At first the eye takes in only this impression of a great city over a green abyss, then the complex scene begins to define itself. All around are the outer lines of ramparts, walls beyond walls, their crenellations climbing the heights, their angle fortresses dominating the precipices. Almost on a level with us lies the upper city, the aristocratic Fez Eldjid of painted palaces and gardens, then, as the houses close in and descend more abruptly, terraces, minarets, domes, and long reed-thatched roofs of the bazaars, all gather around the green-tiled tomb of Moulay Idriss and the tower of the Almohad mosque of El Kairouiyin, which adjoin each other in the depths of Fez, and form its central sanctuary.
From the Merinid hill we had noticed a long facade among the cypresses and fruit-trees of Eldjid. This was Bou-Jeloud, the old summer-palace of the Sultan’s harem, now the house of the Resident-General, where lodgings had been prepared for us.
The road descended again, crossing the Oued Fez by one of the fine old single-arch bridges that mark the architectural link between Morocco and Spain. We skirted high walls, wayside pools, and dripping mill-wheels; then one of the city gates engulfed us, and we were in the waste spaces of intramural Fez, formerly the lines of defense of a rich and perpetually menaced city, now chiefly used for refuse-heaps, open-air fondaks, and dreaming-places for rows of Lazaruses rolled in their cerements in the dust.
Through another gate and more walls we came to an arch in the inner line of defense. Beyond that, the motor paused before a green door, where a Cadi in a silken caftan received us. Across squares of orange-trees divided by running water we were led to an arcaded apartment hung with Moroccan embroideries and lined with wide divans; the hall of reception of the Resident-General. Through its arches were other tiled distances, fountains, arcades, beyond, in greener depths, the bright blossoms of a flower-garden. Such was our first sight of Bou-Jeloud, once the summer-palace of the wives of Moulay Hafid.
Upstairs, from a room walled and ceiled with cedar, and decorated with the bold rose-pink embroideries of Sale and the intricate old needlework of Fez, I looked out over the upper city toward the mauve and tawny mountains.
Just below the window the flat roofs of a group of little houses descended like the steps of an irregular staircase. Between them rose a few cypresses and a green minaret, out of the court of one house an ancient fig-tree thrust its twisted arms. The sun had set, and one after another bright figures appeared on the roofs. The children came first, hung with silver amulets and amber beads, and pursued by negresses in striped turbans, who bustled up with rugs and matting, then the mothers followed more indolently, released from their ashy mufflings and showing, under their light veils, long earrings from the Mellah[A] and caftans of pale green or peach color.