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OUT OF THE SUNRISE
I HAVE seen the shores of Africa and Spain! The 1 bath steward came very early, this morningearlier than usual. He had his reasons, but I had forgotten and was sleepy, so I said “No,” and tried to doze again. Then all at once from the deck there arose a swell of music-rich, triumphant musican orchestration of “Holy, Holy, Holy”—such a strain as one might expect to hear if the eternal gates should swing ajar. I remembered, then; it was Sunday morning -- but there was something more. Land! The land that lies on the other side of the ocean!
In a moment I was at my port-hole, which is on the starboard side. We had changed our course and were bearing more to the north. Directly in front of me the sun was rising. The east was a mass of glowing outlines-golden clouds and hilltops mingled. It was the Orient—that is what it was—the Far East; the sun rising over Africa! Something got hold of me then-I hardly know what. Certainly I was not unhappy; but then it was all so sudden and spectacular, and I had waited for it so long.
I do not remember how I got dressed; only for a moment at a time could I drag myself away from that port-hole. The sun rose higher-the outlines of Morocco became more distinct, but they did not lose their wonder of color—their glory of purple and gold. I realized now that the prospectuses had not exaggerated the splendor of the East, even on their gorgeous covers -that they could not do so if they tried. By the time I was on deck we were running close enough to the lofty shores to make out villages here and there and hilltop towers—the habitation and the watchtowers of the Moors. How eagerly and minutely one scanned these with the glass to distinguish the first sign of Oriental life—to get a glimpse of the reality of what had so long been but a romance and a dream. It was those people who had conquered Spain and built the Alhambra.
What was going on inside those curious flattopped houses and those towers ? Marvellous matters, no doubt, that had to do with nargileh and magic and scimiters and flying carpets and scarcely imperceptible nods to the executioner who always hovered among the draperies in the background. The Reprobates appeared and declared there was no romance anywhere in sight and never had been in that direction; that Morocco was just a place of wretched government and miserable people whose chief industries were laziness and crime. There are moments when I would be willing for this ship to sink to properly punish the Reprobates..
The Diplomat was better. He said there was as much romance and magic over there as ever, and more executioners; and the Diplomat knows. We would pass Ceuta, the African Pillar of Hercules, before long, he told us. The other pillar was the Rock of Gibraltar, which lay still farther ahead.
We went over to the other side of the ship presently, for we were overlooking the Bay of Trafalgar, where a little more than a hundred years ago Horatio Nelson died, after convincing the combined navies of France and Spain that it required something besides numbers to win a victory. Nelson went into that fight with thirty-two vessels, little and big, against forty of the combined fleets. He hoisted the signal, “England expects every man to do his duty,” and every man did it. One half of the combined fleets struck their colors, and the rest made off, or sank, and with them went Napoleon Bonaparte's scheme for invading England.
We looked out on the placid water, laughing in the Sunday morning sunlight, and tried to imagine those vanished fleets-stately ships of the line with their banks of guns; smart frigates and rakish cutters
—all that splendid concourse of black hull and towering canvas, and then the boom and the flash of gunsthe conflict and the glory of that morning so long ago. This much was real, and it was romance; not even the Reprobates could brush away the bloom.
The captain came by and pointed ahead to Tarifa, where the Barbary pirates a long time ago levied tribute on the merchants and added the word “tariff” to the dictionary. Their old castle has fallen into ruin, but the old industry still thrives, under the same name. Then we went back to starboard again for a look at Tangier, where, alas, we were not to land, because Algiers had been provided for us instead.
But now Gibraltar, the crouching lion of Trafalgar, had risen from the sea. The English call it “The Rock,” and that is just what it looks like-a big bowlder shaped like a sleeping lion-its head toward Spain, its tail toward Africa. I think most persons have an idea that the Rock lies lengthwise, east and
west-I know I thought so. Instead it lies north and south, and is really a stone finger pointed by Spain toward the African coast. It is Great Britain's pride
-it has cost enough for her to be proud of it—and is her chief stronghold.
About it are gathered her warships of to-daydark, low-browed fighters like our own—any one of them able to send to the bottom a whole fleet like Nelson's and the combined fleets besides. They look quiet enough, ugly enough, and drowsy enough, now. So does Gibraltar, but it is just as well, perhaps, not to twist the Lion's tail. We had no intention of doing so, and I don't see why they were so afraid of us. They wouldn't let us visit their shootinggalleries — the galleries where they keep their big guns, I mean; they wouldn't let us climb the Rock on the outside; they wouldn't even let us visit an old Moorish castle which stands about half-way up. Perhaps they thought we would spike their guns, or steal the castle, or blow up the Rock with infernal machines.
They did let us take carriages and drive along the main streets of the city, through a park or two and out to Europa Point, I think that was the place. We were interested, but not enthusiastic. After Madeira, one does not go mad over the beauties of Gibraltar. The vehicles were funny little affairs—Spanish, I suppose; the driver spoke the English of Gibraltaran English which nobody outside of Gibraltar, and only a few people there, can understand; the road was good; the flowers-bluebells, yellow daisies, dandelions and heliotropeall wild—were profuse and lavishly in bloom everywhere along the way. Had we come direct to Gibraltar, we should have raved over these things like enough, and we did rave a little, but it was a sort of placid ecstasy. Military hospitals and barracks and officers' quarters are not the kind of scenery to excite this crowd.
It was different, though, when we got to Europa Point. There, on one side rose the great Rock abruptly from the sea, while before us stretched the Mediterranean, all blue and emerald and iridescent,