This seems the place to note the fact that no Spaniard in humble life shaves oftener than once in three days, and that you always see him on the third day just before he has shaved. But all this time I have left myself sitting in the cafe looking out on the club that looks out on the Calle de Aleala, and keeping the waiter waiting with a jug of hot milk in his hand while I convince him (such a friendly, smiling man he is, and glad of my instruction!) that in tea one always wants the milk cold. To him that does not seem reasonable, since one wants it hot in coffee and chocolate; but he yields to niy prejudice, and after that he always says, "Ah, leche fria!" and we smile radiantly together in the bond of comradery which cold milk establishes between man and man in Spain. As yet tea is a novelty in that country, though the young English queen, universally loved and honored, has made it the fashion in high life. Still it is hard to overcome such a prepossession as that of hot milk in tea, and in some places you cannot get it cold for love or money.
But again I leave myself waiting in that cafe, where slowly, and at last not very overwhelmingly in number, the beautiful plaster-pale Spanish ladies gather with their husbands and have chocolate. It is a riotous dissipation for them, though it does not sound so; the home is the Spanish ideal of the woman's place, as it is of our anti-suffragists, though there is nothing corresponding to our fireside in it; and the cafe is her husband's place without her. When she walks in the street, where mostly she drives, she walks with her eyes straight before her; to look either to the right or left, especially if a man is on either hand, is a superfluity of naughtiness. The habit of looking straight ahead is formed in youth, and it continues through life; so at least it is said, and if I cannot affirm it I will not deny it. The beautiful black eyes so discreetly directed looked as often from mantillas as hats, even in Madrid, which is the capital, and much infested by French fashions. You must not believe it when any one tells you that the mantilla is going out; it prevails everywhere, and it increases from north to south, and in Seville it is almost universal. Hats are worn there only in driving, but at Madrid there were many hats worn in walking, though whether by Spanish women or by foreigners, of course one could not, though a wayfaring man and an American, stop them to ask.
There are more women in the street at Madrid than in the provincial cities, perhaps because it is the capital and cosmopolitan, and perhaps because the streets are many of them open and pleasant, though there arc enough of them dark and narrow, too. I do not know just why the Puerta del Sol seems so much ampler and gayer than the Calle de Alcala; it is not really wider, but it seems more to concentrate the coming and going, and with its high-hoteled opposition of corners is of a supreme spectacularity. Besides, the name is so fine: what better could any city place ask than to be called Gate of the Sun? Perpetual trams wheeze and whistle through it; large shops face upon it; the sidewalks are thronged with passers, and the many little streets debouching on it pour their streams of traffic and travel into it on the right and left. It is mainly fed by the avenues leaving the royal palace on the west, and its eddying tide empties through the Calle de Alcala into the groves and gardens of the Prado whence it spreads over all the drives and parks east and north and south.
For a capital purposed and planned Madrid is very well indeed. It has not the symmetry which forethought gave the topography of Washington, or the beauty which afterthought has given Paris. But it makes you think a little of Washington, and a great deal of Paris, though a great deal more yet of Rome. It is Renaissance so far as architecture goes, and it is very modern Latin; so that it is of the older and the newer Rome that it makes you think. From, time to time it seemed to me I must be in. Rome, and I recovered myself with a pang to find I was not. Yet, as I say, Madrid was very well indeed, and when I reflected I had to own that I had come there on purpose to be there, and not to be in Rome, where also I should have been so satisfied to be.