. . . as for the lines which you ask explaining "Why have you chosen
this piece?" the answer is:
Because the essential problems which face us today appear in this
fragment which was written more than ten years ago.
A THIN, BENT FIGURE, alone in the midst of the vast staircase, Guernico had come to the War Ministry to enlist official support for the ambulance corps he was trying to reorganize. As the tide of war drew nearer to Madrid, the ambulance corps he had built up in the Toledo days was losing its efficiency. On the ground floor of the Ministry was a display of armour, and in the gathering dusk the Catholic writer with the tall, spare form and the fair complexion we find in so many of Velasquez' portraits, looked as if he might have stepped out of one of those historic coats of mail, pledged to return to it before the break of day. Garcia, who had not met him for the last three weeks, was wont to describe Guernico as the only one of his friends in whom intelligence took the form of charity. And, for all the gulf that yawned between them, Guernico was perhaps the only man for whom Garcia had a real affection.
The two set out together for the Plaza Mayor.
Shadows glided along drawn shutters and bare walls, shadows parallel and bending forward, like haulers towing a boat upstream. Tawny smoke-clouds from the suburbs were rolling over the city. "The exodus," Garcia thought--but then he saw that none of the passers-by carried bundles. All were walking very fast in the same direction.
"It has pluck," he said, "our city of Madrid."
A blind man, his begging-bowl before him, was playing the International