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voluble enough, their minds were concentrated on the subject of sous. They were disreputably human in their eagerness to "get rich quickly." In this they were abetted by the native women in their company. The close proximity of so many unwashed hands and arms was not the least of my discomfiture. The chauffeur, seeing my predicament, hurried the car up to me. From that stronghold I distributed copper coins to the young barbarians.
The specialty of Michelet is its wide panorama. The little village faces a titanic pile of mountains with summits swept in all directions by magnificent fields of snow. It is the great Djura-Djura range, from which Michelet is separated by tremendous cañons, and by high foothills upon whose minor peaks cling in irregular procession the strange-looking Kabyle villages, surrounded by a cultivated loveliness of green growths.
On our way down into the fertile plain of the Sebaou we passed a chubby-cheeked, dear little Kabyle maid of barely six summers. She was the shepherd of one fat sheep, and said sheep was standing in the middle of the road, staring with ovine stupidity at the red monster-a Jugger naut-bearing down upon him. Brakes were promptly applied, and the horn was
loudly tooted. The sheep turned tail and tore wildly up the mountain-side, and the little maid, seeing her charge disappear among a wilderness of trees, sat squarely down where she stood, rubbed two small, dirty fists in her eyes, and sobbed piteously, "Oh, mama! oh, mama!" The sweet familiar word had a curious sound, coming from the soft lips of this Kabyle baby. I wondered whether it was not a universal word. It is certain that I have heard it cried in Tokio, by little Japanese toddlers, and again in Peking, by small almond-eyed celestials.
The country, after leaving the Sebaou, continued to be beautiful, and again became mountainous and we entered a large forest where the fantastic cork-tree predominates. Our guide told us that this forest was the abode of a Kabyle bandit and his band who until recently terrorized travelers. The French government long offered in vain a large reward for his capture; but finally a certain Kabyle, bolder or hungrier than his friends, successfully betrayed him to the soldiers.
The afternoon was rosily flushing to a close, when we descended into a lovely valley, blooming with orange, lemon and pomegranate groves, and saw the Bay of Bougie shining blue in the distance. Bou
gie is a charming little town, with a background of purple mountains.
Owing to our desire to push on to Biskra-the scene of "The Garden of Allah"-that fascinating, white city in the heart of an oasis, we gave but one night to Bougie. We took the Djidjelli road partly because it sounded good, and mainly because it is the thing to do. It is cut in the side of steep, rocky walls, and in some places tunneled through them. The sea view as you emerge from these rocky vaults (which are never of any great length) is the most pictorial imaginable. The road was built at immense expense. Here, as elsewhere in North Africa, the traveler is filled with admiration at the achievements of the French.
There is something unspeakably imposing about the tremendous defile called the Gorge de Chabet. The road winds for five awe-inspiring miles between mountains six thousand feet high, whose rocky summits seem to meet overhead. A deep torrent lies at the bottom of the narrow gorge. In the perpetual twilight reigning there, wild monkeys sometimes meet to fight and drink. The day we rode through the defile, not a live creature was in sight, although eagles also, it is said, make their abode in the inaccessible recesses of the
great rocks. Man's work in the Gorge de Chabet produces no impression on the mind, and this in spite of the noble sevenarched bridge which spans the stream, and the splendid road-cut more often than not in the very walls of the mountainwhich threads its smooth white way through the titanic chasm.
The most striking feature in the country after leaving Kerrata is its impressive breadth and its bareness. The road ascends and curves through a wide, colorless land where not a tree is seen, and not a hut or tent is passed, and where in the near distance mountains rise in naked grandeur. Yet this region is a great grazing country, a certain ashy-hued, and no doubt succulent grass grows here, and we passed many herds of sheep and cattle, guarded by silent, biblical-looking shepherds squatting on the ground. The treeless character of vast stretches of the land in Algeria and Tunisia, causes one to wonder whether the climate of North Africa has not changed since the days of the Roman occupation. It is a fact that toward the end of the Roman empire Africa exported quantities of wood to Italy.
The sun was still high when we entered the walled city of Setif, an ancient city of the Romans. The French maintain a
large army in North Africa, and Setif is one of their most important military stations. As we entered the town, a brass band was marching down the street playing a two-step. Behind the band danced a procession of young recruits, arms interlocked, and wearing brilliant red caps, though otherwise dressed in workaday clothes. Nothing could have been gayer, more suggestive of lively indifference than the manner in which they skipped from one side of the street to the other. A tattered but picturesque Arab youth led the procession of Frenchmen, dancing with the utmost abandon, his bare, brown legs performing feats of high comedy. He was surrounded by an escort of ragged urchins.
A beneficent rain fell during the night and the weather was still rather lowering when we stepped into the automobile to continue our journey. One hundred and thirty-five miles lay between us and Biskra. We parted with our French guide at Setif. As a megaphone he had been perfectly successful. His utility in the capacity of guide was perhaps not so pronounced. I may mention here that we completed comfortably our tour in North Africa without further guidance than good road-maps and occasional inquiries from French-speaking natives. Our route led us through a vast, treeless but fertile plain, with an appearance of careful culti
vation-it is a great grain-producing country-but with a somber aspect. Now and again droves of camels passed us, their stately, slow stride changing into an ungainly run as we approached. We saw for the first time the low tents of the Bedouins silhouetted against the silver gray sky.
Hour after hour we rode through this wide, free country, occasionally passing sleepy Arab villages where the only visible wakeful creatures were the tall white storks standing guard over their nests on high tree-tops. Beyond Ngaous all cultivation ceased. We came to a stony barren land with the Atlas mountains rising mistily in the distance. Near El Kantara the vegetation again became abundant. There were groups of pale eucalyptus, dusky mulberry-trees, and here and there small, flourishing lemon groves. El Kantara itself seems to lean against the base of a long, jagged wall of rock in which there is no apparent opening. Yet somewhere in that towering pile is a rift, and beyond that rift (called the El Kantara gorge) stretches the burning desert. the old Roman days the gorge was called the "Calceus Herculis" because the ancients pretended to a belief that the son of Jupiter split the mountain by the simple procedure of kicking it. The Romans placed at this entrance to the Sahara a company of soldiers brought from Pal
myra and accustomed to the heat of the Syrian desert. Traces of their sojourn are still found in the region.
The route was rough in places, notably so on the Col de Sfa. The French are building a fine new road here, though its completion, I venture to predict, will be a matter of some years. On the Col de Sfa we had a magnificent view over the immense desert and the Aures mountains, which stretch seventy-five miles from east to west and forty miles from north to south. The desert coloring is like a tremendously stirring silent opera. With a thrill one feels without understanding, that here in this land is something mystical, passionate, something that stirs the blood and makes the life of the roving Bedouin seem to be the one worth living.
On the Col de Sfa we passed a young Englishwoman seated on the ground, leisurely puffing a cigarette. The camel she had ridden was standing near; her Arab attendant had his face turned westward. Somehow the young woman, though comely enough, did not fit in with her environment. It was quite plain from her expression that we did not either. In truth, an automobile-even a brilliant red one-harmonizes perhaps less with the desert than a conventionally clad young woman smoking a cigarette.
In front of us the long yellow trail stretched on with serpentine curves and twists into the remote dimness. There was a dark speck on the horizon; it grew larger and larger as we approached, until we could see shimmering crests of innumerable palm-trees, and shining white walls and minarets. It was Biskra, the Queen of the Desert, whose surrounding territory is one of the few districts in Algeria that has remained under the government of the French army.
It is difficult to say what constitutes the charm of Biskra. That it has a charm, an extraordinary charm even, is apparent to every visitor. For one thing, it is by reason of its position more detached from the life of the present day than any other town in Algeria. One seems to touch here the borders of the ancient world, a vague, a vanished world. Before midnight the north wind swept Biskra. In the fondauk across the street the camels grew restless and emitted strange growls, and in the vague blackness of the stormy night, the
tom-toms at the Cafés Maures beat incessantly. The wind was still blowing with spasmodic fury when we went out the next morning to explore Biskra. There are innumerable cafés in the little town; the Arab selects his favorite resort and before the open palm-wood doors, sits on a stool, bench, or mat spread upon the ground, drinking coffee from a white handleless cup. Here he spends long hours chatting with his friends, playing chess, dominoes, dominoes, draughts-the ladies' game,
they call it or dozes comfortably in the shade, curled up inside his burnoose, looking very much like a sack of potatoes.
Beyond the negro quarter stretches a wide, white street, bordered with rows of palm-trees. Near the end of the street is the high stone wall of the "Jardin Landon." We knocked at the gate, which was opened by a pleasant-faced young Arab, and were admitted into one of the most remarkable gardens in the world. Six acres have been snatched from the desert and made to bring forth not alone the palm, which flourishes with "its feet in the water and its head in the fires of heaven," but almost every known tropical tree and many of the temperate zone. Charming little paths wind through this blooming forest, where bamboo chairs and benches invite one continually to linger in the pleasant summer twilight of the trees. Scattered about the garden are small detached white buildings of Moorish architecture, and covered with purple masses of bougainvillea. These buildings-so the pleasant-faced Arab guide informed us in excellent French-are the various livingrooms of the owner, Comte Landon de Longeville. Delightful as this retreat is, he seldom occupies it more than a few weeks during the year. But it remains the joy of the tourist who finds in its greenness relief from the quivering light and glare of the African sun, as well as exquisite pleasure in the vegetation and the artistic arrangement of its growth.
Our excursion to Sidi-Okba was postponed from day to day, because of the wind. It filled the air with golden specks of sand that stung the face sharply and scratched painfully the eye. The Arabs drew the folds of their burnooses over their mouths and hastily sought shelter from a wind which was unquestionably cold. In the hotel the tourists, shivering
in light summer garments, unearthed from the bottom of their trunks coats and wraps and spent a great deal of time grumbling good-naturedly about the chill of an African spring. Finally the wind abated and we motored to Sidi-Okba. It lies thirteen miles beyond Biskra, in the desert, a little brown village in the center of an oasis of 60,000 magnificent palm-trees.
When we entered the village our car was followed by a crowd of men and children, running, screaming, gesticulating. In the clamor about us, we could distinguish a few French sentences bellowed from the thick lips of a man in a ragged burnoose. "I am the only honest, reliable guide; I am the only authorized guide. See, here is my paper. Look at it -look at it." He jumped on the steps of the car, and thrusting a dirty bit of paper under our noses, began at the same time fiercely to berate the crowd in Arabic. From that moment he took command of us. We were approaching the market: "Arrêtez," he shrieked. "Arrêtez." And we did. He jumped down and imperiously waved the clamoring crowd back. "Descendez," he ordered. Again we obeyed, while he pushed, punched, and belabored those who came near us. He was assisted in this task by a little pock-marked man who called himself a gendarme and who appointed two Arabs to guard our car.
We entered a long narrow street which led round to the market. Absurd little shops not much larger than a cupboard were on each side and contained for the most part comestibles. One basket held a quantity of dried locusts. When we inquired what uses those dead insects were put to, our guide replied by seizing a particularly large and hideous locust and crunching it contentedly between his teeth. One shop was in charge of a stalwart old Arab who did not raise his eyes from the Koran he was studying, to cast a glance at us. In another shop sat a man diligently stitching a white burnoose on an American sewing-machine. An Arab treading a sewing-machine in an oasis in the desert of Sahara is not, I apprehend, what Western eyes are prepared to encounter.
In the midst of the human pandemonium of the market, camels were kneeling
in the glare of the sun serenely chewing the cud, or roaring plaintively. From this noisy scene we turned to visit the mosque where lie the saintly bones of Okba-benNafi, or as he is more generally called, Sidi-Okba, and spent the remainder of our time enjoying the view from the minaret. After that, our guide dismissed us and we returned to Biskra in a sand-storm, muffled to our chins in furs.
The following morning we bade a reluctant farewell to Biskra. I have but a confused memory of that day's ride, which began at nine and ended a little after five in the evening. This confusion is because of the profound impression made upon me by Timgad. It stands to-day in my mind as the most interesting, the most touching, and most fascinating place in North Africa. Politically, Timgad was of little importance in the Roman world; few historians have made even a passing reference to her existence. So it happened that we approached Timgad with chattering teeth and an amiable indifference to her charms, and that we left her-despite the cold— with burning regret. Thamugadi, the Romans called the city, founded in the year 100, in the reign of the Emperor Trajan. She lies now a ruined white dream city, alone in the center of a vast plateau, facing the Aures mountains. The theater, back of the forum, is set against a small hill. Over three thousand people could be seated at the play. The orchestra is in a fair state of preservation, also the colonnade of the portico, but the stage has entirely disappeared.
At the extreme end of one of two intersecting avenues stands Trajan's Arch. It was formerly the main entrance to Timgad. Beyond it stretched a great stonepaved highway to Lambessa, the headquarters of the Third Augustan Legion. The soldiers of this famous legion were the architects and builders of the city.
Our next objective point was Tebessa, but owing to the inclemency of the weather we did not stop, and hurried on to Batna, with wide, clean streets, and wellbuilt houses. We went to Constantine the next morning, motoring over a rolling country bare of trees but rich in fine grazing-grounds.
(To be concluded)