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Albi and its cathedral. What New York Now it was the abode of perfect peace. commercial traveler, we asked ourselves, An itinerant shoemaker had set up his shop would answer questions about, say, the Ca- in a wagon at the rear of the building, and a thedral of St. John the Divine with as much merry song came from his partly open door. intelligence or enthusiasm as did this French- At the side of the church a splendid stone man about scenes familiar to him?
porch, elaborately sculptured, constituted the When, after an hour's journey, we came main entrance. Within, the vast proportions in sight of Albi, our friend motioned to us to of the edifice, built without nave or aisles, look across the river. La Cathédral !" he were modified by a magnificent rood screen exclaimed with pride. We gazed on a huge which separated the church into two parts, mass of brick, topped with a single, some- one for the people, the other reserved for the what austere tower, and reserved our de- use of the clergy. cision as to the position of Albi's Cathedral After inspecting the wonderful carving of on our list of fine churches.
this screen, seeing some of the many fine We did not, however, make any reserva- statues of saints and apostles, and marveling tions as to the picturesqueness of the town's at the semi-Byzantine effect of the decorasituation. High above the river, with numer- tion, we descended rapidly from the sublime ous remains of defensive works and with sev- and began a search for the inevitable posteral fine old bridges, the town immediately cards which were to tell our friends of our impresses one an age-old, worth-while * find." The search was rewarded with unplace. The prevailing tone of color is a dull expected diversion. The custodian of the red, for Cathedral, forts; bridges, and houses cards, a capable woman of the type that is are of brick. Dull skies this afternoon tone usually selected for such a job by the wise the color into a softness of hue that is most fathers, was surprised to find that her visitors pleasing
were from the far-off land of America. Her After reaching the little station and bid- surprise was outdone by that of some of the ding our commercial friend adieu, we go at town's idlers, who gathered near and gazed once to the Cathedral, for have we not planned open-mouthed at the visitors from the New to leave on the only returning train that after- World. To one who is accustomed to the noon? But the way to the big church sophisticated natives of many foreign cities, proves altogether alluring, with quaint, twist- this attitude of the Albigenses was most ing streets, timbered houses, and interesting gratifying. It was evident, too, in the aspect doorways. Before we arrive at the Cathe- of the children whom one met. Their attidral we succumb to Albi's charm and forget tude toward the visitors was that of respectour afternoon train back to Toulouse. ful wonderment. One of the tourists dropped
We approach the great church from its a glove while standing in the street. A little rear, and a stupendous mass of brick it Albigensian picked it up and stood gravely seems, with walls running up a hundred and holding it, like a precious memento, till the thirty feet, surmounted by small turrets. loser turned and saw the small boy waiting Narrow windows pierce the lower part, with for attention. The glove was restored withloopholes here and there. The massive, out the slightest appeal for a reward, but bastion-like buttressed walls indicate the pur- simply as an act of courtesy from one gentlepose of the Cathedral to serve as a place of man to another. So, also, when the tourists defense if necessity arose. The religious inquired for a certain street of a group of wars in which the Albigenses, or natives of school-boys who passed. One of these boys Albi, were engaged in the Middle Ages, was instantly deputed to go with the strangers though they were mostly over by the time and show them the way. Does the reader this Cathedral of Saint Cecilia was built, wonder that after this Albi was immediately naturally suggested the idea of a church double-starred in the visitors' note-book ? stronghold, and on several occasions the After a long stay in and about the CatheCathedral has heard the tramp of armed men dral came the search for a stopping-place for within its massive walls. It could, of course, the night, with some incidental shopping-for no more than the Cathedral of Rheims with- the tourists had come empty-handed. Was stand the assault of modern artillery, but in it not a pleasure to be waited upon by the the time when it was built it was indeed, in proprietress of the little dry-goods store, with Luther's phrase, a “castle strong of our every sign of interest in the unexpected cusGod.”
tomers! How different, we thought, her