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Title: Four Months Afoot in Spain
Author: Franck, Harry Alverson, 1881-1962
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Cover]



[Illustration: Map showing the author’s itinerary]



                            HARRY A. FRANCK



                           FOUR MONTHS AFOOT
                                IN SPAIN



                    GARDEN CITY PUBLISHING CO., INC,
                         GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK



                COPYRIGHT 1911, BY THE CENTURY CO.  ALL
             RIGHTS RESERVED.  PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
             AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.



                               A FOREWORD


Yet another story of travels in western Europe, especially one having
for its basis the mere random wanderings of a four-months’ absence from
home, may seem almost to call for apology.  If so, it is hereby duly
tendered.  What befell me on this vacation jaunt is no story of
harrowing adventure, nor yet a record of the acquisition of new facts.
But as I covered a thousand miles of the Iberian peninsula on foot,
twice that distance by third-class rail, and am given to mingling with
"the masses," it may be that there have filtered into the following
pages some facts and impressions that will be new to the reader. Yet it
is less to record these that I have written, than to answer a question
that has often been put to me since my return:

"How can a man make such a journey on $172?"

THE AUTHOR.



                                CONTENTS

CHAPTER


      I. A ’Tweendecks Journey
     II. Footpaths of Andalusia
    III. The Last Foothold of the Moor
     IV. The Banks of the Guadalquivir
      V. The Torero at Home
     VI. Tramping Northward
    VII. Spanish Roads and Roadsters
   VIII. On the Road in La Mancha
     IX. The Trail of the Priest
      X. Shadows of the Philips
     XI. Crumbling Cities
    XII. Wildest Spain
   XIII. The Land of the Basque
    XIV. A Descent into Aragon
     XV. Emigrating Homeward



                       FOUR MONTHS AFOOT IN SPAIN



                               CHAPTER I

                         A ’TWEENDECKS JOURNEY


Not the least of the virtues of the private schools of New York City is
the length of their summer vacations.  It was an evening late in May
that I mounted to my lodgings in Hartley Hall, rollicksome with the
information that I should soon be free from professional duties a full
four months. Where I preferred to spend that term of freedom was easily
decided.  Except for one migratory "year off," I had not been so long
outside a classroom since my fifth birthday; and it seemed fully as far
back that I had begun to dream of tramping through Spain.  If the desire
had in earlier days battened on mere curiosity, it found more rational
nourishment now in my hope of acquiring greater fluency in the Spanish
tongue, the teaching of which, with other European languages, was the
source of my livelihood.

There was one potent obstacle, however, to my jubilant planning.  When I
had set aside the smallest portion of my savings that could tide me over
the first month of autumn, there was left a stark one hundred and
seventy-two dollars.  The briefest of mathematical calculations
demonstrated that such a sum could cover but scantily one hundred and
twenty days.  Yet the blithesome project would not be put to rout by
mere figures.  I had been well schooled at least in the art of spending
sparingly; with a long summer before me I was not averse to a bit of
adventure, even the adventure of falling penniless in foreign lands.  A
permanent stranding was easily averted--I had but to leave in trust a
sum sufficient for repatriation, to be forwarded to whatever corner of
the globe insolvency might overhaul me.  Which, being done, I pocketed
in express checks and cash the remainder of my resources--to-wit, one
hundred and thirty-two dollars--tossed into a battered suit-case a
summer’s supply of small clothes and a thread-bare costume for ship
wear, and set out to discover what portion of the Iberian peninsula
might be surveyed with such equipment.

Thus it was that on the morning of June first I boarded the "L" as usual
at One Hundred and Sixteenth street; but took this time the west side
express instead of the local that screeches off at Fifty-third into the
heart of the city.  A serge suit of an earlier vintage and double-soled
oxfords were the chief articles of my attire, reduced already to Spanish
simplicity except for the fleckless collar and the cracked derby I had
donned for the flight through exacting Manhattan.  As for the suitcase
that rocked against the platform gate as we roared southward, it was
still far from a pedestrian’s scrip. For with the ambitious resolution
to rectify during the long sea voyage before me some of the sins of
omission, I had stuffed into it at the last moment a dozen classic
volumes in Sixth-avenue bindings.

"Christ’fer!" croaked the guard.

I descended to the street and threaded my way to the ferry.  Across the
river Hoboken was thronged with luggage-laden mankind, swarthy sons and
daughters of toil for the most part; an eddying stream of which the
general trend was toward a group of steamship docks.  With it I was
borne into a vast two-story pier, strewn below with everything that
ships transport across the seas and resounding above with the voice of
an excited multitude.  Near the center of the upper wharf stood an
isolated booth bearing a transient sign-board:

                            "SCHNELLDAMPFER.
                           PRINZESSIN ----."


Within, sat a coatless, broad-gauge Teuton, puffing at a stogie.

"Third-class to Gibraltar," I requested, stooping to peer through the
wicket.

The German reached mechanically for a pen and began to fill in a leaf of
what looked like a large check-book.  Then he paused and squinted out
upon me:

Ah--er--you mean _steerage_?"

"Steerage, mein Herr; to Gibraltar."

He signed the blue check and pushed it toward me, still holding it
firmly by one corner.

"Thirty dollars and fifty cents," he rumbled.

I paid it and, ticket in hand, wormed my way to the nearer of two
gangways.  Here I was repulsed; but at the second, an officer of
immaculate exterior but for two very bleary eyes, tore off a corner of
the blue check and jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the steamer
behind him.  As I set foot on her deck a seaman sprang up suddenly from
the scuppers and hurled at my chest a tightly rolled blanket.  I caught
it without a fumble, having once dabbled in football, and, spreading it
out on a hatch, disclosed to view a deep tin plate, a huge cup, a knife,
fork and spoon of leaden hue, and a red card announcing itself as "Buono
per una razione."

A hasty inspection of the _Prinzessen_ ---- confirmed a suspicion that
she would not offer the advantages of the steamers plying the northern
route. She was a princess indeed, a sailor’s princess, such as he may
find who has the stomach to search in the dives along West street or
down on the lower Bowery.  At her launching she had, perhaps, justified
her christening; but long years have passed since she was degraded to
the unfastidious southern service.

The steerage section, congested now with disheveled Latins and cumbrous
bundles, comprised the forward main deck, bounded on the bow by the
forecastlehead and aft by an iron wall that rose a sheer eight feet to
the first-class promenade, above which opened the hurricane deck and
higher still the wheelhouse and bridge.  This space was further limited
by two large hatchways, covered with tarpaulins, of which a corner of
each was thrown back to disclose two dark holes like the mouths of a
mine.  By these one entered the third-class quarters, of which the
forward was assigned to "single men" and the other to any species of the
human race that does not fall into that category.  I descended the first
by a perpendicular ladder to a dungeon where all but utter darkness
reigned.  As my eyes accustomed themselves to this condition, there grew
up about me row after row of double-decked bunks, heaped with indistinct
shapes.  I approached the nearest and was confronted by two wolfish
eyes, then another pair and another flashed up about me on every side.
My foresighted fellow-passengers, having preëmpted sleeping-space, were
prepared to hold their claims by force of arms--and baggage.

Every berth seemed to be taken.  I meandered in and out among them until
in a far corner I found one empty; but as I laid a hand upon its edge, a
cadaverous youth sprang at me with a plaintive whine, "E mío! è mío!"  I
returned to the central space.  A sweater-clad sailor whom I had not
made out before was standing at the edge of an opening in the deck
similar to that above.

"Qui non ch’ è più," he said; "Giù!"

I descended accordingly to a second bridewell below the water-line and
lighted only by a feeble electric bulb in the ceiling.  Here half the
bunks were unoccupied.  I chose one athwartships against the forward
bulkhead--a wooden bin containing a burlap sack of straw--tossed into it
blanket and baggage, and climbed again to daylight and fresh air.

At eleven the sepulchral bass of the steamer sounded, the vast pier,
banked with straining faces and fluttering handkerchiefs, began slowly
to recede, sweeping with it the adjoining city, until all Hoboken had
joined in the flight to the neighboring hills.  We were off.  I pitched
overboard the cracked derby and crowded with a half-thousand others to
the rail, eager for the long-anticipated pleasure of watching the
inimitable panorama of New York grow smaller and smaller and melt away
on the horizon.  But we were barely abreast the Battery when three
officers, alleging the impossibility of checking their human cargo on
the open deck, ordered the entire steerage community below. When, long
after, it came my turn to be released, my native land was utterly
effaced, and the deck was spattering with a chilling rain before which
we retreated and frittered away the remnant of the day with amical
advances and bachelor banter.

In the morning the scene was transformed. Almost without exception my
fellow-voyagers had changed from the somber garb of America to the
picturesque comfort of their first landing in the Western world.  The
steerage deck, flooded with sunshine, resembled the _piazza_ of some
Calabrian city on a day of festival.  Women in many-hued vesture and
brilliant _fazzoletti_ sat in groups on the hatches, suckling their
babes or mirthful over their knitting.  Along the rail lounged men in
bag-like trousers and tight-fitting jackets of velveteen, with broad
scarlet sashes.  Jaunty, deep-chested youths strolled fore and aft
angling for glances from winsome eyes.  Unromantic elders squatted in
circles about the deck, screaming over games of mora; in and out among
them all raced sportive bambini. High up on a winch sat a slender fellow
Turkish fashion, thumbing a zither.

Though there was not one beside myself to whom that tongue was native,
English was still the dominating language.  Except for a handful of
Greeks, the entire ’tweendecks company hailed from southern Italy or her
islands.  But force of habit or linguistic pride still gave full sway to
the slang-strewn speech of east New York or the labor camp.  There were
not a few who might have expressed themselves far more clearly in some
other medium, yet when I addressed them in Italian silence was
frequently the response.  The new world was still too close astern to
give way to the spell of the old.

But it was in their mother tongue that I exchanged the first confidences
with three young men with whom I passed many an hour during the journey.
The mightiest was Antonio Massarone, a vociferous giant of twenty, whose
scorn was unbounded for those of his race who had pursued fortune no
further than the over-peopled cities of our eastern coast.  Emigration
had carried him to the mines of Nevada, and it was seldom that he
refrained from patting his garnished waistband when tales of experience
were exchanging.  But the time had come when he must give up his
princely wage of three dollars a day and return for years of drudgery
and drill at as many cents, or forever forfeit the right to dwell in his
native land.  When his term was ended he would again turn westward;
before that glad day comes what a stalwart task confronts certain
officers of the Italian army!

Nicolò, too, expected to return.  In fact, of all the steerage community
a very few had resolved to remain at home, and for each of these there
were a score who had emigrated a half-dozen times in the face of similar
resolutions.  Nicolò was a bootblack, proud of his calling and envious
of no other. Already there hovered in his day dreams a three-chair
"parlor" in which his station should be nearest the door and bordering
on the cash-register.  Conscription called him also, but he approached
the day of recruiting light of heart, knowing a man of four feet nine
would be quickly rejected.

As for Pietro Scerbo, the last of our quartet, his home-coming was
voluntary, for the family obligation to the army had already been
fulfilled by two older brothers.  Pietro had spent his eighteen months
kneading spaghetti dough in the Bronx at seven dollars a week; and he
physically quaked at the sarcasm of ’Tonio on the subject of wages.
Still he was by no means returning empty-handed.  "To be sure, I am not
rich with gold, like ’Tonio," he confessed one day, when the miner was
out of earshot, "but I have spent only what I must--two dollars in the
boarding-house, sometimes some clothes, and in the winter each week six
lire to hear Caruso."

Thirty dollars a month and the peerless-voiced a necessity of life!  I,
too, had been a frequent "standee" at the Metropolitan, yet had as often
charged myself with being an extravagant young rascal.

The steerage rations on the _Prinzessin_ were in no way out of keeping
with her general unattractiveness. Those who kept to their bunks until
expelled by the seaman whose duties included the daily fumigation of the
dungeons, were in no way the losers for being deprived of the infantile
roll and the strange imitation of coffee that made up the European
breakfast. Sea breezes bring appetite, however, especially on a faintly
rippling ocean, and it was not strange that, though the dinner-hour came
early, even racial lethargy fled at its announcement.  Long before noon
a single jangle of the steward’s bell cut short all morning pastimes and
instantly choked the passages to the lower regions with a clamorous,
jocose struggle of humanity as those on deck dived below for their
meal-hour implements and collided with the foresighted, fighting their
way up the ladders. Once disentangled, we filed by the mouth of the
culinary cavern under the forecastlehead, to receive each a ladleful of
the particular pièce de résistance of the day, a half-grown loaf of
bread, and a brimming cupful of red wine.  Thus laden, each squirmed his
way through the multitude and made table of whatever space offered,--on
the edge of a hatch, the drum of a winch, or on the deck itself.
Unvaryingly day by day boiled beef alternated with pork and beans.  Then
there was macaroni, not alternately, nor yet moderately, but
ubiquitously, fourteen days a week; for supper was in no way different
from dinner even in the unearthly hour of its serving.  It was tolerably
coarse macaroni, but otherwise no worse than omnipresent macaroni must
be when boiled by the barrel under the watchful eye of a rotund,
torpescent, bath-fearing, tobacco-loving, Neapolitan ship’s cook.  For
the wine we were supremely grateful; not that it was particularly good
wine, but such as it was not even the pirates in the galley could make
it worse.

The ensembled climax of this daily extravaganza, however, had for its
setting the steerage "washroom," an iron cell furnished with two
asthmatic salt-water faucets.  To it dashed first the long experienced
in the quick-lunch world, and on their heels the competing multitude.
The ’tweendecks strongholds housed six hundred, the "wash-room" six,
whence it goes without saying that the minority was always in power and
the majority howling for admittance and a division of the spoils.  Yet
dissension, as is wont, was rampant even among the sovereign.  From
within sounded the splashing of water, the tittering of jostled damsels,
or the shouting for passage of one who had resigned his post and must
run the gauntlet to freedom through a vociferous raillery.  In due time
complete rotation in office was accomplished, but it was ever a late
hour when the last gourmand emerged from the alleyway and carried his
dripping utensils below.

The _Prinzessin_ plowed steadily eastward.  Gradually, as the scent of
the old world came stronger to our nostrils, the tongue of the West fell
into disuse. Had I been innocent of Italian I must soon have lost all
share in the general activities.  As it was, I had the entrée to each
group; even the solemn socialists, seated together behind the winch
planning the details of the portending reversal of society, did not
lower their voices as I passed.

How little akin are anticipation and realization! Ever before on the
high seas it had been my part to labor unceasingly among cattle pens or
to bear the moil of watch and watch; and the unlimited leisure of the
ticketed had seemed always fit object for envy.  Yet here was I myself
at last crossing the Atlantic as a passenger, and weary already of this
forced inactivity before the voyage was well begun.  The first full day,
to be sure, had passed delightfully, dozing care-free in the sun or
striding through the top-most volume in my luggage.  But before the
second was ended reading became a bore; idling more fatiguing than the
wielding of a coal-shovel.  On the third, I sauntered down into the
forecastle more than half inclined to suggest to one of its inmates a
reversal of rôles; but the watch below greeted me with that chill
disdain accorded mere passengers, never once lapsing into the masculine
banter that would have marked my acceptance as an equal.  As a last
resort I set off on long pedestrian tours of the deck, to the
astonishment of the lounging Latins, though now and then some youth
inoculated with the restlessness of the West, notably ’Tonio, fell in
with me for a mile or two.

It was the miner, too, who first accepted my challenge to a bout of
hand-wrestling and quickly brought me undeserved fame by sprawling prone
on his back, when, had he employed a tithe of science, he might have
tossed me into the scuppers.  From the moment of its introduction this
exotic pastime won great popularity.  Preliminary jousts filled the
morning hours; toward evening the hatches were transformed into
grandstands from which the assembled third-class populace cheered on the
panting contestants and greeted each downfall with a cannonade of
laughter, in which even the vanquished joined.

More constant and universal than all else, however, was the demand for
music.  The most diffident possessor of a mouth-organ or a jew’s-harp
knew no peace during his waking hours.  Great was the joy when, as dusk
was falling on the second day out, a Calabrian who had won fortune and
corpulence as a grocer in Harlem, clambered on deck, straining
affectionately to his bosom a black box with megaphone attachment.

"E un fonógrafo," he announced proudly; "a present I take to the old
madre at home."  He warded off with his elbows the exultant uprising and
deposited the instrument tenderly on a handkerchief spread by his wife
on a corner of the hatch.  "For a hundred dollars, signori!" he cried;
"Madre di Dío!  How she will wonder if there is a little man in the box!
For on the first day, signori, I do not tell her how the music is put in
the fonógrafo, ha! ha! ha! not for a whole day!"--and the joke came
perilously near to choking him into apoplexy long before its
perpetration.

A turn of the key and the apparatus struck up "La donna è móbile," the
strikingly clear tones floating away on the evening air to blend with
the wash of the sea on our bow.  A hush fell over the forward deck; into
the circle of faces illumed by the swinging ship’s lantern crept the
mirage of dreams; a sigh sounded in the black night of the outskirts.

"E Bonci, amici," whispered the Calabrian as the last note died away.

The announcement was superfluous; no one else could have sung the
sprightly little lyric with such perfection.

Bits of other operas followed, plantation melodies, and the monologues
of witty Irishmen; but always the catholic instrument came back to "La
donna è móbile," and one could lean back on one’s elbows and fancy the
dapper little tenor standing in person on the corner of the hatch,
pouring out his voice to his own appreciative people.

Thereafter as regularly as the twilight appeared the Calabrian with his
"fonógrafo."  The forward deck took to sleeping by day that the evening
musicale might be prolonged into the small hours. Whatever its
imperfections, the little black box did much to charm away the monotony
of the voyage, in its early stages.

But good fortune is rarely perennial.  One night in mid-Atlantic a
first-class passenger of the type that adds, by contrast, to the
attractiveness of the steerage, his arms about the waists of two damsels
old enough to have known better, paused to hang over the rail.  Bonci
was singing.  The promenader surveyed the oblivious multitude below in
silence until the aria ended, then turned on his heel with a snort of
contempt.  The maidens giggled, the affectionate trio strolled aft, and
a moment later the cabin piano was jangling a Broadway favorite.  When I
turned my head the Calabrian was closing his instrument.

"No, amici, no more," he said as protest rose; "We must not annoy the
rich signori up there."

Nor could he be moved to open the apparatus again as long as the voyage
lasted.

Amid the general merriment of home-coming was here and there a note of
sadness in the caverns of the _Prinzessin_.  On a hatch huddled day by
day, when, the sun was high, a family of three, doomed to early
extinction by the white-faced scourge of the north. Below, it was
whispered, lay an actress once famous in the Italian quarter, matched in
a race with death to her native village.  A toil-worn Athenian, on
life’s down grade, who had been robbed on the very eve of sailing of
seven years’ earnings of pick and shovel, tramped the deck from dawn to
midnight with sunken head, refusing either food or drink. Now and again
he stepped to the rail to shake his knotted fist at the western horizon,
stretched his arms on high, and took up again his endless march.

Then there were the deported--seven men whose berths were not far from
my own.  One had shown symptoms of trachoma; another bore the mark of a
bullet through one hand; a third was a very Hercules, whom the port
doctors had pronounced flawless, but who had landed with four dollars
less than the twenty-five required.  With this single exception,
however, one could not but praise the judgment of Ellis Island.  The
remaining four were dwarfish Neapolitans, little more than wharf rats;
and the best of Naples bring little that is desirable.  Yet one could
not but pity the unpleasing little wretches, who had risen so far above
their environment as to save money in a place where money is bought
dearly, and whose only reward for years of repression of every appetite
had been a month of misery and frustration.

"Porca di Madonna!" cursed the nearest, pointing to three small blue
scars on his neck; "For nothing but these your infernal doctors have
made me a beggar!"

"On the sea, when it was too late," whined his companion, "they told me
we with red eyes should not go to New York, but to a city named Canada.
Madre dí Dío!  Why did I not take my ticket to this Canada?"

"You will next time?" I hinted.

"Next time!" he shrieked, dropping from his bunk as noiselessly as a
cat.  "Is there a next time with a book like that?"  He shook in my face
the libretto containing a record of his activities since birth, lacking
which no Italian of the proletariat may live in peace in his own land
nor embark for another.  Across every page was stamped indelibly the
word "deported."

"They ruined it, curse them!  It’s something in your maledetta American
language that tells the police not to let me go and the agenzia not to
sell me a ticket.  My book is destroyed!  Sono scomunicato!  And where
shall I get the money for this next time, díceme?  To come to America I
have worked nine, ten, sangue della Vergine! how do I know how many
years!  Why did I not take the ticket to this Canada?"

On the morning of June seventh we raised the Azores; at first the
dimmest blot on the horizon, a point or two off the starboard bow, as if
the edge of heaven had been salt-splashed by a turbulent wave. Excited
dispute arose in the throng that quickly mustered at the rail.  All but
the nautical-eyed saw only a cloud, which in a twinkling the hysterical
had pronounced the forerunner of a howling tempest that was soon to
bring to the _Prinzessin_ the dreaded _mal di mare_, perhaps even
ununctioned destruction. One quaking father drove his family below and
barricaded his corner against the tornado-lashed night to come.

An hour brought reassurance, however, and with it jubilation as the
outpost of the eastern world took on corporate form.  Before sunset we
were abreast the island.  An oblong hillside sloped upward to a
cloud-cowled peak.  Villages rambled away up tortuous valleys; here and
there the green was dotted with chalk-white houses and whiter churches.
Higher still the island was mottled with duodecimo fields of grain, each
maturing in its own season; while far and near brilliant red windmills,
less stolid and thick-set than those of Holland, toiled in the breeze,
not hurriedly but with a deliberate vivacity befitting the Latin south.
Most striking of all was a scent of profoundest peace that came even to
the passing ship, and a suggestion of eternal summer, not of burning
days and sultry nights, but of early June in some fairy realm utterly
undisturbed by the clamorous rumble of the outer world.

Two smaller islands appeared before the day was done, one to port so
near that we could count the cottage windows and all but make out the
features of skirt-blown peasant women standing firm-footed in deep green
meadows against a background of dimming hills.  As the night descended,
the houses faded to twinkling lights, now in clusters, now a
stone’s-throw one from another, but not once failing as long as we
remained on deck.

For two days following the horizon was unbroken. Then through the
morning mists of June tenth rose Cabo San Vicente, the scowling granite
corner-stone of Europe, every line of its time-scarred features a
defiance to the sea and a menace to the passerby. Beyond stretched a
wrinkled, verdureless plateau, to all appearances unpeopled, and falling
into the Atlantic in grim, oxide-stained cliffs that here advanced
within hailing distance, there retreated to the hazy horizon.  All
through the day the world’s commerce filed past,--water-logged tramps
crawling along the face of the land, whale-like oil tanks showing only a
dorsal fin of funnel and deck-house, East Indiamen straining Biscayward,
and all the smaller fry of fishermen and coasters.  A rumor, rising no
one knew where, promised that early morning should find us entering the
Mediterranean.  I subsidized the services of a fellow-voyager dexterous
with shears and razor and, reduced to a tuft of forelock, descended once
more to the lower dungeon.

Long before daylight I was awakened by the _commissario_, or steerage
steward, tugging at a leg of my trousers and screeching in his boyish
falsetto, "Gibiltèrra!  Make ready!  Gibiltèrra!"  It was no part of the
commissario’s duties to call third-class passengers.  But ever since the
day he had examined my ticket, the little whisp of a man who never
ceased to regard me with suspicion, as if he doubted the sanity of a
traveler who was bound for a land that was neither Italy nor America.
Of late he seemed convinced that my professed plan was merely a ruse to
reach Naples without paying full fare, and he eyed me askance now as I
clambered from my bunk, in his pigwidgeon face a stern determination
that my knavery should not succeed.

Supplied with a bucket by a sailor, I climbed on deck and approached the
galley.  The cook was snoring in a corner of his domain; his understudy
was nowhere to be seen.  I tip-toed to the hot-water faucet and was soon
below again stripping off my "ship’s clothes," which the obliging
seaman, having bespoken this reward, caught up one by one as they fell.
The splashing of water aroused the encircling sleepers.  Gradually they
slid to the deck and gathered around me, inquiring the details of my
eccentric plan.  By the time I was dressed in the best my suitcase
offered, every mortal in the "single" quarters had come at least once to
bid me a dubious farewell.

The commissario returned and led the way in silence along the deserted
promenade to the deck abaft the cabins.  The _Prinzessin_ lay at anchor.
A half-mile away, across a placid lagoon, towered the haggard Rock of
Gibraltar, a stone-faced city strewn along its base.  About the harbor,
glinting in the slanting sunlight, prowled rowboats, sloops, and yawls,
and sharp-nosed launches.  One of the latter soon swung in against the
starboard ladder and there stepped on deck two men in white uniforms,
who seated themselves without a word at a table which the commissario
produced by some magic of his own, and fell to spreading out impressive
documents.  A glance sufficed to recognize them Englishmen.  At length
the older raised his head with an interrogatory jerk, and the
commissario, with the air of a man taken red-handed in some rascality,
minced forward and laid on the table a great legal blank with one line
scrawled across it.

"T ’ird classy maneefesto, signori," he apologized.

"Eh!" cried the Englishman.  "A steerage passenger for Gibraltar?"

The steward jerked his head backward toward me.

"Humph!" said the spokesman, inspecting me from crown to toe.  "Where do
you hail from?"

Before I could reply there swarmed down the companionway a host of cabin
passengers, in port-of-call array, whom the Englishman greeted with
bared head and his broadest welcome-to-our-city smile; then bowed to the
launch ladder.  As he resumed his chair I laid my passport before him.

"For what purpose do you desire to land in Gibraltar?" he demanded.

"I am bound for Spain--" I began.

"Spain!" shouted the Briton, with such emphasis as if that land lay at
the far ends of the earth. "Indeed!  Where are you going from Gibraltar,
and how soon?"

"Until I get ashore I can hardly say; in a day or so, at least; to
Granada, perhaps, or Málaga."

"Out of respect for the American passport," replied the Englishman
grandiloquently, "I am going to let you land.  But see you stick to this
story."

I descended to the launch and ten minutes later landed with my haughty
fellow-tourists at a bawling, tout-lined wharf.  An officer peeped into
my handbag, and I sauntered on through a fortress gate under which a
sun-scorched Tommy Atkins marched unremittingly to and fro.  Beyond,
opened a narrow street, paralleling the harbor front and peopled even at
this early hour with a mingling of races that gave to the scene the
aspect of a temperate India, or a scoured and rebuilt Egypt.  Sturdy
British troopers in snug khaki and roof-like tropical helmets strode
past; bare-legged Moors in flowing _bournous_ stalked by in the widening
streak of sunshine along the western walls; the tinkle of goat-bells
mingled with the rhythmic cries of their drivers, offering a cup
fresh-drawn to whomever possessed a copper; now an orange woman hobbled
by, chanting her wares; everywhere flitted swarthy little men in misfit
rags, with small baskets of immense strawberries which sold for a song
to all but the tourists who tailed out behind me.

Suddenly, a furlong beyond the gate, a signboard flashed down upon me,
and I turned instinctively in at the open door of the "Seaman’s
Institute."  I found myself in a sort of restaurant, with here and there
a pair of England’s soldiers at table, and a towsled youth of darker
tint hanging over the bar.  I commanded ham and eggs; when they were
served the youth dropped into the chair opposite and, leaning on his
elbows, smiled speechlessly upon me, as if the sight of an unfamiliar
face brought him extraordinary pleasure.

"Room to put me up?" I asked.

"Nothin’ much else but room," sighed the youth, in the slurring speech
of the Anglo-Spanish half-cast, "but the super ’s not up yet, an’ I ’m
only the skittles."

I left my baggage in his keeping and, roaming on through the rapidly
warming city to the Alameda Gardens, clambered away the day on the
blistered face of the great Rock above.

The "super," a flabby-muscled tank of an Englishman, was lolling out the
evening among his clients when I reëntered the Institute.  My request
for lodging roused him but momentarily from his lethargy.

"Sign off here?" he drawled.

"Left the _Prinzessin_ this morning," I answered, suddenly reminded that
I was no longer a seaman prepared to produce my discharge-book on
demand.

"A.B., eh?"

"Been before the mast on the _Warwickshire_, _Glen_--"

"All right.  A bob a night is our tax.  But no smoking aloft," he added,
as I dropped a coin on the table before him.

"’Ow ye like Gib?" asked the half-cast, leading the way up a narrow
stairway.

"Like it," I replied.

"Yes, they all does," he mourned, "for one day. But ’ow if you ’ad
always to bask on the stewin’ old Rock, like a bally lizard?  Saint
Patrick!  If only some toff ’ud pay me a ticket to America!"

He entered a great room, divided by thin wooden partitions into a score
of small ones, and, tramping down a hallway, lighted me into the last
chamber. Opposite the cot was a tall window with heavy wooden blinds.  I
flung them open and leaned out over the _reja_; and all at once,
unheralded, the Spain of my dreams leaped into reality.  Below, to one
side, flowed the murmuring stream of Gibraltar’s main thoroughfare;
further away the flat-roofed city descended in moonlit indistinctness
into the Mediterranean.  From a high-walled garden a pebble-toss away
and canopied with fragrant fruit-trees, rose the twang of a guitar and a
man’s clear voice singing a languorous air of Andalusia.  Now and again
a peal of laughter broke on the night and drifted away on the wings of
the indolent sea-breeze. I rolled a cigarette and lighted it pensively,
not in contempt for the "super’s" orders, but because some transgression
of established law seemed the only fitting celebration of the
untrammeled summer that was opening before me.



                               CHAPTER II

                         FOOTPATHS OF ANDALUSIA


Gibraltar rises early.  Proof of the assertion may be lacking, but
certainly not even a "Rock lizard" could recompose himself for another
nap after the passing of the crashing military band that snatched me at
daybreak back to the waking world.  With one bound I sprang from cot to
window.  But there was no ground for alarm; in gorge-like Waterport
street below, Thomas Atkins, a regiment strong, was marching briskly
barrackward, sweeping the flotsam of civilian life into the nooks and
crannies of the flanking buildings.

According to the Hoyle of travelers a glimpse of Morocco was next in
order.  But with the absurdity of things inanimate and Oriental both the
Tangiers steamers were scheduled to loll out the day in harbor. When
"Skittles" had again stowed away my chattels, I drifted aimlessly out
into the city.  But the old eagerness to tread Spanish soil was soon
upon me, heightened now by the sight of Algeciras gleaming across the
bay.  The harbor steamer would have landed me there a mere peseta
poorer.  Instead, I sauntered through the Landport gate and away along
the shifting highway which the Holder of the Rock has dubbed, in his
insular tongue, the "Road to Spain."

It led me past the double rank of sentry boxes between which soldiers of
England tramp everlastingly, and into bandit-famed La Linea.  A Spaniard
in rumpled uniform scowled out upon me from the first stone hovel, but,
finding me empty-handed, as silently withdrew.  I turned westward
through the disjointed town and out upon the curving shore of the bay.

Here was neither highway nor path.  Indeed, were each Spanish minute
tagged with a Broadway price-mark, the peseta would have been dearly
saved, for the apparent proximity of Algeciras had been but a tricking
of the eye.  Hour after hour I waded on through seashore sand, halting
now and then in the shadow of some time-gnawed watch-tower of the
departed Moor, before me such a survey of the shimmering sea to the very
base of the hazy African coast as amply to justify the setting of an
outlook on this jutting headland.

The modern guardian of the coast dwells more lowly.  Every here and
there I came upon a bleached and tattered grass hut just out of reach of
the languid surf, and under it a no less ragged and listless
_carabinero_ squatted in Arabic pose and tranquillity, musket within
reach, or frankly and audibly asleep on his back in the sand.  Yet his
station, too, was wisely chosen.  The watch and ward of to-day is set
for no war-trimmed galley from the rival continent, but against petty
smugglers skulking along the rim of the bay.  Nor could the guard better
spend his day than asleep: his work falls at night.

It was the hour of _siesta_ when I shuffled up a sandy bank into
Algeciras.  Except for a cur or two that slunk with wilted tail across
the plaza, the town lay in sultry repose.  I sat down in a shaded corner
of the square.  Above me nodded the aged city tower, housing the
far-famed and often-cursed bell of Algeciras.  Recently, which is to say
some time during the past century, it was cracked from rim to crown; and
the city fathers have not yet taken up the question of its replacement.
Meanwhile, it continues afflictingly faithful to its task.  At
quarter-hourly intervals it clanked out across the bay like the
suspended hull of a battleship beaten with the butt of a cannon, a
languid sigh rose over the drowsing city, and silence settled down anew.

As the shadows spread, life revived, slowly and yawningly at first, then
swelling to a contrasting merry-making that reached its climax toward
midnight in the festooned streets beyond the plaza. Algeciras was
celebrating her annual _feria_. Somewhere I fell in with a carpenter in
blouse and hemp sandals, whose Spanish flowed musically as a woodland
brook, and together we sauntered out the evening among the lighted
booths.  The amusement mongers were toiling lustily.  Gypsy and clown,
_bolerina_, juggler, and ballad-singer drew each his little knot of
idlers, but a multitude was massed only around the gambling tables.
Here a hubbub of excited voices assailed the ear; an incessant rain of
coins fell on the green cloth, from the ragged and the tailored, from
quavering crones and little children.  The carpenter dived into the fray
with his only peseta, screaming with excitement as the wheel stopped on
the number he had played.  Within an hour a pocket of his blouse was
bulging with silver. I caught him by the sleeve and shouted a word in
his ear.  Wild horses could not have dragged him away, nor the voices of
sirens have distracted his eyes from the spinning trundle.  A half-hour
later he did not possess a copper.

"If you had listened," I said, when we had reached a conversational
distance, "you would not have lost your fortune."

"What fortune!" he panted.  "All I have lost, señor, is one peseta, and
had an evening of a lifetime."

I caught the morning steamer to Gibraltar and an hour later was pitching
across the neck of the Mediterranean on board the _Gebel Dersa_.
Third-class fare to Africa was one peseta; first-class, ten; and the
difference in accommodation about forty feet,--to wit, the distance from
the forward to the afterdeck. One peseta, indeed, seemed to be the fixed
charge for any service in this corner of the world. My evening meal, the
night’s lodging, the boatman’s fee for setting me aboard the steamer had
each cost as much.  It would be as easy to quote a fixed selling-price
for mining-stocks as to set the value of that delusive Spanish coin.
The summer’s average, however, was close upon sixteen cents for the
peseta, of which the _céntimo_ is the hundredth part.  There are at
large, be it further noted, a vast number of home-made pesetas worth
just sixteen cents less, which show great affinity for the stranger’s
pocket until such time as he learns to emulate the native and sound each
coin on the stone set into every counter.

It was while we were skirting the calcined town of Tarifa that I made
the acquaintance of Aghmed Shat.  The introduction was not of my
seeking--but of the ingratiating ways of Aghmed I need say nothing,
known as he is by every resident of our land.  At least I can recall no
fellow-countryman whose visiting-card he did not dig up from the abysmal
confusion of his inner garments.

To that host of admirers it will bring grief to learn that Aghmed was
most unjustly treated aboard the _Gebel Dersa_ on that blistering
thirteenth day of June.  Yet facts must be reported.  It chanced that
the dozen Anglo-Saxons sprawled ungracefully about the after-deck
composed, at such times as composure was possible, a single party.  As
all the world knows, it is for no other purpose than to offer the
protection of his name and learning to just such defenseless flocks that
the high-born Moroccan gentleman in question has been journeying thrice
weekly to the Rock these thirty years.  Yet the bellwether of the party,
blind to his opportunity, had chosen as guide an ignorant, vile, ugly,
utterly unprincipled rascal whose only motive was mercenary. True,
Aghmed and the rascal were outwardly as alike as two bogus pesetas.  But
surely any man worthy the title of personal conductor should be versed
in the reading of character, or at least able to distinguish between
genuine testimonials from the world’s élite and a parcel of bald
forgeries!  Worst of all, the leader, with that stiff-neckedness
congenital to his race, had persisted in his error even after Aghmed had
recounted in full detail the rascal’s crimes.  Small wonder there was
dejection in the face of the universally-recommended as he crossed the
pitching plank that connected the first-class with the baser world, his
skirts threshing in the wind, his turban awry.

At sight of me, however, he brightened visibly. With outstretched hand
and a wan smile he minuetted forward and seated himself on the hatch
beside me with the unobtrusive greeting:

"Why for you travel third-class?"

The question struck me as superfluous.  But it is as impossible to scowl
down Aghmed’s spirit of investigation as to stare him into believing an
American a Spaniard.  By the time the valleys of the African coast had
begun to take on individuality, I had heard not only the full story of
his benevolent life but had refused for the twentieth time his
disinterested offer of protection.  Nature, however, made Aghmed a
guardian of his fellow-man, as she has made other hapless mortals poets;
and her commands must be carried out at whatever sacrifice.  Gradually,
slowly, sadly, the "souvenir" which "americano gentlemen" were
accustomed to bestow upon him with their farewell hand-clasp fell from
twenty shillings to ten, to five, to three, then to as many pesetas. It
was useless to explain that I had trusted to my own guidance in many an
Arab land, and been fully satisfied with the service.  When every other
argument had fallen lifeless at his slippered feet, he sent forth at
regular intervals the sole survivor, cheering it on with a cloud of
acrid cigarette smoke:

"Si el señor"--for his hamstrung English had not far endured the
journey--"if the gentleman has never taken a guide, this will be a new
experience."

In the end the sole survivor won.  What, after all, is travel but a
seeking after new experience?  Here, in truth, was one; and I might find
out for myself whether a full-grown man tagging through the streets of a
foreign city on the heels of a twaddle-spouting native feels as
ridiculous as he looks.

We anchored toward noon in the churning harbor of Tangiers and were soon
pitched into the pandemonium of all that goes to make up an Oriental mob
lying in wait for touring Europeans.  In a twinkling, Aghmed had engaged
donkeys to carry us to the principal hotel.  I paused on the outskirts
of the riot to inform him that our sight-seeing would be afoot; and with
a scream of astonishment he reeled and would, perhaps, have fallen had
not the street been paved in that which would have made such
stage-business unpleasant.

"Pero, señor!" he gasped.  "You do not--you--why, people will say you
have no money!"

"Horrible!" I cried, dodging a slaughtered sheep on the head of a black
urchin in scanty night-shirt that dashed suddenly out of a slit between
two buildings.  Aghmed, myopic with excitement, failed to side-step, and
it was some distance beyond that his wail again fell on my ear:

"O señor!  Americano gentlemen never go by this street.  I cannot guide
without donkeys--"

"You can perhaps run along home to dinner?" I suggested; but he merely
fell silent and pattered on at my heels, now and again heaving a
plaintive sigh.

For the better part of the day we roamed in and out through the tangled
city.  In the confusion of donkeys, bare legs, and immodesty, the
narcotic smell of hashish, the sound of the harsh guttural tongue once
so familiar, memories of more distant Mohammedan lands surged upon me.
Yet by comparison Tangiers seemed only a faded segment of the swarming
Arab world set aside to overawe European tourists, Arabic enough in its
way, but only a little, mild-mannered sample.

Late in the afternoon I rounded the beach and, falling upon the highway
to Fez, strolled away out of sight and sound of the seaport.  Aghmed
still languished at my heels.  To him also the day had brought a new
experience.  As we leaned back against a grassy slope to watch the
setting of the red sun, he broke a long hour’s silence.

"Señor," he said, "never have I walked so much. When we had come to the
Socco I was tired.  When we had seen all the city my legs were as two
stone pillars.  Yet I must keep walking."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because you must be protected!  Ah, señor, you do not know how
dangerous is Tangiers; and here in the country alone you would before
now be dead, or carried off by bandits.  Perhaps this much walking will
make me sick.  Or if I have been seen by my friends or a gentleman
tourist!  Allah meskeen! They will say I am no longer a gentleman guide,
but a donkey boy."

When her night traffic had taken on its wonted swing, my stone-legged
protector called at the inn for the purpose of proving that the
far-famed naughtiness of his city was no mere conceit.  The
demonstration was not convincing.  Two hours or more we ambled from
wineshop to _café cantante_, enduring a deal of caterwauling and inane
vulgarity by no means superior to a Friday-night performance on the
Bowery.  The relieving shepherd’s crook, moreover, being nowhere in
evidence, I fled the torture and retired to bed.

To my infinite relief, Aghmed was on hand in full health next morning to
bid me farewell at the end of the pier and to receive his specified
"souvenir."  He was profuse, too, with the hope that I might soon
revisit his land; but I caught no hint of a desire to add my card to his
collection.

The steamer plowed her way back to Europe, and by mid-afternoon I
emerged from the Sailor’s Institute face to face with a serious problem.
The most patient of men, which I am not, would hardly set off on a tramp
across the Iberian peninsula carrying a forty-pound suitcase, even of
unread classics.  To have dumped the books in the first alleyway would
have been easy, yet painful, for there runs a strain of Scotch in my
veins.  I dropped in on the nearest bookseller to inquire whether he
could see his way clear to accept at a bargain a batch of novels newly
imported from New York.  But the eager glow quickly faded from his
features as I laid the volumes before him.

"Why, sir!" he cried.  "These be _old_ books, out of date.  I thought
had you something New York is reading this summer--"

In which attitude his two rivals also dismissed me, even though I sought
the good will of the last by squandering the bulk of a bright gold
sovereign for Baedeker’s "Spain."  As I turned down to the harbor, a
thought, or more exactly the sight of a sergeant’s uniform under the
fortress gate, struck me. The wearer stiffened like a ramrod when I
halted before him.

"Have you a library in the barracks?"

"Ah--certainly, garrison library.  But I hardly fawncy the commander
would allow--"

"Of course not," I interrupted, tossing the books into his arms; "but I
am off for Spain and if you have any use for a few novels--"

"Ah--er--well, thank you most kindly, sir!" bawled the officer after me.

Though the fact may never be called to his attention, the sergeant had
heard the last phrase of English that passed my lips in many a week.  As
a personal experiment I had resolved not to speak a word of my native
tongue within the kingdom of Spain, even to myself; though this latter
proviso, to be sure, necessitated the early acquisition of a few Spanish
terms of double voltage.

The forerunner of evening was descending upon Algeciras as I mounted
through her now all but voiceless fiesta and struck away over a
grass-patched hillock.  The further slope was skirted by a dusty highway
that wound off through a billowy country pregnant with the promise of
greater heights to come.  But the trend of the road was west rather than
north.  Over the hills ahead two male voices were bawling a sort of
dialogue of song.  I mended my pace and had soon overtaken two peasants
rollicking homeward from the festival.  When I inquired if this were the
highway to Madrid they fell suddenly silent, after a word of greeting,
and strode along beside me exchanging puzzled glances.

"Well, then, to Honda, señores?" I asked.  "Poresta carretera?"

"No, no, señor!" they answered quickly.  "Por aquí no!  You must go on
the railroad."

"No, I am traveling on foot."

"Perfectamente, señor; and to walk to Honda you must take the railroad."

There was nothing in the mien of either to suggest the practical joker.
Yet so far as my experience carried there was not a corner of Europe
where two steps on the right of way was rated less a crime than arson or
housebreaking.

We reached the line not far beyond, the highway diving under by a
stone-faced cutting and bearing the peasants away with it.  Over the
next rise their dove-tailed duet rang out again and, melting in volume
and rendered almost musical by distance, filtered back to me from the
deepening valleys a full quarter-hour longer.

I climbed the embankment not without misgiving. Sure enough, a track
there was, beside the broad-gauge rails, covered with cinders and
scarred with many imprints of donkey hoofs.  A mile along it
demonstrated how poor a walking kit is even a half-empty suitcase.  I
sat down to take stock of the contents.  In the jumble was a blue
flannel shirt past its prime.  I fished out thread and needle and sewed
a Jack-Tar seam across the garment below the armpits, amputated sleeves
and shoulders with a few, slashes, and behold! a knapsack that might
bear my burdens through all the kingdom of Spain, and hold its own in
any gathering of shoulder-packed wayfarers.  When I had stuffed my
possessions into it there was still room to spare for such odds and ends
as find their way into the baggage of the least acquisitive of
travelers.  Then pitching the suitcase spread-eagle over the bordering
hedge, I cut a stick in a neighboring thicket and struck off again at
the regular stride so indispensable to any true enjoyment of tramping.

Night fell soon after.  A fall it was indeed; no half-hearted settling
down of gloom as in our northern zone, but a descendant flood of
obscurity that left the eyes blinking in dismay.  To right and left,
where had been rolling uplands and heathered fields sharp-cut in
smallest detail, nothing--a sea of inky blackness; and ahead, the
stony-blind unknown. The cinder path held firm, but only a foot rubbing
along the rail guided my steps, until such time as sight resumed its
leadership.

An hour or more I marched on into the summer night.  Then out of the
darkness ahead stole a feeble point of light, an increasing murmur of
human voices, and the end of the first day’s tramp was before me.
Beside the way a stone building stood open, an oil torch twilighting a
cobble-floored room heaped at one end with a Spanish grocer’s wares.  An
unshaven man of fifty, a red handkerchief bound brigand-fashion about
his head, bulked forward through an inner doorway.

"You furnish lodgings?"

"Sí, señor; and your burro?"

"I am walking.  Is supper to be had?"

"Claro, hombre!  Choose from the baskets and the señora shall cook it
for you in a twinkling."

All through the following day the path continued parasitic to the
railway.  The roadbed was thickly covered with crushed stone, with
nowhere a hint of the existence of section-gangs.  On either hand rolled
away a landscape stamped with the features of an African ancestry, all
but concealed at times by the cactus-trees of a willow’s height that
hedged the track.  At rare intervals a stuccoed station serving some
hamlet hidden among the hills found standing-room on the right of way.
An occasional hovel built of field stones frowned down from the crest of
a parched hillock.  Now and again out of the meeting-place of the rails
ahead came jogging a peasant seated sidewise on an ass, to swerve
suddenly aside and rattle off down a rocky gorge, singing a high-pitched
ballad of Arabic cadence.  But these were but bubbles on the surface of
a fathomless solitude, though a solitude brilliant with an all-invading
sunshine that left no skulking-place for somber moods.

It turned out that the railroad had not been built for the exclusive
convenience of pedestrians and donkeys.  A bit before noon a rumbling
arose out of the north, and no unconscionable time thereafter the daily
"expreso" roared by--at a rate close upon fifteen miles an hour.  The
ticket collector, cigarette in mouth, clambered hand over hand along the
running board, in imminent peril of losing his footing--and being
obliged to pursue his train to the next station.  During the afternoon
there passed two "mixtos," toy freight trains with a caudal carload of
passengers.  But the speed of these was more reasonable, varying from
six to eight miles, with vacations at each station and frequent holidays
in the open country.

The sun was still an hour high when I reached the station of San Pablo.
This time the town itself stood in plain sight, pitched on the summit of
an oak-grown hill barely a mile from the line.  I plunged quickly down
into the intervening valley.

It was a checker-board place, perhaps only a century or two old;
certainly no relic of the Moor, for there was not a sign of shop or
market in all its extent.  Only in the last street did I catch sight of
one of its inhabitants, dining in solitary state in the center of a bare
room.  He stared at me a long moment when I halted before the immense
open window to inquire for an inn.

"San Pablo, señor," he answered at last, "is a private town owned by the
mining company.  There is no inn."

I was turning away when he continued:

"But step inside and we shall see what the ama can arrange for you."

He was, as I had guessed, a Frenchman, an expert employed in the mines.
The Spanish, however, in which he addressed the _ama_ was faultless.

"Ah, Don Victor!" protested that matron, "How can I give posada, having
no license from the government?  And without the permission of Don
José--"

"Pepete," said the Gaul to an urchin peering in upon us, "ask Don José
to have the goodness to step over.  He is manager of the mines," he
continued, "and so alcalde and potentate of San Pablo."

It would have been a misfortune, indeed, to have journeyed through
Andalusia without making the acquaintance of Don José.  He burst in upon
us a moment later; a very hippopotamus of a man, dressed in baggy
trousers, slouch hat, and alpaca jacket.  Unfortunately his arrival
coincided with my announcement that I was walking to Córdoba--the whole
itinerary would have been too strong meat for Latin consumption--and his
native geniality was for a time overshadowed by astonishment at my
extraordinary means of locomotion.  I had all but finished the meal set
for me in an adjoining room when the pair entered and sat down beside
me.

"Señor," began the manager, in what was meant to be a whisper, "you
cannot walk to Córdoba.  It is forty leagues."

"How much money have you?" put in the Frenchman.

"Er--I have something over seven pesetas," I answered.

"Bueno!  Bonísima!" cried the alcalde, patting me on the shoulder.  "Don
Victor and I will add the rest and I shall go with you to the station to
buy the ticket--in the morning."

Great, I reflected, is the infant mortality among generous resolutions
in the gray of dawn, and accordingly held my peace.

Having settled my future to his own satisfaction, Don José linked an arm
in one of mine and plunged out into the night.

"Your bed is waiting for you in your own house," he said with Spanish
formality.  "You have only to say the word."

The first syllable of which I had not found time to say before we
marched full front into San Pablo’s barrack-like café.  A roar of
greeting sounded through the dense cloud of cigarette smoke: "Buenas
tardes!  Don José!"

"Buenas, amigos!  Que le gusta!" returned my companion, and pushing
toward a table with two vacant chairs he continued without a break, "Un
ponche, Don Gregario!  And you, señor?  Anything you may choose, though
there is nothing equal to ponche.  Verdad, Rufo?"  Then as I opened my
lips to express a preference, "Sí! sí!  Don Gregario! Dos ponches!"

The room was filled with a hundred bronze-tinted miners over wine and
cards.  Don José was the industrial autocrat of every man present, yet
one would have fancied him rather a brother or cousin, so free was the
intercourse from haughtiness on the one hand and servility on the other.
Miner and manager addressed each other by their given names, shouted at
each other in friendly dispute, thumped each other fraternally on the
back.  Despite all which one felt absolute assurance that when labor
again caught up its pick the manager’s word would command instant
obedience.

The landlord, flushed with the exertion of their concoction, soon set
the incomparable beverages before us.  With the alacrity of a man who
will have no shadow of debt hanging over his head, Don José thrust a
hand into a pocket of his alpaca and cast on the table three mammoth
coppers, the combined value of which was close upon five cents.  With
the first sip he rolled a cigarette and pushed pouch and papers toward
me.  Then having introduced me as "Señor Newyorkano," he plunged
headlong into the story of my life, addressing not merely the assembled
miners but whomever else may have been prowling within gunshot of the
building.  "And to think, amigos," he concluded, "after crossing all the
sea el señor should have wandered into San Pablo looking for a posada!"

The company beat their hands on the tables and howled with merriment.
Whatever the uproarious humor of that climax to my adventures, it lost
nothing of its poignancy as long as the evening lasted, and served to
top off a score of otherwise pointless tales.

My ignorance of the Andalusian game notwithstanding, I had soon taken a
hand.  The alcalde, consuming uncounted cigarettes, beamed over my
shoulder shouting praise of my sagacity each time I cast on the table
the card he pointed out.  As for "ponche," what the peerless libation
lacked in favor with the masses it gained in the unswerving fidelity of
its sponsor.  With clock-like regularity his reverberating voice rang
out above the din of revelry: "Don Gregario, un ponche!"  In vain did I
announce my thirst permanently abated, in vain did I "say the word" or
strive at least to take advantage of the free choice offered me.  My
protest was invariably drowned in the roar of the amended order: "Sí,
sí! Dos ponches, Don Gregario!"

Evening rolled into night, night into morning, and still the clank of
copper coins continued.  Once I attempted to forestall the diving into
that fathomless alpaca by thrusting a hand into my own pocket. My
unquenchable host started to his feet with a bellow that seemed to set
the very walls vibrating:

"Strangers, señor, cannot spend money in San Pablo!  We are a private
town!"

The minute hand was nearing the completion of its third lap when a
general uprising, subtly instigated by the landlord, swept the carousers
into the coal-black night.  "My house" was no such regal mansion as
befitted an industrial sovereign, an alcalde, and a man of unlimited
coppers rolled into one.  It was different, to be sure, from the other
bare stone dwellings of San Pablo, but only in the wild bachelor
disorder that reigned within its four naked walls. In one corner was a
mountainous husk mattress.  Its mate, alleged my host, lay somewhere
buried in the jumble; and he verified the assertion not long after by
dragging it forth.  While he was booting this into some resemblance to a
bed, I kicked off my shoes and sank into profound slumber.

Don José, too, awoke at sunrise.  His generosity, however, was but a
shadow of its former self.  On the descent from the town he listened to
my objections to the proposed charity without once proffering a reply.
In the depth of the valley he halted and stared gloomily up at the
steep, sun-glazed path to the station observing that Providence after
all is the appointed guardian of the foolhardy.  I thrust out a hand.
He shook it dejectedly and, bidding me go with God and remember there is
no drink equal to ponche, set out to clamber his way back to the
village.

Beyond the curve that swept San Pablo into the past a stream brawled
down out of the hills.  I climbed a little way up the gorge and came
upon a tumbled boulder that had stored up a pool of just the depth for a
morning plunge.  Further on the railway grew more winding with every
mile.  The hills increased to mountain spurs, and soon after came the
mountains themselves, the parched and rock-tumbled Sierra de Honda,
fertile only with the memory of smugglers and intricate pathways.  The
route led through many long, sombrous tunnels, entrance into which from
the blazing sunshine was like the diving into a mountain lake.  Where
the burrowings ended, the line became still more circuitous, leaping
over abysmal, jagged gulleys by massive dry bridges.

I fasted all the day; for it was Sunday, and the few station buildings
that appeared were deserted. Yet the privation passed almost unnoticed.
Were a choice to be made I would willingly sacrifice any day’s dinner
for the unfailing sunshine of Spain, reinforced by the pleasure of
knowing that with the new dawn another unclouded day will begin.

[Illustration: A Moorish gate of Ronda]

My night’s halt was beneath swaying palm-trees.

Down through a ravine beside the track were scattered a few rambling
houses, in one of which I found accommodations.  Its owner was a
peasant, battered with years, who sat before his dwelling smoking in the
cool of evening with his three sons.  One of these was a _guardia civil_
who had seen all the provinces of Spain, and whose language in
consequence was Spanish.  His brothers, on the other hand, spoke the
crabbed dialect of Andalusia.  I caught the sense of most of their
remarks only at the third or forth repetition, to their ever-increasing
astonishment.

[Illustration: A gitana of Granada.  In the district of the Alhambra.]

"Hermano," interrupted the guardia once, "you know you do not speak
Spanish?"

The speaker fell silent and listened for some time open-mouthed to his
brother in uniform.

"Caracoles!" he cried suddenly.  "I speak no other tongue than you,
brother, except for the fine words you have picked up at las Cortes!"

Which was exactly the difficulty.  The "fine" words were of pure
Castilian, for which the rural andaluz substitutes terms left behind by
the Moor. Furthermore his speech is guttural, explosive, slovenly, more
redolent of Arabic than of Spanish.  He is particularly prone to slight
the S.  His version of "estes señores" is "ete señore."  Which is
comprehensible; but how shall the stranger guess that "cotóa e’ l’
jutí’a" is meant to convey the information that "la justicia es
costosa?"

My evening meal consisted of a _gazpacho_, olives, eggs, cherries,
blood-dripping pomegranates, a rich brown bread, and wine; my couch of a
straw mattress in a corner of the great kitchen--and my reckoning was
barely twelve cents.

Afoot with the dawn, I had soon entered the vast cork forest that covers
all the northern slope of the sierra.  Wherever a siding offered, stood
long rows of open freight cars piled high with bales of the spongy bark;
the morning "mixto" hobbled by bearing southward material seemingly
sufficient to stop all the bottles in Christendom.

By rail Ronda was still a long day distant--but not afoot.  Before the
morning was old I came upon the beginning of the short-cut which my
hosts of the night had described.  It straggled uncertainly upward for a
time across a rolling sandy country knobbed with tufts of withered grass
and overspread with mammoth cork-trees, some still unbarked, some
standing stark naked in the blistering sun.  Then all at once, path,
sand and vegetation ceased, and above me stretched to the very heavens
the grilling face of a bare rock.  I mounted zigzagging, as up the slate
roof of some gigantic church, swathed in a heat that burned through the
very soles of my shoes.  A mile up, two guardias civiles emerged
suddenly from a fissure, the sun glinting on their muskets and polished
black three-cornered hats.  Here, then, of all places, was to be my
first meeting with these officious fellows, whose inquisitiveness was
reported the chief drawback to a tramp in Spain.  But they greeted me
with truly Spanish politeness, even cordiality. Only casually, when we
had chatted a bit, as is wont among travelers meeting on the road, did
one of them suggest:

"You carry, no doubt, señor, your personal papers?"

I dived into my shirt--my knapsack, and drew out my passport.  The
officers admired it a moment side by side without making so bold as to
touch it, thanked me for privilege, raised a forefinger to their hats,
and stalked on down the broiling rock.

A full hour higher I brought up against a sheer precipice.  Of the town
that must be near there was still not a trace.  For some time longer I
marched along the foot of the cliff, swinging half round a circle and
always mounting.  Then all at once the impregnable wall gave way, a
hundred white stone houses burst simultaneously on my sight, and I
entered a city seething in the heat of noonday.



                              CHAPTER III

                     THE LAST FOOTHOLD OF THE MOOR


Ronda crouches on the bald summit of a rock so mighty that one can
easily fancy it the broken base of some pillar that once upheld the sky.
Nature seems here to have established division of labor.  The gigantic
rock bearing aloft the city sustains of itself not a sprig of
vegetation. Below, so far below that Ronda dares even in summer to fling
down unburied the mutilated carcasses from her bullring, spreads the
encircling _vega_, producing liberally for the multitude above, but
granting foothold scarcely to a peasant’s hovel.  Beyond and round about
stretches the sierra, having for its task to shelter the city against
prowling storms and to enrich the souls of her inhabitants with its
rugged grandeur.

Travelers come to Ronda chiefly to gaze elsewhere. As an outlook upon
the world she is well worth the coming; as a city she is almost
monotonous, with her squat, white-washed houses sweltering in the
omnivorous sunshine.  Her only "sight" is the _Tajo_, the "gash" in the
living rock like the mark of some powerful woodman’s ax in the top of a
tree-stump. A stork-legged bridge spans it, linking two unequal sections
of the town, which without this must be utter strangers.  A stream
trickles along its bottom, how deep down one recognizes only when he has
noted how like toy buildings are the grist-mills that squat beside it
pilfering their power.

Elsewhere within the town the eyes wander away to the enclosing
mountains.  The wonder is not that her inhabitants are dreamy-eyed;
rather that they succeed at intervals in shaking off the spell of
nature’s setting to play their rôles in life’s prosaic drama.  As for
myself, I rambled through her piping streets for half the afternoon
because she is Spanish, and because my supply of currency was falling
low.  Ronda boasts no bank.  Her chief dry-goods merchant, however--by
what right my informant could not guess--boasts himself a banker. I
found the amateur financier at home, which chanced to be distant the
height of one short stairway from his place of business.  When I had
chatted an hour or two with his clerks, the good man himself appeared,
rosy with the exertions of the siesta, and examined the ten-dollar check
with many expressions of gratitude for the opportunity.

"We shall take pleasure," he said, "in liquidating this obligation.  You
will, of course, bring persons of my acquaintance to establish your
identity, como es costumbre in large financial transactions?"

I had never so fully realized how convincing was my command of Spanish
as when I had succeeded within an hour in convincing this bond-slave of
"costumbre" that express-checks are designed to avoid just this
difficulty.  He expressed a desire to examine the document more
thoroughly and retired with it to the depths of his establishment.
Toward evening he returned with pen and ink-horn.

"I accept the obligation," he announced, "and shall pay you fifty-seven
pesetas, according to yesterday’s quotation on the Borsa.  But I find I
have such a sum on hand only in coppers."

"Which would weigh," I murmured, after the necessary calculation,
"something over thirty pounds.  You will permit me, señor, to express my
deep gratitude--and to worry along for the time being with the money in
pocket."

Travelers who arraign Honda for lack of creature comforts can never have
been assigned the quarters a peseta won me for the night in the "Parador
de Vista Hermosa."  The room was a house in itself, peculiarly clean and
home-like, and furnished not only with the necessities of bed, chairs,
and taper-lighted effigy of the Virgin, but with table, washstand, and
even a bar of soap, the first I had seen in the land except that in my
own knapsack.  When the sun had fallen powerless behind the sierra, I
drew the green reed shade and found before my window a little _rejaed_
balcony hanging so directly over the Tajo that the butt of a cigarette
fell whirling down, down to the very bottom of the gorge. I dragged a
chair out into the dusk and sat smoking beneath the star-sprinkled sky
long past a pedestrian’s bedtime, the unbroken music of the Guadalvin
far below ascending to mingle with the murmur of the strolling city.

To the north of Ronda begins a highway that goes down through a country
as arid and rock-strewn as the anti-Lebanon.  Here, too, is much of the
Arab’s contempt for roads.  Donkeys bearing singing men tripped by along
hard-beaten paths just far enough off the public way to be no part of
it. Now and again donkey and trail rambled away independently over the
thirsty hills, perhaps to return an hour beyond, more often to be
swallowed up in the unknown.  The untraveled carretera lay inches deep
in fine white dust.  Far and near the landscape was touched only with a
few slight patches of viridity.  The solitary tree under which I tossed
through an hour of siesta cast the stringy, wavering shade of a
bean-pole.

Sharp-eyed with appetite, I came near, nevertheless, to passing unseen
early in the afternoon a village hidden in plain sight along the flank
of a reddish, barren hill.  In this, too, Andalusia resembles Asia
Minor; her hamlets are so often of the same colored or colorless rocks
as the hills on which they are built as frequently to escape the eye.  I
forded a bone-dry brook and climbed into the tumbled _pueblo_.  Toward
the end of the principal lack of a street one of the crumbling
hovel-fronts was scrawled in faded red, with the Spaniard’s innocent
indistinction between the second and twenty-second letters of the
alphabet:

[Illustration: Aqui se bende bino]

Once admitted to the sleepy interior, I regaled myself on bread, cheese,
and "bino" and scrambled back to the highway.  It wandered more and more
erratically, slinking often around hills that a bit of exertion would
have surmounted.  I recalled the independence of the donkeys and,
picking up a path at an elbow of the route, struck off across the rugged
country.

But there is sound truth, as in all his venerable if somewhat
baggy-kneed proverbs, in the Spaniard’s assertion that "no hay atajo sin
trabajo."  In this short-cut there was work and to spare.  As long as
the day lasted the way continued stiff and stony, ceaselessly mounting
or descending, with never a level of breathing-space breadth nor a
moment’s respite from the rampant sunshine.  A few times I stumbled upon
an inhabited heap of stones in a fold of the hills.  Man, at least fully
clothed, seemed never before to have strayed thus far afield.  From each
hutch poured forth a shaggy fellow with his draggled mate and a flock of
half-naked children, all to stare speechlessly after me as long as the
crown of my hat remained in sight.

The highway had deserted me entirely.  As darkness came on, the dimming
outline of the cragged hills rising on either hand carried the thoughts
more than ever back to the savage, Bedouin-skulking solitudes of Asia
Minor.  Long after these, too, had blended into the night I stumbled on.
At length there fell on my ear the distant dismal howling of dogs.  I
pressed forward, and when the sound had grown to a discordant uproar
plunged, stick in hand, into a chaos of buildings jumbled together on a
rocky ridge,--the village of Peñarruria.

The twisting, shoulder-broad channels between the predelugian hovels
were strewn with cobblestones, no two of equal size or height, but all
polished icy smooth.  I sprawled and skated among them, a prey to
embarrassment for my clumsiness, until my confusion was suddenly
dispelled by the pleasure of seeing a native fall down, a buxom girl of
eighteen who suffered thus for her pride in putting on shoes. Throughout
the town these were rare, and stockings more so.

The _venta_ into which I straggled at last was the replica of an Arabic
_khan_, as ancient as the days of Tarik.  It consisted of a covered
barnyard court surrounded by a vast corridor, with rock arches and
pillars, beneath which mules, _borricos_, and a horse or two were
munching.  One archway near the entrance was given over to human
occupation.  The _posadero_ grumbled at me a word of greeting; his wife
snarled interminably over her pots and jars in preparing me a meager
supper.  Now and again as I ate, an _arriero_ arrived and led his animal
through the dining-room to the stable.  I steeled myself to endure a
rough and stony night.

When I had sipped the last of my wine, however, the hostess, sullen as
ever, mounted three stone steps in the depth of the archway and lighted
me into a room that was strikingly in contrast with the dungeon-like inn
proper.  The chamber was neatly, even daintily furnished, the walls
decorated college-fashion with pictures of every size and variety, the
tile floor carpeted with a thick rug, the bed veiled with lace curtains.
It was distinctly a feminine room; and as I undressed the certainty grew
upon me that I had dispossessed for the night the daughter of the house,
who had turned out to be none other than that maid whose pride-shod
downfall had so relieved my embarrassment.  Evidently the venta of
Peñarruria afforded no other accommodations befitting a guest who could
squander more than a half peseta for a mere night’s lodging.

Over the head of the bed, framed in flowers and the dust-dry memento of
Palm Sunday, was a chromo misrepresentation of the Virgin, beneath which
flickered a wick floating in oil.  I was early trained to sleep in
darkness.  When I had endured for a long half-hour the dancing of the
light on my eyelids, I rose to blow it out, and sank quickly into
slumber.

I had all but finished my coffee and wedge of black bread next morning
when a double shriek announced that my forgotten sacrilege had been
discovered. The modern vestal virgins, in the persons of the posadera
and her now barefoot daughter, charged fire-eyed out of my erstwhile
quarters and swooped down upon me like two lineal descendants of the
Grecian Furies.  I mustered such expression of innocence and
fearlessness as I was able and listened in silence.  They exhausted in
time their stock of blistering adjectives and dashed together into the
street publishing their grievance to all Peñarruria. Gradually the
shrill voices died away in the contorted village, and with them my
apprehension of figuring in some modern auto da fé.  As I was picking up
my knapsack, however, an urchin burst in upon me shouting that the
guardia civil thereby summoned me into his presence.

"Ha," thought I, "Spain has merely grown more up-to-date in dealing with
heretics."

The officer was not to be avoided.  He sat before a building which I
must pass to escape from the town; a deep-eyed man who manipulated his
cigarette with one hand while he slowly ran the fingers of the other
through the only beard, perhaps, in all the dreaded company of which he
was a member.  His greeting, however, was cordial, almost diffident.  In
fact, the cause of my summons was quite other than I had apprehended.
Having learned my nationality from the inn register, he had made so bold
as to hope that I would delay my departure long enough to give him a
cigarette’s worth of information concerning the western hemisphere.

"I have resigned from the guardia," he said in explanation of his
un-Spanish curiosity, "and in three months I go to make cigars in your
Tampa, in la Florida.  Spain can no longer feed her children."

I sketched briefly the life in the new world, not forgetting to picture
some of the hardships such a change must bring a man of the fixed habits
of forty, and took leave of him with the national benediction.

For some hours I trudged on across a country similar to that of the day
before.  The heat was African.  The Spanish summer resembles an
intermittent fever; with nightfall comes an inner assurance that the
worst is over, and infallibly with the new day the blazing sun sends
down its rays seemingly more fiercely than before.  The reflection of
how agreeable would be a respite from its fury was weaving itself into
my thoughts when I swooped suddenly down upon a railway at a hamlet
named Gobantes.  I had no hope of covering all Spain afoot.  Away among
the hills to the north the whistle of a locomotive that moment sounded.
I turned aside to the station and bought a ticket to Málaga.

The train squirmed away through howling, arid mountains, abounding in
tunnels and tumbled bottomless gorges; then descending headlong to the
plain, landed me at the seaport in mid-afternoon. Even Malaga on the
seashore suffers from the heat. Her Alameda was thick in dust as an
Andalusian highway; beneath the choking trees that bordered it the stone
benches were blistering to the touch. The excursion was rewarded,
however, if by nothing more than the mighty view of the sail-flecked
Mediterranean from the summit of the Gibilfaro, reached by a dripping
climb through shifting rubble and swarms of begging gypsy children.
Africa was visible, dimly but unmistakably.  Below simmered the city,
unenlivened by a single touch of green; to the right the vega stretched
floor-level to the foot of the treeless Alhama.  Directly beneath me,
like some vast tub, yawned the bullring, empty now but for a score of
boys playing at "torero," flaunting their jackets in the face of an
urchin fitted with paper horns, and dashing in pretended terror for the
barrier when he turned upon them.  The ascent of the Gibilfaro must
certainly be forbidden on Sunday afternoons.  From this height the
struggle in the arena, visible in its entirety, yet purged by distance
of its unpleasing details, would be a scene more impressive than from
the best seat in the tribunes.

When I reached the station next morning the platform gate was locked and
the train I had hoped to take was legally departed.  A railway
hanger-on, in rags and hemp sandals, however, climbed the iron picket
fence and shouted a word to the engineer. Then beckoning to me to
follow, he trotted back into the building and rapped authoritatively on
the closed window of the ticket-office.

"Señor," he said, as the agent looked out upon us, "be kind enough to
sell this caballero a ticket."

"The train is gone," answered the agent.

"Not so, señor," replied the bundle of rags haughtily; "I am having it
held that this cavalier may take it."

"Ah, very well," responded the official; and having sold me the ticket,
he handed to the hanger-on the key to the platform gate.  As I passed
through it the latter held out his hand, into which I dropped a copper.

"Muchísimas gracias, caballero," he said, bowing profoundly, "and may
your grace forever travel with God."

It was noon when I descended at Bobadilla, the sand-swept junction where
all southern Spain changes cars.  The train to Granada was soon jolting
away to the eastward.  Within the third-class compartment the heat was
flesh-smelting.  The bare wooden cell, of the size of a piano-crate, was
packed not merely to its lawful and unreasonable capacity of ten
persons, but with all the personal chattels under which nine of those
persons had been able to totter down to the station.  Between the two
plank benches, that danced up and down so like the screen of a threshing
machine as to deceive the blind man beside me into the ludicrous notion
that the train was moving rapidly, was heaped a cart-load.  To attempt
an inventory thereof would be to name everything bulky, unpleasing, and
sharp-cornered that ever falls into the possession of the Spanish
peasant. Suffice it to specify that at the summit of the heap swayed a
crate of chickens whose cackling sounded without hint of interruption
from Bobadilla to the end of the journey.

The national characteristics of third-class are clearly marked.  Before
a French train is well under way two men are sure to fall into some
heated dispute, to which their companions give undivided but speechless
attention.  The German rides in moody silence; the Italian babbles
incessantly of nothing.  An Englishman endures a third-class journey
frozen-featured as if he were striving to convince his fellows that he
has been thus reduced for once because he has bestowed his purse on the
worthy poor.  But the truly democratic Spaniard settles down by the
compartmentful into a cheery family.  Not one of my fellow-sufferers but
had some reminiscence to relate, not a question arose to which each did
not offer his frank opinion.  He who descended carried away with him the
benediction of all; the newcomer became in a twinkling a full-fledged
member of the impromptu brotherhood.

Nine times I was fervently entreated to partake of a traveler’s lunch,
and my offer to share my own afternoon nibble was as many times declined
with wishes for good appetite and digestion.  Travelers who assure us
that this custom inherited from the Moor has died out in Spain are in
error; it is dead only among foreigners in first-class carriages and
tourist hotels--who never had it.  The genuine Spaniard would sooner
slap his neighbor in the face than to eat before him without begging him
to share the repast.

We halted more than frequently.  On each such occasion there sounded
above the last screech of the brakes the drone of a guard announcing the
length of the stay.  Little less often the traveler in the further
corner of the compartment squirmed his way to the door and departed.
With a sigh of relief the survivors divided the space equitably between
them--and were incontinently called upon to yield it up again as some
dust-cloaked peasant flung his bag of implements against my legs with a
cheery "buenas tardes" and climbed in upon us.

Then came the task of again getting the train under way.  The brisk "all
aboard" of our own land would be unbearably rude to the gentle Spanish
ear.  Whence every station, large or small, holds in captivity a man
whose only duty in life seems to be that of announcing the departure of
trains.  He is invariably tattered, sun-bleached, and sandal-footed,
with the general appearance of one whom life has used not unkindly but
confounded roughly.  How each station succeeds in keeping its announcer
in the pink of dilapidation is a Spanish secret.  But there he is,
without fail, and when the council of officials has at length concluded
that the train must depart, he patters noiselessly along the edge of the
platform, chanting in a music weird, forlorn, purely Arabic, a phrase so
rhythmic that no printed words can more than faintly suggest it:

"Seño-o-o-res viajeros al tre-e-e-en."

"Gentlemen travelers to the train" is all it means in mere words; but
rolling from the lips of one of these forlorn captives it seems to carry
with it all the history of Spain, and sinks into the soul like a voice
from the abysmal past.

Among my fellow-passengers was the first Spanish priest with whom I came
into conversational contact.  In the retrospect that fact is all but
effaced by the memory that he was not merely the first but the only
Spaniard who ever declined my proffer of a cigarette.  To one eager to
find the prevailing estimation of the priesthood of Spain false or
vastly overdrawn, this first introduction to the gown augured well.  He
was neither fat nor sensual: rather the contrary, with the lineaments of
a man sincere in his work and beneficent in his habits.  His manner was
affable, without a hint of that patronizing air and pose of sanctity
frequently to be observed among Protestant clergy, his attitude of
equality toward the laity peculiarly reminiscent of the priests of
Buddha.

At the station of San Francisco half the passengers descended.  The
building was perched on a shelf of rock that fell away behind it into a
stony gulf.  Surrounding all the station precinct ran a weather-warped
and blackened fence, ten feet high, along the top of which screamed and
jostled fully two score women and girls, offering for sale every species
of ware from cucumbers to turkeys. Hucksters and beggars swarm down--or
rather up--on San Francisco in such multitudes that the railway company
was forced to build the fence for the protection of its patrons.  But
the women, not to be so easily outdone, carry each a ladder to surmount
the difficulty.  As the train swung on around a pinnacle of rock, we
caught a long enduring view of the source of the uproar--the populous
and pauperous city of Loja, lodged in a trough-like hillside across the
valley.

Not far beyond there burst suddenly on the sight the snow-cowled Sierra
Nevada, and almost at the same moment the train halted at Puente Pinos.
I recalled the village as the spot where Columbus saw the ebbing tide of
his fortunes checked by the messengers of "Ysabel la Católica"; but not
so the priest.

"One of our great industries, señor," he said, pointing to several
smoke-belching chimneys near at hand.  "Puente Pinos produces the best
sugar in Spain."

"The cane is harvested early?" I observed, gazing away across the flat
fields.

"No, no," laughed the priest, "betabel (sugar beets)."

Spanish railways are as prone as those of Italy to repudiate the printed
promise of their tickets.  We descended toward sunset at a station named
Granada only to find that the geographical Granada was still some miles
distant.  The priest had offered to direct me to an inn or I should
perhaps have escaped entirely the experience of riding in a Spanish
street-car.  It crawled for an hour through an ocean of dust, anchoring
every cable-length to take aboard some floundering pedestrian.  Many of
these were priests; and as they gathered one by one on either side of my
companion, the hope I had entertained of discovering more of virtue
beneath the Spanish sotana than the world grants oozed unrestrainably
away. For they were, almost without exception, pot-bellied,
self-satisfied, cynical, with obscenity and the evidences of unnatural
vice as plainly legible on their countenances as the words on a printed
page.

We reached at last the central plaza, where my guide pointed out a large
modern building bearing across the front of its third story the
inscription, "Gran Casa de Viajeros de la Viuda Robledo."  As I
alighted, a band of valets de place swept down upon me.  I gave them no
attention; which did not, of course, lessen the impertinence with which
they danced about me.  Having guessed my goal, one of them dashed before
me up the stairs, shouting to the señora to be prepared to receive the
guest he was bringing.

The widow Robledo was a serene-visaged woman in the early fifties; her
house a species of family hotel never patronized by foreigners.  We came
quickly to terms, however; I was assigned a room overhanging the
culinary regions, for which, with the customary two and a half meals a
day, I engaged to pay four pesetas.

At the mention of money, the tout, who during all the transaction had
not once withdrawn the light of his simian countenance, demanded a
peseta for having found me a lodging.  I reminded him of the real facts
of the case and invited him to withdraw.  He followed me instead into my
new quarters, repeating his demands in a bullying voice, and for the
only time in my Spanish experience I was compelled to resort to physical
coercion.  Unfortunate indeed is the tourist who must daily endure and
misjudge the race from these pests, so exactly the antithesis of the
courteous, uncovetous Spaniard of the working class.

I had not yet removed the outer stain of travel when a vast excitement
descended upon Granada,--it began to rain.  On every hand sounded the
slamming of doors, the creaking of unused shutters; from below came up
the jangling of pans and the agitated voices of servants.  The shower
lasted nearly ten minutes, and was chronicled at length next day in all
the newspapers of Spain.

From the edge of Granada city a long green aisle between exotic elms
leads easily upward to the domain of the Alhambra.  In its deep-shaded
groves, so near yet seeming so far removed from the stony face of
thirsty Spain, reigns a dream-inviting stillness, a quiet enhanced
rather than broken by the murmur of captive brooks.  For this, too,
remains in memory of the Moor, that the waters of the Genii and Darro
are still brought to play through a score of little stone channels
beneath the trees.  There I drifted each morning, other plans
notwithstanding, to idle away the day on the grassy headland before and
below which spreads the vastness of the province of Granada, or
distressing the guardians of the ancient palace with my untourist-like
loiterings.  But for her fame the traveler would surely pass the
Alhambra by as a half-ruined nest of bats and beggars.  Yet within she
retains much of her voluptuous splendor, despite the desolating of time
and her prostitution to a gaping-stock of tourists.  Like so much of the
Mussulman’s building, the overshadowed palace is effeminate, seeming to
speak aloud of that luxury and wantonness of the Moor in his decadent
days before the iron-fisted reyes católicos came to thrust him forth
from his last European kingdom.  In this she resembles the Taj Mahal;
yet the difference is great. For the effeminacy of the Alhambra is the
unrobustness of woman, while the Taj, like the Oriental man, is
effeminate outwardly, superficially, beneath all which shows sound
masculinity.

In the city below is only enough to be seen to give contrast to the
half-effaced traces of magnificence on the hill.  He who comes to
Granada trusting to read in her the last word of the degradation of the
once regal and all powerful must continue his quest.  Of squalor and
beggars she is singularly free--for Spain.  Something of both remains
for him who will wander through the Albaicin, peering into its
cave-dwellings, wherein, and at times before which romp brown gypsy
children garbed in the costume in which the reputed ancestor of us all
set forth from the valley of Eden, or occasional jade-eyed hoydens of
the grotto sunning their blacker tresses and mumbling crones plying
their _bachi_ in conspicuous places. But even this seems rather a misery
of parade than a reality, a theatrical lying-in-wait for the gullible
_Busné_ from foreign shores.

By night there is life and movement in Granada; a strolling to and fro
along the Alameda to the strains of a military band, the droning of the
water-carriers who bring down lump by lump the ice-fields of the Sierra
Nevada, and a dancing away of the summer night to the clatter of the
castanet.  But by day--once only during my stay was the languid pulse of
the city stirred during the sunlit hours.  A conscript regiment
thundered in upon us, blocking all traffic and filling the air with a
fog of dust that dispelled for a time my eagerness to seek again the
open road; a dust that thick-shrouded beneath its drab the very color of
caisson and uniform, dry-blanketing the panting horses, and streaking
the faces of men and officers with figures like unto the ornamental
writing on the inner walls of the Alhambra.



                               CHAPTER IV

                     THE BANKS OF THE GUADALQUIVIR


Granada was sleeping a fitful Sunday siesta when I repacked my knapsack
in the Casa Robledo.  In the streets were only the fruit-sellers from
the surrounding country, still faintly chanting over the half-empty
baskets on the backs of their lolling asses.  I paused to spend two
"perros gordos" for as many pounds of cherries--for he who has once
tasted the cherries of Granada has no second choice--and trudged away
through the northern suburb leaving a trail of pits behind me.

The highway surmounted the last crest and swung down to the level of the
plain.  Like a sea of heat mist diked by the encircling mountains
stretched the vega, looking across which one saw at a glance no fewer
than a score of villages half concealed by an inundation of sunshine so
physically visible that one observed with astonishment that the snow lay
still unmelted on the peak of Mulhacen behind.

Yet for all the heat I would not have been elsewhere nor doing else than
striking across the steaming vega of Granada.  In such situations, I
confess, I like my own company best.  With the finest companion in the
world a ten-mile tramp through this heat and dust would have been a
labor like the digging of a ditch.  Alone, with the imagination free to
take color from the landscape, each petty inconvenience seemed but to
put me the more in touch with the real Spain.

Just here lies the advantage of traveling in this half-tramp fashion.
The "personally conducted" traveler, too, sees the Alhambra; yet how
slight is that compared with sharing the actual life of the Spanish
people, which the tourist catches if at all in vagrant, posing
fragments?  To move through a foreign country shut up in a moving room,
carrying with one the modern luxuries of home, is not travel; we call it
so by courtesy and for lack of an exact term.  "Il faut payer de sa
personne."  He who will gather the real honey of travel must be on the
scene, a "super" at least on the stage itself, not gossiping with his
fellows in a box.

With all its aridity the vega was richly productive. Olive-trees hung
heavy, on either hand spread broad fields of grain in which peasants
were toiling swelteringly as if they had never heard of the common sense
institution of Sunday.  When sun and tree-tops met, the highway began to
wind, leaving the vega behind and wandering through low hills among
which appeared no villages, only an occasional rough-hewn house by the
way.  Toward twilight there opened a more verdant valley, and a stream,
rising somewhere near at hand, fell in with the carretera and capered
prattling along with it into the night.

It was ten perhaps when I came upon a lonely little venta by the
wayside, a one-story building older than the modern world, serving both
for dwelling and stable.  The master of the house and her husband were
both of that light-hearted gentry to whom life means nothing more than
to be permitted good health and a place to eat an occasional _puchero_.
With these and a pair of mountain arrieros I gossiped until my eyelids
grew heavy, and turned in on a husk mattress spread, like that of my
hosts, on the kitchen floor.

At the first hint of dawn I was off and had set the sun a handicap of
three miles or more before he began to ruddy the jagged chain to the
eastward.  The family was already at work, the arrieros wending on their
southward way singing savage fragments of song; for like the Arab the
rural andaluz sleeps full-dressed and springs instantly from bed to
labor.

A country lightly populated continued.  At high noon I reached a
bath-inviting irrigating stream that wound through a grove of willows
offering protection enough from the sun for a brief siesta.  Soon after,
the landscape grew savage and untenanted, and the carretera more and
more constricted until it passed, like a thread through the eye of a
needle, through a short tunnel, built, said the inscription, by Isabel
II--an example of exaggerated Spanish courtesy evidently, for history
shouts assurance that the activities of that lady were rather
exclusively confined to less enduring works.  Once released, the gorge
expanded to a rambling valley with many orchards of apricots and plums,
still walled, however, by hills so lofty that the sun deserted it early
and gave the unusual sight of a lingering twilight.

From sunset until well into the night I kept sharp lookout for a public
hostelry; but only a few peasants’ hovels appeared, and with fifty-six
kilometers in my legs I gave up the search and made my bed of a bundle
of straw on a little nose of meadow above the highway.  All through the
night the tramp of asses and the cursing or singing of their drivers
passing below drifted into my dreams.  The weather was not cold, yet in
the most silent hour a chilliness half-arousing crept over me, and it
was with a sense of relief that I awoke at last entirely and wandered
on.

By daylight the hills receded somewhat, flattening themselves out to
rolling uplands; the stream grew broad and noisy in its strength.  Then
suddenly at the turning of an abrupt hill Jaen rose before me, a city
pitched on a rocky summit like the capping over a haycock, in the center
the vast cathedral; the whole radiant with the flush of morning and
surrounded by a soil as red as if the blood of all the Moorish wars were
gathered here and mixed with the clay.  The highway, catching sight of
its goal, abandoned unceremoniously the guidance of the river and
climbed with great strides up the red hillside into the town.

I had been so long up that the day seemed already far advanced.  But
Jaen was still half abed. I drifted into what was outwardly a little
_cantina_, with zinc bar and shining spigots, but domestically the home
of an amiable couple.  The _cantinero_, lolling in the customary
fat-man’s attitude behind the bar, woke with a start from the first of
that day’s siestas when I requested breakfast, while his spouse ceased
her sweeping to cry out, "Como!  Tan temprano!  Why, it is scarcely
eight o’clock!"  The lady, however, gave evidence of an un-Spanish
adaptability by rising to the occasion.  While Señor Corpulence was
still shaking his head condolingly, she called to the driver of a
passing flock of goats, one of which, under her watchful eye, yielded up
a foaming cupful that tided me over until I sat down in the family
dining-room to a breakfast such as is rarely forthcoming in Spain before
high noon.

The cantina was no more a lodging-house than a restaurant.  But so
charming a couple was not to be lost sight of, and before the meal was
ended I expressed a hope of making my home with them during my stay.
The landlord was taking breath to express his regrets when the matron,
after a moment of hesitation, admitted that even that might be possible,
adding however, with an air of mystery, that she could not be certain
until toward night.  I left my bundle and sauntered out into the city.

Jaen is a town of the Arab, a steep town with those narrow, sun-dodging
streets that to the utilitarian are inexcusable but to all others give
evidence of the wisdom of the Moor.  Content, perhaps, with its past
history, it is to-day a slow, serenely peaceful place riding at anchor
in the stream of time and singularly free from that dread disease of
doing something always.  Unusually full it seemed of ingenuous,
unhurrying old men engaged only in watching life glide by under the blue
sky.  I spent half the day chatting with these in the thirsting,
dust-blown park in the center of the town.  Their language was still a
dialect of Andalusia, a bit more Castilian perhaps than on the southern
coast, at any rate now grown as familiar as my own.

Each conversation was punctuated with cigarette smoke.  Nothing in Spain
is more nearly incessant than the rolling and burning of what Borrow
dubbed in the days before the French word had won a place in our
language "paper cigars."  We of America are inclined to look upon
indulgence in this form of the weed as a failing of youth, undignified
at least in old men.  Not so the Spaniard.  Whatever his age or station
in life--the policeman on his beat, the engineer at his throttle, the
boy at his father’s heels, the priest in his gown, puff eternally at
their cigarillo.  The express-check cashed in a Spanish bank is
swallowed up in a cloud of smoke as thick as the fog that hovers over
the Grand Banks; the directors who should attempt to forbid smoking in
their establishment would in all probability be invited to hump over
their own ledgers.  The Spaniard is strikingly the antithesis of the
American in this, that his "pleasures," his addictions come first and
his work second.  Let the two conflict and his work must be postponed or
left undone.  In contrast to his ceaseless smoking the Spaniard never
chews tobacco; his language has no word for that habit.

To the foreigner who smokes Spain is no Promised Land.  The ready-made
cigarettes are an abomination, the tobacco a stringy shag that grows
endurable only with long enduring.  Matches, like tobacco, are a
fabrication--and a snare--of the government monopoly.  Luckily, fire was
long before matches were.  These old men of Jaen one and all carried
flint and steel and in lieu of tinder a coil of fibrous rope fitted with
a nickled ring as extinguisher.  Few peoples equal the Spaniard in
eagerness and ability to "beat" the government.

I returned at evening to the wineshop to be greeted as a member of the
household.

"You wondered," laughed the señora, "why I could not answer you this
morning.  It is because the spare room is rented to Don Luis, here, who
works at night on the railroad.  Meet Don Luis, who has just risen and
given permission that you sleep in his bed, which I go now to spread
with clean sheets."

The railway man was one of nature’s satisfactions, a short solid fellow
of thirty-five, overflowing with contagious cheerfulness.  The libation
incidental to our introduction being drained, the landlord led the way,
chair in hand, to the bit of level flagging before the shop.  As we sat
"al fresco" drinking into our lungs the refreshing air of evening, we
were joined by a well-dressed man whom I recalled having seen somewhere
during the day.  He was a lawyer, speaking a pure Castilian with
scarcely a trace of the local patois, in short, one whom the caste rules
of any other land of Europe would have forbidden to spend an evening in
company with a tavern-keeper, a switchman, and a wandering unknown.

"How does it happen, señor," I asked, when our acquaintance had advanced
somewhat, "that I saw you in the cathedral this morning?"

"The domain of women, priests and tourists?" he laughed.  "Because,
señor, it is the one place in town where I can get cool."

Truly the heat of a summer day in Jaen calls for some such drastic
measure, for it grows estival, gigantic, weighing down alike on mind and
body until one feels imperative necessity of escaping from it somehow,
of running away from it somewhere; and there is no surer refuge than the
cavernous cathedral.

This as well as the fact that the edifice contains considerable that is
artistic led me back to it the next morning.  But this time it was in
the turmoil of a personally conducted party.  When I had taken refuge in
a shaded seat across the way, the flock poured out upon the broad stone
steps and, falling upon a beggar, checked their flight long enough to
bestow upon him a shower of pity and copper coins.

The mendicant was blind and crippled, outwardly a personification of
gratitude and humility, and attended by a gaunt-bellied urchin to whom
might fittingly have been applied the Spanish appellation "child of
misery."  Long after the hubbub of the passing tourists had died away in
the tortuous city his meekly cadenced voice drifted on after them:

"Benditos sean, caballeros.  Que Dios se lo pagará mil veces al cielo!"

A curiosity to know whether such gentleness were genuine held me for a
time in my place across the way.  Silence had settled down.  Only a
shopkeeper wandering by to a day of drowsing passed now and then; within
the great cathedral stillness reigned. The urchin ran after each
passerby, wailing the familiar formula, only to be as often ordered off.
At length he ascended the steps stealthily and, creeping within a few
feet of his master, lay down and was instantly lost in sleep, a luxury
he had evidently not tasted for a fortnight.

The beggar rocked to and fro on his worthless stumps, now and again
uttering as mournful a wail as if his soul had lost not one but all save
a scattered half-dozen of its strings.  Gradually the surrounding
silence drew his attention.  He thrust a hand behind one of his unhuman
ears and listened intently. Not a sound stirred.  He groped with his
left hand along the stones, then with the right and, suddenly touching
the sleeping child, a tremor of rage shivered through his misshapen
carcass.  Feeling with his finger tips until he had located the boy’s
face, he raised his fist, which was massive as that of a horseshoer,
high above his head and brought it down three times in quick succession.
They were blows to have shattered the panel of a door; but the boy
uttered only a little stifled whine and, springing to his feet, took up
again his task, now and then wiping away with a sleeve the blood that
dripped from his face down along his tattered knees.

Before the sun had reached its full strength, I struck off to explore
the barren bluff that overlooks Jaen on the south and east.  Barely had
I gained the first crest, however, before the inexorable leaden heat was
again upon me, and the rest of the day was a perspiring labor.  Only the
reflection that real travel and sight-seeing is as truly work as any
life’s vocation lent starch to my wilted spirits.

At intervals of two or three hundred yards along the precipitous cliff
that half circles the city stood the shelter of an octroi guard, built
of anything that might deflect a ray of sunlight.  In the shade of each
crouched a ragged, ennui-eyed man staring away into the limitless
expanse of sunshine.  Their fellows may be found forming a circle around
every city in the kingdom of Spain, the whole body numbering many
thousands.  The impracticable, the quixotic character of official Spain
stands forth nowhere more clearly than in this custom of sentencing an
army of her sons to camp in sloth about her cities on the bare chance of
intercepting ten-cent’s worth of smuggling, when the same band working
even moderately might produce tenfold the octroi revenues of the land.

I halted with one of the tattered fellows, whose gladness for the
unusual boon of companionship was tempered by a diffidence that was
almost bashfulness, so rarely did he come in contact with his
fellow-man. For a long hour we sat together in the shadow of the hut,
our eyes drifting away over the gray-roofed, closely-packed city below.
When our conversation touched on the loneliness of his situation the
guard grew vehement in bewailing its dreariness and desolation.  But
when I hinted that the octroi might perhaps be abolished to advantage,
he sprang to his feet crying almost in terror:

"For los clavos de Cristo, señor!  What then would become of nosotros?
I have no other trade whatever than to be guard to the octroi."

A sorry craft indeed, this squatting out a lifetime under a grass hut.

The bluish haze of a summer evening was gathering over Jaen when,
returning through a winding street to my lodging, there fell on my ear
the thrum of a solitary guitar and the rich and mellow voice of a street
singer.  The musician was a blind man of fifty, of burly build and a
countenance brimming with good cheer and contentment, accompanied by a
woman of the same age.  As I joined the little knot of peasants and
townsmen gathered about him, his song ended and he drew out a packet of
hand bills.

"On this sheet, señores," he announced, holding one up, "are all the
songs I have sung for you. And they are all yours for a perro gordo."

I was among the first to buy, glad to have paid many times this mere
copper to be able to carry home even one of those languorous ballads so
filled with the serene melancholy of the Moor and the fire of Andalusia.
But the sheet bore nothing but printed words.

"Every word is there, señores," continued the minstrel, as if in
response to my disappointment.  "As for the music, anyone can remember
that or make it up for himself."

To illustrate how simple this might be he threw a hand carelessly across
his guitar and struck up another of the droning, luring melodies, that
rose and fell and drifted away through the passages of the dimming city.
Easy, indeed!  One could as easily remember or make up for one’s self
the carol of the meadow lark in spring or the lullaby of the nightingale
in the darkened tree-tops.

That I might catch the five-thirty train my host awoke me next morning
at three-twenty.  I turned over for a nap and descending in the dawn by
the dust-blanketed Alameda to the station two miles distant, found this
already peopled with a gathering of all the types of southern Spain.
The train was due in twenty minutes, wherefore the ticket-office, of
course, was already closed.  After some search I discovered the agent,
in the person of a creature compared with whom Caliban would have been a
beauty, exchanging stories with a company of fellow-bandits on the
crowded platform.  He informed me in no pleasant manner that it was too
late to buy a ticket.  When I protested that the legal closing hour was
but five minutes before train time, he shrugged his shoulders and
squinted away down the track as if he fancied the train was already in
sight.  I decoyed him into the station at last, but even then he refused
to sell a ticket beyond Espeluy.

We reached that junction soon after and I set off westward along the
main line.  The landscape was rich and rolling, broad stretches of
golden grain alternating with close-shaven plains seething in the sun.
Giant cacti again bordered the way.  Once, in the forenoon, I came upon
a refreshing forest, but shadows were rare along the route.  The line
was even more traveled than that below Honda. Field-laborers passed
often, while sear-brown peasant women, on dwarf donkeys jogged by in
almost continual procession on their way to or from market.

Not once during all my tramps on the railways of Spain had a train
passed of which the engineer did not give me greeting.  Sometimes it was
merely the short, crisp "Vaya!" more often the complete expression "Vaya
V. con Dios!" not infrequently accompanied by a few words of good cheer.
Here on the main line I had occasion to test still further the
politeness of the man at the throttle.  I had rolled a cigarette only to
find that I had burned my last match.  At that moment the Madrid-bound
express swung out of a shallow cutting in the hills ahead.  I caught the
eye of the engineer and held up the cigarette in sign of distress.  He
saw and understood, and with a kindly smile and a "Vaya!" as he passed,
dropped two matches at my very feet.

It was not far beyond that I caught my first glimpse of the
Guadalquivir.  Shades of the Mississippi!  The conquering Moor had the
audacity to name this sluggish, dull-brown stream the "Wad-al-Gkebir,"
the "Great River!"  Yet, after all, things are great or small merely by
comparison.  To a people accustomed only to such trickles of water as
had thus far crossed my path in the peninsula no doubt this over-grown
brook, bursting suddenly on their desert eyes, had seemed worthy the
appellation. But many streams wandering by behind the barn of an
American farmer and furnishing the old swimming-hole are far greater
than the Guadalquivir.

I crossed it toward three of the afternoon by an ancient stone bridge of
many arches that seemed fitted to its work as a giant would be in
embroidering doilies.  Beyond lay Andújar, a hard-baked, crumbling town
of long ago, swirling with sand; famous through all Spain for its porous
clay jars. In every street sounded the soft slap of the potter; I peeped
into a score of cobble-paved courts where the newly baked _jarras_ were
heaped high or were being wound with straw for shipment.

A long search failed to disclose a casa de comidas in all the town.  The
open market overflowed with fruit, however, stocked with which I
strolled back across the river to await the midnight train.  It was
packed with all the tribes of Spain, in every sleeping attitude.  Not
until we had passed Córdoba at the break of day did I find space to sit
down and drowse for an hour before we rumbled into Seville.

I had exhibited my dust-swathed person in at least half a dozen hotels
and fled at announcement of their charges, when I drifted into the
narrow calle Rosario and entered the "Fonda de las Quatro Naciones."
There ensued a scene which was often to be repeated during the summer.
The landlord greeted me in the orange-scented patio, noted my foreign
accent, and jumped instantly to the conclusion, as Spaniards will, that
I knew no Castilian, in spite of the fact that I was even then
addressing him with unhesitating glibness.  Motioning to me to be
seated, he raced away into the depths of the fonda calling for
"Pasquale."  That youth soon appeared, in tuxedo and dazzling expanse of
shirt-front, extolling as he came the uncounted virtues of his house, in
a flowing, unblushing imitation of French. Among those things that I had
not come to Spain to hear was Spanish mutilation of the Gaelic tongue.
For a long minute I gazed at the speaker with every possible evidence of
astonishment.  Then turning to the landlord I inquired in most solemn
Castilian.

"Está loco, señor?  Is he insane that he jabbers such a jargon?"

"Cómo, señor!" gasped Pasquale in his own tongue.  "You are not then a
Frenchman?"

"Frenchman, indeed!" I retorted.  "Yo, señor, soy americano."

"Señor!" cried the landlord, bowing profoundly, "I ask your pardon on
bended knee.  In your Castilian was that which led me to believe it was
not your native tongue.  Now, of course, I note that it has merely the
little pequeñísimos peculiarities that make so charming the
pronunciation of our people across the ocean."

A half-hour later I was installed in a third-story room looking down
upon the quiet little calle Rosario, and destined to be my home for a
fortnight to come. During all that time Pasquale served me at table
without once inflicting upon me a non-Spanish word. Nor did he once
suspect what a hoax I had played on the "Four Nations" by announcing my
nationality without prefixing the qualification "norte."



                               CHAPTER V

                           THE TORERO AT HOME


Even though one deny the right of its inhabitants to pity the man who
must live and die elsewhere, even he who finds it panting and simmering
in the heat of summer, will still count it no punishment to spend a
fortnight in Seville.  Tranquillity and that laggard humor so befitting
vacation days reign within its precincts; yet it is a real city, never
falling quite inert even at the hour of siesta, which is so like the
silence of the grave in other towns of Andalusia.  In the slender calle
Rosario itself the stillness was never supreme, but tempered always by
the droning of a passing _ajero_ with his necklace of garlic, an
itinerant baker, or a blind crone hobbling by with the fifth or the
tenth of a lottery ticket, crooning in mournful voice, "La lotería!  El
numero trienta seis mil quinientos cincuenta y cinco-o-o. Who will win a
fortune in the lotería-a-a?"  Then above all else the soft,
quarter-hourly booming of the cathedral bells to mark the passing of the
day, like mile-stones on a wandering highway.

Nor with all her languor is Seville slovenly.  Outwardly, like all that
carries the ear-mark of the Moor, she is bare.  In the first brief
survey one may fancy one’s self in a city of dismal hovels.  But this is
because the houses are turned wrong-side out; a glimpse into one of the
marble-paved patios, fragrant with orange-trees and cooled by fountains
throwing their waters high in the dry air, forever dispells the
illusion.

My first full day in Seville fell on a holiday dedicated to San Pedro
which, chancing also to be my birthday, it was easy to imagine a
personal festival. In truth, the celebration of the day was marked by
nothing other than a bit more indolence than usual. The real fiesta
began at night in the Alameda of Hercules.  There, among a hundred
booths, the chief object of interest was a negro, the first of his race,
one might fancy, who ever invaded the city.

By day, indeed, there is little else to do in Seville than the royal
occupation of doing nothing, a stroll along the Sierpes in the morning,
a retreat toward noisy, glaring noonday to the cool and silent cathedral
or those other churches that rival it as museums of art, there to wander
undisturbed among masterpieces of Spain’s top-most century.  The
cathedral, by the way, houses the most recent traveler in the calendar
of saints.  Saint Anthony of Padua, not many years ago, released by the
dexterous knife of an impulsive admirer, struck out into the unknown and
journeyed as far as our own New York.  But there repenting such conduct
at his years or daring to venture no further when his companion found a
sojourn in the Tombs imperative, he returned to his place, and resumed
it so exactly that only the sharpest eye can detect the evidence of his
unseemly excursion.

A city that styles her most important street that "of the Serpents,"
even though it harbors no more of the outcasts of the pavement than many
another famous thoroughfare, may be expected to abound in other strange
names.  Nor are they lacking.  How unworthy his lodging must the worldly
Sevillian feel who wanders uncertainly homeward in the small hours to
his abode in "Jesús del Gran Poder"--"Powerful Jesus street."  Or with
what face can the merchant turn off after a day of fleecing his
fellow-man toward his dwelling in "Amor de Dios"?  Top-heavy
nomenclature is not confined to the streets.  There are many windows in
which one may read the announcement of a "Media Noche de Jamón."  No, it
is not a new law by the cortes, but a "Middle of the Night of Ham," or,
succinctly, the over-worked ham sandwich.  The uninstructed may be led
at sight of a building proclaiming itself an "Academia del Tiro al
Blanco" into the belief that Seville is overrun with institutions of
higher learning.  Not so, distinctly not so.  The "Academy of the Shot
at the White" is what less extravagant and imaginative peoples dub a
shooting gallery.

The man in the street is frequently no less colorful in his language.
Yet the crisp, trenchant word common to that personage the world over is
here, too, in full force, led by that never idle explosive "hombre."
Dictionarically speaking, "hombre" means "man," and nothing more--which
only proves how dismally the dictionary has failed to keep up with the
times.  For child, woman, or hen-pecked male answers to the expression
as readily as to his own name.  A sevillano leading a pup at the end of
a string may be frequently observed to give a jerk at the leash and cry
over his shoulder, "Hombre! Vámonos!"--"Come along, man!"

Anent the man in the street, it may be asserted that the Sevillian is
usually there.  Writers of Spanish romances have for centuries sought to
win our sympathy for their love-lorn heroes by stationing them in the
public way to whisper their pleadings through the cold bars of a reja.
The picture is true; the lover of flesh and blood and of to-day still
stands there.  But so, for that matter, does the butcher’s boy, the
ol’-clothes man, and even less reputable persons.  In Spanish newspapers
the national wealth of phrase is too often overshadowed--like the news
columns--by the touching assurance of personal announcements.  Rare the
page that is not half taken up with a black-bordered inset conveying the
information that:

"Señor and Señora Perez have the honor to advise their sorrowing friends
and business associates that little Willie Perez, aged six, went up to
heaven at 7:32 last evening."

There is nothing like being exact and punctual in these little matters.

Toward sunset, after the siesta, it is not merely à la mode but good
sense to stroll down to the banks of the Guadalquivir by the Golden
Tower and drift an hour or two back and forth along the deep-shaded
Alameda.  There one will be in the best company in Seville--and the
worst; for all the city is there, lolling in its carriage or pattering
along the gravel in its hempen sandals.

But it is only at night that Seville is wholly and genuinely awake and
approaches somewhat to that fountain of joy her inhabitants would have
the world believe her.  Then at last does she shake off entirely the
daytime lassitude.  The noises of the day are all there, the
street-hawkers have gained a hundredfold in volume of lung, in number,
and in activity, the cathedral bells seem twice as loud.  Toward nine
all the city and his wife and children and domestics are gathered or
gathering in the great focal point, the palm-fringed Plaza San Fernando.
The attractions are several.  First of all is the "cinematagrafo," a
moving-picture machine throwing its mirth and puerility on a sheet
suspended in the center of the plaza.  Second, a military band, not a
caterwauling of strange noises that one would desire suppressed by fire
or earthquake, but a company seriously and professionally engaged in
producing genuine music, which it does from near nine till after
midnight as continuously as any band could be expected to until some
invention makes it possible to blow a trombone and smoke a cigarette at
one and the same time. Third, there is the excitement which the mingling
together in crowds brings every Latin people, and the supreme pleasure
of strolling to and fro admiring one another and themselves.  Fourth, if
so many excuses are needed, there is fresh air and the nearest approach
to coolness that the city affords.

Yet with all Seville gathered the thousand roped-off chairs around the
curtain are rarely half filled; for to sit in one costs a "fat dog," as
the Spaniard facetiously dubs his Lacedemonian two-cent piece.  But what
a multitude in the rest of the square!  Out of doors all Spain mixes
freely and heartily.  Hidalgos with the right to conceal their premature
baldness from Alfonso himself shudder not in the least at being jostled
by beggars; nay, even exchange with them at times a few words of banter.
Silly young fops, in misfit imitation of Parisian style, a near-Panama
set coquettishly over one ear, trip by arm in arm, swinging their jaunty
canes. Workingmen scorning such priggishness stride slowly by in trim
garments set off by bright red _fajas_ in which is stuck a great
_navaja_, or clasp-knife of Albacete.  Rich-bosomed _majas_ with their
black masses of mane-like hair, in crimson skirts or yellow--as yellow
as the gown of Buddha--drift languorously by with restless fan.  No type
is missing from the strolling multitude.  Strolling, too, it is, in
spite of the congestion; for the slow tide-like movement of the throng
not only gives opportunity but compels any lazy foreigner to walk
whether he will or not.  Everyone is busy with gallantry and doing
nothing--doing it only as the Spaniard can who, thanks to temperament,
climate, and training knows that peerless art and follows it with
pleasure, not with the air of one who prefers or pretends to prefer to
be working.

The Sevillian is in many things, above all in his amusements, a
full-grown child.  Groups of portly business men, Seville’s very
captains of industry, sit hour by hour watching the unrolling of just
such films, as are shown in our "nickelodeons," shouting with glee and
clapping each other on the shoulder when a man on the screen falls off a
chair or a baker’s boy deluges a passerby with flour.  No less hilarious
are the priests, shaking their fat sides with merriment at the pictured
discomfiture of one of their guild in eager pursuit of some frail
beauty. As interested as the rest are the policemen--and as little
engaged in the fulfillment of their duties, whatever those may be.  A
poor species, a distressingly unattractive breed are these city
policemen of Spain, in their uniform closely resembling checkerboard
pajamas, lacking even the Hibernian dignity of size, stoop-shouldered
and sunken-chested with lounging on their spines and the inordinate
sucking of cigarette smoke into their lungs.  Of the self-respect and
pride of office characteristic of the national guardia civil they have
none whatever.  I recall no evening in the Plaza San Fernando that at
least one pair of these wind-broken, emasculate caricatures of manhood
did not fall to quarreling, dancing in rage and shrieking mutual curses
in their smoke-ruined voices, while the throng dogged them on.

Families gather early in the plaza.  There ensues a moment or two of
idle thrumming--for father or brother is certain to bring his
guitar--then out bursts the sharp, luring _fandango_; the little girls
in snowy white squirm a moment on their seats, spring suddenly out upon
the gravel, and fall to dancing to the click of their castanets as
rhythmically as any professionals.  They do not dance to "show off,"
they are indeed rarely conscious of attracting attention; they dance
because the fire in them compels, because they wish to--and what the
Andalusian wishes to do he does then and there, gloriously indifferent
to whoever may be looking on.  Let him who can imagine an American
bringing his guitar to the public square of a large city and, surrounded
by thousands, play serenely on into the depths of the night.

[Illustration: A Sevillian street]

The Andalusian is one of the most truly musical beings on earth, in the
sense that his music expresses his real emotions.  Song is almost his
natural mode of expression, always spontaneous, with none of the
stiffness of learned music.  He has no prelude, follows no conscious
rules, displays none of that preliminary affectation and patent evidence
of technic that so frequently makes our northern music stilted and
unenchanting.  He plunges headlong into his song, anywhere, at any time,
as a countryman unsullied by pedantry enters into conversation.

[Illustration: The Plaza, San Fernando.  "A’ua!  A’ua fresca!  Quién
quiere beber?"]

Thus wanes the night in the Plaza San Fernando, marked by the boom of
the Giralda’s bells, the bawling of vendors of lottery-tickets, of
titbits, of matches, of _azucarillos_, of _naranjeros_ crying their
oranges, of boys carrying miniature roulette-wheels with a cone of
sherbet as prize, that the little children may be taught to gamble early
in life; and sharply above all else and most incessantly the
alpargata-shod water-seller, with his vessel like a powder-can slung
across one shoulder, his glasses clinking musically, crying, crying
always in his voluptuous, slovenly dialect:

"A’ua!  A’ua fresca!  A’ua fresca como la nieve! Quién quiere beber?"

We have street calls in the United States, but he whose ear is daily
assaulted therewith would have difficulty in imagining how musical these
may be when filled, like the thrum of the guitar, the street ballad, the
"carol of the lusty muleteer," and the wail of the railway announcer,
with the inner soul of Andalusia.

There is to-day very little left of the national costume of Spain.  One
may except the stiff, square-cut sombrero, the alpargata of workman and
beggar, the garb of the arriero, fitting and suiting him as if it had
grown on him, the blanket which the peasant wears thrown over one
shoulder, not because he realizes what a charm this adds to his
appearance, but because he often sleeps out of doors or on the stone
floor of public stables.  Last, and least to be forgotten, is the
mantilla.  Except for it the women of Spain have succumbed to the ugly
creations of Paris; may that day be centuries distant when the
abomination masquerading under the name of woman’s hat makes its way
into the peninsula.  Yet there is never among Spanish women that gaudy
affectation of style so frequent elsewhere.  Give her the merest strip
of gay calico and the española will make it truly ornamental; with a red
flower to wear over one temple and a mantilla draped across the back of
her head she is more pleasingly adorned than the best that Paris can
offer.

There is something unfailingly coquettish about the mantilla.  It sets
best, perhaps, with a touch of Arab blood; and in the Plaza San Fernando
this is seldom lacking.  Everywhere are morisco faces framed in the
black mantilla and, as if in further reminder of Mohammedan days, there
still remains the instinctive habit of holding a corner of the shawl
across the chin.  Thus accoutered only the Castilian "ojear" can in any
sense express the power given the andaluza by her Oriental ancestry to
do or say so much with a glance of her black eye.  With the fan, too,
she is an adept.  The Japanese geisha is in comparison a bungler.  The
woman of Spain has her fan in such fine training that it will carry on
extended conversations for her without a word from her lips, as Spanish
peasants can talk from two hilltops miles apart by the mere motions of
their arms.

But who of all the misinformers of humanity first set afoot the rumor
that the sevillana is beautiful? "Salada" she is, brimming over with
that "salt" for which she is so justly renowned; chic, too, at times,
with her tiny feet and hands and graceful carriage; and always
voluptuous.  But one might wander long in the music-livened Plaza San
Fernando without espying a woman to whom could be granted the
unqualified adjective beautiful.  On the other hand it is rare that one
meets a sevillana, unless she be deeply marked by the finger of time,
who is ugly; never, if my search was thorough, one scrawny or angular.
In Spain is never that blending and mixture of all types as in our land
of boundless migration; hence one may generalize.  Salada, graceful,
full of languor, above all wholly free from pose, is the sevillana in
her mantilla.  Of education in the bookish sense she has little, of the
striving after "culture" to the divorce of common sense none whatever.
She may--and probably does--know nothing of the sciences, or the
wrinkle-browed joys of the afternoon club.  But she is brimming with
health and sound good sense, above all she is incontestably charming;
and is not this after all--whisper it not in New England--the chief duty
of her sex?

The Andalusian is primarily an out-door people; not merely in the plain
and physical sense, but in life and character.  He lives his life
openly, frankly, setting his face in no mask of Puritanical pretension
when he sallies forth into the world, being himself always, in public or
in private.  All in all among the sincerest, he is also the most
abstemious and healthiest of peoples; not yet spoiled by luxury. His
existence is reduced to simplicity; more exactly he has never lost touch
with eternal nature.  He takes time to live and never admits the
philosophy that he must work before resting, but hinges his conduct on
the creed that he must live first, and do whatever of work there is time
left to do.  In no sense is he lazy; rather in his sound sanity he has a
real appreciation of the value of life.  To-day is the great day to him.
Live now is his motto, not put off living until he has earned enough to
live, only to find it too late to begin.  One would seek through Seville
in vain for that strained, devil-chased air so stamped on our own
national physiognomy.  Whatever his vocation, or the hour of the day,
the Spaniard has always time to choose the shady side of the street,
time to halt and talk with his friends.  As I watched him night by night
in the Plaza San Fernando--and this is largely typical of all
Spain--there came the reflection that the lands of continual striving,
the lands where "culture" demands the repression of every natural
emotion and enthusiasm, are dreary realms, indeed, compared with the
Living Latin South.  Here is not merely animation, but life, real life
everywhere, no mere feigned living.

On my second Sunday in Seville I attended my second bullfight.  The
first I had seen from the depths of the _sombra_, believing the
assertion that none but a man with Arabic blood in his veins could
endure the unshaded side of the arena.  But my fear of sun-stroke had
melted away; moreover, the sun-side gate keeper is most easily
satisfied.  I bought a ticket at a corner of las Sierpes and entered the
plaza as soon as the doors were opened.

Not a half-dozen had preceded me when I took a place on the stone bank
directly behind the red _tablas_. On my heels appeared a rabble of
ragged, joyful fellows, who quickly demonstrated that I had not, as I
supposed, chosen the foremost seat, by coming to roost along the top of
the barrier in front of me. One shudders to reflect what would befall
individuals in an American baseball crowd who should conduct themselves
as did these habitués of the Sevillian _sol_. But to the mercurial
andaluz, accustomed always and anywhere to give his idiosyncrasies and
enthusiasms full play, the wildest antics seem quite in place.

If, as many reputed authorities will have us believe, the Spaniard’s
love for "toros" is dying out, what must it have been before the
dissolution began?  At any rate it has not yet sunk to that point where
the vast plaza of Seville will hold all who would come, even to these
_novilladas_ in which the bulls are young and the fighters not yet more
famous than a member of the cortes.  From a dozen entries the spectators
poured into the enclosure; in the blazing semicircle bronzed peasants
and workmen with wine-swollen _botas_, across the shimmering sand richly
attired señoritas in the white mantilla of festival, attended by
middle-aged duenas and, at respectful distance, by caballeros of
effeminate deportment.  The española is as ardent a lover of bulls as
the men.  One must not, however, jump to the conclusion that she is
cruel and inhuman.  On the contrary she is in many things exceedingly
tender-hearted.  Habit and the accustomed way of thinking make vast
differences, and the fact that Spain was for seven hundred years in
continual warfare may account for a certain callousness to physical
suffering.

The Spanish plaza de toros is the nearest modern prototype of the Roman
Coliseum; when it is filled one may easily form a mental picture of the
scene at a gladiatorial combat.  By four-thirty the voice of the
circular multitude was like the rumble of some distant Niagara.  Howling
vendors of thirst-quenching fruits climbed over our blistering knees;
between the barriers circulated hawkers of everything that may be sold
to the festive-humored.  Spain may be tardy in all else, but her
bullfights begin sharply on time.  At the first stroke of five from the
Giralda a bugle sounded, the barrier gates swung open, and the game was
on.

It would be not merely presumptuous, which is criminal, but trite, which
is worse, to attempt at this late day to picture a scene that has been
described a hundred times in every civilized tongue and in all the gamut
of styles from Byronic verse to commercial-traveler’s prose.  But
whereas every bullfight is the same in its general features, no two were
ever alike in the unexpected incidents that make the sport of perennial
interest to the _aficionados_.  An "aficionado," be it noted in passing,
is a "fan," a being quite like our own "rooter" except that, his
infirmity being all but universal, he is not looked down upon with such
pity by his fellow-countrymen.

Seville is the acknowledged headquarters of the taurine art.  In our
modern days of migratory mixture of races and carelessness of social
lines, toreros have arisen from all classes and in all provinces--nay,
even in foreign lands.  One of Spain’s famous _matadores_ is a Parisian,
and one even more renowned bears the nickname of the "Mexican
Millionaire." But the majority of bullfighters are still sons of
peasants and small landholders of Andalusia in general and the vicinity
of Seville in particular.  The torero touring "the provinces" is as fond
of announcing himself a sevillano as are our strolling players of
claiming "New Yawk" as home.  Nowadays, too, the bulls are bred in all
parts of Spain and by various classes of persons.  But the _ganaderías_
of Andalusia still supply most of the animals that die in the plazas of
Spain, and command the highest prices.  Among the principal raisers is
the Duke of Veragua, who boasts himself--and can, it is said, make good
the boast--a lineal descendant of that Christopher Columbus whose
wandering ashes now repose in the cathedral of Seville.  The duke,
however, takes second place to one Eduardo Miúra, whose bulls are so
noted for their fury that a movement has for some time been on foot to
demand double fees for facing animals from his pastures.

The bulls of both my Sundays in Seville were "miúras," and fully
sustained the fame of their ganadero.  Each córrida began with the usual
caparisoned parade, the throwing of the key, the fleeing of the
over-cautious _alguaciles_ amid the jeering of the multitude.  Is there
another case in history of a national sport conducted by the vested
authorities of government?  Perhaps so, in Nero’s little matinées in the
toasting of Christians.  But here the rules of the game are altered and
to some extent framed by those authorities.  Imagine the city fathers
of, let us say Boston, debating with fiery zeal whether a batter should
be allowed to run on the third strike!  Then, too, the mayor or his
representative is the umpire, safely so, however, for he is securely
locked in his box high above the rabble and there is never a losing team
to lie in wait for him beyond the club-house.

It is the all but universal custom, I note in skimming through the
impressions of a half-hundred travelers in Spain, to decry bullfighting
in the strongest terms.  Nay, almost without exception, the chroniclers,
who appear in most cases to be full-grown, able-bodied men, relate how a
sickness nigh unto death came upon them at about the time the first bull
was getting warmed up to his business which forced them to flee the
scene forever.  One must, of course, believe they are not posing before
the gentle reader, but it comes at times with difficulty.  To be sure,
the game has little in common with croquet or dominoes; there are stages
of it, particularly the disemboweling of helpless hacks, that give the
newcomer more than one unpleasant quarter of an hour. Indeed, I am
inclined to think that had I a dictator’s power I should abolish
bullfighting to-morrow, or next Monday at least; but so, for that
matter, I should auto races and country billboards, Salome dancers and
politicians, train-boys and ticket speculators.  Unfortunately--

At any rate, I came out to this second córrida in Seville and left it
with the hope of seeing several more.  Certainly there is no other
"sport" that can more quickly and fully efface from the mind of the
spectator his personal cares and problems; and is not this, after all,
the chief, if not the only raison d’être of professional sport?  There
is an intensity in the moment of a matador standing with steeled eye and
bared sword before a bull panting in tired anger, head lowered, a hush
of expectancy in the vast audience, the _chulos_ poised on tiptoe at a
little distance, an equine corpse or two tumbled on the sand to give the
scene reality, compared with which the third man, third strike in the
ninth inning of a 0-0 contest is as exciting as a game of marbles.  It
is his hunger for such moments of frenetic attention that makes the
Spaniard a lover of the córrida, not the sight of blood and the injuries
to beast and man, which, in his intoxication at the game itself, he
entirely loses sight of.

The newcomer will long remember his first bull--certainly if, as in my
own case, the first bandarillero slips at the moment of thrusting his
barbed darts and is booted like a soccer football half across the ring
by the snorting animal.  Still less shall I forget the chill that shot
through me when, with the fifth bull at the height of his fury, a gaunt
and awkward boy of fifteen sprang suddenly over the barriers and shook
his ragged blouse a dozen times in the animal’s face.  As many times he
escaped a goring by the closest margin.  The toreros did not for a
moment lose their heads.  Calmly and dexterously they maneuvered until
one of them drew the bull off, when another caught the intruder by the
arm and marched him across the ring to the shade of the mayor’s box.
There the youth, who had taken this means of gaining an audience, lifted
up a mournful voice and asked for food, asserting that he was
starving--a statement that seemed by no means improbable.  The response
was thumbs down.  But he gained his point, in a way, for he was given a
fortnight in prison.  Incidents of the sort had grown so frequent of
late in the plaza of Seville as to make necessary a new law, promulgated
in large letters on that day’s programme.  Printed words, in all
probability, meant nothing to this neglected son of Seville. Such
occurrences are not always due to the same motive.  The impulsive
andaluz is frequently not satisfied with being a mere spectator at the
national game.  A score of times the tattered aficionados about me
pounced upon one of their fellows and dragged him down just as he was on
the point of bounding into the ring.  Indeed, as at any spectacle the
world over, the audience was as well worth attention as the performance
itself.  On the blistering stone terraces of an Andalusian sol animation
and comedy are never lacking.  In his excitement at a clever thrust the
Sevillian often sees fit to fall--quite literally--on the neck of a
total stranger; friends and foes alike embrace each other and dance
about on the feet, shoulders, or heads of their uncomplaining neighbors.
There is a striking similarity between the bantering of a famous torero
by the aficionados and the "joshing" of a favorite pitcher in an
American ball park, but the good day has yet to come when the recorder
of a home-run will be showered in his circuit of the bleachers with hats
and wine-skins, handfuls of copper coins, and tropical deluges of
cigars.  Nor does the most inexcusable fumble call forth such a storm of
derision as descends upon a cowardly bull.  The jibes have in them often
more of wit than vulgarity, as when an aficionado rises in his place and
solemnly offers the animal his seat in the shade.  The height of all
insults is to call him a cow.  Through it all, the leather wine-bottles
pass constantly from hand to hand.  A dozen of these I had thrust upon
me during the fight, and tasted good wine each time.  The proceeding is
so antiseptic as to warm the heart of the most raving germ-theorist, for
the bota is fitted with a tiny spout out of which the drinker, holding
the receptacle high above his head, lets the wine trickle down his
throat.  The skins so swollen when the córrida begins are limp and
flaccid when it ends.

It seems the custom of travelers to charge that the apparent bravery of
the bullfighter is mere pseudo-courage.  Of all the detractors, however,
not one records having strolled even once across the arena while the
fight was on.  In truth, the torero’s calling is distinctly dangerous.
The meanest bull that enters a Spanish ring, one for whom the spectators
would demand "banderillas de fuego"--explosives,--is a more fearful
brute than the king of a Texas ranch.  Their horns are long, spreading
and needle-pointed; the _empresa_ that dared turn into the ring a bull
with the merest tip of a horn blunted or broken would be jeered into
oblivion.  Not a year passes that scores of toreros are not sent to the
hospital.

The Spanish espada is almost invariably "game" to the last.  The sixth
bull of this Sunday’s tournament was, as often happens, the most
ferocious.  He killed six horses, wounded two _picadores_, tossed a
chulo as high as a one-story house and, at the first pass of Vasquez,
the matador, knocked him down and gored him in the neck.  A coward, one
fancies, would have lost no time in withdrawing.  Vasquez, on the
contrary, crawled to his feet and swung half round the circle that all
might see he was unafraid, though blood was streaming down his
bespangled breast. The alguaciles between the barriers commanded him to
retire, but it was to be noted that not one of them showed the least
hint of entering the ring to enforce the order.  The diestro advanced
upon the defiant brute, unfurled his red muleta, poised his sword--and
swooned flat on the sand.  The bull walked slowly to him, sniffed at his
motionless form, and with an expression almost human of disdain, turned
and trotted away.

"Palmas al toro!" bawled a boisterous fellow at my elbow, and the vast
circle burst out in a thunder of hand-clapping and cries of "Bravo,
toro!" while the wounded espada still lay senseless in the center of the
ring.

He was carried off by his _cuadrilla_, and the _sobresaliente_, which is
to say the "jumper-over," or substitute, marched as boldly into the ring
as if accidents were unknown.  Once begun a córrida knows no
intermission, even though a man is killed.  The newcomer took steady aim
and drove the three-foot sword to the very hilt between the heaving
shoulders; then nonchalantly turned his back and strolled away. The bull
did not fall, but wabbled off into the shade to lean up against the
tablas as if he had suddenly grown disillusioned and disgusted with
life, and the spectators, no longer to be restrained, swarmed head-long
into the arena.  I pushed toward the animal with the rest and just as I
paused a few feet from him he dropped suddenly dead, his blood-smeared
horns rattling down along the barrier.

On rare occasions the matador, disobeying the unwritten law that the
animal must be despatched by a thrust down through the body, places the
point of his sword just behind the horns and with the slightest of
thrusts kills the bull so suddenly that his fall sounds like the thump
of a barrel dropped from a height.  Then does the spectator, the
unseasoned at least, experience an indefinable depression as if this
striking of a great brute dead by a mere prick in the back of the neck
were a warning of how frail after all is the hold of the most robust on
life.

As we poured out of the plaza, I halted in the long curving chamber
beneath the tribunes. Twenty-two horses, gaunt, mutilated things, lay
tumbled pellmell together in a vast heap.  Brawny men in sleeveless
shirts were pawing them over. Whenever they brought to light a mane or
tail they slashed off the hair and stuffed it into sacks; when they
dragged forth a hoof the shoe was quickly added to the heap of old iron
in a corner.  The bulls were treated with far more deference.  Each lay
in his own space, and the group gathered about him wore the respectful
mien of soldiers viewing the last remains of some formidable fallen
enemy.  On my heels arrived the jingling mules with the last victim. Two
butchers skinned, quartered, and loaded this into a wagon from the
central markets in exactly eleven minutes, the vehicle rattled away, and
the week’s córrida was over.

The Spanish torero is all but idolized by the rank and file, being in
this respect vastly above our professional ball players.  There is
little society except the purely bluestocking to which he has not the
entrée; wherever and whenever he appears he is sure to be surrounded or
followed by admiring crowds. The famous, the Bombita family, for
example, which has given four renowned matadores to the ring--and one to
each of my Sevillian córridas--Machaquito of Córdoba, and a half-dozen
others of highest rank are distinctly more popular and honored than the
king.  Nor is this popularity, however clouded by a bad thrust,
transient or fleeting.  Pepete, who departed this life with exceeding
suddenness back in the sixties because a bull bounded after him over the
tablas and nailed him to the inner barrier, is to this day almost a
national hero.

Of course every red-blooded Spanish boy dreams of becoming a bullfighter
and would not think of being unfamiliar with the features, history,
peculiarities, and batting av--I mean number of _cogidas_ or wounds of
the principal fighters.  Rare the boy who does not carry about his
person a pack of portraits of matadores such as are given away with
cigarettes. On the playground no other game at all rivals "torero" in
popularity.  There is something distinctly redolent of the baseball
diamond in the dialogues one is sure to hear several times on the way
home after a córrida.  A boy whom fate or the despotism of the family
woodpile has deprived of the joys of the afternoon, greets his inhuman
father outside the gates with a shout of, "Hóla!  Papa! Qué tal los
toros?--How goes it with the bulls--what is the score?"  To which
father, anxious now to regain his popularity, answers jovially, "Bueno,
chiquillo!  Tres cogidas y dos al hospital.--Fine, son!  Three wounded
and two in the hospital."

Having thus trod the very boards of the last act of "Carmen" and passed
a splendid setting for the third in my tramp through the Sierra de
Ronda, I decided to celebrate the otherwise unglorious Fourth by
visiting the scene of the third.  The great government Fábrica de
Tabacos of Seville is one of the most massive buildings in Spain, and
furnishes well-nigh half the cigarettes and cigars smoked in Andalusia.
I passed through the outer offices and crossed the vast patio without
interference.  When I attempted to enter the factory itself, however, an
official barred the way.  I asked why permission was denied and with a
wink he answered:

"Sh!  Hace calor.  It is hot, and las cigarreras are not dressed to
receive visitors.  Come in the autumn and I shall make it a pleasure to
show you through the fabrica."

"But surely," I protested, "there are men among the employees who have
admittance to the workrooms even in summer?"

"Claro, hombre!" he replied, with another wink. "But that is one of the
privileges of our trade."

I strolled out around the building.  Back of it, sure enough, was a
cavalry barracks, and any one of a score of young troopers sitting
astride chairs in the shade of the building might have passed for Don
José.  Some of them were singing, too, in good clear voices; though
rather a sort of dreamy _malagüeño_ than the vivacious music of Bizet.
But, alas!  With Don Josés and to spare, when the factory gates opened
and the thousands of _cigarreras_ so famed in song and impropriety
poured forth, not one was there who could by any stretch of the
imagination be cast for Carmencita.  Sevillanas there were of every age,
from three-foot childhood upward; disheveled gypsy girls from Triana
across the river; fat, dumpy majas; hobbling old witches; slatterns with
an infant tucked under one arm; crippled martyrs of modern invention;
hollow-chested victims of tobacco fumes; painted _sinvergüenzas_; above
all, hundreds of hale, honest women who looked as if they worked to help
support their families and lived life seriously and not wantonly.  But
not a face or even a form that could have seduced any young recruit to
betray his trust and ruin his career.  Fiction, frequently, is more
picturesque than fact--and far less pleasing in its morality.



                               CHAPTER VI

                           TRAMPING NORTHWARD


To the man who will travel cheaply, interlarding his walking trips with
such journeys by train as may be necessary to cover the peninsula in one
summer, Spain offers the advantages of the "billete kilométrico."  The
kilometer ticket is sold in all classes and for almost any distance, and
is valid on all but a few branch lines.  One applies at a ticket agency,
leaves a small photograph of one’s self, and comes back a couple of days
later to receive a sort of 16mo mileage-book containing legal
information sufficient to furnish reading matter for spare moments for a
week to come and adorned with the interesting likeness already noted.

I made such application during my second week in Seville, and received
for my pains a book good for two thousand kilometers (1280 miles) of
third-class travel during the ensuing three months.  The cost
thereof--besides the infelicity of sitting to a photographer in a sadly
mosquito-bitten condition--covering transportation, government tax on
the same, printing and the tax therefor, the photograph and the tax for
that privilege, and the government stamp attesting that the government
was satisfied it could tax no more, footed up to seventy-five pesetas,
or concisely, thirteen dollars and thirty cents.

But--if there is anything in official Spain that has not a "but"
attached it should be preserved in a museum--but, I say, the
kilometer-coupons are printed in fives rather than in ones, and however
small the fraction of distance overlapping, it costs five kilometers of
ticket.  Moreover--there is usually also a "moreover" following the
"but" clause in Spanish ordinances--moreover, there are hardly two
cities in Spain the railway distance between which does not terminate in
the figures one or six.  It does not seem reasonable to believe that the
railroads were surveyed round-about to accomplish this result; it must
be, therefore, that in the hands of Spanish railway measurers the
kilometer is susceptible to such shrinkage as may be needful. At any
rate--and this is the thought I had hoped to lead up to--at any rate it
was very often possible, by walking six or eleven or sixteen kilometers,
to save ten or fifteen or twenty kilometers of ticket; and the game of
thus outwitting the railway strategists was incomparably more diverting
than either solitaire or one-hand poker.

Thus it was that, though I planned to reach Córdoba that evening, I left
Seville during the morning of July 8 on foot.  In my knapsack was a
day’s supply of both food and drink, in the form of three-cent’s worth
of those fresh figs that abound in Spain--the one fruit that is
certainly descended directly from the Garden of Eden.  For miles the
route led across a desert-dry land as flat as a western prairie,
grilling in the blazing sunshine.  At rare intervals an olive-tree cast
a dense black shadow. There was no grass to be seen, but only an
occasional tuft of bright red flowers smiling bravely above the
moistureless soil.

Long hours the retrospect of the city of toreros remained, the overgrown
cathedral bulking gigantic above all else.  All the day through
cream-white Carmona on her hilltop--a lofty island in a sea turned
sand--gleamed off to the southward, visible almost in detail through the
truly transparent air of Andalusia.  I did not go to Carmona, near as
she is to Seville; I never care to, for certainly she cannot be half so
bewitching in reality as she looks on her sheer-faced rock across these
burning plains of sand.  To the north, beyond the brown Guadalquivir,
lay the distance-blue foothills of the Sierra Morena, dying away in the
northern horizon.

It was twenty-one o’clock by her station timepiece when I descended at
Córdoba from the train I had boarded in the dusk at Tocina.  A mile’s
stroll brought me to the city itself, and a lodging. Poor old Córdoba
has fallen on parlous times. Like those scions of nobility one runs
across now and then "on the road," it is well that she has her papers to
prove she was once what she claims to have been.  Surely none would
guess her to-day a former imperial city of the Caliphs, the Bagdad and
Mecca of the West.  Her streets, or rather her alleys, for she has no
streets, are bordered for the most part by veritable village hovels.
Most African in aspect of all the cities of Spain, this once center of
Arabic civilization looks as if she had been overwhelmed so often that
she has utterly lost heart and given up, expending what little sporadic
energy she has left in constructing a tolerable Alameda to the station,
either that she may have always open an avenue of escape, or to entice
the unsuspecting traveler into her misery.

To the imagination the Córdoba of to-day is wholly a deception.  Yet she
may rest assured that she will not be entirely forgotten so long as her
one lion, the cathedral, or more properly her chief mosque, remains.
For in spite of Christian desecration, in spite of the crippled old
women who are incessantly drawing water in its Patio of the
Orange-trees, despite even the flabby, cynical priests that loaf in the
shade of the same, smoking their cigarettes, and the beggars at its
doors like running sores on the landscape, the Mesdjid al-Dijâmi of
Córdoba does not, like many a far-heralded "sight," bring
disappointment.  Once in the cool stillness of its forest of pillars one
may still drift back into the gone centuries and rebuild and repeople in
fancy the sumptuous days of the Moor.

This reconstruction of the past was not uninterrupted, however, on the
morning of my visit.  For in the church, that heavy-featured intruder
within the mosque like a toadstool that has sprung up through some
broken old Etruscan vase, mass was celebrating. I crossed before the
open door and glanced in. Some thirty strapping, well-fed priests were
lounging in the richly-carved choir stalls, chanting a resonant wail
that was of vast solace, no doubt, to some unhappy soul writhing in
purgatory.  There was not the shadow of a worshiper in the building. Yet
these able-bodied and ostensibly sane men croaked on through their
chants as serious-featured as if all the congregation of Córdoba were
following their every syllable with reverent awe.

They interfered not in the least with sight-seeing, however, being, as I
have said, in the church proper, an edifice wholly distinct from the
mosque and one which none but a conscientious tourist or a fervent
Catholic would care to enter.  There were, nevertheless, certain
annoyances, in the persons of a half-dozen blearing crones and as many
ragged and officious urchins, who crowded about offering, nay, thrusting
upon me their services as guides.

In time I shook off all but one ugly fellow of about fifteen, who hung
irrepressibly on my heels. Mass ended soon after, and the priests filed
out into the mosque chatting and rolling cigarettes, and wandered
gradually away.  One of them, however, catching sight of me, advanced
and clutching my would-be guide by the slacker portions of his raiment,
sent him spinning toward the door.

"Es medio loco, eso," he said, stepping forward with a shifty smile and
nudging me with an elbow, "a half-witted fellow who will trouble you no
more. With your permission I will show you all that is to be seen, and
it shall cost you nothing."

I accepted the offer, not because any guidance was necessary, or even
desirable, but glad of every opportunity for closer acquaintance and
observation of that most disparaged class of Spanish society. To one to
whom not only all creeds, but each of the world’s half-dozen real
religions sum up to much the same total, the general condemnation of the
priesthood of Spain had hitherto seemed but another example of
prejudice.

This member of the order was a man of forty, stoop-shouldered, his
tonsure merging into a frontal baldness, with the face and manners of a
man-about-town and a frequenter of the Tenderloin.  For three sentences,
perhaps, he conversed as any pleasant man of the world might with a
stranger.  Then we paused to view several paintings of the Virgin. They
were images deeply revered by all true Catholics, yet this smirking
fellow began suddenly to comment on them in a string of lascivious
indecencies which even I, who have no reverence for them whatever, could
not hear without being moved to protest. As we advanced, his sallies and
anecdotes grew more and more obscene, his conduct more insinuating. When
he fell to hinting that I should, in return for his kindness, bring
forward a few tales of a similar vintage, I professed myself sated with
sight-seeing and, leading the way out into the sunshine to the stone
terrace overlooking the Guadalquivir, with scanty excuse left him.

A walk across the stately old bridge and around the century-crumbled
city walls lightened my spirits. In the afternoon, cutting short my
siesta, I ventured back to the cathedral.  The hour was well chosen; not
another human being was within its walls.  Unattended I entered the
famous third _mihrab_ and satisfied myself that its marble floor is
really worn trough-like by the knees of pious Mohammedans, centuries
since departed for whatever was in store for them in the realm of
_houris_.  Free from the prattle of "guides," I climbed an improvised
ladder into the second mihrab, which was undergoing repairs; and for a
full two hours wandered undisturbed in the pillared solitude.

Night had fallen when I set out on foot from Córdoba.  The heat was too
intense to have permitted sleep until towards morning, had I remained.
Over the city behind, in the last glow of evening, there seemed to rise
again the melancholy chant, ages dead, of the muezzin:

"Allah hû Allah!  There is no God but God. Come to prayer.  Allah ill
Allah!"

The moon was absent, but the stars that looked down upon the steaming
earth seemed more brilliant and myriad than ever before.  In spite of
them the darkness was profound.  The Spaniard, however, is still too
near akin to the Arab to be wandering in the open country at such an
hour, and I heard not a sound but my own footsteps and the restless
repose of the summer night until, in the first hour of the morning, I
arrived at the solitary station of Arcoléa.

There I stretched out on a narrow platform bench, but was still gazing
sleeplessly at the sky above when a "mixto" rolled in at two-thirty.
The populous third-class compartment was open at the sides, and the
movement of the train, together with the chill that comes at this hour
even in Spain, made the temperature distinctly cold.  That of itself
would have been endurable.  But close beside me, oppressively close in
fact, sat a woman to the leeward of forty, of the general form of a sack
of wheat, in her hand the omnipresent fan.  Regularly at two-minute
intervals she flung this open from force of habit, sent over me several
icy draughts of air, and noting the time and place, heaved a vast "ay de
mi!" and dropped the fan shut again--for exactly another two minutes.

I slept not at all and, descending as the night was fading at the
station of Espeluy, shouldered my bundle and set off toward the sunrise.
Three kilometers more and there lay before me the great open highway to
Madrid, three hundred and seven kilometers away.  I struck into it
boldly, for all my drowsiness, reflecting that even the immortal Murillo
had tramped it before me.

The landscape lay desolate on either hand, almost haggard in the glaring
sunshine, offering a loneliness of view that seemed all at once to stamp
with reality those myriad tales of the land pirates of Spain.  Indeed,
the race has not yet wholly died out. Since my arrival the peninsula had
been ringing with the exploits of one Pernales, a bandit of the old
caliber, who had thus far outgeneraled even that world-famous
exterminator of brigands, the modern guardia civil.  His haunt was this
very territory to the left of me, and not a week had passed since a band
of travelers on this national carretera had seen fit to contribute to
his transient larder.

But his was an isolated case, a course that was sure to be soon run.
The necessity of making one’s will before undertaking a journey through
Spain is no longer imperative.  In fact, few countries offer more safety
to the traveler; certainly not our own. For the Spaniard is individually
one of the most honest men on the globe, notwithstanding that
collectively, officially he is among the most corrupt. The old Oriental
despotism has left its mark, deep to this day; and the Spaniard of the
masses asks himself--and not without reason--why he should show loyalty
to a government that is little more than two parties secretly bound by
agreement alternately to share the spoils.  Hence the law-breaker is as
of yore not merely respected but encouraged.  Pernales in his short
career had become already a hero and a pride of the Spanish people, a
champion warring single-handed against the common enemy.

Without pose or pretense I may say that I would gladly have given two or
three ten-dollar checks and as many weeks of a busy life to have fallen
into the clutches of this modern Dick Turpin.  His retreat would
certainly have been a place of interest.  But fortune did not favor, and
I passed unmolested the long, hot stretch to the stony hilltop village
of Bailen, a name almost better known to Frenchmen than to Spaniards.

There, however, I was waylaid.  I had finished a lunch of all that the
single grocery-store offered, which chanced to be stone-hard cheese and
water, and was setting out again, when two civil guards gruffly demanded
my papers.  This was the only pair I was destined to meet whose manners
were not in the highest degree polished.  The screaming heat was,
perhaps, to blame.  I turned aside into the shade of a building and
handed them my passport, which they examined with the circumspection of
a French gendarme.  In general, however, it spoke well of my choice of
garb that I was rarely halted by the guardia as a possible vagrant nor
yet by the officers of the octroi as a possessor of dutiable articles.

It would seem the part of wisdom in tramping in southern countries to
walk each day until toward noon and, withdrawing until the fury of the
sun is abated, march on well into the night.  But the plan is seldom
feasible.  In all this southern Spain especially there is scarcely a
patch of grass large enough whereon to lay one’s head, to say nothing of
the body; and shade is rare indeed.  On this day, after a sleepless
night, a siesta seemed imperative.  In mid-afternoon I came upon a
culvert under the highway and lay down on the scanty, dust-dry leaves at
its mouth, shaded to just below the arm-pits.  But sleep had I none; for
about me swarmed flies like vultures over a field of battle, and after
fighting them for an hour that seemed a week, I acknowledged defeat and
trudged drowsily on.

Soon began a few habitations and a country growing much wheat.  In
nothing more than in her methods of husbandry is Spain behind--or as the
Spaniard himself would put it--different from the rest of the world.
Her peasantry has not reached even the flail stage of development, not
to mention the threshing machine.  The grain is cut with sickles. As it
arrives from the field it is spread head-down round and round a
saucer-shaped plot of ground. Into this is introduced a team of mules
hitched to a sled, which amble hour by hour around the enclosure,
sometimes for days, the boy driver squatting on the cross-piece singing
a never-ceasing Oriental drone of a few tones.  From each such
threshing-floor the chaff, sweeping in great clouds across the
carretera, covered me from head to foot as I passed.

It was some distance beyond the town of Guarramán and at nightfall that
I entered a village of a few houses like dug-out rocks tossed
helter-skelter on either side of the way.  The dejected little shop
furnished me bread, wine, and dried fish and the information that
another of the hovels passed for a posada.  This was a single stone
room, half floored with cobbles.  The back, unfloored section housed
several munching asses.  The human portion was occupied by a stray
arriero, the shuffling, crabbed old woman who kept the place, and by a
hearty, frank-faced blind man in the early thirties, attended by a
frolicsome boy of ten.  It was furnished with exactly four cooking
utensils, a tumbled bundle of burlap blankets in one corner, a
smouldering cluster of fagots in another, and one stool besides that on
which the blind man was seated.

This I took, reflecting that he who will see Spain must not expect
luxury.  The real Spaniard lives roughly and shows himself only to those
who are willing to rough it with him.  As I sat down, the blind man
addressed me:

"Hot days these on the road, señor."

"Verdad es," I answered.

"You are a foreigner from the north," he remarked casually, as if to
himself.

"Yes; but how do you know that?"

"Oh, a simple matter," he replied.  "That you are a foreigner, by your
speech.  That you are from the north, because you only half pronounce
the letter R.  You said ’burro’ in speaking of our four-legged companion
there, whereas the word is ’bur-r-r-ro.’  You have walked many leagues."

"What tells you that?"

"Carajo!  Nothing simpler.  Your step is tired, you sit down heavily,
you brush your trousers and a thick dust arises."

Blindness, I had hitherto fancied, was an advantage only during certain
histrionic moments at the opera, but here was a man who evidently made
it a positive blessing.

"Your are about twenty-five," he continued.

"Twenty-six.  You will be good enough, perhaps, to tell me how you
guessed that."

"What could be easier?  The tone of your voice; the pace at which your
words fall.  It is strange that you, a foreigner, should be such an
amateur of bulls."

"Caramba!" I gasped.  "You certainly do not learn that from the tone of
my voice!"

"Ah!  We cannot tell all our secrets," he chuckled; "we who must make a
living by them."

Then in the night that had settled down he fell to telling stories, not
intentionally, one would have said, but unconsciously, fascinating tales
as those of the "Arabian Nights," full of the color and the extravagance
of the East, the twinkle of his cigarette gleaming forth from time to
time and outlining the boy seated wide-eyed on the floor at his feet
with his head against his master’s knee.  He was as truly a minstrel as
any troubadour that wandered in the days of chivalry, a born
story-teller all but unconscious of his gift.  When after a long time he
left off, we drifted again into conversation.  He was wholly illiterate
and in compensation more filled with true knowledge and wisdom than a
houseful of schoolmen.  His calling for five and twenty years had been
just this of roaming about Spain telling his colorful stories.

"Were you born so?" I asked late in the evening.

"Even so, señor."

"A sad misfortune."

"You know best, señor," he answered, with a hearty laugh.  "I have no
notion how useful this feeling you call sight may be, but with those I
have I live with what enjoyment is reasonable and find no need for
another."

The crippled old crone, who seemed neither to have known any other life
than this nor ever to have been attired in anything than the piece-meal
rags that now covered her, dragged the heap of burlap from the corner
and spread it in three sections on the stone floor.  On one she threw
herself down with many sighs and the creaking of rusty joints, the
second fell to my lot, and the blind man and his boy curled up on the
third.  The arriero carried his own blanket and had long since fallen to
snoring with his head on the saddle of his ass and his _alforjas_ close
beside him.

There is one Spanish sentence that expresses the most with the least
breath, perhaps, of any single word on earth.  It is "Madrugáis?" and
means nothing less than "Is it your intention to get up early to-morrow
morning?"  In these wayside fondas it calls always for an affirmative
answer, for the bedroom is certain to be turned into the living room and
public hall and stable exit at the first glimmer of dawn.

I was on the road again by four-thirty.  Three hours of plodding across
a rising country brought me to La Carolina, a town as pleasing in
comparison with its neighbors as its name.  Its customs, however, were
truly Spanish, even though many of the ancestors of its light-haired
populace were Swiss, and my untimely quest for breakfast did nothing
more than arouse vast astonishment in its half-dozen cafés, wrecked and
riotous places in charge of disheveled, heavy-eyed "skittles."  In the
open market I found fresh figs even cheaper than in Seville and, asking
no better fare, turned back toward the highway.

I had passed through half the town when suddenly I heard in a side
street a familiar voice, singing to the accompaniment of a guitar.  I
turned thither and found the blind singer I had first encountered in
Jaen, just on the point of drawing out his bundle of handbills.  While
his wife canvassed the group of early risers, I accosted him with the
information that I had bought one of his sheets in Jaen a month before.

"Ah!  You too tramp la carretera?" he replied, turning upon me a glance
so sharp that for the moment I forgot he could not see.

"Sí, señor.  Do you not also sell the music of your songs?"

"How can music be put on paper?" he laughed. "It comes as you sing.  Are
you going far?"

"To Madrid."

"Vaya!" he cried, once more posing his guitar. "Well, there is much to
be enjoyed on the road--when the sun is not too high.  Vaya V. con Dios,
young man."

Beyond Las Navas de Tolosa the face of the landscape changed, the
carretera mounting ever higher through a soilless stretch of angular
hills of dull-gray, slate-colored rock.  Above Santa Elena these broke
up into deep gorges and mountain foothills, an utterly unpeopled country
as silent as the grave. I halted to gaze across it, and all at once,
reflecting on the stillness as of desolation that hangs over all rural
Spain, there came upon me the recollection that in all the land I had
not once heard the note of a wild bird.

In the utter quiet I reached a deep slit in the flanking mountain, and
even the stream, that descended along its bottom was as noiseless as
some phantom river.  It offered all the facilities for a bath, however,
and moreover under an overhanging mass of rock that warded off the sun
had watered to un-Spanish greenness a patch of grass of a few feet each
way.  There I spent half the afternoon in slumber.  The highway shortly
after plunged headlong down into the very depths of the earth, squirmed
for a time in the abyss, then clambered painfully upward between
precipitous walls of gloomy slate to a new level.  When suddenly,
unexpectedly, almost physically there rose before my eyes the picture of
the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, ambling past, close followed by
thickset, hale-cheeked Sancho on his ass.  For I had traversed the pass
of Despeñaperros; languid Andalusia lay behind me, and ahead as far as
the eye could reach spread the yet twice more barren and rocky tableland
of La Mancha.



                              CHAPTER VII

                      SPANISH ROADS AND ROADSTERS


In the gloom of evening I espied on a dull, sterile hillside a vast
rambling venta, as bare, slate-colored, and marked with time as the
hills themselves. Here was exactly such a caravansary as that in which
he of the Triste Figura had watched over his arms by night and won his
Micomiconian knighthood. It consisted of an immense enclosure that was
half farmyard, backed by a great stable of which a strip around two
sides beneath the low vaulted roof had been marked off for the use of
man; the whole dull, gloomy, cheerless, unrelieved by a touch of color.
Within the building were scattered a score of mules, borricos and
machos.  Several tough-clothed muleteers, with what had been bright
handkerchiefs wound about their brows, sauntered in the courtyard or sat
eating with their great razor-edged navajas their lean suppers of brown
bread and a knuckle of ham.  Even the massive wooden pump in the yard
among an array of ponderous carts and wagons was there to complete the
picture.  Indeed, this was none other than the Venta de Cardenas,
reputed the very same in which Don Greaves passed his vigilant night,
where Sancho was tossed in a blanket and Master Nicholas, the barber,
bearded himself with a cow’s tail.

The chance betrayal of my nationality aroused in the arrieros a
suggestion of wonder and even an occasional question.  But in general
their interest was as meager as their knowledge of the world outside the
national boundaries.  Not once did they display the eagerness to learn
that is so characteristic of the Italian.  For the Spaniard considers it
beneath his dignity as a caballero and a cristino viejo to show any
marked curiosity, especially concerning a foreign land, which cannot but
be vastly inferior to his own. Four centuries of national misfortune and
shrinkage have by no means eradicated his firm conviction, implanted in
his mind by Ferdinand and Isabel in the days of conquest, that he is the
salt of the earth, superior in all things to the rest of the human race.

Spain is one of the most illiterate countries of the civilized world,
yet also one of the best educated, unless education be merely that mass
of undigested and commonly misapplied information absorbed within four
walls.  Few men have a more exact knowledge, a more solid footing on the
everyday earth than the peasant, the laborer, the muleteer of Spain.
One does not marvel merely at the fluent, powerful, entirely grammatical
language of these unlettered fellows, but at the sound basic wisdom that
stands forth in their every sentence.  If their illiteracy denies them
the advantage of absorbing the festering rot of the yellow journal, in
compensation they have a wealth of vocabulary and a forceful simplicity
of diction that raises them many degrees above the corresponding class
in more "advanced" lands.

It is of the "lower" classes that I am speaking, the common sense and
backbone of Spain.  The so-called upper class is one of the most truly
ignorant and uneducated on earth--though among its members, be it noted,
is no illiteracy.  The maltreated Miguel was adamantinely right in
choosing his hero from the higher orders; no Spaniard of the masses
could be so far led astray from reason as to become a Quixote.

It is noticeable that the Spaniard of the laboring class has almost none
of that subservience born in the blood in the rest of Europe.  Not only
does each man consider himself the equal of any other; he takes and
expects the world to take for granted that this is the case, and never
feels called upon to demonstrate that equality to himself and the rest
of the world by insolence and rowdyism.  Dissipation he knows not,
except the dissipation of fresh air, sunshine, and a guitar.  Nowhere in
Christian lands is drunkenness more rare.  Like the Arab the hardy
lower-class Spaniard thrives robustly on a mean and scanty diet; he can
sleep anywhere, at any time, and to the creature comforts is supremely
indifferent.  One can hardly believe this the country in which Alfonso X
felt it necessary to enact stern laws against the serving of more than
two dishes of meat at a meal or the wearing of "slashed" silks.  Yet the
Spain of to-day is not really a cheap country; it is merely that within
its borders frugality is universal and held in honor rather than
contempt.

When the evening grew advanced, my fellow guests lay down on the bare
cobble-stones of the venta, making pillows of the furniture of their
mules, and were soon sleeping peacefully and sonorously.  For me,
soft-skinned product of a more ladylike world, was spread a muleteer’s
thick blanket in the embrasure of a wooden-blinded window, and amid the
munching of asses and the not unpleasant smell of a Spanish stable I,
too, drifted into slumber.

From dawn until early afternoon I marched on across the rocky vastness
of Spain, where fields have no boundary nor limit, a gnarled and osseous
country and a true despoblado, as fruitless as that sterile neck of sand
that binds Gibraltar to the continent.  It is in these haggard,
unpeopled plateaus of the interior that one begins to believe that the
population of the peninsula is to-day barely one-third what it was in
the prosperous years of Abd er-Rahman.

At length, across a valley that was like a lake of heat waves, appeared
Santa Cruz, a hard, colorless town where I was forced to be content with
the usual bread, cheese and wine, the former as ossified as the
surrounding countryside.  In the further outskirts of the place I found
a potter at work in a large open hovel and halted to pass the most
heated hour with him.  In one end of the building was a great trough of
clay in which a bare-foot boy was slowly treading up and down.  Now and
again he caught up a lump of the dough and deposited it on a board
before the potter.  This the latter took by the handful and, placing it
on his wheel, whirled it quickly into a vessel of a shape not unlike a
soup-bowl.  I inquired what these sold for and with a sigh he replied:

"Three small dogs apiece, cocidos (cooked)"--pointing at the kiln--"y
cuantos--how many break in the glazing!  It is no joyful trade, señor."

Once he left his work to munch a crust and to offer me a cigarette and a
drink from his leather bota, but soon drifted back to his task with the
restless, harassed look of the piece-worker the world over.  As I sat
watching his agile fingers a bit drowsily, there came suddenly back to
memory the almost forgotten days when I, too, had toiled thus in the
gloomy, sweltering depths of a factory.  Truer slavery there never was
than that of the piece-worker under our modern division of labor.
Stroll through a factory to find a man seated at a machine stamping
strips of tin into canheads at two cents a hundred by a few simple turns
of the wrist, and his task seems easy, almost a pastime in its
simplicity.  But go away for a year, travel through half the countries
of the globe, go on a honeymoon to Venice and the Grecian isles, and
then come back to find him sitting on the self-same stool, in the
self-same attitude, stamping strips of tin into canheads at two cents a
hundred by a few simple turns of the wrist.

Three blazing hours passed by, and I found myself entering a rolling
land of vineyards, heralding wine-famous Valdepeñas.  The vines were low
shrubs not trained on sticks, the grapes touching the ground. A dip in
an exotic stream reduced the grime and sweat of travel, and just beyond
I came again upon the railway.  A half-hour along it brought me face to
face with the first foreign tramp I had met in Spain,--a light-haired,
muscular youth in tattered, sun-brown garb, his hob-nailed shoes swung
over one shoulder and around his feet thick bandages of burlap.  He was
a German certainly, perhaps a modern Benedict Moll whose story would
have been equally interesting in its absurdity.  But he passed me with
the stare of a man absorbed in his personal affairs and accustomed to
keep his own counsel, and stalked away southward along the scintillant
railroad.

I halted for a drink at the stuccoed dwelling of a track-walker.  In the
grassless yard, under the only imitation of a tree in the neighborhood,
slept a roadster.  Now and again the chickens that scratched in vain the
dry, lifeless earth about him, marched disconsolately across his
prostrate form.

"Poor fellow," said the track-walker’s wife at the well, "he has known
misery, more even than the rest of us.  Vaya como duerme!"

I sat down in the streak of shade that was crawling eastward across him.
He wore a ten-day beard and the garb of a Spanish workman of the city,
set off by a broad red faja around his waist.  In one bulging pocket of
his coat appeared to be all his earthly possessions.

There was no evidence of overwhelming "miseria" in the cheery greeting
with which he awoke, and as our ways coincided we continued in company.
He was a Sevillian named Jesús, bound northward in general and wherever
else the gods might lead him.

"For a long time there has been no work in Seville for nosotros, the
carpenters," he explained, though with no indication of grief.  "This
half year I have been selling apricots and azucarillos in the bullring
and on the Alameda.  But each day more of Seville comes to sell and less
to buy.  I should have gone away long ago, but my comrade Gáspare would
not leave his amiga.  Gásparo is a stone-polisher and had work.

"Then one day I am taken by the police for I know not what.  When after
two weeks I come out, Gásparo is gone.  But he has come north and
somewhere I shall run across him."

Jesús had just passed through a marvelous experience, which he proceeded
to relate in all his Latin wealth of language--though not in the
phraseology, of a graduate roadster:

"Mira V., hombre!  Two nights ago, when my feet are worn away with more
than ten leguas of walking on the railroad, I come to Baeza.  It is
dark, and I wander along the track to find a soft bank to sleep.  On the
short railroad that is at each station there is waiting a train of
merchandise.  Suddenly a great idea comes to me.  ’Sh!  Jesús,’ I
whisper, ’what if you should hide yourself away somewhere on this train
of merchandise?  It would perhaps bring you to the next station.’

"With great quiet I climb a wagon and hide myself between bales of cork.
Screech!  Brrr! Rboom!  The train is off, and all night I am
riding--without a ticket.  But at Vilches the man that goes with the
train with a lantern comes by and it is my curse to be making some
noise, moving to roll a cigarette.  ’Ya te ’pia!’ (I spy you!) he cries.
Vaca que soy!  So of course I must get down.  But mira, hombre!  There I
have traveled more than twelve miles without paying a perrito!"

I had not the heart to disillusion him with a yarn or two from the land
of the "hobo."

In the telling we had come within sight of Valdepeñas.  It was a "valley
of rocks" indeed, though a city of good size and considerable evidence
of industry, abounding with great _bodegas_, or wine warehouses.  As we
trudged through the long straight street that had swallowed up the
highway, we passed the _taller_ of a marble-cutter.

"It is in a place like this that Gásparo works," sighed Jesús, wandering
languidly in at the open door.  I was strolling slowly on when a whoop
as of a man suddenly beset by a band of savages brought me running back
into the establishment.  Jesús was shaking wildly by both hands a
stockily-built young fellow in shirt sleeves and white canvas apron, who
was rivaling him in volubility of greeting.  Gásparo was found.

Still shouting incoherently, the two left the shop and squatted in the
shade along the outside wall.

"Hombre!" panted Jesús, when his excitement had somewhat died down.  "I
have told myself that by to-morrow we should be tramping the carretera
together."

But Gásparo shook his head, sadly yet decisively.

"No, amigo.  Jamás!  Nunca!  Never do I take to the road again.  I have
here a good job, the finest of patrons.  No.  I shall stay, and send for
the amiga--or find another here."

With the dignity of a caballero, Jesús accepted the decree without
protest, and wished his erstwhile comrade luck and prosperity.  Then
that they might part in full knowledge, he launched forth in the story
of his journey from Seville.  Gásparo listened absently, shaking his
head sadly from time to time. When the episode of the amateur hoboing
began, he sat up with renewed interest; before it was ended he was
staring at the speaker with clenched fists, his eyes bulging, the
cigarette between his lips stone-dead.  From that great epic Jesús
jumped without intermission to a hasty survey of the anticipated joys
that lay between him and Madrid.  Suddenly Gásparo sprang into the air
with an explosive howl, landing on his feet.

"By the blood of your namesake!" he shouted. "How can a man stay always
in one place?  This daily drudgery will kill me!  I will throw the job
in the patron’s face, and get my wages this very minute, amaguito, and
we will go to Madrid together.  Jesús Maria!  Who knows but we can hide
ourselves on another freight train!"--and crying over his shoulder some
rendezvous, he disappeared within the establishment.

We sauntered on to the central plaza.  It was utterly treeless and paved
with cobble-stones; nor could we find a patch of grass or a shaded bench
in all the neighborhood.

"Look here, señor!" cried Jesús, suddenly rushing toward a policeman who
was loitering in the shade of a bodega.  "Don’t you have any parks or
Alamedas in this val de penas of yours?  You call this a city!"

"Señor," replied the officer in the most apologetic of voices, "we are
not a rich city, and the rain so seldom falls in La Mancha.  I am very
sorry," and touching a finger respectfully to his cap, he strolled
slowly on.

Though the sun was low it was still wiltingly hot in the stony streets.
Jesús, as I knew, was penniless. I suggested therefore that I would
willingly pay the score of two for the privilege of retreating to the
coolness of a wineshop.

"Bueno!" cried the Sevillian.  "The wine of Valdepeñas is without equal,
and of the cheapest--if you know where to buy.  Vámonos, hombre!"

He led the way down the street and by some Castilian instinct into a
tiny underground shop that was ostensibly given over to the sale of
charcoal.  The smudged old keeper motioned us to the short rickety bench
on which he had been dreaming away the afternoon and, descending still
lower by a dark hole in the floor, soon set before us a brown glazed
pitcher holding a _quarto_--about a quart--of wine, for which I paid him
approximately three and a half cents.

In all western Europe I have drunk the common table wine in whatever
quantity it has pleased me, and suffered from it always the same effect
as from so much clear water.  It may be that the long tramp under a
scorching sun and the distance from my last meal-place altered
conditions.  Certainly there was no need of the seller’s assurance that
this was genuine "valdepeñas" and that what had been sold us elsewhere
as such was atrociously adulterated.  Before the pitcher was half empty,
I noted with wonder that I was taking an extraordinary interest in the
old man’s phillipic against the government and its exorbitant tax on
wine.  Jesús, too, grew in animation, and when the subterranean
Demosthenes ended with a thundering, "Sí, señores!  If it wasn’t for the
cursed government you and I could drink just such wine as this pure
valdepenas anywhere as if it was water!"  I was startled to hear us both
applaud loud and long. A scant four-cents’ worth had seemed so
parsimonious a treat for two full-thirsted men that I had intended to
order in due time a second pitcherful.  But this strange mirth seemed
worthy of investigation.  I sipped the last of my portion and made no
movement to suggest a replenishing.  A few minutes later the old man had
bade us go with the Almighty, and we were strolling away arm in arm.

The sun was setting when we reached the plaza. We sat down on the
cathedral steps.  The Sevillian had suddenly an unaccountable desire to
sing.  He struck up one of the Moorish-descended ballads of his native
city.  To my increasing astonishment I found myself joining in.  Not
only that, but for the first and last time of my existence I caught the
real Andalusian rhythm.  An appreciative audience of urchins gathered.
Then the sacristan stepped out and politely invited us to choose some
other stage.

Across the square was a casa de comidas.  We entered and ordered dinner.
The señora served us about one-third of what the bill-of-fare promised,
and demanded full price--something that had never before happened in all
my Spanish experience.  I protested vociferously--another wholly
unprecedented proceeding.  The policeman who had apologized for the
absence of parks sauntered in, and I laid the case before him.  The
señora restated it still more noisily.  I declared I would not pay more
than one peseta.  The lady took oath that I would pay two.  The
policeman requested me to comply with her demand.  I refused to the
extent of commanding him to take his hand off the hilt of his sword.  He
apologized and suggested that we split the difference. This seemed
reasonable.  I paid it, and we left. Dark night had settled down.  We
marched aimlessly away into it.  Somewhere Gásparo fell in with us.
Somewhere else, on the edge of the city, we came upon a heap of bright
clean straw on a threshing floor, and fell asleep.



                              CHAPTER VIII

                        ON THE ROAD IN LA MANCHA


It was Sunday morning, the market day of Valdepeñas, when I returned
alone to stock my knapsack.  The plaza that had been so deserted and
peaceful the evening before was packed from casa de comidas to cathedral
steps with canvas booths in which the peasants of the encircling country
were selling all the products of La Mancha, and among which circulated
all the housewives of Valdepeñas, basket on arm.  The women of the
smaller cities of Spain cling stoutly to their local costumes, aping not
in the least the world of fashion.  These of Valdepeñas were strikingly
different from the Andalusians, considering how slight the distance that
separates them from that province.  They were almost German in their
slowness, with hardly a suggestion of "sal"; a solemn, bronze-tanned
multitude who, parting their hair in the middle and combing it tight and
smooth, much resembled Indian squaws.

From the northern edge of the city the highway ran straight as the
flight of a crow to where it was lost in a flat, colorless horizon.  The
land was artificially irrigated.  The first place I stopped for water
was a field in which an old man was driving round and round a
blind-folded burro hitched to a noria, a water-wheel that was an exact
replica of the Egyptian _sakka_, even to its squawk, jars of Andújar
being tied to the endless chain with leather thongs.  The man, too, had
that dreamy, listless air of the Egyptian _fellah_; had I had a kodak to
turn upon him I should have expected him to run after me crying for
"backsheesh."

Ahead stretched long vistas of low vineyards.  The only buildings along
the way were an occasional bare uniform stone dwelling of a _peon
caminero_, or government road-tender.  At one of these I halted to
quench my thirst, and the occupant, smoking in Sabbath ease before it,
instantly pronounced me a "norte americano."  I showed my astonishment,
for hardly once before in the peninsula had I been taken for other than
a Frenchman, or a Spaniard from some distant province.

The peon’s unusual perspicacity was soon explained; he had been a
soldier in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.  I readily led him into
reminiscences.  Throughout the war, he stated, he had fought like a
hero, not because he was of that rare breed but because every member of
the troop had been filled with the belief that once captured by "los
yanquis" he would be hanged on the spot.

"And are you still of the opinion?" I asked.

"Qué barbaridad!" he laughed.  "I was taken at Santiago and carried a
prisoner to your country. What a people!  A whole meal at breakfast!  We
lived as never before, or since.

"You were quite right, vosotros, to take the island.  I do not blame
you.  It was competición, just competition, like two shop-keepers in the
city.  I am glad the miserable government lost their Cuba."

So often did I hear exactly this view from Spaniards of the laboring
class that it may be considered typical of their attitude toward the
late disagreement. The strange question has often been asked whether it
is safe so soon after the war for a North American to travel alone in
the interior of Spain.  For answer we have only to ask ourselves whether
a Spaniard traveling alone in the interior of the United States would be
in any imminent danger of having his throat cut--even had we been
defeated.  In Spain there is vastly less, for not only is the Spaniard
quicker to forgive and far less belligerent than he is commonly fancied,
but there exists in the peninsula not one-tenth the rowdyism and hoodlum
"patriotism" of our own country.

I stayed long and left with difficulty.  Gregarious is man, and on
Sunday, when all the world about him is at rest, even the pedestrian
finds it hard to exert himself.  A league beyond I came upon the
Sevillians lolling in the shadow of another isolated peon dwelling in
what seemed once to have been a village.

Jesús in his eleven-day beard hailed me from afar; moreover, the Sunday
languor was still upon me.  I stretched out with them in the shade of
the building, but the flies prevented us from sleeping.  We crawled into
a peasant’s cart under the shed--but the flies quickly found us out.  We
crossed the road to the ruin of a church, split almost exactly through
the middle of tower and all, and one side fallen.  Within it was a
grassy corner where the sun never fell, and even a bit of breeze fanned
us.  But the flies had made this their Spanish headquarters.  We decided
to go on.

In that only were we unanimous, for the Sevillians wished to follow the
railroad, a furlong away, and I the carretera.  I had all but won them
over when a freight train labored by.

"Ay!  Ay!  Los toros!" shouted the two in chorus.

"Where?" I asked, seeing no such animals in sight.

"En las jaulas, hombre!  In the cages!" cried Jesús, pointing to a
flat-car on which, set close together, were six tightly-closed boxes
each just large enough to hold a bull.

"We go by the railroad!" shouted Gásparo, decisively.  "Alma de Dios!
Who knows but we may be able to hide ourselves on a train that is
carrying toros to the córrida!"

We separated, therefore, and struck northward, though we marched side by
side within hailing distance until we were all three swallowed up in the
city of Manzanares.

The bare-faced, truly Manchegan town was half-deserted, though the
reason therefor was not hard to guess, for the bullring in the outskirts
was howling as I passed.  For all its size the place did not seem to
boast an eating-house of any description.  At last I halted before an
old man seated in a shaded corner of the plaza, to inquire:

"Señor, what does a stranger in your town do when he would eat?"

"Vaya, señor!" he replied, with the placid deliberation of age, and
pointing with his cane to the shops that bordered the square.  "He buys
a perrito of bread in the bakery there, dos perros of ham in the
butchery beyond, fruit of the market-woman--"

"And eats it where?" I interrupted.

"Hi jo de mi alma!" responded the patriarch with extreme slowness and
almost a touch of sarcasm in his voice.  "Here is the broad plaza, all
but empty.  In all that is there not room to sit down and eat?"

I continued my quest and entered two posadas. But for the only time
during the summer the proprietors demanded my _cédula personal_.  I
explained that Americans are not supplied with these government licenses
to live, and showed instead my passport. Both landlords protested that
it was not in Spanish and refused to admit me.  One might have fancied
one’s self in Germany.  It was some time after dark that I was directed
to a private boarding-house that almost rewarded my long search.  For
the supper set before me was equal to a five-course repast in the Casa
Robledo of Granada, and for the first time since leaving Seville I slept
in a bed, and not in my clothes.

In the morning an absolutely straight road lay before me across a land
treeless but for a few stunted shrubs, a face of desolation and aridity
and solitude as of Asia Minor.  From the eastward swept a hot, dry wind
across the baked plains of La Mancha that recalled all too forcibly the
derivation of its name from the Arabic _manxa_--a moistureless land.

At fifteen kilometers the highway swerved slightly and lost from view
for the first time the immense cathedral of Manzanares behind.  On
either hand, miles visible in every direction, huddled stone towns on
bare hillsides and in rocky vales, each inconspicuous but for its vast
overtowering church.  "Si la demeure des hommes est pauvre, celle de
Dieu est riche," charges colorful Gautier; which, if the church of Spain
is truly the "demeure de Dieu," is sternly true.  City, town, village,
hamlet, a church always bulks vast above it like a hen among her
chicks--rather like some violent overpowering tyrant with a club.  To
the right of the turn one might, but for a slight rise of ground, have
espied a bare twelve kilometers away immortal Argamasilla itself.

During the day there developed a hole in my shoe, through a sole of
those very "custom-made" oxfords warranted by all the eloquent Broadway
salesman held sacred--whatever that may have been--to endure at least
six months of the hardest possible wear.  Sand and pebbles drifted in,
as sand and pebbles will the world over under such circumstances, and
for some days to come walking was not of the smoothest.

Almost exactly at noonday I caught sight of the first windmills of La
Mancha, three of them slowly toiling together on a curving hillside, too
distinctly visible at this hour to be mistaken by the most romance-mad
for giants.  The few peasants I fell in with now and then were a more
placid, somber people than the Andaluz and, as is commonly the case in
villages reached by no railway, more courteous to the roadster than
their fellows more directly in touch with the wide world.

It was that hour when the sun halts lingering above the edge of the
earth, as if loath to leave it, that I entered the noiseless little
hamlet of Puerto Lápiche.  It contained no public hostelry, but the
woman who kept its single shop cooked me a supper, chiefly of fried
eggs, which I ate sitting on a stool before the building.  The fried
eggs of Spain! Wherein their preparation differs from that in other
lands I know not, but he who has never eaten them after a long day’s
tramp cannot guess to what Epicurean heights fried eggs may rise.  How,
knowing of them, could Sancho have named cow-heel for his choice?

The evening was of that soft and gentle texture that invites openly to a
night out-of-doors.  On the edge of the open country beyond, too, was a
threshing-floor heaped with new straw that would certainly have been my
choice, had not the village guardia been watching my every movement from
across the way.  When I had returned the porcelain frying-pan to its
owner, I strolled boldly across to the officer and inquired for a
lodging.

"With regret, señor," he replied, raising his hat and offering me the
stool on which he had been seated, "I am forced to say that we are a
small village so rarely honored by the presence of travelers that we
have no public house.  But--" he hesitated a moment, then went on "--the
weather is fine, señor; the night is warm, the pure air hurts no one;
why do you not make your bed on the soft, clean straw of the
threshing-floor yonder?"

"Caballero," I responded, with my most Spanish salute, "a thousand
thanks--and may your grace remain with God."

For the first time during my journey the heat was tempered next morning,
though by no means routed, by a slightly overcast sky.  The wind
continued. The highway led on through a seared brown country, for the
most part a silent, smokeless, unpeopled land. The windmills of La
Mancha were numerous now on either hand as the road sank slowly down to
a gap in the low, gaunt mountains of Ciudad Real.  At last it reached
them and, picking its way through the narrow pass of Lápiche, strode off
again across a still hotter, drier region, unmitigated even by the wind,
which had stopped short at the mountain barrier--a land flowing not even
with ditch-water.  I halted but briefly at the large village of
Madridejos, peopled by a slow, dreamy-eyed, yet toil-calloused
peasantry, as if their world of fancy and the hard stony life of reality
never quite joined hands.

Hot, thirsty and hungry, I came in mid-afternoon to an isolated
ramshackle venta in a rocky wilderness.  An enormous shaggy man of a
zoölogical cast of countenance, and a male-limbed girl were harnessing
mules in the yard.  No other living thing showed itself.  I offered a
peseta for food.  The man glared at me for a time in silence, then
growled that he sold nothing, but that I should find a posada not far
beyond.  He was evidently the champion prevaricator of that region, for
not the suggestion of a hovel appeared during the rest of the afternoon.
But he would be a fellow with Sancho indeed, who could not overrule a
few hour’s appetite in thinking of higher things, and no fit traveler in
this hard, toilsome land where overeating is not numbered among the
vices.

The setting of the sun was perhaps an hour off when the highway,
swinging a bit to the left and surmounting a barren, rocky ridge, laid
suddenly before me an enthralling prospect.  Below, far down on a
distinctly lower level, a flat, ruffled country still misty with rising
waves of heat, stretched away to the uttermost endless distance.  The
whole, glinting in the oblique rays of the setting sun, was scored in
every direction with dull rock villages huddled compactly together,
while on every hand, like signal fires on a western prairie, rose from a
hundred threshing-floors columns of chaff straight and slender into the
motionless air to an incredible height before breaking up.  The road
descended with decision, yet in no unseemly haste and, marching for an
hour across a country traveled only by an occasional donkey loaded with
chopped straw, led me at nightfall into the scene of Sancho’s labors in
the wheat-piles--the village of Tembleque.

In its immense fonda, but for the underground stables one single, vast,
cobble-paved room, a vacant-eyed old man, a girl, and a leviathan of a
woman sat among the carts, wine-casks, and heaps of harnesses, the
latter knitting.  In strictest Castilian the establishment was no fonda,
but a _parador_, from _parar_, to stop; and certainly it could not with
honesty have laid claim to any more inviting name, for assuredly no man
in his senses would have dreamed of choosing it as a _staying_-place.
When I asked if lodging was to be had, the woman replied with a caustic
sneer that she had always been able thus far to accommodate any who were
able and willing to pay.

"And can one also get supper?" I inquired timorously.

"How on earth do I know?" snapped the woman.

I stared with a puzzled air at the old man and he in like manner at the
knitter, who turned out to be his wife, espoused in budding maidenhood
when his march in life had well begun.

"How can I cook him supper if he has none with him?" snarled the no
longer maidenly.

"Er--what have you brought to eat?" asked the preadamite in a quavering
voice.

"Nothing to be sure.  What is a fonda for?"

"Ah, then how can la señora mía get you supper? Over the way is the
butcher, beyond, the green-grocer, further still the panadero--"

I returned some time later with meat, bread, potatoes, garbanzos, and a
variety of vegetables, supplied with which the señora duly prepared me a
supper--by sitting tight in her chair and issuing a volley of commands
to the girl and the old man.  For this service she demanded two "fat
dogs," and collected at the same time an equal amount for my lodging.

When I had eaten, the mistress of the house mumbled a word to the
dotard.  He lighted with trembling hand a sort of miner’s lamp and led
the way downward into the subterranean stable and for what seemed little
short of a half-mile through great stone vaults musty with time, close
by the cruppers of an army of mules and burros.  Opening at last a door
some three feet square and as many above the floor, he motioned to me to
climb through it into a bin filled with chaff.  This was to all
appearances clean, yet I hesitated.  For in these endless vaults, to
which the outer air seemed not to have penetrated for a century, it was
cold as a November evening. I glanced at the old man in protest.  He
blinked back at me, shook his ever-quaking head a bit more forcibly, and
turning, shuffled away through the resounding cavern, the torch casting
at first weird, dancing shadows behind his wavering legs, then gradually
dying out entirely.  I stood in blackest darkness, undecided.  Before,
however, the last faint sound of his going had wholly passed away, the
scrape of the veteran’s faltering feet grew louder again and in another
moment he reappeared, clutching under one thin arm a heavy blanket.
When I had taken it, he put a finger to his lips, cast his sunken eyes
about him, whispered "sh!" with a labored wink, and tottered once more
away.  I climbed into the bin and slept soundly until the cursing of
arrieros harnessing their mules aroused me shortly before dawn.



                               CHAPTER IX

                        THE TRAIL OF THE PRIEST


The people of Tembleque had been just certain enough that none but an
arriero could follow the intricate route thither, and that no man could
cover the distance on foot in one day, to cause me to awaken determined
to leave the Madrid highway and strike cross-country to Toledo.  The
first stage of the journey was the road to the village of Mora, which I
was long in finding because at its entrance to--which chanced also to be
its exit from--Tembleque it split up like an unraveled shoe-string.  I
got beyond the loose ends at last, however, and set a sharp pace--even
though the hole in my shoe had enlarged to the size of a peseta--across
a scarred and weather-beaten landscape that seemed constantly reminding
how aged is the world.

Twenty-four kilometers brought me to Mora, a sturdy town of countrymen,
in time for an early and stinted dinner and inquiries which led me off
in a new direction up a steadily mounting region to Mascargne.  There,
at a still different point of the compass, a ruined castle on a hilltop
ten kilometers away was pointed out to me as the landmark of El
Monacail; to which village a rugged and sterile road clambered over a
country hunch-backed with hills.  It was siesta-time when I arrived, the
sun scorching hot, a burning wind sweeping among the patched and
misshapen hovels that made up the place.  There were no inhabitants
abroad, which argued their good sense; but in the shadow of the only
public building a trio of soldiers were playing at cards.  They leered
at me for some time when I made inquiry, then burst out in derisive
laughter.

"Claro, hombre!" answered one of them sarcastically. "You can walk to
Toledo la Santa if you know enough to follow a cow-path."

I stumbled into it just beyond, a cow-path indeed, though too little
used to be clearly marked, and meandering in and out with it for twenty
kilometers through rocky _barrancas_ and across sandy patches, gained as
the day was nearing its close the wind-bitten village of Nambroca.  A
few miles more through a still greater chaos of rocks and I came out
unexpectedly on the crest of a jagged promontory that brought me to a
sudden halt before one of the most fascinating panoramas in all Spain.

A still higher rise cutting off the foreground, there began a few miles
beyond, the vast, wrinkled, verdureless plateau of Castile, rolling away
and upward like an enormous tilted profile-map of the world, sea-blue
with distance and heat rays, all details blended together into an
indistinctness that left only an undivided impression like a Whistlerian
painting. I pushed forward and at the top of the next ridge gasped aloud
with new wonder.  From this summit the world fell pell-mell away at my
feet into a bottomless gorge; and beyond, two or three miles away, the
culminating point in a tumultuous landscape of ravines, gulleys and
precipitous chasms, sat an Oriental city, close-packed and isolated in
its rocky solitude, the sun’s last rays casting over its domes and
minaret-like spires a flood of color that seemed suddenly and bodily to
transport the beholder into the very heart of Asia.  My goal was won;
before me lay the ancient capital of the Goths, history-rich Toledo.

I sat down on the crest of the precipice overhanging the Tajo, almost
beneath the enormous iron cross set in a rock to mark Toledo as the
religious center of Spain, and remained watching the city across the
gulf, full certain that whatever offered within its walls could in no
degree equal the view from this facing hilltop.  Richly indeed did this
one sight of her reward the long day’s tramp across the choking hills,
even had there not been a pleasure in the walk itself; and upon me fell
a great pity for those that come to her by railroad in the glare of day
and the swelter of humanity.

As I sat, and the scene was melting away into the descending night, a
voice sounded behind me and a ragged, slouching son of fortune proffered
the accustomed greeting and, rolling a cigarette, sat down at my side.
He was a "child of Toledo," and of his native city we fell to talking.
At length he raised his flabby fist and, shaking it at the twinkling
lights across the Tajo, cried out:

"O Toledo, my city!  Gaunt, sunken-bellied Toledo, bound to your rock
and devoured by the vulture horde of bloated churchmen while your
children are starving!

"Señor," he continued, suddenly returning to a conversational tone, "let
me show you but one of a thousand iniquities of these frailuchos."

He rose and led the way a little further along the path I had been
following, halting at the edge of a yawning hole in the rocks, like a
bottomless well, the existence of which I was thankful to have learned
before I continued my way.

"Señor," he said, "no man can tell how many have died here, for it lies,
as you see, in the very center of the trail over these hills.  For a
hundred years, as my grandfather has known, it has stood so.  But do you
think yon cursed priests would spend a perrito of their blood-sweated
booty to cover it?"

It was black night when I picked my way down into the valley of the Tajo
and, crossing the Alkántara bridge, climbed painfully upstairs into
Toledo. Even within, the Oriental impression was not lost, though the
Castilian tongue sounded on every side. With each step forward came some
new sign to recall that for half the past eight hundred years Toledo was
an Arab-ruled and Arabic-speaking city.  Thus it is still her Eastern
fashion to conceal her wealth by building her houses inwardly, leaving
for public thoroughfare the narrow, haphazard passageways between them,
and giving to the arriving stranger the sensation of wandering through a
haughty crowd of which each coldly turns his back.

Her medley of streets was such as one might find in removing the top of
an ant-hill, an ant-hill in which modern improvements have made little
progress; her pavements of round, century-polished cobble-stones,
glinting in the weak light of an occasional street-lamp, were painful
indeed to blistered feet. Ugly and barn-like outwardly, like the
Alhambra, hen houses frequently resemble that ancient palace, too, in
that they are rich with decoration and comfort within.  It was an hour
or more before I was directed to a casa de huéspedes in the calle de la
Lechuga, or Lettuce street, a gloomy crack between two rows of
buildings.  The house itself was such as only a man of courage would
have entered by night in any other city.  I ventured in, however, and
found the family out-of-doors--lolling in the flower and palm-grown
patio beneath the star-riddled sky, the canvas that formed the roof by
day being drawn back.  Even the well was in the patio, on which opened,
like the others, the room to which I was assigned, presenting toward the
street a blank, windowless wall.

It was late the next forenoon before I had slept the forty hot and rocky
miles out of my legs and sallied forth to visit a shoemaker.  As he
lived only two streets away, it was my good fortune to find him in less
than an hour, and as Toledo is the last city in the world in which a man
would care to run about in his socks, I sat on a stool beside his
workbench for something over three hours.  His home and shop consisted
of one cavernous room; his family, of a wife who sewed so incessantly
that one might easily have fancied her run by machinery, and of a
daughter of six who devised more amusement with a few scraps of leather
than many another might with all the toys of Nürnberg.  The shoemaker
was of that old-fashioned tribe of careful workmen, taking pride in
their labor, whom it is always a joy to meet--though not always to sit
waiting for.  He, too, hinted at the misery of life in Toledo, but
unlike the specter of the night before, did not lay the blame for the
sunken condition of his city on the "frailuchos," charging it rather to
the well-known perverseness of fate, either because he was of an
orthodox turn of mind or because his wife sat close at hand.  When he
had finished, having sewed soles and nailed heels on my shoes that were
to endure until Spain was left behind, he collected a sum barely equal
to forty cents.

In striking contrast to him--indeed, the two well illustrated the two
types of workmen the world harbors--was the barber who performed the
next service.  He was a mountain of sloth who rose with almost a growl
at being disturbed and, his mind elsewhere, listlessly proceeded to the
task before him. Though he was over forty and knew no other trade, he
had not learned even this one, but haggled and clawed as that breed of
man will who drifts through life without training himself to do
anything.  The reflective wanderer comes more and more to respect only
the man, be he merely a street-sweeper, who does his life’s work
honestly; the "four-flusher" is ever a source of nausea and a lowerer of
the tone of life, be he the president of a nation.

While I suffered, a priest dropped in to have his tonsure renovated and
gloriously outdid in the scrofulousness of his anecdotes not only this
clumsy wielder of the helmet of Mambrino, but exposed poor timorous
Boccaccio for a prude and a Quaker.

Packed away down in a hollow of the congested city is that famous
cathedral surnamed "la Rica."  "The Rich"--it would be nearer justice to
dub her the Midian, the Ostentatious, for she is so overburdened and
top-heavy with wealth that one experiences at sight of her a feeling
almost of disgust, as for a woman garish with jewelry.  We of the United
States must see, to conceive what shiploads of riches are heaped up
within the churches of Spain by the superstitions of her people and the
rapacity of her priests, who, discovering the impossibility of laying up
their booty hereafter, agree with many groans to stack it here.

"The Spanish church," observes Gautier, "is scarcely any longer
frequented except by tourists, mendicants, and horrible old women."  If
one choose the right hour of the afternoon even these vexations are
chiefly absent, entirely, perhaps, but for a poor old crone or two
kneeling before some mammoth doll tricked out to represent the Virgin
and bowing down now and then in true Mohammedan fashion to kiss the
stone flagging.  The Iberian traveler must visit the cathedrals of the
peninsula, not merely because they offer the only cool retreat on a
summer day, but because they are the museums of Spain’s art and history.
But even the splendor of the setting sun through her marvelous
stained-glass windows cannot overcome the oppressiveness of "la Rica."

As he stands before the wondrous paintings that enrich the great
religious edifices of Spain, the matter-of-fact American of to-day is
not unlikely to be assailed by other thoughts than the pure esthetic.
There comes, perhaps, the reflection of how false is that oft-repeated
assertion that the world’s truly great artists exercised their genius
solely for pure art’s sake.  Would they then have prostituted their
years on earth to tickling the vanity of their patrons, in depicting the
wife of some rich candle-maker walking arm in arm with the Nazarene on
the Mount of Olives, or the absurdity of picturing Saint Fulano, who was
fed to Roman lions in A.D. 300, strolling through a Sevillian garden
with the infant Jesus in his arms and a heavenly smirk on his
countenance? How much greater treasures might we have to-day had they
thrown off the double yoke of contemporaneous superstitions and
servility to wealth and painted, for example, the real Mary as in their
creative souls they saw her, the simple Jewish housewife amid her plain
Syrian surroundings.  Instead of which they have set on canvas and ask
us to accept as their real conception voluptuous-faced "Virgins" who
were certainly painted from models of a very different type, and into
whose likeness in spite of the painter’s skill has crept a hint that the
poser’s thoughts during the sitting were much less on her assumed
motherhood of a deity than on the coming evening’s amours.

Horror, too, stands boldly forth in Spanish painting. The Spaniard is,
incongruously enough, as realist of the first water.  He will see things
materially, graphically; the bullfight is his great delight, not the
pretended reality of the theater. Centuries of fighting the infidel,
centuries of courting self-sacrifice in slaying heretics, the reaction
against the sensuous gentleness of the Moor, have all combined to make
his Christianity fervid, savage, sanguinary.  Yielding to which
characteristic of his fellow-countrymen, or tainted with it himself,
many a Spanish artist seems to have gloried in depicting in all gruesome
detail martyrs undergoing torture, limbs and breasts lopped off and
lying bleeding close at hand, unshaven torturers wielding their dripping
knives with fiendish merriment.  These horrors, too, are set up in
public places of worship, where little children come daily, and even men
on occasion.  It is strange, indeed, if childhood’s proneness to
imitation does not make the playground frequently the scene of similar
martyrdoms.  How much better to treat the tots to a daily visit to the
morgue, where what they see would at least be true to nature--and far
less repulsive.

There are other "sights" in Toledo than the cathedral for him who is
successful in running them down in her jungle of streets.  Each such
chase is certain sooner or later to bring him out into the Zocodover,
that disheveled central plaza in which the sunbeams fall like a shower
of arrows.  The inferno into which he seems plunged unwarned chokes at
once the rambler’s grumble at the intricacies of the city and brings him
instead to mumble praises of the Arabs, who had the good sense so to
build that the sun with his best endeavors rarely gets a peep into the
depth of the pavement; and the time is short indeed before he dives back
into the relief of one of the radiating calles.

As often as I crossed the "Zoco" my eyes were drawn to a ragged fellow
of my own age, with a six-inch stump for one leg, lolling prone on the
dirt-carpeted earth in a corner of the square, mumbling from time to
time over his cigarette:

"Una limosnita, señores; qué Dios se lo pagará."

There was in his face evidence that he had been born with fully average
gifts, perhaps special talents; and a sensation of sadness mingled with
anger came upon me with the reflection that through all the years I had
been living and learning and journeying to and fro upon the earth, this
hapless fellow-mortal had been squatting in the dust of Toledo’s
Zocodover, droning the national lamentation:

"A little alms, señores, and may God repay you."

Just another was he of her thousands of sons that Spain has wantonly let
go to waste, until even at this early age he had sunk to a lump of
living human carrion that all the powers of earth or from Elsewhere
could not remake into the semblance of a man.

Try though one may, one cannot escape the conviction that the fat of
Toledo goes to the priesthood, both physically and figuratively.  High
or low, the churchmen that overrun the place have all a sleek, contented
air and on their cynical, sordid faces an all too plain proof of
addiction to the flesh pots; while the layman has always a hungry look,
not quite always of animal hunger for food, but at least for those
things that stand next above.  Nowhere can one escape the cloth.  Every
half-hour one is sure to run across at least a bishop tottering under a
fortune’s-worth of robes and attended by a bodyguard of acolytes,
pausing now and again to shed his putative blessing on some devout
passer-by.  Of lesser dignitaries, of cowled monks and religious
mendicants there is no lack, while with the common or garden variety of
priest, a cigarette hanging from a corner of his mouth, his shovel hat
set at a rakish angle, his black gown swinging with the jauntiness of a
stage Mephistopheles, ogling the girls in street or promenade, the city
swarms.  Distressingly close is the resemblance of these latter to those
creatures one may find loitering about the stage-door toward the
termination of a musical comedy.

I sat one afternoon on a bench of that broken promenade that partly
surrounds Toledo high above the Tajo, watching the sun set across the
western vega, when my thoughts were suddenly snatched back through fully
a thousand years of time by the six-o’clock whistle of the Fabrica de
Armas below. When my astonishment had died away, there came over me the
recollection that not once before in all Spain had I heard that sound, a
factory whistle. Agreeable as that absence of sibilant discord is to the
wanderer’s soul, I could not but wonder whether just there is not the
outward mark of one of the chief reasons why the Spain of to-day
straggles where she does in the procession of nations.

I descended one afternoon from Lettuce street to the sand-clouded
station on the plain and spent the ensuing night in Aranjuez, a modern
checker-board city planted with exotic elms and royal palaces.  It was
again afternoon before I turned out into the broad highway that,
crossing the Tajo, struck off with business-like directness across a
vega fertile with wheat.  Before long it swung sharply to the right and,
laboring up the scarified face of a cliff, gained the great central
tableland of Castilla Nueva, then stalked away across a weird and solemn
landscape as drear and desolate as the hills of Judea.

The crabbed village that I fell upon at dusk furnished me bread and
wine, but no lodging.  I plodded on, trusting soon to find a more
hospitable hamlet. But the desolation increased with the night; neither
man nor habitation appeared.  Toward eleven I gave up the search and,
stepping off the edge of the highway, found a bit of space unencumbered
with rocks and lay down until the dawn.

The sun rose murky.  In twenty kilometers the deserted carretera passed
only two squalid wineshops.  Then rounding in mid-morning a slight
eminence, it presented suddenly to my eyes a smoky, indistinct, yet vast
city stretching on a higher plane half across the desolate horizon.  It
was Madrid. I tramped hours longer, so uncertainly did the highway
wander to and fro seeking an entrance, but came at last into a miserable
outskirt village and tossed away the stick that had borne my knapsack
since the day I had fashioned that convenience in the southern foothills
of Andalusia. Two besmirched street Arabs, pouncing upon it almost as it
fell--so extraordinary a curiosity was it in this unwooded region--waged
pitched battle until each carried away a half triumphant.  I pushed on
across the massive Puente de Toledo high above the trickle of water that
goes by the name of the river Manzanares and, mounting through a city as
different from Toledo as Cairo from Damascus, halted at last in the
mildly animated Puerta del Sol, the center of Spain and, to the
Spaniard, of the universe.



                               CHAPTER X

                         SHADOWS OF THE PHILIPS


A day or two later I was installed for a fortnight in a casa de
huéspedes in the calle San Bernardo.  In such places as one plans to
remain for any length of time there are few cheaper arrangements for
ample fare in all Europe than these Spanish "houses of guests."  My
room, which was temporarily on the second-floor front, but solemnly
pledged to be soon changed to the third-floor back, was all that an
unpampered wanderer could have required.  Breakfast was light; a cup of
chocolate and a roll--no self-respecting traveler ventures to sample
Spanish coffee more than once.  But one soon grows accustomed and indeed
to prefer the European abstemiousness at the first meal.  In
compensation the _almuerzo_ and _comida_, at twelve and seven, were more
than abundant.  A thick soup, not unseldom redolent of garlic, was
followed by a salad, and that by a _puchero_, which is to say an entire
meal on one platter,--in the center a square of boiled beef flanked like
St. Peter’s amid the hills of Rome by seven varieties of vegetables, the
_garbanzos_--bright yellow chickpeas of the size of marbles--with the
usual disproportion granted that robust comestible in Spain,
overtowering not only every other eminence but carpeting the intervening
valleys.  That despatched, or seriously disfigured, there came a second
offering from the animal world,--a _cocido_ or an _olla podrida_, after
which the repast descended gradually by fruit, cheese, and cigarettes to
its termination.  Through it all a common wine flowed generously.

Even on Friday this sturdy good cheer knew no abatement.  Centuries ago,
in the raging days of the Moor, the faithful of Spain were granted for
their Catholic zeal and bodily behoof this dispensation, that they might
nourish their lean frames on whatever it should please Santiago, their
patron, to bring within bowshot of their home-made crosspieces. The Moor
has long since removed his dusky shadow from the land, but the
dispensation remains. Indeed, there is left scarcely a custom the
inobservance of which betrays the non-Catholic; or if one there be at
all general it is this: when he yawns--which he is not unwont to do even
at table--the devout Spaniard makes over his mouth the sign of the
cross, to keep the devil from gaining a foothold therein--an exorcism
that is not always successful.

There is yet another custom, quite the opposite of religious in result
at least, which the guest at a casa de huéspedes must school himself to
endure.  It grows out of the Spaniard’s infernal politeness. Figure to
yourself that you have just returned from a morning of tramping through
sweltering Madrid on the ephemeral breakfast already noted, and sit down
at table just as a steaming puchero is served. With a melodious and
self-sacrificing "Serve yourself, señor," the addle-pated Spaniard
across the way pushes the dish to his neighbor; to which the neighbor
responds by pushing it back again with a "No!  Serve _yourself_, señor,"
followed in quick succession by "No!  No!  Serve yourself, señor;" "No!
No!  No! señor!  Serve yourself!" "No!  No!  No! No! serve--" and so on
to the end of time, or until a wrathy Anglo-Saxon, rising in his place,
picks up the source of dispute and establishes order.

Our household in the calle San Bernardo consisted of a lawyer, a "man of
affairs"--using the latter word in its widest signification--of two
young Germans, "Don Hermann" and "Don Ricardo," for some time employed
in the city, and of the family itself.  Of this the husband, a
slouching, toothless fellow of fifty, and the grandmother were mere
supernumeraries.  The speaking parts were taken by the wife and
daughter, the former an enormous, unpolished woman with a well-developed
mustache and the over-developed voice of a stevedore. Indeed, a
stentorian, grating voice and a habit of speaking always at the tiptop
of it is one of the chief afflictions of the Spanish women of the
masses--and of their hearers.  Is it by chance due to the custom of
studying and reciting always aloud and in chorus during their few years
of schooling?  Quién sabe?  There was presented during my stay in Madrid
the play, or more properly playlet--zarzuela--"Levantar Mueros--Raising
the Dead"; but I dared not go lest it turn out to be a dramatized sewing
circle.

But it remains to introduce the star member of the cast, the center of
that San Bernardo universe around which revolved mother,
supernumeraries, and guests like planets in their orbits--the daughter.
I fully expect to wander many a weary mile before I again behold so
beautiful a maid--or one that I should take more pleasure in being a
long way distant from. She was sixteen--which in Spain is past
childhood--a glorious, faultless blonde in a land where blondes are at
high premium, her lips forming what the Spaniard calls a "nido de
besos"--a nest of osculatory delights--and--  But why drive the
impossible task further?  Such radiant perfections in human form must be
seen at least to be appreciated. It is sufficient, perhaps, to mention
that her likeness was on sale in every novelty shop in Madrid and found
more purchasers than that of Machaquito, King of the Toreros.  In short,
a supreme beauty--had she been captured early and suitably polished
instead of remaining at home with mother until she had acquired mother’s
voice, and mother’s roughshod manners, and a slothful habit of life that
was destined, alas, in all probability to end by reproducing her
mother’s bulk and mustache.

There are two things worth seeing in howling, meeowling, brawling,
blistering Madrid--her outdoor life and the Prado museum.  It was the
latter that I viewed by day, for when relentless August has settled down
the capital is not merely hot, it is plutonic, cowering under a dead,
sultry heat without the relief of a breath of air, a heat that weighs
down like a leaden blanket and makes Seville seem by comparison a
northern seaport.  A saying as old as its foolish founder’s grave
credits the city with three month’s invierno and nine months’ infierno,
a characterization that loses much in symmetry, though gaining, perhaps,
in force by translation.  It was my fortune to have happened into the
place when the lowest circle of the latter region was having its inning.

Wherefore I went often to the Prado; and came as often away more
physically fatigued than after a four-hour watch in a stokehole, and
with my head in a bewildered whirl that even a long stroll in the Buen
Retiro only partly reduced.  It is like the irrationality of man to
bring together these thousands of masterpieces, so close together that
not one of them can produce a tenth of its proper effect. Of the
pictures in the Prado the seeing alone would require two years of
continuous work, the attempt to describe, a lifetime; pictures running
through all the gamut of art from the fading of the pre-Raphaelites down
to Goya, that plain-spoken Goya who seems to have stood afar off and
thrown paint by the bucketful at his canvas--with marvelous results.  A
pandemonium of paintings, not one of which but off by itself would bring
daily inspiration to all beholders.  It is the tendency of all things to
crowd together--wealth, art, learning, work, leisure, poverty; man’s
duty to combat this tendency by working for a sane and equitable
distribution.  The Prado collection would be a treasure, indeed, had
those who exerted themselves to bring these paintings together given
half that exertion to spreading them out.  Then it might be that in a
land as rich with art as Spain one would not find daubs and
beer-calendars hung in the place of honor in the homes and fondas of
"the masses."  When the good day comes that the accumulation of the
Prado is dispersed I shall bespeak as my share the "Borrachos" or
"Vulcan’s Forge" of sturdy Velazquez.

[Illustration: La Puerta del Sol, Madrid: the Spaniard’]

center of the universe]

Those who are curious may also visit, at seasons and with permissions,
the unpleasing royal palace, about the outer walls of which sleep scores
of fly-proof vagrants in the shade of half leafless trees, and sundry
other government buildings, all of which--except the vagrants--are duly
and fully described in the guide-books.  There is, too, the daily _juego
de Pelota_, imported from the Basque provinces, a sort of enlarged
handball played in a slate-walled chamber in which the screaming of
gamblers for bids and their insults to the players know no cessation.
Wandering aimlessly through her streets, as the sojourner in Madrid must
who cannot daily sleep the day through, I found myself often pausing to
admire the splendid displays in the windows of her tailors.  Spain has
no wool schedule, and as I gazed a deep regret came over me that I could
not always be a dweller in Madrid when my garb grows threadbare or a
tailor bill falls due.  But there was sure remedy for such melancholy.
When it grew acute I had but to turn and note the fitting of these
splendid fabrics on the passer-by, and the sadness changed to a wonder
that the madrileño tailor has the audacity to charge at all for his
services.

[Illustration: An Alameda by day--chairs stacked until busy night-time]

So bare and uninviting are her environs--and she has no suburbs--that
Madrid never retires outwardly as other cities for her picnics and
holidays, but crowds more closely together in the Buen Retiro. The
congestion is greatest about the Estanque Grande.  The largest body of
water the normal madrileño ever sees is this artificial pond of about
the area--though not the depth--of a college swimming-pool.  On it are
marooned a few venerable rowboats, for a ride in which most of the
residents of Madrid have been politely quarreling every fair day since
they reached a quarrelsome age.  Small wonder dwellers in the capital
cry out in horror at the idea of drinking water.  One might as sanely
talk of burning wood for fuel.

Obviously no untraveled native of "las Cortes" has more than a vague
conception of the sea. Indeed, the ignorance on this point is nothing
short of pathetic, if one may judge from the popular sea novel that fell
into my hands during my stay.  The writer evidently dwelt in the usual
hotbox that constitutes a Madrid lodging and had not the remotest,
wildest notion what thing a sea may be, nor the ability to tell a
mainsail from a missionary’s mule. But he was a clever man--to have
concocted such a yarn and escaped persecution.

Madrid, however, like all urban Spain, comes thoroughly to life only
with the fall of night. Occasionally a special celebration carries her
populace to some strange corner of the city, but the fixed rendezvous is
the Paseo de Recoletos, a broader Alameda where reigns by day an
un-Spanish opulence of shade enjoyed only by the chairs stacked
house-high beneath the trees.  There is nothing hurried about the
congregating.  Dinner leisurely finished, the madrileño of high or low
degree begins to drift slowly thither.  By nine the public benches are
taken; by ten one can and must move only with the throng at the accepted
pace, or pay a copper to sit in haughty state in one of the now
unstacked chairs. Toward ten-thirty a military band straggles in from
the four points of the compass, finishes its cigarette, languidly
unlimbers its instruments, and near eleven falls to work--or play.
About the same time there come wandering through the trees, as if drawn
here by merest chance, five threadbare blind men, each with a battered
violin or horn tucked tenderly under one arm.  During the opening number
they listen attentively, in silence, after the manner of musicians. Then
as the official players pause to roll new cigarettes the sightless
ragamuffins take their stand near at hand and strike up a music that
more than one city of the western world could do worse than subsidize.
Thereafter melody is incessant; and with it the murmur of countless
voices, the scrape of leisurely feet on the gravel, the cries of the
hawkers of all that may by any chance be sought, and louder and more
insistent than all else the baying of newsboys--aged forty to sixty and
of both sexes--"_El País!_" "_El Heraldo!_" "_La
Cor-r-respondencia-a-a-a!_"

Midnight!  Why, midnight is only late in the afternoon in Madrid.  The
concert does not end until three and half the babies of the city are
playing in the sand along the Paseo de Recoletos when the musicians
leave.  Besides, what else is to be done?  Even did one feel the
slightest desire to turn in there is not the remotest possibility of
finding one’s room less than a sweatbox.  The populace shows little
inclination to disperse, and though many saunter unwillingly homeward
for form’s sake, it is not to sleep, for one may still hear chatting and
the muffled twang of guitars behind the blinds of the open windows.  As
for myself, I drifted commonly after the concert into the "Circo
Americano" or a zarzuela, though such entertainments demonstrated
nothing except how easily the madrileño is amused.  Yet even these close
early--for Madrid; and rambling gradually into my adopted section, it
was usually my fortune to run across a "friend of the house"--of whom
more anon--to retire with him to the nearest _Juego de Billar_, or
billiard-hall, there to play the night gray-headed.

The doors of Madrid close at midnight, and neither the madrileño nor his
guests have yet reached that stage of civilization where they can be
entrusted with their own latch-key.  But it is easy for all that to gain
admittance.  One has only to halt before one’s door, clap one’s hands
soundly three or six or nine or fifteen times, bawl in one’s most
musical and top-most voice, "Ser-r-r-r-reno!" not forgetting to roll the
r like the whir of a broken emery-wheel, and then sit calmly down on the
curb and wait.  Within a half-hour, or an hour at most, the watchman is
almost sure to appear, rattling with gigantic keys, carrying staff and
lantern, and greeting the exile with all the compliments of the Spanish
season, unlocks, furnishes him a lighted wax taper, wishes him a "good
night" and a long day’s sleep, and gracefully pockets his two-cent fee.

Theoretically the sereno is supposed to keep order--or at least orderly.
But nothing is more noted for its absence in Madrid by night than order.
The sereno of the calle San Bernardo showed great liking for the
immediate neighborhood of our casa de huéspedes--after I had been
admitted.  Rare the night--that is, morning--that he did not sit down
beneath my window--for my promotion to the third-floor back was
postponed until I left the city--with a pair of hackmen or day-hawks and
fall to rehearsing in a foghorn-voice the story of his noble past. Twice
or thrice I let drop a hint in the form of what water was in my pitcher.
But the serenos of Madrid are imperturbable, and water is precious.  On
each such occasion the romancer moved over some two feet and serenely
continued his tale until the rising sun sent him strolling homeward.

"Don Ricardo," of our German boarders, aspired to change from his stool
in a banking-house to the bullring.  He had taken a course in Madrid’s
Escuela Taurina and was already testing his prowess each Sunday as a
banderillero in the little plaza of Tetuan, a few miles outside the
city.  In consequence--for "Ricardo" was a companionable youth for all
his ragged Spanish--our casa de huéspedes became a rendezvous of lesser
lights in the taurine world.  Two or three toreros were sure to drop in
each evening before we had sipped the last of our wine, to spend an hour
or two in informal _tertulia_. I had not been a week in the city before
I numbered among my acquaintances Curdito, Capita de Carmona, Pepete,
and Moreno de Alcala, all men whose names have decorated many a ringside
poster.

There appeared one evening among the "friends of the house" a young man
of twenty, of singularly attractive appearance and personality.
Clear-eyed, of lithe yet muscular frame, and a spring-like quickness in
every movement, he was noticeable above all for his modest deportment,
having barely a touch of that arrogant self-esteem that is so frequently
the dominating characteristic of the Spaniard.  His speech was the soft,
musical Andalusian; his conversation quickly demonstrated him a man of a
high rate of intelligence.

Such was Faustino Posadas, bullfighter, already a favorite among the
aficionados of Spain, though it is by no means often that a youth of
twenty finds himself vested with the red muleta.  Son of the
spare-limbed old herder who has been keeper for many years of the
Tabladas, or bull pastures, of Seville, he had been familiar with the
animals and their ways from early childhood.  At sixteen he was already
a banderillero.  A famous espada carried him in his caudrilla to Peru
and an accident to a fellow torero gave him the opportunity to despatch
his first two bulls in the plaza of Lima.  He returned to Spain a
full-fledged "novillero" and was rapidly advancing to the rank of
graduate espada, with the right to appear before bulls of any age.

Once introduced, Posadas appeared often in the calle San Bernardo; much
too often in fact to leave any suspicion that either his friendship for
"Don Ricardo" or the charms of our conversation was the chief cause of
his coming.  A very few days passed before it had become a fixed and
accepted custom for him to set out toward nine for the Paseo with the
radiant daughter of the house--though mother waddled between, of course,
after the dictates of Spanish etiquette.  Within a week he was received
by the family on the footing of a declared suitor; and of his favor with
the señorita there was no room for doubt.

There was always a long hour between the termination of supper and the
time when Madrid began its nightly promenade, during which it was
natural that our conversation should touch chiefly upon affairs of the
ring.

"Don Henrico," asked Capita one evening--for I was known to the company
as "Henrico Franco"--"is it true that there are no bullfights in your
country?"

"Vaya que gente!" burst out Moreno, when I had at length succeeded in
making clear to them our national objections to the sport.  "What
rubbish!  What does it matter if a few old hacks that would soon fall
dead of themselves are killed to make sport for the aficionados?  As for
the bull--  Carajo, hombre!  You yourself, if you were in such a rage as
the toro, would no more feel the thrust of a sword than the pricking of
a gadfly."

Posadas, on the other hand, readily grasped the American point of view.
He even admitted that he found the goring of the horses unpleasant and
that he would gladly see that feature of the córrida eliminated if there
were any other way of tiring the bull before the last act.  But for the
bull himself he professed no sympathy whatever.

"What would you have us do?" he cried in conclusion.  "Spain offers
nothing else for a son of the people without political pull than to
become torero.  Without that we must work as peasants on black bread and
a peseta a day."

"As in any other trade," I inquired, "I suppose you enter the ring
without any thought of danger, any feeling of fear?"

"No, I don’t remember ever being afraid," laughed the Sevillian, "though
when Miúra furnishes the stock I like to hear mass before the córrida."

"What are the secrets of success?"

"I know only one," answered Posadas, "and that is no secret.  Every move
the bull makes shows first in the whites of his eyes.  Never for an
instant do I take my eyes off his.  So it has been my luck not to be
once wounded," he concluded, making the sign of the cross.

"Cogidas!" cried Capita, passing a hand over a dull brown welt on his
neck.  "Caramba!  I have five of them, and every one by a cursed miúra.
No, I never felt pain, only a cold chill that runs down to your very
toes.  But afterward--in the hospital!  Carajo!"

One would suppose that men engaged in so perilous a calling would take
extreme bodily care of themselves.  Not a torero among them, however,
knew the meaning of "training" as the word is used by our athletes.
They drank, smoked--even during the córrida--ate what and when they
pleased, and more commonly spent the night strolling in the Paseo with
an "amiga" or carousing in a wineshop than sleeping.  Whether it is a
leaving of the Moor or native to this blear, rocky land, there is much
of the fatalist in the Spaniard, especially the Andalusian.  He is by
nature a gambler; be he torero, beggar, or senator, he is always ready
and willing to "take a chance."

"If a man is marked to be killed in the ring he will be killed there,"
asserted Pepete.  "He cannot change his fate by robbing himself of the
pleasures of life."

Posadas was engaged to appear in the plaza of Madrid on the first Sunday
of our acquaintance. When I descended to the street at three the city
was already drifting ringward, a picador in full trim now and then
cantering by on his Rozinante--a sight fully as exciting to the populace
as the circus parade of our own land.  I had reached the edge of the
Puerta del Sol when I heard a "Hola, amigo!" behind me and turning,
beheld none other than Jesús the Sevillian bearing down upon me with
outstretched hand.  He had found work at his trade in the city--though
not yet a barber apparently.

"And Gásparo?" I asked.

"Perdido, señor!  Lost again!" he sighed. "Perhaps he has found a new
amiga.  But I much more fear he has fallen into the fingers of the
police.  Mira V., señor.  In all the journey we have not been able once
to hide ourselves on a freight train.  At last, señor, in Castillejo,
Gásparo goes mad and swears he will ride once for nothing.  With twenty
people looking on he climbs a wagon.  A man shouts ’thief!’ and around
the station comes running a guardia civil.  I have not been able to find
Gásparo since.  Señor, I have come to think it is not right to ride on
the railroad without a ticket.  Gásparo, perhaps, is in prison.  But we
will meet again when he comes out," he concluded cheerfully, as I turned
away.

At the plaza fully twelve thousand were gathered.  The córrida was
distinguished particularly for its clumsiness, though the fighters,
while young, were not without reputation.  Falls and bruises were
innumerable and the entire performance a chapter of accidents that kept
the aficionados in an uproar and gave no small amount of work to the
attendant surgeons.  Of the three matadores, Serenito, a hulking fellow
whose place seemed last of all in the bullring, was gored across the
loins by his first bull and forced to abandon his task and fee to the
sobresaliente.  Then Platerito--"Silver-plated"--a mere whisp of a man,
having dedicated to the populace as is the custom in Madrid the death of
the fifth bull, gasconaded up to the animal, fell immediately foul of a
horn, whirled about like a rag caught on a fly-wheel, and landed on his
shoulders fully sixty feet away.  To the astonishment even of the
aficionados he sprang to his feet as jaunty as ever and duly despatched
the animal, though not over handily.

The misfortunes of his fellows served to bring out by contrast the skill
of Posadas.  Not only did he pass the day unscathed, but killed both his
bulls at the first thrust so instantly that the thud of their fall might
be heard outside the plaza, how rare a feat only he knows who has
watched the hacking and butchering of many a "novillero."  Indeed, so
pleasing was his work that he was at once engaged, contrary to all
precedent, to appear again on the ensuing Sunday.

By that time I had learned enough of the "fine points of the game" to
recognize that the Sevillian was approaching already true matador
"form," and as I took leave of him next day it was with the conviction
that success in his chosen career was as sure as the certainty of soon
winning his most cherished reward.

"Vaya, Don Henrico," he laughed as we shook hands.  "We shall see each
other again.  Some day when I go to Mexico or the Americas of the south
I shall come by New York and you shall show me all you have told us of."

There are few countries in which it is more difficult to lay out an
itinerary that will take in the principal points of interest without
often doubling on one’s track than Spain.  By dint of long calculation
and nice adjustment of details I sketched a labyrinthian route that my
kilometer-book, together with what walking I should have time for, would
cover.  As for my check-book there was left exactly three pesetas a day
for the remainder of my time in the peninsula.

So one cloudy morning in early August I took train at the Estación del
Norte and wound away upward through the gorges of the Guardarrama to
Segovia.  Only there did I realize that the rumble of Madrid had been
absolutely incessant in my ears; the stillness of the ancient city was
almost oppressive, even more than in Toledo one felt peculiarly out of
the world and a sensation that he must not remain too long lest he be
wholly forgotten and lose his place in life’s procession.

In the morning I set off by the highway that follows for some miles the
great unmortared aqueduct, that chief feature of Segovia, a thing indeed
far greater than the town, as if a man’s gullet, or his thirst should be
larger than himself, so difficult is it for a city to obtain water in
this thirsty land.  Where the road abandoned the monument it continued
across a country brown and sear, with almost the aspect of an American
meadow in autumn, steadily rising all but imperceptibly. Well on in the
morning I entered a forest, at a side road of which I was joined by two
guardias civiles, who marched for an hour with me exchanging information
and marveling that I had wandered so far afield.  It has been my lot to
become well, nay, intimately acquainted with the police of many lands,
and I know of none that, as a body, are more nearly what police should
be than these civil guards of Spain, to whom is due the suppression of
all the old picturesque insecurities of the road.  They have neither the
bully-ism of our own club-wielders nor the childishness of Asiatic
officers. Except in blistering Bailen the bearing of every pair I
met--they never travel singly--was such as to win at once the confidence
of the stranger and to draw out of him such facts as it is their duty to
learn so naturally that it seemed but a mutual exchange of politenesses.
There are, no doubt, petty corruptions in so large a body, but in the
presence of almost any of them one has a conviction that their first
thought is their duty.

The highway ended its climb at noon in La Granja--The Grange--residence
of the king in spring and autumn, a town little Spanish in aspect seated
in a carefully cropped forest at the base of a thickly wooded mountain.
I roamed unchallenged for half the afternoon through the royal park,
replete with fountains compared with which those of Versailles are mere
water-squirts; playthings that Philip the half-mad accused of costing
three million and amusing him three minutes. I was more fortunate, for
they cost me nothing and amused me fully half an hour.

After which I picked up the highway again and, winding around the regal
village, struck upward into the mountains of Guardarrama.  At the hamlet
of Valsain I had just paused at the public spring when the third or
fourth tramp I had seen on the road in all Spain swung around a bend
ahead, marching doggedly northward.  As I stooped to drink, a moan and a
thud sounded behind me.  I turned quickly around to behold the roadster
writhing in the middle of the highway, the gravel of which had cut and
gashed one side of his face.  The simple villagers, swarming wide-eyed
out of their houses, would have it at first that he was my companion and
I to blame for his mishap.  He bore patent signs of months on the road,
being burned a tawny brown in garb and face by the sun that was
evidently the author of his misfortune.  For a time the village stood
open-mouthed about him, the brawny housewives now and then giving vent
to their sympathy and helpless perplexity by a long-drawn "ay de mi!"  I
suggested water, and a dozen women, dashing away with the agility of
middle-aged cows, brought it in such abundance that the victim was all
but drenched to the skin before I could drive them off.  He revived a
bit and while a woman clumsily washed the blood and gravel from his
face, I addressed him in all the languages I could muster, for he was
evidently no Spaniard.  The only response was a few inarticulate groans,
and when he had been carried to a grassy slope in the shade, I went on,
knowing him in kind if awkward hands.

A half-perpendicular hour passed by, and I seemed to have left Spain
behind.  The road was toiling sharply upward through deep forests of
evergreen, cool as an Alpine valley, opening now and then to offer a
vista of thick treetops and a glimpse of red-tiled villages; a scene as
different from sterile, colorless, sunken-cheeked Castille as could well
be imagined.  Nor did the dusk descend so swiftly in these upper
heights.  The sun had set when I reached the summit at six thousand feet
and, passing through the Puerto de Navacerrada, started swiftly downward
in the thickening gloom; but it was some time before the night had
settled down in earnest.

I had marched well into it when I was suddenly startled by a sound of
muffled voices out of the darkness ahead.  I moved forward noiselessly,
for this lonely pass has many a story to tell.  A dim light shone
through what appeared to be a window. I shouted for admittance and a
moment later found myself in the hovel of a peon caminero.

Within, besides the family, were two educated Spaniards, one indeed who
had been a secretary in the American Legation up to the outbreak of the
recent war.  When he had been apprised of my mode of travel and my goal,
he stared wonderingly at me for a moment and then stepped out with me
into the night.  Marching a few paces down the highway until we had
rounded some obstruction, he pointed away into the void.

"Do you see those lights?" he asked.

Far away and to the right, so far and so high in the heavens that they
seemed constellations, twinkled three clusters of lights, almost in a
row but far separated one from another.

"The third and farthest," said my companion, "is El Escorial; and your
time is well-chosen, for to-morrow is the day of Saint Lawrence, her
patron saint."

We returned to the hut, where the wife of the peon was moved to cook me
a bowl of garbanzos and spread me a blanket on the stone floor.  In the
morning the sharply descending highway carried me quickly down the
mountain, and by sunrise I was back once more in the familiar Castille.
It was verging on noon when, surmounting a sterile rise, I caught sight
of the dome and towers of the Escorial.  A roadside stream, of which the
water was lukewarm, removed the grime of travel, and I climbed
sweltering into the village of Escorial de Arriba, pitched on a jagged
shoulder of the calcined mountain high above the monastery.

Spain is wont to show her originality and indifference to the
convenience of travelers, and on this, the anniversary of the grilling
of him in whose honor it was built, the great monastery was closed for
the only time during the year.  I experienced no regret, however, for
the vast gloomy structure against its background of barren, rocky hills
had far too much the aspect of some dank prison to awaken any desire to
enter.  Least impressive of famous buildings, the Escorial is certainly
the most oppressive.  There is poetry, inspiration in many a building,
in the Taj Mahal, the Cathedral of Cologne; but not in the Escorial.  It
suggests some frowning, bulky bourgeois of forty whose mother thinks him
and who would fain believe himself one of the most poetic and spiritual
of men.

I wandered away the day in the town, drifting in the afternoon down into
the village "de Abajo." There, in the multitude about the stone-pile of
a bullring, I ran across Curdito in festive garb.  He was scheduled to
kill all three bulls of the day’s córrida, but in spite of his urgent
invitation I felt in no mood to sit out the blistering afternoon on a
bare stone slab of this rough-and-tumble plaza.

El Escorial was so overrun with visitors to her annual celebration that
not a lodging of any sort was to be had in either the upper or the lower
village.  The discovery brought me no shock, for a night out of doors I
neither dreaded nor regretted.  But as I sauntered at dusk down past the
great building into the flanking "woods of Herrera," I could not but
wonder how those travelers who bewail the accommodations of the "only
possible hotel" would have met the situation.

Behind the monastery extends a broad, silent forest, not over thick, and
beneath the trees squat bushes and brown heather.  I spread the day’s
copy of the _Heraldo_ between two shrubs and, stretching out at my ease,
fell to munching the lunch I had bought in the village market.  Let the
circumstances be right and I know few more genuine joys than to sleep
the night out of doors.  Lie down in the open while a bit of daylight
still lingers, or awaken there when the dawn has come, and there is a
feeling of sordidness, mixed with the ludicrous, a sense of being an
outcast prone on the common earth.  But while the night, obscuring all
details, hangs its canopy over the world there are few situations more
pleasing.

When I had listened a while to the panting of the August night I fell
asleep.  For weeks past I had been viewing too many famous spots,
perhaps, had been delving too constantly into the story of Spain, My
constant use of Castilian, too, had borne fruit; English words no longer
intruded even on my inner meditations.  Was it possible also that the
market lunch had been too heavy, or the nearness of the gloomy monastery
too oppressive?  At any rate I fell to dreaming.

At first there passed a procession of all Spain,--arrieros, peasants,
Andalusian maidens, toreros, priests, Jesús the tramp, a chanting
water-seller, merchants and beggars; close followed by two guardias
civiles who looked at me intently as they passed.  Then suddenly in
their place Moors of every garb and size were dancing about me.  They
seemed to be celebrating a victory and to be preparing for some
Mohammedan sacrifice.  A mullah advanced upon me, clutching a knife.  I
started to my feet, a distant bell boomed heavily, and the throng
vanished like a puff of smoke.

Away off above, in a hollow in the gaunt mountain, I made out gradually
the form of a man sitting pensive, elbows on knees, gazing dark-browed
down upon me.  He was in royal robes, and all at once he seemed to
start, to grow in size, and a line across his breast expanded to the
letters "Felipe II."  Larger and larger he grew until he overtowered the
mountain itself; then slowly, scowlingly he rose and strode down upon
me.  A women joined him, a scrawny woman who laid a hand inertly in his,
and I recognized Bloody Mary, who seemed thus in an instant to have
leaped over the seas from her island kingdom to join her gloomy husband.

In rapid succession new figures appeared,--Herrera first, a torpid,
lugubrious man strangely like the building he has left behind; then
quickly a multitude, through which strolled a man whose crown bore the
name "Pedro," running his sword with a chuckle of devilish laughter
through any that came within easy reach, young or old, asleep or awake.
Of a sudden there stalked forth from nowhere a lean, deep-eyed man of
fifty, a huge parchment volume under one arm, an almost cynical, yet
indulgent smile on his countenance; and as if to prove who he was there
raced down over the mountain a man not unlike him in appearance, astride
a caricature of a horse, and behind him a dumpy, wondering peasant
ambling on an ass.  The cavalier sprang suddenly from his hack and fell
affectionately on the shoulder of the parchment-bearer, then bounding
back into the saddle he charged straight for Felipe, who, stepping to
one side, flung, backhanded, Mary his wife far out of sight over the
mountain.

A sound drew my attention to another side. Across the plain was marching
with stately tread a long file of Moors, each carrying in one hand his
head, by the hair.

"Los Abencerrajes!" I seemed to shout; and almost before it was uttered
there remained only Felipe and behind him a score of indistinct forms.
He waved a hand toward me and turned his back, and the company moved
down upon me unlimbering a hundred instruments of torture.  Distant
bells were tolling mournfully.  A priest advanced holding aloft a
crucifix and chanting in sepulchral voice:

                     "The hour of heretics sounds."


Louder and funereally rang the dismal bells; the torturers drew near; I
struggled to rise to my feet--and awoke.

The bells of the monastery were booming out over the night.



                               CHAPTER XI

                            CRUMBLING CITIES


It was well along in the next afternoon that I descended at the station
of Avila and climbed a long dusty mile into the city.  A scent of the
dim, half-forgotten past hovered over the close-walled, peculiarly
garbed place.  When I had made a circuit of her ancient wall, through
which her no less time-worn cathedral thrusts its hips, I drifted down
into the dusty vega below, where in the church of Santo Tomás sleeps the
dead hope of "los reyes católicos."  If the sculptor be trustworthy the
prince would have been an intelligent, kindly lad, even though his
martial valor might never have rivaled that of his stout-hearted mother.
Returned to the city, I strolled for an hour along the lofty Paséo del
Rastro, watching the sun sink red behind the serrated jumble of
mountains on the far western horizon, beyond which lay my next
stopping-place; and so to bed in the Posada de la Estrella amid the
munching asses and snoring arrieros.

Avila is connected with Salamanca by rail, but the route forms a sharp
angle with its apex many miles to the north.  I had decided, therefore,
to walk. Swinging down through the western city gate and across the
babbling Adaja by the aged stone bridge, I clambered again upward to
where a huge stone cross invites to a rest in its shade and a final
retrospect of crumbling Avila and her many-turreted, constraining wall.
An easy two-days’ walk lay before me.  For had not Heir Baedeker, so
seldom in error as to plain facts, announced the distance as thirty-five
miles?

As I wended on up the hillside, however, I was suddenly stricken profane
by a stone sign-post rising before me with the dismal greeting:

                       "Salamanca 99 kilómetres."


Herr Baedeker was wrong by a little matter of thirty miles.

But I had set the time of my entrance into Salamanca; delay would bring
havoc to my delicately adjusted itinerary.  I doubled my pace.

The way led through a country as savage of aspect as any in Spain,
waterless, dusty, glaring, overspread with huge rocks tumbled pell-mell
as if the Mason of the universe had thrown here the materials left over
from His building.  By afternoon a few lean farms began to crowd their
way in between the rocks, now and then a sturdy, thick-set tree found
place, and over all nature hovered great clouds of locusts whose refrain
reminded how euphonious is the Spaniard’s name for what we dub "dog
days,"--"canta la chicharra--the locust sings."  The inhabitants of the
region seemed somewhat more in fortune’s favor than the rest of the
peninsula.  Passing peasants, though rare, had none a hungry look; their
carts were fancifully carved and painted both on body and wheels, while
the trappings of their cattle were decorative in the extreme.

All a summer day I tramped forward over hill and hollow toward the great
jagged range, the hardy trees dying out, the fields growing in size and
number, but the sierra seeming to hold ever as far aloof.  Beyond a
small withered forest in which were roaming flocks of brown goats, I
climbed a steady five miles to a summit village exhibiting every outward
sign of poverty and most fittingly named "Salvadios--God save us."  The
keeper of its one quasi-public house deigned after long argument to set
before me a lame excuse for supper, but loudly declined to furnish
lodging.  I withdrew, therefore, to a threshing-floor across the way,
heaped high with still unbroken bundles of wheat, and put in a
shiveringly cold night--so great is the contrast between the seething
plains by day and this hilltop bitten by every wind--not once falling
into a sound sleep for the gaunt, savage curs that prowled about me.

At dawn I was already afoot and three hours later entered the city of
Penaranda, in the outskirts of which a fine plaza de toros was building,
but within all the confines of which was no evidence of school, library,
nor indeed of restaurant.  I contented myself with a bit of fruit and
trudged on. This may not, perhaps, have been the hottest day of all that
Spanish summer, but it bore certainly all the earmarks thereof.  The
earth lay cracked and blistered about me, the trees writhing with the
heat, the rays rising from the rocky soil like a dense stage-curtain of
steam.  In a shriveled and parched pueblo of mud huts, exactly
resembling the villages of Palestine, I routed out a kindly old woman
for a foreshortened lunch; and then on again in the inferno, choking
fields of grain and vineyards soon becoming numerous on either hand.
The wise husbandmen, however, had sought refuge, and in all the grilling
landscape was not a human being to be seen, save and except a
sweat-dripping pedestrian from foreign parts straining along the
scorching highway.

This swung at length to the right, swooped down through a river that had
not a drop of water, and staggering to the top of an abrupt knoll,
showed me far off, yet in all distinctness, a rich reddish-brown city
gathered together on a low hilltop and terminating in glinting spires.
It was Salamanca; and of all the cities I have come thus upon unheralded
and from the unpeopled highway none can rival her in richness of color,
like ripe old wine, a city that has grown old gracefully and with
increasing beauty.  So fascinating the sight that I sat down beneath the
solitary tree by the way to gaze upon it--and to swing half round the
circuit of the shrub as the sun drove the scanty shadow before it.

But I was still far off the golden-brown city and, setting slowly onward
in the descending evening, I all but encircled the place before the
carretera, coming upon the ancient puente romano, clambered upward into
its unrivaled Blaza Mayor.

Just back of this, four stories above the Plaza de la Verduga, or Place
of the Green Stuff, lives a widow whose little spare chamber is let in
the winter season to some unpretentious student of the now unpretentious
university.  I engaged this, together with what of physical nourishment
should be reasonable, at three pesetas a day.  As I took possession, the
daughter of the hostess, a muchacha of eight, peered in upon me hugging
a doll under one arm.

"Qué muñeca más bonita!" I hazarded, which turned out to be unwise, for
the homage so overcame her diffidence that she came in not only to offer
the information that my complexion strangely resembled that of a lobster
in the salmantino museum, but such a fund of further information that it
was long before I had inveigled her outside the door and, throwing
myself on the bed, slept the clock round.

As in many another city it had been my fortune to reach Salamanca on the
eve of one of her great festivals.  Indeed, that must be a foresighted
traveler who can journey through Spain without being frequently caught
up in the whirlpool of some local fiesta.  The excuse this time was
Assumption Day.  The festivities within the city walls offered nothing
of extraordinary, being chiefly confined to a band concert in the
central plaza.  Richer by far would be the richest city of the earth
could she purchase and transplant into her own midst the Plaza Mayor of
Salamanca, with its small forest of palms, the rich brown medallioned
façades and surrounding colonnades beneath which the salmantino is wont
to stroll, la salmantina on his arm, while the band plays in the
flower-shrouded stand in its center.  Salamanca might sell, too, in
spite of her boast that it is the finest in Spain, being poorer than the
proverbial church mouse, were she not also Spanish and prouder than she
is poor.

The real fiesta, however, took the form of a bullfight that had a
character all its own. Salamanca, as I have hinted, is no longer a city
of wealth.  Indeed, those occasions are rare in these modern days when
she can indulge in a round of the national sport, even though she
possesses one of the largest bullrings in Spain.  On this great holiday,
however, the city fathers had decided that nothing within the bounds of
reason was too good for the recreating of Salamanca’s long unfeasted
children.  A full-sized bullfight would, to be sure, have far
overstepped the bounds above mentioned. But after long debate and deep
investigation it had been concluded that a córrida with four bulls, no
horses, one real matador, and seats of all shades and distinctions at
one peseta each might be conceded.

With this unlimited choice of vantage-points at my own price I went out
early to the plaza and picked my place in the sombra in what was
evidently a section reserved for the guardia civil; for before long the
guards, in full uniform and their three-cornered hats, began to gather
about me, first in pairs, then in groups, then in swarms, until I was
wholly, shut in and surrounded by guardias civiles like a dandelion in
the center of a bed of tulips. Far from resenting my intrusion, however,
if such it was, they initiated me into their order with botas and
cigarettes and included me in their conversation and merriment during
the rest of the day.

The entertainment began at four.  With that exception, however, it had
few points of similarity with the regulation córrida.  The procession
entered, fully six men in torero garb--though that of two or three of
them fitted like amateur theatrical costumes--followed by two horsemen,
two, in their shirt-sleeves, as was also señor el alcalde in his box.
The key thrown, the fight began; with the elimination of the one
unquestionably unpleasant feature,--the killing of horses.  Even aged
hacks cost money and, as I have already more than once suggested, money
is a rare commodity in Salamanca.  When the bull had been worried a bit
with the cloaks, the banderilleros proceeded at once to plant their
darts.  The professional matador, a young man rejoicing in the name of
Trueno--"Thunder"--had, therefore, a far more difficult task than usual,
for more than anything else it is the venting of his rage and strength
on the blindfolded steeds that tires the bull, and on this occasion it
was a still wild and comparatively fresh animal which the diestro was
called upon to face. He despatched his three allotted bulls, however,
without accident and to the vociferous satisfaction of the audience,
which filled even at the low price only a bit more than the shaded
section.  It was not, as the guardia beside me was at some pains to
explain, that there were not salmantinos quite sufficient to pack the
plaza to overflowing, but that there were not pesetas enough in town to
go round.  In the throng, too, were no small number of peasants from all
the widely surrounding country, some in the old dress with knee
breeches.

But to touch upon the unusual features of the córrida.  As a part of the
worrying of the second bull a chulo placed a chair in the ring and,
standing upon it with neither weapon nor cloak, awaited the charge.
When the bull had all but reached him he sprang suddenly into the air,
the animal dashed under him and, falling upon the unoffending article of
furniture, dissolved it thoroughly into its component parts and
scattered them broadcast about the arena.

The most nerve-thrilling performance, however, that it was my privilege
to see in all the devil-may-care land of Spain was the feat that
followed immediately on the death of the chair-wrecker.  It was the
"star attraction" of the day and was announced on the posters in all the
Spaniard’s richness of superlatives--and he is a born and instinctive
writer of "ads."  Clinging as closely as possible to the eloquent
phraseology of the original the announcement may be set forth in
near-English as follows:

"Various are the chances (tricks) which are executed in the different
plazas of Spain inside the taurine art, but none that has more called
attention than that which is practised by JOSÉ VILLAR son of the
memorable matador (killer, murderer) of bulls Villarillo who"--not
father Illo, who has left off all earthly sport, but son José--"locating
himself in the center of the arena and placed with the head towards
below and the feet by above imploring the public to maintain the most
impressive silence during the risk (fate) consummates the trick (chance)
of Tancredo; very well, this Management not reflecting on (sparing)
either expense or sacrifice has contracted with him in order that he
shall fulfill (lift, pull off; _sic._) this trick (risk) on the third
bull to the end that the salmantinos shall know it, with which program
this Management believes to have filled to the full the desires of the
aficionados (rooters, fans, amateurs)."

The second bull, therefore, having been ignominiously dragged to
oblivion and the butcher-shop, and the blood patches of the arena
resanded, there sallied forth from the further gate a small, athletic
man of thirty-five or so, hatless--and partly hairless--dressed from
head to foot in the brightest red, of a material so thin that the
movement of his every muscle could be plainly seen beneath it.  He was
entirely empty-handed.  He marched with sprightly stride across the ring
and, bowing low to the alcalde in his box above, addressed to the public
a warning and an entreaty to maintain the utmost silence during the
"consummation of the risk."  An assistant then appeared, carrying a
small wooden box with a piece of gas-pipe six feet long fixed upright in
the top of it. This Villar placed exactly in the center of the ring, a
hundred yards or more in every direction from the barrier.  Across the
gas-pipe, near the top, he fastened a much shorter piece, thus forming a
cross. On the box he placed a circular roll of cloth, stood on his head
thereon, hooked his toes over the cross-piece, waved a hand gaily to the
public, and folded his arms. Every other torero stepped outside the
ring, and the toril gate swung open.

A wild snort, and there plunged into the arena as powerful and savage a
brute as it had ever yet been my lot to see.  For an instant he stood
motionless, blinking in the blinding sunlight.  Then suddenly catching
sight of the statue flaming with the hated color, he shot away toward it
with the speed of an express-train--a Spanish express at least--until, a
bare three feet from it, he stopped instantly stone-still by thrusting
out his forelegs like a Western broncho, then slowly, gingerly tiptoed
up to the motionless figure, sniffed at it, and turned and trotted away.

The public burst forth in a thunderclap of applause.  Villar got right
end up as calmly and gracefully as a French count in a drawing-room,
laid a hand on his heart, and smiling serenely, bowed once, twice,
th---- and just then a startled roar went up from the tribunes, for the
bull had suddenly turned and, espying the man in red, dashed at him with
lowered horns and a bellow of anger.

There is nowhere registered, so far as my investigations carry, the
record of José Villar, son of Villarillo, in the hundred-yard dash.  But
this much may be asserted with all assurance, that it has in it nothing
of that slow, languid, snail-like pace of the ten-second college
champion.  Which was well; for some two inches below his flying heels,
as he set a new record likewise in the vaulting of barriers, the
murderous horns crashed into the oak plank tablas with the sound of a
freight collision and an earnestness that gave work to the plaza
carpenters for some twenty minutes to come.

Therein Villar was more fortunate than the Mexican Tancredo, inventor of
the "suerte," and for whom it was named.  Tancredo, like Dr. Guillotin,
was overreached by his own invention, for while his record for the
hundred was but a second or two less than that of Villar, it was just
this paltry margin that made him, on the day next following his last
professional appearance, the chief though passive actor in a spectacle
of quite a different character.

The "Suerte de Tancredo" has never won any vast amount of popularity in
Spain, except with the spectators.  Toreros in general manifest a
hesitation akin to bashfulness in thus seeking the plaudits of the
multitude.  By reason of which diffidence among his fellows, José, son
of Villarillo, memorable matador de toros, pockets after each such
recreation a sum that might not seem overwhelming to an American captain
of industry or to a world-famous tenor, but one which the average
Spaniard cannot name in a single breath.

Salamanca’s day of amusement did not, however, by any means end here.
Beneath the name of "Thunder," the professional matador, there was
printed with equal bombast that of FERNANDO MARTÍN.  Now Fernando was
quite evidently a salmantino butt, a tall gawky fellow whose place in
the society of Salamanca was apparently very similar to that of those
would-be or has-been baseball players to be found vegetating in many of
our smaller towns.  Like them, too, Fernando was in all probability wont
to hover about the pool-rooms and dispensing-parlors of his native city,
boasting of his untested prowess at the national game.  That his talents
might not, therefore, forever remain hidden under a wineglass, and also,
perhaps, because his services might be engaged at five hundred pesetas
less than the five hundred that a professional sobresaliente would have
demanded, the thoughtful city fathers had caused him to be set down on
the program, likewise in striking type, as "SUBSTITUTE WITH NECESSITY
(CON NECESIDAD) TO KILL THE FOURTH BULL."

It was this "necesidad" that worked the undoing of Fernando Martín.
When the customary by-play had been practised on the fourth animal,
enter Fernando with bright red muleta, false pigtail, glinting sword,
and anything but the sure-of-one’s-self countenance of a professional
espada.  He faced the brute first directly in front of the block of
guardias civiles, and the nearest he came to laying the animal low at
the first thrust was to impale on a horn and sadly mutilate a sleeve of
his own gay and rented jacket.  The crowd jeered, as crowds will the
world over at the sight of a man whose father and mother and even
grandfather they have known for years trying to prove himself the equal
of men imported from elsewhere.  Fernando advanced again, maneuvering
for position, though with a peculiar movement of the knees not usual
among toreros, and which was all too visible to every eye in the hooting
multitude.  Trueno, the professional, stuck close at his side in spite
of the clamorous demand of the public that he leave the salmantino to
play out his own game unhampered.  Martín hazarded two or three more
nerveless thrusts, with no other damage, thanks to the watchful eye and
cloak of Trueno, than one toss of ten feet and a bleeding groin.  By
this time the jeering of his fellow-townsmen had so overshadowed the
tyro’s modicum of good sense that he turned savagely on his protector
and ordered him to leave the ring.  Fortunately Trueno was not of the
stuff to take umbrage at the insults of a foolish man in a rage, or the
population of Salamanca would incontestably have been reduced by one
before that merry day was done.

The utmost length of time between the entrance of a professional matador
for the last act and the death of the bull is four or five minutes.
Fernando Martín trembled and toiled away ten, twenty, thirty, forty.
Slowly, but certainly and visibly his bit of courage oozed away; the
peculiar movement of his knees grew more and more pronounced.  No longer
daring to meet the bull face to face, he skulked along the barrier until
the animal’s tail was turned and, dashing past him at full speed,
stabbed backward at his neck as he ran, to the uproarious merriment of
the spectators.  Trueno saved his life certainly a score of times.  At
last, when the farce had run close upon fifty minutes, a signal from the
alcalde sent across the arena the sharp note of a bugle, two
_cabestros_, or trained steers were turned into the ring, and the bull,
losing at once all belligerency, trotted docilely away with them.  The
star of Fernando Martín, would-be matador de toros, was forever set, and
if he be not all immune to ridicule his native city surely knows him no
more.

It is law that no bull that has once entered the ring shall live.
Curious to know what was to be the fate of this animal, I sprang over
the barrier and hurried across to the gate by which he had disappeared.
There I beheld a scene that forever dispelled any notion that the task
of the matador is an easy one, however simple it may look from the
tribunes.  The bull was threshing to and fro within a small corral,
bellowing with rage and lashing the air with his tail.  It required six
men and a half-hour of time to lasso and drag him to the fence.  With a
hundred straining at the rope his head was drawn down under the gate, a
man struck him several blows with a sledge, and another, watching his
opportunity, swung his great navaja and laid wide open the animal’s
throat.

It was late when, having mingled for some time with the country folk
dancing on the sandy plain before the plaza, I returned to the city for
my bundle and repaired to the station.  A twelve-hour ride was before
me.  For I had decided to explore a territory where even the scent of
tourists is unknown,--the northwest province of Galicia.

The train that I boarded at eleven was crowded with countrymen returning
from the day’s festival, a merry but in no sense intoxicated company, in
which I saw my first wooden-shod Galicians.  The car was, for once, of
the American pattern--though of Spanish width--with thirty seats each
large enough for three persons.  The brakeman, too, who stood lantern on
arm in the open door, bore an unusual resemblance to an American
"shack."

A dozen men were standing in the aisle, but to my surprise one seat near
the center of the car seemed to be unoccupied.  When I reached it,
however, I found a priest stretched out on his back, his hands clasped
over his paunch, snoring impressively.  I carried a protest to the
brakeman and with a snort he swooped down upon the sleeper.  At sight of
him, however, he recoiled.

"Carajo!" he cried.  "Es un padre!  I could n’t disturb his reverence."

I stooped and touched the monopolist on the shoulder, being in no mood
to remain standing all night.  Moreover, I had long been curious to know
the Spaniard’s attitude toward a man who should treat a priest as an
ordinary human being.  "His reverence" grunted.  I touched him again.
His snore lost a beat or two and began once more.  I shook him more
forcibly.  He opened his blood-shot eyes, snorted "Huh!" so much like a
certain monopolist of the animal kingdom that even the passengers about
me laughed at the resemblance--and fell again to snoring.  I sat down
gently on his fat legs and, when he kicked me off, confiscated a place.
He sat up with the look of a man whose known world has suddenly crumbled
about his ears and glared at me with bulging eyes a full two minutes,
while over the faces of the onlookers flitted a series of winks and
smiles.

He was just huddling himself up again in the two-thirds of the seat that
remained to him when the door opened and Trueno, the matador, his little
_coleta_ peeping out from beneath his hat, his sword-case under one arm,
entered and, spying the extra place, sat down in it with scant ceremony.
We fell to talking.  The torero was a jovial, explosive, devil-may-care
fellow who looked and dressed his character well.  The priest slunk off
somewhere in the thickest hours and his place was taken by a peasant who
had been standing near me since leaving Salamanca. When he found
opportunity to break into the conversation he addressed me with an
amused smile:

"You are not then a Catholic, señor?"

"No."

"Ah!  A socialist!" he cried with assurance.

For to the masses of southern Europe socialist and non-Catholic are
synonymous.

"I doubt, señor," I observed, "whether you yourself are a Catholic."

"Cómo, señor!" he cried, raising his hands in a comical gesture of
quasi-horror.  "I, a cristino viejo, no Catholic!"

"Do you go to church and do what your cura commands?"

"What nonsense!" he cried, using a still more forcible term.  "Who does?
My wife goes now and then to confession.  I go to church, señor, to be
baptized, married, and buried."

"Why go then?"

"Caramba!" he gasped.  "How else shall a man be buried, married, and
baptized?"

Toward morning I fell into a doze, from which I was awakened by the
extraordinary sensation of feeling cold.  Dawn was touching the far
horizon.  The train was straining upward through a sharply rising
country.  As the sun rose we came in sight of Astorga, standing drearily
on her bleak hilltop, and in memory of Gil Blas and for the unlimbering
of my legs I alighted and climbed into the town.  It proved as
uninteresting as any in Spain, and before the morning was old I was
again riding northwestward. Soon there came an utter change of scene;
tunnels grew unaccountable, the railroad winding its way doggedly upward
through a wild, heavily wooded mountain region that had little in common
with familiar Spanish landscapes.  In mid-afternoon I dismounted at the
station of Lugo, the capital of Galicia.



                              CHAPTER XII

                             WILDEST SPAIN


Nearest of all the Iberian peninsula to our own land, the ancient
kingdom of Galicia is as well-nigh unknown to us as any section of
Europe. As far back as mankind’s memory carries it has been Spain’s
"last ditch."  Up into this wild mountain corner of the peninsula
retreated in its turn each subdued race as conqueror after conqueror
swept over the land,--the aboriginal Iberians before the Celts, the
Celtiberians before the coast-hugging Phoenicians and Carthaginians,
these before the omniverous Romans, followed as the centuries rolled on
by Vandal, Suevi, Goth and Moor.  Further they could not flee, for
behind them the world falls away by sheer cragged cliffs into the
fathomless sea.  Here the fugitives melted together into a racial
amalgam, an uncourageous amalgam on the whole, for in each case those
who reached the fastnesses were that remnant of the race that preferred
life to honor, those who "fought and ran away," or who took to their
heels even earlier in the proceedings.

Yet it was a long two centuries after Hannibal had followed his father
Hasdrubal into the Stygian realms of the defeated, after Rome had
covered the rest of the peninsula with that network of roads that
remains to this day, that the power of the outside world pushed its way
into this tumbled wilderness.  But for the necessity of loot to pay the
gambling debts of his merry youth the conqueror indeed might never have
appeared.  Yet appear he did,--a young Roman just beginning to display a
crownal baldness, known to his legions as Caesar and answering to his
friends of the Roman boulevards and casinos to the name of Julius.  He
conquered; and when he, too, had written his memoirs and passed his
perforated way, that lucky heir of all Roman striving caused to be built
in these his mountains a city that should--like all that sprouted or
grew under his reign--bear his name,--"Lucus Augusti--Gus’s place."

To-day it is Lugo, a modest city ensconced in the lap of a plain near a
thousand feet above the railway station that bears its name.
Politically Spanish, it is so in little else.  The last traces of the
Arab, so indelible in the rest of the peninsula, have disappeared.  The
racial amalgam, now the gallego, is close akin to the Portuguese, like
all long dominated peoples docile, unassertive, born to be a servant to
mankind.  He is the chief butt, the low comedian of the Spanish stage,
slow, loutish, heavy of mind and body, without a suggestion of the fire
of that bubbling child of enthusiasm, the Andaluz; none of the native
dignity and consciousness of personal worth of the Castilian, not even
the dreaminess of the Manchegan.  He is fitted to be what he is,--the
domestic, the server of his fellow-countrymen.

From the posada at the city gate I climbed to Lugo’s chief promenade and
Alameda, the top of her surrounding wall.  This is some forty feet high,
of flat, irregular slabs of slate-stone on Roman foundations, with a
circuit of nearly a mile and a half.  The town within and below is of
the same material, the dull gray or drab so predominating as to give the
place the somberness of a stone village of Wales.  The inhabitants,
moreover, have little of the Spaniard’s love of color, being as sober in
garb as in demeanor.  It is noteworthy that those communities that are
least embellished by nature are most prone to garb themselves in all the
colors of the spectrum.  The Venetian above his muddy water has been
noted in all times as a colorist; the peasants of the Apennines barely a
hundred miles away have very little brightness of dress.

So the Lugense; for if the town itself is somber gray, the moss and
vines that overrun the low, leaden houses, the gardens scattered among
them, the flowers that trail from the windows of the dwellings built
medieval-fashion into the walls make the scene gay even within.  While
outwardly it is unsurpassed.  From the wall-top promenade the eye
commands an endless vista of richest green landscape, a labyrinth of
munificent hill forms and mountain ridges dense-wooded with veritable
Alpine forests rolling away on every side to the uttermost horizon.

In the town itself is almost nothing of what the tourist calls "sights";
which is, perhaps, a chief reason why his shadow almost never falls
within it. There is only the dull, bluish-stone cathedral, and an
atmosphere wholly individual; nothing exciting, nothing extraordinary,
though one amusing detail of life is sure to attract attention.  Like
many towns of Spain, Lugo obtains her water through the mouths of stone
lions in her central plaza.  But here the fountain spouts are for some
Gallegan reason high above the flagging, far out of reach.  Whence the
plaza and the streets of the city are at all hours overrun with
housewives and domestics carrying not merely pitchers but a tin tube
some ten feet long through which to conduct the water into their
receptacles.  In nothing does the town differ from familiar Spain more
than in temperature.  Her climate is like that of Bar Harbor.  A change
in a few hours as from Florida in August to Mount Desert brought quickly
home to me the fact that my garb was fitted only for perpetual summer.
Almost with the setting sun I fell visibly to shivering, and by dark I
was forced to take refuge in bed.

I had come into Galicia proposing to strike across country to Oviedo,
capital of the Asturias, in the hope of getting wholly and thoroughly
"off the beaten track."  Therein I seemed fully to have succeeded.
Inquiries in Lugo elicited the information that Oviedo was reputed to
lie somewhere to the eastward.  Nothing more; except some nebulous
notion of a highway beginning at the base of the city wall leading for a
day or two in that direction. For which uncertainty I was in no sense
sorry, delighted with the prospect of exploring by a route of my own
that wooded wilderness of mountains that spreads endlessly away from
Lugo’s promenade, certain of finding a land and a people unsullied by
tourists.

Dinner over on the day after my arrival, I descended from the city of
Augustus by the unpaved road that was to set me a little way on my
journey. It was soon burrowing through dense, scented forests, broken by
scores of little deep green meadows along the way; so many and so
inviting that it required a strong tug of the will to keep from lying
down for a nap in each of them, in memory of the many grassless,
siestaless, fly-bitten days in the rest of the peninsula.  Truly the
good things of this world are unevenly distributed.  In fact, only by a
dead lift of the imagination could one comprehend that this also was
Spain.  Switzerland, perhaps, but never a part and portion of the same
country with the sear, deforested uplands of Castille, the sandy
stretches of Andalusia, with osseous and all but treeless La Mancha.
The division line between Europe and Africa was meant surely to be the
Pyrenees and this Cantabrian range rather than the Mediterranean.

When darkness settled down I halted at a jumbled stone hamlet, where
payment was refused except for the few cents’ worth of peasant fare I
ate.  For my bed, was spread in an open stable a bundle of newly
threshed wheat-straw that was longer than myself. A half-day’s tramp had
not left me sleepy.  The night lay cool and silent about me, and I sank
into that reverie of contentment that comes most surely upon the
wanderer when he has left the traveled world behind and turns his face
care-free toward the unknown, that mysterious land across which beckons
the aërial little sprite men name _Wanderlust_. For the joy of travel is
not in arriving but in setting forth, in moving onward; how fast matters
little, where, even less, but ever on and on, forgetting, for the
supremest satisfaction, that there is a goal to attain.  Let a man
wander away into unknown lands smiling with summer, his journey’s end
little more than conjecture, his day of arrival a matter of
indifference, and if he feel not then the joy of the open road he may
know for a certainty that he is a hug-the-hearth, and no gipsy and a
vagabond.

In the morning continued a roadway hobble-skirted by forests, a country
as pleasing as Caruso’s voice, as soothing to the traveler from stony
Spain as McDowell’s music.  To enumerate the details of life and
landscape here is merely to tell by contrast what the rest of Spain is
not.  The inhabitants were in the highest degree laconic, as taciturn as
the central and southern Spaniard is garrulous, self-conscious to the
point of bashfulness, a characteristic as uncommon in the rest of the
country as among the Jews or Arabs; a heavy-handed, unobserving
peasantry that passed the stranger unaccosted, almost unnoticed.  Such
conversation as exchanged must be introduced by the traveler.  The
cheering "Vaya!" was heard no more, the stock greeting being a mumbled
"Buenos."

In appearance, be the inspection not too close, this mountain people
well deserves the outworn epithet "picturesque."  The women young and
old wore on their heads large kerchiefs of brilliant red, and most of
them a waist of the same color, offering striking contrast to the rich
green background, as the latter was sure to be.  As footwear, except
those unpossessed of any, both sexes had wooden shoes painted black and
fancifully carved, which, scraping along the highway, carried the
thoughts quickly back to Japan.  At nearer sight, however, something of
the picturesqueness was lost in the unfailing evidences of a general
avoidance of the bath and washtub.

Of least interest were the dwellings of this peasantry,--villages
neither frequent nor large, more properly mere heaps of gray huts built
without order or plan of the slate-stone of which the province itself is
chiefly formed, as was seen wherever the outer soil had been stripped
away and the skeleton of the mountain laid bare.  For all the character
of the country abundance of rain and a pains-taking agriculture gave
good crops.  Galicia indeed supports, though in poverty, the densest
population of the peninsula.  Wheat, Indian corn, and hay abounded.  The
former was stacked, and threshed with flails--two customs unknown in
Spain, as the latter products are entirely.  The maize was sown. A
species of cabbage on a stalk some two feet long was among the most
common of the vegetables.

All these products grew, not on the level, but in little isolated,
precipitous fields in which it seemed impossible that the laborers, male
and female with sickles or mattocks, could stand upright.  Flocks of
sheep and goats were many, and as the final change from the Spain that I
had hitherto known there was nowhere silence.  The forests on either
hand were vocal with the songs of birds.  Mountain streams came
plunging, headlong down the ravines, or brawled along through stony
channels beside the winding way.  The water was of the purest and
clearest, which may, perhaps, have led the inhabitants to give most of
their mundifying attention to the vessels in which it was
carried,--great oaken buckets each with three wide hoops scoured
spotless and shining as a Hindu’s _lota_.

But most unfailing breakers of the silence and most characteristic of
all the features of the province was its vehicles.  The Phrygian
peasants who dragged their produce into Troy before the siege had
certainly as up-to-date a conveyance.  The traveler’s first encounter
with one of these Homeric contrivances is sure to be startling.  There
is only one word that exactly expresses their sound from afar,--the
French _bourdonner_--the noise of the bumblebee. Indeed, when first I
heard it I fell to threshing about my ears, sure that one of those
insects was upon me.  Slowly the sound grew to the meowling of a
thousand cats, and around a turn of the forest-hedged road came a
peasant’s cart drawn by little brown oxen--they are as often cows--much
like our Jerseys in appearance, a great sheepskin thrown over their
heads, to the horns of which the yoke was fastened.  The unwieldy
edifice, wabbling drunkenly as it came, consisted of little more than
two solid disks of wood like cistern covers turning on a wooden axle,
the whole having about it neither an ounce of iron nor a smell of
axle-grease. Its pace certainly did not exceed a mile an hour, the oxen
see-sawing from side to side of the road, twisting their burdened heads
to stare at me with curious, sad eyes.  As it passed, my ears literally
ached with its scream.  I doubled my pace to flee the torture.  But
there was no entire escape; hardly once thereafter was I out of sound of
a cart or two, now screaming by, now "bourdonning" away across some
valley, buzzing at times even after the night had settled down.

Early on this second day, which was Sunday, there appeared a far more
precipitous and rocky country through which the road began to wind its
way upward amid a chaos of rugged tumbled valleys, gaining by early
afternoon an elevation above the line of vegetation.  For two hours I
kept lookout for a bit of level space for a siesta, without finding a
patch of flat ground as large as my knapsack.  I stepped over the edge
of the highway and lay down on a bank so sheer that I was obliged to
brace my stick against the small of my back to keep from pitching down
the thousand-foot slope into a brook; and even as it was I awoke to find
I had shifted some ten feet down the hill.

The ascent thereafter grew still sharper, the surrounding world being at
last wholly enveloped in a dense cloud.  From out of this I heard, at
what I fancied must be toward sunset, sounds of revelry, by which,
marching onward, I was soon encompassed, though still unseeing and
unseen.  Suddenly there came waltzing toward me out of the fog a couple
in each other’s arms, disappearing again as another pair whirled forth
out of the unknown.  Wandering on through a merry but invisible
multitude I ran all but into the arms of two guardias civiles leaning on
their muskets.  They greeted me with vast surprise, welcoming me to
their mountain-top town of Fonsagrada and, far from demanding my papers,
offered to find me a partner that I might join the village in its Sunday
celebration on the green.  I declined such hilarity, but for an hour
stood chatting with them while the dancers whirled unseen about us.

Fonsagrada has no regular accommodations for strangers.  The
peregrinating band of musicians, however, furnishing the day’s melody,
was to be cared for in a sort of grocery, to which I repaired with them
when the dance was over.  Having partaken of a substantial supper in
which the far-famed _bacalao_--cod preserved in great chunks in barrels
like salt pork; a main staple in this region--made its initial
appearance, I laid my case before the proprietor.  He was a Yankee-like
man in the middle thirties, of modern business methods even though he
knew next to nothing of the world outside his cloud-bound village.
Notwithstanding, therefore, that there was no "costumbre" to sanction
it, he bade me spend the night under his roof--which I did all too
literally, for when I had left off swapping yarns with the melodious
nomads my host led the way to the garret, half-filled with straw, where
in the midst of a too realistic dream I rose up suddenly and all but
shattered my head on the roof in question.

In the morning the clouds were still wandering like lost souls through
the streets of Fonsagrada.  A mist that barely escaped being a rain was
falling when I set off in an attempt to follow the voluminous directions
of the dubious village.  According to these, when I had passed the
"Mesón de Galo," a lonely stone tavern a few miles out, I left the road,
which was bending toward Gijón on the north coast, and fell into a
descending mountain path.  A tang of the salt sea was in the air.  All
the day through I climbed, slipped, and scrambled over jagged mountain
slopes and through deep, rocky barrancas.  There develops with much
wandering an instinct to follow the right fork of a mountain trail,
slight hints that could not be explained, but without the
half-unconscious noting of which I must have gone a score of times
astray.  Twice or thrice I stumbled into a hamlet in some wrinkle of the
range, a village of five or six hovels huddling in the shadow of an
enormous, overtowering church, all built of flat field stones and
swarming with huge white dogs.

At Grandas, a bit larger village overhung by massed up mountains, I was
at length so fortunate as to get after much search an intangible
imitation of a meal.  From there I panted a long time upward and came
out at last above a seemingly bottomless gorge, a gorge so deep that I
had scrambled nearly a half-hour along its brink before I noted that far
down in its depths was a town, encircled by vertical vineyards, like
embroidery on the lower skirts of its overhanging mountains.  My path
lay plainly visible on the opposite slope, only a long jump away, but a
jump for Pegasus or the princess of the Rosstrappe, and I, mere mortal,
was forced to wind a long hour and a half to and fro on the rubbled face
of the mountain before I entered the town below, called Saline.

Before me lay the most laborious task of all my Spanish journey.  A
mountain as nearly perpendicular as man could hope to ascend, without a
break or a knoll in all its slope, rose, a sheer wall, certainly four
thousand feet above.  The gorge seemed some boundary set by the gods
between two worlds.  Up the face of the cliff a path had been laid out
with mathematical precision, every one of its score of legs a toilsome
climb over loose stones, with the sun, untempered by a breath of wind,
pouring down its fury upon my back.  It was hot as Spain in the depth of
the canyon; it was chilling cold when I reached the summit heavily
crested in clouds and threw myself down breathless on my back.  Darkness
was coming on, and I fell soon to shivering in the biting mountain air
and must rise and hurry forward.  It was not strange that in the fog and
darkness instinct failed and that when finally I reached a village of
eight or nine hovels and inquired its name the inhabitants replied
"Figuerina," not in the least like the "La Mesa" I had expected.

Of a brawny, weather-beaten girl milking a cow by the light of a torch
in what passed for the principal street, I asked:

"Is there a posada in town?"

"No sé, señor," she answered.

"Don’t know!  When your town has only nine houses?"

But she only stared dully at me through the gloom, and I carried my
inquiry elsewhere.  With no better result, however, for each one I asked
returned the same laconic, "I don’t know."  I had sat down on a boulder
in the center of the hamlet to puzzle over this strange ignorance when a
strapping mountaineer approached through the darkness and led me with
few words to the house of the head man.  The latter was in bed with a
broken leg, having had the misfortune to fall off his farm a few days
before.  I was taken before him as he lay propped up with pillows and,
after a few brief questions, he commanded his family to make me at home.

Only at a distance are these mountain hamlets of northern Spain
inviting.  For the good people live, indoors and out, in peace and
equality with their pigs and chickens, not because they are by nature
unclean, but because they know no other life than this, nor any reason
why their domestic animals should not be treated as equals.  The wife of
the village chief led me into the living-room and kitchen.  I knew it
was that, for she said so.  The place was absolutely dark.  Since
leaving Lugo I had not seen a pane of glass, and lamps of any sort
appear to be unknown in these hamlets of the Sierra de Rañadoiro. There
was, to be sure, a bit of fire in one corner, but it gave not the
slightest illumination, only a thick smoke that wandered about looking
for an exit, and unsuccessfully, for there was nothing whatever in the
way of chimney, and the door had been closed as we entered.  Smoker
though I am, I began to weep and did not once leave off while I remained
in the room.

The mustiness of a dungeon assailed the nostrils; the silence was broken
by a continual droning.  The floor was stone.  In the room were six or
eight men and women, as I discovered little by little from their voices.
Supper was announced, and a match I struck showed an indistinct group of
which I was a part humped over a steaming kettle in the center of the
floor.  Into this all began to dip their bread. I hung back, which the
wife discovering by some instinct, she made an exclamation I did not
understand and soon after there was thrust into my hands a private bowl
of the concoction.

It turned out to be a "caldo gallego"--an all but tasteless thick soup
of which the chief ingredient, besides water, is the long-stemmed
cabbage indigenous to the region.  A spoon was then handed me. It was of
wood, homemade, and flat as a canoe-paddle. What most aroused my wonder
was the bread. A glimpse I had caught of it in the flicker of my match
seemed to show a loaf of about the size of a large grindstone--though I
charged this to optical illusion--from which wedges were cut, one of
them being laid in my lap.  It was coarse as mortar, yet as savory, and
proved later to be as sustaining a bread as I have yet run across on the
earth.  This and the caldo being no match for a mountain-climbing
appetite, I asked the privilege of buying a bowl of milk.  From my
unseen companions arose many ejaculations of wonder that I could afford
such a luxury, but a bowl of it was soon put in my hands. A better milk
I never broke bread in.

Still I was at a loss to account for the incessant droning in the room,
like the croak of a distant ox-cart.  Since my entrance, too, I had been
struck a thousand times lightly in the face, as with bread crumbs or the
paper-wads indigenous to the old country schoolhouse.  When it occurred
to me to put the two mysteries together both were solved.  The flies
were so thick in the room that they made this sound in flying blindly
back and forth.

But once upstairs the dwelling assumed a new rating.  Here was, it is
true, no luxury; but the rough-fashioned chamber, partly store-room and
partly spare bedroom, was capacious and clean, of the rough, unused sort
of cleanliness of a farmer’s "best room," opened only on extraordinary
occasions. The one sheet of the massive bed was as stiff as any
windjammer’s mainsail, the blanket as rough as the robe of a Cistercian
monk.  Among a score of multiform articles stored in the room was a
stack of bread such as I had eaten below, some forty loaves each fully
as large as a half-bushel measure.  It is baked from four to six months
ahead, twice or thrice a year, and has a crust hard and impervious as a
glazed pot, which keeps it fresh and savory for an almost unlimited
period.

As I bade farewell to my host next morning I held out to him two
pesetas.  He resented the offer as an Arab or a Castilian might have,
but being of those accustomed to express themselves less in words than
in actions, did so laconically.  When I offered it again he rose half up
on his elbows and bellowed "No!"  His gruffness was in no sense from
anger, but merely his mode of speaking emphatically, and a way of hiding
that bashfulness so common to mountaineers, who are usually, as here, a
shy and kindly people with much more genuine benevolence than grace of
manner.  I protested that I should at least be permitted to pay for my
extravagance, the milk, arguing that even a wanderer on his feet was
better able to spare a peseta than a village chief on his back.  But he
roared "No!" again, and furthermore commanded his wife to cut me a wedge
of the longevious bread, "to carry me over the day."

Once escaped from the tangle of inhabited stone-piles, I strode away
down rock-jumbled ravines, one close succeeding another and carrying me
all but headlong downward.  In the depths of the third I risked a plunge
into a mountain brook, though the water was icy and the air still almost
wintry cold. The day was warming, however, by the time I descended upon
the hamlet of Berducedo, where I got fried eggs and a new highway.

To chronicle the vagaries of the latter during the rest of the day would
be a thankless task.  For miles it wound around and upward, ever upward
on the face of bare stony mountains like a spiral stairway to heaven.
Then suddenly from each giddy height it dived headlong down into
deep-wooded, fertile valleys; then up again round and round another
mountain shoulder far beyond the last stunted shrub. Later in the day it
took to rounding these peaks almost on the level, coming a score of
times so close to itself that I could all but toss my bundle across,
only to buckle back upon itself for miles around some narrow but
apparently bottomless gulley.

Somewhere during the previous afternoon I had crossed the unmarked
boundary between Galicia and the still more rugged kingdom of Asturias,
to-day the province of Oviedo.  A new style of architecture gradually
became prevalent.  The buildings were of two stories, the lower, of
stone, housing the animals, while the dwelling proper was of wood and
perched a foot or more above the lower story on four cone-shaped
cornerstones, like some great awkward bird ready to take flight.

But for this peculiarity the village in which night overhauled me
differed but little from that of the evening before, except in being
many hundred feet nearer sea level.  It was called San Fecundo.  As
before, my inquiry for an inn was each time answered by a terse "I don’t
know."  I found the head man in good health, however,--a stalwart fellow
little past thirty who was shoveling manure in his front yard. Yet so
local is the dialect of every village in this region that I tried for
some time in vain to make known my wants to him.

"Can’t you speak Spanish, señor?" I cried out.

"No, señor," he replied like the report of a gun, and apparently angered
at the allegation.  We managed nevertheless by patience and repetition
to establish communication between us, and I found out at last why my
inquiry for a posada had evoked so surprising an answer.  Public
hostelries being unknown among them, the mountaineers understand the
question "Is there an inn in town?" to mean "Do you suppose any resident
will furnish me accommodations?"

The head man did in this case, in spite of my unfortunate blunder in
calling him a gallego.  So great is the sectionalism in these Cantabrian
ranges that a man from one village deeply resents even being taken for a
resident of another a mile distant; while the Asturians, a blending of
the aboriginal Iberian and the Goth, in whose caves of Covadonga was
kept alight the last flicker of Spanish liberty and Christianity,
consider themselves free and independent hidalgos infinitely superior to
the submissive gallego. There were in truth some noticeable differences
of character and customs, that were to increase as I advanced.

We spent the evening in another ventless, smoky, fly-buzzing kitchen,
though this time the fireplace gave a bit of blaze and from time to time
the rugged faces of the eight or ten men, who had gathered at the
invitation of the village leader, flashed visible. I entertained them
with such stories of America as are most customary and popular on such
occasions. This was no light task.  Not only were there many words
entirely indigenous to the village, but such Castilian as my hearers
used would scarcely be recognized in Castille.  The expression "For
allà" (over there) they reduced to "Pa cá"; "horse" was never "caballo,"
but either "cabalo" or "cabayo."  Worst of all, the infinitive of the
verb served indifferently for all persons and tenses.  "Yo ir" might
mean "I go," "I was going," "I shall go," "I should go" and even "I
would have gone" and "I should be going."

Most taking of all the stories I could produce were those concerning the
high buildings of New York.  I had developed this popular subject at
some length when a mountaineer interposed a question that I made out at
length to be a query whether those who live in these great houses spend
all their time in them or take an hour or two every morning to climb the
stairs.

"Hay ascensores, señores," I explained, "elevators; some expresses, some
mixtos, as on your railroads."

A long, unaccountable silence followed.  I filled and lighted my pipe,
and still only the heavy breathing of the untutored sons of the hills
about me sounded.  Finally one of them cleared his throat and inquired
in humble voice:

"Would you be so kind, señor, as to tell us what is an elevator?"

It was by no means easy.  Long explanation gave them only the conception
of a train that ran up and down the walls of the building.  How this
overcame the force of gravity I did not succeed in making clear to them;
moreover there was only one of the group that had ever seen a train.

In the morning the head man accepted with some protest two
_reales_--half a peseta.  The highway again raced away downward,
describing its parabolas and boomerang movements as before, and
gradually bringing me to a realization of how high I had climbed into
the sky.  On every hand rocky gorges and sheer cliffs; now and again a
group of charcoal-burners on the summit of a slope stood out against the
dull sky-line like Millet’s figures--for the sun was rarely visible.  As
I descended still lower, more pretentious, red-roofed villages appeared,
and by mid-afternoon I entered the large town of Tineo. As I was leaving
one of its shops a courtly youth introduced himself as a student in the
University of Valladolid, and as he knew a bit of English it was with no
small difficulty that I resisted his entreaties to talk that tongue with
him in the mile or two he walked with me.  That night for the first time
since leaving Lugo I paid for my lodging in a public posada.

Salas, a long town in a longer green valley, was so far down and
sheltered that figs sold--by number here rather than weight--nine for a
cent.  Beyond, the highway strolled for miles through orchards of apples
and pears, while figs dropped thick in the road and were trodden under
foot.  For the first time I understood the force of the expression, "not
worth a fig."

In the wineshop where I halted for an afternoon lunch I got the shock of
that summer’s journey. Casually I picked up the first newspaper I had
seen in a week; and stared a full moment at it unbelieving. The entire
front page was taken up by a photograph showing Posadas lying in bed,
his familiar face gaunt with pain, and about him his father, a priest,
and a fellow-torero.

"Carajo!" I gasped.  "What’s this; Posadas wounded?"

"Más," replied the innkeeper shortly.  "Killed last Sunday.  Too bad; he
made good sport for the aficionados."

An accompanying article gave particulars.  The Sevillian had been
engaged to alternate with a well-known diestro in the humble little
plaza of San Lucar de Barrameda on the lower reaches of the
Guadalquivir. The end of the day would have seen him a graduate matador.
The bulls were "miúras" five years old.  As he faced the first, Posadas
executed some pass that delighted the spectators.  For once, evidently,
he forgot his one "secret of success"; he turned to acknowledge the
applause.  In a flash the animal charged and gored him in the neck.  He
tried to go on, poised his sword, and fainted; and was carried to the
little lazaret beneath the amphitheater, while the festival continued.
Toward morning he died.

All this had passed while I was climbing into the cloud-cloaked village
of Fonsagrada, two weeks to an hour since I had last seen the skilful
Sevillian in the ring.  The article ended with the vulgarity common to
the yellow journal tribe:

"We have paid the dying Posadas one thousand pesetas for the privilege
of taking this picture, which is almost all the unfortunate torero left
his sorrowing family."

I trudged on deep in such reflections as such occurrences awaken, noting
little of the scene.  At sunset I found myself tramping through a
warmer, less abrupt country, half conscious of having passed Grado, with
its palaces, nurse-girls, and conventional costumes.  As dusk fell I
paused to ask for an inn. "A bit further on," replied the householder.
I continued, still pensive.  Several times I halted, always to receive
the same reply, "A bit further, señor."  Being in no sense tired, I gave
the matter little attention until suddenly the seventh or eighth
repetition of the unveracity aroused a touch of anger and a realization
that the night was already well advanced. A lame man hobbling along the
dark road gave me once more the threadbare answer, but walked some two
miles at my side and left me at the door of a wayside wineshop that I
should certainly not have missed even without him.

The chief sources of the boisterousness within were three young
vagabonds who were displaying their accomplishments to the gathering.
One was playing tunes on a comb covered with a strip of paper, another
produced a peculiarly weird music in a high falsetto, while the third
was a really remarkable imitator of the various dialects of Spain.  With
the three I ascended near midnight to the loft of the building, where a
supply of hay offered comfortable quarters.  For an hour he of the
falsetto sat smoking cigarettes and singing an endless ditty of his
native city, the refrain of which rang out at frequent intervals:

    "Más bonita que hay,
    A Zaragoza me voy
    Dentro de Ar-r-r-rago-o-ón."


It was with genuine regret that I noted next morning the reapproach of
civilization.  Rough as is the life of these mountaineers of the north
their entire freedom from convention, the contact with real men who know
not even what pose and pretense are, the drinking into my lungs of the
exhilarating mountain air had made the trip that was just ending by far
the most joyful portion of all my Spanish experiences.  Not since the
morning I climbed into Astorga had I heard the whine of a beggar; not
once in all the northwest had I caught the faintest scent of a tourist.
The trip had likewise been the most inexpensive, for in the week’s tramp
I had spent less than twelve pesetas.

A few hours more down the mountainside brought me into Oviedo, where I
took up my abode in the Calle de la Luna.  The boyhood home of Gil Blas
is a sober, almost gloomy town, where the sun is reputed to shine but
one day in four.  Its inhabitants have much in common with the
slow-witted Lugense, though they are on the whole more wide-awake and
self-satisfied.  Of window displays the most frequent was that of a
volume in richly illustrated paper cover entitled, "Los Envenenadores
(poisoners) de Chicago."  It was, possibly, an exposé of the packing
houses, but I did not find time to read it. August was nearing its
close, and there was still a considerable portion of Spain to be seen.
Luckily my kilometer-book was scarcely half-used up; but of the joyful
days of freedom on the open road there could not be many more.



                              CHAPTER XIII

                         THE LAND OF THE BASQUE


My knapsack garnished, I turned my back on Oviedo early on Sunday
morning.  The train wound slowly away toward the lofty serrated range
that shuts off the world on the south.  As we approached the mountains,
the line began to tie itself in knots, climbing ever upward.  In one
section two stations seven miles apart had twenty-six miles of railroad
between them.  At the second of the two a flushed and puffing Spaniard
burst into our compartment with the information that, having reached the
former after the train had departed, he had overtaken us on foot.

Still we climbed until, at the turning of the day, high up where clouds
should have been we surmounted the ridgepole of the range and, racing,
roaring downward, were almost in a moment back in the barren, rocky,
sun-baked Spain of old, dust swirling everywhere, the heat wrapping us
round as with a woolen blanket, drying up the very tobacco in my pouch;
a change almost as decided as from the forests of Norway to the plains
of India.

Arrived in León at three, I set off at once tourist-fashion for the
cathedral, with its soaring Gothic towers and delicate, airy
flying-buttresses the first truly inspiring bit of Christian
architecture I had seen in Spain; the first indeed whose exterior was
anything.  Much of the edifice, however, was glaringly new, the
scaffolds of the renovators being still in place.

But here again "if the house of God is rich that of man is poor,"
pauperous in fact.  When once the traveler has forced himself to believe
that León was not many centuries since the rich capital of a vast empire
he must surely fall sad and pensive reflecting how mutable and fleeting
indeed are the things of earth.  The León of to-day is a large village,
a dried-up, dirty, dilapidated, depopulated, cobble-streeted village of
snarling, meretricious-minded inhabitants jumbled together inside a wall
that with the cathedral is the only remaining proof of former
importance.  Here once more was the beggar with his distressing whine,
his brow of bronze, and his all too evident injuries; not numerously but
constituting a large percentage of the population.  In all Spain the
devise of insurance companies on the fronts of buildings is more than
frequent; in León there was barely a hovel without one or more.  Which
could not but awaken profound wonder, for not only are there no wooden
houses within her walls to make danger of fire imminent, but a greater
blessing could hardly be imagined for León than a general and
all-embracing conflagration.

It was, perhaps, because of the unbroken misery with which they were
surrounded that the Leónese were individually crabbed and cynical.  Not
a courteous word do I remember having received in all the town, and in
vitriolic remarks the keepers and guests of the tumble-down parador
where I was forced to put up outdid all others.

I was off in the morning at the first opportunity, again by train,
which, passing in the early afternoon through a blinding sand-storm near
the village of Cisneros, landed me soon after at Palencia.  This was a
counterpart of León; a trifle less sulky and universally miserable, but
as sprawling, sun-parched, and slovenly.  Its surrounding plains were
utterly verdureless, their flanking hills ossified, its gardens,
promenades, and Alameda past all hope of relief by sprinkling even had
its river not long since gone desert-dry as the rest.  I left the place
quickly, riding into the night and descending at length to march to the
inspiriting music of a military band along a broad, thick-peopled
Alameda, at the end of which a giant statue of Columbus bulked massive
against the moonlit sky, into Valladolid.

I had come again upon a real city, almost the first since leaving
Madrid; whence accommodations, while in no sense lacking, were high in
price.  In the course of an hour of prowling, however, I was apprised of
the existence of a modest casa eta huéspedes in a canyon-like side
street.  I rang the great doorbell below several times in vain; which
was as I had expected, for foolish indeed would have been the Spaniard
who remained within doors on such a night, while the band played and the
city strolled in the Alameda.  I dropped my bundle at my feet and leaned
against the lintel of the massive doorway.

Within an hour there arrived another seeker after quarters, a slender
Spaniard in the early summer of life, who carried two heavy portmanteaus
and a leather swordcase.  Almost at the opening of our conversation he
surprised me by inquiring, "You are a foreigner, verdad, señor?"  I
commended his penetration and, as we chatted, sought for some sign of
his profession or place in society.  All at once the long, slender
swordcase caught my eye.

"Ah!  Es usted torero, señor," I observed with assurance.

The youth awakened the echoes of the narrow street with his laughter.

"Bullfighter!  No, indeed!  I am happy to say no.  I am a student in the
national cavalry school here, just returned from my month’s furlough.
But your error is natural," he went on, "and my fault.  I have really no
right to appear in civilian garb.  It would mean a month of bread and
water at least if one of our officers caught a glimpse of me.  But
carajo!  The family above may not be back by midnight.  We can leave our
baggage with the portier next door."

We strolled slowly back to the brilliantly lighted Plaza de la
Constitutión.  Suddenly the youth interrupted an anecdote of the
tan-bark to exclaim in a calm but earnest voice:

"Caramba!  There come my commandante and the first lieutenant."

Two men of forty-five or fifty, in resplendent uniforms and tall red
caps, their swords clinking along the pavement, were sauntering down
upon us.  I stepped quickly to the opposite side of my companion, being
taller--and likewise curious.

"Hombre!" he protested sharply, stepping back again.  "No tenga V.
cuidado.  It is not our way to hide from our officers."

With head erect and military stride he marched straight on before him.
Luckily the officers were so engrossed in conversation that neither
glanced up as they passed.

We drifted into a café and ordered "helado," that Spanish imitation of
ice-cream the calling of which in the streets had so frequently caused
me to whirl about in astonishment, so much does it sound like our
"hello."  Over it we fell to discussing things American, in which we
were gradually joined by several well-dressed men at the adjoining
marble tables.  In the course of the evening I chanced to remark that
one of the surprises of my summer’s trip had been to find so little
resentment against the United States.

"Señor," said the youth, while each and all of our companions gave signs
of agreement, "nothing more fortunate has befallen our country in a
century than the loss of Cuba and the Philippines.  Not only has it
taken a load off the Spanish people; it has brought more relief than you
can guess to us of the army.  The colonies were the dumping-ground of
our profession.  Once let an officer show ability and he was forthwith
shipped off to the islands to die.  Now they are taken away, Spain has
already begun to regain her lost place among the nations. No, señor; we
of the army at least think nothing but kindness to your people for the
relief."

Returned to the casa de huéspedes, the student and I were given
adjoining rooms and saw much of Valladolid together before I took train
the second morning after to Burgos.  There, were regulation "sights" in
abundance; on every hand memories of the Cid Campeador, even the spot
where stood his dwelling--all as authentic as the popular landmarks of
Jerusalem.  Two miles or more out along the shallow mill-race that
Burgos calls a river I visited the nunnery of Las Huelgas, which claims
for its distinction never in its centuries of existence to have admitted
to the veil less than a daughter of the nobility.  The stroll is
pleasant, but the place, noble though it be, unexciting--at least
outwardly.  Of the cathedral, the finest in Spain, much might be
said--that has been often said before.

It was in Burgos that I saw for the first time what I might have seen
earlier and frequently had my tastes run that way,--a Spanish cemetery.
More exactly it was a corpse-file, a perpendicular hillside in which
hundreds of bodies had been pigeon-holed for future reference, with the
name and a charitably indulgent characterization of the deceased on the
end of his coffin.  The Spaniard, with his superstitions, prefers this
style of tomb for much the same reason, it seems, that the Arab seals
his graves with cement,--that the emissaries from the less popular
regions may not bear away the departed before the agents of the better
and hence slower realm put in an appearance.

The greatest experience of my day in Burgos was the view from the summit
of the hot, dry Cerro de San Miguel.  Not merely does it offer a mighty
and comprehensive vista of half the stony-bare face of Castilla Vieja,
but a bird’s-eye view as it were of all Spain and her history.  Of the
city spread out at one’s feet fully three-fourths the space is taken up
by cathedral, churches, convents, monasteries, casas de misericordia,
the vast bulk of the castle, the barracks, the bullring,--all the
countless buildings of non-producers; while between them in the nooks
and corners wherever a crack offers are packed and huddled the hovels of
the mere inhabitants.  There, in plain sight, is Spain’s malady.  She is
a land of non-producers.  Ecclesiastics, soldiers, useless octroi
guards, beggars rotten with the notion fostered by the omnivorous
priesthood that mendicancy is an honorable profession, make up almost
the bulk of her population of productive age.  Not without reason does
nomadic Borrow lift up his clench-fisted wail against "Batuschca."

There is one road to redemption for Spain,--that she shoot her priests
and set her soldiers to work. As isolated individuals the merry,
dissolute fellows of the cloth might be permitted to live on as they
have, and suffer the natural end of such living. But as a class they are
beyond reform; their point of view is so utterly warped and
incorrigible, they have grown so pestiferous with laziness and "graft"
that there is no other remedy, "no hay otro remedio" as the Spaniard
himself would say could his throttled mind cast off the rubbish of
superstition and cant for one clear thought.  Let him who protests that
they are teachers of the youth go once and see what they teach,--the
vapid, senseless lies about "saints" so far from truth as to be an
abomination, so far above the possible aspirations and attainments of
real humanity as to force the rising generations from very hopelessness
of imitation to lose heart and sink to iniquity as the priesthood has
done before them.  Or are there some who still credit them with feeding
the poor?  A high praise, indeed, exactly equal to that due the footpad
who refunds his victim carfare that he may be the more quickly rid of
him.

Therein lies the chief weakness of Spain.  It is not because she is
ruled by a slender youth chosen by the accident of birth rather than by
a more portly man chosen more or less by his fellow-citizens; not
because her religion happens to be that of Rome rather than the
austerities of Calvin or the fatalism of Mohammed; not because her
national sport is a bit more dramatically brutal than that of other
lands; not because her soil is dry and stony and her rains and rivers
slight; not because her people are decadent, her human stock run down--I
have plowed in the sea in the foregoing pages if I have not made it
clear that her real manhood, the workman, the peasant, the arriero, the
muscle and sinew of the nation, are as hardy, toilsome and all-enduring
as the world harbors.  But in the long centuries of warfare her
attention was drawn away from internal affairs, she fell among thieves
within, and the force of example, the helplessness of the individual
drove her people in the line of least resistance,--to become thieves
too, nationally, officially, until mad
grab-what-you-can-and-the-devil-grab-the-ungrabbing has her by the
throat gasping for life.  If she is not to sink down for the vultures of
the nations to pick clean of her meager scraps of flesh there must arise
within her boundaries a man, a movement, a sweeping change that shall
cast off the burden of precedent and turn her officials to doing
honestly with all their might what now they do with all their might
dishonestly. She must regain confidence in the necessity and prevalence
of honesty.  She must learn that patent yet rarely comprehended truth
that work and work only is the real source of life; she must cease to be
the sworn enemy of the innovator, thinking her ways best and those of
the rest of the world abnormal, unable to see a yard beyond her national
boundaries, scorning all ideas and arguments from the outside like the
most hide-bound of Orientals.

The next afternoon found me in Vitoria, in the land of the Basque; yet
another kind of Spain. Vitoria is a city of to-day, clean, bustling,
almost American in her streets and architecture and the wide-awake air
of the _Vascongado_.  The _boína_--round cap without visor and the end
of a string for tassel--had all at once become universal, worn, like the
fez in Damascus, by every age and grade of man from bootblack to mayor.
So pleasing was this prosaic city that even though her prices were high
I loitered in her shade until the next afternoon before seeking out the
highway to Bilbáo.

There lay sixty-seven kilometers to the seaport, a half of which I hoped
to cover before halting for the night.  For on the following day Bilbáo
was to celebrate in honor of the king.  The way led me through a country
fertile for all its stoniness, made so by the energy and diligence of
the Basque, whose strong features, bold curved nose, piercing eyes and
sturdy form was to be seen on every hand.  With the southern Spaniard
this new race had almost nothing in common, and though as serious of
deportment as the gallego there was neither his bashfulness nor
stupidity.  The Castilian spoken in the region was excellent, the
farming implements of modern manufacture and the methods of the
husbandman thousands of years ahead of Andalusia.

As the day was fading I began to clamber my way upward into the
mountains that rose high in the darkening sky ahead.  The night grew to
one of the blackest, the heavens being overcast; but he who marches on
into the darkness without contact with artificial light may still see
almost plainly.  It was two hours, perhaps, after nightfall, and the
road was winding ever higher around the shoulder of a mammoth peak, its
edge a sheer precipice above unfathomable depths, when suddenly I saw a
man, a denser blackness against the sea of obscurity, standing
stock-still on the utmost edge of the highway.

"Buenos tardes," I greeted in a low voice, almost afraid that a hearty
tone would send him toppling backward to his death.

He neither answered nor moved.  I stepped closer.

"You have rather a dangerous position, verdad, señor?"

Still he stared motionless at me through the darkness.  Could he be some
sleep-walker?  I moved quietly forward and, thrusting out a hand,
touched him on the sleeve.  It was hard as if frozen!  For an instant I
recoiled, then with a sudden instinctive movement passed a hand quickly
and lightly over his face.  Was I dreaming?  That, too, was hard and
cold.  I sprang back and, rummaging hastily through my pockets, found
one broken match.  The wind was rushing up from the bottomless gulf
below. I struck a light, holding it in the hollow of my hand, and in the
instant before it was blown out I caught a few words of an inscription
on a pedestal:

                         "ERECTED TO THE MEM--
                      THROWN OVER THIS PRECIPICE--
                          BANDITS--NIGHT OF--"

and before I had made out date or name I was again in darkness.

Over the summit, on a lower, less wind-swept level, I came upon a long
mining town scattered on either side of the highway.  I dropped in at a
wineshop and bespoke supper and lodging.  A dish of the now omnipresent
bacalao was set before me, but for a time the keeper showed strong
disinclination to house a wandering stranger falling upon him at this
advanced hour.

The young woman who served me at table and answered the demands for wine
of the half-dozen youthful miners about me seemed strangely out of place
in such surroundings.  Nothing was plainer than that she was not of the
barmaid type.  One would have said rather the convent-reared daughter of
some well-to-do merchant or large farmer.  This surmise turned out to be
close to the truth.  When the carousing miners had drifted into the
night and I, by dint of talking and acting my best Castilian, had found
my way into the good graces of the family, I heard the girl’s story--for
rightly approached the Spaniard is easily led to talk of his private
affairs. Her father had been the principal shop-keeper of the mining
town, and had died a few weeks before.  His debts were heavy and when
all claims had been settled there remained to his orphaned daughter five
hundred pesetas.

"But," I cried, "five hundred pesetas!  It is a fortune, señorita, in
Spain.  You could have started a shop, or lived well until the novio
appeared."

"Jesus Maria!" cried the girl, looking at me with wondering eyes.  "Do
you forget purgatory?  For the repose of my father’s soul five hundred
masses must be said; no less, the cura himself told me; and each mass
costs a peseta.  Then I have come to work here."

There was that in the air next morning that reminded me, as I wound down
into a wooded, well-peopled valley, that summer was drawing toward its
close.  The day grew quickly warm, however.  In the knowledge that the
king was sojourning in the city upon which I was marching, I was fully
prepared to endure long catechizing and examination by guardias civiles.
My wonder was not slight, therefore, when I was suffered to pass through
one, two, three villages without being once challenged.

But the expected meeting came at last and quite made up for the lack of
others.  The third village lay already behind me when I heard an
authoritative shout and, turning around, saw a bareheaded man of thirty,
dressed half in peasant, half in village garb, beckoning to me with a
commanding gesture to return.  Fancying him some wily shop-keeper, I
swung on my heel and set off again.  He shouted loudly, and racing after
me, caught me by an arm. I shook him off with an indignation that sent
him spinning half across the highway.  Instead of retreating he sprang
at me again and we should certainly have been soon entangled in a crude
performance of the manly art had he not cried out in a voice quaking
with anger:

"Have a care, señor, in resisting the law.  I am a miñón."

"Miñón!" I cried, recalling suddenly that in the Basque provinces the
national guardias are reënforced by local officers thus named.  "Then
why the devil don’t you wear your uniform?  How shall I know you are not
a footpad?"

"I shall prove that soon enough," he replied, still visibly shaking with
the rage of a Spaniard whose "pundonor" has been sullied.

I returned with him to the casa de ayuntamiento, in the doorway of which
he halted, and, examining me for concealed weapons, demanded that I
untie my knapsack.  Never before had this been more than superficially
inspected, but the thoroughness with which the angry miñón overhauled
it, examining even my letters and fingering my clothes-brush over and
over as if convinced that it could be opened by some secret spring,
fully made up for any possible carelessness of his fellow-officers
elsewhere.  When he had lost hope of finding evidence of treason he
handed back my possessions reluctantly and bade me with a scowl the
conventional "Go with God;" to which I answered, "Queda V. con el
mismisimo diablo"--but the thrust was too subtle for his bullet-headed
intellect.

Toward noon the green slopes and cool forests turned to a cindered soil
and the sooty aspect of a factory town.  I mounted a last hill and
descended quickly through a smoke-laden atmosphere into Bilbáo.  Here
was the first entirely modern city I had seen in Spain; one might easily
have fancied one’s self in Newcastle or Seattle.  The Spanish casa de
huéspedes seemed not even known by name, and in its place were only
boisterous taverns, smacking of sea-faring custom and overrun with the
touts that feed on the simple mariner.

As I sat toward evening in one of these establishments, there entered a
man something over thirty-five, dressed in boína and workingman’s garb
that showed but slight wear.  I noted him only half consciously, being
at that moment expressing to the landlord my surprise that the king,
instead of being in Bilbáo as he was reported by the newspapers, was ten
or twelve miles away on his yacht at the mouth of the river. The keeper,
a stocky Basque of much better parts than the average of his guild,
glanced up from his spigots and replied in a smooth and pleasant voice:

"Porque, señor, no quiere morir tan joven--Because he does not care to
die so young."

"Y con mujer tan bella y fresca--And with a wife so beautiful and
fresh," added a thick-set fellow at a neighboring table without looking
up from his cards.

Love for Alfonso is not one of the characteristics of the masses in this
section of the country.

Meanwhile the newcomer, whose eye had been wandering leisurely over the
assembly, threaded his way half across the room to sit down at my table.
I wondered a bit at the preference, but certain he was no tout, gave him
the customary greeting.  By the time I had accepted a glass and treated
in turn we were exchanging personal information.  He announced himself a
cobbler, and even before I had broached the subject suggested that he
could find me a lodging with an old woman above his shop.  This
workroom, when we reached it, proved to be nothing but a kit of tools
and a few strips of leather scattered about the small hallway at the
foot of the stairs. I found above the hospitality he had promised,
however, and paying two night’s lodging in an unusually pleasant room,
descended.

The shoemaker appeared more obliging than industrious, for he at once
laid aside the shoe he was hammering and announced that he was going to
give himself the pleasure of spending the evening with me and of finding
me the best place to take in the fireworks that were to be set off in
honor of the king. I explained that it was rather my plan to attend the
city theater, where I might both see that remarkable personage in the
flesh and hear one of Molière’s best comedies in Spanish.

"There is more than time for both," replied the cobbler, and forthwith
fell to extolling the coming spectacle so highly that he came near to
arousing within me, too, an interest in the fireworks.

At the end of an hour’s stroll we found ourselves on the summit of a
knoll in the outskirts, in a compact sea of Bilbaoans watching a tame
imitation of a Fourth of July celebration on the slope of one of the
surrounding hills.  The display was, as I have said, in honor of the
king; though it turned out that his indifferent majesty was at that
moment dining and wining a company of fellow-sportsmen on board the
_Giralda_ twelve miles away.

The cobbler set a more than leisurely pace back to the city, but we
regained at length the bank of the river and, crossing the wooded Paseo
Arenal, approached the theater.  Before it, was packed a vast and
compact multitude through which I struggled my way to the entrance, only
to be informed in the customary box-office tones that there was not
another ticket to be had.  The shoemaker was no theater-goer, and as my
own disappointment was not overwhelming, we set out to fight our way
back to the Paséo.

Long before we had succeeded in that venturesome undertaking, however,
there burst forth a sudden, unheralded roar of uncounted voices, the
immense throng surged riverward with an abruptness that all but swept us
off our feet, the thunder of thousands of hoofs swelled nearer, and down
upon us rode an entire regiment of guardias civiles in uniforms so new
they seemed but that moment to have left the tailor, and astride finer
horses than I had dreamed existed in Spain.  Straight into the crowd
they dashed, headlong, at full canter, like cowboys into a drove of
steers, sweeping all before them, scattering luckless individuals in all
directions, and completely surrounding the theater in solid phalanx.
Before I had recovered breath there arose another mighty shout, and,
some three hundred more horsemen, with a richly caparisoned carriage in
their midst, dashed through the throng from a landing-stage on the river
bank behind us to the door of the theater. I caught a fleeting glimpse
of a slight figure in a rakish overcoat, a burst of music sounded from
the theater, and died as suddenly away as the doors closed behind the
royal arrival.  Again the cavalry charged, driving men, women and
children pellmell back a hundred yards from the building and, forming a
yet wider circle around it, settled down to sit their horses like
statues until the play should be ended.

When my wonder had somewhat subsided there came upon me an all but
uncontrollable desire to shout with laughter.  The ludicrousness, the
ridiculousness of it all!  A vast concourse of humanity driven
helter-skelter like as many cattle, scores of persons jostled and
bruised, thirteen hundred of the most able-bodied men in Spain to sit
motionless on horseback around a theater late into the night, all for
the mere protection of one slight youth whose equal was easily to be
found in every town or village of the land!  Truly this institution of
kingship is as humorous a hoax as has been played upon mankind since man
was.

A hoax on all concerned.  For the incumbent himself, the slender youth
inside, who must spend his brief span of years amid such mummery,
commands of himself a bit of mild admiration.  I fell to wondering what
he would give for the right to wander freely and unnoticed all a
summer’s day along the open highway.  Let him who can imagine himself
born a king, discovering as early as such notions can penetrate to his
infant intellect that his fellow-mortals have placed him high on a
pedestal, have given him even without the asking power, riches, and
almost reverence as a superior being, when at heart he knows full well
he is of quite the same clay as they; and he may well ask himself
whether he would have grown up even as manly as the youth who goes by
the name of Alfonso XIII.  Recalling that former kings of Spain could
not be touched by other than a royal finger, we may surely grant common
sense to this sovereign who dances uncondescendingly with daughters of
the middle class, who chats freely with bullfighters, peasants, or
apple-women.  Pleasing, too, is his devil-may-carelessness.  On this
same night, for instance, after reboarding his yacht, he took it
suddenly into his mad young head to return at once through this, his
most hostile province, to his queen.  At one in the morning he was rowed
ashore with one companion, stepped into his automobile, himself playing
chauffeur, and tore away through Bilbáo and a hundred miles along the
craggy coast to San Sebastian.  It is not hard to guess what might have
happened had he punctured a tire among those stony mountains and been
chanced upon by a homing band of peasants brave with wine.

Musing all which I turned to address the cobbler and found him gone.
The crowd was slowly melting away.  I sat down in the Paseo and waited
an hour, but my erstwhile companion did not reappear. When I descended
from my lodging next morning there remained not a trace of his "shop" at
the foot of the stairs.  Had the village miñón done me the honor of
telegraphing my description to the seaport, or was my road-worn garb the
livery of suspicion? This only I know; when, that Sunday evening after
my return from a glimpse of the open sea, I asked my hostess whether her
fellow renter were really a shoemaker, she screwed up her parchment-like
features into a smile and answered:

"Sí, señor, one of the shoemakers of his majesty."



                              CHAPTER XIV

                         A DESCENT INTO ARAGON


There was an unwonted excitement in the air when I boarded the train
next morning for the longest unbroken ride of my Spanish journey.
Pernales, the anachronism, the twentieth-century bandit of the environs
of Córdoba, had fallen.  Aboard the train newspapers were as numerous as
on the New York "Elevated" at a similar hour.  I bought one and was soon
lost like the rest in the adventures of this last defier of the mighty
guardia civil.

The story was simple.  Two evenings before, about the time I had been
yawning over the king’s fireworks, Pernales had met a village arriero
among the foothills of his retreat, and asked him some question about
the road.  The rustic gave him the desired information, but guessing
with whom he was speaking, had raced away, once he was out of sight, as
fast as he could drive his ass before him, to carry his suspicions to
the village alcalde.  The rest was commonplace.  A dozen guardias
stalked the unsuspecting bandolero among the hills, and coming upon him
toward sunrise, brought his unsanctioned career abruptly to a close.

[Illustration: The Roman walls of Leon]

"Our special correspondent" had dismally failed to cast over his account
the glamour of romance, but in compensation had taken a reporter’s care
to give the precise point in the right temple where the ball had
entered, with the exact dimensions of the orifice, as well as the life
story of the hero who had bored it.  Nay, with almost American haste and
resourcefulness the paper printed a full-length portrait of the
successful hunter--or one at least of a man who could not have been
vastly different in appearance, in a uniform that was certainly very
similar.  Alas! The good old days of the bandit and the contrabandista
are forever gone in Spain; the humdrum era of the civil guard is come.
Pernales’ is but another story of a man born a century too late.

[Illustration: The land of the boina.  Alfonso XII at a picnic]

All day long as we toiled and twisted over the Cantabrian range and
descended southward, this only was the topic of conversation of all
grades and sexes of travelers.  An hour’s halt at Miranda and we creaked
on along the bank of Spain’s greatest river, the Ebro, talking still of
bandoleros and the regret of their passing.  Slowly the green tinge in
the landscape faded away and in its place came reddish cliffs and a
sun-seared and all but desert country spreading away from either bank of
the red-dyed river, sterile rolling plains relieved only by small oases
of fertility and isolated and in all probability bigoted villages
standing colorless on colorless hillsides.  As central Spain may be
likened to rocky Judea, so this resembles in some degree Egypt, with the
Ebro as the Nile.

It was late in the evening when I arrived in Saragossa and, crossing the
broad river by the Puente de Piedra, found myself in one of the most
labyrinthian cities of Spain.  But so practiced had I grown in such
quest that in less than an hour I had engaged accommodation at my own
price, which by this time had descended to two and a half pesetas.

The "sight" par excellence of Saragossa is of course her "Virgen del
Pilar."  The story runs that Santiago, who is none other than Saint
James, while wandering about Spain, as he was wont to ramble in various
corners of the earth, was favored one evening by a call from the Mother
of Christ, who, during all their little chat, stood on the top of a
stone pillar. That the tale is true there seems little chance for doubt,
for they have the pillar yet; and it is over this that has been erected
the vast cathedral to which flock thousands of pilgrims during every
month of the year.

I repaired to it early, but was soon turned melancholy with the
recollection of Puck’s profound saying anent the folly of mankind.  The
interior of the edifice is as impressive as that of an empty warehouse.
Under the main dome is a large chapel screaming with riches, in the back
of which, on her pillar, stands the Virgin--turned to black,
half-decayed wood--dressed in more thousands of dollars’ worth of gold
and silver, of resplendent robes and vociferous gaudiness than god
Juggernaut of India ever possessed at the height of his influence.
Before it worshipers are always kneeling.  In the back wall of the
chapel is an opening through which one can touch the pillar--and find a
cup-shaped hole worn in it by such action during the centuries.  I sat
down on a bench near the far-famed orifice, and for close upon an hour
watched the unbroken procession file past.  Beggar women, rag-pickers,
ladies of wealth, cankerous old men, merchants, city sports,
lawyers--Saragossa is the one city of Spain where even men go to
church--every grade and variety of Aragonese pressed close upon the
heels one of another, each bowing down as he passed to kiss the hole
deeper into the pillar.  At bottom the difference is slight indeed
between the religion of the Spaniard and that of the Hindu.

In the city swarms a hungry, ragged people, more often than not without
shoes, yet one and all with the proverbial haughty pride and somber mood
of Aragon in face and bearing, stiff-shouldered, bristling with a
touch-me-not-with-a-pole expression. Here, too, may still be found,
especially among the peasants from the further districts, the old
provincial costume,--knee breeches, a jacket reaching barely to the
waist, and a red cloth wound about the head.

Tiring of such things, there is a pleasant promenade along the banks of
the Ebro, whence one will drift naturally through the Portillo gate
where the "flying Gaul was foil’d by a woman’s hand."  It is startling
to find the settings of two such world-famed dramas so close together,
but from the gate one has only to saunter a few yards along the Madrid
highway to come upon the weather-battered Aljafería of "Trovatore" fame.
To-day it is a barracks. Within its towers, through now unbarred
windows, may be seen soldiers polishing their spurs and muskets, humming
now and then a snatch of popular song; but one may wait in vain to hear
some tuneful prisoner strike up the expected "miserere."

There is one stroll in Saragossa that I would commend to the wanderer
who finds pleasure in gaining elevations whence he may look down, as it
were, on the world.  It is out along the Canal Imperial, past the
swollen-paunched statue of its sponsor Pignatelli, and across the
Huerva; then winding lazily southwest and upward the stroller comes
suddenly out on the crown of a bald hillock.  There, below him in its
flat valley, spreads all Saragossa, far enough away to lose the
crassness of detail, yet distinct, the two finished towers of the Pilar
rising above it like minarets, the whole girded by the green huerta, and
beyond and all around the desert in gashed and gnarled hills like the
Libyan range of another continent. Here I lounged until the setting sun,
peering over my shoulder, cast the radiant flush of evening on the city
below, which gradually fading away was at length effaced in the night,
its sounds mingling together in a sort of music that drifted up to me
long after the scene itself had wholly disappeared.

I descended for supper.  It is the lot of man that he has no sooner
climbed to a height where he may look down calmly on the scramble of
life than he must again plunge down into it to _eat_--or to earn more
bread.  To-morrow I must set my face toward the frontier, toward New
York and a return to labor.

On my way to the five-o’clock train next morning I passed through
Saragossa’s vast covered market and halted to lay in a last supply of
figs.  The cheery old woman who sold them grasped my fifteen céntimos
tightly in her hand and solemnly made with it the sign of the cross.  I
expressed surprise, and a misgiving lest I had unwittingly parted with
coppers possessing peculiar virtues.

"Cómo, señor!" she cried, in wonder at my ignorance. "It is the first
money of the day.  If I do not say a paternoster with it I may sit here
until nightfall without selling another perrito-worth, you may be sure."

The train labored back along the Ebro to Castejon, where I changed cars
and journeyed northward, every click of the wheels seeming to cry out
that my Spanish summer was nearing its end.  At high noon I descended in
a dusty plain before the sheer face of the rock on which stands Pamplona
of Navarre. When I had climbed into the city I inquired of the first
policeman for a modest casa de huéspedes.  He rubbed his head a moment
and set off with me along the street, chatting sociably as we went.
Soon we came upon another officer, to whom the first repeated my
question.  He scratched his head a moment and fell in beside us,
babbling cheerily.  Fully a half-mile beyond we accosted a third
officer.  He rasped his close-shaven poll yet another moment and joined
us in the quest, adding a new stock of anecdotes.  Here was courtesy
extraordinary, even for Spain.  Had the police force of Pamplona
discovered in me some prince incognito, or was mine to be the rôle of
the rolling pancake?  We rambled on, but without success, for not
another officer could we find in all our circuit of the city.  It was
certainly close upon an hour after my original inquiry, and something
like a hundred yards from the same spot, that we entered a side street
and mounted, still in quartet, to a cheap but homelike boarding-house
high up in an aged building.  The courtesy was quickly explained.  The
landlady, having expressed her deep gratitude for being brought a new
guest, begged each of the officers to do her the favor of accepting a
glass of wine. They smacked their lips over it, exchanged with the
household the customary salutations and banter, and sauntered back to
their beats.

When I had eaten, I descended for a turn about the city with the uncle
of my grateful hostess, a mountain-hardened Basque of sixty, in the
universal boína, who had but recently retired from a lifetime of rocky
hillside farming.  Of both his province of Navarre and of himself he
talked freely until suddenly my tongue stumbled upon some question of
military conscription.  He fell at once silent, his jaws stiffened, and
into his face came the reflection of a bitter sadness.  For the Basques
are by no means reconciled to the loss of their cherished _fueros_, or
special political privileges.  In silence the sturdy old man led the way
half across the city to one of her gates and, climbing a knoll that gave
a good view of the surrounding fortifications, said in cheerless tones:

"Don Henrico, we have here the strongest city walls in Spain.  But what
use are they now against the king’s modern artillery?  No hay remedio.
We must serve in his armies."

As we threaded our way slowly back to the boarding-house I halted at a
money changer’s to buy a twenty-franc piece.  The transaction left me
only a handful of coppers in Spanish currency, and I went early to bed
lest there be not enough remaining to carry me out of the country.

On a glorious clear September morning I turned my back on Spain and set
forth from Pamplona to tramp over the Pyrenees by the pass of
Roncesvalles, being just uncertain enough of the road to lend zest to
the undertaking.  At the edge of the plain to the northward of the city
a highway began to wind its way upward along the bank of a young river,
not laboriously, but steadily rising.  Habitations were rare.  Late in
the morning a spot above whirling rapids in shaded solitude suggested a
plunge; but as I pulled off my coat a sound fell on my ear and, looking
across the stream, I saw a half-dozen women kneeling on the bank and
staring curiously across at me. When I retreated, they laughed heartily
and fell once more to pounding away at their laundry-work on the stones.

Some distance higher I found another pool in which, by rolling over and
over, I won the afterglow of a real swim.  Sharper ascents succeeded,
though still none steep.  I was soon surrounded by a Tyrolian scenery of
forest and deep-cut valleys, and among up-to-date people--the farming
implements being of modern type and the smallest villages having
electric lights run by power from the mountain streams. Every
fellow-mortal, young or old, as is usual in mountain regions, gave me
greeting, not with the familiar "Vaya!" nor the "Buenos!" of Galicia,
but with "Adiós!" which seemed here to mean much more than the
grammatical "Good-by."  In the place of guardias civiles were
carabineros in a provincial uniform, whose advances, if less warm and
companionable, were none the less kindly.

Toward evening the road flowed up into a broad, oblong meadow,
ankle-deep in greenest grass, musical with the sound of cow-bells,
across which it drifted as if content to rest for a time on its oars
before taking the final climb.  The sun was setting when I reached
Burguete at forty-four kilometers, station of the trans-Pyrenean
diligence and the point that I had been assured I should do well to
reach in a two-day’s walk.  But I felt as unwearied as at the outset;
the towers of Roncesvalles stood plainly visible five kilometers ahead
across the green tableland.  I rambled on in the cool of evening and by
dark was housed in a good inn of the mountain village.

When the supper hour arrived, the landlord stepped across to me to ask
whether I would eat as a guest or as a member of the family.  I inquired
what the distinction might be.

"No difference," he answered, "except that as a member of the family you
pay a peseta upon leaving, and as a guest you pay two."

It was of course en famille that I supped, and right royally, at a board
merry with good-humored peasants and arrieros rather than in the silent,
gloomy company of a half-dozen convention-ridden travelers in an
adjoining room.

Roncesvalles would have been an unequaled spot in which to pass an
autumn week, roaming in the forest glens of the mountains, dreaming of
the heroic days of Roland.  But the hour of reckoning and of New York
was near at hand.  Of all sensations I most abhor the feeling that I
must be in a given place at a given time.

A short climb through wooded hillsides strewn with gigantic rocks and I
found myself all at once and unexpectedly on the very summit of the
Pyrenees.  In no sense had the ascent been toilsome, vastly less so than
several scrambles of two or three hours’ duration between Lugo and
Oviedo.  From the French side, no doubt, it would have been far more of
a task. Gazing northward I recognized for the first time that I stood
high indeed above the common level of the earth.  Miles below, blue as
the sea, lay France, the forested mountains at my feet rolling
themselves out into hills, the hills growing lower and lower and
spreading away into the far, far distance like another world.  The
modern world--and I was all at once assailed with a desire to ask what
it had been doing in all the days I had been gone.  Then the highway
seized me in its grasp and hurried me away down, racing, rushing, almost
stumbling, so fast I was forced to break away from it and clamber down
at my own pace through dense unpeopled forests, to fall upon it again
far below and stalk with it at lunch-time into the village of Val
Carlos.  Yet another hour’s descent and I crossed a small stream into
the little hamlet of Arneguy; the long-forgotten figure of a French
gendarme slouched forth from a hut to shout as I passed, "Anything
dutiable, monsieur?" and my Spanish journey was among the things that
have been.



                               CHAPTER XV

                          EMIGRATING HOMEWARD


In reality almost as much as in fancy I had entered another world.  It
is chiefly in retrospect that a journey through Spain, as through
Palestine, brings home to the traveler the full difference between those
gaunt regions of the earth and the world to which he is accustomed.
Here the change was like that from a squatter’s cabin, a bachelor’s
quarters to a residence of opulence.

Arrived while the day was still in its prime at St. Jean Pied de Port, I
found myself undecided how to continue.  The rescuing forty dollars
awaited me--postal errors precluded--in Bordeaux; but Baedeker having
now become mere lumber, I had no means of knowing which of two routes to
follow to that city. I halted to make inquiries of an old Spaniard
drowsing before his shop--so like one of mine own people he seemed amid
this babble of French.  But though he received me with Castilian
courtesy he could give me no real information.  Under the awning of a
café a hundred paces beyond, two well-dressed men were sipping cooling
drinks.  Their touring-car stood before the building, and not far away,
in the shade of an overhanging shoulder of the Pyrenees, loitered a
chauffeur, in all the accustomed accoutrements of that genus.  He had
the appearance of an obliging fellow.  I strolled across to him, hastily
summoning up my dormant French.

"Monsieur," I began, "vous me pardonnerez, mais pour aller d’ici à
Bordeaux vaut il mieux passer par Bayonne ou bien par Mont de--"

He was grinning at me sheepishly and shifting from one leg to the other.
As I paused he blurted out:

"Aw, I don’t talk no French!"

"Then I suppose it ’ll have to be English," I answered, in the first
words of that language I had spoken in ninety-six days--and in truth
they came with difficulty.

"Go’ bly’ me!" burst out the astounded knight of the steering-wheel.
"’Ow ever ’d you get in this corner o’ the world?  Say, I ayn’t said
more ’n ’yes, sir’ or ’no, sir’ to their lordships--" with a slight jerk
of the head toward the men under the awning--"in so long I ’ve bally
near forgot ’ow.  ’Ere it is Sunday an’--"

"Saturday," I interrupted.

"Sunday, I say," repeated the chauffeur, drawing out a card on which
were penciled many crude crosses.  "Ere ’s ’ow I keep track--"

"Señora," I asked, turning to a woman who was filling a pitcher at a
hydrant behind me, "qué día tenemos hoy?"

Her lip curled disdainfully as she answered:

"Tiens!  Vous me croyez un de ces barbares-là?"--tossing her head toward
the mountain range  behind us.

"Mille pardons," I laughed.  "Force of habit. This monsieur and I are
disputing whether to-day is Saturday or Sunday."

"Out again without your nurses!" she cried sarcastically.  "Saturday, of
course."

"Now ’ear that!" said the chauffeur, almost tearfully, when I
interpreted.  "’Ow ever can a man keep track of anything in this bally
country?  Say, what was that question you was tryin’ to ask me?"

"I ’m walking from Gib to Bordeaux," I remarked casually, and repeated
my former inquiry.  His expression changed slowly from incredulity to
commiseration.  Suddenly he thrust a hand into his pocket.

"I say, won’t you ’ave a mite of a lift?  Why, we took near all
yesterday to come from that place. You couldn’t walk there in a month."

"No, thanks, I ’m fairly well heeled," I answered.

"Better ’ave a yellow-boy," he persisted, drawing out several English
sovereigns.  "Lord, you ’re more ’n welcome, y’ know.  They ayn’t no
bloomin’ use to me ’ere!"

At that moment I noted that the milords under the awning had spread out
before them a large touring map, and I left the chauffeur gasping at my
audacity as I stepped across to them.  The older was struggling to give
an order to the waiter, who crouched towel on arm over them.  There is a
strange similarity between a full-grown Briton attempting to speak
French and a strong man playing with a doll.

"Beg pawdon, gentlemen," I said, when I had helped them out of the
difficulty, "but would you mind my glancing at your map?  I want to
find--"

"Ah--why, certainly," gasped one of the startled nobles.

But even with the chart before me I was no nearer a decision, for the
two roads appeared of almost equal length.  As I turned away, however, a
poster on a nearby wall quickly settled my plans.  It announced a great
bullfight in Bayonne the next afternoon, with Quinito, Mazzatinito, and
Regaterm, among the most famous of Spain’s matadores--far more so than
any it had been my fortune to see in that country.

I sped away at once along a macadamed highway at the base of the
Pyrenees beside a clear river--a mere "rivière" to the French, but one
that would have been a mighty stream in Spain.  Its banks were thickly
grown with willows.  On the other hand the mountain wall, no less green,
rose sheer above me, bringing an unusually early sunset.  Along the way
I met several old men, all Basques, who noting that I also wore the
boína greeted me in their native "Eúscarra."  Not a word of any other
tongue could they speak; and when I shook my head hopelessly at their
hermetical language, they halted to gaze after me with expressions of
deep perplexity. So, too, in the mountain-top village of Bidarry to
which I climbed long after dark after a dip in the river, all speech was
Basque; though some of the younger inhabitants, finding I was of their
race only from the cap upward, fell to talking to me in fluent French or
Spanish.

The first hours of the following clay were in the highest degree
pleasant.  Thereafter the country grew hilly, the sun torrid, and as I
was forced to set the sharpest pace to reach the bullring by four. I put
in as dripping a half-day as at any time during the summer; and I have
yet to be more nearly incinerated in this life than in the sol of the
great "Place des Taureaux" of Bayonne, crushed between a workman in
corduroys and a Zouave in the thickest woolen uniform the loom weaves.

The fight, like the ring, was Spanish in every particular, though the
programmes were printed in French.  It was by all odds the greatest
córrida I was privileged to attend during the summer, for the three
matadores stand in the front rank of their profession.  Yet it was
somehow far less exhilarating than those I had seen in Spain.  One had a
feeling that these past masters were running far less risk than their
younger colleagues; one enjoyed their dexterity as one enjoys a seasoned
public speaker, yet the performance lacked just the thrill of
amateurishness.

Here, too, I saw Spain’s greatest picador, the only one indeed I ever
saw accomplish what the picador is supposed to do,--to hold off the bull
with his _garrocha_.  This he did repeatedly, placing his lance so
unerringly that he stopped the animal’s most furious charges and forced
him to retire bellowing with rage and with blood trickling down over his
shoulders.  In all the afternoon this king of the pike-pole had but one
horse killed under him.  It was in connection with this one fall that
Quinito, the boldest of the matadores, won by his daring such applause
as seemed to shake the Pyrenees behind us.  Moreno lay half buried under
his dead horse, in more than imminent danger of being gored to death by
the bull raging above him.  In vain the anxious caudrilla flaunted their
cloaks.  All at once Quinito stepped empty handed into the ring and
caught the animal by the tail.  Away the brute dashed across the plaza,
twisting this way and that, but unable to bring his horns nearer than an
inch or two of his tormentor who, biding his time, let go and vaulted
lightly over the barrier.

I quitted Bayonne with the dawn and for four days following marched
steadily on across the great Landes of France.  Miles upon miles the
broad highway stretched unswerving before me through an ultra-flat
country between endless forests of pine. On the trunk of every tree hung
a sort of flowerpot to catch the dripping pitch.  There was almost no
agriculture, nothing but pine-trees stretching away in regular rows in
every direction, a solitude broken only by the sighing of the wind
sweeping across the flatlands, where one could shout to the full
capacity of one’s lungs without awakening other response than long
rolling echoes.  Once in a while a pitch-gatherer flitted among the
trees; less often the highway crossed a rusty and apparently trainless
railroad at the solitary stations of which were tumbled hundreds of
barrels of pitch.

My shoes wore out, those very oxfords "custom-made" in America and
honestly tapped in Toledo, and I was forced to continue the tramp in
alpargatas, or what had here changed their name to _sandales_.  As my
twenty-franc piece melted away a wondering began to grow upon me whether
I was really homeward bound after all; so myriad are the mishaps that
may befall a mere letter.

Still the unswerving road continued, the endless forests stretched
ahead.  Such few persons as I met scowled at me in the approved French
fashion, never once imitating the cheery greeting of the Spaniard. Now
and again a man-slaughtering automobile tore by like some messenger to
or from, the infernal regions, recalling by contrast one of the chief
charms of the land I had left behind.  Hardly one of those destroyers of
peace and tranquillity had I seen or heard in all Spain.

Four months afoot had not improved my outward appearance.  It was not
strange that the post-office officials of Bordeaux stared at me long and
suspiciously when I arrived at length one afternoon with a single franc
in my pocket.  The letter was there. When I had, after the unwinding of
endless red tape, collected the amount of the order, my journey seemed
over indeed.

The "Agents Maritimes" to whom I applied accepted me readily enough as
an emigrant to America, agreeing to pick me up in Bordeaux and set me
down unstarved in New York for the net sum of two hundred and three
francs.  But there came a hitch in the proceedings.  The agent was
firing at me with Gaelic speed the questions prescribed by our exacting
government--"Name?" "Age?" "Profession?"--and setting down the answers
almost before I gave them, when:

"Have you contracted to work in the United States?"

"Oui, monsieur."

He stopped like a canvas canoe that has struck a snag.

"C’est impossible," he announced, closing his book of blanks with a
thump.  "We cannot of course sell you a ticket."

I plunged at once into an explanation.  I advanced the information that
the contract labor law was not framed to shut out American citizens. I
protested that I had already toiled a year under the contract in
question, and for my sins must return to toil another.  I made no
headway whatever.

"It is the law of the United States," he snapped. "Voilà!  C’est assez."

Luckily I had a day to spare.  By dint of appealing to every maritime
authority in the city I convinced the agent at last of his error.  But
it was none too soon.  With my bundle and ticket in one hand and a sort
of meal-sack tag to tie in my lapel--if I so chose--in the other, I
tumbled into the night train for Paris just as its wheels began to turn.
Emigrant tickets are not good in France by day.  There was one other
tagged passenger in the compartment, a heavy-mannered young peasant
likewise wearing a boína.  Being thus drawn together we fell gradually;
into conversation.  He was at first exceeding chary, with the two-fold
canniness of the Basque and of the untraveled rustic whose native
village has warned him for weeks to beware wily strangers.  When I
displayed my ticket, however, he lost at once his suspicion and, drawing
out his own, proposed that we make the journey as partners.  He was
bound for Idaho.  We did not, however, exchange ideas with partner-like
ease, for though he had passed his twenty-five years in the province of
Guipuzcoa he spoke little Spanish.

Near midnight a few passengers alighted and I fell into a cramped and
restless sort of dog-sleep from which I awoke as we screamed into
Versailles.  When we descended at the Montparnasse station we were
joined by three more Basques from another compartment.  They, too, wore
boínas and, like my companion, in lieu of coats, smocks reaching almost
to the knees.  They were from near Pamplona and had tickets from
Bordeaux to Fresno, California, having taken this route to avoid the
difficulties of leaving Spain by sea.

The Paris agent of the "American Line" did not meet us in silk hat and
with open arms; but when we had shivered about the station something
over an hour an unshaven Italian of forty, with lettered cap and a
remarkable assortment of unlearned tongues picked us up and bore us away
by omnibus to his "Cucina Italiana" in the Passage Moulin.  Breakfast
over, I invited my fellow-emigrants to view Paris under my leadership.
They accepted, after long consultation, and we marched away along the
Rue de Lyon to the site of the Bastille, then on into the roar of the
city, the Spaniards so helplessly overwhelmed by the surrounding sights
and sounds that I was called upon times without number to save them
being run down.  At length we crossed to the island and, the morgue
being closed, entered Notre Dame. I had hitherto credited Catholic
churches with being the most democratic of institutions.  Hardly were we
inside, however, when a priest steamed down upon my companions.

"Sortez de suite!" he commanded.  "Get out! How dare you enter the
sacred cathedral in blouses!"

The Basques stared at him open-mouthed, now and then nervously wiping
their hands on the offending smocks.  I passed on and they followed,
pausing where I paused, to gape at whatever I looked upon. The priest
danced shouting about them.  They smiled at him gratefully, as if they
fancied he were explaining to them the wonders of the edifice.  His
commands grew vociferous.

"Ces messieurs, sir," I remarked at last, "are Spaniards and do not
understand a word of French."

"You then, tell them to get out at once!" he cried angrily.

"You must pardon me, monsieur," I protested, "if I do not presume to
appoint myself interpreter to your cathedral."

We continued our way, strolling down one nave to the altar, sauntering
back along the other toward the entrance, the priest still prancing
about us.  In the doorway the Basques turned to thank him by signs for
his kindness and backed away devoutedly crossing themselves.

At the Louvre, however, the smock-wearers were halted at the door by two
stocky officials, and we wandered on into the Tuileries Gardens.  There
the quartet balked.  These hardy mountaineers, accustomed to trudge all
day on steep hillsides behind their burros, were worn out by a few miles
of strolling on city pavements.  For an hour they sat doggedly in a
bench before I could cajole them a few yards further to the Place de la
Concorde to board a Seine steamer and return to the Cucina.  I left them
there and returned alone to while away the afternoon among my old haunts
in the Latin Quarter.

Soon after dark the razorless son of Italy took us once more in tow and,
climbing to the imperial of an omnibus, we rolled away through the
brilliant boulevards to the gare St. Lazare.  Here was assembled an army
of emigrants male and female, of all ages and various distances from
their last soaping. In due time we were admitted to the platform.  A
third-class coach marked "Cherbourg" stood near at hand.  I stepped upon
the running-board to open a door.  A station official caught me by the
coat-tail with an oath and a violence that would have landed me on the
back of my head but for my grip on the door handle.  Being untrained to
such treatment, I thrust out an alpargata-shod foot mule-fashion behind
me.  The official went to sit down dejectedly on the further edge of the
platform.  By and by he came back to shake his fist in my face.  I spoke
to him in his own tongue and he at once subsided, crying:

"Tiens!  I thought you were one of those animals there."

We were finally stuffed into four cars, so close we were obliged to lie
all night with our legs in one another’s laps.  The weather was arctic,
and we slept not a wink.  Early in the morning we disentangled moody and
silent in Cherbourg.  Another unshaven agent took charge of my
companions’ baggage with the rest, promising it should be returned the
moment they were aboard ship.  I clung skeptically to my bundle.  We
were herded together in a tavern and served coffee and bread, during the
administration of which the agent collected our tickets and any proof
that we had ever possessed them, and disappeared.  The day was wintry
cold.  All the morning we marched shivering back and forth between the
statue of Napoleon and the edge of the beach, the teeth of the
south-born Basques chattering audibly.  At noon we jammed our way into
the tavern again for soup, beef and poor cider, and were given
rendezvous at two at one of the wharves.

By that hour all were gathered.  It was after four, however, when a
tender tied up alongside.  A man stepped forth with an armful of tickets
and began croaking strange imitations of the names thereon.  I heard at
last a noise that sounded not altogether unlike my own name and, no one
else chancing to forestall me, marched on board to reclaim my
credentials.  A muscular arm thrust me on through a passageway in which
a Frenchman in uniform caught me suddenly by the head and turned up my
eyelids with a sort of stiletto.  Before I could double a fist in
protest another arm pushed me on. At six a signal ran up, we steamed out
through the breakwater, and were soon tumbling up the gangway of the
steamer _New York_.  At the top another doctor lay in wait, but
forewarned, I flung open my passport, and flaunting it in his face,
stepped unmolested on deck.

Some four hundred third-class passengers had boarded the steamer in
England, and no small percentage of the berths were already occupied.
Unlike the nests of the _Prinzessin_, however, they might reasonably be
called berths, for though they offered no luxury, or indeed privacy,
being two hundred in a section, the quarters were ventilated,
well-lighted, and to a certain extent clean.  I stepped to the nearest
unoccupied bunk and was about to toss my bundle into it when a young
steward in shirt-sleeves and apron sprang at me.

"No good, John," he shouted, in Cockney accents and striving to add
force to his remarks by a clumsy pantomime.  "Berth take.  No more.  No
good, John.  All gone.  But--" jerking his head sidewise--"Pst!  John!
I know one good berth.  One dollar--" holding up a hand with forefinger
and thumb in the form of that over-popular object--"All take, Joh--"

"Say, what t’ell’s the game, anyhow, mate?" I interrupted.

His legs all but wilted under him.

"Sye, ol’ man," he cried, patting me on the shoulder.  "S’elp me, I took
you for one o’ these waps, as why shouldn’t I, in that there sky-piece
an’ make-up?  Of course you can ’ave the berth. Or sye, over ’ere by the
port’ole’s a far ’an’somer one.  There y’ are.  Now, mite, if ever I can
’elp you out--" and he was still chattering when I climbed again on
deck.

Unfortunately, in the rough and tumble of embarking I had lost sight of
the Spaniards.  When I found them again every berth was really taken,
for there was a shortage--or rather considerably more than the legal
number of tickets had been sold; and the quartet, having withstood the
blackmail, were among those unprovided.  That night they slept, if at
all, on the bare deck.  Next day I protested to the third-class steward
and he spread for them two sacks of straw on a lower hatch.  There, too,
the icy sea air circulated freely.  Worst of all, in spite of the solemn
promises of the agent, their bags, in which they had packed not only
blankets and heavier garments, but meat, bread, fruit, cheese, and botas
of wine sufficient to supply them royally during all the journey, had
been stowed away in the hold.  For two days they showed, after the
fashion of emigrants, no interest in gastronomic matters.  When appetite
returned they could not eat American--or rather English food.  "No hay
ajos!--It has no garlic!" they complained.  Once or twice I acted as
agent between them and an under cook who sneaked out of the galley with
a roast chicken under his jacket, but they grew visibly leaner day by
day.

On the whole steerage life on the New York was endurable.  The
third-class fare was on a par with most English cooking,--well-meant but
otherwise uncommendable.  The tables and dishes were moderately clean,
the waiters, expecting a sixpence tip at the end of the passage, were
almost obliging.  In the steerage dining-room, large and airy, was a
piano around which we gathered of an evening to chat, or to croak
old-fashioned songs.  Here it was that I felt the full force of my long
total abstinence from English.  It was days before I could talk
fluently; many a time my tongue clattered about a full half-minute in
quest of some quite everyday word.

On the fourth day out the oldest of the Spaniards appealed to me for the
twentieth time to intercede for them with the third-class steward.

"Hombre," I answered, "it is useless; I have talked myself hoarse.  Go
to him yourself and it may have some effect."

"But he understands neither Castilian nor Eúscarra!" cried the Basque.

"No matter," I replied.  "He is a man in such and such a uniform.  When
you run across him touch him on the sleeve and lay your head sidewise on
your hand--the pantomime for sleep the world over--and he will remember
your case."

An hour or more afterward I was aroused from reading a book in an
alleyway aft by the third-class steward.

"I say," he cried, "will you come and see what the bloomin’ saints is
biting these Spanish chaps? They ayn’t no one else can chin their
lingo."

I followed him forward.  Before the dispensary stood a wondering and
sympathetic group, in the center of which was the Basque making wry
faces and groaning, and the ship’s surgeon looking almost frightened.

"What’s up?" I asked.

"Blow me if I know!" cried the medicine-man. "This chap comes and
touches me on the arm and holds his hand against his cheek.  I gave him
a dose for toothache, and the beggar ’s been howling ever since.  Funny
sort of creatures."

The Spaniards got no berth during the voyage, though I carried their
appeal in person to the captain.  They were still encamped on the lower
hatch on the morning when the land-fever drew us on deck at dawn.  Soon
appeared a light-ship, then land, a view of the charred ruins of Coney
Island, then a gasp of wonder from the emigrants as the sky-scrapers
burst on their sight.  We steamed slowly up the harbor, checked by mail,
custom, and doctor’s boats, and tied up at a wharf early in the
afternoon.  Rain was pouring.  I appeared before a commissioner in the
second cabin to establish my nationality, bade the Basques farewell as
they were leaving for Ellis Island, and scudded away through the deluge.
In my pocket was exactly six cents. I caught up an evening paper and
with the last coin in hand dived down into the Subway.


    The Summer's Expense Account:
    Transportation ...................  $90.
    Food and Lodging .................   55.
    Bullfights, sights, souvenirs ....   10.
    Miscellaneous ....................   17.
                                       −−−−−
                                       $172





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