A few miles and a few minutes more and we were in the embrace of the loveliest of them, which was at first the clutch on the octroi. But the octroi at Seville is not serious, and a walrus-mustached old porter, who looked like an old American car-driver of the bearded eighteen-sixties, eased us - not very swiftly, but softly - through the local customs, and then we drove neither so swiftly nor so softly to the hotel, where we had decided we would have rooms on the patio. We had still to learn that if there is a patio in a Spanish hotel you cannot have rooms in it, because they are either in repair or they are occupied. In the present case they were occupied; but we could have rooms over the street, which were the same as in the patio, and which were perfectly quiet, as we could perceive from the trolley-cars grinding and squealing under their windows. The manager (if that was the quality of the patient and amiable old official who received us) seemed surprised to see the cars there, perhaps because they were so inaudible; but he said we could have rooms in the annex, fronting on the adjoining plaza and siding on an inoffensive avenue where there were absolutely no cars. The interior, climbing to a lofty roof by a succession of galleries, was hushed by four silent senoras, all in black, and seated in mute ceremony around a table in chairs from which their little feet scarcely touched the marble pavement. Their quiet confirmed the manager's assurance of a pervading tranquillity, and though the only bath in the annex was confessedly on the ground floor, and we were to be two floors above, the affair was very simple: the chambermaid would always show us where the bath was.

With misgiving, lost in a sense of our helplessness, we tried to think that the avenue under us was then quieting down with the waning day; and certainly it was not so noisy as the plaza, which, resounded with the whips and quips of the cabmen, and gave no signs of quiescence. Otherwise the annex was very pleasant, and we took the rooms shown us, hoping the best and fearing the worst. Our fears were wiser than our hopes, but we did not know this, and we went as gaily as we could for tea in the patio of our hotel, where a fountain typically trickled amidst its water-plants and a noiseless Englishman at his separate table almost restored our lost faith in a world not wholly racket. A young Spaniard and two young Spanish girls helped out the illusion with their gentle movements and their muted gutturals, and we looked forward to dinner with fond expectation. To tell the truth, the dinner, when we came back to it, was not very good, or at least not very winning, and the next night it was no better, though the head waiter had then, made us so much favor with himself as to promise us a side-table for the rest of our stay. He was a very friendly head waiter, and the dining-room was a long glare of the encaustic tiling which all Seville seems lined with, and of every Moorish motive in the decoration. Besides, there was a young Scotch girl, very interestingly pale and delicate of face, at one of the tables, and at another a Spanish girl with the most wonderful fire-red hair, and there were several miracles of the beautiful obesity which abounds in Spain.

When we returned to the annex it did seem, for the short time we kept our windows shut, that the manager had spoken true, and we promised ourselves a tranquil night, which, after our two nights in Cordova, we needed if we did not merit. But we had counted without the spread of popular education in Spain. Under our windows, just across the way, there proved to be a school of the "Royal Society of Friends of their Country," as the Spanish inscription in its front proclaimed; and at dusk its pupils, children and young people of both sexes, began clamoring for knowledge at its doors. About ten o'clock they burst from them again with joyous exultation in their acquirements; then, shortly after, every manner of vehicle began to pass, especially heavy market wagons overladen and drawn by horses swarming with bells. Their succession left scarcely a moment of the night unstunned; but if ever a moment seemed to be escaping, there was a maniacal bell in a church near by that clashed out: "Hello! Here's a bit of silence; let's knock it on the head!"

We went promptly the next day to the gentle old manager and told him that he had been deceived in thinking he had given us rooms on a quiet street, and appealed to his invention for something, for anything, different. His invention had probably never been put to such stress before, and he showed us an excess of impossible apartments, which we subjected to a consideration worthy of the greatest promise in them. Our search ended in a suite of rooms on the top floor, where we could have the range of a flat roof outside if we wanted; but as the private family living next door kept hens, led by a lordly turkey, on their roof, we were sorrowfully forced to forego our peculiar advantage. Peculiar we then thought it, though we learned afterward that poultry-farming was not uncommon on the flat roofs of Seville, and there is now no telling how we might have prospered if we had taken those rooms and stocked our roof with Plymouth Rocks and Wyandottes. At the moment, however, we thought it would not do, and we could only offer our excuses to the manager, whose resources we had now exhausted, but not whose patience, and we parted with expressions of mutual esteem and regret.

Our own grief was sincerer in leaving behind us the enthusiastic chambermaid of the annex who had greeted us with glad service, and was so hopeful that when she said our doors should be made to latch and lock in the morning, it was as if they latched and locked already. Her zeal made the hot water she brought for the baths really hot, "Caliente, caliente," and her voice would have quieted the street under our windows if music could have soothed it. At a friendly word she grew trustful, and told us how it was hard, hard for poor people in Seville; how she had three dollars a month and her husband four; and how they had to toil for it. When we could not help telling her, cruelly enough, what they singly and jointly earn in New York, she praised rather than coveted the happier chance impossible to them. They would like to go, but they could not go! She was gay with it all, and after we had left the hotel and come back for the shawl which had been forgotten, she ran for it, shouting with laughter, as if we must see it the great joke she did; and she took the reward offered with the self-respect never wanting to the Spanish poor. Very likely if I ransacked my memory I might find instances of their abusing those advantages over the stranger which Providence puts in the reach of the native everywhere; but on the spur of the moment, I do not recall any. In Spain, where a woman earns three dollars a month, as in America where she earns thirty, the poor seem to abound in the comparative virtues which the rich demand in return for the chances of Heaven which they abandon to them. There were few of those rendering us service there whom we would not willingly have brought away with us; but very likely we should have found they had the defects of their qualities.

When we definitely turned our backs on the potential poultry-farm offered us at our hotel, we found ourselves in as good housing at another, overlooking the length and breadth of the stately Plaza San Fernando, with its parallelogram of tall palms, under a full moon swimming in a cloudless heaven by night and by day. By day, of course, we did not see it, but the sun was visibly there, rather blazing hot, even in mid-October, and showing more distinctly than the moon the beautiful tower of the Giralda from the waist up, and the shoulder of the great cathedral, besides features of other noble, though less noble, edifices. Our plaza was so full of romantic suggestion that I am rather glad now I had no association with it. I am sure I could not have borne at the time to know, as I have only now learned by recurring to my Baedeker, that in the old Franciscan cloister once there had stood the equestrian statue of the Comendador who dismounts and comes unbidden to the supper of Don Giovanni in the opera. That was a statue which, seen in my far youth, haunted my nightmares for many a year, and I am sure it would have kept me from sleep in the conditions, now so perfect, of our new housing if I had known, about it.