The Pic Du Midi.
At The Snow-Line.
On The Road To The Lac De Gaube.
"Well," exclaimed our guide cheerfully, "how is busi-ness?
" Business? " echoed the inn-keeper; "business? There is no business! Look at my two boats there. I can't let them. Nobody will go out on the lake now. Ces sacres Anglais have ruined me forever!"
A Pyrenean Waterfall.
We naturally inquired what "those cursed English" had done to injure him. In reply, he pointed out to us a little monument of white marble, surrounded by an iron railing. Approaching it, I read the following inscription:
"This tablet is dedicated to the memory of William Henry Pattison, of Lincoln's Inn, London, Esq.,barrister-at-law; and of Susan Frances, his wife; who in the thirty-first and twenty-sixth years of their age, and within one month of their marriage, to the inexpressible grief of their sur-viving relatives and friends, were accidentally drowned together in this lake, on the 20th day of September, 1832. Their remains were conveyed to England, and interred there at Witham, in the County of Essex."
The Lac De Gaube.
"You see," exclaimed the boat-owner, when we had finished reading this, "I might as well drown myself, too, for all the money I make here!"
A Pyrenean Giant.
But," I replied, "this accident happened more than fifty years ago."
"What difference does that make," he retorted dismally, "since the monument is always here to keep it fresh in everybody's mind? People come here, just as you do, and they read that inscription. Monsieur says to Madame, 'Will you go out upon the lake?' and she says 'No, never, never!' and they go away and my boats are not let. Is it not so? Mille tonnerres! Could not that Englishman have drowned his wife somewhere else than in my lake? Quel malheur! Quel mal-Jieur!
The lamentations of this Jeremiah of the Pyrenees so touched our hearts that we embarked upon the lake of illrepute and gained some charming views which we should have completely missed had we remained on shore. On our return, a luncheon of lake trout awaited us, and as we subsequently rode away, the lonely landlord chinked our silver pieces in his left hand, doffed his cap with his right, and cried: "Merci, messieurs! If all the tourists were like you, I might hope to recover some day from the injury done me by ces sacres Anglais."
A Pyrenean "Port."
It was from Cauterets that, on my second visit to the Pyrenees, I crossed the mountains into Spain as far as the baths of Panticosa. The route is the most difficult I ever traversed on a mule, save the descent into the Grand Canon in Arizona. In fact, in many places it is dangerous to ascend the barren cliffs in any way save on foot. Nevertheless the view toward Spain, as one comes through the rugged pass at a height of nearly nine thousand feet above the sea, gives ample compensation for the fatigue involved. Unlike the passage at the Port de Venasque, which I shall presently describe, the Pyr-enean crest-line at this point is almost as sharp as the ridge-pole of a house. We stepped over it, as across a threshold, and stood for a moment with one foot in France and the other in Spain. I think I was never more tired in my life than when I approached Panticosa. I had been assured by my guide that it was a trip of only eight hours from Cauterets, but it was fully twelve hours after we had mounted our saddles at the Pyrenean watering-place before we reached our destination. As we made our way with painful slowness down the mountain side, I saw below me a perfectly treeless basin in the midst of desolate granite cliffs, some of which rose to a great perpendicular height, reminding me of the precipices of the Gemmi above Leuk in Switzerland. The centre of this area was occupied by a small lake which looked as cold and lifeless as that of the great St. Bernard. Around this, however, were several buildings, which proved to be the bathing establishment, hotels, and boarding-houses. In these about six hundred guests can be accommodated, and in the "season" the place is said to be crowded to its utmost capacity. Unfortunately, I visited Panticosa before the influx of any such multitude, and the only visitors here were a few saffron-colored Spaniards with their wives, who seemed to be bored to death, and envied me apparently my speedy return to France. The titles of the baths at Panticosa amused me greatly. Instead of being dedicated, as in France, to some divinity or patron saint, they have been frankly named after the parts of the body they are supposed to cure. Thus over one door I read the words: "The Stomach;" over another, "The Lungs;" a third was called "The Liver;" a fourth "The Purger;" and finally one, that sent a cold chill down my spine, bore the significant legend, - "The Colic."