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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2009, 01:19:27 pm »

The principal authors were, and still are, the Senoussis, whose able chief has been forced by our arms to transfer the seat of his confederation several thousand leagues from there, to Schimmedrou, in the Tibesti. They had, I say they through modesty, the idea of ascertaining the traces left by these agitators on their favorite places of concourse; Rhat, Temassinin, the plain of Adejamor, and In-Salah. It was, you see, at least after leaving Temassinin, practically the same itinerary as that followed in 1864 by General Rohlfs.

I had already attracted some attention by two excursions, one to Agades, and the other to Bilma, and was considered by the staff officers to be one of the

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #46 on: March 31, 2009, 01:19:36 pm »

best informed on the Senoussis question. I was therefore selected to assume this new task.

I then suggested that it would be of interest to kill two birds with one stone, and to get, in passing, an idea of the northern Ahoggar, so as to make sure whether the Tuaregs of Ahitarhen had continued to have as cordial relations with the Senoussis as they had had when they combined to massacre the Flatters’ mission. I was immediately accorded the permission. The change in my first plan was as follows: After reaching Ighelaschem, six hundred kilometers south of Temassinin, instead of taking the direct road to Touat via Rhat, I would, penetrating between the high land of Mouydir and Ahaggar, strike off to the southwest as far as Shikh-Salah. There I would turn again northwards, towards In-Salah, by the road to the Soudan and Agades. In all hardly eight kilometers additional in a trip of about seven hundred leagues, with the certainty of making as complete an examination as possible of the roads which our enemies, the Senoussis of Tibesti and the Tuareg of the Ahoggar, must follow to arrive at Touat. On the way, for every explorer has his pet fancy, I was not at all displeased to think that I would have a chance to examine the geological formation of the plateau of Egere, about which Duveyrier and the others are so disappointingly indefinite.

Everything was ready for my departure from

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #47 on: March 31, 2009, 01:19:49 pm »

Wargla. Everything, which is to say, very little. Three mehara: mine, my companion Bou-Djema's (a faithful Chaamba, whom I had had with me in my wanderings through the Air, less of a guide in the country I was familiar with than a machine for saddling and unsaddling camels), then a third to carry provisions and skins of drinking water, very little, since I had taken pains to locate the stops with reference to the wells.

Some people go equipped for this kind of expedition with a hundred regulars, and even cannon. I am for the tradition of Douls and René Callie, I go alone.

I was at that perfect moment when only one thin thread still held me to the civilized world when an official cable arrived at Wargla.

"Lieutenant de Saint-Avit," it said briefly, "will delay his departure until the arrival of Captain Morhange, who will accompany him on his expedition of exploration."

I was more than disappointed. I alone had had the idea of this expedition. I had had all the difficulty that you can imagine to make the authorities agree to it. And now when I was rejoicing at the idea of the long hours I would spend alone with myself in the heart of the desert, they sent me a stranger, and, to make matters worse, a superior.

The condolences of my comrades aggravated my bad humor.

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #48 on: March 31, 2009, 01:20:02 pm »

The Yearly Report, consulted on the spot, had given them the following information:

"Morhange (Jean-Marie-François), class of 1881. Breveted. Captain, unassigned. (Topographical Service of the Army.)"

"There is the explanation for you," said one. "They are sending one of their creatures to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, after you have had all the trouble of making it. Breveted! That's a great way. The theories of Ardant du Picq or else nothing about here."

"I don't altogether agree with you," said the Major. "They knew in Parliament, for some one is always indiscreet, the real aim of Saint-Avit's mission: to force their hand for the occupation of Touat. And this Morhange must be a man serving the interests of the Army Commission. All these people, secretaries, members of Parliament, governors, keep a close watch on each other. Some one will write an amusing paradoxical history some day, of the French Colonial Expansion, which is made without the knowledge of the powers in office, when it is not actually in spite of them."

"Whatever the reason, the result will be the same," I said bitterly; "we will be two Frenchmen to spy on each other night and day, along the roads to the south. An amiable prospect when one has none too much time to foil all the tricks of the natives. When does he arrive?"

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #49 on: March 31, 2009, 01:20:25 pm »

"Day after tomorrow, probably. I have news of a convoy coming from Ghardaia. It is likely that he will avail himself of it. The indications are that he doesn't know very much about traveling alone."

Captain Morhange did arrive in fact two days later by means of the convoy from Ghardaia. I was the first person for whom he asked.

When he came to my room, whither I had withdrawn in dignity as soon as the convoy was sighted, I was disagreeably surprised to foresee that I would have great difficulty in preserving my prejudice against him.

He was tall, his face full and ruddy, with laughing blue eyes, a small black moustache, and hair that was already white.

"I have a thousand apologies to make to you, my dear fellow," he said immediately, with a frankness that I have never seen in any other man. "You must be furious with my importunity in upsetting your plans and delaying your departure."

"By no means, Captain," I replied coolly.

"You really have only yourself to blame. It is on account of your knowledge of the southern routes, so highly esteemed at Paris, that I wished to have you to initiate me when the Ministries of Instruction and of Commerce, and the Geographical Society combined to charge me with the mission which brings me here. These three honorable institutions have

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #50 on: March 31, 2009, 01:20:35 pm »

in fact entrusted me with the attempt to re-establish the ancient track of the caravans, which, from the ninth century, trafficked between Tunis and the Soudan, by Toweur, Wargla, Es-Souk and the bend of the Bourroum; and to study the possibility of restoring this route to its ancient splendor. At the same time, at the Geographic Bureau, I heard of the journey that you are undertaking. From Wargla to Shikh-Salah our two itineraries are the same. Only I must admit to you that it is the first voyage of this kind that I have ever undertaken. I would not be afraid to hold forth for an hour on Arabian literature in the amphitheatre of the School of Oriental Languages, but I know well enough that in the desert I should have to ask for directions whether to turn right or left. This is the only chance which could give me such an opportunity, and at the same time put me under obligation for this introduction to so charming a companion. You must not blame me if I seized it, if I used all my influence to retard your departure from Wargla until the instant when I could join you. I have only one more word to add to what I have said. I am entrusted with a mission which by its origin is rendered essentially civilian. You are sent out by the Ministry of War. Up to the moment when, arrived at Shikh-Salah we turn our backs on each other to attain, you Touat, and I the Niger, all your recommendations, all your orders, will be followed

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #51 on: March 31, 2009, 01:20:48 pm »

by a subaltern, and, I hope, by a friend as well."

All the time he was talking so openly I felt delightedly my worst recent fears melting away. Nevertheless, I still experienced a mean desire to show him some marks of reserve, for having thus disposed of my company at a distance, without consulting me.

"I am very grateful to you, Captain, for your extremely flattering words. When do you wish to leave Wargla?"

He made a gesture of complete detachment.

"Whenever you like. Tomorrow, this evening. I have already delayed you. Your preparations must have already been made for some time."

My little maneuver had turned against myself. I had not been counting on leaving before the next week.

"Tomorrow, Captain, but your luggage?" He smiled delightfully.

"I thought it best to bring as little as possible. A light pack, some papers. My brave camel had no difficulty in bringing it along. For the rest I depend on your advice, and the resources of Owargla."

I was well caught. I had nothing further to say. And moreover, such freedom of spirit and manner had already captivated me.

"It seems," said my comrades, when the time for aperitives had brought us all together again, "that

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #52 on: March 31, 2009, 01:21:02 pm »

this Captain of yours is a remarkably charming fellow."

"Remarkably."

"You surely can't have any trouble with him. It is only up to you to see that later on he doesn't get all the glory."

"We aren't working with the same end in view," I answered evasively.

I was thoughtful, only thoughtful I give you my word. From that moment I harbored no further grudge against Morhange. Yet my silence persuaded him that I was unforgiving. And everyone,

do you hear me, everyone said later on, when suspicions became rife:

"He is surely guilty. We saw them go off together. We can affirm it."

I am guilty. . . . But for a low motive of jealousy. . . . How sickening. . . .

After that, there was nothing to do but to flee, flee, as far as the places where there are no more men who think and reason.

Morhange appeared, his arm resting on the Major's, who was beaming over this new acquaintanceship.

He presented him enthusiastically:

"Captain Morhange, gentlemen. An officer of the old school, and a man after our own hearts, I give you my word. He wants to leave tomorrow, but we must give him such a reception that he will

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #53 on: March 31, 2009, 01:21:13 pm »

forget that idea before two days are up. Come, Captain, you have at least eight days to give us."

"I am at the disposition of Lieutenant de Saint-Avit," replied Morhange, with a quiet smile.

The conversation became general. The sound of glasses and laughter rang out. I heard my comrades in ecstasies over the stories that the newcomer poured out with never-failing humor. And I, never, never have I felt so sad.

The time came to pass into the dining-room.

"At my right, Captain," cried the Major, more and more beaming. "And I hope you will keep on giving us these new lines on Paris. We are not up with the times here, you know."

"Yours to command, Major," said Morhange. "Be seated, gentlemen."

The officers obeyed, with a joyous clatter of moving chairs. I had not taken my eyes off Morhange, who was still standing.

"Major, gentlemen, you will allow me," he said.

And before sitting down at that table, where every moment he was the life of the party, in a low voice, with his eyes closed, Captain Morhange recited the Benedicite.



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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #54 on: March 31, 2009, 01:21:29 pm »

p. 54

CHAPTER IV
TOWARDS LATITUDE 25
"You see," said Captain Morhange to me fifteen days later, "you are much better informed about the ancient routes through the Sahara than you have been willing to let me suppose, since you know of the existence of the two Tadekkas. But the one of which you have just spoken is the Tadekka of Ibn-Batoutah, located by this historian seventy days from Touat, and placed by Schirmer, very plausibly, in the unexplored territory of the Aouelimmiden. This is the Tadekka by which the Sonrahi caravans passed every year, travelling by Egypt.

"My Tadekka is different, the capital of the veiled people, placed by Ibn-Khaldoun twenty days south of Wargla, which he calls Tadmekka. It is towards this Tadmekka that I am headed. I must establish Tadmekka in the ruins of Es-Souk. The commercial trade route, which in the ninth century bound the Tunisian Djerid to the bend the Niger makes at Bourroum, passed by Es-Souk. It is to study the possibility of reestablishing this ancient

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #55 on: March 31, 2009, 01:21:39 pm »

thoroughfare that the Ministries gave me this mission, which has given me the pleasure of your companionship."

"You are probably in for a disappointment," I said. "Everything indicates that the commerce there is very slight."

"Well, I shall see," he answered composedly. This was while we were following the unicolored banks of a salt lake. The great saline stretch shone pale-blue, under the rising sun. The legs of our five mehara cast on it their moving shadows of a darker blue. For a moment the only inhabitant of these solitudes, a bird, a kind of indeterminate heron, rose and hung in the air, as if suspended from a thread, only to sink back to rest as soon as we had passed.

I led the way, selecting the route, Morhange followed. Enveloped in a bernous, his head covered with the straight chechia of the Spahis, a great chaplet of alternate red and white beads, ending in a cross, around his neck, he realized perfectly the ideal of Father Lavigerie's White Fathers.

After a two-days’ halt at Temassinin we had just left the road followed by Flatters, and taken an oblique course to the south. I have the honor of having antedated Fourcau in demonstrating the importance of Temassinin as a geometrical point for the passage of caravans, and of selecting the place where Captain Pein has just now constructed a fort.

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #56 on: March 31, 2009, 01:21:53 pm »

The junction for the roads that lead to Touat from Fezzan and Tibesti, Temassinin is the future seat of a marvellous Intelligence Department. What I had collected there in two days about the disposition of our Senoussis enemies was of importance. I noticed that Morhange let me proceed with my inquiries with complete indifference.

These two days he had passed in conversation with the old negro guardian of the turbet, which preserves, under its plaster dome, the remains of the venerated Sidi-Moussa. The confidences they exchanged, I am sorry to say that I have forgotten. But from the negro's amazed admiration, I realized the ignorance in which I stood to the mysteries of the desert, and how familiar they were to my companion.

And if you want to get any idea of the extraordinary originality which Morhange introduced into such surroundings, you who, after all, have a certain familiarity with the tropics, listen to this. It was exactly two hundred kilometers from here, in the vicinity of the Great Dune, in that horrible stretch of six days without water. We had just enough for two days before reaching the next well, and you know these wells; as Flatters wrote to his wife, "you have to work for hours before you can clean them out and succeed in watering beasts and men." By chance we met a caravan there, which was going east towards Rhadames, and had come too far north.

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #57 on: March 31, 2009, 01:22:05 pm »

The camels’ humps, shrunken and shaking, bespoke the sufferings of the troop. Behind came a little gray ass, a pitiful burrow, interferring at every step, and lightened of its pack because the merchants knew that it was going to die. Instinctively, with its last strength, it followed, knowing that when it could stagger no longer, the end would come and the flutter of the bald vultures’ wings. I love animals, which I have solid reasons for preferring to men. But never should I have thought of doing what Morhange did then. I tell you that our water skins were almost dry, and that our own camels, without which one is lost in the empty desert, had not been watered for many hours. Morhange made his kneel, uncocked a skin, and made the little ass drink. I certainly felt gratification at seeing the poor bare flanks of the miserable beast pant with satisfaction. But the responsibility was mine. Also I had seen Bou-Djema's aghast expression, and the disapproval of the thirsty members of the caravan. I remarked on it. How it was received! "What have I given," replied Morhange, "was my own. We will reach El-Biodh to-morrow evening, about six o'clock. Between here and there I know that I shall not be thirsty." And that in a tone, in which for the first time he allowed the authority of a Captain to speak. "That is easy to say," I thought, ill-humoredly. "He knows that when he wants them, my water-skin, and Bou-Djema's, are at his service." But I did not yet know

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #58 on: March 31, 2009, 01:22:17 pm »

 Morhange very well, and it is true that until the evening of the next day when we reached El-Biodh, refusing our offers with smiling determination, he drank nothing.

Shades of St. Francis of Assisi! Umbrian hills, so pure under the rising sun! It was in the light of a like sunrise, by the border of a pale stream leaping in full cascades from a crescent-shaped niche of the gray rocks of Egere, that Morhange stopped. The unlooked for waters rolled upon the sand, and we saw, in the light which mirrored them, little black fish. Fish in the middle of the Sahara! All three of us were mute before this paradox of Nature. One of them had strayed into a little channel of sand. He had to stay there, struggling in vain, his little white belly exposed to the air. . . . Morhange picked him up, looked at him for a moment, and put him back into the little stream. Shades of St. Francis. Umbrian hills.. . . But I have sworn not to break the thread of the story by these untimely digressions.

"You see," Captain Morhange said to me a week later, "that I was right in advising you to go farther south before making for Shikh-Salah. Something told me that this highland of Egere was not interesting from your point of view. While here you have only to stoop to pick up pebbles which will allow you to establish the volcanic origin of this region

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« Reply #59 on: March 31, 2009, 01:22:28 pm »

much more certainly than Bou-Derba, des Cloizeaux, and Doctor Marrés have done."

This was while we were following the western pass of the Tidifest Mountains, about the 25th degree of northern latitude.

"I should indeed be ungrateful not to thank you," I said.

I shall always remember that instant. We had left our camels and were collecting fragments of the most characteristic rocks. Morhange employed himself with a discernment which spoke worlds for his knowledge of geology, a science he had often professed complete ignorance of.

Then I asked him the following question:

"May I prove my gratitude by making you a confession?"

He raised his head and looked at me.

"Well then, I don't see the practical value of this trip you have undertaken."

He smiled.

"Why not? To explore the old caravan route, to demonstrate that a connection has existed from the most ancient times between the Mediterranean world, and the country of the Blacks, that seems nothing in your eyes? The hope of settling once for all the secular disputes which have divided so many keen minds; d’Anville, Heeren, Berlioux, Quatremere on the one hand,—on the other Gosselin, Walckenaer, Tissit, Vivien, de saint-Martin; you

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