Near Luchon.

Near Luchon.

On The Way To The

On The Way To The Port De Venasque.

The Maladetta.

The Maladetta.

The Port De Venasque.

The Port De Venasque.

Near The Port De Venasque.

Near The Port De Venasque.

My last view of the monarch of the Pyrenees, as I paused for a moment before reentering the Port de Venasque, will never be forgotten. The gulf of desolation at my feet was dark with shadows. Even the granite precipices of the "Accursed Mountain" had long since lost the rays of the declining sun. But all the icy summit of the Maladetta, miles in length, displayed a constantly increasing wealth of splendor, as its white surface reddened with the sunset glow. Spellbound, I watched the magic work of the departing god of day, as he transmuted, silently but potently, each snow-crest, pinnacle, and glacier from silver into gold. Meantime, however, shadows were rising, demon-like, from out the yawning chasm to expel this heavenly visitor and justify the mountain's name. Up, up, they crept, scaling the giant buttresses and icy slopes with ease, and driving steadily before them the sun's glory, which in its gradual retreat abandoned first one, and then another outpost, until the highest pinnacles alone retained their lustre, like battlements of a celestial city. At length, even these began to change, - assuming hues which can perhaps be named but not described. The glow of gold, the heart of a pale rose, the flush on the cheek of a sleeping child, and finally the soft gray on the breast of a dove, - this seemed to me the sequence of those waning shades. Then, when the entire mountain had turned white and cold, I watched the tiny cloud-fleets put forth from the headlands of the Maladetta and float away from their moorings into a sea of silvery blue. These, for a time, still caught the solar radiance on their snowy sails; but finally the moment came when even their colors disappeared, melting away into a dawn for other eyes than ours.

A Pyrenean Bridge.

A Pyrenean Bridge.

As Pau was the portal by which we entered the region of the Pyrenees, so the last place in which we lingered, ere we left these mountains on our journey eastward, was Lourdes.

Beautiful for situation is this famous place of pilgrimage, nestling among the foothills of the Pyrenees at the junction of two mountain streams, and built around the base of a precipitous rock crowned by an ancient fortress. This castle of Lourdes has had a most eventful history, much of which is recorded in the chronicles of Froissart. Not all of its varied fortunes can be recounted here, but every traveler who looks upon its grim old battlements sees at a glance that once it must have commanded the entire valley, and in the wars of the Middle Ages was a citadel of great importance. Originally founded by the Romans, it was deemed impregnable before the invention of cannon, and is still strong enough to have served in its old age as a place of detention for some German prisoners during the Franco-Prussian war.

Lourdes.

Lourdes.

The Home Of Bernadette.

The Home Of Bernadette.

But the importance and prestige of this old stronghold have been recently eclipsed by those of a beautiful Gothic church, which crowns another eminence, and, on account of its clear white stone resembling marble, is visible from a great distance. A stranger, knowing nothing of the history of Lourdes, would be astonished to discov-er such an imposing church as this in a small mountain town with only about six thousand inhabitants; but when he walks to a humble cottage here, and, starting from that point, investigates the wonderful influence exerted by the faith of a poor girl who lived here forty years ago, its presence is no longer a mystery.

The name of this peasant girl was Bernadette Soubirous. Her parents, like most of the villagers, were plain, hardworking people. One summer afternoon in 1858, the child, then fourteen years of age, went out as usual to gather wood. Suddenly, while passing a grotto by the side of the road, she is said to have heard a peculiar noise, and, looking into the cavern, to have beheld there a vision of the Holy Virgin clad in a long white robe and silvery veil, with a light blue sash, and slippers adorned with golden roses. Among the words which she declared the Virgin addressed to her then and on subsequent occasions were the following: "Go tell the priests to build a church for me here." "Go drink, and wash in a fountain that will miraculously spring up before you." In response to Ber-nadette's entreaties that she would favor her with her name, the celestial visitor replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception."