Ten years before, by the old road, we had seen nothing of all this, and therefore could now better understand why the late King of Bavaria found in this region a delightful resting-place, and spent here a large portion of his time. Indeed, so fond was that eccentric monarch of this retired section of his kingdom, that he constructed here a palace, and laid out a park, upon which were expended several millions. To both park and palace the public has now unrestricted access, and tourists find here an impressive contrast between the rude surroundings of the people of Ober-Ammergau,only an hour's drive away, and the magnificence of a king, whose madness took the form of measureless extravagance, to end at last in violent insanity and a tragic death.

Monastery Of Ettal

Monastery Of Ettal.

The Palace Of Linderhof

The Palace Of Linderhof.

Not far from the road leading from the highway to the palace, we came in sight of an imposing structure, which proved to be the old Benedictine monastery of Ettal, founded in 1332. For years this institution exercised a great religious and intellectual influence over the entire valley. The villagers of Ober-Ammergau received instruction in its school, while the library of the monastery, which numbered one hundred thousand volumes, offered to all a rare opportunity for intellectual improvement. It was, in fact, the monks of Ettal who taught the people of this region wood-carving, trained them in music and the representation of religious dramas, and in many other ways made them superior to the average mountain peasantry of Bavaria.

But this is now no longer a religious stronghold. True, its buildings still remain as witnesses to its former wealth and power; but many years ago the monastery was suppressed by the Government, and all its inmates went forth into distant lands. A part of the old edifice is now used as the summer home of the owner of the property; but other portions of it serve as a brewery, and over one of the doors we read with some surprise the legend, "God bless the beer of Ettal."

Not far from this historic structure we came upon a peasant, watering his horses at a wayside spring.

"There," said our coachman, "is one of the characters in the Passion Play."

"Who is he?" I exclaimed.

"He!" said the driver, with a laugh. "I am not speaking of the man, but of one of those horses. It is the one on which the Roman centurion rides in the scene of the Crucifixion." I glanced at one of my companions. There was a look of horror on his face. "Do not be shocked," I said. "I understand your feeling perfectly; ten years ago I felt as you do now, but - wait and see."

The Centurion's Horse

The Centurion's Horse.

Tableau Of Adam And Eve Driven From Paradise

Tableau Of Adam And Eve Driven From Paradise.

Half an hour later we suddenly perceived the little village which has gained such world-wide fame. Above it rose, like a familiar friend to former visitors, a striking mountain, called the Kofel, towering two thousand feet above the town itself. But the mighty cross, which in 1880 had formed so prominent a feature of the landscape, was missing from its summit.

The Village And The Kofel

The Village And The Kofel.

"Where is it?" I inquired eagerly.

"Two months ago," was the reply, "it was blown down in a wild storm; but before next Sunday it will be replaced."

I was rejoiced to learn this fact; for, owing to the peculiar situation of the mountain, the cross upon its summit seemed to be the presiding genius of the place. It glittered in the dawn an hour before the mists of morning left the valley; and even after twilight had enfolded Ober-Ammergau itself in a dusky mantle, that lofty cross, with outstretched arms resplendent in the sunset glow, seems to be giving to the peaceful vale its benediction.

Passing within the town, our attention was first attracted by one of its most prominent features - the river - which, in a flood of crystal clearness, sweeps through the village directly from the mountains. Both of its banks are lined with houses, barns, and gardens. On almost every dwelling we beheld a cross, indicative of the religious feeling of the villagers.