Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/203

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135
THE GREAT EAGLE

chimney, where every step is a basaltic prism that has been broken. The view of the valley from the top of the ladder is of striking beauty. The ascent is 240 feet.

In Thueyts itself there is not much to be seen of architectural interest.

Still further up the valley of the Ardèche, by the fine road constructed by the Estates of Languedoc for communication with Le Puy as easier than that followed by the Romans by Montpezat, is Mayres in the bottom of a valley and in a delightful situation surrounded by mountains. It is the last station before ascending the pass over the backbone of the Cevennes.

Here flutters and soars a great black eagle, that carries off lambs to the nest in the rocks of Astel rising over 900 feet from the valley. It is believed to come from the Alps to spend its breeding season in the Vivarais, both in these rocks and in those of Abraham, and that it returns to the Alps in winter. This is not the Aquila fulva, which is common enough, but the Aquila imperials. It soars so high and keeps so well at a distance from men that the hunters very rarely are able to kill one.

How greatly one would like to know what the men in medieval days thought of the volcanic phenomena of Auvergne and the Velay and the Vivarais. Possibly enough they did not give a thought to them, any more than does the peasant of to-day. But the baron who built his castle on the top of a rock compiled of basaltic prisms thick-set as reeds by a river side, the builders of churches who exploited these naturally faced columns—did they never ask how these came into existence, what their origin was? One can understand how they explained the existence of fossil shells on the moun-