Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed
Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added
by the transcriber.
_POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE_.
Vo. XI, No. 27.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A NEW ATLANTIS.
THE ROUMI IN KABYLIA.
A REMINISCENCE OF THE EXPOSITION OF 1867 by ITA ANIOL PROKOP.
SLAINS CASTLE by LADY BLANCHE MURPHY.
OUR HOME IN THE TYROL by MARGARET HOWITT.
SAINT ROMUALDO by EMMA LAZARUS.
A PRINCESS OF THULE by WILLIAM BLACK
CHAPTER VIII. "O TERQUE QUATERQUE BEATE!"
CHAPTER IX. "FAREWELL, MACKRIMMON!"
THE EMERALD by A.C. HAMLIN, M.D.
BERRYTOWN by REBECCA HARDING DAVIS.
BOWERY ENGLAND by WIRT SIKES.
DAY-DREAM by KATE PUTNAM OSGOOD.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
THE GLADSTONE FAMILY.
WHITSUNTIDE AMONG THE MENNISTS.
THE RAW AMERICAN by PRENTICE MULFORD.
FAREWELL by LUCY H. HOOPER.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
ATLANTIC CITY FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE.
UP THE INLET.
LANDING-PLACE ON THE INLET.
MR. RICHARD WRIGHT'S COTTAGE.
THE SENATE HOUSE.
ON THE SHINING SANDS.
MR. THOMAS C. HAND'S COTTAGE.
THE EXCURSION HOUSE.
A SCENE IN FRONT OF SCHAUFLER'S HOTEL.
ABD-EL-KADER IN KABYLIA.
AN AGHA OF KABYLIA HUNTING WITH THE FALCON.
THE DISCIPLES OF TOFAIL.
A KOUBBA, OR MARABOUT'S TOMB.
DEFILE OF THIFILKOULT.
AN ARAB MARKET.
POVERTY AND JEWELS.
GEORGE CHRISTY IN AFRICA.
A NEW ATLANTIS.
[Illustration: ATLANTIC CITY FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE.]
The New Year's debts are paid, the May-day moving is over and settled,
and still a remnant of money is found sticking to the bottom of the
old marmalade pot. Where shall we go?
There is nothing like the sea. Shall it be Newport?
But Newport is no longer the ocean pure and deep, in the rich severity
of its _sangre azul_. We want to admire the waves, and they drag us
off to inspect the last new villa: we like the beach, and they bid
us enjoy the gardens, brought every spring in lace-paper out of the
florist's shop. We like to stroll on the shore, barefooted if we
choose, and Newport is become an affair of toilette and gold-mounted
harness, a bathing-place where people do everything but bathe.
[Illustration: UP THE INLET.]
Well, Nahant, then, or Long Branch?
Too slow and too fast. Besides, we have seen them.
Suppose we try the Isles of Shoals? Appledore and Duck Island and
White Island, now? Or Nantucket, or Marblehead?
Too stony, and nothing in particular to eat. You ask for fish, and
they give you a rock.
In truth, under that moral and physical dyspepsia to which we bring
ourselves regularly every summer, the fine crags of the north become
just the least bit of a bore. They necessitate an amount of heroic
climbing under the command of a sort of romantic and do-nothing Girls
of the Period, who sit about on soft shawls in the lee of the rocks,
and gather their shells and anemones vicariously at the expense of
your tendon achilles. We know it, for we have suffered. We calculate,
and are prepared to prove, that the successful collection of a single
ribbon of ruffled seaweed, procured in a slimy haystack of red dulse
at the beck of one inconsiderate girl, who is keeping her brass heels
dry on a safe and sunny ledge of the Purgatory at Newport, may require
more mental calculation, involve more anguish of equilibrium, and
encourage more heartfelt secret profanity than the making of a
steam-engine or the writing of a proposal.
No, no, we would admire nothing, dare nothing, do nothing, but only
suck in rosy health at every pore, pin our souls out on the holly
hedge to sweeten, and forget what we had for breakfast. Uneasy daemons
that we are all winter, toiling gnomes of the mine and the forge--"O
spent ones of a workday age"--can we not for one brief month in our
year be Turks?
[Illustration: LANDING-PLACE ON THE INLET.]
Our doctors, slowly acquiring a little sense, are changing their
remedies. Where the cry used to be "drugs," it now is "hygiene." But
hygiene itself might be changed for the better. We can imagine a few
improvements in the materia medica of the future. Where the physician
used to order a tonic for a feeble pulse, he will simply hold his
watch thoughtfully for sixty seconds and prescribe "Paris." Where
he was wont to recommend a strong emetic, he will in future advise
a week's study of the works of art at our National Capital. For
lassitude, a donkey-ride up Vesuvius. For color-blindness, a course
of sunrises from the Rigi. For deafness, Wachtel in his song of "Di
quella Pira." For melancolia, Naples. For fever, driving an ice-cart.
But when the doctor's most remunerative patient comes along, the pursy
manufacturer able to afford the luxury of a bad liver, let him consult
the knob of his cane a moment and order "Atlantic City."
--Because it is lazy, yet stimulating. Because it is unspoilt, yet
luxurious. Because the air there is filled with iodine and the sea
with chloride of sodium. Because, with a whole universe of water,
Atlantic City is dry. Because of its perfect rest and its infinite
But where and what _is_ Atlantic City? It is a refuge thrown up by the
continent-building sea. Fashion took a caprice, and shook it out of
a fold of her flounce. A railroad laid a wager to find the shortest
distance from Penn's treaty-elm to the Atlantic Ocean: it dashed into
the water, and a City emerged from its freight-cars as a consequence
of the manoeuvre. Almost any kind of a parent-age will account for
Atlantis. It is beneath shoddy and above mediocrity. It is below
Long Branch and higher up than Cape May. It is different from any
watering-place in the world, yet its strong individuality might have
been planted in any other spot; and a few years ago it was nowhere.
Its success is due to its having nothing importunate about it. It
promises endless sea, sky, liberty and privacy, and, having made you
at home, it leaves you to your devices.
[Illustration: CONGRESS HALL.]
Two of our best marine painters in their works offer us a choice of
coast-landscape. Kensett paints the bare stiff crags, whitened with
salt, standing out of his foregrounds like the clean and hungry
teeth of a wild animal, and looking hard enough to have worn out the
painter's brush with their implacable enamel. From their treeless
waste extends the sea, a bath of deep, pure color. All seems keen,
fresh, beautiful and severe: it would take a pair of stout New England
lungs to breathe enjoyably in such an air. That is the northern coast.
Mr. William Richards gives us the southern--the landscape, in fact,
of Atlantic City. In his scenes we have the infinitude of soft silver
beach, the rolling tumultuousness of a boundless sea, and twisted
cedars mounted like toiling ships on the crests of undulating
sand-hills. It is the charm, the dream, the power and the peace of the
And here let us be indulged with a few words about a section of our
great continent which has never been sung in rhyme, and which it
is almost a matter of course to treat disparagingly. A cheap and
threadbare popular joke assigns the Delaware River as the eastern
boundary of the United States of America, and defines the out-landers
whose homes lie between that current and the Atlantic Ocean as
foreigners, Iberians, and we know not what. Scarcely more of an exile
was Victor Hugo, sitting on the shores of Old Jersey, than is the
denizen of _New_ Jersey when he brings his half-sailor costume and his
beach-learned manners into contrast with the thrift and hardness of
the neighboring commonwealth. The native of the alluvium is another
being from the native of the great mineral State. But, by the very
reason of this difference, there is a strange soft charm that comes
over our thoughts of the younger Jersey when we have done laughing
at it. That broad, pale peninsula, built of shells and crystal-dust,
which droops toward the south like some vast tropical leaf, and
spreads its two edges toward the fresh and salt waters, enervated with
drought and sunshine--that flat leaf of land has characteristics that
are almost Oriental. To make it the sea heaved up her breast, and
showed the whitened sides against which her tides were beating. To
walk upon it is in a sense to walk upon the bottom of the ocean. Here
are strange marls, the relics of infinite animal life, into which
has sunk the lizard or the dragon of antiquity--the gigantic
_Hadrosaurus_, who cranes his snaky throat at us in the museum,
swelling with the tale of immemorial times when he weltered here in
the sunny ooze. The country is a mighty steppe, but not deprived of
trees: the ilex clothes it with its set, dark foliage, and the endless
woods of pine, sand-planted, strew over that boundless beach a murmur
like the sea. The edibles it bears are of the quaintest and most
individual kinds: the cranberry is its native condiment, full of
individuality, unknown to Europe, beautiful as a carbuncle, wild as
a Tartar belle, and rife with a subacid irony that is like the wit of
[Illustration: MR. RICHARD WRIGHT'S COTTAGE.]
Here is the _patate douce_, with every kind of sweet-fleshed gourd
that loves to gad along the sand--the citron in its carved net,
and the enormous melon, carnation-colored within and dark-green to
blackness outside. The peaches here are golden-pulped, as if trying to
be oranges, and are richly bitter, with a dark hint of prussic acid,
fascinating the taste like some enchantress of Venice, the pursuit of
whom is made piquant by a fancy that she may poison you. The farther
you penetrate this huge idle peninsula, the more its idiosyncrasy
is borne in on your mind. Infinite horizons, "an everlasting wash of
air," the wild pure warmth of Arabia, and heated jungles of dwarf oaks
balancing balmy plantations of pine. Then, toward the sea, the wiry
grasses that dry into "salt hay" begin to dispute possession with
the forests, and finally supplant them: the sand is blown into
coast-hills, whose crests send off into every gale a foam of flying
dust, and which themselves change shape, under pressure of the same
winds, with a slower imitation of the waves. Finally, by the gentlest
of transitions, the deserts and the quicksands become the ocean.
[Illustration: THE SENATE HOUSE.]
The shore melts into the sea by a network of creeks and inlets,
edging the territory (as the flying osprey sees it) with an inimitable
lacework of azure waters; the pattern is one of looping channels
with oval interstices, and the dentellated border of the commonwealth
resembles that sort of lace which was made by arranging on glass
the food of a silk-spinning worm: the creature ate and wove, having
voracity always before him and Fine Art behind him. Much of the
solider part of the State is made of the materials which enter into
glass-manufacture: a mighty enchanter might fuse the greater portion
of it into one gigantic goblet. A slight approximation to this work
of magic is already being carried on. The tourist who has crossed
the lagoons of Venice to see the fitful lights flash up from the
glass-furnaces of Murano, will find more than one locality here where
leaping lights, crowning low banks of sand, are preparing the crystal
for our infant industries in glass, and will remind him of his hours
by the Adriatic. Every year bubbles of greater and greater beauty
are being blown in these secluded places, and soon we hope to enrich
commerce with all the elegances of latticinio and schmelze, the
perfected glass of an American Venice.
But our business is not with the land, but the sea. Here it lies,
basking at our feet, the warm amethystine sea of the South. It does
not boom and thunder, as in the country of the "cold gray stones."
On the contrary, saturating itself with sunny ease, thinning its bulk
over the shoal flat beach with a succession of voluptuous curves, it
spreads thence in distance with strands and belts of varied color,
away and away, until blind with light it faints on a prodigiously far
horizon. Its falling noises are as soft as the sighs of Christabel.
Its colors are the pale and milky colors of the opal. But ah! what an
impression of boundlessness! How the silver ribbon of beach unrolls
for miles and miles! And landward, what a parallel sea of marshes,
bottoms and dunes! The sense of having all the kingdoms of the world
spread out beneath one, together with most of the kingdoms of the
mermen, has never so come to one's consciousness before. And again,
what an artist is Nature, with these faint washes and tenderest varied
hues--varied and tender as the flames from burning gases--while her
highest lights (a painter will understand the difficulty of _that_)
are still diaphanous and profound!
One goes to the seaside not for pomp and peacock's tails, but for
saltness, Nature and a bite of fresh fish. To build a city there that
shall not be an insult to the sentiment of the place is a matter of
difficulty. One's ideal, after all, is a canvas encampment. A range of
solid stone villas like those of Newport, so far as congruity with
a watering-place goes, pains the taste like a false note in music.
Atlantic City pauses halfway between the stone house and the tent, and
erects herself in woodwork. A quantity of bright, rather giddy-looking
structures, with much open-work and carved ruffling about the eaves
and balconies, are poised lightly on the sand, following the course
of the two main avenues which lead parallel with the shore, and the
series of short, straight, direct streets which leap across them and
run eagerly for the sea. They have a low, brooding look, and evidently
belong to a class of sybarites who are not fond of staircases. Among
them, the great rambling hotel, sprawling in its ungainly length here
and there, looks like one of the ordinary tall New York houses that
had concluded to lie over on its side and grow, rather than take
the trouble of piling on its stories standing. In this encampment of
wooden pavilions is lived the peculiar life of the place.
[Illustration: ON THE SHINING SANDS.]
We are sure it is a sincere, natural, sensible kind of life, as
compared with that of other bathing-shores. Although there are brass
bands at the hotels, and hops in the evening, and an unequal struggle
of macassar oil with salt and stubborn locks, yet the artificiality is
kept at a minimum. People really do bathe, really do take walks on the
beach for the love of the ocean, really do pick up shells and throw
them away again, really do go yachting and crab-catching; and if they
try city manners in the evening, they are so tired with their honest
day's work that it is apt to end in misery. On the hotel piazzas you
see beauties that surprise you with exquisite touches of the warm and
languid South. That dark Baltimore girl, her hair a constellation of
jessamines, is beating her lover's shoulders with her fan in a state
of ferocity that you would give worlds to encounter. That pair of
proud Philadelphia sisters, statues sculptured in peach-pulp and
wrapped in gauze, look somehow like twin Muses at the gates of a
temple. Whole rows of unmatched girls stare at the sea, desolate but
implacable, waiting for partners equal to them in social position. In
such a dearth a Philadelphia girl will turn to her old music-teacher
and flirt solemnly with him for a whole evening, sooner than involve
herself with well-looking young chits from Providence or New York,
who may be jewelers' clerks when at home. Yet the unspoiled and fruity
beauty of these Southern belles is very striking to one who comes
fresh from Saratoga and the sort of upholstered goddesses who are
served to him there.
Some years ago the Surf House was the finest place of entertainment,
but it has now many rivals, taller if not finer. Congress Hall, under
the management of Mr. G.W. Hinkle, is a universal favorite, while the
Senate House, standing under the shadow of the lighthouse, has the
advantage of being the nearest to the beach of all the hotels. Both
are ample and hospitable hostelries, where you are led persuasively
through the Eleusinian mystery of the Philadelphia cuisine.
Schaufler's is an especial resort of our German fellow-citizens, who
may there be seen enjoying themselves in the manner depicted by our
artist, while concocting--as we are warned by M. Henri Kowalski--the
ambitious schemes which they conceal under their ordinary _enveloppe
[Illustration: MR. THOMAS C. HAND'S COTTAGE.]
There is another feature of the place. With its rarely fine
atmosphere, so tonic and bracing, so free from the depressing fog
of the North, it is a great sanitarium. There are seasons when the
Pennsylvania University seems to have bred its wealth of doctors
for the express purpose of marshaling a dying world to the curative
shelter of Atlantic City. The trains are encumbered with the halt and
the infirm, who are got out at the doors like unwieldy luggage in
the arms of nurses and porters. Once arrived, however, they display
considerable mobility in distributing themselves through the three or
four hundred widely-separated cottages which await them for hire. As
you wander through the lanes of these cunning little houses, you catch
strange fragments of conversation. Gentlemen living vis-a-vis, and
standing with one leg in the grave and the other on their own piazzas,
are heard on sunny mornings exciting themselves with the maddest abuse
of each other's doctor. There are large boarding-houses, fifty or more
of them, each of which has its contingent of puling valetudinarians.
The healthy inmates have the privilege of listening to the symptoms,
set forth with that full and conscientious detail not unusual with
invalids describing their own complaints. Or the sufferers turn their
batteries on each other. On the verandah of a select boarding-house we
have seen a fat lady of forty lying on a bench like a dead harlequin,
as she rolled herself in the triangles of a glittering afghan. On a
neighboring seat a gouty subject, and a tropical sun pouring on both.
"Good-morning! You see I am trying my sun-bath. I am convinced it
relieves my spine." The same remark has introduced seven morning
"And my gout has shot from the index toe to the ring toe. I feared my
slipper was damp, and I am roasting it here. But, dear ma'am, I pity
you so with your spine! Tried acupuncture?"
[Illustration: THE THOROUGHFARE.]
The patient probably hears the word as Acapulco. For she answers, "No,
but I tried St. Augustine last winter. Not a morsel of good."
Among these you encounter sometimes lovely, frail, transparent girls,
who come down with cheeks of wax, and go home in two months with
cheeks of apple. Or stout gentlemen arriving yellow, and going back in
due time purple.
Once a hardened siren of many watering-places, large and blooming,
arrived at Atlantic City with her latest capture, a stooping invalid
gentleman of good family in Rhode Island. They boated, they had
croquet on the beach, they paced the shining sands. Both of them
people of the world and past their first youth, they found an
amusement in each other's knowing ways and conversation that kept them
mutually faithful in a kind of mock-courtship. The gentleman, however,
was evidently only amusing himself with this travesty of sentiment,
though he was never led away by the charms of younger women. After a
month of it he succeeded in persuading her for the first time to
enter the water, and there he assisted her to take the billows in the
gallant American fashion. Her intention of staying only in the very
edge of the ocean he overruled by main force, playfully drawing her
out where a breaker washed partially over her. As the water touched
her face she screamed, and raised her arm to hide the cheek that had
been wet. She then ran hastily to shore, and her friend, fearing some
accident, made haste to rejoin her. His astonishment was great at
finding one of her cheeks of a ghastly, unhealthy white. Her color had
always been very high. That afternoon she sought him and explained.
She was really an invalid, she said calmly, and had recently undergone
a shocking operation for tumor. But she saw no reason for letting that
interfere with her usual summer life, particularly as she felt youth
and opportunity making away from her with terrible strides. Having
a chance to enjoy his society which might never be repeated, fearing
lest his rapid disease should carry him away from before her eyes, she
had concluded to make the most of time, dissemble her suffering, and
endeavor to conceal by art the cold bloodlessness of her face. This
whimsical, worldly heroism happened to strike the gentleman strangely.
He was affected to the point of proposing marriage. At the same time
he perceived with some amazement that his disease had left him: the,
curative spell of the region had wrought its enchantment upon his
system. They were wedded, with roles reversed--he as the protector and
she as the invalid--and were truly happy during the eighteen months
that the lady lived as his wife.
[Illustration: THE EXCURSION HOUSE.]
There are prettier and more innocent stories. Every freckle-nosed girl
from the Alleghany valleys who sweeps with her polka-muslin the
floors of these generous hotels has an idyl of her own, which she is
rehearsing with young Jefferson Jones or little Madison Addison. In
the golden afternoons they ride together--not in the fine turn-outs
supplied by the office-clerks, nor yet on horse-back, but in guiltless
country wagons guided by Jersey Jehus, where close propinquity is a
delightful necessity. Ten miles of uninterrupted beach spread before
them, which the ocean, transformed for the purpose into a temporary
Haussmann, is rolling into a marble boulevard for their use twice a
day. On the hard level the wheels scarcely leave a trace. The ride
seems like eternity, it lapses off so gentle and smooth, and the
landscape is so impressively similar: everywhere the plunging surf,
the gray sand-hills, the dark cedars with foliage sliced off sharp and
flat by the keen east wind--their stems twisted like a dishclout or
like the olives around Florence.
[Illustration: A SCENE IN FRONT OF SCHAUFLER'S HOTEL.]
Or she goes with Jefferson and Madison on a "crabbing" hunt. Out in
a boat at the "Thoroughfare," near the railroad bridge, you lean over
the side and see the dark glassy forms moving on the bottom. It is
shallow, and a short bit of string will reach them. The bait is a
morsel of raw beefsteak from the butcher's, and no hook is necessary.
They make for the titbit with strange monkey-like motions, and nip it
with their hard skeleton ringers, trying to tuck it into their mouths;
and so you bring them up into blue air, sprawling and astonished, but
tenacious. You can put them through their paces where they roost under
water, moving the beef about, and seeing them sidle and back on
their aimless, Cousin Feenix-like legs: it is a sight to bring a
freckle-nosed cousin almost into hysterics. But one day a vivacious
girl had committed the offence of boasting too much of her skill
in crab-catching, besides being quite unnecessarily gracious to Mr.
Jefferson Jones. Then Mr. Madison Addison, who must have been reading
Plutarch, did a sly thing indeed. The boat having been drawn unnoted
into deeper water, a cunning negro boy who was aboard contrived
to slide down one side without remark, and the next trophy of the
feminine chase was a red _boiled_ crab, artificially attached to a
chocolate caramel, and landed with mingled feelings by the pretty
fisherwoman. Then what a tumult of laughter, feigned anger and
becoming blushes! It is said that that crimson shell, carved into
a heart-shape of incorrect proportions, is worn over Mr. Jones's
diaphragm to this day.
At the Inlet, which penetrates the beach alongside the lighthouse,
is draught for light vessels, and the various kinds of society which
focus at Atlantic City may be seen concentrated there on the wharf any
of these bright warm days. A gay party of beauties and aristocrats,
with a champagne-basket and hamper of lunch, are starting thence for
a sail over to Brigantine Beach. Two gentlemen in flannel, with guns,
are urging a little row-boat up toward the interior country. They will
return at night laden with rail or reed-birds, with the additional
burden perhaps of a great loon, shot as a curiosity. Others, provided
with fishing-tackle, are going out for flounder. Laughing farewells,
waving handkerchiefs and the other telegraphic signs of departure, are
all very gay, but the tune may be changed when the great sailing-party
comes back, wet and wretched, and with three of the principal beauties
limp as bolsters on the gentlemen's hands with sea-sickness.
Another spirited scene takes place at five in the morning--an hour
when the city beauties are abed with all that tenacity of somnolence
which characterizes Kathleen Mavourneen in the song. The husbands and
brothers, who are due in the city before business hours, are out for
a good, royal, irresponsible tumble in the surf. There is the great
yeasty bath-tub, full of merry dashing figures, dipping the sleek
shoulder to the combing wave. On the shore, active humanities hastily
undressing. Then the heavens are filled with a new glory, and the
dazzling sun leaves his bath at the same time with all these merry
roisterers who have shared it with him. He takes up his line of
business for the day, and so do the good husbands and brothers, first
going through a little ceremony of toilet from which he is exempt.
Thus does the New Atlantis provide for her republic, holding health to
her children with one hand, and shaking from the other an infinity of
toys and diversions; while for those of more thoughtful bent the
sea turns without ceasing its ancient pages, written all over with
The great architect of the city was the Power who graded those
streets of immaculate sand, and who laid out that park of mellow,
foam-flowered ocean. Its human founders have done what seemed suitable
in providing shelter for a throng of fitful sojourners, not forgetting
to put up six neat and modest churches, where suitable praise and
adoration may be chanted against the chanting of the sea. In several
respects the place grows somewhat curiously. For instance, a lawn of
turf is made by the simple expedient of fencing off the cattle: the
grass then grows, but if the cows get in they pull up the sod by the
roots, and the wind in a single season excavates a mighty hollow where
the grassy slope was before. So much for building our hopes on
sand. An avenue of trees is prepared by the easy plan of thrusting
willow-stems into the ground: they sprout directly, and alternate
with the fine native cedars and hollies in clothing the streets with
shadow. Several citizens, as Mr. Richard Wright and Mr. Thomas C.
Hand, whose handsome cottages are tasteful specimens of our seaside
architecture, have been tempted by this facility of vegetable life
at Atlantic City to lay out elaborate gardens, which with suitable
culture are successful. Fine avenues of the best construction lead off
to Shell Beach or to the single hill boasted by the locality. Finally,
remembering the claims of the great democracy to a wash-basin, the
aediles invited Tom, Dick and Harry, and set up the Excursion or
Sea-View House, with its broad piazzas, its numberless facilities
for amusement, and its enormous dining-hall, which can be changed on
occasion into a Jardin Mabille, with flowers and fountains.
To a great city all the renovating and exhilarating qualities of
sea-breezes and sea-bathing are but as the waters of Tantalus, unless
the place which offers these advantages be easy of access. In this
respect Atlantic City has for Philadelphia a superiority over all
its rivals. The Camden and Atlantic Railroad, to whose secretary and
treasurer, Mr. D.M. Zimmermann, we are indebted for much information,
has simply drawn a straight line to the coast, which may be reached in
an hour and three-quarters from Vine street wharf. The villages on
the route, like the seaside terminus, owe their existence to the road,
which is now reaping the reward of a far-sighted enterprise.
THE ROUMI IN KABYLIA.
[Illustration: ABD-EL-KADER IN KABYLIA.]
A noble life, whose course belongs to the subject of these pages, is,
while they are preparing, apparently drawing to a close. The
severe illness now reported of Abd-el-Kader, coming upon old age,
disappointment, war and the lassitude of a great purpose foiled, can
have but one result. Dimmed to-day, as our hurrying century so rapidly
dims her brightest renowns, Abd-el-Kader's existence has only to cease
and his memory will assume the sacred splendor of the tomb.
Hapless Washington of a betrayed revolution! In these latter days of
enforced quiet in Palestine how his early scenes of African experience
must have flooded his mind!--his birth, sixty-six years ago, in a
family group of Moslem saints; the teachings of his beautiful mother
Leila and of his marabout father; his pilgrimage when eight years old
to Mecca, and his education in Italy; his visions among the tombs, and
the crown of magic light which was seen on his brows when he began to
taste the enchanted apple; then, with adolescence, the burning sense
of infidel tyranny that made his home at Mascara seem only a cage,
barred upon him by the unclean Franks; and soon, while still a youth,
his amazing election as emir of Mascara and sultan of Oran, at a
moment when the prophet-chief had just four _oukias_ (half-dimes) tied
into the corner of his bornouse!
"God will send me others," said young Abd-el-Kader.
[Illustration: AN AGHA OF KABYLIA HUNTING WITH THE FALCON.]
The tourist remembers the trinity-portrait of him, by Maxime David, in
the Luxembourg Gallery at Paris, where his face, framed in its white
hood, is seen in full, in profile and in three-quarters view. The
visage is aquiline, olive-tinted, refined; but we can describe it
more authentically in the terms of one of his enemies, Lieutenant
de France, who became his prisoner in 1836, and who followed his
movements for five months, taking down his daily talk and habits like
a Boswell, but leaving nothing in his narrative that is not to the
sultan's credit. Of Abd-el-Kader at twenty-eight the lieutenant says:
"His face is long and deadly pale, his large black eyes are soft
and languishing, his mouth small and delicate, and his nose rather
aquiline: his beard is thin, but jet-black, and he wears a small
moustache, which gives a martial character to his soft, delicate face,
and becomes him vastly. His hands are small and exquisitely formed,
and his feet equally beautiful." Every interlocutor leaves a similar
portrait, impressing upon the mind the image of some warrior-saint of
the Middle Ages, born too late, and beating out his noble fanaticism
against our century of machines and chicanery.
[Illustration: THE DISCIPLES OF TOFAIL.]
Himself, according to some accounts, a Berber, the young marabout
early saw the importance of inducing the Kabyles to join with him
and his Arabs in expelling the French. He affiliated himself with the
religious order of Ben-abd-er-Rhaman, a saint whose tomb is one of the
sacred places of Kabylia; and it is certain that the college of this
order furnished him succor in men and money. He visited the Kabyles in
their rock-built villages, casting aside his military pomp and coming
among them as a simple pilgrim. If the Kabyles had received him
better, he could have shown a stouter front to the enemy. But the
mountain Berbers, utterly unused to co-operation and subordination,
met him with surprise and distrust.
[Illustration: A KOUBBA, OR MARABOUT'S TOMB.]
At least, such is the account of General Daumas: in this interesting
relation we are forced to depend on the French. Daumas, amply provided
with documents, letters and evidence, has arranged in his work on _La
Grande Kabylie_ the principal evidence we possess of this epoch of
The chief appeared in 1836 at Bordj-Boghni and at Si-Ali-ou-Moussa
among the mountains. The Kabyle tribes visited him in multitudes. He
addressed them at the door of his tent, and these rude mountaineers
found themselves face to face with that saintly sallow visage,
those long gazelle eyes and the prophetic countenance framed in its
apostolic beard. Raising his arms in the attitude of Raphael's Paul at
Lystra, he said simply, "I am the thorn which Allah has placed in the
eye of the Franks. And if you will help me I will send them weeping
into the sea."
But when it came to a demand for supplies, the Kabyles, says Daumas,
"You have come as a pilgrim," said their amins, "and we have fed you
with kouskoussu. If you were to come as a chief, wishing to lay his
authority on us, instead of white kouskoussu we should treat you to
black kouskoussu" (gunpowder).
Abd-el-Kader, without losing the serenity of the marabout, argued with
the Kabyles, and succeeded in obtaining their reverence and adhesion;
but when he mounted his horse to go the amins significantly told him
to come among them always as a simple pilgrim, demanding hospitality
and white kouskoussu.
[Illustration: KABYLE MEN.]
At Thizzi-Ouzzou he met the tribe of Ameraouas, who promised to submit
to his authority as soon as the fractions surrounding that centre
should do so. The Sons of Aicha received him with honor and games of
horsemanship. At the camp of Ben Salem the chiefs of several tribes
came to render homage to the noble marabout, descendant of Berber
ancestry and of the Prophet. From thence he sought tribes still more
wild, discarding his horse and appearing among the villagers as a
simple foot-pilgrim. The natives approached him in throngs, each
family bearing a great dish of rancid kouskoussu. Laying the platters
before his tent and planting their clubs in them, all vociferated,
"Eat! thou art our guest;" and the chieftain was constrained to taste
of each. Finally, near Bougie he happened to receive a courier sent by
the French commandant. The Kabyles immediately believed him to be in
treasonable communication with the enemy, and he was forced to retire.
The young chief was in fact at that time in peaceful communication
with the French, having made himself respected by them in the west,
while they were attending to the subjugation of Constantina and
founding of Philippeville in the east. Protected by the treaty
of Taafna in 1837, Abd-el-Kader was at leisure to attempt the
consolidation of his little empire and the fusion of the jealous
tribes which composed it. The low moral condition of his Arabs, who
were for the most part thieves and cowards, and the rude individuality
of his Kabyles, who would respect his religious but scoff at his
political claims, made the task of the leader a difficult one. To the
Kabyles he confided the care of his saintly reputation, renouncing
their contributions, and asking only for their prayers as a Berber
and as a khouan of the order of Ben-abd-er-Rhaman. For a few years his
power increased, without one base measure, without any soilure on the
blazon of increasing prosperity. In 1840 the sultan of Oran, at the
zenith of his influence, swept the plains beneath the Atlas with his
nomad court, defended by two hundred and fifty horsemen. Passing his
days in reviewing his troops and in actions of splendid gallantry, he
resumed the humility of the saint at evening prayers: his palace of a
night received him, watched by thirty negro tent-guards; and here he
sheltered his lowly head, whose attitude was perpetually bowed by
the habitual weight of his cowl. The French soon became jealous, and
encroached upon their treaty. The duke of Orleans, we are told, had
Abd-el-Kader's seal counterfeited by a Jewish coiner at Oran, and
with passports thus stamped sent scouting-parties toward the sultan's
dominions, protected by the sultan's forged safe-conduct. Open
conflict followed, and a succession of French razzias. In 1845,
Colonels Pelissier and St. Arnaud, under Marshal Bugeaud, conducted
that expedition of eternal infamy during which seven hundred of
Abd-el-Kader's Arabs were suffocated in a cave-sanctuary of the Dahra.
This sickening measure was put in force at a _cul-de-sac_, where a few
hours' blockade would have commanded a peaceful surrender.
[Illustration: KABYLE WOMEN.]
"The fire was kept up throughout the night, and when the day had fully
dawned the then expiring embers were kicked aside, and as soon as
a sufficient time had elapsed to render the air of the silent cave
breathable, some soldiers were directed to ascertain how matters were
within. They were gone but a few minutes, and then came back, we
are told, pale, trembling, terrified, hardly daring, it seemed, to
confront the light of day. No wonder they trembled and looked
pale! They had found all the Arabs dead--men, women, children,
all dead!--had beheld them lying just as death had found and left
them--the old man grasping his gray beard; the dead mother clasping
her dead child with the steel gripe of the last struggle, when all
gave way but her strong love."
Abd-el-Kader's final defeat in 1848 was due less to the prowess of
Lamoriciere and Bugeaud than to the cunning of his traitorous ally,
the sultan of Morocco, who, after having induced many of the princely
saint's adherents to desert, finally drove him by force of numbers
over the French frontier. Confronting the duke of Aumale on the
Morocco borders, he made a gallant fight, but lost half his best men
in warding off an attack of the Mencer Kabyles. Fatigued now with a
long effort against overwhelming pressure, and world-weary, he met
the duke at Nemours, on the sea-coast close to the Morocco
line. Depositing his sandals, Arab-fashion, outside the French
head-quarters, he awaited the duke's signal to sit down.
"I should have wished to do this sooner," said the broken chief, "but
I have awaited the hour decreed by Allah. I ask the aman (pardon) of
the king of the French for my family and for myself."
Louis Philippe could not come in contact with this pure spirit without
an exhibition of Frankish treachery, like tinder illuminating
its foulness at the striking of steel. The sultan's surrender was
conditioned on the freedom to retire to Egypt. The French government
no sooner secured him than it treacherously sent him to prison, first
to the castle of Pau, then to that of Amboise near Blois, where he was
kept from 1848 to 1852, when the late emperor made an early use of
his imperial power to set him at liberty. Since his freedom, at
Constantinople, Broussa and Damascus the ex-sultan has continued to
practice the rigors and holiness of the Oriental saint, proving his
catholic spirit by protecting the Christians from Turkish injustice,
and awaiting with the deep fatigue of a martyr the moment destined to
unite his soul with the souls of Washington, Bozzaris and L'Ouverture.
This noble life, which impinges a moment on our course through
Kabylia, is surely the most epical of our century, which can never
be reproached for the lack of a hero while Abd-el-Kader's name is
[Illustration: DEFILE OF THIFILKOULT.]
The descent from the rock-perched city of Kalaa having been made in
safety, and the animals being remounted at the first plateau, our
Roumi traveler and his guides arrive in a few hours at the modern,
fortified, but altogether Kabylian stronghold of Akbou. Here a letter
from a French personage of importance gives us the acquaintance of a
Kabyle family of the highest rank.
The ancestors of Ben-Ali-Cherif, remotely descended from Mohammed
through one of his sisters, were of Kabylian race, and one of them,
settled in Chellata, near Akbou, founded there a prosperous college of
the Oriental style. Ben-Ali-Cherif, born in Chellata and residing at
Akbou, receives the tourist with a natural icy dignity which only a
czar among the sovereigns of Europe could hope to equal: those who
have but seen Arabs of inferior class can form no notion of the
distinction and lofty gravity of the chiefs of a grand house (or of a
grand tent, as they are called): the Kabyle noble is quite as superb
as the Arab.
Ben-Ali seats us at a rich table covered with viands half French and
half Oriental: a beautiful youth, his son, resembling a girl with his
blue head-drapery and slim white hands, places himself at table,
and attracts the conversation of the guest. The young man answers
in monosyllables and with his large eyes downcast, and the agha
significantly observes, "You will excuse him if he does not answer: he
is not used to talk before his father."
The host, disposing of the time of his guests, has arranged a series
of diversions. The valley of the river Sahel is full of boars, and
panthers and monkeys abound in the neighboring spurs of the Zouaouas.
While the Roumi are examining his orchards of oranges and pomegranates
the agha's courtyard fills with guests, magnificent sheikhs on Barbary
horses, armed with inlaid guns. These are all entertained for the
night, together with the usual throng of parasites, who choke his
doors like the clients of the rich Roman in Horace.
At sunrise the party is mounted. The mare of the agha, a graceful
creature whose veins form an embroidery over her coat of black satin,
is caparisoned with a slender crimson bridle, and a saddle smaller
than the Arab saddles and furnished with lighter stirrups. The
Christian guests are furnished with veritable arquebuses of the Middle
Ages; that is to say, with Kabyle guns, the stock of which, flattened
and surmounted with a hammer of flints, is ignited by a wheel-shaped
lock, easier to be managed by a Burgundian under Charles the Bold than
by an unpretending modern Roumi.
The usual features of an Algerian hunt succeed. A phantom-like silence
pervades the column of galloping horsemen up to the moment when the
boar is beaten up. Then, with a formidable clamor of "_Haou! haou!_"
from his pursuers, the tusked monster bursts through the tamarinds and
dwarf palms: after a long chase he suddenly stops, and then his form
instantly disappears under the gigantic African hounds who leap upon
him and hang at his ears. A huntsman dismounts and stabs his shoulder
with the yataghan. After a rest the chase is resumed, but this time
under the form of a hawking-party.
Only the djouads and marabouts--that is to say, the religious or
secular nobles--have the privilege of hunting with the falcon.
The patrician bird, taken by the agha from the shoulder of his
hawk-bearer, is about as large as a pigeon, the head small, beak short
and strong, the claws yellow and armed with sharp talons. The bird
rides upon his master's leather glove until a hare is started: then,
unhooded and released, his first proceeding is to dart into the zenith
as if commissioned to make a hole in the sky. No fear, however, that
the poor panting quarry is lost for an instant from the vision of that
infallible eye, which follows far aloft in the blue, invisible and
fatal. Soon the cruel bird drops like an aerolite, and, as the deed is
explained to us, doubles up his yellow hand into a fist, and deals the
animal a sharp blow on the skull. Directly, as the horsemen approach,
he is found with his obtuse head bent over his prey, digging out its
eyes by the spoonful.
By noontide the troop is naturally famished. A luncheon, has, however,
been prepared by the thoughtfulness of the agha. Riding up to a tent
which appears as by magic in the wilderness, the provisions for a
sumptuous repast are discovered. Two fires are burning in the open
air, and are surrounded by a host of servants or followers. The Roumi
and their host adjourn from the neighborhood of the preparations, and
are served under a plane tree beautiful as that whose limbs were hung
by Xerxes with bracelets. A soup, absolutely set on fire with red
pepper, introduces the repast: pancakes follow, and various meats
smothered with eggs or onions. Then two half-naked cooks stagger
up bearing on a wooden dish, under a gold-bordered napkin, a sheep
roasted entire and still impaled with the spit. The chief cook takes
hold of the skewer and draws it violently toward himself, applying
a smart stroke with his naked heel to the tail of the creature--a
contact which would seem almost as trying as the ancient ordeal of
the ploughshares, or as the red-hot horseshoes which the fire-eating
marabouts are accustomed to dance upon. The Roumi travelers taste
the succulent viand, taste again, eat till ashamed, and are ready to
declare that never was mutton properly dressed before. If possible,
they vow to introduce the undissected roast, the bonfire, the spit
and the cook with imperturbable heel into the cuisine of less-favored
lands more distant from the sun.
[Illustration: AN ARAB MARKET.]
Champagne, which the cunning Mussulmans do not consider as wine,
washes the meal, and coffee and pale perfumed tobacco supplement it.
But when the appetite has retired and permitted some sharpness to the
ordinary senses, the travelers are amazed at the gradual and silent
increase which has taken place in their numbers. Every group of guests
is augmented by a circle of prone and creeping forms that, springing
apparently from the earth, are busily breaking the fragments of the
feast under the care of the servitors, who appear, rather to encourage
than repel them. Ben-Ali-Cherif, being interrogated, replies calmly,
"They are Tofailians."
The Tofailian is a parasite on system, an idler who elevates his belly
into a divinity, or at least a principle. His prophet or exemplar is a
certain Tofail, whose doctrine is expressed in a few practical rules,
respectfully observed and numerously followed. "Let him who attends
a wedding-feast," says one of his apophthegms, "having no invitation,
avoid glancing here and there dubiously. Choose the best place. If the
guests are numerous, pass through boldly without saluting any one, to
make the guests of the bride think you a friend of the bridegroom, and
those of the groom a friend of the bride."
An Arab poet said of Tofail: "If he saw two buttered pancakes in a
cloud, he would take his flight without hesitation."
A Tofailian of marked genius once learned that a festival was going
on at a grand mansion. He ran thither, but the door was closed and
entrance impossible. Inquiring here and there, he learned that a son
of the house was absent on the Mecca pilgrimage. Instantly he procured
a sheet of parchment, folded it, and sealed it as usual with clay: he
rolled his garments in the dust and bent his spine painfully over a
long staff. Thus perfect in what an actor would call his reading, he
sent word to the host that a messenger had arrived from his son. "You
have seen him?" said the delighted Amphitryon, "and how did he bear
his fatigues?" "He was in excellent health," answered the Tofailian
very feebly. "Speak, speak!" cried the eager father, "and tell me
every detail: how far had he got?" "I cannot, I am faint with hunger,"
said the simple fellow. Directly he was seated at the highest place of
the feast, and every guest admired that splendid appetite--an appetite
quite professional, and cultivated as poulterers cultivate the
assimilative powers of livers. "Did my son send no letter?" asked the
poor father in a favorable interval caused by strangulation. "Surely,"
replied the good friend, and, comprehending that the critical moment
had arrived, he drew to himself a chine of kid with one hand while he
unwound the letter from his turban with the other. The seal was still
moist, and the pilgrim had not found time to write anything on the
parchment. "Are you a Tofailian?" asked the host with the illumination
of a sudden idea. "Yea, in truth, verily," said the stranger,
struggling with his last mouthful. "Eat, then, and may Sheytan trouble
thy digestion!" The parasite was shown the door, but he had dined.
Men of rank and wealth, like Ben-Ali-Cherif, turn the Tofailian into a
proverb, and thus laugh at a plague they cannot cure.
[Illustration: POVERTY AND JEWELS.]
The Algerine coast has enriched our language with at least two words,
respectively warlike and peaceful--_razzia_ and _fantasia_. The latter
is applied to a game of horsemanship, used to express joy or to honor
a distinguished friend. A spirited fantasia is organized by the guests
of the agha on returning to Akbou. Twenty of the best-mounted horsemen
having gone on before, and being completely lost to sight in the
whirlwind of dust created by their departure, all of a sudden
reappear. Menacing their host and his companions like an army, they
gallop up, their bornouses flying and their weapons flashing, until
at a few paces they discharge their long guns under the bodies of the
horses opposite, and take flight like a covey of birds. Loading
as they retire and quickly forming, again they dash to the charge,
shouting, galloping, and shooting among the legs of their host's fine
horses: this sham attack is repeated a score or two of times, up
to the door of the agha's house. The Bedouins, in their picturesque
expression, are making the powder talk. Finer horsemanship can nowhere
be seen. Their horses, accustomed to the exercise, enter into the game
with spirit, and the riders, secure in their castellated saddles, sit
with ease as they turn, leap or dance on two feet. Used, too, from
infancy to the society of their mares, they move with them in a degree
of unity, vigor and boldness which the English horseman never attains.
The Arab's love for his horse is not only the pride of the cavalier:
it is an article of faith, and the Prophet comprehended the close
unity between his nation and their beasts when he said, "The blessings
of this world, up to the day of judgment, shall be suspended to the
locks which our horses wear between their eyes."
[Illustration: GEORGE CHRISTY IN AFRICA.]
Truly the Oriental idea of hospitality has its advantages--on the side
of the obliged party. This haughty ruler, on the simple stress of
a letter from a French commandant, has made himself our servant and
teased his brain for devices to amuse us. His chief cook precedes us
to his birthplace at Chellata, to arrange a sumptuous Arab supper.
After a ride made enervating by the simoom, we descend at the arcaded
and galleried Moorish house where Ben-Ali-Cherif was born, and are
visited by the sheikh of the college which the agha maintains. It is
a strange, peaceful, cloistered scene, consecrated to study and
hospitality. Chellata, white and silent, sleeps in the gigantic shadow
of the rock Tisibert, and in its graveyard, among the tombs of sacred
marabouts, walk the small bald-headed students reciting passages
of law or of the Koran. Algeria is dotted over with institutions
(_zaouias_) similar to this, which, like monasteries of old,
combine the functions of seminaries and gratuitous inns. That of
Ben-Ali-Cherif, to which he contributes from his own purse a sum equal
to sixteen thousand dollars a year, is enshrined in buildings strewn
around the resting-place of his holy ancestors. The sacred koubba (or
dome) marking the bones of the marabout is swept by shadows of oak
and tamarind trees: professors stray in the shadow, and the pupils con
their tasks on the adjoining tombstones.
Every impression of Chellata is silvered over, as with a moonlight of
beneficence, by the attentions of Ben-Ali's house-steward, who rains
upon our appetites a shower of most delicious kouskoussu, soothes us
with Moorish coffee, and finishes by the politeness of lighting and
taking the first whiff of our cigarette--a bit of courtesy that might
be spared, but common here as in parts of Spain.
With daybreak we find the town of Chellata preparing to play its
role as a mart or place of industry. The labor seems at first sight,
however, to be confined to the children and the women: the former lead
the flocks out at sunrise to pasture in the mountain, the women make
the town ring with their busy work, whether of grinding at the mill,
weaving stuff or making graceful vases in pottery. The men are at work
in the fields, from which they return at nightfall, sullen, hardy and
silent, in their tattered haiks. These are never changed among the
poor working-people, for the scars of a bornouse are as dignified as
those of the body, and are confided with the garment by a father to
his son. The women, as we have remarked before, are in a state of
far greater liberty than are the female Arabs, but it is more than
anything else the liberty to toil. Among these mountaineers the wife
is a chattel from whom it is permissible to extract all the usefulness
possible, and whom it is allowable to sell when a bargain can be
struck. The Kabyle woman's sole recreation is her errand to the
fountain. This is sometimes situated in the valley, far from the
nodding pillar or precipice on which the town is built. There the
traveler finds the good wives talking and laughing together, bending
their lively--sometimes blonde and blue-eyed--faces together over
their jars, and gossiping as in Naples or as in the streets around
Notre Dame in Paris. The Kabyles--differing therein from the
Arabs--provide a fountain for either sex; and a visit by a man to the
women's fountain is charged, in their singular code of penal fines,
"inspired by Allah," a sum equal to five dollars, or half as much as
the theft of an ox.
By the white light of day-dawn we quit Chellata, with the naked crests
of the Djurjura printing themselves on the starry vault behind us and
the valley below bathed in clouds. As we descend we seem to waken the
white, red-roofed villages with our steps. The plateaus are gradually
enlivened with spreading herds and men going forth to labor. We skirt
the precipice of Azrou-n'hour, crowned with its marabout's tomb. The
plains at our feet are green and glorious, pearled with white, distant
villages. Opposite the precipice the granite rocks open to let us pass
by a narrow portal where formerly the Kabyles used to stand and levy
a toll on all travelers. This straitened gorge, where snow abounds in
winter, and which has various narrow fissures, is named the Defile
of Thifilkoult: it connects the highways of several tribes, but is
impassable from December to April from the snow and the storms which
rage among the cliffs. We are still four thousand feet above the
plain, whose depth the swimming eye tries in vain to fathom, yet the
snowy peaks above us are inaccessible. Descending chains of rocks
mingled with flint and lime, we attain a more clement landscape.
Kabyle girls crowd around a well called the Mosquitoes' Fountain, a
naked boy plays melancholy tunes on a reed, and the signs of a lower
level are abundant in the fields of corn and orchards of olive. But
the rugged mountains, in whose grasp we have found so many wonders,
are not left without regret. The most picturesque part of our
course is now behind us, and as day dies upon our crossing through
Iferaouenen, we turn back to behold the fine line of the mountains,
half sad and regretful,
While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.
Fourteen expeditions were found necessary by the French between 1838
and 1857 to subdue the Kabyles, who under leaders such as Ben-Salem,
Ben-Kassim, the Man-with-the-Mule, the Man-with-the-She-Ass, and other
chiefs less celebrated, defended their territory step by step. In the
great chastisement of 1857, Marshal Randon, after subduing this part
of the Djurjura ridge in detail, determined to preserve the fruits of
victory by two new constructions--a fort and a military road. France
was to reside among her unwilling colonists, and she was to possess
an avenue of escape. The building of these two conveniences, as we
may call them, over the smoking ruins of victory, was a conspicuous
example of the excellent engineering genius of the nation. An English
officer, Lieutenant-colonel Walmsley, witnessed, and has left a
spirited account of, the great conquest, and the immediate improvement
of it. The strongholds of the Djurjura (it being May, 1857) were
taken: the most difficult, Icheriden, was soon to fall, yielding
only to the assault of the Foreign Legion--that troop of Arabs and of
Kabyles from the Zouaoua plain wherefrom we derive the word _zouave_.
Marshal Randon selected for his fort the key of the whole district: it
was a place known as the Souk-el-Arba ("Market of Wednesday"). It was
in the heart of the Beni Raten land, and in a spot where three great
mountain-ridges ran down into the plain of the Sebaou. These ridges,
subdued and friendly, would be held in respect by the garrison of the
fort, and the other ridge of Agacha, still rebellious, would likewise
terminate at the fort. The works were immediately laid out and quickly
built. As the road sprang into its level flight like magic, the
peeping Kabyles, perfectly unaware that they were conquered, laughed
in derision. "It is to help the cowards to run away," they said. In
due time rose the pale walls of the citadel, with mountains above and
hills below. The Kabyles call it the White Phantom. Their songs, the
"traditions" of illiterate tribes, recite the building of the terrible
stronghold: "The Roumi has arrived at the Market: he is building
there. Weep, O my eyes! tears of blood. The children of Raten are
valiant men: they are known as masters of the warlike art. They fell
upon the enemy at Icheriden. The Franks fell like lopped branches.
Glory to those brave men! But the Roumi has peeled us like seeds. The
powder talks no more. The warlike men are fainting. Cover thyself with
mourning, O my head!"
As the tourist turns the summit of Aboudid suddenly appears, like an
ornamental detail in a panorama, this vast fortress, originally
named Fort Napoleon, and since the collapse of the empire called Fort
National. During the French troubles of 1871, in the month of August,
General Ceres was obliged to inspire terror by burning the village of
Thizzi-Ouzzou beneath, and then went on to relieve the fort. When the
next opportunity will occur for the Beni Raten to assert their rights
it is impossible to tell. We descend from the fort, and all becomes
commonplace. The charred ruins of Thizzi-Ouzzou in its valley-bed are
being replaced by new buildings. All wears a look of every-day thrift.
The Arab, moving his household goods, drives before him his poor
dingy wife, loaded down with worthless valuables and also with copper
jewels, in which she clanks like a fettered slave. A negro musician
from the Desert, a true African minstrel, capers before us and beats
the tom-tom, until, distracted with his noise, we pay him and bombard
him off the face of the road with projectiles.
From Thizzi-Ouzzou to Algiers it is but four hours' journey, and
the four hours are passed in a diligence. Yes, our circumstances are
subdued to the conditions of the diligence! Adieu, our spahi guides,
like figures from _Lalla Rookh!_ Adieu, our dream of an African
Switzerland! The Roumi, outside of Kabylia, quickly fades into the
light of common day, and becomes plain Tom or Harry.
A REMINISCENCE OF THE EXPOSITION OF 1867.
"And you traveled alone?"
"There were two of us--Annie Foster and I."
"You found no difficulty?"
"Not a bit," she replied laughing.
"But you had adventures: I see it in your face."
"Who would travel without adventures?" and she made an expressive
"Hm!--_tant soit peu_."
"I am all attention: begin."
"You promise not to tell?"
"Not for the world: torture could not induce me to divulge a single
"Well, the way it came about was this: Annie and I had been sent from
England to a small French town on the coast, for the benefit of the
warm sea-water baths. It was a quaint little port; all the houses
reminded you of ships in their fitting up; the beds were set into the
wall like berths; closets were stowed away in all sorts of impossible
places; the floors were uncarpeted and white as a main deck; and
articles from distant countries hung about the walls or stood in the
corners--East Indian sugar-cane, cotton from America, Chinese
crockery and piles of sea-shells. The great sea by which we lodged was
represented everywhere. Our food was fish, shrimps and water-fowl--our
acquaintance, fishermen, shrimpers and sailors. The leading event of
the day was the coming in and going out of the tide, and ducks and
geese were the chief domestic animals. On one side was a prospect of
wind-tossed waves and the sails of ships, on the other wind-beaten
fields and the sails of mills: the few cabins that had rashly ventured
beyond the protection of the village shortly lost courage, and, with
their thatched roofs not a yard from the earth, seemed crouching low
to avoid the continuous blasts. The church alone on the high sea-wall
raised itself fearlessly against the tyrant, and though his baffled
voice still howled without, within the pious prayed securely before a
faith-inspiring altarpiece of Christ stilling the tempest.
"In a few weeks, after we had exhausted every amusement that the dull
town afforded, become intimate with all the old gossips, tired of
listening to the yarns of the pilot-tars off duty, driven the donkeys
over the country until they instinctively avoided us whenever
we appeared, sailed in the bay and suffered periodic attacks of
sea-sickness therefrom, finished the circulating library, and half
learned some barbarous sentences of Norman patois, we sat down
disconsolate one afternoon to devise some means of employing the
remainder of our time. It was then that the bright idea struck Annie,
and she exclaimed, 'Let us go to the Paris Exposition!'
"'Just the thing!' I answered with enthusiasm. 'I wonder when the next
"'I'll go and inquire: you begin and pack the trunks. If we can get
off to-day, by to-morrow morning we can begin seeing it;' and she left
the room in great excitement.
"The result was, that by seven o'clock that evening we had made our
hasty preparations, and were ready to set out. It was raining terribly
when the only hack of the village (which, by the by, was an omnibus)
called for us at the door. The dripping fluid oozed and sparkled over
the blinking lamps, the ribbed sides of the antiquated machine were
varnished with moisture, and the horses looked as if each hair was a
water-spout to drain the sky. Noah's patriarchal mansion might
have presented a similar appearance during the first days of that
celebrated wet season.
"The motherly woman with whom we had been boarding turned dismally
from the weather to her invalids and tried to dissuade us from leaving
that night, little understanding that we considered it 'fun.' As
a parting advice she told us to call each other _madame_: it would
procure us more consideration. 'For you know, young ladies,' she
remonstrated mildly, 'it is not quite proper for you to travel alone.'
After this prudent counsel and many warm adieus we sallied forth.
"The omnibus was crowded, and I had perforce to sit on Annie's knees.
This, with the jolting, the queer effect of the half-light in the
rickety interior, together with the expression of the good people, who
evidently could see no fun in rain, excited my risibility so strongly
that I indulged in a smothered laugh, tempered to fit the publicity of
"'You must not laugh in France,' whispered Nan, pulling my dress.
"'I thought the French admired gayety,' I answered in the same tone.
"'Be quiet: it isn't proper.'
"The rest of the way was accomplished in silence. We soon arrived
at the station and bought our tickets. Of course we had half a dozen
bundles: in gathering them up a most gentlemanly person accosted us
and asked, 'Avez vous perdu quelque chose, mademoiselle?'
"Annie replied in the negative with great dignity, and so cut off any
chance of adventure in that quarter.
"On came the train. In France there is fortunately a provision made
for women traveling without an escort. In your country they have, I
believe, smoking-cars especially for the gentlemen: in that blessed
land there is a compartment for 'ladies alone,' or _Dames Seules,_
as it is called. A good American once read this inscription with much
commiseration, _D---- souls_, and returning told his friends that the
'wicked' French allowed His Satanic Majesty the right of running a
special car on their roads for his greater accommodation.
"As we were hastening to this most desired refuge I noticed two very
student-looking young men walking near us, and caught a bit of their
"'They won't: a bottle of wine on it we go up in the same car with
"'I told you so!'
"As we found our car and entered the students passed on, not daring to
ignore the magic words on the door; so Adventure No. 2 was nipped in
"Nan and I were the only lady-passengers, and we sank back into the
soft cushions with the pleasant sense that no further effort would
be needed during the journey. We had been told that the train would
arrive in Paris about midnight, but the lateness of the hour caused
us no uneasiness, as we had been there before and remembered the city
pretty well; and, besides, we thoroughly believed in our ability to
take care of ourselves.
"In an interval of wakefulness we discussed our plans, and concluded
to spend the night at some hotel near the station, the next morning
looking up our friends (several of whom we knew to be in town) and
consulting them about our future proceedings, feeling that a midnight
visit from us would scarcely be welcome to any one. Annie recalled a
fine-looking hotel just opposite the terminus, and, having made our
selection in its favor, we dozed off again very comfortably.
"I think we had been on the way some four hours when the welcome
lights began to appear--first in the sky above the city, as if the
earth in this favored spot threw out rays like the sun; next through
the darkness over the country below; and then we plunged tunnel-wise
into the earth under the busy streets and fortifications, to emerge at
the end of our route.
"We gathered up our bundles in haste, thanking the stars that we had
accomplished our ride so safely, and were walking off to the hotel
when we suddenly thought of the trunks. Another consultation was held,
and we decided to leave them in the baggage-room until morning.
"'But we must go and see that they are safe,' suggested Annie.
"'Where is the baggage-room?' I asked of a porter.
"'This way, mademoiselle.'
"'Madame!' I ventured to correct in a weak voice.
"'Vos clefs, s'il vous plait,' said a polite official as we entered
the door, and another laid hands on the satchels we carried, to
"We had entirely forgotten the octroi officers. 'Oh my! this affair
may keep us another half hour,' thought I, 'and I am so sleepy!' I
have often found (I confide this to you as an inviolable secret) that
to be unreasonable is a woman's strongest weakness: it is a shield
against which man's sharpest logic is invariably turned aside. The
next thing to there not being a necessity, is not seeing a necessity,
and this I prepared in the most innocent manner to do.
"'Gracious me!' I exclaimed--or its French equivalent, which I suppose
is 'Mon Dieu'--'you don't mean to detain us here opening those bags,
and we so tired, and they packed so full that we could scarcely shut
them; and if you _do_ open them, we cannot get all the things into
them again, and shall have no end of trouble!' Then I looked as
injured as if they had been thieves or highway-men.
"Had a man made this speech they would have mistrusted him, but as
women have a reputation for shallowness, such talk is never thought
suspicious in them.
"'What do they contain?' asked the officer, hesitating.
"'I don't know what all: we have been at the sea-side, and they are
full of trash. There are some shells and an old hat in mine, and--and
"He tried to conceal a smile, and looked toward the other, who nodded,
and we saw the welcome 'O' put on in chalk, upon which the bags were
given back to us.
"'Now the trunks,' said the first who had spoken, holding out his hand
for the keys.
"'Oh, we are going to leave them here till to-morrow: they are all
right--you can mark them too;' and without further ceremony we moved
toward the door. One of the men stepped after us. I thought it was to
make us return, but it was only to ask if he should get us a carriage.
"We thanked him and replied that we were going to the hotel opposite,
and did not need one: he then turned to a person who seemed to be the
porter of the establishment, and told him to carry our satchels for
us. Now we felt our journey was well at an end, for the windows of our
welcome asylum were blazing not more than a hundred feet off.
"We crossed the street, rang at the ladies' entrance and asked for
rooms. After a few moments the servant returned, and, much to our
chagrin, said that there were none to be had, every corner was full.
"'Do let us see the clerk. We _must_ have a room: you can surely find
us one somewhere.'
"The man shook his head.
"'Please go and try,' we insisted: 'we shall be satisfied with
anything for the night. Won't you go and ask again?'
"'It is of no use,' he answered obstinately, a cause de l'Exposition;'
and he opposed a shrug of his shoulders to every other effort at
persuasion that we made.
"Just then a chambermaid passed. 'Do come here,' I called. 'Can't you
find us a room? I will pay you;' and I put my hand significantly in my
"'Very sorry, ladies, but it is impossible,'
"This was a contingency we had not provided for: we looked at each
other blankly, and, though loath to do so, we both came to the
conclusion that they were telling the truth.
"'What shall we do?' asked Annie, speaking to me in English.
"'I suppose we shall have to take a carriage and go down town, after
"'They may be full there too,' she said in a rueful tone.
"Just then the porter with our satchels spoke: 'There is another hotel
near, ladies, and if you will come I will show you to it,'
"I consulted Annie with a look, and she assented. Any prospect was
better than a midnight drive of several miles, with no certainty as to
our lot at the end of it. So we turned from the inhospitable door and
followed our guide.
"The latter walked quickly for perhaps a square, stopped before a
neat-looking house and rang. Our courage rose as the door opened and
revealed a clean-looking court surrounded by orange trees in boxes,
with small coffee-tables under them for the convenience of the guests.
"'Rooms for two ladies!' demanded our attendant with the voice of a
"The trim but sleepy servant looked at us a moment, as if not
comprehending the situation, then slowly pronounced our sentence in
two words, 'No rooms!' and as if to emphasize them threw up the palms
of his hands, shook his head and added 'Full!' after which he closed
the door with a hasty click and returned to his nap.
"Our night-errant was visibly disappointed with this reception--not
more so than we were--but without allowing us time to speak he said
in his most reassuring voice, 'Never mind, ladies: there are plenty
of hotels about here, and we shall soon find lodgings for you.' Having
undertaken the task, he seemed to think it his duty to comfort and
provide for us.
"Alas! this was not soon accomplished. Two other hotels were
successively tried in vain, and still our indefatigable guide went
on. It appeared as if we had walked a considerable distance, but the
streets cut each other at odd angles, and we had been turning so often
that I confess I had but little idea where we were, or how far we had
come, when we entered a quarter where the ways became narrower, passed
into a dingy alley, thence plunged through a still darker court, from
that to another alley, and the next moment our porter was ringing at
the door of a tall, sombre house. I truly hoped that we should not
find rooms here, and was turning to Annie to advise a cab and an
attempt in a more civilized-looking locality, when the bell was
answered and the old question repeated.
"To my surprise and dismay the servant said they could accommodate us.
Should we stay? I knew that in the older parts of Paris the best of
houses are sometimes found in the poorer streets, and that in no city
is a person less able to judge of the interior comfort of a building
by its external aspect. We were very tired, and should we turn away
from this open door where should we find another open for us? The
porter, however good-natured, could not continue to run about with us
all night, and our faith in ourselves was considerably diluted since
we left the cars: even a cab might be difficult to get at this hour
of the night. Annie did not object: indeed, she looked too worn out to
have an opinion in the matter, and as I could think of nothing better
to do, I began to make the usual inquiries: 'Have you two adjoining
"I remembered the advice that had been given us on starting: here
surely was a place to use it, so I said to the servant in a marked
tone, 'Take _madame's_ bag and show us to our chambers.'
"'This way, mesdemoiselles,' he answered with the most provoking
"I dismissed our faithful porter with regret, and followed the
other up stairs. While ascending I racked my brain to determine
what peculiarity of manner we could adopt that would give us a more
matronly air while traveling, but I could think of nothing. I may as
well tell you now that we never for an instant deceived any one on
this subject during our stay, and we soon ceased trying to do so.
"Our rooms were much better than I had expected to find them, but even
this caused in me a feeling of doubt. They had a hypocritical air, a
grasping after appearances that I believe always accompanies deceit
and imposition--a sleek shabbiness that I detest. I knew by instinct
that if I examined I should find the carpets worn out under the mats,
and the chairs faded beneath their smart chintz covers. There was not
a candid-looking piece of furniture in the apartment: the table was an
impostor with one short leg; the drawers of the bureau would not open;
the glasses were all askew, and twisted your face to such a degree
that it frightened you to catch a glimpse of yourself in passing. But
this was not the worst: from the moment I entered the rooms I felt
that they _had been waiting for us_.
"I did not venture to mention my suspicions to Annie, and tried to
keep up a cheery sort of conversation while we undressed, but I could
see that she too began to be uneasy. We carefully inspected our doors,
and found the locks were good, then looked to see that there was no
one lurking under the beds. It would be difficult to tell you exactly
what I feared, but somehow everything impressed me as mysterious--the
quiet of the streets through which we had come, and the quiet of the
house. It was such a lonely, eerie kind of place: our feet echoed
on the stairways as if human feet seldom ascended them; the shadows
appeared especially dark; our candles' small light made little
impression on the gloom; the very air seemed harder to breathe than
ordinary; and on recalling the face of the impertinent servant I
thought that it had a sinister look.
"I tried to recall whether we were in a good or bad faubourg, but
could not; and then I remembered that Paris was now divided into
arrondissements, which had a much less ill-omened sound. I went to the
window to reconnoitre the locality, but, though the rain had ceased,
darkness covered all so thickly that I could see nothing. As I stood
there the clock on the station struck, first the quarters, and then
_one_, in a doleful, muffled tone. It told me one thing I was glad
to know--namely, that we could not have wandered very far during our
walk; but there was little comfort in that, after all, since the walk
had terminated here.
"Stories that I had read of strange adventures and accidents to
midnight guests now trooped into my head. I thought of one in
particular, in which the tester of the bed slowly descended to smother
the sleeping inmate for purposes of robbery; whereupon I minutely
examined mine, and found to my satisfaction that it was scarcely able
to discharge the single duty of holding up the curtains, and looked
most innocent of further intentions. Finding myself again peering into
corners I had already searched, and feeling this general unrest to
be growing upon me, I began to think I must be nervous from
over-exertion, and determined to get rid of my silly fancies in sleep.
Then, as if to take myself by surprise, I suddenly blew out the light,
sprang under the covers and shut my eyes tight, afraid that something
hateful might glare upon me in the dark.
"Just then Annie came to the communicating doorway, and with an effort
to speak in her natural voice she said, 'Jane, I am going to
sleep here.' And as if this endeavor had consumed her last bit of
resistance, she closed and locked the door quickly, ran to my bed and
threw herself shivering beside me.
"'What is the matter?' I whispered, feeling my presentiment of evil
"She put her lips to my ear and answered, 'I found a door in my room
behind the bed-curtains, and it leads I don't know _where_."
"'Did you open it?'
"'No indeed! I would not open it for the world. There might be
something horrible in it;' and she shuddered.
"'You have left your light burning.'
"'I don't care. I won't go back: no indeed, I _could_ not.' There
was silence for a few minutes: neither of us moved, when Nan again
whispered, 'Do you think this room quite safe?'
"'I looked all around before I blew out the light.'
"'Did you look _behind_ your curtains?'
"'No!' I answered with an uncomfortable sensation.
"'You are next the wall: feel along it,' in her most persuasive voice.
"The very idea made me creep. Put my hand behind those curtains and
touch--what? Even the cold wall would be sufficient to terrify me. For
reply I remarked suggestively, 'If we had the light we could see.'
"'Yes, that would be just the thing. Go bring it--do!'
"I felt that something must be done, and soon, or I should be in no
state to accomplish it. If Nan would not go, I must: when we had the
light half our trouble would be over, and, after all, she might have
"'Did the door move?' I ventured to ask.
"'No, it didn't do anything--at least I don't think it did--but it
_looked_ so awful that it frightened me.'
"'That light in there may set something on fire,' I remarked.
"'Go fetch it: it will only take you a minute. Do go!'
"'You are sure the door didn't open?' I asked, far from liking my
"'I will go with you half-way,' she volunteered, 'and stand there
while you run in quick. Come on, and don't let us talk any more about
it: we shall only get more and more frightened.' You will see that
Annie's gifts lay more in persuasion than in action.
"Thus adjured, I went with her to the communicating door, cautiously
listened, then looked through the keyhole. The silence within was
oppressive, but the flickering bougie warned me that I must make an
effort, and without allowing myself time to think I hastily turned the
key and opened the door.
"At that moment it seemed to me that I heard distant footsteps. I
rushed for the light and turned to go back, when I ran against some
one: the candle was extinguished by being jerked from the holder to
the floor, and a hand which I vainly tried to shake off clasped my
arm. My blood grew thick and still with sudden terror. I tried to
speak, but could not. What increased my dread was that I could not
tell whether the _Thing_ by my side was a reality or a spectre. I had
caught a glimpse of something white as the light disappeared, and I
believe that a pistol at my head would have caused me less alarm than
this horrible idea of the supernatural. I began to feel that I could
endure it no longer, that I should stifle, should die, when Annie's
voice spoke in the darkness quite near, and I found it was she who had
grasped my arm.
"'I could not stay in that room alone,' she whispered. 'Don't you
hear?--_footsteps!_ They are coming.'
"'You have half frightened me to death,' I murmured trembling: 'I
thought you were something.'
"'No, I ain't anything, but something _is_ coming. Don't you hear?'
"It was true enough. Through the quiet of the house came stealthy
footsteps. Nearer, nearer. They were ascending the stairs, at times
delaying an instant, as if groping for the way, then on.
"'Come into your room,' said Annie convulsively: 'come, and we can
lock ourselves in. Oh, where _is_ your door? I cannot find it, and
they are coming. What shall we do? what shall we do?'
"We were in total darkness: not a ray of light came from the window,
and in our confusion we had lost our bearings. Neither of us had the
least idea in what direction the other room lay.
"'Let us creep along the floor, perhaps we may find it. Do try,' said
"'No, no, I cannot move. I wish we had never come. I am dying.' She
was shaking with fright, and would not leave my arm for an instant.
"Just then, from somewhere near us, we could not tell from what
side, came a long low whistle, so mournful and unearthly, with such a
summons in its tone, that I shivered: then a faint movement followed
from the same place.
"'It is a signal for the other,' gasped Annie: 'it is in that door:
they are coming, they are here. Shall I scream murder? shall I?'
giving my arm an emphasizing grip.
"'No, no, wait: it will do no good.'
"She groaned, slipped down on her knees, with one arm still round
me, her face pressed against my side, holding her other hand over the
unprotected ear, so that she should hear no more; and in this position
she began to repeat 'Now I lay me down to sleep' just as fast as she
could gabble it.
"I was no less frightened, and would willingly have crouched down
also, but she held me so tight that I could not without a struggle,
and above all things I did not want to make a noise.
"It was thus we awaited the crisis. The steps were certainly coming to
our room, but whether by the door we had entered or by the one Annie
had seen behind the bed, I could not tell. I was too bewildered to
locate the sound, nor did I know whether the bed was at my right or
left hand. I had a slight hope that the steps might pass on.
"It was for that I waited.
"They came--near, nearer. For a time my heart ceased beating. Annie
slipped lower, until she lay on the floor, and I could no longer hear
her breathe. My whole being was merged in listening to that step. I
could feel that now it was on a level with our room--was there almost
beside us. Lightly though distinctly a hand passed over the door, as
if fumbling for the latch. This was the intense moment. Had the person
paused or hesitated an instant, I think it would have killed us both.
But no, he did not falter. Steadily on, the step, guided by the hand,
went as it had come, and as I stood, not daring to move, I heard it
receding in the distance of the great house. Then all was silence.
"When sensation returned to me I felt as if I had awakened from a
nightmare, and found myself shaking from the nervous reaction and the
cold. I stooped to find poor Nan on the floor, and said through my
chattering teeth, 'It must have been only a late boarder. Don't be
afraid. It is all over: come, get up.'
"'Can't you get a light?' she begged. 'I cannot move until you have a
light. I am still afraid.'
"I now remembered that the bureau must be behind me, for I had merely
turned when I encountered Annie and dropped the candle. There were
probably matches upon it: yes, there they were. I struck one and
easily found the candle: then Annie rose with the meekest air
possible, and, without looking at the obnoxious corner where the bed
stood, we walked into the other room and locked the door.
"It was not until the gray morning light crept into the window that we
felt quite safe. Every crack in the floor or nibbling mouse caused us
to start, and at each quarter the clock of the station would strike
as if to warn us to be on the alert. But the bed was not bad, and the
house remained quiet; and as soon as the dawn made our candle useless,
we began to think we had been very foolish, and the result was a sound
"When we awoke it was ten o'clock: the morning was bright and clear,
and the terrors of the night had all departed during our refreshing
rest. The room certainly looked shabby, but if that were a crime, half
the houses in the world would be sent to prison. There was nothing in
the least mysterious about it. Our courage rose with the day, and we
teased and joked each other about our fright. Then, anticipating the
glories of the Exposition, we congratulated ourselves that we had
"'We won't breakfast here,' said Annie as she was dressing: 'we will
go down town to a nice restaurant, and sit at a window and see the
people go by. Afterward we will look up our friends and find a good
hotel or boarding-house; and we _must_ go to the Exposition this very
day. We shall have a famous time. We can make up parties to drive out,
and go monument-hunting and sight-seeing, and to the theatre. Ain't
you glad you came?'
"'The first thing we do must be to go back to the station and leave
these bags with our trunks until we find lodgings,' I remarked.
"Nan went into the next room to get some of the clothing she had left
there. When she returned, lowering her voice she said, 'Jane, there
_is_ a door behind my curtains.'
"'Very well, let it alone: I suppose it is a closet.'
"'No such thing: it don't look like a closet; and why would they hide
a closet, I should like to know? Come in and see it.'
"She walked back, and as I followed drew the curtain aside, and there
in fact it was.
"'I am going to open it before I leave the room,' she said in a
determined tone: 'there is something not right about it.'
"'I wouldn't,' I remonstrated: 'some one may be in there.'
"'I am going to see: I must look into it. It is daylight, you know,
and we sha'n't be much frightened. Help me to push away the bed.'
"'I won't do anything so absurd. This is a hotel, Annie, and there
must be plenty of adjoining rooms in it. Suppose that room is now
occupied by a boarder?'
"'If it is occupied they will lock the door on the other side, and I
will try the latch softly to see; but I know it is not. Don't you
see that the only entrance must be from here? There is the entry.
opposite, and here is the court: now, how could any one get into it
but through this room? It must be a small place, too, for here is
the corner of the house, and it has been evidently planned to be kept
"'No matter: we have no right to any rooms but these we are in. Come
away, and let well enough alone.'
"'It is not "well enough," as you call it. I am going to see into
it, and why they hide it. I declare,' and she examined the door
critically, 'it looks like the entrance to Bluebeard's chamber. Look
at these queer marks, these dents and stains, as if there had been
a struggle. It is our duty to investigate;' and her voice grew
impressive. 'Perhaps we have been brought here for that very purpose,
and, Jane, if there _is_ a dead body in there, I shall inform the
police.' Annie was very brave in daylight.
"'Fiddle-de-dee!' I replied to this fine speech. 'What you call duty,
I call curiosity. I am ravenously hungry, and I wish you would finish
dressing and let us get to breakfast.'
"'I will just tell you this,' she answered indignantly, and yet with a
quiver in her voice, 'I never in my life felt as I did last night when
I saw that door. It was quite like what people write of a mysterious
influence, or the presence of some one unseen; and that whistle or
voice or moan, as if a soul was calling, came from here; and you must
help me to find out what it really was, for I can't go away without
"I saw it was useless to try longer to dissuade her. The bed moved
easily: she took my hand and led me behind it; then warily tried the
latch. It rose, but she was obliged to lean all her weight against the
door before it would give way, and finally it opened so unexpectedly
that she almost fell forward.
"What did I see? At the first glimpse a faint light from a cobwebbed
window, a narrow room and a floor--red. Was it blood? A sickening
mouldy smell came forth, but as I forced myself to look again I saw
that it was only red tiles that had startled me. There was an upright
brick range in a corner, an old water-tank, some shelves and a
cupboard. A missing pane of glass left a space through which the air
had entered and moaned up the broad-mouthed flue that opened above
the range. This was the ominous 'signal' we had heard in answer to the
footsteps. The dust was thick over everything, and the only signs
of life were the rat-tracks on the floor. We stood still for a few
moments, overwhelmed at this solution of the occult 'influence' that
had so subtly acted on Annie's nerves, and filled me with no less
"The house had been built for a _hotel garni_; that is, a house with
furnished rooms or apartments, something like a tenement-house in your
country. This was the kitchen of the suite, and belonged to the two
rooms we had taken. Being unused for its proper object, and too small
for a bed-chamber, it had been closed, and appeared as if it had been
unentered for years. I turned to Annie to see how she would bear this
prosaic explanation of our alarm, but with the air of one who had
expected nothing but this from the beginning, she remarked, 'Now you
see how much better it is to look into such things. This room would
have furnished me with bad dreams for the remainder of my life, and
here I find it is only a commonplace kitchen. Think how ludicrous to
have the horrors over a kitchen! Sha'n't I tell of your fright when
we get home--how you didn't want to open the door, and wanted to 'let
well enough alone'? The place _might_ be haunted by the ghost of
a chicken or a rabbit, but, my dear, you should not allow that to
"'Perhaps it was the ghost of a chicken that you feared last night,
and that caused your presentiments this morning. I hope you will
inform the police of what you have discovered here,' I remarked
"'A truce, a truce, good Jane! I will say no more. We were both
boobies. But wouldn't it be 'cute to live here, you and me, and make
our own breakfast? Look at the hole for charcoal, and the little
cupboard, the nails for the pots and pans to hang on: everything is
complete. That room could be for dining, the other a parlor, and--'
"'The only drawback would be that, except at the North Pole, the night
comes once in twenty-four hours.'
"'Don't be mean, Jane! Do come in here a minute: it's a dear little
"'You will certainly make a housekeeper if a kitchen gives you such
ecstasy. Come out, I am so hungry. Put on your bonnet and leave this
elysium: I have had enough of it.'
"'You come in for a second: it will shake the terror off and you
won't dream of it. That is a cure my old nurse once gave me for laying
"'It may be a good plan to shake off the terror, but the dust on you
will not be shaken off so easily.'
"'Suppose,' and she stamped her foot--'suppose that the floor should
be hollow, and that this were only a pretended kitchen after all, or
that there was a trap-door painted to resemble tiles, or a sliding
panel.' Here she felt over the surface of the wall. 'Why should I feel
so queer last night if this was really nothing but a kitchen?'
"'Because you are a goose,' I answered impatiently, 'and if you don't
come I will leave you. If you like, you can engage boarding here for a
week, and raise the tiles one by one with a knife and fork. As for me,
I am going to breakfast.'
"'But don't you think it really has an uncanny look?' she asked,
giving a last glance over her shoulder as she came out.
"'If you call dirt uncanny, there is plenty of that. Shut the door,
and I will push back the bed.'
"'Jane,' she again remarked as she was trying on her bonnet before the
crooked glass, 'if ever I tell of this night, I think I will say that
there _was_ a trap-door in the kitchen: you know there might be one
and we not see it.'
"'Oh yes,' I answered as patiently as I could, 'I suppose a fib more
or less will make but little difference in your lifetime. While you
are at it, however, you may as well make a few more additions.'
"'Now you are unkind.'
"'A person is not accountable for temper when famishing. Take up your
"We found the house a most every-day-looking house, seen by sunlight;
but there had lain the difficulty. The clerk in the office did not
particularly resemble a cutthroat, or even a cutpurse, and, strange to
say, did not overcharge us: in fact, he behaved very civilly. We found
we were not far from the station, and depositing our bags there, we
walked down the beautiful Rue La Fayette.
"'It is a great deal pleasanter to travel alone in this way,' said
Nan gayly, her spirits rising in the delightful air. 'When I was here
before with all the family, it was not near so jolly; and I think we
manage well, don't you? Oh, there is an omnibus not _complet_: let us
get in. I am too hungry to walk.'
"After we were seated she continued: 'I wonder what will happen to
us to-night. Suppose we find every place full, and have to sleep in a
garden or on the steps of a church, or something? Isn't it delightful
not to know in the least what is going to happen next?--just as in
fairy-land. Don't you hope we may have an adventure every night?'
"'I should not call last night an adventure: it seems to me it was
more like a panic,' I said drily.
"'You will never let anything be agreeable,' in a hurt tone: then
recovering her good temper, she went on: 'Well, call it a panic if
you like. Now, suppose we had one every night, and we stayed here two
weeks, there would be fourteen panics before we go home. Wouldn't that
"'You did not appear to enjoy it so much last night.'
"'At the time I did not,' she admitted frankly. 'Weren't we
frightened? But then, you know, how nice it will be to talk of it
"We arrived at a restaurant in the Palais Royal, and found a seat by
the window, and a breakfast. We had already finished the latter, and
were playing with our fruit, when a party entered who attracted our
attention by speaking English.
"'One of them is Miss Rodgers,' Annie whispered excitedly. 'I know her
well: hadn't we better run away? What will she think of our being here
"'Nonsense! You had better ask her where she is staying. Remember, we
are houseless as yet.'
"'I don't like to ask her.'
"'Introduce me: I will ask.' The idea of spending the night in a
garden or on a church-step did not possess the same charms for me as
for Nan. Thus prompted, she walked forward and spoke to her friend,
afterward presenting me. We chatted a few minutes, when Miss Rodgers
asked Annie where she was staying, and how her mamma was.
"'Mamma is not with us,' was Nan's embarrassed reply.
"I went to her rescue, and diverted the questions by asking some
myself: 'Miss Rodgers, where are you staying? We do not like our hotel
and want to change.'
"'There is not a room in our house that is unoccupied, and you won't
find good accommodation anywhere. You had better not change if you
have a place to lay your head. Paris is so crowded that everything
has been taken up long ago. You can ask at a dozen hotels or
boarding-houses and not find a garret to let. You have no idea of the
"Yes, we had an idea, and believed every word she said: in fact,
we would rather have felt less convinced on the subject. Even Annie
seemed to think that traveling alone might present some disagreeable
features, and looked quite unhappy, notwithstanding her love of
adventure. But before our mental anguish had time to become unbearable
a young girl, a niece of Miss Rodgers, spoke: 'Auntie, if the young
ladies would like, I know of just the place that would suit them.'
Then turning to us, she continued: 'I am at school a few miles out of
the city, and madame told me that if I knew of any one, she had room
for a few parlor-boarders. It is a lovely spot, and no end of trains
coming and going all day; so that it would be just as convenient as
living here, and you would have excellent accommodation. Then, too,
I could speak English to you sometimes. I am so tired of talking for
ever without half knowing what I am saying.'
"I could have embraced the chatterbox on the spot for this opportune
proposal, but controlled my feelings and looked at Nan to see if
she approved. She was consenting with every one of her expressive
features, and did not appear at all anxious to enjoy one of her
fourteen delightful panics this evening if it could be avoided.
Being spokesman, I said, 'I would willingly try the school on your
recommendation, Miss Ada, if you think madame could be ready for us
"'Of course she could: come out with me now and see her. I must go
at one, and can show you the way. Will you meet me at the station? or
shall we call for you at your hotel?'
"'We will meet at the station,' I replied, glad to settle it so
quickly, 'if you are quite sure that your madame will like our
"'That will be all right, I know. She has several empty rooms, and
will be happy to have them filled. You can leave your trunks until
to-morrow if you don't like to come bag and baggage.'
"We needed no further pressing. Here was deliverance and safety, and
we bade good-morning to the party with light hearts.
"We found the school all that Miss Ada had promised, and thus ended
the nearest approach to an adventure that we had during the two weeks
that we remained."
"And now tell me about the Exposition."
"Well, we saw it."
"Describe it to me."
"Certainly. In the first place, it was very big, and everybody was
there, so it was crowded; and you met your friends and you talked;
and--and you got fearfully tired; and it was wonderful; and there were
ever so many restaurants, and a soda-water fountain, and queer things
that you never expected to see there, like the Mexican techcatl and
Russian horses; and everything was _real_--real lace and cashmeres and
diamonds, and nothing but what was very nice. But, after all, I think
you had better get a file of old newspapers and read about it, for I
really have no talent for description--or, better still, go and see
the one in Vienna this summer."
ITA ANIOL PROKOP.
In traveling over the old lands of Europe one is sometimes apt to
think more of historical and genealogical traditions than of the
natural beauties or peculiarities of the country. The old landmarks
of a nation, whether monuments built by the hand of man or archives
carefully preserved by him, tell us of its growth, just as the strata
of the mountain tell of its progress to the geologist; and as every
successive layer has some relation both to its predecessor and its
successor, so the traditions of each generation have a perceptible
influence upon the moral development of the generation following.
Every nation is thus the growing fruit of its own history, and every
visible step of the grand ladder of facts that has led up to the
present result must needs have for a student of human nature an
This comes very clearly before my mind as I think of Slains Castle
(Aberdeen), a massive crown of granite set on the brow of the rocks of
the German Ocean, and the seat of one of those old Scottish families
whose origin is hidden away among the suggestive mists of tradition.
Slains Castle stands alone, a giant watchman upon giant cliffs,
built up only one story high, on account of the tremendous winds that
prevail there in spring and autumn, and cased with the gray Aberdeen
granite of the famous quarries near by. The surrounding country is
as bare and uninviting as one could imagine; the road from Aberdeen
(twenty miles) is bleak and stony; the young trees near the castle are
stunted, and in many cases disfigured by the inroads of hungry cows
among their lower branches, and a damp veil of mist hangs perpetually
over the scene, softening the landscape, but sometimes depressing
the spirits. As the hours pass the place grows on you: a weird beauty
begins to loom up from among the mist-wreaths, the jagged rocks, the
restless waves, and you forget the desolate moor, which in itself
displays attractions you will realize later, in the grandeur of the
The original building is of the time of James VI. (of Scotland), and
is due to Francis, earl of Erroll, whose more ancient castle, bearing
the same name, was destroyed by the king to punish his vassal for
the part he had taken in a rebellion. In the seventeenth century Earl
Gilbert made great improvements in it, and early in the eighteenth
Earl Charles added the front. In 1836 it was rebuilt by Earl William
George, the father of the present owner, with the exception of the
lower part of the original tower. In this there used to be in olden
times an _oubliette_ in which unhappy prisoners were let down. All at
first appeared dark around them, but when they had thankfully assured
themselves that they at last stood upon solid ground, they would look
about them and presently descry a line of fitful light coming from a
door ajar in their dungeon. The poor victims would then go in haste
to this door, pull it open and, blinded by the sudden light, step out
upon the green slope terminating quickly in a precipice, which went
sheer down to the sea.
The rest of the house is built around a large covered piazza,
intersected by corridors where pictures, armor and all kinds of old
family relics decorate the walls. The drawing-room is on the very edge
of the rock, and on stormy days the flocks of uneasy sea-gulls almost
flap their wings against its window-panes, while the clouds of
Back to Full Books