The most wonderful and the most beautiful object in the cavern is to be seen in the vast hall, which is the last of the series. This hall has a dome-shaped roof that rises to the height of about sixty feet, and it is supported in the centre, with every appearance of an architectural motive, by a single slender column that seems to have been carved with consummate skill out of alabaster. No image that I can think of conveys the picture of this exquisite stalagmite so justly as that of a column formed of the blossoms of lilies, each cup resting within another.
Having left Marcillac, I passed under the mediaeval village of Sauliac, built high up on a shelf of naked rock, and then reached Cabrerets, which lies two or three miles above the junction of the Cele and the Lot. The village is at the foot of towering limestone cliffs, and many of the houses are built against the gray and yellow stone. The most interesting structure, however, is the castellated one that clings to the face of the rock far above all inhabited dwellings. It goes by the name of the Chateau du Diable, and it is the most considerable of all the rock-fortresses in the valleys of the Cele and the Lot which are attributed to the English companies. It possesses towers and embattlements, and it was evidently intended to defend the defile from any force advancing from the wider valley. Here, doubtless, many a desperate struggle occurred before the companies were dispersed and English influence was finally overcome in these wilds of the Quercy. At a little distance from it, the long iron of a mediaeval arrow, having fastened its head in a cleft of the rock, remained sticking there for centuries, and was only recently removed. The Prefect of the Department took a fancy to it, and had not the good judgment to leave it where it had so long been an object of curiosity. There, resting in the place where the arm of the archer had cast it, it told a story of the old wars, and set the imagination working; but in a collection of local antiquities it is as dumb and almost as worthless as any other piece of old iron.