The mystery persisted and it was only when our train paused in the station that it was solved. There, as we got out of our car, we perceived that a broad red velvet carpet was laid from the car in front into the station; a red carpet such as is used to keep the feet of distinguished persons from their native earth the world over, but more especially in Europe. Along this carpet were loosely grouped a number of solemnly smiling gentlemen in frock-coats with their top-hats genteelly resting in the hollows of their left arms, and without and beyond the station in the space usually filled by closed and open cabs was a swarm of automobiles. Then while our spirits were keyed to the highest pitch, the Queen of Spain descended from the train, wearing a long black satin cloak and a large black hat, very blond and beautiful beyond the report of her pictures. By each hand she led one of her two pretty boys, Don Jaime, the Prince of Asturias, heir apparent, and his younger brother. She walked swiftly, with glad, kind looks around, and her ladies followed her according to their state; then ushered and followed by the gentlemen assembled to receive them, they mounted to their motors and whirred away like so many persons of a histrionic pageant: not least impressive, the court attendants filled a stage drawn by six mules, and clattered after.

From hearsay and reasonable surmise we learned that we had not come from Escorial in the Sud-Express at all, but in the Queen's special train bringing her and her children from their autumn sojourn at La Granja, and that we had been for an hour a notable feature of the royal party without knowing it, and of course without getting the least good of it. We had indeed ignorantly enjoyed no less of the honor than two other Americans, who came in the dining-car with us, but whether the nice-looking Spanish couple who sat in the corner next us were equally ignorant of their advantage I shall never know. It was but too highly probable that the messed condition of the car was due to royal luncheon in it just before we came aboard; but why we were suffered to come aboard, or why a supplementary fare should have been collected from us remains one of those mysteries which I should once have liked to keep all Spain.

We had to go quite outside of the station grounds to get a cab for our hotel, but from this blow to our dignity I recovered a little later in the day, when the king, attended by as small a troop of cavalry as I suppose a king ever has with him, came driving by in the street where I was walking. As he sat in his open carriage he looked very amiable, and handsomer than most of the pictures make him. He seemed to be gazing at me, and when he bowed I could do no less than return his salutation. As I glanced round to see if people near me were impressed by our exchange of civilities, I perceived an elderly officer next me. He was smiling as I was, and I think he was in the delusion that the king's bow, which I had so promptly returned, was intended for him.