When we walked out on the terrace of our hotel at Algeciras after breakfast, the first morning, we were greeted by the familiar form of the Rock of Gibraltar still advertising, as we had seen it three years before, a well-known American insurance company. It rose beyond five miles of land-locked water, which we were to cross every other day for three weeks on many idle and anxious errands, until we sailed from it at last for New York.

Meanwhile Algeciras was altogether delightful not only because of our Kate-Greenaway hotel, embowered in ten or twelve acres of gardened ground, with walks going and coming under its palms and eucalyptuses, beside beds of geraniums and past trellises of roses and jasmines, all in the keeping of a captive stork which was apt unexpectedly to meet the stranger and clap its formidable mandibles at him, and then hop away with half-lifted wings. Algeciras had other claims which it urged day after day more winningly upon us as the last place where we should feel the charm of Spain unbroken in the tradition which reaches from modern fact far back into antique fable. I will not follow it beyond the historic clue, for I think the reader ought to be satisfied with knowing that the Moors held it as early as the seven hundreds and as late as the thirteen hundreds, when the Christians definitively recaptured it and their kings became kings of Algeciras as well as kings of Spain, and remain so to this day. At the end of the eighteenth century one of these kings made it his lookout for watching the movements of the inimical English fleets, and then Algeciras slumbered again, haunted only by "a deep dream of peace" till the European diplomats, rather unexpectedly assisted by an American envoy, made it the scene of their famous conference for settling the Morocco question in. 1906.

I think this is my whole duty to the political interest of Algeciras, and until I come to our excursion to Tarifa I am going to give myself altogether to our pleasure in the place unvexed by any event of history. I disdain even to note that the Moors took the city again from the Christians, after twenty-five years, and demolished it, for I prefer to remember it as it has been rebuilt and lies white by its bay, a series of red-tiled levels of roof with a few church-towers topping them. It is a pretty place, and remarkably clean, inhabited mostly by beggars, with a minority of industrial, commercial, and professional citizens, who live in agreeable little houses, with patios open to the passer, and with balconies overhanging him. It has of course a bull-ring, enviously closed during our stay, and it has one of the pleasantest Alamedas and the best swept in Spain, where some nice boys are playing in the afternoon sun, and a gentleman, coming out of one of the villas bordering on it, is courteously interested in the two strangers whom he sees sitting on a bench beside the walk, with the leaves of the plane trees dropping round them in the still air.

The Alameda is quite at the thither end of Algeciras. At the end next our hotel, but with the intervention of a space of cliff, topped and faced by summer cottages and gardens, is the station with a train usually ready to start from it for Ronda or Seville or Malaga, I do not know which, and with the usual company of freight-cars idling about, empty or laden with sheets of cork, as indifferent to them as if they were so much mere pine or spruce lumber. There is a sufficiently attractive hotel here for transients, and as an allurement to the marine and military leisure of Gibraltar, "The Picnic Restaurant," and "The Cabin Tea Room," where no doubt there is something to be had beside sandwiches and tea. Here also is the pier for the Gibraltar boats, with the Spanish custom-house which their passengers must pass through and have their packages and persons searched for contraband. One heard of wild caprices on the part of the inspectors in levying duties which were sometimes made to pass the prime cost of the goods in Gibraltar. I myself only carried in books which after the first few declarations were recognized as of no imaginable value and passed with a genial tolerance, as a sort of joke, by officers whom I saw feeling the persons of their fellow-Spaniards unsparingly over.

We had, if anything, less business really in Algeciras than in Gibraltar, but we went into the town nearly every afternoon, and wantonly bought things. By this means we proved that the Andalusian shopmen had not the proud phlegm of the Castilians across their counters. In the principal dry-goods store two salesmen rivaled each other in showing us politeness, and sent home our small purchases as promptly as if we had done them a favor in buying. We were indeed the wonder of our fellow-customers who were not buying; but our pride was brought down in the little shop where the proprietress was too much concerned in cooking her dinner (it smelled delicious) to mind our wish for a very cheap green vase, inestimably Spanish after we got it home. However, in another shop where the lady was ironing her week's wash on the counter, a lady friend who was making her an afternoon call got such a vase down for us and transacted the negotiation out of pure good will for both parties to it.

Parallel with the railway was a channel where small fishing-craft lay, and where a leisurely dredging-machine was stirring up the depths in a stench so dire that I wonder we do not smell it across the Atlantic. Over this channel a bridge led into the town, and offered the convenient support of its parapet to the crowd of spectators who wished to inhale that powerful odor at their ease, and who hung there throughout the working-day; the working-day of the dredging-machine, that is. The population was so much absorbed in this that when we first crossed into the town, we found no beggar children even, though there were a few blind beggarmen, but so few that a boy who had one of them in charge was obliged to leave off smelling the river and run and hunt him up for us. Other boys were busy in street-sweeping and b-r-r-r-r-ing to the donkeys that carried off the sweepings in panniers; and in the fine large plaza before the principal church of Algeciras there was a boy who had plainly nothing but mischief to do, though he did not molest us farther than to ask in English, "Want to see the cathedral?" Then he went his way swiftly and we went into the church, which we found very whitewashed and very Moorish in architecture, but very Spanish in the Blessed Virgins on most of the altars, dressed in brocades and jewels. A sacristan was brushing and dusting the place, but he did not bother us, and we went freely about among the tall candles standing on the floor as well as on the altars, and bearing each a placard attached with black ribbon, and dedicated in black letters on silver "To the Repose of This or That" one among the dead.

The meaning was evident enough, but we sought something further of the druggist at the corner, who did his best for us in such English as he had. It was not quite the English of Ronda; but he praised his grammar while he owned that his vocabulary was in decay from want of practise. In fact, he well-nigh committed us to the purchase of one of those votive candles, which he understood we wished to buy; he all but sent to the sacristan to get one. There were several onlookers, as there always are in Latin pharmacies, and there was a sad young mother waiting for medicine with a sick baby in her arms. The druggist said it had fever of the stomach; he seemed proud of the fact, and some talk passed between him and the bystanders which related to it. We asked if he had any of the quince jelly which we had learned to like in Seville, but he could only refer us to the confectioner's on the other corner. Here was not indeed quince jelly, but we compromised on quince cheese, as the English call it; and we bought several boxes of it to take to America, which I am sorry to say moulded before our voyage began, and had to be thrown away. Near this confectioner's was a booth where boiled sweet-potatoes were sold, with oranges and joints of sugar-cane, and, spitted on straws, that terrible fruit of the strawberry tree which we had tasted at Honda without wishing to taste it ever again. Yet there was a boy boldly buying several straws of it and chancing the intoxication which over-indulgence in it is said to cause. Whether the excitement of these events was too great or not, we found ourselves suddenly unwilling, if not unable, to walk back to our hotel, and we took a cab of the three standing in the plaza. One was without a horse, another without a driver, but the third had both, as in some sort of riddle, and we had no sooner taken it than a horse was put into the first and a driver ran out and got on the box of the second, as if that was the answer to the riddle.