MIRACLE IN SEVILLE
James A. Michener
The Virgin Mary goes to bat for a Spanish rancher of fighting bulls while a Gypsy fortune-teller summons what dark forces she can on behalf of her cowardly matador brother--in this rather pallid little fable-cum-novella from the many-volumed Michener. There was a time when the Mota family raised fighting bulls among the finest in Spain--and fate, now, has given the aging Don Cayetano Mota a last chance to bring glory back by showing that his ranch can once again fulfill his family's old dream of breeding great "[bulls] of honor who will pull no surprises in the ring." Trouble brews, though, in the form of the bad-charactered matador Lzaro Lopez, whose cowardice often makes even the best of bulls look undistinguished--and who has long held a grudging and suspicious animosity toward Don Cayetano and the Mota bulls. Everything rides on how well the animals will fight in the great Eastertime festival in Seville, and while Don Cayetano does acts of public penance and fervently offers prayers to the Virgin, the erratic and cowardly Lzaro grows only more suspicious--until he accuses Don Cayetano of having "bewitched" his bulls: "'I've discovered your secret, you agent of the devil. You'll not kill me with your witchcraft bulls. Not me!'" And so who, if anyone, will die? And will the bulls be brave? The story is told by an American writer who befriends Don Cayetano; learns much about bullfighting and bulls; hears and sees miracles (the Virgin moves, glows, and speaks); and who even meets the fortune-teller Magdalena Lopez, Lzaro's dark and smolderingly beautiful sister, who reveals that once the Mota bulls enter the ring, what will happen is... But heaven forfend the telling, except that, yes, there will be both life and death, honor and indignity. Slight, short, harmless, effortless, sometimes informative, and bland.