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an inheritance, the Catacombs of Paris. Pray
what would you do with them, sir? M. Puy
has the catacombs, or carrières of Lezennes,
and he applies them to mushroom growing
on a large scale. Permission granted, they
are curious to see; butand I now write in
serious warning if you do go to see, Beware!
Do not dare to visit them after a champagne
luncheon, nor in company with people who
like to play the fool, and who mistake bravado
for wit and spirit.

You are conducted to a village inn, to
which inn belongs a cellar. In the side of
the cellar is a little door, through which you
descend by wooden steps to the caverns
below. The depth is nothing, and varies
scarcely at all; you are only six-and-thirty
feet beneath the surface. You are furnished
with a little hand-lamp, and a guide of course
accompanies you. There can be no harm or
cowardice in requesting one or two others to
join the party; and the man who should
resolve never to enter these underground
quarries without a store of lucifers and wax-
lights in one pocket and of biscuits in the
other, ought not to be set down as either a
fool or a poltroon. I am ashamed to confess
to having thrust myself into what might
easily prove a fatal dungeon, without the
least precaution of the kind.

The spot to which you first descend is the
centre of a series of irregular ramifications,
extending hither and thither beneath the
earth, running off to the right and left,
interlacing and starting away afresh for four or
five leagues, no one knows whither and is not
a bit too anxious to ascertain. They are
three or four yards wide on the average, and
about as many high, cut through the soft
limestone rock (which now and then falls in,
in places), but are really of quite irregular
dimensions, sometimes so low and so narrow
as only to allow the passage of a single person.
There are cross-ways, branching roads, and
blind alleys leading to nothing. As far as
the mushroom culture is carried ona very
considerable extent of cavernthere are now
and then (rarely) gratings to the upper air,
through which the necessary manure is let
down, and also serving as ventilators, without
which the workmen could not continue their
labours. Beyond the mushrooms not a ray
of light enters; but even amongst them, and
with a light, I should be sorry to be strayed
and left to find my way back again in the
course of four-and-twenty hours.

Instead of any bins, or shelves, the
mushrooms here are grown on ridges about a
couple of feet high, and of the same breadth
at foot, containing manure and covered with
earth flattened close by the back of the
spade, like miniature ridges for the preservation
of beet-root. No straw is used to cover
them, nor is needful in such an invariable
condition of moisture, atmosphere, and
darkness. They follow the windings, and run
along the course of the caverns, which are
made to contain one, two, or three ridges,
according to their breadth of floor, leaving a
convenient pathway between each ridge, for
the labourers to walk and gather the produce.
At the time of my visit, the growth was
slack; I had been told beforehand there were
no mushrooms: but I found ridges in all the
intermediate states between the first pimply
symptoms of the mushroom-pox, to full- sized
buttons as big as crown-pieces. Other ridges,
again, were exhausted; and were soon to be
removed, to be replaced by fresh materials
for the generation of fungi. Only a small
proportion of the crop is consumed in the
restaurant, although the demand there must
be to no trifling amount; the bulk is sent off
to distant towns, and is even purchased by
"the stranger."

Seven or eight men are constantly employed
in mushroom growing in the carrières. They
receive higher wages than their friends above
ground, and they well deserve every sou they
earn. "But," said a daylight-er who walked
by my side, ''I like sunshine, Monsieur; so I
stick to the garden, though I don't get quite
so much pay as they do." The ruddy bronzed
complexion of the speaker contrasted strangely
with the waxy pallid face of our guide; and
delicate ladies ought to know how good it is
for the health to be well tanned in the
sunbeams at least once or twice a year. The men
work twelve hours a day; consequently, in
winter they never see sunlight, except on
Sundays and fête-days, which they have to
themselves. They are more subject to illness
than field-labourers are, not only in
consequence of losing the stimulus which light
affords to the constitution, but also from
chills, and the imperfect ventilation of the
place and the gases emitted by the fermenting
dung intermingled with those from the
sprouting mushrooms.

On the tenth of January, one thousand
eight hundred and forty-seven, M. Puy
entered his caverns, to plan the arrangement
of his future crop. He went on and on,
thinking of business, without discovering that
he had lost his way. On attempting to
return, he found that he was traversing paths
hitherto unknown to him. Sometimes he
was obliged to crawl on his hands and knees,
to proceed in what he believed the right
direction, but still he could not hit upon any
beaten and recognisable portion of the
interminable grotto. At last, his light went out,
and further progress, any way, if not
impossible, was perfectly useless. He sat down,
determined to wait, knowing that he should
be missed, and that search would be made for
him. It was the wisest, in fact, the only
thing he could do.

There he remained in the dark all night,
seated on the floor of the cavern, he knew not
where. Next morning, Madame Puy, his
motherfor M. Puy is still a single man
finding that he did not return home to
Lille to sleep as usual, felt sure that he had