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THREE TRAVELLERS IN 
NORTH AFRICA 




THE MARABOUT OF ZAOUIA 




ZAOUiA. THE SUBJECTS OF THE MARABOUT 



THREE TRAVELLERS 
IN NORTH AFRICA 

By The Hon. EMILY WARD, with 

PHOTOGRAPHS AND A CHAPTER ON 
SOUTHERN TUNISIA BY LORD LEIGH, . 
AND A PREFACE By The Hon. AGNES LEIGH 



Philadelphia: J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

London: JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LTD. 

MCMXXII 







Printed in Great Britain hy K- Clay &• Sons, Ltd., Bungay, Sxtffolk. 



PREFACE 

DURING the winter of 1919-20 my 
brother Lord Leigh, my friend Miss 
Ward and myself spent nearly four months 
in the North of Africa. As we were all keen 
sightseers, we greatly enjoyed the novelty and 
freshness of the desert and of the more remote 
districts of Algeria and Tunisia ; and though 
after each excursion into the wilds we refreshed 
ourselves by a return to the comforts of a good 
hotel, we were always ready and eager to set 
ofF again to the haunts of the Arab and the 
Kabyle. 

Our journeys led us for hundreds of miles 
among wonderful and varied scenery. We 
travelled through mountain passes, over wild 
and barren tracts of desert, into strange Eastern 
towns and strange market-places where we 
drank coffee with hospitable Ca'ids and felt our- 
selves back in the days of the Arabian Nights ; 
or, again, we were amongst relics of a remote 



vi Preface 

past, as at Timgad or Dougga ; or we were 
gazing in amazement at the almost uncanny 
hot springs of Hammam Meskoutine ; or we 
were among the pleasant, cultivated pastures of 
the smiling Kabyle. 

Miss Ward kept a journal and worked at it 
with great regularity in spite of calls on her 
time and strength involved by long motor- 
drives, strenuous sight-seeing and much sketch- 
ing ; while my brother was constantly busy with 
his Kodak. It is thought that a little book, 
the result of their combined efforts, might be 
of use to future travellers in the regions we 
traversed and help them in making their own 
itinerary. 

Miss Ward is responsible for the greater part 
of the letterpress, but Lord Leigh contributes, 
in addition to the photographs, accounts of 
shooting excursions, of which he made several ; 
and in Chapter XI he describes an expedition 
into parts of Tunisia which he took alone, 
except for the guide Jules and the chauffeur, 
and which he found to be of singular interest. 

Agnes Leigh. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 



LAGHOUAT, 



The " Tell "—Blidah— Medea— Boghari— Arab Town 
Solitudes — Laghouat — The Pashada — Arab Feast — Les 
Belles Courses— T\i^ DSJiU—K<t\ViXXi of the Pashada. 

CHAPTER II 
GHARDAIA 21 

Terebinth Trees — Tilrempt — Sunset — Berrian — Starlight 
— Ghardaia — Mozabites — Beni Isguen — Market — Christ- 
mas Day — Father David — Tea with the Caid. 

CHAPTER III 
BOU SAAdA 40 

Berrian — A Camel to the Rescue — First Auto-bus— Arab 
Well — Bedouin Encampment — Tea with the Agha of 
Laghouat — A Spahi Acquaintance — L.'s Account of the 
"Chasse" at Bou Saada — Our Return. 

CHAPTER IV 
KABYLIA TO BISKRA 56 

Palestro Kabyles — Fort National — Michelet — Bougie — 
Gorge de Chabet — Setif — El Kantara — Villages — Biskra 
— Sunset from the Tower — Garden of Allah. 

CHAPTER V 
TOUGGOURT 72 

A Goods Train — Mirage — Palms — Touggourt — Caravan 
Route — Temacin — L.'s Account of Zaouia — Market — 
Native Streets — Tea with Caid — Arab Music — Sheikh's 
Progress. 

vii 



viii Contents 



CHAPTER VI PAGE 

TIMGAD 93 

Arab Devotions — Lambessa — Timgad — Twilight Walk — 
Trajan's Arch — History of Town — Byzantine City — 
Library — Sertius and Valentina — Markets — House of 
Sertius — Arresting Inscription. 

CHAPTER VII 

CONST ANTINE, Etc 114 

Its Position — The Great Gorge — Jugurtha — Bey's Palace 
— Human Interest — Hammam Meskoutine — Hot Springs 
— Arab Legend — Announa — Dolmens at Roknia. 

CHAPTER VIII 

JOURNEY TO TUNIS 128 

Storks' Nests— B6ne— La Calle— Coral— Babouche— 
Khroumirie Country — Cork Forests — Le Kef — Motor 
Disabled — Teboursouk — Dougga — Tunis. 

CHAPTER IX 
TUNIS 141 

The Souks — Green Coffin — Bardo — Roman Marbles — 
Zaghouan Aqueduct — Spanish Remains — Mahomedia — 
Housing Problem — English Church — ''Home, Sweet 
Home.'^ 

CHAPTER X 

"ROMAN REMAINS," Etc 155 

Mosaics — Christian Remains — Inscriptions — Martyrs' 
Tombs — Carthage — Queen Dido — Punic City — Hannibal 
— Roman City — Vandals. 

CHAPTER XI 

SOUTHERN TUNISIA 170 

Kairouan — Great Mosque — Mosque of Barber — El Djem 
— Journey to Djerba — Strange Architecture — Medeninc 
— Matmata — Troglodyte Country — Return to Tunis. 



Contents ix 



CHAPTER XII PAGE 

TUNIS TO ALGIERS i8o 

Bizerta — Ain Draham — Dar Fatma — La Calle — Bone — 
Philippeville — Djidjelli — African Corniche — Stalactite 
Caves — Taorirt — Return through Kabylia — Algiers once 
more. 

CHAPTER XIII 

GOOD-BYE TO ALGIERS 208 

Arrival — Lamplight Effect — Daylight Impression — 
Algerian Pirates — History — British Slaves — Turkish 
Remains — Kasbah — "Palace of the Fan" — ^Jardin d'Essai 
— Arab Town — Silhouette — Farewell. 

ENVOI 220 

INDEX 221 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



THE MARABOUT OF ZAOUIA 

ZAOUIA. THE SUBJECTS OF THE MARABOUT 



Facing pagt 
\ Frontispiece 



laghouat. decorated camels at 
courses" 



LES BELLES 



metlili; a mozabite city 

a well in the desert .... 

bou 3 a ada. luncheon at the ^^ chasse " 

the " chasse " at bou saada . 

natives near zaouia .... 

the pr^torium at lambessa . 

timgad; part of the forum . 

timgad; decorated stone in market-place of 

SERTIUS ...... 

timgad; statue of valentina on wall of 

MUSEUM ...... 

stork's nest on the top of THE STEEPLE 

DOUGGA. THE ROMAN THEATRE 

PALM CULTURE ..... 

A MEDENINE BEAUTY . 

xi 



l8 
l8 

44 
44 

50 
8o 

94 

94 

104 

104 
112 
112 
172 
172 



Xll 



List of Illustrations 



MATMATA. A TROGLODYTE HOUSE 



Facing page 
176 



ISLAND OF DJERBA. PRIMITIVE HOUSES WITH 
VAULTED ROOFS .... 

MEDENINE MAIDENS .... 

MEDENINE ARCHITECTURE 

LAST SCENE OF THE TOUR — A KABYLE CROUP 

MAP . . . . . . , 



176 
178 
178 
206 
220 



THREE TRAVELLERS IN 
NORTH AFRICA 



CHAPTER I 

LAGHOUAT 

December 19-23, 1 9 19. 

ON December 19, 1919, Lord Leigh, his 
sister, and myself went for a motor tour 
in Southern Algeria. Jules Durand was our 
guide — a Frenchman, active, resourceful, and 
alert, who knew Algeria from end to end. We 
did not leave Algiers before eleven o'clock, 
starting from Mustapha Superieur, which over- 
looks the town and bay. 

Our first stage was through a smiling 
country, known as the "Tell," a long strip, 
running between the seashore and the spurs of 
the mountains, in Roman times a land of olive- 
yards and vineyards, the granary of Italy, with 
wide tracts of cereals, famous in history. The 
Arabs, however, who have an instinct for 
destruction, allowed it all to go to waste, so 
that when the French conquered the country in 
1830, this lengthy tract of land (which runs 

3 



4 Three Travellers in North Africa 

for hundreds and hundreds of miles along the 
coast, sometimes thirty miles broad, and some- 
times a hundred) was nothing but marsh and 
jungle — the home of jackals, panthers, and 
hyaenas. 

We had luncheon at Blida, thirty-two miles 
on our way, and were ushered into the hotel by 
an ancient Arab, called Mahomet, who had 
wreathed his turban with veronica and carna- 
tion, the whole erection being very attractive 
in combination with a white beard. 

We were bound for Boghari, and, after Blida, 
passed through orange-groves famous through- 
out Algeria, where men were collecting the 
fruit in pyramids, in preparation for packing 
and exporting, thousands of these Tangerines 
finding their way both to Paris and to Covent 
Garden. 

At length we came to the '* Ruisseau des 
Singes/' and were told to look out for monkeys. 
A grey monkey was obliging enough to appear, 
which was fortunate, for they are getting com- 
paratively rare, as Jules explained, pointing to 
the cause above our heads — an eagle ! The 
eagle sailed away like an aeroplane. 

Now the scenery was becoming very beau- 



Laghouat 



tiful, high wooded hills and deep gorges, each 
turn of the road bringing before our eyes a fresh 
picture, sometimes groups of shepherds with 
their flocks, looking like scenes in picture-bibles, 
sometimes herds of oxen, and picturesque Arab 
cowboys, or odd little shaky country carts, drawn 
by a mixture of horses and mules. Friday is 
market day in most of the villages, so the road 
was very lively. 

Presently something went wrong with the 
motor (which was very sad on the first day of 
the tour), and all thoughts of arriving at 
Boghari had to be given up. While a tem- 
porary repair was being made, we walked up the 
zigzag mountain road, till the motor caught us 
up, and as it was not going satisfactorily, we 
stopped at Medea for the night, 3000 feet up 
in the mountains. 

We noticed quantities of Russians, who are 
working for the French, both in the town and 
in the fields. They were part of a division who 
refused to fight at Salonica, and were promptly 
sent to Algeria. Several detachments were in 
Mcd^a, and 15,000 of them altogether in 
North Africa. 

Medea stands high (on the site of an old 



6 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Roman town — Ad Mcdias), the surrounding 
country looks prosperous and highly cultivated, 
and there are remains of an ancient aqueduct. 
Otherwise the town is modern, and entirely 
French, the mosque having been turned into a 
Christian church ; but the view from our window 
was full of movement. When L. went to 
the post office next morning one Arab asked 
his nationality, and beamed with satisfaction 
when he heard he was English, remarking, 
"Les Anglais sont bons." 

At last we got under way, and if it had been 
a little warmer, the drive would have been 
quite delightful ; the car hummed up an ascent 
for some time, and for hours we drove through 
the mountains, and were filled with admiration at 
the powers of French engineering. Sometimes 
we ascended the hills in spirals, every corner 
opening out a fresh view ; sometimes the road 
was cut sheer out of the mountain side, forming 
a ledge, with a precipice beneath, each turn 
revealing wonderful vistas of an ever-changing 
panorama ; on and on, higher and higher, till 
we got into the snow, over the highest pass, and 
then we began to descend. 

We went through a town called Berrouaghia, 



Laghouat 



which boasts of Roman remains, and on again 
through a region which until lately was a 
forest of pine trees — cut down within the last 
few years for war purposes — and presently we 
crossed the river Cheliff, and at length arrived 
at Boghari. 

The Arab town is at a little distance from the 
French town, the main street running up a steep 
hill, paved, and with steps at intervals ; we 
walked through it at about the sunset hour, 
when crowds of Arabs were returning home. 

The dress of the Arabs is full of distinction 
in its simplicity and convenience. In Algiers 
and the bigger towns it has become more 
elaborate, but here, the burnous (the ample 
cloak) was white, of a fine woollen material, 
draping into flowing lines when thrown over 
the left shoulder. The poorer classes wear 
garments of a coarse striped cloth of camels' 
hair, strong enough to last a lifetime, and in 
shape more like a dressing-gown, with a hood 
suggesting that of a Capuchin friar. The 
turbans of these Arabs were imposing in height, 
the veil of woollen gauze, the haick^ softening 
the severity of the felt shape beneath. 

The following day we left Boghari and had 



8 Three Travellers in North Africa 

our first hint of desert scenery. A sandy plain 
with low scrub, where camels were grazing 
placidly, with baby camels near by. Then we 
passed through a curious region of salt, once 
the bed of a lake, perhaps ; to our right was a 
hill, three or four hundred feet high, the Rocher 
de Sel, formed entirely of salt, and as the salt 
frequently collapses, its profile was strangely 
irregular. 

The air had all the sparkle and fizz of cham- 
pagne in it, the sand was strewn with coloured 
stones, and we drove on through vast solitudes, 
fascinated by the colouring and the shape of 
the hills. Several were like pyramids, others 
were serrated in profile like steps of stairs, 
and as we came up to them and saw them, 
broadside on, it was even more strange, like 
a mammoth Roman encampment, fortified, 
which went on for miles and miles. 

Nature behaves strangely in these desert 
places, and almost gave us the idea she was 
trying experiments, so irregular and varied 
and interesting were the unusual shapes of 
the rocks. In one place, piled up one upon 
another, were masses of mammoth blocks of 
stone, so even in shape that they looked like 



Laghouat 



giant architecture, with square-cut perpendicular 
corner-stones. Perhaps in prehistoric ages 
primeval man was thus given a hint how to 
use the resources of Nature. 

In the afternoon sunshine, the natural 
pyramids, perfect in form, and the natural 
fortresses along the hill-tops, glowed almost 
copper-pink, and then a turn of the road 
brought us within sight of Laghouat, the 
City of Palms. 

We found Laghouat en feie^ for Les belles 
Courses^ the annual event of the year, were 
taking place. The town is full of palms, 
growing apparently where they like, springing 
from the bare earth to a height of forty or fifty 
feet — "princes of the vegetable kingdom," as 
Linnaeus called them. Date-growing is one 
of the most profitable industries in Algeria, 
one bunch of dates weighing anything from 
twenty to twenty-five pounds, and an average 
crop from a single tree would be about five 
hundred pounds in weight. Laghouat is 
fortunate in possessing constant supplies of 
water from fresh springs, the name being 
derived from aqua. 

Everywhere palms, and low, white, arcaded 



10 Three Travellers in North Africa 

streets, built by the French, and eager, pressing 
crowds in every kind of garb, for Arabs of all 
descriptions had come into the city for the 
races, the great event of the year. Groups of 
eight and ten sitting at little tables smoking 
keef, and drinking coiFee, more groups on the 
ground, arguing and gesticulating ; Arabs in 
white burnouses^ Moors in elaborately em- 
broidered cloaks, Kabyles, Mozabites, Turks, 
Jews, negroes, eating and gossiping and smoking, 
while others with heads erect walked proudly 
up and down, with the regular desert stride 
of freedom, full of the dignity of the ages, and 
impressing the European at every turn. 

Colour, movement and freshness, and over 
all the glow of the setting sun. The shops 
were doing a roaring trade. The Arabs show 
none of their goods in their shop windows ; 
you must be bold, and enter and look round 
if you want to buy, and the shopkeeper is 
always courteous, with the manner of a prince, 
grocery, stationery and drapery being often sold 
over the same counter. 

Next morning, quite early, we heard that the 
Pashada of Laghouat had invited us to luncheon. 
The Pashada is an important Arab Sheikh, his 



Laghouat 11 



eldest son having represented him at Paris in 
the Victory Procession. 

Passing through the streets and open spaces 
of the city, the various natives and visitors to 
the town were of enormous interest again, with 
their majestic way of walking. The Arabs are 
tall and lithe, and their dress to a certain extent 
accentuates their upward bearing and stately 
stride. Often one found oneself mentally 
comparing our friends in the Sahara with the 
characters in the Old Testament. Was not that 
Abraham sitting at his tent door ? There was 
Isaac to the life, and Jacob with his twelve 
sons, and we recognised Balaam, and Ishmael, 
and many more besides. 

At eleven o'clock, the son of the Pashada, a 
man with a fine countenance, and dressed in a 
burnous of royal red, came to call for us, and L. 
and he walked ahead, A. and I following. Poor 
people, in passing, kissed his arm and then his 
shoulder, and presently, as we walked along, he 
stopped before an imposing figure — the Pasha- 
da, an old man, who, with Arab courtesy, had 
come out a little way to meet us. 

The Pashada had a brilliant red and gold 
burnous^ and this was lined with embroidered 



12 Three Travellers in North Africa 

silk, and swayed from side to side as he walked. 
He had a dark blue caftan beneath, trimmed 
with Austrian braid ; voluminous blue panta- 
loons hanging over bright red leather gaiters, 
which disappeared into well-shaped, flat-heeled 
shoes of the same colour, so plain that they 
looked as if they were moulded to his feet. 
His turban was high, the shape of a giant 
thimble, and covered tightly with his haick^ the 
fine transparent veil (which is bound round the 
turban with yards upon yards of camels* hair 
wool) hanging behind in a kind of bag at the 
back of the neck, while the long ends turned 
into a blouse beneath the caftan^^tldi in place 
by a broad band of silk. 

He had a slow stateliness of manner, and 
very kind eyes, as he welcomed us, and intro- 
duced us to his two sons, who were escorting 
him, both dressed in gorgeous apparel, which 
also swayed from side to side. 

He turned and brought us to his house. 
We went upstairs and were shown into a long, 
narrow reception-room, where we saw coffee 
set out on three tables. There he left us alone 
for a few minutes. Presently he returned and 
introduced us to his nephew, the Caid of Djelfa, 



Laghouat 13 



who followed him into the room. Then other 
relations of his were brought in, and formally 
presented, and many of them spoke French 
very well. 

Luncheon was then announced — an Arab 
feast. We were told by the Colonel in com- 
mand at Algiers (one of our fellow-guests) that 
the highest test of politeness at such a feast is 
never to say " No, thank you 1 " Arab hospitality 
being proverbial. The menu was a lengthy one, 
but there is one dish which is the feature of 
every Arab feast, from Arabia to Morocco, and 
that is the meschoui^ a sheep roasted whole and 
borne in with some ceremony on an enormous 
dish. 

One of the Pashada's many relations was 
deputed to carve — this in itself was an honour 
— and for a short time he took the Pashada's 
place. He was a vivid figure, his complexion 
distinctly darker than that of any of the other 
Easterns at the feast, and his eyes were dark 
and shining, his uniform in splendid contrast — 
the tunic red, with voluminous blue pantaloons 
hanging over neat red leather boots with spurs. 

A further point of etiquette requires the 
honoured guest to stand up, and with finger 



14 Three Travellers in North Africa 

and thumb pluck ofF flakes of meat from the 
well-roasted sheep, with the greatest possible 
precision and dignity. Then came couscous^ 
without which no Arab feast is complete. You 
build a pyramid of semolina on your plate, and 
have to help yourself rather generously to do 
this successfully ; then you dig a hole in the 
middle, leaving a little round wall, and pour in 
gravy, or some good and piquant sauce, which 
saturates the semolina. 

After the feast came coffee and cigarettes in 
the drawing-room, and an amusing sight out of 
the window of a camel being decorated carnival- 
wise for the fete. The profound dignity of a 
camel is a study. There was a look of pas- 
sionate disdain in his large and heavily-lidded 
eye, and being dressed as for a carnival hurt 
him sore. He roared, and grunted, and snarled, 
and turned his head round and showed his 
teeth ; but he was a lovely dark camel, soft as 
velvet, and at the races the best turned-out 
camel with the most smartly decorated bassour 
(which is the palanquin in which ladies travel) 
was to receive a prize. 

A net of wool, with a large mesh, covered 
him from his head to his knees, and at every 



Laghouat 15 



knot there was a tassel. Over this were bright 
saddle-cloths, and then, in the region of the 
hump, was the bassouVy draped with the most 
vivid colours, and also copper and gold and silver 
tissue. It is an immense erection, and at its 
apex, and also at the four corners, are little palm 
trees, made out of black feathers. 

In addition to the Arab, French, and British 
guests, there were two Americans at the Pasha- 
da's luncheon-party — two adventurous cine- 
matograph operators, who photograph moving 
pictures in colour for the films. They had come 
from Djelfa, in a diligence crowded with Arabs, 
in order to immortalise " les belles courses." 
They had slept on the road, and they had slept 
at caravanserais ; they had had many adventures, 
and had undergone all sorts of hardships, and 
had overcome many difficulties with regard to 
their cameras and their kincmacolour apparatus. 
The Pashada received them with delightful 
courtesy, and assured them that every facility 
would be given them to make their moving 
pictures a success. 

Arrived at the race-course, we had an impres- 
sion of a circular crowd, white for the most 
part, with tents, fluttering flags, and desert 



16 Three Travellers in North Africa 

sand beyond. We walked across to the grand 
stand, which was a screen made of Esparto 
grass, and decorated with three large French 
flags. 

Just now the French are doing all they can to 
keep the Arabs in good humour ; they built a 
large mosque for them at Laghouat, and now 
were giving generous prizes for the different 
events : ist prize, 3000 francs ; 2nd prize, 
2000 francs ; 3rd prize, 1000 francs. 

After watching several of the races, we crossed 
the course, being attracted by the row of camels, 
in their full dress, in brightest combinations of 
colour— gold, pink and mauve, silver, green and 
blue, copper, scarlet and yellow, and many 
others. They appeared like colossal peacocks, 
for at a distance the hassours looked fan-shaped, 
and the camel was almost dwarfed. 

The cinematograph men were in their ele- 
ment : " Why, we'll make Laghouat 1 " one of 
them said ecstatically. The Pashada was enjoy- 
ing it too, and played up to all that was required 
of him, though what is most imposing about him 
is his immobility. However, he walked from 
camel to camel, and then turned round and faced 
the camera, and strode magnificently out of the 



Laghouat 17 



picture. Early in the afternoon he had figured 
in a great many pictures, on foot as well as on 
horseback. 

We were still looking at the camera, standing 
against their background of eucalyptus, date- 
palms and cypress, when the Pashada asked A. 
and me whether we should like to mount the 
noble animal before us, and test the comfort of 
a bassour, I said, "Please," and, mounting 
from the bent knee of a graceful Arab, I dived 
through the awning on to the back of the camel, 
which at a word from his driver had knelt down 
in order to be mounted. " Asseyez-vous au 
milieu ! " said the Pashada, which I did, amongst 
luxurious cushions, and then the camel rose 
solemnly to his feet, so gently that I hardly felt 
it. " I am taking a picture of you ! '* cried out 
the cinematographers ; so I pulled back the 
curtains of the bassour and looked out, and 
heard the tick-tick-tick-tick of the kinemacolour 
machine as we passed by. 

Somehow, as the camel stalked along in these 
extraordinary surroundings, the immense odd- 
ness of the situation made me simply laugh out 
loud. To be on a marvellously decorated camel, 
at a sort of tournament in the Desert of Sahara 



18 Three Travellers in North Africa 

in Christmas week, so thrilled me that I was 
quite sorry when the camel was desired to kneel 
down and T had to dismount. 

Next came a camel-race, and that was very 
funny. It had all the possibilities and humours 
of a donkey-race, for the camels are driven by a 
single rope on the left side. Several started, 
and there were three prizes, but at the finish 
only two turned up and received rewards, the 
third camel having thrown his rider, who after 
about five minutes had caught him and led him 
in in triumph, and was promptly awarded the 
3rd prize of 1000 francs. 

Then the event of the day took place. All the 
Pashada's near relations — brothers, sons, cousins 
and nephews, mostly men in the prime of life, 
and quite a hundred of them — came past the 
grand stand, in batches of about six at a time, 
in line and at full gallop. It was very fine ; 
there was a pause between each batch, and as 
they passed the Pashada they swung their rifles 
forward, which were slung across their backs, 
fired, changed into the left hand, reversed, and 
swung it over their left shoulder in less time 
than it takes to write it. One gallant man 
threw his rifle into the air, caught it at full 




LAGHOUAT. DECORATED CAMELS AT LES BELLES COURSES 




METLILI ; A MOZAHITE CITV 



Laghouat 19 



gallop, before reversing it and slinging it behind 
his back. 

It was a brilliant feat of arms, and the 
immobility of the Pashada relaxed a little as he 
cried out, " Gallopez, gallopez ! " as each de- 
tachment passed him, and the horses dashed 
by like lightning. After this came the judging 
of the taste displayed in the decoration of the 
camels, and I only hope my beauty, arrayed in 
pink and yellow and silver, received a prize. 

Then came the last event of the day, the 
Defile, when the Pashada had the satisfaction 
of seeing all his sons and brothers and nephews 
and cousins dash past, on their steeds, en masse, 
at full gallop ; and here the cinematograph people 
had the time of their lives, for the Defile was 
heralded by bright banners, and the movement, 
variety, colour and eagerness will make it one 
of their very best films. 

" C'est fini ! " said the French colonel, when 
the last rider had passed, and the great event of 
the year was over. 

All the spectators moved across the race- 
course, ourselves amongst the number, and 
getting into the motor, we soon caught up the 
picturesque procession of gallant riders who had 



20 Three Travellers in North Africa 

taken part in the DSfile^ and were able to observe 
at closer quarters the magnificence of the golden 
trappings, bridles, blinkers, and high-peaked 
saddles, in profile like the shape of the letter 
U, with a comfortable back like a chair. 

Once more we drove into the city, made 
beautiful by its palm trees, while all around 
it lies the great still desert. 

As we came through a rather narrow street 
leading to our Hotel Sorace, we heard the 
strains of Arab music — a mounted band herald- 
ing the coming of the Pashada. The instru- 
ments sounded like fifes, — but the music has 
always a melancholy sound to our ears, — loud 
scarlet drums accentuating the rhythm, and 
when the band had passed, the stately old 
Pashada drove by with head erect, his two sons, 
arrayed as he was in gorgeous scarlet and gold, 
escorting him back in state. 



CHAPTER II 

GHARDAIA 
December 23-26, 19 19. 

WE left Laghouat at 7.30 the following 
day, and soon got on to the desert 
track, the road being exceedingly good as far 
as Tilrempt. Here we came to a terebinth 
plantation — one of the only portions remaining 
of an ancient terebinth forest — which ran for 
miles across the desert. There is a tradition 
that a great belt of forest ran the whole way 
across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia in the 
days of a famous native queen, called La 
Kahina, who figures large in early North 
African history before the coming of the Arabs. 
This Berber queen was of opinion that con- 
tinuous forests were an impediment to national 
defence, and so she ordered great clearings to 
be made at intervals, and wholesale destruction 
of the trees in parts. 

At the end of this grove of terebinth trees — 



21 



22 Three Travellers in North Africa 

ghostly and bare — we came upon the comfort- 
able caravanserai of Tilrempt. Here, indeed, 
was a Biblical picture, and we thought of 
Bethlehem as we were shown the inn. The 
caravanserai is four-square. On one side, 
the inn, its doors opening on the court ; 
and beyond the inn, and opposite to it, are 
the stalls for the asses and the camels. We 
could imagine the overcrowded "inn," and the 
only alternative being the stalls and the manger. 

The variety and wonderful tameness of all 
the animals here was delightful : a jaguar dog 
(our name for the species), and a kind of bull- 
terrier ; a cat with fur that matched the desert 
sand ; rabbits, black, white, and brown ; a 
pea-hen ; a turkey who became a friend before 
the day was over ; cocks and hens of every 
description ; pretty black donkeys with white 
underneath ; and outside the walls of the 
caravanserai camels, beautiful sheep, and black 
goats. 

El Haid, the hotel-keeper, shook hands with 
each of us, and told us that we were the first 
British, since 19 14, to come to Tilrempt, and 
that he would give us a beautiful luncheon, 
if we could give him one hour to prepare it. 



Ghardaia 23 



So A. and I wandered forth among the 
terebinth trees, and sat under their shade ; 
the air was fresh and warm, and the colours 
so soft and unusual that it felt good to be 
alive ; even the sheep welcomed us as we 
went among the flocks patting them, and later 
on I picked up a little lamb and brought it 
over to A. under her terebinth. 

It was most amusing watching a camel laden 
for a far journey. He was made to lie down 
and a noose slipped over his doubled-up leg 
so that he could not rise ; sacks of various 
goods, wood, scrub, and vegetables, and pro- 
duce of all sorts were arranged on his back 
and tied securely, while he snarled at every- 
body who came near, and when I copied his 
" snarl,*' he gave mc a shrivelling look of utter 
disdain. 

One of the Arab group with the camel could 
talk French, and so I told him we had come 
from Laghouat, and described the tournament 
of the day before, the Defile^ and the beauti- 
fully decorated camels, and he translated it into 
Arabic for the others. 

Then the shepherd led his sheep away, and 
the camels, being laden, disappeared over the 



24 Three Travellers in North Africa 

crest of the hill, and I joined A. under her 
terebinth tree, where she had been making 
a sketch of the unusual scene. 

There was a dream-Hke look over every- 
thing, the softest blue sky, and the old trees 
feathering against it almost like smoke, making 
a wonderful effect, more, perhaps, like our 
trees when covered with hoar-frost, and one 
felt inclined to rub one's eyes to see whether 
they were dreaming, or looking on realities. 

After the hour had passed we came back. 
The tameness of all the animals made us 
try whether the little turkey hen would be 
friendly, and I scratched her head as if she 
were a parrot. This was such a success that 
I took further liberties, and tickled her wings 
and pulled her beak, and she became more 
friendly still. When we were at luncheon, 
she came to the door, inviting me to come 
out and play with her again, and as we drove 
away I heard her plaintive little cry as she came 
beside the motor to say good-bye. 

The luncheon recalled Arabian Nights, as 
Mahomet brought in dish after dish, El Haid 
being a past master in subtle flavours, and 
the national couscous was glorified with a 



Ghardaia 25 



particularly piquant sauce. In fact, L. said 
it would not have disgraced the Ritz. 

The journey on to Ghardaia from Tilrempt 
was loo kilometres, but over a very bad 
road, merely a track in some places. We had 
one puncture which delayed us a little, and 
for about twenty kilometres we had to go 
dead slow. 

There is a sense of space and peace and 
greatness in these desert regions, our eyes 
being rejoiced from time to time by the sight 
of camels, silhouetted against the sunlit sky, 
which is of the softest greeny-blue, or by a 
Bedouin leading his flock of sheep to the 
nearest watering-place, or by the chance sight 
of a gazelle amongst the low scrub. 

The sun went down in royal splendour, 
and the colours of the after-glow were beyond 
description in their varied stages of loveliness — 
lemon-yellow fading into pink, orange losing 
itself in mauve, a green band of sky, and then 
the soft clearness of the blue — and just at this 
moment of wonderful effect we came upon the 
oasis of Berrian, the first of the Mozabite 
cities, some forty-four kilometres of desert 
lying between it and Ghardaia, the capital. 



26 Three Travellers in North Africa 

The tall palms showed black against the 
glowing sky, as the turn of the road revealed 
to us a dream city on a hill, pyramidal in form, 
white as a dove, and indescribably beautiful in 
the evening light. 

After passing Berrian, we lit the lights and 
Jules held his gun aggressively and looked 
fierce. However, we were not molested, and 
did the rest of our journey in the African 
starlight, another experience of loveliness 
beyond description. The stars are so bright 
in the clear air that they look like fireworks — 
(oh, what a wicked thing to say !) — no, they 
look as if they were springing out of the 
heavens towards us. 

Orion is the king of the skies, and we saw 
him slowly rise above the horizon and help 
to lighten us on our onward way, but the 
Great Bear is not seen till three or four hours 
after sunset. 

We reached Ghardaia when it was quite dark 
and thus missed a good deal of the beauty, 
so Jules told us ; but we would not have had 
the arrival different, for it was so mysterious, 
dashing into this far-away town by the motor- 
lights, and drawing up amongst a crowd of 



Ghardaia 27 



Mozabites, some with very dark faces, of whose 
features we got occasional glances. 

The crowd became so big at length that 
Jules begged us to remain in the motor, and 
some iron gates were opened, and presently 
the car was manoeuvred safely under the 
arcades supporting the loggia above, and thus 
we got away from the sea of strange faces. 

Then came the moment for seeing our 
rooms — lofty, bare rooms with vaulted ceilings, 
only a bed, a table, a chair, a jug, a basin, 
and a looking-glass, and once more it felt like 
a dream, for perfect replicas of Abraham, Isaac 
and Jacob followed us about from room to room. 

Neither Abraham nor Isaac spoke French, 
so Jacob was the interpreter. The hotel had 
had no visitors since the war, and the little 
restaurant in connection with it had collapsed ; 
but our Mozabites were kindly, simple, and 
dignified, and promised to do their best for us. 

We were very sleepy after twelve hours of 
strong desert air, and our little feast of bread, 
boiled eggs and Turkish coffee was most 
sustaining. 

Such humours connected with that feast ! 
Isaac and Jacob remained in the room the 



28 Three Travellers in North Africa 

whole time, and the gentle and refined Jacob, 
drawing up a chair, sat down with us at our 
table, and when the coffee arrived he poured 
it out for us, and discoursed pleasantly to us 
in French, and told us he was a schoolmaster, 
describing his school, and how many children 
went to it, and what he teaches them, while 
we ate our funny little meal of eggs without 
egg-cups — also cafe noir and dry bread, for the 
camel butter had to be removed to a far corner. 

An apple and a pear were produced, but 
knowing this to be the land of dates, I said, 
"Les Anglais aiment beaucoup les dates!" 
Whereupon Jacob inquired at what hour of the 
morning we wished him to bring them to us, 
or could we wait till 4.30 in the afternoon, 
for then his school would be over, and he 
would bring us a big dish ! 

To wake up at Ghardaia next morning and 
realise we were in the Great Sahara, in the 
capital of the Mozabites, on Christmas Eve, 
as the sun blazed through our windows, and 
the cloudless sky suggested midsummer — well, 
it was difficult ! 

Our rooms opened out on to a loggia with 
a stone parapet. Isaac, of the night before, 



Ghardaia 29 



appeared with a watering-pot just as we were 
going out. " Je vais arroser les chambres ! ** 
he explained, and all the stone floors of our 
bedrooms were accordingly douched. 

Later, in the afternoon, we went to Beni 
Isguen, the holy city. There are special laws 
in connection with this city : no stranger, no 
foreigner must sleep in it — nobody but a born 
Mozabite. 

Mozabites are not Arabs, they are one of 
the original native Berber races resident in 
North Africa before the Arab invasion, now 
followers of Mahomet, but with certain differ- 
ences of ritual. In the Middle Ages the various 
points in dispute caused a cleavage — a cleavage 
of such severity that the Mozabites were driven 
out of all the Arab towns and villages. Finding 
no city of refuge, with indomitable courage 
they chose the most arid portion of the Sahara, 
at some time during the thirteenth century, and 
claimed it as their own. Here, with determina- 
tion and heroic energy, they sunk more than 
a thousand wells, some of them sixty feet deep, 
and thus created the group of oases known as 
the M'Zab country. 

Date-palms and other trees were introduced, 



30 Three Travellers in North Africa 

and seven cities arose, each crowned with a 
minaret, picturesque in its simplicity, from 
whence the Muezzin calls the faithful to 
worship every three hours. Ghardaia is the 
capital, but Beni Isguen is the sacred city. 

We were received with great kindness by the 
Fathers of the city, and invited to a little feast, 
the Caid guiding us through the narrow streets 
to his house. It was a little house, but truly 
Mozabite. A square room, airy and cool, and 
an upper gallery in the centre, supported by 
twelve pillars, and surmounted by a domed 
skylight. Under this dome was placed the 
table ; its position gave one the Arabian Nights 
feeling. It was spread out with large bottles 
of water, and many dishes of different kinds of 
sweets, cakes and fruits. 

The Caid, the Cadi, and the Khalifa enter- 
tained us. I saw no difference in the Mozabite 
costume, except that the turban of the Caid was 
bound with gold instead of black camels'-hair 
worsted. 

Our feast began with water — good water 
which is a real luxury, and has to be brought 
from four miles away in goat-skins, on the back 
of a donkey* 



Ghardaia 31 



1 had felt desperately thirsty for the last few 
days, as the air is very dry, and my lips were 
very hot, so two tumblers of good water were 
as nectar of the gods. Only in a country where 
it is precious do we realise how we all depend 
upon good water. Next, we were given coffee 
and biscuits, dates and rahat-la-coum^ and 
presently tea and peppermint. 

The Caid of Beni Isguen was genial and kind, 
and they were much interested in hearing all 
about the races at Laghouat, and thrilled at the 
prospect of a visit from the cinematographers. 

After tea was over, we were taken for a walk 
through the sacred city, through narrow streets 
till we came to the central market-place, a most 
important centre, where there is a market every 
day. 

Mozabites have the character of being ener- 
getic, industrious and progressive. They are 
independent and travel widely, the men putting 
in fifteen years or so in Algiers, or other large 
cities in the **TeU" — fifteen years of honest 
labour, as merchants or traders, butchers or 
grocers, sometimes even as bankers — and when 
they consider that they have become sufficiently 
prosperous, they return once more to the 



32 Three Travellers in North Africa 

M'Zab country, to their beloved cities, where 
they settle down amongst their palm trees, 
sending the younger members of their family 
away to make their fortunes in the same 
manner. 

L. bought six boxes of rahat-la-coum in the 
market-square. One of our fellow-guests — a 
Mozabite — looked puzzled. ^* Monsieur, then 
— he is nSgociant in England } " I verily believe 
that he thought that the whole journey was an 
affair of business. We were going to ransack 
the markets of the Sahara for goods, and then 
turn an honest penny on them. 

Now comes the funny method of purchase in 
the Mozabite market. L. thought he would 
buy a rug, and he was told it was fifteen francs. 
*'But that is only the first price ; — say twenty." 
This done, the Mozabite with the carpet held 
it like a sandwichman in front of him and went 
tearing down the market-place, crying out : 
" Vingt francs 1 " and presently some one called 
out " Vingt-deux ! " and then he returned to 
L. and said, '* C'est vingt-deux francs ! " 
" Vingt-trois ! " said L., and the man went 
tearing down the market-place again. 

As I walked round the market I saw the 



Ghardaia 33 



well-known figure striding along, and as he 
passed me he looked over his shoulder and 
said confidentially, " Maintenant c*est vingt- 
quatre I *' 

This went on endlessly, and we went away 
without knowing whether L. had got his carpet 
or not. The variety of the faces of the buyers 
and the keenness of the sellers, the poorness of 
many of the goods up for barter, some not even 
pretending to be new — all was most amusing to 
watch ; and this man was only one of dozens, 
striding up and down the market-place, calling 
out loudly, in a sing-song voice, the different 
sums offered for their goods at the moment ; 
and so it goes on day after day, in this sacred 
city. The days are long ; time is a detail ; 
buying and selling is the romance of their lives. 
The sun was setting and the air was cold, but 
we were loth to leave because it was all so 
new, so queer and so interesting. 

When we arrived at Ghardaia, the gentle 
Jacob of the night before was waiting with a 
plate of dates as an offering. He gave me a 
great deal of interesting information about the 
Berber races, with their distinct characteristics, 
descendants of the aborigines of Barbary — that 



34 Three Travellers in North Africa 

wide region stretching from the borders of Egypt 
to the Atlantic Ocean. Then he ticked off upon 
his fingers the numbers of conquering nations 
by whom they had been successively dominated 
— the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzan- 
tines, Arabs, Turks, and now, a part of that 
great region, by the French. Then, seizing a 
book of mine, he wrote in a scholarly hand : 
" Les Kabyles ; Les Chaouias ; Les Riffins 
(Maroc) ; Les Touaregs ; et Les Mozabites " — 
mixed races, all of them, to a certain extent, 
but all possessing distinctive Berber character- 
istics. We were told that their number is 
estimated at between three and four millions. 

Christmas Day, next morning, and brilliant 
sunshine. It is almost accurate to say that it 
never rains here. In Laghouat there had been 
rain five months ago, but at Ghardaia there had 
been none for five years. Being Christmas Day, 
we paid a visit to Pere David, one of the freres 
armeSy an order of missionary monks instituted 
by Cardinal Lavigerie for work in the Sahara. 

Father David is a saint who has lived in this 
remote place for thirty years. He is quiet, 
gentle, learned, and refined, and being a fellow- 
Christian, we were anxious to greet him on 



Ghardaia 35 



Christmas Day. Wc were shown into his 
sitting-room, which is also his Hbrary, and he 
evidently loves his books. 

His hands were very white, also his garments, 
and he had the face of an idealist. He does 
not try to combat the faith of the Mozabite, 
but lives the life of a good Christian, and 
teaches cleanliness, straightness, and goodness, 
thus trying to " raise the sons of earth." And 
this life, lived among them for years, tells. 

When first he came, the Mozabites would 
have nothing to say to him ; they would not even 
allow him water ; but now he is their doctor, 
their adviser, and their learned man. His 
conversation flowed evenly and pleasantly, and 
he was more than ready to answer any ques- 
tion we put to him. The diff^erence in the 
Mozabite worship consists of non-essentials, 
other Mohammedans prostrating themselves 
five times at prayer, whereas the Mozabites do 
so four times. The Arabs, he assured us, do all 
they can to hinder progress. They tear up the 
milestones when possible, and uproot the tele- 
graph posts, and make a fine fire out of them, 
and are always more inclined to follow old 
ways than new. Altogether this visit to the 



\ 



36 Three Travellers in North Africa 

good pere hlanc on Christmas Day was a 
refreshing variety, and we parted with mutual 
expressions of goodwill. The habit of the 
freres armes is unique — a white burnous and 
a red fez. 

It was hot in the middle of the day, but we 
walked through narrow streets and explored 
the town, which is built pyramid-wise over the 
crest of a hill, and crowned by the mosque, 
which we visited. 

From this point of vantage, we looked down 
upon the town surrounding us, and upon the 
flat white roofs, which are such a feature in 
every Eastern town. 

So much of the everyday business of life 
seemed to be in progress on the different roofs, 
that we were greatly interested in the various 
little scenes, of which we got a peep. Women 
and children, bright spots of colour in these 
moving pictures, all engaged busily. Early this 
morning I had watched an elderly Arab who, like 
a prophet of old, deep in thought, was walking 
backwards and forwards on his roof, opposite 
our hotel. Presently we went into the market- 
place, a square filled with movement, variety, 
and colour, and here we saw more camels 



Ghardaia 37 



together than we have seen yet, most of them 
lying down with a tight noose round the fore- 
leg (the knee-halter) to prevent them moving. 
They were being packed with every kind of 
merchandise, and going in caravans to Ouargla 
across the desert, and also to Biskra, and places 
more distant still. I love the movement of 
a camel and the way it holds its head, and its 
calm indifference to life in general. " Time is 
nothing, and distance is nothing, where all goes 
on as if it were a thousand years ago. Men 
are but waves upon the sea of life ; pile up my 
burdens, only stay your hand, if you remember, 
at the last straw ! " 

While watching the donkeys laden with 
sacks, or with goat-skins filled with the 
precious drinking-water for sale, up came the 
Ca'id of Ghardaia, who, through his inter- 
preter, told us that it would give him great 
pleasure if we would have tea with him in 
the market-place at two o'clock. He had two 
friends with him in blue burnouses with whom 
we all shook hands, and after doing this, they 
raised their hands to their mouths, a mark of 
great respect. 

We had our Christmas luncheon in the open 



38 Three Travellers in North Africa 

air on the Loggia — eggs and tea, oranges and 
biscuits, which it only required a little imagina- 
tion to turn into turkey, boar's head, plum- 
pudding and mince-pies, and soon after we 
made our way to the market-place, to have a 
further little feast with the Caid. This took 
place under the Arcade which runs right round. 
His little table was spread with fruits, and we 
drank strong coiFee and eat rahat-la-coum^ 
dates and oranges, and as usual reverted to our 
fruitful topic of conversation — the Laghouat 
fetes, and the coming of the cinematographers. 
Unfortunately, our conversation was through an 
interpreter, which took the edge off the pleasure 
of it. 

From the minaret the Muezzin gave nis call 
to prayer at three o'clock, and we watched 
several devout Mozabites spring up from their 
traffic and, facing east, begin their prayer 
standing, with both hands raised, from the 
platform in the centre of the market-place. 
Then they slowly knelt and prostrated them- 
selves, touching the ground with their fore- 
heads ; they do this four times because they 
are Mozabites. 

On our way back, we noticed over many 



Ghardaia 39 



of the doors of the houses the mark of a 
hand pressed into the whitewash and painted 
in red or in blue ; this brings good luck, 
representing the hand of Fatma, the daughter 
of the Prophet — the hand which is to bless 
the household, and keep off the Evil Eye. 

We are sorry to leave Ghardaia, a city of 
intense interest and charm, where time seems 
to stand still. 



CHAPTER III 

BOU SAADA 
December 26-31, 1 91 9. 

WE had a fine send-ofF from many Arabs 
and Mozabites — they all love shaking 
hands and are easy and kind in their manners, 
and they crowded round the motor before we 
drove away. I am always on the point of say- 
ing, " The morning was cloudless," but our 
good Mozabite friends would welcome clouds 
gratefully, were they only the size of a man's 
hand, as a variety from the blazing sun. 

We sped along over bare, strange mountains, 
boulder-strewn plains, and then by long tracts 
of country covered with scrub. As usual the 
mountains suggested a series of forts, varied 
by an occasional pyramid orange in colour, 
pink in the distance, with pure blue shadows, 
and of a yellow shade near at hand. Up hill 
and down hill, across long wastes of desert till 

we got to Berrian. 

40 



Bou Sadda 41 



Here there is a Mozabite cemetery, and, as 
in Ghardaia, on each grave there is a broken 
pitcher, and a leather " scrip " suggesting the 
dead, and offerings to their memory — often a 
plate, and sometimes, we are told, the women 
on Fridays bring knives and forks, a mystical 
feeding of the dead which must be a relic of 
some belief of the remote past. 

L. got out to take photographs, and I began 
to sing to amuse the children, and, to my great 
delight, a little Mozabite danced to the tune ! 
After this came a stony, uneven track, and in 
the heavy sand the motor stuck fast (and now 
the twentieth century may well blush while 1 
confess) — it had to be ignominiously hauled 
out of its panne — by a camel ! Thus the in- 
cident appears officially in Jules' accounts : — 

" Panne dans le Sable, 
8 Personnes, i Chameau, 
1 5 francs " ! 

When we stuck, and before the camel 
appeared, we had made up our minds to 
walk twelve kilometres, so we were on our 
way and missed the joy of seeing eight Arabs 
pushing behind, and one camel pulling in front ! 



42 Three Travellers in North Africa 

We tramped on and on, till, at the top of 
one hill, we saw to our joy Tilrempt of the 
terebinth trees. The motor caught us up 
twice and gave us a little help, but the tyres 
were in a bad way, and eventually A. and I 
arrived footsore and weary, at about a quarter 
to six, having fasted all day since our early 
morning tea. 

Whatever excitement our arrival might have 
caused on any other occasion, at this moment 
it was eclipsed by a notable event in the annals 
of Tilrempt. As we were nearing the gate of 
the caravanserai, a strange sight greeted our 
eyes — time was not prepared to stand still at 
Tilrempt — a gaily painted, clattering auto-bus 
with sounding horn was passing the terebinth 
trees, and swung round and entered the 
courtyard before our astonished eyes. It was 
garlanded with flowers, palms, wreaths, and 
French flags, and on its highly enamelled 
sides were painted the words " Alger- 
Ghardaia." 

This was a tangible proof of the progressive 
spirit of the Mozabites, for the scheme of 
linking up Ghardaia with Algiers emanated 
from the '* Societ6 Mozabitc d'Alger." To 



Bou Sadda 43 



them it was a most important event, and the 
triumphant progress was quite an amusing 
thing to witness, the thirty-seven proud 
Mozabites travelling by motor-bus (pioneers all 
of them) sharing with us the hospitality of 
the Tilrempt caravanserai, though I believe 
that they had to sleep in the courtyard, under 
the stars of heaven. The gates of the cara- 
vanserai were locked at night and four armed 
men guarded it. 

Next day we had a good run from Tilrempt 
to Laghouat, but on a lonely track. Liter- 
ally, we went fifty miles without seeing a 
single living thing — with the exception of one 
gazelle. 

I forgot to say that yesterday, before our 
camel incident, we stopped to examine one of 
the desert wells. There were several flocks 
of sheep waiting to be watered, and a strong 
black camel worked the well. A goat-skin was 
the bucket attached to a very long rope, for the 
well was deep. There were two high posts, 
leaning towards each other like the letter " A,'* 
and the cross bar was the axle of a single 
grooved wheel over which the rope ran. But 
now comes the funny part : the other end 



44 Three Travellers in North Africa 

of the rope was attached to the camel, and 
the act of his walking away drew the bucket 
up. The goat-skin was leaking when it came 
up, which added to the quaintness ; the water 
was poured into a trough which was connected 
with a long drinking-trough, and at the far end 
of his tether the camel turned round again, 
and advanced majestically towards us, the 
bucket, naturally, sinking once more into the 
well. Thus buckets were lowered two thousand 
years ago, and more, and there was a feeling of 
the dignity of ages about the whole proceeding 
which was most impressive. 

We stopped twice between Tilrempt and 
Laghouat, the first time to examine some of 
the Pashada's flocks. The patriarch Job had 
fourteen thousand sheep, but the Pashada owns 
one million. Our second delay was in order to 
visit an Arab encampment. 

We walked across the scrub to the nearest 
tent and shook hands with the Bedouin to 
whom it belonged, who gave us a kindly 
welcome. The black, or the striped tents of 
the Nomads, made of camels' hair, are a 
striking feature of the desert, and we had 
often wanted to visit one of them. Our host 




A WELL IN THE DESERT 




ADA. lANCHKON AT I UK "CHASSIC 



^^ 



Bou Sadda 45 



introduced us to his old mother, and also to 
his pretty little wife, who wore a good many- 
ornaments — hoop-earrings, bracelets, anklets, 
and bright dashes of colour — and it was pleasant 
to see her smiling face unveiled, as, with a 
charming instinct of courtesy, she ran to the 
goat-skin and filled a little bowl with water, 
which she offered to us. 

The encampment covered a good deal of 
ground, though the tents were low and primi- 
tive, and appeared to be divided into apartments 
by hanging curtains. 

Now once more we were nearing the city 
of Laghouat, and the palms showed clearly, 
growing tall and vigorous in their well-watered 
home. 

Jules now broke to us that the Agha of 
Laghouat and his nephew, Ben Cherif, had 
been greatly disappointed on our former visit, 
at not having had an opportunity of enter- 
taining us, as they had a special cake for us ; 
so on this visit, very soon after our arrival, 
we received an invitation to tea. 

We were met outside his house by the Agha, 
and introduced to his nephew, and we walked 
with them in a pretty garden, bordered by 



46 Three Travellers in North Africa 

orange trees, and having the remains of holly- 
hocks and Michaelmas daisies not yet cut 
down, roses and geraniums in flower, lemon 
and pepper trees, and a fountain in the middle 
of the garden. 

The nephew of our host, Ben Cherif, was 
charming. He had been taken prisoner during 
the war, and carried away for thirty months 
to Silesia. He has written a book on the 
subject of Mecca, Les Saintes Villes d'lslam^ 
which, we hear, is very good. He has beautiful 
courtly manners, and an attractive voice, and 
he also walked in the Victory Procession in 
Paris. 

Next morning we left Laghouat at 7.30. 
Larbi, the " boots " of the hotel, had the usual 
superfine Arab manner, and yesterday after A. 
and I had asked him to bring us endless cans 
of hot water, and also wood for the fire — 
having a little laundry work on hand — he did 
so with so good a grace that A. said something 
pretty in the way of " thank you." '* Ah/' he 
said, while stoking the fire, " I look upon you 
as my own family ! " Larbi had served in the 
war, and gave a spirited account of how well 
he got on with the British, and how he was 



Bou Sadda 47 



treated as he lay wounded in a British hos- 
pital. He had picked up a few words of English, 
which he loved using. He was at the door to 
bid us good-bye, as was also Ben Cassim, an 
Arab with a kind face, who, more or less, 
ran the hotel, as cook and head waiter. We 
shook hands all round, and we had a long, long 
journey, getting into three hundred kilometres, 
from Laghouat to Bou Saada. 

It was terribly cold the first hour, so much 
so that L. stopped the motor so that we could 
get out and sun ourselves. The Sahara has so 
often been presented to us in books as a furnace, 
that the intense cold in the winter mornings 
and evenings was quite a revelation. 

At Djclfa, which was about half-way, we met 
one of our Laghouat acquaintances, a nephew 
of the Pashada's, with a very dark skin, in 
Spahi uniform of royal red and royal blue, a 
lovely blot of colour in dull Djelfa. Somehow 
it amused us very much coming across an 
acquaintance in Djelfa ; he was the nephew 
deputed by the Pashada to carve the meschoui. 

We got away as soon as we could from 
Djclfa, as wc had still one hundred and thirty 
kilometres or more to go, and now it was all 



48 Three Travellers in North Africa 

new country. We had left the Great Sahara 
and were entering the Petit Sahara. 

It was a very interesting road, great red 
rocks, and a fascinating river, and high date- 
palms in groves at one point, where L. stopped 
to photograph and Jules bought eggs of a 
brilliantly dressed old woman. 

The long-suffering motor was required to 
cross the bed of a river several times, which 
was sometimes an exciting experience ; but at 
about five o'clock we arrived at Bou Saada, an 
oasis in the mountains. 

Account of "The Chasse " 

By L. 

At Bou Saada the French Resident on whom 
I called was so kind as to ask the Caid of Bou 
Saada if he could arrange a shooting-party for 
me. This he did, and called to his assistance 
two other Caids, the Caid of Kaled and Caid 
Ahmed Ben Diff of Oued Cheir. 

A Caid is head of a district, town or village. 

The three Caids arranged that we should 
get away by three in the morning, so that we 
should reach our shooting-ground before sun- 
rise. There was considerable difficulty, how- 



Bou Sadda 49 



ever, in collecting the men, but they finally 
arrived, and we started for our day's sport. 
We proceeded at a walk, for it was pitch dark. 

Our road led us from the town out into the 
desert, or perhaps it would be more correct to 
say semi-desert, for here and there were patches 
of more or less cultivated land, intermixed with 
the stretches of sand. This we could «ee when 
after a time it gradually became lighter and day 
broke in all its glory over the flat plain that we 
were traversing. Our procession was quite 
lengthy, with the three Caids and their many 
followers and retainers. 

We now proceeded at a quicker pace, trotting 
and galloping from time to time, until at length 
we reached the point at which it was proposed 
to stop, or rather from which it was intended 
to start the stalking of any game we could come 
across. Soon a herd of gazelles was seen in 
the far distance, and those who had horses that 
could gallop went after them. 

The Caid Ahmed Ben Diff was skilful at 
riding down and shooting both gazelles and 
birds from his horse. This he accomplished 
this day, shooting a gazelle and a brace of birds 
from the saddle. 



50 Three Travellers in North Africa 

The guns that the natives use are light 
scatter-guns, and the Caid informed me that 
the powder was exceedingly bad. This was a 
universal complaint both in Algeria and Tunisia. 

Caid Ahmed Ben Diff is remarkably hand- 
some. He wore a beautiful dark blue burnous^ 
and rode a magnificent horse with splendid 
saddle and bridle, and was a very striking and 
romantic-looking figure, and a very charming 
man. He informed me that he had been ill, 
or he would have brought falcons with him, 
such as he usually uses for hawking. 

In the middle of the day we ceased opera- 
tions for a time and assembled for luncheon. 
I took several photographs of the picturesque 
group. 

After luncheon an attempt was made to drive 
a herd of gazelles past us. We were placed 
behind such scanty cover as a bush afforded, 
while the remainder of the party endeavoured 
to ride round and drive them in our direction, 
but though they used every artifice to effect 
this, the gazelles obstinately refused to enter- 
tain the idea and insisted on galloping by at a 
distance of about five hundred yards. 

The shooting by Cai'd Ben Diff of two birds 



Bou Sadda 51 



was the last event of this pleasant day. Stalk- 
ing them carefully, he approached on his horse 
as near as he could and shot them both with a 
right and left from the saddle. 

It was now decided that it was time to return 
home ; we had a long way to go, and the horses 
had had quite enough work to do. 

(Continued.) 

A. and 1 happened to be at the hotel door, 
almost at the hour of sunset, when the pro- 
cession was just arriving home, with a beautiful 
gazelle across one of the saddles of the servants. 
Now in the evening light, our three Arabs of the 
chase, mounted on their horses, in their flowing 
robes, made us think of Caspar, Melchior, and 
Balthasar. 

We spent three nights altogether at Bou 
Saada, which has a good lively market, at which 
a sale of camels had been taking place. But 
the feature of Bou Saada is its oasis on which 
the town is built, and the grove of palm trees 
shelters the tomb of a Marabout. All round 
the oasis are stifle, stern mountains, which 
become crimson in the morning and in the 
evening light, and beyond it is desert sand. 



52 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Wc left Bou Saada on the last day of the 
year, and after we had gone twenty kilometres, 
the cold wind was so cutting that we got out 
and walked, and the chauffeur began to see 
to something that was not quite right with the 
car. Meanwhile A. and I walked on and 
on and presently sat down by the side of the 
road and watched a shepherd and his sheep, and 
some camels go by, and many big Arabs on 
little donkeys. We were laughing at all the 
warnings that Jules had given us on the subject 
of Arabs, and now, after having sojourned 
amongst them in their native cities, we found it 
very difficult to look upon them as highwaymen. 
We have got into a way of giving each Arab 
as he passes a wave of the hand, which is 
generally answered by a broad grin, showing 
snow-white, perfect teeth, and sometimes by 
their hands being raised to their mouths in 
respect. 

Presently, as we sat by the side of the road, 
an old Arab came trotting along, alone on a 
white horse, a most picturesque figure with a 
blue cloak and red sash. He was puzzled at 
seeing us quietly sitting there, twenty kilo- 
metres from anywhere, so we explained in 



Bou Sadda 53 



French that we belonged to a motor which he 
would come across if he walked on. He 
besought us, in Arabic, to do him the honour 
of mounting his horse. We refused, with 
infinite politeness, in French, and the Arab 
rode on. Soon our curiosity as to what had 
befallen the motor led us to retrace our steps, 
when suddenly round the corner of the hill we 
saw the old Arab coming along in our direction 
once more. 

Again he implored us to get up on his 
horse, so, for fun, I did so. The stirrup was 
entirely mediaeval, the sort of stirrup used by 
the Crusaders, and I mounted by it and felt 
very grand on my Arab steed, and was just 
experiencing the new sensation of a back to the 
saddle, when the hum of the motor was heard 
and I had to dismount ; but we shook hands 
cordially with our Arab cavalier, and the motor 
just managed to get us safely into the half-way 
town, Aumale, before again breaking down. 

Here it was more or less put to rights, and 
we had still 120 kilometres to go, but the 
afternoon drive was a beautiful ending to our 
tour. We crossed a long chain of mountains 
by a road which is a triumph of French 



54 Three Travellers in North Africa 

engineering. The gradients are so gentle that 
we never felt a jar, and the motor sailed up 
the mountains at an even pace and turned the 
corners brilliantly. 

We saw above us spirals we were about to 
reach, and looked on beyond to a streak of 
white road across the ever-changing colour of 
the mountain pass. Now we had gone over 
it, and were beginning to descend, a new and 
even more beautiful valley opening out beneath 
us. 

Jules, meanwhile, told us a tragic story of a 
diligence that had swung over the precipice six 
weeks ago at that spot, and been hurled from 
these heights, two kilometres, into the river 
below, at which we were looking ; and he also 
told us that early in 19 14, on that very road, 
he was crossing the mountains, and amongst the 
company were two Germans. " This is a very 
fine road, isn't it .f* " remarked somebody. " A 
very fine road indeed," answered the German ; 
" and it will be finer still when it belongs to 
Germany ! " "I could gladly have popped him 
over the precipice," concluded Jules. 

All nice things come to an end, though they 



Bou Sadda 55 



leave the afterglow of a delightful memory, 
and we left the mountains behind us, with 
all the CaVds, Aghas, Pashadas, Dream-cities, 
Camels, Bedouins, and Desert-delights, and we 
arrived at Algiers before dark, just in time to 
say good-bye to the Old Year, 19 19. 



CHAPTER IV 

THROUGH THE KABYLE COUNTRY 

To Biskra 
January 6-12, 1920. 

AFTER coming back from our tour in the 
Desert we stayed one week in Algiers, 
and then set forth again. This time we went 
towards the Kabyle Mountains, which showed 
blue in the distance from our hotel. 

Passing through cultivated farm-lands, we 
gradually got into country that was more 
picturesque, coming at length to magnificent 
scenery, where the River Isser flows through a 
deep gorge between precipitous mountains, 
sheer blocks of rock, like mighty walls, leading 
on through a bright and pleasant valley to 
Palestro. 

About fifty years ago, Palestro was the scene 
of a bloody massacre, when every French 
resident was murdered. The Kabyles, as a 

56 



Kahylia to Biskra 57 

race, have been less dominated by foreign 
invaders than any other of the inhabitants of 
North Africa. While the Arabs were ground 
under the heel of Turkey, the Kabyles main- 
tained complete independence and even extorted 
tribute from the Turks, whenever the latter 
passed through their country. Therefore, they 
resisted the French occupation with might and 
main, encouraged by their Marabouts, who are 
an unofficial clergy peculiar to North Africa. 

Needless to say, it was an evil day for their 
freedom when they tried their power against 
France. The Kabyles are passionately devoted 
to their mountainous homes, and their liberty 
had not been interfered with in the least up to 
this time; but now a grim French fort frowns 
from the mountains down upon the villages, a 
visible and daily reminder of the power of 
France. 

Soon we drove through Tizi-Oozou, the 
capital of Kabylia, and now we began to ascend, 
and were keenly interested in the pretty Kabyle 
villages crowning the tops of each hill. Every 
turn brought fresh and lovely views over the 
valley below, the scenery being so varied that 
one enthusiast has written, '* If all the artists in 



58 Three Travellers in North Africa 

the world came to Kabylia, there would be 
enough subjects to keep them busy for a year." 

The women are not veiled ; they dress in 
very bright colours, wearing quantities of 
native jewellery, hoop-earrings of barbaric 
proportions, heavy silver chains in great 
variety, broad armlets and anklets, and a 
circular ornament on the forehead, tinkling 
with pendants, of the coloured stones of the 
country, semi-polished, and set in silver. 
These look regal in combination with a brilliant 
handkerchief binding their heads, and when the 
lady of the house goes a-marketing she crams 
on all the family jewels ! 

A Kabyle woman is therefore an arresting 
sight among her mountains ; but one curious 
custom prevails, that of tattooing, and more 
often than not they are tattooed with the sign 
of the Cross. I saw one girl in Algiers dressed 
like a European, and she had the double sign 
of the Cross on forehead and chin. 

The origin of this custom seems to be lost in 
mystery, for the Kabyles are Mohammedans, 
and yet the Koran forbids tattooing. Some 
authorities state that in the second and third 
centuries Christian slaves fled to these mountains. 



Kabylia to Biskra 59 

where they were treated well and given work, 
and that, through them, some of the Kabylcs 
became Christian converts. The oldest in- 
scription that has been found in their country, 
dating from the eighth century, contains a 
prayer, '' O Lord, protect Thy servant Marie," 
which seems to strengthen the idea that the 
crosses may have had a Christian origin. 

And now, after wending our way upwards 
for over 3000 feet, we come to Fort National, 
*' a sword in the heart of Kabylia," the French 
fort, grim and formidable, dominating mountain 
and valley. We drove under an arched gate 
into this strange town among the mountains ; 
walls twelve feet high, enclosing thirteen acres, 
all strongly fortified. 

As it was late we did not delay, but ascended 
yet higher, the snow-capped mountains of the 
Djurdjura Range, beyond the valley, being 
beautiful to look at. There was one crimson 
rift in a thick bank of grey clouds, and then 
came twilight, but we did not arrive at Michelet 
till the stars were in the sky. 

Michelet stands very high, and the views 
next morning were beautiful ; the weather 
perfect, though cold enough at such a height. 



60 Three Travellers in North Africa 

We stood on a terrace facing the Djurdjura 
mountains, and looked across at the African 
Alps, with their strangely irregular peaks 
covered with snow — the highest of these, the 
''little Kadijah," measuring 7,572 feet. They 
were wonderfully beautiful as they became 
clearer and clearer with the rising sun, and then 
we looked at a little Kabyle village near us, 
wondering at the close compact building of the 
houses, with their low, pointed red-tiled roofs, 
and their walls of mud and stone ; very poor- 
looking little dwellings when seen close at hand, 
without chimneys or even windows as far as 
we could make out. But in the distance they 
are perfectly fascinating. The one we were 
studying at Michelet was in shadow, and sug- 
gested to us a flight of birds just alighting, 
with drooping wings, the low sloping roofs 
giving this efl^ect, and we half expected to see it 
rise swiftly from its peak, show black against 
the morning light for an instant, and then 
disappear over the hills. 

As we watched, the light revealed peak after 
peak in this maze of mountains, each crowned 
with its own little village perched precipitously 
on the rocky summit. We found them special 



Kabylia to Biskra 61 

points of interest during our drive of eight 
hours through panoramic scenery of the 
grandest description. 

Many of the hills in Kabylia are thickly 
wooded, a fine contrast to the bold upstanding 
rocks of a warm ochre colour, rising sheer 
from the hillsides in places, like gigantic pillar- 
stones. The Kabyles are evidently good agri- 
culturalists, for the land is in excellent order, 
although it was a little early in the year to 
judge of the vegetation. They have herds of 
cattle and sheep, and plantations of fruit trees, 
especially hg trees, and these are splendid 
specimens. Several of the mountain-sides are 
covered with them, but being still grey and 
leafless, they had the appearance of a ghostly 
forest, in contrast with the olives and the 
cork trees. 

We arrived at Bougie about four o'clock, a 
town on a deep bay in the Mediterranean, and 
very beautifully backed by high mountains. 
Of great antiquity, it is especially interesting 
from the fact that it shows traces of its different 
owners from Carthaginian times onwards. It 
was under Spanish rule for a considerable period. 
A great deal of Roman brickwork remains, and 



62 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Saracen fortifications, a picturesque arch in 
ruins, and a wall, traces everywhere of the 
town having been larger in bygone days, and 
far more important than the Bougie of to-day. 

There is a massive mountain called Gouraya, 
which we saw from every point of view yester- 
day during our tour over the mountains of La 
Grande Kabylie. This mountain towers over 
Bougie, and faithful Arabs who are unable to 
make the greater pilgrimage to Mecca are per- 
mitted to take a lesser pilgrimage to Bougie — 
from whence they must ascend Gouraya, and 
attain merit when they arrive at the top. 
Bougie is known as ** The little Mecca." As 
we drove away next morning we went past the 
Saracen wall, and saw an English ship at anchor 
in the harbour. 

The drive round the Algerian corniche was 
fine, mountains on one side, Mediterranean on 
the other, and presently, going inland, we came 
to a great gorge, the Gorge de Chabet, which is 
impressively colossal and narrow, and winds on 
for five miles, mountains 6000 feet high on 
either side, and rocks like perpendicular walls. 

Coming out of the gorge, all was changed 
as in a dissolving view. The vivid orange 



Kahylia to Biskra 63 

and pink rocks, and the purples of the 
mountains, gave place to a yellow world. 
Mild, meek, round hills and mountains of a 
very monotonous sand colour were in front of 
us, and all the romance and magic of colour 
in the beautiful scenery we had been going 
through for two days and a half vanished like 
a dream. 

Once more we began to ascend, and come 
nearer to a mountain with a snowy top, which 
had looked blue and beautiful in the distance ; 
but it lost all distinction as we came near, and 
gradually passed over it. White snow and 
yellow sand are a harsh contrast, and the wind 
was very cold. 

I think it was at this point that Jules re- 
minded us of the day we were at Laghouat, 
three weeks ago. " Do you know," he said, 
"on that very day three Mozabites and a 
child were murdered on the road between 
Ghardaia and Laghouat ? " We suggested 
vendetta, but he seemed to think it was 
common robbery. 

The point of the story was how carefully he 
protects us on our way. All through the 
desert he kept his gun aggressively handy, 



64 Three Travellers in North Africa 

and as we were approaching Ghardaia, in the 
dark, he suddenly fired it off in the air, and 
looking round explained, '* I did that so as 
not to frighten the ladies/' (A mysterious 
remark !) 

Presently, after miles across a lofty, lonely, 
yellow table-land, actually in the snow, we 
arrived at S6tif, where we stopped for the 
night. A town of some size, busy, bustling, 
and entirely French, with attractive shops, paper 
money of its own, boulevards, public buildings, 
and Roman remains. 

The following morning we set out once more 
for the desert, and on a lonely bit of road a 
motor dashed past us at lightning speed. 
Jules looked round and said, " There has 
been an accident by that motor, perhaps a very 
bad one ! ** and we saw that it had caused a 
terrified mule to bolt over the side of the road, 
and it was lying on its back in a tangle, with 
the cart pinning it down. The driver, an old 
Arab, had been pitched out and was only half 
conscious. 

However, mandarin cordial and water 
brought him to, and the mule was extricated 
and seemed none the worse, and we then 



Kahylia to Biskra 65 

continued on our way, the motor humming 
along like a good Samaritan. 

Wc had luncheon by the roadside, and gave 
some hungry little Arab boys some of the 
remains, bread and dates and a tin of potted 
meat. The bread and dates they could eat 
straight away, but the potted meat would have 
to be shown to their father, and if he was not 
certain about the infidel's meat being possible 
for his sons, the tin would have to be inspected 
by the Marabout, and his word would decide 
the weighty matter. 

We reached a most delightful place before 
sunset. El Kantara, the Golden Gate of the 
Sahara, and walked down the gorge, which was 
orange gold on the sunny side, an indescribable 
glory of colour. The afterglow turned the 
wild, piled-up masses of rocks into glowing 
pink, and as we walked onwards to the tomb 
of a Marabout, the landscape grew gradually 
colourless against a vivid yellow sky, which 
faded into the mysterious veil of violet which 
I have never seen except in these regions. 

There are two villages near by, known as 
the Red Village and the White Village, and 
on our way we passed a haunted house. 



66 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Would that we could have heard the stories 
first-hand ! When the veil of violet deepens 
and before the starlight comes, soft padded 
footsteps are heard around that house, and a 
line of spectral camels are seen moving down 
the valley with rhythmic tread, a sight that fills 
the villagers with fear. 

Outside the first village we saw a saucer full 
of white feathers. " That is to ward off the Evil 
Eye," we were told. There was a man in the 
village under its power, and his only chance of 
cure lay in the white feathers, for no demon 
dare pass such a dish. 

It is pathetic to hear of the various nostrums 
believed to have power in counteracting the 
effects of the Evil Eye. Coral and all red 
stones of the desert are supposed to have a 
certain power, and if a woman tears her blue 
dress, she must put in a patch of red to placate 
the demon, red being the colour of blood. A 
saucepan on the corner of the roof deflects the 
path of the evil spirit, and perhaps sends him 
next door. To this day, the science of medicine 
as practised by the Arabs is of about the time of 
Hippocrates. 

The profession of doctor is hereditary, and 



Kahylia to Biskra 67 

the secrets connected with it arc handed down 
from father to son. They possess one herb, wc 
were told, which has anaesthetic powers. 

The Red and the White villages are built of 
mud bricks, and the timbers of the houses are 
made of date-palm. The mud walls are braced 
by these, which stick out like innumerable water- 
spouts, and some of the houses simply bristle 
with them. 

Then, as a variety from the monotony of 
mud bricks, wc were surprised to see a carved 
corner-stone of Roman times, or a finely 
carved capital, or an inscribed stone enshrined 
amongst the mud walls and their water-spouts. 

Of course, Rome had discovered this oasis of 
beauty : a Roman fortress (in the days when the 
third legion had their headquarters at Lambessa) 
was built upon this favoured spot. A Roman 
bridge remains, of one fine arch thrown across 
the gorge and giving the place its name. 

The path leading down to the river lay 
between mud walls, for the date-palms are 
portioned out into '' allotments,'' each jealously 
guarded by a mud-brick wall, the doors, made 
from the root of the palm tree, being strongly 
secured. 



68 Three Travellers in North Africa 

In the river bed we met a personage, a strange 
Frenchman, who has for ten years lived as a 
native in the White City. He was tall and 
very good-looking, with perfect manners, and 
clothes which appeared to be half French, half 
Arab. He carried in one hand a jug made of 
a goat-skin, and in the other an engraved metal 
cup. He was by the stream getting his supply 
of water, and looked entirely unsuitable for 
such a life. He is a Comtc de V., and his 
father has three chateaux in France, and a 
house in Paris, and why the handsome Count 
G. elects to live in a house of mud bricks, 
without even a chair in his room, on the edge 
of the Great Sahara, is a puzzle to any one who 
comes across him. 

We started for Biskra soon after this, only a 
run of fifty kilometres. The Aur6s Mountains 
on our left looked warm and pink in the after- 
noon sunshine, with soft blue shadows. Their 
outlines are rounded and regular as a rule, but, 
as we passed along, we noticed one strange 
perpendicular rock, brighter still in colour, 
because nearer, rising abruptly from one of the 
spurs of the hills, with its pinnacle crowned by 
what gave us the impression of being a Norman 



Kahylia to Biskra 69 

Castle, with towers, battlements and keep com- 
plete ! The illusion was most curious and 
intensified by the well-defined shadows. 

The natives who live in this part of the world 
are Chaouias, a Berber race, very like the 
Kabylcs in appearance, most of them tattooed 
and covered with jewellery, and wearing very 
bright colours. We were told that brigands 
haunt these hills, and that two or three lately 
raided a district round about Biskra. 

A herd of camels passed us, bearing burdens 
consisting of many large wooden cases, identical 
in size and shape, filled with dates. These 
hard deal boxes, suggestive of the railway or 
the hold of a ship, or at any rate Covent Garden 
market, looked strangely out of place on the 
backs of the patient camels. I am sure they 
much prefer the local packing-cases, the dates 
being simply sewn up in a goat-skin. 

Presently we arrived at Biskra, the Beni- 
Mora of Robert Hichens' Garden of Allahy 
which has been so wonderfully described by 
him that each traveller to this oasis-city ex- 
periences the sensation of having arrived at a 
spot well known to him. From the tower, 
mentioned in the beginning of the story, we 



70 Three Travellers in North Africa 

watched in wonder the vision of colour in the 
sunset hour — the "Delectable Mountains" 
bathed in rose-red radiance, the mysterious 
desert losing itself in twilight distance. 

The supreme interest of the town is its 
situation on the verge of the great desert, and 
the beauty of Count Landon's garden, where 
the " Wilderness becomes like Eden, and the 
desert like the garden of the Lord." 

From a book called Among the Berbers^ 
by Anthony Wilkin, is the following quotation : 

" The grounds of the Chateau Landon are 
by far the most striking thing in Biskra, and 
show what energy and intelligence, backed by 
capital, could and can do in the Sahara." 

And then he proceeds to describe the garden : 

"The Count's mansion and its outlying 
saloons are in themselves worth a visit, but the 
gardens are exquisite and worth the iourney to 
Biskra. 

'' In the first place every kind of Algerian 
tree and shrub and flower, which can stand a 
moderate heat, are there, lining walks smooth 
and hard and white of the stamped and rolled 
mud of the oasis. Not a dead leaf is to be seen, 
scarcely a speck of dust. Masses of bougain- 



Kdbylia to Biskra 71 

villea, purple and scarlet, climbed over a little 
pavilion in the centre of the garden, producing 
an effect more bizarre and theatrical than one 
could have wished. Winding alleys dived 
beneath masses of tropical vegetation, out of 
whose cool shades came the merry tinkle and 
splash of running streams. Hedges of geraniums 
and cacti recalled southern Europe, groves of 
New Guinea hibiscus showered their red 
blossoms at our feet. Orange and lemon trees 
filled the air with the delightful odours of the 
south of Spain. Cingalese bamboo thickets, 
interwoven with a thick undergrowth of fan- 
palms, and over-topped by date and even cocoa- 
nut trees, bordered patches of Javanese paddy 
and Alpine barley and wheat. South Sea 
bananas, Syrian figs, golden Queensland paw- 
paws (apples), grew in profusion everywhere. 
Surely a more wonderful mixture of flora is 
scarcely to be found on any other single spot 
. . . the grains of the grey North close hedged 
by the lustrous fruits of the Tropics." 



CHAPTER V 



TOUGGOURT 

January X4-17, 1920. 

THIS tour was unique. 
The road from Biskra to Touggourt had 
once been as good as any of the other roads 
through the desert, until a single line of railway- 
was made through the sandy waste. This made 
it less imperative to keep the road in good 
order, and finally in 19 14, when the war came, 
the French had neither men, nor time, nor 
money to give to the care of a road which was 
not a necessity. So in parts this one became 
sand-swamped and impassable, and we learned 
that if we wanted to visit Touggourt we must 
go by the railway. As no train was going on 
the day on which we wanted to start, a spirited 
arrangement was made that one passenger 
*' coach " should be attached to the end of a 
military train which was going down with 

goods to Touggourt, and thus we should get 

72 



Touggourt 73 



over the difficulty. So the three travellers, 
after a day or two at Biskra, started forth in 
the most leisurely train in which they had ever 
found themselves. 

The desert produces a wonderful calm over 
the spirit. Time becomes too dignified an 
abstraction to be chopped up into mere hours 
and minutes, and the train fell in with the 
general feeling, as it bore us along from oasis 
to oasis. When we had gone some little way 
we saw a very good example of a mirage, the 
appearance of a lake where no lake was, with 
some rugged dark rocks on its nearer shore, 
and some more coming out of the water, and 
later on we had the great good fortune to see 
the actual lake in its reality, of which we had 
seen the mysterious reflection fifty kilometres 
further back. 

The journey, slow as it was, had a fascination 
of its own, and we saw palm-growing at its 
best. In this part of the country the French 
are bringing scientific knowledge to bear upon 
the culture of the date-palm. Underground 
reservoirs are reached by deep borings of 
artesian wells, and so water is provided, for 
the palm requires nothing but light and warmth. 



74 Three Travellers in North Africa 

a sandy soil, and a certain amount of water. 
The Arab saying is that the palm must have 
" its feet in the water and its head in the fires 
of Heaven." Given these conditions the date- 
palm yields its fruit for nearly a hundred years. 
The average height is between thirty and forty 
feet; the great fan-shaped leaves that are 
taken off every year from below are used as 
fencing (matting can be made from them also), 
and, as we saw in the native villages at El 
Kantara, the beams of the houses and wooden 
doors, besides the odds and ends of house 
carpentry, were all of the stem or the roots of 
the date-palm — rope was made of its fibres, 
every square inch being of use, till finally the 
desert man warms himself and cooks his food 
over its expiring ashes. 

The arrival of the train at a station was an 
event of thrilling interest to the inhabitants of 
each oasis village, and the groups that gathered 
round the carriage were of great interest to us — 
there were many more black faces than we had 
seen yet. 

And at length we arrived at Touggourt. The 
sand here is very soft and powdery, and there 
is no cart-road, but tram-lines are laid down, 



Touggourt 75 



and a quaint little covered tram drawn by one 
mule was waiting for us. There was a great 
crowd to meet this train, and a large number 
were negroes. The mule brought us up in fine 
style to the town, which stands high, about a 
quarter of a mile away. Behind us was a dray, 
also on the tram-lines, but drawn by three 
mules. The luggage was piled up on it, the 
guide, and a good portion of the crowd, seemed 
to get on to it too on one pretext or another, 
till, looking back, it had the appearance of a 
super-jaunting-car, for the legs of the passengers 
were hanging over the sides, and the luggage 
was piled up in the middle. 

So we had a glorious arrival in the city of 
Touggourt, and stopped opposite the Hotel 
Oued R'hir. The general impression was of 
a white city, with white- robed crowds, and 
streets deep in sand. Getting out of our tram 
we went under a particularly untidy archway, 
which seemed to serve as a kind of coach-house, 
and then we found ourselves in a courtyard, 
where there were rabbits, cats, dogs, cocks, 
hens and pigeons, a palm tree growing in one 
corner, and linen garments fluttering on a 
clothes-line. 



76 Three Travellers in North Africa 

We went up some stone steps which brought 
us on to a broad balcony, on to which the 
doors of our bedrooms opened — only a bed, 
a table, a chair and a few hooks in each — and 
A.'s and mine looked into the courtyard, with 
all its variety. 

We were fascinated by the town, and were 
informed that there was going to be an impor- 
tant market on the following day, and crowds 
were coming from different directions with their 
wares, and sitting in groups about the market- 
place. It was getting dark, the sun had set in 
great glory, and in the market many fires had 
been lit, which flared garishly in the half-light ; 
little make-shift stoves had bread and cakes on 
them in the making, and, as we went on through 
the town, we saw through the branches of some 
palm trees what looked like a great fire, but it 
was the afterglow in the west of deep shining 
red, over the wide spaces of limitless desert. 

As we stood and watched we saw the sil- 
houette of a camel against the light, quite 
motionless, then another came into the picture, 
and it was very striking. Soon the effect 
passed, and we noticed that many traders had 
arrived with their camels on this spot, and 



Touggourt 77 



more were coming, and men and camels would 
spend the night here under the stars ready for 
the market on the morrow. Meanwhile the 
bakers of the market-place were providing good 
bread, cakes, and provisions for the travellers 
to the " sand-locked city." 

Next morning the market-place was very 
lively, and the fresh black complexion of so 
many, and their flashing teeth, looked splendid 
with their white burnouses; but in Touggourt 
more than in any place that we have visited 
yet, the eyes of the children and many of their 
elders, too, are in a deplorable state — flics closing 
up the babies' eyes— it really seemed as if one 
in every four or ^Yt had some defect of eye- 
sight. I believe they say, "Allah sends the 
flies, so it is not for us to send them away ! " 

As we walked about Touggourt we thought 
how the living pictures and scenes which were 
delighting us were replicas of scenes which had 
delighted travellers in past centuries. We 
continually felt that this life belonged to no 
century in particular, while we passed down 
the native streets glancing into the little dens 
where the Arabs were fashioning rough metal 
work, or roughly painting coloured leather, or 



78 Three Travellers in North Africa 

making earthenware pots, or putting an edge 
on a useful-looking dagger, or grinding the 
blade of a household knife and fixing it to its 
handle with neatly-plaited wire. 

In another den we watched a jeweller putting 
together a very effective pendant of pearls and 
emeralds set in gold. It was a fine specimen 
of native work, and the designer sat on his 
mud floor, holding in his hand the top of the 
ornament, while strewed about on the ground 
were delicate little pendant chains, set also with 
pearls and emeralds. His tools were all over 
the floor, too, quite untidily, but with accuracy 
and deftness he fitted the little chains, one by 
one, to hang from the jewel as we watched. 

One thing suddenly brings us back with a 
jump to the present day, and that is the hum 
of a Singer's sewing-machine, beloved of the 
Arabs, who sit in the street, outside their doors, 
working the treadles. 

We visited the mosque, which is a fine 
building, containing some wonderful Arab 
decoration of the ninth century in white plaster. 
The designs are strictly geometrical, for the 
Prophet allowed none of his followers to make 
use of natural objects in art. But this stucco- 



Touggourt 79 



work is so light and lacy that it looks as if it 
had hardly been touched by the hand of man, 
and yet the cupola, ornamented by this intricate 
tracery (reminding one of snow crystals), is in 
as perfect condition as the day it was finished, 
more than a thousand years ago. 

The Arabs were then at the zenith of their 
Golden Age, while Europe, as a whole, was in 
her dark ages, groping towards the light. The 
very word zenith is of Arab origin, with many 
other astronomical and scientific terms. Their 
figures were adopted universally as being less 
elaborate than the Roman numerals. With 
their treasured stores of ancient knowledge and 
learning they had given an impetus to the 
intellectual progress of the world — in literature, 
art and science ; how is it, then, that in these 
matters, at any rate, they have settled down to 
an apparent state of stagnation ? 

In the afternoon we had a wonderful drive 
through sand to a town called Temacin. Our 
sand-cart had slight wheels with very broad 
tyres, and was drawn by three mules — two big 
ones and a little one in the centre, which 
pulled splendidly. The " boots " of the hotel — 
Ahmed by name — insisted on coming too. 



80 Three Travellers in North Africa 

running alongside with an African greyhound, 
a sloughi dog, on a lead. 

It was a very hot afternoon, and we drove 
for a mile and a half through the oasis, amongst 
beautifully-cultured palms, and then we got 
out into the desert, on one of the seven great 
caravan routes across Sahara. 

The route was very wide and trodden with 
the heart-shaped pad of many camels, and we 
saw them coming up from the south, laden 
with goods of every description. The mer- 
chants travel together for security, and some- 
times in bands of very large numbers, but 
this afternoon we only met small caravans at 
intervals. The camels generally follow each 
other in single file on their long journeys, the 
leader being tricked out smartly in colours, 
with bells on his trappings, and the progress 
of the caravan is about twenty-four miles a 
day. The journey to Timbuctoo, for instance, 
would take five months, though General Nivelle 
talks of flying there in four days from Algiers. 

The camel plods through his life in a dignified 
way which never varies. He lives from forty 
to fifty years, and a baby camel is only four 
years old when he is trained for his life work 



Touggourt ^1 



of burden-bearer. He is taught to kneel down 
and to get up at the word of his master, and 
when he kneels the knee halter is slipped round 
the doubled-up limb to prevent him stirring. 
His education begins with light burdens, but 
the weight is increased year by year, and when 
he attains full growth — which is when he is 
about seventeen or eighteen — his back is fitted 
for the burden of anything from between 500 
to 600 lbs. in weight, roughly speaking the 
weight of four men. 

One is told that if only a camel had more 
brains it would discover early that it was a 
powerful, savage, and wild animal, as it has all 
these characteristics, and never becomes attached 
to its master ; so we must suppose that it is 
only its colossal stupidity that makes it continue 
its education. But one cannot get over the 
expression of high scorn for all mankind in the 
way the head is set on the camel's long neck, 
and one sees smouldering hatred in his expres- 
sion in the market-place, as burden after burden 
is placed on his back, and the ropes securing 
each are tightened, and he lifts his lip and 
shows his large teeth, and snarls savagely, when 
the last straw is in its place, and the knee- 



82 Three Travellers in North Africa 

halter released, and he must rise to his feet, 
and go on his way with characteristic endurance. 

Our road led up and down an undulating 
track, with dunes on either side. The desert 
round about Laghouat and Ghardaia, though 
a solitude, wild and vast, had its waves of sand 
broken by thorn, or scrub, or sweet-smelling 
thyme in tufts, or by huge boulder stones, 
but here we felt " This is the Desert of our 
Dreams." 

And on we went, Ahmed gallantly running 
along in the hot sun with Sahib, the sloughi 
dog, panting behind him. Sahib at length 
dragged on his chain, and refused to go a step 
further, so he was promptly hauled up on to 
the box seat, and Ahmed was cajoled (with a 
little bakshish) to return. 

Our pace was not terrific — which was not 
to be wondered at — but eventually we got to 
Temacin. Here we saw a white town crown- 
ing a sandy hill, and from it rise a graceful 
and decorated minaret, and many of the 
inhabitants crowded round the little cart. 

So hot was it, and so pretty was Temacin, 
and so enticing was the oasis, that A. and I 
elected to get out and spend the afternoon 



Touggourt 83 



there, while L. went on to a further town called 
Zaouia. 

We sat on the sand, in the pleasant shade 
of many date-palms; there was a Marabout's 
tomb near by, and two little Arab boys made 
friends with us, all of us laughing a great deal 
without understanding each other's language, 
and at three o'clock we heard the *' Voice of the 
Minaret " calling to prayer, and we saw the 
flutter of the Muezzin's burnous on the balcony, 
as he gave the strange cry of " Allah- il-Allah 1 " 

We had a most peaceful afternoon, delight- 
ing in the shade of our oasis, and sketching 
the white town on the hill. At about half-past 
four the little cart appeared once more on the 
scene, and we found that L. had had many 
adventures, and had been entertained by the 
Marabout, who appears to be a ruler of Zaouia, 
and all the inhabitants his willing slaves. He 
had met a native poet and two Caids at the 
feast, and had had a most interesting afternoon. 

By L. 

The Marabout of Zaouia is a very great 
man indeed, and, moreover, he is a man of 
great charm. He was so kind as to take me 



84 Three Travellers in North Africa 

into the mosque to see the fine tomb of his 
father, for whom he appeared to have great 
respect. This he was able to do from his 
position as Marabout, and 1 did not even have 
to " take ofF my shoes from oiF my feet." He 
also assembled the chief notabilities of Zaouia to 
meet me, among them being a poet, evidently 
the Court Poet, for the Marabout is quite a 
king in his own domain. 

He and his Court gave me a most cordial 
farewell on my departure. 

{Csntlnued.) 
Once more settled in our places in the little 
sand-cart, we were prepared to go straight back 
to Touggourt, when the driver said, "All 
strangers must visit the Caid before leaving 
Temacin ! " We demurred, but the driver 
added, " He expects it ; he has given orders 
that all visitors must see him ! " But the sun 
was sinking lower in the heavens, and we had 
a good stretch of caravan route before we got 
back to Touggourt, so, notwithstanding the 
pressing general invitation to all tourists, we 
hardened our hearts, and paid no visit to the 
Caid of Temacin. 



Touggourt 85 



There were the same desert scenes on our 
way back as we had seen coming, with the 
background of an African afterglow. The 
attraction to the traveller when the desert is 
a new experience, is the constant sense of 
wonder. '' What is the colour of the long 
stretches of desert sand? Is it cream ? buff? 
pink ? tawny ? red ? — is the colour warm or 
cold ? " To-night parts look grey, parts a 
warmer brown, the clear, bright evening sky 
changing all the effects as we went along. 

Then, as we passed more camels, our 
thoughts flew off to wondering about their 
long journeys. We had heard of the native 
tribe of "Tuaregs" who had come in bands 
on fleet meharis (racing camels), and how they 
are able to overtake the beasts of burden, 
pillage, and get away again when they have 
got all they want. 

Then the ripples on the hillocks near the 
road made us think of the desert winds, and 
away flew our thoughts again to sandstorms. 
The camels kneel down spontaneously when 
the storm comes, bowing their heads to the 
gale, and stretching out their long necks, 
shutting their eyes and closing their nostrils 



86 Three Travellers in North Africa 

tightly, waiting " until the tyranny be over- 
past '' with dogged patience. Then the sand 
whirls forward and makes hills and hollows 
where none have been before, changing 
the face of the surface landscape and all its 
landmarks. 

Next morning we watched the camels drink- 
ing, and I fear laundry work was being done 
at the same long stone trough. But before 
going out, our good landlady, having noticed 
that L. had a gun, humbly approached him, 
with the request that he would shoot one of 
her pigeons for her, for our dinner. ''You 
see those on the roof ? Not the first, nor the 
second, but the white one, the third." So 
there was great excitement, and everybody 
within hail came on the balcoriy to see the 
tragic deed done. Lekna the black boy, 
Ahmed the Arab, and sundry others watched 
breathlessly. " Bang ! *' and the little victim 
disappeared into the courtyard to save our 
feelings ; and, oh ! I grieve to admit that at 
dinner she was the glory of our feast, and I 
may add that never was there a tenderer little 
turtledove. 

L. bought a thick rug of fine design and 



Touggourt 87 



beautiful colour made in one of the cities 
near, and then we went again into the market 
and bought a bag of roast pea-nuts, among 
other things, and at the corner of one of the 
streets we stopped to look at the professional 
story-teller, and his audience round him, the 
children in the front row, and their elders 
behind. He was seated on the ground, with 
his back against the wall, droning away in a 
sing-song voice, and telling his story with 
very little expression and no gesticulations. 
His companion occasionally accompanied him 
feebly on a little instrument with two wire 
strings. The people, and even the children, 
were listening with rapt attention ; some- 
times his friend joined in and it became a 
duologue, but one longed to get a clue as 
to what it was all about. 

We had settled to go to the mosque about 
sunset, and climb the tower and have a broad 
view of the white town and its sandy surround- 
ings. But the cavalier of the Ca'id arrived with 
a message, inviting us to come and have tea 
with himself and his brother, and the cavalier 
would be our guide. We had to accept, and 
set forth uphill towards the mosque, through 



88 Three Travellers in North Africa 

white streets arched over our heads and deep in 
sand. 

The Caid of Touggourt had a fine presence, 
large spectacles, and an important turban. His 
brother was a Ca'id too, of a town half-way 
between Ghardaia and Touggourt, called 
Guerrara, and he had a beautiful cafian of 
pink embroidered silk, and a charming manner. 

The tea was amusing, and we found the 
Caid of Guerrara illuminative on the subject 
of artesian wells and subterranean rivers, and 
ready to tell us everything about the latest 
methods of palm culture, their improvement 
being a work of great importance. During 
ten years the population of the oasis villages 
in Algeria rose from 6,600 to 13,000, owing 
to the judicious sinking of artesian wells, which 
render habitable extensive desert tracts — now 
groves of palm trees. 

When the feast was over we bowed our- 
selves out, and walked down the hill in the 
twilight under the arches connecting the walls 
on either side ; the arches stood out snow- 
white against the deepening sky, and the 
shadows were pure blue. 

This evening I opened my door on to the 



Touggourt 89 



balcony in order to hear more clearly some 
singing which had been going on for some time 
in a mosque near by. This was the phrase that 
was being sung over and over again — 



i 



i 



:^=^ 



|^ | o P \'\^^^ 



231 



1^ 



the first note of each bar accented with 
decision. It was sung by men's voices, in 
unison, and sounded rather like a Gregorian 
chant. 

I find it difficult to catch hold of the typical 
Arab music, for to our ears the melodies are 
anything but simple. There are all sorts of 
little extra notes and twittering trills. The 
distant strains of music accompanying the 
African dances of the Ouled Nails we have 
very often heard from afar, and to European 
ears they have a truly barbaric sound. In 
the market-places one hears snatches of music, 
sweet in tone, but sometimes making one 
think of the whistling of the wind through 
a keyhole, and when flutes and hautboys are 
accompanied by a drum one hears little besides 
the accompaniment. Occasionally we have 
thought the music reminiscent of the bagpipes. 



90 Three Travellers in North Africa 

At Laghouat the Pashada*s band had shrill reed 
instruments and several drums, and the music 
played was full of the same twittering and 
inconsequent little jerks and trills ; but I have 
not heard sufficient Arab music to get more 
than the vaguest impression of it, beyond that 
of an underlying melancholy, a minor note 
sounding through all the cadences. None of it 
seemed to me joyous, notwithstanding the trills. 
Next morning we said good-bye to Toug- 
gourt early, for our train was to start at seven, 
and although we were ready at half-past six, 
there was no sign of the little train appearing, 
and the awful prospect of the goods-train 
departing without us made Jules charter a 
crowd of Arabs to take our luggage by hand 
to the station. With the early morning light, 
the deep sand, and our familiar suit-cases and 
bags figuring in such an odd picture, this 
procession was delightful. A. and I stalked 
on ahead, and one Arab carried a gun, 
and another a luncheon-basket, another the 
cartridge - case ; Lekna, the black boy, our 
bags ; Ahmed, a canvas sack ; and L.'s fur 
rug was worn, burnous-Yikt^ by a tall Arab, 
who felt the morning air chilly. And 



Touggourt 91 



presently, and solemnly, we all arrived at the 
station, to find once more that time is a detail 
in the desert, and there was a difference of 
nearly an hour between town time and station 
time. 

If our outward journey was slow, what was 
the journey back ? But then, if travellers 
insist on going by goods-train they must 
smile at delays. And we did smile. We 
waved at groups outside their black Arab 
tents, and one mother, near the railway line, 
with a good deal of yellow and red in her 
dress, came quite close with her baby. Then, 
when we were waiting at a station, a crowd, 
increasing in size as the minutes went by, 
stared at us with profound interest, and looked 
expectant, as if something ought to be hap- 
pening ; so we bethought us of the roasted 
pea-nuts bought at Touggourt, and began 
throwing them out of the window for the 
children to catch. The Arab men thought 
this a delightful game also, and began joining 
in, and presently one of them produced a date 
or two, and threw them up to the carriage for 
A. and me to catch, and we answered back with 
pea-nuts, whereupon our nice Arab disappeared 



92 Three Travellers in North Africa 

for a time, and came back with a package of 
dates which he gave us as a present. 

Then our train moved on, amidst great 
wavings of farewell, and at the next station 
we watched a stately procession of camels pass 
by, evidently an important Sheikh moving with 
all his family. The camels went in single file 
with a leisurely dignity, many Arabs perched 
high on the backs of endless camels one after 
another. Others were mounted on fine Arab 
horses, caparisoned gaily, and going at a foot's 
pace. 

The bassours of the ladies* camels were 
draped brilliantly, like those which we saw 
at Laghouat, and, with the desert background 
and atmosphere, the picture will remain in our 
memories. 

After a while, our gently-moving steam- 
engine proceeded on its way, giving us a 
second view of the procession, which gladdened 
our hearts as a typical desert scene. We can 
only hope that none of the mounted Arabs, 
swaying with the movements of their camels, 
lifted their eyes in the direction of our train, 
and looked upon us as a blot upon their land- 
scape, a iarring note in their desert silences. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE TIMGAD TOUR 
January 19-22, 1920 

WE left Biskra on January 19, a lovely 
warm day, and we sped across the 
desert to El Kantara, and, after luncheon, went 
on and on towards Batna, our objective being 
Timgad, a town of ancient days, now the 
Pompeii of North Africa, once the southern 
outpost of the Roman Empire. 

For twelve centuries Timgad lay buried and 
forgotten. The top of a triumphal arch, erected 
in honour of the Emperor Trajan, was all that 
appeared above ground to give a hint of what 
might lie below, till, late in the nineteenth 
century, excavations were begun which promised 
well, and now, as an expert archaeologist (M. 
Albert Ballu) puts it : " Nulle part sauf a 
Pompeii, on n'a trouv6 Tequivalent dc ce que 
nous donne Timgad, c*est a dire, un ensemble 
complet, une ville toute entiere, qui semble 

93 



94 Three Travellers in North Africa 

n'etre morte que d'hier, et qui sourit a la 
rdsurrection cnsoleillee, de ses rues, de ses 
carrefours, de ses monuments. . . /' So we 
expected great things. 

As we drove towards Batna, we saw a group 
of Arab horses standing by a well, riderless, 
just a glimpse of bright colour — saddles green 
and red, with gay saddle-cloths ; but on the 
other side of the well was a striking picture. 
About a dozen Arabs in showy burnouses were 
kneeling in a row, side by side — for it was three 
o'clock — and one in front, possibly a Mara- 
bout, was apparently leading the devotions. 
A picturesque group, and most impressive. 

Batna is dull — at least so it seemed to us — a 
French military town with a strong garrison ; 
and, after we left it behind, we began to see 
traces of the ancient Romans, and soon came 
to Lambessa, a ruined town, once the general 
headquarters of the Third Roman Legion. The 
Praetorium stands, as it stood in long-ago days, 
four-square in the centre of the camp, perfect 
to all appearance, albeit now only an empty 
shell. Each of its four sides has three fine 
arches and niches for statues, and it is two- 
storied. 




THE I'R.liTORIU.M AT LAMBESSA 




■iim(;ai) ; par i ok the forum 



Timgad 95 



We motored on, thinking of the scope and 
strength of the Roman occupation, which 
erected these massive buildings almost on the 
borders of the desert, and, as time went on, 
the sky became lovely with sunset colours : 
the west orange, and the sun a globe of fire 
sinking behind the distant hills. From this 
burning centre drifted upwards clouds of gold 
and red flame, stretching out restlessly in all 
directions, a perfect glory of colour, increasing 
in intensity every minute. Overhead the pale 
green sky was deepening into blue, with larger, 
pinker clouds, and then, gradually, the sun set, 
and the glory began to fade, the hills of the 
west rising purple and dark against the bright- 
ness of the afterglow, while the mountains 
opposite stood out bright blue, through stages 
of varying efl^ect, till all was grey, and twilight 
fell as we arrived at Timgad. The sunset 
seemed to colour our thoughts of Rome and 
her end. 

We walked at once into the city, through 
the remains of an ancient gateway, up the Cardo 
Maximus, with its huge, blue paving-stones set 
diagonally, and columns, which were all that 
remained of ancient porticoes, flanking it on 



96 Three Travellers in North Africa 

either side. On our left we passed a wide 
flight of stone steps, leading to what we after- 
wards learnt was the town library, and walking 
on, we came to the steps of the Forum. 

We had a general impression of statelincss 
and space, and in the dusk the town looked 
ghostly. As we explored the ancient theatre, 
it was too dark to distinguish much beyond its 
semicircular form. 

We recrossed the Forum, and turned west 
down another flagged street, paved diagonally 
like the Cardo (a word which implies a road 
running north and south), and arrived at 
Trajan's Triumphal Arch as the stars were 
coming out. Standing beneath it, we heard a 
movement overhead, as a heavy bird shook 
itself, annoyed at our presence, and disappeared, 
whirring low over the silent city. 

Next morning was sunny, and the first thing 
that struck us was the freshness of Timgad's 
stones and pavements. We were taken for a 
walk through the town by the director of the 
excavations — a Frenchman, enthusiastic about 
his work, who mentally sees the city as she was 
in her zenith, and to whom it is an evident 
pleasure to make her live once more. 



Timgad 97 



Of course it suggests Pompeii, but the 
streets are wider — the streets of a business town 
rather than those of a pleasure city. To-day 
they were shining, and we saw on them the 
marks of Roman chariot-wheels, and flag-stones 
worn by footsteps of 1 800 years ago. 

Monsieur le Directcur took us to the library, 
which was built "as an offering to his native 
town *' (so runs the inscription) by one Rogati- 
anus. He was the local Andrew Carnegie, 
though it was not built till after his death. 

The point about this particular library is 
that, although on numerous inscriptions in 
various Roman towns there have been references 
to public libraries, this one at Timgad is the 
only one that has, as yet, been unearthed. 

It is about eighty feet square, with a U- 
shaped end where six pillars stand in a semi- 
circle which once upheld a vaulted dome. 
Several of the pillars down the length of the 
building are now in their places, capitals and 
all ; but when found they were all horizontal. 

Then we looked with great interest at the 
places where the niches once were which held 
the "books," that is to say, the cylindrical 
metal cases containing the papyrus rolls, which 



98 Three Travellers in North Africa 

were placed, one on top of another, in an 
orderly manner, according to subject. And 
from this spot it was amusing to glance back 
at the six perfect pillars at the entrance, and 
imagine the intellectuals of Timgad coming up 
the steps and crossing the central pavement, 
making with serious intent for one particular 
niche, and one particular cylinder, then each 
sinking down on one of the lounges at the side 
to read his roll in comfort. 

We soon realised, from the conversation of 
Monsieur le Directeur, that Timgad had once 
been a town of great importance. Built in the 
reign of Trajan, about thirty years after the 
destruction of Jerusalem, she soon rose to great 
power during the reigns of the progressive 
emperors, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and 
Marcus Aurelius, who all encouraged every- 
thing possible in the way of commerce and 
agriculture, no less than of art, science, and 
literature. 

During the second, third, and part of the 
fourth century of our era, Timgad flourished 
and abounded. Her suburbs (remains of 
which are still seen) stretched far beyond the 
limits of the town, and beyond them, again. 



Timgad 99 



villas, farms, and homesteads, the surrounding 
country being covered with cereals and groves 
of olive trees. A fine supply of fresh water 
was brought from the mountains by an 
aqueduct, Timgad being built on one of the 
last spurs of the Aur^s range. The Berbers, 
even, notwithstanding their attitude of dislike 
towards all their conquerors, found that such 
a flourishing town in their midst was a distinct 
advantage, and when its presence became an 
established fact, they came down from their 
mountain fastnesses and up from the desert, 
and did business readily in her markets and 
her shops. 

Before the fourth century, however, the great 
stability of the Roman Empire had given way, 
and it began to break up from within, the result 
of many causes well known to history. It had 
no longer the force of a united purpose, and 
presently this was felt in all the frontier towns, 
and, with the rest, Timgad became the prey of 
divided counsels and conflicting interests for 
nearly a hundred years. 

The Berbers, of course, were only waiting 
their opportunity to strike, and strike hard, and 
they began by pillaging and harassing the 



100 Three Travellers in North Africa 

suburbs, and at every opportunity sowing dis- 
sension ; and then the Vandals, who had been 
steadily working eastward in their mighty 
sweep across North Africa, finished the work 
and occupied the town for a certain time. Very 
little detail is known of the Vandal occupation, 
but many palaces were burned, and the town 
sacked. 

And now comes a curious interlude, which 
adds to the romance of Timgad's story. 
Solomon, who was the son and successor of the 
great Byzantine warrior Belisarius, made an 
expedition in hopes of saving Timgad. His 
father had succeeded in holding the Vandals in 
check and he was bent on a similar mission, but, 
alas ! he arrived too late, the Vandals had done 
their work ; the city was deserted, and the 
Berbers were camping among the ruins. 

But the Byzantines, nevertheless, were evi- 
dently of opinion that their lines had fallen in 
very pleasant places, and having come, they 
determined to stay, and so, beside the Pagan 
ruins arose the Christian city, the builders of 
the latter using Timgad's pillars, architraves, 
and stones, and finding her a most convenient 
quarry. 



Timgad 101 



Monasteries, baptisteries, and basilicas were 
built, as well as a great fort to protect the new 
city, and so it flourished until the great Arab 
invasion, under Sidi Okbar, warrior and reputed 
saint, who claimed the whole of North Africa, 
from end to end, in the name of the Prophet 
Mahomet, towards the end of the seventh 
century. Nothing stood against this invasion, 
and in due time Timgad and the Byzantine city 
lay stark and deserted, a dwelling-place for the 
wild beasts of the mountains and the desert. 

Even they, I should think, deserted her when 
an earthquake came and worked further havoc, 
cutting off the western portion of the town. 
And then kind Mother Earth took pity on her, 
and the floods of winter brought down the light 
soil from the mountains, and the sand of the 
desert helped in the work, and thus Timgad 
was laid to rest, the heavy pall growing denser 
and denser with each succeeding century, till 
her name, her history, and all remembrance of 
her was blotted out. 

Strange to say, only one classical writer, 
Procopus, mentions her, and he deals chiefly 
with her condition when ravaged by the Vandals 
and the Berbers, and mentions how the latter 



102 Three Travellers in North Africa 

were living in their tents among the ruins 
before the coming of the Byzantines. The 
remainder of her history is revealed by her own 
stones, with their many clear-cut inscriptions, 
the account of the discovery of which is given 
in a charming little brochure by Albert Ballu, a 
former Director of Excavations. 

Standing in the Forum in the morning sun- 
shine and overlooking the city, we got an idea 
of what Timgad had looked like in her prime, 
and this was helped by the presence of M. le 
Directeur, who mentally sees her with all her 
walls and roofs intact. A great many pillars 
are in their old places, and, with regard to those 
that are missing, one sees on the pavement, 
clearly drawn out, the square where the base 
rested, sharp as when first cut. 

Here in the Forum, the inhabitants of the 
city met and talked, for, besides its official uses, 
it formed a recognised promenade for the society 
of the town, and touched the life of the city at 
every point. Here was the rostrum, where the 
orators stood, making their speeches, delivering 
official communications or declaiming funeral 
elegies, and the marks of the metal balustrade 



Timgad 103 



in front, which once was there, are still to be 
seen. I am sure it was often clutched, and 
leaned upon, and pounded by the orators in the 
fire of their eloquence. 

The Forum was the place of the "Exchange," 
as well as of the Courts of Justice. On one 
side the merchants discussed commerce and 
finance, while on the other the judges gave 
sentence. At the end we were pointed out the 
site of a Roman primary school, and near by 
were remains of many shops, with back-doors ; 
while the centre was adorned with statues of 
deities and emperors, and also with portrait busts 
of the local celebrities, famous perhaps for 
heroism, or wealth, or position ; and many of 
these statues, more or less broken, are on view 
to-day, outside the museum. 

Other great meeting-places in Timgad were 
the various large establishments of public baths, 
thirteen of which have already been discovered, 
in addition to sets of bath-rooms in all private 
houses. The baths were, to all intents and 
purposes, clubs, as well as places of entertain- 
ment, where concerts, singing, acting and recita- 
tions took place. From the fine mosaics on the 
floor, they must have been very well decorated 



104 Three Travellers in North Africa 

and furnished in all that was considered the 
best style of the period. 

Here flocked philosophers and poets, men of 
letters and orators, and there are traces of 
reading-rooms, as well as of a gymnasium and 
hall of exercise ; barbers and masseurs were in 
attendance ; there were cold baths, hot baths, 
tepid baths and vapour baths, and we saw the 
stoves which the slaves had to keep going at a 
terrible heat, with only tiny apertures above for 
air. The whole underground apparatus for the 
graded distribution of heat in the different rooms 
is in perfect order to this day, stoves and all, so 
that the ancestry of the Turkish bath is not 
difficult to trace. 

One of these great establishments of public 
baths was given to the town by a private indi- 
vidual, who had evidently the strongest affection 
for his birthplace. He was a soldier, rejoicing 
in the name of Marcus Plotius Faustus 
Sertius, described on an inscription in his 
market-place as being "a Roman Knight, and 
ancient chief of the Cohorts and Wings of the 
Auxiliary Army." 

Marcus had a lovely wife, whose statue now 
graces the walls of the museum ; her name was 




TIMGAIJ ; DECORATED SIONE IN MAKKET-l'I.ACE OF SEKTILS 



t 




U) ; STATUE Ol- VAl.ENTINA ON WAl.I. OK MUSEUM 



Tinigad 105 



Cornelia Valentin a, and they lived in the 
third century, while Timgad was still in her 
prime, without a cloud on her horizon. 

One of the most interesting spots in the town 
is the market-place of Sertius, another munifi- 
cent gift of this good citizen. It stands close 
to his public baths, and not very far from his 
private house, with the crowning height of the 
Capitol behind, whose two great pillars, seventy 
feet high, dominate the city. This market- 
place is spacious, and in the centre of its court- 
yard there used to be a fountain. It was 
colonnaded all round, with splendid arches, one 
of which remains, propped up against a wall, 
built of great stones, cut smooth and so beauti- 
fully fitted into each other that no cement is 
needed to uphold the arch, the stones being in 
perfect poise. 

As we were admiring the pillars running 
down one side of the quadrangle, one of us 
asked M. le Directeur if there were no chance 
of still finding the missing pillars and restoring 
them to their places. 

" Oh, we know where they are, quite well,'* 
he said, pointing in the direction of the largest 
of the Byzantine churches, " the missing pillars 



106 Three Travellers in North Africa 

of the market-place adorn the nave of that 
basilica." " But surely they will be replaced 
here in course of time ? " we ventured to sug- 
gest. " Most certainly not ! " was his emphatic 
reply ; " the immense interest to historians and 
^ archaeologists lies in the fact of the Byzantines 
having made free use of the Timgad ruins when 
building their new town towards the end of the 
sixth century." "And how long did the 
Byzantine city exist ? " we asked. " For a 
hundred years," he answered; " a hundred years 
of peace and quiet, and then came the great 
Arab invasion, and all was over." Then we 
were shown the stone on which is engraved the 
inscription recording the generosity of Sertius, 
and, at the semicircular end of the market- 
place, he pointed out to us seven shops in 
perfect order, which, if roofed, could be used 
to-day. 

The work of excavation revealed the nature 
of the shops. All sorts of quaint haberdashery 
was found beneath one ; another was evidently 
a toy-shop, and we saw the little toys in the 
museum. The entrance to each was barred by 
a large limestone slab, a fixture, about a yard 
from the ground, which formed the counter. 



Timgad 107 



and the shopkeepers had to slip in underneath 
this, and come up smiling behind, ready to 
serve all comers, and lay out specimens of their 
merchandise on show. 

We had become so accustomed to the tiny 
shops of the Arabs, that we could quite imagine 
how these would look, crammed with goods, 
when the selling was in full swing. 

But it was not only Marcus Sertius whose 
name was honoured in Timgad. The beautiful 
Valentina also made a generous gift to the 
beloved city in presenting to the citizens the 
Forum Vestiarum, the market-place of clothes. 

One afternoon I was drawing some details of 
carving in Valentina's market-place, and was 
wondering how it looked when she first saw it 
completed according to plan, and what she felt 
when she read the inscription on the stone which 
immortalises her name. 

It was a roofed market-place, for we saw the 
tiles scattered about between the pavement 
stones (as, indeed, one sees the red pieces of 
tile in all the buildings we visited), and the 
middle of the courtyard was paved in alternate 
colours. That was surely Valentina's idea. 



108 Three Travellers in North Africa 

I could see Valentina and her attendant 
coming up the six steps, when the business 
of buying and selling was very intense, and 
delighting in the success of the venture. What 
clothes were laid out for sale ? Purple, fine 
linen, embroideries, beautiful colours, no doubt; 
peplums, pallia, stoles, tunics, outer garments, 
under garments, Valentina looked at them all. 

She had great taste with regard to her own 
clothes, and the graceful drapery of her flowing 
robe is unusually attractive in her statue, her 
hair being divided in the centre, and rather 
full at the sides, and she must have felt a flutter 
of excitement at having carried through the 
idea, and given to the town something so 
beautiful and useful. The Romans knew all 
about pins and needles, buttons and thimbles, 
very like what we have to-day, although the 
only needles which have survived the overthrow 
of this city were wooden ones with square eyes. 

I think Valentina would pass along, through 
her own market-place, and visit that of Sertius, 
going perhaps to one of the seven shops on her 
way home to buy safety-pins or hairpins such 
as we saw at the museum. Perhaps she looked 
in at the jeweller's shop, or the toy-shop, or 



Timgad 109 



the baker's, till her attendants, glancing at the 
semicircular sundial, warned her that the 
shadows were lengthening, and that it was 
time to go home. 

The Cardo Maxim us runs straight up a 
slight incline till it gets to the Forum, and, 
on the other side of the Forum, is again con- 
tinued, under the name of the Cardo Sud, and 
this was — shall we say ? — the Grosvenor Square 
of Timgad, Valentina and her husband living 
in a large corner house. 

Now these houses were, of course, built for 
hot weather, with inside courts, and very few 
windows opening on to the main streets. The 
plain outside walls had often shops built up 
against them, where oil, wine and provisions 
of all sorts were sold. Sertius, for instance, 
had probably a farm in the country, where 
these commodities were produced, which would 
be brought daily into the city, and displayed in 
a shop against the front wall of his house. 
There were two, in fact, one on either side 
of his "hall-door," and these had back-doors 
communicating with the house itself. 

The entrance was imposing. Three pillars 
remain of a handsome portico ; the attendant 



110 Three Travellers in North Africa 

would swing open the " Janua" — the hall-door 
(we saw the marks of its hinges), and Valentina 
would find herself in a hall, with doors on all 
four sides. The attendant would disappear 
through the left-hand door into the servants* 
quarters, which also led down four or five steps 
to the private bath-rooms. 

Valentina, meanwhile, opens the door opposite 
(i.e, the Ostium), and comes into the Atrium, 
which has an unusually long and narrow stone 
tank, running the whole length of the court- 
yard and open to the heavens above. Under 
the arches round the courtyard were once sofas 
and lounges, and above a loggia with a second 
story, but of all this nothing remains now 
except the tank and a few pillars ! 

Valentina goes on, and enters the Tablinium, 
corresponding to our dining-room, and pauses 
for a moment to admire the beautiful mosaic 
floor which has lately been put in. Now it 
adorns one of the walls in the museum, an 
intricate and handsome design, carried out in 
the natural stones of the country, which have a 
wonderful range of colour — a particularly fine 
example of mosaic art. 

Now she opens the door to the right, and 



Timgad 111 



find herself in the Triclinium, the master's 
study, where Sertius is seated at a low table, 
stylus in hand, and he pauses to tell her of 
some new scheme he is contemplating for the 
benefit of the town and of their fellow-citizens. 
Round the walls are probably niches for statues, 
and under their feet a mosaic pavement. Every- 
thing is orderly and refined. Beyond the 
Triclinium is another inner courtyard, with a 
fountain and a fish-pond in the centre, and 
arcades supporting a loggia and upper story, 
but only the " ground-plan " remains. 

Sertius and Valentina died before any cloud 
disturbed their serenity, threatening serious 
disorders and coming terrors and disasters to 
their city. Everything seemed secure enough 
in their day, for it was some time before the 
frontiers were affected by the disintegration at 
Rome. They were good citizens, who worked 
for the benefit of the community, not only 
in generous intention, but also in gracious 
contributions. 

Strange to say, no cemeteries have as yet 
been unearthed, but these will yield additional 
knowledge of the history of the town when they 



112 Three Travellers in North Africa 

are discovered, for the Roman law recognised 
that every individual, slave as well as citizen, 
had a right to reverent cremation, and the ashes 
were preserved in cinerary urns. 

It is possible that a monument may have 
been erected in memory of two such prominent 
citizens as Sertius and Valentina, benefactors to 
the town, and this may yet be discovered. 

Between two of the pillars in the Forum is 
engraved upon one of the paving-stones the 
following arresting inscription : 



TO HUNT . 


. TO 


BATHE 


TO PLAY 


. TO 


LAUGH 


THAT IS 


. TO 


LIVE." 



Was this simply a cheerful motto for the 
children's playground, for the adjoining stone 
was scored with little hollows for some childish 
game of marbles ; or was it, perhaps, Timgad's 
lax ideal of life during the time of decadence 
and decline ? 

If this was the case, her subsequent history 
forms a tragic comment on the light words. 

We waved a last good-bye to the city, as the 




STORK S NEST ON THE TOI' OK THE STEEPI- 




UOfOGA. THE ROMAN IHKAIKK 



Timgad 113 



motor set forth on its way to Constantine, the 
two great pillars of the Capitol being our last 
impression of Timgad, where we almost felt we 
had left two friends behind us — Marcus Sertius 
and Valentina. 



CHAPTER VII 

CONSTANTINE AND HAMMAM MESKOUTINE 
January 22-2/, 1920 

FROM Timgad we went to Constantine, the 
ancient city of Cirta, whose history carries 
us "down the dark backward and abysm 
of Time " through countless generations of 
humanity. It is obvious from her position, 
that the site must have been used early in the 
history of mankind as a city of refuge, for 
Constantine stands proudly on one of the 
world's natural fortresses. The river Rhum- 
mel flows a thousand feet below, through what 
appears to be a stupendous moat, encircling 
nearly three sides of the city. Early in the 
history of our planet, some convulsion of 
Nature must have cut this clean and narrow 
dyke through the solid rock, and thus created 
the famous Gorge of Constantine. 

The effect is awe-inspiring, and the spirit is 

burdened with a sense of the magnitude of the 

114 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 115 

proportions as we gaze at the very roots of the 
rocks — supporting layers of strata — a sheer 
perpendicular precipice of looo feet on either 
side of the river, like a solid wall of giant 
masonry. Out of the precipice facing the 
rock on which the city stands, the French have 
cut a path, in order to make it possible to walk 
through the gorge from end to end, and this 
path is protected by a substantial hand-rail, but 
at some places it is only a wooden platform 
supported on iron girders fixed into the massive 
rock. 

Constantine boasts of having withstood more 
than eighty sieges, many of which are matters 
of history before the Christian era. 

Jugurtha, the King of Numidia, in the 
second century before Christ, has been made 
famous in the annals of the historian Sallust. 
Many of his wars centred round Cirta, and 
several of the memorable events connected 
with them took place in the ancient city, 
towering on its detached and unique site. 

The name of Constantine replaced the older 
name in the fourth century, when, after having 
been reduced to ashes, the city was rebuilt by 
the Romans, and her strong position enabled 



116 Three Travellers in North Africa 

her to withstand the assaults of the Vandal and 
the Byzantine hosts. But in 710 she was 
conquered by the Arabs, who held her for 
more than 800 years. 

Then came the Turkish era in 1535, and 
among many other places of interest we visited 
the palace of the last Bey of Constantine, Ahmed 
Bey, who, 1 am delighted to say, was turned out 
by the French in the year 1837. In his person 
and character one is able to get a flashlight 
glimpse of the infamous power of the Turk in 
Algeria. 

It is hard to believe the depth of degradation 
and cruelty that had existed within a hundred 
years of the present day, and although, on the 
morning we saw it, the palace of the Bey was 
sunny and attractive, with its quadrangular and 
arcaded patios^ its orange trees, lemon trees, 
and pretty gardens in the centre, the wraiths of 
m.any wretched women must haunt the place, 
and the ghosts of the poor blinded musicians 
who played for them while they danced for the 
pleasure of the Bey. 

The porter, who lives at the gate, showed us 
what he could of the palace, and his stories 
of the state in which the French found it in 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 117 

1837 made one rejoice at the downfall of the 
Turk. 

Certainly one of the chief interests in the 
town is the human one. Going out at ten 
o'clock in the morning into the sunny Place du 
Palais, the groups of living pictures were worth 
coming all the way to see. The Arabs, the 
types of whom we are getting to know so well, 
the desert men, the mountain men, the town 
men, the poor men, the rich men, were largely 
represented, with an admixture of Turks, which, 
to me, were less familiar. 

The Turkish turbans did not look as patri- 
archal as those of our Arab friends, but their 
baggy trousers, embroidered vests and bright 
leggings and shoes made a fine variety ; and 
the Zouaves passing to and fro introduced 
nice patches of red and blue. The whole 
impression was one of movement, colour and 
glitter, for the women seemed to have put on 
all the jewellery of which they were possessed. 

We saw working girls with gold coins adorn- 
ing their hair, huge circular ear-rings, and gaily 
coloured scarves, children with chains and 
bangles, bright yellows and reds, passing in 
and out of the busy crowd. Here, laughing 



118 Three Travellers in North Africa 

negroes, and there evident sons of Abraham, 
in great numbers, meeting and greeting in the 
sunshine, the Jewesses veiling the lower part 
of their faces, but showing glittering em- 
broideries adorning their dresses and a good 
deal of colour, an embroidered handkerchief 
festooned about their hair, and a jaunty little 
conical cap sometimes set at an angle with a 
bright scarf swathed round it. The Jewish 
children wore these conical caps too. 

The Moorish women were more sombre than 
any we had seen yet, wearing grey cloaks, which 
made them look like Sisters of Charity, their 
nose and mouth being covered with a white 
muslin band. 

Besides these were Europeans of every 
nation, the French predominating, of course. 
The population is exactly half-and-half, 30,000 
Natives and 30,000 Europeans, and it is the 
variety of the passers-by in squares and streets 
that strikes the passing stranger as being the 
crowning interest of the City of Constantine. 

We left Constantine on Saturday, January 
24, and came to Hammam Meskoutine, the 
latter part of the drive being through beautiful 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 119 

mountain scenery. And here, forming another 
variety and surprise for the travellers, were 
Geysers and Hot Springs. 

As we drove up to the hotel we saw a cloud 
of steam and smoke coming up from the depths 
of the earth, and before dark we went to explore. 

The vegetation here is rich, because the roots 
of the trees evidently like the hot damp earth, 
and little rills were always surprising us, 
bubbling up at our feet and running down 
the hill. It is sulphur water, and the smaller 
the rill, the lower the temperature ; the larger 
the stream, the nearer it comes to boiling point. 
The Arabs boil their eggs in the running 
streams, and cook their vegetables ; and from 
Roman times onwards, the medicinal properties 
of the Thermal Springs have been known, and 
yet the name of Hammam Meskoutine has 
been given to the spot, which means, in 
English, the Accursed Baths. 

The geysers in this valley play strange tricks, 
and when they bubble up they leave a circular 
sediment of carbonate of lime, which, as it cools 
down, appears like stone. Next time it over- 
flows it makes another circular layer of sediment, 
and so on ; it builds higher and higher, until 



120 Three Travellers in North Africa 

the inner forces of the earth have no strength 
to force up the water beyond a certain height, 
so it narrows at the top as it becomes exhausted, 
and has formed itself into a cone, while the 
imprisoned water finds an outlet somewhere else. 

The cones are greyish-white, and there are 
hundreds of them, standing in the most 
weird groups all over the plain, like grey 
ghosts, some taller, some smaller, some wider, 
and some flatter than others. 

But the Arabs do not like them, and they 
will not walk about after nightfall, because of 
the following Arab legend : 

Once upon a time Ali and Ourida were 
going to be married. It was an illegal marriage, 
and the elders of the Arab tribe besought the 
bridegroom to change his mind, which resulted 
in all the heads of the elders being cut off in 
front of his tent. Ali's father and mother, 
however, sanctioned the wedding and were at 
the ceremony, and the Cadi had come from a 
distance to marry them. 

The wedding day arrived, and the tents 
covered the plain, for many of the guests had 
come from far. The bridal presents were 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 121 

brought on the backs of camels, musicians had 
been bidden to add to the gaiety, and the fires 
were heated seven times so that the feast which 
was prepared should be of the most magnificent 
description. 

At the height of the merriment, the curse 
of Allah is said to have descended upon the 
wedding party, and all were turned into stone. 

Over the plain the wide cones are just like 
tents, and some even appear to have doorways, 
and many groups of them might stand for the 
guests, and many more for the musicians. 
And for ever the white steam ascends in great 
volume, blurring the middle distance, fires of 
the wedding feast that never will be extinguished, 
the Arabs even pointing out the petrified dish of 
couscous. Some of the cones are quite small 
(perhaps they may be considered to be the 
heads of the Elders of the Tribe, which the 
bridegroom impetuously removed in front of 
his tent), and some are perhaps fifteen to twenty 
feet high. Others have got coated with earth, 
blown up by the wind, and this has accumu- 
lated, and birds have dropped seeds upon 
them, with the result that they are draped 



122 Three Travellers in North Africa 



with a great variety of grasses and ferns, and 
even shrubs. 

The uncovered cones look strange enough, 
and even in the brilliant sunshine ghostly and 
uncanny, with little jets of boiling water 
bubbling up everywhere. The finest sight, 
one of the most curious freaks of the hot 
springs, is the Petrified Cascade, over which 
the waters flow at almost boiling point, 
throwing up a volume of steam that can be 
seen from far. 

By L. 

I found that here many sportsmen were in 
the habit of going out after wild boar every 
week. They had some good dogs, which are 
essential for success in the sport. 

We were given the opportunity of joining 
them, and rode up to a wood about three 
miles away which stands high above Hammam 
Meskoutine, and from which a glorious 
panorama is visible. 

We were placed at a distance from each 
other, where it was possible that boar might 
pass. 

I had an elevated position among some great 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 123 

rocks, on the rim as it were of a vast amphi- 
theatre. From where I was I looked down 
on to a great world of rocks and trees 
surrounded by higher ground. 

Far away I could hear the cry of the dogs, 
breaking the stillness. 

The cry continued, as the chase bore away 
now in one direction and now in another. 

Finally a wild boar was slain, and though no 
good fortune or opportunity extended itself to 
Jules or me, the scene was most picturesque. 

{Continued.) 

With the interest of Timgad fresh in our 
minds, we had a lovely drive, through a country 
rich in vegetation, to a place called Announa, 
where there are the remains of a large Roman 
city. It gives promise of great treasures when 
systematically excavated, and stands on a beau- 
tiful site among the mountains. A little has 
already been done, and we recognised its 
" Cardo Maximus," and its Forum, and the 
walls of the city are as strong and well pointed 
as if built yesterday. 

Presently, when they are all unearthed, each 
city will have its history written, and judging 



124 Three Travellers in North Africa 

from the number of inscribed stones, at which 
we could only glance, there are plenty of 
materials for history here. As at Timgad 
there is a Byzantine church, for Announa was 
a centre for early Christian work, and it is 
mentioned by Augustine, by the name of 
Tibilis, as one of the most important Roman 
cities in North Africa, the see of a Christian 
Bishop. 

Historians refer to as many as 580 Christian 
Bishoprics in North Africa, but the early spirit 
of Christianity seems to have vanished, and the 
Church became divided into many different sects, 
and weakened by feverish controversies. The 
Donatists were militant heretics, their cause 
being later on espoused by the Vandals, while 
other varieties of heresy were warmly upheld 
by the natives, and made the reason for further 
disturbances and passionate feuds amongst the 
different factions. 

Now Announa looks gaunt upon the sunny 
hill-side, but there are beautiful bits of marble 
lying about, and the inscriptions upon any 
stones that have been unearthed are very 
deeply cut. Across one of the streets is what 
must have been a great column of pink 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 125 

alabaster, perhaps one of many ; it was lovely 
to look at, and I took back a bit of it. It is a 
little tantalising looking at ruins of such deep 
historical interest as these, without having a clue 
to their special significance. 

Another day we had an equally interesting 
drive in the opposite direction to a place called 
Roknia, high up in the mountains. We went 
through beautiful scenery, and before us were 
grand purple mountains. Presently, we came 
to the top of a small plateau and walked some 
little way across some rough ground, when 
suddenly we arrived at a place of surpassing 
interest, a burying-ground of 4000 years ago. 
This consists of hundreds and hundreds of 
dolmens, built along the level ground and 
down the hill-side ; sometimes a dolmen stands 
apart, and sometimes they seem to be in groups 
of four or five together. They are very like 
the Cromlechs one is accustomed to see in 
Ireland, two big uprights with a third stone 
horizontally across the top, and sometimes a 
fourth slab which makes a back. 

There was an archaeologist staying at our 
hotel, who was out here in the interests of the 
British Museum, in order to study the dolmens 



126 Three Travellers in North Africa 

of Roknia, strange relics of the Stone Age, and 
all more or less intact. He told us that the 
largest were undoubtedly the oldest, and he 
gave their date as being 2000 years before the 
Christian Era. The stones are of a light lime- 
stone, and many of those on the crest of the hill 
were worn through on the weather side, with 
holes sufficiently large for one to put a hand 
through. 

Of course, we travel back mentally through 
the millenniums and wonder who are these 
dead — who were the living, who grew up 
amongst these fine mountains, and down in the 
deep valley beneath, in the very dawn of civil- 
isation — what to us seems like the beginning 
of time ? 

Our friend informed us that they have never 
been scientifically examined, but that it would 
be a work of intense archaeological interest to 
do so. Some surface investigations had revealed 
an ancient bridle, and he told us that this had 
aroused great argument, seeing that the bridle 
was a Roman one ! " Doubtless," he said, " the 
Romans, being an intelligent people, were as 
much interested in these prehistoric remains 
as we are. They were 2000 years old in their 



Constantine and Hammam Meskoutine 127 

time, but that bridle is now at Constantine, and 
I am going there to investigate it ! " 

We were very sorry to leave the verdant 
valley of Hammam Meskoutine, and as we 
drove away at seven o'clock in the morning, 
the steam from the geysers was carried up in 
a mist above the cones. Then, to our surprise, 
we saw, scattered about amongst the stone tents 
of the '' Arab Marriage," the well-known real 
tents of the Bedouins of dark brown camels* 
hair, one of their goats being perched on the 
top of one of the " accursed cones " ! These 
Arabs were evidently disinclined to let super- 
stition interfere with so desirable a camping- 
ground. 



CHAPTER VIII 

OUR JOURNEY TO TUNIS 
January 27—31, 1920 

THE day we left Hammam Meskoutine 
was one of those rare days, without 
wind, without dust, the air warm, and the sun 
brilliant, a perfect day. At seven in the morning 
the surrounding mountains looked mysterious 
in the mist, and the colours were very soft. 
The drive was interesting as well as beautiful : 
we noticed quantities of iris stylosa growing 
wild along the roadside, and wild white clematis 
in full flower, hanging in rich festoons over the 
cactus hedges. 

We passed through several little French 
villages, stopping at three of them in order to 
take photographs of storks' nests. These 
strange birds are very fond of building their 
nests on the churches, on the tip-top of the 
steeple, building them carefully round the iron 

crosses which adorn the pinnacles ; and here 

128 



Journey to Tunis 129 

they look like enormous bristly mops. We 
tried to get behind the mind of Mrs. Stork 
and her nest, designed to be seen of all men, 
perched in such an exposed position for such a 
heavy nest. There is a certain amount of 
method in her choice, for she uses the cross as 
a kind of scaffolding for her erection, but I 
should have thought that it was mighty un- 
comfortable for the long-legged fledglings. 
The third church "we saw had as many as five 
nests on it. 

After four hours we got to Bone, the 
modern town, close to the ancient Hippo, city 
of Phoenician and Roman times, and older than 
Carthage herself, where St. Augustine lived. 
The day was so delicious that we chose the 
sea-shore for our picnic, a lovely strand, with 
the town brilliantly white on higher ground, 
and beyond the sandy beach, the waters of the 
Mediterranean at her bluest. 

After leaving Bone, the road was rather flat 
and uninteresting, though there was a promise 
of mountains ahead. Moreover, a tram-line 
ran alongside of the road, and, at what I 
suppose were the stations, we noticed odious 
little iron seats back to back, with corrugated 



130 Three Travellers in North Africa 

roofs, which seemed very much " out of the 
picture." 

Presently, however, an avenue of enormous 
eucalyptus trees made us forget the tram- 
lines, and then we passed a large and shallow 
lake, with reeds and rushes, which was called 
the " Lac des Oiseaux " ; the numbers and the 
varieties we saw of storks, seagulls, duck, plover, 
and smaller birds, made it justify its name. 

We went on through pretty country, and up 
and down gently wooded slopes, and at about 
half-past three we reached La Calle, a bright 
little seaport town of rather a quaint shape, for 
in front of it is an island which has been joined 
to the mainland, and the water in between 
makes a very snug little harbour. The sea 
front has a row of majestic palms, which always 
look delightful with the beautiful blue of the 
sea beyond, and the bright sun shining on the 
sandy ground. 

We noticed quantities of cork stacked and 
ready for export, for beyond La Calle, in the 
Khroumirie country, is a region of extensive 
cork forests. 

We went for a walk before the sun went 
down, and looked at the picturesque sailing- 



Journey to Tunis 131 

boats, like those of Italy, with very long yards, 
and talked to one or two of the boatmen on 
the subject of the Coral Fisheries. 

North Africa is famous for coral, and 
La Calle is one of the chief centres of the 
industry. Through the centuries, different 
European nations have had the control of the 
Mediterranean Fisheries (Italy, Spain, and once, 
for a short time, Britain), but now along these 
coasts any boat not bearing the French flag is 
heavily taxed. 

The coral is at a considerable depth, and it 
branches upwards, but the fishing has to be 
carefully protected, as the same spot must not 
be visited for ten years, in order that the coral 
shall have time to recover and develop anew. 

Next morning we were to cross the 
frontier through the Khroumirs* country. The 
Khroumirs are a race of Berbers, not unlike 
the Kabyles, but these mountain men have the 
name of being wild and uncertain, so Jules kept 
his rifle very much en evidence as we neared 
the frontier. 

We were once more crossing the Atlas 
Mountains, that beautiful range which runs 
through Tunisia as well as Algeria and Morocco. 



132 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Jules explained in his picturesque English, with 
regard to the frontier, "Between Algeria and 
Tunisia, they are moving Customers ! " meaning 
that sometimes the douane examination takes 
place in one village and sometimes in another. 
So wc stopped to inquire, and a dear little 
Frenchwoman, old and worn, told us to go on 
to Babouche. " I am in great trouble," she said, 
"for the Khroumirs have attempted to assassi- 
nate my son, as he was returning home through 
the mountains, and he is lying very ill below 
there — his wife is nursing him ; and one 
night,** she went on, " they tried to make an 
entrance into the house next mine, by removing 
the tiles !'" 

As Tunisia has only been under the pro- 
tectorate of France since 1882, the Khroumirs 
(especially the older ones) have not yet fallen 
into line. Through the forest country are 
several small villages, altogether French, to 
open up the country. The inhabitants find 
them lonely enough,\but this will improve as 
Tunisia further develops under French manage- 
ment, and more roads are made for traffic to 
enlarge their borders, and admit of their moving 
about safely. 



Journey to Tunis 133 

So we passed Babouche, Jules' gun held very 
stiffly, and we came amongst the lovely wooded 
hills of La Khroumirie, past a prosperous little 
French village called Ain Draham, and on 
through the Cork Forest. These are such pretty 
trees, en masse, with thick dark foliage ; the 
upper branches look as if they were covered 
with grey lichen, and grow rather like oak ; 
whereas the trunk of the tree, where the bark 
has been removed, is of the colour of polished 
rose-wood, and the contrast is interesting. The 
trees do not object to being barked, and the 
cork grows again. We learned that they are 
thus barked every ten years, and the first time 
this is done the cork is not worth much, but 
every succeeding ten years, with the growth 
of the tree, it improves both in quality and 
quantity. It is removed in oblong pieces, and 
on these one can see the mark of each year's 
growth clearly. But these pieces have to be 
treated in various ways before they are ready 
for export. They are soaked and scraped, and 
pressed out flat, and when dry are smoked over 
a fire to make them smooth and compact ; and 
the great number of stacks we have seen will 
make us now take a personal interest in life- 



134 Three Travellers in North Africa 

belts, and floats for nets, corks, cork legs, cork 
soles, and cork mats, for evermore ! 

The afternoon drive was full of variety ; we 
stopped for luncheon at Souk-el-Arba, out of 
the forest country, and gradually got into the 
mountains that we had seen from far. Here, 
again, the French engineers had triumphed over 
surface difficulties, and the turns and loops and 
zigzags and spirals brought us wonderful views 
among the mountains, range behind range, with 
a peep of the sea at the back, as we went higher. 

1 do not think that I have mentioned that, 
since Biskra, we have had two motors, L. 
having sent out his Ford, by sea, before 
we started for Algiers, but sundry delays at 
Marseilles and custom-house duties had pre- 
vented its arrival, until one evening at Biskra 
the belated motor sailed triumphantly in, and 
since then, for the most part, it has taken the 
luggage. 

Hearing an evil report of the Khroumirs, as 
a tribe, we had never gone very far ahead of 
Stephens, the chauffeur who drove the Ford. 
Once we stopped on a wide plateau, between 
two ranges, to wait for him, Jules remarking, 



Journey to Tunis 135 

"Those two men who have just passed by do 
not su-et me ! " and as soon as Stephens came 
in sight, on we went again. 

Now we were winding upwards towards 
Le Kef, a town on the highest peak of these 
hills, which commanded a wide view. There 
was a fine Roman wall built down the hill-side, 
and in old days evidently encircling the town, 
and the remains of a large gate, so we got out 
to see what could be seen. 

But the town itself was dirty, and the ncg- 
lected-looking houses and streets made it less 
attractive on close aquaintance than it appeared 
to be in the distance, crowning its hill; Here 
for the first time we saw a woman with her face 
completely swathed in black, with only the 
smallest slit for her eyes — a lugubrious and 
startling sight. 

We did not explore the town very exten- 
sively, and presently discovered that the big 
motor had gone back to look for Stephens, and 
as its return was delayed, we wondered what 
accident had happened. 

Presently Jules reappeared, wringing his 
hands. It turned out that some unfriendly 
natives had more or less blocked the road to 



136 Three Travellers in North Africa 

prevent the Ford passing, so the alternative 
lay between going over a precipice or going 
into a ditch, and Stephens chose the latter, 
with the result that the steering gear was badly 
strained, though he himself was unhurt in any 
way. 

The poor motor was able to crawl in a very 
wobbly way into the town, where Stephens had 
to stay the night, arrangements being made for 
him and the motor to go by train to Tunis 
next day. Fortunately Le Kef is near the 
railway. 

This all took time, the whole thing becoming 
rather a nightmare before it was over. The 
luggage motor had to be unladen, and the crowd 
of Khroumirs, Arabs, donkeys and mules (it felt 
as if they all were talking, and all getting in 
the way) were like a bad dream, and meanwhile 
we were on a hilly road, the sun was setting, 
and we had still sixty or seventy kilometres 
to go. 

But eventually we got away, the bright first 
quarter of the moon and brilliant Jupiter 
lighting us on our way, and out of the dark- 
ness, on the hill-sides, gleamed many tombs of 
Marabouts. Presently we got on to the smooth 



Journey to Tunis 137 

level road made by the Romans, and eventually 
arrived at Teboursouk. 

We have had so little rain hitherto that it 
was a disappointment next morning to sec 
Teboursouk and its surrounding country look- 
ing very grey, and a fine rain coming down. 
However, as we had come here in order to 
visit Dougga and its Roman remains, off we 
went. 

The Romans always selected their sites well, 
and Dougga stands magnificently above a broad 
valley. The Temple of Jupiter and Minerva is 
an imposing building, well restored, and its six 
fluted columns, upholding a fine architrave, are 
each a single block of marble. 

Standing on its broad steps there is a fine 
view, although the mountains glowered purple 
to-day against the grey sky. Timgad we had 
seen under brilliant conditions, but Dougga was 
frowning. Its citizens, however, had taken a 
deep interest in its development, as its inscrip- 
tions show, two of them presenting to the town 
this fine Temple. 

The Theatre, of which a great deal remains, 
must have been an unusually beautiful one. 
The entrances and exits can still be traced, and 



138 Three Travellers in North Africa 

the stage has many pillars standing, and remains 
of statuary. 

The Columbarium has been restored, as its 
stones, though out of place, were more or less 
intact, and now it probably looks very much as 
it did in the Roman days. The Romans were 
very reverent as far as the matter of burial 
went, for the poorest citizens, and even slaves, 
had the right to reserve a small niche in the 
Columbarium, to receive their ashes after 
cremation, the niches being arranged on the 
principle of a dovecote — hence the name. 

There are remains, also, of the Stadium (the 
old Race-course), and when Dougga is quite 
restored it will probably be one of the 
most interesting of the buried cities, for the lie 
of the ground over which it is built is most 
picturesque. 

We visited house after house, on different 
levels of the hill-side, and in some of them we 
could trace the suite of rooms as in Timgad, but 
as a rule more of the ancient walls are standing, 
and many mosaics still remain in their places on 
the floors of the dwelling-houses, unmoved, as 
yet, to the safe keeping of any museum. 

One thing is curious. From many of the 



Journey to Tunis 139 

old Roman houses curling whiffs of smoke arise, 
for, strange to say, Dougga is not entirely- 
deserted. The Arabs, proverbially lazy, have 
made use of the half-built Roman houses, and 
finished the building with mud bricks, and put 
on untidy thatches like those on their own huts, 
the gourbis^ and here they live. Other houses 
have been converted into shelters and stables for 
the mules and goats, and over the line of the 
ancient streets, which lie beneath, are well-beaten 
foot-tracks, where an Arab toils uphill leading 
his donkey, accepting this desolate world of 
ruins as his " Home, sweet Home." 

But perhaps the oddest " home *' of all was 
one underground, which may have been a 
dungeon or an ancient cellar, or, possibly, a 
dwelling-house, not yet excavated. 

We suddenly came upon a hole in the 
ground, with a slight erection, designed, perhaps, 
for a roof, though it is so low that you could 
step on to it. Looking into the hole, we saw 
a fire below, say seven or eight feet down, and 
an Arab woman beside it, cheerfully preparing 
the midday meal in a pottery bowl, the faces 
of two or three children gleaming upwards out 
of the darkness. 



140 Three Travellers in North Africa 

" Couscous .^ " 1 asked of the Lady of the 
Hole. She raised her head, grinning, and said, 
" Oui, oui ! " and continued stirring the dish 
briskly, while the face of an old woman now 
became visible, and two or more children 
appeared whom I had not noticed before. 
How many more occupants there were of that 
happy home I cannot say. How they all lived 
down there passes imagination. 

We then returned to Teboursouk, and after 
luncheon set off for Tunis, passing through 
some rather squalid villages on our way ; 
on the whole the drive was uninteresting, 
particularly on a rainy day. 

It was getting dusk by the time we reached 
Tunis. Tunis — which has watched the rise and 
fall of so many younger towns, a venerable 
city, but to all appearance still flourishing and 
full of life. 



CHAPTER IX 

TUNIS 

Jan. ^o-Fd, 1 6, 1920 

OUR first impression of Tunis as we walked 
down its Avenue de France was that of 
a typical modern, cosmopolitan town, wide 
streets, solid houses, fine shops, tram-lines, a 
good many uniforms, and representatives of 
most of the civilised nations in the passers-by. 

But when, in the afternoon, we drove under 
a great Moorish arch, everything changed in 
a moment, as if dissolved by the wand of a 
magician. We got out of our little carriage 
and walked over paving-stones, up one of the 
streets of Old Tunis (a narrow, curving street 
with small shops on either side, and roofs of 
uneven height), and by degrees the view " dis- 
solved" further, and we found ourselves in 
a labyrinth of narrow, covered streets, the 
souksy or bazaars of Tunis, crowded, full of 

movement, and entirely Oriental. 

141 



142 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Some of them were roofed with sloping 
planks, uneven and displaced, but highly 
picturesque, and capable of flooding the street 
below with sunshine or with rain. Other 
streets were darker, and with a more solid 
roofing, arched and supported with painted 
pillars, green and red, like sugar-sticks, and 
occasional round skylights open to the air. 

The shops themselves, on both sides of the 
narrow streets, were tiny. Arabs seem to like 
selling their wares in little dens with open 
fronts. Here they were making their goods 
as well as selling them, which added to the 
hum and buzz one felt all around. 

We stopped to look at a shoemaker at work, 
with huge scissors cutting the yellow morocco 
leather " vamps " by eye, not by laid-on pattern. 
As in all Eastern bazaars, each street has its 
special trade, and this was the street of the 
shoemakers. This plan certainly simplifies 
buying. 

At right angles is the street of the candle- 
makers ; each bazaar was arranged differently, 
but there were candles in all. The hand of 
Fatma, with ^yq waxen branches, appeared in 
most of them, but there is a great variety in 



Tunis 143 



the twisting and fluting and ornamentation on 
the different candles. What adds to the general 
eiFect is the fact that the framework of each 
shop is painted in different colours, very gay 
and very unusual. 

Then we turned to the right, down a street 
which was darker than the others, and which 
led to the street of the leather-sellers, and here 
we saw all the beautiful Arab saddles on sale, 
and many of their gay trappings in the making. 
We have so often admired these in the distance, 
on mountain, and plain, and desert, that it was 
most interesting to see and examine them at 
close quarters, the saddles red and green, orna- 
mented with gold, or studded with brass, 
bridles of all sorts, and embroidered girths 
and blinkers. Here, too, were quantities of 
attractive little things made out of the odds 
and ends of leather : purses, card-cases, pocket 
mirrors, and bags all embroidered with stiff 
gold and silver thread. 

We watched an artist at the corner of a 
street, where three ways met, painting his 
impression of the maze of arches, supporting 
what is here a vaulted roof. The ramification 
of this rabbit warren of narrow streets is a 



144 Three Travellers in North Africa 

great strain on the bump of locality. A. and 
I were confident that wc could find our way- 
alone, but wc wandered far before we again 
found the street of the leather-sellers. There 
was one strange landmark in it, for which we 
were searching — a green coffin, ornamented with 
painted patterns and making narrower the 
already narrow way, though the shops on either 
side of it " gave " a little to make room for it, 
and for the constant stream of busy people that 
passed to the right and left of it, putting a 
high polish on its edges as they squeezed past 
it. Needless to say it is the coffin of a Mara- 
bout, set there to confer a special blessing on 
the souh. Dead or living, the Marabouts loom 
large in Tunis. When L. bought a carpet the 
seller piously asked for " Forty francs more, to 
give to the Marabout ! " and constantly the 
same thing happens in a smaller way, till we 
harden our hearts, and believe that the absent 
Marabout sees very little of these doles, but 
that his name acts as a useful lever to extract 
rather a higher price from the travellers than 
they had intended giving. 

Eventually, with joy, we found the green 
coffin, which, if extraordinary, is a most valuable 



Tunis 145 



landmark for the lost. For some time we had 
been going round and round like rats in a 
trap, rather puzzled as to how we had got into 
the souks ^ or how we were going to find our 
way out. We had seen the Souk des Dames, 
scarves, and stufFs, and wearing apparel; the 
Souks of the Turks selling perfumes and 
sweets, and moulding and steaming fezes on 
a metal shape; the Souks of the Jews, and 
another street of nothing but copper things, 
where, in the back of the den, we noticed the 
well-known bowls of copper and brass, with 
crinkled edges, being hammered out by hand. 

All the time keen buying and selling goes 
on : in many instances a lazy old Turk in a 
red fez is seen, at the side of the entrance, half 
lying down and smoking, while others, younger 
and more alert, implore the passers-by to 
look in. 

There are many streets full of Jewish shops, 
for there arc 50,000 Jews in Tunis, with an 
important Jewish quarter — as many Jews, in fact, 
as all the different Europeans put together, and 
these astute dealers carry their goods into the 
street, and shout out that they are for sale, 
and Arabs stride along also, carrying burnouses 



146 Three Travellers in North Africa 

and gondouras over their shoulders, offering 
them to the various shopkeepers in the street. 

All this fuss and bustle and noise made us 
feel that we were in the hub of a very funny 
universe. Everybody is so concentrated on 
the business in hand, and there is such eager 
traffic, barter and exchange, such sumptuous 
rugs, carpets, glittering metal-work and jewellery, 
and every variety of clothes, sounds and cries. 

Here and there are a few women buying, 
their faces in Tunis being entirely covered with 
a tight, black crape veil, a most lugubrious 
sight, and startling, when you first see it, as 
we did in Le Kef, in contrast with their white 
robes. One notices all over Tunis the heavily 
" grilled " windows, behind which many women's 
eyes are probably looking out upon the passers- 
by, and one wonders how many years will 
disappear before these Eastern women will 
emerge from what appears to us to be an 
intolerable tyranny, and combine to revolt, 
refusing any longer to tie up their pretty faces 
in black crape on a day when the sky is blue, 
and the sun is shining. 

But I think the fat Jewesses of Tunis are 
one of its most curious sights. Never have we 



Tunis 147 



seen such fat women, or so many of them in one 
town, lumbering about swathed in white, with 
voluminous pantaloons and high-heeled shoes. 

We made an expedition to a place called 
Korbous, on the peninsula opposite Carthage, 
a wonderfully beautiful spot, where rheumatic, 
lame and very fat people seek a cure. Here 
we saw the fattest Jewesses possible, in their 
remarkable Tunis costumes, sitting in rows in 
the sunshine or wearily walking up the hill. 

Korbous rises sheer from the sea, and the 
hills are of a considerable height, protecting 
the invalids from almost every wind that blows, 
while out of the mountain-side flow healing 
waters, hot sulphur springs ; and down by the 
sea-shore we climbed on to the rocks at one 
point, where gallons of boiling sulphur water 
pour into the sea continually. 

Tunisia has been under the protection of 
France since the year 1882, but it is nominally 
governed by the Bey of Tunis. He comes to 
his palace near the souks every Monday morn- 
ing, to confer with his ministers on matters of 
State. We went over his palace, and sat in 
the Bey*s chair, and looked round his room. 



148 Three Travellers in North Africa 

It is a room of fine proportions, ornamented 
with the very delicate plaster-work for which 
Arab art is famous, and yet it was extraordinarily 
like the salon of a French provincial hotel, a 
general feeling of red brocade, gilt mirrors, 
clocks in abundance, glass shades, inferior oil 
paintings, and cheap engravings. 

The position of the Bey is hereditary, and 
one family, the House of Hussein, has held 
it since the sixteen-hundreds, the succession 
being confirmed to this family when France 
assumed the Protectorate. The power of the 
Bey is limited — he is practically a figure-head, 
with a hundred soldiers of his own to uphold 
his dignity ; but all affairs of State are actually 
in the hands of his ministers, two of whom 
are natives, and the rest French. The Prime 
Minister is one of the two natives, and the 
other is the Minister of the Native Courts of 
Justice, and, from all one hears, this arrange- 
ment seems to work quite well, for the present 
at any rate, and the town, both native and 
European, looks most prosperous, and all seem 
satisfied. The French colonists, like those we 
saw in their little villages in La Khroumirie, 
and in the more isolated farms throughout the 



Tunis 149 



country districts, may, however, have another 
story to tell. 

We went up to the roof of the palace, and 
here had an admirable bird's-eye view of the 
whole of the White City, and in the distance 
we could see the place where Carthage used to 
stand. Very little is left on the ancient spot, 
for its pillars and statues, vases and mosaics, 
and priceless inlaid marbles beautify the palaces 
of Tunis now, as well as those of many newer 
towns and countless Arab villas. 

They beautify exceedingly the Bardo, another 
palace of the Bey, a few miles from Tunis. Here 
there is a stately Hall of Justice, where the room 
is divided lengthways into three, like a basilica, 
by two rows of beautiful pillars from Carthage. 

In this room the sentence of death is passed 
upon criminals by the Bey; but, strange to say, 
if the family of the condemned man agree to 
buy back his life with money, they can do so. 
The room looked too beautiful to be used 
for so grim a purpose, the walls having bold 
panellings from the Roman city of Carthage, 
designs in coloured marbles of yellow, white, 
red, green, grey and blue. 

It is very curious when classical pillars, as 



150 Three Travellers in North Africa 

in these Tunis palaces, support ornamental 
friezes and ceilings of the finest Arab plaster- 
work. The pillars have a totally different 
ancestry and history, the feeling in the art 
of each is poles apart (stucco-work and fluted 
marble), yet the lacy delicacy of the Arab 
geometric patterns, following in their design 
the shape of the cupola, or ceiling, or frieze, 
is irnmensely interesting, for it is a kaleido- 
scopic chance in the course of history that 
has brought these diverse arts together in 
North Africa, in such close and constant 
combination. 

The most striking reminder in this part of 
the world of the power of ancient Rome is 
felt as one catches the first glimpse of the 
mighty aqueduct that united Zaghouan and 
Carthage. 

The question of an adequate water supply 
in North Africa has always been a matter of 
gravest concern to all colonists, from Phoenician 
days onwards. Many of the rivers, both in 
Algeria and Tunisia, lose themselves in the 
sand before they arrive at the coast, and no 
river in either country is navigable. 

To collect the rain-water the Carthaginians 



Tunis 151 



made use of large shallow pits, and there are 
remains of Punic cisterns and of Roman ones 
in perfect condition, and reservoirs of con- 
siderable size ; but in the second century, 
when Carthage was at the height of its pros- 
perity, a plan of the first magnitude was 
suggested — that of connecting the city with 
the mountains of Zaghouan (eighty miles 
distant) by means of an aqueduct. 

There had been a time of serious drought, 
when the whole countryside was laid desolate, 
the people dying from plague and disease. 
So the Emperor Hadrian gave orders from 
Rome for the construction of this great aque- 
duct, and from a never-failing spring at 
Zaghouan six million gallons of water flowed 
daily into Carthage. Underground canals on 
the higher ground and these magnificent 
arches, hundreds of which still remain, spanned 
the plains and valleys, carrying the water at 
an even level. 

To this day the same source has yielded 
a never-failing supply, and the water that the 
three travellers drank at Tunis came from the 
same limpid mountain stream at Zaghouan 
that had supplied Carthage in the Roman days. 



152 Three Travellers in North Africa 

The ancient masonry channels are sound as 
ever and in use to-day, and the old Roman 
route is followed ; but, in these more en- 
lightened though less romantic days, iron 
pipes take the place of lofty arches. 

The arches that remain, in whatever part 
of the route one comes across them, look 
strong enough to last another eighteen hundred 
years, and when we ask questions about the 
destruction of the aqueduct in places, the in- 
evitable answer comes, "Destroyed by the 
Vandals ! " I believe that Bclisarius the 
Byzantine, when he checked the Vandals in 
533, set to work to have the aqueduct re- 
stored, and it suffered its worst damage a 
thousand years later, when it was wantonly 
destroyed by the Spaniards in the sixteenth 
century. 

It is rather curious how Spain at one time 
had a good chance of getting hold of the 
whole colony. The enterprising Charles V, 
when waging war in the Mediterranean against 
the Algerian pirates, marched on Tunis and 
delivered ten thousand Christian slaves from 
imprisonment in the Kasbah, and then marched 
north and took Bizerta and Bone. 



Tunis 153 



On our way to Zaghouan we came across 
Spanish remains — a deserted Spanish city. La 
Mahom^dia is its name, and the Bey of Tunis 
had a large palace there ; the adjoining build- 
ings were once souks, and in Ahmed Bey's 
time it was a military headquarters with 
barracks for fifteen thousand troops, so the 
deserted city covered a considerable space and 
was built on different levels. 

But its ruins are scarcely picturesque, and 
the place looked entirely deserted and wholly 
depressing, when, round the corner of what 
was once the Bey's palace, we caught sight 
of a little shock head peeping at us, and 
another, and another, and presently a nice 
little girl of fourteen or fifteen came round 
the corner, very gaily dressed, a bright kerchief 
binding her hair, and her dress fastened with 
a brooch on her shoulder. 

The whole of this happy family lived in 
a spacious hall in the Bcylical palace, in the 
utmost squalor ; the grandmamma arose out of 
a shadowy corner, while the pleasant lady of 
the house welcomed us with charming manners. 
The donkey shared the regal home, and dogs 
and fowl abounded. 



154 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Certainly the Housing Problem is faced 
to-day, in the environs of Tunis, in the 
most original manner. The natives near 
Carthage use the ruined Roman cisterns as 
dwelling-houses, the Dougga peasants we have 
mentioned are content to live eight feet 
underground in a hole, while others thatched 
the Roman villas, repairing the walls with 
mud bricks in order to render them habitable, 
and now this attractive family and all their 
animals are content to remain the only residents 
in a deserted Spanish city. 

There is one small portion of Tunis 
'Vthat is for ever England" — the St. George's 
cemetery. It was bought, out and out, nearly 
three hundred years ago, in the year 1635, 
to belong to England for ever. In those days 
it was outside the city ; now the town of Tunis 
has grown round it, and it is no longer used 
as a cemetery. The English church, in the 
centre, stands amongst the tombs, and among 
the many there is one memorial of special 
interest to British and Americans alike, that of 
John Howard Payne, the author of *' Home, 
Sweet Home," who died in Tunis in 1852. 



CHAPTER X 

"ROMAN remains" AND CARTHAGE 

THE Mus6e Alaoui, at Tunis, is one of 
the buildings of the Bardo which con- 
tains the result of the excavations of Roman 
towns in Tunisia, and above all of those of 
Carthage. 

The expression, " Roman remains," brings 
before one's mind a vision of rows and rows 
of gods and heroes, more or less in every 
stage of disrepair, with a background of 
pillars, broken bas-reliefs, pottery, and cinerary 
urns. All these are to be found at this 
museum, a most interesting and representative 
collection ; but, in a special way, at the Musee 
Alaoui, we were fascinated by the wealth of 
mosaics, representing the vie champetre of 
these ancient Roman colonies with singular 
freshness. 

Quite delightful is the representation of 
the country seat of the Roman gentleman, 
155 



156 Three Travellers in North Africa 

the maison et pare du maitre^ as it is called 
in the catalogue. It has two square towers 
with pointed roofs, tiled in two colours, and 
these are at the far corners of the house, which 
is built round an inner courtyard, two stories 
high. The upper windows open on to a loggia 
with eight arches, and the square courtyard 
is evidently arched all round on the ground- 
floor. It looks ridiculously modern ; its trees 
and flowers are shown, and in front there is 
water ; one duck is in the act of catching a 
fish, while another is gliding down the stream. 
There are two pheasants, and two little quails. 
The front-door has a porch with very modern- 
looking curved red tiles, and the back-door 
is arched. So that life two thousand years 
ago does not seem to have been so radically 
different as one sometimes imagines. 

In another large mosaic a man is standing 
at his cottage door, which had a pointed porch 
and three very small windows. It is a farm- 
yard scene, and some of the sheep are browsing 
as they approach the farm, and the goats have 
got on ahead. The ploughman is returning 
with his yoke of oxen, one horse is tethered 
to a post, and another is being watered, and 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 157 

at the foot of the picture a woman is snaring 
birds for the evening meal, while round the 
corner a boy is milking the goats. 

Talking of evening meals, there is a delight- 
ful mosaic of a dinner-party. The guests are 
dining at separate tables, three at each table, 
and they are sitting on divans which have 
comfortable backs. There is space enough for 
the servant to come in between the tables ; one 
greedy guest is holding out his glass for more 
wine, although there is a very modern-looking 
decanter half full on the table. One servant 
carries a knife in his right hand and a dish in 
the left ; another had six little pies on a plate. 
As an accompaniment to the general con- 
versation (for all the guests look very lively), 
we see some musicians playing the castanets, 
while one plays an organ, like St. Cecilia's in 
Raphael's picture — a delightful glimpse of 
Roman life. 

Another interesting mosaic showed some 
builders at work. We noticed a great many 
tools in use to-day : mallets, hammer, saw, set 
square, and chisel. One workman was laying 
a mosaic, and a man with a sack on his shoulder 
was pouring out of it cut-square coloured 



158 Three Travellers in North Africa 

stones. In another part of the picture a man 
was driving a pair of horses, harnessed to a 
cart, in which was a little pillar which had just 
been finished, and was ready to be set up. 
They were all so busy in this scene, and the 
overseer was easily distinguished from the 
workmen. The numbers of birds and beasts 
and fishes, too, are most interesting. We 
noticed bears, boars, bulls, donkeys, foxes, 
flamingoes, goats, hares, horses, leopards, 
pigeons, peacocks, partridges, pheasants, quails, 
tigers, and a rabbit eating a turnip. 

It really is wonderful how the character in 
these different animals is hit off to the life, 
when one thinks of the limitations of the 
material, little square bits of natural coloured 
stones. The fishes, too, are a marvel ; but 
the fishes of the Mediterranean are mysterious 
in shape and colour, and very difficult to name. 

Looking at these mosaics one feels as if one 
had stepped into the daily life of the people 
of nearly two thousand years ago, and we see 
the painter at work, with his pot of paint in 
one hand and his brush in the other, and feel 
for the two thirsty travellers, who (in a mosaic 
only unearthed last year at Dougga) are in 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 159 

the act of stopping two water-carriers, who 
have leather bottles on their shoulders, and 
are asking them for some of the water to be 
poured into the cups they are holding out. 

Is it possible that the North African Roman 
caught the knack of thus representing his 
daily life from ancient Egypt ? 

But the ground floor of the museum is of 
peculiar and deepest interest. In a stone vaulted 
hall, upheld by classic pillars, are memorials of 
the early Christian Church at Carthage. A fine 
white marble font is in the centre, in the shape 
of a cross, let into the ground and level with it, 
and having two steps leading down to the 
water for baptism. 

All round the walls of this hall are touching 
memorials of the martyrs who suffered death 
in the theatre of Carthage. There are several 
tombs in stone, and some in white marble. 
Some of the symbols on these are engraved, 
and some in relief, and covering the walls are 
mosaics from other tombs, which show in what 
tender reverence the remains of these early 
martyrs were held. These tombs and inscrip- 
tions were discovered within the last thirty years. 



160 Three Travellers in North Africa 

The symbols, interwoven with the design of 
the inscription, are all deeply interesting, though 
the hidden meaning in many is obscure. The 
early Christians conveyed much teaching by 
these graven symbols, which at the time were 
fully understood by all of them, but kept secret 
from all outside, so as to preserve their most 
precious beliefs from pagan blasphemy. 

Many of these symbols are clear to us now, 
but others, in their arrangement and selection, 
are not easy to understand. All have the 
monogram between the letter Alpha and Omega. 
This is often surrounded by the victor's wreath, 
and most of them have doves. Sometimes 
there is a duck, a donkey, sheep, and, of course, 
very often fish ; in one, a wreath of fish. All 
have a chalice, and nearly all two lighted torches ; 
occasionally a tree between two sheep, sometimes 
quails, even pheasants. 

On some of the tombs are representations of 
the martyrs themselves. Probably the mosaics 
have not preserved the likeness to any extent, 
as such art is scarcely fine enough for portraits, 
but we saw the dress, the attitude, the colour- 
ing, and this in itself was most wonderfully 
interesting. 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 161 

Then our minds went back to Church history, 
as we touched the very mosaic which had 
covered the remains of the martyr Perpetua, 
who was only twenty-two years of age, and 
went into the arena at Carthage brave as a 
lion, encouraging those with her, and leaving 
her father and mother and her baby-in-arms 
behind. 

She suffered death in a.d. 203, with her 
friends Felicitas, Saturninus and Revocatus, 
and her brother Saturus, who with her fought 
and died among the wild beasts for their faith, 
while all Carthage looked on, in the crowded 
theatre. There is a full-length mosaic portrait 
of her in flowing robes, with doves on either 
side of her, and the simple epitaph, " Perpetua 
in Pace." 

The simplicity of the epitaphs is very touch- 
ing ; all have the words " In pace," " Marciana, 
in pace dulcis," and many young martyrs' 
names are followed by " Innocens in pace." 
" Blossi " stands with hands uplifted, two lions 
on either side of him. This large mosaic is 
full of emblems. '' Primulus " has two doves, 
and their outspread tails form a wreath ; in fact 
the tails turn into palm leaves. Concordia, 



162 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Pompeia, Pascas Victoriamus, all '' In pace," the 
latter in the robes of a deacon, with his hands 
outspread. 

I copied out some of the inscriptions, leaning 
my paper on a marble tomb, on which was 
written, beneath the monogram of Christ, 
" Amantius, Fidelis in Pace — vixit annos xxxiii." 
One felt, when touching their very tombs, the 
human side of "The white-robed multitude'' 
during all those cruel years of persecution, when 
the cry of the pagan crowd rang in the theatre 
at Carthage, " To the lions ! to the lions ! " 
and these tender human forms were torn and 
mutilated. 

The inscriptions reveal the immediate feelings 
of those who survived (though with the not 
unlikely prospect of a similar death), and yet 
the day of martyrdom to them appeared a day 
of victory. Always on the tomb the monogram, 
with Alpha and Omega, always words of inspir- 
ing courage, a sense of triumph, palm leaves, 
laurel leaves, crowns, the certainty that they 
had passed through death to larger life — " In 
pace dulcis " — these being the memorials of 
those very men and women of whom Tertullian 
of Carthage was thinking when he wrote the 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 163 

memorable sentence — " The blood of martyrs 
is the seed of the Church." 



One day we went to Carthage and stood in 
the theatre, which now appears little more than 
a great green hill-side, a little of which has 
been excavated, showing a glimpse of two or 
three of the tiers of seats of white marble with 
mosaic floors. The green hill-side shows the 
size and also the shape of what historians tell 
us was once the most beautiful building of the 
kind ever known. 

But in Carthage one's thoughts fly much 
further back than Roman times, to the semi- 
mythical days when the Phoenician Queen Dido 
came across the seas from her city of Tyre 
to found this town, giving it the Canaanite 
name of Kirjath Haresheth, i.e, the New 
Town. 

The great queen, so the story goes, made 
a very moderate request to the natives on land- 
ing. She only required as much land as could 
be enclosed by a bull's hide, and then her wily 
Majesty set to work, cut the hide into the 
narrowest strips possible, and enclosed the whole 



164 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Hill of Byrsa (Byrsa meaning the Hide of the 
Bull). 

We walked up Queen Dido's hill and looked 
at the sea, and wondered where she made 
her famous landing, and how great an escort 
of ships the harbours of Tyre had afforded 
her. 

On the hill of Byrsa — nothing remains now 
of its ancient Punic splendour ; — on its summit 
stands a dull chapel in memory of St. Louis ; 
but once Byrsa was the Citadel of Carthage, 
crowned with a Temple of Aesculapius, with a 
flight of sixty great steps leading up to it. 
Beauty of line was not the characteristic of Punic 
architecture, the effect aimed at was that of 
massive weight. A wonderful wall ran round 
it, a triple wall with towers at intervals sufficient 
to give stabling to 300 elephants and 4000 
horses, with all provisions necessary in case of 
a long siege. 

It is only by realising that the walls, which 
were hollow, were built 60 feet high and 33 feet 
deep, that we can credit the statement that in 
addition to the animals and their provender, 
20,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry were housed 
within the walls, which were built in stories. 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 165 

and divided into " quarters." A Roman consul 
compared it to an encampment. 

But it is the name of Hannibal that first 
comes to the mind in connection with Punic 
Carthage, though the greater part of his life 
was spent in Spain. From Carthagena (New 
Carthage) he mobilised the great army with 
which he faced the Roman power. Cavalry, 
infantry and elephants he brought through 
southern France in the spring of 218 b.c. and 
over the Alps, and there was one period when 
the fate of the future history of the world hung 
in the balance, but Rome conquered. 

" When all mankind were in suspense 
To whether of the twain, 
Carthage or Rome, would fall the lot 
O'er land and sea to reign." 

Lucretius {Barings translation). 

Hannibal, though universally accorded the 
fame of having been one of the most brilliant 
generals the world has ever known, was ill 
supported from Carthage, and he was forced to 
give way, and for fifty years the proud Queen 
City existed only as a conquered town, with a 
patched-up peace. 



166 Three Travellers in North Africa 

But the Romans wanted more than this. 
They coveted her unequalled position in the 
centre of the southern Mediterranean shore, 
and on a feeble pretext declared war upon her 
(" Delenda est Carthago " being the famous 
order issued from Rome), and notwithstanding 
a heroic defence, Carthage was reduced to 
ashes in the year 146 B.C. 

We visited the Punic Museum and were 
very much interested in all we found there. 
It is from the scant remains that have been 
recovered from the Punic tombs that any idea 
of the splendour of those ancient days can be 
imagined. Phoenicians are said to have dis- 
tributed the culture of the ancients among the 
countries they colonised, but to have added to 
it very little that was original, first adapting 
Egyptian art and learning, and then Greek. 
But their craftsmanship is fine beyond descrip- 
tion, and we saw an interesting collection of 
embossed metal-work, scarabs, seals, razors used 
by the Priests of Baal, and jewelled ornaments 
in gold and silver. 

After the great Punic city had lain for years 
a stark ruin, Rome set to work to build a new 
town, and Rome was at her proudest when she 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 167 

rebuilt Carthage. A city arose surpassing in 
magnificence what had gone before, and ranking 
as the third city in the Roman Empire, rivalling, 
in her opulence and glory, Antioch, Alexandria, 
and even Rome herself. 

It is melancholy to walk about on these green 
hill-sides and think of the beating heart of life 
once felt in every square inch of it. Wherever 
there is a flat space it is now scored with the 
plough, and on the slopes much green grass. 
Deep silence now — the silence of the grave ; 
broken plinths and capitals, lately unearthed, 
arranged in rows along the stage of that theatre 
which has figured so centrally in the stories of 
early Church history. Here are a few mosaic 
floors, there are some basements of ancient 
Roman houses, a hint of the direction in which 
the streets ran, but no more, very little remain- 
ing to suggest what once she was. To-day one 
sees small bits of rare coloured marbles, lying 
broken in scattered heaps among the ruins, but 
everything of value that could possibly be 
removed during the last thousand years or more 
has been carried off. 

Roman Carthage, in her day, held her head 
high, a power throughout the world for five 



168 Three Travellers in North Africa 

or six centuries, a centre of art, learning, and 
commerce. 

But the iron will of the Roman Empire had 
been broken before the sack of Rome by Alaric 
the Goth in 4 lo, and now, twenty-two years later, 
the Emperor Valentinian III was ready to yield 
any North African town to Genseric the Vandal 
if only Carthage might be allowed to remain 
standing. 

And so she remained intact for ninety-four 
years more, but everything was changed, her 
prestige was gone, she was merely the head- 
quarters of the Vandal host — of no account — a 
nest of pirates, a centre of lawlessness, bereft of 
honour, shorn of dignity, sinking lower as the 
years went by, till finally she was laid in the 
dust at the coming of the Byzantines, and never 
raised her head again, and the Arabs a hundred 
years later gave her her final coup. 

Then came the vultures of all nations, 
and Carthage became a mere quarry ; the 
Cathedral of Pisa, for instance, being largely 
built of her stones and pillars, many of which 
also found their way to Genoa, the Genoese 
sailors boasting that they never returned home 
without a ballast of valuable marbles. 



' Roman Remains ' and Carthage 169 

The Ancients discovered treasures of colour 
in the mountains of Africa, and broken frag- 
ments are at Carthage to-day, of yellow, 
white, green, and red marbles, for any tourist 
to pick up and take away. 

Looking round as we drove back towards 
Tunis, in order to have one last impression of 
this ancient spot, we discovered that after we 
had only gone fifty yards or so, we could 
distinguish little besides the modern buildings, 
the cathedral, the church of St. Louis, and the 
buildings in connection with the Peres blancs. 
Cardinal Lavigerie*s missionary order of monks. 
The real Carthage has vanished into the past, 
as a tale that is told — a tale that, in the telling, 
influenced the history of the world for thirteen 
hundred years, and the memory of which stirs 
the heart for all time. 



CHAPTER XI 

SOUTHERN TUNISIA 

February 9-14, 1920 

(By L.) 

ON Monday, February 9, Jules Durand 
and I left Tunis for Kairouan. We had 
luncheon at Enfidaville, and reached Kairouan 
and the Hotel de France early in the afternoon. 
I visited the souks and also the Great Mosque, 
the Mosque of the Barber, and the Mosque of 
Swords, where two great swords are shown. 

The Great Mosque is very fine ; it has 
three hundred marble columns inside and 
three hundred outside. The inlaid doors are 
magnificent. From the minaret a fine view 
is obtained over the whole city. The walls 
are extremely thick, very probably made so 
in former times in view of a possible siege. 

The Mosque of the Barber has some beautiful 

oriental tracery and fine ceilings. 1 also saw an 

immense enclosed basin of water made by a 
170 



Southern Tunisia 171 

former resident in order to supply the city 
with water. 

In the evening I saw the Zaoula — a religious 
ceremony. A Marabout, or High Priest, was 
there. A number of people formed up in line, 
and to a sound of chanting swayed sideways, 
backwards, and forwards. After a time, several 
stepped out from the line and prepared for the 
ceremony. A long, thin, pointed sword was 
handed round for us to see, and similar swords 
were used by the self-torturers, set in thick 
circular handles of wood. One or two of the 
devotees stripped to the waist and submitted 
to have swords pierced through their shoulders 
and their sides, while two other swords pene- 
trated their waists ; then kneeling down, they 
submitted to have the wooden shields ham- 
mered, so that the swords should pierce their 
waists still deeper. One man 1 saw had both 
cheeks pierced by a sword from right to left, 
and another sword pierced through both his 
cheeks from left to right. One devotee ate 
cactus, and another rolled on cactus. 

At the end of each religious rite the Marabout 
whispered in the ear of the devotee. What he 
said I know not, but apparently not even 



172 Three Travellers in North Africa 

a mark was left from the self-torture. As 
regards eating cactus and rolling on it, in the 
ordinary way a prick from cactus draws blood 
at once, and the plant is said to be very 
poisonous in its nature, but in the case of the 
self-torture no effect whatever is seen. Another 
devotee ate glass, and so eager was he that he 
reached upwards, like a dog begging for cake, 
when the glass was held out to him. A waiter 
at my hotel was one of the devotees, and on my 
return to the hotel he ate some glass for our 
benefit. The religious ceremony is said to take 
place every week. 

On Tuesday, February lo, I left Kairouan 
for Gabes. The road runs over a flat plain, 
and at length far ahead I saw the mighty mass 
of the Amphitheatre of El Djem ; the road 
runs right up to the centre of the Amphitheatre, 
which makes a most impressive appearance ; 
it is nearly as large as the Coliseum at Rome. 
It is in. four stages, but is now nearly all in 
ruins. 

In the Amphitheatre is the entrance, now 
blocked up, of a tunnel which is said to have 
run to the sea some six miles away. Various 
explanations have been given as to the reason 




PALM CUI.TLKE 




A mi-:i)i:m\i-; i;i:.\i l^ 



Southern Tunisia 173 

for the tunnel, perhaps the most probable being 
that it was used for the purpose of flooding 
the Amphitheatre in Roman times for water- 
sports. 

We went on to Sfax, and had luncheon at 
the Hotel de France, after which we started 
for Gabes, arriving there at six o'clock. On 
Wednesday, February n, I motored to Mede- 
nine ; Captain Le Cocq, who has a military 
appointment there, met me and showed me 
round the town. The houses are built with the 
staircase outside instead of inside ; the Captain 
induced a native to climb up one of the houses 
to show us how they reached the upper stories ; 
it was quite an athletic feat. The houses used 
to be built as high as five stories, but they are 
now seldom built to more than two stories, and 
the houses are reported to be not so popular as 
they used to be. Those of five stories are, 
it is said, gradually crumbling to decay. It 
appears that the curious method of house- 
building that is seen at Medenine was partly 
owing to the scarcity of wood in former days, 
and partly as a means of defence. 

From Medenine I went on to Zarzis, and 
had luncheon at the Hotel de TOasis, and then 



174 Three Travellers in North Africa 

on to El Kantara, arriving there about one 
o*clock. Here I transferred the baggage to a 
little boat and crossed over to the island of 
Djerba. The water was very low and the 
passage was difficult. It took about three 
hours to cross to the island, only four kilo- 
metres away. In Roman times there was a 
road connecting the island with the continent, 
but the road, though it still exists, is now to 
a great extent in ruins. 

At El Kantara we found a motor waiting 
for us, in which we motored to Hount Souk. 
The Hotel de la Victoire there was extremely 
unattractive, but fortunately the Civil Con- 
troller, Monsieur Leo Renoux, had sent a 
message saying that he would put us up for 
the night. His house was most charming, as 
were our kind host and hostess. 

The island of Djerba is extremely fertile, 
and later in the year must be one mass of 
foliage. There are olive trees of great size, 
said to date back to Roman times. On Thurs- 
day, February 12, the Civil Controller showed 
us round Hount Souk. There is a very 
picturesque Spanish citadel there called Borj'- 
I'Kebir, now greatly fallen into ruins. On the 



Southern Tunisia 175 

island there are many buildings with circular 
roofs, said to have been also built in that way- 
owing to the scarcity of wood in former times, 
as in the case of the houses at Medenine. 
We motored through the island, visiting the 
different little towns it contained, and visited 
a very interesting mosque that had been 
transformed into a Jewish synagogue. Here 
a number of old men with long beards were 
sitting and reciting, or being recited to, from 
the Talmud, I suppose — a most interesting 
sight. 

We returned to the mainland from Djem, 
landing at La Marsa in a very short time. 
Here I saw a little Arab girl rush up to her 
father, who had crossed in our boat, and embrace 
him wildly. 

The Arabs seem extremely fond of their 
children, and that is one of the pleasant 
features of travel in their country. 

At La Marsa our crew were in the best of 
spirits and danced about, Durand setting them 
a good example by doing the same. 

Captain Le Cocq had come in our motor, 
which had arrived at La Marsa, and he returned 
with us to Medenine. On the way we stopped 



176 Three Travellers in North Africa 

at Bou Grara and saw the Roman remains 
there. Not very much work has been done 
at Bou Grara in the way of excavation, and 
now the finances of France are in such a state 
that it is to be feared that little money for such 
work will be available for some time to come, 
and the Arab who used to be paid half a franc a 
day for assisting in excavation now expects six 
francs. 

The French Government used before the 
war to provide ;£2000 a year for the work at 
Timgad ; it has now been reduced to ;^iooo. 

From Medenine we returned to Gabes. 

The next day, February 13, I drove in a 
small hired motor over an awful road to Mat- 
mata, the country of the Troglodytes. It may 
be said that from a distance you see nothing of 
the busy life going on below ground. 

Imagine a huge cylindrical excavation open 
at the top to the sky ; it is reached from above 
by a path that gradually slopes down, and, 
winding round, leads through a tunnel into the 
cavern. 

Round the cavern are some half a dozen 
separate roomy chambers that are used as bed- 
rooms ; those that are so used have often the 




A. A tk(>(;l()I)Vtk house 




ISLAND OK UJEklSA. I'KIMITIVE HOUSES WITH VAUI-TEU KOOI'S 



Southern Tunisia 177 

beds constructed in an ornamental manner, 
apparently of plaster. Various ornaments are 
about, and the rooms are carefully swept and 
garnished. A camel may be seen in one com- 
partment, and in some cases there is an upper 
range of rooms reached by means of a rope. 

The dwellings are by no means uncomfort- 
able — they must be warm in winter, absolutely 
protected from wind and weather, and cool in 
summer. 

The first we went into was inhabited by a 
picturesque native family ; several of the girls 
were extremely handsome and covered with 
jewels, and the children were ducks. 

We also saw a dwelling where the hand of 
Fatma had been carved in many directions on 
the stone-work. This dwelling was, I believe, 
about two hundred years old. 

The first we entered might have been of any 
age, two thousand years or more. It was the 
best we saw, for everything was harmonious 
and unspoilt. 

Returning to Gabes we visited the souks^ 
bought some burnouses^ and also drove through 
part of the Oasis, the park of the town. 

We then motored to Sfax, found that no 



178 Three Travellers in North Africa 

room was to be had, and went to the hotel at 
El Djem, arriving there at about i a.m. Here 
we were very comfortable. 

Next morning, February 14, 1 saw the 
Amphitheatre again and motored to Sousse ; 
had luncheon at the Hotel de France and visited 
the souks and also the museum, where there 
are some very good mosaics, reminiscent of 
those at the Bardo at Tunis. 

We then went on to Nabeul and bought 
Arabian pottery at a potter's there, and from 
thence to Tunis, which we reached at about 
8 p.m. 

With regard to Medenine and Matmata, a 
Report on Tunisia runs thus : — 

"Medenine Architecture (p. 996). 

"Towards the south, north of Djerba, archi- 
tecture runs to oblong houses with vaulted 
roofs and rude earth buttresses, and finished 
up with triangular ends. 

" These vaulted roofs, primitive in construc- 
tion, are found again in Medenine and other 
places. The vaulted rooms are built side by 
side, and for want of space the owners build a 
second story, another room with a vaulted roof 
on the top of the other ; thus they go on when 




MEDEMNE MAIDENJ 




Ml DKMM-. AKCIIIIECU Kl 



Southern Tunisia 179 

their houses want enlarging, building one on 
top of the other. The houses are generally- 
built round a central court, and the outside of 
the houses facing the country has the appearance 
of a solid wall. The little vaulted rooms, one 
on top of another, constitute a little fortress, to 
which it would be difficult to effect an entrance. 

" To get to the upper stories one must 
go carefully on hands and feet up the rough 
little staircases on the face of the house. These 
buildings make good storehouses, and there are 
curious native wooden locks which keep the 
provisions safe. 

" From the point of view of defence, and 
most likely from the fact of wood being scarce, 
or else in search of a cool place, these people 
also have dwelling-places underground. 

" There are many Troglodytes in Tunisia, 
but the type found at Matmata are the most 
curious. 

" They cut out of the sandy soil a big cube- 
shaped hole about thirty feet square, and this 
makes the court of the underground house. 
When that part is complete, then they carve 
out the rooms, out of the solid ground opening 
into the court, their * roofs * being arched, 
which makes them unlikely to fall in. 

" Their beasts also are lodged underground, 
a passage being cut, down which they walk to 
their stables.*' 



L 



CHAPTER XII 

TUNIS TO ALGIERS 

February 16-26, 1 920 

RETURNED from his tour in Southern 
Tunisia on Saturday evening, and on 
the following Monday we left Tunis on our 
return journey to Algiers. Our first stopping- 
place was at BizERTA, the most northerly town 
in Africa (and it seemed to us to be full of life 
and progress), with a fine harbour and break- 
water, many ships at anchor, and a row of 
palms near the sea. We were ferried across 
the canal by a suspension ferry, motors and all, 
in company with a crowd of Arabs, donkeys 
and carts. 

The French believe that Bizerta is going to 
become one of the chief coaling-stations of the 
Mediterranean, ranking with Malta and Algiers, 
and that it has a great future before it. How- 
ever that may be, it has had a long past behind 

180 



Tunis to Algiers 181 

it, and the length of that great past intensifies 
the present interest in every road, village and 
town in this beautiful part of the world. 

The adventurous Phoenicians, voyaging to 
many lands, brought with them much of the 
knowledge and the culture of the ancients, and 
disseminated it amongst the nations with whom 
they traded. We are told that they added to 
it very little that was original, and yet they 
gave us our alphabet ! 

One can easily imagine how, in their business 
settlements, they would find the elaborate picture 
writing of Egyptian hieroglyphics altogether too 
slow and too cumbersome for practical use. So 
by degrees these signs and symbols were simpli- 
fied (necessity being the mother of invention), 
and a primitive alphabet was evolved, the ances- 
tor of all alphabets, including the Roman letters 
used by us to-day, many of which show in their 
form traces of their long descent. 

Here one is apt to look upon Time less as 
*' an ever-rolling stream " than as a solid track, 
marked by definite milestones, for the history 
of the Seven Conquerors affects each place 
differently, but each leaves its mark. The 
French are making Bizerta into a bright little 



182 Three Travellers in North Africa 

up-to-date town, a ville coquette^ as the guide- 
book puts it, and it was quite in keeping 
with the gay little town, on the day of our 
arrival, to hear the exhilarating hum of an 
aeroplane overhead, and to feel our feet firmly 
planted in the twentieth century. But in a 
moment, as the aeroplane disappeared, our 
thoughts, more quickly still, sped backwards 
nearly 3000 years, to the town built by the 
Tyrian colonists on this same spot, with its 
great canal made in those early days, across 
which we had just been ferried. 

The Phoenicians were direct descendants of 
the men of Tyre, whose ancestors had lived in 
Canaan before the coming of Joshua, the son of 
Nun ; the Carthaginian language was still spoken 
in the fourth and fifth centuries, and St. Augus- 
tine describes it as having a close resemblance to 
Hebrew. 

From the fact, however, of Bizerta being a 
seaport, her " remains " do not remain. There 
has always been much coming and going be- 
tween the seaport towns of Northern Africa and 
Southern Europe, and the Genoese and others 
carried away all they could. The Moors, when 
driven out of Spain, came here in great numbers. 



Tunis to Algiers 183 

and had their own Quartier Andalouse in the 
Arab town. 

For in Bizerta the two towns arc close to each 
other — the French one, which has all its thoughts 
upon the future, and the quiet, time-touched 
Arab town, which has all its thoughts upon the 
past. We walked up its paved streets, with 
arches at intervals supporting the houses on 
either side, small grilled windows set high and 
unevenly, an occasional finely-studded door with 
raised boss and pendant ring-handle, and here 
and there, over a doorway, the Hand of Fatma. 
In many Algerian and Tunisian towns that we 
have visited, the French and Arab quarters are 
less sharp in contrast than they are here. 

We noticed that the women were veiled in 
coloured handkerchiefs, without even a slit for 
the eyes ; the children, as usual, gay and light- 
hearted ; the men grave and statuesque when 
walking, but rather absurd when sitting very far 
back on their donkeys, their feet nearly touching 
the ground. 

We had passing glimpses of small shops, the 
usual little dens, and here and there a couple of 
men at their eternal game of draughts. Towards 
the end of the town was the silent mosque, with 



184 Three Travellers in North Africa 

its white dome, and then, in sharp contrast, 
comes the French quarter, which gives one the 
sensation of awakening from a dream — the 
French town which calls its shopping centre 
"Bijouville." Bijouville . . . and the men 
of Tyre ! that is a long flight down the track of 
the centuries. 

Next day it was sunny and pleasant ; we 
skimmed along by the side of large lakes, 
bordered by bold hills, and presently the scenery 
changed, and we were driving through smiling 
uplands and green valleys. We had a picnic 
half-way, among flocks of nice black goats, 
whose musical bells were tinkling diff^erent notes 
as they wandered about, browsing among the 
brushwood. Then we came to wooded country, 
and were fascinated by a golden patch upon a 
mountain side, which had the appearance of a 
great harvest-field among all the fresh spring 
green. When we neared it, we saw it was yellow 
sand, almost orange in the sunshine — thick 
sand in dunes, with the ripples of the wind on it. 

And now we were driving along the ancient 
road near the sea, which was originally a Phoeni- 
cian road, an inscription on one of the Roman 



Tunis to Algiers 185 

milestones giving the information that the old 
road was restored by Vespasian in the year 
A.D. 87. The roads of Roman days, as we all 
know, constitute one of their triumphs, and all 
roads in this colony lead eventually to Carthage. 

Archaeologists have learned much from the 
Roman milestones, which they come across in 
many unexpected places, the accurate informa- 
tion not only telling them who constructed the 
road in question, whether it was the work of 
the Roman soldiers of the 3rd Legion (whose 
headquarters we have seen at Lambessa), or 
whether it was that of the natives of the neigh- 
bourhood, under Roman supervision, but the 
inscription also gives the name of the overseer 
of the work, and many other details. 

Thus the milestones, which are still being 
unearthed in most unexpected places, confirm a 
great deal of knowledge on the subject of the 
Roman occupation which was mere conjecture 
in the past. The discovery of a milestone at 
once points to a buried Roman road in the near 
vicinity. Some are found across wild gorges, 
at heights apparently impossible. L. came upon 
a paved Roman road, now used as a cart-track, 
near Taorirt, when he was high up in the Kabyle 



186 Three Travellers in North Africa 

mountains. On the borders of the desert, too, 
these roads are found, apparently leading to no- 
where, and every day fresh proofs of the intended 
permanence of Roman rule in Africa is being 
brought to light, traces of long-buried farms, 
villages and towns being re-discovered by a 
chance milestone. 

After we had gone through Tabarka, a bright 
little seaport, with a pretty island opposite, rising 
out of the blue of the Mediterranean, we turned 
away from the sea, and came once more into the 
Khroumirie country, with its forest hills, richly 
wooded. 

Here we put up at Ain Draham, at a little 
hotel in the village which was run by one inde- 
fatigable woman, with an invalid Arab behind 
the scenes. She marketed, she cooked, she laid 
tables, and she served the guests — no small 
triumph, for the first evening we were there she 
had to attend on sixteen people, some of the 
French officials coming to the inn for their 
dinner. " Ahmed " looked after the bedrooms, 
but was very sorry for himself next day, and 
went to bed with a feverish attack, when our 
unflinching heroine tackled the situation, and 
ran the whole show in a masterly way. 



Tunis to Algiers 187 

Shooting at Dar Fatma 
By L. 

On Tuesday, February 1 7, Jules Durand and 
I left the hotel at Ain Draham, and the wonder- 
ful lady who heroically looks after it practically 
single-handed, to shoot wild boar in the forest, 
about five miles away — if, that is, we could light 
upon any. 

The road thereto was in a very bad condition 
indeed, and I know not if any other car than a 
Ford would have survived the experience ; but, 
notwithstanding the terrible treatment to which 
it had to submit, we finally reached the house of 
the forest guard at Dar Fatma, Mr. Ray, and 
his charming wife, who most hospitably put us 
up. They had one delightful child. 

Mr. Ray was most kind, and at once collected 
together a number of his forest men and neigh- 
bouring natives, and we started out for a part of 
the forest about four miles away, where, it was 
said, was the best chance of seeing pig. 

The road was most picturesque, winding 
round the side of the mountain range, through 
the forest of trees that spread their branches 



188 Three Travellers in North Africa 

in every direction. A constant panorama of 
far green distances unfolded itself before our 
eyes. 

The forest stretches over many miles and 
is full of splendid cork trees, which would 
be of immense value if they could be carted 
away and put on the market ; but there are, it 
seems, few or no roads that can be used for the 
purpose, so transport is almost impossible ; and, 
owing to the war, France is now, unfortunately, 
in such an impoverished condition that it is 
doubtful if any forest roads will be made for 
a long time to come. 

One of the great difficulties in connection 
with the forests, both in Algeria and Tunisia, is 
dealing with the forest fires, which are some- 
times caused by accident and sometimes by 
incendiarism. 

Having arrived at our destination, we were 
posted at suitable intervals from each other, 
while a native went off with dogs to try to 
round up the game ; but though both this day 
and the next we waited patiently, and though at 
one time, at all events, there did seem distinct 
signs that pig was on foot and approaching our 
way, no animal appeared. 



Tunis to Algiers 189 

We changed our positions from time to time, 
trying fresh ground, but without success. At 
one moment it was rumoured that a pig had 
crossed over from one side of a glade in which 
we stood to the other, but, like many other 
rumours, it lacked confirmation. 

Pleasant intervals on both days were those 
when we stopped for our luncheon among the 
picturesque surroundings of the forest. The 
air was delightful, the days were soft and 
genial ; it was good to be alive, no matter 
whether we slew any unfortunate animal or 
not. 

There is something to be said for the prefer- 
ence that some have for photographing wild 
animals to shooting them ; the disappointments 
must certainly be fewer and the animals have 
a better time. 

While we were standing in a grassy glade 
towards eventide a number of Arab women 
passed by, carrying on their backs huge bundles 
of faggots. Women work immensely hard in 
this country. 

With very many thanks to our kind host and 
hostess, we returned to Ain Draham on Thursday, 
February 19. 



190 Three Travellers in North Africa 

(Continued.) 

Meanwhile, when L. went off Into the 
forest of Khroumirie, A. and I stayed at Ain 
Draham. The quaint hotel had an outside 
staircase, but such a crazy staircase never was 
seen, and we had to go up and down it every 
time we went in and out of our rooms. It 
was guarded by a white dog, which was 
chained up at the bottom of it, but was ready 
to leap upon anybody who ventured near the 
staircase. An excellent guardian, doubtless, but 
he very nearly "got" us several times, and we 
tried to placate him with soft words, but without 
much success, " Amshee ! " (get out of the way) 
in a voice of thunder having much more effect. 
That was danger number one. 

Danger number two was the staircase itself, 
which was literally in the last stage of dilapida- 
tion. The steps were broken and the under 
support had entirely given way, and was hanging 
down, leaving the whole concern almost in the 
air, and we had the consoling knowledge that 
if it really collapsed, the mouth of the dog was 
waiting for us. 

We left Ain Draham after three days, L. 



Tunis to Algiers 191 

having come back from Dar Fatma, which was 
the name of the forester^s lodge, for even in 
the depths of a forest you cannot get away 
from the name " Fatma/' any more than from 
the name of "Ahmed.** 

Down through the cork trees we drove at 
nine o'clock in the morning, waiting at the 
frontier — Babouche — only a moment or two, 
and then stopping at La Calle, where we met 
L., who had gone off early to arrange about a 
shoot on one of the lakes near, while A. and 
I went on to Bone. 

La Calle 
By L. 

At La Calle 1 met two charming sportsmen 
who invited me to go with them in pursuit of 
wild boar and duck. 

In pursuit of wild boar we motored to a 
considerable distance from La Calle, and then 
entered a picturesque wood which was said 
to be a great haunt of that noble animal, the 

pig- 

We were stationed at intervals down a grassy 



192 Three Travellers in North Africa 

ride, while one of our hosts set off to range the 
wood with the dogs. 

The dogs were good, and kept in training by 
constant exercise, as the owners were devoted 
to sport, and were continually in pursuit of the 
wily wild boar, the elusive partridge, or other 
animal. 

Silent and motionless we stood in expectation 
and hope. At last a joyous cry rang out, and 
the chase grew nearer and nearer, and then 
bore away to our right. We followed, and 
then stood still again, as the cry of the dogs 
drew close to us. The crack of a rifle suddenly 
rang out, and a wild boar had appeared and had 
fallen dead to the rifle of a sportsman who had 
stood not far from me. 

This was the only animal that we got that 
day. 

We had a pleasant luncheon under the shade 
of a ^n.Q tree near the road. 

Another day we resorted to a delightful lake 
not far from the town of La Calle, to seek for 
wild-fowl. We walked to the lake over a 
grassy tract intersected by little tributary 
streamlets, and entering a boat, set out on our 
quest. Numerous clusters of sedge grass grew 



Tunis to Algiers 193 

above the surface of the lake, refuges for duck, 
teal, and other wild-fowl. 

We rowed slowly along the lake and managed 
to secure a few wild-fowl, and in the evening 
I set out again to see if any more were to be 
secured. 

The beauty of the scene that evening was 
wonderful. The lights and shadows, as dark- 
ness came on, transformed the lake to fairyland. 
The sky assumed most glorious colours, seen 
through the sedges which formed a lace-work 
across it in the gathering darkness. The still- 
ness was intense, only broken occasionally by 
the cry of a wild-fowl or the rattle of a frog. 
Every now and then, as the light grew dimmer, 
a speck would be seen in the distance, and a 
duck would come nearer and nearer till it 
swooped down on to the lake. 

I managed to secure what I was told was 
somewhat of a prize, a Colbert, a species of 
duck of brilliant plumage. 

At last the light became too faint for further 
shooting, so we left the lake in charge of the 
wild-fowl, and wended our way homewards. 

There was a rumour that the water of the 
lake is going to be drained off, and the land 



194 Three Travellers in North Africa 

reclaimed for use. This may be ultilitarian, 
but from a sporting and artistic point of view, 
if such a project were carried out, it will be sad 
indeed. 

{Continued.) 

From Bone we went over to Hippo, St. 
Augustine's city, and we had an afternoon of 
sketching from the spot where he wrote his 
" Confessions " and the " City of God " over- 
looking the blue mountains of the distant 
Khroumiric. 

Once again we had to reconstruct mentally 
an imposing Roman city dominating the heights. 
Below us were the very substantial ancient 
cisterns which used to supply it with water, and 
which are still used to supply Bone. The city 
ran across the plain beneath as far as the sea- 
shore, spreading widely, with villas and farms 
in the suburbs, for Hippo Regius rivalled 
Carthage, during the third and fourth centuries, 
in magnificence as a town and in power as a 
centre of commerce. 

St. Augustine lived at Hippo as priest, and 
afterwards as bishop, for a period of forty 
years — the most tragic years of North African 



Tunis to Algiers 195 

history, the coming of the Vandals. The 
Empire from end to end was shaken by the 
news, in a.d. 410, of the sack of Rome by Alaric 
the Goth. The whole world was in upheaval 
and passing through a period of change, and 
the remainder of Roman history is chaos. 

Boniface, the Roman Governor in North 
Africa, was an arch-traitor, and invited Genseric, 
the King of the Vandals in Spain, to invade 
North Africa, and in the year 429 they came, 
gathering under their standard the Donatists, 
the Moors, and the Berbers, in addition to 
their own powerful hosts. In the first excite- 
ment of their arrival, flushed with success, they 
reduced town after town to ashes, bearing away 
with them anything of value. By May 431, 
two years after their landing, there were only 
three of the large cities of North Africa left 
standing — Carthage, Constantine, and Hippo ; 
all the others were ruined. St. Augustine had 
been failing in health for some time, and the 
mental and physical strain, continuing daily 
through the time of siege, exhausted his frail 
body, and he died in 431 a.d. 

He would have been proud had he known 
that Hippo was never taken by force of arms, 



196 Three Travellers in North Africa 

for it was weakly abandoned to the Vandals by 
the Emperor Valentinian III (on the under- 
standing that Carthage was to remain intact), 
and it was sacked and ruined a year or two 
after St. Augustine died. 

Walking back to Bone, we were talking of 
Hippo and her tragic end, and agreed that, in 
spite of all her former importance, her existence 
now is scarcely remembered except as having 
been the place where St. Augustine lived and 
died — the memory of one good man surviving 
the memory of a great city — which fact suggests 
a sermon 1 

Our next move was to Philippcville, and 
again L. went on ahead, this time to the 
Kabyle mountains. Philippcville is modern, 
built by the French in 1837, a quaint town 
planted on two sides of a narrow valley, with 
a view of the sea and islands beyond. The 
main street runs down the valley, and the 
houses on either side look at each other across 
the side streets, which are generally flights of 
steps. 

When the French were laying the foundations 
of this brand-new seaport town they discovered 



Tunis to Algiers 197 

yet another " Buried City," the city of Rusicade, 
of which the theatre remains as a picturesque 
ruin, embowered in roses and convolvulus, not 
yet in flower. Excavations have brought to 
light a.great many interesting treasures, and the 
museum here is said to be the best in Algeria. 

Next day we had chequered experiences. 
Leaving the sea-coast, we went inland, and soon 
found ourselves among richly-wooded hills. 
The French are now carefully looking after 
the trees and planting them systematically, for 
in countries with a poor water supply the 
preservation of the forests is very important. 

Bruce, the African traveller, in the year 1760, 
describes forests in Algeria which have long 
since disappeared, and Desfontainc, the botanist, 
in 1784, while touring in Tunisia, mentions a 
great stretch of forest country, where now 
there is nothing but a wide plain, bare of a 
single tree. The natives still burn the trees 
occasionally, and a cork forest near Bone was 
destroyed in this way forty or fifty years ago. 

We came out of the highlands into the 
valleys, which were in all the freshness of their 
spring green, but the motor was now beginning 
to give trouble, and we got out two or three 



198 Three Travellers in North Africa 

times and walked on, but were soon picked up 
again. 

A time came, however, when, although we 
had walked on two kilometres, there seemed 
to be no sign of the Ford following us, and 
then we both began to wonder seriously what 
we could do if the worst came to the worst, 
and the motor stuck. For the nearest town 
was forty-eight kilometres away, and we were 
in a region where not a French house was to 
be seen, an entirely Arab population living in 
gourbis (tiny huts of a dreary brown colour), 
the most primitive dwellings imaginable, and 
fenced in with cactus hedges. The hill-sides 
are often covered with these "villages," the 
gourbis being built of wattles and brushwood, 
and thatched with rough grass. Forty-eight 
kilometres from anywhere, a sulky motor, an 
almost empty biscuit tin, and nothing but 
gourbis. 

The whole story of our hopes and fears and 
disappointments would be tedious, but is it not 
an established fact that a motor sometimes 
shows temper and requires to be humoured ? 
So eventually it went on in a spasmodic fashion, 
grunting and grumbling, but promising us 



Tunis to Algiers 199 

nothing, and then stopping again. There was 
a place at which Jules had told us there was an 
inn, called El Milia, if only we could get 
there before it was dark, for now the rain was 
coming on ; and so the hours passed, till at 
about four o'clock, tired and very hungry, we 
arrived at El Milia. It was impossible to stay 
there, however, as there was only accommodation 
for one, and the nearest town ahead was 
Djidjelli on the sea-coast, forty or fifty 
kilometres further on. 

However, we trusted to the good sense of 
the motor not to play us false, and after tea in 
a dark pothouse at El Milia (where two men, 
in rather grim surroundings, were playing 
vingt-et-un)^ we once more started forth again, 
and the motor played up to our expecta- 
tions, and left all its bad temper behind, but it 
was nearly dark when we made our triumphal 
entry into Djidjelli. Here we stayed for the 
night. 

All the mist and rain had cleared away by 
next morning, and the colouring throughout 
the day was a dream of loveliness. We got 
away at about ten o'clock and drove along 
the African Corniche, by the shores of the 



200 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Mediterranean, and the beauty of the scenery 
can only be suggested by one word — superb. 

The spurs of the mountains run into the 
sea, the road being cut, for the greater part of 
the way, through sheer rock ; sometimes it is 
tunnelled, and the motor runs through, to come 
out upon even more heavenly glimpses of blue 
and sunshine, up-hill and down-hill, round all 
the capes, headlands, bays, and inlets, each 
corner showing a fresh view of perfect beauty. 
It is a magnificent bit of coast scenery on the 
grandest scale : bridges are thrown across the 
gorges ; we passed great stalactite caves where 
brigands used to dwell ; and the colour of the 
rocks, the richness of the vegetation, together 
with the spring green, made it a drive to be 
remembered. 

At the village of Mansouriah we stopped for 
luncheon, and afterwards sat for an hour or 
more by the sea-shore, enjoying the beauty and 
sketching a little ; and the afternoon drive was, 
perhaps, more beautiful still, if this were possible, 
because of the greater glow in the light, and 
we forgave the motor for being troublesome, 
becavise it only meant that we got out and 
walked ; but a moment came when we were 



Tunis to Algiers 201 

thirty-two miles from Bougie when she stuck 
fast. "The Arab at Djidjelli gave me bad 
petrol, and she won't go on it,'* said Stephens. 

Providentially we were near a farm called the 
Ferme Nicholas, a little bit off the coast road, 
and A. made friends with a French woman who 
lived there, and, wonder of wonders ! there was 
a telephone. After the wildness of our drive 
it was a miracle to break down within reach of 
such a thing. There was nothing for it but to 
telephone to Bougie to send out a relief motor 
immediately to the Ferme Nicholas. But just 
after the message went, we heard the Ford 
coming gaily up the road. "The bad stuff 
that was in her," explained Stephens, " I poured 
off, and there's a little good at the bottom that 
didn't mix with it, and that'll carry us on for 
a mile or two." 

So in we got, and we managed fourteen 
kilometres, and then she stuck fast on the worst 
bit of the whole road, where there had been a 
landslip. However, before many minutes had 
passed, the relief motor arrived, driven by an 
Arab, the Ford was filled up with petrol, and 
we arrived safely at Bougie half an hour 
later. 



202 Three Travellers in North Africa 

Account of Shooting at Taorirt 
By L. ' 

I left Bone with Jules Durand for Bougie in 
pouring rain. 1 stopped to see the museum 
just outside Bone. There are magnificent 
mosaics in situ : one representing a feast ' is of 
great interest. It displays a four-pronged fork 
being used at a banquet. In connection with 
forks, the evolution of the number of prongs 
may be borne in mind. The Chinese fork 
consists of a single prong ; then came the two- 
pronged fork, later on the three-pronged fork, 
and now it has advanced to four prongs, to 
which stage the Romans had seemingly arrived. 

The mosaics are evidently on the site of 
what must have been a very fine house in 
Roman times. 

We then went on to the picturesque town of 
Philippeville, where we had luncheon, after 
which we went on to El Milia, where we 
stopped for the night. 

The next day we started for Bougie. The 
haze was dense and prevented a proper view of 
the scenery, which is magnificent ; indeed it may 
be said that the Corniche Road, as it is called 
between Djidjelli and Bougie, is quite equal to. 



Tunis to Algiers 203 

if not finer, than the Corniche Road on the 
Riviera. 

Near Mansouriah I stopped to see a splendid 
cavern which contains extremely fine stalactites 
and stalagmites. It is said to have been dis- 
covered when the road was being made, since 
the French occupation of the country, and it is 
stated that it was found to have been used by 
smugglers. Sooner or later I should imagine 
that electric light will be installed, as it is at 
present difficult to see the marvels of the cave 
properly. 

I then went on to Bougie, and from there to 
a forest inn at Taorirt. Here I stayed for two 
nights, in hopes of wild boar. 

The inn was placed most picturesquely in a 
clearing surrounded by a forest, and was kept 
by an old French lady who gave every indica- 
tion of having been beautiful in her youth ; 
she had most stately manners, and her appear- 
ance reminded me of a very great French lady 
who has lately passed away. She had to help 
her a Kabyle woman, who was covered with 
Kabyle coral and silver ornaments, and the lady 
provided us with remarkably good meals cooked 
by herself. 

The forest was said to be alive with wild 



204 Three Travellers in North Africa 

boar, and Jules having persuaded a forest 
guard to bring some dogs to search therefor, 
we started out the next morning in high hopes. 
Descending the hill on which the inn is placed, 
we reached a path which ran round the hill at a 
considerable elevation ; far down below we 
could see the lower stretches of the ever-dense 
forest. 

The forest guard commenced to beat the 
forest, and at last a joyful cry was heard, and 
Jules and I were in great expectation as the 
cry grew nearer and nearer. Would the wild 
boar break to the right or to the left.-* Had 
he crossed the path unseen to us ? 

Now I heard a shot, evidently from Jules' 
gun, and when I came up to where Jules was, 
I found that, though no wild boar had fallen, 
Jules had shot a porcupine, which he afterwards 
brought home in triumph. This constituted 
our complete bag, for, though we tried again 
and again, we failed to obtain any other 
animal. 

I tried going to some distance and watching 
at two places, where I thought it possible that 
pig might appear when it was getting dark, but 
there was no result to reward the attempts. 

Failing in our sporting efforts, we turned to 



C 



Tunis to Algiers 205 

antiquarian pursuits, and walked over to where 
we heard that there were Roman remains, some 
three miles away. The way led us over 
picturesque grassy uplands intermixed with 
bushes till, in the distance, we saw the remains 
of Roman buildings, built, as always, of large 
blocks of stone calculated to last for ever. 
The buildings were scanty, very probably of a 
small Roman fort. By the ruins ran a cart- 
track, which was quite possibly a highway in 
Roman times. 

{Continued.) 

On the following day we motored over the 
Kabyle mountains, and called for L. at Taorirt. 
We went fifty kilometres further on to a pretty 
little village called Azazga. 

The fine weather had brought the tourists, 
and the inn was nearly full, but we managed to 
squeeze in for the night. 

Next morning we skimmed over the Kabyle 
country which had so delighted us nearly two 
months ago, and we recognised several of the 
characteristic red upstanding rocks as old 
friends, and once more delighted in the little 
red Kabyle villages, for there is a special charm 
in going for a second time over a beautiful 



206 Three Travellers in North Africa 

road, especially when coming from the opposite 
direction. 

But all too quickly we were leaving Kabylia, 
and we were stopped by the sight of two 
storks, a happy pair, who had built their nests 
on the peak of a gourbi by the roadside. They 
were earnestly conversing together — taking no 
notice of the motor, or of the world in general — 
a perfect subject for a snapshot. Storks are 
never shot in any other way, and so they trust 
man — and we were charmed by the trustfulness 
of this couple. 

The French prune the ash trees very severely, 
because it induces a great growth of young 
shoots which the horses and cattle will eat when 
hay is scarce ; and on one melancholy tree, which 
had been hacked into the shape of the letter Y, 
a stork adorned each pinnacle. 

As L. was photographing the happy pair a 
delightful family party of Kabyles came on the 
road from a cottage near ; one man, about ^vt, 
women, and a lot of children, all dressed and 
jewelled gaily, and tattooed in various designs ; 
one had her hands smartly tattooed like lace 
mittens. 

Their clothes were of the greatest interest to 
us. Of course we had often and often passed 



Tunis to Algiers 207 

them on the road, and taken in the general 
effect of splashes of colour and a great deal of 
jewellery, but now we saw how they draped 
themselves in detail, and how the bright hand- 
kerchief was crossed round the back of the 
head and tied with a knot in front, and below 
the knot a round silver plaque of Kabyle work, 
with coloured stones inset, and pendant drops 
hanging down from it. The beauty of the 
party wore a specially pretty one, and L. 
suggested to her lord and master that he 
would like to buy it. So a note had first to be 
placed in the hand of the man, and examined 
closely, and then the jewel was removed from 
the forehead of the beauty. The man grasped 
the note, and the beauty, to our surprise, 
snatched it from him, and there was great 
laughter. 

We all felt that this was the last scene in our 
delightful tour, and the storks were the 
audience, and never moved while all the talk 
and laughter were going on, and in saying 
good-bye to this group of Kabyles we felt we 
were saying good-bye to their wild mountains 
and all the many places of beauty and extra- 
ordinary interest that lay behind them ; and 
once more we arrived back at Algiers. 



CHAPTER XIII 



" Algiers, white city of fair Afric's sea, 
Set in its majesty upon the steep 
That overlooks the bay's translucent deep. 
White as a swan in perfect purity." — (Leigh.) 

March 5, 1920 

« /V LGIERS the beautiful "—but our tour 
-^^ is over. 

On a winter's evening in December we saw 
her first from the decks of the Due d'Aumale^ 
with all her lamps alight, and looking almost 
like an illuminated scene in a fairy play. Even 
the trams, lit up from within, bore some resem- 
blance to fairy coaches, running up and down 
the steep hills in the town, the water reflecting 
all the glitter and brilliance in shafts of quivering 
Hght. 

Next morning the daylight impression was 

of the shining whiteness of her houses and 

buildings, and of her great extent beyond the 
208 



Good-bye to Algiers 209 

town. Built on a hill, which has been com- 
pared to a gigantic amphitheatre, her heights 
above the sea are covered with villas, tier above 
tier, with their surrounding trees and gardens, 
each having an uninterrupted view of the 
Mediterranean. One could never tire of this 
view, for the effects are ever changing ; the 
bay can be pearly white or opalescent, gold or 
copper in the sunrise or the sunset, turquoise, 
or even an angry grey, with a fringe of waves 
accentuating its perfect curve. 

1 think we may allow that we find the history 
of the town of Algiers in ancient times a little 
out of focus, but she comes all too sharply 
into the field of vision during the days of the 
Algerian pirates. 

Early in the sixteenth century, in order to 
free themselves from the yoke of Spain, which 
threatened to crush them, the Algerians implored 
the aid of the Turks, their co-religionists, to 
come to their rescue. From them Algiers 
received her present name. El Djzair, /. e. The 
Islands. 

Turkey came, when implored to do so, but 
she remained as a conqueror, and the fate of 
Algeria fell into the hands of the two wild 



210 Three Travellers in North Africa 

corsairs, the Barbarossa brothers. Under the 
Turkish regime, for many succeeding years, 
every kind of violence was tolerated, and the 
ships of all nations were seized with their 
crews, the latter being treated with the utmost 
barbarity, sold in Algiers as slaves, or forced 
to do slave-labour in the public works, their 
housing and feeding alike unspeakable. Twenty 
thousand Christian slaves were employed on 
work in connection with the harbour. 

In Algiers one is always coming in touch 
with some reference to these lawless times, the 
Italians being the greatest sufferers, but in the 
porch of the English church there are inscrip- 
tions on the mural tablets giving the names 
of many British subjects who were also captured, 
memorials to our fellow-countrymen who 
underwent the horror and degradation of 
slavery. 

In course of time Algerian piracy was checked, 
but not absolutely stopped until the beginning 
of the nineteenth century. 

Three hundred years and ten the Arabs were 
under the domination of Turkish tyranny, and, 
although ninety years have now passed since 
France ousted Turkey, a number of Ottoman 




Good-bye to Algiers 211 

buildings still remain in the western portion of 
the town. 

The great Turkish fortress, the Kasbah 
frowns grimly over the city that it once com- 
manded, and portions of an encircling wall, 
eight feet thick, are still to be seen. Behind 
that wall lived the Dey, and we have visited 
his palace and his mosque. Poor man — his 
life was always in danger, and few of the rulers 
appear to have died a natural death, notwith- 
standing the eight-foot wall ! The prison, 
which at one time held two thousand Christian 
slaves, was within the Kasbah too ; also the 
Courts of Justice and other Government 
offices. 

And now comes the final scene of Turkish 
rule. On April 30, 1827, the last of the 
Regents, Hussein Dey, was seated in a pavilion 
on a balcony in his palace which looked down 
upon an inner court. He was fanning himself 
lazily, and probably was greatly bored. He 
had only been out of the Kasbah twice during 
his reign of fifteen years, and the transaction of 
public affairs must have been an irksome task. 

The Dey of Algiers was weary of interviews, 
and he knew that this morning there was some 



212 Three Travellers in North Africa 

troublesome business to adjust with the French 
Consul. The weather was steamy and ener- 
vating, hence his fan. In comes Monsieur 
Deval, the Consul, who made it very clear to 
the Dey that Algeria had incurred, through two 
Jews, a debt to France of 7,000,000 francs, and 
that the moment had come for it to be repaid. 

The French Consul was firm, and would 
accept no compromise, and the Dey, probably 
resenting firmness on a sweltering morning, 
in a passion struck him with his fan. 

This insult was too much for France. To 
have her representative struck in public was 
an offence which could not be passed over, 
and by July 4, 1830, the French had entered 
Algiers. The formidable Turkish guns were 
silenced, and presently cast into the melting- 
pot, to arise from it in the form of a spirited 
equestrian statue of the Due d'Orleans, which 
stands in the centre of the Place du Gouverne- 
ment to-day, while the palace in the Kasbah, 
black with tragedies and treacheries, is pointed 
out to visitors by the playful name of '* The 
Palace of the Fan." 

Algiers has the general appearance of an 



Good-bye to Algiers 213 

up-to-date flourishing town, the French build- 
ings overpowering Turkish and Arab alike. 
Even the mosques give the impression of being 
dwarfed and crowded out. The sea front is 
a series of massive square blocks, arcaded, like 
any important city of France, and beneath the 
arches, offices, restaurants and shops. 

It is always amusing driving along this sea 
front and looking out for different types in the 
passers-by : the Arabs of position, who have, 
perhaps, arrived from distant towns ; majestic 
Moors, with heavily braided burnouses of fine 
cloth ; then all the different uniforms, with the 
Zouaves and the Spahis adding colour, and I 
was surprised to see several veiled Arab ladies, 
gracefully enveloped in soft white draperies, 
driving past ; and many were tripping along 
the footpath, showing pretty ankles, and wear- 
ing the smartest French high-heeled shoes and 
silk stockings. 

We noticed a good many Kabyles, and some 
Mozabites parading along, and many Jews, who 
have a special quarter of their own. 

It is the clear atmosphere, and the brightness 
of the town, and the whiteness of the buildings, 
the spacious harbour and the bay beyond it, 



214 Three Travellers in North Africa 

as well as the ever-changing kaleidoscope of 
humanity, which makes Algiers so attractive. 
A mile from the town is the Jardin d'Essai, a 
garden started by the French as early as 1832. 
It is laid out in avfenues, one of which is 
planted with African and Japanese palms alter- 
nately. At one point we felt as if we were in 
the midst of a primeval forest, surrounded by 
a jungle of bamboos and india-rubber trees. 
One of the latter was measured, and the cir- 
cumference of its trunk was over nineteen feet, 
and its height sixty feet, which speaks well for 
North African soil. Of course the object of 
the garden is experimental planting, in order 
to find out what is most worth cultivating, so 
that to experts the interest is immense, and 
its contents priceless, every kind of Oriental 
vegetation growing luxuriantly under perfect 
irrigation and other conditions. 

North African soil contains many elements 
that are capable of great things (witness the 
" Garden of Allah *' at Biskra), but there are 
enormous difficulties in combating the fierce 
forces of African climate — the sand, which has 
a tendency to encroach with every sandstorm, 
and the lack of water during several months, 



Good-bye to Algiers 215 

these are continual problems ; whereas in the 
winter the torrential rains, tearing down the 
soil from the mountains, and scoring deep 
channels in the plains, form another difficulty. 

The French to-day are learning from the 
Romans of yesterday, who had all the same 
problems to face, and they arc proud to feel 
that, as a race, they are, to a great extent, their 
descendants — heirs of all the ages. 

In striking contrast to modern Algiers is the 
dreamy old Arab town existing behind it, built 
up the face of the hill, with roughly-paved 
streets, steep, narrow, winding and mysterious, 
such windows as there are being small, more 
like slits, and unevenly placed; but we were 
told that many of the interiors are well worth 
seeing, built round central fountain courts. 

We visited one of the houses, now the 
Bibliothequc, once one of the palaces of the 
Dey. Its central court enchanted us with its 
beauty, pillars from Carthage, diagonally fluted, 
upholding an upper balcony decorated with 
charming old tiles of rose and blue alternately. 

In the centre was a marble fountain, water- 
plants growing in the basin, and arum lilies on 



216 Three Travellers in North Africa 

the edge. All round were Moorish arches, 
both above in the gallery and beneath round 
the courtyard, supported by the marble pillars, 
ivory-white with age, the Turkish crescent 
being carefully superimposed on each capital. 
From the corners of the Moorish arcades 
great palms soar upwards, stretching towards 
the sky, and the effect of the light from above, 
shining through the leaves and on the foun- 
tain beneath, was fascinating. The mysterious 
shadows under the arches, the atmosphere of 
days long passed away, together with the intense 
stillness, gave the crowning touch of charm. 
Once more, classic pillars, Moorish arches and 
coloured tiles all harmonising perfectly. 

Yesterday on the high-road, as the sun was 
going down, we saw an Arab who had climbed 
up on to a narrow stone coping above a culvert 
which ran under the road. His hands were 
raised above his head, and he was looking 
towards Mecca. His staff and coloured shoes 
were by the roadside beneath him. Look- 
ing back, we saw his tall figure silhouetted 
in the clear atmosphere against the glow of 
the setting sun, and then bending forward and 



Good-bye to Algiers 217 

stooping, he touched the stone wall with his 
forehead — his evening prayer. 

It was an impressive and farewell glimpse 
I of Arab life, for this evening we say good-bye 
to North Africa, with her Arabs and Moors, 
Mozabites, Kabyles, Jews and Turks, and we 
are carrying away so many fresh impressions 
that we wonder which will remain most vividly 
in our memory. 

Perhaps the desert, with its wide spaces 
and indefinable colour, the mysterious beauty 
of its sunsets and afterglow — or its animals ? 
The Arab horses gaily caparisoned, the black 
donkeys and the flocks of long-haired goats, 
or the sheep watering at the wells. Or, more 
likely, the grand old beast the camel, who, 
though he has served man patiently through 
countless centuries, has never lost his expression 
of fine disdain. 

Or — bringing back impressions of Bible 
pictures — shall we have visions of the desert 
people, with their black tents, their swinging 
walk, their long staves, and their families in 
various picturesque groups ? Or else a phan- 
tasmagoria of various races that meet in the 
sunny squares of the big towns, bright blots 



218 Three Travellers in North Africa 

of colour among the white burnouses of the 
Arabs ? Or a general impression of the busy 
market-squares, the lading of groaning camels 
for their long journeys, chaffering and buying 
and selling ? 

Or the veiled Arab ladies in all their variety 
of costume and station, down to the poorest 
women, who are literally beasts of burden, 
carrying terrible loads on their poor bent backs 
(while their lord and master rides behind on his 
donkey), and whose youth has vanished before 
they are twenty-five. 

Or will brightly-clothed, gay little children 
come dancing into our thoughts, with flashing 
eyes, and flashing teeth, and flashing orna- 
ments, and every shade of complexion from 
black upwards ? 

Even the names of the places will feel 
dream-like presently ; but we shall think of the 
mountains, some stern and barren, with grand, 
wild outlines, and others wooded to their very 
summits, with here and there plantations of 
fig trees, looking, in their wintry bareness, like 
ghosts, mere blurs of smoke against the ever- 
greens. 

We shall not forget a sunrise over the 



Good-bye to Algiers 219 

Djurdjura snow-capped mountains, or the 
gorges, so deep that the sun can scarcely 
penetrate, as though the mountains had been 
cleft by a giant sword and were left gaping. 

Often, and especially during our homeward 
tour, we had longed to break through the 
shell of the last seventeen centuries until we 
caught, in its reality, a magic glimpse of this 
great Roman colony of North Africa, before 
any shadow of coming disaster had robbed it 
of its splendour. From what remains, it is 
certain that the cities were built to last through 
the centuries. Temples, capitol, forum, and 
theatre, solid and secure, pointing to the great 
richness of the colony in classic times, with 
a population infinitely larger than that of 
to-day. 

The French have found a land of promise 
in colonising Algeria and Tunisia, and before 
them is ever the example of their Roman 
predecessors as an inspiration and a warning ; 
and we, the travellers, have found a land of 
fascination — more than a mere holiday-land of 
beauty ; and as we sail away, waving our 
good-byes to the coast of North Africa, we 



220 Three Travellers in North Africa 

feel happy in the thought that we are bring- 
ing back with us such a treasury of sunny 
memories. 

ENVOI 

" Farewell, poetic and romantic land ! 
If never more beneath thy Eastern skies 
We see, amidst the waving palms, arise 
Dream-cities circled round with golden sand — 
As if some magic wand had placed them there, 
And they must vanish when we venture near — 
Still, tho' on distant shores, we love thee well. 
And in these pages we attempt to tell 
The secret of the charm that weaves the spell." 

(Agnes Leigh.) 



■•■«»■ 



INDEX 



Ahmed, 79 
Ain Draham, 186, 190 
Alaric the Goth, 168 
Algerian Corniche, 62, 199, 

202 
Algiers, 3, 208 

Arab Town, 215 

Biblioth^que, 215 

Dey of, 211 

English Church, 210 

Harbour, 210 

Jardin d'Essai, 214 

Kasbah, 2 1 1 

Palace of the Fan, 211, 

212 
Announa (Roman remains), 

123-125 
Aqueduct, 151 
Arab dress, 7 

house, 30 

music, 89 

prayer, 35, 38,94, 216 

tents, 127 

Atlas Mountains, 131 
Augustine, Saint, 194, 195 
Aumale, 53 
Aur^s Mountains, 68 
Azazga, 205 

Babouche (frontier town), 

133, 191 
Bassours, 14, 17, 92 



Batna, 93 

Belisarius, 100 

Ben Cassim, 47 

Ben Ch^rif, 45 

Beni Isguen, 29-31 

Berbers, 33, 99 

Berrian, 25, 40 

Bey of Constantine, 1 16 

Bey of Tunis, 147-149 

Biskra, 68 

Garden of Allah, 70, 

Tower at, 69 

Bizerta, 181, 184 
Blida, 4 
Boghari, 4, 7 
Bone, 129 
Boniface, 195 
Bougie, 61, 201 
Bou Grara, 176 
Bou Saada, 48-51 
Byrsa, Hill of, 164 
Byzantine remains, 100, loi, 
124 

Cactus eaters, 172 
Caids, 12, 30, 38,48, S7 
Camel's existence, 80, 81 
Caravan routes, 80 
Caravanserai (Tilrempt), 22, 

-42 
Carthage, visit to, 163-169 



Ml 



222 



Index 



Cemeteries, 41 
Chaouias, 69 
Constantine, 114-118 
Coral fisheries, 131 
Cork forest, 133 
Corsairs, 209 
Count Landon, 70 
Count de V., 68 
Couscous, 14, 140 

Dar Fatma, 187-189 
Dates, 9, 69, 73 
Desert wells, 29, 43 
Dido, Queen, 163 
Djelfa, 12, 47 
Djem, 175 

Djerba (Island of), 174 
Djidjelli, 199 

Djurdjura Mountains, 59, 60 
Dougga, visit to, 137-140 
Due dAumale steamship, 
208 

El Djem, 172 

El Haid, 22 

El Kantara (in Algeria), 65- 
68 

El Kantara (Southern Tu- 
nisia), 174 

El Melia, 199 

Enfidaville, 170 

Evil eye (fear of), 39, 66 

Ferme Nicholas, 201 
Forest fires, 188 
Forests, 21, 197 
Fort N>ational, 59 

Gabes, 173 

Gazelles, 49 

Genseric the Vandal, 195 

Geysers, 1 19-122 



Ghardaia, 26-39 
Glass swallowers, 172 
Gorge de Chabet, 62 
Gorge of Constantine, 1 14 

El Kantara, 65 

Gouraya, 62 
Gourbis (huts), 1 98 

Hammam Meskoutine, 118- 

127 
Hand of Fatma, 39, 177, 

183 
Hannibal, 165 
Hippo Regius (Bone), 129, 

194 
Hount Souk, 174 
Hussein (Family of), 148 

Isser, River, 56 

Jewesses, 118, 146 
Jugurthine wars, 115 

Kabyles (country and people), 
56, 205 

jewellery, 58, 207 

tattooing, 58 

villages, 57, 60 

women, 58 

Kairouan (in Tunisia), 170 
Khroumirs, 130, 131, 132 
Korbous, 147 

La Calle, 130, 191, 193 
Lac des Oiseaux; 130 
Laghouat, Agha of, 45 

Pashada of, iQ-20 

Races at 15-20 

La Kahina (Berber Queen) 

21 
La Marsa, 175 
Lambessa, 67, 94 



Index 



223 



Larbi, 46 

Lavigerie (Cardinal), 34, 169 

Le Cocq (Captain), 175 

Mahomedia, La, 153 
Mansouriah, 200, 203 
Marabouts, 57, 65, 83, 144, 

171 
Markets, 31-33, 38, 51, 76- 

78 
Martyrs, 159-163 
Matmata, 176 
Medea, 5 
Medenine, 173 
Meschoui (Arab dish), 47 
Michelet, 59, 60 
Mirage, 73 
Moors, 10, 118, 213 
Mosaics at Bone, 202 (see 

also Timgad and Mus^e 

Alaoui, Tunis) 
Mosques : Touggourt,78, 87 

Kairouan, 170 

Mozabites i^see Ghardaia) 
Muezzin, 38, 83 
Mustapha Suplrieure, 3 

Nabeul 178 
Negroes, 10 
Nomad encampment, 44 

Oasis, 29, 51, 82 

Oranges, 4 

Ouled Nail music, 89 

Palestro, 56 

Palms, 9 

P^res blancs, 169 

Perpetua, 161 

Philippeville, 196, 197, 202 

Phoenicians, 181, 182, 184 

Pirates (Algerian), 152, 210 



Porcupine, 204 
Punic Museum (Carthage), 
166 

Quarter, Jewish, at Tunis, 

145 
Ouartier Andalouse at Bi- 
zerta, 183 

Rahat-la-coum, 31, 32 
Ray, Mr. and Mrs., 187 
Religious ceremonies, 171 
Rhummel, River, 114 
Rocher de Sel, 8 
Rogatianus, 97 
Roknia (dolmens), 125, 126 
Roman milestones, 185 

remains {see Announa, 

Carthage, Lambessa, 
Philippeville, Tim- 
gad, etc.) 
Ruisseau des Singes, 4 
Rusicade, 197 

Saddles, 143 

Sahara, 28, 48 

Sand-cart, 79 

Sand-storms, 85 

Setif, 64 

Sertius, 104 

Sfax, 173 

Shooting expeditions (by 

Lord Leigh) : — 

from Bou Saada, 48-51 

from Dar Fatma, 187- 

189 
from La Calle, 191-- 

194 

from Taorirt, 202-205 

Sidi Okbar, loi 
Slaves (British and others), 
152, 210, 211 



224 



Index 



1 



Sloughi dog, 80, 82 

Souk-el-Arba, 134 

Sousse, 178 

Spahi, 47j 213 

Stephens (chaffeur), 134, 201 

Storks, 206, 217 

Story-teller (at Touggourt), 

87 
Sword-swallowers, 171 

Tabarka, 186 
Taorirt, 203 
Teboursouk, 137, 140 
Tell, the, 3 
Temacin, 79, 82 
Terebinth trees, 21 
Theatres {see Roman re- 
mains) 
Tilrempt, 22, 42 
Timgad, visit to, 93-113 
Tizi-Oozou, 57 



Tombs (Marabouts'), 65, 

144 
Touggourt, 72-75 
Troglodyte country, 176, 
Troglodytes at Dougga, 
Tuaregs, 85 
Tunis, 141 

Bardo, 149 

Musee Alaoui, 155 

Souks, 141 

Turks, 117, 209-212 

Valentina, 105, 107-113 
Valentinian, in, 168 
Vandals, 1 01, 168 

Zaghouan, 150, 151 
Zaouia, 83 
Zarzis, 173 
Zouaves, 117, 213 



136, 



177 
139 



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