At times and in places, peasants were scratching the dismal surfaces with the sort of plows which Abel must have used, when subsoiling was not yet even a dream; and between the plowmen and their ox-teams it seemed a question as to which should loiter longest in the unfinished furrow. Now and then, the rush of the train gave a motionless goatherd, with his gaunt flock, an effect of comparative celerity to the rearward. The women riding their donkeys over

  The level waste, the rounding gray

in the distance were the only women we saw except those who seemed to be keeping the stations, and one very fat one who came to the train at a small town and gabbled volubly to some passenger who made no audible response. She excited herself, but failed to rouse the interest of the other party to the interview, who remained unseen as well as unheard. I could the more have wished to know what it was all about because nothing happened on board the train to distract the mind from the joyless landscape until we drew near Valladolid. It is true that for a while we shared our compartment with a father and his two sons who lunched on slices of the sausage which seems the favorite refection of the Latin as well as the Germanic races in their travels. But this drama was not of intense interest, and we grappled in vain with the question of our companions' social standard. The father, while he munched his bread and sausage, read a newspaper which did not rank him or even define his politics; there was a want of fashion in the cut of the young men's clothes and of freshness in the polish of their tan shoes which defied conjecture. When they left the train without the formalities of leave-taking which had hitherto distinguished our Spanish fellow-travelers, we willingly abandoned them to a sort of middling obscurity; but this may not really have been their origin or their destiny.

That spindling sparseness, worse than utter baldness, of the wheat stubble now disappeared with cinematic suddenness, and our train was running past stretches of vineyard, where, among the green and purple and yellow ranks, the vintagers, with their donkeys and carts, were gathering the grapes in the paling light of the afternoon. Again the scene lacked the charm of woman's presence which the vintage had in southern France. In Spain we nowhere saw the women sharing the outdoor work of the men; and we fancied their absence the effect of the Oriental jealousy lingering from centuries of Moorish domination; though we could not entirely reconcile our theory with the publicity of their washing clothes at every stream. To be sure, that was work which they did not share with men any more than the men shared the labor of the fields with them.

It was still afternoon, well before sunset, when we arrived at Valladolid, where one of the quaintest of our Spanish surprises awaited us. We knew that the omnibus of the hotel we had chosen would be the shabbiest omnibus at the station, and we saw without great alarm our Chilian friends drive off in an indefinitely finer vehicle. But what we were not prepared for was the fact of octroi at Valladolid, and for the strange behavior of the local customs officer who stopped us on our way into the town. He looked a very amiable young man as he put his face in at the omnibus door, and he received without explicit question our declaration that we had nothing taxable in our trunks. Then, however, he mounted to the top of the omnibus and thumped our trunks about as if to test them for contraband by the sound. The investigation continued on these strange terms until the officer had satisfied himself of our good faith, when he got down and with a friendly smile at the window bowed us into Valladolid.

In its way nothing could have been more charming; and we rather liked being left by the omnibus about a block from our hotel, on the border of a sort of promenade where no vehicles were allowed. We had been halted near a public fountain, where already the mothers and daughters of the neighborhood were gathered with earthen jars for the night's supply of water. The jars were not so large as to overburden any of them when, after just delay for exchange of gossip, the girls and goodwives put them on their heads and marched erectly away with them, each beautifully picturesque irrespective of her age or looks.

The air was soft, and after Burgos, warm; something southern, unfelt before, began to qualify the whole scene, which as the evening fell grew more dramatic, and made the promenade the theater of emotions permitted such unrestricted play nowhere else in Spain, so far as we were witness. On one side the place was arcaded, and bordered with little shops, not so obtrusively brilliant that the young people who walked up and down before them were in a glare of publicity. A little way off the avenue expanded into a fine oblong place, where some first martyrs of the Inquisition were burned. But the promenadefs kept well short of this, as they walked up and down, and talked, talked, talked in that inexhaustible interest which youth takes in itself the world over. They were in the standard proportion of two girls to one young man, or, if here and there a girl had an undivided young man to herself, she went before some older maiden or matron whom she left altogether out of the conversation. They mostly wore the skirts and hats of Paris, and if the scene of the fountain was Arabically oriental the promenade was almost Americanly occidental. The promenaders were there by hundreds; they filled the avenue from side to side, and

  The delight of happy laughter 
  The delight of low replies

that rose from their progress, with the chirp and whisper of their feet cheered the night as long as we watched and listened from the sun balcony of our hotel.