Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/51

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light from the front; the houses, as a whole, are dry, warm in winter and cool in summer, and do not suffer from lack of ventilation; and their inhabitants, as a rule, are a healthy and vigorous people. Some of the proprietors have whitened the fronts of their dwellings, and have planted gardens in the ground over them and in front of them, so as to give their homes a not unpleasing air; and the cave dwellings are much drier and more healthful than city basements.

Another group of inhabited caves is described in La Nature by M. Brossard de Corbigny as stretching for the length of a kilo

PSM V41 D051 The grottoes of meschers charente inferieure france.jpg
Fig. 12.—The Grottoes of Meschers, in the Bluff, Charente-Inférieure, France.
(From a water-color sketch by M. Brossard de Corbigny.)

metre along the right bank of the river Gironde, at Meschers, in the Charente-Inférieure, France. "They are excavated in a high bluff of shell-rock, which is crowned above them by a number of windmills, some still active while others are disused, and face the broad river, commanding a view of the sea and the Cordouan Tower in the distance. The caves are partly natural and partly the work of man. They can not be seen from the top of the bluff, and are accessible by goat-paths descending from the mills—not very pleasant walking for women and children, especially where it has been necessary to cut stepping-notches in the rock. Not all the paths are equally difficult of descent, and some leading to the stations of the lobster-fishers go down to a kind of ladder that reaches to the water's edge. Whatever path one follows, he is sure at about a third of the distance down to come upon an excavation suggesting the nest of some gigantic sea-bird of the olden time; but he will soon observe that the bottoms of the caves and the roofs have been made smooth by the hand of man, while the great openings looking out upon-the sea bear marks of erosion by