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whilst on a little Arab table, in the midst of perfumes and flowers, Osman wrote the life of a Protestant missionary, whom he had encountered in the one single grave episodical interval of his vagrant life.*
Aicha had already begun to pronounce some German words; two months more and she would certainly have been quite a German, but alas ! the Prussian's love was less constant than the Arab's, for one fine morning a steamboat carried off Cæsar and his fortunes : that is to say Osman, a gun, and a letter of recommendation, forgotten for two years, for General Lamoriciere, whom he had known as a major in the Zouave corps.
The province of Oran in 1841, was far from being subdued. For a bold heart and a good arm, there were many opportunities of distinction. I must add, too, that Mohamed-Ould-Caid-Osman enrolled in this name among the Spahis, and Siquot, who engaged himself at the same time, were equal to their fortunes. A little time after joining, Siquot was wounded, and the Caid had his horse killed; both were exempt from duty. Illustrious heroes and unknown celebrities are sure to provoke envy. If not, ask the Maréchal de Logis Froidefond, the old grumbler, what made him say to the Caid, that he was fit for nothing but to polish his nails. On their return to Mascara, Maréchal and the Caid, in consequence of this pert remark, fought at twelve paces. Froidefond fired first, the Caid fell, and the seconds were hastening to his assistance, when, waiving them aside, “Stop,” said he, “it is my tuin to fire ;' and, raising himself on his elbow, he stretched his antagonist dead in a second. The Caid was then carried bleeding to the hospital, where he found Siquot, who was getting well. Hearing of his wound, the Chica, who had, without knowing why, identified herself with his existence, as dogs often attach themselves to a regiment, ran to the hospital to tend him, and three months afterwards he was on his legs again.
* This missionary, originally a Jew, had turned Calvinist at Bale, then Anglican, and finally a missionary with a very decent salary. He carried on a great traffic in Bibles, which he sold to Tunis merchants. The leaves of this sacred book thus served to wrap up Musselman butter and soap. The book of the Caid, published at Carlsruhe, made a noise. It was prohibited, and thanks to the prohibition, its success was immense.
The Caid had just become convalescent, when in 1843, the squadrons of the 4th Chasseurs, preceded by trumpeters and headed by their colonel, entered Mascara, escorting Marshal Bugeaud. Abd-el-Kader had at this time established his
centre of operations in the south of Mascara. The woods which separate the Tell* from the Sersous, were the principal refuge for his regular battalions who lived on acorns, and the plunder of the neighbouring tribes. General Lamoricière and General Tempoure, however, did not allow them much rest. But being fatigued by continual forays, the provincial cavalry-numerically far too weakhad need of several months repose to be in an effective state. General Lamoricière made consequently every effort to obtain the five squadrons of the 4th from Marshal Bugeaud, but the marshal gave a deaf ear to all his representations.
Deserters from the regulars, bringing news of the Emir, came over to us nearly every day about this time; but all their information appeared insufficient, till a Spaniard was brought in one evening to Captain Charras, the chief of the Arab bureau of Mascara. The bold black eye, and expressive features of this man, denoted intelligence and firmness. He gave us the precisest details, and confirmed all the news we had had from other quarters. Before we broke up our sitting, he was conducted to the Marshal, who questioned him himself. An hour afterwards the 4th Chasseurs were granted, and the Marshal decided
* The Tell—Tellus of the Romans—is a tract of our African possessions remarkable for its fertility in the production of grain. Under the name of Sersous, is designated vast undulations of land, renowned for their pasturage. The Sersous, inhabited by roving tribes and their flocks, separates the Tell from the Sahara.
upon a a hunt of the regular battalions, the command of which had just been taken by Sidi-Embarek, the ancient and celebrated Khalifat of Milianah.
To General Tempoure this enterprise was committed. He had under his command two battalions of infantry, four hundred and fifty cavalry, fifty Spahis, Caid Osman and Siquot being of the number, and some irregular cavalry, with the chief of the Arab bureau, Captain Charras. As soon as we were on our march southward, Marshal Bugeaud and General Lamoricière betook themselves to Oran, where important interests demanded their presence.
If the Moniteur did not testify to its truth, if all did not agree in the same account, the recital of this march would appear a fable. The cavalry and infantry marched three days and three nights almost incessantly. In the morning we rested for an hour and a half, and in the evening from six o'clock till midnight. From the day when we discovered traces of the enemy, the drum was not once beaten; we followed their track, as the dog follows scent. Thirty Spahis preceded the column with troopers of the Arab bureau, who read the earth during the night. What emotions we experienced on arriving at the first Arab bivouac ! Its fires were not yet out; the enemy, whom we lost not a moment in following, had only left it on the same morning. After two nights and two days, our scouts, who scoured the country all round the column, captured two men of the Djaffras,* who refused to speak, till a musket pointed at their heads untied their tongues, when they told us that on the previous evening the regulars had been at Taouira; so we knew we were on the right road, and could not fail in coming up with them. The column on receiving this intelligence again resumed its march, preceded as usual by the Spahis. At times there were violent gusts of wind, and the rain fell in torrents; a moment afterwards the moon would light up the narrow path which wound along the hills, across the rocks, and through tangled bushes of thyme and juniper. Not a pipe was lighted, the silence was complete, or interrupted only by a fall, when a soldier, overcome by sleep even whilst marching, stumbled against some obstacle in his way. Some even of our strongest men yielded so