This was [Pg ] done in the old Egyptian way, by sheer multiplication of hands, with no aid from the mechanical forces. A number of men took hold of each beam and of hand-spikes passed under it where the track was wide enough, and others drew by ropes. The slow and solemn procession, enlivening its way with equally solemn chants in the deepest of gutturals, climbed the precipice on the slow but sure principle.
The bridge was a success, the threatened diversion of trade escaped, and Beni-Menguellet stock stood at a higher quotation than ever. A squad of sappers, not a mouthful in a military sense for the hundreds of Kabyles they supervised, had done more to win the loyalty of the natives than a brigade of beaux sabreurs or cave-smokers could have accomplished. The hammer rather than the musket is the weapon of subjugation. At these markets Kabylia sits to the foreigner for her picture. How she lives, what she produces and what she wants is plainly and picturesquely stated. The inevitable Jew, in beard and gaberdine, brings from the city his pack of trinkets and gay stuff, with bales of heavier tissues for the excessively simple work-day robes of the Kabyle.
The rich plain of Oued Sahel sends its wheat and barley to exchange for the products of the hill-loving olive-orchard and fig-plantation.
The Beni-Janni, chiefs of the metal-workers, sit surrounded by enticing rows of swords, daggers, guns, armlets, leglets, silver and copper-gilt head-dresses and brooches. Vases in clay, ornamental and plain in every gradation, are the specialty of the Beni-Aissi. Horses of the Barb type, small but elegant in figure, come from all quarters; but mules, which are offered in considerable number, are something [Pg ] of a monopoly with the Beni-Ouassif, the Kentuckians of Kabylia.ergo-library.therefore.ca/nokia-8110-4g-spy.php
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Women, indifferent as to tribe, and indifferent also, it is sad to state, in appearance, being mostly over age, spread stores of butter, honey, eggs, fruit, lean poultry and herbs. The young ladies, there as in other parts of the world, come not to sell, but to shop. Things of Paris are not wanting to encourage this propensity, which grows by what it feeds on, and promotes the civilization of the country by the creation of artificial wants. Brushing through dewy thickets of lentisk and rose-bay, or drawn sharp against the vivid African sky on the summit of a bare spur, groups of mountaineers with their wares and their flocks wend their way at dawn to the market.
It has the air of a unanimous turn-out of the family, all who can walk or be carried, with dogs, goats, sheep, asses and cattle, yielding to the common attraction. The Kabyles, unlike the Arabs, do not smoke, making up for that privation by a much greater consumption of meat. The marketers of the Beni-Menguellet will swallow for breakfast and dinner two score oxen and twice as many sheep and goats. The butchering is done on the spot, or rather hard by, usually by negroes who make it their profession, and journey from fair to fair with the outfit of knives and steel and a reed flute to beguile the way with genuine African melodies.
The Kabyles have no higher use for the negro, the post of seraglio-guard assigned him among wealthier and more orthodox Moslems being a sinecure with them. When we remember that these large commercial reunions are held as often as each week, we are prepared to recognize a degree of movement and energy sufficient of itself to separate sharply the Kabyles from their Asiatic coreligionists.
Repose is not their chief luxury. The charms of kief are less irresistible than to the Arab or the Turk. The mere labor, indeed, of reaching their rock-built homes exacts considerable bodily exertion. Compared with a daily climb of some hundreds of feet when the ploughman homeward takes his weary way, the toil of the harvest-field below looks like recreation.
A life which keeps the blood circulating so rapidly cannot fail to develop a hardy race full of the pride born of conscious strength, and not disposed to yield readily to lords who exhaust their physical powers in scaling their eyries. Long training has given the natives something of the agility of the monkeys with which they share the crags. Kabyle sharpshooters obstructed the completion of French hill-forts by ascending the parapet at night and waking the garrison and the workmen with a storm of balls. The pursuit of them, when driven back, was unavailing. The soldiers, encumbered with clothing and accoutrements and shod with stiff leather, could hold no headway with the Kabyle clad only in a tunic and grasping the cliffs with four hands like the monkeys.
Finally, dogs were imported, regularly brigaded and regularly credited at the commissariat.
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Dogs are keen distinguishers of persons and acute ethnologists. These traits, however, were possessed alike by the African curs, which outnumbered the quadruped Gauls and fully sympathized with the prejudices of their dusky proprietors. This difficulty was fatal to the canine crusade. A preference for peaceful industry may be said to have always prevailed among the Kabyles when left to themselves. The chronic passion for fighting was rather localized: particular villages were affected by it. That of Taka, for instance, commandingly posted on a height thirty-five hundred feet above the level of the sea, has always been the terror of its neighbors.
Whatever the flag or faith nominally in the ascendant, Taka took her place in the opposition and invited all Adullamites to make their home within her gates. Misdirected energy like this will, under a strong, patient and progressive government, be directed into more useful channels.
The most turbulent will become sensible of the necessity of eating. The larder of crags and caves is necessarily meagre and precarious. The braves must go to market.
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For success at that place of popular resort they must carry something to sell in order to be able to buy, and they must behave themselves in 'change hours. On the latter point the French and the peaceably disposed natives insist with increasing unanimity. They will have to take a lesson from the vultures which stoop with them from the [Pg ] hills. These know market-day as well as the almanac or the negro butcher. Punctual to a minute, they perch at a respectful distance from the centre of traffic, frame the dusky crowd with a circle of feathered sentinels in uniform of light gray, and calmly await the distribution of such shreds of eatables as even the Kabyle cannot use.
It is impossible to fancy a gentleman who restricts himself to the occupation of fighting, buying from those at whose expense he pursues it his weekly supply of provisions, and marching home with his diss , or strings of chops and cutlets, festooned from his spear or garlanded around his gallant brow.
Such is the drift of the times. Mankind is banded against brigandage. Never was an ancient and honorable profession so sadly under the weather everywhere. When it flares up into momentary life in Sicily or Attica the newspapers seize hold of the event, a reporter is promptly on the spot, and the bandit-chief is interviewed as coolly as though he had merely shot his wife, bought a legislature or effected a triumphant corner in mess pork. Such depressing influences cannot but wear down the noblest calling.
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Sicily is tamed, and Circassia, the Asiatic Kabylia, nearly so. A recent French tourist in Algeria was much struck with certain resemblances between the two mountain-races separated by the length of the Mediterranean and the Euxine. At the Kabyle rock-village of Tighil-boukbair the town band turned out to receive him.
It consisted of a flute and two tambourines. Both the instruments and the airs appeared to him identical with those to which he had listened in the gorges of frosty Caucasus. At Tiflis he had "assisted" at a concert almost the duplicate of the African entertainment. To make the resemblance perfect, it would have sufficed, he says, to strip the Caucasians to a single undergarment. The same seeker of the picturesque describes a wayside scene characteristic alike of landscape, dress and manners. What can be more sensational than a draught of spring-water, under the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, from the hollowed palm of a Kabyle girl surrounded by her juniors arrayed in a costume that can neither be described nor expressed, for the simple reason that it does not exist?
A group like this carries us back to within easy hail of the primal simplicity of Eden.
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And a period little later than that of Adam and Eve is suggested by the experience of the same traveller at his halt a few hours later. As Abraham, according to the custom of his day, was ready for the three angels with a substantial lunch, so the official Frenchman is the beneficiary of a regulation which entitles him to an abundant diffa , or provender for man, horse and attendants, supplied by the nearest village.
The Gaul is not always an angel, but his appetite is none the worse for that.
Butter does not usually appear in the bill of fare, but its absence is amply atoned for by couscoussou, or African vermicelli, mutton, boiled fowls, honey and sour milk. This repast is served upon flat shallow dishes of wood or earthenware a foot and a half in diameter, the universal platter of Kabylia, and must be a highly acceptable surprise in the desert.
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Wine is not a part of the required ration, the native grapes, though delicious when eaten, not performing well in the press and vat. Efforts are in progress to remedy this defect and make Algeria a wine-exporting country, but the summer heat is probably too great, and the northern edge of the vine-zone will doubtless maintain its supremacy over the southern, and make the Loire, the Rhine and the Middle Danube lords of the vintage for all time.
Yet there is no more pacifying industry than wine-making, whatever may be said of wine-drinking; and the French anxiety to turn the Kabylian caves into wine-vaults is sensible and laudable. On the morning of Sant' Antonio's Day we strolled through the streets of Padua, side by side with the country-folk who had come from miles around to offer up their prayers at the shrine of the saint. Some rode jaded mules or were packed close in great market-wagons. Others trudged on foot, with their dinners tied up in blue cotton handkerchiefs.
There were bronzed men in homespun, who pushed steadily on, aiding themselves with mighty umbrellas; dark-eyed girls, with bright kerchiefs knotted about their heads or carnations in their glossy braids; smart young contadini , with their hats tied afresh with ribbons and their long blue hose darned anew. The murmurs of the crowd, loud and merry and full of bursts of laughter, softened into a solemn whisper as the multitude pressed onward to the broad piazza where the sanctuary of Sant' Antonio stands. One by one the people lifted the leathern curtain of the church-door.
The men doffed their hats, the women told their beads. An awed hush fell upon those simple peasants as they gazed up at the vastness of the arches. The world of the winepress and the silk-weaving and the soup-pot vanished from their hearts, and in its place came the illimitable calm which holds them bowed for hours against the altar-steps.
But now they press on toward the shrine of the saint. The choir bursts into a triumphant shout that seems to come from the throats of the bronze angels about the altar. The chancel is a blaze of light, against which stand two great dark bronze candelabra like sentinels of the tabernacle. The steps before Sant' Antonio's shrine are half buried under the great white lilies that bear his name, and the tall dark angels that keep guard about his tomb bear sceptres of fresh lilies.
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There is no need of the swinging silver censers. Myrrh and frankincense rise, sweet and strong, from the depths of the snowy chalices. The children kneeling about the altar bear stalks of the lilies like tall waxen tapers, that wave to and fro over the surging heads of the multitude. There are carved pillars around the shrine brought from Byzantium, and great white marble heads of saints and holy men stand out in relief from the walls. Silver lamps, beautiful with shining chains and the winged heads of cherubim, hang from the low vault, warming all the pale figures into life with the crimson glow of the flame within.
A little bell tinkles. There is a murmur of voices and a rustle of garments throughout the church. The golden lights of the altar die away, one by one. The people rise from their prayers with the wide-eyed, unseeing gaze of those who have been wandering in a far land.