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assistance of a rope and a harpoon. Then when he had reached the top and
was beside the corpse, he let it fall again. The Balearian fastened a
pick and a mallet to it and turned back.

The trumpets sounded no longer. All was now quiet. Spendius had raised
one of the flag-stones and, entering the water, had closed it behind
him.

Calculating the distance by the number of his steps, he arrived at the
exact spot where he had noticed an oblique fissure; and for three hours
until morning he worked in continuous and furious fashion, breathing
with difficulty through the interstices in the upper flag-tones,
assailed with anguish, and twenty times believing that he was going
to die. At last a crack was heard, and a huge stone ricocheting on the
lower arches rolled to the ground, - and suddenly a cataract, an entire
river, fell from the skies onto the plain. The aqueduct, being cut
through in the centre, was emptying itself. It was death to Carthage and
victory for the Barbarians.

In an instant the awakened Carthaginians appeared on the walls, the
houses, and the temples. The Barbarians pressed forward with shouts.
They danced in delirium around the great waterfall, and came up and wet
their heads in it in the extravagance of their joy.

A man in a torn, brown tunic was perceived on the summit of the
aqueduct. He stood leaning over the very edge with both hands on his
hips, and was looking down below him as though astonished at his work.

Then he drew himself up. He surveyed the horizon with a haughty air
which seemed to say: "All that is now mine!" The applause of the
Barbarians burst forth, while the Carthaginians, comprehending their
disaster at last, shrieked with despair. Then he began to run about
the platform from one end to the other, - and like a chariot-driver
triumphant at the Olympic Games, Spendius, distraught with pride, raised
his arms aloft.



CHAPTER XIII

MOLOCH

The Barbarians had no need of a circumvallation on the side of Africa,
for it was theirs. But to facilitate the approach to the walls, the
entrenchments bordering the ditch were thrown down. Matho next divided
the army into great semicircles so as to encompass Carthage the better.
The hoplites of the Mercenaries were placed in the first rank, and
behind them the slingers and horsemen; quite at the back were the
baggage, chariots, and horses; and the engines bristled in front of this
throng at a distance of three hundred paces from the towers.

Amid the infinite variety of their nomenclature (which changed several
times in the course of the centuries) these machines might be reduced to
two systems: some acted like slings, and the rest like bows.

The first, which were the catapults, was composed of a square frame with
two vertical uprights and a horizontal bar. In its anterior portion was
a cylinder, furnished with cables, which held back a great beam bearing
a spoon for the reception of projectiles; its base was caught in a
skein of twisted thread, and when the ropes were let go it sprang up and
struck against the bar, which, checking it with a shock, multiplied its
power.

The second presented a more complicated mechanism. A cross-bar had its
centre fixed on a little pillar, and from this point of junction there
branched off at right angles a short of channel; two caps containing
twists of horse-hair stood at the extremities of the cross-bar; two
small beams were fastened to them to hold the extremities of a rope
which was brought to the bottom of the channel upon a tablet of bronze.
This metal plate was released by a spring, and sliding in grooves
impelled the arrows.

The catapults were likewise called onagers, after the wild asses which
fling up stones with their feet, and the ballistas scorpions, on account
of a hook which stood upon the tablet, and being lowered by a blow of
the fist, released the spring.

Their construction required learned calculations; the wood selected had
to be of the hardest substance, and their gearing all of brass; they
were stretched with levers, tackle-blocks, capstans or tympanums; the
direction of the shooting was changed by means of strong pivots; they
were moved forward on cylinders, and the most considerable of them,
which were brought piece by piece, were set up in front of the enemy.

Spendius arranged three great catapults opposite the three principle
angles; he placed a ram before every gate, a ballista before every
tower, while carroballistas were to move about in the rear. But it was
necessary to protect them against the fire thrown by the besieged, and
first of all to fill up the trench which separated them from the walls.

They pushed forward galleries formed of hurdles of green reeds, and
oaken semicircles like enormous shields gliding on three wheels; the
workers were sheltered in little huts covered with raw hides and stuffed
with wrack; the catapults and ballistas were protected by rope curtains
which had been steeped in vinegar to render them incombustible. The
women and children went to procure stones on the strand, and gathered
earth with their hands and brought it to the soldiers.

The Carthaginians also made preparations.

Hamilcar had speedily reassured them by declaring that there was enough
water left in the cisterns for one hundred and twenty-three days. This
assertion, together with his presence, and above all that of the zaimph
among them, gave them good hopes. Carthage recovered from its dejection;
those who were not of Chanaanitish origin were carried away by the
passion of the rest.

The slaves were armed, the arsenals were emptied, and every citizen had
his own post and his own employment. Twelve hundred of the fugitives
had survived, and the Suffet made them all captains; and carpenters,
armourers, blacksmiths, and goldsmiths were intrusted with the engines.
The Carthaginians had kept a few in spite of the conditions of the peace
with Rome. These were repaired. They understood such work.

The two northern and eastern sides, being protected by the sea and the
gulf, remained inaccessible. On the wall fronting the Barbarians they
collected tree-trunks, mill-stones, vases filled with sulphur, and
vats filled with oil, and built furnaces. Stones were heaped up on the
platforms of the towers, and the houses bordering immediately on the
rampart were crammed with sand in order to strengthen it and increase
its thickness.

The Barbarians grew angry at the sight of these preparations. They
wished to fight at once. The weights which they put into the catapults
were so extravagantly heavy that the beams broke, and the attack was
delayed.

At last on the thirteenth day of the month of Schabar, - at sunrise, - a
great blow was heard at the gate of Khamon.

Seventy-five soldiers were pulling at ropes arranged at the base of a
gigantic beam which was suspended horizontally by chains hanging from
a framework, and which terminated in a ram's head of pure brass. It had
been swathed in ox-hides; it was bound at intervals with iron bracelets;
it was thrice as thick as a man's body, one hundred and twenty cubits
long, and under the crowd of naked arms pushing it forward and drawing
it back, it moved to and fro with a regular oscillation.

The other rams before the other gates began to be in motion. Men
might be seen mounting from step to step in the hollow wheels of the
tympanums. The pulleys and caps grated, the rope curtains were lowered,
and showers of stones and showers of arrows poured forth simultaneously;
all the scattered slingers ran up. Some approached the rampart hiding
pots of resin under their shields; then they would hurl these with all
their might. This hail of bullets, darts, and flames passed above the
first ranks in the form of a curve which fell behind the walls. But
long cranes, used for masting vessels, were reared on the summit of the
ramparts; and from them there descended some of those enormous pincers
which terminated in two semicircles toothed on the inside. They bit the
rams. The soldiers clung to the beam and drew it back. The Carthaginians
hauled in order to pull it up; and the action was prolonged until the
evening.

When the Mercenaries resumed their task on the following day, the tops
of the walls were completely carpeted with bales of cotton, sails, and
cushions; the battlements were stopped up with mats; and a line of forks
and blades, fixed upon sticks, might be distinguished among the cranes
on the rampart. A furious resistance immediately began.

Trunks of trees fastened to cables fell and rose alternately and
battered the rams; cramps hurled by the ballistas tore away the roofs of
the huts; and streams of flints and pebbles poured from the platforms of
the towers.

At last the rams broke the gates of Khamon and Tagaste. But the
Carthaginians had piled up such an abundance of materials on the inside
that the leaves did not open. They remained standing.

Then they drove augers against the walls; these were applied to the
joints of the blocks, so as to detach the latter. The engines were
better managed, the men serving them were divided into squads, and they
were worked from morning till evening without interruption and with the
monotonous precision of a weaver's loom.

Spendius returned to them untiringly. It was he who stretched the skeins
of the ballistas. In order that the twin tensions might completely
correspond, the ropes as they were tightened were struck on the right
and left alternately until both sides gave out an equal sound. Spendius
would mount upon the timbers. He would strike the ropes softly with
the extremity of his foot, and strain his ears like a musician tuning
a lyre. Then when the beam of the catapult rose, when the pillar of the
ballista trembled with the shock of the spring, when the stones were
shooting in rays, and the darts pouring in streams, he would incline his
whole body and fling his arms into the air as though to follow them.

The soldiers admired his skill and executed his commands. In the gaiety
of their work they gave utterance to jests on the names of the machines.
Thus the plyers for seizing the rams were called "wolves," and the
galleries were covered with "vines"; they were lambs, or they were going
to gather the grapes; and as they loaded their pieces they would say to
the onagers: "Come, pick well!" and to the scorpions: "Pierce them
to the heart!" These jokes, which were ever the same, kept up their
courage.

Nevertheless the machines did not demolish the rampart. It was formed of
two walls and was completely filled with earth. The upper portions were
beaten down, but each time the besieged raised them again. Matho ordered
the construction of wooden towers which should be as high as the towers
of stone. They cast turf, stakes, pebbles and chariots with their wheels
into the trench so as to fill it up the more quickly; but before this
was accomplished the immense throng of the Barbarians undulated over the
plain with a single movement and came beating against the foot of the
walls like an overflowing sea.

They moved forward the rope ladders, straight ladders, and sambucas,
the latter consisting of two poles from which a series of bamboos
terminating in a moveable bridge were lowered by means of tackling.
They formed numerous straight lines resting against the wall, and the
Mercenaries mounted them in files, holding their weapons in their hands.
Not a Carthaginian showed himself; already two thirds of the rampart
had been covered. Then the battlements opened, vomiting flames and smoke
like dragon jaws; the sand scattered and entered the joints of their
armour; the petroleum fastened on their garments; the liquid lead
hopped on their helmets and made holes in their flesh; a rain of sparks
splashed against their faces, and eyeless orbits seemed to weep tears as
big as almonds. There were men all yellow with oil, with their hair
in flames. They began to run and set fire to the rest. They were
extinguished in mantles steeped in blood, which were thrown from a
distance over their faces. Some who had no wounds remained motionless,
stiffer than stakes, their mouths open and their arms outspread.

The assault was renewed for several days in succession, the Mercenaries
hoping to triumph by extraordinary energy and audacity.

Sometimes a man raised on the shoulders of another would drive a
pin between the stones, and then making use of it as a step to reach
further, would place a second and a third; and, protected by the edge
of the battlements, which stood out from the wall, they would gradually
raise themselves in this way; but on reaching a certain height they
always fell back again. The great trench was full to overflowing;
the wounded were massed pell-mell with the dead and dying beneath the
footsteps of the living. Calcined trunks formed black spots amid opened
entrails, scattered brains, and pools of blood; and arms and legs
projecting half way out of a heap, would stand straight up like props in
a burning vineyard.

The ladders proving insufficient the tollenos were brought into
requisition, - instruments consisting of a long beam set transversely
upon another, and bearing at its extremity a quadrangular basket which
would hold thirty foot-soldiers with their weapons.

Matho wished to ascend in the first that was ready. Spendius stopped
him.

Some men bent over a capstan; the great beam rose, became horizontal,
reared itself almost vertically, and being overweighted at the end, bent
like a huge reed. The soldiers, who were crowded together, were hidden
up to their chins; only their helmet-plumes could be seen. At last when
it was twenty cubits high in the air it turned several times to the
right and to the left, and then was depressed; and like a giant arm
holding a cohort of pigmies in its hand, it laid the basketful of
men upon the edge of the wall. They leaped into the crowd and never
returned.

All the other tollenos were speedily made ready. But a hundred times
as many would have been needed for the capture of the town. They were
utilised in a murderous fashion: Ethiopian archers were placed in the
baskets; then, the cables having been fastened, they remained suspended
and shot poisoned arrows. The fifty tollenos commanding the battlements
thus surrounded Carthage like monstrous vultures; and the Negroes
laughed to see the guards on the rampart dying in grievous convulsions.

Hamilcar sent hoplites to these posts, and every morning made them drink
the juice of certain herbs which protected them against the poison.

One evening when it was dark he embarked the best of his soldiers
on lighters and planks, and turning to the right of the harbour,
disembarked on the Taenia. Then he advanced to the first lines of
the Barbarians, and taking them in flank, made a great slaughter. Men
hanging to ropes would descend at night from the top of the wall with
torches in their hands, burn the works of the Mercenaries, and then
mount up again.

Matho was exasperated; every obstacle strengthened his wrath, which led
him into terrible extravagances. He mentally summoned Salammbo to an
interview; then he waited. She did not come; this seemed to him like a
fresh piece of treachery, - and henceforth he execrated her. If he
had seen her corpse he would perhaps have gone away. He doubled the
outposts, he planted forks at the foot of the rampart, he drove caltrops
into the ground, and he commanded the Libyans to bring him a whole
forest that he might set it on fire and burn Carthage like a den of
foxes.

Spendius went on obstinately with the siege. He sought to invent
terrible machines such as had never before been constructed.

The other Barbarians, encamped at a distance on the isthmus, were amazed
at these delays; they murmured, and they were let loose.

Then they rushed with their cutlasses and javelins, and beat against
the gates with them. But the nakedness of their bodies facilitating the
infliction of wounds, the Carthaginians massacred them freely; and the
Mercenaries rejoiced at it, no doubt through jealousy about the plunder.
Hence there resulted quarrels and combats between them. Then, the
country having been ravaged, provisions were soon scarce. They grew
disheartened. Numerous hordes went away, but the crowd was so great that
the loss was not apparent.

The best of them tried to dig mines, but the earth, being badly
supported, fell in. They began again in other places, but Hamilcar
always guessed the direction that they were taking by holding his ear
against a bronze shield. He bored counter-mines beneath the path along
which the wooden towers were to move, and when they were pushed forward
they sank into the holes.

At last all recognised that the town was impregnable, unless a long
terrace was raised to the same height as the walls, so as to enable them
to fight on the same level. The top of it should be paved so that
the machines might be rolled along. Then Carthage would find it quite
impossible to resist.

The town was beginning to suffer from thirst. The water which was worth
two kesitahs the bath at the opening of the siege was now sold for
a shekel of silver; the stores of meat and corn were also becoming
exhausted; there was a dread of famine, and some even began to speak of
useless mouths, which terrified every one.

From the square of Khamon to the temple of Melkarth the streets were
cumbered with corpses; and, as it was the end of the summer, the
combatants were annoyed by great black flies. Old men carried off the
wounded, and the devout continued the fictitious funerals for their
relatives and friends who had died far away during the war. Waxen
statues with clothes and hair were displayed across the gates. They
melted in the heat of the tapers burning beside them; the paint flowed
down upon their shoulders, and tears streamed over the faces of the
living, as they chanted mournful songs beside them. The crowd meanwhile
ran to and fro; armed bands passed; captains shouted orders, while the
shock of the rams beating against the rampart was constantly heard.

The temperature became so heavy that the bodies swelled and would no
longer fit into the coffins. They were burned in the centre of the
courts. But the fires, being too much confined, kindled the neighbouring
walls, and long flames suddenly burst from the houses like blood
spurting from an artery. Thus Moloch was in possession of Carthage; he
clasped the ramparts, he rolled through the streets, he devoured the
very corpses.

Men wearing cloaks made of collected rags in token of despair, stationed
themselves at the corners of the cross-ways. They declaimed against the
Ancients and against Hamilcar, predicted complete ruin to the people,
and invited them to universal destruction and license. The most
dangerous were the henbane-drinkers; in their crisis they believed
themselves wild beasts, and leaped upon the passers-by to rend them.
Mobs formed around them, and the defence of Carthage was forgotten. The
Suffet devised the payment of others to support his policy.

In order to retain the genius of the gods within the town their images
had been covered with chains. Black veils were placed upon the Pataec
gods, and hair-cloths around the altars; and attempts were made to
excite the pride and jealousy of the Baals by singing in their ears:
"Thou art about to suffer thyself to be vanquished! Are the others
perchance more strong? Show thyself! aid us! that the peoples may not
say: 'Where are now their gods?'"

The colleges of the pontiffs were agitated by unceasing anxiety. Those
of Rabbetna were especially afraid - the restoration of the zaimph having
been of no avail. They kept themselves shut up in the third enclosure
which was as impregnable as a fortress. Only one among them, the high
priest Schahabarim, ventured to go out.

He used to visit Salammbo. But he would either remain perfectly silent,
gazing at her with fixed eyeballs, or else would be lavish of words, and
the reproaches that he uttered were harder than ever.

With inconceivable inconsistency he could not forgive the young girl
for carrying out his commands; Schahabarim had guessed all, and this
haunting thought revived the jealousies of his impotence. He accused her
of being the cause of the war. Matho, according to him, was besieging
Carthage to recover the zaimph; and he poured out imprecations and
sarcasms upon this Barbarian who pretended to the possession of holy
things. Yet it was not this that the priest wished to say.

But just now Salammbo felt no terror of him. The anguish which she used
formerly to suffer had left her. A strange peacefulness possessed her.
Her gaze was less wandering, and shone with limpid fire.

Meanwhile the python had become ill again; and as Salammbo, on the
contrary, appeared to be recovering, old Taanach rejoiced in the
conviction that by its decline it was taking away the languor of her
mistress.

One morning she found it coiled up behind the bed of ox-hides, colder
than marble, and with its head hidden by a heap of worms. Her cries
brought Salammbo to the spot. She turned it over for a while with the
tip of her sandal, and the slave was amazed at her insensibility.

Hamilcar's daughter no longer prolonged her fasts with so much fervour.
She passed whole days on the top of her terrace, leaning her elbows
against the balustrade, and amusing herself by looking out before her.
The summits of the walls at the end of the town cut uneven zigzags upon
the sky, and the lances of the sentries formed what was like a border
of corn-ears throughout their length. Further away she could see the
manoeuvres of the Barbarians between the towers; on days when the siege
was interrupted she could even distinguish their occupations. They
mended their weapons, greased their hair, and washed their bloodstained
arms in the sea; the tents were closed; the beasts of burden were
feeding; and in the distance the scythes of the chariots, which were all
ranged in a semicircle, looked like a silver scimitar lying at the base
of the mountains. Schahabarim's talk recurred to her memory. She was
waiting for Narr' Havas, her betrothed. In spite of her hatred she would
have liked to see Matho again. Of all the Carthaginians she was perhaps
the only one who would have spoken to him without fear.

Her father often came into her room. He would sit down panting on the
cushions, and gaze at her with an almost tender look, as if he found
some rest from her fatigues in the sight of her. He sometimes questioned
her about her journey to the camp of the Mercenaries. He even asked her
whether any one had urged her to it; and with a shake of the head she
answered, No, - so proud was Salammbo of having saved the zaimph.

But the Suffet always came back to Matho under pretence of making
military inquiries. He could not understand how the hours which she had
spent in the tent had been employed. Salammbo, in fact, said nothing
about Gisco; for as words had an effective power in themselves, curses,
if reported to any one, might be turned against him; and she was silent
about her wish to assassinate, lest she should be blamed for not having
yielded to it. She said that the schalischim appeared furious, that he
had shouted a great deal, and that he had then fallen asleep. Salammbo
told no more, through shame perhaps, or else because she was led by her
extreme ingenuousness to attach but little importance to the soldier's
kisses. Moreover, it all floated through her head in a melancholy and
misty fashion, like the recollection of a depressing dream; and she
would not have known in what way or in what words to express it.

One evening when they were thus face to face with each other, Taanach
came in looking quite scared. An old man with a child was yonder in the
courts, and wished to see the Suffet.

Hamilcar turned pale, and then quickly replied:

"Let him come up!"

Iddibal entered without prostrating himself. He held a young boy,
covered with a goat's-hair cloak, by the hand, and at once raised the
hood which screened his face.

"Here he is, Master! Take him!"

The Suffet and the slave went into a corner of the room.

The child remained in the centre standing upright, and with a gaze
of attention rather than of astonishment he surveyed the ceiling, the
furniture, the pearl necklaces trailing on the purple draperies, and the
majestic maiden who was bending over towards him.

He was perhaps ten years old, and was not taller than a Roman sword. His
curly hair shaded his swelling forehead. His eyeballs looked as if they
were seeking for space. The nostrils of his delicate nose were broad
and palpitating, and upon his whole person was displayed the indefinable


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