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Every ten years the tree is stripped of its from which you gaze with condescension bark, and when full-grown it yields sev- upon your strange environment: you are eral hundred pounds of cork.
Zadi Abou-Hassan or Ahmed Mustapha, In Babouch, the first Tunisian village, and Allah is great, and Mohammed is his we were detained a short time by the prophet. And something else happens: courteous officials of the customs, and you have lost your way, and care not a again followed the magnificent mountain fig, not an amber-colored date, that this causeway, which there made a sudden is so. After wandering through a labydrop to the borders of the Vediterranean. rinth of little streets, you finally arrive at We had enjoyed the drive over the moun- the "souks,” the bazaars of old Tunis, tains in a manner almost jubilant, but and one look convinces you that they are truth compels the admission that there the same to-day that they were five hunwere certain steep descents which lent a
dred years ago.
There are a hundred doubtful charm to the landscape.
thousand Mussulmans in Tunis, and you Before noon we reached Tabarka, on are willing to believe that ninety thousand the sea, and after replenishing our gaso- are shopping, or selling, or strolling in the lene and taking luncheon, we continued souks. our journey to the capital, called by the Hadj Mohammed's shop cannot be enArabs “The White Burnoose of the tered; it is too diminutive. You sit on a Prophet.” Along the coast were high convenient bench before the door, and he sand-dunes of deep orange-red. After sits cross-legged in the middle of the shop, crossing an immense plateau, we descended from which, by stretching out his hand, into a fertile plain dotted with well-culti- he can reach every article of his valuable vated farms and low, whitewashed farm- and fragrant stock. He opens his bottles houses. The evening was still young of essences, rose, heliotrope, amber, violet, when we entered Tunis la Blanche, Tunis geranium, one after the other, and rubs a l'Odorante, long held by the Mussulman drop of each on your glove, your sleeve, to be the most beautiful of Eastern cities. your shoulder, till you are intoxicated with It is undoubtedly a city that captivates; it sweet odors. He does this for the pleasure possesses the mysterious charm of the of your company, and by no means because Orient, with the prosaic comforts of the he desires you to buy. He converses in Occident.
From the modern French excellent French on the increased cost of town one can step into the land of the living in Tunis since the tourists have Arabian Nights and wander with the rich come; on the high price of chickens ; on the merchant of Bagdad through strange, fas- scarcity of good vegetables; and in the cinating streets which never affront the same breath calls your attention to the most sensitive sense.
delightful fragrance of the “vrai jasmin The moment you pass through the de Tunis” by a perfumed drop on the Porte de France and enter a tangle of lit- lapel of your coat. In the meanwhile tle streets, the trammels of your identity Achmet or Morabec or Imbrahim brings drop from you like an inconvenient man- black coffee in small, white cups, and tle; your Western personality ceases for Hadj Mohammed Cabet begs you to honor the time to be the center of the cosmos, him by drinking; and what with the coffee, the perfumes, and the graceful atten- in a shop, before eventide every merchant tions of the incomparable Hadj, you end in the souks knows the exact article he by gaily purchasing more than you want. bought and, to the ultimate sous, what he When you enter your hotel three hours paid for it, and every guide in Tunis is later, every person in it with a nose is equally well informed. It is safe to assert aware that you have that day been to the that if that same foreigner escapes the Souk el Attarin.
lures awaiting him next day, or any day Each morning an auction is held in during the remainder of his sojourn in the the Souk el Trouk. In the narrow streets, town, he either possesses the wisdom of packed with Jews and Arabs, every one is Solon or has no money left to spend. It crying, bargaining, disputing prices, and comes to the same thing in the end, and no one ever seems to buy. The auctioneers that somehow, remains a comforting walk up and down, pushing their way thought. through the human mass, holding high The imperative trip to take from Tunis above their heads a single vivid-colored is to the site of ancient Carthage, and waistcoat, a shawl, or a soiled, white bur- one's interest does not languish on disnoose, and shrieking the prices. Women covering that absolutely nothing remains sit at the entrances of diminutive shops of the famous city and that the few scatand watch with eyes peering through black tered monumental ruins are of Roman, not veils. They have brought articles to sell, of Phenician, origin. The beauty of the and are waiting the return of their auc- panoramic view from the crest of the tioneers. Now and then a tall Arab halts Byrsa (the hill formerly occupied by the before a cluster of chattering women and, citadel of Carthage) is as great now as singling out one, offers her a pinch of when the fugitives from Tyre gazed upon snuff. With her thumb and forefinger it. The Gulf of Tunis shines as deeply she takes the snuff, and sneezes gratefully. blue, the distant islands Zimbra and ZinIf a foreigner purchases anything of value bretta are as lightly slumberous in their
of Paris. It is sight to see the the streets be into the volum of their garn bring forth every size an regulate them after a squi tower.
One morr before the no raised, we w
sea-cradle, and the tinted chain of bay-encircling mountains are as grand. But there is a charm in the view to-day that was not there then. It lies in the white, flat-roofed houses glistening behind waving palm-trees, in the flower-studded gardens, in the wide fields of wheat, red poppies, and
OUTSIDE THE SOUTH GATE OF SU'S yellow daisies, in the majestic sweep of ocean-going steamers. ing leisurely south toward th
Yet for all the beauty of the present, Tripoli. Our route led us we are held in the spell of the past. plains of the Sahel, through Hamilcar and Hannibal move here in little seaport towns of Susa a mighty strides; Hasdrubal, and his patri- finally into the great desert ag otic wife (she who strangled her children five miles of desolate, uncul and threw herself into the flames of the try not unlike the barren re burning citadel rather than submit to the tain portions of Arizona and enemy) rise from the shades of the ages. separates Tunis from Susa Here Scipio hurls the power of Rome camels, tents of Bedouins, a against a vanished glory, and Cato the little Bedouin children, wh eloquent calls across the sea, “Cartha- guarding small flocks of ginem delendam esse." And above all sheep, skipped nimbly back these great and terrible figures stands front of our automobile, Dido, the love-lorn queen of whom Vergil racking anxiety of the chauf sang. With careful eye I measured the landscape far from monoton land that was inclosed by a bull's hide, After leaving Susa, the cut into fine strips by the astute lady; and with tall, prickly-pear bush I selected the place where later she caused of the country, and travers her funeral-pyre to be erected when the stretches of olive-trees. I faithless Æneas left her.
particular one grove with t From the high tower of the mosque in that their gnarled and holl the Casbah of Tunis a white flag is raised been filled with packed eart every day at noon. It is the town clock, stability. One is struck wit and is half an hour faster than the clocks vineyards in a land where
ishes wherever planted. But the Mussul- In Sfax many of the inhabitants wear mans of Tunis pride themselves on a close the green turban indicative of a hypoobservance of the precepts of the Koran. thetical descent from the prophet. It was
From forests of olives we passed again here that we were privileged to enter as into vast, treeless, shrubless plains. It was guests the house of a wealthy Arab, the here we saw a sight disturbing to our in- vice-consul of Tripoli. With outstretched stinct of harmony. An automobile stage hands he met us in the courtyard of his sped past, crowded inside and out with house. Two serious young men were inArabs, the peaked hoods of their white troduced as his sons; they could speak a burnooses drawn well over their heads, little French. While the men were contheir dark eyes peering out at us with a ducted by one of the sons to a different kind of somber gleefulness of expression. part of the house, we women were led to We felt that cherished traditions had a room where we were received by the somehow been frivolously violated, though wives of the vice-consul, two young woour own automobile had never disturbed men gorgeously gowned who had a certain our sense of the congruous. “A foolish nobleness of carriage. The younger, perconsistency,” as Emerson observes, “is the haps eighteen, who looked very sad, wore hobgoblin of little minds."
a pink-silk, embroidered gown which Suddenly we discerned half a mile away, reached to her well-turned ankles and just in the midst of a vast, empty plain, an am- showed the wide, white silk trousers bephitheater of magnificent proportions. It neath. Her slender feet were bare. Great was El Djem, the grandest Roman monu- gold loops hung from her ears; a gold ment in Tunis, and perhaps the best pre- necklace encircled her throat, and fell alserved amphitheater in the world. Now most to her waist. A head-dress fitted the in the midst of desolation, it was once part head closely, and was heavily embroidered of a flourishing Roman city.
with gold, and long tabs touched her The walled town of Sfax is noted for shoulders. Her eyebrows were finely penits gardens and for the cultivation of the ciled, and the pallor of her cheeks was olive. When the French took possession, hidden behind a coating of rouge not very they quickly discovered that in the matter artistically applied. She was altogether of arboriculture they had much to learn. a pathetic, pretty creature. Her companLarge sponge-fisheries employ over a thou- ion, robed in the same fashion, with the sand boats manned by Sicilians, Greeks, exception that her tunic was blue and her and Arabs, who give to the harbor a very feet incased in sandals, was plump and animated appearance.
merry-looking, though her grayish-blue
eyes had that about them which made one been five or six years th