitement; Ramon simply couldn't concentrate on books!
Old BruU, who through niggardliness and pru- dence had placed his son on ''half rations," as he put it, sent the boy just money enough to keep him going; but dupe, in turn, of the wiles he had for- merly practiced on the rustics of Alcira. Home to Alcira came rumors of other exploits by the "Prince," as don Jaime called his boy in view of the lattcr's ability to run through money.
In parties with friends of the family, don Ramon's doings were spoken of as scandalous actually — a duel after a quarrel at cards; then a father and a brother — common workingmen in flannel shirts! Old BruU made up his mind to tolerate these es- capades of his son no longer; and he made him give up his studies. Ramon would not be a lawyer; well, after all, one didn't have to have a degree to be a man of importance. Besides the father felt he was getting old; it was hard for him to look after the working of his orchards personally.
He could make good use of that son who seemed to have been born to impose his will upon everybody around him. For some time past don Jaime had had his eye on the daughter of a friend of his. The Brull house showed noticeable lack of a woman's presence. His wife had died shortly after his retirement from busi- ness, and the old codger stamped in rage at the slovenliness and laziness displayed by his servants.
He would marry Ramon to Bernarda — an ugly, ill- humored, yellowish, skinny creature — but sole heir- ess to her father's three beautiful orchards. Be- sides, she was conspicuous for her industrious, eco- nomical ways, and a parsimony in her expenditures that came pretty close to stinginess. Brought up with all the ideas of a rural skinflint, he thought no decent person could object to marrying an ugly bad- tempered woman, so long as she had plenty of money.
The father-in-law and the daughter-in-law under- stood each other perfectly. The old man's eyes would water at sight of that stern, long-faced puri- tan, who never had much to say in the house, but went into high dudgeon over the slightest waste on the part of the domestics, scolding the farmhands for the merest oversight in the orchards, haggling and wrangling with the orange drummers for a cen- time more or less per hundredweight.
That new daughter of his was to be the solace of his old age! Meantime, the "prince" would be off hunting every morning in the nearby mountains and loung- ing every afternoon in the cafe ; but he was no longer content with the admiration of the idlers hanging around a billiard table, nor was he taking part in the game upstairs.
He was frequenting the circles of "serious" people now, had made friends with the alcalde and was talking all the time of the great need for getting all "decent" folk together to take the "rabble" in hand! That's the way I like to see him. The least objection to his views he regarded as a per- sonal insult; he would transfer debates in session cut into the streets and settle them there with 24 THE TORRENT threats and fisticuffs. His greatest glory was to have his enemies say of him: "Look out for that Ramon.
He's a tough proposition. He "did favors," assured a living, that is, to every loafer and bully in town. He was ready to be "touched" by anyone who could serve, in tavern and cafe, as advertising agent of his ris- ing fame. And he rose rapidly, in fact. The old folks who had pushed him forward with influence and coun- sel soon found themselves left far behind.
He got able-bodied men exempted from military service ; he winked at corruption in the city councils that backed him, although the per- petrators deserved to go to prison; he saw to it that the constabulary was not too energetic in running down the roders, the "wanderers," who, for some well-placed shot at election time, would be forced to flee to the mountains.
That scallawag was realiz- ing the old man's dream: the conquest of the city, ruling over men where his father had gotten only money! And, in addition don Jaime lived to see THE TORRENT 25 the perpetuation of the Brull dynasty assured by the birth of a grandson, Rafael, the child of a couple who had never loved each other, but were united only by avarice and ambition.
Old Brull died like a saint. He departed this life with the consolation of all the last sacraments. Every cleric in the city helped to waft his soul heavenward with clouds of incense at the solemn obsequies. And, though the rabble — the political opponents of the son, that is — recalled those Wednesdays long before when the flock from the orchards would come to let itself be fleeced in the old Shylock's office, all safe and sane people — peo- ple who had something in this world to lose — mourned the death of so worthy and industrious a man, a man who had risen from the lowest estate and had finally been able to accumulate a fortune by hard work, honest hard work!
In Rafael's father there still remained much of the wild student who had caused so many tongues to wag in his youthful days. But his doings with peasant girls were hushed up now; fear of the cacique's power stifled all gossip; and since, more- over, affairs with such lowly women cost very little money, dona Bernarda pretended to know nothing about them. She did not love her husband much. She was leading that narrow, self-centered life of the country woman, who feels that all her duties are ful- filled if she remains faithful to her mate and keeps saving money.
By a noteworthy anomaly, she, who was so stingy, so thrifty, ready to start a squabble on the public square in defense of the family money against day- 26 THE TORRENT laborers or middlemen, was tolerance itself toward the lavish expenditures of her husband in maintain- ing his political sovereignty over the region. Every election opened a new breach in the fam- ily fortune.
Don Ramon would receive orders to carry his district for some non-resident, who might not have lived there more than a day or two. So those who governed yonder in Madrid had ordered — and orders must be obeyed. In every town whole muttons would be set turning over the fires. Tavern wine would flow like water. Debts would be can- celled and fistfulls of pesetas would be distributed among the most recalcitrant, all at don Ramon's expense of course. And his wife, who wore a calico wrapper to save on clothes and stinted so much on food that there was hardly anything left for the servants to eat, would be arrayed in splendor when the day for the contest came around, ready in her excitement to help her husband throw the entire house through the window, if need be.
This, however, was all pure speculation on her part. The money that was being scattered so madly broadcast was a "loan" simply. Already her pierc- ing eyes were caressing the tiny, dark-complexioned, restless little creature that lay across her knees, see- ing in him the privileged heir-apparent who would one day reap the harvest from all such family sacri- fices.
Dona Bernarda had taken refuge in religion as in a cool, refreshing oasis in the desert of vulgarity and monotony in her life. Thanks to him the wave of demagogy halts at the temple door and evil fails to triumph in the District. He is the bul- wark of the Lord against the impious! The lower scum would conquer — those wild-eyed mechanics and common laborers who read the Valencian newspapers and talk about equality all the time.
And they would divide up the orchards, and demand that the product of the harvests — thousands and thousands of dtiros paid for oranges by the Englishmen and the French — should belong to all. The sacks of money filled by the old man at the cost of so much roguery were shaken empty over all the 28 THE TORRENT District ; nor were several assaults upon the munici- pal treasury sufficient to bring them back to normal roundness.
Don Ramon contemplated this squan- dering impassively, proud that people should be talk- ing of his generosity as much as of his power. The whole District worshipped as a sacred flag- staff that bronzed, muscular, massive figure, which floated a huge, flowing, gray-flecked mustache from its upper end.
The patio of the Brull mansion was the throne of his sovereignty. His partisans would find him there, pacing up and down among the green boxes of plan- tain trees, his hands clasped behind his broad, strong, but now somewhat stooping back — a majestic back withal, capable of supporting hosts and hosts of friends. There he "administered justice," decided the fate of families, settled the affairs of towns — all in a few off-hand but short and decisive words, like one of those ancient Moorish kings who, in that self- same territory, centuries before, legislated for their subjects under the open sky.
On market-days the patio would be thronged. Carts would stop in long lines on either side of the door. Don Ramon would give them all a hearing, frown- ing gravely meanwhile, his chin on his bosom and one hand on the head of the little Rafael at his side — a pose copied from a chromo of the Kaiser petting the Crown Prince. On afternoons when the Ayiintamiento was In ses- sion, the chief could never leave his patio.
Of course not a chair In the city hall could be dusted without his permission; but he preferred to remain Invisi- ble, like a god, knowing well that his power would seem more terrible if It spoke only from the pillar of fire or from the whirlwind. All day long city councilors would go trotting back and forth from the City Hall to the Brull patio. The few enemies don Ramon had in the Council — meddlers, dona Bernarda called them — Idiots who swallowed everything In print provided it were against the King and religion — attacked the cacique persistently, censuring everything he did.
Don Ra- mon's henchmen would tremble with impotent rage. Let's see now: somebody go and ask the boss! His companions would gather about him eager to know the reply that don Ramon's wisdom had deigned to suggest; and a quarrel would start then, each one anxious to have the privilege of anni- hilating the enemy with the magic words — all talk- ing at the same time like magpies suddenly set chat- tering by the dawn of a new light.
If the opposition held its ground, again stupefac- tion would come over them. Another mad dash in quest of a new consultation. Thus the sessions would go by, to the great delight of the barber Cupido — the sharpest and meanest tongue in the city — who, whenever the Council met, would observe to his early morning shaves : ''Holiday today: the usual race of councilors bare- back.
This collaboration in the upbuilding and the up- holding of the family influence was the single bond of union between husband and wife. This cold woman, a complete stranger to tenderness, would flush with pleasure every time the chief approved her ideas. If only she were "boss" of "the Party! Don Andres had often said as much himself! This don Andres was her husband's most intimate friend, one of those men who are born to be second everywhere and in everything.
Where don Ramon could not go in person, don Andres would be present for him, as the chief's alter ego. Don Andres had no relatives, and spent almost all his time at the Brull's. He was like a piece of fur- niture that seems always to be getting in the way at first; but when all were once accustomed to him, he became an indispensable fixture in the family. In the days when don Ramon had been a young subor- dinate of the Ayuntamiento, he had met and liked the man, and taking him into the ranks of his "heel- ers," had promoted him rapidly to be chief of staff.
In the opinion of the "boss," there wasn't a cleverer, shrewder fellow in the world than don Andres, nor one with a better memory for names and faces. Brull was the strategist who directed the campaign; don Andres the tactician who commanded actual operations and cleaned up behind the lines when the enemy was divided and undone.
Don Ramon was given to settling everything in a violent manner, and drew his gun at the slightest provocation. If his methods had been followed, "the Party" would have murdered someone every day. Don Andres had a smooth tongue and a seraphic smile that sim- ply wound alcaldes or rebellious electors around his 32 THE TORRENT little finger, and his specialty was the art of letting loose a rain of sealed documents over the District that started complicated and never-ending prose- cutions against troublesome opponents.
He attended to "the chief's" correspondence, and was tutor and playmate to the little Rafael, taking the boy on long walks through the orchard country. To dona Bernarda he was confidential adviser. That surly, severe woman showed her bare heart to no one in the world save don Andres. When- ever he called her his "senora," or his "worthy mis- tress," she could not restrain a gesture of satisfac- tion; and it was to him that she poured out her com- plaints against her husband's misdeeds.
Her affec- tion for him was that of a dame of ancient chivalry for her private squire. Enthusiasm for the glory of the house united them in such intimacy that the opposition wagged its tongues, asserting that dona Bernarda was getting even for her husband's way- wardness. But don Andres, who smiled scornfully when accused of taking advantage of the chief's in- fluence to drive hard bargains to his own advan- tage, was not the man to be trifled with if gossip ventured to smirch his friendship with the senora.
Their Trinity was most closely cemented, how- ever, by their fondness for Rafael, the little tot des- tined to bring fame to the name of BruU and realize the ambitions of both his grandfather and his father. Rafael was a quiet, morose little boy, whose gen- tleness of disposition seemed to irritate the hard- hearted dona Bernarda. He was always hanging on to her skirts.
Every time she raised her eyes she would find the little fellow's gaze fixed upon her. And the little fellow, moody and resigned, would leave the room, as If In obedience to a disagreeable command. Don Andres alone was successful in amusing the child, with his tales and his strolls through the orchards, picking flowers for him, making whistles for him out of reeds.
It was don Andres who took him to school, also, and who advertised the boy's fondness for study everywhere. That kid is going to be another Canovas. Never did a Prince of Wales grow up amid the respect and the adulation heaped upon little Brull. At school, the children regarded him as a superior being who had condescended to come down among them for his education.
A well-scribbled sheet, a lesson fluently repeated, wxre enough for the teach- er, who belonged to "the Party" just to collect his wages on time and without trouble, to declare In prophetic tones: You are destined to great things. How brilliant he is! It's bad for him. See how peaked he looks!
The Party organ dedicated an annual article to the scho- lastic prodigies of the "gifted son of our distin- guished chief don Ramon Brull, the country's hope, who already merits title as the shining light of the future! Here's a duro!
On certain occasions, playing in the patio, he had surprised the austere old man gazing at him fixedly, as if trying to foresee his future. Don Andres took charge of settling Rafael in Va- lencia when he began his university studies. The dream of old don Jaime, disillusioned in the son, would be fulfilled in the third generation! And lest the corruption of the city should lead the son astray as it had done Ramon in his student days, she would send don Andres frequently to the capital, and write letter after letter to her Valen- cian friends, particularly to a canon of her inti- mate acquaintance, asking them not to lose sight of the boy.
But Rafael was good behavior itself; a model boy, a "serious" young man, the good canon assured the mother. The distinctions and the prizes that came to him in Alcira continued to pursue him in Valencia; and besides, don Ramon and his wife learned from the papers of the triumphs achieved by their son in the debating society, a nightly gathering of law students in a university hall, where future Scions wrangled on such themes as "Resolved: that the French Revolution was more of a good than an evil," or "Resolved, that Socialism is superior to Christianity.
But Rafael, ever sane and a congenital "mod- erate," was not of those fire-brands; he sat on "the Right" of the august assembly of Wranglers, main- taining a "sound" attitude on all questions, thinking what he thought "with" Saint Thomas and "with" other orthodox sages whom his clerical Mentor pointed out to him.
These triumphs were announced by telegraph in the Party papers, which, to garnish the chief's glory and avoid suspicion of "inspiration," always began the article with: "According to a despatch printed In the Metropolitan press You'll see; he'll be a second Manterola! All the rich girls In town will be after him. He'll have his pick of them. Every time the student came home, his father gave him the same silent caress. In course of time the diiro had been replaced by a hundred peseta note; but the rough claw that grazed his head was falling now with an energy ever weaker and seemed to grow lighter with the years.
Rafael, from long periods of absence, noted his father's condition better than the rest. The old man was ill, very ill. As tall as ever, as austere and imposing, and as little given to words. But he was growing thinner. His fierce eyes were sinking deeper into their sockets. There was little left to him now except his massive frame.
His neck, once as sturdy as a bull's, showed the tendons and the arteries under the loose, wrinkled skin; and his mustache, once so arrogant, but now withering with each suc- cessive day, drooped dispiritedly like the banner of a defeated army wet with rain. The boy was surprised at the gestures and tears of anger with which his mother welcomed expression of his fears.
Lot's of use he is to us! May the Lord be mer- ciful and take him off right now. Don Ramon, that somber libertine of Insatiable appetites, prey to a sinister, mysterious inebriation, was tossing in a last whirlwind of tempestuous desire, as though the blaze of sunset had set fire to what re- mained of his vitality.
May this man die as soon as possible I May all this come to an end soon, oh Lord! They were the only ones who dared allude to his disorderly life. He had enough strength left for one more caress the day when, escorted by don Andres, Rafael en- tered with his degree as a Doctor of Law. And as if he had been waiting around just to see the realization of old Don Jaime's ambition, which he himself had not been able to fulfill, he passed away.
All the bells of the city tolled mournfully. The Party weekly came out with a black border a palm wide; and from all over the District folks came in droves to see whether the powerful don Ramon BruU, who had been able to rain upon the just and unjust alike on this earth, could possibly have died the same as any other human being. Ill When dona Bernarda found herself alone, and absolute mistress of her home, she could not con- ceal her satisfaction.
Now they would see what a woman could do. She counted on the advice and experience of don Andres, who was closer than ever to her now; and on the prestige of Rafael, the young lawyer, who bade fair to sustain the reputation of the Brulls. The power of the family continued unchanged.
Don Andres, who, at the death of his master, had succeeded to the authority of a second father In the Brull house, saw to the maintenance of relations with the authorities at the provincial capital and with the still bigger fish In Madrid. Petitions were heard in the patio the same as ever. Loyal party adher- ents were received as cordially as before and the same favors were done, nor was there any decline of influence in places that don Andres referred to as "the spheres of public administration.
Don Ramon had left the party machine in perfect condition; all it needed was enough "grease" to keep It running smoothly; and there his widow was besides, ever alert at the slightest suggestion of a creak in the gearing.
Brull's son Is as powerful as the old man himself. He confined his personal activities to obey- ing his mother. Our friends there will be happy to see you. Instead of going out for a ride, spend your after- noon at the Club! They would sit around, filling their coflee-saucers with cigar-ash, disputing as to which was the better orator, Castelar or Canovas, and, in case of a war between France and Germany, which of the two would win — Idle subjects that always provoked disagreements and led to quarrels.
The only time he entered Into voluntary relations with "the Party" was when he took his pen in hand and manufactured for the Brull weekly a series of articles on "Law and Morality" and "Liberty and Faith," — the rehashings of a faithful, industrious plodder at school, prolix commonplaces seasoned with what metaphysical terminology he remembered, and which, from the very reason that nobody under 42 THE TORRENT Stood them, excited the admiration of his fellow partisans.
They would blink at the articles and say to don Andres: "What a pen, eh? Just let anyone dare to argue with him. Deep, that noodle, I tell you! They broke the mould In which the friends of his mother had cast his mind and made him dream of a broader life than the one known to those about him.
French novels transported him to a Paris that far outshone the Madrid he had known for a moment in his graduate days. Love stories awoke in his youth- ful Imagination an ardor for adventure and in- volved passions In which there was something of the intense love of Indulgence that had been his father's besetting sin. He came to dwell more and more in the fictitious world of his readings, where there were elegant, perfumed, clever women, prac- ticing a certain art In the refinement of their vices.
The young ladies of the city seemed to him peasants in disguise, with the narrow, selfish, stingy instincts of their parents. They knew the exact market price of oranges and just how much land was owned by each aspirant to their hand; and they adjusted their love to the wealth of the pretender, believing It the test of quality to appear implacable toward every- thing not fashioned to the mould of their petty life of prejudice and tradition. For that reason he was deeply bored by his color- less, humdrum existence, so far removed from that other purely imaginative life which rose from the pages of his books and enveloped him with an exotic, exciting perfume.
Some day he would be free, and take flight on his own wings; and that day of liberation would come when he got to be deputy. He waited for his com- ing of age much as an heir-apparent waits for the moment of his coronation. From early boyhood he had been taught to look forward to the great event which would cut his life in two, opening out new pathways for a ''forward march" to fame and fortune.
And he'll marry a mil- lionairess! He was like those noble youngsters of bygone centuries who, graced In their cradles by the rank of colonel from the monarch, played around with hoop and top till they were old enough to join their regiments. He had been born a deputy, and a deputy he was sure to be : for the moment, he was waiting for his cue in the wings of the theatre of life.
His trip to Italy on a pilgrimage to see the Pope was the one event that had disturbed the dreary course of his existence. But in that country of mar- vels, with a pious canon for a guide, he visited churches rather than museums. Of theatres he saw only two — larks permitted by his tutor, whose aus- terity was somewhat mollified In those changing scenes.
Indifferently they passed the famous artistic works of the Italian churches, but paused always to venerate some relic with miracles as famous as ab- surd. Even so, Rafael managed to catch a con- fused and passing glimpse of a world different from the one in which he was predestined to pass his life.
From a distance he sensed something of the love of pleasure and romance he had drunk in like an Intoxi- cating wine from his reading. In Milan he admired a gilded, adventurous bohemia of opera; in Rome, the splendor of a refined, artistic aristocracy In per- petual rivalry with that of Paris and London; and In Florence, an English nobility that had come in quest of sunlight and a chance to air Its straw hats, show off the fair hair of its ladies, and chatter Its own language In gardens where once upon a time the somber Dante dreamed and Boccaccio told his merry tales to drive fear of plague away.
That journey, of impressions as rapid and as THE TORRENT 45 fleeting as a reel of moving-pictures, leaving in Rafael's mind a maze of names, buildings, paintings and cities, served to give greater breadth to his thinking, as well as added stimulus to his imagina- tion. Wider still became the gulf that separated him from the people and ideas he met in his com- mon everyday life.
He felt a longing for the extra- ordinary, for the original, for the adventuresome- ness of artistic youth; and political master of a county, heir of a feudal dominion virtually, he never- theless would read the name of any writer or painter whatsoever with the superstitious respect of a rustic churl. What would he not give to be a bohemian like the personages he met in the books of Murger, member of a merry band of "intellec- tuals," leading a life of joy and proud devotion to higher things in a bourgeois age that knew only thirst for money and prejudice of class!
Talent for saying pretty things, for writing winged verses that soared like larks to heaven! A garret underneath the roof, off there in Paris, in the Latin Quarter! A Mimi poor but spiritual, who would love him, and — between one kiss and another — be able to dis- cuss — not the price of oranges, like the girls who followed him with tender eyes at home — but serious "elevated" things! In exchange for all that he would gladly have given his future deputyship and all the orchards he had inherited, which, though en- cumbered by mortgages not to mention moral debts 46 THE TORRENT left by the rascality of his father and grandfather — still would bring him a tidy annuity for realizing his bohemian dreams.
Such preoccupations made life as a party leader, tied down to the petty interests of a constituency, quite unthinkable! At the risk of angering his mother, he fled the Club, to court the solitude of the hills and fields. There his imagination could range in greater freedom, peopling the roads, the meadows, the orange groves with creatures of his fancy, often conversing aloud with the heroines of some "grand passion," carried on along the lines laid down by the latest novel he had read.
One afternoon toward the close of summer Rafael climbed the little mountain of San Salvador, which lies close to the city. From the eminence he was fond of looking out over the vast domains of his family. For all the inhabitants of that fertile plain were — as don Andres said whenever he wished to emphasize the party's greatness — like so many cattle branded with the name of Brull. As he went up the winding, stony trail, Rafael thought of the mountains of Assisi, which he had visited with his friend the canon, a great admirer of the Saint of Umbria.
It was a landscape that suggested asceticism. Crags of bluish or reddish rock lined the roadway on either side, with pines and cypresses rising from the hollows, and extending black, winding, snaky roots out over the fallow soil. At intervals, white shrines with tiny roofs harbored mosaics of glazed tiles depicting the Stations on the Via Dolorosa. The pointed green caps of the cy- presses, as they waved, seemed bent on frightening away the white butterflies that were fluttering about THE TORRENT 47 over the rosemary and the nettles.
Reaching the little square In front of the Hermi- tage, he rested from the ascent, stretching out full length on the crescent of rubblcwork that formed a bench near the sanctuary. There silence reigned, the silence of high hill-tops. From below, the noises of the restless life and labor of the plain came weakened, softened, by the wind, like the murmuring of waves breaking on a distant shore.
Among the prickly-pears that grew In close thicket behind the bench, Insects were buzzing about, shining In the sun like buds of gold. Some hens, belonging to the Hermitage, were pecking away In one corner of the square, clucking, and dusting their feathers in the gravel.
Rafael surrendered to the charm of the exquisite scene. With reason had It been called "Paradise" by Its ancient owners. Behind the Hermitage all the lower rihera stretched, one expanse of rice-fields drowned under an artificial flood; then, Sueca and Cullera, their white houses perched on those fecund lagoons like towns in landscapes of India; then, Albufera, with its lake, a sheet of silver glistening in the sunlight; then, Valencia, like a cloud of smoke drifting along the base of a mountain range of hazy blue; and, at last, in the background, the halo, as it were, of this apotheosis of light and color, the Mediterranean — the palpitant azure Gulf bounded by the cape of San Antonio and the peaks of Sagunto and Alme- nara, that jutted up against the sky-line like the black fins of giant whales.
As Rafael looked down upon the towers of the crumbling convent of La Murta, almost hidden in its pine-groves, he thought of all the tragedy of the Reconquest; and almost mourned the fate of those farmer-warriors whose white cloaks he could imagine as still floating among the groves of those magic trees of Asia's paradise. It was the influence of the Moor in his Spanish ancestry. He pictured to himself the tiny kingdoms of those old walls ; vassal districts very like the one his fam- ily ruled.
But instead of resting on influence, bribery, intimidation, and the abuse of law, they lived by the lances of horsemen as apt at tiUing the soil as at capering in tournaments with an elegance never equalled by any chevaliers of the North. He could see the court of Valencia, with the romantic gardens of Ruzafa, where poets sang mournful strophes over the wane of the Valencian Moor, while beautiful maidens listened from behind the blossom- ing rose-bushes.
And then the catastrophe came. In a torrent of steel, barbarians swept down from the arid hills of Aragon to appease their hunger in the bounty of the plain — the almogdvares — naked, wild, bloodthirsty savages, who never washed. And as allies of this horde, bankrupt Christian noblemen, their worn-out lands mortgaged to the Israelite, but good cavalrymen, withal, armored, and with dragon- wings on their helmets; and among the Christians, adventurers of various tongues, soldiers of fortune out for plunder and booty in the name of the Cross — the "black sheep" of every Christian family.
And they seized the great garden of Valencia, installed themselves in the Moorish palaces, called themselves counts and marquises, and with their swords held that privileged country for the King of Aragon, while the conquered Saracens continued to fertilize it with their toil.
And Rafael could see, passing like phantoms before his eyes, leaning forward on the necks of small, sleek, sinewy horses, that seemed to fly over the ground, their legs horizontal, their nostrils belching smoke, the Moors, the real people of Valencia, conquered, degenerated by the very abundance of their soil, abandoning their gardens before the onrush of brutal, primitive invaders, speeding on their way toward the unending night of African barbarism. At this eternal exile of the first Valencians who left to oblivion and decay a civilization, the last vestiges of which today survive in the universities of Fez, Rafael felt the sorrow he would have experienced had it all been a disaster to his family or his party.
While he was thinking of all these dead things, life in its feverish agitation surrounded him. A cloud of sparrows was darting about the roof of the Hermitage. On the mountain side a flock of dark- fleeced sheep was grazing; and when any of them discovered a blade of grass among the rocks, they would begin calling to one another with a melan- choly bleating.
Rafael could hear the voices of some women who seemed to be climbing the road, and from his reclin- ing position he finally made out two parasols that were gradually rising to view over the edge of his bench. One was of flaming red silk, skilfully em- broidered and suggesting the filigreed dome of a mosque; the second, of flowered calico, was appar- ently keeping at a respectful distance behind the first.
Two women entered the little square, and as THE TORRENT 51 Rafael sat up and removed his hat, the taller, who seemed to be the mistress, acknowledged his cour- tesy with a slight bow, went on to the other end of the esplanade, and stood, with her back turned to- ward him.
The other sat down some distance off, breathing laboriously from the exertion of the climb. Who were those women? Rafael knew the whole city, and had never seen them. The one seated near him was doubtless the serv- ant of the other — her maid or her companion. She was dressed in black, simply but with a certain charm, like the French soubrettes he had seen in illustrated novels.
But rustic origin and lack of cultivation were evident from the stains on the backs of her unshapely hands; from her broad, flat, finger-nails; and from her large ungainly feet, quite out of har- mony with the pair of stylish boots she was wearing — cast-off articles, doubtless, of the lady. She was pretty, nevertheless, with a fresh exuberance of youth. Her large, gray, credulous eyes were those of a stupid but playful lamb; her hair, straight, and a very light blond, hung loosely here and there over a freckled face, dark with sunburn.
She handled her closed parasol somewhat awkwardly and kept looking anxiously at the doubled gold chain that drooped from her neck to her waist, as if to reas- sure herself that a gift long-coveted had not been lost. Rafael's interest drifted to the lady. His eyes rested on the back of a head of tightly-gathered golden hair, as luminous as a burnished helmet; on a white neck, plump, rounded; on a pair of broad, lithe shoulders, hidden under a blue silk blouse, the 52 THE TORRENT lines tapering rapidly, gracefully toward the waist; on a gray skirt, finally, falling in harmonious folds like the draping of a statue, and under the hem the solid heels of two shoes of English style encasing feet that must have been as agile and as strong as they were tiny.
The lady called to her maid in a voice that was sonorous, vibrant, velvety, though Rafael could catch only the accented syllables of her words, that seemed to melt together in the melodious silence of the mountain top. The young man was sure she had not spoken Spanish.
A foreigner, almost cer- tainly! She was expressing admiration and enthusiasm for the view, talking rapidly, pointing out the prin- cipal towns that could be seen, calling them by their names, — the only words that Rafael could make out clearly. Perhaps the wife of one of the French or English orange-dealers established in the city!
Meanwhile his eyes were devouring that superb, that opulent, that elegant beauty which seemed to be challenging him with its indifference to his presence. The keeper of the Hermitage issued cautiously from the house — a peasant who made his living from visitors to the heights. Attracted by the promis- ing appearance of the strange lady, the hermit came forward to greet her, offering to fetch water from the cistern, and to unveil the image of the miraculous virgin, in her honor.
She was tall, ever so tall, as tall as he perhaps. But the Impression her height of stature made was softened by a grace of figure that revealed strength allied to elegance. A hot mist of emotion seemed to cloud his vision as he looked into her large eyes, so green, so luminous! The golden hair fell forward upon a forehead of pearly whiteness, veined at the temples with delicate lines of blue. Viewed in profile her gracefully moulded nose, quiv- ering with vitality at the nostrils, filled out a beauty that was distinctly modern, piquantly charming.
In those lineaments, Rafael thought he could recognize any number of famous actresses. He had seen her before. He did not know. Perhaps In some Illustrated weekly!
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