Puslapio vaizdai

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 Juggernaut-bearing down upon him. Brakes were promptly applied, and the horn was

loudly tooted. The sheep t tore wildly up the mountai little maid, seeing her ch among a wilderness of tree down where she stood, rub dirty fists in her eyes, and so "Oh, mama! oh, mama!" miliar word had a curious from the soft lips of this K wondered whether it was word. It is certain that I cried in Tokio, by little Jap and again in Peking, by sma celestials.

The country, after leavi continued to be beautiful, came mountainous and we forest where the fantastic dominates. Our guide to forest was the abode of a and his band who until rec travelers. The French go offered in vain a large rew ture; but finally a certain or hungrier than his frien betrayed him to the soldiers

The afternoon was rosi close, when we descended valley, blooming with ora pomegranate groves, and Bougie shining blue in the

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gie is a charming little town, with a back- great rocks. Man's work in the Gorge de ground of purple mountains.

Chabet produces no impression on the Owing to our desire to push on to mind, and this in spite of the noble sevenBiskra— the scene of “The Garden of arched bridge which spans the stream, and Allah” — that fascinating, white city in the the splendid road-cut more often than heart of an oasis, we gave but one night to not in the very walls of the mountainBougie. We took the Djidjelli road which threads its smooth white way partly because it sounded good, and mainly through the titanic chasm. because it is the thing to do. It is cut in The most striking feature in the counthe side of steep, rocky walls, and in some try after leaving Kerrata is its impressive places tunneled through them. The sea breadth and its bareness. The road view as you emerge from these rocky ascends and curves through a wide, colorvaults (which are never of any great less land where not a tree is seen, and not length) is the most pictorial imaginable. a hut or tent is passed, and where in the The road was built at immense expense. near distance mountains rise in naked Here, as elsewhere in North Africa, the grandeur. Yet this region is a great graztraveler is filled with admiration at the ing country, a certain ashy-hued, and no achievements of the French.

doubt succulent grass grows here, and we There is something unspeakably impos- passed many herds of sheep and cattle, ing about the tremendous defile called the guarded by silent, biblical-looking shepGorge de Chabet. The road winds for herds squatting on the ground. The treefive awe-inspiring miles between moun- less character of vast stretches of the land tains six thousand feet high, whose rocky in Algeria and Tunisia, causes one to summits seem to meet overhead. A deep wonder whether the climate of North torrent lies at the bottom of the narrow Africa has not changed since the days of gorge. In the perpetual twilight reigning the Roman occupation. It is a fact that there, wild monkeys sometimes meet to toward the end of the Roman empire fight and drink. The day we rode through Africa exported quantities of wood to Italy. the defile, not a live creature was in sight, The sun was still high when we entered although eagles also, it is said, make their the walled city of Setif, an ancient city abode in the inaccessible recesses of the of the Romans. The French maintain a

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large army in North Africa, and Setif is vation-it is a great grain-producing counone of their most important military sta- try—but with a somber aspect. Now and tions. As we entered the town, a brass again droves of camels passed us, their band was marching down the street play- stately, slow stride changing into an uning a two-step. Behind the band danced a gainly run as we approached. We saw for procession of young recruits, arms inter- the first time the low tents of the Bedouins locked, and wearing brilliant red caps, silhouetted against the silver gray sky. though otherwise dressed in workaday Hour after hour we rode through this clothes. Nothing could have been gayer, wide, free country, occasionally passing more suggestive of lively indifference than sleepy Arab villages where the only visible the manner in which they skipped from wakeful creatures

were the tall white one side of the street to the other. A tat- storks standing guard over their nests on tered but picturesque Arab youth led the high tree-tops. Beyond Ngaous all cultiprocession of Frenchmen, dancing with vation ceased. We came to a stony barren the utmost abandon, his bare, brown legs land with the Atlas mountains rising performing feats of high comedy. He was mistily in the distance. Near El Kantara surrounded by an escort of ragged urchins. the vegetation again became abundant.

A beneficent rain fell during the night There were groups of pale eucalyptus, and the weather was still rather lowering dusky mulberry-trees, and here and there when we stepped into the automobile to small, flourishing lemon groves. El Kancontinue our journey. One hundred and tara itself seems to lean against the base thirty-five miles lay between us and Bis- of a long, jagged wall of rock in which kra. We parted with our French guide at there is no apparent opening. Yet someSetif. As a megaphone he had been per- where in that towering pile is a rift, and fectly successful. His utility in the beyond that rift (called the El Kantara capacity of guide was perhaps not so pro- gorge) stretches the burning desert. In nounced. I may mention here that we the old Roman days the gorge was called completed comfortably our tour in North the “Calceus Herculis” because the anAfrica without further guidance than cients pretended to a belief that the son of good road-maps and occasional inquiries Jupiter split the mountain by the simple from French-speaking natives. Our route procedure of kicking it. The Romans led us through a vast, treeless but fertile placed at this entrance to the Sahara a plain, with an appearance of careful culti- company of soldiers brought from Palmyra and accustomed to the heat of the tom-toms at the Cafés Maures beat incesSyrian desert. Traces of their sojourn santly. The wind was still blowing with are still found in the region.

spasmodic fury when we went out the The route was rough in places, notably next morning to explore Biskra. There so on the Col de Sfa. The French are are innumerable cafés in the little town; building a fine new road here, though its the Arab selects his favorite resort and completion, I venture to predict, will be a before the open palm-wood doors, sits on a matter of some years. On the Col de Sfa stool, bench, or mat spread upon the we had a magnificent view over the im- ground, drinking coffee from a white mense desert and the Aures mountains, handleless cup. Here he spends long hours which stretch seventy-five miles from east chatting with his friends, playing chess, to west and forty miles from north to dominoes, draughts - the ladies' game, south. The desert coloring is like a tre- they call it--or dozes comfortably in the mendously stirring silent opera. With a shade, curled up inside his burnoose, lookthrill one feels without understanding, ing very much like a sack of potatoes. that here in this land is something mys- Beyond the negro quarter stretches a tical, passionate, something that stirs the wide, white street, bordered with rows of blood and makes the life of the roving palm-trees. Near the end of the street is Bedouin seem to be the one worth living. the high stone wall of the “Jardin Lan

On the Col de Sfa we passed a young don.” We knocked at the gate, which Englishwoman seated on the ground, was opened by a pleasant-faced young leisurely puffing a cigarette. The camel Arab, and were admitted into one of the she had ridden was standing near; her most remarkable gardens in the world. Arab attendant had his face turned west- Six acres have been snatched from the ward. Somehow the young woman, desert and made to bring forth not alone though comely enough, did not fit in with the palm, which flourishes with “its feet her environment. It was quite plain from in the water and its head in the fires of her expression that we did not either. In heaven," but almost every known tropical truth, an automobile-even a brilliant red tree and many of the temperate zone. one-harmonizes perhaps less with the Charming little paths wind through this desert than a conventionally clad young blooming forest, where bamboo chairs and woman smoking a cigarette.

benches invite one continually to linger in In front of us the long yellow trail the pleasant summer twilight of the trees. stretched on with serpentine curves and Scattered about the garden are small detwists into the remote dimness. There tached white buildings of Moorish archiwas a dark speck on the horizon; it grew tecture, and covered with purple masses of larger and larger as we approached, until bougainvillea. These buildings—so the we could see shimmering crests of innu- pleasant-faced Arab guide informed us in merable palm-trees, and shining white excellent French-are the various livingwalls and minarets. It was Biskra, the rooms of the owner, Comte Landon de Queen of the Desert, whose surrounding Longeville. Delightful as this retreat is, territory is one of the few districts in Al- he seldom occupies it more than a few geria that has remained under the govern

weeks during the year. But it remains ment of the French army.

the joy of the tourist who finds in its It is difficult to say what constitutes the greenness relief from the quivering light charm of Biskra. That it has a charm, an and glare of the African sun, as well as extraordinary charm even, is apparent to exquisite pleasure in the vegetation and every visitor. For one thing, it is by rea- the artistic arrangement of its growth. son of its position more detached from the Our excursion to Sidi-Okba was postlife of the present day than any other town poned from day to day, because of the in Algeria. One seems to touch here the wind. It filled the air with golden specks borders of the ancient world, a vague, a of sand that stung the face sharply and vanished world. Before midnight the scratched painfully the eye. The Arabs north wind swept Biskra. In the fondauk drew the folds of their burnooses over across the street the camels grew restless their mouths and hastily sought shelter and emitted strange growls, and in the from a wind which was unquestionably vague blackness of the stormy night, the cold. In the hotel the tourists, shivering



in light summer garments, unearthed from in the glare of the sun serenely chewing the bottom of their trunks coats and wraps the cud, or roaring plaintively. From this and spent a great deal of time grumbling noisy scene we turned to visit the mosque good-naturedly about the chill of an where lie the saintly bones of Okba-benAfrican spring. Finally the wind abated Nafi, or as he is more generally called, and we motored to Sidi-Okba. It lies Sidi-Okba, and spent the remainder of our thirteen miles beyond Biskra, in the desert, time enjoying the view from the minaret. a little brown village in the center of an After that, our guide dismissed us and we oasis of 60,000 magnificent palm-trees. returned to Biskra in a sand-storm, muf

When we entered the village our car Aed to our chins in furs. was followed by a crowd of men and chil- The following morning we bade a redren, running, screaming, gesticulating. luctant farewell to Biskra. I have but a In the clamor about us, we could dis- confused memory of that day's ride, which tinguish a few French sentences bel- began at nine and ended a little after five lowed from the thick lips of a man in a in the evening. This confusion is because ragged burnoose. “I am the only honest, of the profound impression made upon me reliable guide; I am the only authorized by Timgad. It stands to-day in my mind guide. See, here is my paper. Look at it as the most interesting, the most touching,

- look at it.” He jumped on the steps of and most fascinating place in North the car, and thrusting a dirty bit of paper Africa. Politically, Timgad was of little under our noses, began at the same time importance in the Roman world; few hisfiercely to berate the crowd in Arabic. torians have made even a passing reference From that moment he took command of to her existence. So it happened that we

We were approaching the market: approached Timgad with chattering teeth "Arrêtez," he shrieked. “Arrêtez." And and an amiable indifference to her charms, we did. He jumped down and imperiously and that we left her - despite the cold waved the clamoring crowd back. “Des- with burning regret. Thamugadi, the cendez," he ordered. Again we obeyed, Romans called the city, founded in the while he pushed, punched, and belabored year 100, in the reign of the Emperor those who came near us. He was assisted Trajan. She lies now a ruined white in this task by a little pock-marked man dream city, alone in the center of a who called himself a gendarme and who vast plateau, facing the Aures mountains. appointed two Arabs to guard our car. The theater, back of the forum, is set

We entered a long narrow street which against a small hill. Over three thousand led round to the market. Absurd little people could be seated at the play. The shops not much larger than a cupboard orchestra is in a fair state of preservation, were on each side and contained for the also the colonnade of the portico, but the most part comestibles. One basket held a stage has entirely disappeared. quantity of dried locusts. When we in- At the extreme end of one of two interquired what uses those dead insects were secting avenues stands Trajan's Arch. put to, our guide replied by seizing a par- was formerly the main entrance to Timticularly large and hideous locust and gad. Beyond it stretched a great stonecrunching it contentedly between his teeth. paved highway to Lambessa, the headOne shop was in charge of a stalwart old quarters of the Third Augustan Legion. Arab who did not raise his eyes from the The soldiers of this famous legion were Koran he was studying, to cast a glance at the architects and builders of the city. us. In another shop sat a man diligently Our next objective point was Tebessa, stitching a white burnoose on an American but owing to the inclemency of the sewing-machine. An Arab treading a sew- weather we did not stop, and hurried on to ing-machine in an oasis in the desert of Batna, with wide, clean streets, and wellSahara is not, I apprehend, what Western built houses. We went to Constantine eyes are prepared to encounter,

the next morning, motoring over a rolling In the midst of the human pandemo- country bare of trees but rich in fine graznium of the market, camels were kneeling ing-grounds.


( To be concluded)

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