We have now approached a portion of the Beni Hassan territory, a region inhabited by a tribe whose chief pursuit is robbery, whose supreme joy is murder;
and the placing of a guard around the tent is no longer a mere formality. As yet, however, we roving bands; but next day as we file across
the flower-spotted plain, we observe on the horizon a number of moving patches of bright color. With lightning-like rapidity,
these flashes of color sweep toward us, each one resolving itself into a Moorish cavalier, well mounted, and fully armed,
and seemingly upon the lookout for adventure. These, then, are Beni Hassan men! What will they do to us and how shall we greet them?
Is our anxious thought, as they draw nearer, brandishing their rifles, shouting as they ride. The first brief moment of alarm is, however, quickly ended.
The chief salutes us cordially; asks Haj whence we come, whither wee are going; and then, desirous of showing honor to us
(for foreign travellers are always looked upon as men of great distinction), he offers to perform for us a fantasia. The fantasia is an exhibition of Arabian horsemanship,
a sort of glorified cavarely-charge, a spectacular manoeuvre, the favourite amusement of the Moorish cavalier, the exercices in which he takes most pleasure and most pride. It is called by him
lab-al-baroud,” the powder play.” A dozen cavaliers, long-haired son of Hassan, advance across the plain, their horses alined, breast with breast.
They twirl aloft their richly inlaid guns; then. Putting their chargers to their fullest speed, the riders rise in the stirrups,
seize the reins between their teeth, and sweep toward us in swift majesty. On go the horses at full gallop, still accurately in line.
Faster and faster spit the guns above the riders’ heads; now muskets are tossed high in air, and descending are caught by strong bronzed hands that never fail.
On go the horses; then the mean, still standing in the stirrups, their loose garments enveloping them like rapid-flying clouds,
at a signal discharge a rousing volley, and under cover of the smoke, check –almost instantaneously with the cruel bits –their panting horses,
bloody-mouthed and deeply scarred and wounded by the spurs. This intensely thrilling and picturesque performance is rehearsed before us several times, the chief being proud of his little band of “rough riders.”
The men disdainfully examine our English saddles, our horses with docked tails, and laugh at our tiny spurs, for their spurs are sharp spikes three or four inches long.
They mockingly challenge us to join them in another fantasia, and to the amazement of the chief my friend accepts the challenge. The long muzzle-loading rifles are charged again,
and the entire troop, with an American in its midst, slowly canters away. Facing about, the horsemen form in line and begin to twirl their guns on high. Having no rifle,
the stranger draws and flourishes an American revolver. Then, suddenly, the horses eap away, and like a whirlwind the fantasia is upon us. The muskets are discharged;
the revolver pops away, and then a mad race begins. Strange to say, the Tangier horse outruns the chargers of the plains,
and we see the white helmet of the American flash past, one length in advance of the line of frenzied horsemen!
Chagrined at this defeat, the chief attempts to unseat the victor, charging directly at my friend, who, by a skillful movement, avoids a dangerous collision.
Then, spurring after that Beni Hassan knight tribesman, the American overtakes him, and throws an arm around this embarace,
my friend, with a voice that was trained in the Athletic Field at New Haven, shouts a rousing “ Rah, Rah, Rah! –Yale!”
into the ear of the astonished , and thus ends our adventure with the wild Beni Hassan band.
Reassured by the amusing outcome of this first encounter, we ride on toward our noonday halting-place. Our marches are so timed that at midday
we may find ourselves near some patch of shade. Shade in Morocco is rare indeed, but as every tree and bush between Tangier and Fez is marked on our guide Haj’s mental map,
we are usually assured of leafy shelter during our noonday rest. Throughout the burning from noon till three or four o’clock, we lie at full length amid the flowers,
carefully following the shadows as they slowly creep around the trees. The animals, rotives of pack, though not of saddle, browse dreamily, or roll in ecstasy amid the fragrant grasses.
Our men with Oriantal resignation lunch frugally, sit and smoke in silence, or indulge in semi-slumber, with one eye open lest the mules escape.
Then, after the sun’s rays have lost a little of their torried sting, we on once more in the comparative coolness of the afternoon across the Moorish prairies space in Morocco is still a stern reality.
The city Fez, to reach which we must travel thus during eleven days, could be reached by rail (were there a railway leading thither)
in a half-dozen hours! Apropos of this, let me repeat a scrap of wayside conversation.“Morocco is indeed a spacious country,” said I one day to dignified Kaid Lharbi our gurad.
“it is the biggest country in the world,” gravely relied the Kaid. Then gently i endravored to disabuse his mind of this impression by the telling of the vastness of the territory of the USA
“ but how long does it take to cross your country?” he inquired. “ we travel five days in fast trains to go from San Francisco to New York,” i answered.
“ Bah! That is nothing,” rejoined our military escort with a sneer of triumph. “ to go from Tafilet in the south to Tangier in the north, the fastest caravan must travel forty days.
You see Morocco is the biggest country in the world!”
Nor can we blame him for his opinion, for the land looks boundless. The grand, free lines of the Moorish landscape are unbroken;
no trees, no hedges, and no highways are there to spoil the composition of the picture drawn and painted by the master artist, Nature.
The horizon seems wider than in other lands. Apparently there is no end, no limit to the landscape. We know that beyond each range of hills there will be revealed a replica of this primeval picture.
One scene like will succeed another with scarce an interruption until the minarets of Fez shall cut their square majestic outlines against the southern sky.
Who can describe the floral beauty of these boundless prairies?—who except Pierre Loti? It was his dainty volume,
“Au Maroc”, that inspired me with a desire to follow him into Morocco. When i was reading his beautiful descriptions of the floral mosaic
that covers both the plains and hillsides of the land, I could not easily accept as true the seemingly
exaggerated assertions of the author; his glowing word-pictures of an “ empire carpeted with flowers.” Yet he spoke truly, and as I rode across these broad stretches of pure white,
where marguerites in all their modest loveliness he thick upon the greensward, I knew that I had seen in all before –seen it upon his printed page, as real, as beautifully vivid as it is to me to-day.
This is our life during ten delightful, never-to-be-forgotten days. All days we journey southward, pausing at noon “midway ‘twixt here and there;”
at night we arrive, as my friend expressed it, at “nowhere in particular, “ and in the glow of the sunset we pith our little camp.
Then, when the evening fire is lighted, the encircling night grows blacker.The surrounding darkness becomes a protecting wall, and we fell almost secure.
Our animals are hobbled in a row before the tent, each with a heap of fresh green grass or clover. They eat all night; and when we wake, startled by the cry of a jackal,
or by a shout from one of the Men on guard, we are sure to hear that music of nine munching months. It is our lullaby,
and we fall asleep again to dream of Fez, the mysterious city which we shall enter soon
Later in the day we met with a curious experience. As we began the descent into a board valley, we saw approaching us another caravan
When it drew near, we discovered, with pleased surprise, that the man who rode in front was clothed in coat and trousers, evidently a European, a man from our own world,
perhaps the only other white-skinned traveller in the land. We shook off the lethargy that results from a long morning in the saddle, and prepared to greet the stranger with smiles and questions,
eager to give news of the living world to one who must have been buried for at least many days in this roadless land, eager to send back by him messages to the consul in Tangier.
Nearer he comes and nearer, but as yet he makes no sign. Imagine, then, our blank dismay when the caravan pass on another on his narrow trail amid the yellow grain,
and the stranger –a German merchant, as we learned afterward –rides past with his Teutonic nose high in air, without a side glance or a nod
without the slightest sign of recognition in answer to Our smiles; for so astonished were we that we could not speak.
This exhibition of boorishness. I fear, gave our Moslem followers a sad notion of the love and good-fellowship existing between man and man in the world of unbelievers.
After receiving his cut-direct, we ride on across the grand free landscape, its lines unbroken by trees or houses, where grain grows wild and rots unharvested.
In Roman times Morocco was the granary of Europe; to-day the Moorish authorities prohibit the exportation of all grain....
To modern minds the word “metropolis” suggests a city, great in extent, in the heart of a thickly populated country; a place of marvels and of wonderful contrivances;
a place where commerce has worn mighty canons between huge cliffs of masonry; a place toward which all roads converge; a place whence radiate interminable
rails of steel, along which speed steaming monsters, annihilating space and bringing vast regions under the spell of urban supremacy; or else the suggestion
is of a mighty seaport, to which the great ships of the deep bring men from far-off lands and cargoes from the far ends of the earth.
Metropolis, moreover, means a place where burn the beacon-lights of intelligence and culture; where the latest word of science is spoken;
where every day a superstition dies; where seekers after truth come nearest to their goal. A metropolis is the essence of our new Century civilization,
the creation of an irresistible modern impulse, an entity that challenges our admiration and inspires us with awe.But there is in this world a great city,
In the midst of a fertile, smiling wilderness, it is a stranger to all things, that are new; its commerce ebbs and flows through channels unknown to the world.
At its gates are no railways and no carriage-roads, but it holds infrequent communication with a distant port by means of caravans of mules and cannels,
and of massagers who run on foot. Its culture is the culture of the Fiftieth Century, its science of still earlier date; and truth there is yet hid by clouds of superstition.
his city is the essence of the middle Ages; it is the heart of a nation that was mummiefied eight hundred years ago
This city is called Fez; the land of which it is the capital of Morocco The first glimpse of Fez is an event in the life of a traveller. Then, if ever, will be experienced one of those delicious little thrills
that make their way down the spinal column of a man when he realizes that he has accomplished something of which
has long been dreaming. And when we, who have long been dreaming of a visit to the Moor’s metropolis, actually behold it, though it first appears as only a faint line of walls and towers,
almost indiscernible through the rough sea of heated air-waives that surge between us and the city, now that Fez at last
has risen from this endless plain over which we have been toiling southwards for eleven days, we feel that we must draw rein, and for a few minutes indulge in the enjoyment of that
creeping thrill. There are so few of them in life; the traveller who can remember twenty of those delicious moments in as many years is fortunate above his kind!
Happy in the assurance that a new and thoroughly uncommon experience is opening before us, we ride rapidly on. Leaving our baggage caravan far in the rear,
and halting at a respectful distance from the walls, we snatch a hasty Luncheon before entering the gates of Fez; and this luncheon is the last incident of our delightful
journey into Morocco. We have been eleven long days in the saddle. We recall the departure from Tangier, the nights in camp near Beber villages,
the passing glimpse of the city of Alcazar-el- Kebir, and the visit to Morocco’s great saint, the Shareef of Wazzan; nor can we forget the great sun –tlooded land,
bright with the colors of a million –million flowers, across which our little caravan has struggled at a snail –like pace, crawling scarce twenty miles between the raising and the setting of the sun.
Still with us are the faithfull five –the five men who formed our escort. The men to whom we looked for comfort, willing service, and protection. There is Kaid Lharbi,
the military guard, under his broad-brimmed hat; and as for the dragoman-in-chief, who can forget the smiling face of Haj Abder-Rahman? A marvel of tact and cleverness was “Haj,”
but though he has succefully piloted our fleet of mules and horses, with their cargess of tents, furniture, provisions, cameras, and presents,
across trackless expanses where the only law is is the law of the Might, he may well assume an anxious expression as
we approach the gates of Fez; for there his task will be even more difficult. Insted of the lawless, but simple-minded, casily-won people of the plains,
with the proud, ingnorant, fanatical, and cunning population of Fez. We shall be at every turn by a polite resistence,
and although our letters, obtenaind in Tangier from the Moorish Minister of Foreign Affairs, assure us official protection, we shall be given to understand that we are not welcome visitors
and that our sojourn must be made as short as possible. That there are two great decisions, each almost independent of the other, we very soon discover.
First, there is the Imperial and official quarter, where the places and gardens of the Sultan and the buildings of the government are scattered over uncounted acres of high-walled areas, in the
native speech, this quarter is called Fassel-Djedid; that is,” Fez, the new,” for it is new when measured by the age of Fass-Bali; or Old-Fez, which soon reveals itself to us, lying in a hollow to the
left of Fess-Djedid. This is the medina, or city proper, wherein are situated the most sacred mosques, the busiest bazaars, the dwelling of the poorer classes, and the modest. Vice-Consulates of only two
or there European nations. Between the animated Median, -a mass of closely packed cubes of white, appearing
When viewed from a distance like a saucer filled with sugar lumps,--and the spacious, stately governmental quarter, lies what is called the garden region.(Jnan)
This portion of the city in part resembles a well-cultivated farming region, open and free of access; in part it is like a labyrinth of narrow high-walled alleys, dividing, with their double barriers of
stone and plaster, one mysterious garden from another, isolating the secret retreat of one aristocratic Moor from the perfumed inclosure in which the harem of another is confined.
A veritable abode of mystery and beauty is that distant portion of the garden region, a paradise to which the
stranger is not welcomed. Nor will the stranger be persona grata in any part of Fez if the reports of other travellers are true. Surely, it will be a luxury to be despised by an entire population,
and despised because we are that which we are most proud to be, champions of progress, lovers of civilization. And ready to meet the contempt of Fez
People, we approach this city. Near the ruined walls we see a multitude of whitish forms, now swayed as by emotion. It is an audience composed of men of Fez, gathered in a short of natural
theatre to listen to the dramatic tale of a famous story-teller. In ages that are past the white-robed Greeks came forth from Athens and sat thus in the shadow of the old Acropolis to listen to the
stories of dramatists and poets whose fame the whole world now knows. And because of its suggestion of those ancient gatherings, this assembly takes on a dignity and an importance in our eyes.
Our coming causes a diversion; spectators drop the thread of the speaker’s discourse, and turn toward us with a scowling curiosity. There are no greetings, not a smile, but we are not conscious of
any open rudeness, save that now and then as we ride through the crowd, we notice that men clear their and spit; this, however, we expected, for we knew that the presence of a
Christian so defiles the atmosphere that good Fezis must needs cleanse their mouths and nostrils after he has passed....