Things are getting complicated in the town.
The trade unions and the CNT try to take a stand as the situation in the country is more and more unstable. People are against monarchy, and after Miguel Primo de Rivera’s coup d’etat, the heads of state succeed one after the other. The conditions of the working class are terrible, and they hardly have any stability. I like how through the narration of this book we can see all the points of view, and how the situation was more complex as it seems at first sight. The anarchists that supposedly fight for the workers’ fight seem to use this for their cause which is more political.
The workers in Beltran’s winery go on strike just like in any other company in the town. The days pass without any hope for the strike to end. What the workers want is for those sacked to be reinstated, for those working in the vineyards to earn a more decent salary, for men and women to earn the same, and for the weekly working hours to be reduced. Beltran is ready to agree to the first two conditions, but in regards to the other two conditions, there is nothing he can do as it is to do with the state. So then he comes up with an idea, and he talks directly to the workers that stand outside the winery every day. He agrees he will build blocks of flats for the employees with electric light and running water, and the rent they will have to pay will be small. So the workers agree to start work again.
It is at this moment that Beltrán sees Lele, and Lele sees Beltrán. They remember seeing each other at that party on New Year’s Eve. From that moment Lele feels weak with desire and feelings that she doesn’t feel for Antonio. She tries to get him out of her mind but she can’t. Also, Beltrán feels strangely attracted to this girl he doesn’t know anything about, and he can’t stop thinking about her. I imagine that he will be the one who will try to start a contact. I hope that Lele doesn’t get hurt because I don’t trust Beltrán at all. He is a vicious, lewd man, and Lele is quite sweet and innocent.
Apart from that, Beltrán gets a letter from Isabelino Ruiz, a man who once talked to him at a party he attended in Madrid. At the time Isabelino mentioned that he knew quite a lot about Beltrán, and he even heard about one of the women Beltrán had been with who had tried to report him to the police, and it was thanks to this man and his people that the woman didn’t report him. Now it is clear that Isabelino wants to get paid for services rendered, and he wants money for the ultra Catholic party that they have created (Acción Nacional). Beltrán tries to stall him, reasoning he has to consult the other members of the board. Yet, Isabelino has come prepared and has arguments to counteract this opposition, and uses the measures Beltrán resorted to for the end of the strike, which he did without any consultation. Then Isabelino shows him some compromising pictures about his cousin, Jaime, which clearly shows that the man is gay, and Isabelino states that he and his people won’t hesitate to use those photographs, which will mean prison and high fines. So in the end Beltrán is forced to acquiesce and give this horrible man the money he wants.
What terrible times!!! I am so glad I wasn’t born then!!!