We were very glad indeed to get to Madrid, though dismayed by apprehensions of the octroi which we felt sure awaited us. We recalled the behavior of the amiable officer of Valladolid who bumped our baggage about on the roof of our omnibus, and we thought that in Madrid such an officer could not do less than shatter our boxes and scatter their contents in the streaming street. What was then our surprise, our joy, to find that in Madrid there was no octroi at all, and that the amiable mozos who took our things hardly knew what we meant when we asked for it. At Madrid they scarcely wanted our tickets at the gate of the station, and we found ourselves in the soft embrace of modernity, so dear after the feudal rigors of Old Castile, when we mounted into a motor-bus and sped away through the spectacular town, so like Paris, so like Rome as to have no personality of its own except in this similarity, and never stopped till the liveried service swarmed upon us at the door of the Hotel Ritz.

Here the modernity which had so winningly greeted us at the station welcomed us more and consolingly. There was not only steam-heating, but the steam was on! It wanted but a turn of the hand at the radiators, and the rooms were warm. The rooms themselves responded to our appeal and looked down into a silent inner court, deaf to the clatter of the streets, and sleep haunted the very air, distracted, if at all, by the instant facility and luxury of the appliances. Was it really in Spain that a metallic tablet at the bed-head invited the wanderer to call with one button for the camerero, another for the camerera, and another for the mozo, who would all instantly come speaking English like so many angels? Were we to have these beautiful chambers for a humble two dollars and forty cents a day; and if it was true, why did we ever leave them and try for something ever so much worse and so very little cheaper? Let me be frank with the reader whom I desire for my friend, and own that we were frightened from the Eitz Hotel by the rumor of Eitz prices. I paid my bill there, which was imagined with scrupulous fullness to the last possible centimo, and so I may disinterestedly declare that the Eitz is the only hotel in Madrid where you get the worth of your money, even when the money seems more but scarcely is so. In all Spain I know of only two other hotels which may compare with it, and these are the English hotels, one at Ronda and one at Algeciras. If I add falteringly the hotel where we stayed a night in Toledo and the hotel where we abode a fortnight in Seville, I heap the measure of merit and press it down.

We did not begin at once our insensate search for another hotel in Madrid: but the sky had cleared and we went out into the strange capital so uncharacteristically characteristic, to find tea at a certain cafe we had heard of. It was in the Calle de Alcala (a name which so richly stimulates the imagination), and it looked out across this handsome street, to a club that I never knew the name of, where at a series of open windows was a flare of young men in silk hats leaning out on their elbows and letting no passing fact of the avenue escape them. It was worth their study, and if I had been an idle young Spaniard, or an idle old one, I would have asked nothing better than to spend my Sunday afternoon poring from one of those windows on my well-known world of Madrid as it babbled by. Even in my quality of alien, newly arrived and ignorant of that world, I already felt its fascination.

Sunday in Spain is perhaps different from other days of the week to the Spanish sense, but to the traveler it is too like them to be distinguishable except in that guilty Sabbath consciousness which is probably an effect from original sin in every Protestant soul. The casual eye could not see but that in Madrid every one seemed as much or as little at work as on any other day. My own casual eye noted that the most picturesquely evident thing in the city was the country life which seemed so to pervade it. In the Calle de Alcala, flowing to the Prado out of the Puerta del Sol, there passed a current of farm-carts and farm-wagons more conspicuous than any urban vehicles, as they jingled by, with men and women on their sleigh-belled donkeys, astride or atop the heavily laden panniers. The donkeys bore a part literally leading in all the rustic equipages, and with their superior intellect found a way through the crowds for the string-teams of the three or four large mules that followed them in harness. Whenever we saw a team of mules without this sage guidance we trembled for their safety; as for horses, no team of them attempted the difficult passage, though ox-trains seemed able to dispense with the path-finding donkeys.

To be sure, the horses abounded in the cabs, which were mostly bad, more or less. It is an idiosyncrasy of the cabs in Madrid that only the open victorias have rubber tires; if you go in a coupe you must consent to be ruthlessly bounced over the rough pavements on wheels unsoftened. It "follows as the night the day" that the coupe is not in favor, and that in its conservative disuse it accumulates a smell not to be acquired out of Spain. One such vehicle I had which I thought must have been stabled in the house of Cervantes at Valladolid, and rushed on the Sud-Express for my service at Madrid; the stench in it was such that after a short drive to the house of a friend I was fain to dismiss it at a serious loss in pesetas and take the risk of another which might have been as bad. Fortunately a kind lady intervened with a private carriage and a coachman shaved that very day, whereas my poor old cabman, who was of one and the same smell as his cab, had not been shaved for three days.