galas, with epaulets, a gold sash, and pants with a maroon stripe down the leg. His chest gleamed with all manner of medals, the Great Cross of the Royal Military Order of Saint Hermenegild most prominent among them. He invited me to sit (I noted a slight Italian influence in his accent—though born in Gries, Austria, he had been educated in Italy), and watched as Idrew out my notebook and my Waterman and prepared to take notes. According to protocol, when dealing with a Royal Highness one may not formulate direct questions, but rather only respond or comment. The infante took full advantage of this prerogative.
“I am interested in you publishing, in your esteemed newspaper, that the infanta and I, after having most gladly accepted the honor of representing His Majesty the King in the acts to be held here, have felt a most profound satisfaction, as this trip to Barcelona was one we were longing to make, especially as the infanta, my wife, had never been here and was most curious and interested in seeing at close quarters this metropolis, which today stands, on its own merits, among the very finest in Europe.”
This was how I usually expressed in my articles the paradox of the journalist who cannot completely fulfill his obligation:
“ … ?”
“We come to commend the laudable efforts carried out by the women of the Red Cross, who deserve all of our praise, and we shall never forget the warm reception we have been given here. The infanta is thrilled. I may say that, after years of not having returned to Barcelona, I find it visibly vitalized. The bustle, the life of the city and its people—full of light and cheer, and who constantly prosper, intensifying their work and expanding their efforts to improve traffic conditions and the city’s streets and avenues—fill the visitor with hope in every aspect. I am convinced that this great city is destined to become one of the world’s finest.”
The infante paused and asked for a glass of water. He deserved it.
“And now, my friend, do not write this down. I am going to share with you something which I would like you to transmit discreetly in journalistic circles. As you know, the endemic problem in Barcelona in recent years has been public order. Much blood has been spilled, and asuccession of civil and military governors has been unable to solve the problem. His Majesty is concerned regarding the effects of the Russian Revolution on other European countries, such as Germany, where in the end the army had to step in, even occupying Munich in order to prevent the Sovietization of Bavaria, hitherto a fervently Catholic stronghold. We cannot allow things to reach this point in Catalonia. Thus, the government of the monarchy has sent a brave and upstanding authority here to bring order, for if Barcelona falls, all of Spain shall tremble. My friend, let me introduce you to General López Ballesteros, the new civil governor of Barcelona.”
A powerful presence silently emerged from a shadow by the wall, stepping forward to stand in the very center of the room where we were talking.
Ángel Lacalle had written me a most earnest note: “You saved my life and I shall give you a story. Meet me at 12 San Antonio Street.”
I struggled with whether to accept the invitation. Surviving gunshots is certainly a circumstance which draws two people together, but that influential anarchist was a figure who continued to kindle all of my anxieties. In the end, my curiosity and journalistic tendencies prevailed.
The address Lacalle had called me to belonged to the Masons’ Union, already incorporated into the General Union which the anarchist leader had utilized as an instrument to bring together Barcelona’s entire working class. At the back of a small room, my acquaintance was conversing with a man standing in a line that slowly inched forward, issuing advice and dishing out justice as if he were a cross between a biblical judge and some kind of selfless, charity-dispensing
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