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XII. THE SURPRISES OF RONDA

The rain that pelted sharply into the puddle before the station at Granada was snow on the Sierra, and the snow that fell farther and farther down the mountainsides resolved itself over the Vega into a fog as white and almost as cold. Half-way across the storied and fabled plain the rain stopped and the fog lifted, and then we saw by day, as we had already seen by night, how the Vega was plentifully dotted with white cottages amid breadths of wheat-land where the peasants were plowing. Here and there were fields of Indian corn, and in a certain place there was a small vineyard; in one of the middle distances there spread a forest of Lombardy poplars, yellow as gold, and there was abundance of this autumn coloring in the landscape, which grew lonelier as we began to mount from the level. Olives, of course, abounded, and there were oak woods and clumps of wild cherry trees. The towns were far from the stations, which we reached at the rate of perhaps two miles an hour as we approached the top of the hills; and we might have got out and walked without fear of being left behind by our train, which made long stops, as if to get its breath for another climb. Before this the sole companion of our journey, whom we decided to be a landed proprietor coming out in his riding-gear to inspect his possessions, had left us, but at the first station after our descent began other passengers got in, with a captain of Civil Guards among them, very loquacious and very courteous, and much deferred to by the rest of us. At Bobadilla, where again we had tea with hot goat's milk in it, we changed cars, and from that on we had the company of a Rock-Scorpion pair whose name was beautifully Italian and whose speech was beautifully English, as the speech of those born at Gibraltar should rightfully be.