Another less poetic, but equally characteristic, feature, was the collection of stones on the house-tops, which keep in place the loosely fastened shingles. On one such roof alone we counted one hundred and ninety-seven of these ornaments. Every such structure, therefore, if severely shaken, would yield a good-sized avalanche of miniature mountain boulders; and any Ober-Am-mergau peasant who happened to be passing at the time would probably be forced against his will to enact the role of the martyr Stephen.

Some of the more pretentious houses are even startling in their external appearance. With the exception of their wooden roofs, they are usually made of cement, covered with whitewashed plaster, and on these pure white walls we saw a strange variety of frescoes, some pretty, others grotesque, but most of them religious in their sentiment. There is in these decorations, as we have hinted, a curious blending of the sacred and the secular. Thus, while on one hotel we saw portrayed in rainbow hues some Bible scenes, together with incidents in the lives of saints, upon another we found depicted, as a most seductive object-lesson, a jovial peasant with a glass of beer, apparently calling out, "Gesundheit!" - "your health!" - to the passer-by.

Stream Through The Village

Stream Through The Village.

"You see," I said to a companion who was paying his first visit to the place, "these people have artistic tastes, which are sometimes thus crudely shown in frescoes, but are displayed with excellent judgment in the costumes used by them in the Play."

"Costumes?" echoed my friend; "what have these peasants to do with the costumes, except to wear them? Of course they are made in Munich or Vienna."

Frescoed Walls

Frescoed Walls.

The Passion Play 253

"gesundheit! "

"Only the bare material is bought there," I replied. " The costumes for this year, valued at several thousand dollars, were all made by the villagers themselves, in imitation of old paintings and engravings, and under the direction of the teacher in their school of sculpture - which, by the way, is the very building we are now approaching."

"The school of sculpture ["repeated my companion, "What do you mean by that, in such a place as this ? Am I losing my senses, or have you lost yours?"

"Incredible as it may seem," I answered, "there is in this secluded spot a permanent school where wood-carving is taught. It has long been supported by the villagers at no little pecuniary sacrifice. It has had at times as many as two hundred and fifty pupils. For recollect that sculpture in wood is still the chief occupation of these people; and Joseph Maier, who enacts the part of Christ, and the Judas, the Peter, the Pilate, and many of the other leading characters, are really artists, their productions being now sent (of course, mainly from their associations with the Passion Play) to every part of Europe and America, and even to Australia."

While I was thus speaking, there had emerged from a neighboring house a young man about nineteen years of age. "That," said our coachman, in a whisper, "is St. John."

The School Of Sculpture

The School Of Sculpture.

The Passion Play 255Annas. Moses

Annas. Moses.

The Passion Play 257Herod. Samuel

Herod. Samuel.