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eminent of them had ranged themselves close to Hanno, who was sitting at
the other end of the hall before the lofty door, which was closed by a
hanging of hyacinth colour.

He had covered the ulcers on his face with paint. But the gold dust in
his hair had fallen upon his shoulders, where it formed two brilliant
sheets, so that his hair appeared whitish, fine, and frizzled like wool.
His hands were enveloped in linen soaked in a greasy perfume, which
dripped upon the pavement, and his disease had no doubt considerably
increased, for his eyes were hidden beneath the folds of his eyelids.
He had thrown back his head in order to see. His partisans urged him to
speak. At last in a hoarse and hideous voice he said:

"Less arrogance, Barca! We have all been vanquished! Each one supports
his own misfortune! Be resigned!"

"Tell us rather," said Hamilcar, smiling, "how it was that you steered
your galleys into the Roman fleet?"

"I was driven by the wind," replied Hanno.

"You are like a rhinoceros trampling on his dung: you are displaying
your own folly! be silent!" And they began to indulge in recriminations
respecting the battle of the Aegatian islands.

Hanno accused him of not having come to meet him.

"But that would have left Eryx undefended. You ought to have stood out
from the coast; what prevented you? Ah! I forgot! all elephants are
afraid of the sea!"

Hamilcar's followers thought this jest so good that they burst out into
loud laughter. The vault rang with it like the beating of tympanums.

Hanno denounced the unworthiness of such an insult; the disease had
come upon him from a cold taken at the siege of Hecatompylos, and tears
flowed down his face like winter rain on a ruined wall.

Hamilcar resumed:

"If you had loved me as much as him there would be great joy in Carthage
now! How many times did I not call upon you! and you always refused me
money!"

"We had need of it," said the chiefs of the Syssitia.

"And when things were desperate with me - we drank mules' urine and ate
the straps of our sandals; when I would fain have had the blades of
grass soldiers and made battalions with the rottenness of our dead, you
recalled the vessels that I had left!"

"We could not risk everything," replied Baat-Baal, who possessed gold
mines in Darytian Gaetulia.

"But what did you do here, at Carthage, in your houses, behind your
walls? There are Gauls on the Eridanus, who ought to have been roused,
Chanaanites at Cyrene who would have come, and while the Romans send
ambassadors to Ptolemaeus - "

"Now he is extolling the Romans to us!" Some one shouted out to him:
"How much have they paid you to defend them?"

"Ask that of the plains of Brutium, of the ruins of Locri, of
Metapontum, and of Heraclea! I have burnt all their trees, I
have pillaged all their temples, and even to the death of their
grandchildren's grandchildren - "

"Why, you disclaim like a rhetor!" said Kapouras, a very illustrious
merchant. "What is it that you want?"

"I say that we must be more ingenious or more terrible! If the whole of
Africa rejects your yoke the reason is, my feeble masters, that you do
not know how to fasten it to her shoulders! Agathocles, Regulus, Coepio,
any bold man has only to land and capture her; and when the Libyans in
the east concert with the Numidians in the west, and the Nomads
come from the south, and the Romans from the north" - a cry of horror
rose - "Oh! you will beat your breasts, and roll in the dust, and tear
your cloaks! No matter! you will have to go and turn the mill-stone in
the Suburra, and gather grapes on the hills of Latium."

They smote their right thighs to mark their sense of the scandal, and
the sleeves of their robes rose like large wings of startled birds.
Hamilcar, carried away by a spirit, continued his speech, standing on
the highest step of the altar, quivering and terrible; he raised his
arms, and the rays from the candelabrum which burned behind him passed
between his fingers like javelins of gold.

"You will lose your ships, your country seats, your chariots, your
hanging beds, and the slaves who rub your feet! The jackal will crouch
in your palaces, and the ploughshare will upturn your tombs. Nothing
will be left but the eagles' scream and a heap of ruins. Carthage, thou
wilt fall!"

The four pontiffs spread out their hands to avert the anathema. All had
risen. But the marine Suffet, being a sacerdotal magistrate under the
protection of the Sun, was inviolate so long as the assembly of the
rich had not judged him. Terror was associated with the altar. They drew
back.

Hamilcar had ceased speaking, and was panting with eye fixed, his face
as pale as the pearls of his tiara, almost frightened at himself, and
his spirit lost in funereal visions. From the height on which he stood,
all the torches on the bronze shafts seemed to him like a vast crown of
fire laid level with the pavement; black smoke issuing from them mounted
up into the darkness of the vault; and for some minutes the silence was
so profound that they could hear in the distance the sound of the sea.

Then the Ancients began to question one another. Their interests, their
existence, were attacked by the Barbarians. But it was impossible to
conquer them without the assistance of the Suffet, and in spite of their
pride this consideration made them forget every other. His friends were
taken aside. There were interested reconciliations, understandings, and
promises. Hamilcar would not take any further part in any government.
All conjured him. They besought him; and as the word treason occurred
in their speech, he fell into a passion. The sole traitor was the Great
Council, for as the enlistment of the soldiers expired with the war,
they became free as soon as the war was finished; he even exalted their
bravery and all the advantages which might be derived from interesting
them in the Republic by donations and privileges.

Then Magdassin, a former provincial governor, said, as he rolled his
yellow eyes:

"Truly Barca, with your travelling you have become a Greek, or a Latin,
or something! Why speak you of rewards for these men? Rather let ten
thousand Barbarians perish than a single one of us!"

The Ancients nodded approval, murmuring: - "Yes, is there need for so
much trouble? They can always be had?"

"And they can be got rid of conveniently, can they not? They are
deserted as they were by you in Sardinia. The enemy is apprised of the
road which they are to take, as in the case of those Gauls in Sicily,
or perhaps they are disembarked in the middle of the sea. As I was
returning I saw the rock quite white with their bones!"

"What a misfortune!" said Kapouras impudently.

"Have they not gone over to the enemy a hundred times?" cried the
others.

"Why, then," exclaimed Hamilcar, "did you recall them to Carthage,
notwithstanding your laws? And when they are in your town, poor and
numerous amid all your riches, it does not occur to you to weaken them
by the slightest division! Afterwards you dismiss the whole of them
with their women and children, without keeping a single hostage! Did
you expect that they would murder themselves to spare you the pain of
keeping your oaths? You hate them because they are strong! You hate me
still more, who am their master! Oh! I felt it just now when you were
kissing my hands and were all putting a constraint upon yourselves not
to bite them!"

If the lions that were sleeping in the court had come howling in, the
uproar could not have been more frightful. But the pontiff of Eschmoun
rose, and, standing perfectly upright, with his knees close together,
his elbows pressed to his body, and his hands half open, he said:

"Barca, Carthage has need that you should take the general command of
the Punic forces against the Mercenaries!"

"I refuse," replied Hamilcar.

"We will give you full authority," cried the chiefs of the Syssitia.

"No!"

"With no control, no partition, all the money that you want, all
the captives, all the booty, fifty zereths of land for every enemy's
corpse."

"No! no! because it is impossible to conquer with you!"

"He is afraid!"

"Because you are cowardly, greedy, ungrateful, pusillanimous and mad!"

"He is careful of them!"

"In order to put himself at their head," said some one.

"And return against us," said another; and from the bottom of the hall
Hanno howled:

"He wants to make himself king!"

Then they bounded up, overturning the seats and the torches: the crowd
of them rushed towards the altar; they brandished daggers. But Hamilcar
dived into his sleeves and drew from them two broad cutlasses; and
half stooping, his left foot advanced, his eyes flaming and his
teeth clenched, he defied them as he stood there beneath the golden
candelabrum.

Thus they had brought weapons with them as a precaution; it was a crime;
they looked with terror at one another. As all were guilty, every one
became quickly reassured; and by degrees they turned their backs on the
Suffet and came down again maddened with humiliation. For the second
time they recoiled before him. They remained standing for some time.
Several who had wounded their fingers put them to their mouths or rolled
them gently in the hem of their mantles, and they were about to depart
when Hamilcar heard these words:

"Why! it is a piece of delicacy to avoid distressing his daughter!"

A louder voice was raised:

"No doubt, since she takes her lovers from among the Mercenaries!"

At first he tottered, then his eye rapidly sought for Schahabarim. But
the priest of Tanith had alone remained in his place; and Hamilcar could
see only his lofty cap in the distance. All were sneering in his face.
In proportion as his anguish increased their joy redoubled, and those
who were behind shouted amid the hootings:

"He was seen coming out of her room!"

"One morning in the month of Tammouz!"

"It was the thief who stole the zaimph!"

"A very handsome man!"

"Taller than you!"

He snatched off the tiara, the ensign of his rank - his tiara with its
eight mystic rows, and with an emerald shell in the centre - and with
both hands and with all his strength dashed it to the ground; the golden
circles rebounded as they broke, and the pearls rang upon the pavement.
Then they saw a long scar upon the whiteness of his brow; it moved like
a serpent between his eyebrows; all his limbs trembled. He ascended one
of the lateral staircases which led on to the altar, and walked upon
the latter! This was to devote himself to the god, to offer himself as
a holocaust. The motion of his mantle agitated the lights of the
candelabrum, which was lower than his sandals, and the fine dust raised
by his footsteps surrounded him like a cloud as high as the waist. He
stopped between the legs of the brass colossus. He took up two handfuls
of the dust, the mere sight of which made every Carthaginian shudder
with horror, and said:

"By the hundred torches of your Intelligences! by the eight fires of the
Kabiri! by the stars, the meteors, and the volcanoes! by everything that
burns! by the thirst of the desert and the saltness of the ocean! by
the cave of Hadrumetum and the empire of Souls! by extermination! by the
ashes of your sons and the ashes of the brothers of your ancestors with
which I now mingle my own! - you, the Hundred of the Council of Carthage,
have lied in your accusation of my daughter! And I, Hamilcar Barca,
marine Suffet, chief of the rich and ruler of the people, in the
presence of bull-headed Moloch, I swear" - they expected something
frightful, but he resumed in a loftier and calmer tone - "that I will not
even speak to her about it!"

The sacred servants entered wearing their golden combs, some with purple
sponges and others with branches of palm. They raised the hyacinth
curtain which was stretched before the door; and through the opening of
this angle there was visible behind the other halls the great pink
sky which seemed to be a continuation of the vault and to rest at
the horizon upon the blue sea. The sun was issuing from the waves and
mounting upwards. It suddenly struck upon the breast of the brazen
colossus, which was divided into seven compartments closed by gratings.
His red-toothed jaws opened in a horrible yawn; his enormous nostrils
were dilated, the broad daylight animated him, and gave him a terrible
and impatient aspect, as if he would fain have leaped without to mingle
with the star, the god, and together traverse the immensities.

The torches, however, which were scattered on the ground, were still
burning, while here and there on the mother-of-pearl pavement was
stretched from them what looked like spots of blood. The Ancients were
reeling from exhaustion; they filled their lungs inhaling the freshness
of the air; the sweat flowed down their livid faces; they had shouted
so much that they could now scarcely make their voices heard. But their
wrath against the Suffet was not at all abated; they hurled menaces at
him by way of farewells, and Hamilcar answered them again.

"Until the next night, Barca, in the temple of Eschmoun!"

"I shall be there!"

"We will have you condemned by the rich!"

"And I you by the people!"

"Take care that you do not end on the cross!"

"And you that you are not torn to pieces in the streets!"

As soon as they were on the threshold of the court they again assumed a
calm demeanour.

Their runners and coachmen were waiting for them at the door. Most of
them departed on white mules. The Suffet leaped into his chariot and
took the reins; the two animals, curving their necks, and rhythmically
beating the resounding pebbles, went up the whole of the Mappalian Way
at full gallop, and the silver vulture at the extremity of the pole
seemed to fly, so quickly did the chariot pass along.

The road crossed a field planted with slabs of stone, which were painted
on the top like pyramids, and had open hands carved out in the centre as
if all the dead men lying beneath had stretched them out towards heaven
to demand something. Next there came scattered cabins built of earth,
branches, and bulrush-hurdles, and all of a conical shape. These
dwellings, which became constantly denser as the road ascended towards
the Suffet's gardens, were irregularly separated from one another by
little pebble walls, trenches of spring water, ropes of esparto-grass,
and nopal hedges. But Hamilcar's eyes were fastened on a great tower,
the three storys of which formed three monster cylinders - the first
being built of stone, the second of brick, and the third all of
cedar - supporting a copper cupola upon twenty-four pillars of juniper,
from which slender interlacing chains of brass hung down after the
manner of garlands. This lofty edifice overlooked the buildings - the
emporiums and mercantile houses - which stretched to the right, while the
women's palace rose at the end of the cypress trees, which were ranged
in line like two walls of bronze.

When the echoing chariot had entered through the narrow gateway it
stopped beneath a broad shed in which there were shackled horses eating
from heaps of chopped grass.

All the servants hastened up. They formed quite a multitude, those who
worked on the country estates having been brought to Carthage through
fear of the soldiers. The labourers, who were clad in animals' skins,
had chains riveted to their ankles and trailing after them; the workers
in the purple factories had arms as red as those of executioners; the
sailors wore green caps; the fishermen coral necklaces; the huntsmen
carried nets on their shoulders; and the people belonging to Megara
wore black or white tunics, leathern drawers, and caps of straw, felt or
linen, according to their service or their different occupations.

Behind pressed a tattered populace. They lived without employment remote
from the apartments, slept at night in the gardens, ate the refuse
from the kitchens, - a human mouldiness vegetating in the shadow of
the palace. Hamilcar tolerated them from foresight even more than from
scorn. They had all put a flower in the ear in token of their joy, and
many of them had never seen him.

But men with head-dresses like the Sphinx's, and furnished with great
sticks, dashed into the crowd, striking right and left. This was to
drive back the slaves, who were curious to see their master, so that he
might not be assailed by their numbers or inconvenienced by their smell.

Then they all threw themselves flat on the ground, crying:

"Eye of Baal, may your house flourish!" And through these people as they
lay thus on the ground in the avenue of cypress trees, Abdalonim, the
Steward of the stewards, waving a white miter, advanced towards Hamilcar
with a censer in his hand.

Salammbo was then coming down the galley staircases. All her slave women
followed her; and, at each of her steps, they also descended. The heads
of the Negresses formed big black spots on the line of the bands of
the golden plates clasping the foreheads of the Roman women. Others had
silver arrows, emerald butterflies, or long bodkins set like suns in
their hair. Rings, clasps, necklaces, fringes, and bracelets shone amid
the confusion of white, yellow, and blue garments; a rustling of
light material became audible; the pattering of sandals might be heard
together with the dull sound of naked feet as they were set down on the
wood; - and here and there a tall eunuch, head and shoulders above them,
smiled with his face in air. When the shouting of the men had subsided
they hid their faces in their sleeves, and together uttered a strange
cry like the howling of a she-wolf, and so frenzied and strident was
it that it seemed to make the great ebony staircase, with its thronging
women, vibrate from top to bottom like a lyre.

The wind lifted their veils, and the slender stems of the papyrus plant
rocked gently. It was the month of Schebaz and the depth of winter. The
flowering pomegranates swelled against the azure of the sky, and the
sea disappeared through the branches with an island in the distance half
lost in the mist.

Hamilcar stopped on perceiving Salammbo. She had come to him after the
death of several male children. Moreover, the birth of daughters
was considered a calamity in the religions of the Sun. The gods had
afterwards sent him a son; but he still felt something of the betrayal
of his hope, and the shock, as it were, of the curse which he had
uttered against her. Salammbo, however, continued to advance.

Long bunches of various-coloured pearls fell from her ears to her
shoulders, and as far as her elbows. Her hair was crisped so as to
simulate a cloud. Round her neck she wore little quadrangular plates of
gold, representing a woman between two rampant lions; and her costume
was a complete reproduction of the equipment of the goddess. Her
broad-sleeved hyacinth robe fitted close to her figure, widening out
below. The vermilion on her lips gave additional whiteness to her teeth,
and the antimony on her eyelids greater length to her eyes. Her sandals,
which were cut out in bird's plumage, had very high heels, and she was
extraordinarily pale, doubtless on account of the cold.

At last she came close to Hamilcar, and without looking at him, without
raising her head to him:

"Greeting, eye of Baalim, eternal glory! triumph! leisure! satisfaction!
riches! Long has my heart been sad and the house drooping. But the
returning master is like reviving Tammouz; and beneath your gaze, O
father, joyfulness and a new existence will everywhere prevail!"

And taking from Taanach's hands a little oblong vase wherein smoked a
mixture of meal, butter, cardamom, and wine: "Drink freely," said she,
"of the returning cup, which your servant has prepared!"

He replied: "A blessing upon you!" and he mechanically grasped the
golden vase which she held out to him.

He scanned her, however, with such harsh attention, that Salammbo was
troubled and stammered out:

"They have told you, O Master!"

"Yes! I know!" said Hamilcar in a low voice.

Was this a confession, or was she speaking of the Barbarians? And he
added a few vague words upon the public embarrassments which he hoped by
his sole efforts to clear away.

"O father!" exclaimed Salammbo, "you will not obliterate what is
irreparable!"

Then he drew back and Salammbo was astonished at his amazement; for she
was not thinking of Carthage but of the sacrilege in which she found
herself implicated. This man, who made legions tremble and whom she
hardly knew, terrified her like a god; he had guessed, he knew all,
something awful was about to happen. "Pardon!" she cried.

Hamilcar slowly bowed his head.

Although she wished to accuse herself she dared not open her lips; and
yet she felt stifled with the need of complaining and being comforted.
Hamilcar was struggling against a longing to break his oath. He kept it
out of pride or from the dread of putting an end to his uncertainty; and
he looked into her face with all his might so as to lay hold on what she
kept concealed at the bottom of her heart.

By degrees the panting Salammbo, crushed by such heavy looks, let her
head sink below her shoulders. He was now sure that she had erred in
the embrace of a Barbarian; he shuddered and raised both his fists. She
uttered a shriek and fell down among her women, who crowded around her.

Hamilcar turned on his heel. All the stewards followed him.

The door of the emporiums was opened, and he entered a vast round hall
form which long passages leading to other halls branched off like the
spokes from the nave of a wheel. A stone disc stood in the centre with
balustrades to support the cushions that were heaped up upon carpets.

The Suffet walked at first with rapid strides; he breathed noisily, he
struck the ground with his heel, and drew his hand across his forehead
like a man annoyed by flies. But he shook his head, and as he perceived
the accumulation of his riches he became calm; his thoughts, which were
attracted by the vistas in the passages, wandered to the other halls
that were full of still rarer treasures. Bronze plates, silver ingots,
and iron bars alternated with pigs of tin brought from the Cassiterides
over the Dark Sea; gums from the country of the Blacks were running over
their bags of palm bark; and gold dust heaped up in leathern bottles was
insensibly creeping out through the worn-out seams. Delicate filaments
drawn from marine plants hung amid flax from Egypt, Greece, Taprobane
and Judaea; mandrepores bristled like large bushes at the foot of the
walls; and an indefinable odour - the exhalation from perfumes, leather,
spices, and ostrich feathers, the latter tied in great bunches at the
very top of the vault - floated through the air. An arch was formed above
the door before each passage with elephants' teeth placed upright and
meeting together at the points.

At last he ascended the stone disc. All the stewards stood with arms
folded and heads bent while Abdalonim reared his pointed mitre with a
haughty air.

Hamilcar questioned the Chief of the Ships. He was an old pilot with
eyelids chafed by the wind, and white locks fell to his hips as if
dashing foam of the tempests had remained on his beard.

He replied that he had sent a fleet by Gades and Thymiamata to try to
reach Eziongaber by doubling the Southern Horn and the promontory of
Aromata.

Others had advanced continuously towards the west for four moons without
meeting with any shore; but the ships prows became entangled in
weeds, the horizon echoed continually with the noise of cataracts,
blood-coloured mists darkened the sun, a perfume-laden breeze lulled the
crews to sleep; and their memories were so disturbed that they were now
unable to tell anything. However, expeditions had ascended the rivers of
the Scythians, had made their way into Colchis, and into the countries
of the Jugrians and of the Estians, had carried off fifteen hundred
maidens in the Archipelago, and sunk all the strange vessels sailing
beyond Cape Oestrymon, so that the secret of the routes should not
be known. King Ptolemaeus was detaining the incense from Schesbar;
Syracuse, Elathia, Corsica, and the islands had furnished nothing, and
the old pilot lowered his voice to announce that a trireme was taken at
Rusicada by the Numidians, - "for they are with them, Master."

Hamilcar knit his brows; then he signed to the Chief of the Journeys to
speak. This functionary was enveloped in a brown, ungirdled robe, and
had his head covered with a long scarf of white stuff which passed along
the edge of his lips and fell upon his shoulder behind.

The caravans had set out regularly at the winter equinox. But of fifteen


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