Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/158

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CHAPTER VIII

THE VAL D'OSSAU


The gap of the Val d'Ossau—Gan—Original course of the Gave—Buzy—Gorges de Germe—Arudy—Destruction of forests—Boxwood—Cromlechs—Bielle—Independence of the Republic of Ossau—Costume—Dances—Laruns—Eaux Chaudes—Beggary—Gabas—Eaux Bonnes—Death of the Rev. Merton Smith.


LOOKING south from the terrace at Pau one sees a noble portal in the mountain chain apparently leading to the roots of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau. But it is a mistake to suppose that the drainage of those snowy crests can descend at once into the Gave at one's feet. Between the Val d'Ossau and that of the Gave de Pau a region of hills intervenes. Moreover, the valley that gapes does not lead to the foot of that noble pyramid. It leads to Laruns only, and there the broad trough ends, and above that the Gave descends through a cleft painfully cut through intervening strata.

On the railway from Pau to Laruns the first station is at Gan. In this village, as I remember it fifty years ago, there were but two houses with glass windows, the parsonage and a Renaissance dwelling that belonged to Corisande d'Andouins, one of the many mistresses of Henri Quatre. When cold weather arrived, then the peasants closed their shutters, perforated with a few holes—a heart, a cross, an S—and through this opening derived their light. The train clambers