Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/362

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


356 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the volcano is deeply buried under fallen sand or gravel — the southern end has a covering of only a foot or two. There is a great change in the aspect of the city now, since the later eruptions, from the condi- tion shown by photographs immediately after the destructive blast of the eighth of May. It seems agreed by those who witnessed the erup- tions that the explosion of the twentieth was greater than the first one. In any case, the second blast demolished third stories and leveled the second belfry of the cathedral— the heap of beautiful bells, the chimes 'whose soft, liquid notes used to ring across the water of the bay with touching cadence at the Angelus hour' — they lie tumbled in rubbish, splinters and steaming vapors, their ancient engraved inscriptions half buried in dust. The bodies found were mostly shriveled to a crisp — this too was in part the effect of the second hot blast of the twentieth, for many of the bodies found earlier were described as being not much altered, and some such are shown in the accompanying photographs. The odor was not especially bad, but it is a haunting 'smell that one dreams about afterward ; it is a combination of foundry and steam and sulphur matches and burnt things, with every now and then a whiff of roast or decayed flesh that is horrible.

I had returned over the heaps of rubble along the Eue Victor Hugo, the main street parallel to the water front, to a point not far from the landing, and looked about me. It was impossible to realize that this ruin had been a thriving French city just one fortnight previous; literally not a roof was left the whole length of the city for two miles, and scarcely a timber; nothing but twisted iron and masonry and corpses. Here and there steam rose through little holes in the wet brown sand over a pile of cobbles, and a sickening whiff of it showed whence it came. I found a dead cow in a back stable-yard, and a lot of children's toys, and the dishes set on a dinner table; but one must needs search for these things. Almost everything is buried under fallen walls. The tropical architecture, almost wholly cobblestone masonry and pink plaster, with open courts, alleyways and inner gar- dens, strongly suggests Pompeii ; a wooden New England town could not have persisted three hours in the presence of the giant blowpipe tbat destroyed St. Pierre; it would have been simply burned up and blown away as ashes. The timbers of St. Pierre are practically gone. I looked toward the gray old volcano, whose summit was shrouded, but the lower slopes were sunlit and silent and powdery ; the whole landscape is powdery, like old statuary with a dust coating that makes stronger the modeling of the city; mountain slope and cliff are bare, the verdure of the Carbet hillside ends abruptly along a sharp line, and there begins the new volcanic landscape, clean chiselled, rocky, weird, gray, uniform, without any color, without any motion except steam-

�� �