Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/161

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109
LA POURASSE

A Calvinist infant is brought up on it. It is the first historic fact he has to acquire, and often when grown to man's estate is the only historic fact that he remembers. The massacre has been so rubbed into the minds of the Evangelicals that they cannot look in the face of their fellow-citizens of the other persuasion except through blood-red glass.

This temper sometimes produces vexatious results. In a village in the Boutières, where the meeting-house happened to possess a bell, one Sunday an old woman went to sleep during the discourse, and did not wake when the congregation dispersed; and being overlooked, was locked in. When she roused from her slumber, she went to the bell-rope and pulled long and hard. At the sound of the tocsin all the Protestants within hearing were roused. Now at last the long-expected massacre was coming off. Women and children fled to the woods. The men barricaded their houses, loaded their rifles, and prepared to sell their lives dearly. The bell pealed on, every scrap of courage save among the most heroic sank to their stocking-soles, when the old woman, having failed to summon relief, took to relieving herself from her situation by flinging the rope out of a window and crawling down it. Parturiunt montes nascetur ridiculus mus.

In 1885, when at the election for the Legislature the Conservative list passed in its entirety, the Protestants of Les Boutières were so impressed with the revival of Catholic hopes and their successes that one of these panics fell on them. Indeed, they have a name for such, la pourasse.

Before the outbreak of the Revolution there were many little nobles and landed gentry in the country