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beautiful in the light of morning: the mosque; the governor's palace; the Arab quarter; the villas of wealthy Algerines. He drifted away, then, and the Diplomat approached. He also had been in Algiers once before. He said: “Do you see that tower there on the hill-top?
That is the Kasba. It was in that tower that Hussein, the last Dey of Algiers, struck the French consul three times on the cheek with his fan—an act which led to the conquest of Algiers by France."
He went away, and I looked over the ship's side at the piratical-looking boatmen who were gathering to the attack. They were a picturesque lot—their costumes purely Oriental—their bare feet encased in shoes right out of the Arabian Nights pictures. I was just turning to remark these things to one of the Reprobates, the Colonel, when he said:
“Do you see that tower up there on the hill-top?”
"Colonel," I said, “you've been reading your guidebook, and I saw you the other day with a book called Innocents Abroad.”
He looked a little dazed.
"Nothing; only that tower seems to be another 'Queen's Chair. I've been to it several times in the guide-book myself, and I've already had it twice served up by hand. Let's don't talk about it any more, until we've been ashore and had a look at it.”
WE ENTER THE ORIENT
W E went ashore, in boats to the dock, then we
V stepped over some things, and under some things and walked through the custom-house (they don't seem to bother us at these places) and there were our carriages (very grand carriages-quite different from the little cramped jiggle-wagons of Gibraltar) all drawn up and waiting. And forthwith we found ourselves in the midst of the Orient and the Occident-a busy, multitudinous life, pressing about us, crowding up to our carriages to sell us postal cards and gaudy trinkets, babbling away in mongrel French and other motley and confused tongues.
What a grand exhibition it was to us who had come up out of the Western Ocean, only half believing that
such scenes as this—throngs of sun-baked people in fantastic dress—could still exist anywhere in the world! We were willing to sit there and look at them, and I kept my camera going feverishly, being filled with a sort of fear, I suppose, that there were no other such pictures on earth and I must catch them now or never.
We were willing to linger, but not too long. We got our first lesson in Oriental deliberation right there. Guides had been arranged for and we must wait for them before we could start the procession. They did not come promptly. Nothing comes promptly in the Orient. One does not hurry the Orient-one waits on it. That is a maxim I struck out on the anvil, whitehot, that first hour in Algiers, and I am satisfied it is not subject to change. The sun poured down on us; the turbaned, burnoused, barefooted selling-men rallied more vociferously; the Reprobates invented new forms of profanity to fit Eastern conditions, and still the guides did not come.
We watched some workmen storing grain in warehouses built under the fine esplanade that flanks the water-front, and the picture they made consoled us for a time. They were Arabs of one tribe or another and they wore a motley dress. All had some kind of what seemed cumbersome head-gear-a turban or a folded shawl, or perhaps an old gunny-sack made into a sort of hood with a long cape that draped down behind. A few of them had on thick European coats over their other paraphernalia.
We wondered why they should dress in this voluminous fashion in such a climate, and then we decided
that the wisdom of the East had prompted the protection of that head-gear and general assortment of wardrobe against the blazing sun. Our guides came drifting in by and by, wholly unexcited and only dreamily interested in our presence, and the procession moved. Then we ascended to the streets above-beautiful streets, and if it were not for the Oriental costumes and faces everywhere we might have been in France. .
French soldiers were discoverable all about; French groups were chatting and drinking coffee and other beverages at open-air cafés; fine French equipages rolled by with ladies and gentlemen in fashionable French dress. Being carnival-time, the streets were decorated with banners and festoons in the French colors. But for the intermixture of fezzes and turbans and the long-flowing garments of the East we would have said, “After all, this is not the Orient, it is France."
But French Algiers, “gay, beautiful, and modern as Paris itself” (the guide-book expression), is, after all, only the outer bulwark, or rather the ornate frame of the picture it encloses. That picture when you are fairly in the heart of it is as purely Oriental I believe as anything in the world to-day, and cannot have changed much since Mohammedanism came into power there a thousand years ago. But I am getting ahead too fast. We did not penetrate the heart of Algiers at once-only the outer edges.
We drove to our first mosque—a typical whitedomed affair, plastered on the outside, and we fought our way through the beggars who got in front of us