Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 307 pages of information about Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine.
into her mouth; he tugs at her ear with one hand, and uses his stick upon her nose with the other.  The brute screams with anger, but will not open her jaws wide enough for him to slip his stick in and hook the truffle out.  The prize is swallowed, and the old man, forgetting all decorum, and only thinking of his loss, calls his companion a pig, which in France is always an insult.  Our truffle-hunting to-day has opened badly, although one party thinks differently.  In a few minutes, however, another truffle is found, and this time the old man delivers a whack on the nose at the right moment, and, seizing the fungus, hands it to me.  Now he takes from his pocket a spike of maize, and, picking off a few grains, gives them to the pig to soothe her injured feelings, and encourage her to hunt again.  This she is quite ready to do, for a pig has no amour propre.  We move about in the dry open wood, keeping always near the trees, and truffle after truffle is turned up from the reddish light soil mixed with fragments of calcareous rock.  The forgotten training soon comes back to our invaluable auxiliary; a mere twitch of the ear is a sufficient hint for her to retire at the right moment, and wait for the corn that is in variably given in exchange for the cryptogam.  Indeed, before we leave the ground, the animal has got so well into work that when she finds a truffle she does not attempt to seize it, but points to it, and grunts for the equivalent in maize.  The pig may be a correct emblem of depravity, but its intelligence is certainly of a superior order.

FROM THE ALZOU TO THE DORDOGNE.

Although the last days of May had come, the Alzou, usually dry at this time, was running with swift, strong current through the vale of Roc-Amadour.  There had been so many thunderstorms that the channel was not large enough for the torrent that raced madly over its yellow pebbles.  I lingered awhile in the meadow by the stream, looking at the rock-clinging sanctuary before wandering in search of the unknown up the narrow gorge.

In a garden terraced upon the lower flank of the rock, the labour of generations having combined to raise a soil there deep enough to support a few plum, almond, and other fruit trees, a figure all in black is hard at work transplanting young lettuces.  It is that of a teaching Brother.  He is a thin grizzled man of sixty, with an expression of melancholy benevolence in his rugged face.  I have watched him sitting upon a bench with his arm round some little village urchin by his side, while the children from the outlying hamlets, sprawling upon a heap of stones in the sun, ate their mid-day meal of bread and cheese or buckwheat pancakes that their mothers had put into their baskets before they trudged off in the early morning.  I have noticed by many signs that he is full of sympathy for the young peasants placed in his charge.  Yet with all his kindness he is melancholy.  So many years in one place, such a dull routine of duty, such a life of abnegation without the honour that sustains and encourages, such impossibility of being understood and appreciated by those for whose sake he has been breaking self upon the wheel of mortification since his youth, have made him old before the time and fixed that look of lurking sadness in his warmly human eyes.

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