The landscape softened again, with tilled fields and gardened spaces around the cottages, and now we had Tarifa always in sight, a stretch of white walls beside the blue sea with an effect of vicinity which it was very long in realizing. We had meant when we reached the town at last to choose which fonda we should stop at for our luncheon, but our driver chose the Fonda de Villanueva outside the town wall, and I do not believe we could have chosen better if he had let us. He really put us down across the way at the venta where he was going to bait his horses; and in what might well have seemed the custody of a little policeman with a sword at his side, we were conducted to the fonda and shown up into the very neat icy cold parlor where a young girl with a yellow flower in her hair received us. We were chill and stiff from our drive and we hoped for something warmer from the dining-room, which we perceived must face southward, and must be full of sun. But we reckoned without the ideal of the girl with the yellow flower in her hair: in the little saloon, shining round with glazed tiles where we next found ourselves, the sun had been carefully screened and scarcely pierced the scrim shades. But this was the worst, this was all that was bad, in that fonda. When the breakfast or the luncheon, or whatever corresponds in our usage to the Spanish almuerzo, began to come, it seemed as if it never would stop. An original but admirable omelette with potatoes and bacon in it was followed by fried fish flavored with saffron. Then there was brought in fried kid with a dish of kidneys; more fried fish came after, and then boiled beef, with a dessert of small cakes. Of course there was wine, as much as you would, such as it was, and several sorts of fruit. I am sorry to have forgotten how little all this cost, but at a venture I will say forty cents, or fifty at the outside; and so great kindness and good will went with it from the family who cooked it in the next room and served it with such cordial insistence that I think it was worth quite the larger sum. It would not have been polite to note how much of this superabundance was consumed by the three Spanish gentlemen who had so courteously saluted us in sitting down at table with us. I only know that they made us the conventional acknowledgment in refusing our conventional offer of some things we had brought with us from our hotel to eat in the event of famine at Tarifa.

When we had come at last to the last course, we turned our thoughts somewhat anxiously to the question of a guide for the town which we felt so little able to explore without one; and it seemed to me that I had better ask the policeman who had brought us to our fonda. He was sitting at the head of the stairs where we had left him, and so far from being baffled by my problem, he instantly solved it by offering himself to be our guide. Perhaps it was a profession which he merely joined to his civic function, but it was as if we were taken into custody when he put himself in charge of us and led us to the objects of interest which I cannot say Tarifa abounds in. That is, if you leave out of the count the irregular, to and fro, up and down, narrow lanes, passing the blank walls of low houses, and glimpsing leafy and flowerypatios through open gates, and suddenly expanding into broader streets and unexpected plazas, with shops and cafes and churches in them.

Tarifa is perhaps the quaintest town left in the world, either in or out of Spain, but whether it is more Moorish than parts of Cordova or Seville I could not say. It is at least pre-eminent in a feature of the women's costume which you are promised at the first mention of the place, and which is said to be a survival of the Moslem civilization. Of course we were eager for it, and when we came into the first wide street, there at the principal corner three women were standing, just as advertised, with black skirts caught up from their waists over their heads and held before their faces so that only one eye could look out at the strangers. It was like the women's costtime at Chiozza on the Venetian lagoon, but there it is not claimed for Moorish and here it was authenticated by being black. "Moorish ladies," our guide proudly proclaimed them in his scanty English, but I suspect they were Spanish; if they were really Orientals, they followed us with those eyes single as daringly as if they had been of our own Christian Occident.

The event was so perfect in its way that it seemed as if our guiding policeman might have especially ordered it; but this could not have really been, and was no such effect of his office as the immunity from beggars which we enjoyed in his charge. The worst boy in Tarifa (we did not identify him) dared not approach for a big-dog or a little, and we were safe from the boldest blind man, the hardiest hag, however pockmarked. The lanes and the streets and the plazas were clean as though our guide had them newly swept for us, and the plaza of the principal church (no guide-book remembers its name) is perhaps the cleanest in all Spain.