The day waned more and more; the sun began to sink, and then it sank with that sudden drop which the sun has at last. The sky flushed crimson, turned mauve, turned gray, and the twilight thickened over the summits billowing softly westward. There had been a good deal of joking, both Spanish and English, among the passengers; I had found particularly cheering the richness of a certain machinist's trousers of bright golden corduroy; but as the shades of night began to embrown the scene our spirits fell; and at the cry of a lonesome bird, far off where the sunset had been, they followed the sun in its sudden drop. Against the horizon a peasant boy leaned on his staff and darkled against the darkening sky.

Nothing lacked now but the opportune recollection that this was the region where the natives had been so wicked in times past that an ingenious statesman, such as have seldom been wanting to Spain, imagined bringing in a colony of German peasants to mix with them and reform them. That is what some of the books say, but others say that the region had remained unpeopled after the first exile of the conquered Moors. All hold that the notion of mixing the colonists and the natives worked the wrong way; the natives were not reformed, but the colonists were depraved and stood in with the local brigands, ultimately, if not immediately. This is the view suggested, if not taken, by that amusing emissary, George Borrow, who seems in his Bible in Spain to have been equally employed in distributing the truths of the New Testament and collecting material for the most dramatic study of Spanish civilization known to literature. It is a delightful book, and not least delightful in the moments of misgiving which it imparts to the reader, when he does not know whether to prize more the author's observation or his invention, whichever it may be. Borrow reports a conversation with an innkeeper and his wife of the Colonial German descent, who gave a good enough account of themselves, and then adds the dark intimation of an Italian companion that they could not be honestly keeping a hotel in that unfrequented place. It was not just in that place that our delay had chosen to occur, but it was in the same colonized region, and I am glad now that I had not remembered the incident from my first reading of Borrow. It was sufficiently uncomfortable to have some vague association with the failure of that excellent statesman's plan, blending creepily with the feeling of desolation from the gathering dark, and I now recall the distinct relief given by the unexpected appearance of two such Guardias Civiles as travel with every Spanish train, in the space before our lonely station.

These admirable friends were part of the system which has made travel as safe throughout Spain as it is in Connecticut, where indeed I sometimes wonder that road-agents do not stop my Boston express in the waste expanse of those certain sand barrens just beyond New Haven. The last time I came through that desert I could not help thinking how nice it would be to have two Guardias Civiles in our Pullman car; but of course at the summit of the Sierra Morena, where our rapido was stalled in the deepening twilight, it was still nicer to see that soldier pair, pacing up and down, trim, straight, very gentle and polite-looking, but firm, with their rifles lying on their shoulders which they kept exactly together. It is part of the system that they may use those rifles upon any evil-doer whom they discover in a deed of violence, acting at once as police, court of law, and executioners; and satisfying public curiosity by pinning to the offender's coat their official certificate that he was shot by such and such a civil guard for such and such a reason, and then notifying the nearest authorities. It is perhaps too positive, too peremptory, too precise; and the responsibility could not be intrusted to men who had not satisfied the government of their fitness by two years' service in the army without arrest for any offense, or even any question of misbehavior. But these conditions once satisfied, and their temperament and character approved, they are intrusted with what seem plenary powers till they are retired for old age; then their sons may serve after them as Civil Guards with the same prospect of pensions in the end. I suppose they do not always travel first class, but once their silent, soldierly presence honored our compartment between stations; and once an officer of their corps conversed for long with a fellow-passenger in that courteous ease and self-respect which is so Spanish between persons of all ranks.

It was not very long after the guards appeared so reassuringly before the station, when a series of warning bells and whistles sounded, and our locomotive with an impatient scream began to tug at our train. We were really off, starting from Santa Elena at the very time when we ought to have been stopping at Oordova, with a good stretch of four hours still before us. As our fellow-travelers quitted us at one station and another we were finally left alone with the kindly-looking old man who had seemed interested in us from the first, and who now made some advances in broken English. Presently he told us in Spanish, to account for the English accent on which we complimented him, that he had two sons studying some manufacturing business in Manchester, where he had visited them, and acquired so much of our tongue as we had heard. He was very proud and glad to speak of his sons, and he valued us for our English and the strangeness which commends people to one another in travel. When he got out at a station obscured past identification by its flaring lamps, he would not suffer me to help him with his hand-baggage; while he deplored my offered civility, he reassured me by patting my back at parting. Yet I myself had to endure the kindness which he would not when we arrived at Cordova, where two young fellows, who had got in at a suburban station, helped me with our bags and bundles quite as if they had been two young Americans.