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Title: Europe from a Motor Car
Author: Richardson, Russell
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  EUROPE FROM A MOTOR CAR

  [Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood
  _The approach to the Stelvio pass_ _Page 36_]

  EUROPE
  FROM A
  MOTOR CAR

  _By_
  RUSSELL RICHARDSON

  [Illustration]


  RAND McNALLY & COMPANY
  CHICAGO NEW YORK

  _Copyright, 1914_
  BY RAND, MCNALLY & COMPANY

  The Rand-McNally Press
  _Chicago_


  TO
  MY MOTHER



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                      PAGE

         _Preface_                              9

      I  Berlin to Marienbad                   11

     II  Marienbad to Trafoi                   24

    III  Crossing the Stelvio into Italy       36

     IV  A Visit to Lyons                      65

      V  Chambéry to Nîmes                     79

     VI  Nîmes to Carcassonne                  97

    VII  Carcassonne to Tarbes                110

   VIII  Tarbes to Biarritz                   122

     IX  A Day in Spain                       130

      X  Biarritz to Mont-de-Marsan           143

     XI  Mont-de-Marsan to Périgueux          159

    XII  Périgueux to Tours                   172

   XIII  The Châteaux of Touraine             182

    XIV  Orléans to Dieppe                    197

     XV  Expenses and Suggestions             215



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                            PAGE

The Approach to the Stelvio Pass               2

A French Highway                              11

The Brandenburger Thor                        20

Cutting Across the Glacier                    34

Lake Como, Most Beautiful of the Italian
Lakes                                         44

Italian Villas on Lake Como                   48

Above the Val d'Aosta                         54

The Rhone at Lyons                            66

Out of the Silence and Gloom                  80

The Ancient Roman Theater at Orange           86

Arc de Triomphe at Orange                     88

The Palace of the Popes at Avignon            90

The Ruined Bridge of St. Benezet at
Avignon                                       92

The Maison Carrée at Nîmes                    94

The Castle and Double Line of Fortifications
at Carcassonne                               102

The Walled City of Carcassonne               104

The Pyrenees Were in Sight                   112

Ice Peaks of the Pyrenees                    116

The Grande Plage at Biarritz                 126

The Ox-carts Were Curious Creations          134

The Death Stroke                             140

A Familiar Village Scene in Provincial
France                                       156

A Miracle of Gothic Splendor                 162

A Convenient Way to Carry Bread              176

The Road Swept Us Along the Bank of
the Loire                                    180

The Château of Loches Behind Its Imposing
Entrance                                     186

The Château of Chenonceaux                   190

The Château of Amboise on the Loire          194

The Wheat Fields of Normandy                 198

The Gothic Cathedral at Chartres             200

The Seine at Rouen                           208

Where Jeanne d'Arc was Burned at the
Stake                                        212



PREFACE


The following pages have not been written to supplement the thousands of
guide books about Europe. Long, technical descriptions have been
avoided. An endeavor has been made, rather, to give our personal
impressions of the Old World from a motor car. Our itinerary overlooked
the larger cities whose contents have been so well inventoried by
Baedeker. The life of the peasantry, the small towns seldom visited by
American tourists, quaint villages unapproached by any railroad, the
superb roads and views of the Tyrol, the crossing of the Alps over the
snow-crowned Stelvio into Italy, the flight through northern Italy to
Como, loveliest of the Italian lakes--such unique experiences amid
beautiful scenery appealed to us more than the attractions of the
crowded metropolis. We were out for a motor ramble instead of a
sight-seeing tour. Our route did not follow entirely the familiar
highways of tourist traffic. From the summit of the Alps we were to see,
far below us, the valleys of picturesque Savoy. Then came the long,
thrilling descent into France through Provençe, that treasure land of
Roman antiquity, through the Pyrenees, lifting their huge barriers
between France and Spain, to Biarritz on the Atlantic. Spain was before
us, the pastoral beauties of Limousin and Périgord, the châteaux of
Touraine, and the cathedrals of Normandy.

An important part of our equipment was the _Michelin Guide_, which, with
its convenient arrangement and wealth of useful information about hotels
and roads, rendered invaluable aid. Its maps were so clear that it was
seldom necessary to retrace our path. By means of them we planned our
route and found our way through the different countries.

The writer wishes to thank Michelin & Co. of Paris, and Dr. Lehmann of
the Benz Company in Mannheim, Germany, for their assistance and advice.
The files of the _London Daily Mail_ contributed helpful suggestions.
Obligation is also expressed to Mr. Charles Netcher, whose good judgment
and motormanship were indispensable to the success of the trip.

RUSSELL RICHARDSON.


[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_A French highway_ _Page 178_]



EUROPE FROM A MOTOR CAR



CHAPTER I

BERLIN TO MARIENBAD


Before us was the long stretch of the Potsdamer Strasse bathed in the
sunshine of a July morning. Slowly the speedometer began to devour the
kilometers of the Kaiser's imperial city, and the low music of the siren
seemed like a song of rejoicing that we were at last starting on our
quest of motor experiences along the highways of Europe. The
exhilaration of the moment called for speed, a leaping burst of it, but
a Berlin street is unfortunately no place for speeding. Numerous
helmeted policemen, vigilant guardians of German speed laws, were
sufficient reminders that the way of the motor transgressor would be
paved with heavy fines.

These policemen looked like soldiers. In Berlin one is always surrounded
by a military atmosphere. The city is the product and the producer of
this martial spirit. The Prussian wars are written so completely in
pages of bronze and marble, one has the impression of being among people
who are on the verge of war and prepared for it. Even as we glided
along, a huge Zeppelin air ship hovered above us, one of those ill-fated
war machines which have so often met destruction.

A little farther on, there was a stirring sound of military music, and
our way was intercepted by a marching regiment. It was fully ten minutes
before the last soldier passed. Such scenes are common in the capital of
a country bounded on two frontiers by powerful nations, and dependent
for its very existence upon the maintenance of a large standing army.

Gradually the music grew fainter, the warnings of countless "verbotens"
became less frequent. Soon we were riding through the Prussian country,
pleasantly pastoral and interspersed by red-roofed villages. Everywhere
were barracks and soldiers, and each small community was throbbing with
industrial life. This was prosaic, military, modern Germany; that is, it
might have seemed prosaic had we not seen it from a motor car. There is
a quality of romance about all motoring in Europe. It is fascinating to
appear unexpectedly among a people in the midst of their everyday
activities, to see them as they really are, to flash for a brief moment
upon the horizon of their local life, and then to whirl on to other
scenes. Such a trip is never monotonous. There is magic in this song of
the swift kilometers.

The tourist, by train or on foot, is overwhelmed by details. He sees
small cross-sections of life. But the motorist, of all travelers, can
see larger outlines. For him a thousand details merge to form a unit
which he can grasp; to paint a picture of clear-cut, dominating
impressions and filled with life-long memories. Even "the best
traveler[1] on foot--Barrow or Stevenson--can enjoy himself, or interest
others, only by his impressions of the insistent details of each trudged
mile. The motorist alone can perform the great deduction of travel. His
privilege is to see the surface of his planet and the activities of his
fellowmen unroll in impressive continuity. He moves along the vital
lines of cause and effect. He sees how the earth has imposed character
and habits upon her inhabitants."

  [1] From "The Alpine Road of France," by Sir Henry Norman, M. P., in
  _Scribner's Magazine_ for February, 1914.

When one has seen Europe from a motor car, the geography of the Old
World ceases to be a mass of hazy facts set off by indefinite
boundaries. We had vaguely thought of the Alps as being in Switzerland.
After crossing them twice, these mountain barriers, extending from
Vienna to the Mediterranean, through Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and
France, were to have a new meaning. Most of us would probably confuse
the old provinces of France with the departments which correspond
roughly to our states. But Normandy, Brittany, and Provençe have no more
geographical significance to-day than "Mason and Dixon's Line," which
once served as a boundary between North and South. Places which had
previously existed for us, in cold print, were to glow with life and
color, and were in turn to tell their romantic story. Now, when we look
at our map of France, we can see "the great central wheat plain; the
broad wine belt; the western _landes_; the eastern pine slopes; the
welter of history in Touraine and Anjou; dear, yellow, dusty,
windswept, singing, dancing, Provençe; the southward climatic procession
of buckwheat, wheat, vine, olive, palm, and orange tree."[2]

  [2] From "The Alpine Road of France," by Sir Henry Norman, M. P., in
  _Scribner's Magazine_ for February, 1914.

Our chronicle of this first day of motoring includes a brief glimpse of
Wittenberg, where Luther burned the Papal Bull and thus kindled the
flame of the Reformation. After Wittenberg came Leipzig, famed as the
home of immortal Baedeker. One cannot ride far in Germany without
encountering a city counting its population by the hundred thousand.
This wealth of population explains in part how Prussia, only a
generation ago so agricultural, could have changed so quickly into a
vast workshop; there has always been a plentiful supply of labor.

We stopped for the night at Chemnitz, a smoky city and with a dreary
looking hotel showing in prominent letters the unpleasant name of "Hotel
zur Stadt Gotha." The next morning we ran the easy gauntlet of
customhouse formalities at Gottesgab, and crossed the Austrian frontier
into Bohemia, that land of shadows and thorn in the flesh of the
Austrian government where the gay colors of peasant dress hardly conceal
the evidences of poverty and squalid misery, and where hunger appears to
be driving out plenty. It is a country of peasants. There are millions
of them, back in the Middle Ages as to their agricultural methods,
unable to adapt themselves to the harsh, progressive realities of the
present, and careless whether the abundant meal of to-morrow will make
up for the meager repast of to-day.

If you wish to see real misery, and to understand why the Bohemians
emigrate in such great numbers to the United States, then take a motor
trip through this most discontented and unhappy of all the Austrian
provinces. Here amid picturesque and beautiful scenery one finds the
rural slums of Europe. The small farm hamlets look forlorn and unkempt,
the barnyards disorderly, the towns dirty and neglected, the people as
if they were both the cause and effect of these conditions. It is a
common sight of the road to see women harnessed with dogs or oxen. Here
even wooden shoes would be something of a luxury.

There is something fascinating about exploring these neglected corners
of Europe in a motor car. The dress of the peasants is gay even though
ragged, their life picturesque even in its poverty. One finds lights as
well as shadows in the picture. Nature has softened the harsh lines of
peasant life with dreamy, misty horizons, with pine-clad hills and
dashing brooks, with pleasant vistas of distant mountains.

On reaching Carlsbad about noon we found the season of this fashionable
watering place at its height. Crowds of visitors were promenading in the
street, returning from the baths and springs or trying to stimulate
jaded appetites by a few breaths of the fine invigorating air. The place
is really beautiful with its fine setting of Bohemian mountains.

Friends were expecting us in Marienbad, so we resumed our journey early
in the afternoon. This stretch of forty miles lay through the loveliest
part of Bohemia. Such depths of blue atmosphere melting into the green
of pine forests!

The forestry system of Bohemia is something to admire and to study. For
generations, governmental inspection has been tireless in its efforts to
improve and develop the forests. There are many large estates which have
their own private foresters; no opportunity for tree planting is
neglected. On the smaller farms, if the soil is not adapted to the
raising of fruits and vegetables, the state tells the farmer what trees
will flourish best in that kind of soil. Thus no acre is wasted. Twice a
year the official inspector decides what trees may be cut. If, during
the year, some farmer wishes lumber, it is the inspector who decides
what trees, if any, may be cut. No sooner has the tree fallen than a
fresh sapling takes its place. The trees are planted in regular rows.
There is no crowding. In such a land, forestry is a distinguished
profession.

For some distance the valley narrowed almost to a cañon. Then wider
views opened, until from a wooded ridge we saw below us in the valley
the village of Marienbad. Nature was good to her children when she
fashioned this rare resort, lying so white and clean in its green cradle
of high pine-covered hills.

Much too briefly must we give our impressions of life at a Bohemian
watering place. Every one lives out of doors. The many villas are
generously provided with balconies to catch the sunshine and pine
breezes. Unlike most health resorts, the atmosphere of the sick room is
absent. Few invalids are to be seen. Most of the _Kurgäste_ come here
for the purpose of reducing their weight. Their chief rule of life is to
eat little and exercise much. The numerous tennis courts are constantly
filled. The mountains invite to long walks. There are hot baths, steam
baths, mud baths, and baths that would probably have been new even to
the bath-loving Romans. The gymnasia are elaborately equipped with
exercising apparatus. If one wishes to watch another phase of this
struggle against excessive avoirdupois, he should rise at a dim gray
hour and walk over to the Promenade. People of every nationality crowd
about the mineral springs and then, with their glasses well filled, they
take their places in the cosmopolitan throng which moves slowly up and
down the long Promenade. One hears the confused murmuring of many voices
in many languages, the favorite topics of this linguistic Babel
relating to various ailments and the weight-reducing qualities of
different mineral waters. A less corpulent arrival is looked upon with
envy. Slowly the glasses are emptied, and then again filled. It is
customary to walk up and down for an hour, while drinking two glasses of
mineral water. With each swallow the _Kurgäste_ appear to be imbibing
the hopes of their diminishing avoirdupois. The Germans are in the
majority. They are always desperately conscientious in their endeavor to
meet all the requirements of this simple but exacting life, possibly
because they realize that a long devotion to beer and sandwiches is not
the best means to preserve the youthful figure. Near the Promenade are
weighing shops. A place like Marienbad naturally includes among its
habitués some who could easily qualify for the monstrosity class. We
remember one Egyptian phenomenon of enormous proportions who had to have
his own private scales.

After the hour at the spring comes a strenuous half-hour climb to a
hilltop restaurant where breakfast is served. How inviting those
repasts in the open air! The coffee is as good as can be found
anywhere in Europe, and the scrambled eggs and _Schinken aus Prague_ are
served by pretty Bohemian waitresses arrayed in all the colors of their
native costumes. At these hilltop restaurants orchestra music is always
an attractive feature of the breakfast.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Brandenburger
Thor_ _Page 11_]

One is never sure what distinguished statesmen or prince of royal blood
is sitting near by. While we were breakfasting one morning a gentleman
dressed in an ordinary business suit approached and sat alone at a table
close at hand. We learned later that he was the Prime Minister of
Russia.

The activities and diversions of the day would be incomplete without a
stroll after dinner down the pleasant Kaiserstrasse. At this evening
hour all the visitors to Marienbad pass in leisurely review. The
Austrian officers, erect and soldierly, make quite a striking
appearance. Our attention was also attracted to the monks of Tepl, with
their long black cloaks and broad-brimmed hats. They are the owners of
Marienbad, and live in a monastery situated a few miles from the
village. About two centuries ago the monks of Tepl began to realize the
commercial possibilities of their springs. Forests were cut away;
streets were laid; marshes blossomed into gardens and green lawns;
splendid buildings were erected for patrons who wished to take the
various baths, and to-day Marienbad is a village of hotels and villas.
Last year there were about forty thousand visitors. The monks whom we
saw looked sleek and well-fed. They lead an easy life, hunting, fishing,
and managing their lucrative property. The monastic vow of poverty has
probably long since ceased to mean much of a hardship.

This fact of a modern village being controlled by a wealthy religious
organization dating as far back as 1133 is most unique. It is doubtful
if a parallel case can be found anywhere. The town shows in many ways
the influence of its monastic administration. Licensed gambling halls,
which are so prevalent in all of the French watering places, do not
exist here. There is no night life. After ten o'clock in the evening the
streets begin to look deserted. Amusement places of doubtful character
have thus far found no footing in this simple village life. Considering
the thousands of idle and pleasure-loving Europeans who throng every
year to Marienbad, it seems remarkable that the general tone of the
place should have been kept so high.



CHAPTER II

MARIENBAD TO TRAFOI


Even a congenial environment like that of Marienbad began to lack
interest when we looked at our motor itinerary and saw awaiting us such
rich experiences as climbing above the clouds over the snowbound
Stelvio, or the sight of Carcassonne, tower-girt and formidable behind
feudal walls. The call of the white road was irresistible when it led
through the purple valleys of the Pyrenees to beautiful Biarritz on the
Atlantic and to San Sebastian in Spain, where the Spanish king and queen
hold summer court. The perfect day of blue skies added its persuasive
voice.

We were again on the road. The villas of Marienbad withdrew behind the
mountains, and we settled down to the complete enjoyment of the ride
through Bohemia and southern Germany to Munich. On either side were
quaint scenes of Bohemian life. Every little farm hamlet had its pond of
geese, with a goose girl tending her flocks. One of them threw us a
flower. Her action meant more to us than she thought; it was a happy
omen for the rest of the trip. Peasant women were toiling barefooted in
the fields, or trudging along the road, bending under heavy burdens of
wood. This human element in the scene was impressive. Here, as
everywhere, the great drama of human life was being played. But the role
of the actors was such a humble and pathetic one, so much of the land
was given over to unfruitful fields, half cleared of stumps! There were
no such pictures of content and prosperity as one finds everywhere in
Germany and Holland. The houses were scarcely more than huts.

We halted in some of the towns to take a first lesson in the Czeck or
Bohemian dialect. The store signs were mysterious, with their
hieroglyphics. One shop contained sewing machines, and the word
"Singowiski" above the door hinted that this might be the Bohemian
translation of Singer sewing machines. Road signs were not always
visible, and less often intelligible. Then we were obliged to ask the
way. If the source of our information was a town official he usually
spoke in German, otherwise in Bohemian, an answer which did not relieve
us of our uncertainty.

The German frontier was reached about noon. Our _Triptyque_ received the
customary official stamping at the _Zoll-amt_. To our great relief, no
questions were asked about _Pichner Torte_, a very delicious kind of
cake made only in Austria, and so good that tourists always lay in ample
supplies. Such articles as a rule are heavily taxed at the Austrian
frontier.

Just at this moment Looloo, our French bull terrier, became sick. The
shock of coming so suddenly into German territory was probably too much
for her sensitive French temperament, but she soon revived after eating
a piece of French dog biscuit. We lunched at a _Gasthaus_ in the small
town of Furth im Walde. The first word on the wall which caught our
attention was "_Ausstellung_." That was enough to make us feel that we
were once more in the Fatherland. The Germans seem to be always holding
or advertising exhibitions and fairs. "_Ausstellung_" and "_Practisch_"
need have no immediate fear of losing their place in the vocabulary of
the average German. There was no doubt of our being in Germany. We
would have known it from the trim, clean farms. Order and thrift were in
evidence, every stick of every wood pile in place--all such a contrast
to Bohemian untidiness.

Once more in the land of the Kaiser, and motoring through picturesque
Bavaria, slow changing and old-fashioned, the mediæval part of modern
Germany, a region of small towns and peasant farms. We were often
delayed to pay the _Zoll_ of a few _pfennigs_. The impost was not
onerous, but it was inconvenient to stop so often. Frequently a little
girl or small boy would come out to collect our _pfennigs_, and would
hold up flowers for us to purchase. On one occasion we saw an aged
collector of tolls apparently overburdened by official cares, his head
sunk in slumber, and a large beer stein on a table near him. The picture
was so characteristic of the slow-moving life around us!

Our motor flight through this fascinating region of Germany afforded
opportunity to observe how the different towns had striven for a style
of architecture original and unique. The houses had much warmth of
color, much more than one would see in northern Germany. But then
Bavaria is of course closer to Italy, and to the vivid landscapes, the
bright sunny skies of the southland, and this difference in climate is
naturally reflected in the life of the people. It is not surprising that
the great artists of Germany should have come from the south.

We remember vividly the town of Straubing, where we stopped to buy
gasoline. In the middle of the street an old-fashioned clock tower rose
above the red-tiled roofs and gabled houses. Many of the homes had
attractive window gardens; red and blue were the prevailing colors. No
one was in a hurry; life moved with a leisurely swing. Baedeker barely
mentions Straubing, but we doubt if Nurnberg or Munich could show a
street more typically south German or better worth the artist's brush.

At this point should be mentioned the happy discovery of the lunch box
which thoughtful friends had stowed away with the baggage. There had
been so much to attract our attention that we had overlooked it. Our
motor appetites were equal to the occasion; fruit, cakes, and cold
chicken sandwiches received no mercy. It is unnecessary to add that
scenery and sandwiches went well together, especially such scenery and
such sandwiches.

The landscapes were not more varied than the weather. At times the road
was wet where a shower had just preceded us. All day the sunshine had
brightened and faded. Now we noticed a battalion of dark clouds massing
heavily above us; little by little the blue sky surrendered to the storm
king; the artillery of heaven thundered into action. It was worth a
wetting to see the storm sweep toward us and then fade into the gorgeous
sunset which closed the day. The church spires of Munich were luminous
in the golden light. Swiftly we sped down the long, straight road into
the city. When we stopped before the comfortable Regina Palast Hotel our
speedometer registered one hundred and eighty-five miles, the longest
run of the trip. The country ahead of us was to prove too interesting
for any attempt at long-distance records.

The evening gave a pleasant glimpse of Bavarian life, of its good cheer
and warm spirit of hospitality, so in contrast with the colder social
customs of the north. The Berliner is reserved, exclusive. When he
enters a café he would like, if possible, a table where he can sit
alone. But Bavarian sociability is all-pervasive. The café where we
passed an hour or so was filled with it. Tyrolean warblers in native
costume occupied the stage fashioned to portray a bit of south German
landscape. Song books were handed us. Every one joined in singing the
rollicking folk songs. Of course the evening would have been incomplete
without a visit to the famous _Brauerei_ and a cooling sample of
_Münchner Brau_.

After a couple of days in Munich we departed for Landeck, in the
Austrian Tyrol, a ride of one hundred and eighty-two kilometers. For
some distance our course was the same as the route to Ober-Ammergau.
Lunch at a wayside inn included _Gänsebraten_, which can only be
described as "_ausgezeichnet_." Bright Tyrolese landscapes flew by. It
was glorious running, the air buoyant with the breath of the mountains,
which rose in a jagged, majestic profile above little villages where the
houses were painted with queer scenes of peasant life.

At Garmisch we were in the heart of the Bavarian Tyrol. It was a good
place to stop for a few minutes to watch the people, the women almost
theatrical in the gay colors of their dress, the men equally gorgeous
with their red neckties, green hats and vests, to say nothing of green
leggings which left knee and ankle bare. Every one wore the feather.
Garmisch is not far from the Austrian frontier, so we purchased five
liters of gasoline, this necessary article being much more expensive in
Austria than elsewhere in Europe. Indeed, on reaching the _Zoll-amt_ at
Griesen we found that gasoline had jumped from forty-five or fifty
_pfennigs_ to a _kronen_ a liter, an increase of about eight cents. The
Austrian officials made us pay a duty of ninety _heller_ on the five
liters of gasoline which we carried as reserve. They also enriched the
treasury of their government by a duty of 3.60 _kronen_ on our twelve
liters of oil, and thoughtfully suggested that we purchase five
additional liters of gasoline at the Austrian rates. In view of our
purchase in Garmisch, this invitation was declined. Had we carried a
spare wheel and covers, they would have requested us to remove them and
would have weighed them in an outhouse opposite the _Zoll-amt_. It is
customary to charge duty on tires if the equipment be above a certain
weight. If one carries the average equipment, there is usually no
trouble.

Just across the frontier a sign post, bearing the word "_Rechtsfahren_,"
reminded us of the change in the rule of the road. The scenery grew
wilder. Nowhere in Europe can be found a more perfect country for the
motorist than the Austrian Tyrol, with its splendid roads and
incomparable scenery. Steadily the road circled and climbed. It was the
sunset hour. Shadows were creeping out of deep valleys; a snowy mountain
was turning to a lovely rose color in the crucible of the afterglow. Far
down among the shadows we spied a little lake, still and black under the
overhanging mountains.

The Post-Hotel in Landeck was surprisingly good. It is located right on
the river Inn, which rushes noisily through the middle of the town.
After an excellent _Abendessen_ we retired early, and were not long in
yielding to the drowsy roar of the waters.

Breakfast was followed by an animated scene in front of our hotel. Amid
a medley of motor horns, other cars were also departing. As we ascended
beyond Landeck, the road swung with easy grades above the magnificent
gorge of the Hoch Finstermünz pass, where we stopped for a picture. The
ride from this point over the Reschen-scheideck pass was simply
indescribable. In that exhilarating air, one seemed to be flying instead
of motoring. We plunged through rocky tunnels, or hesitated as the road
appeared to leap off into the abyss or the towering rock masses seemed
to sweep forward as if to bar further progress. Then would come a sharp
turn, opening up a new sweep of highway. The road was as good as we
found anywhere on the trip, and wide enough for the motor cars that
occasionally passed us. But accidents could easily have happened at the
curves. Sure brakes and a tireless motor horn are invaluable at these
critical moments.

It was a pleasant surprise at Reschen to see a cozy villa flying the
American flag, and to discover acquaintances in this secluded corner of
the Old World. We had forgotten that buckwheat cakes could be so good.
Our departure was accompanied with warnings about the difficulties of
the Stelvio, which we were to climb the next day.

After being shown the picture of this most formidable of mountain roads,
with its serpentine windings, rising mile upon mile, and finally
disappearing above the clouds, we wondered if the car could possibly
ascend such a barrier, and if it would not be better to reach Italy by
some less dangerous route. One motorist had attempted the feat a few
weeks before, and after climbing eight thousand feet was forced to turn
back on account of deep snowdrifts. Mention was also made of a
particularly dangerous curve where there had once been a fatal accident.
These reports were not encouraging, but nevertheless we wanted to make
the attempt. Every one who motors in the Austrian Tyrol has but one
dream, one ambition--to submit his skill and car to the supreme test of
scaling the Stelvio.

From Reschen the car ran along a pretty lake, then shot down a long
grade to Mals and from there wound along to Neu Spondinig, where we
stopped for a few minutes for tea and to exchange motor experiences
with other travelers, on their way to Landeck over the same route by
which we had come.

[Illustration: _Cutting across the glacier_ _Page 38_]

Leaving Neu Spondinig, we turned sharply to the right and into the gloom
of a deep gorge, crossing the bridges of the impetuous Trafoier Bach and
climbing for several kilometers to Trafoi, where a most marvelous view
burst upon us. Until this moment the high walls of the gorge had shut us
in, but now the road suddenly opened into a view so magnificent as to
seem almost unreal. We were directly under the shadow of the Ortler,
with its twelve thousand feet of rock and ice. The glittering whiteness
of the Madatsch glacier formed with its ice floods a veritable _mer de
glace_. The scene was so wild, the impression so overwhelming, that for
some minutes we forgot to order rooms for the night at the fine Trafoi
hotel.



CHAPTER III

CROSSING THE STELVIO INTO ITALY


It was before seven that we started on the long climb. An early start is
important when the main care is to keep the engine cool. Cloudless skies
favored our attempt. Across the gorge we saw the towering Weiskugel, its
snows turned to radiant silver while the valley was still in shadow. The
Ortler was transfigured, the Madatsch dazzling--almost blinding until
our eyes had grown wonted to the brilliant spectacle. Slowly the long
grades sank behind us. It seemed better to set a steady, even though
slow pace, and maintain it until the summit was reached. So we were
forced to use second speed. The sides of the engine bonnet had been tied
back to give the engine every possible bit of cool air. From "hairpin"
to "hairpin" we went, these curves so sharp that at first it seemed
impossible to make them without backing. How they twisted above us like
the loops of a gigantic lasso flung far up the mountain, into the region
of eternal snow! Imagine it! Forty-six of them! Only on one turn were
we forced to back, but with a large, powerful car this record would have
been impossible. Any car that cannot turn easily in a fifty-foot circle
would better find some other way of reaching Italy. It is not pleasant
to back up when the edge of the precipice is a matter of inches.

When the Austrians built this road, a century ago, they were not
thinking about motor cars. This masterpiece of road construction was
intended for armies, not for automobiles. The makers of those curves,
cut through heights of solid rock, never anticipated the luxurious modes
of modern travel. If then they had only foreseen the coming of motor
warfare, how much inconvenience would have been spared the impetuous
motorist who to-day attempts to climb the Stelvio in a long, powerful
car which cannot quite make the turns without backing. Surely, a few
feet would have been added to those tantalizing, agonizing curves. How
little the Austrians realized that their military invasion would be
followed by the more peaceful motor invasion of our day.

With every turn, our admiration for this perfect road increased. One
marvels at such matchless feats of engineering, at such gigantic
obstacles so completely overcome. Here, high retaining walls have been
built to keep the road from crumbling away; there, mountain torrents
that would have washed it away have been diverted. Turn after turn, and
still higher to go! Pine woods gave way to stunted shrubbery, and then
vegetation ceased altogether. We were above the clouds. Nothing but the
sun above us. Snow banks appeared on either side; we could put out our
hands and touch them. Then through Franzenshöhe, formerly the seat of
the Austrian customhouse, to Ferdinandshöhe and the summit of Stelvio,
9,041 feet above the sea, the highest point of motor or carriage travel
in Europe.

It is impossible to describe the thrill, the intoxication, of the moment
as we stood there watching the ice fields roll away in great waves, as
if the ocean, in a moment of wild upheaval, had been frozen. Leaving the
car near the little Ferdinandshöhe hotel, we climbed an elevation of one
hundred and fifty feet to the Hotel Dreisprachenspitze, where one
stands at the apex of three countries. We could look down into Italy.
The ice floods of Switzerland swept to the horizon; a hundred snow peaks
flashed in the morning sun. In the other direction yawned the mighty
gorge of the Stelvio, where it had taken us two hours and seven minutes
to make eight miles. The wind was of razor keenness.

On descending to arrange customhouse details with the Austrian
officials, we found the car frozen in the ice. The hot steel-studded
tires had melted a deep groove, and were now held fast in the prison of
their own making. Even on the Stelvio we had not expected to be frozen
fast on the first of August. In vain we opened wide the throttle. The
wheels turned furiously without gaining an inch. Austrian soldiers came
to our rescue. Half a dozen of us pushed from behind. Two American
tourists who had just climbed the Stelvio from the Italian side in a
Cadillac, also gave generous aid. With the additional help of pickaxes
and quantities of sawdust, the car finally shook off its icy fetters.

Meanwhile we had succeeded in snapping some kodak pictures without
attracting the notice of the Austrian officers. The Stelvio is a
military road, various forts are in the neighborhood, and the government
regulations forbid the taking of photographs. In securing these pictures
we ran the risk of heavier penalties than the confiscation of the camera
and films.

Fortune did not smile so cheerfully at the Italian _dogana_, two miles
farther down. Hardly had we touched the kodak when Italian soldiers and
customhouse officers rushed toward us. We were not sure whether we would
be shot on the spot or simply left to languish in an Italian prison. One
of the officers seized the camera, tied a red string around it, and
sealed it. Observing that our ignorance of military regulations was
fully equal to our ignorance of Italian, he instructed us in French not
to open the camera until we were beyond Tirano, seventy miles away, the
frontier town of the military zone.

During the ascent the engine bore the chief strain. It had worked
heroically without once faltering. Now, upon the long down grades of
the Italian slope, we were forced to rely upon the brakes. The road
descended with a continuous and fairly steep gradient for almost
fourteen miles. It was dangerous, difficult work. We not only had to
make the turns, which were just as sharp as on the Austrian side, but it
was necessary to watch the straining brakes, releasing them when the
grade permitted and alternating the emergency brake with compression.
This was a feat demanding all the qualities of motormanship. Coolness
and good judgment were indispensable at every curve of the descent. The
road turned icy corners and edged along precipitous cliffs. If the
brakes had refused to work, it would have been fatal; the downward
plunge of the car would have been beyond control in a few seconds. But
at that moment we were not thinking of danger. The thrill of the
descent, the feeling of flying down from a great height, the ice peaks
that rose higher above us, the stupendous chasm that at every curve
opened newer and more savage depths--these were all a part of our
exhilarating experience.

We were coasting much of the time; gasoline and ignition had been cut
off. Rocky walls hurled back the blast of our motor horn as we entered
the slippery winter galleries of the Diroccamento defile. According to
law, no vehicle may enter a tunnel if it is occupied. Farther down, the
road looped like the coils of a great serpent, twisting, disappearing,
only to reappear farther down as a faint streak of shimmering roadway.
It was curious, that sensation of falling, always sinking lower and yet
never reaching the bottom. One more sweep through the Braulio Valley,
and we stopped for lunch before the luxurious hotel Bagni-Nuovi, that
popular watering place for the leisure rich of Italy.

Our first repast upon Italian soil very fittingly included macaroni and
a generous _bottiglia di vino italiano_. After lunch we went into the
terraced garden, fragrant with orange trees, overlooking dreamy Bormio,
the gateway of Italy. The warm sunshine was delightful after having so
recently faced the icy winds of the Stelvio.

Here we joined an American party from Detroit, Mr. and Mrs. ----, who
were chaperoning two attractive American girls on a motor trip through
Italy and the Tyrol. They had rented an Italian car in Rome, but had not
found the investment altogether satisfactory, the usual story of rented
cars in Europe. These chance meetings with other Americans _en route_
were among the pleasantest features of our trip. We would gladly have
prolonged the visit, had it not been necessary to leave early in the
afternoon if we were to reach Menaggio on Lake Como before dark.

After descending into Bormio, one motors for some distance between high,
vine-clad slopes, and then passes through two or three villages,
typically Italian with their dilapidated churches and narrow, cobbled
streets swarming with dirty children, many of whom took a special
delight in darting across our track just as we were passing.

Northern Italy is wonderfully picturesque. The long defile of S. Antonio
Morignone, the antiquated towns, the slender _campaniles_ standing out
so clearly in the misty, dreamy landscape, the plains of Lombardy with
their scenes of peasant life,--these were all interesting details to be
duly jotted down in the notebook of memory.

It was haying time. The farming methods seemed so primitive; everything
was hand work. We did not see a single labor-saving machine. The
International Harvester Company would not have done a profitable
business here. The hayricks were very small, and even these were often
lacking, for barefooted women staggered under large bundles of hay. Yet
these backward farmers make stalwart soldiers. Sturdy and frugal, they
are, as in France, the backbone and hope of the nation. Europe
recognizes the fine horsemanship of the Italian cavalry. The
"Corazzieri," or royal bodyguard, is a magnificent corps. It is
difficult to believe that most of these men are peasants.

There was no need of a compass to learn that we were going west, for the
afternoon sun shone full in our faces. This steady glare, and the
dazzling reflection from the white, dusty road, became almost
unbearable. It was constantly necessary to shield the eyes. There was no
winding or turning. Often we overtook a hayrick occupying most of the
highway. The driver was usually invisible in the soft depths of the
hay, and so drowsy from the sun or liberal drafts of _chianti_ that
persistent blasts of the motor horn were necessary to attract his
attention. Tresenda was passed, and then Sondrio, the capital of the
fertile Val Tellina, noted for its wines.

[Illustration: _Lake Como, most beautiful of the Italian lakes_ _Page
45_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

The sun was a glowing disk upon the horizon when we reached Colico upon
Lake Como, most beautiful of the Italian lakes. There was a crimson
light on the water. Red sails drifted lazily toward the shore. Across
the lake the high mountains rose cone-like to a peak, like extinct
volcanoes. From a distant bell tower floated the clear, sweet tones of
the angelus. Before some of the houses, young Italians were playing
melodies on guitars. Twilight was falling, that wonderful twilight so
full of color and feeling, of the romance and sentiment of northern
Italy. After several miles along the shore, through these fascinating
scenes, we reached Menaggio.

The evening in the cool lake garden of the Grand Hotel was a refreshing
sequel to the afternoon's hot ride. We could see the government
searchlight sweeping its bright rays in search of smugglers. The
Italian lakes are partly in Italy and partly in Switzerland. Salt and
tobacco are state monopolies in Italy. The poor people are forbidden
even to pick up from the docks the few grains of salt which may have
fallen during the loading and unloading of ships. Guards patrol the
beaches to compel those who use the sea for a washtub, thoroughly to
wring the salt water from the clothes. In spite of all the government's
precautions, large quantities of salt and tobacco are smuggled in from
Switzerland over the Italian lakes. The Italian officials are poorly
paid. The operator of the searchlight which we saw received only eight
dollars a month. The small salaries breed bribery and corruption, and it
often happens, therefore, that on a dark night the government
searchlight fails to discover a rowboat that goes out from the Swiss
shore. The smugglers escape the vigilance of the swift revenue cutters,
and make a successful landing on the Italian side.

The next day was so hot that it seemed best to pass the time quietly at
Menaggio, in our restful retreat. The rooms were large and airy, and
open to the fresh lake breezes. The hotel had once been a villa, and
with its private garden of thick plane trees was just such a spot as the
dusty motorist delights to stumble upon after a long ride over the hot
Italian roads.

Our gasoline was running low, so noticing a sign with the words
_Benzino-Lubrificanti_, we entered. The _commercianti_ spoke as much
English as we spoke Italian. We compromised on gestures. In Italy it is
a safe rule to pay about half the price asked. After half an hour of
bargaining we obtained five liters of gasoline for forty-five
_centesimi_ a liter. The price demanded at first was ninety-five
_centesimi_. Our change included a couple of five-lira notes so dirty,
greasy, and mangled that they looked in the last stages of the plague.
We would have felt safer to have handled them with tongs. Within a few
days we had received _kronen_, _heller_, _marks_, _pfennigs_, _lira_,
_centesimi_. It was quite an education in the currency systems of
Europe.

On the way back to the hotel we entered the cathedral. To find so
imposing an edifice amid so much poverty was a surprise. Equally
astonishing was the way the steep hills behind the town were terraced
and cultivated, as though the very rocks themselves had been made to
blossom and bear fruit. An Italian woman across the street was filling
her jug at a fountain. The nozzle, crumpled into a trefoil, was of the
same style as that used by the Roman matrons twenty-five centuries ago.
Little things like this show how slowly time has marched in these lake
towns of northern Italy.

The cool fragrance of early morning filled the air when we waved _addio_
to our _padrone_ and followed the curves of the shore toward Como at the
end of the lake. There is much in favor of an early start before the
heat begins to quiver above the road and the air to resemble a
continuous cloud of dust. Every foot of the way was interesting. There
were bright-colored villas half smothered in vines; crumbling bell towers
flung their shadows across our path; dizzy cliffs hung above us; the
lake was constantly within view.

At one of the turns a bicycle rider shot by. We missed him by an
inch. He was followed by many others, scattered over the distance of a
mile. They were all riding recklessly, rounding the corners at top speed
and with heads bent low over the handle bars. Different numbers were
pinned on their backs. This was evidently a long-distance bicycle race.
It was nerve racking to meet so many curves and not to know whether the
riders would pass us on the right or on the left. There is no fixed rule
of the road in Italy. In towns having a tram, one turns to the left.
Southern Italy is still more confusing, since each town has its own
rule. In Como we motored down two or three streets before finally
discovering, after many inquiries, the road running northward to Aosta
in the Italian Alps.

[Illustration: _Italian villas on Lake Como_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

We regretted our last glimpse of the lake. Instead of hazy mountains,
blue sparkling waters, red sails, and pretty villas, the scenery changed
to flat, uninteresting country. Novara was reached by noon, its streets
baking in the fierce August sun. At the Hotel Italia the flies covered
table and dishes. The ménu card presented difficulties; it was written
in a very illegible Italian. We guessed at most of the courses, but
macaroni was the only dish of which we were sure. But our plight was not
quite so discouraging as that of another motorist who found that for
three of his courses he had ordered eggs cooked in three different ways.
The early afternoon was so hot that we had thought of taking a siesta,
but soon gave up the idea. There were too many flies. The inmates of the
garage were all fast asleep, and the two blinking men whom we aroused
could not conceal their surprise at our unseasonable departure.

Once out in the country, the dust invaded and pervaded everything. It
was real Italian dust, that sifted into us and all but blinded us. The
heat was terrific. For fear of bursting a tire, we halted in a drowsy
village to let the car cool off under a shady chestnut tree. As if by
magic, a score of dirty, ragged Italian children surrounded us, and
begged for _centesimi_. We threw them a few coppers, but this vision of
riches only served to redouble the clamor. Flight seemed the only price
of tranquillity.

A little way outside the village, a cloud rolled swiftly toward us. The
motor car did not appear to be much more than a cloud when it passed us,
so thick was the dust. If there is anything hotter or dustier than an
Italian highway on the third of August, we do not wish to see it. The
drivers of most of the small carts were curled up, content to let the
patient mule take its own pace, provided their siesta was undisturbed.
The shrill call of our horn often caused them to move a little; there
would be a slight twitching of the reins, and then they would relax
again into slumber. The mule never changed its course.

Beyond Ivrea the country became more rolling and broken, and the Alps,
which an hour before had appeared as blue, shadowy cloud masses, now
lifted bold, distinct outlines. This contrast in scenery was as abrupt
as it was impressive. Perhaps it was a ruined castle perched like an
eagle's nest amid high crags. Within the same view, the eye beheld the
vineyards, not planted in the usual manner of row above row, but arbor
above arbor, supported by white stone pillars, and these arbors rising
to the very summit of lofty hills.

The road which had been winding and rising above the magnificent valley
of Aosta now ran into a level stretch. We had opened wide the throttle,
when all at once a motor car flashed around a curve two hundred yards
ahead of us. An officer in the back seat waved to attract our attention,
and kept pointing back to the curve. The warning was just in time, for
as we waited within the shadow of the bend, another motor car shot at
racing speed around the curve. She was a French racer. There had been no
warning shriek of her horns; the road was so narrow at this point that a
collision could hardly have been avoided without that precious second of
warning.

Every year in Europe reckless driving causes more accidents than all the
steep roads of the Alps. This is the chief danger of motoring on the
Continent. The roads are so good that there is the constant temptation
to disregard the still small voice of prudence.

The old Roman town of Aosta was in sight. This "Rome of the Alps" is a
perfect treasure house of antiquities. Passing under ancient Roman
arches, we rode down the quaint main streets to the Hotel Royal
Victoria, situated, according to our _Michelin Guide_, "_près de la
gare_." The hotel, although small, was clean. This fact of cleanliness
speaks much for any hotel located in a small Italian town.

Our morning promenade revealed much that was interesting. The middle of
some of the streets was traversed by a mountain stream, the above-ground
sewage system of Aosta. It was curious to notice how a part of the
ancient Roman theater had become the supporting wall of a crowded
tenement house. Aosta remains to-day almost undiscovered to the American
tourist world. Yet there are few places where antiquity speaks more
vividly. The market place was a scene of activity. This is the starting
point for the crossing of the Petit St. Bernard pass. Here tourists were
climbing into large excursion automobiles, and German mountain climbers
were setting out, well equipped with long, iron-pointed poles, ice
picks, ropes, and heavy spiked shoes for their battle with snow and
ice.

It was ideal weather for our second conquest of the Alps over the Petit
St. Bernard, which is closed eight months out of the year. While very
dangerous in places, the pass is free from the restrictions which the
motorist finds on the Simplon. There, one has to give notice in writing
of intention to cross. It is also necessary to pay five francs for a
permit. The speed limit of six miles an hour is rigidly enforced.
Nevertheless, as one experienced motorist told us, if the Simplon pass
compels a speed of six miles an hour on the straight course, and one and
three-fourths miles at the curves, the Petit St. Bernard ought to have a
special speed-limit of three miles an hour on the straight and two
guards at every corner. Except the Stelvio, there is probably not a more
difficult mountain pass in Europe.

We left Aosta to its memories of Roman days, threaded for some distance
the tortuous windings of the Val d'Aosta, and crossed the Pont de la
Salle above a high gorge. Near the ancient village of Pré St. Didier a
rocky tunnel buried us temporarily from the outer world. Here the ascent
began, and continued for some miles to La Thuile, the Italian
_dogana_. As we climbed out of the valley the panorama included a
sublime view of Mont Blanc, highest of the Alps.

[Illustration: _Above the Val d'Aosta_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

At La Thuile, two Frenchmen, about to make the ascent on motor cycles,
cautioned us about the dangers of the climb. The customhouse officials
were unusually affable, and were delighted to be included in a group
picture. Then the long climb of six miles to the summit began to reveal
dangers and difficulties. One sharp curve followed another. We soon
overtook the French motor cyclists. They were walking, having found the
ascent too steep. It was thrilling to be able to look down into the
sunshine and fertility of Italy and then to observe the barren world of
rock and snow into which we had risen. The engine proved equal to the
severe test. We used the same tactics which were so successful on the
Stelvio, keeping the same pace until the summit was gained, where we let
the car rest near the world-famous Hospice du Petit St. Bernard. Other
cars had halted in succession, having made the ascent from the French
side _en tour_ to Italy.

There was missing one interesting personality who had greeted visitors
to the _hospice_ in other years, the Abbé Chanoux, for fifty years
rector of the _hospice_ and the last patriarch of that legendary region
of the Alps. The _hospices_ of the Grand St. Bernard, and of the Simplon
in Swiss territory, are managed by priests, but the Abbé Chanoux reigned
alone in his mountain hospital, assisted by a few helpers and by his
dogs. For half a century it was always a joy, when he saw some traveler
less hurried than the others, to offer him a glass of _muscat_ in his
workshop and then, after having shown his garden of Alpine plants, to
point out the shortest road to La Thuile. To-day the tourist can see the
Alpine garden and the grave where, at the age of eighty-one years, Abbé
Chanoux was buried. The resting place is where he wished it to be, in
view of Italy, France, Mont Blanc, and his beloved _hospice_.

Just beyond the _hospice_ is a Roman column of rough marble bearing the
statue of St. Bernard. One also sees, close by, a circle of large stones
marking the spot where Hannibal is supposed to have held a council of
war. A simple slab by the roadside designates the boundary line between
Italy and France. As if to emphasize the fact that we were in France, a
group of French soldiers were on duty close to the frontier. The cuisine
of the restaurant Belvedere, with its attractive _carte du jour_, took
us into the real atmosphere of the country.

The descent of nearly eighteen miles from the summit to the French
_douane_ at Séez, was like passing from mid-winter to mid-summer. What a
superb stretch of motoring it was! The panorama, one of those marvelous
masterpieces which nature rarely spreads before the eyes even of
fortunate motorists! From our point of observation, on a level with the
ice peaks, we could look for miles down into the plains of Savoy. Mont
Blanc glistened like burnished silver. We could trace the mountain
streams from their cradle in the glacier to their wild leaping from
cascade to cascade and to the more peaceful flow through the valley.
Pine forests mantled the lower part of the mountain.

Ignition was cut off, and the car left to her own momentum. The grades
were much steeper than on the Italian slope, and the curves without
railing or protection of any kind. The slightest carelessness in
steering would have been fatal. Flowers and grass began to cover the
meadows. Pine forests surrounded us. Then we entered on the long, sharp
descent to Séez, stopping at the _douane_ where the French officials
came out to receive us.

The following incident will sound almost too incredible even to be
included in a story of motor experiences. There was a small duty to be
paid on the gasoline which we were carrying. Our wealth consisted of
American express checks, a few Italian coins, and some French change,
insufficient by twenty _centimes_ to pay the duty. One of the officials
advanced the twenty _centimes_ from his own pocket, thus saving us the
inconvenience of trying to cash the express checks somewhere in the
town. We wished to "snap" his picture, but his modesty was too great. He
also refused the Italian coins which we tried to press upon him as a
souvenir of the occasion. One associates customhouse officials with so
many things that are unpleasant, that the incident naturally made a
great impression on us.

Our difficulties were by no means over. The winding road with its sharp
grades required the greatest caution. Near the Pont St. Martin it
appeared to run straight over a precipice, and then turned sharply to
the right. This was the place where only a few weeks later an American
party suffered a terrible accident. Their machine swerved while making
the slippery turn, and fell nearly seventy feet among the rocks.

For a distance of seventeen miles from Bourg St. Maurice to Mouthiers
the road was in an appalling condition, any speed over ten miles an hour
being at the risk of breaking the springs. A railroad was being
constructed, and the heavy teams had raised havoc. We were creeping
through this traffic, when the sudden halt of the wagon in front
compelled us to stop. Two big teams, drawing stone, closed in on either
side. The drivers, intent only on looking ahead, did not notice that
their heavy wheels were in danger of smashing the car. We finally
attracted their attention, but barely in time to avoid trouble. From
Albertville our course was over the splendid Nationale, which runs from
Paris to Italy.

It is always a pleasant experience to motor on these famous highways, to
observe the governmental system of tree planting, and to study what
trees have been found most suitable in certain regions to protect the
road and the traveler. The ornamental horse chestnut and maple greeted
us most often in the small towns of eastern and northern France. Long
rows of plane trees formed one of the familiar and beautiful sights of
Provençe. We often saw these trees fringing the fields to give shelter
and protection from the blasts of the mistral. It was also interesting
to notice how fruit trees have in many places replaced forest trees
along the road. These national highways, so much improved by Napoleon,
were for us like open books for the study of the French trees.

It has been well noted that "while the state has the right to plant
along the national roads, at any distance it pleases from the adjoining
property, it exercises this right with judicious moderation and leaves,
as a rule, two meters--six and one-half feet--between the trees and the
outside edge of the roadway.

"Tree planting is let in small contracts, sometimes as low as five
thousand francs apiece. The object of this is to promote competition and
to attract specialists, such as gardeners and nurserymen, who are hardly
likely to have the means for undertaking large contracts.

"Government inspectors see that the contractor plants well-formed trees,
free from disease and in every way first class.

"As the best planting season is short, a fine is imposed for every day's
delay. When the contractor gets his pay, a certain sum is retained as a
guarantee; and for two years he is responsible for the care of the trees
and for the replacing of any that died or that proved defective. The sum
held back until the final acceptance of his work, protects the
government from danger of loss."[3]

  [3] From "French Roads and their Trees," by J. J. Conway, in _Munsey's
  Magazine_ for October, 1913.

There was no hurry about reaching Chambéry, our headquarters for the
night. The distance of a few miles could easily be covered before dark,
so we halted for a little while by the roadside. The car was in
remarkably good condition after the tremendous strain of the day's ride.
Dimly, in the distance, towered the snow-clad heights where we had been
motoring only a short time before. By thus tarrying a while we enjoyed
dazzling retrospect, present beauty, and alluring prospect.

A big Peugot tore by. These wide, smooth highways of crushed stone
invite speed. There is a speed limit of eighteen miles in the open
country, but it has long been a dead letter. The French system is to
allow the motorist to choose his own pace, but to make him fully
responsible for accidents. By thus heavily penalizing careless driving,
the law works to develop the driver's discretion and does not impose
farcical speed limits. This absence of burdensome regulations eliminates
an endless amount of friction, and is one of many conditions in France
which have contributed to the pleasure and comfort of foreign
motorists.

Now we were in Savoy, celebrated for its mountain scenery, its lakes,
and curious peasant villages. There was a home feeling in our return to
this beautiful French province, for we had motored here a previous
summer. Many a delightful motor ramble was associated with the names of
Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc; Evian-les-Bains, on Lake Geneva;
Annecy, on the lake of the same name, that quaint city which so charmed
the Prince of Wales, a few years ago, with its arcaded, winding streets
and old-world charm; Aix-les-Bains, the noted and popular watering
place; and there, only a few miles away, Chambéry, historic city of the
dukes of Savoy and of the kings of Italy. It was fine to see that same
blue atmosphere about us again, and, above all, to think that for weeks
our motor wanderings were to be in France, the one country on the
continent of Europe where an American can feel most at home, and where
the motorist can find, amid diversity of scenery, a provincial life
charming alike for its hospitality and old-fashioned customs. Riding
through the twilight to Chambéry, we hunted up the Hôtel de France.
This hotel could hardly have been described as luxurious, but it was
comfortable, as are most of the hotels in the provinces.

The chief interest of Chambéry centers about the Rue des Arcades. At one
end of the arcaded street is the curious Fontaine des Elephants. This
monument, on four bronze elephants, is dedicated "to the Comte de
Boigne, who settled here after his romantic life of soldiering in India
and bestowed much of the fruit of the pagoda-tree upon the town." At the
other end of the street are the high, massive walls which protect the
château where the dukes of Savoy lived and where some of the kings of
Italy were born. There is little enough to recall the glamour and
glitter of those proud days. The city, with its more prosaic emblems of
civil and military authority, now occupies the château.



CHAPTER IV

A VISIT TO LYONS


At Chambéry we interrupted our trip through southern France to visit
Lyons, the center of the silk industry not only for France but for the
entire world. For once, we traveled by train. There is an element of
strain about mountain motoring which is as severe upon driver as upon
car. A diversion is not only welcome but almost necessary to the
motorist who has twice guided his car over the Alps within the short
space of a few days. The exhilaration of looking down into France or
Italy from the summit of the Alps does not lessen the dangers of the
long descent, where for considerable stretches every foot of the way is
crowded with possibilities of accident.

Lyons, while usually overlooked by the vast army of summer tourists,
holds, in many respects, a unique place among the world's great cities.
We would speak of its magnificent location upon two rivers, the rapid
Rhone and the sluggish Saône; of the twenty-seven bridges that cross
them; of the many miles of tree-lined quays, which hold back the spring
floods and offer a lovely promenade to the people. No one who has seen
Lyons will forget how the houses rise in picturesque confusion, tier
piled above tier, to the heights of Fauvière, where some of the Roman
emperors lived centuries ago, and where, on the site of the old Roman
forum, stands a beautiful church, overlooking the city and embracing one
of the views of Europe of which one never tires. On a clear day the Alps
are visible, and the snows of Mont Blanc, and just outside the city one
can see the two rivers uniting in their sweep to the Mediterranean.

Lyons is a military stronghold. Its prominence as a manufacturing and
railroad center indicates, of course, its great strategic importance.
Seventeen forts guard the hills around the city. The army is much in
evidence. This constant coming and going of the French soldiers gives
much color and animation to the street scenes. Everyone is impressed by
the cuirassiers. They are powerfully built and look so effective, like
real soldiers who could uphold the traditions of Napoleon's time, and
who would feel much more at home on the battle field than at an
afternoon tea. We saw the Zouaves, in their huge, baggy red _pantalons_
and with their faces tanned by exposure to the tropical sun of Algeria.
Their red caps reminded us of the Turkish fez.

[Illustration: _The Rhone at Lyons_ _Page 65_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

The Place des Terraux, peaceful enough to-day with its busy shops and
clouds of white doves, witnessed many a tragic spectacle of the French
Revolution. The guillotine stood in the center of the square. Lyons,
always royalist in its sympathies, was one of the first cities to raise
the standard of revolt against the excesses of the revolutionists in
Paris. The consequences of this act were fatal and terrible. The Reign
of Terror in Paris was surpassed by the more gruesome reign of terror in
Lyons. An army was sent against the city, which was finally captured,
after a desperate resistance. "Then the convention resolved to inflict
an unheard-of punishment; it ordered the destruction of a part of the
city and the erection on the ruins of a pillar, with the inscription,
'Lyons waged war with liberty; Lyons is no more.'"[4]

  [4] _Political History of Modern Europe_, by Ferdinand Schwill, Ph.D.

The city was "the scene of perhaps the greatest cruelty of the
Revolution, when women who had begged for mercy to their dear ones, were
tied to the foot of the guillotine and compelled to witness hours of
butchery."[5] It was soon found that the guillotine did not work fast
enough. The defect was quickly remedied. Hundreds of captives were taken
outside the city, where the guns of the revolutionists continued the
slaughter on a larger and more satisfactory scale.

  [5] From "The Alpine Road of France," by Sir Henry Norman, M. P., in
  _Scribner's Magazine_, February, 1914.

Possibly the most interesting fact about modern Lyons is its industrial
prominence. Baedeker tells us that the city exports annually over one
hundred million dollars' worth of silk. Its life seems to be founded
upon this one industry. The rich Lyonnais are silk manufacturers. The
museum of silks is the finest thing of its kind in Europe. In the old
part of the city is the statue of Jacquard, the inventor of the silk
loom. As we walked through the narrow streets, there could be heard the
sharp clicking of the shuttles, a sign that the weavers were busy at
their looms. We were shown the "conditioning house," where the imported
raw silk is tested and subjected to a high temperature. This is the
first important step in the manufacture of silk, which in the raw state
absorbs moisture readily. But by exposing the silk to heat at a
temperature of seventy-two to seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit, the
water evaporates and the weight of the silk may then be ascertained. To
prevent fraud it is then marked by a sworn valuer. France raises very
little raw silk, most of it being imported from Japan and China. Out of
a population of nearly half a million, nearly a third is directly
engaged in the production of silk, and the workers in the surrounding
districts would probably number as many more. For a distance of thirty
miles, outside of Lyons, the country is dotted with little houses, each
containing one or more looms. The prosperity of few large cities is more
clearly the result of a single industry.

Americans are especially interested in Lyons for its connection with the
starting of silk manufacturing in the United States. A short time ago
we were shown a letter written in 1863 by an American living in Lyons.
He refers to the excitement created in this district by the rumor that
weavers were being engaged with a view to establishing silk
manufacturing in the United States on a very extensive scale, and that
several companies had been formed and had sent out agents to purchase in
Lyons all the machinery and looms used in the manufacture of silk. The
writer doubted if the conditions in the United States would make
possible the success of the venture. In spite of this prediction, the
industry developed rapidly, so that to-day nine hundred American
manufacturers have a combined annual output valued at over two hundred
million dollars. At the time of the assassination of Lincoln the United
States government received a silk flag from the weavers of Lyons
dedicated to the people of the United States in memory of Abraham
Lincoln. The flag was of the finest fabric and was inscribed: "Popular
subscription to the Republic of the United States, in memory of Abraham
Lincoln. Lyons, 1865."

But while the United States is making more silk than France, Lyons
remains the real center and heart of the industry. American high-power
looms are mostly engaged in turning out, by the mile, a cheaper kind of
silk, and largely confined to standard grades in most common use. The
thread is much coarser. After having lived in Lyons it is possible to
understand why this city continues to be the center of the silk
industry, even when we consider that this is a mechanical age, and that
the inventions of one nation spread quickly to competing nations.
American manufacturers are using the Jacquard loom, a Lyonnais
invention. The first American looms were imported from Lyons, but one
thing which was not bought and imported with the loom, was that aptitude
for handling it which is inborn in the Lyonnais. Machinery has its
limitations, and back of the machine is the question of efficient labor.
The trained hand of the workman is needed at every turn. The looms of
Lyons are famous for their light, soft, brilliant tissues. The silk
thread woven into many of these beautiful products is so fine that two
and one-half million feet of it would weigh only two and one-fifth
pounds.

It is an experience to see the weavers at their work, and to watch the
sure, skillful way in which they weave the thousands of delicate threads
into harmonies of color. Their skill is the heritage that has come down
from father to son. These workmen have a start of many centuries over
their American competitors. Their ancestors were weaving silk before
America was discovered, the industry being started in Lyons in 1450 by
Italian refugees. Traditions count for a great deal in the silk
industry, and from the moment when Lyonnais weavers gained the Grand
Prix from their Venetian rivals, under Louis XIV, in the latter half of
the seventeenth century, their looms were busy making costly robes and
rare tapestries for the royalty of Europe. In the museum at Lyons is a
robe worn by the famous Catherine II of Russia. One is shown tapestries
that adorned the apartments of Marie Antoinette in the Tuileries at
Paris, and the throne room of Napoleon I in the palace at Versailles.
Money could not buy these precious souvenirs of the Lyonnais looms. Many
of the gorgeous robes worn at the coronation ceremony of George V were
made in Lyons. To-day, as in the past, to make these rich silks and
brocades that France is exporting, there is needed not only the skill of
the worker, but the soul of the artist. This artistic French temperament
is the important and deciding factor that makes Lyons the center of the
silk industry. There has been the attempt to create in the United States
a style which would be distinctly American. It failed. The German
emperor also encouraged efforts to create a style which would be
typically German. The result was the same. The atmosphere in these
countries is too commercial and mechanical for artistic vitality. In
such an environment it is said that the French weavers who are employed
in American silk factories become less effective, and lose much of their
artistic originality. The industrial pace is too fast. The cost of labor
in the United States is so great that the emphasis has to be placed on
speed and quantity in order to cover the cost of production. But in
Lyons, with a cheaper labor cost, the organization of hand and power
looms is so perfect that a manufacturer is able to fill large orders
readily.

A superior loom organization, combined with a temperament naturally
artistic and creative, explains the advantage of the Lyonnais
manufacturer over his American rival, and why it is that American buyers
for our large department stores come to Lyons twice a year to select
designs and place orders with the Lyonnais manufacturers. Department
stores which cater to the wealthiest class of trade have their
representatives permanently stationed here to keep in closest possible
touch with the latest French fashions.

This question of style is of such absorbing interest to the average
American home that it will be worth while to notice the forces at work
in Lyons to produce it. Paris is so largely the parade ground for new
fashions that nearly everyone overlooks the tremendous influence of
Lyons in the creation of styles. The hundred and more silk manufacturers
of Lyons have their own designers, who are constantly devising new
patterns and color combinations. Most of the new designs and color
schemes that appear every season in muslins, taffetas, satins, in all
the varied kinds and qualities of silk, have their origin here. This is
the creative source. It is Paris that discriminates and decides to which
of these new patterns it will give expression in the models which will
be copied in all the fashion centers of the world. Paris has the
artistic sense of knowing how to combine the materials that Lyons
furnishes. The two cities work together. The famous fashion stores of
Paris and the silk manufacturers of Lyons are the primary factors in the
creation of styles, and yet, after all, the origin of style is to be
found in the spirit of the times. Our restless age craves constant
change. A century ago in France, when life moved more slowly, the silk
dress was an important part of the bride's trousseau, and after being
worn on special occasions through her life, was handed down to the next
generation. But to-day the styles change with the seasons.

And as they change in Paris so they change in the United States. If we
look at this question of style simply from the standpoint of
organization, it seems remarkable how perfectly every little detail of
the complicated machinery has been worked out. A French silk
manufacturer, who arrived in Lyons after a visit to several American
cities, was impressed not only with the rapidity with which styles
spread from the upper to the middle classes, and the quickness with
which the American people grasp new ideas of dress, but also with the
fact that Paris fashions appear in New York and Chicago at almost the
same time that they appear in Paris. He saw accurate reproductions of
the spring Paris fashions, made in America of French materials, and with
the color, the line, the idea, the detail, so perfectly reproduced that
it would have been difficult to decide between them and the Paris
garment. More and more we are coming to realize our great debt to
France, and to the Old World, for our education in matters of taste, for
our appreciation of beauty in line and color.

And in Lyons one comes closest to this artistic spirit in the workshops
of the weavers, and especially those who work on the hand looms. There
are thousands of these weavers of the old school that has done so much
to make famous the silk industry of the city. Their wages are small and
they work amid surroundings of extreme poverty. We visited some of them
in their shops. Often we found the loom situated in a damp, gloomy
basement, or on the top floor of some old house that looked as though it
might have passed through the storm and stress of the period of the
French Revolution. These sanitary conditions are so bad that in 1911
there was organized a charitable company with the sole purpose of
providing decent lodgings where the weavers could work under improved
conditions of light and shade. We always found them hospitable, eager to
exhibit their work and explain the workings of the loom. In one workshop
the weaver was busy with a piece of satin, the design being wrought in
silver and gold. For this beautiful bit of tapestry, which had been
ordered for one of the apartments of the Queen of England in Windsor
Castle, the workman was receiving only one dollar a day. On another loom
there was being reproduced a piece of sixteenth-century brocade. A
French millionaire had noticed the original in a museum and wanted an
exact reproduction of it for a new château he is building. After a
morning passed amid such scenes, you feel that Lyons is worth visiting,
if for no other reason than to see at their work these artists of the
loom who are so closely associated with one of the world's oldest and
most interesting industries.



CHAPTER V

CHAMBÉRY TO NÎMES


From Chambéry our course ran southwest through the Midi, that great
sweep of territory stretching across the Mediterranean basin from the
Alps to the Pyrenees and embracing many of the most interesting regions
in France.

Our departure, early in the afternoon, was under somber skies. We were
just reaching the outskirts of the city when the engine gave evidence of
trouble. The car ran for a little way and then stopped. An investigation
revealed the necessity of cleaning the spark plugs. While engaged in
this work, we did not notice the approach of an ox team which came
swinging along the road, drawing a two-wheeled cart, the wheels high and
heavy, of a type which one often sees in the Midi. We were bending over
the engine, with no thought of impending danger, when, without warning,
the great wheels were upon us. The driver was evidently asleep; it was
too late to attract his attention. The wheel grazed one of us, and
then, as the oxen swung in, crushed the other against the fender. It was
fortunate that the fender yielded just enough to cause him to be forced
under it and thus saved him from serious injury. Our car carried the
scars of that encounter until the end of the trip. We were just as well
satisfied that it was the car which bore the scars.

Not more than a mile or so from the scene of this adventure, a sign
called attention to a long tunnel just ahead. The signs of the French
roads speak an expressive language, they are so elaborately worked out
for the traveler's convenience. This time it was a voice of warning.
Lamps were lighted. The tunnel closed over us. We could just make out
the faint star of daylight ahead. Weird shadows danced in front of the
car. In the silence and gloom, the noise of our progress over the
slippery road was greatly magnified. We emerged from the tunnel to find
ourselves above a broad valley and nearing the small town of Les
Echelles.

[Illustration: _Out of the silence and gloom_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

Until this point our course was the route to the Grande Chartreuse, the
monastery where, in mediæval days, the monks concocted a soothing
cordial to refresh the hours of rude toil. The road now branched off in
another direction. Our hopes of catching a glimpse of the celebrated old
monastery, built high amid enshrining mountains, were doomed to
disappointment. A storm was about to break. Heavy clouds, weighted down
by their burdens of water, blotted out everything. From a patch of blue
sky above Les Echelles, the sun streamed, and then disappeared. We raced
down the easy slope to gain shelter in the village a mile away. Swiftly
the thick curtain of rain closed in. It was a question whether we would
be able to reach shelter before the fury of the elements burst upon us.
Once more our car proved equal to the emergency, and we poked our way
into the shed adjoining a village inn and waited until the worst of the
storm had subsided. The rain continuing, we put up the top, and started
in time to see a brilliant rainbow arching the whole valley. It was only
for a moment. For the rest of the afternoon we splashed steadily
through puddles and mud.

The scenery changed. Mountain landscapes gave place to the lowlands of
the Midi, barren rocks to fertile peasant farms. It was all a glimpse of
France as she really is; not like Germany, a land of large cities, but
rather of small towns and rural hamlets where peasant ownership is a
fact, and where the peasantry form a mighty political force. France, so
torn by rival factions, would be like a machine without a balance wheel
if it were not for a large peasant class attached to the soil by the
bond of ownership. The life of the French peasant is not easy. He toils
long hours for small rewards. Even in the rain, we could see him
continuing at his work. But he is free. Those two or three acres are his
own. That is the great point. This fact of possession, by creating local
ties and by fostering patriotism, is the safeguard of the country. His
implements appeared to be of the simplest; probably most of those whom
we saw working on that rainy afternoon had never seen a steam plow or a
harvesting machine. The homes were equally rude. Everywhere in France
we noticed the absence of those cozy, comfortable houses which are so
characteristic of the average American farm. Few fences were to be seen,
possibly because of the spirit of justice as regards property rights, or
perhaps because the land laws had been so perfectly worked out.

We entered Romans through a street so unusually wide as to be a pleasant
surprise. Darkness was coming on. Road signs were indistinct, so we were
forced to inquire the way to Valence. The people were obliging. Whether
we were in the country or in some small town, there was always in
evidence that same spirit of hospitable helpfulness which we found at
the French _douane_ in Séez.

The street lamps of Valence were burning when we arrived at the Hôtel de
la Croix d'Or, so well known to all who journey from Paris to the
Riviera. The marble entrance was quite imposing, but apparently after
reaching the top of the staircase the builders were suddenly seized by a
passion for economy, since the interior was very plain, like most of
the hotels in the French provincial towns. The dinner, however, made up
for other deficiencies. Here, and all through the Midi, we could be sure
of delicious _haricots verts_, _omelette_, and _poulet_; and what may
seem strange, we never became tired of these dishes. The art of cooking
them must be a monopoly of the French cuisine, for they never tasted so
good in other countries.

Valence is more of a place to stop _en tour_ than to visit for
sight-seeing. It is fortunate in being situated on the main route from
Paris to the Riviera, the road that we were to follow, and probably the
most popular and most frequented motor road in France. Over its smooth,
broad surface passes the winter rush of motorists seeking the warmer,
more congenial climate of the Mediterranean shores.

We often found more or less trouble in getting out of the larger French
towns. The streets are apt to have a snarl and tangle. Carts and wagons
block the way. Roads are the worse for wear. This seemed to us one of
the big differences between France and Germany. The German town is neat,
clean, well-kept as if the watchful eye of municipal authority were
always on the alert to notice and remedy small defects. The average
French town looks neglected. The people are just as thrifty, but they
appear to care less for appearances.

From Valence we swung more quickly than usual into the splendid Route
Nationale above mentioned. It was Sunday. Peasants were entering and
coming from the small age-worn churches. At that hour the fields looked
strangely deserted. Blue skies were radiant, the air agreeably cooled by
the rain of the night before, the dust well laid. More and more we were
yielding to the fascination of Europe from a motor car. Train schedules
did not trouble us. We were independent. There were no worries about
having to arrive or depart at a certain hour. Life on the road was a
constant flow of new impressions, new experiences. Every village had its
own unique attraction. Many motor cars passed us, each one an object of
interest. Possibly in our cruise along these high seas of the French
roads our feelings were a little like those of the mariner when he
sights a passing ship. Where does she hail from? Where her probable
destination? Of what make? What flag is she flying? It was always a
welcome sight to view the Stars and Stripes flying toward us. One can
usually tell the American car even when some distance away, it is built
so high. We noticed many Fords and Cadillacs. There is not much of a
market in Europe for the expensive American car, because the foreign
high-priced car is considered by the Europeans to be good enough. The
cheaper American product has a market because few of the foreign firms
make a cheap car.

High noon was upon us, the heat oppressive, our appetites ravenous, when
we stopped in the poor little village of Pierrelatte. The prospect for
lunch was not encouraging. A single stray resident appeared at the other
end of the silent street. The houses might have been occupied by
peasants who wrested mere existence from a barren soil. The inn, which
was pointed out to us, would never have been recognized as such. It
looked more like a venerable ruin. In an American town of this size we
would have hesitated before entering, and then probably would have
turned away in despair to look for a bakery shop to stay the pangs of
hunger. But we were growing familiar with the small French towns. It
does not take long to discover that a hotel with an exterior symbolizing
woe and want can have a very attractive interior at lunch time.

[Illustration:

_The ancient Roman theater at Orange_ _Page 88_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

We are still carrying pleasant memories of that lunch. There was _potage
St. Germain_, made as only the French can make it. The oil for the
_salade_ was from the neighboring olive groves of Provençe. The
_haricots verts_ picked that morning in the garden, the _raisins_ fresh
from the vineyard. Best of all were the mushroom patties. One portion
called for another. Our hostess was pleased; there was no mistaking our
genuine appreciation of her cooking. Interrupting her culinary labors,
she told us that the mushrooms were of her own canning. Each year it was
necessary to lay in a larger supply. Tourists had found them so good
that, on leaving, they had left orders for shipment to their home
addresses. Now she was planning to erect a small factory. Her recital
was interrupted by a Frenchman, who implored "_une troisième portion_."
He purchased a dozen cans of mushrooms, and if they had been gold
nuggets he could not have stowed them away more carefully in his car.
The French are authorities when it is a question of good things to eat.

The road to Orange was like a continuous leafy arbor. This shimmering
arcade was too refreshingly cool to be covered quickly. On the outskirts
of Orange we halted to see the Arc de Triomphe, a wonderful echo from
the age of Tiberius. The arch stands in a circular grassy plot and the
road divides, as if this product of the Roman mind were too precious to
be exposed to the accidents of ordinary traffic.

The antique theater at the other end of the town is just as remarkable
for architectural splendor. It is not enough to say that this structure
is the largest and most magnificent of its kind in the world. It is also
the best preserved. Every year in August dramatic and lyrical
performances are given by _La Comédie Française_. Thus, after nearly
twenty centuries, the theater is still serving its original purpose.
We were impressed by the auditory facilities. One of us stood on the
lowest tier of seats, and the other on the topmost row. Even a whisper
was distinctly audible. The erection of buildings with such perfect
acoustics may perhaps be classed among the lost arts.

[Illustration: _Arc de Triomphe at Orange_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

Southward from Orange, the country began to look more like Italy. Olive
and mulberry trees were more numerous. The cypress trees, so often seen
in Italian cemeteries, gave an impression of solemnity, almost of
melancholy, to the country. At times they fringed the highway or stood
alone upon the horizon like a distant steeple against a crimson sunset.

The twilight was full of a brooding, dreamy silence as of communion with
the past. This is the atmosphere of Provençe, an atmosphere of "old,
forgotten, far-off things and battles long ago." If one is interested in
wonderful ruins that suggest the might of Rome's empire, then let him go
to Provençe, that part of southern France where the Romans founded their
_provincia_, and where they built great cities. We found the hotels
rather dreary. The towns were quiet. Many of them, like Pierrelatte,
looked so poor. The streets were dirty and littered. One notices these
things at first, and then forgets them, the air is so clear, the
sunshine so dazzling, the horizons so distinct, the stars so bright.

Much of the country is barren and rocky. But the rocks as well as the
ruins have a rich, golden brown color from being steeped for centuries
in this bright southern sun. The people are romantic, impractical, happy
in their poverty, singing amid grinding routine. They have their own
dialect, which is very musical. Even the names of their towns and cities
are full of music, for example, Montélimar, Avignon, Carcassonne. The
country, with its Roman ruins, its bright sun, its rich color, its
laughter, and song, is like another Italy. Nowhere except in that land
do we come so close to the great things of Roman antiquity.

We reached the Grand Hôtel in Avignon at nightfall, but dined outside
that we might the better observe the life of the people. The sweet voice
of an Italian street singer made it easy for us to imagine ourselves
under the skies of Florence or Naples. Avignon is the most Italian
looking city in France.

[Illustration: _The Palace of the Popes at Avignon_ _Page 91_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

The following morning was devoted to rambling. Sometime we must spend a
week in this interesting walled city on the Rhone, where the popes lived
between 1305 and 1377 in the huge palace that resembles a fortress. If
there were nothing to Avignon but its high mediæval walls and watch
towers, the place would be worth a long pilgrimage. These gray ramparts,
apparently new, were actually built in the fourteenth century. What a
picture they gave us of stormy feudal times, when even the Church was
compelled to seek safety behind strong walls!

The Palais des Papes is a colossal structure. We have forgotten what
pope it was who was besieged here for years by a French army, and then
escaped by the postern; it does not matter. The palace walls looked high
and thick enough to defy all attack. The scenes of vice and profligacy
during this period must have rivaled the court life of an ancient Roman
emperor. There was one pope, John XXII, who in eighteen years amassed a
fortune of eighteen million gold florins in specie, not to mention the
trifling sum of seven millions in plate and jewels. Perhaps it was just
as well for the popes of that time that the walls of their fortress
towers were high and thick.

Above the palace of the popes and the adjoining cathedral is the
Promenade des Doms, a public garden. We followed one of the paths that
led along the edge of a high precipice. This view is one of the sights
of Avignon. It embraces the valley of the Rhone, the swiftest river in
France. The rapid current winds and disappears. Nearly opposite, on the
other shore, is the village of Villeneuve. It is desolate enough now,
with no trace of the beautiful villas which the cardinals built and
where they were wont to revel amid luxury after the day's duties at the
palace. Beyond the town we could see the stately towers of Fort St.
André, in that early period a frontier fortress of France, so jealous of
the growing power of the papacy. Most appealing of all, was the broken
bridge of St. Benezet, resisting with its few remaining arches the
hastening Rhone. Above one of the piers is the little Chapel of St.
Nicholas. The bridge is a romantic relic of the gay life of Avignon when
the city was the refuge of the popes. Daudet, in his _Lettres de mon
Moulin_, tells us that the streets were too narrow for the _farandole_,
so the people would place the pipes and tambourine on the bridge and
there, in the fresh wind of the Rhone, they would dance and sing.

[Illustration: _The ruined bridge of St. Benezet at Avignon_ _Page 92_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

    "Sur le pont d'Avignon, l'on y danse, 'on y danse;
    Sur le pont d'Avignon, l'on y danse tous en rond."

The distance to Nîmes was so short that we decided to motor there for
lunch, see the vast Roman amphitheater and the world-famous Maison
Carrée, and then push on to Montpellier, where we planned to spend the
night and perhaps remain for a day or so.

The ride was more memorable for the oppressive heat than for any
particular charm of scenery. It was noon when we crossed the river and
looked back for a last view of the huge Palais des Papes. The sun blazed
upon the white road, which quivered like white heat. There were few
trees. The engine hood was so hot that we could not touch it. It would
not have surprised us if one tire, or all of them, had burst; they
probably would have done so if we had gone much farther. The glare was
so intense that we entirely overlooked the little _octroi_ station on
the edge of the town. We, however, were not overlooked. Some one was
shouting and waving a hundred yards behind us. It was not inspiring to
back slowly through our own dust to convey the valuable information that
we carried nothing dutiable. Of course, at a time like this, the engine
refused to start. After vigorously "cranking" for a quarter of an hour,
and suffering all the sensations of sunstroke, we moved on to the Hôtel
du Luxembourg for _déjeuner_.

Among our recollections of the lunch at this hotel were the ripe, purple
figs. There is no reason why we should confess how quickly this
delicious fruit disappeared. Farther north, in Berlin, such figs would
have been a luxury, and might have appeared for sale at a fancy price in
some store window. In Nîmes they were served as a regular part of the
lunch. We could almost have traced our trip southward by the fruits that
were served us from time to time.

[Illustration: _The Maison Carrée at Nimes_ _Page 95_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

The broad boulevards and shady avenues of Nîmes form a small part of the
attractions of this prosperous city. There are fine theaters and cafés,
especially the cafés with tables and chairs extending into the streets
to accommodate the crowds of thirsty patrons. It was pleasant to be a
part of this typically French environment, to watch this group or that,
with their gestures, shrugging of shoulders, laughter, and rapid
conversation. Many phases of French life pass before so advantageous an
observation point.

But Nîmes is not simply a modern city. Nowhere else in France, not even
in Orange, does one get a clearer idea of what the splendor of Roman
civilization must have been. _Provincia_ was a favorite and favored
province of the empire; Nîmes was the center of provincial life. For
five centuries the different emperors took turns in enriching and
embellishing it. We visited the Maison Carrée, most perfect of existing
Roman temples, inspected the gateway called the Porte d'Auguste, looked
up at the Tour Magne, a Roman tower, saw the remains of the Roman baths,
and then made our way to the amphitheater, smaller than the Colosseum
but so wonderfully preserved that you simply lose track of the
centuries. The great stones, fitting so evenly without cement, have that
same rich, golden brown color, the prevailing color tone of Provençe. We
entered the amphitheater through one of many arcades, the same arcades
through which so many generations of toga-clad Romans had passed to
applaud the gladiatorial combats. Now the people go there to see the
bull fights which are held three or four times a year. On that
particular afternoon a large platform had been erected for the orchestra
in the middle of the arena. Open-air concerts are very popular in Nîmes
during the summer.

It was something of a shock to pass from these scenes of Roman life by a
jump into a motor car--the amphitheater illustrating the grandeur of
Rome's once imperial sway, the motor car symbolizing the spirit of our
rushing modern age. The contrast was startling.



CHAPTER VI

NÎMES TO CARCASSONNE


There was abundance of time to arrive in Montpellier before dark, so we
let the speedometer waver between thirty and thirty-five kilometers. The
road was hardly a model of smoothness. We were not always enthusiastic
about the roads in the Midi. On the whole, they were not much more than
average, and not so good as we had expected to find them after that
first experience on the Route Nationale to Chambéry. Where there was a
bad place in the road we usually saw a pile of loose stones waiting to
be used for repair, but many of these piles looked as though they had
been waiting a long time. The roads are apparently allowed to go too
long before receiving attention. Owing to the increasing amount of heavy
traffic, the deterioration in recent years has been more rapid than
formerly. In some of the provinces, like Touraine, there were short
stretches of roadway in urgent need of repair. With conditions as they
now are, the money voted by the government is insufficient to keep up
the standard of former years. England now expends more than twice as
much per mile as France, but while the French roads are in danger of
losing to England the supremacy they have so long enjoyed, we cannot
state too clearly that, taken as a whole, they are still the finest on
the Continent. It is probable that the present signs of decadence are
only temporary. The government is fully alive to the needs of the hour.
In all probability the movement headed by President Poincaré more fully
to open up the provinces to motor-tourist travel will have a good effect
upon road conditions.

It would be hard to find a small French city which makes such a pleasant
first impression as Montpellier; there is such an atmosphere of culture.
One does not need to be told that this is a university town. Municipal
affairs seem to be well regulated; the _hôtel de ville_ would do credit
to a much larger city. We discovered an open-air restaurant located upon
an attractive _place_. The _garçon_, after receiving a preliminary
_pourboire_, served us so well that we returned there the next day.

Everybody who visits Montpellier will remember the Promenade de Peyrou
which rises above the town. The scenic display is great. Only a few
miles away, and in clear view, tosses the restless Mediterranean. The
prospect made us realize how far south we had come since the starting of
our tour from Berlin. Another interesting bit of sight-seeing in the
neighborhood is the Jardin des Plantes, a remarkable botanical garden
which was founded as far back as 1593 by Henry IV, and is said to be the
oldest in France.

Whatever the indictment against French roads in the Midi, the stretch
from Montpellier to Carcassonne was above reproach. Much of the way it
was the French highway at its best. Wide-spreading trees arched our
route. We would have been speeding every foot of the distance if the
beautiful scenery had not acted as a constant brake. For a little way we
ran close to the sea. The fresh salt breeze fanned our faces. It was a
rare glimpse of the Mediterranean. This enchanting scene lasted but a
moment, for the road swerved into the great vineyards of the Midi, an
Arcadian land of peace and plenty, the home of a wine industry
celebrated since Roman times. As far as the eye could reach, nothing but
these green waves that billowed and rolled away from either side of the
road. There was a touch of fall in the air, a glint of purple amid the
green. Ripening suns and tender rains had done their work. The road led
through Béziers, bustling center of preparations for the harvest. On
several occasions we passed a wagon loaded with wine casks so large that
three horses with difficulty drew it. The capacity of those huge casks
must have been thousands of gallons.

At Béziers we could have taken the direct route to Toulouse, but then we
would have missed seeing Carcassonne, the most unique architectural
curiosity in France and perhaps in the whole world. Our roundabout
course brought us to Capestang, a scattered peasant village inhabited by
laborers in the vineyards. The luxuries and even the ordinary
conveniences seemed far away from these homes. The shutters consisted of
nothing but a couple of boards bolted or nailed together and clumsily
working on a hinge. It was a region of flies; certainly they had
invaded the little inn where we lunched. A heavy green matting tried
ineffectually to take the place of a screen door, and let in thousands
of unbidden guests. Under these circumstances our lunch was a hasty one.
As the noontide heat was too great to permit a start, we gladly accepted
the invitation of our _hôtesse_ to see the church. The cool interior
induced us to prolong our acquaintance with the sacred relics and to
admire with our guide a statue of St. Peter whose halo had become
somewhat dimmed by the dust of centuries.

The afternoon's ride to Carcassonne was in the face of a strong wind. It
was our first experience with the mistral, a curious and disagreeable
phenomenon of Provençe. There was no let-up to the storms of dust it
swept over us. There were no clouds; simply this incessant wind that
hurled its invisible forces against the car, at times with such violence
that we were almost standing still. A heavy rainstorm would have been
preferable; at least we would not then have been so blinded by the dust.
Occasionally the shelter of the high hills gave a brief respite from
the choking gusts.

All at once we forgot about the wind. In full view from the road was a
hill crowned by the towers and ramparts of a mediæval city, a marvelous
maze of battlements, frowning and formidable as if the enemy were
expected any moment. We rode on to _la ville basse_, the other and more
modern Carcassonne, a little checkerboard of a city with streets running
at right angles and so different from the usual intricate streets of
mediæval origin. Securing rooms at the Grand Hôtel St. Bernard, we
hastened back, lest in the meantime an apparition so mirage-like should
have disappeared. The first view of this silent, fortified city makes
one believe that the imagination has played tricks. There is something
fairy-like and unreal in the vision. It seems impossible that so
majestic a spectacle could have survived the ages in a form so perfect
and complete.

Carcassonne had always been one of our travel dreams. From somewhere
back in high-school days came the memory of a French poem about an old
soldier, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars, who longed to see _la cité_.
One day he started on his pilgrimage, but he was sick and feeble. His
weakness increased, and death overtook him while the journey was still
unfinished. He never saw Carcassonne. Since that time we had wondered
what kind of place it was that had made such an impression upon the
French writers, and induced the French government to make of it a
_monument historique_.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The castle and double line of fortifications at Carcassonne_ _Page
103_]

At that moment, as we climbed the hill, the past seemed more real than
the present. We looked for armored knights upon the wall, and listened
for the rattle of weapons, the sharp challenge of the sentry. Crossing
the drawbridge over the deep moat, we were conducted by the _gardien_
along the walls and through the fighting-towers, great masses of masonry
that had known so often the horrors of attack and siege. In this double
belt of fortifications there were sentinel stations and secret tunnels
by which the city was provisioned in time of war. Here, was a wall that
the Romans had built; there, a tower constructed by the Visigoths; and
all so well preserved, as if there were no such thing as the touch of
time or the flight of centuries. Other places, like Avignon, show the
military architecture of the Middle Ages, but it is the work of a single
epoch. The defenses of Carcassonne show all the systems of military
architecture from Roman times to the fourteenth century. Nowhere in the
world can be found such a perfect picture of the military defenses of
the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. The walls and the huge
round towers tell their own thrilling tales of Roman occupation, of
Visigothic triumph, and of conquering Saracen. Then we could understand
why the old French soldier longed to see Carcassonne, and why tourists
from all over the world include the city in their itinerary of places
that must be visited.

From our lofty observation point on the ramparts there was visible a
great range of country, the slender windings of the river Aude, the
foothills of the Pyrenees, and the vague summits of the Cévennes. We
followed a silent grass-grown street to the church of St. Nazaire. It
was beautiful to see the windows of rare Gothic glass in the full glow
of the setting sun. Such burning reds, such brilliant blues and purples!
"_C'est magnifique comme c'est beau._" A French family was standing near
us. Before leaving the church, we looked back. They were still under the
spell of that glory of color.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The walled city of Carcassonne_]

There may have been an elevator in the Grand Hôtel St. Bernard, but we
were not successful in locating it. In a general way, this modest
hostelry was of the same type which one finds in most of the small
French cities like Valence and Avignon. We were of course greatly
interested in gathering and comparing impressions of provincial hotel
life. This was particularly interesting in a country like France, where
the provinces with their rural and small-town life represent to such a
marked degree the nation as a whole. It is always an instructive
experience to discover how other countries live, and to compare their
standard of living with our own. The hotel life of any country, if we
keep away from fashionable tourist centers, usually gives an
illuminating insight into the customs of that people. We had often
noticed that the French are indifferent to matters relating to domestic
architecture. So long as the kitchen performs its functions well, so
long as the quality of the cuisine is above criticism, it does not
matter if the rooms are small and gloomy or if the architect forgets to
put a bathroom in the house. The Frenchman likes to dine well. The café
ministers to his social life. But with these important questions settled
to his satisfaction, he is not inclined to be too exacting about his
domestic environment.

If we keep in mind these general observations, it will be easier for us
to understand the defects and advantages of the French provincial hotel.
Most of the hotels where we passed the night would not begin to compare,
in many ways, with the hotels to be found in American towns of the same
size. We noticed a characteristic lack of progressiveness in so many
respects. It was exceptional to find running hot and cold water. The
corridors were narrow and gloomy, the electric light poor for reading.
If there was an elevator, it usually failed to work. Bathing facilities
were on the same primitive scale. The attractions of the writing room
were conspicuous for their absence. In France it is usually the writing
room that suffers most; either it is a gloomy, stuffy chamber, more
fitted to be a closet than a place for correspondence, or else located
with no idea of privacy, and in full view of everyone coming in and
going out. There were no cheerful lounging or smoking rooms. Had it been
winter, the heating facilities would probably have left much to be
desired, and we might often have repeated our experience at the Hôtel
Touvard in Romans. It was January, and very cold. Arriving early in the
afternoon, we found that our rooms had absorbed a large part of the
frigidity of out-of-doors. Complaints were fruitless. We were informed
that it was not the custom of the hotel management to heat the rooms
before seven o'clock in the evening.

In our selection of hotels we followed the advice contained in the
excellent _Michelin Guide_, which has a convenient way of placing two
little gables opposite the names of hotels above the average. While
they were not pretentious, the quality of service was surprisingly good.
We could always get hot water when we wanted it. The _maître de l'hôtel_
was always on the alert to render our stay as comfortable as possible,
and to give us any information to facilitate sight-seeing. Most of the
hotels had electric lights, such as they were; the bedrooms were clean
and comfortable, the cuisine faultless. If it be true that one pays as
high as two francs for a bath, that is because bathing among the French
is more of the nature of a ceremony than a habit. As for the small and
neglected writing room, we must remember that in France the café usurps
that function of the American hotel. This is a national custom. How the
Frenchman lives in his café! Here he comes before lunch for his
_aperitif_, to discuss business or politics, to write letters, to read
the newspapers and play games, to enjoy his _tasse de café_ after lunch,
and in summer to while away the drowsy hours of the early afternoon
while listening to open-air music.

It was pleasant to meet in Carcassonne two American students from
Joliet, Illinois, who were making a long European tour on "Indian" motor
cycles. One of them had received not less than six punctures the
preceding day and was awaiting in Carcassonne the arrival of another
tire. He was beginning to be a little doubtful about the perfect joys of
motor cycling on the French roads. Neither of them spoke French, but
their resourceful American gestures had up to that point extricated them
from situations both humorous and annoying.



CHAPTER VII

CARCASSONNE TO TARBES


Our ride toward Toulouse led us steadily into southwestern France and
nearer the Pyrenees. From time to time the landscape, with its fields of
fodder corn, was peculiarly American. The illusion never lasted long; a
château appeared on a distant hill, or a sixteenth-century church by the
roadside, and we were once more in Europe, with its ancient architecture
and historical association, with its infinite change of scenery and
life.

Our trip never grew monotonous. There was always the element of the
unexpected. For instance, in the village of Villefranche we rode into
the midst of a local _fête_. Banners overhung the road; flags were
flying from the windows; ruddy-cheeked girls in gay peasant dress were
practicing in the dusty street a rustic two-step or _farandole_ in
preparation for the harvest dance.

While entering Toulouse we narrowly escaped disaster. It was not late,
but our depleted funds made it necessary to reach a bank before closing
time. Suddenly a bicycle rider shot out from a cross street. There was a
"whish" as we grazed his rear wheel. The infinitesimal fraction of an
inch means a good deal sometimes.

We were too late; the banks were closed. The next day was a business
holiday, and the following day was Sunday. Our letter-of-credit would
not help us before Monday. But as luck would have it, we were able to
discover and fall back upon a few good American express checks. Our
hotel, the Tiviolier, gave us a poor rate of exchange, but almost any
exchange would have looked good at that poverty-stricken moment.

Toulouse, the flourishing and lively capital of Languedoc, is a city of
brick still awaiting its Augustus to make of it a city of marble. The
old museum must have been a splendid monastery. We dined in three
different restaurants, and fared sumptuously in them all. The
_cassoulet_ of Toulouse was so good that we tried to order it in other
towns. The experiences of the day very fittingly included a trolley ride
along the banks of the famous Canal du Midi, and a visit to the
remarkable church of St. Sernin, considered the finest Romanesque
monument in France.

It would have been difficult not to make an early start the next
morning, the air was so keenly exhilarating. The usually turbid Garonne
revealed limpid depths and blue skies as we crossed the bridge. The road
dipped into a valley and then, ascending, spread before us imposing
mountain ranges. The Pyrenees were in sight; every mile brought them
nearer. The name was magical. It suggested landscapes colorful and
lovely, strange types of peasant dress, songs that had been sung the
same way for centuries, exquisite villages that had never been awakened
by the locomotive's whistle. Range retreated behind range into
mysterious cloud realms. The road was like a _boulevard Parisien_ under
the black bars of shadow cast by the poplar trees.

At St. Gaudens, where we stopped before the Hôtel Ferrière for lunch, an
American party was just arriving from the opposite direction. There were
three middle-aged ladies and a French chauffeur who did not appear to
understand much English. The question of what they should order for
lunch was evidently not settled. One of them wished to order _potage St.
Germain_. Another thought it would be better to have something else for
a change, since they had partaken of _potage St. Germain_ the preceding
day. The remaining member of the party was sure it would be nicer if
they saved time by all ordering the same thing, but did not suggest what
that should be. The chauffeur, who looked hungry and cross, merely
contributed a long-suffering silence to the conversation.

[Illustration: _The Pyrenees were in sight_ _Page 112_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

Leaving our car in the garage and our sympathy with the unfortunate
chauffeur, we went in to give appreciative attention to a well-served
ménu. So long as we remained in France we never failed to order
sardines. There is a certain quality and delicacy about the flavor of
the French sardine which one misses outside of that country. Coffee was
served outside, under the trees in front of the hotel, where we could
watch the life of the road. St. Gaudens is on the main highway passing
through the Pyrenees to Cannes and Nice on the Riviera. It is also the
central market for the fine cattle of the Pyrenees, and for their sale
and distribution to other parts of France and the outside world. We
could see them swaying lazily along the road, big, powerful creatures
with wide horns and glossy skin.

Descending from St. Gaudens into the plain, we shot along the highway to
Montréjeau, where there was a steep ascent through this bizarre little
town, very Italian looking with its arcaded streets, red roofs, and
brightly painted shutters. Then the moors of a high plateau swept by us
until we darted downward and curved for several miles through a
beautiful wooded valley.

One of the front tires was evidently in trouble. It was our first
puncture in more than thirteen hundred miles of motoring, not a bad
record when one considers the frequency of such accidents on European
roads, where the hobnails of peasants lie in ambush at every turn. We
halted by the side of the road, to put on a fresh tire, refusing many
offers of assistance from passing cars.

An unusual reception awaited us near Tournay. The whole barnyard family
had taken the road for their private promenade. There were a couple of
mules, some goats, half a dozen geese, and a large white bull. He was a
savage looking brute as he stood facing us and angrily pawing the
ground. It did not add to our composure when a gaunt collie, awakened by
the noise, came snarling up to the car. At this eventful moment, the
engine stopped running. No one of us was in a hurry to alight and "crank
up." The barnyard clamor would have rivaled the well-known symphony of
the Edison Phonograph Company of New York and Paris. At last a peasant
appeared. He whistled to the dog and succeeded in driving the bull to
one side, so that we could edge by to less dangerous scenes.

The standard of living in these mountain communities is not high. We saw
one farmhouse where the goats moved in and out as if very much at home
and on the same social footing as their peasant owners. A mile farther
on, we were spectators at a dance which the peasants were giving along
the roadside. There was an orchestra of two violins and a cornet,
enthroned upon a wooden platform brightly decorated with flags and
flowers. A dozen couples were dancing up and down the road. Wooden shoes
were all the style. This unique ballroom floor impressed us as being
rather dusty. Steepsided valleys yawned in quick succession. There were
views of the snowy Pyrenees. On the side of a mountain we caught a
moment's glimpse of Tarbes in the plain.

The Grand Hôtel Moderne was a happy surprise. The elevator actually
worked, and the running hot and cold water was a boon delightful to find
after these dusty mountain roads. Tarbes is chiefly interesting for its
great horse-breeding industry. Barère, the regicide, described by
Macaulay as coming "nearer than any person mentioned in history or
fiction, whether man or devil, to the idea of consummate and universal
depravity," was born here in 1755. Tourist traffic has found Tarbes to
be a convenient stopping place on the through route from Biarritz on the
Atlantic to the winter resorts of the Mediterranean shores, and also a
natural center for excursions to the Pyrenees. We remained in Tarbes
an extra day to make the trip to Lourdes, the tragic Mecca for
increasing thousands of Catholic pilgrims.

[Illustration: _Ice peaks of the Pyrenees_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

A short half-hour's ride and then Lourdes, without doubt one of the most
dismal and melancholy places in the world. We are certain that nothing
would ever draw us there again. For many, the trip is a pilgrimage of
faith; others go from curiosity; but for so many suffering thousands the
miraculous spring at Lourdes is the goal of anxious hopes. They gather
from all parts of France, from England, Scotland, and Ireland, and even
from distant parts of Europe. Last year there were over six hundred
thousand visitors. Around us, on that afternoon, we saw the sick and the
dying. Some were hobbling along on crutches, others walking helplessly
with sightless eyes. Many were being carried on stretchers, and there
were sights that we would rather not mention. It seemed as if all the
diseases to which mortal humanity is heir were represented in that
pathetic throng. The following newspaper account describes the
pilgrimage which left Paris in August, 1913:

"The great Austerlitz Railway station in Paris presented a strange and
terrible scene--and above all, a distressingly pitiful one--yesterday
afternoon, when the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes set forth on the long
journey to the little Pyrenean village. During last night thirty-three
special long trains converged on Lourdes from every quarter of France.
Every train ran slowly because of the many sick people on board. And
this morning all the trains will reach their destination and will
discharge their pilgrims at the station near the shrine.

"From two to four o'clock, the greater part of the Austerlitz station
was given up entirely to the pilgrims. The railway servants withdrew,
and their places were taken by hundreds of saintly faced Little Sisters
of the Assumption, and brave men of all ages and all ranks in life, all
wearing the broad armlet that denoted their self-sacrificing service to
the sick and helpless. One by one, on stretchers, in bath chairs, over a
thousand suffering people, men and women of all ages, youths and little
children, entered the great hall of the station.

"Each, as he or she is brought in, is laid upon a bench transformed
into an ambulance, to await the departure of the train. A silence that
is almost oppressive falls upon the usually noisy station; people speak
in whispers, and move with silent feet.

"Then the train--the long white train for the _grands malades_--moves
softly in to the platform, and each poor human parcel is gently convoyed
to its allotted place. Eventually, the long task is over, and then came
the last moving ceremony. The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris passed slowly
down the train and blessed the sick within it. A moment after, without a
whistle or a sound, the long white train moved out.

"Eight other equally long trains followed, the last bearing at the rear
the Red Cross flag."

We watched the procession forming to move toward the sacred miraculous
spring, such a sad procession,--the halt, the maimed, and the blind, who
had come, many of them, thousands of miles to bathe in the icy waters
and be healed. Attendants passed us, carrying a sick man on a stretcher;
the eyes were closed, the features white and fixed. We saw a mother
clasping a sick child; she also joined the slow, pitiful procession.
Where will you find such a picture of human suffering! It was all like
the incurable ward of a vast open-air hospital.

The fame of Lourdes dates back to 1858, when a little village girl,
fourteen years old, named Bernadette Soubirons, said that she had seen
and talked with the Virgin. This happened several times. Each time the
Virgin is said to have commanded the child to tell others, and to have a
church built above the spring, since its waters were to have miraculous
powers of healing. Crowds went with her to the grotto, but she was the
only one who saw anything. The Bishop of Tarbes believed in her visions.
The fact that the child was "diseased, asthmatic, and underfed," and
also that "she was not particularly intelligent," did not make any
difference. Pope Pius X issued a Bull of endorsement. A basilica was
built above the grotto, and from that time the thousands kept coming in
increasing numbers every year.

We noticed that not all of the visitors to Lourdes had come on a
pilgrimage of faith. Everywhere one sees signs with large letters
warning against pickpockets. The evidence of business enterprise was
also unmistakable. There were large hotels; one long street was devoted
to bazaars for selling pious mementos; the windows of many shops
contained tin cans of all sizes for sale, these to be filled with
Lourdes water. The many advertisements of Lourdes lozenges, made from
Lourdes water, and the women dressed in black, sitting at the gates of
the garden and selling wax candles, all helped to give the place an
atmosphere of commercial enterprise.



CHAPTER VIII

TARBES TO BIARRITZ


From Tarbes the road climbed a high hill above the city and then flung
its marvelous coils through the mountains to Pau, that fashionable
English resort where the Pyrenees can be seen marshaling their peaks in
such grandeur. The country around Pau looked very English. There were
neat villages with high-pitched roofs, spreading trees, and a feeling of
repose in the scenery very characteristic of the large English estate.
With almost fantastic suddenness, the landscape changed. Peasant houses
showed traces of Spanish influence. We saw no horses; plows and country
carts were drawn by bullocks. Such fine looking cattle of the Pyrenees,
hundreds of them! It seemed at least every few minutes that a new drove
crowded in confusion down the road or across it, and made it very
difficult for us to get through. There were many bulls. One hears so
many exciting tales about the savage bulls of the Pyrenees that we were
prepared for an attack at almost any time.

If any one would like to make sure of having an eventful experience, we
suggest that he motor through the Pyrenees in a red car. Other motor
cars kept the dust clouds flying. At one railway crossing we counted ten
automobiles waiting for the bar to be lifted.

A score of hungry motorists were lunching in the village inn of Orthez
when we arrived. One of them, a Frenchman, told us by all means to see
the curious fortified bridge that crosses the Gave in this village.
"_C'est très curieux. C'est quelque chose à voir!_" The ruin, with the
high stone tower in the middle of the bridge, is a thrilling relic of
the religious wars. One can see the tower window through which the
unfortunate priests and friars were forced by the Protestants to leap
into the rapid stream. Those who breasted the strong current were killed
as they climbed out on the banks.

Bayonne was calling us. Our speedometer registered the kilometers so
quickly that there were fully two hours of daylight to spare when we
crossed the long bridge over the Adour in search of the Grand Hôtel. One
street led us astray, and then another, until we were in the suburbs
before discovering our mistake. It was a fortunate mistake, for we were
here favored with a view of the fortifications of Bayonne and the
ivy-covered ruin of Marrac, the château where Napoleon met the Spanish
king Ferdinand and compelled him to renounce the throne in favor of his
brother Joseph. It is one of the strange turnings of history that the
same city where Joseph was proclaimed King of Spain should have
witnessed, six years later, the downfall of his hopes.

Our return search was more successful. We found the Grand Hôtel, and
then were half sorry that we had found it. The hotel was crowded, the
only _chambre_ placed at our disposal not large enough for two people.
An extra cot had been put in to meet the emergency. The room was gloomy,
and opened on a stuffy little court. Many repairs were under way, so
that the appearance of the hotel was far from being at its best. Had it
not been raining heavily we would have gone on to Biarritz; but the
torrents were descending. For one night we submitted to the inevitable
and to the inconvenience of our cramped quarters. On descending, we
noticed other tourists still arriving. Possibly these new victims were
stowed away in the elevator or in the garage.

Our stay in Bayonne was, under the circumstances, not long, but long
enough for us to become acquainted with the _jambon delicieux_ and the
_bonbons_ for which the city is so well known. After paying our
_compte_, including a garage charge of two francs,--the first which we
had paid since leaving Chambéry,--we covered the few remaining
kilometers to Biarritz, stopping _en route_ to pick up ten liters of
gasoline in order to avoid the more extravagant prices of that
playground for Europe's royalty and aristocracy. The choicest feature of
our rooms at the Hôtel Victoria was the splendid outlook upon the
Atlantic and its ever-changing panorama of sky and sea. The Spanish
season was in full swing. There is always a season in the golden curve
of Biarritz's sunny sands. The Spanish invasion during the hot summer
months is followed by that of the French, when Parisian beauties
promenade in all the voluptuous array of costly toilettes. For a couple
of months, Paris ceases to be the proud capital of French animation and
gayety. During the winter, the place takes on the appearance of an
English colony; and the Russian royal family has made spring a
fashionable time for the invasion from that country.

The charm of Biarritz is irresistible. It is easy to see why Napoleon
III made it the seat of his summer court and built the Villa Eugénie,
which has since become the Hôtel du Palais. If one searched the whole
coast line of Europe, it would be hard to find a spot so rich in natural
beauty. The sea has such wide horizons; no matter how calm the weather,
the snowy surges are always rolling on the Grande Plage. Other smaller
beaches alternate with rugged, rocky promontories. The coast line is
very irregular, full of arcades, caverns, and grottoes. At sunset, when
the wind falls and the air is clear, the coast of Spain appears, the
mountains respond to the western glow, and the low cadence of the waves
makes the scene too wonderful for words.

We always looked forward to the morning plunge into the cool breakers.
Eleven o'clock was the popular hour. Then the Plage was covered with
brilliant tent umbrellas. There were the shouts of the bathers as the
green, foaming combers swept over them. The beach was a kaleidoscope of
color and animation. Dark-eyed _señoritas_, carrying brightly colored
parasols and robed in the latest and most original French toilettes,
walked along the shore. The Spanish women are very fond of dress, and
especially of anything that comes from Paris. Often the breeze would
sweep aside their veils of black silk, and show their powder-whitened
faces. French girls, daintily gowned and with complexions just as
"artistic," were busy with delicate embroidery. There were Basque
nursemaids whose somber black-and-white checkerboard costumes contrasted
with the latest styles from the gay metropolis. All types were there,
from the portly German who adjusted his monocle before wading into the
frothy brine, to the contemplative Englishman who smoked his pipe while
watching the animated scenes around him. Where will one find a more
cosmopolitan glimpse of fashionable Europe in the enjoyment of a summer
holiday! After the plunge comes the drying off on the warm sands, or
the walk, barefooted and in bathrobe, along the Plage; then lunch in the
casino restaurant above the sea, while an Italian orchestra plays music
that one likes to hear by the ocean. For our _tasse de café_ we would
choose one of the cafés along the crowded avenue Bellevue. What a
display of wealth and fine motor cars!

[Illustration: _The Grande Plage at Biarritz_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

On one of these occasions we saw the young King of Spain stop his
Spanish car before one of the stores. He was bareheaded, and was driving
his own car. One of his officers sat with him. The king is a keen
sportsman, and motoring is one of his favorite diversions. Under the
reign of this popular and aggressive young monarch there ought to be
great progress in the improvement of the Spanish roads and in the
opening of Spain's scenic wealth to the tourist world. Toward the close
of the afternoon every one went to the beautiful casino to enjoy the
concert and _une tasse de thé_, and then later in the evening to watch
the brilliant spectacle of dress and gayety.

The interesting places around Biarritz are part of its attraction. If we
had stayed there for months, there could have been an excursion for
each day. Placed beside the ocean, at the foot of the Pyrenees, close to
the Spanish frontier and amid the fascinating Basque country where the
people have retained all their primitive ways and quaint dress, Biarritz
makes an ideal center for one-day trips. The excursion which we enjoyed
most was to the Spanish resort of San Sebastian, a modern seaside town
where the king and queen pass the summer in their splendid Villa
Miramar.



CHAPTER IX

A DAY IN SPAIN


There is always a thrill about motoring for the first time in a new
country. We had long looked forward to crossing the Spanish frontier and
visiting the summer capital of King Alfonso XIII. It was a ride of about
thirty miles, far too short for one of the most interesting sweeps of
country to be found anywhere in Europe.

There was plenty of variety. This Basque country, forming a triangular
corner of northern Spain and reaching over into France, is full of it.
The people speak a dialect which is as much a puzzle to Spanish as to
French. Until less than half a century ago, they had retained their
independence. Proud of their history, and claiming to be the oldest race
in Europe, they still cling to their language and hold to their ancient
customs, their dances, songs, and pastoral plays. In this region of
valleys and mountains we were always within sight or sound of the sea,
the road approaching a smooth, white beach washed with foam, or sinking
into a quiet valley drowsy with the faint monotone of the waves.

A few miles before reaching Spain is the old seaside town of St.
Jean-de-Luz, once the winter headquarters of Wellington and now buried
in the shade of its venerable trees. The life in this little village of
only four thousand people was not always so simple as it is now. Louis
XIV was a frequent visitor, with his courtiers. One can see the château
where the "Grand Monarque" lodged at the time of his marriage to the
Infanta Marie Thérèse of Spain on June 9, 1660. Another page from this
gorgeous period is the church of St. Jean Baptiste, where the ceremony
took place. Following the Basque custom, the upper galleries are
reserved for the men, while the area below is reserved for the women.

On reaching the Franco-Spanish frontier village of Béhobie a French
officer appeared and, after he had entered the necessary details in his
book, allowed us to cross the bridge over the Bidassoa River into Spain.
This part of the town is called Béhobeia. It is a unique arrangement,
this administration of what is practically one and the same town by two
different countries. Yet the difference between Béhobie and Béhobeia is
as great as the difference between France and Spain. The houses across
the river began to display the most lively colors. It would have been
hard to say whether browns, pinks, blues, or greens predominated. Some
of the people wore blue shoes. Red caps were the style for cab drivers.
Of course we looked around for some of our "castles in Spain," but saw
instead the Spanish customhouse. An official came out, modestly arrayed
in more than Solomon's glory. He wore red trousers, yellow hose, and
blue shoes, and looked as though in more prosperous days he might have
been a _matador_. We had forgotten to bring along a fluent supply of
Spanish. The oversight caused us no inconvenience. French is sufficient
to carry one through any matter of official red tape.

One hears many reports about the difficulty of passing the Spanish
customhouse, the severity of the examination, of the long delays. At our
hotel in Biarritz they told us that the only safe way would be to pay
eight francs to a private company on the French side of the frontier,
and that with the _passavant_ so obtained, together with our
_triptyque_, we would not only secure prompt service but also make this
company responsible for our safety while in Spain. So much solicitude
made us wonder just what percentage of our eight francs would be
received by this hotel proprietor, so we decided to cross the frontier
without the much advised _passavant_.

These warnings proved to be exaggerated. The delay was not greater than
it would have been in France or Germany. The _douaniers_ were,
nevertheless, keenly alert to prevent the smuggling of motor supplies
for purposes of sale in Spain. These articles are much more expensive in
Spain than elsewhere in Europe. The number of our tires was noted, so
that the officials could make sure that we carried the same number of
tires out of the country. Another arrangement, new to us, was the method
of ascertaining how much the gasoline duty would be. The amount of
gasoline in the tank was calculated by depth only and not by capacity.

A hundred fascinating scenes of Spanish country life attracted our
attention. Peasant women, evidently returning from market, bestraddled
patient little donkeys, or walked, balancing on their heads burdens of
various kinds. One of them carried a baby under one arm, a pail filled
with wine bottles under the other, and all the time preserved with her
head the equilibrium of a basket piled several stories high with
household articles. We would not have been greatly surprised to see
another baby tucked away somewhere in the top story. These peasant types
looked bent and worn, their wrinkled faces old from drudging toil in the
fields; they fitted in perfectly with the dilapidated farmhouses. The
country was fertile, with vineyards and cornfields, but a prosperity in
such contrast with the wretched homes of the people. Little donkeys
strained in front of heavily loaded wagons that would have taxed the
strength of a large horse. The ox carts were curious creations, the
wheels being without spokes, as though made from a single piece of flat
board. The small chimneys on the houses resembled those which we had
seen in Italy. We did not see a single plow, not even a wooden one; the
peasants of the Basque country use instead the _laga_, or digging
fork, an implement shaped like the letter "h."

[Illustration: _The ox-carts were curious creations_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

San Sebastian is a clean, fresh-looking city, a place essentially,
almost exaggeratedly, Spanish, with all that gayety and vivid
architecture which one naturally expects to see in a place patronized by
the royal court. It was hopeless to think of finding a place for our car
in any garage. They were all full. This was the day of the bull fight.
From different parts of Spain, as well as from France, motorists had
swarmed in to see the _matadors_ show their skill and daring. In Spain
the people divert themselves at the bull fight very much as we would go
to see a baseball game. We saw motor cars stationed in long files in the
streets.

Leaving our car to stand in the rear of one of these imposing lines, we
strolled down a bright, picturesque street to the Concha. Just as La
Grande Plage represents Biarritz, so the Concha represents San
Sebastian. "Concha" suggests a bay shaped like a shell. The word exactly
describes the beautiful body of water around which the city is built.
Through the narrow channel we could see the waves roll in, contracted
at first, then widening as they sweep down the bay to break on the long,
curving stretch of yellow sand. From the Concha we could see the white
walls of the royal Villa Miramar. The fortress La Mota guarded from its
high elevation the narrow entrance to the harbor. We walked along the
Paseo de la Concha, in the dense shade of tamarisk trees which nearly
encircled the bay. Sitting in chairs under the trees were Spanish girls,
their dark eyes glowing through their black lace veils. The scene was
full of color, completely Spanish, the green of the tamarisks shining
between the golden sands and the white villas which edged the water. We
watched the bathers, haughty dons from Madrid and peasants from Aragon,
for the moment on a level in the joyous democracy of the surf.

After lunching at the Continental Hotel, fronting on the Concha, we
turned our steps in the direction of the amphitheater, where the bull
fight was to take place. The tickets cost twelve _pesetas_ (about $2.40)
apiece. It was not with any anticipation of pleasure that we decided to
watch the Spaniards engage in their national sport. The bull fight is a
combination of a scene from the Chicago stockyards and from an ancient
Roman arena. It is a succession of shivers and thrills, from the first
blast of the trumpet announcing the entry of the _toreadors_ to the
final _estocade_, when the last bull falls dying upon the bloody sand.
Few of the _toreadors_ die a natural death. Connected with the large
amphitheater is the operating room, where the wounded fighters can
receive prompt treatment. We were told that it is customary for them to
receive the sacrament before entering into the arena. Their coolness and
dexterity in sidestepping the mad rushes of the bull are wonderful. But
the moment comes when the bull is unexpectedly quick, when the foot
slips just a little, or when the eye misjudges the precious fraction of
an inch which may mean life or death. We noticed at regular intervals,
around the arena, wooden barriers, placed just far enough from the main
encircling barrier to let the hard-pressed _toreador_ slip in, when
there was no time to vault.

These exhibitions take place all over Spain, and in San Sebastian at
least once a week. There is keen rivalry between Spanish cities over
the skill of their _toreadors_. Bull fighting is not on the decline. The
city of Cordova has just started a school for the training of
professional bull fighters.

When we arrived the amphitheater was crowded to the highest tier of
seats. The vast crowd, impatient, whistled and shouted. Attendants
passed among the spectators, selling Spanish fans painted with
bull-fight scenes. The large orchestra was playing. Suddenly, above the
music and the noise of the crowds, sounded the piercing blast of a
trumpet. The music ceased. The crowd became silent, then cheered and
clapped as doors swung open and two horsemen dashed out and made the
tour of the arena. They were followed by a procession of _toreadors_,
_picadores_, and _banderilleros_, with their attendants. The _picadores_
were armed with long pikes with which to enrage the bull. They were
mounted on wretched skeletons of so-called horses, with one eye
blindfolded. Six bulls were to battle with their tormentors before
finally falling, pierced by the _toreador's_ sword. Three or four horses
are usually killed by each bull. The _banderilleros_ appear in the
second phase of the struggle, after the horses have been killed. They
are on foot. Their work is to face the bull, infuriated by the pikes of
the _picadores_, and to plant in his neck several darts, each over two
feet long and decorated with ribbons. The _toreador_ comes on the scene
the last of all, when the bull, though tired, is still dangerous. It
would be a mistake to imagine that the bulls are spiritless, or have
been so starved that they are weak, without strength, energy, and
courage. These animals that we saw leap into the arena were all
specially bred Andalusian bulls, the very picture of strength and wild
ferocity.

We have no desire to describe in detail the barbarous spectacle which
followed. In front of us sat an American couple. It was the lady's first
bull fight, and when the moment was critical, the scene a gory confusion
of bull, horses, and _picadores_, she would scream and hide her face
behind her fan. In contrast, were the Spanish girls seated around us.
Their faces were whitened more by powder than by emotion. They would
languidly move embroidered fans, or wave them with gentle enthusiasm
when the _banderillero_ planted a daring dart or the _toreador_ thrust
home the death stroke.

There was one moment in that exhibition, however, when even their
hardened indifference to suffering was touched. One of the
_banderilleros_ planted his dart in the neck of the bull, but slipped
while trying to get away from the enraged beast. There was a cry of
horror, a groan of pity from the crowd as the great armed head lifted
its victim and hurled him thirty feet through the air. The man struck
heavily on the sand, moved a little, and then lay motionless. There was
no shouting at that moment. An agony of suspense pervaded the
amphitheater. But the bull was given no opportunity to follow up his
attack; a _toreador_ waved a red cape before his eyes; another dart was
planted in his neck. He turned savagely to face and charge on his new
assailants, who nimbly avoided his rush. The wounded man was carried
from the arena. The enthusiasm and cheers of the crowd were unbounded
when he revived and struggled with the attendants to get back into the
arena.

[Illustration: _The death stroke_

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood]

After all, human nature has changed but little under these southern
skies, so that what the plebeian sought in the gladiatorial combats of
the amphitheater, the Spaniard or Frenchman of to-day seeks and finds in
the bloody scenes of the _course de tauraux_.

We left early to get a start of the rush of motor cars for the French
frontier, but others had done the same thing, so that by the time the
Spanish authorities had stamped our _sortie definitive_, we found the
international bridge filled with cars, all impatiently waiting to take
their turn at the French _douane_. Then amid a whirl of dust and a
blowing of horns, car after car leaped for the homeward flight. Ahead of
us and behind us, cars of every make, motor horns of every variety. The
dust fog was continuous. Every one seemed racing to get out of it. It
was a likely place for an accident. There was the wind-smothered shriek
of a horn as a French racer shot by to lead the exciting procession.
Farther ahead, the road turned sharply, and we stopped to find thirty or
forty cars held up at a railway crossing. One of them was the French
racer; officers were taking her number. It was growing dark, and we
lighted our lamps. Looking back from the summit of a long hill, we could
see the lights of other cars swiftly ascending around the curves. The
wind was rising. Through the twilight came the dull roaring of heavy
surf. A revolving beacon light, appearing and then disappearing,
announced that we were once more in Biarritz.



CHAPTER X

BIARRITZ TO MONT-DE-MARSAN


Our three days in Biarritz had grown to three short weeks before we were
able to break the spell of the alluring Grande Plage and shape our
course in a northeasterly direction, along the foothills of the
Pyrenees, through the picturesque regions of Périgord and Limousin to
Tours and the châteaux country. Bayonne, the fortress city, looked
peaceful enough with its tapering cathedral spires rising above the
great earthen ramparts, now grass-grown and long disused to war. Not far
from Bayonne the road forked; we were in doubt whether to continue
straight on or to turn to the left. A group of workingmen near by ceased
their toil as we drew near to ask for information. The answer to our
question was very different from what we expected. One of them
approached the car, brandishing a scythe in a manner more hostile than
friendly, and asked if we were Germans. This question concerning our
nationality came with all the force of a threat. The restless scythe
cut a nearer airy swath. He had recognized the German make of our car,
and was convinced that we belonged to the hated _nation allemande_. A
German motor car is not the safest kind of an introduction to these
French peasants, especially when the _vin du pays_ has circulated
freely. If appearances counted for anything, this particular peasant was
quite inclined to use his scythe for more warlike purposes than those
for which it was originally intended. But his companions, more peaceably
disposed, seizing him, drew him back from the car and gave us, although
reluctantly, the necessary information.

It was not our first experience of this kind. In France there is a
strong sentiment against Germany. Our German car was often the target
for unfriendly observation. This fierce ill feeling appears to be
increasing. Never since the war of 1870 has there been such a period of
military activity in the two countries. Germany is raising her army to a
total of nearly nine hundred thousand men, at an initial cost of two
hundred and fifty million dollars, and a subsequent annual cost of fifty
million dollars. France has decided to meet these warlike preparations
by keeping under the colors for another year the soldiers whose term of
service would have expired last fall. This measure adds about two
hundred thousand soldiers to the fighting strength of the French army.
This increase of armament involves necessarily the admission of the
increase of suspicion and antagonism.

At such a time of tension and suspense it was for us a rare privilege to
motor through the French provinces, to stop in the small towns and
villages and to hear from the lips of the people themselves an
expression of their attitude toward Germany. Rural France is
conservative; opinions and ideas form slowly, yet there can be no doubt
but that their views represent the sentiment of the French nation which
is so largely agricultural. No feature of our long tour through France
was more instructive than this opportunity to study at first hand the
influences at work to widen the gulf between the two nations. We
conversed with soldiers, officers, peasants in the fields, and casual
French acquaintances whom we met in the cafés and hotels. Every one
admitted the gravity of the situation, and said that nothing short of
the actual shadow of German invasion could have induced France to submit
to the tremendous sacrifices incident to the large increase of the army.

The enthusiasm with which France has consented to the enormous
sacrifices entailed by increasing the army on so large a scale shows how
widespread is the impression of impending conflict. France realizes that
there is only one way to prevent war, and that is to be so strong that
Germany will hesitate to take the fatal step. There have been past
menaces of invasion, and while it is true that Germany has not made war
for over forty years, she has repeatedly threatened it. William I and
Moltke wanted to attack France in 1874 and again in 1875, before she had
recovered from the effects of 1870, to make it impossible for her again
to become a power of the first rank. Russia and England supported
France; Germany drew back to wait for another chance. Professor
Lamprecht, the great German historian, regrets that Germany did not
hurl her armies against France at that time. In the Delcassé crisis of
1905 France was again threatened. We know now that the Morocco
negotiations between France and Germany in 1911 kept Europe on the verge
of war for months.

This movement toward a more vigorous expression of French national
spirit, while gathering strength for the last ten years, actually dates
from the sending of the gunboat _Panther_ to Agadir in 1911. This was
the igniting spark. It was in that moment that the French nation found
itself. The generation that lived through and followed the disastrous
war of 1870 was saddened and subdued. There was little of that spirit of
national self-confidence; politics played a larger role than patriotism.
But now a new generation is to the front. Young France is coming into
power, and the result is a rebirth of self-confidence and aggressiveness
along patriotic lines. It will no longer be possible for Germany to be
successful in a policy of intimidation against France, as she was in the
Congress of Berlin in 1878. The new France is too patriotic, too proud,
too conscious of her own strength, to concede to any unreasonable demand
for economic compensation that Germany or Austria might make.

If there were no other reason for possibility of war, the internal
situation in Germany itself would be enough to place France on her
guard. In spite of Germany's industrial progress, the struggle of the
masses for bread is nowhere more bitter. The intense competition in the
markets of the world, the necessity of paying interest on borrowed
capital, the fact of a vast and rapidly increasing population--all this
spells low wages in a country where taxes are high and where the burdens
of armament are fast becoming unbearable. Such conditions make for
socialism. Already the socialists form the most powerful party in the
Reichstag. The Kaiser wishes peace, but he is, above all, a believer in
monarchical institutions. If socialism continues to spread with its
present rapidity, no one doubts that he would stake Germany's supremacy
in a foreign war in order to unite the nation around him and to divert
the people from their struggle for a more democratic form of
government. A successful war with France would not only mean rich
provinces, a big war indemnity, but it would also mean a new prestige
for the Hohenzollern government, sufficient to carry it through the
socialistic perils of another generation.

In view of these facts, it is not surprising that the French nation
considers a conflict inevitable, and especially when they see the Kaiser
appealing to his already overtaxed and discontented people to make a
supreme sacrifice. With Germany the question is one of economic
existence. She can feed her population for only a fraction of a year.
More and more she finds herself dependent upon rival nations for
foodstuffs and raw materials. She has built up great steel and iron
industries, but the supply of ore in the province of Silesia will be
exhausted, at the present rate of consumption, in about twenty-five
years. Germany will then be totally dependent upon France, Spain, and
Sweden for iron ore. But France has an eighty per cent superiority over
Spain and Sweden in her supply of this material. Her richest mines are
situated in Basse-Lorraine, hardly more than a cannon shot from the
German frontier. By the conquest of a few miles in Lorraine, she would
secure enough iron ore to supply her iron and steel industries for
centuries. A suggestive commentary upon Germany's aggressive plans may
be noted in the German atlas of Steiler. It writes the names of
different countries and their cities in the spelling of each country.
The French cities and provinces are written in French, with the
exception of provinces of Basse-Lorraine, Franche-Comté, and Bourgogne.
These are written in German.

Another force in Germany making for war is the Pan-German League. This
is the war party of the armor-plate factories of the officers of the
army and navy, of a large part of the German press, of the Crown Prince,
of many who have intimate relations with the Kaiser. The spectacular
demonstrations of the Crown Prince in the Reichstag against the too
peaceful policy of the Chancellor at the time of the Morocco
negotiations, the sending of the _Panther_ to Agadir, the enormous
increase of the army and navy in recent years, the arbitrary suppression
of French influence in Alsace-Lorraine, have all been the fruits of its
efforts. There can be no question of the tremendous power of this
organization which is so close to the heart of the Crown Prince. If the
Kaiser should die to-morrow, France might well have reason to distrust
the warlike and impulsive young ruler who would ascend the Hohenzollern
throne. The Crown Prince has recently written a book called _Germany in
Arms_. Its warlike fervor shows how little he is in sympathy with the
emperor's loyalty to peace. What makes the influence of the Crown Prince
all the more dangerous is the great discontent to-day in Germany with
the government's foreign policy "of spending hundreds of millions upon a
fruitless and pacific imperialism."

Added to all these influences which are straining the relations between
France and Germany, is the question of Alsace-Lorraine, for more than
two centuries a French province and ceded to Germany after the
Franco-Prussian War as a part of the price of peace. It is now a
generation and more that Germany has tried to assimilate the province,
but with so little success that to-day the people persist more than ever
in their sympathy with French culture and their hostility toward
Germany. There has been immigration; probably two fifths of the
population are Germans, but the two peoples do not mix. The silent
struggle between two civilizations goes on. The reason for the failure
of German government in Alsace-Lorraine is due to its refusal to
recognize this dual civilization. Alsace is largely French in sympathy;
but instead of letting the people cling to their local customs, Germany
has tried to make them think and speak German, and adopt the German
ways. Instead of enjoying an equality with the other states in the
regulation of local affairs, the province is treated as a vassal state,
the governor being responsible to the Kaiser. Naturally such a system of
government means the continual clash of the two nationalities. The
teaching of French and French history has been almost suppressed in the
schools, and the younger generation compelled to learn German. "But
they are French at heart, and after leaving school return again to the
traditions of their family. After forty years, no music stirs them like
the _Marseillaise_." It is said that the little Alsatian schoolboys,
when on a trip to the frontier, decorate their hats and buttonholes with
the French colors. No one can be long in Strassburg without realizing
the futility of Germany's campaign against French influence. It is true
that there is a certain veneer of German civilization; the policemen
wear the same uniform as the Berlin police; German names appear over the
principal shops; but in the stores and cafés one hears the middle-class
Alsatians speaking French; French clothes, French customs prevail. In a
word, the people, without French support, have gradually become more
French in feeling and in culture than at the moment of annexation. One
effect of this struggle against Germany's brutal and arbitrary policy
has been to start a strong undercurrent of sympathy in France. In many
of the French towns one sees Alsace postcards in the store windows. The
picture on one card was a reproduction of a French painting. A soldier
appears on the lookout in a forest. Not far away is a captive bound to
a tree. He is watching with expectant joy the coming of the soldier. One
can easily guess that the captive is Alsace, the soldier, France. We
might also speak of the petty annoyances practiced by the German
authorities in Alsace upon any one suspected of French sympathy.
Sporting clubs have been dissolved. One reads of French sportsmen who
have been refused permission to rent "shootings." The most recent
measure of oppression gives the governor of the province absolute power
to suppress all French newspapers, as well as all societies supposed to
favor French culture.

This is only a part of the evidence at hand, which gives the impartial
observer reason to believe that the friction of nationalities in Alsace
is the prelude to the larger and more terrible struggle to-day is
regarded in France as inevitable. At the School of Political Science in
the sorbonne at Paris, where the superiority of German methods used to
be accepted without question, it is said the professors can now hardly
mention them, for fear of hostile demonstrations.

This question of Franco-German relations has already overshadowed
Europe. All attempts to promote a more friendly understanding have been
fruitless. Even though the present tension be only temporary, it is very
doubtful if there can be any approach to better relations until Germany
has solved the question of Alsace-Lorraine, abandoning her policy of
rough-shod assimilation, recognizing the existence of a dual
civilization, granting autonomy of local affairs, and welcoming the
province, on an equal footing with the other German states, to the
brotherhood of the empire. With this source of discord removed,
Alsace-Lorraine might become a bond instead of a barrier between France
and Germany. Such a solution, however remote, would be an important step
toward a more auspicious era of friendly feeling, of good faith.
Unfortunately, the Kaiser is opposed to this conciliatory policy. The
fact that Alsace-Lorraine belongs to the empire as a whole, and is
therefore a bond of unity between the German states, makes him unwilling
to disturb the present arrangement and to recognize anything approaching
a dual government in Alsace-Lorraine.

In the light of the above facts, our encounter with the French peasant
was of deep significance. We could see behind it the forces--economic,
political, and sentimental--that are at work to divide France and
Germany. Naturally, we were on the lookout for any incident of this kind
which would give us a clearer view of the great question which is
placing such terrible burdens upon the two countries.

We shall not easily forget our experience in one French town. It was
Sunday evening, and the street was crowded with peasants and artisans.
One of us had stuck in his hat a Swiss feather, such as is commonly worn
in the Tyrol of southern Germany. He purchased a French newspaper, and
after glancing through it, dropped it in the gutter. This harmless act
very nearly involved us in serious trouble. A burly Frenchman, noticing
the feather and taking him for a German, resented the apparently
contemptuous way in which the journal had been thrown in the street.
"_Vous avez insulté la patrie_," he said in a loud voice. Like a flash
the rumor spread in the street that three Germans had insulted
France, and a threatening crowd surrounded us. A restaurant offering the
nearest refuge, we stepped inside to order _une demi-tasse_ and to wait
until the excitement had subsided. The _garcon_ refused to serve us.
Outside, the crowd grew larger. Then a policeman appeared. Upon learning
that we were Americans, he quickly appreciated the humor of the
situation, and explained the misunderstanding to the crowd pressing
around the door. The excitement abated as quickly as it arose, and we
were allowed to continue our walk without further interruption.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_A familiar village scene in provincial France_ _page 157_]

Mont-de-Marsan has little to relieve the monotony of its narrow village
life. We bumped over cobbled streets to the Hôtel Richelieu, securing
pleasant rooms which opened on an attractive little court, enlivened by
a murmuring fountain. Dinner was hardly over when the silence of the
country began to settle along the deserted streets. Such a soporific
environment was sleep-compelling. An alarm clock was not necessary, for
at early dawn the street resounded with a medley of noises, the varied
repertoire of the barnyard,--a hundred of them, in fact. Geese,
chickens, goats, and sheep were all tuning up for the village fair. It
is a mystery how we motored through that maze of poultry and small
wooden stands heaped with fruits, poultry, game, even dry goods--a kind
of open-air department store. The clerks were grizzled peasant women,
some of them eating their breakfast of grapes and dry bread, others
displaying tempting fruit to entice us into a purchase.



CHAPTER XI

MONT-DE-MARSAN TO PÉRIGUEUX


Motoring on to St. Justin, we plunged into an immense forest broken only
now and then by small clearings and extending for nearly sixty miles to
the lumber town of Casteljaloux. Woodland depths shut out the view. Mile
followed mile of dark pines and somber perspective, an endless
succession of dim forest glades. The sappers were at their work, peeling
the bark from the long trunks and attaching small earthenware cups to
catch the resinous gum. The road was so easy and smooth that we did not
find it difficult to take notes. From the lumber yards of Casteljaloux
was blown the fragrant odor of fresh-sawn pine. Bright sunshine flooded
the wide-open country. The freedom of the fields was around us again.
Here and there a maple showed the first gorgeous colors of autumn.

In the enjoyment of these peaceful scenes we ran unexpectedly through an
encampment of French soldiers. The army was getting ready for the
autumn maneuvers. Rifles were stacked, and heavy accouterments deposited
on the grass. There were three or four large Paris omnibuses transformed
into kitchens, motor-propelled and equal to a speed of twenty miles an
hour. Soldiers and officers watched us curiously, almost suspiciously.
Our notebooks were hastily put aside. To be detected taking notes from a
German motor car in a French encampment might have had unpleasant
consequences, or at least subjected us to serious inconvenience. One of
the officers took our number; another "snapped" us with a camera, but
there was no attempt to interfere with our progress.

The infantry wore long blue coats and red trousers. One wonders why the
French army, otherwise so scientifically equipped, should have such
showy uniforms. If France went to war to-morrow, her soldiers would be
at a great disadvantage. These uniforms would be a conspicuous target at
the farthest rifle range. All other modern armies, like those of
Germany, England, or Italy, have adopted the "invisible" field dress.
But in France the colors have not changed from the blue and red of
Napoleon's soldiers. A few years ago the War Minister Berteaux tried to
introduce a uniform of green material. His efforts were without success;
the old color tradition was too strong. A French officer commented as
follows: "The French army is one of the most routine-bound in Europe. In
some things, like flying, we have a lead, because civilians have done
all the preliminary work, but in purely military matters, like uniforms,
officialdom delays reform at every turn. It was not until 1883 that we
gave up wearing the gaiters and shoes of Napoleon's time, and took to
boots like other armies." Even the officers whom we saw from our motor
car were dressed in scarlet and gold, red breeches, and sky-blue tunics
with gold braid.

A little farther on we passed several motor cars filled with French
officers; just behind them came a dozen Berliet trucks of a heavy
military type, loaded with meat and ammunition. These are the times of
motor war. The automobile has revolutionized the old method of food
supply. The long, slow train of transport wagons, unwieldy and drawn by
horses, has been replaced by swift motor trucks. The French army is
unsurpassed in mechanical equipment. No effort has been spared to give
the army the full benefit of technical and scientific improvements. This
year, for the first time, the Paris motor omnibuses are serving as
meat-delivery vans. With this innovation, the army can have fresh meat
every morning, instead of the canned meats of other years. The supply
stations can be, in safety, thirty miles from the front, and yet remain
in effective communication with the troops. France is in grim earnest.
The army is ready and competent. The terrible lessons of the
Franco-Prussian war of 1870 have been learned.

A French officer with whom we conversed on the subject of the French and
German armies, spoke of the superiority of the French artillery over
German guns in the recent Balkan war. He said that the French were
counting upon their great advantage in this respect to offset the German
superiority in numbers. Commenting on the wish of the Kaiser to visit
Paris, he was quite sure that the Kaiser would never repeat the
performance of his grandfather, Emperor William I, and arrive in
Paris at the head of the German army.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_A miracle of Gothic splendor_]

Our lunch in Marmande reminded us of a banquet, but we were not yet
French enough to do full justice to three kinds of meat. France is
essentially a country of fields and gardens. How we looked forward to
every _déjeuner_ and every _dîner_ so bountifully spread with the famous
products of her soil! The cuisine of these small towns would not suffer
in comparison with the hotels of larger cities. One is served more
generously for half the price, and the cooking is just as good.

A delightful succession of little foreign touches brightened the ride
from Marmande,--the sluggish bullock carts, and vineyards interspersed
with tobacco fields, small churches with bell cotes guarded by solemn,
century-old cypress trees; or perhaps it was an old Gothic house or an
ancient gateway with a piece of mediæval wall still clinging to it. In
one village we saw bizarre stores, where the doorway and window were
one. This must be a survival of Roman times, because we had seen the
same thing in Pompeii. We were quickly called back from antiquity,
however, by the cement telegraph poles which lined the road for some
miles. It was a surprise to see such evidence of progress in a region
where the years leave so few traces of their march.

By this time the weather had become the chief topic of conversation. A
storm was swiftly approaching. Tall cypress trees creaked and swayed in
the wind; the dark clouds, nearly above us, shot out murky, ominous
streamers, like the tentacles of a gigantic octopus; a few big drops
fell; then the floodgates burst. The drenching downpour was so sudden
that there was no time to put up the top of the car. A tall tree offered
refuge, but soon each separate leaf had a tiny waterfall of its own.
Fortune did not entirely desert us, for a small farmhouse, near by,
promised a more substantial shelter. It was just the kind of peasant's
home that we had often seen from the roadside: an exterior of rustic
quaintness, built of stone and rough timbers, and artistically framed in
rustic vines and flowers. What would the interior look like? We knocked.
A barefooted peasant woman opened the door. She was surprised to see
three dripping apparitions, apparently swept in by the rage of the
elements, but her invitation to enter could not have been more cordial.
The "_salon_" served the purposes of kitchen, bedchamber, and dining
room. There was no trace of carpet or rug on the cobble-stoned floor.
The heap of straw in the corner did not disclose whether it was for dog
or goat. On the wall hung a cheap color-print of Napoleon. The
hospitable "_Asseyez-vous_" called our attention to a single decrepit
chair. There was not even a wooden table. The rain, pattering down the
chimney, had almost extinguished the blaze in the small open fireplace.
Could anything have been more barren or forlorn! Judging from the
appearance of our _hôtesse_, the bathtub either did not exist or had
long since ceased to figure prominently in the domestic life of the
household. Two other peasant women of the same neglected appearance
entered without knocking. One of them was barefooted; the other would
have been if she had not worn heavy _sabots_. Both of them greeted us,
but their dialect was unintelligible. The sun coming out we said
good-by with all the polite French phrases at our command. The three
peasant women stood in the doorway and waved their ragged aprons till we
disappeared over the hill.

The bridge spanning the Dordogne into cheerful Bergerac showed a town
busy with festal preparation for the coming of President Poincaré. Pine
branches were being wound around telephone poles; festoons of green
decorated the houses; windows were bright with flags; the streets
overhung with arches bearing inscriptions of welcome. We stopped at a
tea shop which was also a _boulangerie_.

It was interesting to discover, from the local papers, that our route
for the next two days was to be part of the itinerary selected by
President Poincaré for his tour through the French provinces.

This trip resulted from the president's desire to know his people
better, to become acquainted with their local life, to visit their
industries, and especially to attract the attention of the motor world
to beautiful and interesting regions of France which had too long been
neglected,--these slumberous small towns of the Dordogne, Limousin and
Périgord, hidden from the broad travel track, rich in local traditions
and peculiarities, wrapped in their old-world atmosphere, surrounded by
exquisite landscapes with marvelous horizons. For these towns, the
president's coming was a big event. Some of them recalled that since the
days of Louis XI no ruler of the state had visited their village.

We were to see Périgueux, with its precious relics of Roman life and of
the Middle Ages; Limoges, noted for its beautiful enamels and the center
of the porcelain industry. It was this part of France, so little visited
even by the French themselves, that President Poincaré chose for his
week of motoring. For him, as well as for us, it was to be a delightful
voyage of discovery.

The twenty-nine miles to Périgueux proved a memorable motor experience.
Much of the way was among steep, tree-covered slopes. No one met us
along the road.

It is surprising how far one can motor in France without seeing any
trace of human life; areas of deserted country are so common; abandoned
farmhouses appear so frequently. The reason lies not alone in the drift
of population to the larger towns and cities, but in the fact that the
French birth rate is failing to hold its own. France, so rich in other
respects, is actually threatened by a decreasing population. In 1911 the
number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 33,800. In the first
third of the last century, when the death rate was much higher than now,
there were six births to every death; in 1871 the ratio had fallen to
two births to each death; in 1901 it was even. If we consider the number
of births per 10,000 inhabitants during the decades of the last century,
we find the series to be an invariably decreasing one--from 323 in 1800
to 222 in 1900. In 1870 Germany and France had each about 38,000,000.
Germany now has over 67,000,000, a gain of 27,000,000 over the present
French population of 39,340,000. France is thus placed at a great
disadvantage in the matter of national defense. If we assume the German
army to be only 750,000 soldiers, there would be one soldier to every 89
inhabitants; France, to have the same army, would be obliged to have one
soldier to every 52 or 53 inhabitants. The fact that the French
soldiers will now be compelled to serve three years in the army, as
compared with two years in Germany, shows how France is now paying the
penalty for neglecting that vital national problem of population.

Our ride to Périgueux gave vivid emphasis to the above figures. There
was little evidence of peasant life. One had the impression of roaming
through a vast, uninhabited country.

From the top of a hill the town, and the valley of the Isle, stretched
beneath us a lovely view; the windings of the river Isle, its bridges
mirrored in the crimson flood. Wooded hills faded slowly into the blue
depths of twilight. The graceful Byzantine _campanile_ and domes of St.
Front reminded us of the church of St. Marks in Venice. Europe has few
more romantic corners. Descending the hill, we motored over the river
and into the town, under arches of electric lights arranged in letters
to spell words of greeting to the president.

The Grand Hôtel du Commerce should have been torn down years ago. It was
a good example of how poor a provincial hotel can be. Even the
recommendation of the Touring Club of France could not make us forget
the musty smells that filled rooms and corridors. We opened wide all the
windows. After a few minutes, the fresh air revived us.

For a place that occupies so little space in the pages of Baedeker,
Périgueux is unique. Numerous remains from the different epochs of
history may be found. The Roman period, the Middle Ages, the
Renaissance, and modern times have all left their imprint. There is the
massive tower of Vesône, once part of a Gallo-Roman temple. The Château
Barrière has one curious feature: a railroad runs through the deep moat
of feudal times. We shall need all our superlatives to describe the
Jardin des Arènes. Where else will you find a public garden laid out on
the site of an ancient Roman amphitheater, keeping the same size, the
same circular form, and even preserving some of the original arches to
admit the modern public? A French journalist once wrote that "even
without its bright sunlight, even without imagination, Périgueux remains
one of the quaintest towns in the world and one of those places which
the French people would visit in crowds if it were situated in another
country." Viewed from a distance, the cathedral of St. Front makes a
striking appearance; the five huge domes might have been transplanted
from St. Sophia of Constantinople.



CHAPTER XII

PÉRIGUEUX TO TOURS


From Périgueux we followed the Isle for some distance before turning to
wind over the hills. It was a region of chestnut trees, the
_marronniers_ for which the province is so celebrated. For miles the
trees formed a stately hedge along both sides of the highway, and groves
of them were in the near distance, their spreading branches reminding us
of English oaks.

The ascent continued to Thivièrs, a tiny village of the Dordogne. One of
the _vieux citoyens_ pointed out the Hôtel de France as the best place
to lunch. "_On mange très bien lábas_," he said. The lunch was a _chef
d'oeuvre_. We had never tasted such _poulet au casserole_ or such
_cotelettes de mouton grillées_. The _lievre_ had a delicious _suc de
viande_ which went well with the _pommes frités_. There was _vin à
discrétion_, and, besides, different kinds of _fromage_ and the French
melons, golden and juicy and always the best part of the repast.

Nothing is more delightfully characteristic of these small towns like
Thivièrs than the delicacies peculiar to them. These little communities,
so different from each other in local customs and mannerisms, are just
as unique and original in their cooking. It was always interesting, when
we had lunch or dinner in a new place, to scan the ménu for some new
dish that we had never tasted. Whenever the _garcon_ or _maître de
l'hôtel_ pointed to an item on the ménu and said, "_C'est une specialitè
de la maison_," then we knew that something good was coming. One never
tires of these French delicacies. Our regret at leaving them behind was
usually tempered by the consolation that something equally new and
delicious was awaiting us in the next place _en route_. Each one of the
following names recalls experiences that we shall not soon forget. These
are simply samples. The list would be too long if we named them all; the
_truites_ of Chambéry; the mushroom patties of Pierrelatte; the _jambon_
of Bayonne; the _truffes_ of Périgueux; the _rillettes_ and _vins_ of
Tours; the _miel du Gatinais_ of Orléans; the fried sole of Chartres and
Dieppe. In Normandy, sweet cider was often placed on the table instead
of the mild _vin du pays_. The cheese, _patisserie_, and fruits were
good everywhere.

Another item, which we cannot overlook, never appeared on the ménu and
yet always flavored the whole repast. That was the geniality, the
provincial hospitality, which greeted us in every little inn and hotel.
The welcome was just as hearty as the farewell. If there was some one
dish that we especially liked, the _patronne_ was never satisfied till
she was sure that we had been bountifully served. After so many
experiences like these, it is easy to understand why the foreign
motorist feels so much at home in France.

It was a splendid run to Limoges. The long grades were scarcely
noticeable, the easy curves rarely making it necessary to check our
speed. Donkey carts were fashionable, and _sabots_, as usual, in style.
There was always a shining river or green valley in sight. Haute-Vienne,
arrayed in flags and evergreens, awaited the coming of the president.
Here, as all along the route, we saw the same joyful picture of festal
preparations. The bridge over the river Vienne was like a green arbor.

Some of the worthy citizens of these communities were probably more
familiar with town affairs than the current events of the outer world.
We read in a local journal of a shopkeeper who shouted a lusty "_Vive
Faillières_," to greet the president's arrival. The mayor of one village
threw himself in front of the presidential car, and threatened to commit
suicide if the president did not make a speech, as he had done in a
neighboring town. These petty municipal jealousies gave us a picture of
France in miniature. What country is more torn by faction! Internal
dissension is the nation's peril.

The river kept us company until Limoges was in sight. The president had
left the city only a few hours before our arrival. Decorations were
still in their splendor. One _arc de triomphe_ bore the words "_Vive
Poincaré_." Another read, "_Nos fleurs et nos coeurs_." This popular
ovation seems remarkable when we consider the strength of socialism in
France, and the fact that Limoges is a socialistic center. The mayor, a
socialist, refused to receive the president. The City Council was not
present at the festivities of welcome. Municipal buildings like the
Hôtel de Ville were not decorated. All this was in accordance with
instructions received from the leaders of the socialistic party. It was
even considered unsafe for the president to include Limoges in his
itinerary. But the people, the wage earners, the various trade
organizations, acted for themselves. Their spontaneous, enthusiastic
greeting was all the more striking in contrast with the cold
indifference of the city authorities. To be in an important French city
at just this time, on the very day when the president was there, to see
all the preparations for his welcome, to hear the people talk about him
and praise him, made us feel that we had been close indeed to one of the
great personalities of modern Europe. France has found her leader, a man
of vast energy who understands his country's problems and is peculiarly
fitted to solve them. His motor tour through the provinces was like a
triumphal march. Everywhere he preached that gospel of unity which is
the great need of the hour.

Thanks to a letter of introduction, we had the interesting privilege of
visiting a porcelain factory and of seeing the different processes
through which the product passes from the shapeless lump of clay to the
final touch of the artist's brush. The city reflects the artistic spirit
of its inhabitants. One notices many attractive garden plots and window
gardens, and the beauty of the flowers appears in their art. These
artists can reproduce them in porcelain and enamel because first of all
they have painted them in their hearts.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_A convenient way to carry bread_]

After Limoges, came Tours as the goal of the day's run through the
pastoral beauties of Limousin to the châteaux of Touraine. The air was
crisp and clear. Two hours of easy running through the bright September
sunshine brought us to the Palais Hôtel in Poitiers before
noon--Poitiers, the city of old Romanesque churches and older
traditions, where are living so many of the _vieille noblesse_ who would
rather eat dry bread than make their sons work. The echoes of Parisian
rush do not penetrate these quiet streets. The people drink _tilleul_
after lunch instead of coffee. The effect is to make them drowsy. In
fact, we have seldom visited a place with such an atmosphere of
slumber. After lunch the _patronne_ offered to show us some of the
hotel rooms. Most of them were connected with a private _salle de bain_.
The price was so reasonable that we at once placed this hotel in a class
by itself. As before stated, bathrooms do not enter largely into the
life of the French home or hotel. Even in cities like Tours, the public
bathtub still makes its round from house to house once a week, or once a
month as the case may be. An Englishman, who so often places cleanliness
above godliness, is unable to understand this French indifference to the
blessings of hot and cold water. In Lyons, the third largest city of
France, there is a popular saying that only millionaires have the _salle
de bain_ in their homes. These facts will help to explain why the Hôtel
Palais, with its many bathrooms, made such an impression on us. We
regret that our snapshot of this hotel did not turn out well. We would
have had it enlarged and framed.

From Poitiers to Tours one is on the famous Route Nationale No. 10, that
remarkable highway which Napoleon built across France into Spain when
his soldiers made the long march only to meet defeat in the Peninsular
campaign. We had followed it from Bayonne to Biarritz and on to San
Sebastian. To see this familiar sign again seemed like the greeting of
an old friend. It looks like an army road, the trees are planted with
such military precision. One could almost feel the measured step to
martial music. This straight-away stretch for so many miles through the
country suggested the great soldier himself. Like his strategy, there
was no unnecessary swerving. It was the shortest practicable line to the
enemy's battle front. These magnificent _routes nationales_ are the best
illustration of the order and system that he gave to French life. We
have often thought too much emphasis has been laid on the destructive
side of Napoleon's career. He shook Europe, but Europe needed to be
shaken. The divine-right-of-kings theory needed to be shattered. France
needed to be centralized. If our motoring in that country had been
limited to Route Nationale No. 10, this would have been enough to give
us a new appreciation of Napoleon as a constructive force.

The afternoon's ride flew all too quickly. It was glorious, as evening
approached, to watch the harvest moon growing brighter and larger on our
right, while the sunset fires slowly changed from burning colors to
dusky gray. Tours was in sight, Tours on the Loire, names that we had
always linked with the châteaux of Touraine. A multitude of lights
gleamed from the plain below. Descending the hill, we crossed the Loire
to the Hôtel Metropole.

Tours was not what we had anticipated. One reads about the kings of
France who resided here, from Louis IX to François I. Plundering
Visigoths, ravaging Normans, Catholics and Huguenots, even the Germans
in 1870, all in their turn assailed the unfortunate city. We looked for
half-ruined palaces and vine-covered, crumbling walls. The reality
spread a different picture. Aside from the streets and houses of
mediæval Tours, little remains of great historic interest. This large,
busy industrial center produces so many articles that the list resembles
a section from the new Tariff Act.

We enjoyed varying our châteaux excursions with rambles in the city.
There are old gabled houses in the Rue du Change, where the overhanging
stories rest on brackets richly carved. One loses all sense of
direction in some of these intricate streets. The cathedral compelled us
to linger longer than we had intended. The ages have given such a warm,
rich gray to the stones that the usual atmosphere of frozen grandeur was
absent. Our interest in Gothic glass and mediæval pillars was diverted
by a wedding that was going on in the cathedral. One of the priests, who
was assisting in the ceremonies, left his duties to offer us his
services as guide; there is always a certain magnetic power to the
American tip. Of course we climbed the Royal Staircase of the North
Tower, even counting the number of steps. The fact that our numbers did
not correspond is all that saves this part of our story from resembling
a quotation from Baedeker. The panorama showed the city spread out in a
plain between the Loire and the Cher. We grew to have an intimate
feeling for these old cathedral towers. When returning along the Loire
from our châteaux trips, it was always a beautiful sight to see them in
the distance, clear-cut and luminous, or looking like majestic shadows
in the haze of twilight.

[Illustration: _The road swept us along the bank of the Loire_ _Page
181_]



CHAPTER XIII

THE CHÂTEAUX OF TOURAINE


Tours made a convenient headquarters for our explorations in Touraine,
where along the banks of the Loire and the Indre were enacted the most
important events in French history from Charles VII to Henry IV. Every
one would be interested in an historical course having for subjects
these Renaissance homes of France's gallantry and beauty. One lingers,
and imagines the scenes of magnificent revel, the court life of kings
and queens when the artistic and architectural glory of France was at
its zenith.

It was easy to plan our one-day trips so as to include on the same
circuit several of the most famous châteaux. The first day we motored to
Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon, Rigny-Ussé, and Langeais, in the order named.
The distances were short, perhaps one hundred and twenty-five kilometers
in all, so that we could go leisurely and yet return to Tours before
dark.

With this wonderful program before us, we crossed the Loire, and
traversing a wooded country with areas of vineyards and gardens, came to
Azay-sur-Indre. There were not even hints of a château, nothing but the
aimless cobbled streets of the typical French town. We halted beside a
long wall which holds back the encroaching village and betrays no sign
of the surprise in store within. Any one about to see his first château
would do well to visit Azay-le-Rideau, a veritable gem of Renaissance
style. This graceful pile of white architecture, as seen to-day, belongs
to the early part of the sixteenth century. François I built it. That
patron of the _beaux arts_ has placed our twentieth century under
lasting obligation. Every line is artistic. There is the picture of airy
lightness in the turrets and carven chimneys that rise from the high
sloping roofs of blue slate. In gratitude for the preservation of this
perfect work one forgets the ravages of the French Revolution. Passing
over a small bridge, we followed the _gardien_ through the sculptured
doorway and up the grand staircase so often ascended by François and his
Parisian favorites. We were permitted to see the ancient kitchen and
old kitchen utensils of wrought iron. Paintings and Flemish tapestries
adorned the billiard room. The king's bedroom has a fine specimen of
rare mediæval flooring. The ballroom, with its Gobelin tapestries,
suggested the artistic luxury of the age. From nearly every window there
were pleasing outlooks on a green woodland and on the sunny branch of
the Indre, which surrounds the château on three sides. It was all a
picture of peace. Azay-le-Rideau is a château of elegance, instead of
defense. One could imagine it built by a king who had leisure to collect
beautiful works of art and whose throne was not seriously threatened by
invading armies.

Quite different from it is the château of Chinon, an immense ruined
fortress built on a hill above the Vienne River. The walls are as
impregnable as rocky cliffs. Chinon was the refuge of a king who had
need of the strongest towers. Charles VII, still uncrowned, assembled
here the States-General while the English were besieging Orléans. It was
a time of despair. The French were divided, discouraged, helpless,
their richest provinces overrun by English armies. At this lowest ebb of
French history, a simple peasant girl came to Chinon. Only a solitary
gable and chimneypiece remain of the Grande Salle du Trône where Jeanne
d'Arc told the king of her visions from heaven and of mysterious voices
commanding her to save the nation. We entered the tower, her rude
quarters till she departed a few weeks later to lead the French troops
to the victory of Orléans.

After lunch we motored through the gardens of Touraine to the
magnificent château of Ussé. The elegant grounds and surrounding woods
formed an appropriate setting. Terraces descended to the wall below,
where our view swept over a wide range of picturesque country, watered
by the Indre. Much to our regret, we were not permitted to visit the
château, which is now occupied by a prominent French family.

Langeais, a few miles away, gave us a more hospitable welcome. It is a
superb stronghold upon the Loire, and has dark, frowning towers and a
heavy drawbridge which looks very mediæval. The widow of M. Siegfried,
a Parisian millionaire, lives here part of the year with her daughter.
M. Siegfried, who bought the château, was interested in art as well as
in ships. He lavished his wealth to furnish the different rooms with
furniture and _objets d'art_ peculiar to the period. His will provides
that after the wife's death the château is to belong to the Institute of
France, and that a sum equal to six thousand dollars is to be devoted to
its upkeep. Other tourists had arrived. The _concierge_ conducted our
party through the many different rooms, lavishly furnished and decorated
in the period of Louis XI and Charles VIII. There were wide, open
fireplaces. We were interested in the Grand Salon, where the marriage of
Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany was celebrated in 1491.

The return to Tours led along the banks of the Loire. Rain was falling,
a cold drizzle which the rising wind dashed in our faces. The wide
sweeps of the river grew indistinct. There were few carts to check our
homeward spurt through the darkening landscape. We were fortunate in
having so comfortable a hostelry for a goal. The dinner, equal to the
best French cuisine, proved a pleasant ending to a memorable day.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Chateau of Loches behind its imposing entrance_ _Page 187_]

The next morning ushered in one of those golden fall days that seemed
made for "châteauing." The swift kilometers soon carried us to Loches,
that impressive combination of state prison, Château Royal, and grim
fortress overlooking the valley of the Indre. So many horrible memories
are linked with the prisons of Loches that we almost hesitate to record
our impressions. We have seen the dungeon cells of the Ducal Palace in
Venice and the equally gruesome chambers of the Castle of Chillon, but
the dungeons of Loches are the most fear-inspiring that we have ever
penetrated. Perhaps a part of this impression was due to the _concierge_
who showed us the prisons where famous captives were incarcerated and
tortured at the will of monarchs. There was one dark cell with a deep
hole, purposely fashioned that the victims should stumble headlong to
their fate. Our guide gave us a graphic description of this method of
execution. In that gloomy hole, his sudden climax of "_Très horrible_,"
would have made any one shiver. Some of these cells extend an
interminable distance underground. It is not the most cheerful
experience to descend deeper and deeper into this subterranean darkness,
to see the daylight growing fainter, to hear the trickle of water from
the cold rocks, and then to imagine the slow, frightful death of many a
political captive. Louis XI, not satisfied with the capacity of the
dungeon, built a great round tower, the Tour Neuve, where he imprisoned
the rebellious barons whose lives could not be taken.

Some one has written of this amiable king that "his reign was a daily
battle, carried on in the manner of savages, by astuteness and cruelty,
without courtesy and without mercy." In the cell occupied by Ludovico
Sforza, the Duke of Milan, may be seen the paintings, sun dial, and
inscriptions with which he tried to ward off approaching madness. This
prisoner is said to have died from the joy of regaining his liberty.
Louis XI was resourceful in his method of imprisonment. In a
subterranean room of the Tour Neuve we were shown where the Cardinal
Balue was suspended in a small cage. One reads that he "survived so much
longer than might have been expected this extraordinary mixture of
seclusion and exposure." Almost as horrible was the window cell in one
of the torture chambers. The prisoner was confined on a narrow stone
ledge between two rows of bars. There was barely space to stand up or
lie down. A handful of straw served for a bed. On the one side, he was
exposed to the elements, and on the other, he viewed the torments of
fellow prisoners.

We turned with relief to less hideous scenes, to the apartments of the
Château Royal, occupied by the irresolute Charles VII, the terrible
Louis XI, and their successors; to the tower, from the top of which we
had a commanding view of the quaint, mediæval town and the wandering
Indre. Our guide did not forget to show us the tomb of Agnes Sorel, the
beautiful mistress of Charles VII. Two little angels kneel at her head,
while her feet rest on two couchant lambs, symbols of innocence. The
monument would have made an appropriate resting place for a martyred
saint.

From Loches, we motored through a deep forest to the château of
Montrésor, well protected on its rocky height by a double encircling
wall, flanked with towers. Once within these formidable barriers, we
were delighted with the pleasant grounds and green arbors above the
valley of the Indrois. The building dates from the commencement of the
sixteenth century, and was small enough to look more like a home than a
palace. The _concierge_ spoke of a distinguished Polish family who
occupied it part of the year. This was the first "home château" we had
seen. Everything looked livable; there was warmth and coziness and
refinement in the different rooms. We felt almost like intruders into
this domestic atmosphere. Some of the paintings were by great artists.
One was Fleury's "The Massacre of the Poles at Warsaw," on April 8,
1861. There were rare specimens of antique furniture, and, most
interesting of all, the "Treasury of the Kings of Poland," consisting in
part of the large gold dish and silver soup tureen presented to John
Sobieski by the city of Vienna, and of the silver-gilt services of
Sobieski and of Sigismond II, King of Poland. The château has a rich
collection of works of art and souvenirs relating to the history of
Poland.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Chateau of Chenonceaux_ _Page 191_]

The Hôtel de France nearby spread before us a ménu so good that we
confiscated the _carte du jour_ as a souvenir.

Eagerly we looked forward to Chenonceaux, built on the Cher, most
exquisite of the French châteaux and for centuries the rendezvous of wit
and beauty. Motor cars lined the roadside by the gates of the park. Some
of the visitors had driven in carriages from the nearest railway
stations. We sauntered down an avenue of trees to a large garden, rather
a formal piece of landscape work. The drawbridge offered access to the
château. François I purchased it. Later, Henry II, ascending the throne,
gave it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. The French women of that day
had a big share in the shaping of history; the conversations of the
boudoir were often more influential than state councils. Diane built a
bridge which connected the castle with the other side of the river.
Twelve years later, the death of Henry II gave his widow, Catherine de'
Medici, a chance to relieve her embittered feelings. She forced Diane to
exchange Chenonceaux for another château. Upon the bridge built by her
rival, Catherine erected a long gallery, surmounted by a banqueting
hall. This fairy-like structure is so strangely placed, one is reminded
of a fantastic ship moored in the river. It is remarkable for its
celebrated Renaissance architecture and for the absence of bloody
traditions. "Blois is stained with the blood of Guise; Amboise was the
scene of massacre; Loches stands upon unnumbered dungeons; Chenonceaux
alone has no bloodstain on its stones and no groan has ever risen from
its vaults. Eight generations of kings took their pleasure there, and a
long line of brilliant and beautiful women makes its history like a rope
of pearls." Even the gloomy, plotting Catherine did nothing to disturb
the peaceful records and gorgeous _fêtes_ of Chenonceaux. In the
"_chambre de Diane de Poitiers_" we saw a painting representing
Catherine. Those cold, brooding eyes looked capable of anything, from
the murder of the Duc de Guise to the massacre of St. Bartholomew.

Two other châteaux of our itinerary still remained, Amboise and Blois,
the latter perhaps the most famous of them all. We decided to visit
these châteaux _en route_ down the valley of Loire to Orléans. The
following morning we bade farewell to Tours. The road swept us along the
left bank of the Loire, all aglitter in the September sunshine. What a
wonderful stream it is, the longest river in France, with its basin
embracing one fourth of that country! There is not a river in the world
like it. One feels the breath of romance, the spell of historical
associations, the beauty of its curves sweeping through a smiling land.
"Perhaps no stream, in so short a portion of its course, has so much
history to tell."[6] Along its banks flourished for three centuries the
court of the Valois kings. There are vineyards, the remains of mediæval
forests, little villages that have scarcely changed in a hundred years,
and splendid châteaux like those of Blois, Chaumont, Chambord, and
Amboise, almost reflecting their towers in the water and rich in the
wonders of the French Renaissance.

  [6] _Old Touraine_, by T. A. Cook.

Of all the châteaux along the Loire, Amboise enjoys the finest
situation. From across the river we could see this dark Gothic mass
rising from its cliff-like walls to dominate the town and far-winding
stream. The panorama from the high terrace is one of the indescribable
views of France. The real treasure of Amboise is the exquisite Chapelle
de Saint Hubert, due to Charles VIII. His artistic zeal was tragically
interrupted. We saw the low doorway where, according to tradition, he
struck his head and killed himself while hastening to play tennis. On
the terrace is a bust of Leonardo da Vinci, who died here in 1519. The
name of Catherine de' Medici is connected with a frightful scene that
occurred in the courtyard. A Huguenot conspiracy to capture the youthful
François II was discovered. The fierce Catherine not only witnessed the
executions from a balcony, but insisted upon the company of her
horrified daughter-in-law, Mary Stuart. Twelve hundred Huguenots were
butchered. One writer[7] makes the following grim comment: "It was a
long job, of course, to kill so many, and the company could hardly be
expected to watch it all, but the noble victims were reserved for their
special entertainment after dinner." Catherine seems to have had a
peculiar fondness for these innocent and edifying spectacles. We
descended the spiral roadway of the colossal tower up which Emperor
Charles V rode on horseback when he visited François I. This inclined
plane was so perfect and gradual that our motor car could have climbed
it with ease.

  [7] Sir Henry Norman, M. P., in "The Alpine Road of France," in
  _Scribner's Magazine_, February, 1914.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Chateau of Amboise on the Loire_]

Recrossing the Loire, we rode on to Blois for lunch at that famous
hostelry, the Hôtel d'Angleterre, close by the river's edge. To the
château of Blois belongs historical preëminence. This great castle was
the center of French history in the sixteenth century. Elaborate and
imposing, Blois recalls the splendor of the age as well as its crimes.
Such fireplaces and such ceilings! The colors are crimson and gold. Amid
this gloomy grandeur moved Catherine de' Medici. The memory of her
presence alone is enough to make the air heavy with intrigue and murder,
with all the passions that inflamed the religious wars. Joining the
usual tourist crowd, we visited her apartments, including the bedroom
where she died in 1589, at the age of seventy, the most infamous of
French queens. To us, the strangest fact in the life of this fierce,
blood-loving queen is that she was permitted to die a natural death. In
one of the chambers were curious secret cupboards where she may have
concealed her jewels. The floor above suggested a terribly realistic
picture of the assassination of the Duc de Guise, whose popularity and
influence had aroused the jealousy of Catherine and Henry III. The
_concierge_ explained all the tragic details. This was the _salle du
conseil_, where, on the morning of the assassination, the duke was
summoned by the queen to a council; that, the _cabinet neuf_, where the
king remained while the fatal blows were being struck. And there, in the
king's chamber, at the foot of the bed, the spot where the body lay when
the king exclaimed, "He seems greater in death than in life."



CHAPTER XIV

ORLÉANS TO DIEPPE


Leaving the châteaux country, we proceeded to Orléans in the lower part
of the Loire valley, spending the night at the Hôtel Saint Aignan. The
general appearance of the city is prosperous and modern. The walls which
once surrounded it have been turned into promenades. Everything in
Orléans seems connected with Jeanne d'Arc. There is a bronze equestrian
statue with bas-reliefs of the "Maid" who, clad in white armor, led her
soldiers from victory to victory. We hope sometime to be present at the
brilliant "Fête de Jeanne d'Arc," which is held every year on May 8, in
commemoration of her raising the siege of Orléans in 1429. Small shops
display postal cards representing scenes from her life. The Musée is
filled with interesting souvenirs. In the cathedral, where the people
worship her as a saint, we saw on the walls votive tablets bearing
inscriptions of gratitude to her for recovery from sickness. In the same
street is the "Maison de Jeanne d'Arc" where she was received by the
Duc d'Orléans during the eventful siege. That morning was filled with an
interesting series of historical sidelights.

From the vineyards of Touraine to the wheat fields of Normandy; the
change was complete. Like an endless white ribbon, the road stretched
straight through the vast plain of La Beauce, the granary of France.
What far reaches of level fields! There were no telegraph poles, no
hedges, no fences. We seemed to be moving through a strange solitude,
empty of human face or habitation. The distant farmhouses and windmills
were too much like specks on the horizon to seem real. There is, after
all, no scenery to compare with the beauty of the lowlands, where every
mood of heaven, every change of sky, is part of a wonderful picture. The
weather, which was threatening when we left Orléans, now looked more and
more like a storm. No shelter was in sight, nothing but the open
country, the great dome of heaven, and the road ever narrowing ahead of
us until its indistinct thread merged into a faint blur. Swift clouds
took on a greenish, copper-colored hue, which deepened into black as
they swirled toward us. Then the hailstones began to fall with a
stinging force that increased with every movement. It was one of those
furious hailstorms of northern France which are as characteristic of
that region as the mistral is of the Midi. There were no mitigating
influences. The wind was pitiless, untempered even by the shelter of a
tree or barn. By stopping the car and crouching behind it, we secured a
little protection from the biting blasts. The sun soon burst through the
cloud barriers. We continued toward Chartres, stopping for a moment at a
railway crossing to "kodak" a passing freight train.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The wheat fields of Normandy_]

The approach to Chartres was impressively picturesque. The double spires
of its vast Gothic cathedral, growing more distinct, finally towered
above the moat and the Porte Guillaume, the fourteenth-century gateway
of the city. Our hotel, the Grand Monarque, gazed upon the turmoil of a
village fair. The din was deafening. A merry-go-round added the blare of
brazen music; several hand-organs were in discordant evidence. We
mingled with the peasants around the small booths, and were almost
enticed by a _jolie paysanne_ into buying a pair of small _sabots_. Our
ride in the small motor car of the merry-go-round was the dizziest burst
of speed on our whole trip.

Little Chartres is overshadowed by its mighty cathedral. All interest
concentrates there. Many consider it the finest in France. Every one
would agree that the interior is incomparable. Nowhere can we find a
more sublime expression of Gothic art. Those who fashioned this "sacred
rock-work set to music" belong to the great unknown; their names are
buried somewhere back in the early part of the thirteenth century when
the cathedral was built. At least, they have given us a picture of their
times; such structures could not be erected now. Our age is attuned to a
different key; there are too many distracting influences. Then, there
were no popular theaters, and few books or forms of amusement. The
church was the natural center of thought and life. Only the religious
inspiration of a people naturally artistic could have created the
immortal works which the cathedral builders have bequeathed.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Gothic cathedral at Chartres_ _Page 200_]

For a few miles outside of Chartres we were again on Route Nationale No.
10. The blue-and-white advertisements of various productions appeared
close to the road signs. This is a common practice of the French
advertisers, who wish to catch the eye of the _voyageur_. We had no idea
there were so many different makes of _pneus_ and _chocolats_. In the
roadside hamlets the French advertiser makes use of the sides of barns
and the corners of houses, but there is very little landscape
advertising. Being Americans, we were impressed by this absence of
disfiguring advertisements along the countryside in Normandy and other
parts of France. The "Bull Durham" herd, so often found in American
meadows, would not thrive in French pastures. It would be taxed out of
existence.

Hardly had we sat down to lunch in the Hôtel du Grand Cerf of Nonancourt
when there was a great shouting and beating of drums outside. A group of
conscripts marched noisily by. They wore red, white, and blue cockades,
and neckties of the same color, in curious contrast to their simple
peasant dress. In accordance with the provincial custom, it was a day
of feasting to signalize their admission to the army. In two weeks they
were to leave their homes to begin the long, tedious period of military
service. A young _cuirassier_ whom we met in Limoges, and who had just
completed his first year of service in the cavalry, related interesting
experiences of life in the French army. The discipline is severe. The
German soldier is not subjected to a more rigorous training. The rising
hour is 5 A.M. in the spring, and 4 A.M. in the summer. There are long,
exhausting marches. As often as two or three times a week the recruits
are awakened in the middle of the night to make a long march. Life is
made to conform as closely as possible to the conditions of actual war.
A day's work of eighteen hours is not unusual. Naturally, this means
hardship, but it also means good soldiers. The French army is very
democratic. Rich and poor are treated alike. Both live together in the
barracks. There are no privileges. Even if a recruit is wealthy, he is
not allowed to keep a valet. Every man is his own domestic. The German
army is not nearly so democratic. There, if the recruit has means, he
can keep a servant and may live out of barracks in a comfortable
apartment.

The conscripts whom we saw in Nonancourt were destined to anything but
an easy, inactive life. For infantry as well as cavalry there is the
same grueling routine. The three hours of drilling in the morning do not
include gymnasium exercises for three-quarters of an hour. Such menial
duties as peeling potatoes, or washing dishes and clothes, form part of
the morning's work. The short noon respite is followed by three hours of
military exercises. During this period of training the recruits receive
only one cent a day, besides clothing, guns, and very simple fare. The
term of service has recently been extended from two to three years, to
offset the increases of the German army. The average age of enlistment
is about eighteen years, an age when the American boy is entering
college or laying the foundation for a business career. In comparison,
the French boy is heavily handicapped. Even if his school days end at
the age of sixteen, he can do little in business. The French business
man does not think it worth while to prepare the boy for an important
position, since his military service is so close at hand. France pays a
terrible price for national security. The financial cost, burdensome
though it is, is the smallest item. Frenchmen who have lived in the
United States often speak of the great advantages enjoyed by the young
American who can devote to his education or to his life work those three
precious years which the French youth must give to the army.

Anatole France, the distinguished French writer, was among those who
protested against the new military law. "This addition of a year to the
conscription comes on us just when France is moving forward with a new
energy, both in science and industry. It will be a grave blow to all our
higher life. Medicine especially will be injured, for the medicine of
the army is not the medicine of the civil state. French science requires
the time of its young students, and that will be gravely curtailed. The
demand for another army year from all young Frenchmen, imposed without
any exemptions, will draw off the best from every field of life. It
comes at a moment of great industrial development. It will check that
development. It comes at a moment of expansion in our arts, especially
in sculpture. It will be a heavy blow. Sculpture is not practiced on the
battlefield."

We wonder if there is any help for Europe! How will it all end? So far
as we can now foresee, the peace conference at The Hague, to have been
held in 1915, has been indefinitely postponed. Instead of this gathering
of the nations to establish some practical basis for limitation of
armaments, there is the prospect of increased armaments. The burdens,
already so crushing, are apparently only the prelude to what is coming.
England is the pacemaker on the sea. Mr. Winston Churchill, in his
recent speech before the House of Commons, urged that the naval budget
for 1915 be raised to over a quarter billion dollars. He said: "The
naval estimates for the next year are the largest in British history,
$257,750,000. The causes which might lead to a general war have not been
removed. The world is arming as it never armed before. All attempts at
arresting it have been ineffectual." Germany is more than ever a nation
in arms. At the present rate of increase, her standing army in time of
peace will soon number more than a million men. France, which less than
a year ago passed the Three Years' Service Bill, already faces the
possible necessity of adding still another year to the term of military
service.

Count Witte, the Russian statesman, has estimated that forty per cent of
the total income of the great powers is absorbed by their armies and
navies. He said: "Unless the great states which have set this hideous
example agree to call a halt and to knit their subjects into a pacific,
united Europe, war is the only issue I can perceive. And when I say war,
I mean a conflict which will surpass in horror the most brutal armed
conflicts known to human history, and entail distress more widespread
and more terrible than living men can realize."

Russia is making sweeping military reforms. The disastrous war with
Japan taught valuable lessons. The reorganization of the army includes
vast increases of men, and especially the improvement in facilities of
transportation. The railroad network in process of construction on her
western frontier will probably be completed in 1915. When the plans of
the Czar are realized in 1917, Russia will have one of the most
formidable armies in the world, a war machine with a fighting strength
of over four million men.

"Throughout Austria-Hungary there is just now a feeling of considerable
dread of Russia's ulterior motives in a number of measures, military and
otherwise, that are being discussed in political circles here. Of
greatest moment in that connection is a short but vigorous speech made
by the Hungarian premier, Count Tisza, before the Parliament. It was
delivered while advocating the new army increase bill (since adopted by
a large majority), which raises considerably the annual quota of
recruits. After bewailing the necessity of imposing new burdens on a
nation impoverished and already staggering under its load, he termed the
contemplated increase in the fighting strength of the army an absolute
necessity. 'The shadows of a coming big war are thrown ahead, and the
losing side will forfeit its national life, or at least expect a painful
amputation,' he cried."

In every country where we motored there was scarcely an hour which did
not bring the sound of drums, the sight of barracks, of soldiers
drilling or on the march. Whether in Germany, Austria, Italy, or France,
there were the same sights of preparation for war. The sacrifices of
peace in 1914 are hardly less exhausting than were the sacrifices of war
in 1813.

"What a reflection on modern diplomacy the whole situation casts! A
policy which men like Gray and Asquith have repeatedly characterized as
one of madness, as one leading to bankruptcy, as one that makes a
mockery of peace by throwing away half its benefits, is pursued because
the diplomats can't agree on a plan of armament limitation. It is
admitted that the frenzied rivalry in armament increase adds nothing to
the relative strength of any power or group of powers, yet the frenzied
rivalry continues at the expense of industry and constructive social and
economical reforms. If the 'causes of a general war' in Europe have not
been removed, what has diplomacy been doing and of what use are the
alliances, the ententes, and understandings among the powers? Might not
a little courage and boldness in pushing the armament-limitation idea
and appealing to public, business, and democratic sentiment force the
hands of the routine-ridden diplomats?"

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_The Seine at Rouen_ _Page 210_]

For nearly twenty miles the road cut a white swath through the treeless
plain of St. André to the cathedral town of Evreux. The wheat fields and
cathedrals of Normandy should be mentioned in the same sentence. France,
so full of the picturesque, has few finer sights than the view of these
airy cathedral spires while one is still miles away from any town. We
zigzagged into the valley of Iton, climbed, swooped downward, and
crossing that hurrying stream, ran beside the river Eure into the main
street of Louviers. The warning, "_Allure modère_," was unnecessary. The
cobble stones were sufficient to make us slacken speed. The beauty of
the church of Nôtre Dame served to stop us completely. The church, with
its profuse embroidery of rich, delicate carving, shone like a jewel
amid the motley and jumbled houses. It was like finding a rosebush
blooming in the gutter of some neglected street. Through the forest of
Pont de l'Arche to the town of the same name, where we crossed the
Seine, past bright little Norman cottages, our route shot ahead to
Rouen, the center of cotton manufacturing for France, the most
interesting mediæval city in Normandy, and renowned the world over for
splendid Gothic churches. After inspecting the rooms of two or three
hotels, we chose the Hôtel d'Angleterre, close by the crowded traffic of
the Seine.

Sight-seeing in Rouen is more convenient by carriage than by motor car.
We moved from the abbey church of St. Ouen to the church of St. Maclou.
If Europe had no other remains of Gothic art, Rouen would be enough to
describe all the splendor of that style of architecture. The cathedral
is a whole library of description in itself. Curious is the legend of
the Tour de Beurre, built by money received from indulgences sold, and
permitting the people to eat butter in Lent.

"At the base of the Tour St. Romain, there still stands the lodge of the
porter whose duties from very early times right up to 1760, included the
care of the fierce watchdogs who were at night let loose in the
cathedral to guard its many precious treasures from robbers. How much
would we give for a glimpse of one of those porters walking through the
cavernous gloom of these echoing aisles, with his lamp throwing strange
shadows from the great slouching dogs!"[8]

  [8] From _Motor Routes of France_, Part I, by Gordon Home.

The central tower rises into a great spire of open iron work, more than
one and a half times as high as the steeple of Trinity Church in New
York. One seldom sees anything so quaintly picturesque as the little
wooden cloister, Aître Saint-Maclou. From its courtyard, the burial
ground for so many victims of the Black Death of 1348, one sees mediæval
spires which rise in all directions. Another vivid reminder of the past
is the archway of the Grosse Horloge, with its huge clock in colors of
blue and gold and dating from the sixteenth century.

But the impressions of Rouen that thrilled us most related to the sad
closing days of Jeanne d'Arc. At Orléans we saw her in the hour of
victory, a young girl dictating to experienced generals, cutting her way
through the English army around the city and bringing provisions and
succor to the beleaguered inhabitants. Our _cocher_ escorted us to the
tower where, with instruments of torture around her, she faced and
baffled her brutal inquisitors. In the old market place, the scene of
her martyrdom, one is shown a simple slab which reads, "Jeanne d'Arc, 30
Mai, 1431." This marks the spot where she was burned at the stake.

The last lap of the trip, the ride to Dieppe on the English Channel, was
past many large Norman farms. Neat haystacks dotted the rolling acres.
Nowhere else had we seen so many horses,--big, powerful creatures.
Normandy breeds and exports them. Apple orchards were in constant view.
Coasting down a long hill into the city, we left the car in the garage
of the Grand Hôtel, and joined an enthusiastic crowd which was watching
a football game between Dieppe and Rouen.

The new France is keenly interested in sports and games. In 1912 there
was held in Paris the International Congress for Physical Culture, the
idea being to impress upon the young the need for physical development.
The extent to which the idea of physical culture has captured France
will be evident from the following figures: in 1896 the various
athletic societies had less than fifty thousand members; to-day, they
have more than three hundred thousand members. France has indeed entered
upon a new era. The chief characteristic of it is not literary but
practical, self-assertive, and everywhere for action. The young
Frenchman of to-day is more interested in sports than in art or
literature. A French professor recently said: "I have lived my life in
my library. There I have passed through my intellectual crises. There I
have experienced my most fervent emotions. In the lives of my sons I
notice that books play a very little part, or if they read, it is
biography, and especially the biography of men of action like Napoleon."

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood

_Where Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake_]

       *       *       *       *       *

Now comes the pang of keen regret. We are close to the end. These weeks
of unmingled joy stand around us like a group of friends, as if to stay
our leaving. Four thousand miles of motoring, in five countries, and
without an accident! Our car has taken on personality. Here, climbing a
mountain to the very summit whose far-away vistas held us enchanted, or
rushing down on the other side, we skirted some quiet lake that lay
embosomed in its own loveliness; there, a wild glen with its mysterious
depths beckoning us to halt! We have seen the peasantry, as in France,
looked upon their quaint costumes and customs, and caught the simple
melody of their songs. We have gone close to palaces, and wondered
whether prince or peasant were the happier. We have seen châteaux that
were tragedies and cathedrals that were poems. We have seen the
conscripts file slowly past, each surrendering three years of the most
important period of his life. Then, we have contrasted a nation as a
military camp with our own great republic, without a large standing
army, but safe. And now, homeward bound to the freest land beneath the
sun, America!



CHAPTER XV

EXPENSES AND SUGGESTIONS


The purchase of the car at the Benz factory in Mannheim, Germany,
plunged us at once into a maze of police regulations. It was necessary
to secure a driving license. With us in the United States this is hardly
more than a matter of routine. Not so in Germany, where the examination
is really a formidable affair. It is especially difficult for a
foreigner to secure a driving license. He may be able to give evidence
proving that he has driven a car for years in his own country. This fact
makes no difference. It is not even taken into consideration. Every
possible opportunity is given the candidate to make mistakes, and thus
to prove that he is not qualified to receive the desired certificate. No
detail of motormanship is overlooked. There is an age requirement of
eighteen years. First came the physical examination. Then it was
necessary to spend two hours a day in the shop for five and a half weeks
so as to become thoroughly acquainted with the various parts of the
motor car. The candidate is given an opportunity to see motor cars taken
apart and put together. In this way he is made familiar with the use and
purpose of every part of the car. The crucial test begins when he is
called upon to show his skill as chauffeur. It is customary to drive one
hundred miles in the city and surrounding country. The official police
inspector who accompanies him is resourceful in his tests. Under his
supervision the car is driven through crowded streets, and made to back
up and turn around in difficult places,--in fact, to meet all the
emergencies of motor travel. Even after the examination has been passed
successfully, there is a delay of several days before the license is
given the final stamp of official approval. The license for which we
made application on February 22 was not secured until April 10. It cost
one hundred _marks_ (about twenty-five dollars). Of this amount, one
half goes to the state and the balance to the shop giving the candidate
his instruction in motor-car mechanics. The inspector receives ten
dollars for his services. There is also a customary charge of one
dollar and a half for the number plate.

Americans who have lived for a considerable time in Germany are always
impressed with the numerous occasions when the state interferes in the
private life of the individual; the foreign motorist is no exception to
this rule of coming at once into contact with the state. He no sooner
crosses the frontier than the state compels him to pay a tax. Even
though he remains in the country but a single day, he is forced to
secure a tax license which costs three _marks_ (about seventy-five
cents). These tax licenses are issued to cover periods of from one to
ninety days, the license good for three months costing fifty _marks_. If
one remains longer than ninety days it is necessary to renew this
license or _Steuerkarte_. The annual tax on motor cars varies according
to the power of the car. A car of 13.9 horse power (German rating) would
be taxed one hundred and twenty _marks_. The German tax net spreads
everywhere. At the time of our sojourn in that country the city of
Munich was considering the introduction of a tax on cats. Such a tax
would without doubt be the first of its kind in the world. In southern
Germany the small towns still continue to exact imposts of ten
_pfennigs_ (three cents) from the motor cars passing over their roads.
In spite of the complaint that this tax is a serious obstacle to trade
and traffic, there is no immediate prospect of its being removed.
France, in contrast to Germany, does not subject the foreign motorist to
a tax unless his sojourn exceeds a period of four months.

The annual dues of the Rheinische Automobile Club amounted to forty
_marks_. Membership in an organization of this kind is necessary to
secure the _triptyques_ which are so indispensable to the motorist whose
itinerary includes several countries of Europe. The usefulness of this
important document has been described so often that we do not feel
called upon to make further comment here. Our international driving
permit based upon the special license issued by the state was also
secured for a small fee from the automobile club above mentioned.

Among the incidental expenses, the cost of repairs is apt to figure
largely, particularly when one is motoring along mountain highways.
Such services are much cheaper in Europe than in the United States. In
our case the item was so small as to be almost negligible. The car was
so carefully overhauled and inspected before leaving the factory that we
suffered little inconvenience or delay. Our tire troubles were limited
to a single puncture. Continental tires in the rear and Excelsior in the
front gave excellent service. Notwithstanding the wear and tear of
mountain motoring, we found it necessary to use only one of the two
reserve tires.

Gasoline was everywhere obtainable. In Germany and France the price is
about thirty-seven cents a gallon, but in Austria and Spain it is much
higher, generally approximating eighty cents a gallon. In Italy, where
bargaining is necessary, the price usually dropped from eighty cents to
less than forty-eight cents a gallon. A Bosch magneto greatly increased
the speed and climbing ability of the car, and enabled us to average
about twenty-one miles to every gallon of gasoline. In France the cost
of this necessary article is not fixed. Neighboring towns often showed
a difference of several cents in the cost per gallon. But although the
price is not uniform, the fine quality is, and always gave excellent
results. As a part of our equipment we carried as reserve a five-gallon
sealed can of gasoline and a similar quantity of oil. On these it was
occasionally necessary to pay a duty of a couple of cents at the
numerous _octroi_ stations in France. The inconvenience of these imposts
was usually more burdensome than the amount of the tax. For our oil,
which would have cost about forty cents a gallon in the United States,
we averaged one dollar and ten cents a gallon.

Our hotel bills were not high. We had expected to find them much higher.
Two dollars or two dollars and a half was sufficient as a rule to cover
dinner, chamber, and breakfast. For instance, our rooms at the Hôtel de
France cost one dollar each, the dinner _table d'hôte_ seventy-five
cents each, and breakfast thirty cents, the usual prices which secured
us satisfactory accommodations nearly everywhere in France. Every hotel
had its garage, a fact which we did not always find to be true of the
hotels in Germany. The garage was often not much more than a shed or
lean-to, but it always offered the shelter and protection necessary for
our one-or two-night stops. Sometimes there was a garage charge of one
franc (nineteen and one half cents) a day, but this was exceptional. If
the car was washed we were expected to pay from thirty-five to fifty
cents for this extra service. The scale of prices in Germany and Austria
was possibly twenty per cent higher, but nowhere was there any attempt
to take advantage of the fact that we were foreigners.

The motor tourist is such a familiar sight abroad that the stopping of a
motor car before a provincial hotel does not excite unusual interest. It
is rather an everyday occurrence, an accustomed detail of the day's
routine. France especially, more than any other country in Europe, has
become a land of motor tourists. The large well-to-do class turns
naturally to motoring for recreation and diversion.

The Frenchman practices thrift in his hours of leisure and travel as
well as in his business. This fact probably explains in great part the
comparatively low level of hotel charges to be found in that country.
Contrary to the popular idea, there are not two sets of charges, one for
the European and a higher one for the American. We were never expected
to pay for services that were not rendered in more than ample measure.
On the contrary, we had daily opportunities to observe the effort made
to give us the best possible service for the prices charged. This was
true not only of the hotels but of the restaurants as well. Of course,
for a dollar a day we did not expect to have a _chambre de luxe_. It is
really a constant surprise to see how much one can get in the way of
clean, comfortable rooms and appetizing meals for a small outlay.

France is a country by itself in this respect. There is perhaps no
country where the traveler can get so much for his money. In no other
land of Europe can one motor so cheaply. It is always possible to avoid
the big towns as sleeping places and at meal times, and yet run no risk
of not enjoying the finest cooking and a comfortable night's lodging.
Austria is the most expensive country for the motorist. Spain and
central and southern Italy are so little patronized by motor traffic
that they do not need to be included in our comparison.

The consideration of incidental expenses brings us to the question of
tipping, without doubt the most perplexing and the most misunderstood of
all the problems that confront the foreign motorist in Europe. Long
before his steamer touches the shore of the Old World, he has visions of
an extended line of servants standing with outstretched hands to receive
the expected shower of coins. For the majority of tourists it is almost
an ordeal to leave a European hotel. How often we have heard the
question, "What shall I give?" The average American has such an
instinctive sense of fairness, of wanting to do the right thing, that a
matter of this kind assumes an importance out of all proportion to the
value of the tip. He is willing to be liberal; on the other hand, he is
not eager to pose as a philanthropic and charitable institution created
to satisfy the needs of every hotel employee who says "_Guten Tag_" or
"_Bon jour_" to him when he enters the hotel. The trouble is that in
borrowing this custom from Europe we have so Americanized it that we
find it difficult to get the European viewpoint and to adapt ourselves
readily to the practice as it exists to-day across the water. The
American _voyageur_ is so accustomed to doing things in a large way that
it is not easy for him to appreciate the European system of small
percentages. His common mistake is to give larger tips than are expected
and overlook the small tips which do not seem to be so important. He
hesitates to give a small tip, and in such cases would prefer to give
none at all.

We have read somewhere the story of a Frenchman who was visiting the
United States for the first time. He ate a sixty-cent meal in a New York
restaurant. Following the custom in Paris, he left five per cent of the
bill, three cents, for the waiter. Many of us could probably confess to
an equal uncertainty and helplessness in the presence of our first
tipping experience in Europe. Baedeker's classic rule of ten per cent of
the total amount of the bill seems strangely inadequate when a traveler
has stayed only one night at a hotel and finds that his bill is about
two dollars. The problem of dividing twenty cents so that every one
will be satisfied is a task that he would willingly turn over to
somebody else. As a matter of fact, while there is no arbitrary rule, it
does not take long to discover that the _pourboire_ and _Trinkgeld_ are
fixed and permanent institutions, as solid in their reality as the
Credit Lyonnais or the Reichsbank. One is expected to give at least
something, even if the service rendered has been merely nominal. The
French and German systems of coinage, with their _5-centime_ and
_10-pfennig_ pieces, fit in so conveniently to the European standards of
tipping. Judging from our experience, the tourist will be most quickly
at ease who observes the custom as it is practiced by the inhabitants of
the country, and then makes his own scale of tips slightly larger.
Foreigners are expected to be a little more liberal. The quality of
service received will ordinarily more than compensate for this slight
increase. In Valence, where we stayed only one night, the bill,
including chamber, dinner, and breakfast, amounted to twenty francs for
two people. Our tips were itemized as follows:

                    FRANCS    CENTIMES
  Garçon                         50
  Femme de chambre               50
  Valet de chambre               50
  Concierge            1
  Garage                         25
                      --         --
      Total            2         75

If there was an _ascenseur_ in the hotel the elevator boy never looked
insulted when we gave him ten or fifteen _centimes_. If extra service
was rendered, we paid for it accordingly. This scale of tipping secured
us good service in the small provincial towns. In the larger places the
_maître de l'hôtel_ (head waiter) plays a more important role and ranks
in tipping dignity with the _concierge_. In Italy the equivalent of four
cents per person would be considered liberal in most restaurants. In
Germany, where the rise in cost of living is more noticeable than in
France, the item of tipping was slightly larger. Austria gave us the
most difficulty. Here the system is more complicated. The
_Speise-traeger_ who brings you food, the _Piccolo_ who ministers to
your thirst, the _Zahl-kellner_ who receives payment for the bill, all
expect their contribution of _hellers_. These dignitaries were
ordinarily satisfied with tips of twenty, ten, and forty _hellers_ in
the order named. The value of _hellers_ and _centimes_ is so nearly
equal that it was not confusing to pass from the Austrian to the French
system of coinage.

The largest single item of expense was of course the cost of
transportation, which always depends on the size and weight of the car.
The cost of ocean transportation for an ordinary four-seated touring car
would run from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and
seventy-five dollars. To this amount must be added fifty dollars to
cover cost of boxing. In our case, since the car was purchased abroad,
it was necessary to pay a duty of thirty per cent on the original cost,
minus the agent's commission of twenty-five per cent.


    Transcriber's note:

    _Underscores_ have been used to indicate _italic_ fonts.
    The Illustration captions were printed without accents. This has
    been left as it was in the original.





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