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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/269

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The barometer indicated that we were one hundred and forty-three feet above the mouth of the river—a considerable fall in a course of eleven hundred and forty feet. After a few moments of rest, we turned back, and, crossing the hall of the Dome, we engaged ourselves with the southern gallery, which presented quite a fairy spectacle. In this succession of little halls connected by narrow passages, where we had to pass creeping, the stalactites were crowded in front of us, innumerable, resplendent, lengthening out into slender spindles, graceful little columns, and marvelous pendants, intact and immaculate. A few steps farther on, in the Diamond passage (Couloir des Diamants), the spectacle became grand. The roof, the walls, and even the ground were tapestried with crystals cut in facets, which shone under our lamps in dazzling brightness. While absorbed in the scene from the Thousand and One Nights, I heard my boatman Suau cry out, "Monsieur, there is a dog!" and then (Salle du Chien), in the half-light of the back of the hall, I saw it in my turn. It was sitting down and looked at us, but did not rise as we neared it;

PSM V49 D269 The subterranean river midroi.jpg
Fig. 2.—The Subterranean River Midroi (Ardèche, France). (From a photograph.)

it was a block of stalagmite, which quite deceived us for a few seconds. Having recovered from our surprise, we examined the hall, passing from enchantment to enchantment. From the roof hung broad curtains of stalactite nearly ten feet long, and separated from one another by only a few inches, just enough to permit us to put our lamp between them. They