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AFRICAN ZEPHYRS.

You think this article is to be sentimental
a pastoral, or a fairy talebecause it treats
of the Zephyrs of the south? You never
made a greater mistake in your life. My
Zephyr has no relationship with either Eurus
or Boreas. Though he possibly is not wise
enough in his generation to be able to say
that he knows his own father, he still does not in
the least pretend to be one of the sons of
Æolus. Like Figaro, he is perfectly indifferent
whether you take him for the offspring of a
god or a demigodof an emperor, a duke, a
pope, or a cabman. It is sufficient for him to
be a Zephyr. His native place, of course, is
Paris; or, if not born in the metropolis of
France, a sojourn there has long since naturalised
him. He is quite as much at home in
the army, with drums and trumpets, corporals
and sergeants, bayonets fixed, and cap cocked
on one side. These Zephyrs, therefore, are
not in the least afraid of balls and yatagans,
want and hardship, long marches,
heat, hunger, and bad quarters. It was they
who supplied the heroes of Mazagran. They
are beings whom you can neither hate nor
praise; creatures for whom you reserve in the
corner of your conscience a grain of indulgence
and half-a-dozen excuses.

To write in intelligible language, Zephyrs
is a nickname given in Algeria to a corps
which is recruited from the entire body of
the French army. These select and admired
individuals are all gay fellows, endowed with
that free and independent spirit which does
not square with vulgar ideas of discipline.
Artists and geniuses of original talent scorn
drill. High-flyers, they soar above routine.
Voler is a verb in the French language,
meaning both to fly and to steal.
Grammatically speaking, therefore, theft comes as
naturally to Zephyrs as flight. Many of
these ingenious gentlemen can count on their
fingers as many days of punishment as of
actual service. And punishment, be it long
or shortbe it an hour's imprisonment or
ten years at the galleysdoes not reckon in
the term of military duty which the State
requires from every conscript. Penitence
ended, the old standing debt has still to be
paid. The ranks of the Zephyrs are also
increased by soldiers who are drafted from a
less pure source than a regimental place of
arrest. With this miscellaneous and doubtful
class, battalions have been formed, officially
known as the light battalions of Africa. But
the nickname of the canteen and the battlefield
has prevailed, and has spread the favourable
reputation of those whom every one
now calls Zephyrs. The nickname, however,
for those who bear it, is, in fact, no nickname.
It is a title of which the light gentry
are exceedingly proud, and which they take
every pains to merit. It is not a little that
will daunt a fellow who wishes to be thought
a genuine Zephyr.

Descriptions in natural history are easy,
because a duck is a duck, and a pig is a pig;
but Zephyrs are not to be driven up in
a corner, and dashed off in half-a-dozen
strokes. They all bear a general resemblance;
and yet there are not two of them alike.
Their uniform is at first the same as that of
other soldiers, except that a little hunting-
horn on their white buttons replaces the
number of their regiment, which they are
now thought unworthy to bear; but they
disguise their dress with remarkable success.
Look closely, and you will soon see something
to remind you of the rooted animosity
which the Zephyr cherishes against discipline
and regimentals. Observe that cap more
rumpled than worn with having been so
often dashed passionately on the ground.
There cannot be a shadow of doubt that
some extra-regulation repairs have been
made by its proprietor, and have given it a
more coquettish and comfortable shape.
Sometimes the peak, by means of a clever cut,
slopes downwards towards the eyes to shade
them from the sunbeams. Sometimes it stands
up in pert defiance, that the wearer may confront
the skies. In France the military stock
is commonly called " the pillory." It is not
so in Algeria; for the Zephyr, when he
has not lost it, generally carries it in his
knapsack. The Zephyr has the art of wearing
with grace even those ugly and vast
great-coats, for which, when the army tailor
made them, he took measure of the sentry-box.
Draping it artistically to conceal a
rent, and showing the fining by cross-buttoning,
he converts it into more than a civilised
garment; it is a dressing-gown of the newest
style. The Zephyr's trowsers' fashion has

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