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Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine

by Edward Harrison Barker

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From the Old-English town of Martel, in Guyenne, I turned southward towards the Dordogne. For a few miles the road lay over a barren plateau; then it skirted a desolate gorge with barely a trace of vegetation upon its naked sides, save the desert loving box clinging to the white stones.

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In a garden terraced upon the lower flank of the rock, the labour of generations having combined to raise a soil there deep enough to support a few plum, almond, and other fruit trees, a figure all in black is hard at work transplanting young lettuces. It is that of a teaching Brother. He is a thin grizzled man of sixty, with an expression of melancholy benevolence in his rugged face. I have watched him sitting upon a bench with his arm round some little village urchin by his side, while the children from the outlying hamlets, sprawling upon a heap of stones in the sun, ate their mid-day meal of bread and cheese or buckwheat pancakes that their mothers had put into their baskets before they trudged off in the early morning.



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