Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

absence for two months, it was pleasant once more to look on those hills, on those mountains, those horizons, so familiar, so well known to us all, and so full of souvenirs, but also such a magnificent spectacle! There was not a breath to stir the air. The shades of night were gradually disappearing from the mountains. First came in sight the houses of Merz-el-Kebir, standing out from the walls of the old Spanish fortress: then the dis

m

Us

mountains which for the space of a league runs along the bay, separating the port from the city of Oran, and at last the fort St. Gregory, proudly posted half way up on the right, at the foot of Santa-Cruz, an eagle's nest on the summit of a naked mountain ridge, which looks over town and country for miles round. Under the cannons of the batteries of St. Gregory, the streets of the city wind along the sides of the hill, stopping at the walls of Chateau Neuf, a vast structure

Philip V. On the east, on the line of sea-beaten cliffs, the eye may discover a mosque, the barrack of the African chasseurs, and built by them ten years before; further on, on the shore opposite Merz-el-Kebir, the bare declivities of the moun

tain of Lions, and on the horizon the rocks of the Iron Cape. On all these hills, and all these mountains, there is not a tree or a plant to be seen. At the entrance of the Oran ravine there is, however, a little spot of verdure just visible, and no more, at the angle of the mountain of Santa-Cruz. There is, too, a village of white houses, in the midst of gardens, standing out, as it were, at the foot of the mountain of Lions on the sea shore. Light vapours softened the angular contours of this grand scenery, of which the breeze brought us all the morning perfumes.

Leaning over the ship's sides, we contemplated for a time this enchanting panorama. The cries of the Maltese, disputing for the baggage of the passengers, soon recalled us, however, to practical realities. Happily we had not the annoyance of superintending our own disembarkation, for the commandant of the port put his boat at the disposal of the military governor of the province, whom he thought on board; and as we were ordnance officers of General de Lamoriciere, who had gone to Algiers to receive the instructions of Marshal Bugeaud, we made no scruple in profiting by the mistake. A few vigorous strokes of the oar sufficed to put us on shore.

There is an hour and a half's march between Merz-el-Kebir and Oran. In the time of the Spaniards, and during the first years of our occupation, one could only reach the city. by following a narrow path ascending across St. Gregory, which is four hundred feet higher than the houses of Oran. This path was exceedingly dangerous, for if your horse or mule stumbled, there was risk of being precipitated headlong into the sea. But all this has been remedied. The soldiers of the garrison of Oran, on their return from an expedition, laying down their muskets, took up the spade and the pickaxe, and, under the direction of engineer officers, cut a large commodious road through the side of the mountain, where our jaunting cars (char-a-bancs), without being under any anxiety about pedestrians and droves of asses, might rival in swiftness the hundred little open carriages we met, and which at the report of the signal gun of the French courier, were hurrying passengers to embark. Our two ponies, who only went the faster for their thinness, soon brought us to Chateau Neuf. It was there that we were to wait for General Lamoriciere. When one chooses a house, it is the usage in this country to take possession simply by saying, “I

SO

live here.” The General had complied with this custom, and had taken Chateau Neuf for his abode; but if any one had wished to know where, for the last six years, he had passed his nights, he would have been obliged to make his inquiries at all the bivouacs of the province.

108

II.

The peace, which had been so violently disturbed by the great revolt of 1845, was again completely re-established. The tribes had again sued for mercy, and, according to a prevalent saying in this country, a woman might have traversed the province of Oran, erewhile so rebellious, with a crown of gold on her head, in perfect security. The work of war over, and tranquillity maintained by a firm and vigilant commandant, the thoughts of all turned towards colonization. Ministers, generals, deputies, all dreamed but of colonization, great or small, military or civil, undertaken by private companies, or by the state. In a word, all systems were on their trial, but at Oran, colonization through individual industry was most in honour, and as soon as General Lamoriciere had returned from Algiers, all his attention was given to grants and grantees.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »