Chapter 38 Summary

Inside the cave, all the men and women were preparing to leave. Pilar had sewn the slit in the sacks. There is tension among them; Agustin chides Eladio on the absence of his brother (Andres), who has not returned from delivering the dispatch. Robert Jordan picks up four high-grade grenades that the guerillas had acquired from the Republic. It was with this type of grenade that Pablo blew up the post at Otero, Pilar says. Interested, Robert Jordan asks how dependable they are. Eladio says that they always explode, though there are no fragments, just flash. Robert Jordan repeats his question: Do they always blow? Eladio says they always have.

Robert Jordan sees that although he lacks the materials that Pablo stole, he will be able to use the grenades to detonate the explosives. However, he is not sure he can take out both posts by the bridge. It will have to be one or the other, but not both. He wonders if there will be a miracle and Golz will decide to call off the raid. Again, he curses Pablo’s treachery.

Trying to calm himself once again, Robert Jordan tells himself he should have taken Pilar and combed the hills to find additional men instead of sleeping with Maria. Yet he chides himself; he needs to show some confidence in himself. Maria thinks he is wonderful, but he thinks very little of himself at this moment. He must wait until the fight begins before he gets angry.

Pilar asks how the plan seems to him now that they are about to start. Robert Jordan regrets that there are so few of them, and Pilar agrees. She tells the American not to worry. She tells him to forget the nonsense of her reading his palm earlier. It was nothing. Robert Jordan checks on Anselmo, who is calm. The old man shows how steady his hands are, but when he points, his finger shakes. Robert Jordan assures him that his does the same.

The people in the cave freeze when Pablo comes back into the cave. He tells them that he has five additional men with horses. Robert Jordan asks him about the exploder and the detonators he stole. Pablo confesses that he threw them over the cliff into the river, but then he decided he must return. He says he had a moment of weakness but he is not a coward. Robert Jordan doubts that. Pablo assures him that he is not doing this for him. He returned because he was lonely. Pilar tells him she did not think he could be the coward he appeared to be. Pablo asks for a drink and then announces it is time to go.