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like a great fire-opal in the sun. It was our first glimpse of the water along whose shores began the history and the religions of more than half the world. “The grand object of all travel is to see the shores of the Mediterranean,” said Dr. Johnson, and there were some of us who not until that moment, I think, fully grasped the fact that this object, this dream of a lifetime, was about to be accomplished.
The Patriarch forgot the Phænicians for a little and began to talk about Athens and of Mars Hill from which St. Paul had preached, though he added presently that it was quite certain St. Paul's grandfather had been a Phænician; the Diplomat quoted something about his soul being “far away sailing on the Vesuvian Bay"; the Porpoise began to meditate audibly how far it was in a straight line to Jerusalem; the Mill ground a quiet little grist about flannels she expected to wear in Egypt; even the Reprobates were subdued and thoughtful in the face of this watery theatre that had held the drama of the ancient world.
We drove back to the town, separated, and wandered about where fancy led us. Laura and I had a little business with the American consul, who is an example of what an American consul ought to be: a gentleman who is a consul by profession and not by party favor, being the third Sprague in line who has held the post. Through him we met a most interesting person, one who brought us in direct contact, as it were, with that old first party of Pilgrims to make the Oriental cruise. Michael Beñunes was his name, guide and courier to Mark Twain and his party, fortytwo years ago.
Beñunes must have been a handsome creature in those days; he is a handsome creature still — tall, finely featured, with flowing black hair — carrying his sixty-five years as lightly as wind-flowers-gay, voluble, enthusiastic—ready for the future, glorying in the past. He took us to a coffee-house and entertained us, and held us enthralled for an hour or more with his tide of eloquence and information. He told us of the trip he had made through Spain with the “Innocents”; of many other trips in lands near and far. He told us of the things in Gibraltar we had not seen-of the galleries and the monkey-pit; also, of the wonderful monkeys themselves who inhabit the Rock and are intelligent almost beyond belief—who refrain from speaking English only because they are afraid of having red coats and caps put on them and being made into soldiers.
Gibraltar was once a part of Africa, according to tradition, and the monkeys remained on the Rock when the separation took place. But guides know that a subterranean passage from the bottomless monkey-pit connects the Rock with Africa to this day; also that the monkeys travel back and forth through it and keep posted on warfare and new inventions, in preparation for a time when they shall be ready to regain their lost empire, and that sometimes at dusk, if one lies hidden and remains very quiet, he may overhear them discuss these things, as in the failing twilight they “walk together, holding each other's tails."
We could have listened all night to Beñunes, for he made the old time and still older traditions real to us. And perhaps Beñunes would have talked all night, for he declared and we believed him—that he could talk for five hours without a break. Naturally I expected to pay the score in the coffee-house and to
make some special acknowledgment to Beñunes for his time. Not at all; he called the waiter with a flourish, threw down more than enough money and told him to keep the change, regretting volubly that we could not partake further of his hospitality. We should have the freedom of the city—of everythinghe said, when we came again. Ah me! I suspect there is only one Beñunes, and that he belongs to a time which will soon vanish away.
We went through the town-almost a closed town, because it was Sunday, and not an inviting town, I think, at best. Here and there were narrow streets that wound up or down, yet were only mildly seductive. But it is a cosmopolitan town—the most cosmopolitan town on earth, perhaps. Every kind of money is in use there—every language is spoken.
"Picture postals twelve for a quarter!” was the American cry that greeted us at every turn. If we had been English it would have been “twelve for a shilling,” or if German “zwölf für ein Mark," no doubt. They do not mistake nationalities in Gibraltar—they have all kinds to study from. Moors we saw-black, barelegged, and gayly attired—a taste of the Orient we were about to enter—and if there were any nationalities we did not see in this motleythronged Mediterranean gateway I do not recall them now. We bought a few postal cards, and two fans with bull-fights on them, but unlike the Quaker City “Pilgrims ” we bought no gloves.
I did look at certain stylish young creatures who passed now and then, and wondered if one of them might not be the bewitching saleslady who had sold those gloves. And then I remembered: she would not be young and bewitching any more; she would be carrying the burden and the record of many years. Unlike the first “Pilgrims,” too, we did not hear the story of the “Queen's Chair.” That was worn out, at last, and exists to-day only in the guide-books. We drove over to Spanish Town by and by, but it was still less inviting over there, so we drove back, passed out through the great gates which close every evening
at sunset, and waited at the pier for the little tender, for it was near evening and we were through with Gibraltar - ready for the comfort of the ship.
It is a curious place—a place of a day's interest for the traveller—of enormous interest to the military world. For two hundred years it has been maintained with English blood and treasure, until it has become the most costly jewel of that lavish kingdom. There are those to-day-Englishmen—who say it is not worth the price—that it is no longer worth any priceand they advocate returning it to Spain. No army could take it, and no army wants to take it—nothing could be gained by taking it any more. But it is one of England's precious traditions, and it will take another two hundred years of vast maintenance before England will let that tradition go.
There were 'papers on the tender, London and Paris journals, but the only American news was that Congress had been advised against tinkering with the tariff. That did not interest us. Had we not been face to face with the headquarters of tariff that very morning, and heard the story of how that noble industry was born? This later item was mere detail.
Back on the ship, looking at the lion couchant while the twilight falls and the lights come out along its base. There is no harshness now. The lion's skin has become velvet-it is a veritable lion asleep among fireflies. We lift anchor and steam slowly into the Mediterranean. The lion loses its form, becomes a dark wedge, the thin edge toward Spain. Night