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FORD OF THE HARASH.
From Kouba the road begins to descend towards the Metidja through an undulating country, which in parts reminds one of the skirts of a Hampshire moor, -with dwarf palms, camel-thorn, prickly broom, asphodel, and a liliaceous plant with a very broad leaf, where in England we should find brambles, gorse, and rushes. Three or four miles bring us to the ford of the Harash, which is there about as broad as the Cam at Chesterton. Its depth varies with the quantity of rain that may have recently fallen. I crossed it on two occasions, and the first time the depth was less than three feet, the second full four. In August or September it would probably not cover the ankles, while in the winter before last its stream became sufficiently swelled to sweep away the cottages of some brick-makers, who are established on a little island. formed by a secondary channel of the stream. One of these was an Italian Swiss, and another a Spaniard. They told me they could not make bricks for less than thirty francs the 1,000, although the earth beneath their feet furnished the clay for nothing. Tiles about ten inches square cost fifty francs the 1,000. The chief expense is that of fuel for heating the kiln, which consists entirely of the brushwood which grows over the country, especially the roots of the dwarf palm. These burn very slowly unless mixed with some other kind of wood, and the Arabs avail themselves of this peculiarity to husband their fuel. If they wish to
SCARCITY OF FUEL.
have a cup of coffee, the water and the powdered (or rather crushed) grains are put together into a small tin pot, just big enough for the purpose. In a corner of the gourbi (Arab hut) you see a small heap of ashes with a mass in the middle which gives no sign of being alight; but upon this the tin pot is stuck and surrounded with ashes, and the point of the long nozzle of a pair of bellows being introduced underneath, just so much ignition as will suffice to boil the liquid, and no more, is quickly produced; the coffee is then poured into a small china cup in which a single lump of white sugar has been placed, and the fire immediately damped up with the ashes which lie around it. In forging small iron work, such as spurs, bits, and horse-shoes, equal thrift is displayed.
On the steppes south of the first range of the Atlas there are no trees of any kind, and the tribes which, for a part of the year, overspread these regions have no fuel but the dung of their own animals and the stalks of the wild artichoke, with here and there the addition of the branches of the camel-thorn. In the plains, and on the hill-tops, where the wet does not run off and where the soil is not (as on the steppes) limestone or salt sand, another plant is very common, of which the stalks are sometimes used as fuel, although the purpose for which they are chiefly employed is to form the sides of the gourbi. The
ROVIGO AND L'ARBA.
French call it l'oignon sauvage, and it covers the place where it grows with a handsome plume-like green foliage, out of which the flower rises on a stem of six feet or more in height, and in its thickest part of two inches in diameter. This, before it falls, acquires the consistency of cane; and its pith has the property of amadou.
From the ford of the Harash just described, which is called the Gué de Constantine, the French have cut a perfectly straight road across the Metidja to Rovigo, a village which lies under the Atlas, near the gorge where the river issues from the mountains. This road runs south, with a very slight variation to the west, and passes for its whole length over a part of the plain which is slightly elevated above the depressions which exist both to the east and west of its course. In the year 1839, a military camp was formed here, and another at L'Arbâ, which is likewise at the foot of the Atlas, about six miles to the east. The year after the termination of the war with Abd-el-Kader (1848), a French village was built a little to the north of the camp at Arbâ; and another road has been recently made, nearly parallel to the one just mentioned, connecting by almost as straight a course Arbâ with the Maison Carrée. Both Arbâ and Rovigo lie within the outhan, or circle, of Beni Moussa, the most fertile portion of the province of Algiers. The traveller, going from the former to
the latter, and continuing his journey to Blidah, would pass through the chief orange growing country of Algeria. The groves chiefly belong to the natives, who are growing gradually rich by the increasing demand for their produce, which is exported in great quantities from Algiers, both to the eastern province of Constantine and to France itself. The price of the fruit has risen considerably of late. A few years back, a franc would purchase 100 of the finest oranges in the market at Algiers, which now fetch four or five times that sum. They are much cheaper, however, at the place of production; and I suspect their dearness in Algiers arises from the astuteness of the Maltese traders, who have contrived to get into their own hands the greater part of the supply of the markets. I was engaged in taking some bearings from a point in the Atlas two or three miles from L'Arbâ, on the road to Aumale, when a Kabyle passed driving some mules. He seemed interested in my occupation, and after some conversation carried on by signs, asked me if I would buy some oranges. I held up a single sou, and he immediately put two enormous oranges into my hands, and scemed as if he would have increased the number had I demurred to the bargain. As he had bought the fruit to sell again, and was obviously more than content with his profits, it is clear that he could have paid very little for his stock. The flavour of my purchase was quite
CULTIVATION OF THE METIDJA.
equal to its appearance. In England we have no idea of a ripe orange; for when this state is completely attained, the fruit must be eaten speedily. When you peel it, the thick rind-for thin rinds belong only to imperfectly developed oranges-sends out a cloud of spirit as it cracks, and separates itself from its contents with the very least effort; the white string in the middle of the fruit comes out whole, and the segments all but fall apart from one another. The sweetness is such that no quantity of sugar could increase it, yet its acidity at once removes the sensation of thirst. When Apicius came to England to eat the Milton oysters, he ought to have returned by Africa for his dessert.
Along the sides of the road from the Gué de Constantine to Rovigo, and of that from the Maison Carrée to L'Arbâ, a good deal of cultivation is seen, and, in the latter case, of not a bad quality. The soil of the Metidja, wherever the water does not lie, is exceedingly fertile; and the Government, by carrying deep drains along the sides of the roads, and in some instances by cutting catch-water ditches in other parts, have done a good deal for the promotion of agriculture. If a semicircle be drawn from L'Arbâ as a centre with a radius of about four miles, the range of Atlas forming the chord, there is within this area apparently uninterrupted culture, with the solitary exception of a wood of wild olive trees not far from