Wild lavender and thyme and yellow gorse still fringe the road a little further, with here and there an almondtree; but soon the road begins to cling to one side of a cliff, with a sheer drop on the outer edge, guarded by lines of scattered stones. Then a wild, desolate valley opens out to the east, and the guardstones of the winding road crowd close together like the battlements upon a fortress, while the steep mountain-sides burn blue and gold with countless tiny blossoms set among the scanty green. Alone and bare, and straight ahead, a gaunt crag of wind-swept limestone marks and bars the valley's end. The road, now built upon a wall, crosses over to the northern side, and the stone-carts from the quarries above begin to swing down with their first freights for the day. Quite unexpectedly the horizon opens out towards the plains of Orgon and Cavaillon on the east, and westwards to Tarascon and Beaucaire." Above the rocky amphitheatre from which the road seems to have emerged the silver line of the Rhone shows like a glittering thread in the morning sunlight, just where the elephants of Hannibal crossed it so long ago, just where Nicolete first saw Aucassin coming downwards from the castle gate. Through towering walls of white, a way
has been cut for the carriage road sheer down into the limestone, and quarries begin to gape on every side, until suddenly upon the right a little slip of green valley pushes its way into this rocky desolation, and from some hidden building in it a bell rings slowly, like the dirge for a dead world that has already turned to stone.
By Theodore Andrea Cook