There had been the usual alarm about the lack of places in the Sud-Express which we were to take at Valladolid, but we chanced getting them, and our boldness was rewarded by getting a whole compartment to ourselves, and a large, fat friendly conductor with an eye out for tips in every direction. The lunch in our dining-car was for the first time in Spain not worth the American price asked for it; everywhere else on the Spanish trains I must testify that the meals were excellent and abundant; and the refection may now have felt in some obscure sort the horror of the world in which the Sud-Express seemed to have lost itself. The scene was as alien to any other known aspect of our comfortable planet as if it were the landscape of some star condemned for the sins of its extinct children to wander through space in unimaginable desolation. It seldom happens in Spain that the scenery is the same on both sides of the railroad track, but here it was malignly alike on one hand and on the other, though we seemed to be running along the slope of an upland, so that the left hand was higher and the right lower. It was more as if we were crossing the face of some prodigious rapid, whose surges were the measureless granite boulders tossing everywhere in masses from the size of a man's fist to the size of a house. In a wild chaos they wallowed against one another, the greater bearing on their tops or between them on their shoulders smaller regular or irregular masses of the same gray stone. Everywhere among their awful shallows grew gray live-oaks, and in among the rocks and trees spread tufts of gray shrub. Suddenly, over the frenzy of this mad world, a storm of cold rain broke whirling, and cold gray mists drove, blinding the windows and chilling us where we sat within. From time to time the storm lifted and showed again this vision of nature hoary as if with immemorial eld; if at times we seemed to have run away from it again it closed in upon us and held us captive in its desolation.

With longer and longer intervals of relief it closed upon us for the last time in the neighborhood of the gloomiest pile that ever a man built for his life, his death and his prayer between; but before we came to the palace-tomb of the Escorial, we had clear in the distance the vision of the walls and roofs and towers of the medieval city of Avila. It is said to be the perfectest relic of the Middle Ages after or before Rothenburg, and we who had seen Rothenburg solemnly promised ourselves to come back some day from Madrid and spend it in Avila. But we never came, and Avila remains a vision of walls and roofs and towers tawny gray glimpsed in a rift of the storm that again swept toward the Spanish capital.