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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #90 on: April 01, 2009, 01:13:57 pm »

What is there behind those

p. 89

mysterious rocks, those dim solitudes, which have held at bay the most illustrious pursuers of mystery? You follow, I tell you, you follow.

 

"Are you sure at least that this inscription is interesting enough to justify us in our undertaking?" I asked Morhange.

My companion started with pleasure. Ever since we began our journey I had realized his fear that I was coming along half-heartedly. As soon as I offered him a chance to convince me, his scruples vanished, and his triumph seemed assured to him.

"Never," he answered, in a voice that he tried to control, but through which the enthusiasm rang out, "never has a Greek inscription been found so far south. The farthest points where they have been reported are in the south of Algeria and Cyrene. But in Ahaggar! Think of it! It is true that this one is translated into Tifinar. But this peculiarity does not diminish the interest of the coincidence: it increases it."

"What do you take to be the meaning of this word?"

"Antinea can only be a proper name," said Morhange. "To whom does it refer? I admit I don't know, and if at this very moment I am marching toward the south, dragging you along with me, it is because I count on learning more about it. Its etymology? It hasn't one definitely, but there are thirty

p. 90

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #91 on: April 01, 2009, 01:14:08 pm »

possibilities. Bear in mind that the Tifinar alphabet is far from tallying with the Greek alphabet, which increases the number of hypotheses. Shall I suggest several?"

"I was just about to ask you to."

"To begin with, there is ἀντι and ναῦς the woman who is placed opposite a vessel, an explanation which would have been pleasing to Gaffarel and to my venerated master Berlioux. That would apply well enough to the figure-heads of ships. There is a technical term that I cannot recall at this moment, not if you beat me a hundred times over. 1

"Then there is ἀντινηα, that you must relate to ἀντι and ναός, she who holds herself before the ναός, the ναός of the temple, she who is opposite the sanctuary, therefore priestess. An interpretation which would enchant Girard and Renan.

"Next we have ἀντινέ from ἀντι and νέος, new, which can mean two things: either she who is the contrary of young, which is to say old; or she who is the enemy of novelty or the enemy of youth.

There is still another sense of ᾽νατί, in exchange for, which is capable of complicating all the others I have mentioned; likewise there are four meanings for the verb νἐω, which means in turn


p. 91

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #92 on: April 01, 2009, 01:14:22 pm »

to go, to flow, to thread or weave, to heap. There is more still. . . . And notice, please, that I have not at my disposition on the otherwise commodious hump of this mehari, either the great dictionary of Estienne or the lexicons of Passow, of Pape, or of Liddel-Scott. This is only to show you, my dear friend, that epigraphy is but a relative science, always dependent on the discovery of a new text which contradicts the previous findings, when it is not merely at the mercy of the humors of the epigraphists and their pet conceptions of the universe. 1

"That was rather my view of it," I said. "But I must admit my astonishment to find that, with such a sceptical opinion of the goal, you still do not hesitate to take risks which may be quite considerable."

Morhange smiled wanly.

"I do not interpret, my friend; I collect. From what I will take back to him, Dom Granger has the ability to draw conclusions which are beyond my slight knowledge. I was amusing myself a little. Pardon me."

Just then the girth of one of the baggage camels, evidently not well fastened, came loose. Part of the load slipped and fell to the ground.


p. 92

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #93 on: April 01, 2009, 01:14:36 pm »

Eg-Anteouen descended instantly from his beast and helped Bou-Djema repair the damage.

When they had finished, I made my mehari walk beside Bou-Djema's.

"It will be better to resaddle the camels at the next stop. They will have to climb the mountain."

The guide looked at me with amazement. Up to that time I had thought it unnecessary to acquaint him with our new projects. But I supposed Eg-Anteouen would have told him.

"Lieutenant, the road across the white plain to Shikh-Salah is not mountainous," said the Chaamba.

"We are not keeping to the road across the white plain. We are going south, by Ahaggar."

"By Ahaggar," he murmured. "But . . ."

"But what?"

"I do not know the road."

"Eg-Anteouen is going to guide us."

"Eg-Anteouen!"

I watched Bou-Djema as he made this suppressed ejaculation. His eyes were fixed on the Targa with a mixture of stupor and fright.

Eg-Anteouen's camel was a dozen yards ahead of us, side by side with Morhange's. The two men were talking. I realized that Morhange must be conversing with Eg-Anteouen about the famous inscriptions. But we were not so far behind that they could not have overheard our words.

p. 93

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #94 on: April 01, 2009, 01:14:51 pm »

Again I looked at my guide. I saw that he was pale.

"What is it, Bou-Djema?" I asked in a low voice.

"Not here, Lieutenant, not here," he muttered.

His teeth chattered. He added in a whisper:

"Not here. This evening, when we stop, when he turns to the East to pray, when the sun goes down. Then, call me to you. I will tell you. . . . But not here. He is talking, but he is listening. Go ahead. Join the Captain."

"What next?" I murmured, pressing my camel's neck with my foot so as to make him overtake Morhange.

 

It was about five o'clock when Eg-Anteouen who was leading the way, came to a stop.

"Here it is," he said, getting down from his camel.

It was a beautiful and sinister place. To our left a fantastic wall of granite outlined its gray ribs against the sky. This wall was pierced, from top to bottom, by a winding corridor about a thousand feet high and scarcely wide enough in places to allow three camels to walk abreast.

"Here it is," repeated the Targa.

To the west, straight behind us, the track that we were leaving unrolled like a pale ribbon. The white plain, the road to Shikh-Salah, the established halts, the well-known wells. . . . And, on the other side,

p. 94

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #95 on: April 01, 2009, 01:15:09 pm »

this black wall against the mauve sky, this dark passage.

I looked at Morhange.

"We had better stop here," he said simply. "Eg-Anteouen advises us to take as much water here as we can carry."

With one accord we decided to spend the night there, before undertaking the mountain.

There was a spring, in a dark basin, from which fell a little cascade; there were a few shrubs, a few plants.

Already the camels were browsing at the length of their tethers.

Bou-Djema arranged our camp dinner service of tin cups and plates on a great flat stone. An opened tin of meat lay beside a plate of lettuce which he had just gathered from the moist earth around the spring. I could tell from the distracted manner in which he placed these objects upon the rock how deep was his anxiety.

As he was bending toward me to hand me a plate, he pointed to the gloomy black corridor which we were about to enter.

"Blad-el-Khouf!" he murmured.

"What did he say?" asked Morhange, who had seen the gesture.

"Blad-el-Khouf. This is the country of fear. That is what the Arabs call Ahaggar."

Bou-Djema went a little distance off and sat down,

p. 95

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #96 on: April 01, 2009, 01:15:24 pm »

leaving us to our dinner. Squatting on his heels, he began to eat a few lettuce leaves that he had kept for his own meal.

Eg-Anteouen was still motionless.

Suddenly the Targa rose. The sun in the west was no larger than a red brand. We saw Eg-Anteouen approach the fountain, spread his blue burnous on the ground and kneel upon it.

"I did not suppose that the Tuareg were so observant of Mussulman tradition," said Morhange. "Nor I," I replied thoughtfully.

But I had something to do at that moment besides making such speculations.

"Bou-Djema," I called.

At the same time, I looked at Eg-Anteouen. Absorbed in his prayer, bowed toward the west, apparently he was paying no attention to me. As he prostrated himself, I called again.

"Bou-Djema, come with me to my mehari; I want to get something out of the saddle bags."

Still kneeling, Eg-Anteouen was mumbling his prayer slowly, composedly.

But Bou-Djema had not budged.

His only response was a deep moan.

Morhange and I leaped to our feet and ran to the guide. Eg-Anteouen reached him as soon as we did.

With his eyes closed and his limbs already cold, the Chaamba breathed a death rattle in Morhange's arms. I had seized one of his hands. Eg-Anteouen

p. 96

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #97 on: April 01, 2009, 01:15:38 pm »

took the other. Each, in his own way, was trying to divine, to understand. . . .

Suddenly Eg-Anteouen leapt to his feet. He had just seen the poor embossed bowl which the Arab had held an instant before between his knees, and which now lay overturned upon the ground.

He picked it up, looked quickly at one after another of the leaves of lettuce remaining in it, and then gave a hoarse exclamation.

"So," said Morhange, "it's his turn now; he is going to go mad."

Watching Eg-Anteouen closely, I saw him hasten without a word to the rock where our dinner was set, a second later, he was again beside us, holding out the bowl of lettuce which he had not yet touched.

Then he took a thick, long, pale green leaf from Bou-Djema's bowl and held it beside another leaf he had just taken from our bowl.

"Afahlehle," was all he said.

I shuddered, and so did Morhange. It was the afahlehla, the falestez, of the Arabs of the Sahara, the terrible plant which had killed a part of the Flatters mission more quickly and surely than Tuareg arms.

Eg-Anteouen stood up. His tall silhouette was outlined blackly against the sky which suddenly had turned pale lilac. He was watching us.

We bent again over the unfortunate guide.

p. 97

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #98 on: April 01, 2009, 01:15:48 pm »

"Afahlehle," the Targa repeated, and shook his head.

 

Bou-Djema died in the middle of the night without having regained consciousness.


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Footnotes
85:1 The route and the stages from Tit to Timissao were actually plotted out, as early as 1888, by Captain Bissuel. Les Tuareg de l’Ouest, itineraries 1 and 10. (Note by M. Leroux.)

90:1 It is perhaps worth noting here that Figures de Proues is the exact title of a very remarkable collection of poems by Mme. Delarus-Mardrus. (Note by M. Leroux.)

91:1 Captain Morhange seems to have forgotten in this enumeration, in places fanciful, the etymology of ἀνθίνεα, a Doric dialect form of ἀνθινὴ, from ἄνθος, a flower, and which would mean which is in flower. (Note by M. Leroux.)



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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #99 on: April 01, 2009, 01:16:26 pm »

p. 98

CHAPTER VII
THE COUNTRY OF FEAR
"It is curious," said Morhange, "to see how our expedition, uneventful since we left Ouargla, is now becoming exciting."

He said this after kneeling for a moment in prayer before the painfully dug grave in which we had lain the guide.

I do not believe in God. But if anything can influence whatever powers there may be, whether of good or of evil, of light or of darkness, it is the prayer of such a man.

For two days we picked our way through a gigantic chaos of black rock in what might have been the country of the moon, so barren was it. No sound but that of stones rolling under the feet of the camels and striking like gunshots at the foot of the precipices.

A strange march indeed. For the first few hours, I tried to pick out, by compass, the route we were following. But my calculations were soon upset; doubtless a mistake due to the swaying motion of

p. 99

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #100 on: April 01, 2009, 01:16:46 pm »

the camel. I put the compass back in one of my addle-bags. From that time on, Eg-Anteouen was our master. We could only trust ourselves to him.

He went first; Morhange followed him, and I brought up the rear. We passed at every step most curious specimens of volcanic rock. But I did not examine them. I was no longer interested in such things. Another kind of curiosity had taken possession of me. I had come to share Morhange's madness. If my companion had said to me: "We are doing a very rash thing. Let us go back to the known trails," I should have replied, "You are free to do as you please. But I am going on."

Toward evening of the second day, we found ourselves at the foot of a black mountain whose jagged ramparts towered in profile seven thousand feet above our heads. It was an enormous shadowy fortress, like the outline of a feudal stronghold silhouetted with incredible sharpness against the orange sky.

There was a well, with several trees, the first we had seen since cutting into Ahaggar.

A group of men were standing about it. Their camels, tethered close by, were cropping a mouthful here and there.

At seeing us, the men drew together, alert, on the defensive.

Eg-Anteouen turned to us and said:

"Eggali Tuareg."

p. 100

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Crystal Thielkien
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« Reply #101 on: April 01, 2009, 01:16:56 pm »

We went toward them.

They were handsome men, those Eggali, the largest Tuareg whom I ever have seen. With unexpected swiftness they drew aside from the well, leaving it to us. Eg-Anteouen spoke a few words to them. They looked at Morhange and me with a curiosity bordering on fear, but at any rate, with respect.

I drew several little presents from my saddlebags and was astonished at the reserve of the chief, who refused them. He seemed afraid even of my glance.

When they had gone, I expressed my astonishment at this shyness for which my previous experiences with the tribes of the Sahara had not prepared me.

"They spoke with respect, even with fear," I said to Eg-Anteouen. "And yet the tribe of the Eggali is noble. And that of the Kel-Tahats, to which you tell me you belong, is a slave tribe."

A smile lighted the dark eyes of Eg-Anteouen. "It is true," he said.

"Well then?"

"I told them that we three, the Captain, you and I, were bound for the Mountain of the Evil Spirits."

With a gesture, he indicated the black mountain.

"They are afraid. All the Tuareg of Ahaggar are afraid of the Mountain of the Evil Spirits. You

p. 101

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« Reply #102 on: April 01, 2009, 01:17:12 pm »

saw how they were up and off at the very mention of its name."

"It is to the Mountain of the Evil Spirits that you are taking us?" queried Morhange.

"Yes," replied the Targa, "that is where the inscriptions are that I told you about."

"You did not mention that detail to us."

"Why should I? The Tuareg are afraid of the ilhinen, spirits with horns and tails, covered with hair, who make the cattle sicken and die and cast spells over men. But I know well that the Christians are not afraid and even laugh at the fears of the Tuareg."

"And you?" I asked. "You are a Targa and you are not afraid of the ilhinen?"

Eg-Anteouen showed a little red leather bag hung about his neck on a chain of white seeds.

"I have my amulet," he replied gravely, "blessed by the venerable Sidi-Moussa himself. And then I am with you. You saved my life. You have desired to see the inscriptions. The will of Allah be done!"

As he finished speaking, he squatted on his heels, drew out his long reed pipe and began to smoke gravely.

"All this is beginning to seem very strange," said Morhange, coming over to me.

"You can say that without exaggeration," I replied. "You remember as well as I the passage in

p. 102

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« Reply #103 on: April 01, 2009, 01:17:28 pm »

which Barth tells of his expedition to the Idinen, the Mountain of the Evil Spirits of the Azdjer Tuareg. The region had so evil a reputation that no Targa would go with him. But he got back."

"Yes, he got back," replied my comrade, "but only after he had been lost. Without water or food, he came so near dying of hunger and thirst that he had to open a vein and drink his own blood. The prospect is not particularly attractive."

I shrugged my shoulders. After all, it was not my fault that we were there.

Morhange understood my gesture and thought it necessary to make excuses.

"I should be curious," he went on with rather forced gaiety, "to meet these spirits and substantiate the facts of Pomponius Mela who knew them and locates them, in fact, in the mountain of the Tuareg. He calls them Egipans, Blemyens, Gamphasantes, Satyrs. . . . 'The Gamphasantes,' he says, 'are naked. The Blemyens have no head: their faces are placed on their chests; the Satyrs have nothing like men except faces. The Egipans are made as is commonly described.' . . . Satyrs, Egipans . . . isn't it very strange to find Greek names given to the barbarian spirits of this region? Believe me, we are on a curious trail; I am sure that Antinea will be our key to remarkable discoveries."

"Listen," I said, laying a finger on my lips. Strange sounds rose from about us as the evening

p. 103

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« Reply #104 on: April 01, 2009, 01:17:37 pm »

advanced with great strides. A kind of crackling, followed by long rending shrieks, echoed and reechoed to infinity in the neighboring ravines. It seemed to me that the whole black mountain suddenly had begun to moan.

We looked at Eg-Anteouen. He was smoking on, without twitching a muscle.

"The ilhinen are waking up," he said simply.

Morhange listened without saying a word. Doubtless he understood as I did: the overheated rocks, the crackling of the stone, a whole series of physical phenomena, the example of the singing statue of Memnon. . . . But, for all that, this unexpected concert reacted no less painfully on our overstrained nerves.

The last words of poor Bou-Djema came to my mind.

"The country of fear," I murmured in a low voice.

And Morhange repeated:

"The country of fear."

The strange concert ceased as the first stars appeared in the sky. With deep emotion we watched the tiny bluish flames appear, one after another. At that portentous moment they seemed to span the distance between us, isolated, condemned, lost, and our brothers of higher latitudes, who at that hour were rushing about their poor pleasures with delirious

p. 104

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