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Title: The Car That Went Abroad - Motoring Through the Golden Age
Author: Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937
Language: English
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THE CAR THAT WENT ABROAD

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS BY
ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE

_For Grown-ups_

  THE CAR THAT WENT ABROAD
  THE LURE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
  DWELLERS IN ARCADY
  FROM VAN-DWELLER TO COMMUTER
  MOMENTS WITH MARK TWAIN
  MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS
  MARK TWAIN: A BIOGRAPHY
  PEANUT: THE STORY OF A BOY
  SHORT LIFE OF MARK TWAIN
  LIFE OF THOMAS NAST
  THE TENT-DWELLERS

_For Young Readers_

  THE BOYS' LIFE OF MARK TWAIN
  HOLLOW TREE NIGHTS AND DAYS
  THE HOLLOW TREE AND DEEP-WOODS BOOK
  THE HOLLOW TREE SNOWED-IN BOOK

_Small books of several stories each, selected from the above Hollow
Tree books:_

  HOW MR. DOG GOT EVEN
  HOW MR. RABBIT LOST HIS TAIL
  MR. RABBIT'S BIG DINNER
  MAKING UP WITH MR. DOG
  MR. 'POSSUM'S GREAT BALLOON TRIP
  MR RABBIT'S WEDDING
  MR. CROW AND THE WHITEWASH
  MR. TURTLE'S FLYING ADVENTURE
  WHEN JACK RABBIT WAS A LITTLE BOY

HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK
ESTABLISHED 1817

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: "THE NORMANDY ROAD TO CHERBOURG IS AS WONDERFUL AS ANY IN
FRANCE"--See p. 226]


THE CAR THAT WENT ABROAD

Motoring Through the Golden Age

by

ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE

Author of
"Dwellers in Arcady," "The Ship Dwellers," etc.

Illustrated from drawings by Walter Hale



[Illustration]

Harper & Brothers Publishers
New York and London

Copyright, 1921, by Harper & Brothers



CONTENTS


Part I

THE CAR THAT WENT ABROAD

  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
      I. DON'T HURRY THROUGH MARSEILLES                                3
     II. MOTORING BY TRAM                                              9
    III. ACROSS THE CRAU                                              19
     IV. MISTRAL                                                      27
      V. THE ROME OF FRANCE                                           30
     VI. THE WAY THROUGH EDEN                                         40
    VII. TO TARASCON AND BEAUCAIRE                                    43
   VIII. GLIMPSES OF THE PAST                                         48
     IX. IN THE CITADEL OF FAITH                                      52
      X. AN OLD TRADITION AND A NEW EXPERIENCE                        58
     XI. WAYSIDE ADVENTURES                                           65
    XII. THE LOST NAPOLEON                                            72
   XIII. THE HOUSE OF HEADS                                           79
    XIV. INTO THE HILLS                                               85
     XV. UP THE ISÈRE                                                 89
    XVI. INTO THE HAUTE-SAVOIE                                        94
   XVII. SOME SWISS IMPRESSIONS                                      101
  XVIII. THE LITTLE TOWN OF VEVEY                                    113
    XIX. MASHING A MUD GUARD                                         123
     XX. JUST FRENCH--THAT'S ALL                                     127
    XXI. WE LUGE                                                     131


Part II

MOTORING THROUGH THE GOLDEN AGE

       I. THE NEW PLAN                                               143
      II. THE NEW START                                              146
     III. INTO THE JURAS                                             151
      IV. A POEM IN ARCHITECTURE                                     160
       V. VIENNE IN THE RAIN                                         164
      VI. THE CHÂTEAU I DID NOT RENT                                 168
     VII. AN HOUR AT ORANGE                                          172
    VIII. THE ROAD TO PONT DU GARD                                   178
      IX. THE LUXURY OF NÎMES                                        182
       X. THROUGH THE CÉVENNES                                       186
      XI. INTO THE AUVERGNE                                          193
     XII. LE PUY                                                     196
    XIII. THE CENTER OF FRANCE                                       200
     XIV. BETWEEN BILLY AND BESSEY                                   205
      XV. THE HAUTE-LOIRE                                            209
     XVI. NEARING PARIS                                              213
    XVII. SUMMING UP THE COST                                        219
   XVIII. THE ROAD TO CHERBOURG                                      223
     XIX. BAYEUX, CAEN, AND ROUEN                                    228
      XX. WE COME TO GRIEF                                           234
     XXI. THE DAMAGE REPAIRED--BEAUVAIS AND COMPIÈGNE                238
    XXII. FROM PARIS TO CHARTRES AND CHÂTEAUDUN                      244
   XXIII. WE REACH TOURS                                             250
    XXIV. CHINON, WHERE JOAN MET THE KING, AND AZAY                  255
     XXV. TOURS                                                      260
    XXVI. CHENONCEAUX AND AMBOISE                                    264
   XXVII. CHAMBORD AND CLÉRY                                         271
  XXVIII. ORLÉANS                                                    278
    XXIX. FONTAINEBLEAU                                              283
     XXX. RHEIMS                                                     288
    XXXI. ALONG THE MARNE                                            295
   XXXII. DOMREMY                                                    299
  XXXIII. STRASSBURG AND THE BLACK FOREST                            306
   XXXIV. A LAND WHERE STORKS LIVE                                   313
    XXXV. BACK TO VEVEY                                              316
   XXXVI. THE GREAT UPHEAVAL                                         320
  XXXVII. THE LONG TRAIL ENDS                                        336



ILLUSTRATIONS


  "THE NORMANDY ROAD TO CHERBOURG IS AS WONDERFUL AS ANY IN
  FRANCE"                                                 _Frontispiece_

  "WHERE ROADS BRANCH OR CROSS THERE ARE SIGNBOARDS....
  YOU CAN'T ASK A MAN 'QUEL EST LE CHEMIN' FOR ANYWHERE WHEN
  YOU ARE   IN FRONT OF A SIGNBOARD WHICH IS SHOUTING THE
  INFORMATION"                                            _Facing p._ 46

  MARK TWAIN'S "LOST NAPOLEON"--"THE COLOSSAL SLEEPING FIGURE
  IN ITS SUPREME REPOSE"                                              80

  MARCHÉ VEVEY--"IN EACH TOWN THERE IS AN OPEN SQUARE, WHICH
  TWICE A WEEK IS PICTURESQUELY CROWDED"                             108

  "YOU CAN SEE SON LOUP FROM THE HOTEL STEPS IN VEVEY, BUT IT
  TAKES HOURS TO GET TO IT"                                          134

  DESCENDING THE JURAS                                               162

  THE TOMB OF MARGARET OF AUSTRIA, CHURCH OF BROU                    162

  "THROUGH HILLSIDE VILLAGES WHERE NEVER A STONE HAD BEEN
  MOVED, I THINK, IN CENTURIES"                                      214

  BIRTHPLACE OF JOAN OF ARC                                          308

  STRASSBURG, SHOWING THE CATHEDRAL                                  308



PREFACE


     FELLOW-WANDERER:

     The curtain that so long darkened many of the world's happy
     places is lifted at last. Quaint villages, old cities,
     rolling hills, and velvet valleys once more beckon to the
     traveler.

     The chapters that follow tell the story of a small family
     who went gypsying through that golden age before the war
     when the tree-lined highways of France, the cherry-blossom
     roads of the Black Forest, and the high trails of
     Switzerland offered welcome to the motor nomad.

     The impressions set down, while the colors were fresh and
     warm with life, are offered now to those who will give a
     thought to that time and perhaps go happily wandering
     through the new age whose dawn is here.

  A. B. P.
  _June, 1921._



Part I


THE CAR THAT WENT ABROAD



Chapter I

DON'T HURRY THROUGH MARSEILLES


Originally I began this story with a number of instructive chapters on
shipping an automobile, and I followed with certain others full of
pertinent comment on ocean travel in a day when all the seas were as a
great pleasure pond. They were very good chapters, and I hated to part
with them, but my publisher had quite positive views on the matter. He
said those chapters were about as valuable now as June leaves are in
November, so I swept them aside in the same sad way that one disposes of
the autumn drift and said I would start with Marseilles, where, after
fourteen days of quiet sailing, we landed with our car one late August
afternoon.

Most travelers pass through Marseilles hastily--too hastily, it may be,
for their profit. It has taken some thousands of years to build the
"Pearl of the Mediterranean," and to walk up and down the rue Cannebière
and drink coffee and fancy-colored liquids at little tables on the
sidewalk, interesting and delightful as that may be, is not to become
acquainted with the "pearl"--not in any large sense.

We had a very good and practical reason for not hurrying through
Marseilles. It would require a week or more to get our car through the
customs and obtain the necessary licenses and memberships for inland
travel. Meantime we would do some sight-seeing. We would begin
immediately.

Besides facing the Old Port (the ancient harbor) our hotel looked on the
end of the Cannebière, which starts at the Quai and extends, as the
phrase goes, "as far as India," meaning that the nations of the East as
well as those of the West mingle there. We understood the saying as soon
as we got into the kaleidoscope. We were rather sober-hued bits
ourselves, but there were plenty of the other sort. It was the end of
August, and Marseilles is a semi-tropic port. There were plenty of white
costumes, of both men and women, and sprinkled among them the red fezzes
and embroidered coats and sashes of Algiers, Morocco, and the Farther
East. And there were ladies in filmy things, with bright hats and
parasols; and soldiers in uniforms of red and blue, while the wide
pavements of that dazzling street were literally covered with little
tables, almost to the edges. And all those gay people who were not
walking up and down, chatting and laughing, were seated at the little
tables with red and green and yellow drinks before them and pitchers of
ice or tiny cups of coffee, and all the seated people were laughing and
chattering, too, or reading papers and smoking, and nobody seemed to
have a sorrow or a care in the world. It was really an inspiring sight,
after the long, quiet days on the ship, and we loitered to enjoy it. It
was very busy around us. Tramcars jangled, motors honked, truckmen and
cabmen cracked their whips incessantly. Newswomen, their aprons full of
long pockets stuffed with papers, offered us journals in phrases that I
did not recognize as being in my French phonograph; cabmen hailed us in
more or less English and wanted to drive us somewhere; flower sellers'
booths lined both sides of a short street, and pretty girls held up
nosegays for us to see. Now and then a beggar put out a hand.

The pretty drinks and certain ices we saw made us covetous for them, but
we had not yet the courage to mingle with those gay people and try our
new machine-made French right there before everybody. So we slipped into
a dainty place--a _pâtisserie boulangerie_--and ordered coffee and
chocolate ice cream, and after long explanations on both sides got iced
coffee and hot chocolate, which was doing rather well, we thought, for
the first time, and, anyhow, it was quite delicious and served by a
pretty girl whose French was so limpid that one could make himself
believe he understood it, because it was pure music, which is not a
matter of arbitrary syllables at all.

We came out and blended with the panaroma once more. It was all so
entirely French, I said; no suggestion of America anywhere. But
Narcissa, aged fifteen, just then pointed to a flaming handbill over the
entrance of a cinematograph show. The poster was foreign, too, in its
phrasing, but the title, "_L'aventures d'Arizona Bill_" certainly had a
flavor of home. The Joy, who was ten, was for going in and putting
other things by, but we overruled her. Other signs attracted us--the
window cards and announcements were easy lessons in French and always
interesting.

By and by bouquets of lights breaking out along the streets reminded us
that it was evening and that we were hungry. There were plenty of
hotels, including our own, but the dining rooms looked big and warm and
expensive and we were dusty and economical and already warm enough. We
would stop at some open-air place, we said, and have something dainty
and modest and not heating to the blood. We thought it would be easy to
find such a place, for there were perfect seas of sidewalk tables,
thronged with people, who at first glance seemed to be dining. But we
discovered that they were only drinking, as before, and perhaps nibbling
at little cakes or rolls. When we made timid and rudimentary inquiries
of the busy waiters, they pointed toward the hotels or explained things
in words so glued together we could not sort them out. How different it
all was from New York, we said. Narcissa openly sighed to be back on
"old rue de Broadway," where there were restaurants big and little every
twenty steps.

We wandered into side streets and by and by found an open place with a
tiny green inclosure, where a few people certainly seemed to be eating.
We were not entirely satisfied with the look of the patrons, but they
were orderly, and some of them of good appearance. The little tables had
neat white cloths on them, and the glassware shone brightly in the
electric glow. So we took a corner position and studied the rather
elaborate and obscure bill of fare. It was written, and the few things
we could decipher did not seem cheap. We had heard about food being
reasonable in France, but single portions of fish or cutlets at ".45"
and broiled chicken at "1.20" could hardly be called cheap in this
retired and unpretentious corner. One might as well be in a better
place--in New York. We wondered how these unfashionable people about us
could look so contented and afford to order such liberal supplies. Then
suddenly a great light came. The price amounts were not in dollars and
cents, but in francs and centimes. The decimals were the same, only you
divided by five to get American values. There is ever so much
difference.[1]

The bill of fare suddenly took on a halo. It became almost unbelievable.
We were tempted to go--it was too cheap to be decent. But we were weary
and hungry, and we stayed. Later we were glad. We had those things which
the French make so well, no matter how humble the place--"_pot au feu,
bouillabaisse_" (the fish soup which is the pride of Marseilles--our
first introduction to it), lamb chops, a crisp salad, Gruyère cheese,
with a pint of red wine; and we paid--I try to blush when I tell it--a
total for our four of less than five francs--that is to say, something
under a dollar, including the tip, which was certainly large enough, if
one could judge from the lavish acknowledgment of the busy person who
served us.

We lingered while I smoked, observing some curious things. The place
filled up with a democratic crowd, including, as it did, what were
evidently well-to-do tradesmen and their families, clerks with their
young wives or sweethearts, single derelicts of both sexes, soldiers,
even workmen in blouses. Many of them seemed to be regular customers,
for they greeted the waiters and chatted with them during the serving.
Then we discovered a peculiar proof that these were in fact steady
patrons. In the inner restaurant were rows of hooks along the walls, and
at the corners some racks with other hooks. Upon these were hanging, not
hats or garments, but dozens of knotted white cloths which we discovered
presently to be table napkins, large white serviettes like our own.
While we were trying to make out why they should be variously knotted
and hung about in that way a man and woman went in and, after a brief
survey of the hooks, took down two of the napkins and carried them to a
table. We understood then. The bill of fare stated that napkins were
charged for at the rate of five centimes (one cent) each. These were
individual leaseholdings, as it were, of those who came regularly--a
fine example of French economy. We did not hang up our napkins when we
went away. We might not come back, and, besides, there were no empty
hooks.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The old rates of exchange are used in this book.



Chapter II

MOTORING BY TRAM


A little book says: "Thanks to a unique system of tramways, Marseilles
may be visited rapidly and without fatigue." They do not know the word
"trolley" in Europe, and "tramway" is not a French word, but the French
have adopted it, even with its "w," a letter not in their alphabet. The
Marseilles trams did seem to run everywhere, and they were cheap. Ten
centimes (two cents) was the fare for each "zone" or division, and a
division long enough for the average passenger. Being sight-seers, we
generally paid more than once, but even so the aggregate was modest
enough. The circular trip around the Corniche, or shore, road has four
of these divisions, with a special rate for the trip, which is very long
and very beautiful.

We took the Corniche trip toward evening for the sake of the sunset. The
tram starts at the rue de Rome and winds through the city first, across
shaded courts, along streets of varying widths (some of them so old and
ever so foreign, but always clean), past beautiful public buildings
always with deep open spaces or broad streets in front of them, for the
French do not hide their fine public architectures and monuments, but
plant them as a landscape gardener plants his trellises and trees. Then
all at once we were at the shore--the Mediterranean no longer blue, but
crimson and gold with evening, the sun still drifting, as it seemed,
among the harbor islands--the towers of Château d'If outlined on the
sky. On one side the sea, breaking against the rocks and beaches,
washing into little sheltered bays--on the other the abrupt or terraced
cliff, with fair villas set in gardens of palm and mimosa and the rose
trees of the south. Here and there among the villas were palace-like
hotels, with wide balconies that overlooked the sea, and down along the
shore were tea houses and restaurants where one could sit at little
tables on pretty terraces just above the water's edge.

So we left the tram at the end of a zone and made our way down to one of
those places, and sat in a little garden and had fish, freshly caught,
and a cutlet, and some ripe grapes, and such things; and we watched the
sun set, and stayed until the dark came and the Corniche shore turned
into a necklace of twinkling lights. Then the tram carried us still
farther, and back into the city at last, by way of the Prado, a broad
residential avenue, with trees rising dark on either side.

At the end of a week in Marseilles we had learned a number of
things--made some observations--drawn some conclusions. It is a very old
city--old when the Greeks settled there twenty-five hundred years
ago--but it has been ravaged and rebuilt too often through the ages for
any of its original antiquity to remain. Some of the buildings have
stood five or six hundred years, perhaps, and are quaint and
interesting, with their queer roofs and moldering walls which have
known siege and battle and have seen men in gaudy trappings and armor go
clanking by, stopping to let their horses drink at the scarred fountains
where to-day women wash their vegetables and their clothing. We were
glad to have looked on those ancient relics, for they, too, would soon
be gone. The spirit of great building and progress is abroad in
Marseilles--the old clusters of houses will come down--the hoary
fountains worn smooth by the hands of women and the noses of thirsty
beasts will be replaced by new ones--fine and beautiful, for the French
build always for art, let the race for commercial supremacy be ever so
swift. Fifty or one hundred years from now it will be as hard to find
one of these landmarks as it is to-day relics of the Greek and Roman
times, and of the latter we found none at all. Tradition has it that
Lazarus and his family came to Marseilles after his resuscitation, but
the house he occupied is not shown. Indeed, there is probably not a
thing above ground that Lucian the Greek saw when he lived here in the
second century.

The harbor he sailed into remains. Its borders have changed, but it is
the same inclosed port that sheltered those early galleys and triremes
of commerce and of war. We looked down upon it from our balcony, and
sometimes in the dim morning, or in the first dusk of evening when its
sails were idle and its docks deserted, it seemed still to have
something of the past about it, something that was not quite reality.
Certain of its craft were old in fashion and quaint in form, and if even
one trireme had lain at anchor there, or had come drifting in, we might
easily have fancied this to be the port that somewhere is said to harbor
the missing ships.

It is a busy place by day. Its quays are full of trucks and trams and
teams, and a great traffic going on. Lucian would hardly recognize any
of it at all. The noise would appall him, the smoking steamers would
terrify him, the _transbordeur_--an aërial bridge suspended between two
Eiffel towers, with a hanging car that travels back and forth like a
cash railway--would set him praying to the gods. Possibly the fishwives,
sorting out sea food and bait under little awnings, might strike him as
more or less familiar. At least he would recognize their occupation.
They were strung along the east quay, and I had never dreamed that the
sea contained so many strange things to eat as they carried in stock.
They had oysters and clams, and several varieties of mussels, and some
things that looked like tide-worn lumps of terra cotta, and other things
that resembled nothing else under heaven, so that words have not been
invented to describe them.

Then they had _oursins_. I don't know whether an _oursin_ is a bivalve
or not. It does not look like one. The word "_oursin_" means hedgehog,
but this _oursin_ looked a great deal more like an old, black,
sea-soaked chestnut bur--that is, before they opened it. When the
_oursin_ is split open--

But I cannot describe an opened _oursin_ and preserve the proprieties.
It is too--physiological. And the Marseillais eat those things--eat them
raw! Narcissa and I, who had rather more limb and wind than the others,
wandered along the quay a good deal, and often stood spellbound watching
this performance. Once we saw two women having some of them for early
breakfast with a bottle of wine--fancy!

By the way, we finally discovered the restaurants in Marseilles. At
first we thought that the Marseillais never ate in public, but only
drank. This was premature. There are restaurant districts. The rue
Colbert is one of them. The quay is another, and of the restaurants in
that precinct there is one that no traveler should miss. It is Pascal's,
established a hundred years ago, and descended from father to son to the
present moment. Pascal's is famous for its fish, and especially for its
_bouillabaisse_. If I were to be in Marseilles only a brief time, I
might be willing to miss the Palais Longchamps or a cathedral or two,
but not Pascal's and _bouillabaisse_. It is a glorified fish chowder. I
will say no more than that, for I should only dull its bloom. I started
to write a poem on it. It began:

  Oh, bouillabaisse, I sing thy praise.

But Narcissa said that the rhyme was bad, and I gave it up. Besides, I
remembered that Thackeray had written a poem on the same subject.

One must go early to get a seat at Pascal's. There are rooms and rooms,
and waiters hurrying about, and you must give your order, or point at
the bill of fare, without much delay. Sea food is the thing, and it
comes hot and delicious, and at the end you can have melon--from
paradise, I suppose, for it is pure nectar--a kind of liquid cantaloupe
such as I have seen nowhere else in this world.[2] You have wine if you
want it, at a franc a bottle, and when you are through you have spent
about half a dollar for everything and feel that life is a song and the
future made of peace. There came moments after we found Pascal's when,
like the lotus eaters, we felt moved to say: "We will roam no more. This
at last is the port where dreams come true."

Our motor clearance required a full ten days, but we did not regret the
time. We made some further trips by tram, and one by water--to Château
d'If, on the little ferry that runs every hour or so to that historic
island fortress. To many persons Château d'If is a semi-mythical island
prison from which, in Dumas' novel, Edmond Dantes escapes to become the
Count of Monte Cristo, with fabulous wealth and an avenging sword. But
it is real enough; a prison fortress which crowns a barren rock, twenty
minutes from the harbor entrance, in plain view from the Corniche road.
François I laid its corner stone in 1524 and construction continued
during the next seventy years. It is a place of grim, stubby towers,
with an inner court opening to the cells--two ranges of them, one above
the other. The furniture of the court is a stone stairway and a well.

Château d'If is about as solid and enduring as the rock it stands on,
and it is not the kind of place one would expect to go away from alive,
if he were invited there for permanent residence. There appears to be no
record of any escapes except that of Edmond Dantes, which is in a novel.
When prisoners left that island it was by consent of the authorities. I
am not saying that Dumas invented his story. In fact, I insist on
believing it. I am only saying that it was a remarkable exception to the
general habit of the guests in Château d'If. Of course it happened, for
we saw cell B where Dantes was confined, a rayless place; also cell A
adjoining, where the Abbé Faria was, and even the hole between, through
which the Abbé counseled Dantes and confided the secret of the treasure
that would make Dantes the master of the world. All of the cells have
tablets at their entrances bearing the names of their most notable
occupants, and that of Edmond Dantes is prominently displayed. It was
good enough evidence for us.

Those cells are on the lower level, and are merely black, damp holes,
without windows, and with no floors except the unleveled surface of the
rock. Prisoners were expected to die there and they generally did it
with little delay. One Bernadot, a rich Marseilles merchant, starved
himself, and so found release at the end of the twelfth day; but
another, a sailor named Jean Paul, survived in that horrible darkness
for thirty-one years. His crime was striking his commander. Many of the
offenses were even more trifling; the mere utterance of a word offensive
to some one in power was enough to secure lodging in Château d'If. It
was even dangerous to have a pretty daughter or wife that a person of
influence coveted. Château d'If had an open door for husbands and
fathers not inclined to be reasonable in such matters.

The second-story prisons are larger and lighter, but hardly less
interesting. In No. 5 Count Mirabeau lodged for nearly a year, by
suggestion of his father, who did not approve of his son's wild ways and
thought Château d'If would tame him. But Mirabeau put in his time
writing an essay on despotism and planning revolution. Later, one of the
neighboring apartments, No. 7, a large one, became the seat of the
_tribunal révolutionnaire_ which condemned there sixty-six to the
guillotine.

Many notables were sent to Château d'If on the charge of disloyalty to
the sovereign. In one of the larger cells two brothers were imprisoned
for having shared the exile of one Chevalier Glendèves who was obliged
to flee from France because he refused to go down on his knees to Louis
XIV. Royalty itself has enjoyed the hospitality of Château d'If. Louis
Philippe of Orléans occupied the same large apartment later, which is
really quite a grand one for a prison, with a fireplace and space to
move about. Another commodious room on this floor was for a time the
home of the mysterious Man of the Iron Mask.

These are but a few--one can only touch on the more interesting names.
"Dead after ten years of captivity"; "Dead after sixteen years of
captivity"; such memoranda close many of the records. Some of the
prisoners were released at last, racked with disease and enfeebled in
mind. Some went forth to the block, perhaps willingly enough. It is not
a place in which one wishes to linger. You walk a little way into the
blackest of the dungeons, stumbling over the rocks of the damp,
unleveled floor, and hurry out. You hesitate a moment in the larger,
lighter cells and try to picture a king there, and the Iron Mask; you
try to imagine the weird figure of Mirabeau raging and writing, and
then, a step away, the grim tribunal sorting from the nobility of France
material for the guillotine. It is the kind of thing you cannot make
seem real. You can see a picture, but it is always away somewhere--never
quite there, in the very place.

Outside it was sunny, the sea blue, the cliffs high and sharp, with
water always breaking and foaming at their feet. The Joy insisted on
being shown the exact place where Dantes was flung over, but I was
afraid to try to find it. I was afraid that there would be no place
where he could be flung into the water without hitting the sharp rocks
below, and that would end the story before he got the treasure. I said
it was probably on the other side of the island, and besides it was
getting late. We sailed home in the evening light, this time into the
ancient harbor, and landed about where Lucian used to land, I should
think, such a long time ago.

It was our last night in Marseilles. We had been there a full ten days,
altogether, and time had not hung upon our hands. We would still have
lingered, but there was no longer an excuse. Even the car could not
furnish one. Released from its prison, refreshed with a few liters of
gasoline--_essence_, they call it--and awakened with a gentle hitch or
two of the crank, it began its sweet old murmur, just as if it had not
been across some thousands of miles of tossing water. Then, the clutch
released, it slipped noiselessly out of the docks, through the narrow
streets, to a garage, where it acquired its new numbers and a bath, and
maybe a French lesson or two, so that to-morrow it might carry us
farther into France.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Our honey-dew melon is a mild approach to it.



Chapter III

ACROSS THE CRAU


There are at least two ways to leave Marseilles for the open plain of
the Provence, and we had hardly started before I wished I had chosen the
other one. We were climbing the rue de la République, or one of its
connections, when we met, coming down on the wrong side of the tram
line, one of the heaviest vehicles in France, loaded with iron castings.
It was a fairly crowded street, too, and I hesitated a moment too long
in deciding to switch to the wrong side, myself, and so sneak around the
obstruction. In that moment the monstrous thing decided to cross to its
own side of the road, which seemed to solve the problem. I brought the
car to a standstill to wait.

But that was another mistake; I should have backed. The obstruction
refused to cross the tram track. Evidently the rails were slippery and
when the enormous wheels met the iron they slipped--slipped toward
us--ponderously, slowly, as inevitable as doomsday. I was willing to
back then, but when I shifted the lever I forgot something else and our
engine stopped. There was not enough gravity to carry us back without
it; neither was there room, or time, to crank.[3] So there we were,
with that mountain closing in upon us like a wall of Poe's collapsing
room.

It was fascinating. I don't think one of us thought of jumping out and
leaving the car to its fate. The truck driver was frantically urging his
team forward, hoping the wheels would catch, but only making them slide
a little quicker in our direction. They were six inches away, now--five
inches--three inches--one inch--the end of the hub was touching our mud
guard. What we _might_ have done then--what _might_ have happened
remains guesswork. What did happen was that the huge steel tire reached
a joint in the tram rail and unhurriedly lifted itself over, just as if
that was what it had been intending to do all the time. I had strength
enough left to get out and crank up, then, but none to spare. A little
more paint off the front end of the mud guard, but that was nothing. I
had whetted those guards on a variety of things, including a cow, in my
time. At home I had a real passion for scraping them against the door
casing of the garage, backing out.

Still, we were pretty thoughtful for several miles and missed a road
that turns off to Arles, and were on the way to Aix, which we had
already visited by tram. Never mind; Aix was on the way to Arles, too,
and when all the roads are good roads a few miles of motor travel more
or less do not count. Only it is such a dusty way to Aix, and we were
anxious to get into the cleaner and more inviting byways.

We were at the outskirts, presently, and when we saw a military-looking
gentleman standing before a little house marked "_L'Octroi_" we stopped.
I had learned enough French to know that _l'octroi_ means a local
custom house, and it is not considered good form to pass one of them
unnoticed. It hurts the _l'octroi_ man's feelings and he is backed by
the _gendarmerie_ of France. He will let you pass, and then in his
sorrow he will telephone to the police station, just ahead. There you
will be stopped with a bayonet, or a club, or something, and brought
back to the _l'octroi_, where you will pay an _amend_ of six francs;
also costs; also for the revenue stamp attached to your bill of
particulars; also for any little thing which you may happen to have upon
which duty may be levied; also for other things; and you will stand
facing a half-open cell at the end of the corridor while your account is
being made up--all of which things happened to a friend of mine who
thought that because an _octroi_ man looked sleepy he was partly dead.
Being warned in this way, we said we would stop for an _octroi_ man even
if he were entirely dead; so we pulled up and nodded politely, and
smiled, and said, "Bon joor, messoor," and waited his pleasure.

You never saw a politer man. He made a sweeping salute and said--well,
it doesn't matter just what he said--I took it to be complimentary and
Narcissa thought it was something about vegetables. Whatever it was, we
all smiled again, while he merely glanced in the car fore and aft, gave
another fine salute and said, "_Allay_" whereupon we understood, and
_allayed_, with counter-salutes and further smiles--all of which seemed
pleasanter than to be brought back by a _gendarme_ and stood up in front
of a cell during the reckoning process.

Inquiring in Aix for the road to Arles we made a discovery, to wit: they
do not always pronounce it "Arl" in the French way, but "Arlah," which
is Provençal, I suppose, the remains of the old name "Arlate." One young
man did not seem even to recognize the name Arles, though curiously it
happened that he spoke English--enough, at least, to direct us when he
found that it was his Provençal "Arlah" that we wanted.

So we left Aix behind us, and with it the dust, the trams, and about the
last traces of those modern innovations which make life so comfortable
when you need them and so unpeaceful when you prefer something else. The
one great modern innovation which bore us silently along those level
roads fell into the cosmic rhythm without a jar--becoming, as it seemed,
a sort of superhuman activity, such as we shall know, perhaps, when we
get our lost wings again.

I don't know whether Provence roads are modern or not. I suspect they
were begun by the Roman armies a good while ago; but in any case they
are not neglected now. They are boulevards--no, not exactly that, for
the word "boulevard" suggests great width. They are avenues, then, ample
as to width, and smooth and hard, and planted on both sides with exactly
spaced and carefully kept trees. Leaving Aix, we entered one of these
highways running straight into the open country. Naturally we did not
expect it to continue far, not in that perfectly ordered fashion, but
when with mile after mile it varied only to become more beautiful, we
were filled with wonder. The country was not thickly settled; the road
was sparsely traveled. Now and then we passed a heavy team drawing a
load of hay or grain or wine barrels, and occasionally, very
occasionally, we saw an automobile.

It was a fair, fertile land at first. There were rich, sloping fields,
vineyards, olive gardens, and plumy poplars; also, an occasional stone
farmhouse that looked ancient and mossy and picturesque, and made us
wish we could know something of the life inside its heavy walls. We said
that sometime we would stop at such a place and ask them to take us in
for the night.

Now and then we passed through a village, where the streets became
narrow and winding, and were not specially clean. They were interesting
places enough, for they were old and queer, but they did not invite us
to linger. They were neither older nor more queer than corners of
Marseilles we had seen. Once we saw a kind of fair going on and the
people in holiday dress.

At Salon, a still larger and cleaner place, we stopped to buy something
for our wayside luncheon. Near the corner of a little shaded square a
man was selling those delectable melons such as we had eaten in
Marseilles; at a shop across the way was a window full of
attractions--little cheeses, preserved meats, and the like. I gathered
up an assortment, then went into a _boulangerie_ for bread. There was
another customer ahead of me, and I learned something, watching his
transaction. Bread, it seemed, was not sold by the loaf there, but by
exact weight. The man said some words and the woman who waited on him
laid two loaves, each about a yard long, on the scales. Evidently they
exceeded his order, for she cut off a foot or so from one loaf. Still
the weight was too much, and she cut off a slice. He took what was left,
laid down his money, and walked out. I had a feeling that the end and
slice would lie around and get shopworn if I did not take them. I
pointed at them, and she put them on the scales. Then I laid down a
franc, and she gave me half a gill of copper change. It made the family
envious when they saw how exactly I had transacted my purchase. There is
nothing like knowing the language. We pushed on into the country again,
stopped in a shady, green place, and picnicked on those good things for
which we had spent nearly four francs. There were some things left over,
too; we could have done without the extra slice of bread.

There were always mountains in view, but where we were the land had
become a level plain, once, ages ago, washed by the sea. We realized
this when the fertile expanse became, little by little, a barren--a mere
waste, at length, of flat smooth stones like cobble, a floor left by the
departing tides. "La Crau" it is called, and here there were no homes.
No harvest could grow in that land--nothing but a little tough grass,
and the artificially set trees on either side of the perfectly smooth,
perfectly straight road that kept on and on, mile after mile, until it
seemed that it must be a band around the world. How can they afford to
maintain such a road through that sterile land?

The sun was dropping to the western horizon, but we did not hurry. I set
the throttle to a point where the speedometer registered fifteen miles
an hour. So level was the road that the figures on the dial seemed fixed
there. There was nothing to see but the unbroken barren, the perfectly
regular rows of sycamore or cypress, and the evening sky; yet I have
seldom known a drive more inspiring. Steadily, unvaryingly, and silently
heading straight into the sunset, we seemed somehow a part of the
planetary system, little brother to the stars.

It was dusk when we reached the outskirts of Arles and stopped to light
the lamps. The wide street led us into the business region, and we hoped
it might carry us to the hotels. But this was too much to expect in an
old French, Provençal, Roman city. Pausing, we pronounced the word
"hotel," and were directed toward narrower and darker ways. We had
entered one of these when a man stepped out of the shadow and took
charge of us. I concluded that we were arrested then, and probably would
not need a hotel. But he also said "hotel," and, stepping on the
running-board, pointed, while I steered, under his direction. I have no
idea as to the way we went, but we came out into a semi-lighted square
directly in front of a most friendly-looking hostelry. Then I went in
and aired some of my phonograph French, inquiring about rooms on the
different _étages_ and the cost of _dîners_ and _déjeuners_, and the
landlady spoke so slowly and distinctly that it made one vain of his
understanding.

So we unloaded, and our guide, who seemed to be an _attaché_ of the
place, directed me to the garage. I gathered from some of the sounds he
made that the main garage was _complet_--that is to say, full--and we
were going to an annex. It was an interesting excursion, but I should
have preferred to make it on foot and by daylight. We crossed the square
and entered a cobbled street--no, a passage--between ancient walls, lost
in the blackness above, and so close together below that I hesitated. It
was a place for armored men on horseback, not for automobiles. We crept
slowly through and then we came to an uphill corner that I was sure no
car without a hinge in the middle could turn. But my guard--guide, I
mean, signified that it could be done, and inch by inch we crawled
through. The annex--it was really a stable of the Middle Ages--was at
the end of the tunnel, and when we came away and left the car there I
was persuaded that I should never see it again.

Back at the hotel, however, it was cheerful enough. It seemed an ancient
place of stone stairways and thick walls. Here and there in niches were
Roman vases and fragments found during the excavations. Somewhere
underneath us were said to be catacombs. Attractive things, all of them,
but the dinner we had--hot, fine and French, with _vin compris_ two
colors--was even more attractive to travelers who had been drinking in
oxygen under the wide sky all those steady miles across the Crau.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] The reader is reminded that this was in a day when few cars cranked
otherwise than by hand.



Chapter IV

MISTRAL

(From my notes, September 10, 1913)


Adjoining our hotel--almost a part of it, in fact, is a remnant of the
ancient Roman forum of Arles. Some columns, a piece of the heavy wall,
sections of lintel, pediment, and cornice still stand. It is a portion
of the Corinthian entrance to what was the superb assembly place of
Roman Arles. The square is called Place du Forum, and sometimes now
Place Mistral--the latter name because a bronze statue of the "Homer of
the Provence" has been erected there, just across from the forum
entrance.

Frédéric Mistral, still alive at eighty-three, is the light of the
modern Provence.[4] We had begun to realize something of this when we
saw his photographs and various editions of his poems in the windows of
Marseilles and Aix, and handbills announcing the celebration at St. Remy
of the fiftieth anniversary of Gounod's score of Mistral's great poem,
"Mireille." But we did not at all realize the fullness of the Provençal
reverence for "the Master," as they call him, until we reached Arles. To
the Provence Mistral is a god--an Apollo--the "central sun from which
other Provençal singers are as diverging rays." Whatever Mistral
touches is glorified. Provençal women talk with a new grace because
Mistral has sung of them. Green slopes and mossy ruins are viewed
through the light of Mistral's song. A Mistral anniversary is celebrated
like a Declaration of Independence or a Louisiana Purchase. They have
even named a wind after him. Or perhaps he was named after the wind.
Whichever way it was, the wind has taken second place and the people
smile tenderly now, remembering the Master, when its name is mentioned.

I believe Mistral does not sing in these later days. He does not need
to. The songs he sang in youth go on singing for him, and are always
young. Outside of France they are not widely known; their bloom and
fragrance shrink under translation. George Meredith, writing to Janet
Ross in 1861, said: "Mistral I have read. He is really a fine poet." But
to Meredith the euphonies of France were not strange.

And Mistral has loved the Provence. Not only has he sung of it, but he
has given his labor and substance to preserve its memories. When the
Academy voted him an award of three thousand francs he devoted it to the
needs of his fellow poets;[5] when he was awarded the Nobel prize he
forgot that he might spend it on himself, and bought and restored an old
palace, and converted it into a museum for Arles. Then he devoted his
time and energies to collecting Provençal relics, and to-day, with its
treasures and associations, the place has become a shrine. Everything
relating to the life and traditions of the Provence is there--Roman
sculpture, sarcophagi, ceramics, frescoes, furnishings, implements--the
place is crowded with precious things. Lately a room of honor has been
devoted to the poet himself. In it are cases filled with his personal
treasures; the walls are hung with illustrations used in his books. On
the mantel is a fine bust of the poet, and in a handsome reliquary one
finds a lock of hair, a little dress, and the cradle of the infant
Mistral. In the cradle lies the manuscript of Mistral's first and
greatest work, the "Mireille." The Provence has produced other noted
men--among them Alphonse Daudet, who was born just over at Nîmes, and
celebrated the town of Tarascon with his Tartarin. But Daudet went to
Paris, which is, perhaps, a sin. The Provence is proud of Daudet, and
he, too, has a statue, at Nîmes; but the Provence worships Mistral.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] Written in 1913. Mistral died March 24th of the following year.

[5] Daudet in his _Lettres de Mon Moulin_ says:

"_II y à quatre ans, lorsque l'Académie donna à l'auteur de 'Mireille'
le prix de trois mille francs. Mme. Mistral [sa mère] eut une idée._

"'_Si nous faisons tapisser et plafonner ta chambre?' dit elle à son
fils._

"'_Non! non!' répondit Mistral. 'Ca c'est l'argent des poëtes, on n'y
touche pas._'"



Chapter V

THE ROME OF FRANCE


There is no record of a time when there was not a city at Arles. The
Rhone divides to form its delta there--loses its swiftness and becomes a
smooth highway to the sea.

"As at Arles, where the Rhone stagnates," wrote Dante, who probably
visited the place on a journey he made to Paris. There the flat
barrenness of the Crau becomes fertile slopes and watered fields. It is
a place for men to congregate and it was already important when Julius
Cæsar established a Roman colony and built a fleet there, after which it
became still more important--finally, with its one hundred thousand
inhabitants, rivaling even Marseilles. It was during those earlier
years--along through the first and second centuries--that most of the
great building was done, remnants of which survive to this day.
Prosperity continued even into the fourth century, when the Christian
Emperor Constantine established a noble palace there and contemplated
making it the capital of his kingdom.

But then the decline set in. In the next century or two clouds of
so-called barbarians swept down from the north and east, conquering,
plundering, and establishing new kingdoms. Gauls, Goths, Saracens, and
Francs each had their turn at it.

Following came the parlous years of the middle period. For a brief time
it was an independent republic; then a monarchy. By the end of the
fifteenth century it was ready to be annexed to France. Always a battle
ground, raided and sacked so often that the count is lost, the wonder is
that any of its ancient glories survive at all. But the Romans built
well; their massive construction has withstood the wild ravage of
succeeding wars, the sun and storm of millennial years.

We knew little of Arles except that it was the place where there was the
ruin of a Roman arena, and we expected not much from that. The Romans
had occupied France and had doubtless built amusement places, but if we
gave the matter any further thought it was to conclude that such
provincial circus rings would be small affairs of which only a few
vestiges, like those of the ruined Forum, would remain. We would visit
the fragments, of course, and meantime we drifted along one side of the
Place du Forum in the morning sunlight, looking in show windows to find
something in picture postals to send home.

What we saw at first puzzled, then astonished us. Besides the pictures
of Mistral the cards were mostly of ruins--which we expected, perhaps,
but not of such ruins. Why, these were not mere vestiges. Ephesus,
Baalbec, Rome itself, could hardly show more impressive remains. The
arena on these cards seemed hardly a ruin at all, and here were other
cards which showed it occupied, filled with a vast modern audience who
were watching something--clearly a bull fight, a legitimate descendant
of Nero's Rome. I could not at first believe that these structures
could be of Arles, but the inscriptions were not to be disputed. Then I
could not wait to get to them.

We did not drive. It was only a little way to the arena, they told us,
and the narrow streets looked crooked and congested. It was a hot
September morning, but I think we hurried. I suppose I was afraid the
arena would not wait. Then all at once we were right upon it, had
entered a lofty arch, climbed some stairs, and were gazing down on one
of the surviving glories of a dead empire.

What a structure it is! An oval 448 by 352 feet--more than half as big
again as a city block; the inner oval, the arena itself,[6] 226 by 129
feet, the tiers of stone seats rising terrace above terrace to a high
circle of arches which once formed the support for an enormous canvas
dome.

All along the terraces arches and stairways lead down to spacious
recesses and the great entrance corridor. The twenty thousand spectators
which this arena once held were not obliged to crowd through any one or
two entrances, but could enter almost anywhere and ascend to their seats
from any point of the compass. They held tickets--pieces of parchment, I
suppose--and these were numbered like the seats, just as tickets are
numbered to-day.

Down near the ringside was the pit, or _podium_, and that was the choice
place. Some of the seats there were owned, and bore the owners' names.
The upper seats are wide stone steps, but comfortable enough, and solid
enough to stand till judgment day. They have ranged wooden benches along
some of them now, I do not see why, for they are very ugly and certainly
not luxurious. They are for the entertainments--mainly bull fights--of
the present; for strange, almost unbelievable as it seems, the old arena
has become no mere landmark, a tradition, a monument of barbaric tastes
and morals, but continues in active service to-day, its purpose the
same, its morals not largely improved.

It was built about the end of the first century, and in the beginning
stags and wild boars were chased and put to death there. But then Roman
taste improved. These were tame affairs, after all. So the arena became
a prize ring in which the combatants handled one another without
gloves--that is to say, with short swords--and were hacked into a mince
instead of mauled into a pulp in our more refined modern way. To vary
the games lions and tigers were imported and matched against the
gladiators, with pleasing effect. Public taste went on improving and
demanding fresh novelties. Rome was engaged just then in exterminating
Christians, and the happy thought occurred to make spectacles of them by
having them fight the gladiators and the wild beasts, thus combining
business and pleasure in a manner which would seem to have been highly
satisfactory to the public who thronged the seats and applauded and
laughed, and had refreshments served, and said what a great thing
Christianity was and how they hoped its converts would increase.
Sometimes, when the captures were numerous and the managers could
afford it, Christians on crosses were planted around the entire arena,
covered with straw and pitch and converted into torches. These were
night exhibitions, when the torches would be more showy; and the canvas
dome was taken away so that the smoke and shrieks could go climbing to
the stars. Attractions like that would always jam an amphitheater. This
one at Arles has held twenty-five thousand on one of those special
occasions. Centuries later, when the Christians themselves came into
power, they showed a spirit of liberality which shines by contrast. They
burned their heretics in the public squares, free.

Only bulls and worn-out, cheap horses are tortured here to-day. It seems
a pretty tame sport after those great circuses of the past. But art is
long and taste is fleeting. Art will keep up with taste, and all that we
know of the latter is that it will change. Because to-day we are
satisfied with prize fights and bull fights is no sign that those who
follow us will not demand sword fights and wild beasts and living
torches. These old benches will last through the ages. They have always
been familiar with the sport of torture of one sort or another. They
await quite serenely for what the centuries may bring.

It was hard to leave the arena. One would like to remain and review its
long story. What did the barbarians do there--those hordes that swarmed
in and trampled Rome? The Saracens in the eighth century used it for a
fortress and added four watch towers, but their masonry is not of the
everlasting Roman kind, and one of their towers has tumbled down. It
would be no harm if the others would tumble, too. They lend to the place
that romance which always goes with the name "Saracen," but they add no
beauty.

We paid a franc admission when we came into the amphitheater, our
tickets being coupon affairs, admitting us to a variety of other
historic places. The proceeds from the ruins are devoted to their care
and preservation, but they cannot go far. Very likely the bull-fight
money is also used. That would be consistent.

We were directed to the Roman Theater, near at hand, where the ruin is
ruin indeed. A flight of rising stone seats, two graceful Corinthian
columns still standing, the rest fragments. More graceful in its
architecture than the arena, the theater yielded more readily to the
vandalisms of the conquerors and the corrosions of time. As early as the
third century it was partially pulled down. Later it was restored, but
not for long. The building bishops came and wanted its materials and
ornaments for their churches. Not much was left after that, but to-day
the fragments remaining have been unearthed and set up and give at least
a hint of its former glory. One wonders if those audiences who watched
Christian slaughter at the arena came also to this chaste spot. Plays
are sometimes given here to-day, I am told, classic reproductions, but
it is hard to believe that they would blend with this desolated setting.
The bull fight in the arena is even better.

We went over to the church of St. Trophime, which is not a ruin, though
very old. St. Trophime, a companion of St. Paul, was the founder of the
church of Arles. He is said to have set up a memorial to St. Étienne,
the first martyr, and on this consecrated spot three churches have been
built, one in the fourth century, another in the seventh, and this one,
dedicated to St. Trophime, in the twelfth, or earlier. It is of supreme
historical importance. By the faithful it is believed to contain the
remains of St. Trophime himself. Barbarossa and other great kings were
crowned here; every important ceremony of mediæval Arles has been held
here.

It is one of the oldest-looking places I ever saw--so moldy, so crumbly,
and so dim. Though a thousand years older, the arena looks fresh as
compared with it, because even sun and storm do not gnaw and corrode
like gloom and dampness. But perhaps this is a softer stone. The
cloister gallery, which was not built until the twelfth century, is so
permeated with decay that one almost fears to touch its delicately
carved ornamentations lest they crumble in his hands. Mistral has
celebrated the cloister portal in a poem, and that alone would make it
sacred to the Provence. The beautiful gallery is built around a court
and it is lined with sculpture and bas-relief, rich beyond words. Saints
and bible scenes are the subjects, and how old, how time-eaten and
sorrowful they look. One gets the idea that the saints and martyrs and
prophets have all contracted some wasting malady which they cannot long
survive now. But one must not be flippant. It is a place where the feet
of faith went softly down the centuries; and, taken as a whole, St.
Trophime, with its graceful architecture--Gothic and Byzantine,
combined with the Roman fragments brought long ago from the despoiled
theater--is beautiful and delicate and tender, and there hangs about it
the atmosphere that comes of long centuries of quiet and sacred things.

Mistral's museum is just across from the church, but I have already
spoken of that--briefly, when it is worth a volume. One should be in a
patient mood for museums--either to see or to write of them--a mood that
somehow does not go with automobile wandering, however deliberate. But I
must give a word at least to two other such institutions of Arles, the
Musée Lapidaire, a magnificent collection of pagan and early Christian
sarcophagi and marble, mostly from the ancient burial field, the
Aliscamp--and the Musée Réattu.

Réattu was an Arlesian painter of note who produced many pictures and
collected many beautiful things. His collections have been acquired by
the city of Arles, and installed in one of its most picturesque old
buildings--the ancient Grand Priory of the Knights of Malta. The
stairway is hung with tapestries and priceless arras; the rooms are
filled with paintings, bas-reliefs, medallions, marbles, armor,--a
wealth of art objects. One finds it hard to believe that such museums
can be owned and supported by this little city--ancient, half forgotten,
stranded here on the banks of the Rhone. Its population is given as
thirty thousand, and it makes sausages--very good ones--and there are
some railway shops that employ as many as fifteen hundred men. Some
boat building may still be done here, too. But this is about all Arles
can claim in the way of industries. It has not the look of what we call
to-day a thriving city. It seems, rather, a mediæval setting for the
more ancient memories. Yet it has these three splendid museums, and it
has preserved and restored its ruins, just as if it had a J. Pierpont
Morgan behind it, instead of an old poet with a Nobel prize, and a
determined little community, too proud of its traditions and its taste
to let them die. Danbury, Connecticut, has as many inhabitants as Arles,
and it makes about all the hats that are worn in America. It is a busy,
rich place, where nearly everybody owns an automobile, if one may judge
by the street exhibit any pleasant afternoon. It is an old place, too,
for America, with plenty of landmarks and traditions. But I somehow
can't imagine Danbury spending the money and the time to establish such
superb institutions as these, or to preserve its prerevolutionary
houses. But, after all, Danbury is young. It will preserve something two
thousand years hence--probably those latest Greco-Roman façades which it
is building now.

Near to the Réattu Museum is the palace of the Christian Emperor
Constantine. Constantine came here after his father died, and fell in
love with the beauty and retirement of the place. Here, on the banks of
the Rhone, he built a palace, and dreamed of passing his days in it--of
making Arles the capital of his empire. His mother, St. Helene, whose
dreams at Jerusalem located the Holy Sepulcher, the True Cross, and
other needed relics, came to visit her son, and while here witnessed
the treason and suicide of one Maximus Hercules, persecutor of the
Christians. That was early in the fourth century. The daughter of
Maximus seems to have been converted, for she came to stay at the palace
and in due time bore Constantine a son. Descendants of Constantine
occupied the palace for a period, then it passed to the Gauls, to the
Goths, and so down the invading and conquering line. Once a king, Euric
III, was assassinated here. Other kings followed and several varieties
of counts. Their reigns were usually short and likely to end with a good
deal of suddenness. It was always a good place for royalty to live and
die. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was known as the
"House of the King," but it was a ruin by that time. Only portions of it
remain now, chiefly a sort of rotunda of the grand hall of state. Very
little is left to show the ancient richness of its walls, but one may
invite himself to imagine something--its marbles and its hangings--also
that it was just here that M. Hercules and King Euric and their kind
went the violent way; it would be the dramatic place for those
occasions.

One may not know to-day just what space the palace originally covered,
but it was very large. Portions of its walls appear in adjoining
buildings. Excavations have brought to light marbles, baths, rich
ornamentations, all attesting its former grandeur. Arles preserves it
for its memories, and in pride of the time when she came so near to
being the capital of the world.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] The word arena derives its name from the sand, strewn to absorb the
blood.



Chapter VI

THE WAY THROUGH EDEN


There is so much to see at Arles. One would like to linger a week, then
a month, then very likely he would not care to go at all. The past would
get hold of him by that time--the glamour that hangs about the dead
centuries.

There had been rain in the night when we left Arles, much needed, for it
was the season of drought. It was mid-morning and the roads were hard
and perfect, and led us along sparkling waysides and between refreshed
vineyards, and gardens, and olive groves. It seemed a good deal like
traveling through Eden, and I don't suppose heaven--the automobilist's
heaven (assuming that there is one)--is much better.

I wish I could do justice to the Midi, but even Mistral could not do
that. It is the most fruitful, luscious land one can imagine. Everything
there seems good to eat, to smell of--to devour in some way. The vines
were loaded with purple and topaz grapes, and I was dying to steal some,
though for a few francs we had bought a basket of clusters, with other
luncheon supplies, in Arles. It finally became necessary to stop and eat
these things--those grape fields were too tempting.

It is my opinion that nothing in the world is more enjoyable than an
automobile roadside luncheon. One does not need to lug a heavy basket
mile after mile until a suitable place is found, and compromise at last
because the flesh rebels. With a car, a mile, two miles, five miles, are
matters of a few minutes. You run along leisurely until you reach the
brook, the shade, the seclusion that invites you. Then you are fresh and
cool and deliberate. No need to hurry because of the long tug home
again. You enjoy the things you have brought, unfretted by fatigue,
undismayed by the prospect ahead. You are in no hurry to go. You linger
and smoke and laze a little and discuss the environment--the fields, the
growing things, the people through whose lands and lives you are cutting
a cross-section, as it seems. You wonder about their customs, their
diversions, what they do in winter, how it is in their homes. You
speculate on their history, on what the land was like in its primeval
period before there were any fields and homes--civilized homes--there at
all. Perhaps--though this is unlikely--you _know_ a little about these
things. It is no advantage; your speculations are just as valuable and
more picturesque. There are many pleasant things about motor gypsying,
but our party, at least, agreed that the wayside luncheon is the
pleasantest of all.

Furthermore, it is economical. Unless one wants hot dishes, you can get
more things, and more delicious things, in the village shops or along
the way than you can find at the wayside hotel or restaurant, and for
half the amount. Our luncheon that day--we ate it between Arles and
Tarascon--consisted of tinned chicken, fresh bread with sweet butter,
Roquefort cheese, ripe grapes, and some French cakes--plenty, and all of
the best, at a cost of about sixty cents for our party of four. And when
we were finally ready to go, and had cleaned up and secreted every
particle of paper or other refuse (for the true motorist never leaves a
place unsightly) we felt quite as pleased with ourselves and the world,
and the things of the infinite, as if we had paid two or three times as
much for a meal within four walls.



Chapter VII

TO TARASCON AND BEAUCAIRE


It is no great distance from Arles to Tarascon, and, leisurely as we
travel, we had reached the home of Tartarin in a little while. We were
tempted to stop over at Tarascon, for the name had that inviting sound
which always belongs to the localities of pure romance--that is to say,
fiction--and it has come about that Tarascon belongs more to Daudet than
to history, while right across the river is Beaucaire, whose name, at
least, Booth Tarkington has pre-empted for one of his earliest heroes.
After all, it takes an author to make a town really celebrated.
Thousands of Americans who have scarcely heard the name of Arles are
intimately familiar with that of Tarascon. Of course the town has to
contribute something. It must either be a place where something has
happened, or _could_ happen, or it must have a name with a fine sound,
and it should be located in about the right quarter of the globe. When
such a place catches the fancy of an author who has the gift of making
the ideal seem reality, he has but to say the magic words and the fame
of that place is sure.

Not that Tarascon has not had real history and romance; it has had
plenty of both. Five hundred years ago the "Good King René" of Anjou,
who was a painter and a writer, as well as a king, came to Tarascon to
spend his last days in the stern, perpendicular castle which had been
built for him on the banks of the Rhone. It is used as a jail now, but
King René held a joyous court there and a web of romance clings to his
memory. King René's castle does not look like a place for romance. It
looks like an artificial precipice. We were told we could visit it by
making a sufficiently polite application to the _Mairie_, but it did not
seem worth while. In the first place, I did not know how to make a
polite application to visit a jail--not in French--and then it was
better to imagine King René's festivities than to look upon a reality of
misfortune.

The very name of Tarascon has to do with story. Far back, in the dim
traditionary days, one St. Martha delivered the place from a very evil
dragon, the Tarasque, for whom they showed their respect by giving his
name to their town.

Beaucaire, across the river, is lighted by old tradition, too. It was
the home of Aucassin and Nicollette, for one thing, and anyone who has
read that poem, either in the original or in Andrew Lang's exquisite
translation, will have lived, for a moment at least, in the tender light
of legendary tale.

We drove over to Beaucaire, and Narcissa and I scaled a garden terrace
to some ruined towers and battlements, all that is left of the ancient
seat of the Montmorencys. It is a romantic ruin from a romantic day. It
was built back in the twelve hundreds--when there were still knights and
troubadours, and the former jousted at a great fair which was held
there, and the latter reclined on the palace steps, surrounded by ladies
and gallants in silken array, and sang songs of Palestine and the
Crusades. As time went on a light tissue of legend was woven around the
castle itself--half-mythical tales of its earlier centuries. Figures
like Aucassin and Nicollette emerged and were made so real by those who
chanted or recited the marvel of their adventures, that they still live
and breathe with youth when their gallant castle itself is no more than
vacant towers and fragmentary walls. The castle of Beaucaire looks
across to the defiant walls of King René's castle in Tarascon and I
believe there used to be some sturdy wars between them. If not, I shall
construct one some day, when I am less busy, and feeling in the romantic
form. It will be as good history as most castle history, and I think I
shall make Beaucaire win. King René was a good soul, but I am doubtful
about those who followed him, and his castle, so suitable to-day for a
jail, does not invite sympathy. The Montmorency castle was dismantled in
1632, according to the guidebook, by Richelieu, who beheaded its last
tenant--some say with a cleaver, a serviceable utensil for such work.

Beaucaire itself is not a pretty town--not a clean town. I believe
Nicollette was shut up for a time in one of its houses--we did not
inquire which one--any of them would be bad enough to-day.

[Illustration: "WHERE ROADS BRANCH OR CROSS THERE ARE SIGNBOARDS.... YOU
CAN'T ASK A MAN 'QUEL EST LE CHEMIN' FOR ANYWHERE WHEN YOU ARE IN FRONT
OF A SIGNBOARD WHICH IS SHOUTING THE INFORMATION"]

It is altogether easy to keep to the road in France. You do not wind in
and out with unmarked routes crossing and branching at every turn. You
travel a hard, level way, often as straight as a ruling stick and
pointed in the right direction. Where roads branch, or cross, there are
signboards. All the national roads are numbered, and your red-book map
shows these numbers--the chances of mistake being thus further lessened.
We had practiced a good deal at asking in the politest possible French
the way to any elusive destination. The book said that in France one
generally takes off his hat in making such an inquiry, so I practiced
that until I got it to seem almost inoffensive, not to say jaunty, and
the formula "_Je vous demande pardon, but--quel est le chemin pour--_"
whatever the place was. Sometimes I could even do it without putting in
the "but," and was proud, and anxious to show it off at any opportunity.
But it got dusty with disuse. You can't ask a man "_quel est le chemin_"
for anywhere when you are on the straight road going there, or in front
of a signboard which is shouting the information. I only got to unload
that sentence twice between Arles and Avignon, and once I forgot to take
off my hat; when I did, the man didn't understand me.

With the blue mountains traveling always at our right, with level garden
and vineland about us, we drifted up the valley of the Rhone and found
ourselves, in mid-afternoon, at the gates of Avignon. That is not merely
a poetic figure. Avignon has veritable gates--and towering crenelated
walls with ramparts, all about as perfect as when they were built,
nearly six hundred years ago.

We had heard Avignon called the finest existing specimen of a mediæval
walled city, but somehow one does not realize such things from hearing
the mere words. We stopped the car to stare up at this overtopping
masonry, trying to believe that it had been standing there already three
hundred years, looking just about as it looks to-day, when Shakespeare
was writing plays in London. Those are the things we never really
believe. We only acknowledge them and pass on.

Very little of Avignon has overflowed its massive boundaries; the fields
were at our backs as we halted in the great portals. We halted because
we noticed the word "_L'Octroi_" on one of the towers. But, as before,
the _l'octroi_ man merely glanced into our vehicle and waved us away.

We were looking down a wide shaded avenue of rather modern, even if
foreign, aspect, and full of life. We drove slowly, hunting, as we
passed along, for one of the hotels set down in the red-book as
"comfortable, with modern improvements," including "gar. _grat._"--that
is to say, garage gratis, such being the custom of this land.
Narcissa, who has an eye for hotels, spied one presently, a rather
imposing-looking place with a long, imposing name. But the management
was quite modest as to terms when I displayed our T. C. de France
membership card, and the "gar. _grat._"--this time in the inner court of
the hotel itself--was a neat place with running water and a concrete
floor. Not very ancient for mediæval Avignon, but one can worry along
without antiquities in a hotel.



Chapter VIII

GLIMPSES OF THE PAST


Avignon, like Arles, was colonized by the Romans, but the only remains
of that time are now in its museum. At Arles the Romans did great
things; its heyday was the period of their occupation. Conditions were
different at Avignon. Avenio, as they called it, seems to have been a
kind of outpost, walled and fortified, but not especially glorified.
Very little was going on at Avenio. Christians were seldom burned there.
In time a Roman emperor came to Arles, and its people boasted that it
was to become the Roman capital. Nothing like that came to Avenio; it
would require another thousand years and another Roman occupation to
mature its grand destiny.

I do not know just how it worried along during those stormy centuries of
waiting, but with plenty of variety, no doubt. I suppose barbarians came
like summer leafage, conquered and colonized, mixing the blood of a new
race. It became a republic about twelve hundred and something--small,
but tough and warlike--commanding the respect of seigneurs and counts,
even of kings. Christianity, meantime, had prospered. Avignon had
contributed to the Crusades and built churches. Also, a cathedral,
though little dreaming that in its sacristy would one day lie the body
of a pope.

Avignon's day, however, was even then at hand. Sedition was rife in
Italy and the popes, driven from Rome, sought refuge in France. Near
Avignon was a small papal dominion of which Carpentras was the capital,
and the pope, then Clement V, came often to Avignon. This was honor, but
when one day the Bishop of Avignon was made Pope John XXII, and
established his seat in his own home, the little city became suddenly
what Arles had only hoped to be--the capital of the world.

If one were permitted American parlance at this point, he would say that
a boom now set in in Avignon.[7] Everybody was gay, everybody busy,
everybody prosperous. The new pope straightway began to enlarge and
embellish his palace, and the community generally followed suit. During
the next sixty or seventy years about everything that is to-day of
importance was built or rebuilt. New churches were erected, old ones
restored. The ancient Roman wall was replaced by the splendid new one.
The papal palace was enlarged and strengthened until it became a mighty
fortress--one of the grandest structures in Europe. The popes went back
to Rome, then, but their legates remained and from their strong citadel
administered the affairs of that district for four turbulent centuries.
In 1791, Avignon united her fortunes to those of France, and through
revolution and bloodshed has come again to freedom and prosperity and
peace. I do not know what the population of Avignon was in the day of
her greater glory. To-day it is about fifty thousand, and, as it is full
to the edges, it was probably not more populous then.

We did not hurry in Avignon. We only loitered about the streets a little
the first afternoon, practicing our French on the sellers of postal
cards. It was a good place for such practice. If there was a soul in
Avignon besides ourselves with a knowledge of English he failed to make
himself known. Not even in our hotel was there a manager, porter, or
waiter who could muster an English word.

Narcissa and I explored more than the others and discovered the City
Hall and a theater and a little open square with a big monument. We also
got a distant glimpse of some great towering walls which we knew to be
the Palace of the Popes.

Now and again we were assailed by beggars--soiled and persistent small
boys who annoyed us a good deal until we concocted an impromptu cure. It
was a poem, in French--and effective:

  _Allez! Allez!_
  _Je n'ai pas de monnaie!_
  _Allez! Allez!_
  _Je n'ai pas de l'argent!_

A Frenchman might not have had the courage to mortify his language like
that, but we had, and when we marched to that defiant refrain the
attacking party fell back.

We left the thoroughfare and wandered down into narrow side streets,
cobble-paved and winding, between high, age-stained walls--streets and
walls that have surely not been renewed since the great period when the
coming of the popes rebuilt Avignon. So many of the houses are
apparently of one age and antiquity they might all have sprung up on the
same day. What a bustle and building there must have been in those first
years after the popes came! Nothing could be too new and fine for the
chosen city. Now they are old again, but not always shabby. Many of
them, indeed, are of impressive grandeur, with carved casings and
ponderous doors. No sign of life about these--no glimpse of luxury,
faded or fresh--within. Whatever the life they hold--whatever its past
glories or present decline, it is shut away. Only the shabbier homes
were open--women at their evening duties, children playing about the
stoop. _They_ had nothing to conceal. Tradition, lineage, pride,
poverty--they had inherited their share of these things, but they did
not seem to be worrying about it. Their affairs were open to inspection;
and their habits of dress and occupation caused us to linger, until the
narrow streets grew dim and more full of evening echoes, while light
began to twinkle in the little basement shops where the ancestors of
these people had bought and sold for such a long, long time.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] Alphonse Daudet's "La Mule de Pape," in his _Lettres de Mon Moulin_,
gives a delightful picture of Avignon at this period.



Chapter IX

IN THE CITADEL OF FAITH


We were not very thorough sight-seers. We did not take a guidebook in
one hand and a pencil in the other and check the items, thus cleaning up
in the fashion of the neat, businesslike tourist. We seldom even had a
program. We just wandered out in some general direction, and made a
discovery or two, looked it over, surmised about it and passed judgment
on its artistic and historical importance, just as if we knew something
of those things; then when we got to a quiet place we took out the book
and looked up what we had seen, and quite often, with the book's
assistance, reversed our judgments and went back and got an altogether
new set of impressions, and kept whichever we liked best. It was a loose
system, to be recommended only for its variety. At the church of St.
Agricole, for instance, which we happened upon when we started out one
morning, we had a most interesting half hour discussing the age and
beauty of its crumbling exterior and wandering about in its dimness,
speculating concerning its frescoes and stained marbles and ancient
tombs. When, later, we sat on the steps outside and looked it up and
found it had been established away back in 680, and twice since
restored; that the fifteenth-century holy-water basin was an especially
fine one; that the tombs and altar piece, the sculpture and frescoes
were regarded as "remarkable examples," we were deeply impressed and
went back to verify these things. Then we could see that it was all just
as the book said.

But the procedure was somewhat different at the Palace of the Popes. We
knew where we were going then, for we saw its towers looming against the
sky, and no one could mistake that pile in Avignon. Furthermore, we paid
a small fee at its massive arched entrance, and there was a guardian, or
guide, to show us through. It is true he spoke only French--Provençal
French--but two gracious Italian ladies happened to be going through at
the same time and, like all cultured continentals, they spoke a variety
of tongues, including American. The touch of travel makes the whole
world kin, and they threw out a line when they saw us floundering, and
towed us through. It was a gentle courtesy which we accepted with
thankful hearts.

We were in the central court first, the dull, sinister walls towering on
every side. The guide said that executions had taken place there, and
once, in later times--the period of the Revolution--a massacre in which
seventy perished. He also mentioned a bishop of the earlier period who,
having fallen into disfavor, was skinned alive and burned just outside
the palace entrance. Think of doing that to a bishop!

Our conductor showed us something which we were among the first to see.
Excavation was going on, and near the entrance some workmen were
uncovering a large square basin--a swimming pool, he said--probably of
Roman times. Whatever had stood there had doubtless fallen into
obliterated ruin by the time the papal palace was begun.

A survey of the court interior showed that a vast scheme of restoration
was going on. The old fortress had suffered from siege more than once,
and time had not spared it; but with that fine pride which the French
have in their monuments, and with a munificence which would seem to be
limitless, they were reconstructing perfectly every ruined part, and
would spend at least two million dollars, we were told, to make the
labor complete. Battered corners of towers had been carefully rebuilt,
tumbled parapets replaced. We stood facing an exquisite mullioned window
whose carved stone outlines were entirely new, yet delicately and finely
cut, certainly at a cost of many thousand francs. The French do not seem
to consider expense in a work of that sort. Concrete imitations will not
do. Whatever is replaced must be as it was in the beginning.

Inside we found ourselves in the stately audience room, measuring some
fifty by one hundred and eighty feet, its lofty ceiling supported by
massive Gothic arches, all as complete as when constructed. Each missing
piece or portion has been replaced. It was scarcely more perfect when
the first papal audience was held there and when Queen Jeanne of Naples
came to plead for absolution, nearly six centuries ago. It was of
overpowering size and interest, and in one of the upper corners was a
picture I shall not soon forget. It was not a painting or tapestry, but
it might have been either of these things and less beautiful. It was a
living human being, a stone carver on a swinging high seat, dressed in
his faded blue cap and blouse and chopping away at a lintel. But he had
the face and beard and, somehow, the figure of a saint. He turned to
regard us with a mild, meditative interest, the dust on his beard and
dress completing the harmony with the gray wall behind him, the embodied
spirit of restoration.

We ascended to the pontifical chapel, similar in size and appearance to
the room below. We passed to other gigantic apartments, some of them
rudely and elaborately decorated by the military that in later years
made this a garrison. We were taken to the vast refectory, where once
there was a great central table, the proportions of which were plainly
marked by an outline on the stone floor, worn by the feet of feasting
churchmen. Then we went to the kitchen, still more impressive in its
suggestion of the stouter needs of piety. Its chimney is simply a
gigantic central funnel that, rising directly from the four walls, goes
towering and tapering toward the stars. I judge the cooks built their
fires in the center of this room, hanging their pots on cranes, swinging
their meats barbecue fashion, opening the windows for air and draught.
Those old popes and legates were no weaklings, to have a kitchen like
that. Their appetites and digestions, like their faith, were of a robust
and militant sort.

I dare say it would require a week to go through all this palace, so the
visitor is shown only samples of it. We ascended to one of the towers
and looked down, far down, on the roofs of Avignon--an expanse of brown
tiling, toned by the ages, but otherwise not greatly different from what
the popes saw when this tower and these housetops were new. Beyond are
the blue hills which have not changed. Somewhere out there Petrarch's
Laura was buried, but the grave has vanished utterly, the church is a
mere remnant.

As we stood in the window a cold breath of wind suddenly blew in--almost
piercing for the season. "The mistral," our conductor said, and, though
he did not cross himself, we knew by his exalted smile that he felt in
it the presence of the poet of the south.

Then he told us that Mistral had appointed him as one of those who were
commissioned to preserve in its purity the Provençal tongue. That he was
very proud of it was certain, and willing to let that wind blow on him
as a sort of benediction. It is said, however, that the mistral wind is
not always agreeable in Avignon. It blows away disease, but it is likely
to overdo its work. "Windy Avignon, liable to the plague when it has not
the wind, and plagued by the wind when it has it," is a saying at least
as old as this palace.

We got a generous example of it when we at last descended to the street.
There it swirled and raced and grabbed at us until we had to button
everything tightly and hold fast to our hats. We took refuge in the old
cathedral of Notre Dame des Dômes, where John XXII, who brought this
glory to Avignon, lies in his Gothic tomb. All the popes of Avignon were
crowned here; it was the foremost church of Christendom for the better
part of a century. We could see but little of the interior, for, with
the now clouded sky, the place was too dark. In the small chapel where
the tomb stands it was dim and still. It is the holy place of Avignon.

A park adjoins the church and we went into it, but the mistral wind was
tearing through the trees and we crossed and descended by a long flight
to the narrow streets. Everywhere about us the lower foundations of the
papal palace joined the living rock, its towers seeming to climb upward
to the sky. It was as if it had grown out of the rock, indestructible,
eternal, itself a rock of ages.

We are always saying how small the world is, and we had it suddenly
brought home to us as we stood there under the shadow of those
overtopping heights. We had turned to thank our newly made friends and
to say good-by. One of them said, "You are from America; perhaps you
might happen to know a friend of ours there," and she named one whom we
did know very well indeed--one, in fact, whose house we had visited only
a few months before. How strange it seemed to hear that name from two
women of Florence there in the ancient city, under those everlasting
walls.



Chapter X

AN OLD TRADITION AND A NEW EXPERIENCE


Among the things I did on the ship was to read the _Automobile
Instruction Book_. I had never done it before. I had left all technical
matters to a man hired and trained for the business. Now I was going to
a strange land with a resolve to do all the things myself. So I read the
book.

It was as fascinating as a novel, and more impressive. There never was a
novel like it for action and psychology. When I came to the chapter
"Thirty-seven reasons why the motor may not start," and feverishly read
what one had better try in the circumstances, I could see that as a
subject for strong emotional treatment a human being is nothing to an
automobile.

Then there was the oiling diagram. A physiological chart would be
nowhere beside it. It was a perfect maze of hair lines and arrow points,
and looked as if it needed to be combed. There were places to be oiled
daily, others to be oiled weekly, some to be oiled monthly, some every
thousand miles. There were also places to be greased at all these
periods, and some when you happened to think of it. You had to put on
your glasses and follow one of the fine lines to the lubricating point,
then try to keep the point in your head until you could get under the
car, or over the car, or into the car, and trace it home. I could see
that this was going to be interesting when the time came.

I did not consider that it had come when we landed at Marseilles. I said
to the garage man there, in my terse French idiom, "Make it the oil and
grease," and walked away. Now, at Avignon, the new regime must begin. In
the bright little, light little hotel garage we would set our car in
order. I say "we" because Narcissa, aged fifteen, being of a practical
turn, said she would help me. I would "make it the oil and grease," and
Narcissa would wash and polish. So we began. The Joy, aged ten, was
audience.

Narcissa enjoyed her job. There was a hose in it, and a sponge and nice
rubbing rags and polish, and she went at it in her strenuous way, and
hosed me up one side and down the other at times when I was tracing some
blind lead and she wasn't noticing carefully.

I said I would make a thorough job of it. I would oil and grease all the
daily, weekly, and monthly, and even the once-in-a-while places. We
would start fair from Avignon.

I am a resolute person. I followed those tangled lines and labyrinthian
ways into the vital places of our faithful vehicle. Some led to caps,
big and little, which I filled with grease. Most of them were full
already, but I gave them another dab for luck. Some of the lines led to
tiny caps and holes into which I squirted oil. Some led to a dim
uncertainty, into which I squirted or dabbed something in a general way.
Some led to mere blanks, and I greased those. It sounds rather easy,
but that is due to my fluent style. It was not easy; it was a hot,
messy, scratchy, grunting job. Those lines were mostly blind leads, and
full of smudgy, even painful surprises. Some people would have been
profane, but I am not like that--not with Narcissa observing me. One
hour, two, went by, and I was still consulting the chart and dabbing
with the oil can and grease stick. The chart began to show wear; _it_
would not need greasing again for years.

Meantime Narcissa had finished her washing and polishing, and was
putting dainty touches on the glass and metal features to kill time. I
said at last that possibly I had missed some places, but I didn't think
they could be important ones. Narcissa looked at me, then, and said that
maybe I had missed places on the car but that I hadn't missed any on
myself. She said I was a sight and probably never could be washed clean
again. It is true that my hands were quite solidly black, and, while I
did not recall wiping them on my face, I must have done so. When
Narcissa asked how soon I was going to grease the car again, I said
possibly in about a thousand years. But that was petulance; I knew it
would be sooner. Underneath all I really had a triumphant feeling, and
Narcissa was justly proud of her work, too. We agreed that our car had
never looked handsomer and shinier since our first day of ownership. I
said I was certain it had never been so thoroughly greased. We would
leave Avignon in style.

We decided to cross the Rhone at Avignon. We wanted at least a passing
glance at Villeneuve, and a general view of Avignon itself, which was
said to be finest from across the river. We would then continue up the
west bank--there being a special reason for this--a reason with a
village in it--one Beauchastel--not set down on any of our maps, but
intimately concerned with our travel program, as will appear later.

We did not leave Avignon by the St. Bénézet bridge. We should have liked
that, for it is one of those bridges built by a miracle, away back in
the twelfth century when they used miracles a good deal for such work.
Sometimes Satan was induced to build them overnight, but I believe that
was still earlier. Satan seems to have retired from active
bridge-building by the twelfth century. It was a busy period for him at
home.

So the Bénézet bridge was built by a boy of that name--a little shepherd
of twelve, who received a command in a dream to go to Avignon and build
a bridge across the Rhone. He said:

"I cannot leave my sheep, and I have but three farthings in the world."

"Your flocks will not stray," said the voice, "and an angel will lead
thee."

Bénézet awoke and found beside him a pilgrim whom he somehow knew to be
an angel. So they journeyed together and after many adventures reached
Avignon. Here the pilgrim disappeared and Bénézet went alone to where a
bishop was preaching to the people. There, in the presence of the
assembly, Bénézet stated clearly that Heaven had sent him to build a
bridge across the Rhone. Angry at the interruption, the bishop ordered
the ragged boy to be taken in charge by the guard and punished for
insolence and untruth. That was an ominous order. Men had been skinned
alive on those instructions. But Bénézet repeated his words to the
officer, a rough man, who said:

"Can a beggar boy like you do what neither the saints nor Emperor
Charlemagne has been able to accomplish? Pick up this stone as a
beginning, and carry it to the river. If you can do that I may believe
in you."

It was a sizable stone, being thirteen feet long by seven
broad--thickness not given, though probably three feet, for it was a
fragment of a Roman wall. It did not trouble Bénézet, however. He said
his prayers, and lightly lifted it to his shoulder and carried it across
the town! Some say he whistled softly as he passed along.

I wish I had lived then. I would almost be willing to trade centuries to
see Bénézet surprise those people, carrying in that easy way a stone
that reached up to the second-story windows. Bénézet carried the stone
to the bank of the river and set it down where the first arch of the
bridge would stand.

There was no trouble after that. Everybody wanted to stand well with
Bénézet. Labor and contributions came unasked. In eleven years the great
work was finished, but Bénézet did not live to see it. He died four
years before the final stones were laid, was buried in a chapel on the
bridge itself and canonized as a saint. There is another story about
him, but I like this one best.

Bénézet's bridge was a gay place during the days of the popes at
Avignon. Music and dancing were continuously going on there. It is ready
for another miracle now. Only four arches of its original eighteen are
standing. Storm and flood did not destroy it, but war. Besiegers and
besieged broke down the arches, and at last, more than two hundred years
ago, repairs were given up. It is a fine, firm-looking fragment that
remains. One wishes, for the sake of the little shepherd boy, that it
might be restored once more and kept solid through time.

Passing along under the ramparts of Avignon, we crossed the newer,
cheaper bridge, and took the first turn to the right. It was a leafy
way, and here and there between the trees we had splendid glimpses of
the bastioned walls and castle-crowned heights of Avignon. Certainly
there is no more impressive mediæval picture in all Europe.

But on one account we were not entirely satisfied. It was not the view
that disturbed us; it was ourselves--our car. We were smoking--smoking
badly, disgracefully; one could not deny it. In New York City we would
have been taken in charge at once. At first I said it was only a little
of the fresh oil burning off the engine, and that it would stop
presently. But that excuse wore out. It would have taken quarts to make
a smudge like that. When the wind was with us we traveled in a cloud,
like prophets and deities of old, and the passengers grumbled. The Joy
suggested that we would probably blow up soon.

Then we began to make another discovery; when now and then the smoke
cleared away a little, we found we were not in Villeneuve at all. We
had not entirely crossed the river, but only halfway; we were on an
island. I began to feel that our handsome start had not turned out well.

We backed around and drove slowly to the bridge again, our distinction
getting more massive and solid every minute. Disaster seemed imminent.
The passengers were inclined to get out and walk. I said, at last, that
we would go back to a garage I had noticed outside the walls. I put it
on the grounds that we needed gasoline.

It was not far, and the doors stood open. The men inside saw us coming
with our gorgeous white tail filling the landscape behind us, and got
out of the way. Then they gathered cautiously to examine us.

"Too much oil," they said.

In my enthusiasm I had overdone the thing. I had poured quarts into the
crank case when there was probably enough there already. I had not been
altogether to blame. Two little telltale cocks that were designed to
drip when there was sufficient oil had failed to drip because they were
stopped with dust. Being new and green, I had not thought of that
possibility. A workman poked a wire into those little cocks and drew off
the fuel we had been burning in that lavish way. So I had learned
something, but it seemed a lot of smoke for such a small spark of
experience. Still, it was a relief to know that it was nothing worse,
and while the oil was dripping to its proper level we went back into the
gates of Avignon, where, lunching in a pretty garden under some trees,
we made light of our troubles, as is our way.



Chapter XI

WAYSIDE ADVENTURES


So we took a new start and made certain that we entirely crossed the
river this time. We were in Villeneuve-les-Avignon--that is, the "new
town"--but it did not get that name recently, if one may judge from its
looks. Villeneuve, in fact, is fourteen hundred years old, and shows its
age. It was in its glory six centuries ago, when King Philippe le Bel
built his tower at the end of Bénézet's bridge, and Jean le Bon built
one of the sternest-looking fortresses in France--Fort St. André. Time
has made the improvements since then. It has stained the walls and
dulled the sharp masonry of these monuments; it has crushed and crumbled
the feebler structures and filled the streets with emptiness and
silence. Villeneuve was a thronging, fighting, praying place once, but
the throng has been reduced and the fighting and praying have become
matters of individual enterprise.

I wish now we had lingered at Villeneuve-les-Avignon. I have rarely seen
a place that seemed so to invite one to forget the activities of life
and go groping about among the fragments of history. But we were under
the influence of our bad start, and impelled to move on. Also,
Villeneuve was overshadowed by the magnificence of the Palace of the
Popes, which, from its eternal seat on le Rocher des Doms, still claimed
us. We briefly visited St. André, the tower of Philippe le Bel, and
loitered a little in a Chartreuse monastery--a perfect wilderness of
ruin; then slipped away, following the hard, smooth road through a
garden and wonderland, the valley of the Rhone.

I believe there are no better vineyards in France than those between
Avignon and Bagnols. The quality of the grapes is another matter; they
are probably sour. All the way along those luscious topaz and amethyst
clusters had been disturbing, but my conscience had held firm and I had
passed them by. Sometimes I said: "There are tons of those grapes; a few
bunches would never be missed." But Narcissa and the others said it
would be stealing; besides, there were houses in plain view.

But there is a limit to all things. In a level, sheltered place below
Bagnols we passed a vineyard shut in by trees, with no house in sight.
And what a vineyard! Ripening in the afternoon sun, clustered such gold
and purple bunches as were once warmed by the light of Eden. I looked
casually in different directions and slowed down. Not a sign of life
anywhere. I brought the car to a stop. I said, "This thing has gone far
enough."

Conscience dozed. The protests of the others fell on heedless ears. I
firmly crossed the irrigating ditch which runs along all those French
roads, stepped among the laden vines, picked one of those lucent, yellow
bunches and was about to pick another when I noticed something with a
human look stir to life a little way down the row.

Conscience awoke with something like a spasm. I saw at once that taking
those grapes was wrong; I almost dropped the bunch I had. Narcissa says
I ran, but that is a mistake. There was not room. I made about two steps
and plunged into the irrigating canal, which I disremembered for the
moment, my eyes being fixed on the car. Narcissa says she made a grab at
my grapes as they sailed by. I seemed to be a good while getting out of
the irrigating ditch, but Narcissa thinks I was reasonably prompt. I had
left the engine running, and some seconds later, when we were putting
temptation behind us on third speed, I noticed that the passengers
seemed to be laughing. When I inquired as to what amused them they
finally gasped out that the thing which had moved among the grapevines
was a goat, as if that made any difference to a person with a sensitive
conscience.

It is not likely that any reader of these chapters will stop overnight
at Bagnols. We should hardly have rested there, but evening was coming
on and the sky had a stormy look. Later we were glad, for we found
ourselves in an inn where d'Artagnan, or his kind, lodged, in the days
when knights went riding. Travelers did not arrive in automobiles when
that hostelry was built, and not frequently in carriages. They came on
horseback and clattered up to the open door and ordered tankards of good
red wine, and drank while their horses stretched their necks to survey
the interior scenery. The old worn cobbles are still at the door, and
not much has changed within. A niche holds a row of candles, and the
traveler takes one of them and lights himself to bed. His room is an
expanse and his bed stands in a curtained alcove--the bedstead an
antique, the bed billowy, clean, and comfortable, as all beds are in
France. Nothing has been changed there for a long time. The latest
conveniences are of a date not more recent than the reign of Marie
Antoinette, for they are exactly the kind she used, still to be seen at
Versailles. And the dinner was good, with red and white flagons strewn
all down the table--such a dinner as d'Artagnan and his wild comrades
had, no doubt, and if prices have not changed they paid five francs
fifty, or one dollar and ten cents each, for dinner, lodging, and _petit
déjeuner_ (coffee, rolls, and jam)--garage free.

Bagnols is unimportant to the tourist, but it is old and quaint, and it
has what may be found in many unimportant places in France, at least one
beautiful work of art--a soldier's monument, in this instance; _not_ a
stiff effigy of an infantryman with a musket, cut by some gifted
tombstone sculptor, but a female figure of Victory, full of vibrant life
and inspiration--a true work of art. France is full of such things as
that--one finds them in most unexpected places.

The valley of the Rhone grew more picturesque as we ascended. Now and
again, at our left, rocky bluffs rose abruptly, some of them crowned
with ruined towers and equally ruined villages, remnants of feudalism,
of the lord and his vassals who had fought and flourished there in that
time when France was making the romantic material which writers ever
since have been so busily remaking and adorning that those old originals
would stare and gasp if they could examine some of it now. How fine and
grand it seems to picture the lord and his men, all bright and shining,
riding out under the portcullis on glossy prancing and armored horses to
meet some aggressive and equally shining detachment of feudalism from
the next hilltop. In the valley they meet, with ringing cries and the
clash of steel. Foeman matches foeman--it is a series of splendid duels,
combats to be recounted by the fireside for generations. Then, at the
end, the knightly surrender of the conquered, the bended knee and
acknowledgment of fealty, gracious speeches from the victor as to the
bravery and prowess of the defeated, after which, the welcome of fair
ladies and high wassail for all concerned. Everybody happy, everybody
satisfied: wounds apparently do not count or interfere with festivities.
The dead disappear in some magic way. I do not recall that they are ever
buried.

Just above Rochemaure was one of the most imposing of these ruins. The
castle that crowned the hilltop had been a fine structure in its day.
The surrounding outer wall which inclosed its village extended downward
to the foot of the hill to the road--and still inclosed a village,
though the more ancient houses seemed tenantless. It was built for
offense and defense, that was certain, and doubtless had been used for
both. We did not stop to dig up that romance. Not far away, by the
roadside, stood what was apparently a Roman column. It had been already
old and battered--a mere fragment of a ruin--when the hilltop castle and
its village were brave and new.

It was above Rochemaure--I did not identify the exact point--that an
opportunity came which very likely I shall never have again. On a bluff
high above an ancient village, so old and curious that it did not belong
to reality at all, there was a great château, not a ruin--at least, not
a tumbled ruin, though time-beaten and gray--but a good complete
château, and across its mossy lintel a stained and battered wooden sign
with the legend, "_A Louer_"--that is, "To Let."

I stopped the car. This, I said, was our opportunity. Nothing could be
better than that ancient and lofty perch overlooking the valley of the
Rhone. The "To Let" sign had been there certainly a hundred years, so
the price would be reasonable. We could get it for a song; we would
inherit its traditions, its secret passages, its donjons, its ghosts,
its-- I paused a moment, expecting enthusiasm, even eagerness, on the
part of the family. Strange as it may seem, there wasn't a particle of
either. I went over those things again, and added new and fascinating
attractions. I said we would adopt the coat of arms of that old family,
hyphenate its name with ours, and so in that cheap and easy fashion
achieve a nobility which the original owner had probably shed blood to
attain.

It was no use. The family looked up the hill with an interest that was
almost clammy. Narcissa asked, "How would you get the car up there?" The
Joy said, "It would be a good place for bad dreams." The head of the
expedition remarked, as if dismissing the most trivial item of the
journey, that we'd better be going on or we should be late getting into
Valence. So, after dreaming all my life of living in a castle, I had to
give it up in that brief, incidental way.



Chapter XII

THE LOST NAPOLEON


Now, it is just here that we reach the special reason which had kept us
where we had a clear view of the eastward mountains, and particularly to
the westward bank of the Rhone, where there was supposed to be a certain
tiny village, one Beauchastel--a village set down on none of our maps,
yet which was to serve as an important identifying mark. The reason had
its beginning exactly twenty-two years before; that is to say, in
September, 1891. Mark Twain was in Europe that year, seeking health and
literary material, and toward the end of the summer--he was then at
Ouchy, Switzerland--he decided to make a floating trip down the river
Rhone. He found he could start from Lake Bourget in France, and, by
paddling through a canal, reach the strong Rhone current, which would
carry him seaward. Joseph Very, his favorite guide (mentioned in _A
Tramp Abroad_), went over to Lake Bourget and bought a safe,
flat-bottomed boat, retaining its former owner as pilot, and with these
accessories Mark Twain made one of the most peaceful and delightful
excursions of his life. Indeed, he enjoyed it so much and so lazily that
after the first few days he gave up making extended notes and
surrendered himself entirely to the languorous fascination of drifting
idly through the dreamland of southern France. On the whole, it was an
eventless excursion, with one exception--a startling exception, as he
believed.

One afternoon, when they had been drifting several days, he sighted a
little village not far ahead, on the west bank, an ancient "jumble of
houses," with a castle, one of the many along that shore. It looked
interesting and he suggested that they rest there for the night. Then,
chancing to glance over his shoulder toward the eastward mountains, he
received a sudden surprise--a "soul-stirring shock," as he termed it
later. The big blue eastward mountain was no longer a mere mountain, but
a gigantic portrait in stone of one of his heroes. Eagerly turning to
Joseph Very and pointing to the huge effigy, he asked him to name it.
The courier said, "Napoleon." The boatman also said, "Napoleon." It
seemed to them, indeed, almost uncanny, this lifelike, reclining figure
of the conqueror, resting after battle, or, as Mark Twain put it,
"dreaming of universal empire." They discussed it in awed voices, as one
of the natural wonders of the world, which perhaps they had been the
first to discover. They landed at the village, Beauchastel, and next
morning Mark Twain, up early, watched the sun rise from behind the great
stone face of his discovery. He made a pencil sketch in his notebook,
and recorded the fact that the figure was to be seen from Beauchastel.
That morning, drifting farther down the Rhone, they watched it until the
human outlines changed.

Mark Twain's Rhone trip was continued as far as Arles, where the current
slackened. He said that some one would have to row if they went on,
which would mean work, and that he was averse to work, even in another
person. He gave the boat to its former owner, took Joseph, and rejoined
the family in Switzerland.

Events thronged into Mark Twain's life: gay winters, summers of travel,
heavy literary work, business cares and failures, a trip around the
world, bereavement. Amid such a tumult the brief and quiet Rhone trip
was seldom even remembered.

But ten or eleven years later, when he had returned to America and was
surrounded by quieter things, he happened to remember the majestic
figure of the first Napoleon discovered that September day while
drifting down the Rhone. He recalled no more than that. His memory was
always capricious--he had even forgotten that he made a sketch of the
figure, with notes identifying the locality. He could picture clearly
enough the incident, the phenomenon, the surroundings, but the name of
the village had escaped him, and he located it too far down, between
Arles and Avignon.

All his old enthusiasm returned now. He declared if the presence of this
great natural wonder was made known to the world, tourists would flock
to the spot, hotels would spring up there--all other natural curiosities
would fall below it in rank. His listeners caught his enthusiasm.
Theodore Stanton, the journalist, declared he would seek and find the
"Lost Napoleon," as Mark Twain now called it, because he was unable to
identify the exact spot. He assured Stanton that it would be perfectly
easy to find, as he could take a steamer from Arles to Avignon, and by
keeping watch he could not miss it. Stanton returned to Europe and began
the search. I am not sure that he undertook the trip himself, but he
made diligent inquiries of Rhone travelers and steamer captains, and a
lengthy correspondence passed between him and Mark Twain on the subject.

No one had seen the "Lost Napoleon." Travelers passing between Avignon
and Arles kept steady watch on the east range, but the apparition did
not appear. Mark Twain eventually wrote an article, intending to publish
it, in the hope that some one would report the mislaid emperor. However,
he did not print the sketch, which was fortunate enough, for with its
misleading directions it would have made him unpopular with disappointed
travelers. The locality of his great discovery was still a mystery when
Mark Twain died.

So it came about that our special reason for following the west bank of
the Rhone--the Beauchastel side, in plain view of the eastward
mountains--was to find the "Lost Napoleon." An easy matter, it seemed in
prospect, for we had what the others had lacked--that is to say, exact
information as to its locality--the notes, made twenty-two years before
by Mark Twain himself[8]--the pencil sketch, and memoranda stating that
the vision was to be seen opposite the village of Beauchastel.

But now there developed what seemed to be another mystery. Not only our
maps and our red-book, but patient inquiry as well, failed to reveal
any village or castle by the name of Beauchastel. It was a fine,
romantic title, and we began to wonder if it might not be a combination
of half-caught syllables, remembered at the moment of making the notes,
and converted by Mark Twain's imagination into this happy sequence of
sounds.

So we must hunt and keep the inquiries going. We had begun the hunt as
soon as we left Avignon, and the inquiries when there was opportunity.
Then presently the plot thickened. The line of those eastward mountains
began to assume many curious shapes. Something in their formation was
unlike other mountains, and soon it became not difficult to imagine a
face almost anywhere. Then at one point appeared a real face, no
question this time as to the features, only it was not enough like the
face of the sketch to make identification sure. We discussed it
anxiously and with some energy, and watched it a long time, thinking
possibly it would gradually melt into the right shape, and that
Beauchastel or some similarly sounding village would develop along the
river bank.

But the likeness did not improve, and, while there were plenty of
villages, there was none with a name the sound of which even suggested
Beauchastel. Altogether we discovered as many as five faces that day,
and became rather hysterical at last, and called them our collection of
lost Napoleons, though among them was not one of which we could say with
conviction, "Behold, the Lost Napoleon!" This brought us to Bagnols, and
we had a fear now that we were past the viewpoint--that somehow our
search, or our imagination, had been in vain.

But then came the great day. Up and up the Rhone, interested in so many
things that at times we half forgot to watch the eastward hills, passing
village after village, castle after castle, but never the "jumble of
houses" and the castle that commanded the vision of the great chief
lying asleep along the eastern horizon.

I have not mentioned, I think, that at the beginning of most French
villages there is a signboard, the advertisement of a firm of
auto-stockists, with the name of the place, and the polite request to
"_Ralentir_"--that is, to "go slow." At the other end of the village is
another such a sign, and on the reverse you read, as you pass out,
"_Merci_"--which is to say, "Thanks," for going slowly; so whichever way
you come you get information, advice, and politeness from these boards,
a feature truly French.

Well, it was a little way above the château which I did not rent, and we
were driving along slowly, thinking of nothing at all, entering an
unimportant-looking place, when Narcissa, who always sees everything,
suddenly uttered the magical word "Beauchastel!"

[Illustration: MARK TWAIN'S "LOST NAPOLEON"

"THE COLOSSAL SLEEPING FIGURE IN ITS SUPREME REPOSE"]

It was like an electric shock--the soul-stirring shock which Mark Twain
had received at the instant of his great discovery. Beauchastel! Not a
figment, then, but a reality--the veritable jumble of houses we had been
seeking, and had well-nigh given up as a myth. Just there the houses
interfered with our view, but a hundred yards farther along a vista
opened to the horizon, and there at last, in all its mightiness and
dignity and grandeur, lay the Lost Napoleon! It is not likely that any
other natural figure in stone ever gave two such sudden and splendid
thrills of triumph, first, to its discoverer, and, twenty-two years
later, almost to the day, to those who had discovered it again. There
was no question this time. The colossal sleeping figure in its supreme
repose confuted every doubt, resting where it had rested for a million
years, and would still rest for a million more.

At first we spoke our joy eagerly, then fell into silence, looking and
looking, loath to go, for fear it would change. At every opening we
halted to look again, and always with gratification, for it did not
change, or so gradually that for miles it traveled with us, and still at
evening, when we were nearing Valence, there remained a great stone face
on the horizon.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] At Mark Twain's death his various literary effects passed into the
hands of his biographer, the present writer.



Chapter XIII

THE HOUSE OF HEADS


I ought to say, I suppose, that we were no longer in Provence. Even at
Avignon we were in Venaissin, according to present geography, and when
we crossed the Rhone we passed into Languedoc. Now, at Valence, we were
in Dauphiné, of which Valence is the "chief-lieu," meaning, I take it,
the official headquarters. I do not think these are the old divisions at
all, and in any case it all has been "the Midi," which to us is the
Provence, the vineland, songland, and storyland of a nation where vine
and song and story flourish everywhere so lavishly that strangers come,
never to bring, but only to carry away.

At Valence, however, romance hesitates on the outskirts. The light of
other days grows dim in its newer electric glow. Old castles surmount
the hilltops, but one needs a field glass to see them. The city itself
is modern and busy, prosperous in its manufacture of iron, silk,
macaroni, and certain very good liquors.

I believe the chief attraction of Valence is the "House of the Heads."
Our guidebook has a picture which shows Napoleon Bonaparte standing at
the entrance, making his adieus to Montalivet, who, in a later day, was
to become his minister. Napoleon had completed his military education
in the artillery school of Valence, and at the moment was setting out to
fulfill his dream of conquest. It is rather curious, when you think of
it, that the great natural stone portrait already described should be
such a little distance away.

To go back to the House of the Heads: Our book made only the briefest
mention of its construction, and told nothing at all of its traditions.
We stood in front of it, gazing in the dim evening light at the
crumbling carved faces of its façade, peering through into its ancient
court where there are now apartments to let, wondering as to its
history. One goes raking about in the dusty places of his memory at such
moments; returning suddenly from an excursion of that sort, I said I
recalled the story of a house of carved heads--something I had heard, or
read, long ago--and that this must be the identical house concerning
which the story had been told.

It was like this: There was a wealthy old bachelor of ancient days who
had spent his life in collecting rare treasures of art; pictures,
tapestries, choice metal-work, arms--everything that was beautiful and
rare; his home was a storehouse of priceless things. He lived among
them, attended only by a single servant--the old woman who had been his
nurse--a plain, masculine creature, large of frame, still strong and
brawny, stout of heart and of steadfast loyalty. When the master was
away gathering new treasures she slept in the room where the arms were
kept, with a short, sharp, two-edged museum piece by her couch, and
without fear.

One morning he told her of a journey he was about to take, and said: "I
hesitate to leave you here alone. You are no longer young."

But she answered: "Only by the count of years, not by the measure of
strength or vigilance. I am not afraid."

So he left her, to return on the third day. But on the evening of the
second day, when the old servant went down to the lower basement for
fuel--silently, in her softly slippered feet--she heard low voices at a
small window that opened to the court. She crept over to it and found
that a portion of the sash had been removed; listening, she learned that
a group of men outside in the dusk were planning to enter and rob the
house. They were to wait until she was asleep, then creep in through the
window, make their way upstairs, kill her, and carry off the treasures.

It seemed a good plan, but as the old servant listened she formed a
better one. She crept back upstairs, not to lock herself in and stand a
siege, but to get her weapon, the short, heavy sword with its two razor
edges. Then she came back and sat down to wait. While she was waiting
she entertained herself by listening to their plans and taking a little
quiet muscle exercise. By and by she heard them say that the old hag
would surely be asleep by this time. The "old hag" smiled grimly and got
ready.

A man put his head in. It was pitch dark inside, but just enough light
came in from the stars for her to see where to strike. When half his
body was through she made a clean slicing swing of the heavy sword and
the robber's head dropped on a little feather bed which she had
thoughtfully provided. The old woman seized the shoulders and firmly
drew the rest of the man inside. Another head came in, slowly, the
shoulders following. With another swing of the sword they had parted
company, and the grim avenging hands were silently dragging in the
remnant. Another head and shoulders followed, another, and another,
until six heads and bodies were stacked about the executioner and there
was blood enough to swim in. The seventh robber did not appear
immediately; something about the silence within made him reluctant. He
was suspicious, he did not know of what. He put his head to the opening
and whispered, asking if everything was all right. The old woman was no
longer calm. The violent exercise and intense interest in her occupation
had unnerved her. She was afraid she could not control her voice to
answer, and that he would get away. She made a supreme effort and
whispered, "Yes, all right." So he put in his head--very
slowly--hesitated, and started to withdraw. The old woman, however, did
not hesitate. She seized him by the hair, brought the sword down with a
fierce one-hand swing, and the treasures of this world troubled him no
more.

Then the old servant went crazy. Returning next morning, her master
found her covered with blood, brandishing her sword, and repeating over
and over, "Seven heads, and all mine," and at sight of him lost
consciousness. She recovered far enough to tell her story, then,
presently, died. But in her honor the master rebuilt the front of his
dwelling and had carved upon it the heads of the men she had so
promptly and justly punished.

Now, I said, this must be the very house, and we regarded it with awe
and tried to locate the little cellar window where the execution had
taken place. It was well enough in the evening dimness, but in the
morning when we went around there again I privately began to have doubts
as to the legend's authenticity, at least so far as this particular
house was concerned. The heads, by daylight, did not look like the heads
of house breakers--not any house breakers of my acquaintance--and I
later consulted a guidebook which attached to them the names of Homer,
Hippocrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, etc., and I don't think those were
the names of the parties concerned in this particular affair. It's very
hard to give up a good and otherwise perfectly fitting legend, but one
must either do that or change the guidebook. Ah, well, it isn't the
first sacrifice I've had to make for the sake of history.

Valence has been always a place of culture and educational activity. It
was capital of Segalauni before the Romans came, and there was a
celebrated school there, even then. This information also came from the
guidebook, and it surprised me. It was the first time I had heard that
the Segalaunians had a school prior to the Roman conquest. It was also
the first time I had heard of the Segalaunians. I thought they were all
Gauls and Goths and Vandals up that way, and that their education
consisted in learning how to throw a spear convincingly, or to divert
one with a rawhide buckler. Now I discovered they had a college before
the Romans conquered them. One can hardly blame them for descending upon
those Romans later, with fire and sword. Valence shared the usual fate.
It was ravished by the so-called barbarians, and later hacked to pieces
by Christian kings. To-day again it is a fair city, with parks, wide
boulevards, and imposing monuments.



Chapter XIV

INTO THE HILLS


Turning eastward from Valence, we headed directly for the mountains and
entered a land with all the wealth of increase we had found in Provence,
and with even more of picturesqueness. The road was still perfect--hard
and straight, with an upward incline, but with a grade so gradual and
perfect as to be barely noticeable. Indeed, there were times when we
seemed actually to be descending, even when the evidence of gravity told
us that we were climbing; that is to say, we met water coming toward
us--water flowing by the roadside--and more than once Narcissa and I
agreed that the said water was running uphill, which was not likely--not
in France. Of course, in England, where they turn to the left, it might
be expected. The village did not seem quite like those along the Rhone.
The streets were as narrow, the people as mildly interested in us, but,
on the whole, we thought the general aspect was less ancient, possibly
less clean.

But they were interesting. Once we saw a man beating a drum, stopping on
every corner to collect a little crowd and read some sort of
proclamation, and once by the roadside we met a little negro child in a
straw hat and a bright dress, a very bit of the American South.
Everywhere were pretty gardens, along the walls gay flowers, and always
the valleys were rich in orchard and vineyard, plumed with tall poplars,
divided by bright rivers, and glorified with hazy September sunlight.

We grew friendly with the mountains in the course of the afternoon, then
intimate. They sprang up before us and behind us; just across the
valleys they towered into the sky. Indeed, we suddenly had a most
dramatic proof that we were climbing one. We had been shut in by wooded
roads and sheltered farmsteads for an hour or two when we came out again
into the open valley, with the river flowing through. But we were no
longer _in_ the valley! Surprise of surprises! we were on a narrow,
lofty road hundreds of feet above it, skirting the mountainside! It
seemed incredible that our gradual, almost imperceptible, ascent had
brought us to that high perch, overlooking this marvelous Vale of
Cashmere. Everyone has two countries, it is said; his own and France.
One could understand that saying here, and why the French are not an
emigrating race. We stopped to gaze our fill, and as we went along, the
scenery attracted my attention so much that more than once I nearly
drove off into it. We were so engrossed by the picture that we took the
wrong road and went at least ten miles out of our way to get to
Grenoble. But it did not matter; we saw startlingly steep mountainsides
that otherwise we might not have seen, and dashing streams, and at the
end we had a wild and glorious coast of five or six miles from our
mountain fastness down into the valley of the Isère, a regular toboggan
streak, both horns going, nerves taut, teeth set, probable disaster
waiting at every turn. We had never done such a thing before, and
promised ourselves not to do it again. One such thrill was worth while,
perhaps, but the ordinary lifetime might not outlast another.

Down in that evening valley we were in a wonderland. Granite walls rose
perpendicularly on our left; cottages nestled in gardens at our
right--bloom, foliage, fragrance, the flowing Isère. Surely this was the
happy valley, the land of peace and plenty, shut in by these lofty
heights from all the troubling of the world. Even the towers and spires
of a city that presently began to rise ahead of us did not disturb us.
In the evening light they were not real, and when we had entered the
gates of ancient Gratianopolis, and crossed the Isère by one of its
several bridges, it seemed that this modern Grenoble was not quite a
city of the eager world.

The hotel we selected from the red-book was on the outskirts, and we had
to draw pretty heavily on our French to find it; but it was worth while,
for it was set in a wide garden, and from every window commanded the
Alps. We realized now that they _were_ the Alps, the Alps of the Savoy,
their high green slopes so near that we could hear the tinkle of the
goat bells.

We did not take the long drive through the "impossibly beautiful"
valleys of Grenoble which we had planned for next morning. When we arose
the air was no longer full of stillness and sunlight. In fact, it was
beginning to rain. So we stayed in, and by and by for luncheon had all
the good French things, ending with fresh strawberries, great bowls of
them--in September--and apparently no novelty in this happy valley of
the Isère. All the afternoon, too, it rained, and some noisy French
youngsters raced up and down the lower rooms and halls, producing a
homelike atmosphere, while we gathered about the tables to study the
French papers and magazines.

It was among the advertisements that I made some discoveries about
French automobiles. They are more expensive than ours, in proportion to
the horsepower, the latter being usually low. About twelve to fifteen
horsepower seems to be the strength of the ordinary five-passenger
machine. Our own thirty-horsepower engine, which we thought rather light
at home, is a giant by comparison. Heavy engines are not needed in
France. The smooth roads and perfectly graded hills require not half the
power that we must expend on some of our rough, tough, rocky, and steep
highways. Again, these lighter engines and cars take less gasoline,
certainly, and that is a big item, where gasoline costs at least 100 per
cent more than in America. I suppose the lightest weight car consistent
with strength and comfort would be the thing to take to Europe. There
would be a saving in the gasoline bill; and then the customs deposit,
which is figured on the weight, would not be so likely to cripple the
owner's bank account.



Chapter XV

UP THE ISÈRE


Sometime in the night the rain ceased, and by morning Nature had
prepared a surprise for us. The air was crystal clear, and towering into
the sky were peaks no longer blue or green or gray, but white with
drifted snow! We were in warm, mellow September down in our valley, but
just up there--such a little way it seemed--were the drifts of winter.
With our glass we could bring them almost within snowballing distance.
Feathery clouds drifted among the peaks, the sun shooting through. It
was all new to us, and startling. These really were the Alps; there was
no further question.

"Few French cities have a finer location than Grenoble," says the
guidebook, and if I also have not conveyed this impression I have meant
to do so. Not many cities in the world, I imagine, are more
picturesquely located. It is also a large city, with a population of
more than seventy-five thousand--a city of culture, and it has been
important since the beginning of recorded history. Gratian was its
patron Roman emperor, and the name Gratianopolis, assumed in his honor,
has become the Grenoble of to-day. Gratian lived back in the fourth
century and was a capable sort of an emperor, but he had one weak point.
He liked to array himself in outlandish garb and show off. It is a
weakness common to many persons, and seems harmless enough, but it was
not a healthy thing for Gratian, who did it once too often. He came out
one day habited like a Scythian warrior and capered up and down in front
of his army. He expected admiration, and probably the title of
Scythianus, or something. But the unexpected happened. The army jeered
at his antics, and eventually assassinated him. Scythian costumes for
emperors are still out of style.

We may pass over the riot and ruin of the Middle Ages. All these towns
were alike in that respect. The story of one, with slight alterations,
fits them all. Grenoble was the first town to open its gates to
Napoleon, on his return from Elba, in 1815, which gives it a kind of
distinction in more recent times. Another individual feature is its
floods. The Isère occasionally fills its beautiful valley, and fifteen
times during the past three centuries Grenoble has been almost swept
away. There has been no flood for a long period now, and another is
about due. Prudent citizens of Grenoble keep a boat tied in the back
yard instead of a dog.

We did not linger in Grenoble. The tomb of Bayard--_sans peur, sans
reproche_--is there, in the church of St. André; but we did not learn of
this until later. The great sight at Grenoble is its environment--the
superlative beauty of its approaches, and its setting--all of which we
had seen in the glory of a September afternoon.

There were two roads to Chambéry, one by the Isère, and another through
the mountains by way of Chartreuse which had its attractions. I always
wanted to get some of the ancient nectar at its fountainhead, and the
road was put down as "picturesque." But the rains had made the hills
slippery; a skidding automobile and old Chartreuse in two colors did not
seem a safe combination for a family car. So we took the river route,
and I am glad now, for it began raining soon after we started, and we
might not have found any comfortable ruined castle to shelter us if we
had taken to the woods and hills. As it was, we drove into a great
arched entrance, where we were safe and dry, and quite indifferent as to
what happened next. We explored the place, and were rather puzzled. It
was unlike other castles we have seen. Perhaps it had not been a castle
at all, but an immense granary, or brewery, or an ancient fortress. In
any case, it was old and massive, and its high main arch afforded us a
fine protection.

The shower passed, the sun came out, and sent us on our way. The road
was wet, but hard, and not steep. It was a neighborly road, curiously
intimate with the wayside life, its domestic geography and economies;
there were places where we seemed to be actually in front dooryards.

The weather was not settled; now and then there came a sprinkle, but
with our top up we did not mind. It being rather wet for picnicking, we
decided that we would lunch at some wayside inn. None appeared, however,
and when we came to think about it, we could not remember having
anywhere passed such an inn. There were plenty of cafés where one could
obtain wines and other beverages, but no food. In England and New
England there are plenty of hostelries along the main roads, but
evidently not in France. One must depend on the towns. So we stopped at
Challes-les-Eaux, a little way out of Chambéry, a pretty place, where we
might have stayed longer if the September days had not been getting few.

Later, at Chambéry, we visited the thirteenth-century château of the Duc
de Savoy, which has been rebuilt, and climbed the great square tower
which is about all that is left of the original structure, a grand place
in its time. We also went into the gothic chapel to see some handsomely
carved wainscoting, with a ceiling to match. We were admiring it when
the woman who was conducting us explained by signs and a combination of
languages that, while the wainscoting was carved, the ceiling was only
painted, in imitation. It was certainly marvelous if true, and she
looked like an honest woman. But I don't know-- I wanted to get up there
and feel it.

She was, at any rate, a considerate woman. When I told her in the
beginning that we had come to see the Duke of Savoy's old hat, meaning
his old castle, she hardly smiled, though Narcissa went into hysterics.
It was nothing--even a Frenchman might say "_chapeau_" when he meant
"_château_" and, furthermore--but let it go--it isn't important enough
to dwell upon. Anything will divert the young.

Speaking of hats, I have not mentioned, I believe, the extra one that we
carried in the car. It belonged to the head of the family and when we
loaded it (the hat) at Marseilles it was a fresh and rather fluffy bit
of finery. There did not seem to be any good place for it in the heavy
baggage, shipped by freight to Switzerland, and decidedly none in the
service bags strapped to the running-board. Besides, its owner said she
might want to wear it on the way. There was plenty of space for an extra
hat in our roomy car, we said, and there did seem to be when we loaded
it in, all neatly done up in a trim package.

But it is curious how things jostle about and lose their identity. I
never seemed to be able to remember what was in that particular package,
and was always mistaking it for other things. When luncheon time came I
invariably seized it, expecting some pleasant surprise, only to untie an
appetizing, but indigestible, hat. The wrapping began to have a
travel-worn look, the package seemed to lose bulk. When we lost the
string, at last, we found that we could tie it with a much shorter one;
when we lost that, we gave the paper a twist at the ends, which was
seldom permanent, especially when violently disturbed. Not a soul in the
car that did not at one time or another, feeling something bunchy, give
it a kick, only to expose our surplus hat, which always had a helpless,
unhappy look that invited pity. No concealment insured safety. Once the
Joy was found to have her feet on it. At another time the owner herself
was sitting on it. We seldom took it in at night, but once when we did
we forgot it, and drove back seven miles to recover. I don't know what
finally became of it.



Chapter XVI

INTO THE HAUTE-SAVOIE


It is a rare and beautiful drive to Aix-les-Bains, and it takes one by
Lake Bourget, the shimmering bit of blue water from which Mark Twain set
out on his Rhone trip. We got into a street market the moment of our
arrival in Aix, a solid swarm of dickering people. In my excitement I
let the engine stall, and it seemed we would never get through. Aix did
not much interest us, and we pushed on to Annecy with no unnecessary
delay, and from Annecy to Thones, a comfortable day's run, including, as
it did, a drive about beautiful ancient Annecy, chief city of the
Haute-Savoie. We might have stayed longer at Annecy, but the weather had
an unsettled look, and there came the feeling that storms and winter
were gathering in the mountains and we would better be getting along
somewhere else. Also a woman backed her donkey cart into us at Annecy
and put another dent in our mudguard, which was somehow discouraging. As
it was, we saw the lake, said to be the most beautiful in France, though
no more beautiful, I think, than Bourget; an ancient château, now
transformed into barracks; the old prison built out in the river; the
narrow, ancient streets; and a house with a tablet that states that
Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived there in 1729, and there developed his
taste for music.

The Haute-Savoie is that billowy corner of far-eastern France below Lake
Geneva--a kind of neutral, no man's territory hemmed by the huge heights
of Switzerland and Italy. Leaving Annecy, we followed a picturesque road
through a wild, weird land, along gorges and awesome brinks, under a
somber sky. At times we seemed to be on the back of the world; at others
diving to its recesses. It was the kind of way that one might take to
supernatural regions, and it was the kind of evening to start.

Here and there on the slopes were flocks and herds, attended by
grave-faced women, who were knitting as they slowly walked. They barely
noticed us or their charges. They never sat down, but followed along,
knitting, knitting, as though they were patterning the fates of men.
Sometimes we met or passed a woman on the road, always knitting, like
the others. It was uncanny. Probably for every human being there is
somewhere among those dark mountains a weird woman, knitting the pattern
of his life. That night at Thones, a forgotten hamlet, lost there in the
Haute-Savoie, a storm broke, the wind tore about our little inn, the
rain dashed fearsomely, all of which was the work of those knitting
women, beyond doubt.

But the sun came up fresh and bright, and we took the road for Geneva.
For a time it would be our last day in France. All the forenoon we were
among the mountain peaks, skirting precipices that one did not care to
look over without holding firmly to something. But there were no steep
grades and the brinks were protected by solid little walls.

At the bottom of a long slope a soldier stepped out of a box of a house
and presented arms. I dodged, but his intent was not sanguinary. He
wanted to see our papers--we were at the frontier--so I produced our
customs receipts, called _triptyques_, our T. C. de F. membership card,
our car license, our driving license, and was feeling in my pocket for
yet other things when he protested, "_Pas nécessaire, pas nécessaire_"
and handed all back but the French _triptyque_, which he took to his
_bureau_, where, with two other military _attachés_, he examined,
discussed, finally signed and witnessed it, and waved us on our way.

So we were not passing the Swiss customs yet, but only leaving the
French outpost. The ordeal of the Swiss _douane_ was still somewhere
ahead; we had entered the neutral strip. We wished we might reach the
Swiss post pretty soon and have the matter over with. We had visions of
a fierce person looking us through, while he fired a volley of French
questions, pulled our baggage to pieces, and weighed the car, only to
find that the result did not tally with the figures on our triple-folded
sheet. I had supplied most of those figures from memory, and I doubted
their accuracy. I had heard that of all countries except Russia,
Switzerland was about the most particular. So we went on and on through
that lofty scenery, expecting almost anything at every turn.

But nothing happened--nothing except that at one place the engine
seemed to be running rather poorly. I thought at first that there was
some obstruction in the gasoline tube, and my impulse was to light a
match and look into the tank to see what it might be. On second thought
I concluded to omit the match. I remembered reading of a man who had
done that, and almost immediately his heirs had been obliged to get a
new car.

We passed villages, but no _douane_. Then all at once we were in the
outskirts of a city. Why, this was surely Geneva, and as we were driving
leisurely along a fat little man in uniform came out and lifted his
hand. We stopped. Here it was, then, at last.

For a moment I felt a slight attack of weakness, not in the heart, but
about the knees. However, the little man seemed friendly. He held out
his hand and I shook it cordially. But it was the papers he was after,
our Swiss _triptyque_. I said to myself, "A minute more and we probably
shall be on the scales, and the next in trouble." But he only said,
"_Numero de moteur._" I jerked open the hood, scrubbed off the grease,
and showed it to him. He compared it, smiled, and handed back our paper.
Then he waved me to a _bureau_ across the street. Now it was coming; he
had doubtless discovered something wrong at a glance.

There was an efficient-looking, sinister-looking person in the office
who took the _triptyque_, glanced at it, and threw something down before
me. I thought it was a warrant, but it proved to be a copy of the Swiss
law and driving regulations, with a fine road map of Switzerland, and
all information needed by motorists; "Price, 2 Frs." stamped on the
cover. I judged that I was required to buy this, but I should have done
it, anyway. It was worth the money, and I wished to oblige that man. He
accepted my two francs, and I began to feel better. Then he made a few
entries in something, handed me my _triptyque_, said "_Bonjour, et bon
voyage_," and I was done.

I could hardly believe it. I saw then what a nice face he had, while the
little fat man across the street was manifestly a lovely soul. He had
demanded not a thing but the number of the motor. Not even the number of
the car had interested him. As for the weight, the bore of the
cylinders, the number of the chassis, and all those other statistics
said to be required, they were as nonexistent to him as to me. Why, he
had not even asked us to unstrap our baggage. It was with feelings akin
to tenderness that we waved him good-by and glided across the imaginary
line of his frontier into Switzerland.

We glided very leisurely, however. "Everybody gets arrested in
Switzerland"--every stranger, that is--for breaking the speed laws.
This, at least, was our New York information. So we crept along, and I
kept my eye on the speedometer all the way through Geneva, for we were
not going to stop there at present, and when we had crossed our old
friend, the Rhone, variously bridged here, skirted the gay water-front
and were on the shore road of that loveliest of all lakes--Lake Léman,
with its blue water, its snow-capped mountains, its terraced vineyards,
we still loafed and watched the _gendarmes_ to see if they were timing
us, and came almost to a stop whenever an official of any kind hove in
sight. Also we used the mellow horn, for our book said that horns of the
Klaxon type are not allowed in Switzerland.

We were on soft pedal, you see, and some of the cars we met were equally
subdued. But we observed others that were not--cars that were just
bowling along in the old-fashioned way, and when these passed us, we
were surprised to find that they were not ignorant, strange cars, but
Swiss cars, or at least cars with Swiss number-plates and familiar with
the dangers. As for the whistles, they were honking and snorting and
screeching just as if they were in Connecticut, where there is no known
law that forbids anything except fishing on Sunday. Indeed, one of the
most sudden and violent horns I have ever heard overtook us just then,
and I nearly jumped over the windshield when it abruptly opened on me
from behind.

"Good G--, that is, goodness!" I said, "this is just like France!" and I
let out a few knots and tooted the Klaxonette, and was doing finely when
suddenly a mounted policeman appeared on the curve ahead. I could feel
myself scrouging as we passed, going with great deliberation. He did not
offer to molest me, but we did not hurry again--not right away. Not that
we cared to hurry; the picture landscape we were in was worth all the
time one could give it. Still, we were anxious to get to Lausanne before
dusk, and little by little we saw and heard things which convinced us
that "Everybody gets arrested in Switzerland" is a superstition, the
explosion of which was about due. Fully half the people we met, _all_
that passed us, could properly have been arrested anywhere. By the time
we reached Lausanne we should have been arrested ourselves.



Chapter XVII

SOME SWISS IMPRESSIONS


Now, when one has reached Switzerland, his inclination is not to go on
traveling, for a time at least, but to linger and enjoy certain
advantages. First, of course, there is the scenery; the lakes, the
terraced hills, and the snow-capped mountains; the châteaux, chalets,
and mossy villages; the old inns and brand-new, heaven-climbing hotels.
And then Switzerland is the land of the three F's--French, Food, and
Freedom, all attractive things. For Switzerland is the model republic,
without graft and without greed; its schools, whether public or private,
enjoy the patronage of all civilized lands, and as to the matter of
food, Switzerland is the _table d'hôte_ of the world.

Swiss landlords are combined into a sort of trust, not, as would be the
case elsewhere, to keep prices up, but to keep prices down! It is the
result of wisdom, a far-seeing prudence which says: "Our scenery, our
climate, our pure water--these are our stock in trade. Our profit from
them is through the visitor. Wherefore we will encourage visitors with
good food, attractive accommodations, courtesy; and we will be content
with small profit from each, thus inviting a general, even if modest,
prosperity; also, incidentally, the cheerfulness and good will of our
patrons." It is a policy which calls for careful management, one that
has made hotel-keeping in Switzerland an exact science--a gift, in fact,
transmitted down the generations, a sort of magic; for nothing short of
magic could supply a spotless room, steam heated, with windows opening
upon the lake, and three meals--the evening meal a seven-course dinner
of the first order--all for six francs fifty (one dollar and thirty
cents) a day.[9]

It is a policy which prevails in other directions. Not all things are
cheap in Switzerland, but most things are--the things which one buys
oftenest--woolen clothing and food. Cotton goods are not cheap, for
Switzerland does not grow cotton, and there are a few other such items.
Shoes are cheap enough, if one will wear the Swiss make, but few
visitors like to view them on their own feet. They enjoy them most when
they hear them clattering along on the feet of Swiss children, the
wooden soles beating out a rhythmic measure that sounds like a coopers'
chorus. Not all Swiss shoes have wooden soles, but the others do not
gain grace by their absence.

Swiss cigars are also cheap. I am not a purist in cigars, but at home I
have smoked a good many and seldom with safety one that cost less than
ten cents, straight. One pays ten centimes, or two cents, in
Switzerland, and gets a mild, evenly burning article. I judge it is made
of tobacco, though the head of the family suggested other things that
she thought it smelled like. If she had smoked one of them, she would
not have noticed this peculiarity any more. Wine is cheap, of course,
for the hillsides are covered with vines; also, whisk--but I am
wandering into economic statistics without really meaning to do so. They
were the first things that impressed me.

The next, I believe, was the lack of Swiss politics. Switzerland is a
republic that runs with the exactness of a Swiss watch, its machinery as
hermetically concealed. I had heard that the Swiss Republic sets the
pattern of government for the world, and I was anxious to know something
of its methods and personnel. I was sorry that I was so ignorant. I
didn't even know the name of the Swiss President, and for a week was
ashamed to confess it. I was hoping I might see it in one of the French
papers I puzzled over every evening. But at the end of the week I
timidly and apologetically inquired of our friendly landlord as to the
name of the Swiss Chief Executive.

But then came a shock. Our landlord grew confused, blushed, and
confessed that he didn't know it, either! He had known it, he said, of
course, but it had slipped his mind. Slipped his mind! Think of the name
of Roosevelt, or Wilson, or Taft slipping the mind of anybody in
America--and a landlord! I asked the man who sold me cigars. He had
forgotten, too. I asked the apothecary, but got no information. I was
not so timid after that. I asked a fellow passenger--guest, I mean, an
American, but of long Swiss residence--and got this story. I believe
most of it. He said:

"When I came to Switzerland and found out what a wonderful little
country it was, its government so economical, so free from party
corruption and spoils, from graft and politics, so different from the
home life of our own dear Columbia, I thought, 'The man at the head of
this thing must be a master hand; I'll find out his name.' So I picked
out a bright-looking subject, and said:

"'What is the name of the Swiss President?'

"He tried to pretend he didn't understand my French, but he did, for I
can tear the language off all right--learned it studying art in Paris.
When I pinned him down, he said he knew the name well enough,
_parfaitement_, but couldn't think of it at that moment.

"That was a surprise, but I asked the next man. He couldn't think of it,
either. Then I asked a police officer. Of course he knew it, all right;
'_oh oui, certainement, mais_'--then he scratched his head and
scowled, but he couldn't dig up that name. He was just a plain
prevaricator--_toute simplement_--like the others. I asked every man I
met, and every one of them knew it, had it right on the end of his
tongue; but somehow it seemed to stick there. Not a man in Vevey or
Montreux could tell me the name of the Swiss President. It was the same
in Fribourg, the same even in Berne, the capital. I had about given it
up when one evening, there in Berne, I noticed a sturdy man with an
honest face, approaching. He looked intelligent, too, and as a last
resort I said:

"'Could you, by any chance, tell me the name of the Swiss President?'

"The effect was startling. He seized me by the arm and, after looking
up and down the street, leaned forward and whispered in my ear:

"_'Mon Dieu! c'est moi!_ _I_ am the Swiss President; but--ah _non_,
don't tell anyone! I am the only man in Switzerland who knows it!'

"You see," my friend continued, "he is elected privately, no torchlight
campaigns, no scandal, and only for a year. He is only a sort of
chairman, though of course his work is important, and the present able
incumbent has been elected a number of times. His name is--is--is--ah
yes, that's my tram. So sorry to have to hurry away. See you to-night at
dinner."

One sees a good many nationalities in Switzerland, and some of them I
soon learned to distinguish. When I saw a man with a dinky Panama hat
pulled down about his face, and wearing a big black mustache or beard, I
knew he was a Frenchman. When I met a stout, red-faced man, with a pack
on his back and with hobnailed shoes, short trousers, and a little felt
hat with a feather stuck in it, I knew him for a German. When I noticed
a very carefully dressed person, with correct costume and gaiters--also
monocle, if perfect--saying, "Aw--Swiss people--so queah, don't you
know," I was pretty sure he was an Englishman. When I remarked a tall,
limber person, carrying a copy of the Paris _Herald_ and asking every
other person he met, "Hey, there! Vooly voo mir please sagen--" all the
rest incomprehensible, I knew him for an American of the deepest dye.
The Swiss themselves have no such distinguishing mark. They are just
sturdy, plainly dressed, unpretentious people, polite and friendly,
with a look of capability, cleanliness, and honesty which invites
confidence.

An Englishwoman said to me:

"I have heard that the Swiss are the best governed and the least
intelligent people in the world."

I reflected on this. It had a snappy sound, but it somehow did not seem
to be firm at the joints. "The best governed and the least
intelligent"--there was something drunken about it. I said:

"It doesn't quite seem to fit. And how about the magnificent Swiss
public-school system, and the manufacturing, and the national railway,
with all the splendid engineering that goes with the building of the
funiculars and tunnels? And the Swiss prosperity, and the medical
practice, and the sciences? I always imagined those things were in some
way connected with intelligence."

"Oh, well," she said, "I suppose they do go with intelligence of a kind;
but then, of course, you know what I mean."

But I was somehow too dull for her epigram. It didn't seem to have any
sense in it. She was a grass widow and I think she made it herself.
Later she asked me whereabouts in America I came from. When I said
Connecticut, she asked if Connecticut was as big as Lausanne. A woman
like that ought to go out of the epigram business.[10]

As a matter of fact, a good many foreigners are inclined to say rather
peevish things about sturdy little, thriving little, happy little
Switzerland. I rather suspect they are a bit jealous of the
pocket-de-luxe nation that shelters them, and feeds them, and entertains
them, and cures them, cheaper and better and kindlier than their home
countries. They are willing to enjoy these advantages, but they
acknowledge rather grudgingly that Switzerland, without a great standing
army, a horde of grafters, or a regiment of tariff millionaires to
support, can give lessons in national housekeeping to their own larger,
more pretentious lands.

I would not leave the impression, by the way, that the Swiss are
invariably prosperous. Indeed, some of them along the lake must have
been very poor just then, for the grape crop had failed two years in
succession, and with many of them their vineyard is their all. But there
was no outward destitution, no rags, no dirt, no begging. Whatever his
privation, the Swiss does not wear his poverty on his sleeve.

Switzerland has two other official languages besides French--German and
Italian. Government documents, even the postal cards, are printed in
these three languages. It would seem a small country for three
well-developed tongues, besides all the canton dialects, some of which
go back to the old Romanic, and are quite distinct from anything modern.
The French, German, and Italian divisions are geographical, the lines of
separation pretty distinct. There is rivalry among the cantons, a
healthy rivalry, in matters of progress and education. The cantons are
sufficiently a unit on all national questions, and together they form
about as compact and sturdy a little nation as the world has yet
seen--a nation the size and shape of an English walnut, and a hard nut
for any would-be aggressor to crack. There are not many entrances into
Switzerland, and they would be very well defended. The standing army is
small, but every Swiss is subject to a call to arms, and is trained by
enforced, though brief, service to their use. He seems by nature to be
handy with a rifle, and never allows himself to be out of practice.
There are regular practice meets every Sunday, and I am told the
government supplies the cartridges. Boys organize little companies and
regiments and this the government also encourages. It is said that
Switzerland could put half a million soldiers in the field, and that
every one would be a crack shot.[11] The German Kaiser, once reviewing
the Swiss troops, remarked, casually, to a sub-officer, "You say you
could muster half a million soldiers?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"And suppose I should send a million of my soldiers against you. What
would you do then?"

"We should fire two shots apiece, Your Majesty."

[Illustration: MARCHÉ VEVEY

"IN EACH TOWN THERE IS AN OPEN SQUARE, WHICH TWICE A WEEK IS
PICTURESQUELY CROWDED"]

In every Swiss town there are regular market days, important events
where one may profitably observe the people. The sale of vegetables and
flowers must support many families. In each town there is an open
square, which twice a week is picturesquely crowded, and there one may
buy everything to eat and many things to wear; also, the wherewith to
improve the home, the garden, and even the mind; for besides the
garden things there are stalls of second-hand books, hardware,
furniture, and general knick-knacks. Flanking the streets are displays
of ribbons, laces, hats, knitted things, and general dry-goods
miscellany; also antiques, the scrapings of many a Swiss cupboard and
corner.

But it is in the open square itself that the greater market
blooms--really blooms, for, in season, the vegetables are truly floral
in their rich vigor, and among them are pots and bouquets of the posies
that the Swiss, like all Europeans, so dearly love. Most of the flower
and vegetable displays are down on the ground, arranged in baskets or on
bits of paper, and form a succession of gay little gardens, ranged in
long narrow avenues of color and movement, a picture of which we do not
grow weary. Nor of the setting--the quaint tile-roofed buildings; the
blue lake, with its sails and swans and throng of wheeling gulls; the
green hills; the lofty snow-capped mountains that look down from every
side. How many sights those ancient peaks have seen on this same
square!--markets and military, battles and buffoonery. There are no
battles to-day, but the Swiss cadets use it for a drill ground, and
every little while lightsome shows and merry-go-rounds establish
themselves in one end of it, and the little people skip about, and go
riding around and around to the latest ragtime, while the mountains look
down with their large complaisance, just as they watched the capering
ancestors of these small people, ages and ages ago; just as they will
watch their light-footed descendants for a million years, maybe.

The market is not confined entirely to the square. On its greater days,
when many loads of wood and hay crowd one side of it, it overflows into
the streets. Around a floral fountain may be found butter, eggs, and
cheese--oh, especially cheese, the cheese of Gruyère, with every size
and pattern of holes, in any quantity, cut and weighed by a handsome
apple-faced woman who seems the living embodiment of the cheese
industry. I have heard it said--this was in America--that the one thing
not to be obtained in Switzerland is Swiss cheese. The person who
conceived that smartness belongs with the one who invented the
"intelligence" epigram.

On the market days before Christmas our square had a different look. The
little displays were full of greenery, and in the center of the market
place there had sprung up a forest of Christmas trees. They were not in
heaps, lying flat; but each, mounted on a neat tripod stand, stood
upright, as if planted there. They made a veritable Santa Claus forest,
and the gayly dressed young people walking among them, looking and
selecting, added to this pretty sight.

The Swiss make much of Christmas. Their shop windows are overflowing
with decorations and attractive things. Vevey is "Chocolate Town." Most
of the great chocolate factories of Europe are there, and at all holiday
seasons the grocery and confectionary windows bear special evidence of
this industry. Chocolate Santa Clauses--very large--chickens, rabbits,
and the like--life size; also trees, groups, set pieces, ornaments--the
windows are wildernesses of the rich brown confection, all so
skillfully modeled and arranged.

The toy windows, too, are fascinating. You would know at once that you
were looking into a Swiss toy window, from the variety of carved bears;
also, from the toy châteaux--very fine and large, with walled courts,
portcullises, and battlements--with which the little Swiss lad plays
war. The dolls are different, too, and the toy books--all in French. But
none of these things were as interesting as the children standing
outside, pointing at them and discussing them--so easily, so glibly--in
French. How little they guessed my envy of them--how gladly I would buy
out that toy window for, say, seven dollars, and trade it to them for
their glib unconsciousness of gender and number and case.

On the afternoon before Christmas the bells began. From the high
mountainsides, out of deep ravines that led back into the hinterland,
came the ringing. The hills seemed full of bells--a sound that must go
echoing from range to range, to the north and to the south, traveling
across Europe with the afternoon. Then, on Christmas Day, the trees. In
every home and school and hotel they sparkled. We attended four in the
course of the day, one, a very gorgeous one in the lofty festooned hall
of a truly grand hotel, with tea served and soft music stealing from
some concealed place--a slow strain of the "Tannenbaum," which is like
our "Maryland," only more beautiful--and seemed to come from a source
celestial. And when one remembered that in every corner of Europe
something of the kind was going on, and that it was all done in memory
and in honor of One who, along dusty roadsides and in waste places,
taught the doctrine of humility, one wondered if the world might not be
worth saving, after all.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] In 1913-14. The rate to-day is somewhat higher.

[10] I have thought since that she may have meant that the Swiss do not
lead the world in the art and literary industries. She may have
connected those things with intelligence--you never can tell.

[11] When the call to arms came, August 1, 1914, Switzerland put 250,000
men on her frontier in twenty-four hours.



Chapter XVIII

THE LITTLE TOWN OF VEVEY


It would seem to be the French cantons along the Lake of Geneva (or
Léman) that most attract the deliberate traveler. The north shore of
this lake is called the Swiss Riviera, for it has a short, mild winter,
with quick access to the mountaintops. But perhaps it is the schools,
the _pensionnats_, that hold the greater number. The whole shore of the
Lake of Geneva is lined with them, and they are filled with young
persons of all ages and nations, who are there mainly to learn French,
though incidentally, through that lingual medium, other knowledge is
acquired. Some, indeed, attend the fine public schools, where the drill
is very thorough, even severe. Parents, as well as children, generally
attend school in Switzerland--visiting parents, I mean. They undertake
French, which is the thing to do, like mountain climbing and winter
sports. Some buy books and seclude their struggles; others have private
lessons; still others openly attend one of the grown-up language
schools, or try to find board at French-speaking _pensions_. Their
progress and efforts form the main topic of conversation. In a way it
makes for a renewal of youth.

We had rested at Vevey, that quiet, clean little picture-city, not so
busy and big as Lausanne, or so grand and stylish as Montreux, but more
peaceful than either, and, being more level, better adapted for motor
headquarters. Off the main street at Montreux, the back or the front
part of a car is always up in the air, and it has to be chained to the
garage. We found a level garage in Vevey, and picked out _pensionnats_
for Narcissa and the Joy, and satisfactory quarters for ourselves.
Though still warm and summer-like, it was already late autumn by the
calendar, and not a time for long motor adventures. We would see what a
Swiss winter was like. We would wrestle with the French idiom. We would
spend the months face to face with the lake, the high-perched hotels and
villages, the snow-capped, cloud-capped hills.

Probably everybody has heard of Vevey, but perhaps there are still some
who do not know it by heart, and will be glad of a word or two of
details. Vevey has been a place of habitation for a long time. A
wandering Asian tribe once came down that way, rested a hundred years or
so along the Léman shore, then went drifting up the Rhone and across the
Simplon to make trouble for Rome. But perhaps there was no Rome then; it
was a long time ago, and it did not leave any dates, only a few bronze
implements and trifles to show the track of the storm. The Helvetians
came then, sturdy and warlike, and then the Romans, who may have
preserved traditions of the pleasant land from that first wandering
tribe.

Cæsar came marching down the Rhone and along this waterside, and his
followers camped in the Vevey neighborhood a good while--about four
centuries, some say. Certain rich Romans built their summer villas in
Switzerland, and the lake shore must have had its share. But if there
were any at Vevey, there is no very positive trace of them now. In the
depths of the Castle of Chillon, they show you Roman construction in the
foundations, but that may have been a fortress.

I am forgetting, however. One day, when we had been there a month or
two, and were clawing up the steep hill--Mount Pelerin--that rises back
of the hotel to yet other hotels, and to compact little villages, we
strayed into a tiny lane just below Chardonne, and came to a stone
watering trough, or fountain, under an enormous tree. Such troughs, with
their clear, flowing water, are plentiful enough, but this one had a
feature all its own. The stone upright which held the flowing spout had
not been designed for that special purpose. It was, in fact, the upper
part of a small column, capital and all, very old and mended, and
_distinctly of Roman design_. I do not know where it came from, and I do
not care to inquire too deeply, for I like to think it is a fragment of
one of those villas that overlooked the Lake of Geneva long ago.

There are villas enough about the lake to-day, and châteaux by the
dozen, most of the latter begun in the truculent Middle Ages and
continued through the centuries down to within a hundred years or so
ago. You cannot walk or drive in any direction without coming to them,
some in ruins, but most of them well preserved or carefully restored,
and habitable; some, like beautiful Blonay, holding descendants of
their ancient owners. From the top of our hotel, with a glass, one could
pick out as many as half a dozen, possibly twice that number. They were
just towers of defense originally, the wings and other architectural
excursions being added as peace and prosperity and family life
increased. One very old and handsome one, la Tour de Peilz, now gives
its name to a part of Vevey, though in the old days it is said that
venomous little wars used to rage between Vevey proper and the village
which clustered about the château de Peilz. Readers of _Little Women_
will remember la Tour de Peilz, for it was along its lake wall that
Laurie proposed to Amy.

But a little way down the lake there is a more celebrated château than
la Tour de Peilz; the château of Chillon, which Byron's poem of the
prisoner Bonivard has made familiar for a hundred years.[12] Chillon,
which stands not exactly on the lake, but on a rock _in_ the lake, has
not preserved the beginning of its history. Those men of the bronze age
camped there, and, if the evidences shown are genuine, the Romans built
a part of the foundation. Also, in one of its lower recesses there are
the remains of a rude altar of sacrifice.

It is a fascinating place. You cross a little drawbridge, and through a
heavy gateway enter a guardroom and pass to a pretty open court, where
to-day there are vines and blooming flowers. Then you descend to the big
barrack room, a hall of ponderous masonry, pass through a small room,
with its perfectly black cell below for the condemned, through another,
where a high gibbet-beam still remains, and into a spacious corridor of
pillars called now the "Prison of Bonivard."

  There are seven pillars of gothic mold
  In Chillon's dungeons deep and old;...
  Dim with a dull imprisoned ray,
  A sunbeam which has lost its way ...
  And in each pillar there is a ring
    And in each ring there is a chain.
  That iron is a cankering thing,
    For in these limbs its teeth remain....

Bonivard's ring is still there, and the rings of his two brothers who
were chained, one on each side of him; chained, as he tells us, so
rigidly that

  We could not move a single pace;
  We could not see each other's face.

We happened to be there, once, when a sunbeam that "had lost its way"
came straying in, a larger sunbeam now, for the narrow slits that serve
for windows were even narrower in Bonivard's time, and the place, light
enough to-day in pleasant weather, was then somber, damp, and probably
unclean.

Bonivard was a Geneva patriot, a political prisoner of the Duke of
Savoy, who used Chillon as his château. Bonivard lived six years in
Chillon, most of the time chained to a column, barely able to move,
having for recreation shrieks from the torture chamber above, or the
bustle of execution from the small adjoining cell. How he lived, how his
reason survived, are things not to be understood. Both his brothers
died, and at last Bonivard was allowed more liberty. The poem tells us
that he made a footing in the wall, and climbed up to look out on the
mountains and blue water, and a little island of three trees, and the
"white-walled distant town"--Bouveret, across the lake. He was delivered
by the Bernese in 1536, regaining his freedom with a sigh, according to
the poem. Yet he survived many years, dying in 1570, at the age of
seventy-four.

On the columns in Bonivard's dungeon many names are carved, some of them
the greatest in modern literary history. Byron's is there, Victor
Hugo's, Shelley's, and others of the sort. They are a tribute to the
place and its history, of course, but even more to Bonivard--the
Bonivard of Byron.

Prisoners of many kinds have lived and died in the dungeons of
Chillon--heretics, witches, traitors, poor relations--persons
inconvenient for one reason or another--it was a vanishing point for the
duke's undesirables, who, after the execution, were weighted and dropped
out a little door that opens directly to an almost measureless depth of
blue uncomplaining water. Right overhead is the torture chamber, with
something ghastly in its very shape and color, the central post still
bearing marks of burning-irons and clawing steel. Next to this chamber
is the hall of justice, and then the splendid banquet hall; everything
handy, you see, so that when the duke had friends, and the wine had been
good, and he was feeling particularly well, he could say, "Let's go in
and torture a witch"; or, if the hour was late and time limited, "Now
we'll just step down and hang a heretic to go to bed on." The duke's
bedroom, by the way, was right over the torture chamber. I would give
something for that man's conscience.

One might go on for pages about Chillon, but it has been told in detail
so many times. It is the pride to-day of this shore--pictures of it are
in every window--postal cards of it abound. Yet, somehow one never grows
tired of it, and stops to look at every new one.

For a thousand years, at least, Chillon was the scene of all the phases
of feudalism and chivalry; its history is that of the typical castle;
architecturally it is probably as good an example as there is in
Switzerland. It has been celebrated by other authors besides Byron. Jean
Jacques Rousseau has it in his _Nouvelle Héloïse_, Hugo in _Le Rhin_,
and it has been pictured more or less by most of the writing people who
have found their way to Léman's pleasant shore. These have been legion.
The Vevey and Montreux neighborhood has been always a place for poor but
honest authors. Rousseau was at Vevey in 1732, and lodged at the Hotel
of the Key, and wrote of it in his _Confessions_, though he would seem
to have behaved very well there. The building still stands, and bears a
tablet with a medallion portrait of Rousseau and an extract in which he
says that Vevey has won his heart. In his _Confessions_ he advises all
persons of taste to go to Vevey, and speaks of the beauty and majesty of
the spectacle from its shore.

When Lord Byron visited Lake Léman he lodged in Clarens, between Vevey
and Montreux, and a tablet now identifies the house. Voltaire also
visited here, lodging unknown. Dumas the elder was in Vevey in the
thirties of the last century, and wrote a book about Switzerland--a book
of extraordinary interest, full of duels, earthquakes, and other
startling things, worthy of the author of _Monte Cristo_ and _The Three
Musketeers_. Switzerland was not so closely reported in those days; an
imagination like Dumas' had more range. Thackeray wrote a portion of the
_Newcomes_ at the hotel Trois Couronnes in Vevey, and it was on the wide
terrace of the same gay hostelry that Henry James's _Daisy Miller_ had
her parasol scene. We have already mentioned Laurie and Amy on the wall
of Tour de Peilz, and one might go on citing literary associations of
this neighborhood. Perhaps it would be easier to say that about every
author who has visited the continent has paused for a little time at
Vevey, a statement which would apply to travelers in general.

Vevey is not a great city; it is only a picturesque city, with curious,
winding streets of constantly varying widths, and irregular little open
spaces, all very clean, also very misleading when one wishes to go
anywhere with direction and dispatch. You give that up, presently. You
do not try to save time by cutting through. When you do, you arrive in
some new little rectangle or confluence, with a floral fountain in the
middle, and neat little streets winding away to nowhere in particular;
then all at once you are back where you started. In this, as in some
other points of resemblance, Vevey might be called the Boston of
Switzerland. Not that I pretend to a familiarity with Boston--nobody has
that--but I have an aunt who lives there, and every time I go to see her
I am obliged to start in a different direction for her house, though she
claims to have been living in the same place for thirty years. Some
people think Boston is built on a turn-table. I don't know; it sounds
reasonable.

To come back to Vevey--it is growing--not in the wild, woolly, New York,
Chicago, and Western way, but in a very definite and substantial way.
They are building new houses for business and residence, solid
structures of stone and cement, built, like the old ones, to withstand
time. They do not build flimsy fire-traps in Switzerland. Whatever the
class of the building, the roofs are tile, the staircases are stone. We
always seem to court destruction in our American residential
architecture. We cover our roofs with inflammable shingles to invite
every spark, and build our stairways of nice dry pine, so that in the
event of fire they will be the first thing to go. This encourages
practice in jumping out of top-story windows.

By day Vevey is a busy, prosperous-looking, though unhurried, place, its
water-front gay with visitors; evening comes and glorifies the lake into
wine, turns to rose the snow on _Grammont_, the _Dents de Midi_, and the
_Dents de Morcles_. As to the sunset itself, not many try to paint it
any more. Once, from our little balcony we saw a monoplane pass up the
lake and float into the crimson west, like a great moth or bird. Night
in Vevey is full of light and movement, but not of noise. There is no
wild clatter of voices and outbursts of nothing in particular, such as
characterize the towns of Italy and southern France. On the hilltops
back of Vevey the big hotels are lighted, and sometimes, following the
dimmer streets, we looked up to what is apparently a city in the sky,
suggesting one's old idea of the New Jerusalem, a kind of vision of
heaven, as it were--heaven at night, I mean.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] Written at the Anchor Inn, Ouchy, Lausanne, in 1817.



Chapter XIX

MASHING A MUD GUARD


One does not motor a great deal in the immediate vicinity of Vevey; the
hills are not far enough away for that. One may make short trips to
Blonay, and even up Pelerin, if he is fond of stiff climbing, and there
are wandering little roads that thread cozy orchard lands and lead to
secluded villages tucked away in what seem forgotten corners of a bygone
time. But the highway skirts the lake-front and leads straight away
toward Geneva, or up the Rhone Valley past Martigny toward the Simplon
Pass. It has always been a road, and in its time has been followed by
some of the greatest armies the world has ever seen--the troops of
Cæsar, of Charlemagne, of Napoleon.

We were not to be without our own experience in motor mountain climbing.
We did not want it or invite it; it was thrust upon us. We were
returning from Martigny late one Sunday afternoon, expecting to reach
Vevey for dinner. It was pleasant and we did not hurry. We could not, in
fact, for below Villeneuve we fell in with the homing cows, and traveled
with attending herds--beside us, before us, behind us--fat, sleek,
handsome animals, an escort which did not permit of haste. Perhaps it
was avoiding them that caused our mistake; at any rate, we began to
realize presently that we were not on our old road. Still, we seemed
headed in the right direction and we kept on. Then presently we were
climbing a hill--climbing by a narrow road, one that did not permit of
turning around.

Very well, we said, it could not be very high or steep; we would go over
the hill. But that was a wrong estimate. The hill was high and it was
steep. Up and up and up on second speed, then back to first, until we
were getting on a level with the clouds themselves. It was a good road
of its kind, but it had no end. The water was boiling in the
radiator--boiling over. We must stop to reduce temperature a little and
to make inquiries. It was getting late--far too late to attempt an
ascension of the Alps.

We were on a sort of bend, and there was a peasant chalet a few rods
ahead. I went up there, and from a little old woman in short skirts got
a tub of cool water, also some information. The water cooled off our
engine, and the information our enthusiasm for further travel in that
direction. We were on the road to Château d'Oex, a hilltop resort for
winter sports.

We were not in a good place to turn around, there on the edge of a
semi-precipice, but we managed to do it, and started back. It was a
steep descent. I cut off the spark and put the engine on low speed,
which made it serve as a brake, but it required the foot and emergency
brake besides. It would have been a poor place to let the car get away.
Then I began to worry for fear the hind wheels were sliding, which would
quickly cut through the tires. I don't know why I thought I could see
them, for mud guards make that quite impossible. Nevertheless I leaned
out and looked back. It was a poor place to do that, too. We were
hugging a wall as it was, and one does not steer well looking backward.
In five seconds we gouged into the wall, and the front guard on that
side crumpled up like a piece of tinfoil. I had to get out and pull and
haul it before there was room for the wheel to turn.

I never felt so in disgrace in my life. I couldn't look at anything but
the disfigured guard all the way down the mountain. The passengers were
sorry and tried to say comforting things, but that guard was fairly
shrieking its reproach. What a thing to go home with! I felt that I
could never live it down.

Happily it was dark by the time we found the right road and were drawing
into Montreux--dark and raining. I was glad it was dark, but the rain
did not help, and I should have been happier if the streets had not been
full of dodging pedestrians and vehicles and blinding lights. The
streets of Montreux are narrow enough at best, and what with a busy tram
and all the rest of the medley, driving, for a man already in disgrace,
was not real recreation. A railway train passed us just below, and I
envied the engineer his clear right of way and fenced track, and decided
that his job was an easy one by comparison. One used to hear a good deal
about the dangers of engine driving, and no doubt an engineer would be
glad to turn to the right or left now and then when meeting a train head
on--a thing, however, not likely to happen often, though I suppose once
is about enough. All the same, a straight, fenced and more or less
exclusive track has advantages, and I wished I had one, plunging,
weaving, diving through the rain as we were, among pedestrians,
cyclists, trams, carriages, other motors, and the like; misled by the
cross lights from the shops, dazzled by oncoming headlights, blinded by
rain splashing in one's face.

It is no great distance from Montreux to Vevey, but in that night it
seemed interminable. And what a relief at last were Vevey's quiet
streets, what a path of peace the semi-private road to the hotel, what a
haven of bliss the seclusion of the solid little garage! Next morning
before anybody was astir I got the car with that maltreated mud guard to
the shop. It was an awful-looking thing. It had a real expression. It
looked as if it were going to cry. I told the repair man that the roads
had been wet and the car had skidded into a wall. He did not care how it
happened, of course, but I did; besides, it was easier to explain it
that way in French.

It took a week to repair the guard. I suppose they had to straighten it
out with a steam roller. I don't know, but it looked new and fine when
it came back, and I felt better. The bill was sixteen francs. I never
got so much disgrace before at such a reasonable figure.



Chapter XX

JUST FRENCH--THAT'S ALL


Perhaps one should report progress in learning French. Of course
Narcissa and the Joy were chattering it in a little while. That is the
way of childhood. It gives no serious consideration to a great matter
like that, but just lightly accepts it like a new game or toy and plays
with it about as readily. It is quite different with a thoughtful person
of years and experience. In such case there is need of system and
strategy. I selected different points of assault and began the attack
from all of them at once--private lessons; public practice; daily
grammar, writing and reading in seclusion; readings aloud by persons of
patience and pronunciation.

I hear of persons picking up a language--grown persons, I mean--but if
there are such persons they are not of my species. The only sort of
picking up I do is the kind that goes with a shovel. I am obliged to
excavate a language--to loosen up its materials, then hoist them with a
derrick. My progress is geological and unhurried. Still, I made
progress, of a kind, and after putting in five hours a day for a period
of months I began to have a sense of results. I began to realize that
even in a rapid-fire conversation the sounds were not all exactly alike,
and to distinguish scraps of meaning in conversations not aimed
directly at me, with hard and painful distinctness. I began even to
catch things from persons passing on the street--to distinguish French
from patois--that is to say, I knew, when I understood any of it, that
it was not patois. I began to be proud and to take on airs--always a
dangerous thing.

One day at the pharmacy I heard two well-dressed men speaking. I
listened intently, but could not catch a word. When they went I said to
the drug clerk--an Englishman who spoke French:

"Strange that those well-dressed men should use patois."

He said: "Ah, but that was not patois--that was very choice
French--Parisian."

I followed those men the rest of the afternoon, at a safe distance, but
in earshot, and we thus visited in company most of the shops and sights
of Vevey. If I could have followed them for a few months in that way it
is possible--not likely, but possible--that their conversation might
have meant something to me.

Which, by the way, suggests the chief difference between an acquired and
an inherited language. An acquired language, in time, comes to _mean_
something, whereas the inherited language _is_ something. It is bred
into the fiber of its possessor. It is not a question of considering the
meaning of words--what they convey; they do not come stumbling through
any anteroom of thought, they are embodied facts, forms, sentiments,
leaping from one inner consciousness to another, instantaneously and
without friction. Probably every species of animation, from the atom to
the elephant, has a language--perfectly understood and sufficient to its
needs--some system of signs, or sniffs, or grunts, or barks, or
vibrations to convey quite as adequately as human speech the necessary
facts and conditions of life. Persons, wise and otherwise, will tell you
that animals have no language; but when a dog can learn even many words
of his master's tongue, it seems rather unkind to deny to him one of his
own. Because the oyster does not go shouting around, or annoy us with
his twaddle, does not mean that he is deprived of life's lingual
interchanges. It is not well to deny speech to the mute, inglorious
mollusk. Remember he is our ancestor.

To go back to French: I have acquired, with time and heavy effort, a
sort of next-room understanding of that graceful speech--that is to say,
it is about like English spoken by some one beyond a partition--a fairly
thick one. By listening closely I get the general drift of
conversation--a confusing drift sometimes, mismeanings that generally go
with eavesdropping. At times, however, the partition seems to be
thinner, and there comes the feeling that if somebody would just come
along and open a door between I should understand.

It is truly a graceful speech--the French tongue. Plain, homely things
of life--so bald, and bare, and disheartening in the Anglo-Saxon--are
less unlovely in the French. Indeed, the French word for "rags" is so
pretty that we have conferred "chiffon" on one of our daintiest fabrics.
But in the grace of the language lies also its weakness. It does not
rise to the supreme utterances. I have been reading the bible texts on
the tombstones in the little cemetery of Chardonne. "_L'éternel est mon
berger_" can hardly rank in loftiness with "The Lord is my shepherd,"
nor "_Que votre coeur ne se trouble point_" with "Let not your heart
be troubled." Or, at any rate, I can never bring myself to think so.

Any language is hard enough to learn--bristling with difficulties which
seem needless, even offensively silly to the student. We complain of the
genders and silent letters of the French, but when one's native tongue
spells "cough" and calls it "cof," "rough" and calls it "ruff," "slough"
and calls it "slu" or "sluff," by choice, and "plough" and is unable to
indicate adequately without signs just how it should be pronounced, he
is not in a position to make invidious comparisons. I wonder what a
French student really thinks of those words. He has rules for his own
sound variations, and carefully indicates them with little signs. We
have sound signs, too, but an English page printed with all the
necessary marks is a cause for anguish. I was once given a primary
reader printed in that way, and at sight of it ran screaming to my
mother. So we leave off all signs in English and trust in God for
results. It is hard to be an American learning French, but I would
rather be that than a Frenchman learning American.



Chapter XXI

WE LUGE


When winter comes in America, with a proper and sufficient thickness of
ice, a number of persons--mainly young people--go out skating, or
coasting, or sleighing, and have a very good time. But this interest is
incidental--it does not exclude all other interests--it does not even
provide the main topic of conversation.

It is not like that in Switzerland. Winter sport is a religion in
Switzerland; the very words send a thrill through the dweller--native or
foreign--among the Swiss hills. When the season of white drift and
congealed lake takes possession of the land, other interests and
industries are put aside for the diversions of winter.

Everything is subserved to the winter sports. French, German, and
English papers report each day the thickness of snow at the various
resorts, the conditions of the various courses, the program of events.
Bills at the railway stations announce the names of points where the
sports are in progress, with a schedule of the fares. Hotels publish
their winter attractions--their coasting (they call it "luging"--soft
g), curling, skating, ski-ing accommodations, and incidentally mention
their rooms. They also cover their hall carpetings with canvas to
protect them from the lugers' ponderous hobnailed shoes. To be truly
sporty one must wear those shoes; also certain other trimmings, such as
leggings, breeches, properly cut coat, cap and scarf to match. One
cannot really enjoy the winter sports without these decorations, or keep
in good winter society. Then there are the skis. One must carry a pair
of skis to be complete. They must be as tall as the owner can reach, and
when he puts them on his legs will branch out and act independently,
each on its own account, and he will become a house divided against
itself, with the usual results. So it is better to carry them, and look
handsome and graceful, and to confine one's real activities to the more
familiar things.

Our hotel was divided on winter sports. Not all went in for it, but
those who did went in considerably. We had a Dutch family from Sumatra,
where they had been tobacco planting for a number of years, and in that
tropic land had missed the white robust joys of the long frost. They
were a young, superb couple, but their children, who had never known the
cold, were slender products of an enervating land. They had never seen
snow and they shared their parents' enthusiasm in the winter prospect.
The white drifts on the mountaintops made them marvel; the first light
fall we had made them wild.

That Dutch family went in for the winter sports. You never saw anything
like it. Their plans and their outfit became the chief interest of the
hotel. They engaged far in advance their rooms at Château d'Oex, one of
the best known resorts, and they daily accumulated new and startling
articles of costume to make their experience more perfect. One day they
would all have new shoes of wonderful thickness and astonishing nails.
Then it would be gorgeous new scarfs and caps, then sweaters, then
skates, then snowshoes, then skis, and so on down the list. Sometimes
they would organize a drill in full uniform. But the children were less
enthusiastic then. Those slim-legged little folks could hardly walk,
weighted with several pounds of heavy hobnailed shoes, and they
complained bitterly at this requirement. Their parents did not miss the
humor of the situation, and I think enjoyed these preparations and
incidental discomforts for the sake of pleasure as much as they could
have enjoyed the sports themselves, when the time came. We gave them a
hearty send-off, when reports arrived that the snow conditions at
Château d'Oex were good, and if they had as good a time as we wished
them, and as they gave us in their preparations, they had nothing to
regret.

As the winter deepened the winter sport sentiment grew in our midst,
until finally in January we got a taste of it ourselves. We found that
we could take a little mountain road to a point in the hills called Les
Avants, then a funicular to a still higher point, and thus be in the
white whirl for better or worse, without being distinctly of it, so to
speak. We could not be of it, of course, without the costumes, and we
did not see how we could afford these and also certain new adjuncts
which the car would need in the spring. So we went primarily as
spectators--that is, the older half of the family. The children had
their own winter sports at school.

[Illustration: "YOU CAN SEE SON LOUP FROM THE HOTEL STEPS IN VEVEY, BUT
IT TAKES HOURS TO GET TO IT"]

We telephoned to the Son Loup hotel at the top of the last funicular,
and got an early start. You can see Son Loup from the hotel steps in
Vevey, but it takes hours to get to it. The train goes up, and up, along
gorges and abysses, where one looks down on the tops of Christmas trees,
gloriously mantled in snow. Then by and by you are at Les Avants and in
the midst of everything, except the ski-ing, which is still higher up,
at Son Loup.

We got off at Les Avants and picked our way across the main street among
flying sleds of every pattern, from the single, sturdy little bulldog
_luge_ to the great polly-straddle bob, and from the safe vantage of a
café window observed the slide.

It was divided into three parts--one track for bobsledders--the wild
riders--a track for the more daring single riders, and a track for fat
folks, old folks, and children. Certainly they were having a good time.
Their ages ranged from five to seventy-five, and they were all children
together. Now and then there came gliding down among them a big native
sled, loaded with hay or wood, from somewhere far up in the hills. It
was a perfect day--no cold, no wind, no bright sun, for in reality we
were up in the clouds--a soft white veil of vapor was everywhere.

By and by we crossed the track, entered a wonderful snow garden
belonging to a hotel, and came to a little pond where some old men and
fat men were curling. Curling is a game where you try to drive a sort of
stone decoy duck from one end of the pond to the other and make it
stop somewhere and count something. Each man is armed with a big broom
to keep the ice clean before and after his little duck. We watched them
a good while and I cannot imagine anything more impressive than to see a
fat old man with a broom padding and puffing along by the side of his
little fat stone duck, feverishly sweeping the snow away in front of it,
so that it will get somewhere and count. When I inadvertently laughed I
could see that I was not popular. All were English there--all but a few
Americans who pretended to be English.

Beyond the curling pond was a skating pond, part of it given over to an
international hockey match, but somehow these things did not excite us.
We went back to our café corner to watch the luging and to have
luncheon. Then the lugers came stamping in for refreshments, and their
costumes interested us. Especially their shoes. Even the Dutch family
had brought home no such wonders as some of these. They were of
appalling size, and some of them had heavy iron claws or toes such as
one might imagine would belong to some infernal race. These, of course,
were to dig into the snow behind, to check or guide the flying sled.
They were useful, no doubt, but when one saw them on the feet of a tall,
slim girl the effect was peculiar.

By the time we had finished luncheon we had grown brave. We said we
would luge--modestly, but with proper spirit. There were sleds to let,
by an old Frenchman, at a little booth across the way, and we looked
over his assortment and picked a small bob with a steering attachment,
because to guide that would be like driving a car. Then we hauled it up
the fat folks' slide a little way and came down, hoo-hooing a warning to
those ahead in the regulation way. We did this several times, liking it
more and more. We got braver and tried the next slide, liking it still
better. Then we got reckless and crossed into the bobsled scoot and
tried that. Oh, fine! We did not go to the top--we did not know then how
far the top was; but we went higher each time, liking it more and more,
until we got up to a place where the sleds stood out at a perpendicular
right angle as they swirled around a sudden circle against a constructed
ice barrier. This looked dangerous, but getting more and more reckless,
we decided to go even above that.

We hauled our sled up and up, constantly meeting bobsleds coming down
and hearing the warning hoo-hoo-hooing of still others descending from
the opaque upper mist. Still we climbed, dragging our sled, meeting bob
after bob, also loads of hay and wood, and finally some walking girls
who told us that the top of the slide was at Son Loup--that is, at the
top of the funicular, some miles away.

We understood then; all those bobsledders took their sleds up by
funicular and coasted down. We stopped there and got on our sled. The
grade was very gradual at first, and we moved slowly--so slowly that a
nice old lady who happened along gave us a push. We kept moving after
that. We crossed a road, rounded a turn, leaped a railway track and
struck into the straightway, going like a streak. We had thought it a
good distance to the sharp turn, with its right-angle wall of ice, but
we were there with unbelievable suddenness. Then in a second we were on
the wall, standing straight out into space; then in another we had shot
out of it; but our curve seemed to continue.

There was a little barnyard just there and an empty hay sled--placed
there on purpose, I think now. At any rate, the owner was there watching
the performance. I think he had been expecting us. When all motion
ceased he untelescoped us, and we limped about and discussed with him in
native terms how much we ought to pay for the broken runner on his hay
sled, and minor damages. It took five francs to cure the broken runner,
which I believe had been broken all the time and was just set there
handy to catch inadvertent persons like ourselves. We finished our slide
then and handed in our sled, which the old Frenchman looked at fondly
and said: "_Très bon--très vite._" He did not know how nearly its speed
had come to landing us in the newspapers.

We took the funicular to Son Loup, and at the top found ourselves in
what seemed atmospheric milk. We stood at the hotel steps and watched
the swift coasters pass. Every other moment they flashed by, from a
white mystery above--a vision of faces, a call of voices--to the
inclosing mystery again. It was like life; but not entirely, for they
did not pass to silence. The long, winding hill far below was full of
their calls'--muffled by the mist--their hoo-hoo-hoos of warning to
those ahead and to those who followed. But it was suggestive, too. It
was as if the lost were down there in that cold whiteness.

The fog grew thicker, more opaque, as the day waned. It was an
impalpable wall. We followed the road from the hotel, still higher into
its dense obscurity. When a tree grew near enough to the road for us to
see it, we beheld an astonishing sight. The mist had gathered about the
evergreen branches until they were draped, festooned, fairly clotted
with pendulous frost embroidery.

We had been told that there was ski-ing up there and we were anxious to
see it, but for a time we found only blankness and dead silence. Then at
last--far and faint, but growing presently more distinct--we heard a
light sound, a movement, a "swish-swish-swirl"--somewhere in the mist at
our right, coming closer and closer, until it seemed right upon us, and
strangely mysterious, there being no visible cause. We waited until a
form appeared, no, grew, materialized from the intangible--so
imperceptibly, so gradually, that at first we could not be sure of it.
Then the outlines became definite, then distinct; an athletic fellow on
skis maneuvered across the road, angled down the opposite slope,
"swish-swish-swirl"--checking himself every other stroke, for the
descent was steep--faded into unknown deeps below--the whiteness had
shut him in. We listened while the swish-swish grew fainter, and in the
gathering evening we felt that he had disappeared from the world into
ravines of dark forests and cold enchantments from which there could be
no escape.

We climbed higher and met dashing sleds now and then, but saw no other
ski-ers that evening. Next morning, however, we found them up there,
gliding about in that region of vapors, appearing and dissolving like
cinema figures, their voices coming to us muffled and unreal in tone. I
left the road and followed down into a sort of basin which seemed to be
a favorite place for ski practice. I felt exactly as if I were in a
ghostly aquarium.

I was not much taken with ski-ing, as a whole. I noticed that even the
experts fell down a good many times and were not especially graceful
getting up.

But I approve of coasting under the new conditions--_i. e._ with
funicular assistance. In my day coasting was work--you had to tug and
sweat up a long slippery incline for a very brief pleasure. Keats (I
think it was Keats, or was it Carolyn Wells?) in his, or her, well-known
and justly celebrated poem wrote:

  It takes a long time to make the climb,
  And a minute or less to come down;

But that poetry is out of date--in Switzerland. It no longer takes a
long time to make the climb, and you do it in luxury. You sit in a
comfortable seat and your sled is loaded on an especially built car.
Switzerland is the most funiculated country in the world; its hills are
full of these semi-perpendicular tracks. They make you shudder when you
mount them for the first time, and I think I never should be able to
discuss frivolous matters during an ascent, as I have seen some do.
Still, one gets hardened, I suppose.

They are cheap. You get commutation tickets for very little, and all day
long coasters are loading their sleds on the little shelved flatcar,
piling themselves into the coach, then at the top snatching off their
sleds to go whooping away down the long track to the lower station.
Coasters get killed now and then, and are always getting damaged in one
way and another; for the track skirts deep declivities, and there are
bound to be slips in steering, and collisions. We might have stayed
longer and tried it again, but we were still limping from our first
experiment. Besides, we were not dressed for the real thing. Dress may
not make the man, but it makes the sportsman.



Part II


MOTORING THROUGH THE GOLDEN AGE



Chapter I

THE NEW PLAN


But with the breaking out of the primroses and the hint of a pale-green
beading along certain branches in the hotel garden, the desire to be
going, and seeing, and doing; to hear the long drowse of the motor and
look out over the revolving distances; to drop down magically, as it
were, on this environment and that--began to trickle and prickle a
little in the blood, to light pale memories and color new plans.

We could not go for a good while yet. For spring is really spring in
Switzerland--not advance installments of summer mixed with left-overs
from winter, but a fairly steady condition of damp coolness--sunlight
that is not hot, showers that are not cold--the snow on the
mountainsides advancing and retreating--sometimes, in the night, getting
as low down as Chardonne, which is less than half an hour's walk above
the hotel.

There is something curiously unreal about this Swiss springtime. We saw
the trees break out into leaf, the fields grow vividly green and fresh,
and then become gay with flowers, without at all feeling the reason for
such a mood. In America such a change is wrought by hot days--cold ones,
too, perhaps, but certainly hot ones; we have sweltered in April,
though we have sometimes snowballed in May. The Swiss spring was
different. Three months of gradual, almost unnoticeable, mellowing kept
us from getting excited and gave us plenty of time to plan.

That was good for us--the trip we had in mind now was no mere matter of
a few days' journey, from a port to a destination; it was to be a
wandering that would stretch over the hills and far away, through some
thousands of kilometers and ten weeks of time. That was about all we had
planned concerning it, except that we were going back into France, and
at one point in those weeks we expected to touch Cherbourg and pick up a
missing member of the family who would be dropped there by a passing
ship. We studied the maps a good deal, and at odd times I tinkered with
the car and wondered how many things would happen to it before we
completed the long circle, and if I would return only partially crippled
or a hopeless heap of damage and explanations. Never mind--the future
holds sorrow enough for all of us. Let us anticipate only its favors.

So we planned. We sent for a road map of France divided into four
sections, showing also western Germany and Switzerland. We spread it out
on the table and traced a variety of routes to Cherbourg; by Germany, by
Paris direct, by a long loop down into southern France. We favored the
last-named course. We had missed some things in the Midi--Nîmes, Pont du
Gard, Orange--and then there was still a quality in the air which made
us feel that the south would furnish better motor weather in May.

Ah, me! There is no place quite like the Provence. It is rather dusty,
and the people are drowsy and sometimes noisy, and there are mosquitoes
there, and maybe other unpleasant things; but in the light chill of a
Swiss spring day there comes a memory of rich mellowness and September
roadsides, with gold and purple vintage ripening in the sun, that lights
and warms the soul. We would start south, we said. We were not to reach
Cherbourg until June. Plenty of time for the north, then, and later.

We discussed matters of real importance--that is to say, expenses. We
said we would give ourselves an object lesson, this time, in what could
really be done in motor economies. On our former trip we had now and
again lunched by the roadside, with pleasing results. This time we would
always do it. Before, we had stopped a few times at small inns in
villages instead of seeking out hotels in the larger towns. Those few
experiments had been altogether satisfactory, both as to price and
entertainment. Perhaps this had been merely our good fortune, but we
were willing to take further chances. From the fifty francs a day
required for our party of four we might subtract a franc or so and still
be nourished, body and soul. Thus we planned. When it was pleasant we
enjoyed shopping for our roadside outfit; a basket, square, and of no
great size; some agate cups and saucers; some knives and forks; also an
alcohol stove, the kind that compacts itself into very small compass,
aluminum, and very light-- I hope they have them elsewhere than in
Switzerland, for their usefulness is above price.



Chapter II

THE NEW START


It was the first week in May when we started--the 5th, in fact. The car
had been thoroughly overhauled, and I had spent a week personally on it,
scraping and polishing, so that we might make a fine appearance as we
stood in front of the hotel in the bright morning sunlight where our
fellow guests would gather to see us glide away.

I have had many such showy dreams as that, and they have turned out
pretty much alike. We did not start in the bright morning. It was not
bright. It was raining, and it continued to rain until after eleven
o'clock. By that time our fellow guests were not on hand. They had got
tired and gone to secluded corners, or to their rooms, or drabbling into
the village. When the sun finally came out only a straggler or two
appeared. It was too bad.

We glided away, but not very far. I remembered, as we were passing
through the town, that it might be well to take some funds along, so we
drove around to the bank to see what we could raise in that line. We
couldn't raise anything--not a centime. It was just past twelve o'clock
and, according to Swiss custom, the bank was closed for two hours. Not a
soul was there--the place was locked, curtained, barred. Only dynamite
would have opened it.

We consulted. We had some supplies in our basket to eat by the roadside
as soon as we were well into the country. Very good; we would drive to
some quiet back street in the suburbs and eat them now. We had two hours
to wait--we need feel no sense of hurry. So we drove down into Vevey la
Tour and, behind an old arch, where friends would not be likely to
notice us, we sat in the car and ate our first luncheon, with a smocked
boy for audience--a boy with a basket on his arm, probably delaying the
machinery of his own household to study the working economies of ours.
Afterward we drove back to the bank, got our finances arranged, slipped
down a side street to the lake-front, and fled away toward Montreux
without looking behind us. It was not at all the departure we had
planned.

It rained again at Montreux, but the sun was shining at Chillon, and the
lake was blue. Through openings in the trees we could see the picture
towns of Territet, Montreux, Clarens, and Vevey, skirting the shore--the
white steamers plying up and down; the high-perched hotels, half lost in
cloudland, and we thought that our travels could hardly provide a more
charming vision than that. Then we were in Villeneuve, then in the open
flat fields of the Rhone Valley, where, for Europe, the roads are poor;
on through a jolty village to a bridge across the Rhone, and so along
the south shore by Bouveret, to St. Gingolph, where we exhibited our
papers at the Swiss _douane_, crossed a little brook, and were again in
France. We were making the circuit of the lake, you see. All winter we
had looked across to that shore, with its villages and snow-mantled
hills. We would now see it at close range.

We realized one thing immediately. Swiss roads are not bad roads, by any
means, but French roads are better. In fact, I have made up my mind that
there is nothing more perfect in this world than a French road. I have
touched upon this subject before, and I am likely to dwell upon it
unduly, for it always excites me. Those roads are a perfect network in
France, and I can never cease marveling at the money and labor they must
have cost. They are so hard and smooth, so carefully graded and curved,
so beautifully shaded, so scrupulously repaired--it would seem that half
the wealth and effort of France must be expended on her highways. The
road from St. Gingolph was wider than the one we had left behind. It was
also a better road and in better repair. It was a floor. Here and there
we came to groups of men working at it, though it needed nothing, that
we could see. It skirted the mountains and lake-front. We could look
across to our own side now--to Vevey and those other towns, and the
cloud-climbing hotels, all bright in the sunshine.

We passed a nameless village or two and were at Evian, a watering-place
which has grown in fame and wealth these later years--a resort of fine
residences and handsome hotels--not our kind of hotels, but plenty good
enough for persons whose tastes have not been refined down to our budget
and daily program of economies.

It was at Thonon--quaint old Thonon, once a residence of the Counts and
Dukes of Savoy--that we found a hostelry of our kind. It had begun
raining again, and, besides, it was well toward evening. We pulled up in
front of the Hôtel d'Europe, one of the least extravagant of the
red-book hostelries, and I went in. The "_Bureau_" as the French call
the office, was not very inviting. It was rather dingy and somber, and
nobody was there. I found a bell and rang it and a woman appeared--not a
very attractive woman, but a kindly person who could understand my
"_Vous avez des chambres?_" which went a good ways. She had "_des
chambres_" and certainly no fault could be found with those. They were
of immense size, the beds were soft, smooth, and spotlessly clean. Yes,
there was a garage, free. I went back with my report. The dinner might
be bad, we said, but it would only be for once--besides, it was raining
harder. So we went in, and when the shower passed we took a walk along
the lake-front, where there is an old château, once the home of royalty,
now the storehouse of plaster or something, and we stopped to look at a
public laundry--a square stone pool under a shed, where the women get
down on their knees and place the garments on a board and scrub them
with a brush, while the cold water from the mountains runs in and out
and is never warmed at all.

Returning by another way, we found about the smallest church in the
world, built at one corner of the old domain. A woman came with a key
and let us into it and we sat in the little chairs and inspected the
tiny altar and all the sacred things with especial interest, for one of
the purposes of our pilgrimages was to see churches--the great
cathedrals of France. Across from the church stood a ruined tower,
matted with vines, the remains of a tenth-century château--already old
when the one on the lake-front was new. We speak lightly of a few
centuries more or less, but, after all, there was a goodly period
between the tenth and the fourteenth, a period long enough to cover
American history from Montezuma to date. These old towers, once filled
with life and voices and movement, are fascinating things. We stood
looking at this one while the dusk gathered. Then it began sprinkling
again and it was dinner time.

So we returned to the hotel and I may as well say here, at once, that I
do not believe there are any bad dinners in France. I have forgotten
what we had, but I suppose it was fish and omelet, and meat and chicken,
and salad and dessert, and I know it was all hot and delicious, and
served daintily in courses, and we went to those soft beds happy and
soothed, fell asleep to the sound of the rain pattering outside, and
felt not a care in the world.



Chapter III

INTO THE JURAS


It was still drizzling next morning, so we were in no hurry to leave. We
plodded about the gray streets, picking up some things for the lunch
basket, and Narcissa and the Joy got a chance to try their nice new
French on real French people and were gratified to find that it worked
just the same as it did on Swiss people. Then the sky cleared and I
backed the car out of the big stable where it had spent the night, and
we packed on our bags and paid our bill--twenty-seven francs for all, or
about one dollar and thirty-five cents each for dinner, lodging, and
breakfast--tips, one franc each to waitress, chambermaid, and garageman.
If they were dissatisfied they did not look it, and presently we were
once more on the road, all the cylinders working and bankruptcy not yet
in sight. It was glorious and fresh along the lake-front--also
appetizing. We stopped by and by for a little mid-morning luncheon, and
a passing motorist, who probably could not believe we would stop merely
to eat at that hour, drew up to ask if anything was wrong with our car
and if he could help. They are kindly people, these French and Swiss.
Stop your car by the roadside and begin to hammer something, or to take
off a tire, and you will have offers of assistance from four out of
every five cars that pass.

There is another little patch of Switzerland again at the end of the
lake, and presently you run into Geneva, and trouble. Geneva is
certainly a curious place. The map of it looks as easy as nothing and
you go gliding into it full of confidence, and presently find yourself
in a perfect mess of streets that are not on the map at all, while all
the streets that _are_ on the map certainly have changed their names,
for you cannot find them where they should be, and no one has ever heard
of them. Besides, the wind is generally blowing--the _bise_--which does
not simplify matters. Narcissa inquired and I inquired, and then the
Joy, who, privately, I think, speaks the best French of any of us, also
inquired; but the combined result was just a big coalyard which a very
good-looking street led us straight into, making it necessary to back
out and apologize and feel ashamed. Then we heard somebody calling us,
and, looking around, saw the man in gray who had last directed us, and
who also felt ashamed, it seemed--of us, or himself, or something--and
had run after us to get us out of the mess. So he directed us again and
we started, but the labyrinth closed in once more--the dust and narrow
streets and blind alleys--and once again we heard a voice, and there was
the man in gray--he must have run a half a mile this time--waving and
calling and pointing the path out of the maze. It seemed that they were
fixing all the good streets and we must get through by circuitous bad
ones to the side of the city toward France. I asked him why they didn't
leave the good streets alone and fix the bad ones, but he only smiled
and explained some more, and once more we went astray, and yet once more
his voice came calling down the wind and he came up breathlessly, and
this time followed with us, refusing even standing room on the
running-board, until he got us out of the city proper and well headed
for France. We had grown fond of that man and grieved to see him go. We
had known him hardly ten minutes, I think, but friendships are not to be
measured by time.

On a pretty hill where a little stream of water trickled we ate our
first real luncheon--that is to say, we used our new stove. We cooked
eggs and made coffee, and when there came a sprinkle we stood under our
umbrellas or sat in the car and felt that this was really a kind of
gypsying, and worth while.

There was a waving meadow just above the bank and I went up there to
look about a little. No house was in sight, but this meadow was a part
of some man's farm. It was familiar in every corner to him--he had known
it always. Perhaps he had played in it as a child--his children had
played in it after him--it was inseparable from the life and happiness
of a home. Yet to us it was merely the field above our luncheon place--a
locality hardly noticed or thought of--barely to be remembered at all.

Crossing another lonely but fertile land, we entered the hills. We
skirted mountainsides--sometimes in sun, sometimes in shower--descended
a steep road, and passed under a great arched battlement that was part
of a frowning fortress guarding the frontier of France. Not far beyond,
at the foot of a long decline, lay a beautiful city, just where the
mountains notched to form a passage for the Rhone. It was Bellegarde,
and as we drew nearer some of the illusions of beauty disappeared.
French cities generally show best from a distance. Their streets are not
very clean and they are seldom in repair. The French have the best roads
and the poorest streets in the world.

We drew up in front of the custom house, and exhibited our French
_triptyque_. It was all right, and after it was indorsed I thought we
were through. This was not true. A long, excited individual appeared
from somewhere and began nervously to inspect our baggage. Suddenly he
came upon a small empty cigar box which I had put in, thinking it might
be useful. Cigars are forbidden, and at sight of the empty box our
wild-eyed attenuation had a fit. He turned the box upside down and shook
it; he turned it sidewise and looked into it; shook it again and knocked
on it as if bound to make the cigars appear. He seemed to decide that I
had hidden the cigars, for he made a raid on things in general. He
looked into the gasoline tank, he went through the pockets of the
catch-all and scattered our guidebooks and maps; then he had up the
cushion of the back seat and went into the compartment where this time
was our assortment of hats. You never saw millinery fly as it did in
that man's hands, with the head of the family and Narcissa and the Joy
grabbing at their flowers and feathers, and saying things in English
that would have hurt that man if he could have understood them. As for
him, he was repeating, steadily, "_Pas dérange_"--"_Pas dérange_," when
all the time he was deranging ruthlessly and even permanently. He got
through at last, smiled, bowed, and retired--pleased, evidently, with
the thoroughness of his investigation. But for some reason he entirely
overlooked our bags strapped on the footboard. We did not remind him.

The Pert of the Rhone is at Bellegarde. The pert is a place where in dry
weather the Rhone disappears entirely from sight for the space of
seventy yards, to come boiling up again from some unknown mystery.
Articles have been thrown in on one side--even live animals, it is
said--but they have never reappeared on the other. What becomes of them
is a matter of speculation. Perhaps some fearful underground maelstrom
holds them. There was no pert when we were there--there had been too
much rain. The Rhone went tearing through a gorge where we judged the
pert should be located in less watery seasons.

During the rest of the afternoon we had rather a damp time--showery and
sloppy, for many of the roads of these Jura foothills were in the
process of repair, and the rain had stopped the repairs halfway. It was
getting toward dusk when we came to Nantua--a lost and forgotten town
among the Jura cliffs. We stopped in front of the showier hotel there,
everything looked so rain-beaten and discouraging, but the woman who ran
it was even showier than her hotel and insisted on our taking a parlor
suite at some fabulous price. So we drove away and drew up rather sadly
at the Hôtel du Lac, which on that dull evening was far from
fascinating. Yet the rooms they showed us were good, and the dinner--a
surprise of fresh trout just caught, served sizzling hot, fine baked
potatoes and steak, with good red wine aplenty--was such as to make us
forswear forevermore the showy hotels for the humbler inns of France.

But I am moving too fast. Before dinner we walked for a little in the
gray evening and came to an old church--one of the oldest in France, it
is said, built in the ninth century and called St. Michels. It is over a
thousand years old and looks it. It has not been much rebuilt, I think,
for invasion and revolution appear seldom to have surmounted the natural
ramparts of Nantua, and only the stormbeat and the corrosion of the
centuries have written the story of decay. Very likely it is as little
changed as any church of its time. The hand of restoration has troubled
it little. We slipped in through the gathering dusk, and tiptoed about,
for there were a few lights flickering near the altar and the outlines
of bowed heads. Presently a priest was silhouetted against the altar
lights as he crossed and passed out by a side door. He was one of a long
line that stretched back through more than half of the Christian era and
most of the history of France. When the first priest passed in front of
that altar France was still under the Carlovingian dynasty--under
Charles the Fat, perhaps; and William of Normandy would not conquer
England for two hundred years. Then nearly four hundred years more would
creep by--dim mediæval years--before Joan of Arc should unfurl her
banner of victory and martyrdom. You see how far back into the mists we
are stepping here. And all those evenings the altar lights have been lit
and the ministration of priests has not failed.

There is a fine picture by Eugene Delacroix in the old church, and we
came back next morning to look at it. It is a St. Sebastian, and not the
conventional, ridiculous St. Sebastian of some of the old masters--a
mere human pincushion--but a beautiful youth, prostrate and dying,
pierced by two arrows, one of which a pitying male figure is drawing
from his shoulder. It must be a priceless picture. How can they afford
to keep it here?

The weather seemed to have cleared, and the roads, though wet, were
neither soft nor slippery. French roads, in fact, are seldom either--and
the fresh going along the lake-front was delightful enough. But we were
in the real Juras now, and one does not go through that range on a water
grade. We were presently among the hills, the road ahead of us rising to
the sky. Then it began to rain again, but the road was a good firm one
and the car never pulled better.

It was magnificent climbing. On the steepest grades and elbow turns we
dropped back to second, but never to low, and there was no lagging. On
the high levels we stopped to let the engine cool and to add water from
the wayside hollows. We were in the clouds soon, and sometimes it was
raining, sometimes not. It seemed for the most part an uninhabited
land--no houses and few fields--the ground covered with a short bushy
growth, grass and flowers. A good deal of it was rocky and barren.

On the very highest point of the Jura range, where we had stopped to
cool the motor, a woman came along, leading three little children. She
came up and said a few words in what sounded like an attempt at English.
We tried our French on her, but it did not seem to get inside. I said
she must speak some mountain patois, for we had used those same words
lower down with good results. But then she began her English again--it
was surely English this time, and, listening closely, we got the fringes
and tag ends of a curious story. She was Italian, and had been in New
York City. There, it seemed, she had married a Frenchman from the Juras,
who, in time, when his homeland had called him, had brought her back to
the hills. There he had died, leaving her with six children. She had a
little hut up the side lane, where they were trying to scratch a living
from the stony soil. Yes, she had chickens, and could let us have some
eggs. She also brought a pail with water for the radiator.

A little farther along we cooked the eggs and laid out all our nice
lunch things on natural stone tables and looked far down the Jura slope
on an ancient village and an old castle, the beginning of the world
across the range.

It was not raining now, and the air was soft and pleasant and the spot
as clean and sweet as could be. Presently the water was boiling and the
coffee made--instantaneous coffee, the George Washington kind. And
nothing could be fresher than those eggs, nothing unless it was the
butter--unsalted butter, which with jam and rolls is about the best
thing in the world to finish on.

[Illustration: DESCENDING THE JURAS]

We descended the Jura grades on the engine brake--that is, I let in the
clutch, cut off the gasoline supply and descended on first or second
speed, according to the grade. That saves the wheel brake and does no
damage to the motor. I suppose everybody knows the trick, but I did not
learn it right away, and there may be others who know as little. It was
a long way to the lower levels, and some of the grades were steep. Then
they became gradual, and we coasted--then the way flattened and we were
looking across a level valley, threaded by perfectly ordered roads to a
distant town whose roofs and spires gleamed in the sunlight of the May
afternoon. It was Bourg, and one of the spires belonged to the church of
Brou.



Chapter IV

A POEM IN ARCHITECTURE


The church of Brou is like no other church in the world. In the first
place, instead of dragging through centuries of building and never quite
reaching completion, it was begun and finished in the space of
twenty-five years--from 1511 to 1536--and it was supervised and paid for
by a single person, Margaret of Austria, who built it in fulfillment of
a vow made by her mother-in-law, Margaret of Bourbon. The last Margaret
died before she could undertake her project, and her son, Philibert II,
Duke of Savoy, called "The Handsome," followed before he could carry out
her wishes. So his duchess, the other Margaret, undertook the work, and
here on this plain, between the Juras and the Saône, she wrought a
marvel in exquisite church building which still remains a marvel, almost
untouched by any blight, after four hundred turbulent years. Matthew
Arnold wrote a poem on the church of Brou which may convey the wonder of
its beauty. I shall read it some day, and if it is as beautiful as the
church I shall commit it, and on days when things seem rather ugly and
harsh and rasping I will find some quiet corner and shut my eyes and say
the lines and picture a sunlit May afternoon and the church of Brou.
Then, perhaps, I shall not remember any more the petty things of the
moment but only the architectural shrine which one woman reared in honor
of another, her mother-in-law.

It is not a great cathedral, but it is by no means a little church. Its
lofty nave is bare of furnishings, which perhaps lends to its impression
of bigness. But then you pass through the carved doors of a magnificent
_juba_ screen, and the bareness disappears. The oaken choir seats are
carved with the richness of embroidery, and beyond them are the
tombs--those of the two Margarets, and of Philibert--husband and son.

I suppose the world can show no more exquisitely wrought tombs than
these. Perhaps their very richness defeats their art value, but I would
rather have them so, for it reveals, somehow, the thoroughness and
sincerity of Margaret's intent--her determination to fulfill to the
final letter every imagined possibility in that other's vow.

The mother's tomb is a sort of bower--a marble alcove of great splendor,
within and without. Philibert's tomb, which stands in the center of the
church, between the other two, is a bier, supported by female figures
and fluted columns and interwoven decorations, exquisitely chiseled. Six
cupids and a crouching lion guard the royal figure above; and the whole,
in spite of its richness, is of great dignity. The tomb of the Duchess
Margaret herself is a lofty canopy of marble incrustations, the
elaborateness of which no words can tell. It is the superlative of
Gothic decoration at a period when Gothic extravagance was supreme.

Like her husband Margaret sleeps in double effigy, the sovereign in
state above, the figure of mortality, compassed by the marble supports,
below. The mortality of the queen is draped, but in the case of
Philibert, the naked figure, rather dim through the interspaces, has a
curiously lifelike, even startling effect.

[Illustration: THE TOMB OF MARGARET OF AUSTRIA, CHURCH OF BROU]

If the Duchess Margaret made her own tomb more elaborate, it is at least
not more beautiful than the others, while an altar to the Virgin is
still more elaborate--more beautiful, its grouped marble figures in such
high relief that angels and cherubs float in the air, apparently
unsupported. Here, as elsewhere, is a wealth of ornamentation; and
everywhere woven into its intricacies one may find the initials P and
M--Philibert and Margaret--and the latter's motto, "_Fortune, infortune,
fort une._" It has been called a mysterious motto, and different
meanings have been twisted out of it. But my French is new and fresh and
takes things quite obviously. "Fortune and misfortune strengthens or
fortifies one" strikes me as a natural rendering. That last verb
_fortifier_ may seem to be abbreviated without warrant, but Margaret was
a queen and could have done that for the sake of euphony and word-play.

The unscarred condition and the purity of these precious marbles is
almost as astonishing as their beauty, when one considers the centuries
of invasion and revolution, with a vandalism that respected nothing
sacred, least of all symbols of royalty. By careful search we could
discover a broken detail here and there, but the general effect was
completeness, and the white marble--or was it ivory tinted?--seen
under the light of the illumined stained windows seemed to present the
shapes and shades of things that, as they had never been new, neither
would they ever be old.



Chapter V

VIENNE IN THE RAIN


It is about forty miles from Bourg to Lyons, a country of fair fields,
often dyed deeply red at this season with crimson clover, a country rich
and beautiful, the road a straight line, wide and smooth, the trees on
either side vividly green with spring. But Lyons is not beautiful--it is
just a jangling, jarring city of cobbled crowded streets and mainly
uninteresting houses and thronging humanity, especially soldiers. It is
a place to remain unloved, unhonored, and unremembered.

The weather now put aside other things and really got down to the
business of raining. It was fair enough when we left Lyons, but as we
reached the top of a hill that overlooked the world I saw down the
fields a spectral light and far deepening dusk which looked ominous. By
the time we got our top up there was a steady downpour. We did not visit
any wayside villages, though some of them looked interesting enough.
French villages are none too clean at any time and rain does not seem to
help them. Attractive old castles on neighboring hilltops received
hardly a glance; even one overhanging our very road barely caused us to
check up. How old it looked in its wet desolation, the storm eating into
its crumbling walls!

We pulled up at last at Vienne, at the end of the bridge facing the
cathedral. History has been written about Vienne, and there are
monuments of the past which it is not good form to overlook. The head of
the family said she was not very particular about form and that she was
particular about being wet and discomforted on a chill spring day.
France was full of monuments of the past, she said, and she had not
started out to make her collection complete. She would study the
cathedral from the car, and would the rest of us please remember to
bring some fresh rolls for luncheon. So the rest of us went to the
church of St. Maurice, which begins to date with the twelfth century and
looks even older. Surrounded by comparatively modern buildings and
soaked with rain it appeared, one of the most venerable relics I had
ever seen. I do not think we found the inside very interesting. It was
dead and dusky, and the seventh-century sarcophagus of St. Leoninus was,
in the French phrase, not gay. On the whole there seemed a good deal of
mutilation and not much taste.

We paddled through streets, asking directions to the Roman temple.
Vienne was an important town under the Romans, the capital of one of the
provinces of Gaul. Of course the Romans would leave landmarks--the kind
that would last. When we found the temple of Augustus and Livia at last,
it did not look so much older than the church, though it is more than as
old again. It was so positively Roman and so out of place among its
modern French surroundings that it looked exactly like something that
had been brought there and set up for exhibition. It took a heavy
strain of imagination to see it as an integral part of the vanished
Roman capital.

All about the temple lay fragments of that ancient city--exhibition
pieces, like the temple. One felt that they should not be left out in
the rain.

We hunted farther and found an Arch of Triumph, which the Romans
generally built in conquered territory. It was hard to tell where the
arch began and where it ended, such a variety of other things had grown
up around and against it. Still, there was at least a section standing,
Roman, and of noble proportions. It will still be Roman, and an arch,
when those later incrustations have crumbled away. Roman work is not
trivial stuff.

We might have lingered a little in the winding streets and made further
discoveries, but the Joy had already sighted a place where the most
attractive rolls and French cakes filled the window. The orders, she
said, were very strict about the luncheon things. We must get them at
once or we should not be able to locate the place again.

Curious things can happen in a brief absence. We returned to the car to
find one of the back tires perfectly flat, the head of the family
sitting serenely unconscious of her misfortune. We had picked up one of
those flat-headed boot nails that Europeans love so well, and the tire
had slowly and softly settled. There are cleaner, pleasanter things than
taking off a tire and putting it on again in the rain, but I utilized a
deep doorway on the corner for the dry work, and Narcissa held the
umbrella while I pulled and pushed and grunted and pumped, during the
more strenuous moments. Down the river a way we drew up in a grassy
place under some trees and sat in the car and ate the _gâteaux_ and
other things, and under the green shelter I made coffee and eggs, the
little cooker sitting cozily on the running-board. Then all the
afternoon along the hard, wet, shining road that follows the Rhone to
Valence, where we spent two days, watching the steady beat from the
hotel windows, reading, resting, and eating a good deal of the time;
doing not much sight-seeing, for we had touched Valence on our northward
trip eight months before.



Chapter VI

THE CHÂTEAU I DID NOT RENT


In a former chapter I have mentioned the mighty natural portrait in
stone which Mark Twain found, and later named the Lost Napoleon, because
he could not remember its location, and how we rediscovered it from
Beauchastel on the Rhone, not far below Valence. We decided now that we
would have at least another glimpse of the great stone face, it being so
near. The skies had cleared this morning, though there was a good deal
of wind and the sun was not especially warm. But we said we would go. We
would be getting on toward the south, at any rate.

We did not descend on the Beauchastel side, there being a bridge shown
on the map, at La Voulte, where we would cross. The reader may also
remember the mention of a château below Beauchastel, with a sign on it
which said that the property was to let, and my failure to negotiate for
it. Very well, here is the sequel: When we got to the end of the bridge
opposite La Voulte, we looked across to one of the closely packed
mediæval villages of France with a great castle rising from its central
height. It was one of the most picturesque things we had seen and I
stopped to photograph it, declaring we must certainly visit it. So we
crossed the bridge and at the end turned away toward Beauchastel,
deciding to visit La Voulte later.

We were back almost immediately. The day was not as clear as it looked
and the Lost Napoleon was veiled, behind a white horizon. Very likely it
would be better by morning, we said, so we dropped our belongings at the
tiny Beauchastel inn and made an afternoon excursion to the château.
Imagine my feelings when, on looking up from the road, I suddenly
discovered once more the big sign, "_Château A Louer._" It was our
château--the one I had formerly been discouraged from taking. It was
providence, I said, knocking a second time at our door.

The others had another view. They said unless I would promise not to
rent the premises I would not be permitted to examine them. I tried to
make better terms, but finally submitted. We drove up into the narrow,
ancient, cobbled streets a distance and left the car. Then we climbed.
It was a steep and tortuous way, winding around scary edges and through
doubtful-looking passages where, in weird holes and crannies, old and
crooked people lived and were doing what they had always done since time
began. I don't remember exactly how we finally made our way through
crumble and decay--such surroundings as I have often known in dreams--to
a grassy court where there was a semblance of genuine life. An old
caretaker was there and he agreed to show us through.

It was called _La Voulte sur Rhone_, he said, and gave its name to the
village. No one knew just when it had been begun, but some of it had
been there in the eleventh century, when it had belonged to Adon de
Clerieu. It had passed through many hands and had been more than once
reconstructed. At one time Guillaume de Fay held it; also Philippe IV
and Louis de Bourbon Condé, and the great family of De Rohan. Kings had
been entertained there, among them Louis XIII, an interesting fact, but
I wished they had given better accommodations than the rambling,
comfortless, and rather blind succession of boxes shown us as the royal
suite. I also objected to the paper on the walls until our guide
explained that it had been put there by an American tenant of the early
Andrew Johnson period. He told us then that the château had been
recently bought by a French author of two volumes of poetry, who was
restoring portions of it and had reserved a row of rooms along the high
terrace to let to other poets and kindred souls, so they might live side
by side and look out over the fair land of France and interchange their
fancies and dream long dreams. Standing on that lofty green vantage and
looking out across the river and the valley of the Rhone, I was tempted
to violate my treaty and live there forever after.

The only portion really restored, so far, is a large assembly room, now
used as a sort of museum. I hope the owner will reclaim, or at least
clean, some of the other rooms, and that he will not carry the work to
the point where atmosphere and romance seem to disappear. Also, I truly
hope he won't give up the notion of that row of poets along the
terrace, even if I can't be one of them; and I should like to slip up
there sometime and hear them all striking their harps in unison and
lifting a memnonic voice to the sunrise.



Chapter VII

AN HOUR AT ORANGE


Our bill at Beauchastel for the usual accommodation--dinner, lodging,
and breakfast--was seventeen francs-twenty, including the tips to two
girls and the stableman. This was the cheapest to date; that is to say,
our expense account was one dollar each, nothing for the car.

The Beauchastel inn is not really a choice place, but it is by no means
a poor place--not from the point of view of an American who has put up
at his own little crossroad hotels. We had the dining room to ourselves,
with a round table in the center, and the dinner was good and plentiful
and well served. If the rooms were bare they were at least clean, and
the landlady was not to blame that it turned cold in the night, which
made getting up a matter to be considered.

Still, we did get up pretty promptly, for we wanted to see if our
natural wonder was on view. It was, and we took time and sketched it and
tried to photograph it, though that was hopeless, for the distance was
too great and the apparition too actinic--too blue. But it was quite
clear, and the peaceful face impressed us, I think, more than ever. The
best view is from the railway embankment.

We got another reward for stopping at Beauchastel. We saw the old Rhone
stagecoach come in, Daudet's coach, and saw descend from it Daudet's
characters, _le Camarguais_, _le boulanger_, _le remouleur_, and the
rest. At least they might have been those, for they belonged with the
old diligence, and one could imagine the knife grinder saying to the
hectoring baker, "_Tais-toi, je t'en prie" si navrant et si doux_.[13]

But now we felt the breath of the south. It was no longer chilly. The
sun began to glow warm, the wind died. Sometime in the afternoon we
arrived at Orange. Orange is not on the Rhone and we had missed it in
our northward journey in September. It was one of our special reasons
for returning to the south of France. Not the town of Orange itself,
which is of no particular importance, but for the remnants of the Roman
occupation--a triumphal arch and the chief wall of a Roman theater, both
of such fine construction and noble proportions that they are to be
compared with nothing else of their kind in France.

We came to the arch first--we had scarcely entered the town when we were
directly facing it. It stands in a kind of circular grass plot a little
below the present level, with short flights of steps leading down to it.
At the moment of our arrival a boy of about fifteen was giving an
exhibition by riding up and down these steps on a bicycle. I sincerely
wished he would not do it.

Whatever its relation to its surroundings nineteen centuries ago, the
arch of Orange is magnificently out of place to-day. Time-beaten and
weather-stained--a visible manifest of a race that built not for the
generations or the centuries, but for "the long, long time the world
shall last"--supreme in its grandeur and antiquity, it stands in an
environment quite modern, quite new, and wholly trivial.

The arch is really three arches--the highest in the center, and the
attic, as they call the part above, is lofty, with rich decorations,
still well preserved. There are restored patches here and there, but
they do little injury.

From whatever direction you look the arch is beautiful, imposing, and
certainly it seems eternal. When the present Orange has crumbled and has
been followed by successive cities, it will still be there, but I trust
the boy with the bicycle will not survive.

The theater is at the other end of town. It is not an amphitheater or an
inclosure of any kind, but a huge flat wall, about as solid as the hills
and one of the biggest things in France. Strictly speaking, it was never
part of any building at all. It was simply a stage property, a sort of
permanent back scene for what I judge to have been an open-air theater.
There is no doubt about its permanency. It is as high as an ordinary
ten-or twelve-story building, longer than the average city block, and it
is fifteen feet thick. That is the Roman idea of scenery. They did not
expect to shift it often. They set up some decorative masonry in front
of it, with a few gods and heroes solidly placed, and let it go at that.
Their stage would be just in front of this, rather narrow, and about on
a ground level. The whole was built facing a steep rocky hillside,
which was carved into a semi-circle of stone seats, in the old fashion
which Rome borrowed from Greece. This natural stonework did not stand
the wash of centuries, or it may have been quarried for the château
which the princes of Orange built at the summit of the hill. The château
is gone to-day, and the seats have been restored, I dare say, with some
of the original material. Every August now a temporary stage is erected
in the ancient theater, and the Comédie Française gives performances
there.

The upper works of the hill, where the château was, are rather
confusing. There are cave-like places and sudden drops and rudimentary
passages, all dimly suggesting dungeons, once black and horrible, now
happily open to the sun. And, by the way, I suppose that I am about the
only person in the world who needed to be told that a line of kings
originated at Orange. I always supposed that William of Orange took his
name from an Irish society whose colors, along with a shamrock, he wore
in his hat.

By some oversight the guidebook does not mention the jam that is sold at
Orange. It is put up in tin pails, and has in it all the good things in
the world--lumps of them--price, one franc per pail.

We did not stop at Avignon, for we had been there before, but followed
around outside the ancient wall and came at last to the Rhone bridge,
and to the island of our smoke adventure in the days of our
inexperience, eight months earlier. This time we camped on the island in
a pretty green nook by the water's edge, left the car under a tree, and
made tea and had some of that excellent jam and some fresh rolls and
butter, and ate them looking across to ancient Villeneuve and the tower
of Philip le Bel.

Oh, the automobile is the true flying carpet--swift, willing, always
ready, obeying at a touch. Only this morning we were at Beauchastel; a
little while ago we were under the ancient arch at Orange and sat in the
hoary theater. A twist of the crank, a little turning of the wheel, a
brief flight across wood and meadow, and behold! the walls of Avignon
and a pleasant island in the river, where we alight for a little to make
our tea in the greenery, knowing that we need only to rub the magic lamp
to sail lightly away, resting where we will.

Our tea ended, the genii awoke and dropped us into Villeneuve, where, in
an open market, we realized that it was cherry season. I thought I had
seen cherries before, but never in this larger sense. Here there were
basketfuls, boxfuls, bucketfuls, barrelfuls, wagonloads--the whole
street was crowded with wagons, and every wagon heaped high with the
crimson and yellow fruit. Officials seemed to be weighing them and
collecting something, a tax, no doubt. But what would be done with them
later? Could they ship all those cherries north and sell them? And
remember this was only one evening and one town. The thought that every
evening and every town in the Midi was like this in cherry time was
stupefying. We had to work our way among cherry wagons to get to the
open road again, and our "flying carpet" came near getting damaged by
one of them, because of my being impatient and trying to push ahead when
an approaching cherry wagon had the right of way. As it was, I got a
vigorous admonishment in French profanity, which is feathery stuff,
practically harmless. I deserved something much more solid.

Consider for a moment this French profanity: About the most violent
things a Frenchman can say are "_Sacre bleu_" and "_Nom d'un chien!_"
One means "Sacred blue" and the other "Name of a dog." If he doubles the
last and says "Name of a name of a dog," he has gone his limit. I fail
to find anything personal or destructive or profane in these things.
They don't seem to hit anything, not even the dog. And why a dog?
Furthermore, concerning the color chosen for profane use--why blue? why
not some shade of Nile green, or--or-- Oh, well, let it go, but I do
wish I could have changed places with that man a few minutes!

We considered returning to Avignon for the night, but we went to
Tarascon instead, and arrived after dark at a bright little inn, where
we were comfortably lodged, and a relative of Tartarin brought us a good
supper and entertained us with his adventures while we ate.

FOOTNOTES:

[13] "_La Diligence de Baucoire_" in _Lettre de Mon Moulin_, Alphonse
Daudet.



Chapter VIII

THE ROAD TO PONT DU GARD


It is a wide, white road, bordered by the rich fields of May and the
unbelievable poppies of France. Oh, especially the poppies! I have not
spoken of them before, I think. They had begun to show about as soon as
we started south--a few here and there at first, splashes of blood amid
the green, and sometimes mingling a little with the deep tones of the
crimson clover, with curious color effect. They became presently more
plentiful. There were fields where the scarlet and the vivid green of
May were fighting for the mastery, and then came fields where the
scarlet conquered, was supreme, and stretched away, a glowing, radiant
sheen of such splendid color as one can hardly believe, even for the
moment that he turns away. It was scarlet silk unrolled in the sun. It
was a tide of blood. It was as if all the world at war had made this
their battlefield. And it did not grow old to us. When we had seen a
hundred of those fields they still fascinated us; we still exclaimed
over them and could not tear our eyes away.

We passed wagonloads of cherries now. In fact, we did not pass loads of
anything else. Cherry harvest was at its height. Everybody was carrying
baskets, or picking, or hauling to market. We stopped and asked an old
man drowsing on a load to sell us some. He gave us about a half a peck
for eight cents and kept piling on until I had to stop him. Then he
picked up a specially tied bunch of selected ones, very handsome, and
laid them on top and pointed at Narcissa--"For the demoiselle." We
thanked him and waved back to him, but he had settled down into his seat
and was probably asleep again. All drivers sleep in the Provence. They
are children of the south and the sun soothes them. They give their
horses the rein and only waken to turn out when you blow or shout very
loudly. You need an especially strong Klaxonette in the Provence.

Baedeker says: "The Pont du Gard is one of the grandest Roman structures
in existence." I am glad Baedeker said that, for with my limited
knowledge I should have been afraid to do it, but I should always have
thought so. A long time ago I visited the Natural Bridge of Virginia. I
had been disappointed in natural wonders, and I expected no great things
of the Natural Bridge. I scaled my imagination down by degrees as I
followed a path to the viewpoint, until I was prepared to face a reality
not so many times bigger than the picture which my school geography had
made familiar. Then all at once I turned a corner and stood speechless
and stupefied. Far up against the blue a majestic span of stone
stretched between two mighty cliffs. I have seen the Grand Cañon since,
and Niagara Falls, but nothing ever quite overwhelmed me as did that
stupendous Virginia stone arch--nothing until we rounded a bend in the
road and stopped facing the Pont du Gard. Those two are of the same
class--bridges supreme--the one of nature, the other of art. Neither, I
think, was intended as a bridge originally. The Romans intended these
three colossal tiers of columns, one above the other, merely as supports
for the aqueduct at the top, which conducted water to Nîmes. I do not
know what the Almighty intended his for--possibly for decoration. To-day
both are used as bridges--both are very beautiful, and about equally
eternal, I should think, for the Roman builders came nearer to the
enduring methods of the Original Builder than any other architects save,
possibly, the Egyptians. They did not build walls of odds and ends of
stone with mortar plastered between; they did not face their building
stones to look pretty outside and fill in behind with chips and mortar,
mostly mortar. They took the biggest blocks of stone they could find,
squared them, faced them perfectly on all sides, and laid them one on
top of the other in such height and in such thickness as they deemed
necessary for a lasting job. Work like that does not take an account of
time. The mortar did not crumble from between them with the centuries.
There was none to crumble. The perfectly level, perfectly matched stones
required no cementing or plaster patching. You cannot to-day insert a
thin knife blade between these matched stones.

The Pont du Gard is yellow in tone and the long span against the blue
sky is startlingly effective. A fine clear stream flows under it, the
banks are wild with rock and shrub, the lower arches frame landscape
bits near or more distant. I don't know why I am trying to describe
it-- I feel that I am dwarfing it, somehow--making it commonplace. It is
so immense--so overwhelming to gaze upon. Henry James discovered in it a
"certain stupidity, a vague brutality." I judge it seemed too positive,
too absolute, too literal and everlasting for the author of the _Golden
Bowl_. He adds, however, that "it would be a great injustice not to
insist upon its beauty." One must be careful not to do injustice to the
Pont du Gard.

We made our luncheon camp a little way from the clear stream, and
brought water from it and cooked eggs and made coffee (but we carry
bottled water for that), and loafed in the May sun and shade, and looked
at that unique world-wonder for an hour or more. The Joy discovered a
fine school of fish in the stream--trout, maybe.

A hundred years ago and more the lower arches of the Pont du Gard were
widened to make a bridge, and when at last we were packed and loaded
again we drove across this bridge for the nearer view. It was quite
impossible to believe in the age of the structure--its preservation was
so perfect. We drove to the other end and, turning, drove slowly back.
Then lingeringly we left that supreme relic in the loneliness where,
somehow, it seemed to belong, and followed the broad white road to
Nîmes. There is a Roman arena at Nîmes, and a temple and baths--the
Romans built many such things; but I think they could have built only
one Pont du Gard.



Chapter IX

THE LUXURY OF NÎMES


When the Romans captured a place and established themselves in it they
generally built, first an Arch of Triumph in celebration of their
victory; then an arena and a theater for pleasure; finally a temple for
worship. Sometimes, when they really favored the place and made it a
resort, they constructed baths. I do not find that they built an Arch of
Triumph at Nîmes, but they built an arena, baths, and a temple, for they
still stand. The temple is the smallest. It is called the "Maison
Carrée," and it is much like the temple we saw at Vienne that day in the
rain, but in a finer state of preservation. Indeed, it is said to be one
of the best preserved Roman temples in existence. It is graceful and
exquisite, and must have suited Henry James, who did not care for Roman
arenas because they are not graceful and exquisite, as if anything built
for arena purposes would be likely to be anything less than solid and
everlasting. We did not go into the Maison Carrée. It is a museum now,
and the fact that it has also been used as a warehouse and stable
somehow discouraged us. It would be too much done over. But the outside
was fascinating.

We thought the garden of the Roman baths and fountain would be well to
see in the evening. We drove along the quay by the side of the walled
river which flows down the middle of the street, and came to the gates
of the garden and, leaving the car, entered.

At first it seemed quite impossible to believe that a modern city of no
great size or importance should have anything so beautiful as this
garden, or, having it, should preserve it in such serene beauty and
harmony. But then one remembered that this was France, and of France it
was the Provence and not really a part of the sordid, scrambling world
at all.

It is a garden of terraces and of waterways and of dim, lucent pools to
which stairways descend, and of cypresses, graying statuary, and marble
bridges and fluted balustrades; and the water is green and mysterious,
and there is a background of dark, wooded hills, with deep recesses and
lost paths. We climbed part way up the hillside and found a place where
we could look out on the scene below. In the fading light it seemed a
place of enchantment.

It is not easy to tell what part of this garden the Romans built and
what was added from time to time during the centuries. It seems to have
been liberally reconstructed a hundred or so years ago, and the statuary
is none of it of the Roman period. But if there was ever any incongruity
the blurring hand of time has left it invisible to our unpracticed eyes.
We lingered in this magic garden, and spoke softly of the generations
that for nineteen centuries have found their recreation there, and we
turned often for a last look, reluctant to leave something that seemed
likely to vanish the moment one turned away.

Our hotel was on the square in which stands the arena, so that it was
but a step away at any time. We paid it one thorough visit, and sat in
the seats, and scaled the upper heights, and looked down on the spot
where tragedy and horror had been employed as means of pleasure for a
good portion of the world's history. I am sorry the Provence is still
rather cruel minded, though I believe they do not always kill the bull
now in the Sunday-afternoon fights. It is only a few times in each
season that they have a fight to the death. They had one the Sunday
before our arrival, according to the bills still posted at the entrance.
In the regular Sunday games anyone has the privilege of snatching a bow
of red ribbon from the bull's forehead. I had a fever to try it, but,
this being only Tuesday, it did not seem worth while to wait.

On the whole I think we did not find the arena at Nîmes as interesting
as the one at Arles, perhaps because we had seen Arles first. It is
somewhat smaller than the Arles circus, and possibly not so well
preserved, but it is of majestic proportions, and the huge layers of
stone, laid without cement in the Roman fashion, have never moved except
where Vandal and Saracen and the building bishops have laid despoiling
hands.

Not all the interest of Nîmes is ancient; Alphonse Daudet was born in
Nîmes, and the city has set up a statue and named a street in his honor.
Daudet's birthplace is not on the street that bears his name, but on the
Boulevard Gambetta, one of the wide thoroughfares. Daudet's house is a
part of the Bourse du Commerce now, and I do not think it was ever the
"_habitation commode, tout ombragée de plantanes_" of which he writes so
fondly in Le Petit Chose--the book which we have been told is, in part,
at least, his own history. There is nothing now to indicate that it was
ever the birthplace of anyone, except the plaque at the door, and as we
sat reading this we realized that by a coincidence we had come at a
fortunate time. The plaque said, "Born May 13, 1840." Now, seventy-four
years later, the date was the same. It was the poet's birthday!



Chapter X

THROUGH THE CÉVENNES


The drowsy Provence, with its vineyard slopes and poppied fields, warm
lighted and still, is akin to Paradise. But the same Provence, on a
windy day, with the chalk dust of its white roads enveloping one in
opaque blinding clouds, suggests Sherman's definition of war. We got a
taste of this aspect leaving Nîmes on our way north. The roads were
about perfect, hard and smooth, but they were white with dust, and the
wind did blow. I have forgotten whether it was the mistral or the
tramontane, and I do not think it matters. It was just wind--such wind
as I used to meet a long time ago in Kansas.

Our first town was Alais, but when we inquired about Alai, according to
the French rule of pronunciation, they corrected us and said
Alais--sounding the s. That is Provençal, I take it, or an exception to
the rule. Alais itself was of no importance, but along the way there
were villages perched on hilltops, with castles crowning the high
central points, all as picturesque and mediæval as anything well could
be. We were always tempted to go up to them, but the climb was likely to
be steep; then those villages seen from the inside might not be as
poetry-picturelike as when viewed from below, looking up an orchard
slope to their weathered balconies and vine-hung walls.

We were in the Cévennes about as soon as we had passed Alais. The
Cévennes are mountains--not mere hills, but towering heights, with roads
that wind and writhe up them in a multiplicity of convolutions, though
always on perfect grade, always beautiful, bringing to view deep vistas
and wide expanses at every turn.

There was little wind now--the hills took care of that--and we were warm
and comfortable and happy in this fair, lonely land. There were few
habitations of any kind; no automobiles; seldom even a cart. Water was
scarce, too; it was hard to find a place to replenish our bottles. But
we came at last to a cabin in the woods--a sort of wayside café it
proved--where a woman sold us half a liter of red wine for about five
cents, and supplied us with spring water free. A little farther along,
where the road widened a bit, we halted for luncheon. On one side a
steep ascent, wooded, on the other a rather abrupt slope, grass-covered
and shady with interspaced trees. By and by we noticed that all the
trees were of one variety--chestnut. It was, in fact, a chestnut
orchard, and proclaimed the industry of this remote land. We saw many
such during the afternoon; probably the district is populous enough
during the chestnut harvest.

Through the long afternoon we went winding upward among those unpeopled
hills, meeting almost nothing in the way of human life, passing through
but one village, Grenolhac, too small even to be set down in the road
book. In fact, the first place mentioned beyond Alais was Villefort,
with a small population and one inn, a hostelry indicated in the book
merely by a little wineglass, and not by one of the tiny houses which,
in their varied sizes, picture the recommended hotels and the relative
importance thereof. There was no mention of rooms in connection with the
Café Marius Balme; the outlook for accommodation overnight was not very
cheerful.

It was chilly, too, for evening was closing in and we were well up in
the air. The prospect of camping by the roadside, or even of sitting up
in a café until morning, did not attract a person of my years, though
Narcissa and the Joy declared that to build a camp fire and roll up in
the steamer rugs would be "lovely." As there were only three rugs, I
could see that somebody was going to be overlooked in the arrangement;
besides, a night in the mountains in May, let it begin ever so gayly, is
pretty sure to develop doubtful features before morning. I have done
some camping in my time, and I have never been able to get together
enough steamer rugs to produce a really satisfactory warmth at, say,
three or four o'clock in the morning, when the frost is embroidering the
bushes and the stars have a glitter that drills into your very marrow.
Langogne, the first town marked with a hotel, was at least thirty-five
miles farther along, and I could tell by the crinkly look of the road as
it appeared on our map that it was no night excursion. Presently we
descended into a sort of gorge, and there was Villefort, an isolated,
ancient little hamlet forgotten among the Cévennes hilltops. We came to
an open space and there, sure enough, was the Café Balme, and by the
side of it, happy vision, another little building with the sign "Hôtel
Balme."

It was balm indeed. To my faithful inquiry, "_Vous avez des chambres?_"
Yes, they had chambers--they were across the open square, over the
garage--that is to say, the stable--if the monsieur and his party would
accept them.

"_Oui, certainement!_"

They were not luxurious--they were just bare boxes, but they were clean,
with comfortable beds, and, dear me! how inviting on this particularly
chilly evening, when one has put in most of the day climbing narrow,
circuitous mountain roads--one-sided--that is to say, one side a wall,
the other falling off into unknown space.

They were very quiet rooms, for we had the place to ourselves. The car
would sleep just under us, and we had a feeling of being nomads, the
kind that put up in barns and empty buildings. A better place could
hardly have made us happier, and a better dinner than we had could not
be produced anywhere. There was soup--French soup; hot fried trout,
taken that day from the mountain streams; then there was omelet of the
freshest eggs, served so hot that one must wait for it to cool; also a
dish of veal of the same temperature and of such tenderness that you
could cut it with a fork; and there was steak which we scarcely touched,
and a salad, and fruit and cakes and camembert cheese, with unlimited
wine throughout. How could they give a dinner like that, and a good bed,
and coffee and rolls with jam next morning, all for four francs--that
is, eighty cents, each? I will tell you: they did their own cooking,
and were lost so far in the mountains that they had not yet heard of the
"high cost of living." And if I have not mentioned it before, I wish to
say here that all the red road-book hotels are good, however small or
humble they appear. Indeed, I am inclined to believe that _all French_
hotels are good--at least that they have good food and beds. With the
French, to have good beds and good food is a religion.

You notice I do not mention the coffee. That is because it is not real
coffee. It is-- I don't quite know what it is. In the large hotels it
merely looks like coffee. In these small inns it looks like a dark,
ominous soup and tastes like that as much as anything. Also, it is not
served in cups, but bowls, porridge bowls, with spoons to match, and the
natives break chunks of bread in it and thus entirely carry out the soup
idea. This is the French conception of coffee in the remoter districts,
but the bread and jam or honey that go with it are generally good and
plentiful, and I suppose the fearful drink itself must be wholesome. One
hears a good deal in America of delicious French coffee, but the only
place to get it is in America, in New Orleans, say, or New York. I have
never found any really good coffee even in Paris.

I think not many travelers visit the Cévennes. The road across the
mountains from Nîmes toward Paris seemed totally untraversed, at least
so far as tourists are concerned. No English is spoken anywhere--not a
word. This was France--not the France that is Paris, which is not France
at all any more than New York City is America, but the France which is
a blending of race and environment--of soil and sky and human struggle
into a unified whole that is not much concerned with the world at large,
and from generation to generation does not greatly change.

One may suppose, for instance, that the market at Villefort, which we
saw next morning, was very much what it was a hundred years ago--that
the same sturdy women in black dresses and curious hats had carried the
same little bleating kids, one under each arm--that trout and
strawberries and cheese and cherries and all the products of that
mountain district were offered there, around the old stone fountain, in
the same baskets under the shadow of the same walls, with so little
difference in the general aspect that a photograph, if one could have
been taken then, might be placed beside the ones we made and show no
difference in the fashion of things at all.

We bought some of the strawberries, great delicious dewy ones, and
Narcissa and the Joy wanted to buy one or even a dozen of the poor
little kids, offering to hold them in their laps constantly. But I knew
that presently I should be holding one or more of those kids in my own
lap and I was afraid I could not do that and drive with safety. I said
that some day when we had time we would build a wooden cage on wheels to
put behind the car and gradually collect a menagerie, but that I was
afraid we didn't have time just now. We must be getting on.

Our landlady was a good soul. She invited us into the kitchen, neat,
trim, and shining, and showed us some trout caught that morning, and
offered to give us a mess to take along. The entire force of the hotel
assembled to see us go. It consisted of herself and her daughter, our
waitress of the night before. Our bill was sixteen francs. The old
life--the simple life--of France had not yet departed from Villefort.



Chapter XI

INTO THE AUVERGNE


We had climbed two thousand feet from Nîmes to reach Villefort and
thought we were about on the top of the ridge. But that was a mistake;
we started up again almost as soon as we left, and climbed longer hills,
higher and steeper hills, than ever. Not that they were bad roads, for
the grades were perfect, but they did seem endless and they were still
one-sided roads, with a drop into space just a few feet away, not always
with protecting walls. Still there was little danger, if one did not get
too much interested in the scenery, which was beyond anything for its
limitless distances, its wide spaces and general grandeur.

Whenever we got to a level spot I stopped the car to look at it while
the engine cooled. It is a good plan to stop the car when one wishes
really to admire nature. The middle of the road ahead is thought to be
the best place for the driver to look while skirting a mountainside.

To return to roads just for a moment, there were miles of that winding
lofty way, apparently cut out of the solid face of the mountain, through
a country almost entirely uninhabited--a rocky, barren land that could
never be populous. How can the French afford those roads--how can they
pay for them and keep them in condition? I was always expecting to meet
a car on the short high turns, and kept the horn going, but never a car,
never a carriage--only now and then a cart, usually the stone-cart of
some one mending the roads. The building and engineering of those roads
seems to me even a greater marvel than the architecture of cathedrals
and châteaux. They are as curly and crooked as a vine, but they ascend
and descend with a precision of scale that makes climbing them a real
diversion. We ascended those hills on high speed--all of them.

We were about at the snow line now. We could see it but a little way
higher up, and if the weather had not been so bright and still we should
have been cold. Once we saw what we took to be a snowbank just ahead by
the roadside. But when we came nearer we saw it was narcissus, growing
there wild; later we saw whole fields of it. It flourished up there as
the poppies did lower down.

The country was not all barren. There were stretches of fertile
mountain-top, with pastures and meadows and occasional habitations. Now
and then on some high point we saw a village clustering about an ancient
tower. Once--it was at Prévenchères, a tiny village of the Auvergne--we
stopped and bought eggs and bread. There were also a few picture postals
to be had there, and they showed the Bourrée, which is a native dance of
the Auvergne--a rather rough country café dance, I gathered, but
picturesque, in the native costume. I wish we might have seen it.

The mountains dwindled to hills, humanity became more plentiful. It was
an open, wind-swept country now--rolling and fruitful enough, but barren
of trees; also, as a rule, barren of houses. The people live in the
villages and their industry would seem to be almost entirely
pasturage--that is, cattle raising. I have never seen finer cattle than
we saw in the Auvergne, and I have never seen more uninviting, dirtier
villages. Barns and houses were one. There were no dooryards, and the
cattle owned the streets. A village, in fact, was a mere cattle yard. I
judge there are few more discouraging-looking communities, more
sordid-looking people, than in just that section. But my guess is that
they are a mighty prosperous lot and have money stuffed in the savings
bank. It is a further guess that they are the people that Zola wrote of
in _La Terre_. Of course there was nothing that looked like a hotel or
an inn in any of those places. One could not imagine a French hotel in
the midst of such a nightmare.



Chapter XII

LE PUY


One of the finest things about a French city is the view of it from afar
off. Le Puy is especially distinguished in this regard. You approach it
from the altitudes and you see it lying in a basin formed by the hills,
gleaming, picturesque, many spired--in fact, beautiful. The evening sun
was upon it as we approached, which, I think, gave it an added charm.

We were coasting slowly down into this sunset city when we noticed some
old women in front of a cottage, making lace. We had reached the
lacemaking district of the Auvergne. We stopped and examined their work
and eventually bought some of it and photographed them and went on down
into the city. Every little way other old women in front of humble
cottages were weaving lace. How their fingers did make the little
bobbins fly!

I had never heard of a _puy_ (pronounced "pwee") before we went to the
Auvergne and I should never have guessed what it was from its name. A
_puy_ is a natural spire, or cone, of volcanic stone, shooting straight
up into the air for several hundred or several thousand feet, often slim
and with perpendicular sides. Perhaps we should call them "needles." I
seem to remember that we have something of the kind in Arizona known by
that name.

The Auvergne has been a regular _puy_ factory in its time. It was in the
Quaternary era, and they were volcanic chimneys in the day of their
first usefulness. Later--a good deal later--probably several million
years, when those flues from the lower regions had become filled up and
solidified, pious persons began building churches on the tops of them,
which would seem pretty hazardous, for if one of those chimneys ever
took a notion to blow out, it would certainly lift the church sky high.
Here at Le Puy the chimney that gives it its name is a slender cone two
hundred and eighty feet high, with what is said to be a curious
tenth-century church on the very tip of it. We were willing to take it
for granted. There are about five hundred steps to climb, and there is a
good deal of climbing in Le Puy besides that item. We looked up to it,
and across to it, and later--when we were leaving--down to it from
another higher point. I don't know why churches should be put in such
inconvenient places--to test piety, maybe. I am naturally a pious
person, but when I think of the piety that has labored up and down those
steps through rain and shine and cold and heat for a thousand years I
suffer.

We did climb the stair of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Puy, which
sweeps upward in broad majesty, like a ladder to heaven. There are over
a hundred steps, and they were originally designed so the overflow
congregation could occupy them and look into the church and see the
officiating priest. An architectural change has made this impossible
to-day, so perhaps the congregation no longer overflows. In fact, there
was a time when great pilgrimages were made to Notre Dame du Puy, and it
was then that the steps were filled. There are little shops on each rise
of this great flight--ascending with it--shops where religious charms
and the like are sold. At the earlier period the merchants displayed
their wares on small tables, and the street is called _Rue des Tables_
to this day.

The church is built of black and white stone, and has a curiously
Turkish look. It all seems very foreign to France, and indeed the whole
place was not unlike a mosque, though more somber, less inviting. It was
built in the twelfth century, and under its porch are two of the
original cedar doors, with Latin inscriptions.

I am sure Le Puy is a religious place. On every high point there is a
church or a saint, or something inspiring. A statue of Notre Dame de
France is on the highest point of all, four hundred and thirty-five feet
above the town. This statue was cast from the metal of two hundred
Russian cannons taken at Sebastopol. You can ascend to it by some six or
seven hundred steps cut in the solid rock. We did not go up there,
either. Even the statement that we could ascend another flight of steps
inside the statue and stand in its very head did not tempt us. Americans
have been spoiled for these things. The lift has made loafers of us all.

What I think we enjoyed most in Le Puy was its lacemakers. At every
turn, in every little winding street, one saw them--singly and in
groups; they were at the front of every door. They were of all ages,
but mainly, I think, they were old women. Many of them wore the Auvergne
costume--quaint hats or caps, and little shawls, and wooden shoes.
Lacemaking is the industry of the Haute-Loire district, and is said to
employ ninety thousand women. I think that is an underestimate. It
seemed to me we saw as many as that ourselves in front of those mediæval
doorways of Le Puy.



Chapter XIII

THE CENTER OF FRANCE


It is grand driving from Le Puy northward toward Clermont-Ferrand and
Vichy. It is about the geographical center of France, an unspoiled,
prosperous-looking land. Many varieties of country are there--plain,
fertile field, rich upland slopes. All the way it is picture
country--such country as we have seen in the pictures and seldom
believed in before. Cultivated areas in great squares and strips, fields
of flowers--red, blue, white--the French colors; low solid-looking
hills, with little cities halfway to the summit, and always, or nearly
always, a castle or two in their midst; winding, shining rivers with
gray-stone bridges over them, the bright water appearing and reappearing
at every high turn.

Our road made no special attempt to reach the towns. We viewed them from
a distance, and there were narrower roads that turned in their
direction, but our great national highway--it was No. 9 now--was not
intended for their special accommodation. When it did reach a town it
was likely to be a military center, with enormous barracks--new, many of
them--like those at Issoire, a queer old place where we spent the night
and where I had a real adventure.

It was my custom to carry under the back seat a bottle of Scotch whisky
in event of severe illness, or in case of acute motor trouble. For
reasons I do not at the moment recall--perhaps the cork had leaked--our
supply seemed low at Issoire, and I decided to see what I could find. I
had little hope, for in France even the word "whisky" is seldom
recognized. Still, I would make diligent inquiry, our case being pretty
desperate. There was not enough in the bottle to last till morning-- I
mean, of course, in case anything serious should happen.

I had the usual experience at the cafés. The attendants repeated the
word "whisky" vaguely, and in various ways, and offered me all sorts of
gayly tinted liquids which I did not think would cure anything I was
likely to have. I tried a drug store, where a gentle pharmacist listened
awhile to my French, then dug out from the back of a lower drawer a
circular on Esperanto. Imagine!

I was about ready to give it up when I happened to notice a low, dim
shop the shelves of which seemed filled with fancy bottles. The place
had an ancient, mellow look, but I could see at a glance that its
liquids were too richly colored for my taste--needs, I mean. I could
try, however.

The little gray man who waited on me pronounced the word in several ways
and scratched his head.

"_Wisky_," he said, "_visky-viskee!_"

Then he seemed to explode. A second later he was digging a dusty book
out of a dusty pile, and in a moment was running his fingers down a
yellow page. I dare say it was an old stock list, for suddenly he
started up, ran to a dark, remote shelf, pulled away some bottles, and
from the deeper back recesses dragged a bottle and held it up in
triumph.

"_Voilà!_" he said, "_veeskee! Veeskee Eereesh!_"

Shades of St. Patrick! It was old Irish whisky--old, how old--perhaps
laid in by his grandfather, for a possible tourist, a hundred years
before. I tried to seem calm--indifferent.

"_Encore?_" I said.

But no, there was no _encore_--just this one. The price, oh yes, it was
four francs.

Imagine!

Issoire is a quaint place and interesting. I shall always remember it.

To motorists Clermont-Ferrand is about the most important city in
France. It is the home of tire manufacturers, and among them the great
benevolent one that supplies the red road book, and any desired special
information, free. We felt properly grateful to this factory and drove
out to visit it. They were very good to us; they gave us a brand-new
red-book and a green-book for Germany and Switzerland. The factory is a
large one, and needs to be. About four-fifths of the cars of Europe go
rolling along on its products, while their owners, without exception,
use its wonderfully authentic guides. Each year the road books
distributed free by this firm, piled one upon the other, would reach to
a height of more than five miles. They cover about all the countries,
and are simply priceless to the motorist. They are amusing, too. The
funny fat motor man made of tires, shown in little marginal drawings and
tailpieces in all the picturesque dilemmas of the road, becomes a
wonderfully real personality on short acquaintance. We learned to love
the merry Michelin man, and never grew tired of sharing his joys and
misfortunes.

Clermont-Ferrand is also the home of a man with two wooden legs that
need oiling. I know, for he conducted us to the cathedral, and his
joints squeaked dismally at every step. I said I would go back to the
car and get the oil can, but he paid no attention to the suggestion. He
also objected to the tip I gave him, though I could not see why an
incomplete guide like that, especially one not in good repair, should
expect double rates. Besides, his cathedral was not the best. It was not
built of real stone, but of blocks of lava from the _puys_ of the
neighborhood.

We came near getting into trouble descending a hill to Vichy. The scene
there was very beautiful. Vichy and the river and valley below present a
wonderful picture. Absorbed in it, I was only dimly conscious of an old
woman trudging along at our left, and did not at all notice a single
chicken quite on the opposite side. In any case I could not well know
that it was her chicken, or that it was so valuable that she would risk
her life to save it. She was a very old person--in the neighborhood of
several hundred, I should think, wearing an improperly short skirt, her
legs the size and shape of a tightly folded umbrella, terminating below
in the largest pair of wooden shoes in the world. Familiar with the
habits of chickens, she probably thought her property would wait till we
were opposite and then start to race across in front of the car. To
prevent this she decided to do it herself! Yet I suppose if I had
damaged that prehistoric old lady, instead of missing her by the breadth
of half a hair, her relatives would have made us pay for her at fancy
rates.

We did not tarry at Vichy. It is a gay place--stylish and costly, and
worth seeing a little, when one can drive leisurely through its clean,
handsome streets. Perhaps if we could have invented any maladies that
would have made a "cure" necessary we might have lingered with those
other sallow, sad-eyed, stylish-looking people who collect in the
pavilions where the warm healing waters come bubbling up and are
dispensed free for the asking. But we are a healthy lot, and not
stylish. We drove about for a pleasant hour, then followed along evening
roads to St. Germain des Fosses, where the Hôtel du Porc was a wayside
inn of our kind, with clean, quiet rooms, good food--and prices, oh,
very moderate indeed! But I do wonder why garages are always put in such
inconvenient places. I have driven in and backed out of a good many in
my time, and I cannot now recall more than one or two that were not
tucked away in an alley or around some impossible corner, making it
necessary to scrape and writhe and cringe to get in and out without
damaging something. I nearly knocked a corner from an out-house in St.
Germain, backing out of its free and otherwise satisfactory garage.



Chapter XIV

BETWEEN BILLY AND BESSEY


To those tourists who are looking for out-of-the-way corners of Europe I
commend Billy. It is not pronounced in our frivolous way, but "Bee-yee,"
which you see gives it at once the French dignity. I call Billy
"out-of-the-way" because we saw no tourists in the neighborhood, and we
had never before heard of the place, which has a bare three-line mention
in Baedeker.

Billy is on the Allier, a beautiful river, and, seen from a distance,
with its towering ruin, is truly picturesque. Of course the old castle
is the chief feature of Billy--a ruin of great extent, and unrestored!
The last item alone makes it worth seeing. A good many of the ruins of
France have been restored under the direction of that great recreator of
the architectural past, Viollet le Duc, who has done his work supremely
well and thoroughly--oh, thoroughly, no name! I am glad he did it, for
it means preservation for the ages, but I am so glad that there is now
and then a ruin that

  Monsieur V. le Duc
  Happened to overlook.

I even drift into bad poetry when I think of it.

The Château de Billy seems to have been built about 1232 by one of the
sires of Bourbon Robert of Clermont, son of St. Louis, to control the
river traffic. It was a massive edifice of towers and bastions, and
walls of enormous thickness. A good portion of the walls and some of the
towers still stand. And there is a dungeon into which no light or air
could come, once used to convince refractory opposition. They put a man
in there for an hour. When they took him out he was either convinced or
dead, and so, in either case, no longer troublesome.

The guardian of Billy was a little old woman as picturesque as the
ruins, and lived in a little house across the way, as picturesque as
herself. When we had seen the castle she let us look into her house. It
consisted of just one small room with a tiny stove in one corner and a
bed in the other. But the stove, with its accessories of pans and other
ware all so shining and neat, and her tiny, high-posted, canopied bed so
spotless and pretty with its white counterpane and gay little curtains,
set us to wondering why anybody in the world needed a home more ample or
attractive than that.

It seemed amusing to us that the name of the next place along that route
should be Bessey. We lunched between Billy and Bessey, on a green level
roadside, under some big trees, where there was a little stream which
furnished our cooking water. It is not always easy to select the
luncheon place. A dry spot with water and shade is not everywhere to be
had, and then we do not always instantly agree on the conveniences of a
place, and while we are discussing it we are going right along at a
fifteen or twenty-mile rate and that place has drifted a mile or two
behind before the conference ends. But there always _is_ a place
somewhere that has most of the things we want, and it lies around the
next turn or over the next hill, and it is always so new and strange and
foreign, so away and away from the world we have known, so intimately a
part of a land and of lives we have never seen before and shall never
see again.

A gypsy of very poor class came along while we were at luncheon. His
little wagon-house was quite bare of furnishings. The man walked outside
beside the meager donkey--a young woman with a baby sat on the floor in
the wagon.

Gypsies, by the way, are an institution in France. The French call them
_nomades_, and provide them with special ordinances and road
limitations. At first, when we saw signs "_Limites de Nomades_" in the
outskirts of villages we wondered what was meant, and did not associate
the notice with the comfortable and sometimes luxurious house-wagons
that we met or overtook, or found solidly established by some pleasant
waterside. Then it dawned upon us that these gypsy folk were the
_nomades_ and that the signs were provided for their instruction.

We met them, presently, everywhere. France, with its level roads and
liberal laws, is gypsy heaven. A house on wheels, a regular little flat,
with parlor, bedroom and kitchen, big enough to hold a family and its
belongings, can be drawn by a single horse over the hard, perfectly
graded highways. They work north in the summer, no doubt, and in the
autumn the Midi calls them. Every little way we saw them camped,
working at their basketry or some kindred industry. Not all the villages
limit them, and often we found them located in the midst of a busy town.
I do not think they do any harm, and I always envied them. Some of their
little houses are so cozy and neat, with tiny lace curtains and flower
pots, and pictures on the walls. When we first saw such wagons we
thought they belonged to artists.



Chapter XV

THE HAUTE-LOIRE


The particular day of which I am now writing was Sunday, and when we
came to Moulin, the ancient capital of the Bourbonnais, there was a
baptismal ceremony going on in the cathedral; the old sexton in the
portico outside was pulling the rope that led up to the great booming
bell. He could pull and talk too, and he told us that the bell was only
rung for baptisms, at least that was what we thought he said as he flung
himself aloft with the upward sweep, and alow with the downward sweep,
until his chin nearly touched the stone floor. I got into the swing of
it directly, and signified that I should like to ring the bell a little
myself. I realize now that it was decidedly brazen to ask to assist at a
sacred function like that, but he let me do it, and I took the rope and
for a minute or two swayed up and down in a pride I can hardly express,
ringing that five-hundred-year-old bell to notify the world of the
latest baptism in France.

We came upon an unexpected treat at Moulin--the Souvigny bible, an
illuminated manuscript of 1115, with one hundred and twenty-two
marvelously executed pictorial designs. The bible was in a museum across
from the cathedral, a splendid museum indeed for little Moulin, being
the reconstructed château of the Bourbons, filled with beautiful things
of the Bourbon period. The bible is in a room by itself in a glass case,
but the guardian opened it for us and turned the leaves. This bible,
discovered at the old priory of the little town of Souvigny, is in
perfect condition and presents a gorgeous piece of hand illumination.
The drawing itself is naturally primitive, but the coloring is rich
beyond telling, the lettering marvelously perfect. J. Pierpont Morgan is
said to have offered a million francs for the Souvigny bible, a vast sum
to little Moulin. I am glad they did not sell it. It seems better in the
quiet, choice museum which was once the castle of the Bourbon dukes.

It is curious how conventions establish themselves in the different
districts and how absolutely they prevail in the limits of those
districts. In certain sections, for instance, we found the furnishings
in each hotel exactly alike. The same chairs, the same little table, the
same bedsteads and wardrobes, the same tableware. We could tell by the
change of furnishing when we had reached a new district. A good portion
of the Auvergne remains to us the "Land of Squatty Pitchers," because in
every bedroom the water pitcher was a very short, very corpulent and
saucy-looking affair that amused us each evening with its absurd shape.
Then there were the big coffee bowls and spoons. They got larger and
larger from Nîmes northward until we reached Issoire. There the bowls
were really immense and the spoons had grown from dessert spoons to
table spoons, from table spoons to soup spoons until at Issoire they
were like enormous vegetable spoons, such as cooks use to stir the pot
with. From Moulin northward we entered the "Land of Little Ladders." All
the houses outside the larger towns were story-and-a-half affairs, built
facing the road, and the half-story was not reached by an inside
stairway, but by a short outside ladder that led up to a central gable
window, which was really a door. It was curious to see a string of these
houses, all with the little ladders, and all just alike. Our first
thought was that the ladders were used because they were cheaper to
build than a stairway, and saved inside room. But, reflecting later, I
thought it more likely that they originated in the old need of defense.
I think there was a time when the family retired to the loft at night
and drew the ladder up after them, to avoid a surprise.

It had been raining softly when we left Moulin. Somehow we had strayed
from the main road, and through the misty mid-region of the Haute-Loire
followed ways uncharted, but always good--always interesting, and
somewhere in that lost borderland we came to Dornes, and the daintiest
inn, kept by the daintiest gray-haired woman, who showed us her kitchen
and her flower garden and her tame pheasants, and made us love her
dearly. Next day at St. Pierre le Moutier we got back on our route, and
when Narcissa, out of the book she had been reading, reminded us that
Joan of Arc had once fought a battle there the place became glorified.
Joan must have been at Nevers, too, though we found no record of it.

I think we should have stayed longer at Nevers. There was an ancient
look about portions of it that in a brighter day would have invited us.
Crossing the Loire and entering the city, with its ancient bastioned
walls, carried one back a good way into the centuries. But it was still
dull and drizzly, and we had a feeling for the open road and a cozier
lodgment.

The rain ceased, the sun tried to break through the mist. The glistening
world became strangely luminous, a world not of hard realities at all.
The shining river winding away into mystery; far valley reaches fading
into haze; blurred lines of ancient spires and towers--these things
belonged only to a land of romance. Long ago I saw a painting entitled a
dream of Italy. I did not believe then that any real land could be as
beautiful-- I thought it only an artist's vision. I was mistaken. No
painting was ever so beautiful--so full of richness and light and color
as this haze-haunted valley of the Loire.

We rested at Neuvy, at the little red-book inn, Hôtel de la Paix, clean
and inviting like the rest. It is the best compliment we can pay these
little hotels that we always want to remain in them longer, and plan
some day to come back to them.



Chapter XVI

NEARING PARIS


There are more fine-looking fishing places in France than in any country
I ever saw. There are also more fishermen. In every river town the
water-fronts are lined with them. They are a patient lot. They have been
sitting there for years, I suppose, and if they have ever caught
anything the fact has been concealed. I have talked with numbers of
them, but when I came to the question of their catch they became vague,
not to say taciturn. "_Pas grande chose_" ("No great thing"), has been
the reply, and there was no exhibit. I have never seen one of those
fishermen get a nibble.

But the water is certainly seductive. Following the upper Loire from
Neuvy to Gien, I was convinced that with a good rod I could stop almost
anywhere and fill the car. Such attractive eddies, such fascinating,
foam-flecked pools! Probably it is just as well I did not have the rod.
I like to persuade myself that the fish were there.

Gien on the Loire is an old place, but not much that is old remains.
Joan of Arc stopped there on her way to the king at Chinon, and it was
from Gien, following the delivery of Orléans and the battle of Patay,
that she set out with Charles VII for the coronation at Rheims. But
there are no Joan relics in Gien to-day. There are, however, two
interesting features here: the two-story wells and the hard-working
dogs. The wells have a curb reaching to the second story, with an
opening below for the downstairs tenants. It seems a good idea, and the
result is picturesque. The dogs are hitched to little wagons and the
Giennese--most of whom seem to be large and fat--first load those wagons
and then get in themselves and ride. We saw one great hulk of a man
approaching in what at first seemed to be some sort of a go-cart. It was
not until he got close up that we discovered the dog--a little
sweltering dog, his eyes popping out, his tongue nearly dragging the
ground. I think the people of Gien are lazy and without shame.

[Illustration: "THROUGH HILLSIDE VILLAGES WHERE NEVER A STONE HAD BEEN
MOVED, I THINK, IN CENTURIES"]

We missed the road leaving Gien and wandered off into narrow, solid
little byways that led across fields and along hedges, through hillside
villages where never a stone had been moved, I think, in centuries. Once
we turned into what seemed a beautiful wood road, but it led to a grand
new château and a private drive which had a top dressing of deep soft
sand. Fortunately nobody was at home, for we stalled in the sand and the
head of the family and Narcissa and the Joy were obliged to get out and
push while I put on all backing power and made tracks in that new sand
that would have horrified the owner. We are the right sort, however. We
carefully repaired the scars, then made tracks of another kind, for
remoter districts.

Miles away from anywhere, by a pool at the edge of a field of bushes,
we established a luncheon place, and in a seclusion of vines and
shrubbery the Joy set up a kitchen and made coffee and boiled eggs and
potatoes and "kept house" for an hour or so, to her heart's content. We
did not know where we were, or particularly care. We knew that the road
would lead somewhere, and that somewhere would be a wayside village with
a little hotel that had been waiting for us ever so long, with inviting
comforts and generous hospitality. Often we said as we drove along,
"What little hotel do you suppose is waiting for us to-night?" But we
did not worry, for we always knew we should find it.

The "little hotel" this time proved to be at Souppes on the Loing, and
if I had to award a premium to any of the little hotels that thus far
had sheltered us, I think I should give it to the Hôtel du Mouton,
Souppes. The name naturally amused us, and we tried to make jokes out of
it, but the dainty rooms and the delicious dinner commanded only our
approval. Also the price; nineteen francs and forty centimes, or less
than four dollars, for our party of four, dinner, lodging, and
breakfast, garage free.

Souppes is a clean town, with a wide central street. Most of the towns
up this way were cleaner than those of the farther south. Also, they had
better buildings, as a rule. I mean the small towns. Villages not large
enough even to be set down on the map have churches that would do credit
in size and luxury to New York City. Take Bonny, for instance. We halted
there briefly to watch some quaintly dressed people who were buying and
selling at a little butter and egg market, and then we noticed a big,
gray, ancient-looking church somewhat farther along. So we went over
there and wandered about in its dim coolness, and looked at its
beautiful treasures--among them the fine marble statue of Joan which one
meets to-day in most of the churches in France. How could Bonny, a mere
village, ever have built a church like that--a church that to-day would
cost a million dollars?

Another thing we noticed up this way was the "sign of the bush." Here
and there along the road and in the villages there would be a house with
an upward-slanting hole in the outside wall, about halfway to the eaves,
and in the hole a branch of a tree, usually evergreen. When we had seen
a few of these we began to wonder as to their meaning. Then we noticed
that houses with those branches were all cafés, and some one suddenly
remembered a proverb which says, "A good wine needs no bush," and how,
in a former day, at least, the sign of the bush had indicated a wine
shop. That it still does so in France became more and more evident as we
went along. Every wine shop had its branch of green. I do not think
there was one along that road that considered its wine superior to the
traditional announcement.

Just outside of Souppes there is a great flinty rock upon which some
prehistoric race used to sharpen knives. I suppose it was back before
Cæsar's time, but in that hard stone, so hard that my own knife would
not scratch it, the sharpening grooves and surfaces are as fresh as if
those old fellows had left there only yesterday. I wish I could know
how they looked.

We came to the woods of Fontainebleau and ate our luncheon in its deep
lucent shade. There is romance in the very name of Fontainebleau, but we
would return later to find it. We drove a little through the wide
avenues of that splendid forest that for three centuries or more was a
hunting ground and pleasure park for kings, then we headed away for
Juvisy on the Seine, where we spent the night and ate on a terrace in
the open air, in a company not altogether to our liking--it being rather
noisy, rather flashy, rather unwholesome--in a word, Parisian. We had
left the region of simple customs and unpretentious people. It was not a
pleasant change.

Also, we had left the region of good roads. All that I have said about
the perfection of French roads I wish to retract, so far as those in the
environs of Paris are concerned. Leaving Juvisy, we were soon on what is
called the "pave," a road paved with granite blocks, poorly laid to
begin with, and left unrepaired for years. It is full of holes and humps
and wallows, and is not really a road at all, but a stone quarry on a
jamboree. We jiggled and jumped and bumped, and only by going at the
slowest permissible speed could stand it. Cars passed us going quite
fast, but I could see that their occupants were not enjoying themselves.
They were holding on to the backs of the seats, to the top supports, to
one another. They were also tearing their cars to pieces, though the
average Frenchman does not mind that. I love France, and every Frenchman
is my friend, but I do not wish him to borrow my car. He drives
helter-skelter, lickety-split, and never takes care of his car at all.
When the average Frenchman has owned a car a year it is a rusty,
smoking, clattering box of tinware, ready for the can-heap.



Chapter XVII

SUMMING UP THE COST


The informed motorist does not arrive at the gates of Paris with a
tankful of gasoline. We were not informed, and when the _octroi_
officials had measured our tank they charged us something like four
dollars on its contents. The price of gasoline is higher inside, but not
that much higher, I think. I did not inquire, for our tankful lasted us
the week of our stay.

To tell the truth, we did but little motoring in Paris. For one thing,
the streets are just a continuation of the pave, and then the traffic
regulations are defective. I mean there are no regulations. It's just a
go-as-you-please, each one for himself. Push, crowd, get ahead of the
fellow in front of you--that is the rule. Here and there a _gendarme_
stands waving his arms and shouting, "_Sacre bleu!_" but nobody pays the
least attention to him. The well-trained American motorist finds his
hair getting gray after an hour or two of that kind of thing.

But we enjoyed Paris, though I am not going to tell about it. No one
attempts to tell of Paris any more--it has all been told so often. But I
may hint to the conservative motorist that below the Seine, in the
neighborhood of the Luxembourg Gardens, about where the rue de Vaugirard
crosses the Boulevard St. Michel, he will find choice little hotels,
with rooms very moderate indeed.

And perhaps here is a good place to speak of the cost of our travel. We
had stinted ourselves in nothing except style. We had traveled
leisurely, happily, enjoying everything to the full, and our average
expense was a trifle less than forty francs a day--that is, eight
dollars for four persons and the car. Our bill each day at the little
hotels for dinner, lodging, and _petit déjeuner_ (rolls, coffee, and
jam) averaged about twenty-two francs, garage free.[14] That, of course,
is absurdly cheap.

The matter of gasoline is different. "_Essence_" or benzine, as they
call it, is high in Europe, and you would think it was some fine
liqueur, the way they handle it. They put it up in sealed five-liter
cans, and I have seen motorists, native motorists, buy one can--a trifle
more than a gallon--probably fearing evaporation, or that somebody would
rob the tank. One of those cans cost us about fifty cents, and, being of
extra refined quality, it would carry us on French roads between
eighteen and twenty miles. Sixty miles a day was about our average,
which is aplenty for sight-seeing, even for an American. Our gasoline
and oil expense came to about eight francs a day. The remainder of our
eight dollars went for luncheon by the roadside and for tips. The picnic
luncheon--bread and butter (delicious unsalted butter), jam, eggs,
tinned meats, cheese, sausage, etc.--rarely cost to exceed four francs,
and was usually cheaper. Our hotel tips were about 10 per cent of the
bill, which is the correct amount, and was always satisfactory. When one
gives more he gains nothing but servility, and makes it difficult for
those who follow him. On the other hand an American cannot give less and
keep his self-respect. There were usually but two servants at little
inns, a waitress and a chambermaid. They were entitled to a franc each,
and the boy at the garage to another. Two or three francs a day was
quite enough for incidental tips at churches, ruined castles, and the
like, unless there should be a fee, which would naturally be reckoned
outside the regular budget. In any case, such fees were small and
infrequent. I think I will add a brief summary of the foregoing figures
which I seem to have strung along in a rather loose, confusing way.

SUMMARY

AVERAGE DAILY COST OF MOTORING TOR FOUR PERSONS, 1914

  Average daily cost of dinner, lodging, and breakfast 22 francs ($4.40)
  Average daily cost of gasoline and oil                8 francs ( 1.60)
  Average daily cost of roadside luncheon               4 francs (  .80)
  Average daily cost of tips at hotel                   3 francs (  .60)
  Average daily cost for sight-seeing                   3 francs (  .60)
                                                       -----------------
  Total                                                40 francs ($8.00)

That was reasonable motor travel, and our eight dollars bought as much
daily happiness as any party of four is likely to find in this old
world.[15]

Another thing I wish to record in this chapter is the absolute
squareness we found everywhere. At no hotel was there the slightest
attempt to misrepresent, to ring in extras, to encourage side-adventures
in the matter of wines or anything of the sort. We had been led to
believe that the motorist was regarded as fair game for the continental
innkeeper. Possibly there were localities where this was true, but I am
doubtful. Neither did the attendants gather hungrily around at parting.
More than once I was obliged to hunt up our waitress, or to leave her
tip with the girl or man who brought the bags. The conclusion grew that
if the motorist is robbed and crucified in Europe, as in the beginning a
friend had prophesied we should be, it is mainly because he robs and
crucifies himself.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] It was oftener from sixteen to eighteen francs, but the time when
we stopped at larger towns, like Le Puy, Lyons, and Valence, brought up
the average. These are antewar prices. I am told there is about a
50-per-cent increase (on the dollar basis) to-day. The value of the
French franc is no longer a fixed quantity.

[15] The reader must continue to bear in mind that this was in a golden
age. The cost would probably be nearer 150 francs to-day (1921), or $12
American money. Even so, it would be cheaper than staying at home, in
America.



Chapter XVIII

THE ROAD TO CHERBOURG


It is easy enough to get into almost any town or city, but it is
different when you start to leave it. All roads lead to Rome, but there
is only here and there one that leads out of it. With the best map in
the world you can go wrong.

We worked our way out of Paris by the Bois de Boulogne, but we had to
call on all sorts of persons for information before we were really in
the open fields once more. A handsome young officer riding in the Bois
gave us a good supply. He was one of the most polite persons I ever met;
also, the most loquacious. The sum of what he told us was to take the
first turn to the right, but he told it to us for fully five minutes,
with all the variations and embroideries of a young and lively fancy
that likes to hear itself in operation. He explained how the scenery
would look when we had turned to the right; also how it would continue
to look when there was no longer a necessity of turning in either
direction and what the country would be in that open land beyond the
Bois. On the slightest provocation I think he would have ridden with us,
even into Cherbourg. He was a boon, nevertheless, and we were truly
grateful.

Beyond the Bois de Boulogne lay the _pave_, miles of it, all as bad as
it could be. Sometimes we could not really tell when we were in the
road. Once I found myself on a sort of private terrace without knowing
how I got there or how to get down. We went through St. Germain, but we
did not stop. We wished to get far from Paris--back to the simple life
and good roads. It was along the Seine, at last, that we found them and
the quiet villages. Imagine the luxury of following a silent, tranquil
road by that placid stream, through the sweetness of a May afternoon.
Imagine the peace of it after the jar and jolt and clatter and dazzle of
detestable, adorable Paris.

I am sorry not to be able to recommend the hotel at Rosny. For a time it
looked as if it were going to be one of the best of our selections, but
it did not turn out so. When we found a little toy garden at the back,
our rooms a string of tiny one-story houses facing it, with roses
blooming at every doorway, we were delighted. Each of us had a toy house
to himself, and there was another for the car at the back. It was a real
play place, and we said how nice it was and wished we might stay a good
while. Then we went for a walk down to the river and in the sunset
watched a curious ferryboat run back and forth on a wire, taking over
homefaring teams, and some sheep and cattle, to the village on the
farther bank of the little, but historic, river. In the early gloaming
we walked back to our hotel.

The dinner was very good--all dinners in France are that--but alas for
our pretty playhouse rooms! When candles were brought in we saw what I
had begun to suspect from the feeling, the walls were damp--worse, they
were soaked--almost dripping. It seems they were built against a hill
and the recent rains had soaked them through. We could not risk it--the
landlady must give us something in the main house. She was a good
soul--full of regrets, even grief. She had not known about those walls,
she said, and, alas! she had no rooms in the main house. When we
insisted that she _must_ find _something_, she admitted that there was,
indeed, just one room, but so small, so humble--fine folk like us could
never occupy it.

She was right about its being small, but she was wrong in thinking we
could not occupy it. She brought in cots and bedding, and when we were
all in place at last we just about filled it from side to side. Still,
it was dry and ventilated; those other places had been neither. But it
seemed to us amusing that our fine pretension of a house apiece opening
on a garden had suddenly dwindled to one inconsiderable room for the
four of us.

We were in Normandy, now, and enjoying it. Everything was quite
different from the things of the south. The picturesque thatched-roof
houses; the women in dainty caps, riding on donkeys, with great brass
milk jugs fore and aft; the very ancient cross-timber architecture;
those, to us, were new things in France.

The architecture and some of the costumes were not new to one who had
visited England. William the Norman must have carried his thatched-roof
and cross-timber architecture across the Channel; also, certain dresses
and smocks and the pattern of the men's whiskers. In some of these
towns one might almost believe himself in rural England.

Lisieux, especially, is of the type I mean. It has a street which might
be in Shrewsbury, though I think the Shrewsbury houses would not be as
old as those of Lisieux, one of which--"The House of the Salamander"--so
called from the decoration on its carved façade--we were permitted to
visit. Something about it gave me more the feeling of the ancient life
than I have found in most of the castles. Perhaps because it is wood,
and wood holds personality longer than stone.

There is an old church at Lisieux, and it has a chapel built by Cauchon,
Bishop of Beauvais, who hounded Joan of Arc to the stake. Cauchon earned
the Beauvais appointment by convicting Joan, but later, especially after
Joan had been rehabilitated, he became frightened of the entertainment
which he suspected Satan was preparing for him and built this chapel in
expiation, hoping to escape the fire. It is a beautiful chapel, but I
think Cauchon wasted his money. If he didn't there is something wrong
with justice.

The Normandy road to Cherbourg is as wonderful as any in France. All the
way it is lined with trees, and it goes straight on, mile after mile, up
hill and down--long, long hills that on the approach look as if they
reached to the sky, but that flatten out when you get to them, and offer
a grade so gradual and a surface so smooth that you need never shift
your speed levers. Workmen are always raking and touching up those
roads. We had something more than two days of them, and if the weather
had not been rather windy and chilly out on that long peninsula the
memory of that run would be about perfect.

Cherbourg is not the great city we had imagined it to be. It is simply a
naval base, heavily fortified, and a steamer landing. Coming in on the
Paris road you are in the center of activities almost as soon as you
reach the suburbs and there is none of the crush of heavy traffic that
one might expect. There is a pleasant beach, too, and if travelers were
not always going somewhere else when they arrive at Cherbourg, the
little city might become a real resort. We were there a week before our
ship came in, then sailed out one quiet June evening on the harbor
tender to meet the missing member and happily welcome her to France. Our
hotel had a moving-picture show in the open air, and we could look down
on it from our windows. The Joy especially liked this, and we might have
stayed there permanently, but the long roads and still unvisited glories
of France were calling.



Chapter XIX

BAYEUX, CAEN, AND ROUEN


We had barely hesitated at Bayeux on the way to Cherbourg, but now we
stopped there for the night. Bayeux, which is about sixty miles from
Cherbourg, was intimately associated with the life of William the
Conqueror, and is to-day the home of the famous Bayeux tapestry, a piece
of linen two hundred and thirty feet long and eighteen inches wide, on
which is embroidered in colored wools the story of William's conquest of
England.

William's queen, Matilda, is supposed to have designed this marvelous
pictorial document, and even executed it, though probably with the
assistance of her ladies. Completed in the eleventh century, it would
seem to have been stored in the Bayeux cathedral, where it lay scarcely
remembered for a period of more than six hundred years. Then attention
was called to its artistic and historic value, and it became still more
widely known when Napoleon brought it to Paris and exhibited it at the
Louvre to stir the French to another conquest of England. Now it is back
in Bayeux, and has a special room in the museum there, and a special
glass case, so arranged that you can walk around it and see each of its
fifty-eight tableaux.

It was the closing hour when we got to the Bayeux museum, but the
guardian gave us plenty of time to walk around and look at all the
marvelous procession of horses and men whose outlines have remained firm
and whose colors have stayed fresh for more than eight hundred years.

Matilda was ahead of her time in art. She was a futurist--anybody can
see that who has been to one of the later exhibitions. But she was
exactly abreast in the matter of history. It is likely that she
embroidered the events as they were reported to her, and her records are
above price to-day. I suppose she sat in a beautiful room with her maids
about her, all engaged at the great work, and I hope she looked as
handsome as she looks in the fine painting of her which hangs above the
case containing her masterpiece.

There is something fine and stirring about Matilda's tapestry. No matter
if Harold does seem to be having an attack of pleurisy when he is only
putting on his armor, or if the horses appear to have detachable legs.
Matilda's horses and men can get up plenty of swift action on occasion,
and the events certainly do move. Tradition has it that the untimely
death of the queen left the tapestry unfinished, for which reason
William's coronation does not appear. I am glad we stopped at Bayeux. I
would rather have seen Matilda's faithfully embroidered conquest than a
whole gallery full of old masters.

Next day at Caen we visited her grave. It stands in a church which she
herself founded in expiation of some fancied sin connected with her
marriage. Her remains have never been disturbed. We also visited the
tomb of the Conqueror, on the other side of the city at the church of
St. Étienne. But the Conqueror's bones are not there now; they were
scattered by the Huguenots in 1562.

We enjoyed Caen. We wandered about among its ancient churches and still
more ancient streets. At one church a wedding was going on, and Narcissa
and I lingered a little to assist. One does not get invited to a
Normandy wedding every day, especially in the old town where William I
organized his rabble to invade England. No doubt this bride and groom
were descendants of some of William's wild rascals, but they looked very
mild and handsome and modern to us. Narcissa and I attended quite a
variety of ceremonials in the course of our travels: christenings,
catechisms, song services, high mass, funerals--there was nearly always
something going on in those big churches, and the chantings and
intonings, and the candles, and the incense, and the processions and
genuflections, and the robes of the priests and the costumes of the
assemblages all interested us.

Caen became an important city under William the Conqueror. Edward III of
England captured and pillaged it about the middle of the fourteenth
century, at which time it was larger than any city in England, except
London. It was from Caen that Charlotte Corday set out to assassinate
Marat. To-day Caen has less than fifty thousand inhabitants and is
mainly interesting for its art treasures and its memories.

We left the Paris-Cherbourg road at Caen. Our program included Rouen,
Amiens, and Beauvais, cathedral cities lying more to the northward.
That night we lay at the little Norman village of Bourg-Achard, in an
inn of the choicest sort, and next morning looked out of our windows on
a busy cattle market, where men in clean blue smocks and women in neat
black dresses and becoming headgear were tugging their beasts about,
exhibiting them and discussing them--eating, meantime, large pieces of
gingerbread and other convenient food. A near-by orchard was filled with
these busy traders. At one place our street was lined with agricultural
implements which on closer inspection proved to be of American
manufacture. From Bourg-Achard to Rouen the distance seemed all too
short--the road was so beautiful.

It was at Rouen that we started to trace backward the sacred footprints
of Joan of Arc, saint and savior of France. For it is at Rouen that the
pathway ends. When we had visited the great cathedral, whose fairy-like
façade is one of the most beautiful in the world, we drove to a corner
of the old Market Place, and stopped before a bronze tablet which tells
that on this spot on a certain day in May, 1431 (it was the 29th), the
only spotless soul in France, a young girl who had saved her country
from an invading and conquering enemy, was burned at the stake. That was
five hundred years ago, but time has not dulled the misery of the event,
its memory of torture, its humiliation. All those centuries since, the
nation that Joan saved has been trying to atone for her death. Streets
have been named for her; statues have been set up for her in every
church and in public squares, but as we read that sorrowful tablet I
could not help thinking that all of those honors together are not worth
a single instant of her fiendish torture when the flames had found her
tender flesh. Cauchon, later Bishop of Beauvais, her persecutor, taunted
his victim to the last. If the chapel of expiation he built later at
Lisieux saved him, then chapels must indeed be held in high esteem by
those who confer grace.

Nothing is there to-day that was there then, but one may imagine an open
market place thronged with people, and the horrid structure of death on
which stood Joan while they preached to her of her sins. Her sins! when
she was the only one among them that was not pitch black, steeped to the
hair in villainy. Cauchon himself finished the sermon by excommunicating
her, cutting off the church's promise of salvation. On her head she wore
a cap on which was printed: HERETIC, RELAPSED, APOSTATE, IDOLATER.
Cauchon had spared nothing to make her anguish complete. It is curious
that he allowed her to pray, but he did, and when she prayed--not for
herself, but for the king who had deserted her--for his glory and
triumph, Cauchon himself summoned the executioners, and they bound her
to the stake with chains and lighted the fire.

There is little more to see of Joan in Rouen. The cathedral was there in
her time, but she was never permitted to enter it. There is a wall which
was a part of the chapel where she had her final hearing before her
judges; there are some houses which she must have passed, and there is a
tower which belonged to the castle in which she was confined, though it
is not certain that it is Joan's tower. There is a small museum in it,
and among its treasures we saw the manuscript article _St. Joan of Arc_,
by Mark Twain, who, in his _Personal Recollections_, has left to the
world the loveliest picture of that lovely life.



Chapter XX

WE COME TO GRIEF


It was our purpose to leave Rouen by the Amiens road, but when we got to
it and looked up a hill that about halfway to the zenith arrived at the
sky, we decided to take a road that led off toward Beauvais. We could
have climbed that hill well enough, and I wished later we had done so.
As it was, we ran along quite pleasantly during the afternoon, and
attended evening services in an old church at Grandvilliers, a place
that we had never heard of before, but where we found an inn as good as
any in Normandy.

It is curious with what exactness Fate times its conclusions. If we had
left Grandvilliers a few seconds earlier or later it would have made all
the difference, or if I had not pulled up a moment to look at a lovely
bit of brookside planted with poplars, or if I had driven the least bit
slower or the least bit faster, during the first five miles, or--

Oh, never mind--what happened was this: We had just mounted a long steep
hill on high speed and I had been bragging on the car, always a
dangerous thing to do, when I saw ahead of us a big two-wheeled cart
going in the same direction as ourselves, and beyond it a large car
approaching. I could have speeded up and cut in ahead of the cart, but I
was feeling well, and I thought I should do the courteous thing, the
safe thing, so I fell in behind it. Not far enough behind him, however,
for as the big car came opposite, the sleepy driver of the cart pulled
up his horse short, and we were not far enough behind for me to get the
brakes down hard and suddenly enough to stop before we touched him. It
was not a smash. It was just a push, but it pushed a big hole in our
radiator, mashed up one of our lamps, and crinkled up our left mudguard.
The radiator was the worst. The water poured out; our car looked as if
it had burst into tears.

We were really stupefied at the extent of our disaster. The big car
pulled up to investigate and console us. The occupants were Americans,
too, from Washington--kindly people who wanted to shoulder some of the
blame. Their chauffeur, a Frenchman, bargained with the cart driver who
had wrecked us to tow us to the next town, where there were garages.
Certainly pride goes before a fall. Five minutes before we were sailing
along in glory, exulting over the prowess of our vehicle. Now all in the
wink of an eye our precious conveyance, stricken and helpless, was being
towed to the hospital, its owners trudging mournfully behind.

The village was Poix, and if one had to be wrecked anywhere, I cannot
think of a lovelier spot for disaster than Poix de la Somme. It is just
across in Picardy, and the Somme there is a little brook that ripples
and winds through poplar-shaded pastures, sweet meadows, and deep
groves. In every direction were the loveliest walks, with landscape
pictures at every turn. The village itself was drowsy, kindly,
simple-hearted. The landlady at our inn was a motherly soul that during
the week of our stay the Joy and I learned to love.

For the others did not linger. Paris was not far away and had a good
deal in the way of shopping to recommend it. The new radiator ordered
from London might be delayed. So early next morning they were off for
Paris by way of Amiens and Beauvais, and the Joy and I settled down to
such employments and amusements as we could find, while waiting for
repairs.

We got acquainted with the garageman's family, for one thing. They lived
in the same little court with the shop, and we exchanged Swiss French
for their Picardese, and were bosom friends in no time. We spruced up
the car, too, and every day took long walks, and every afternoon took
some luncheon and our little stove and followed down the Somme to a tiny
bridge, and there made our tea. Then sometimes we read, and once when I
was reading aloud from Mark Twain's _Joan of Arc_, and had finished the
great battle of Patay, we suddenly remembered that it had happened on
the very day on which we were reading, the 18th of June. How little we
guessed that in such a short time our peaceful little river would give
its name to a battle a thousand times greater than any that Joan ever
fought!

Once when we were resting by the roadside a little old lady with a
basket stopped and sat with us while she told us her history--how her
husband had been a great physician and invented cures that to-day are
used in all the hospitals of France. Now she was poor, she said, and
lived alone in a little house, but if we would visit her she would give
us some good Picardese cooking. I wish we might have gone. One day I
hired a bicycle for the Joy and entertained the village by pushing her
around the public square until she learned to ride alone. Then I hired
one for myself and we went out on the road together. About the end of
the third day we began to look for our radiator, and visited the express
office with considerable regularity. Presently the village knew us, why
we were there and what we were expecting. They became as anxious about
it as ourselves.



Chapter XXI

THE DAMAGE REPAIRED--BEAUVAIS AND COMPIÈGNE


One morning as we started toward the express office a man in a wagon
passed and called out something. We did not catch it, but presently
another met us and with a glad look told us that our goods had arrived
and were now in the delivery wagon on the way to the garage. We did not
recognize either of those good souls, but they were interested in our
welfare. Our box was at the garage when we arrived there, and in a
little more it was opened and the new radiator in place. The other
repairs had been made, and once more we were complete. We decided to
start next morning to join the others in Paris.

Morning comes early on the longest days of the year, and we had eaten
our breakfast, had our belongings put into the car, and were ready to be
off by seven o'clock. What a delicious morning it was! Calm, glistening,
the dew on everything. As long as I live I shall remember that golden
morning when the Joy, aged eleven, and I went gypsying together,
following the winding roads and byways that led us through pleasant
woods, under sparkling banks, and along the poplar-planted streams of
Picardy. We did not keep to highways at all. We were in no hurry and we
took any lane that seemed to lead in the right direction, so that much
of the time we appeared to be crossing fields--fields of flowers, many
of them, scarlet poppies, often mingled with blue cornflowers and yellow
mustard--fancy the vividness of that color.

Traveling in that wandering fashion, it was noon before we got down to
Beauvais, where we stopped for luncheon supplies and to see what is
perhaps the most remarkable cathedral in the world. It is one of the
most beautiful, and, though it consists only of choir and transepts, it
is one of the largest. Its inner height, from floor to vaulting, is one
hundred and fifty-eight feet. The average ten-story building could sit
inside of it. There was once a steeple that towered to the giddy heights
of five hundred feet, but in 1573, when it had been standing three
hundred years, it fell down, from having insufficient support. The inner
work is of white stone, marble, and the whole place seems filled with
light. It was in this cool, heavenly sanctuary that Cauchon, who hounded
Joan to the stake, officiated as bishop. I never saw a place so unsuited
to a man. I should think that spire would have tumbled off then instead
of waiting until he had been dead a hundred years. There is a clock in
this church--a modern clock--that records everything, even the age of
the world, which at the moment of our visit was 5,914 years. It is a
very large affair, but we did not find it very exciting. In the public
square of Beauvais there is a bronze statue of Jeanne Laine, called
"Jeanne Hachette," because, armed with a hatchet, she led others of her
sex against Charles the Bold in 1472 and captured a banner with her own
hands.

Beauvais has many interesting things, but the day had become very warm
and we did not linger. We found some of the most satisfactory pastries I
have ever seen in France, fresh and dripping with richness; also a few
other delicacies, and, by and by, under a cool apple tree on the road to
Compiègne, the Joy and I spread out our feast and ate it and listened to
some little French birds singing, "_Vite! Vite! Vite!_" meaning that we
must be "Quick! Quick! Quick!" so they could have the crumbs.

It was at Compiègne that Joan of Arc was captured by her enemies, just a
year before that last fearful day at Rouen. She had relieved Orléans,
she had fought Patay, she had crowned the king at Rheims; she would have
had her army safely in Paris if she had not been withheld by a weakling,
influenced by his shuffling, time-serving counselors. She had delivered
Compiègne the year before, but now again it was in trouble, besieged by
the Duke of Burgundy. Joan had been kept in partial inactivity in the
Loire district below Paris during the winter, but with the news from
Compiègne she could no longer be restrained.

"I will go to my good friends of Compiègne," she said, and, taking such
force as she could muster, in number about six hundred cavalry, she went
to their relief.

From a green hill commanding the valley of the Oise we looked down upon
the bright river and pretty city which Joan had seen on that long-ago
afternoon of her final battle for France. Somewhere on that plain the
battle had taken place, and Joan's little force for the first time had
failed. There had been a panic; Joan, still fighting and trying to
rally her men, had been surrounded, dragged from her horse, and made a
prisoner. She had led her last charge.

We crossed a bridge and entered the city and stopped in the big public
square facing Leroux's beautiful statue of Joan, which the later
"friends of Compiègne" have raised to her memory. It is Joan in
semi-armor, holding aloft her banner, and on the base in old French is
inscribed "_Je Yray voir mes bons amys de Compiègne_" ("I will go to see
my good friends of Compiègne").

Many things in Compiègne are beautiful, but not many of them are very
old. Joan's statue looks toward the handsome and richly ornamented Hôtel
de Ville, but Joan could not have seen it in life, for it dates a
hundred years after death. There are two handsome churches, in one or
both of which she doubtless worshiped when she had first delivered the
city; possibly a few houses of that ancient time still survive.

We looked into the churches, but they seemed better on the outside. Then
I discovered that one of our back tires was down, and we drew up in a
secluded nook at the rear of St. Jacques for repairs. It was dusk by the
time we had finished, the end of that long June day, and we had no time
to hunt for a cozy inn. So we went to a hotel which stands opposite the
great palace which the architect Gabriel built for Louis XV, and looked
across to it while we ate our dinner, and talked of our day's
wanderings, and of palaces in general and especially queens; also of
Joan, and of the beautiful roads and fields of flowers, and of the
little birds that tried to hurry us along, and so were very happy and
very tired indeed.

Next morning we visited the palace. It has been much occupied by
royalty, for Compiègne was always a favorite residence of the rulers of
France. Napoleon came there with the Empress Marie Louise, and Louis
Philippe and Napoleon III both found retirement there.

I think it could not have been a very inviting or restful home. There
are long halls and picture galleries, all with shiny floors and stiffly
placed properties, and the royal suites are just a series of square,
prettily decorated and upholstered boxes, strung together, with doors
between. One might as well set up a series of screens in a long hall.
Even with the doors shut there could not have been much sense of
privacy, certainly none of snugness. But then palaces were not meant to
be cozy. We saw the bedrooms and dressing rooms and what not of the
various queens, and we looked from an upper window down a long forest
avenue that was finer than anything inside. Then we went back to the car
and drove into the big forest for ten miles or more, to an old feudal
castle--such a magnificent old castle, all towers and turrets and
battlements--the château of Pierrefonds, one of the finest in France.

It stands upon a rocky height overlooking a lake, and it does not seem
so old, though it had been there forty years when Joan of Arc came, and
it looks as if it might be there about as long as the hill it stands on.
It was built by Louis of Orléans, brother of Charles VI, and the storm
of battle has raged often about its base. Here and there it still shows
the mark of bombardment, and two cannon balls stick fast in the wall of
one of its solid towers. Pierrefonds was in bad repair, had become
well-nigh a ruin, in fact, when Napoleon III, at his own expense,
engaged Viollet le Duc to restore it, in order that France might have a
perfect type of the feudal castle in its original form. It stands to-day
as complete in its structure and decoration as it was when Louis of
Orléans moved in, more than five hundred years ago, and it conveys
exactly the solid home surroundings of the mediæval lord. It is just a
show place now, and its vast court, its chapel and its halls of state
are all splendid enough, though nothing inside can be quite so
magnificent as its mighty assemblage of towers and turrets rising above
the trees and reflecting in the blue waters of a placid lake.

It began raining before we got to Paris, so we did not stop at
Crépy-en-Valois, or Senlis, or Chantilly, or St. Denis, though all that
land has been famous for kings and castles and bloodshed from a time
farther back than the days of Cæsar. We were interested in all those
things, but we agreed we could not see everything. Some things we saw as
we went by; great gray walls and crumbling church towers, and then we
were at the gates of Paris and presently threading our way through a
tangle of streets, barred, many of them, because the top of the subway
had been tumbling in a few days before and travel was dangerous. It was
Sunday, too, and the streets were especially full of automobiles and
pedestrians. It was almost impossible to keep from injuring something. I
do not care for Paris, not from the driving seat of a car.



Chapter XXII

FROM PARIS TO CHARTRES AND CHÂTEAUDUN


In fact, neither the Joy nor I hungered for any more Paris, while the
others had seen their fill. So we were off, with only a day's delay,
this time taking the road to Versailles. There we put in an hour or two
wandering through the vast magnificence of the palace where the great
Louis XIV lived, loved, and died, and would seem to have spent a good
part of his time having himself painted in a variety of advantageous
situations, such as riding at the head of victorious armies, or
occupying a comfortable seat in Paradise, giving orders to the gods.

They were weak kings who followed him. The great Louis reigned
seventy-two years--prodigal years, but a period of military and artistic
conquest--the golden age of French literature. His successor reigned
long enough--fifty-nine years--but he achieved nothing worth while, and
the next one lost his head. We saw the little balcony where the doomed
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette showed themselves to the mob--the
"deluge" which the greater Louis had once predicted.

The palace at Versailles is like other royal palaces of France--a fine
show place, an excellent museum, but never in its day of purest
domesticity could it have been called "a happy little home." Everything
is on too extended a scale. Its garden was a tract of marshy land sixty
miles in circumference until Louis XIV set thirty-six thousand men at
it, turning it into fairyland. Laborers died by the score during the
work, and each night the dead were carted away. When this was mentioned
to the king he was troubled, fearing his supply of men might not last.
However, the garden was somehow completed. Possibly Louis went out and
dug in it a little himself.

It is still a Garden of Eden, with leafy avenues, and lakes, and
marvelous fountains, and labyrinths of flowers. Looking out over it from
the palace windows we remembered how the king had given Madame Maintenon
a summer sleigh-ride, causing long avenues to be spread with sugar and
salt to gratify her idly-expressed whim. I am sorry, of course, that the
later Louis had to lose his head, but on the whole I think it is very
well that France discouraged that line of kings.

Versailles is full of palaces. There is the Grand Trianon, which Louis
XIV built for Madame Maintenon when she had grown weary of the great
palace, and the Petit Trianon, which Louis XV gave to Du Barry and where
Marie Antoinette built her Swiss village and played at farm life. There
is no reason I should dwell on these places. Already volumes have been
written of the tragic, gay, dissolute life they have seen, the gorgeous
moving panoramas that might have been pictures passing in a
looking-glass for all the substance they have left behind.

Somewhere below Versailles, in the quietest spot we could find, by a
still stream that ran between the meadow and the highroad, we made our
luncheon and were glad we were not kings. Being royalty was a gaudy
occupation, but too doubtful, too open to criticism. One of those Louis
families, for instance, could never have stopped their motor by the
roadside and prepared their luncheon in our modest, unostentatious way.
They would have had all manner of attendants and guards watching them,
and an audience would have collected, and some excited person might have
thrown a brick and hit the jam. No, we would rather be just plain,
unobtrusive people, without audience, and with no attendance but the
car, waiting there in the shade to carry us deeper into this Land of
Heart's Desire.

It was at Rambouillet that we lodged, an ancient place with a château
and a vast park; also an excellent inn--the Croix Blanche--one of those
that you enter by driving through to an inner court. Before dinner we
took a walk into the park, along the lakeside and past the château,
which is a curious architectural mixture and not very sightly. But it is
mingled with history. Francis I died there in 1547, and as late as 1830
the last Charles, the tenth of that name, signed his abdication there.

It was too late for the place to be open, and in any case we did not
care to go in. We had had enough of palaces for one day. We followed
around the lake to an avenue of splendid Louisiana cypresses which some
old king had planted. Beyond the avenue the way led into deeper
wildernesses--a noble wood. We made a backward circuit at length, for it
was evening and the light was fading. In the mysterious half-light
there was something almost spectral in that sylvan place and we spoke in
hushed voices. Presently we came to a sort of bower, and then to an
artificial grotto--old trysting places. Ah, me! Monsieur and
mademoiselle, or madame, are no longer there; the powdered hair, the
ruffled waist-coat and looped gown, the silken hose and dainty footgear,
the subdued laugh and whispered word, all have vanished. How vacant
those old places seemed! We did not linger--it was a time for ghosts.

We were off next morning, halting for a little at Maintenon on the road
to Chartres. The château attracted us and the beautiful river Eure. The
widow of the poet Scarron, who married Louis XIV and became Marquise de
Maintenon, owned the château, and it belongs to the family to this day.
An attendant permitted us to see the picture gallery and a portion of
the grounds. All seemed as luxurious as Versailles. It is thirty-five
miles from Maintenon to Versailles, but Louis started to build an
aqueduct to carry the waters of the Eure to his gardens. He kept thirty
thousand soldiers working on it for four years, but they died faster
than he could replace them, which was such a bother that he abandoned
the undertaking.

Following the rich and lovely valley of the Eure, we came to Chartres,
and made our way to the Cathedral square. We had seen the towers from a
long distance, and remembered the saying that "The choir of Beauvais,
the nave of Amiens, the portal of Rheims, and the towers of Chartres
would together make the finest church in the world." To confess the
truth, I did not think the towers of Chartres as handsome as those of
either Rouen or Amiens. But then I am not a purist in cathedral
architecture. Certainly the cathedral itself is glorious. I shall not
attempt to describe it. Any number of men have written books, trying to
do that, and most of them have failed. I only know that the wonder of
its architecture--the marvel of its relief carving, "lace in stone," and
the sublime glory of its windows--somehow possessed us, and we did not
know when to go. I met a woman once who said she had spent a month at
Chartres and had put in most of it sitting in the cathedral looking at
those windows. When she told me of it I had been inclined to be
scornful. I was not so any more. Those windows, made by some unknown
artist, dead five hundred years, invite a lifetime of contemplation.

It is about nine hundred years since the cathedral of Chartres was
begun, and it has known many changes. Four hundred years ago one of its
towers was rebuilt in an altogether different pattern from the other. I
believe this variation is regarded as a special feature of their
combined beauty. Chapels have been added, wings extended; changes inside
and out were always going on during the first five hundred years or so,
but if the builders made any mistakes we failed to notice them. It
remains a unity, so far as we could see--a supreme expression of the old
faith, whose material labor was more than half spiritual, and for whom
no sacrifice of money or endeavor was too great.

We left Chartres by one of the old city gates, and took the wrong road,
and presently found ourselves in an open field, where our way dwindled
out and stopped. Imagine a road good enough to be mistaken for a
highway, leading only to a farmer's grainfield. So we went back and got
set right, and through a heavenly June afternoon followed the straight
level way to Châteaudun, an ancient town perched upon the high cliffs
above the valley of the Loir, which is a different river from the
Loire--much smaller and more picturesque.

The château itself hangs on the very edge of the cliffs with startling
effect and looks out over a picture valley as beautiful as any in
France. This was the home of Dunois, Bastard of Orléans, who left it to
fight under Joan of Arc. He was a great soldier, one of her most loved
and trusted generals. We spent an hour or more wandering through
Dunois's ancient seat, with an old guardian who clearly was in love with
every stone of it, and who time and again reminded us that it was more
interesting than many of the great châteaux of the Loire, Blois
especially, in that it had been scarcely restored at all. About the
latest addition to Châteaudun was a beautiful open stairway of the
sixteenth century, in perfect condition to-day. On the other side is
another fine façade and stairway, which Dunois himself added. In a niche
there stands a fine statue of the famous soldier, probably made from
life. If only some sculptor or painter might have preserved for us the
features of Joan!



Chapter XXIII

WE REACH TOURS


Through that golden land which lies between the Loir and the Loire we
drifted through a long summer afternoon and came at evening to a noble
bridge that crossed a wide, tranquil river, beyond which rose the towers
of ancient Tours, capital of Touraine. One can hardly cross the river
Loire for the first time without long reflections. Henry James calls the
Touraine "a gallery of architectural specimens ... the heart of the old
French monarchy," and adds, "as that monarchy was splendid and
picturesque, a reflection of the splendor still glitters in the Loire.
Some of the most striking events of French history have occurred on the
banks of that river, and the soil it waters bloomed for a while with the
flower of the Renaissance."

Touraine was a favorite place for kings, and the early Henrys and
Francises, especially, built their magnificent country palaces in all
directions. There are more than fifty châteaux within easy driving
distance of Tours, and most of the great ones have been owned or
occupied by Francis I, or by Henry II, or by one of their particular
favorites.

We did not intend to visit all of the châteaux by any means, for château
visiting, from a diversion may easily degenerate into labor. We
intended especially to visit Chinon, where Joan of Arc went to meet the
king to ask for soldiers, and a few others, but we had no wish to put in
long summer days mousing about old dungeons and dim corridors, or being
led through stiffly set royal suites, garishly furnished and restored.
It was better to glide restfully along the poppied way and see the
landscape presentment of those stately piles crowning the hilltops or
reflected in the bright waters of the Loire. The outward semblance of
the land of romance remains oftenest undisturbed; cross the threshold
and the illusion is in danger.

At the Central Hotel of Tours, an excellent place of modest charges, we
made our headquarters, and next morning, with little delay, set out for
Chinon and incidental châteaux. "Half the charm of the Loire," says
James, "is that you can travel beside it." He was obliged to travel very
leisurely beside it when that was written; the "flying carpet" had not
then been invented, and James, with his deliberate locomotion, was
sometimes unable to return to Tours for the night. I imagine he enjoyed
it none the less for that, lazily watching the smooth water of the wide
shallow stream, with never a craft heavier than a flat-bottomed hay
boat; the wide white road, gay with scarlet poppies, and some tall
purple flower, a kind of foxglove.

I do not remember that James makes mention of the cliff-dwellers along
the Loire. Most of them live in houses that are older, I suspect, than
the oldest château of Touraine. In the beginning there must have been in
these cliffs natural caves occupied by our earliest troglodyte
ancestors. In time, as mentality developed and, with it, imagination,
the original shelters were shaped and enlarged by excavation, also new
ones built, until these perpendicular banks facing the Loire became the
dwelling place for hundreds, even thousands.

They are still numerously inhabited. The rooms or houses--some of them
may be flats--range one above the other in stories, all up the face of
the cliff, and there are smoke-places and little chimneys in the fields
at the top. Such houses must have been here before the kings came to
Touraine. Some of them look very ancient; some have crumbled in; some
have been faced with stone or plaster. The cliff is honeycombed with
them. Do their occupants have traditional rights from some vague time
without date? Do they pay rent, and to whom? We might have found the
answers to these questions had we cared to seek for them. It seemed
better to content oneself with speculation. We did not visit the
cliff-dwellers of the Loire.

Neither did we visit the château of Luynes or of Langeais. Luynes is a
fine old feudal pile on a hilltop just below Tours, splendid from the
road, but it had no compelling history and we agreed that closer view
could not improve it. Besides, it was hot, sizzling, for a climb; so hot
that one of our aging tubes popped presently, and Narcissa and I had to
make repairs in a place where there was a world of poppies, but no shade
for a mile. That was one of the reasons we did not visit Langeais.
Langeais was exactly on the road, but it had a hard, hot, forbidding
look. Furthermore, our book said that it had been restored and converted
into a museum, and added that its chief claim on history lay in the fact
that Anne of Brittany was here married to Charles VIII in 1491. That
fact was fine to realize from the outside, under the cool shadow of
those gray walls. One could lose it among shiny restorations and stuffy
museum tapestries.

The others presently noticed a pastry shop opposite the château and
spoke of getting something extra for luncheon. While they were gone I
discovered a café below the château and, being pretty dry, I slipped
down there for a little seltzer, or something. The door was open, but
the place was empty. There was the usual display of bottles, but not a
soul was in sight. I knocked, then called, but nobody came. I called and
knocked louder, but nothing happened. Then I noticed some pennies lying
by an empty glass on the bar. The amount was small and I left them
there. A side door was open and I looked out into a narrow passage
opening into a court at the back. I went out there, still signaling my
distress. The sun was blazing and I was getting dryer every minute.
Finally a stout, smiling woman appeared, wiping her hands--from the
washtub, I judge. She went with me into the café, gathered up the loose
change on the counter, and set out refreshments. Then she explained that
I could have helped myself and left the money. Langeais is an honest
community.

Following down the Loire we came to a bridge, and, crossing to the other
bank, presently found ourselves in a country where there were no
visible houses at all. But there was shade, and we camped under it and I
did some tire repairing while the others laid out the luncheon and set
the little cooker going. Later we drowsed in the shade for an hour or
more, with desultory talk of Joan, and of Anne of Brittany, and of the
terrible Catherine de Medici, whose son the feeble Francis II had
brought his young wife, Marie Stuart, the doomed Queen of Scots, to
Chenonceaux for their honeymoon. It was strange to think that this was
the environment of those half-romantic figures of history. Some of them,
perhaps all, had passed this very spot. And so many others! the Henrys,
the Charleses, the Louises--the sovereigns and soldiers and court
favorites for four hundred years. What a procession--the pageant of the
Renaissance!



Chapter XXIV

CHINON, WHERE JOAN MET THE KING, AND AZAY


Chinon is not on the Loire, but on a tributary a little south of it, the
Vienne, its ruined castle crowning the long hill or ridge above the
town. Sometime during the afternoon we came to the outskirts of the
ancient place and looked up to the wreck of battlements and towers where
occurred that meeting which meant the liberation of France.

We left the car below and started to climb, then found there was a road,
a great blessing, for the heat was intense. There is a village just
above the castle, and we stopped there.

The château of Chinon to-day is the remains of what originally was three
châteaux, built at different times, but so closely strung together that
in ruin they are scarcely divided. The oldest, Coudray, was built in the
tenth century and still shows three towers standing, in one of which
Joan of Arc lived during her stay at Chinon. The middle château is not
as old by a hundred years. It was built on the site of a Roman fort, and
it was in one of its rooms, a fragment of which still remains, that
Charles VII received the shepherd girl from Domremy. The château of St.
George was built in the twelfth century by Henry II of England, who died
there in 1189. Though built two hundred years after Coudray, nothing of
it survives but some foundations.

Chinon is a much more extensive ruin than we had expected. Even what
remains to-day must be nearly a quarter of a mile in length, and its
vast crumbling walls and towers make it strikingly picturesque. But its
ruin is complete, none the less. Once through the entrance tower and you
are under nothing but the sky, with your feet on the grass; there is no
longer a shelter there, even for a fugitive king. You wander about,
viewing it scarcely more than as a ruin, at first, a place for painting,
for seclusion, for dreaming in the sun. Then all at once you are facing
a wall in which, halfway up where once was the second story, there is a
restored fireplace and a tablet which tells you that in this room
Charles VII received Joan of Arc. It is not a room now; it is just a
wall, a fragment, with vines matting its ruined edges.

You cross a stone footbridge to the tower where Joan lived, and that,
too, is open to the sky, and bare and desolate. Once, beyond it, there
was a little chapel where she prayed. There are other fragments and
other towers, but they merely serve as a setting for those which the
intimate presence of Joan made sacred.

The Maid did not go immediately to the castle on her arrival in Chinon.
She put up at an inn down in the town and waited the king's pleasure.
His paltering advisers kept him dallying, postponing his consent to see
her, but through the favor of his mother-in-law, Yolande, Queen of
Sicily, Joan and her suite were presently housed in the tower of
Coudray. One wonders if the walls were as bare as now. It was old even
then; it had been built five hundred years. But Queen Yolande would have
seen to it that there were comforts, no doubt; some tapestries, perhaps,
on the walls; a table, chairs, some covering for the stone floor.
Perhaps it was even luxurious.

The king was still unready to see Joan. She was only a stone's throw
away, but the whisperings of his advisers kept her there, while a
commission of priests went to Domremy to inquire as to her character.
When there were no further excuses for delay they contrived a trick--a
deception. They persuaded the king to put another on the throne, one
like him and in his royal dress, so that Joan might pay homage to this
make-believe king, thus proving that she had no divine power or
protection which would assist her in identifying the real one.

In the space where now is only green grass and sky and a broken wall
Charles VII and his court gathered to receive the shepherd girl who had
come to restore his kingdom. It was evening and the great hall was
lighted, and at one end of it was the throne with its imitation king,
and I suppose at the other the fireplace with a blazing fire. Down the
center of the room were the courtiers, formed in two ranks, facing so
that Joan might pass between them to the throne. The occasion was one of
great ceremony--Joan and her suite were welcomed with fine honors.
Banners waved, torches flared; trumpets blown at intervals marked the
stages of her progress down the great hall; every show was made of
paying her great honor--everything that would distract her and blind
her to their trick.

Charles VII, dressed as a simple courtier, stood a little distance from
the throne. Joan, advancing to within a few steps of the pretended king,
raised her eyes. Then for a moment she stood silent, puzzled. They
expected her to kneel and make obeisance, but a moment later she turned
and, hurrying to the rightful Charles, dropped on her knees and gave him
heartfelt salutation. She had never seen him and was without knowledge
of his features. Her protectors, or her gifts, had not failed. It was
perhaps the greatest moment in French history.

We drove down into Chinon, past the house where it is said that Rabelais
was born, and saw his statue, and one of Joan which was not very
pleasing. Then we threaded some of the older streets and saw houses
which I think cannot have changed much since Joan was there. It was
getting well toward evening now, and we set out for Tours, by way of
Azay.

The château of Azay-le-Rideau is all that Chinon is not. Perfect in
condition, of rare beauty in design and ornamentation, fresh, almost new
in appearance, Azay presents about the choicest flowering of the
Renaissance. Joan of Arc had been dead a hundred years when Azay was
built; France was no longer in dread of blighting invasion; a residence
no longer needed to be a fortress. The royal châteaux of the Loire are
the best remaining evidence of what Joan had done for the security of
her kings. Whether they deserved it or not is another matter.

Possibly Azay-le-Rideau might not have looked so fresh under the glare
of noonday, but in the mellow light of evening it could have been the
home of one of our modern millionaires (a millionaire of perfect taste,
I hasten to add), and located, let us say, in the vicinity of Newport.
It was difficult to believe that it had been standing for four
centuries.

Francis I did not build Azay-le-Rideau. But he liked it so much when he
saw it (he was probably on a visit to its owner, the French treasurer,
at the time) that he promptly confiscated it and added it to the
collection of other châteaux he had built, or confiscated, or had in
mind. Nothing very remarkable seems to have happened there--just the
usual things--plots, and liaisons, and intrigues of a general sort, with
now and then a chapter of real lovemaking, and certain marriages and
deaths--the latter hurried a little sometimes to accommodate the
impatient mourners.

But how beautiful it is! Its towers, its stately façades, its rich
ornamentation reflected in the water of the wide stream that sweeps
about its base, a natural moat, its background of rich foliage--these,
in the gathering twilight, completed a picture such as Hawthorne could
have conceived, or Edgar Poe.

I suppose it was too late to go inside, but we did not even apply. Like
Langeais, it belongs to France now, and I believe is something of a
museum, and rather modern. One could not risk carrying away anything
less than a perfect memory of Azay.



Chapter XXV

TOURS


In the quest for outlying châteaux one is likely to forget that Tours
itself is very much worth while. Tours has been a city ever since France
had a history, and it fought against Cæsar as far back as 52 B.C. It
took its name from the Gallic tribe of that section, the Turoni,
dwellers in those cliffs, I dare say, along the Loire.

Following the invasion of the Franks there came a line of counts who
ruled Touraine until the eleventh century. What the human aspect of this
delectable land was under their dominion is not very clear. The oldest
castle we have seen, Coudray, was not begun until the end of that
period. There are a thousand years behind it which seem filled mainly
with shields and battle axes, roving knights and fair ladies,
industrious dragons and the other properties of poetry. Yet there may
have been more prosaic things. Seedtime and harvest probably did not
fail.

Tours was beloved by French royalty. It was the capital of a province as
rich as it was beautiful. Among French provinces Touraine was always the
aristocrat. Its language has been kept pure. To this day the purest
French in the world is spoken at Tours. The mechanic who made some
repairs for me at the garage leaned on the mud guard, during a brief
intermission of that hottest of days, and told me about the purity of
the French at Tours; and if there was anything wrong with his own
locution my ear was not fine enough to detect it. To me it seemed as
limpid as something distilled. Imagine such a thing happening in--say
New Haven. Tours is still proud, still the aristocrat, still royal.

The Germans held Tours during the early months of 1871, but there is no
trace of their occupation now. It was a bad dream which Tours does not
care even to remember.[16]

Tours contains a fine cathedral, also the remains of what must have been
a still finer one--two noble towers, so widely separated by streets and
buildings that it is hard to imagine them ever having belonged to one
structure. They are a part of the business of Tours, now. Shops are
under them, lodgings in them. If they should tumble down they would
create havoc. I was so sure they would crumble that we did not go into
them; besides, it was very warm. The great church which connected these
towers was dedicated to St. Martin, the same who divided his cloak with
a beggar at Amiens and became Bishop of Tours in the fourth century. It
was destroyed once and magnificently rebuilt, but it will never be
rebuilt now. One of these old relics is called the Clock tower, the
other the tower of Charlemagne, because Luitgard, his third queen, was
buried beneath it.

The cathedral at the other end of town appears not to have suffered much
from the ravages of time and battle, though one of the towers was
undergoing some kind of repairs that required intricate and lofty
scaffolding. Most of the cathedrals are undergoing repairs, which is not
surprising when one remembers the dates of their beginnings. This one at
Tours was commenced in 1170 and the building continued during about four
hundred years. Joan of Arc worshiped in it when she was on her way to
Chinon and again when she had set out to relieve Orléans.

The face of the cathedral is indeed beautiful--"a jewel," said Henry IV,
"of which only the casket is wanting." It does not seem to us as
beautiful as Rouen, or Amiens, or Chartres, but its fluted truncated
towers are peculiarly its own and hardly less impressive.

The cathedral itself forms a casket for the real jewel--the tomb of the
two children of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, a little boy and
girl, exquisitely cut, resting side by side on a slab of black marble,
guarded at their head and feet by kneeling angels. Except the slab, the
tomb is in white marble carved with symbolic decorations. It is all so
delicate and conveys such a feeling of purity and tenderness that even
after four hundred years one cannot fail to feel something of the love
and sorrow that placed it there.

Tours is full of landmarks and localities, but the intense heat of the
end of June is not a good time for city sight-seeing. We went about a
little and glanced at this old street--such as Place Plumeran--and that
old château, like the Tour de Guise, now a barrack, and passed the
Théâtre Municipal, and the house where Balzac was born, and stood
impressed and blinking before the great Palace of Justice, blazing in
the sun and made more brilliant, more dazzling by the intensely
red-legged soldiers that in couples and groups are always loitering
before it. I am convinced that to touch those red-hot trousers would
take the skin off one's fingers.

We might have examined Tours more carefully if we had been driving
instead of walking. I have spoken of the car being in the garage. We
cracked the leaf of a spring that day at Chinon, and then our tires, old
and worn after five thousand miles of loyal service, required
reënforcement. They really required new ones, but our plan was to get
home with these if we could. Besides, one cannot buy new tires in
American sizes without sending a special order to the factory--a matter
of delay. The little man at the hotel, who had more energy than anyone
should display in such hot weather, pumped one of our back tires until
the shoe burst at the rim. This was serious. I got a heavy canvas
lining, and the garageman patched and vulcanized and sold me a variety
of appliances. But I could foresee trouble if the heat continued.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] Tours during the World War became a great training camp, familiar
to thousands of American soldiers.



Chapter XXVI

CHENONCEAUX AND AMBOISE


(From my notebook)

     This morning we got away from Tours, but it was after a
     strenuous time. It was one of those sweltering mornings, and
     to forward matters at the garage I helped put on all those
     repaired tires and appliances, and by the time we were
     through I was a rag. Narcissa photographed me, because she
     said she had never seen me look so interesting before. She
     made me stand in the sun, bareheaded and holding a tube in
     my hand, as if I had not enough to bear already.

Oh, but it was cool and delicious gliding along the smooth, shaded road
toward Chenonceaux! One can almost afford to get as hot and sweltering
and cross and gasping as I was for the sake of sitting back and looking
across the wheel down a leafy avenue facing the breeze of your own
making, a delicious nectar that bathes you through and cools and rests
and soothes--an anodyne of peace.

By and by, being really cool in mind and body, we drew up abreast of a
meadow which lay a little below the road, a place with a brook and
overspreading shade, and with some men and women harvesting not far
away. We thought they would not mind if we lunched there, and I think
they must have been as kind-hearted as they were picturesque, for they
did not offer to disturb us. It was a lovely spot, and did not seem to
belong to the present-day world at all. How could it, with the home of
Diana of Poitiers just over there beyond the trees, with nesting places
of Mary, Queen of Scots, all about, and with these haymakers, whose
fashion in clothes has not much minded the centuries, to add the living
human note of the past that makes imagination reality?

Chenonceaux, the real heart of the royal district, like Chinon, is not
on the Loire itself, but on a small tributary, the Cher. I do not
remember that I noticed the river when we entered the grounds, but it is
a very important part of the château, which indeed is really a bridge
over it--a supremely beautiful bridge, to be sure, but a bridge none the
less, entirely crossing the pretty river by means of a series of high
foundation arches. Upon these arches rises the rare edifice which Thomas
Bohier, a receiver-general of taxes, began back in 1515 and Catherine
de' Medici finished after she had turned out Diana of Poitiers and
massacred the Huguenots, and needed a quiet place for retirement and
religious thought. Bohier did not extend Chenonceaux entirely across the
river. The river to him merely served as a moat. The son who followed
him did not have time to make additions. Francis I came along, noticed
that it was different from the other châteaux he had confiscated, and
added it to his collection. Our present-day collectors cut a poor figure
by the side of Francis I. Think of getting together assortments of bugs
and postage stamps and ginger jars when one could go out and pick up
châteaux!

It was Francis's son, Henry II, that gave it to Diana of Poitiers. Henry
had his own kind of a collection and he used his papa's châteaux to keep
it in. As he picked about the best one for Diana, we may believe that he
regarded her as his choicest specimen. Unfortunately for Diana, Henry's
queen, the terrible Catherine, outlived him; and when, after the
funeral, Catherine drove around by Chenonceaux and suggested to Diana
that perhaps she would like to exchange the place for a very excellent
château farther up the road, Chaumont, we may assume that Diana moved
with no unseemly delay. Diana tactfully said she liked Chaumont ever so
much, for a change, that perhaps living on a hilltop was healthier than
over the water, anyway. Still, it must have made her sigh, I think, to
know that her successor was carrying out the plan which Diana herself
had conceived of extending Chenonceaux across the Cher.

We stopped a little to look at the beautiful façade of Chenonceaux, then
crossed the drawbridge, or what is now the substitute for it, and were
welcomed at the door by just the proper person--a fine, dignified woman
of gentle voice and perfect knowledge. She showed us through the
beautiful home, for it is still a home, the property to-day of M.
Meunier of chocolate fame and fortune. I cannot say how glad I am that
M. Meunier owns Chenonceaux. He has done nothing to the place to spoil
it, and it is not a museum. The lower rooms which we saw have many of
the original furnishings. The ornaments, the tapestries, the pictures
are the same. I think Diana must have regretted leaving her fine
private room, with its chimney piece, supported by caryatids, and its
rare Flemish tapestry. We regretted leaving, too. We do not care for
interiors that have been overhauled and refurbished and made into
museums, but we were in no hurry to leave Chenonceaux. There is hardly
any place, I think, where one may come so nearly stepping back through
the centuries.

We went out into the long wing that is built on the arches above the
river, and looked down at the water flowing below. Our conductor told us
that the supporting arches had been built on the foundations of an
ancient mill. The beautiful gallery which the bridge supports must have
known much gayety; much dancing and promenading up and down; much
lovemaking and some heartache.

Jean Jacques Rousseau seems to have been everywhere. We could not run
amiss of him in eastern France and in Switzerland; now here again he
turns up at Chenonceaux. Chenonceaux in the eighteenth century fell to
M. Claude Dupin, farmer-general, who surrounded himself with the
foremost artists and social leaders of his time. He engaged Rousseau to
superintend the education of his son.

"We amused ourselves greatly at this fine place," writes Rousseau; "the
living was of the best, and I became as fat as a monk. We made a great
deal of music and acted comedies."

The period of M. Dupin's ownership, one of the most brilliant, and
certainly the most moral in the earlier history of Chenonceaux, has left
many memories. Of the brief, insipid honeymoon of the puny Francis II
and Mary Stuart no breath remains.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amboise is on the Loire, and there is a good inn on the quay. It was
evening when we got there, and we did nothing after dinner but sit on
the high masonry embankment that buttresses the river, and watch the men
who fished, while the light faded from the water; though we occasionally
turned to look at the imposing profile of the great château on the high
cliff above the Loire.

We drove up there next morning--that is, we drove as high as one may
drive, and climbed stairs the remaining distance. Amboise is a splendid
structure from without, but, unlike Chenonceaux, it is interesting
within only for what it has been. It is occupied by the superannuated
servants of the present owner, one of the Orléans family, which is fine
for them, and proper enough, but bad for the atmosphere. There are a
bareness and a whitewashed feeling about the place that are death to
romance. Even the circular inclined plane by which one may ride or drive
to the top of the great tower suggested some sort of temporary structure
at an amusement park rather than a convenience for kings. I was more
interested in a low doorway against the lintel of which Charles VIII
knocked his head and died. But I wish I could have picked Charles VII
for that accident, to punish him for having abandoned Joan of Arc.

Though about a hundred years older, Amboise, like Chenonceaux, belongs
mainly to the period of Francis I, and was inhabited by the same
society. The Francises and the Henrys enjoyed its hospitality, and
Catherine de' Medici, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Also some twelve or
fifteen hundred Huguenots who were invited there, and, at Catherine's
suggestion, butchered on the terrace just in front of the castle
windows. There is a balcony overlooking the terrace, and it is said that
Catherine and Mary, also Mary's husband and his two brothers, sat on the
balcony better to observe the spectacle. Tradition does not say whether
they had ices served or not. Some of the Huguenots did not wait, and the
soldiers had to drown what they could catch of them in the Loire,
likewise in view from the royal balcony. When the show was over there
was suspended from the balcony a fringe of Huguenot heads. Those were
frivolous times.

There is a flower garden to-day on the terrace where the Huguenots were
murdered, and one may imagine, if he chooses, the scarlet posies to be
brighter for that history. But then there are few enough places in
France where blossoms have not been richened by the human stain.
Consider those vivid seas of poppies! Mary Stuart, by the way, seems
entitled to all the pity that the centuries have accorded her. There
were few influences in her early life that were not vile.

On the ramparts at Amboise we were shown a chapel, with the grave of
Leonardo Da Vinci, who was summoned to Amboise by Francis I, and died
there in 1519. There is a question about da Vinci's ashes resting here,
I believe, but it does not matter--it is his grave.

If I were going back to Amboise I would view it only from the outside.
With its immense tower and its beautiful Gothic and Renaissance façade
surmounting the heights above the Loire, nothing--nothing in the world
could be more beautiful.



Chapter XXVII

CHAMBORD AND CLÉRY


Francis I had a fine taste for collecting châteaux picturesquely
located, but when he built one for himself he located it in the most
unbeautiful situation in France. It requires patience and talent to find
monotony of prospect in France, but our hero succeeded, and discovered a
dead flat tract of thirteen thousand acres with an approach through as
dreary a level of unprosperous-looking farm district as may be found on
the continent of Europe.

It is not on the Loire, but on a little stream called the Cosson, and
when we had left the Loire and found the country getting flatter and
poorer and less promising with every mile, we could not believe that we
were on the right road. But when we inquired, our informants still
pointed ahead, and by and by, in the midst of nowhere and surrounded by
nothing, we came to a great inclosure of undersized trees, with an
entrance. Driving in, we looked down a long avenue to an expanse of
architecture that seemed to be growing from a dead level of sandy park,
and to have attained about two thirds its proper height.

An old man was raking around the entrance and we asked him if one was
allowed to lunch in the park. He said, "Oh yes, anywhere," and gave a
general wave that comprehended the whole tract. So we turned into a
side road and found a place that was shady enough, but not cool, for
there seemed to be no large overspreading trees in this park, but only
small, close, bushy ones. It is said that Francis built Chambord for two
reasons, one of them being the memory of an old sweetheart who used to
live in the neighborhood, the other on account of the abundant game to
be found there. I am inclined to the latter idea. There is nothing in
the location to suggest romance; there is everything to suggest game.
The twenty square miles of thicket that go with Chambord could hardly be
surpassed as a harbor for beast and bird.

If Chambord was built, so to speak, as a sort of hunting lodge, it is
the largest one on record. Francis kept eighteen hundred men busy at it
for twelve years, and then did not get it done. He lived in it, more or
less, for some seven years, however; then went to Rambouillet to die,
and left his son, Henry II, to carry on the work. Henry did not care for
Chambord--the marshy place gave him fever, but he kept the building
going until he was killed in a tourney, when the construction stopped.
His widow, the bloody Catherine de' Medici, retired to Chambord in her
old age, and set the place in order. She was terribly superstitious and
surrounded herself with astrologers and soothsayers. At night she used
to go up to the great lantern tower to read her fortune in the stars. It
is my opinion that she did not go up there alone, not with that record
of hers.

Mansard, who laid a blight on architecture that lasted for two hundred
years, once got hold of Chambord and spoiled what he could, and had
planned to do worse things, but something--death, perhaps--interfered.
That was when Louis XIV brought Queen Maria Theresa to Chambord, and
held high and splendid court there, surrounding himself with brilliant
men and women, among them Molière and the widow of the poet Scarron,
Françoise d'Aubigné, the same that later became queen, under the title
of Madame de Maintenon. That was the heyday of Chambord's history. A
large guardroom was gilded and converted into a theater. Molière gave
first presentations there and received public compliment from the king.
Diversion was the order of the day and night.

"The court is very gay--the king hunts much," wrote Maintenon; "one eats
always with him; there is one day a ball, and the next a comedy."

Nothing very startling has happened at Chambord since Louis' time. Its
tenants have been numerous enough, and royal, or distinguished, but they
could not maintain the pace set by Louis XIV. Stanislas Leckzinski, the
exiled Polish king, occupied it during the early years of the eighteenth
century, and succeeded in marrying his daughter to the dissolute Louis
XV. Seventy years later the revolution came along. An order was issued
to sell the contents of Chambord, and a greedy rabble came and stripped
it clean. There was a further decree to efface all signs of royalty, but
when it was discovered that every bit of carving within and without the
vast place expressed royalty in some manner, and that it would cost
twenty thousand dollars to cut it away, this project was happily
abandoned. Chambord was left empty but intact. Whatever has been done
since has been in the way of restoration.

There is not a particle of shade around Chambord. It stands as bare and
exposed to the blazing sky to-day as it did when those eighteen hundred
workmen laid down their tools four hundred years ago. There is hardly a
shrub. Even the grass looks discouraged. A location, indeed, for a royal
palace!

We left the car under the shade of a wall and crossed a dazzling open
space to the entrance of a court where we bought entrance tickets. Then
we crossed the blinding court and were in a cool place at last, the wide
castle entrance. We were surprised a little, though, to find a ticket
box and a registering turnstile. Things are on a business basis at
Chambord. I suppose the money collected is used for repairs.

The best advertised feature of Chambord is the one you see first, the
great spiral double stairway arranged one flight above the other, so
that persons may be ascending without meeting others who are descending
at the same moment. Many persons would not visit Chambord but for this
special show feature. Our conductor made us ascend and descend to prove
that this unrivaled attraction would really work as advertised. It is
designed on the principle of the double stripes on a barber pole.

But there are other worth-while features at Chambord. We wandered
through the great cool rooms, not furnished, yet not empty, containing
as they do some rare pictures, old statuary and historic furniture,
despoiled by the revolutionists, now restored to their original
setting. Chambord is not a museum. It belongs to a Duke of Parma, a
direct descendant from Louis XIV. Under Louis XVIII the estate was sold,
but in 1821 three hundred thousand dollars was raised by public
subscription to purchase the place for the remaining heir of the Bourbon
dynasty, the Duke of Bordeaux, who accepted with the gift the title of
the Count of Chambord. But he was in exile and did not come to see his
property for fifty years; even then only to write a letter renouncing
his claim to the throne and to say once more good-by to France. He
willed the property to the children of his sister, the Duchess of Parma,
and it is to the next generation that it belongs to-day. Our conductor
told us that the present Duke of Parma comes now and then for the
shooting, which is still of the best.

We ascended to the roof, which is Chambord's chief ornament. It is an
architectural garden. Such elaboration of turrets with carved leafwork
and symbolism, such richness of incrustation and detail, did, in fact,
suggest some fantastic and fabulous culture. If it had not been all
fairly leaping with heat I should have wished to stay longer.

But I would not care to go to Chambord again. As we drove down the long
drive, and turned a little for a last look at that enormous frontage,
those immense low towers, that superb roof structure--all that
magnificence dropped down there in a dreary level--I thought, "If ever a
house was a white elephant that one is, and if one had to rename it it
might well be called Francis's Folly."

I suppose it was two hours later when we had been drifting drowsily up
the valley of the Loire that we stopped in a village for water. There
was an old church across the way, and as usual we stepped inside, as
much for the cool refreshment as for anything, expecting nothing else
worth while.

How easily we might have missed the wealth we found there. We did not
know the name of the village. We did not recognize Cléry, even when we
heard it, and the guidebook gives it just four lines. But we had been
inside only a moment when we realized that the Church of Our Lady of
Cléry is an ancient and sacred shrine. A great tablet told us that since
1325 kings of France, sinners and saints have made pilgrimages there;
Charles IV, Philippe VI, Charles VII, St. François Xavier, and so down
the centuries to Marshal MacMahon of our own time. But to us greater
than all the rest are the names of Dunois and Joan of Arc. Joan had
passed this way with her army, of course; for the moment we had
forgotten that we were following her footsteps to Orléans.

The place was rich in relics. Among these the tomb of Louis XI and a
column which inclosed the heart of Charles VIII. There could hardly have
been a shrine in France more venerated in the past than this forgotten
church by the roadside, in this forgotten village where, I suppose,
tourists to-day never stop at all. It was hard to believe in the reality
of our discovery, even when we stood there. But there were the tablets
and inscriptions--they could not be denied.

We wandered about, finding something new and precious at every turn,
until the afternoon light faded. Then we crossed a long bridge over the
Loire to the larger village of Meung, where there was the Hôtel St.
Jacques, one of the kind we like best and one of the best of the kind.



Chapter XXVIII

ORLÉANS


There is some sight-seeing to be done in Meung, but we were too anxious
to get to Orléans to stop for it. Yet we did not hurry through our last
summer morning along the Loire. I do not know what could be more lovely
than our leisurely hour--the distance was fifteen miles--under cool,
outspreading branches, with glimpses of the bright river and vistas of
happy fields.

We did not even try to imagine, as we approached the outskirts, that the
Orléans of Joan's time presented anything of its appearance to-day.
Orléans is a modern, or modernized, city, and, except the river, there
could hardly be anything in the present prospect that Joan saw. That it
is the scene of her first military conquest and added its name to the
title by which she belongs to history is, however, enough to make it one
of the holy places of France.

It has been always a military city, a place of battles. Cæsar burned it,
Attila attacked it, Clovis captured it--there was nearly always war of
one sort or another going on there. The English and Burgundians would
have had it in 1429 but for the arrival of Joan's army. Since then war
has visited Orléans less frequently. Its latest experience was with the
Germans who invested it in 1870-71.

Joan was misled by her generals, whose faith in her was not complete.
Orléans lies on the north bank of the Loire; they brought her down on
the south bank, fearing the prowess of the enemy's forces. Discovering
the deception, the Maid promptly sent the main body of her troops back
some thirty-five miles to a safe crossing, and, taking a thousand men,
passed over the Loire and entered the city by a gate still held by the
French. That the city was not completely surrounded made it possible to
attack the enemy simultaneously from within and without, while her
presence among the Orléanese would inspire them with new hope and valor.
Mark Twain in his _Recollections_ pictures the great moment of her
entry.

     It was eight in the evening when she and her troops rode in
     at the Burgundy gate.... She was riding a white horse, and
     she carried in her hand the sacred sword of Fierbois. You
     should have seen Orléans then. What a picture it was! Such
     black seas of people, such a starry firmament of torches,
     such roaring whirlwinds of welcome, such booming of bells
     and thundering of cannon! It was as if the world was come to
     an end. Everywhere in the glare of the torches one saw rank
     upon rank of upturned white faces, the mouths wide open,
     shouting, and the unchecked tears running down; Joan forged
     her slow way through the solid masses, her mailed form
     projecting above the pavement of heads like a silver statue.
     The people about her struggled along, gazing up at her
     through their tears with the rapt look of men and women who
     believe they are seeing one who is divine; and always her
     feet were being kissed by grateful folk, and such as failed
     of that privilege touched her horse and then kissed their
     fingers.

This was the 29th of April. Nine days later, May 8, 1429, after some
fierce fighting during which Joan was severely wounded, the besiegers
were scattered, Orléans was free. Mark Twain writes:

     No other girl in all history has ever reached such a summit
     of glory as Joan of Arc reached that day.... Orléans will
     never forget the 8th of May, nor ever fail to celebrate it.
     It is Joan of Arc's day--and holy.

Two days, May 7th and 8th, are given each year to the celebration, and
Orléans in other ways has honored the memory of her deliverer. A wide
street bears her name, and there are noble statues, and a museum, and
holy church offerings. The Boucher home which sheltered Joan during her
sojourn in Orléans has been preserved; at least a house is still shown
as the Boucher house, though how much of the original structure remains
no one at this day seems willing to decide.

We drove there first, for it is the only spot in Orléans that can claim
even a possibility of having known Joan's actual impress. It is a house
of the old cross-timber and brick architecture, and if these are not the
veritable walls that Joan saw they must at least bear a close
resemblance to those of the house of Jacques Boucher, treasurer of the
Duke of Orléans, where Joan was made welcome. The interior is less
convincing. It is ecclesiastical, and there is an air of general newness
and reconstruction about it that suggests nothing of that long-ago
occupancy. It was rather painful to linger, and we were inclined now to
hesitate at the thought of visiting the ancient home of Agnes Sorel,
where the Joan of Arc Museum is located.

It would have been a mistake not to do so, however. It is only a few
doors away on the same street, rue du Tabour, and it is a fine old
mansion, genuinely old, and fairly overflowing with objects of every
conceivable sort relating to Joan of Arc. Books, statuary, paintings,
armor, banners, offerings, coins, medals, ornaments, engravings,
letters--thousands upon thousands of articles gathered there in the
Maid's memory. I think there is not one of them that her hand ever
touched, or that she ever saw, but in their entirety they convey, as
nothing else could, the reverence that Joan's memory has inspired during
the centuries that have gone since her presence made this sacred ground.
Until the revolution Orléans preserved Joan's banner, some of her
clothing, and other genuine relics; but then the mob burned them,
probably because Joan delivered France to royalty. One finds it rather
easy to forgive the revolutionary mob almost anything--certainly
anything more easily than such insane vandalism. We were shown an
ancient copy of the banner, still borne, I believe, in the annual
festivals. Baedeker speaks of arms and armor worn at the siege of
Orléans, but the guardian of the place was not willing to guarantee
their genuineness. I wish he had not thought it necessary to be so
honest. He did show us a photograph of Joan's signature, the original of
which belongs to one of her collateral descendants. She wrote it
"Jehanne," and her pen must have been guided by her secretary, Louis de
Conte, for Joan could neither read nor write.

We drove to the Place Martroi to see the large equestrienne statue of
Joan by Foyatier, with reliefs by Vital Dubray. It is very imposing,
and the reliefs showing the great moments in Joan's career are really
fine. We did not care to hunt for other memorials. It was enough to
drive about the city trying to pick out a house here and there that
looked as if it might have been standing five hundred years, but if
there were any of that age--any that had looked upon the wild joy of
Joan's entrance and upon her triumphal departure, they were very few
indeed.



Chapter XXIX

FONTAINEBLEAU


We turned north now, toward Fontainebleau, which we had touched a month
earlier on the way to Paris. It is a grand straight road from Orléans to
Fontainebleau, and it passes through Pithiviers, which did not look
especially interesting, though we discovered when it was too late that
it is noted for its almond cakes and lark pies. I wanted to go back
then, but the majority was against it.

Late in the afternoon we entered for the second time the majestic forest
of Fontainebleau and by and by came to the palace and the little town,
and to a pretty hotel on a side street that was really a village inn for
comfort and welcome. There was still plenty of daylight, mellow, waning
daylight, and the palace was not far away. We would not wait for it
until morning.

I think we most enjoy seeing palaces about the closing hours. There are
seldom any other visitors then, and the waning afternoon sunlight in the
vacant rooms mellows their garish emptiness, and seems somehow to bring
nearer the rich pageant of life and love and death that flowed by there
so long and then one day came to an end, and now it is not passing any
more.

It was really closing time when we arrived at the palace, but the
custodian was lenient and for an hour we wandered through gorgeous
galleries, and salons, and suites of private apartments where queens and
kings lived gladly, loved madly, died sadly, for about four hundred
years. Francis I built Fontainebleau, on the site of a mediæval castle.
He was a hunter, and the forests of Fontainebleau, like those of
Chambord, were always famous hunting grounds. Louis XIII, who was born
in Fontainebleau, built the grand entrance staircase, from which two
hundred years later Napoleon Bonaparte would bid good-by to his generals
before starting for Elba. Other kings have added to the place and
embellished it; the last being Napoleon III, who built for Eugénie the
Bijou theater across the court.

It may have been our mood, it may have been the tranquil evening light,
it may have been reality that Fontainebleau was more friendly, more
alive, more a place for living men and women to inhabit than any other
palace we have seen. It was hard to imagine Versailles as having ever
been a home for anybody. At Fontainebleau I felt that we were
intruding--that Madame de Maintenon, Marie Antoinette, Marie Louise, or
Eugénie might enter at any moment and find us there. Perhaps it was in
the apartments of Marie Antoinette that one felt this most. There is a
sort of personality in the gorgeousness of her bedchamber that has to
do, likely enough, with the memory of her tragic end, but certainly it
is there. The gilded ceiling sings of her; the satin hangings--a
marriage gift from the city of Lyons--breathe of her; even the iron
window-fastenings are not without personal utterance, for they were
wrought by the skillful hands of the king himself, out of his love for
her.

The apartments of the first Napoleon and Marie Louise tell something,
too, but the story seems less intimate. Yet the table is there on which
Napoleon signed his abdication while an escort waited to take him to
Elba.

For size and magnificence the library is the most impressive room in
Fontainebleau. It is lofty and splendid, and it is two hundred and
sixty-four feet long. It is called the gallery of Diana, after Diana of
Poitiers, who for a lady of tenuous moral fiber seems to have inspired
some pretty substantial memories. The ballroom, the finest in Europe,
also belongs to Diana, by special dedication of Henry II, who decorated
it magnificently to suit Diana's charms. Napoleon III gave great hunting
banquets there. Since then it has been always empty, except for
visitors.

The custodian took us through a suite of rooms called the "Apartments of
the White Queens," because once they were restored for the widows of
French kings, who usually dressed in white. Napoleon used the rooms for
another purpose. He invited Pope Pius VII to Fontainebleau to sanction
his divorce from Josephine, and when the pope declined, Napoleon
prolonged the pope's visit for eighteen months, secluding him in this
luxurious place, to give him a chance to modify his views. They visited
together a good deal, and their interviews were not always calm.
Napoleon also wanted the pope to sign away the states of the Church, and
once when they were discussing the matter rather earnestly the emperor
boxed the pope's ears. He had a convincing way in those days. I wonder
if later, standing on the St. Helena headland, he ever recalled that
incident. If he did, I dare say it made him smile.

The light was getting dim by the time we reached the pretty theater
which Louis Napoleon built for Eugénie. It is a very choice place, and
we were allowed to go on the stage and behind the scenes and up in the
galleries, and there was something in the dusky vacancy of that little
playhouse, built to amuse the last empress of France, that affected us
almost more than any of the rest of the palace, though it was built not
so long ago and its owner is still alive.[17] It is not used, the
custodian told us--has never been used since Eugénie went away.

From a terrace back of the palace we looked out on a pretty lake where
Eugénie's son used to sail a miniature full-rigged ship--large enough,
if one could judge from a picture we saw, to have held the little prince
himself. There was still sunlight on the treetops, and these and the
prince's little pavilion reflecting in the tranquil water made the place
beautiful. But the little vessel was not there. I wished, as we watched,
that it might come sailing by. I wished that the prince had never been
exiled and that he had not grown up and gone to his death in a South
African jungle. I wished that he might be back to sail his ship again,
and that Eugénie might have her theater once more, and that Louis
Napoleon's hunting parties might still assemble in Diana's painted
ballroom and fill the vacant palace with something besides mere
curiosity and vain imaginings.

FOOTNOTES:

[17] She lived six years longer, dying in 1920.



Chapter XXX

RHEIMS


We had meant to go to Barbizon, but we got lost in the forest next
morning, and when we found ourselves we were a good way in the direction
of Melun, so concluded to keep on, consoling ourselves with the thought
that Barbizon is not Barbizon any more, and would probably be a
disappointment, anyway. We kept on from Melun, also, after buying some
luncheon things, and all day traversed that beautiful rolling district
which lies east of Paris and below Rheims, arriving toward evening at
Épernay, the Sparnacum of antiquity and the champagne center of to-day.
Épernay was ancient once, but it is all new now, with wide streets and
every indication of business progress. We had no need to linger there.
We were anxious to get to Rheims.

There had been heavy rains in the champagne district, and next morning
the gray sky and close air gave promise of more. The roads were not the
best, being rather slippery and uneven from the heavy traffic of the
wine carts. But the vine-covered hills between Épernay and Rheims, with
their dark-green matted leafage, seemed to us as richly productive as
anything in France.

We were still in the hills when we looked down on the valley of the
Vesle and saw a city outspread there, and in its center the
architectural and ecclesiastical pride of the world, the cathedral of
Rheims. Large as the city was, that great central ornament dwarfed and
dominated its surroundings. Thus Joan of Arc had seen it when at the
head of her victorious army she conducted the king to Rheims for his
coronation. She was nearing the fulfillment of her assignment, the
completion of the great labor laid upon her by the voices of her saints.
Mark Twain tells of Joan's approach to Rheims, of the tide of cheers
that swept her ranks at the vision of the distant towers:

     And as for Joan of Arc, there where she sat her horse,
     gazing, clothed all in white armor, dreamy, beautiful, and
     in her face a deep, deep joy, a joy not of earth; oh, she
     was not flesh, she was spiritual! Her sublime mission was
     closing--closing in flawless triumph. To-morrow she could
     say, "It is finished--let me go free."

It was the 16th of July that Joan looked down upon Rheims, and now, four
hundred and eighty-five years later, it was again July, with the same
summer glory on the woods, the same green and scarlet in the poppied
fields, the same fair valley, the same stately towers rising to the sky.
But no one can ever feel what Joan felt, can ever put into words, ever
so faintly, what that moment and that vision meant to the Domremy
shepherd girl.

Descending the plain, we entered the city, crossed a bridge, and made
our way to the cathedral square. Then presently we were at the doorway
where Joan and her king had entered--the portal which has been called
the most beautiful this side of Paradise.

How little we dreamed that we were among the last to look upon it in its
glory--that disfigurement and destruction lay only a few weeks ahead!

It is not required any more that one should write descriptively of the
church of Rheims. It has been done so thoroughly, and so often, by those
so highly qualified for the undertaking, that such supplementary remarks
as I might offer would hardly rise even to the dignity of an
impertinence. Pergussen, who must have been an authority, for the
guidebook quotes him, called it, "perhaps the most beautiful structure
produced in the Middle Ages."

     Nothing [he says] can exceed the majesty of its deeply
     recessed portals, the beauty of the rose window that
     surmounts them, or the elegance of the gallery that
     completes the façade and serves as a basement to the light
     and graceful towers that crown the composition.

The cathedral was already two hundred years old when Joan arrived in
1429. But it must have looked quite fresh and new then, for, nearly five
centuries later, it seemed to have suffered little. Some of the five
hundred and thirty statues of its entrance were weatherworn and scarred,
but the general effect was not disturbed.

Many kings had preceded Joan and her sovereign through the sacred
entrance. Long before the cathedral was built French sovereigns had come
to Rheims for their coronation, to be anointed with some drops of the
inexhaustible oil which a white dove had miraculously brought from
heaven for the baptism of Clovis. That had been nearly a thousand years
before, but in Joan's day the sacred vessel and its holy contents were
still preserved in the ancient abbey of St. Remi, and would be used for
the anointing of her king. The Archbishop of Rheims and his canons, with
a deputy of nobles, had been sent for the awesome relic, after the
nobles had sworn upon their lives to restore it to St. Remi when the
coronation was over. The abbot himself, attended by this splendid
escort, brought the precious vessel, and the crowd fell prostrate and
prayed while this holiest of objects, for it had been made in heaven,
passed by. We are told that the abbot, attended by the archbishop and
those others, entered the crowded church, followed by the five mounted
knights, who rode down the great central aisle, clear to the choir, and
then at a signal backed their prancing steeds all the distance to the
great doors.

It was a mighty assemblage that had gathered for the crowning of Joan's
king. France, overrun by an invader, had known no real king for
years--had, indeed, well-nigh surrendered her nationality. Now the
saints themselves had taken up their cause, and in the person of a young
girl from an obscure village had given victory to their arms and brought
redemption to their throne. No wonder the vast church was packed and
that crowds were massed outside. From all directions had come pilgrims
to the great event--persons of every rank, among them two shepherds,
Joan's aged father and uncle, who had walked from Domremy, one hundred
and twenty miles, to verify with their own eyes what their ears could
not credit.

Very likely the cathedral at Rheims has never known such a throng since
that day, nor heard such a mighty shout as went up when Joan and the
king, side by side, and followed by a splendid train, appeared at the
great side entrance and moved slowly to the altar.

I think there must have fallen a deep hush then--a petrified stillness
that lasted through the long ceremonial, while every eye feasted itself
upon the young girl standing there at the king's side, holding her
victorious standard above him--the banner that "had borne the burden and
had earned the victory," as she would one day testify at her trial. I am
sure that vast throng would keep silence, scarcely breathing, until the
final word was spoken and the dauphin had accepted the crown and placed
it upon his head. But then we may hear borne faintly down the centuries
the roar of renewed shouting that told to those waiting without that the
great ceremony was ended, that Charles VII of France had been anointed
king. In the _Recollections_ Mark Twain makes the Sieur de Conte say:

     What a crash there was! All about us cries and cheers, and
     the chanting of the choir and the groaning of the organ; and
     outside the clamoring of the bells and the booming of the
     cannon.

     The fantastic dream, the incredible dream, the impossible
     dream of the peasant child stood fulfilled.

It had become reality--perhaps in that old day it even _seemed_
reality--but now, after five hundred years, it has become once more a
dream--to-day _our_ dream--and in the filmy picture we see the shepherd
girl on her knees, saying to the crowned king:

"My work which was given me to do is finished; give me your peace and
let me go back to my mother, who is poor and old and has need of me."

But the king raises her up and praises her and confers upon her nobility
and titles, and asks her to name a reward for her service, and in the
old dream we hear her ask favor for her village--that Domremy, "poor and
hard pressed by reason of the war," may have its taxes remitted.

Nothing for herself--no more than that, and in the presence of all the
great assemblage Charles VII pronounces the decree that, by grace of
Joan of Arc, Domremy shall be free from taxes forever.

Here within these walls it was all reality five hundred years ago. We do
not study this interior to discover special art values or to distinguish
in what manner it differs from others we have seen. For us the light
from its great rose window and upper arches is glorified because once it
fell upon Joan of Arc in that supreme moment when she saw her labor
finished and asked only that she might return to Domremy and her flocks.
The statuary in the niches are holy because they looked upon that scene,
the altar paving is sanctified because it felt the pressure of her feet.

We wandered about the great place, but we came back again and again to
the altar, and, looking through the railing, dreamed once more of that
great moment when a frail shepherd girl began anew the history of
France.

Back of the altar was a statue of Joan unlike any we have seen
elsewhere, and to us more beautiful. It was not Joan with her banner
aloft, her eyes upward. It was Joan with her eyes lowered, looking at no
outward thing, her face passive--the saddest face and the saddest eyes
in the world. It was Joan the sacrifice--of her people and her king.



Chapter XXXI

ALONG THE MARNE


It may have been two miles out of Rheims that we met the flood. There
had been a heavy shower as we entered the city, but presently the sun
broke out, bright and hot, too bright and too hot for permanence. Now
suddenly all was black again, there was a roar of thunder, and then such
an opening of the water gates of the sky as would have disturbed Noah.
There was no thought of driving through such a torrent. I pulled over to
the side of the road, but the tall high-trimmed trees afforded no
protection. Our top was a shelter, but not a complete one--the wind
drove the water in, and in a moment our umbrellas were sticking out in
every direction, and we had huddled together like chickens. The water
seemed to fall solidly. The world was blotted out. I had the feeling at
moments that we were being swept down some great submarine current.

I don't know how long the inundation lasted. It may have been five
minutes--it may have been thirty. Then suddenly it stopped--it was
over--the sun was out!

There was then no mud in France--not in the high-roads--and a moment or
two later we had revived, our engine was going, and we were gliding
between fair fields--fresh shining fields where scarlet poppy patches
were as pools of blood. There is no lovelier land than the Marne
district, from Rheims to Chalons and to Vitry-le-François. It had often
been a war district--a battle ground, fought over time and again since
the ancient allies defeated Attila and his Huns there, checking the
purpose of the "Scourge of God," as he styled himself, to found a new
dynasty upon the wreck of Rome. It could never be a battle ground again,
we thought--the great nations were too advanced for war. Ah me! Within
two months from that day men were lying dead across that very road,
shells were tearing at the lovely fields, and another stain had mingled
with the trampled poppies.

Chalons-sur-Marne, like Rheims and Épernay, is a champagne center and
prosperous. There were some churches there, but they did not seem of
great importance. We stopped for water at Vitry-le-François, a hot,
uninteresting-looking place, though it had played a part in much
history, and would presently play a part in much more. It was always an
outpost against vandal incursions from the north, and Francis I rebuilt
and strengthened it.

At Vitry we left the Marne and kept the wide road eastward, for we were
bound now for the Vosges, for Domremy on the Meuse, Joan's starting
place. The sun burned again, the road got hot, and suddenly during the
afternoon one of our tires went off like a gun.

One of our old shoes had blown out at the rim, and there was a doubtful
look about the others. Narcissa and I labored in the hot sun--for there
was no shade from those slim roadside poplars--and with inside patches
and outside patches managed to get in traveling order again, though
personally we were pretty limp by the time we were ready to move, and a
good deal disheartened. The prospect of reaching Vevey, our base of
supplies, without laying up somewhere to order new tires was not bright,
and it became even less so that evening, when in front of the hotel at
St. Dizier another tire pushed out at the rim, and in the gathering
dusk, surrounded by an audience, I had to make further repairs before I
could get into the garage.

Early next morning I gave those tires all a pretty general overhauling.
I put in blow-out patches wherever there seemed to be a weak place and
doubled them at the broken spots. By the time I got done we were
carrying in our tires all the extra rubber and leather and general
aid-to-the-injured stuff that had formerly been under the back seat, and
I was obliged to make a trip around to the supply garages for more.
Fortunately the weather had changed overnight, and it was cool. Old
tires and even new ones hold better on cool roads.

It turned still cooler as we proceeded--it became chilly--for the Fourth
of July it was winterish. At Chalons we had expended three whole francs
for a bottle of champagne for celebration purposes, and when we made our
luncheon camp in a sheltered cover of a pretty meadow where there was a
clear, racing brook, we were too cold to sit down, and drank standing a
toast to our national independence, and would have liked more of that
delicious liquid warmth, regardless of cost. There could hardly have
been a more beautiful spot than that, but I do not remember any place
where we were less inclined to linger.

Yet how quickly weather can change. Within an hour it was warm
again--not hot, but mildly pleasant, even delightful.



Chapter XXXII

DOMREMY


We were well down in the Vosges now and beginning to inquire for
Domremy. How strange it seemed to be actually making inquiries for a
place that always before had been just a part of an old legend--a
half-mythical story of a little girl who, tending her sheep, had heard
the voices of angels. One had the feeling that there could never really
be such a place at all, that, even had it once existed, it must have
vanished long ago; that to ask the way to it now would be like those who
in some old fairy tale come back after ages of enchantment and inquire
for places and people long forgotten. Domremy! No, it was not possible.
We should meet puzzled, blank looks, pitying smiles, in answer to our
queries. We should never find one able to point a way and say, "That is
the road to Domremy." One could as easily say "the road to Camelot."

Yet there came a time when we must ask. We had been passing through
miles of wonderful forest, with regularly cut roads leading away at
intervals, suggesting a vast preserved estate, when we came out to an
open hill land, evidently a grazing country, with dividing roads and no
definite markings. So we stopped a humble-looking old man and
hesitatingly, rather falteringly, asked him the road to Domremy. He
regarded us a moment, then said very gently, pointing, "It is down there
just a little way."

So we were near--quite near--perhaps even now passing a spot where Joan
had tended her sheep. Our informant turned to watch us pass. He knew why
we were going to Domremy. He could have been a descendant of those who
had played with Joan.

Even now it was hard to believe that Domremy would be just an old
village, such a village as Joan had known, where humble folk led humble
lives tending their flocks and small acres. Very likely it had become a
tourist resort--a mere locality, with a hotel. It was only when we were
actually in the streets of a decaying, time-beaten little hamlet and
were told that this was indeed Domremy, the home of Joan of Arc, that we
awoke to the actuality of the place and to the realization that in
character at least it had not greatly changed.

We drove to the church--an ancient, weatherworn little edifice. The
invaders destroyed it the same year that Joan set out on her march, but
when Joan had given safety to France the fragments were gathered and
rebuilt, so if it is not in its entirety the identical chapel where Joan
worshiped, it contains, at least, portions of the original structure and
stands upon the same ground. In front of the church is a bronze statue
of the Maid, and above the entrance a painting of Joan listening to the
voices. But these are modern. Inside are more precious things.

It is a plain, humble interior, rather too fresh and new looking for
its antiquity, perhaps because of the whitened walls. But near the altar
there is an object that does not disappoint. It is an ancient baptismal
font--the original font of the little ruined chapel--the vessel in which
Joan of Arc was baptized. I think there can be no question of its
authenticity. It would be a holy object to the people of Domremy; to
them Joan was already a saint at the time of her death, and any object
that had served her was sacred. The relic dug from the ruined chapel
would be faithfully guarded, and there would be many still alive to
identify it when the church's restoration was complete and the ancient
vessel set in place.

It seems a marvelous thing to be able to look upon an object that may be
regarded as the ceremonial starting point of a grace that was to redeem
a nation. Surely, if ever angels stood by to observe the rites of men
they gathered with those humble shepherd folk about the little basin
where a tiny soul was being consecrated to their special service.

In the church also is the headstone from the grave of Joan's godmother,
with an ancient inscription which one may study out, and travel back a
long way. Near it is another object--one that ranks in honor with the
baptismal font--the statuette of St. Marguerite, before which Joan
prayed. Like the font this would be a holy thing, even in Joan's
lifetime, and would be preserved and handed down. To me it seems almost
too precious to remain in that ancient, perishing church. It is
something that Joan of Arc not only saw and touched, but to which she
gave spiritual adoration. To me it seems the most precious, the most
sacred relic in France. The old church appears so poor a protection for
it. Yet I should be sorry to see it taken elsewhere.

[Illustration: BIRTHPLACE OF JOAN OF ARC]

Joan's house is only a step away--a remnant of a house, for, though it
was not demolished like the church, it has suffered from alterations,
and portions of it were destroyed. Whatever remained at the time of
Louis XI would seem to have been preserved about as it was then, though
of course restored; the royal arms of France, with those accorded by
Charles VII to Joan and her family, were combined ornamentally above the
door with the date, 1481, and the inscription, in old French, "_Vive
labeur; vive le roy Loys._" The son of Joan's king must have felt that
it was proper to preserve the birthplace of the girl who had saved his
throne.

Doubtless the main walls of the old house of Jacques d'Arc are the same
that Joan knew. Joan's mother lived there until 1438, and it was less
than fifty years later that Louis XI gave orders for the restoration.
The old walls were solidly built. It is not likely that they could have
fallen to complete ruin in that time. The rest is mainly new.

What the inside of the old house was in Joan's time we can only imagine.
The entrance room was the general room, I suppose, and it was here, we
are told, that Joan was born. Mark Twain has imagined a scene in the
house of Jacques d'Arc where a hungry straggler comes one night and
knocks at the door and is admitted to the firelit room. He tells us how
Joan gave the wanderer her porridge--against her father's argument, for
those were times of sore stress--and how the stranger rewarded them all
with the great Song of Roland. The general room would be the setting of
that scene.

Behind it is a little dungeon-like apartment which is shown as Joan's
chamber. The walls and ceiling of this poor place are very old; possibly
they are of Joan's time--no one can really say. In one wall there is a
recess, now protected by a heavy wire screen, which means that Joan set
up her shrine there, the St. Marguerite and her other holy things. She
would pray to them night and morning, but oftener I think she would
leave this dim prison for the consolation of the little church across
the way.

The whole house is a kind of museum now, and the upper floor is
especially fitted with cases for books and souvenirs.

In the grounds there is a fine statue by Mercié, and the whole place is
leafy and beautiful. It is not easy, however, to imagine there the
presence of Joan. That is easier in the crooked streets of the village,
and still easier along the river and the fields. The Fairy
Tree--_l'Arbre Fée de Bourlement_--where Joan and her comrades played,
and where later she heard the voices, is long since gone, and the spot
is marked by a church which we cared to view only from a distance. It
seems too bad that any church should be there, and especially that one.
The spot itself, marked by a mere tablet, or another tree, would be
enough.

It was in January, 1429, that Joan and her uncle Laxart left Domremy for
Vaucouleurs to ask the governor to give her a military escort to the
uncrowned king at Chinon. She never came back. Less than half a year
later she had raised the siege at Orléans, fought Patay, and conducted
the king to his coronation at Rheims. She would have returned then, but
the king was afraid to let her go. Neither did he have the courage to
follow or support her brilliant leadership. He was weak and paltry.
When, as the result of his dalliance, she was captured at Compiègne, he
allowed her to suffer a year of wretched imprisonment, making no attempt
at rescue or ransom, and in the end to be burned at Rouen as a witch.

I have read in an old French book an attempt to excuse the king, to show
that he did not have armed force enough to go to Joan's rescue, but I
failed to find there any evidence that he even contemplated such an
attempt. I do find that when Joan had been dead thirteen years and
France, strong and united, was safe for excursions, he made a trip to
Lorraine, accompanied by Dunois, Robert de Baudricourt, and others of
Joan's favorite generals. They visited Domremy, and Baudricourt pointed
out to the king that there seemed to be a sadness in the landscape. It
is said that this visit caused Charles to hasten the process of Joan's
rehabilitation--to reverse the verdict of heresy and idolatry and
witchcraft under which she had died. But as the new hearing did not
begin until eleven years after the king's visit to Domremy, nearly
twenty-five years after Joan's martyrdom, the word "hasten" does not
seem to apply. If Charles VII finally bestirred himself in that process,
it was rather to show before he died that he held his crown not by the
favor of Satan but of saints.

The memory of Joan of Arc's fate must always be a bitter one to France,
and the generations have never ceased to make atonement. Her martyrdom
has seemed so unnecessary--such a reproach upon the nation she saved.

Yet perhaps it was necessary. Joan in half a year had accomplished what
the French armies, without her, had been unable to do in three quarters
of a century--she had crippled the English power in France. Her work was
not finished--though defeated, the enemy still remained on French soil,
and unless relentlessly assailed would recover. After the coronation at
Rheims there would seem to have fallen, even upon Joan's loyal
followers, a reaction, a period of indifference and indolence. Joan's
fearful death at the stake awoke her people as nothing else could have
done.

By a lonely roadside far up in Normandy we passed, one day, a small
stone column which recorded how upon this spot was delivered the battle
of Formigny, April 15th, in the year 1450, under the reign of Charles
VII, and how the French were victorious and the English armies forced to
abandon Norman soil. Joan of Arc had been dead nineteen years when that
final battle was fought, but it was her spirit that gave the victory.



Chapter XXXIII

STRASSBURG AND THE BLACK FOREST


Our tires were distressingly bad now. I had to do some quick repairing
at Domremy, also between Domremy and Vaucouleurs, where we spent the
night. Then next morning at Vaucouleurs, in an unfrequented back street
behind our ancient inn, I established a general overhauling plant, and
patched and relined and trepanned during almost an entire forenoon,
while the rest of the family scoured the town for the materials. We put
in most of our time at Vaucouleurs in this way. However, there was
really little to see in the old town. Our inn was as ancient as
anything, and our landlord assured us that Joan's knights probably
stopped there, and even Uncle Laxart, but he could not produce his
register to prove it. There are the remains of the château where Joan is
said to have met the governor, and a monument to the Maid's memory has
been begun, but remains unfinished through lack of funds. The real
interest in Vaucouleurs, to-day, is that it was the starting point of
Joan's great march. One could reflect upon that and repair tires
simultaneously.

We got away in time to have luncheon in the beautiful country below
Toul, and then kept on to Nancy. At both places there seemed to be
nothing but soldiers and barracks, and one did not have to get out of
the car to see those. Not that Nancy is not a fine big town, but its
cathedral and its Arch of Triumph are both of the eighteenth century.
Such things seemed rather raw and new, while museums did not interest us
any more.

Lorraine itself is beautiful. It seemed especially fair where we crossed
the line into Germany, and we did not wonder that France could not
forget her loss of that fertile land. There was no difficulty at the
customs. We were politely O. K.'d by the French officials and
courteously passed by the Germans, with no examination beyond our
_triptyques_. Then another stretch of fine road and fair fields, and we
were in a village of cobbled streets and soldiers--German soldiers--and
were told that it was Dieuze; also that there was an inn--a very good
inn--a little way down the street. So there was--an inn where they spoke
French and German and even a variety of English, and had plenty of good
food and good beds for a very modest sum indeed. Dieuze was soon to
become a war town, but beyond a few soldiers--nothing unusual--we saw no
signs of it that first week in July.

[Illustration: STRASSBURG, SHOWING THE CATHEDRAL]

Strassburg was our next stopping place. We put in a day there wandering
about its fine streets, looking at its picturesque old houses, its royal
palace, and its cathedral. I do not think we cared for the cathedral as
we did for those of France. It is very old and very wonderful, and
exhibits every form of architecture that has been employed in church
building for nearly a thousand years; but in spite of its great size,
its imposing height, its rich façade, there was something repellant
about it all, and particularly in its great bare interior. It seemed to
lack a certain light of romance, of poetry, of spiritual sympathy that
belongs to every French church of whatever size.

And we were disappointed in the wonderful clock. It was very wonderful,
no doubt, but we had expected too much. We waited for an hour for the
great midday exhibition, and collected with a jam of other visitors in
the little clock chapel, expecting all the things to happen that we had
dreamed of since childhood. They all did happen, too, but they came so
deliberately and with so little liveliness of demonstration that one had
to watch pretty closely sometimes to know that anything was happening at
all. I think I, for one, had expected that the saints and apostles, and
the months and seasons, would all come out and do a grand walk around to
lively music. As for the rooster that crows, he does not crow as well as
Narcissa, who has the gift of imitation and could have astonished that
crowd if she had let me persuade her to try.

There have been several of these Strassburg clocks. There was one of
them in the cathedral as far back as 1352. It ran for about two
centuries, when another, finished in 1574, took its place. The mechanism
of the new clock was worn out in another two centuries, but its
framework forms a portion of the great clock of to-day, which dates from
1840. It does a number of very wonderful things, but in this age of
contrivance, when men have made mechanical marvels past all belief, the
wonder of the Strassburg clock is largely traditional. The rooster that
crows and flaps his wings is really the chief feature, for it is the
rooster of the original clock, and thus has daily amused the generations
for five hundred years.

Gutenberg, the first printer, began his earliest experiments in a
cloister outside the Strassburg gates, and there is a small public
square named for him, and in the center of it a fine statue with relief
groups of the great printers of all nations. Of course Franklin was
there and some other Americans. It gave us a sort of proprietary
interest in that neighborhood, and a kindly feeling for the city in
general.

It was afternoon when we left Strassburg, and by nightfall we were in
the Black Forest--farther in than we had intended to be, by a good deal.
With our tires in a steady decline we had no intention of wandering off
into dark depths inhabited by fairies and woodcutters and full of weird
enchantments, with all of which Grimm's tales had made us quite
familiar. We had intended merely to go in a little way, by a main road
that would presently take us to Freiburg, where there would be a new
supply of patches and linings, and even a possibility of tires, in case
our need became very sore.

But the Black Forest made good its reputation for enchantments. When we
came to the spot where, by our map, the road should lead to Freiburg,
there were only a deserted mill, with a black depth of pine growing
where the road should have been. Following along, we found ourselves
getting deeper and deeper into the thick forest, while the lonely road
became steeper and narrower and more and more awesome in the gathering
evening. There were no villages, no more houses of any kind. There had
been rain and the steep hills grew harder to climb. But perhaps a good
fairy was helping us, too, a little, for our crippled tires held. Each
time we mounted a perpendicular crest I listened for the back ones to
go, but they remained firm.

By and by we started down--down _where_ we had no notion--but certainly
down. Being under a spell, I forgot to put on the engine brake, and by
the time we were halfway down the hill the brake bands were hot and
smoking. By the time we were down the greasy linings were afire. There
was a brook there, and we stopped and poured water on our hot-boxes and
waited for them to cool. A woodcutter--he must have been one, for only
woodcutters and fairies live in the Black Forest--came along and told us
we must go to Haslach--that there was no other road to Freiburg, unless
we turned around and went back nearly to Strassburg. I would not have
gone back up that hill and through those darkening woods for much money.
So we went on and presently came out into a more open space, and some
houses; then we came to Haslach.

By our map we were in the depths of the Schwarzwald, and by observation
we could see that we were in an old, beautiful village, of the right
sort for that locality, and in front of a big inn, where frauleins came
out to take our bags and show us up to big rooms--rooms that had great
billowy beds, with other billowy beds for covering. After all, the
enchantment was not so bad. And the supper that night of _Wiener
schnitzel_ and _pfannekuchen_ was certainly good, and hot, and plentiful
beyond belief.

But there was more trouble next morning. One of those old back tires was
in a desperate condition, and trying to improve it I seemed to make
matters worse. I took it off and put in a row of blow-out patches all
the way around, after which the inner tubes popped as fast as I could
put them in and blow them up. Three times I yanked that tire off, and
then it began to occur to me that all those inside patches took up too
much room. It would have occurred to any other man sooner, but it takes
a long and violent period of pumping exercise to get a brain like mine
really loosened up once it is caked by a good night's sleep.

So I yanked those patches out and put on our last hope--a spare tire in
fairly decent condition, and patiently patched those bursted tubes--all
of which work was done in a hot place under the eyes of a kindly but
maddening audience.

Three times in the lovely land between Haslach and Freiburg Narcissa and
I had to take off a tire and change tubes, those new patches being not
air-proof. Still, we got on, and the scenery made up for a good deal.
Nothing could be more picturesque than the Black Forest houses, with
their great overhanging thatched roofs--their rows and clusters of
little windows, their galleries and ladders, and their clinging vines.
And what kindly people they are. Many of the roads are lined with cherry
trees and this was cherry season. The trees were full of gatherers, and
we had only to stop and offer to buy to have them load us with the
delicious black fruit, the sweetest, juiciest cherries in the world.
They accepted money, but reluctantly; they seemed to prefer to give them
to us, and more than once a boy or a man ran along by the car and threw
in a great loaded branch, and laughed, and waved and wished us _gute
reise_. But this had happened to us in France, too, in the Lorraine.



Chapter XXXIV

A LAND WHERE STORKS LIVE


We were at Freiburg in the lower edge of the Black Forest some time
during the afternoon, one of the cleanest cities I have ever seen, one
of the richest in color scheme. Large towns are not likely to be
picturesque, but Freiburg, in spite of its general freshness, has a look
of solid antiquity--an antiquity that has not been allowed to go to
seed. Many of the houses, including the cathedral, are built of a rich
red stone, and some of them have outer decorations, and nearly all of
them have beautiful flowers in the windows and along the balconies. I
should think a dweller in Freiburg would love the place.

Freiburg has been, and still is, celebrated for many things; its
universities, its cathedral, its ancient buildings, in recent years for
its discovery of "twilight sleep," the latest boon which science has
offered to sorrow-laden humanity.

It is a curious road from Freiburg to Basle. Sometimes it is a highway,
sometimes it is merely a farm road across fields. More than once we felt
sure we were lost and must presently bring up in a farmyard. Then
suddenly we would be between fine hedges or trees, on a wide road
entering a village.

We had seen no storks when we left Freiburg. We had been told there were
some in Strassburg, but no one had been able to point them out. We were
disappointed, for we had pictured in our minds that, once really in the
Black Forest, there would be, in almost any direction, a tall chimney
surmounted by a big brushy nest, with a stork sitting in it, and
standing by, supported on one very slim, very long, very perpendicular
leg, another stork, keeping guard. This is the picture we had seen many
times in the books, and we were grieved, even rather resentful, that it
was not to be found in reality. We decided that it probably belonged
only in the books, fairy books, and that while there might have been
storks once, just as there had once been fairies, they had disappeared
from mortal vision about the same time--that nobody in late years had
really seen storks--that--

But just then we really saw some ourselves--sure-enough storks on an old
steeple, two of them, exactly as they always are in the pictures, one
nice mother stork sitting in a brushy nest and one nice father stork
standing on his stiff, perpendicular leg.

We stopped the car to gaze. The church was in an old lost-looking
village, which this stork seemed to own, for there were no others, and
the few people we saw did not appear to have anything like the stork's
proprietary interest. We could hardly take our eyes from that old
picture, suddenly made reality.

We concluded, however, that it was probably the only stork family in
Germany; but that, also, was a mistake. A little farther along, at
another village, was another old stubby steeple, and another pair of
storks, both standing this time, probably to see us go by. Every
village had them now, but I think in only one village did we see more
than a single pair. That little corner of the Schwarzwald will always
remain to us a part separated from the rest of the world--a sort of
back-water of fairyland.

The German customs office is on one side of a road, the Swiss on the
other, and we stopped in a shady place and interviewed both. We did not
dread these encounters any more. We had long since learned that if there
was one class of persons abroad likely to be more courteous than others
to travelers, that class is the customs officials.

This particular frontier was in the edge of Basle, and presently we had
crossed a bridge and were in the city, a big, beautiful city, though not
so handsome as Freiburg, not so rich in color, not quite so clean and
floral.

We did not stop in Basle. There are wonders to be seen, but, all things
considered, we thought it better to go on. With good luck we might reach
Vevey next day, our European headquarters and base of supplies. We had
been more than two months on the road already; it was important that we
get to headquarters--more important than we knew.



Chapter XXXV

BACK TO VEVEY


So we went wandering through a rather unpopulous, semi-mountainous
land--a prosperous land, from the look of it, with big isolated factory
plants here and there by strongly flowing streams. They seemed to be
making almost everything along those streams. The Swiss are an
industrious people. Toward evening we came to a place we had never heard
of before, a town of size and of lofty buildings--a place of much
manufacturing, completely lost up in the hills, by name Moutier. It was
better not to go farther that night, for I could see by our road map
that there was going to be some steep climbing between Moutier and the
Lake Geneva slope. There are at least two divides between Moutier and
Geneva, and Swiss watersheds are something more than mere gentle slopes
such as one might meet in Ohio, for instance, or Illinois. They are
generally scrambles--they sometimes resemble ladders, though the road
surface is usually pretty good, with a few notable exceptions. We met
one of these exceptions next morning below Moutier. There had been
rains, and the slippery roads between those perpendicular skyscraping
bluffs had not dried at all. Our route followed a rushing stream a
little way; then it turned into the hill, and at that point I saw ahead
of me a road that was not a road at all, but a semi-perpendicular wallow
of mud and stone that went writhing up and up until it was lost
somewhere among the trees. I had expected a good deal, but nothing as
bad as this. I gave one wild, hopeless thought to our poor crippled rear
tires, threw the lever from third to second, from second back to first,
and let in every ounce of gasoline the engine would take. It really
never occurred to me that we were going to make it. I did not believe
anything could hold in that mud, and I expected in another minute to be
on the side of the road, with nothing to do but hunt up an ox-team.
Whir! slop! slosh! slide!--grind!--on one side and on the other--into a
hole and out of it, bump! thump! bang!--why, certainly we are climbing,
but we would never make the top, never in the world--it was hardly to be
expected of any car; and with those old tires! Never mind, we would go
till we stalled, or skidded out of the road.

We were at the turn! We had made the turn! We were going straight up the
last rise! Only a little more, now--ten feet--five feet, _six inches_!
_Hooray!_ we were on top of the hill, b'gosh!

I got out and looked at the back tires. It was incredible, impossible,
but they were as sound and solid as when we left Moutier. Practically
our whole weight had been on those tires all the way up that fearful
log-haul, for that is what it was, yet those old tubes and outer
envelopes had not shown a sign. Explain it if you can.

There was really no trouble after that. There were hills, but the roads
were good. Our last day was a panorama of Swiss scenery in every form;
deep gorges where we stopped on bridges to look down at rushing torrents
far below; lofty mountains with narrow, skirting roads; beautiful
water-fronts and lake towns along the lakes of Biel and Neufchâtel, a
final luncheon under a great spreading shade--a birthday luncheon, as it
happened--and then, toward the end of the lovely July afternoon, a
sudden vision, from high harvest meadows, of the snow-clad mountaintops
beyond Lake Geneva--the peaks of the true Alps. And presently one saw
the lake itself, the water--hazy, dreamy, summery, with little steamers
so gay and toylike, plying up and down--all far below us as yet, for we
were still among the high hayfields, where harvesters were pitching and
raking, while before and behind us our road was a procession of hay
wagons.

It was a continuous coast, now, down to Lausanne--the lake, as it
seemed, rising up to meet us, its colors and outlines becoming more
vivid, the lofty mountains beyond it approaching a little nearer, while
almost underneath us a beautiful city was gleaming in the late afternoon
sunshine.

We were by this time among the vineyards that terrace those south-facing
steeps to the water's edge. Then we were at the outskirts of the city
itself, still descending, still coasting, for Lausanne is built mainly
on a mountainside. When we came to a comparative level at last, we were
crossing a great bridge--one of those that tie the several slopes of the
city together; then presently we were at St. Frances's church, the
chief center, and felt almost at home, for we had been here a good many
times before.

We did not stop. Vevey was twelve miles down the lake--we had a feverish
desire to arrive there without having to pump those tires again, if
possible. Leisurely, happily, we covered that final lap of our long
tour. There is no more beautiful drive in Europe than that along Lake
Geneva, from Lausanne to Vevey on a summer evening, and there never was
a calmer, sweeter summer evening than that of our return. Oh, one must
drive slowly on such an evening! We were anxious to arrive, but not to
have the drive ended. Far down the lake the little towns we knew so well
began to appear--Territet, Montreux, Clarens, Vevey la Tour--we could
even make out the towers of Chillon. Then we passed below the ancient
village hanging to the mountainside, and there was Vevey, and there at
its outskirts our pretty hotel with its big gay garden, the blue lake
just in front, the driveway open. A moment more and the best landlady in
Europe was welcoming us in the most musical French and German in the
world. Our long round was ended--three thousand miles of the happiest
travel to be found this side of paradise. By and by I went out to look
at our faithful car in the little hotel garage. It had stood up to the
last moment on those old tires. I suppose then the tension was too much.
The left rear was quite flat.



Chapter XXXVI

THE GREAT UPHEAVAL


It was the 10th of July that we returned to Vevey, and it was just three
weeks later that the world--a world of peace and the social interchange
of nations--came to an end.

We had heard at Tours of the assassination of the Austrian archduke and
his duchess, but no thought of the long-threatened European war entered
our minds. Neither did we discover later any indications of it. If there
was any tension along the Franco-German border we failed to notice it.
Arriving at Vevey, there seemed not a ripple on the drowsy summer days.
Even when Austria finally sent her ultimatum to Serbia there was
scarcely a suggestion of war talk. We had all the nations in our hotel,
but they assembled harmoniously in the little reading room after dinner
over the papers and innocuous games, and if the situation was discussed
at all, the word "arbitration" was oftenest heard.

Neither did the news come to us gradually or gently. It came like a
bomb, exploded one evening by Billy Baker, an American boy of sixteen
and a bulletin of sorts. Billy had been for his customary after-dinner
walk uptown, and it was clear the instant he plunged in that he had
gathered something unusual.

"Say, folks," he burst out, "did you know that Austria has declared war
against Serbia and is bombarding Belgrade, and now all the others are
going to declare, and that us Americans have got to beat it for home?"

There was a general stir. Billy's items were often delivered in this
abrupt way, but his news facts were seldom questioned. He went on,
adding a quick, crisp detail, while the varied nationalities assumed
attitudes of attention. The little group around the green center table
forgot what they were there for. I had just drawn a spade when I needed
a heart, and did not mind the diversion. Billy concluded his dispatches:

"We've all got to beat it, you know, _now_, before all the ships and
trains and things are used for mobilization and before the fighting
begins. If we don't we'll have to stay here all winter." Then, his
mission finished, Billy in his prompt way pulled a chair to the table.
"Let me in this, will you?" he said. "I feel awfully lucky to-night."

Americans laugh at most things. We laughed now at Billy Baker--at the
dramatic manner of his news, with its picturesque even if stupendous
possibilities--at the vision in everyone's mind of a horde of American
tourists "beating it" out of Europe at the first drum-roll of war.

But not all in the room laughed. The "little countesses"--two Russian
girls--and their white-haired companion, talked rapidly and earnestly
together in low voices. The retired French admiral--old and
invalided--rose, his long cape flung back across his shoulder, and
walked feebly up and down, stopping at each turn to speak to his aged
wife, who sat with their son, himself an officer on leave. An English
judge, with a son at home, fraternized with the Americans and tried to
be gay with them, but his mirth lacked freedom. A German family
instinctively separated themselves from the others and presently were no
longer in the room. Even one of the Americans--a Southern girl--laughed
rather hysterically:

"All my baggage but one suit case is stored in Frankfort," she said. "If
Germany goes to war I'll have a gay time getting it."

Morning brought confirmation of Billy Baker's news, at least so far as
Austria's action was concerned, and the imminence of what promised to be
a concerted movement of other great nations toward war. It was said that
Russia was already mobilizing--that troops were in motion in Germany and
in France. That night, or it may have been the next, a telegram came for
the young French officer, summoning him to his regiment. His little son
of nine or ten raced about excitedly.

"_L'Allmagne a mobilisé--mon père va à la guerre!_"

The old admiral, too feeble, almost, to be out of bed, seemed to take on
a new bearing.

"I thought I was done with war," he said. "I am an invalid, and they
could not call on me. But if France is attacked I shall go and fight
once more for my country."

The German family--there were two grown sons in it--had already
disappeared.

It was about the third morning that I took a walk down to the American
Consulate. I had been there before, but had not found it exciting. It
had been a place of silence and inactivity. There were generally a few
flies drifting about, and a bored-looking man who spent an hour or two
there morning and afternoon, killing time and glad of any little
diversion in the way of company.

The Consulate was no longer a place of silence and buzzing flies.
There was buzzing in plenty, but it was made by my fellow
countrymen--country-women, most of them--who were indeed making things
hum. I don't know whether the consul was bored or not. I know he was
answering questions at the rate of one per second, and even so not
keeping up with the demand for information.

"Is there going to be a war?" "Is England going into it?" "Has Germany
declared yet?" "Will we be safe in Switzerland?" "Will all Americans be
ordered home?" "Are the trains going to be stopped?" "Will we have to
have passports?" "I have got a sailing in September. Will the ships be
running then?" "How can I send a letter to my husband in Germany?" "How
about money? Are the Swiss banks going to stop payment on letters of
credit?"--these, repeated in every varying form, and a hundred other
inquiries that only a first-class registered clairvoyant could have
answered with confidence. The consul was good-natured. He was also an
optimist. His replies in general conveyed the suggestion to "keep cool,"
that everything was going to be all right.

The Swiss banks, however, did stop payment on letters of credit and
various forms of checks forthwith. I had a very pretty-looking check
myself, and a day or two before I had been haggling with the bank man
over the rate of exchange, which had been gently declining. I said I
would hold it for better terms. But on the day that Germany declared war
I decided to cash it, anyway, just to have a little extra money in
case--

Oh, well, never mind the details. I didn't cash it. The bank man looked
at it, smiled feebly, and pointed to a notice on the wall. It was in
French, but it was an "easy lesson." It said:

     No more checks or letters of credit cashed until further
     notice.

  By order of the Association.

I don't know yet what "Association" it was that was heartless enough to
give an order like that, but I hoped it would live to repent it. The
bank man said that in view of my position as a depositor he might be
induced to advance me 10 per cent of the amount of the check. The next
day he even refused to take it for collection. Switzerland is prudent;
she had mobilized her army about the second day and sent it to the
frontier. We had been down to the big market place to see it go. I never
saw anything more quiet--more orderly. She had mobilized her cash in the
same prompt, orderly fashion and sent it into safe retirement.

It was a sorrowful time, and it was not merely American--it was
international. Switzerland never saw such a "busted community" as her
tourists presented during August, 1914. Every day was Black Friday.
Almost nobody had any real money. A Russian nobleman in our hotel with a
letter of credit and a roll of national currency could not pay for his
afternoon tea. The little countesses had to stop buying chocolates. An
American army officer, retired, was unable to meet his laundry bill.
Even Swiss bank notes (there were none less than fifty francs in the
beginning) were of small service, for there was no change. All the
silver had disappeared as if it had suddenly dissolved. As for
gold--lately so plentiful--one no longer even uttered the _word_ without
emotion. Getting away, "beating it," as Billy had expressed it, was
still a matter of prime importance, but it had taken second place. The
immediate question was how and where to get money for the "beating"
process. The whole talk was money. Any little group collected on the
street might begin by discussing the war, but, in whatever language, the
discussion drifted presently to finance. The optimistic consul was still
reassuring. To some he advanced funds--he was more liberal than the Bank
of Switzerland.

There was a percentage, of course--a lucky few--who had money, and these
were getting away. There were enough of them along the Simplon Railway
to crowd the trains. Every train for Paris went through with the seats
and aisles full. All schedules were disordered. There was no telling
when a train would come, or when it would arrive in Paris. Billy Baker
promptly mobilized his party and they left sometime in the night--or it
may have been in the morning, after a night of waiting. It was the last
regular train to go. We did not learn of its fortunes.

No word came back from those who left us. They all went with promises to
let us know, but a veil dropped behind them. They were as those who pass
beyond the things of earth. We heard something of their belongings,
however. Sometimes on clear days a new range of mountains seemed to be
growing in the west. It was thought to be the American baggage heaped on
the French frontier. Very likely our friends wrote to us, but there was
no more mail. The last American, French, and English letters came August
3d. The last Paris _Herald_ hung on the hotel file and became dingy and
tattered with rereading. No mails went out. One could amuse himself by
writing letters and dropping them in the post office, but he would know,
when he passed a week later, that they had remained there. You could
still cable, if you wished to do so--in French--and there must have been
a scramble in America for French dictionaries, and a brisk hunting for
the English equivalents of whatever terse Berlitz idiom was used to
convey:

"Money in a hurry--dead broke."

Various economies began to be planned or practiced. Guests began to do
without afternoon tea, or to make it themselves in their rooms. Few were
paying their hotel bills, yet some went to cheaper places, frightened at
the reckoning that was piling up against settling day. Others, with a
little store of money, took very modest apartments and did light
housekeeping to stretch their dwindling substance. Some, even among
those at the hotels, in view of the general uncertainty, began to lay
in tinned meats and other durable food against a time of scarcity. It
was said that Switzerland, surrounded by war, would presently be short
of provisions. Indeed, grocers, by order of the authorities, had already
cut down the sale of staples, and no more than a pound or two of any one
article was sold to a single purchaser. Hotels were obliged to send
their servants, one after another, and even their guests, to get enough
sugar and coffee and salt to go around. Hotel bills of fare--always
lavish in Switzerland--began to be cut down, by _request of the guests
themselves_. It was a time to worry, or--to "beat it" for home.

We fell into the habit of visiting the Consulate each morning. When we
had looked over the little local French paper and found what new nations
had declared war against Germany overnight, we strolled down to read the
bulletins on the Consulate windows, which generally told us what steamer
lines had been discontinued, and how we couldn't get money on our checks
and letters of credit. Inside, an active commerce was in progress. No
passport had been issued from that Consulate for years. Nobody in Europe
needed one. You could pass about as freely from Switzerland to France or
Germany as you could from Delaware to New Jersey.

Things were different now. With all Europe going to war, passports
properly viséd were as necessary as train tickets. The consul, swamped
with applications, had called for volunteers, and at several little
tables young men were saying that they did not know most of the things
those anxious people--women, mainly--were asking about, but that
everything would surely be all right, soon. Meantime, they were helping
their questioners make out applications for passports.

There were applications for special things--personal things. There was a
woman who had a husband lost somewhere in Germany and was convinced he
would be shot as a spy. There was a man who had been appointed to a post
office in America and was fearful of losing it if he did not get home
immediately. There were anxious-faced little school-teachers who had
saved for years to pay for a few weeks abroad, and were now with only
some useless travelers' checks and a return ticket on a steamer which
they could not reach, and which might not sail even if they reached it.
And what of their positions in America? Theirs were the sorrowful cases,
and there were others.

But the crowd was good-natured, as a whole--Americans are generally
that. The stranded ones saw humor in their situation, and confessed to
one another--friends and strangers alike--their poverty and their
predicaments, laughing a good deal, as Americans will. But there were
anxious faces, too, and everybody wanted to know a number of things,
which he asked of everybody else, and of the consul--oh, especially of
the consul--until that good-natured soul was obliged to take an annex
office upstairs where he could attend to the manufacture of passports,
while downstairs a Brooklyn judge was appointed to supervise matters and
deal out official information in judicial form.

The judge was qualified for his appointment. Every morning before ten
o'clock--opening time--he got together all the matters--letters,
telegrams, and the like--that would be apt to interest the crowd, and
dealt this substance out in a speech, at the end of which he invited
inquiries on any point he had failed to make clear.

He got them, too--mainly questions that he had already answered, because
there is a type of mind which does not consider information valid unless
delivered to it individually and, in person. I remember, once, when
among other wild rumors it had been reported that because of the food
scarcity all foreigners would be ordered out of Switzerland in five
days, a woman who had listened attentively to the judge's positive and
thrice-repeated denial of this canard promptly asked him if she could
stay in Switzerland if she wanted to.

The judge's speech became the chief interest of the day. It was the
regular American program to assemble in front of the Consulate,
exchanging experiences and reading the bulletins until opening time. The
place was in a quiet side street of the quaint old Swiss city, a step
from the lake-front promenade, with a background of blue mountains and
still bluer water. Across the street stood a sixteenth-century château
with its gardens of greenery. At ten the Consulate doors opened and the
little group pressed in for the speech. I am sure no one in our stranded
assembly will easily forget those mornings.

Promising news began to come. The judge announced one morning that five
hundred thousand francs had been placed to the consular credit in
Switzerland by America for the relief of her citizens. Great happiness
for the moment! Hope lighted every face. Then some mathematician
figured that five hundred thousand francs amounted to a hundred
thousand dollars, and that there were ten thousand Americans in
Switzerland--hence, ten dollars apiece. The light of hope grew dim.
There was not a soul in that crowd who needed less than two hundred
dollars to pay his board and get him home. Ten thousand times two
hundred--it is a sizable sum. And what of the rest of Europe? The
mathematician figured that there were a quarter of a million Americans
in Europe, all willing to go home, and that it would take fifty million
dollars and a fleet of five hundred fair-sized ships to deliver them in
New York.

Still, that five hundred thousand francs served a good purpose. An
allotment of it found its way to our consul, to use at his discretion.
It came to the right man. Here and there were those who had neither
money nor credit. To such he had already advanced money from his own
limited supply. His allowance, now, would provide for those needy ones
until more came. It was not sufficient, however, to provide one woman
with three hundred francs to buy a set of furs she had selected, though
she raged up and down the office and threatened to report him to
Washington, and eventually flung some papers in his face. It turned out
later that she was not an American. I don't know what she was--mostly
wildcat, I judge.

Further news came--still better. The government would send a
battleship--the _Tennessee_--with a large sum of gold. The deposit of
this specie in the banks of Europe would make checks and letters of
credit good again. Various monies from American banks, cabled for by
individuals, would also arrive on this ship.

Things generally looked brighter. With the British fleet protecting the
seas, English, French, and Dutch liners were likely to keep their
schedules; also, there were some Italian boats, though these were
reported to be overrun by "swell" Americans who were paying as high as
one thousand dollars for a single berth. Perhaps the report was true--I
don't know. None of our crowd cared to investigate.

There were better plans nearer home--plans for "beating it" out of
Switzerland on a big scale. Special trains were to be provided--and
ships. A commission was coming on the _Tennessee_ to arrange for these
things. The vessel had already left New York.

The crowd at the Consulate grew larger and more feverishly interested.
Applications for passports multiplied. Over and over, and in great
detail, the Brooklyn judge explained just what was necessary to insure
free and safe departure from Europe when the time came to go. Over and
over we questioned him concerning all those things, and concerning ever
so many other things that had no particular bearing on the subject, and
he bore it and beamed on us and was fully as patient as was Moses in
that other wilderness we wot of.

Trains began to run again through France; at least they started, and I
suppose they arrived somewhere. Four days, six days, eight days was said
to be the time to Paris, with only third-class coaches, day and night,
all the aisles full--no food and no water except what was carried. It
was not a pleasant prospect and few of our people risked it. The
_Tennessee_ was reported to have reached England and the special
American trains were promised soon. In fact, one was presently
announced. It went from Lindau, through Germany, and was too far east
for most of our crowd. Then there were trains from Lucerne and
elsewhere; also, special English trains. Then, at last a Simplon train
was scheduled: Territet, Montreux, Vevey, Lausanne, Geneva--all aboard
for Paris!

Great excitement at the Consulate. The _Tennessee_ money could arrive
any day now; everybody could pay up and start. The Brooklyn judge
rehearsed each morning all the old details and presented all the news
and requirements. The train, he said, would go through a nation that was
at war. It would be under military surveillance. Once on the train, one
must stay on it until it arrived in Paris. In Paris passengers must go
to the hotels selected, they must leave at the time arranged and by the
train provided, and must accept without complaint the ship and berth
assigned to each. It would be a big tourist party personally conducted
by the United States for her exiled citizens. The United States was not
ordering its citizens to leave Switzerland; it was merely providing a
means for those who must go at once and had not provided for
themselves. The coaches would be comfortable, the price as usual, red
cards insuring each holder a seat would be issued at the Consulate.
Tickets through to New York would be provided for those without funds.
The government could do no more. Any questions, please?

Then a sharp-faced, black-haired, tightly hooked woman got up and wanted
to know just what style the coaches would be--whether they would have
aisles down the side; whether there would be room to lie down at will;
whether meals would be served on the train; whether there would be time
at Dijon to get off and see some friends; whether she could take her
dog; whether her ticket would be good on another train if she didn't
like this one when she saw it. The judge will probably never go into the
tourist-agency business, even if he retires from the law.

Well, that particular train did not go, after all. Or, rather, it did
go, but few of our people went on it. There was a misunderstanding
somewhere. The Germans were getting down pretty close to Paris just
then, and from the invisible "somewhere" an order came countermanding
the train. The train didn't hear of it, however, and not all of the
people. Those who took it must have had plenty of room, and they must
have gone through safely. If the Germans got them we should have heard
of it, I think. Those who failed to take it were not entirely sorry. The
_Tennessee_ money had not been distributed yet, and it was badly needed.
I don't know what delayed it. Somewhere--always in that invisible
"somewhere"--there was a hitch about that, too. It still had not arrived
when the _next_ train was scheduled--at least, not much of it. It had
not come on the last afternoon of the last day, when the train was to go
early in the morning. It was too bad. There was a borrowing and an
arranging and a negotiating at the banks that had become somewhat less
obdurate these last days, with the _Tennessee_ in the offing. But many
went away pretty short, and, but for the consul, the shortness would
have been shorter and more general.

It was a fine, big, comfortable train that went next morning. A little
group of us who were not yet ready to "beat it" went down to see our
compatriots go. There seemed to be room enough, and at least some of the
coaches had aisles down the sides. I do not know whether the
sharp-faced, tightly hooked woman had her dog or not. There was a great
waving, and calling back, and much laughter as the train rolled away.
You could tell as easily as anything that the Americans were "beating
it" for home.

Heavy installments of the _Tennessee_ money began to arrive at the
Consulate next day. I got some of it myself.

A day or two later I dropped into the Consulate. It had become a quiet
place again, as in the days that already seemed very long ago. It was
hard to believe in the reality of the eager crowd that used to gather
there every morning to tell their troubles and laugh over them, and to
collect the morning news. Now, again, the place was quite empty, except
for a few flies drowsing about and the rather tired, bored-looking man
who came to spend an hour or two there every morning, killing time and
glad of any little diversion in the way of company.



Chapter XXXVII

THE LONG TRAIL ENDS


It was not until near the end of October that we decided to go. We had
planned to remain for another winter, but the aspect of things did not
improve as the weeks passed. With nine tenths of Europe at war and the
other tenth drilling, there was a lack of repose beneath the outward
calm, even of Vevey. In the midst of so many nervous nations, to linger
until spring might be to remain permanently.

Furthermore, our occupations were curtailed. Automobiles were
restricted, the gasoline supply cut off. The streets had a funereal
look. I was told that I could get a special permit to use the car, but
as our gasoline supply consisted of just about enough to take us over
the Simplon Pass into Italy, we decided to conserve it for that purpose.
The pass closes with the first big snow, usually the 15th of October.
The presence of many soldiers there would keep it open this year a
little longer. It could not be risked, however, later than the end of
the month.

We debated the matter pretty constantly, for the days of opportunity
were wasting. We wasted ten of them making a little rail and pedestrian
trip around Switzerland, though in truth those ten glorious days of
October tramping along the lakes and through the hills are not likely
to be remembered as really wasted by any of us. When we returned I got a
military pass to take the car out of Switzerland, but it was still
another week before we packed our heavy baggage and shipped it to Genoa.
We were a fair example of any number of families, no longer enthralled
by Europe and not particularly needed at home. I think hesitation must
have nearly killed some people.

It was the 27th of October--a perfect morning--when for the last time I
brought the car to the front of our hotel, and we strapped on our bags
and with sad hearts bade good-by to the loveliest spot and the best
people in Europe. Then presently we were working our way through the
gay, crowded market place (though we did not feel gay) down through the
narrow, familiar streets, with their pretty shops where we had bought
things, and their little _pâtisseries_ where we had eaten things; down
through La Tour, and along the lake to Clarens and Montreux, and past
Chillon, and so up the valley of the Rhone to Brigue, the Swiss entrance
to the Simplon Pass.

We had new tires now, and were not troubled about our going; but the
world had grown old and sad in three months, and the leaves were blowing
off of the trees, and the glory had gone out of life, because men were
marching and killing one another along those happy fields that such a
little while before had known only the poppy stain and the marching of
the harvesters--along those shady roads where good souls had run with
the car to hand us cherries and wish us "_Gute reise._"

We crossed the Simplon in the dullness of a gray mist, and at the top,
six hundred feet in the peaks, met the long-delayed snowstorm, and knew
that we were crossing just in time.

Down on the Italian slope the snow turned to rain and the roads were not
good. The Italians dump rock into their roads and let the traffic wear
it down. We were delayed by a technicality on the Swiss border, and it
was dark by the time we were in Italy--dark and rainy. Along the road
are overhanging galleries--really tunnels, and unlighted. Our prestolite
had given out and our oil lamps were too feeble. I have never known a
more precarious drive than across that long stretch from Gondo to
Domodossola, through the night and pouring rain. It seemed endless, and
when the lights of the city first appeared I should have guessed the
distance still to be traveled at forty miles. But we did arrive; and we
laid up three days in a hotel where it was cold--oh, very cold--but
where blessedly there was a small open fire in a little sitting room.
Also, the food was good.

It had not quit raining even then, but we started, anyway. One can get a
good deal of Domodossola in three days, though it is a very good town,
where few people stop, because they are always going somewhere else when
they get there. Our landlady gave us a huge bunch of flowers at parting,
too huge for our limited car space. A little way down the road I had to
get out and fix something; an old woman came and held an umbrella over
me, and, having no Italian change, I gave her the flowers, and a Swiss
nickel, and a German five-pfennig piece, and she thanked me just as if
I had contributed something valuable. The Italians are polite.

We went to Stresa on Lake Maggiore, and stopped for the night, and
visited Isola Bella, of course, and I bought a big red umbrella which
the others were ashamed of, and fell away from me when I opened it as if
I had something contagious. They would rather get soaking wet, they
said, than be seen walking under that thing. Pride is an unfortunate
asset. But I didn't have the nerve myself to carry that umbrella on the
streets of Milan. Though Stresa is not far away, its umbrellas are
unknown in Milan, and when I opened it my audience congested traffic. I
didn't suppose anything could be too gay for an Italian.

We left the car at Milan and made a rail trip to Venice. It was still
raining every little while and many roads were under water, so that
Venice really extended most of the way to Milan, and automobile travel
was thought to be poor in that direction. All the old towns over there
we visited, for we were going home, and no one could say when Europe
might be comfortable for tourists again. A good deal of the time it
rained, but a good deal of the time it didn't, and we slept in hotels
that were once palaces, and saw much, including Juliet's tomb at Verona,
and all the things at Padua, and we bought violets at Parma, and
sausages at Bologna. Then we came back to Milan and drove to Genoa,
stopping overnight at Tortona, because we thought we would be sure to
find there the ices by that name. But they were out of them, I suppose,
for we could not find any.

Still we had no definite plans about America; but when at Genoa we found
we could ship the car on a pretty little Italian vessel and join the
same little ship ourselves at Naples, all for a very reasonable sum. I
took the shipping man to the hotel garage, turned the car over to him,
and the thing was done.

So we traveled by rail to Pisa, to Florence, to Rome, to Naples and
Pompeii, stopping as we chose; for, as I say, no one could tell when
Europe would be a visiting place again, and we must see what we could.

So we saw Italy, in spite of the rain that fell pretty regularly, and
the rather sharp days between-time. We did not know that those rains
were soaking down to the great central heat and would produce a terrible
earthquake presently, or we might have been rather more anxious to go.
As it was, we were glad to be there and really enjoyed all the things.

Yet, there was a different feeling now. The old care-freedom was gone;
the future had become obscure. The talk everywhere was of the war; in
every city soldiers were marching, fine, beautiful regiments, commanded
by officers that were splendidly handsome in their new uniforms. We were
told that Italy would not go to war--at least not until spring, but it
was in the air, it was an ominous cloud. Nowhere in Europe was anything
the same.

One day our little ship came down from Genoa, and we went aboard and
were off next morning. We lay a day at Palermo, and then, after some
days of calm sailing in the Mediterranean, launched out into the
Atlantic gales and breasted the storms for nearly two weeks, pitching
and rolling, but homeward bound.

       *       *       *       *       *

A year and four months from a summer afternoon when we had stood on the
upper deck of a little French steamer in Brooklyn and looked down into
the hold at a great box that held our car, I went over to Hoboken and
saw it taken from another box, and drove it to Connecticut alone, for
the weather was cold, the roads icy. It was evening when I arrived,
Christmas Eve, and when I pushed back the wide door, drove into the
barn, cut off the engine, and in the dim winter light saw our capable
conveyance standing in its accustomed place, I had the curious feeling
of never having been away at all, but only for a winter's drive,
dreaming under dull skies of summertime and France. And the old
car--that to us had always seemed to have a personality and
sentience--had it been dreaming, too?

It was cold there, and growing dark. I came out and locked the door. We
had made the circuit--our great adventure was over. Would I go again,
under the same conditions? Ah me! that wakens still another dream--for
days ahead. I suppose one should not expect more than one real glimpse
of heaven in this world, but at least one need not give up hoping.





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