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them, for the first six ranks crossed their sarissae, holding them in
the middle, and the ten lower ranks rested them upon the shoulders of
their companions in succession before them. Their faces were all half
hidden beneath the visors of their helmets; their right legs were all
covered with bronze knemids; broad cylindrical shields reached down to
their knees; and the horrible quadrangular mass moved in a single body,
and seemed to live like an animal and work like a machine. Two cohorts
of elephants flanked it in regular array; quivering, they shook off the
splinters of the arrows that clung to their black skins. The Indians,
squatting on their withers among the tufts of white feathers, restrained
them with their spoon-headed harpoons, while the men in the towers, who
were hidden up to their shoulders, moved about iron distaffs furnished
with lighted tow on the edges of their large bended bows. Right and
left of the elephants hovered the slingers, each with a sling around his
loins, a second on his head, and a third in his right hand. Then came
the Clinabarians, each flanked by a Negro, and pointing their lances
between the ears of their horses, which, like themselves, were
completely covered with gold. Afterwards, at intervals, came the light
armed soldiers with shields of lynx skin, beyond which projected the
points of the javelins which they held in their left hands; while
the Tarentines, each having two coupled horses, relieved this wall of
soldiers at its two extremities.

The army of the Barbarians, on the contrary, had not been able to
preserve its line. Undulations and blanks were to be found through
its extravagant length; all were panting and out of breath with their
running.

The phalanx moved heavily along with thrusts from all its sarissae;
and the too slender line of the Mercenaries soon yielded in the centre
beneath the enormous weight.

Then the Carthaginian wings expanded in order to fall upon them, the
elephants following. The phalanx, with obliquely pointed lances, cut
through the Barbarians; there were two enormous, struggling bodies; and
the wings with slings and arrows beat them back upon the phalangites.
There was no cavalry to get rid of them, except two hundred Numidians
operating against the right squadron of the Clinabarians. All the rest
were hemmed in, and unable to extricate themselves from the lines. The
peril was imminent, and the need of coming to some resolution urgent.

Spendius ordered attacks to be made simultaneously on both flanks of the
phalanx so as to pass clean through it. But the narrower ranks glided
below the longer ones and recovered their position, and the phalanx
turned upon the Barbarians as terrible in flank as it had just been in
front.

They struck at the staves of the sarissae, but the cavalry in the rear
embarrassed their attack; and the phalanx, supported by the elephants,
lengthened and contracted, presenting itself in the form of a square,
a cone, a rhombus, a trapezium, a pyramid. A twofold internal movement
went on continually from its head to its rear; for those who were at
the lowest part of the files hastened up to the first ranks, while the
latter, from fatigue, or on account of the wounded, fell further back.
The Barbarians found themselves thronged upon the phalanx. It was
impossible for it to advance; there was, as it were, an ocean wherein
leaped red crests and scales of brass, while the bright shields rolled
like silver foam. Sometimes broad currents would descend from one
extremity to the other, and then go up again, while a heavy mass
remained motionless in the centre. The lances dipped and rose
alternately. Elsewhere there was so quick a play of naked swords that
only the points were visible, while turmae of cavalry formed wide
circles which closed again like whirlwinds behind them.

Above the voices of the captains, the ringing of clarions and the
grating of tyres, bullets of lead and almonds of clay whistled through
the air, dashing the sword from the hand or the brain out of the skull.
The wounded, sheltering themselves with one arm beneath their shields,
pointed their swords by resting the pommels on the ground, while others,
lying in pools of blood, would turn and bite the heels of those above
them. The multitude was so compact, the dust so thick, and the tumult
so great that it was impossible to distinguish anything; the cowards who
offered to surrender were not even heard. Those whose hands were empty
clasped one another close; breasts cracked against cuirasses, and
corpses hung with head thrown back between a pair of contracted arms.
There was a company of sixty Umbrians who, firm on their hams, their
pikes before their eyes, immovable and grinding their teeth, forced two
syntagmata to recoil simultaneously. Some Epirote shepherds ran upon the
left squadron of the Clinabarians, and whirling their staves, seized the
horses by the man; the animals threw their riders and fled across the
plain. The Punic slingers scattered here and there stood gaping. The
phalanx began to waver, the captains ran to and fro in distraction,
the rearmost in the files were pressing upon the soldiers, and the
Barbarians had re-formed; they were recovering; the victory was theirs.

But a cry, a terrible cry broke forth, a roar of pain and wrath: it came
from the seventy-two elephants which were rushing on in double line,
Hamilcar having waited until the Mercenaries were massed together in
one spot to let them loose against them; the Indians had goaded them so
vigorously that blood was trickling down their broad ears. Their trunks,
which were smeared with mimium, were stretched straight out in the air
like red serpents; their breasts were furnished with spears and their
backs with cuirasses; their tusks were lengthened with steel blades
curved like sabres, - and to make them more ferocious they had been
intoxicated with a mixture of pepper, wine, and incense. They shook
their necklaces of bells, and shrieked; and the elephantarchs bent their
heads beneath the stream of phalaricas which was beginning to fly from
the tops of the towers.

In order to resist them the better the Barbarians rushed forward in
a compact crowd; the elephants flung themselves impetuously upon the
centre of it. The spurs on their breasts, like ships' prows, clove
through the cohorts, which flowed surging back. They stifled the men
with their trunks, or else snatching them up from the ground delivered
them over their heads to the soldiers in the towers; with their tusks
they disembowelled them, and hurled them into the air, and long entrails
hung from their ivory fangs like bundles of rope from a mast. The
Barbarians strove to blind them, to hamstring them; others would slip
beneath their bodies, bury a sword in them up to the hilt, and perish
crushed to death; the most intrepid clung to their straps; they would go
on sawing the leather amid flames, bullets, and arrows, and the wicker
tower would fall like a tower of stone. Fourteen of the animals on the
extreme right, irritated by their wounds, turned upon the second rank;
the Indians seized mallet and chisel, applied the latter to a joint in
the head, and with all their might struck a great blow.

Down fell the huge beasts, falling one above another. It was like
a mountain; and upon the heap of dead bodies and armour a monstrous
elephant, called "The Fury of Baal," which had been caught by the leg in
some chains, stood howling until the evening with an arrow in its eye.

The others, however, like conquerors, delighting in extermination,
overthrew, crushed, stamped, and raged against the corpses and the
debris. To repel the maniples in serried circles around them, they
turned about on their hind feet as they advanced, with a continual
rotatory motion. The Carthaginians felt their energy increase, and the
battle begin again.

The Barbarians were growing weak; some Greek hoplites threw away all
their arms, and terror seized upon the rest. Spendius was seen stooping
upon his dromedary, and spurring it on the shoulders with two javelins.
Then they all rushed away from the wings and ran towards Utica.

The Clinabarians, whose horses were exhausted, did not try to overtake
them. The Ligurians, who were weakened by thirst, cried out for an
advance towards the river. But the Carthaginians, who were posted in the
centre of the syntagmata, and had suffered less, stamped their feet
with longing for the vengeance which was flying from them; and they
were already darting forward in pursuit of the Mercenaries when Hamilcar
appeared.

He held in his spotted and sweat-covered horse with silver reins. The
bands fastened to the horns on his helmet flapped in the wind behind
him, and he had placed his oval shield beneath his left thigh. With a
motion of his triple-pointed pike he checked the army.

The Tarentines leaped quickly upon their spare horses, and set off right
and left towards the river and towards the town.

The phalanx exterminated all the remaining Barbarians at leisure. When
the swords appeared they would stretch out their throats and close their
eyelids. Others defended themselves to the last, and were knocked down
from a distance with flints like mad dogs. Hamilcar had desired the
taking of prisoners, but the Carthaginians obeyed him grudgingly, so
much pleasure did they derive from plunging their swords into the bodies
of the Barbarians. As they were too hot they set about their work with
bare arms like mowers; and when they desisted to take breath they would
follow with their eyes a horseman galloping across the country after a
fleeing soldier. He would succeed in seizing him by the hair, hold him
thus for a while, and then fell him with a blow of his axe.

Night fell. Carthaginians and Barbarians had disappeared. The elephants
which had taken to flight roamed in the horizon with their fired towers.
These burned here and there in the darkness like beacons nearly half
lost in the mist; and no movement could be discerned in the plain save
the undulation of the river, which was heaped with corpses, and was
drifting them away to the sea.

Two hours afterwards Matho arrived. He caught sight in the starlight of
long, uneven heaps lying upon the ground.

They were files of Barbarians. He stooped down; all were dead. He called
into the distance, but no voice replied.

That very morning he had left Hippo-Zarytus with his soldiers to march
upon Carthage. At Utica the army under Spendius had just set out, and
the inhabitants were beginning to fire the engines. All had fought
desperately. But, the tumult which was going on in the direction of
the bridge increasing in an incomprehensible fashion, Matho had struck
across the mountain by the shortest road, and as the Barbarians were
fleeing over the plain he had encountered nobody.

Facing him were little pyramidal masses rearing themselves in the shade,
and on this side of the river and closer to him were motionless lights
on the surface of the ground. In fact the Carthaginians had fallen
back behind the bridge, and to deceive the Barbarians the Suffet had
stationed numerous posts upon the other bank.

Matho, still advancing, thought that he could distinguish Punic engines,
for horses' heads which did not stir appeared in the air fixed upon
the tops of piles of staves which could not be seen; and further off he
could hear a great clamour, a noise of songs, and clashing of cups.

Then, not knowing where he was nor how to find Spendius, assailed with
anguish, scared, and lost in the darkness, he returned more impetuously
by the same road. The dawn as growing grey when from the top of
the mountain he perceived the town with the carcases of the engines
blackened by the flames and looking like giant skeletons leaning against
the walls.

All was peaceful amid extraordinary silence and heaviness. Among his
soldiers on the verge of the tents men were sleeping nearly naked, each
upon his back, or with his forehead against his arm which was supported
by his cuirass. Some were unwinding bloodstained bandages from their
legs. Those who were doomed to die rolled their heads about gently;
others dragged themselves along and brought them drink. The sentries
walked up and down along the narrow paths in order to warm themselves,
or stood in a fierce attitude with their faces turned towards the
horizon, and their pikes on their shoulders. Matho found Spendius
sheltered beneath a rag of canvas, supported by two sticks set in the
ground, his knee in his hands and his head cast down.

They remained for a long time without speaking.

At last Matho murmured: "Conquered!"

Spendius rejoined in a gloomy voice: "Yes, conquered!"

And to all questions he replied by gestures of despair.

Meanwhile sighs and death-rattles reached them. Matho partially opened
the canvas. Then the sight of the soldiers reminded him of another
disaster on the same spot, and he ground his teeth: "Wretch! once
already - "

Spendius interrupted him: "You were not there either."

"It is a curse!" exclaimed Matho. "Nevertheless, in the end I will get
at him! I will conquer him! I will slay him! Ah! if I had been there! - "
The thought of having missed the battle rendered him even more desperate
than the defeat. He snatched up his sword and threw it upon the ground.
"But how did the Carthaginians beat you?"

The former slave began to describe the manoeuvres. Matho seemed to
see them, and he grew angry. The army from Utica ought to have taken
Hamilcar in the rear instead of hastening to the bridge.

"Ah! I know!" said Spendius.

"You ought to have made your ranks twice as deep, avoided exposing the
velites against the phalanx, and given free passage to the elephants.
Everything might have been recovered at the last moment; there was no
necessity to fly."

Spendius replied:

"I saw him pass along in his large red cloak, with uplifted arms
and higher than the dust, like an eagle flying upon the flank of the
cohorts; and at every nod they closed up or darted forward; the throng
carried us towards each other; he looked at me, and I felt the cold
steel as it were in my heart."

"He selected the day, perhaps?" whispered Matho to himself.

They questioned each other, trying to discover what it was that had
brought the Suffet just when circumstances were most unfavourable.
They went on to talk over the situation, and Spendius, to extenuate his
fault, or to revive his courage, asserted that some hope still remained.

"And if there be none, it matters not!" said Matho; "alone, I will carry
on the war!"

"And I too!" exclaimed the Greek, leaping up; he strode to and fro, his
eyes sparkling, and a strange smile wrinkled his jackal face.

"We will make a fresh start; do not leave me again! I am not made for
battles in the sunlight - the flashing of swords troubles my sight; it
is a disease, I lived too long in the ergastulum. But give me walls to
scale at night, and I will enter the citadels, and the corpses shall be
cold before cock-crow! Show me any one, anything, an enemy, a treasure,
a woman, - a woman," he repeated, "were she a king's daughter, and I will
quickly bring your desire to your feet. You reproach me for having lost
the battle against Hanno, nevertheless I won it back again. Confess
it! my herd of swine did more for us than a phalanx of Spartans." And
yielding to the need that he felt of exalting himself and taking
his revenge, he enumerated all that he had done for the cause of the
Mercenaries. "It was I who urged on the Gaul in the Suffet's gardens!
And later, at Sicca, I maddened them all with fear of the Republic!
Gisco was sending them back, but I prevented the interpreters speaking.
Ah! how their tongues hung out of their mouths! do you remember? I
brought you into Carthage; I stole the zaimph. I led you to her. I will
do more yet: you shall see!" He burst out laughing like a madman.

Matho regarded him with gaping eyes. He felt in a measure uncomfortable
in the presence of this man, who was at once so cowardly and so
terrible.

The Greek resumed in jovial tones and cracking his fingers:

"Evoe! Sun after run! I have worked in the quarries, and I have drunk
Massic wine beneath a golden awning in a vessel of my own like a
Ptolemaeus. Calamity should help to make us cleverer. By dint of work we
may make fortune bend. She loves politicians. She will yield!"

He returned to Matho and took him by the arm.

"Master, at present the Carthaginians are sure of their victory. You
have quite an army which has not fought, and your men obey YOU. Place
them in the front: mine will follow to avenge themselves. I have still
three thousand Carians, twelve hundred slingers and archers, whole
cohorts! A phalanx even might be formed; let us return!"

Matho, who had been stunned by the disaster, had hitherto thought of
no means of repairing it. He listened with open mouth, and the bronze
plates which circled his sides rose with the leapings of his heart. He
picked up his sword, crying:

"Follow me; forward!"

But when the scouts returned, they announced that the Carthaginian dead
had been carried off, that the bridge was in ruins, and that Hamilcar
had disappeared.



CHAPTER IX

IN THE FIELD

Hamilcar had thought that the Mercenaries would await him at Utica, or
that they would return against him; and finding his forces insufficient
to make or to sustain an attack, he had struck southwards along the
right bank of the river, thus protecting himself immediately from a
surprise.

He intended first to wink at the revolt of the tribes and to detach them
all from the cause of the Barbarians; then when they were quite isolated
in the midst of the provinces he would fall upon them and exterminate
them.

In fourteen days he pacified the region comprised between Thouccaber
and Utica, with the towns of Tignicabah, Tessourah, Vacca, and others
further to the west. Zounghar built in the mountains, Assoura celebrated
for its temple, Djeraado fertile in junipers, Thapitis, and Hagour
sent embassies to him. The country people came with their hands full of
provisions, implored his protection, kissed his feet and those of the
soldiers, and complained of the Barbarians. Some came to offer him bags
containing heads of Mercenaries killed, so they said, by themselves, but
which they had cut off corpses; for many had lost themselves in their
flight, and were found dead here and there beneath the olive trees and
among the vines.

On the morrow of his victory, Hamilcar, to dazzle the people, had sent
to Carthage the two thousand captives taken on the battlefield. They
arrived in long companies of one hundred men each, all with their arms
fastened behind their backs with a bar of bronze which caught them at
the nape of the neck, and the wounded, bleeding as they still were,
running also along; horsemen followed them, driving them on with blows
of the whip.

Then there was a delirium of joy! People repeated that there were six
thousand Barbarians killed; the others would not hold out, and the war
was finished; they embraced one another in the streets, and rubbed
the faces of the Pataec Gods with butter and cinnamomum to thank them.
These, with their big eyes, their big bodies, and their arms raised as
high as the shoulder, seemed to live beneath their freshened paint, and
to participate in the cheerfulness of the people. The rich left their
doors open; the city resounded with the noise of the timbrels; the
temples were illuminated every night, and the servants of the goddess
went down to Malqua and set up stages of sycamore-wood at the corners
of the cross-ways, and prostituted themselves there. Lands were voted to
the conquerors, holocausts to Melkarth, three hundred gold crowns to the
Suffet, and his partisans proposed to decree to him new prerogatives and
honours.

He had begged the Ancients to make overtures to Autaritus for exchanging
all the Barbarians, if necessary, for the aged Gisco, and the other
Carthaginians detained like him. The Libyans and Nomads composing the
army under Autaritus knew scarcely anything of these Mercenaries, who
were men of Italiote or Greek race; and the offer by the Republic of so
many Barbarians for so few Carthaginians, showed that the value of the
former was nothing and that of the latter considerable. They dreaded a
snare. Autaritus refused.

Then the Ancients decreed the execution of the captives, although the
Suffet had written to them not to put them to death. He reckoned
upon incorporating the best of them with his own troops and of thus
instigating defections. But hatred swept away all circumspection.

The two thousand Barbarians were tied to the stelae of the tombs in
the Mappalian quarter; and traders, scullions, embroiderers, and even
women, - the widows of the dead with their children - all who would,
came to kill them with arrows. They aimed slowly at them, the better to
prolong their torture, lowering the weapon and then raising it in turn;
and the multitude pressed forward howling. Paralytics had themselves
brought thither in hand-barrows; many took the precaution of bringing
their food, and remained on the spot until the evening; others passed
the night there. Tents had been set up in which drinking went on. Many
gained large sums by hiring out bows.

Then all these crucified corpses were left upright, looking like so many
red statues on the tombs, and the excitement even spread to the people
of Malqua, who were the descendants of the aboriginal families, and were
usually indifferent to the affairs of their country. Out of gratitude
for the pleasure it had been giving them they now interested themselves
in its fortunes, and felt that they were Carthaginians, and the Ancients
thought it a clever thing to have thus blended the entire people in a
single act of vengeance.

The sanction of the gods was not wanting; for crows alighted from all
quarters of the sky. They wheeled in the air as they flew with loud
hoarse cries, and formed a huge cloud rolling continually upon itself.
It was seen from Clypea, Rhades, and the promontory of Hermaeum.
Sometimes it would suddenly burst asunder, its black spirals extending
far away, as an eagle clove the centre of it, and then departed again;
here and there on the terraces the domes, the peaks of the obelisks,
and the pediments of the temples there were big birds holding human
fragments in their reddened beaks.

Owing to the smell the Carthaginians resigned themselves to unbind the
corpses. A few of them were burnt; the rest were thrown into the sea,
and the waves, driven by the north wind, deposited them on the shore at
the end of the gulf before the camp of Autaritus.

This punishment had no doubt terrified the Barbarians, for from the top
of Eschmoun they could be seen striking their tents, collecting their
flocks, and hoisting their baggage upon asses, and on the evening of the
same day the entire army withdrew.

It was to march to and fro between the mountain of the Hot Springs
and Hippo-Zarytus, and so debar the Suffet from approaching the Tyrian
towns, and from the possibility of a return to Carthage.

Meanwhile the two other armies were to try to overtake him in the south,
Spendius in the east, and Matho in the west, in such a way that all
three should unite to surprise and entangle him. Then they received a
reinforcement which they had not looked for: Narr' Havas appeared with
three hundred camels laden with bitumen, twenty-five elephants, and six
thousand horsemen.

To weaken the Mercenaries the Suffet had judged it prudent to occupy his
attention at a distance in his own kingdom. From the heart of Carthage
he had come to an understanding with Masgaba, a Gaetulian brigand
who was seeking to found an empire. Strengthened by Punic money, the
adventurer had raised the Numidian States with promises of freedom. But
Narr' Havas, warned by his nurse's son, had dropped into Cirta, poisoned
the conquerors with the water of the cisterns, struck off a few heads,
set all right again, and had just arrived against the Suffet more
furious than the Barbarians.

The chiefs of the four armies concerted the arrangements for the war. It
would be a long one, and everything must be foreseen.

It was agreed first to entreat the assistance of the Romans, and
this mission was offered to Spendius, but as a fugitive he dared not
undertake it. Twelve men from the Greek colonies embarked at Annaba in
a sloop belonging to the Numidians. Then the chiefs exacted an oath
of complete obedience from all the Barbarians. Every day the captains
inspected clothes and boots; the sentries were even forbidden to use a


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