I find from my ever-faithful note-book that the landscape seemed to grow drearier as we got away from Madrid, but this may have been the effect of the waning day: a day which at its brightest had been dim from recurrent rain and incessant damp. The gloom was not relieved by the long stops at the frequent stations, though the stops were good for getting one's breath, and for trying to plan greater control over one's activities when the train should be going on again. The stations themselves were not so alluring that we were not willing to get away from them; and we were glad to get away from them by train, instead of by mule-team over the rainy levels to the towns that glimmered along the horizon two or three miles off. There had been nothing to lift the heart in the sight of two small boys ready perched on one horse, or of a priest difficultly mounting another in his long robe. At the only station which I can remember having any town about it a large number of our passengers left the train, and I realized that they were commuters like those who might have been leaving it at some soaking suburb of Long Island or New Jersey. In the sense of human brotherhood which the fact inspired I was not so lonely as I might have been, when we resumed our gloomy progress, with all that punctilio which custom demands of a Spanish way-train. First the station-master rings a bell of alarming note hanging on the wall, and the mozos run along the train shutting the car doors. After an interval some other official sounds a pocket whistle, and then there is still time for a belated passenger to find his car and scramble aboard. When the ensuing pause prolongs itself until you think the train has decided to remain all day, or all night, and several passengers have left it again, the locomotive rouses itself and utters a peremptory screech. This really means going, but your doubt has not been fully overcome when the wheels begin to bump under your compartment, and you set your teeth and clutch your seat, and otherwise prepare yourself for the renewal of your acrobatic feats. I may not get the order of the signals for departure just right, but I am sure of their number. Perhaps the Sud-Express starts with less, but the Sud-Express is partly French.

It had been raining intermittently all day; now that the weary old day was done the young night took up the work and vigorously devoted itself to a steady downpour which, when we reached our hotel in Toledo, had taken the role of a theatrical tempest, with sudden peals of thunder and long loud bellowing reverberations and blinding flashes of lightning, such as the wildest stage effects of the tempest in the Catskills when Rip Van Winkle is lost would have been nothing to. Foreboding the inner chill of a Spanish hotel on such a day, we had telegraphed for a fire in our rooms, and our eccentricity had been interpreted in spirit as well as in letter. It was not the habitual hotel omnibus which met us at the station, but a luxurious closed carriage commanded by an interpreter who intuitively opened our compartment door, and conveyed us dry and warm to our hotel, in every circumstance of tender regard for our comfort, during the slow, sidelong uphill climb to the city midst details of historic and romantic picturesqueness which the lightning momently flashed in sight. From our carriage we passed as in a dream between the dress-coated head waiter and the skull-capped landlord who silently and motionlessly received us in the Gothic doorway, and mounted by a stately stair from a beautiful glass-roofed patio, columned round with airy galleries, to the rooms from which a smoky warmth gushed out to welcome us.

The warmth was from the generous blaze kindled in the fireplace against our coming, and the smoke was from the crevices in a chimneypiece not sufficiently calked with newspapers to keep the smoke going up the flue. The fastidious may think this a defect in our perfect experience, but we would not have had it otherwise, if we could, and probably we could not. We easily assumed that we were in the palace of some haughty hidalgo, adapted to the uses of a modern hotel, with a magical prevision which need not include the accurate jointing of a chimneypiece. The storm bellowed and blazed outside, the rain strummed richly on the patio roof which the lightning illumined, and as we descended that stately stair, with its walls ramped and foliaged over with heraldic fauna and flora, I felt as never before the disadvantage of not being still fourteen years old.

But you cannot be of every age at once and it was no bad thing to be presently sitting down in my actual epoch at one of those excellent Spanish dinners which no European hotel can surpass and no American hotel can equal. It may seem a descent from the high horse, the winged steed of dreaming, to have been following those admirable courses with unflagging appetite, as it were on foot, but man born of woman is hungry after such a ride as ours from Madrid; and it was with no appreciable loss to our sense of enchantment that we presently learned from our host, waiting skull-capped in the patio, that we were in no real palace of an ancient hidalgo, but were housed as we found ourselves by the fancy of a rich nobleman of Toledo whom the whim had taken to equip his city with a hotel of poetic perfection. I am afraid I have forgotten his name; perhaps I should not have the right to parade it here if I remembered it; but I cannot help saluting him brother in imagination, and thanking him for one of the rarest pleasures that travel, even Spanish travel, has given me.