Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 361 pages of information about Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine.
a little bundle of clothes.  It must be very hard to ask for work from farm to farm.  I can enter fully into the attachment of the French peasant to his bit of land, which, although it may yield him little more than his black bread, cannot be taken from him so long as he can manage to live by the sweat of his brow.  Many of these peasant proprietors can barely keep body and soul together; but when they lie down upon their wretched beds at night, they feel thankful that the roof that covers them and the soil that supports them are their own.  The wind may howl about the eaves, and the snow may drift against the wall, but they know that the one will calm down, and that the other will melt, and that life will go on as before—­hard, back-breaking, grudging even the dark bread, but secure and independent.  Waiting to be hired by another man, almost like a beast of burden—­what a trial is here for pride!  Happily for the human race, pride, although it springs naturally in the breast of man, only becomes luxuriant with cultivation.  The poor labourer does not feel it unless his instinctive sense of justice has been outraged.


One cannot be sure of the weather even in the South of France, where the skies are supposed, by those who do not know them, to be perpetually blue.  The ‘South of France’ itself is a very deceptive term.  The climate on one side of a range of mountains or high hills may be altogether different from that on the other.  In Upper Languedoc and Guyenne the climate is regulated by three principal factors:  the elevation of the soil, the influence of the Mediterranean, and the influence of the Atlantic.  On the northern side of the Cevennes, the currents from the ocean, together with the altitude, do much to keep the air moist and comparatively cool in summer; whereas on the other side of the chain, where the Mediterranean influence—­in a large measure African—­is paramount, the climate is dry and torrid during the hot months.  A liability to sudden changes goes with the advantages of the more favoured region.  This was enforced upon me at Millau.

At seven o’clock the sky, lately of such a fiery blue, was of a most mournful smokiness, and the rain fell in a drenching spray.  It was mountain weather, and I blamed the Cevennes for it.  But I was in the South, and at a season when bad weather is seldom in earnest, so I did not despair of a change when the sun rose higher.  It came, in fact, at about eight o’clock, when, a breeze springing up, the clouds, after a short struggle, were swept away.  The market-women spread out upon the pavement their tomatoes, their purple aubergines, their peaches, and green almonds; the harvesters, long hesitating, went out into the fields to reap; and I, leaving the Tarn, took my way up the valley of the gleaming Dourbie.  Millau was soon nearly hidden in its basin, but above it, on the sides of the surrounding hills, scattered

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Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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