페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

rolling over one another in their into a flooded valley is sucanxiety to get by.

ceeded by an equally desperate An occasional interchange of climb, to a village where the shots bears witness to the pres- lanthorn gives out, but luckily ence of snipers, but of what food and shelter are ready nationality remains unknown. waiting. Thus ends a most

a A few shells plunge overhead, exhausting march. Sleep claims to burst far among valleys her due, and it is late afterto the east. We are ready for noon when the journey is reanything; on such an expedi- sumed, so that night again tion a Riffi carries his rifle at overtakes the band in open full cock without ever discharg- country, and guides are put to ing it by inadvertence. Though it to find the village where he may appear frenzied with Kayed Hameed-el-Maklook is excitement, such accidents as in authority. No sooner has spoiled half the trench raids in this place been located than the European war never occur the expedition is become enhere.

tangled in cactus hedges, to It has been necessary to go be presently rounded up by so close to the tents in order infuriated dogs : so that the to avoid a blockhouse. Now appearance of a boy, in rethat we are past, new hazards sponse to repeated knocking, present themselves. There are is a very welcome sight. I Riffi marksmen lying out in have never seen a boy whose front ready to spot any move- aspect was so strangely beaument from the direction of the tiful. He stands silent and camp. It is very warily that motionless in the doorway, clad the party must advance here. simply in a shirt of white wool, Actually we do stumble into as he examines the assemblage one such post, but by good by the uncertain light of a fortune our rozzars and jaleebs match; while women, carryare sufficiently outlined against ing candles, peer from behind the sky to serve the purpose of a mass of cactus and prickly identification.

pear. Then without a word This continual danger, added the door is shut and bolted in to the darkness, makes pro- our faces, and simultaneously gress extraordinarily slow, and the women have disappeared hours must have been spent from view. crawling among bushes and It seems ages before two of boulders before, the brow of them return with a carpet and a hill finally intervening be- jars of slightly warmed milk, tween us and the last Spanish a girl of about seventeen and post, a candle may safely be an elderly woman, neither placed in a lanthorn that has clothed in more than a single been brought for the purpose. loose garment barely descendWhereupon mules are requisi- ing to the knees, with the intioned, and a desperate descent variable handkerchief over the

head. The girl stands shield- ties of civilisation are dising a candle from the faint tributed broadcast. In the breeze, loose hair escaping be- Riff there will be no war debts neath her handkerchief, and to pay off. long graceful limbs and naked While he is speaking, the feet that gleam in the mud. same graceful girl who brought She seems quite unaware of in supper overnight reappears, the impression she is creating, moving to and fro in the grove 80 absorbed is she in this of prickly pears, that can be ridiculous vision of Nazerani seen through the open door at ineffectually disguised as Moors. his back. She is wearing a She smiles as though inclined garment striped in orange and to talk; but her companion white. The garment is full but promptly intervenes with the short, leaving her legs uninformation that the Kayed covered below the knee; and had not imagined we should her arms, which appear of a arrive so soon, and is away in creamy whiteness, are also bare the next village. The boy has from shoulder to wrist. It is not reappeared, and it is she evident that such limbs are who gets the door open again, not often so exposed to the while the old woman is ex- African sun, and the thought changing the time of day with is flattering to one's self-esteem. the escort. Then the two of She smiles with an air of conthem come back with food, scious unconcern whenever she and, later on, with bowls of encounters an admiring glance, glowing charcoal to dry wet occasionally veiling her mouth clothes.

and chin as she comes and goes We are wakened late by about her task of laying out Kayed Hameed himself, bring- clothes to dry. Occasionally ing in breakfast with the aid of the older woman will emerge to a serving-man. Dishes of eggs beckon her away, but it is in oil, and sweet cakes, washed never long before she reappears, down with more libations of moving with languid grace warm milk most delicately per- about the little space of trodden fumed with herbs. This worthy earth that lies between the man sits all day cross-legged on guest-house and the cluster of the carpet, with his little son prickly pears. sprawled across his knees, and Kayed Hameed himself seems his rifle propped against the totally unconscious of her exdoor-post. He describes the istence. She is most probably withdrawal of the enemy from his daughter, but it would be Sheshuan, and the quantity of indiscreet to make inquiries. stores and transport that had Custom forbids any reference to be abandoned. He is look- in polite society to the feminine ing forward to the wonderful members of the establishment; times that will come when the at most they may be presumed fighting is over, and the ameni- to be included in a general wish that all goes well with the for his glasses, and thinks them household of one's friend. expensive at that. He is openly

Another most comfortable covetous of the more handnight is spent with Kayed somely mounted pair owned by Hameed before the wad is pro- his brother, that cost nothing nounced fordable. This most at all. open-hearted of men himself Sidi el Arbi has provided accompanies his guests as far remounts, and the Kayed's as the river, and crosses it sons have decided to escort with them, though the flood us all the way to Roumla. is still so great as to immerse Having with difficulty escaped mules to their shoulders. On from the groups of soldiers, the farther bank, dripping with and having cheered up a Spanwater, he bids farewell : taking ish prisoner, a lieutenant taken each affectionately by the hand during the past night, with the as he expresses his good wishes news that there are many such for the journey, in the courtly as he in the interior, living a Arabic way, wishing no evil. healthy if laborious life, we Then, without delay, he has are again advancing in open plunged again into the torrent country, free of the congestion

The good man is through which surrounds a headquarters before we have gone very far, in the field. and stands to watch the caval- The journey is being concade picking its way among ducted with dignity and comthe boulders, conducted by his fort in the shadow of a huge two elder sons, who have volun- mountain, while far in the wad teered to act as guides as far beneath two tribesmen struggle as the headquarters of Sidi el desperately to effect a crossing, Arbi of the Beni Hassan. He holding their rifles at arm's stands until it has wound its length overhead. It is not a way out of sight-a model of sensible spot to have chosen the perfect host, as they under- for a ford, but at last they stand hospitality in the Jabala. are through, and without delay Thenceforward the path lies go tearing across the valley in among sunlit hills, the air fierce sunlight. The rattle of heavy after rain with the per- loose stones under their feet is fume of aromatic shrubs, and audible, even at this height. filled with the fresh sounds of They are making furious efforts, running water. With Zeiss though nobody has appeared binoculars belonging to the in pursuit, and the reason for Kayed's sons, we are able to such haste is not apparent. pick out capiemento every- As the river-bed is left bewhere, some reduced by bomb- hind the incline grows steeper, ing parties and some deliber- and the smaller of the two ately abandoned, all of them begins to forge ahead, though empty. The elder of the two his companion, a sturdy squarebrothers has paid eight pesetas shouldered fellow, is making

[ocr errors]

valiant efforts to go the pace. came back they were gone. Remorseless sunlight

sunlight blazes They had no patience. Now down upon them as they we have been in pursuit for struggle upward, and we are two days, but they travel inclined to make wagers on quickly!” the chances ; riding high in the The reunion, when it takes cool shade of the mountain's place, should undoubtedly preflank. At first it appears they sent an affecting spectacle. At are aiming for some point always last they have both arrived, a little ahead of our party. and stand panting in front of Then gradually a suspicion that their dear friends, perspiration we ourselves may be the objec- and river water trickling down tive creeps into our minds, and their legs, to form little pools the Kayed's sons are beginning on the ground. Mohammed's eagerly to finger the triggers of shirt is dirty and torn, as he their rifles. If it is to be war, lolls speechless against a rock, the chances, at any rate, are with his mouth open. Abu heavily in favour of the defend- Sallum also is exhausted, but ing side.

happy. Everything shall be The men appear to be mak- explained, if only the Inglizi ing a desperate effort to cut us will wait for the two askar to off, and can be seen brandish- regain their breath. But the ing their weapons threateningly. Inglizi have developed a new The nearer of the pair is shout- independence during the past ing, but the distance is too few days, and now they are great for us to hear what he among friends. Their two faithhas to say; and we carry on, ful companions need have no confident in our ability to deal apprehensions on that score. with any situation which may The Kayed's sons will accomarise.

pany the Inglizi all the way There is a curious glitter of to Roumla. sunlight playing about the head It has been a chilling recepof the foremost of the attack- tion for the two warm-hearted ing party, and something oddly askar. They must sit by the familiar in his gait. As the wayside ; and, when they have intervening space rapidly de- ufficiently recovered, go back creases, it becomes evident all to report themselves for duty at once that the sparkling at the headquarters of Sidi el objects are beads in his rozzar. Arbi. The Inglizi have no Surely our enemy must be Ash- further use for their services. Sharif Abd Sallum, and the That is all the welcome they get. burly fellow behind Moham- About noon next day the med, struggling for a place. Kayed's sons and the two

An instant later it is pos- Inglizi are approaching Roumla. sible to guess the tenor of Abu Sallum's remarks. “El Inglizi ! Sidi Abd-el-Karim b'n el Hadj

Abd-ei We had lost them. When we Ali is himself at Roumla, by a happy chance, to receive us, sits in front of the tea-tray. having recently been withdrawn Though he has recrossed the from Tangier, and given new frontier, the special knowledge work in organising the surround- gained in Tangier renders his ing tribes of the Anjera. His services invaluable among the difficult task in the international Anjera at the present juncture, zone had been discharged with and there has been no time for distinction, and rumour says a visit home. He smiles a he may soon be engaged to a little incredulously when he sister of the Sultan. To-day he hears of our determination to is here in Roumla to attend a complete the journey that night conference.

without another halt; and the Again we are reclining in smile broadens when we inquire airy apartments that overlook about the number of wads that groves of fruit-trees and rock- will have to be crossed and the bound gardens. Spread upon quantity of water they are soft cushions we listen drowsily likely to contain. But he claps to the conversation of a soft- his hands for a runner, and voiced staff; while the tinkle gives instructions for immeof telephone bells is almost diate preparations to be made continuous in the landing out- for the start. side. Exquisitely seasoned While the meal is still in dishes are brought in and progress, a full company of placed between on the soldiers has assembled outside, carpet.

making a stirring spectacle from Roumla occupies a gap of the French casement windows, the mountains, commanding an as they fill up ration-bags and undulating plain that extends look to their equipment. Half right away to the Atlantic. an hour later we have been Our hosts having pointed out successfully mounted, on beasts a knob of land on the remote that prove their mettle by the horizon which actually over- resistance they offer, and the looks Tangier, the pull of final stage of the journey home familiar things is already be- has begun, ginning to reassert itself; SO The way lies across rugged that we feel nervously in our undulating country, profusely sack, to make sure that one or overgrown with bushes of variother of the emblems of civilisa- ous sorts, interspersed with tion it should contain has not water - logged ravines. Mounbeen dropped in a river-bed, tains stand behind, hiding or overlooked in the dusky Zinatz and Tetuan in their recesses of a guest-chamber. ample folds, while away on Then suddenly we have made the right, mighty Fondyk up our minds to enter Tangier frowns over the plain. In front that very night.

hills fall back on either hand, Sidi Abd-el-Karim is putting disclosing a mass of white innumerable questions as he tents, directly ahead, very con

us

« 이전계속 »