Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/378

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286
THE CEVENNES

in private hands. It had failed to be a success financially in 1703, and was disposed of to M. Castamé d'Aurac, who built the church. A century later, in 1803, it became the property of the family of Maistre, and it has remained in the same hands ever since.

It now turns out exclusively cloth for the army and uniforms for colleges and railway officials. Long stretches of dark blue and crimson cloth are seen in the meadows outside the walls, destined to be cut into the jackets and breeches of the military. Villeneuvette has retained much of its curious patriarchal organisation. There is no village outside the embattled walls; of the ninety-eight cottages all are given rent free to the artisans, and nothing more is exacted of them save respect for rules of decency and cleanliness. Here no slops may be thrown out of the windows, nor may birds' nests be molested. These restrictions have been indignantly protested against by the Radicals, who charge the organisation of the little community with being bound down by the chains of feudalism. Where is liberty if a householder may not throw his slops down on the head of any one passing in the street? Where is equality if the urchins of Clermont may rob robins' nests and not those of Villeneuvette? Where is fraternity if the artisans may not get fuddled together and roar and riot in drunken bands?

The road ascends the valley of the Dourbie,but to reach Mourèze it makes a circuit round the conical mountain, Le Puy de Bissou, on the summit of which is a chapel where once lived a hermit, but to which no pilgrimages are now made. A bridge has been thrown over the river, and a new road has been begun which will give speedier access by carriage to Mourèze, but which can