194 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
lowest, being singularly acceptable through their own attractive qualities, and widely known through reports of their largely unostentatious charitable acts. Sir Rutherford was President of the Royal Geographical Society for the usual term, and we saw much of him and his family at various times, eating our Christmas dinner with them on three or four occasions.
Of many pleasant meetings I will only mention one, when we, in company with Sir Lewis and Lady Pelly, made an interesting tour in the South of France from Royat, by that curious natural formation Montpelier le Vieux, round to Avignon. The valley of the Tarn had recently been made accessible to tourists, and I was particularly desirous of seeing its wonders, so our party stopped at Millau to give me an opportunity of going to the Tarn River for a long day by myself. First some distance had to be travelled by railroad, then some miles by a two-wheeled vehicle across the bare Causses, a high limestone upland, down to the beautifully clear Tarn. Every shower that falls. on the Causses percolates through deep " swallows," and finds its way for perhaps 2000 feet vertically through them, issuing from the cliffs as feeders of pure water to the little river.
I was put into a flat-bottomed boat with stalwart boatmen fore and aft, and so dropped down stream. The water was at first so shallow and transparent as to be scarcely visible. The boat seemed to be buoyed in the air above the clean, shingly bottom. So we glided down hour after hour, with vast cliffs on either side clothed sparsely with pre-Rafaelite-looking trees, and with an occasional eagle soaring in the blue sky overhead. Then the river by slow degrees grew