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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #75 on: March 31, 2009, 01:26:17 pm »

Finally a ray of the sun shone through. Only then did we look at each other.

Morhange held out his hand.

"Thank you," he said simply.

And he added with a smile:

"To be drowned in the very middle of the Sahara would have been pretentious and ridiculous. You have saved us, thanks to your power of decision, from this very paradoxical end."

Ah, that he had been thrown by a misstep of his camel and rolled to his death in the midst of the flood! Then what followed would never have happened. That is the thought that comes to me in hours of weakness. But I have told you that I pull myself out of it quickly. No, no, I do not regret it, I cannot regret it, that what happened did happen.

 

Morhange left me to go into the little grotto, where Bou-Djema's camels were now resting comfortably. I stayed alone, watching the torrent which was continuously rising with the impetuous inrush of its unbridled tributaries. It had stopped raining. The sun shone from a sky that had renewed its blueness. I could feel the clothes that had a moment before been drenching, drying upon me incredibly fast.

A hand was placed on my shoulder. Morhange was again beside me.

p. 76

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #76 on: March 31, 2009, 01:26:32 pm »

"Come here," he said.

Somewhat surprised, I followed him. We went into the grotto.

The opening, which was big enough to admit the camels, made it fairly light. Morhange led me up to the smooth face of rock opposite. "Look," he said, with unconcealed joy.

"What of it?"

"Don't you see?"

"I see that there are several Tuareg inscriptions," I answered, with some disappointment. "But I thought I had told you that I read Tifinar writing very badly. Are these writings more interesting than the others we have come upon before?"

"Look at this one," said Morhange. There was such an accent of triumph in his tone that this time I concentrated my attention.

I looked again.

The characters of the inscription were arranged in the form of a cross. It plays such an important part in this adventure that I cannot forego retracing it for you.

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #77 on: March 31, 2009, 01:26:52 pm »

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #78 on: March 31, 2009, 01:27:10 pm »

p. 77

It was designed with great regularity, and the characters were cut deep into the rock. Although I knew so little of rock inscriptions at that time I had no difficulty in recognizing the antiquity of this one.

Morhange became more and more radiant as he regarded it.

I looked at him questioningly.

"Well, what have you to say now?" he asked. "What do you want me to say? I tell you that I can barely read Tifinar."

"Shall I help you?" he suggested.

This course in Berber writing, after the emotions through which we had just passed, seemed to me a little inopportune. But Morhange was so visibly delighted that I could not dash his joy.

"Very well then," began my companion, as much at his ease as if he had been before a blackboard, "what will strike you first about this inscription is its repetition in the form of a cross. That is to say that it contains the same word twice, top to bottom, and right to left. The word which it composes has seven letters so the fourth letter , comes naturally in the middle. This arrangement which is unique in Tifinar writing, is already remarkable enough. But there is better still. Now we will read it."

Getting it wrong three times out of seven I finally succeeded, with Morhange's help, in spelling the word.

p. 78

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #79 on: March 31, 2009, 01:27:24 pm »

"Have you got it?" asked Morhange when I had finished my task.

"Less than ever," I answered, a little put out; "a, n, t, i, n, h, a,—Antinha, I don't know that word, or anything like it, in all the Saharan dialects I am familiar with."

Morhange rubbed his hands together. His satisfaction was without bounds.

"You have said it. That is why the discovery is unique."

"Why?"

"There is really nothing, either in Berber or in Arabian, analogous to this word."

"Then?"

"Then, my dear friend, we are in the presence of a foreign word, translated into Tifinar."

"And this word belongs, according to your theory, to what language?

"You must realize that the letter e does not exist in the Tifinar alphabet. It has here been replaced by the phonetic sign which is nearest to it,—h. Restore e to the place which belongs to it in the word, and you have—"

"Antinea."

"'Antinea,' precisely. We find ourselves before a Greek vocable reproduced in Tifinar. And I think that now you will agree with me that my find has a certain interest."

That day we had no more conferences upon

p. 79

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #80 on: March 31, 2009, 01:27:37 pm »

texts. A loud cry, anguished, terrifying, rang out. We rushed out to find a strange spectacle awaiting us.

Although the sky had cleared again, the torrent of yellow water was still foaming and no one could predict when it would fall. In mid-stream, struggling desperately in the current, was an extraordinary mass, gray and soft and swaying.

But what at the first glance overwhelmed us with astonishment was to see Bou-Djema, usually so calm, at this moment apparently beside himself with frenzy, bounding through the gullies and over the rocks of the ledge, in full pursuit of the shipwreck.

Of a sudden I seized Morhange by the arm. The grayish thing was alive. A pitiful long neck emerged from it with the heartrending cry of a beast in despair.

"The fool," I cried, "he has let one of our beasts get loose, and the stream is carrying it away!"

"You are mistaken," said Morhange. "Our camels are all in the cave. The one Bou-Djema is running after is not ours. And the cry of anguish we just heard, that was not Bou-Djema either. Bou-Djema is a brave Chaamba who has at this moment only one idea, to appropriate the intestate capital represented by this camel in the stream."

"Who gave that cry, then?"

p. 80

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #81 on: March 31, 2009, 01:27:49 pm »

"Let us try, if you like, to explore up this stream that our guide is descending at such a rate."

And without waiting for my answer he had already set out through the recently washed gullies of the rocky bank.

At that moment it can be truly said that Morhange went to meet his destiny.

I followed him. We had the greatest difficulty in proceeding two or three hundred meters. Finally we saw at our feet a little rushing brook where the water was falling a trifle.

"See there?" said Morhange.

A blackish bundle was balancing on the waves of the creek.

When we had come up even with it we saw that it was a man in the long dark blue robes of the Tuareg.

"Give me your hand," said Morhange, "and brace yourself against a rock, hard."

He was very, very strong. In an instant, as if it were child's play, he had brought the body ashore.

"He is still alive," he pronounced with satisfaction. "Now it is a question of getting him to the grotto. This is no place to resuscitate a drowned man."

He raised the body in his powerful arms.

"It is astonishing how little he weighs for a man of his height."

By the time we had retraced the way to the grotto

p. 81

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #82 on: March 31, 2009, 01:28:05 pm »

the man's cotton clothes were almost dry. But the dye had run plentifully, and it was an indigo man that Morhange was trying to recall to life.

When I had made him swallow a quart of rum he opened his eyes, looked at the two of us with surprise, then, closing them again, murmured almost unintelligibly a phrase, the sense of which we did not get until some days later:

"Can it be that I have reached the end of my mission?"

"What mission is he talking about?" I said.

"Let him recover himself completely," responded Morhange. "You had better open some preserved food. With fellows of this build you don't have to observe the precautions prescribed for drowned Europeans."

It was indeed a species of giant, whose life we had just saved. His face, although very thin, was regular, almost beautiful. He had a clear skin and little beard. His hair, already white, showed him to be a man of sixty years.

When I placed a tin of corned-beef before him a light of voracious joy came into his eyes. The tin contained an allowance for four persons. It was empty in a flash.

"Behold," said Morhange, "a robust appetite. Now we can put our questions without scruple."

Already the Targa had placed over his forehead and face the blue veil prescribed by the ritual. He

p. 82

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #83 on: March 31, 2009, 01:28:16 pm »

must have been completely famished not to have performed this indispensable formality sooner. There was nothing visible now but the eyes, watching us with a light that grew steadily more sombre.

"French officers," he murmured at last.

And he took Morhange's hand, and having placed it against his breast, carried it to his lips.

Suddenly an expression of anxiety passed over his face.

"And my mehari?" he asked.

I explained that our guide was then employed in trying to save his beast. He in turn told us how it had stumbled, and fallen into the current, and he himself, in trying to save it, had been knocked over. His forehead had struck a rock. He had cried out. After that he remembered nothing more.

"What is your name?" I asked.

"Eg-Anteouen."

"What tribe do you belong to?"

"The tribe of Kel-Tahat."

"The Kel-Tahats are the serfs of the tribe of Kel-Rhela, the great nobles of Hoggar?"

"Yes," he answered, casting a side glance in my direction. It seemed that such precise questions on the affairs of Ahygar were not to his liking.

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #84 on: March 31, 2009, 01:28:50 pm »

"The Kel-Tahats, if I am not mistaken, are established on the southwest flank of Atakor.' 1 What


p. 83

were you doing, so far from your home territory when we saved your life?"

"I was going, by way of Tit, to In-Saleh," he said.

"What were you going to do at In-Saleh?"

He was about to reply. But suddenly we saw him tremble. His eyes were fixed on a point of the cavern. We looked to see what it was. He had just seen the rock inscription which had so delighted Morhange an hour before.

"Do you know that?" Morhange asked him with keen curiosity.

The Targa did not speak a word but his eyes had a strange light.

"Do you know that?" insisted Morhange. And he added:

"Antinea?"

"Antinea," repeated the man.

And he was silent.

"Why don't you answer the Captain?" I called out, with a strange feeling of rage sweeping over me.

The Targui looked at me. I thought that he was going to speak. But his eyes became suddenly hard. Under the lustrous veil I saw his features stiffening.

Morhange and I turned around.

On the threshold of the cavern, breathless, discomfited, harassed by an hour of vain pursuit, Bou-Djema had returned to us.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Footnotes
82:1 Another name, in the Temahaq language, for Ahaggar. (Note by M. Leroux.)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/ant/ida07.htm
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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #85 on: April 01, 2009, 01:12:47 pm »

p. 84

CHAPTER VI
THE DISASTER OF THE LETTUCE
As Eg-Anteouen and Bou-Djema came face to face, I fancied that both the Targa and the Chaamba gave a sudden start which each immediately repressed. It was nothing more than a fleeting impression. Nevertheless, it was enough to make me resolve that as soon as I was alone with our guide,

I would question him closely concerning our new companion.

The beginning of the day had been wearisome enough. 'We decided, therefore, to spend the rest of it there, and even to pass the night in the cave, waiting till the flood had completely subsided.

In the morning, when I was marking our day's march upon the map, Morhange came toward me. I noticed that his manner was somewhat restrained.

"In three days, we shall be at Shikh-Salah," I said to him. "Perhaps by the evening of the second day, badly as the camels go."

"Perhaps we shall separate before then," he muttered.

p. 85

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #86 on: April 01, 2009, 01:12:58 pm »

"How so?"

"You see, I have changed my itinerary a little. I have given up the idea of going straight to Timissao. First I should like to make a little excursion into the interior of the Ahaggar range."

I frowned:

"What is this new idea?"

As I spoke I looked about for Eg-Anteouen, whom I had seen in conversation with Morhange the previous evening and several minutes before. He was quietly mending one of his sandals with a waxed thread supplied by Bou-Djema. He did not raise his head.

"It is simply," explained Morhange, less and less at his ease, "that this man tells me there are similar inscriptions in several caverns in western Ahaggar. These caves are near the road that he has to take returning home. He must pass by Tit. Now, from Tit, by way of Silet, is hardly two hundred kilometers. It is a quasi-classic route 1 as short again as the one that I shall have to take alone, after I leave you, from Shikh-Salah to Timissao. That is in part, you see, the reason which has made me decide to . . ."

"In part? In very small part," I replied. "But is your mind absolutely made up?"


p. 86

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #87 on: April 01, 2009, 01:13:12 pm »

"It is," he answered me.

"When do you expect to leave me?"

"To-day. The road which Eg-Anteouen proposes to take into Ahaggar crosses this one about four leagues from here. I have a favor to ask of you in this connection."

"Please tell me."

"It is to let me take one of the two baggage camels, since my Targa has lost his."

"The camel which carries your baggage belongs to you as much as does your own mehari," I answered coldly.

We stood there several minutes without speaking. Morhange maintained an uneasy silence; I was examining my map. All over it in greater or less degree, but particularly towards the south, the unexplored portions of Ahaggar stood out as far too numerous white patches in the tan area of supposed mountains.

I finally said:

"You give me your word that when you have seen these famous grottos, you will make straight for Timissao by Tit and Silet?"

He looked at me uncomprehendingly.

"Why do you ask that?"

"Because, if you promise me that,—provided, of course, that my company is not unwelcome to you—I will go with you. Either way, I shall have two hundred kilometers to go. I shall strike for Shikh-Salah

p. 87

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #88 on: April 01, 2009, 01:13:26 pm »

from the south, instead of from the west—that is the only difference."

Morhange looked at me with emotion.

"Why do you do this?" he murmured.

"My dear fellow," I said (it was the first time that I had addressed Morhange in this familiar way), "my dear fellow, I have a sense which becomes marvellously acute in the desert, the sense of danger. I gave you a slight proof of it yesterday morning, at the coming of the storm. With all your knowledge of rock inscriptions, you seem to me to have no very exact idea of what kind of place Ahaggar is, nor what may be in store for you there. On that account, I should be just as well pleased not to let you run sure risks alone."

"I have a guide," he said with his adorable naiveté.

Eg-Anteouen, in the same squatting position, kept on patching his old slipper.

I took a step toward him.

"You heard what I said to the Captain?"

"Yes," the Targa answered calmly.

"I am going with him. We leave you at Tit, to which place you must bring us. Where is the place you proposed to show the Captain?"

"I did not propose to show it to him; it was his own idea," said the Targa coldly. "The grottos with the inscriptions are three-days’ march southward in the mountains. At first, the road is rather rough.

p. 88

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« Reply #89 on: April 01, 2009, 01:13:41 pm »

But farther on, it turns, and you gain Timissao very easily. There are good wells where the Tuareg Taitoqs, who are friendly to the French, come to water their camels."

"And you know the road well?"

He shrugged his shoulders. His eyes had a scornful smile.

"I have taken it twenty times," he said.

"In that case, let's get started."

We rode for two hours. I did not exchange a word with Morhange. I had a clear intuition of the folly we were committing in risking ourselves so unconcernedly in that least known and most dangerous part of the Sahara. Every blow which had been struck in the last twenty years to undermine the French advance had come from this redoubtable Ahaggar. But what of it? It was of my own will that I had joined in this mad scheme. No need of going over it again. What was the use of spoiling my action by a continual exhibition of disapproval? And, furthermore, I may as well admit that I rather liked the turn that our trip was beginning to take. I had, at that instant, the sensation of journeying toward something incredible, toward some tremendous adventure. You do not live with impunity for months and years as the guest of the desert. Sooner or later, it has its way with you, annihilates the good officer, the timid executive, overthrows his solicitude for his responsibilities
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