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fell upon the coals. The henbane-drinkers crawled on all fours around
the colossus, roaring like tigers; the Yidonim vaticinated, the Devotees
sang with their cloven lips; the trellis-work had been broken through,
all wished for a share in the sacrifice; - and fathers, whose children
had died previously, cast their effigies, their playthings, their
preserved bones into the fire. Some who had knives rushed upon the rest.
They slaughtered one another. The hierodules took the fallen ashes at
the edge of the flagstone in bronze fans, and cast them into the air
that the sacrifice might be scattered over the town and even to the
region of the stars.

The loud noise and great light had attracted the Barbarians to the foot
of the walls; they clung to the wreck of the helepolis to have a better
view, and gazed open-mouthed in horror.



CHAPTER XIV

THE PASS OF THE HATCHET

The Carthaginians had not re-entered their houses when the clouds
accumulated more thickly; those who raised their heads towards the
colossus could feel big drops on their foreheads, and the rain fell.

It fell the whole night plentifully, in floods; the thunder growled; it
was the voice of Moloch; he had vanquished Tanith; and she, being now
fecundated, opened up her vast bosom in heaven's heights. Sometimes she
could be seen in a clear and luminous spot stretched upon cushions of
cloud; and then the darkness would close in again as though she were
still too weary and wished to sleep again; the Carthaginians, all
believing that water is brought forth by the moon, shouted to make her
travail easy.

The rain beat upon the terraces and overflowed them, forming lakes in
the courts, cascades on the staircases, and eddies at the corners of the
streets. It poured in warm heavy masses and urgent streams; big frothy
jets leaped from the corners of all the buildings; and it seemed
as though whitish cloths hung dimly upon the walls, and the washed
temple-roofs shone black in the gleam of the lightning. Torrents
descended from the Acropolis by a thousand paths; houses suddenly gave
way, and small beams, plaster, rubbish, and furniture passed along in
streams which ran impetuously over the pavement.

Amphoras, flagons, and canvases had been placed out of doors; but the
torches were extinguished; brands were taken from the funeral-pile of
the Baal, and the Carthaginians bent back their necks and opened their
mouths to drink. Others by the side of the miry pools, plunged their
arms into them up to the armpits, and filled themselves so abundantly
with water that they vomited it forth like buffaloes. The freshness
gradually spread; they breathed in the damp air with play of limb, and
in the happiness of their intoxication boundless hope soon arose. All
their miseries were forgotten. Their country was born anew.

They felt the need, as it were, of directing upon others the extravagant
fury which they had been unable to employ against themselves. Such a
sacrifice could not be in vain; although they felt no remorse they found
themselves carried away by the frenzy which results from complicity in
irreparable crimes.

The Barbarians had encountered the storm in their ill-closed tents; and
they were still quite chilled on the morrow as they tramped through the
mud in search of their stores and weapons, which were spoiled and lost.

Hamilcar went himself to see Hanno, and, in virtue of his plenary
powers, intrusted the command to him. The old Suffet hesitated for a
few minutes between his animosity and his appetite for authority, but he
accepted nevertheless.

Hamilcar next took out a galley armed with a catapult at each end.
He placed it in the gulf in front of the raft; then he embarked
his stoutest troops on board such vessels as were available. He was
apparently taking to flight; and running northward before the wind he
disappeared into the mist.

But three days afterwards, when the attack was about to begin again,
some people arrived tumultuously from the Libyan coast. Barca had
come among them. He had carried off provisions everywhere, and he was
spreading through the country.

Then the Barbarians were indignant as though he were betraying them.
Those who were most weary of the siege, and especially the Gauls, did
not hesitate to leave the walls in order to try and rejoin him. Spendius
wanted to reconstruct the helepolis; Matho had traced an imaginary line
from his tent to Megara, and inwardly swore to follow it, and none of
their men stirred. But the rest, under the command of Autaritus, went
off, abandoning the western part of the rampart, and so profound was the
carelessness exhibited that no one even thought of replacing them.

Narr' Havas spied them from afar in the mountains. During the night he
led all his men along the sea-shore on the outer side of the Lagoon, and
entered Carthage.

He presented himself as a saviour with six thousand men all carrying
meal under their cloaks, and forty elephants laden with forage and dried
meat. The people flocked quickly around them; they gave them names. The
sight of these strong animals, sacred to Baal, gave the Carthaginians
even more joy than the arrival of such relief; it was a token of the
tenderness of the god, a proof that he was at last about to interfere in
the war to defend them.

Narr' Havas received the compliments of the Ancients. Then he ascended
to Salammbo's palace.

He had not seen her again since the time when in Hamilcar's tent amid
the five armies he had felt her little, cold, soft hand fastened to his
own; she had left for Carthage after the betrothal. His love, which
had been diverted by other ambitions, had come back to him; and now he
expected to enjoy his rights, to marry her, and take her.

Salammbo did not understand how the young man could ever become her
master! Although she asked Tanith every day for Matho's death, her
horror of the Libyan was growing less. She vaguely felt that the hate
with which he had persecuted her was something almost religious, - and
she would fain have seen in Narr' Havas's person a reflection, as it
were, of that malice which still dazzled her. She desired to know him
better, and yet his presence would have embarrassed her. She sent him
word that she could not receive him.

Moreover, Hamilcar had forbidden his people to admit the King of the
Numidians to see her; by putting off his reward to the end of the war he
hoped to retain his devotion; - and, through dread of the Suffet, Narr'
Havas withdrew.

But he bore himself haughtily towards the Hundred. He changed their
arrangements. He demanded privileges for his men, and placed them
on important posts; thus the Barbarians stared when they perceived
Numidians on the towers.

The surprise of the Carthaginians was greater still when three hundred
of their own people, who had been made prisoners during the Sicilian
war, arrived on board an old Punic trireme. Hamilcar, in fact, had
secretly sent back to the Quirites the crews of the Latin vessels,
taken before the defection of the Tyrian towns; and, to reciprocate the
courtesy, Rome was now sending him back her captives. She scorned the
overtures of the Mercenaries in Sardinian, and would not even recognise
the inhabitants of Utica as subjects.

Hiero, who was ruling at Syracuse, was carried away by this example. For
the preservation of his own States it was necessary that an equilibrium
should exist between the two peoples; he was interested, therefore, in
the safety of the Chanaanites, and he declared himself their friend, and
sent them twelve hundred oxen, with fifty-three thousand nebels of pure
wheat.

A deeper reason prompted aid to Carthage. It was felt that if the
Mercenaries triumphed, every one, from soldier to plate-washer, would
rise, and that no government and no house could resist them.

Meanwhile Hamilcar was scouring the eastern districts. He drove back
the Gauls, and all the Barbarians found that they were themselves in
something like a state of siege.

Then he set himself to harass them. He would arrive and then retire, and
by constantly renewing this manoeuvre, he gradually detached them from
their encampments. Spendius was obliged to follow them, and in the end
Matho yielded in like manner.

He did not pass beyond Tunis. He shut himself up within its walls. This
persistence was full of wisdom, for soon Narr' Havas was to be seen
issuing from the gate of Khamon with his elephants and soldiers.
Hamilcar was recalling him, but the other Barbarians were already
wandering about in the provinces in pursuit of the Suffet.

The latter had received three thousand Gauls from Clypea. He had horses
brought to him from Cyrenaica, and armour from Brutium, and began the
war again.

Never had his genius been so impetuous and fertile. For five moons he
dragged his enemies after him. He had an end to which he wished to guide
them.

The Barbarians had at first tried to encompass him with small
detachments, but he always escaped them. They ceased to separate then.
Their army amounted to about forty thousand men, and several times they
enjoyed the sight of seeing the Carthaginians fall back.

The horsemen of Narr' Havas were what they found most tormenting. Often,
at times of the greatest weariness, when they were advancing over the
plains, and dozing beneath the weight of their arms, a great line of
dust would suddenly rise on the horizon; there would be a galloping up
to them, and a rain of darts would pour from the bosom of a cloud filled
with flaming eyes. The Numidians in their white cloaks would utter
loud shouts, raise their arms, press their rearing stallions with their
knees, and, wheeling them round abruptly, would then disappear. They had
always supplies of javelins and dromedaries some distance off, and they
would return more terrible than before, howl like wolves, and take to
flight like vultures. The Barbarians posted at the extremities of the
files fell one by one; and this would continue until evening, when an
attempt would be made to enter the mountains.

Although they were perilous for elephants, Hamilcar made his way in
among them. He followed the long chain which extends from the promontory
of Hermaeum to the top of Zagouan. This, they believed, was a device for
hiding the insufficiency of his troops. But the continual uncertainty in
which he kept them exasperated them at last more than any defeat. They
did not lose heart, and marched after him.

At last one evening they surprised a body of velites amid some big
rocks at the entrance of a pass between the Silver Mountain and the Lead
Mountain; the entire army was certainly in front of them, for a noise
of footsteps and clarions could be heard; the Carthaginians immediately
fled through the gorge. It descended into a plain, and was shaped like
an iron hatchet with a surrounding of lofty cliffs. The Barbarians
dashed into it in order to overtake the velites; quite at the bottom
other Carthaginians were running tumultuously amid galloping oxen. A man
in a red cloak was to be seen; it was the Suffet; they shouted this to
one another; and they were carried away with increased fury and joy.
Several, from laziness or prudence, had remained on the threshold of the
pass. But some cavalry, debouching from a wood, beat them down upon
the rest with blows of pike and sabre; and soon all the Barbarians were
below in the plain.

Then this great human mass, after swaying to and fro for some time,
stood still; they could discover no outlet.

Those who were nearest to the pass went back again, but the passage had
entirely disappeared. They hailed those in front to make them go on;
they were being crushed against the mountain, and from a distance they
inveighed against their companions, who were unable to find the route
again.

In fact the Barbarians had scarcely descended when men who had been
crouching behind the rocks raised the latter with beams and overthrew
them, and as the slope was steep the huge blocks had rolled down
pell-mell and completely stopped up the narrow opening.

At the other extremity of the plain stretched a long passage, split in
gaps here and there, and leading to a ravine which ascended to the upper
plateau, where the Punic army was stationed. Ladders had been placed
beforehand in this passage against the wall of cliff; and, protected by
the windings of the gaps, the velites were able to seize and mount them
before being overtaken. Several even made their way to the bottom of the
ravine; they were drawn up with cables, for the ground at this spot was
of moving sand, and so much inclined that it was impossible to climb
it even on the knees. The Barbarians arrived almost immediately. But
a portcullis, forty cubits high, and made to fit the intervening space
exactly, suddenly sank before them like a rampart fallen from the skies.

The Suffet's combinations had therefore succeeded. None of the
Mercenaries knew the mountain, and, marching as they did at the head
of their columns, they had drawn on the rest. The rocks, which were
somewhat narrow at the base, had been easily cast down; and, while
all were running, his army had raised shouts, as of distress, on the
horizon. Hamilcar, it is true, might have lost his velites, only half of
whom remained, but he would have sacrificed twenty times as many for the
success of such an enterprise.

The Barbarians pressed forward until morning, in compact files, from one
end of the plain to the other. They felt the mountain with their hands,
seeking to discover a passage.

At last day broke; and they perceived all about them a great white wall
hewn with the pick. And no means of safety, no hope! The two natural
outcomes from this blind alley were closed by the portcullis and the
heaps of rocks.

Then they all looked at one another without speaking. They sank down in
collapse, feeling an icy coldness in their loins, and an overwhelming
weight upon their eyelids.

They rose, and bounded against the rocks. But the lowest were weighted
by the pressure of the others, and were immovable. They tried to cling
to them so as to reach the top, but the bellying shape of the great
masses rendered all hold impossible. They sought to cleave the ground on
both sides of the gorge, but their instruments broke. They made a large
fire with the tent poles, but the fire could not burn the mountain.

They returned to the portcullis; it was garnished with long nails as
thick as stakes, as sharp as the spines of a porcupine, and closer than
the hairs of a brush. But they were animated by such rage that they
dashed themselves against it. The first were pierced to the backbone,
those coming next surged over them, and all fell back, leaving human
fragments and bloodstained hair on those horrible branches.

When their discouragement was somewhat abated, they made an examination
of the provisions. The Mercenaries, whose baggage was lost, possessed
scarcely enough for two days; and all the rest found themselves
destitute, - for they had been awaiting a convoy promised by the villages
of the South.

However, some bulls were roaming about, those which the Carthaginians
had loosed in the gorge to attract the Barbarians. They killed them with
lance thrusts and ate them, and when their stomachs were filled their
thoughts were less mournful.

The next day they slaughtered all the mules to the number of about
forty; then they scraped the skins, boiled the entrails, pounded the
bones, and did not yet despair; the army from Tunis had no doubt been
warned, and was coming.

But on the evening of the fifth day their hunger increased; they gnawed
their sword-belts, and the little sponges which bordered the bottom of
their helmets.

These forty thousand men were massed into the species of hippodrome
formed by the mountain about them. Some remained in front of the
portcullis, or at the foot of the rocks; the rest covered the plain
confusedly. The strong shunned one another, and the timid sought out the
brave, who, nevertheless, were unable to save them.

To avoid infection, the corpses of the velites had been speedily buried;
and the position of the graves was no longer visible.

All the Barbarians lay drooping on the ground. A veteran would pass
between their lines here and there; and they would howl curses against
the Carthaginians, against Hamilcar, and against Matho, although he was
innocent of their disaster; but it seemed to them that their pains would
have been less if he had shared them. Then they groaned, and some wept
softly like little children.

They came to the captains and besought them to grant them something that
would alleviate their sufferings. The others made no reply; or, seized
with fury, would pick up a stone and fling it in their faces.

Several, in fact, carefully kept a reserve of food in a hole in the
ground - a few handfuls of dates, or a little meal; and they ate this
during the night, with their heads bent beneath their cloaks. Those
who had swords kept them naked in their hands, and the most suspicious
remained standing with their backs against the mountain.

They accused their chiefs and threatened them. Autaritus was not afraid
of showing himself. With the Barbaric obstinacy which nothing could
discourage, he would advance twenty times a day to the rocks at the
bottom, hoping every time to find them perchance displaced; and swaying
his heavy fur-covered shoulders, he reminded his companions of a bear
coming forth from its cave in springtime to see whether the snows are
melted.

Spendius, surrounded by the Greeks, hid himself in one of the gaps; as
he was afraid, he caused a rumour of his death to be spread.

They were now hideously lean; their skin was overlaid with bluish
marblings. On the evening of the ninth day three Iberians died.

Their frightened companions left the spot. They were stripped, and the
white, naked bodies lay in the sunshine on the sand.

Then the Garamantians began to prowl slowly round about them. They were
men accustomed to existence in solitude, and they reverenced no god. At
last the oldest of the band made a sign, and bending over the corpses
they cut strips from them with their knives, then squatted upon their
heels and ate. The rest looked on from a distance; they uttered cries
of horror; - many, nevertheless, being, at the bottom of their souls,
jealous of such courage.

In the middle of the night some of these approached, and, dissembling
their eagerness, asked for a small mouthful, merely to try, they said.
Bolder ones came up; their number increased; there was soon a crowd. But
almost all of them let their hands fall on feeling the cold flesh on the
edge of their lips; others, on the contrary, devoured it with delight.

That they might be led away by example, they urged one another on
mutually. Such as had at first refused went to see the Garamantians, and
returned no more. They cooked the pieces on coals at the point of the
sword; they salted them with dust, and contended for the best morsels.
When nothing was left of the three corpses, their eyes ranged over the
whole plain to find others.

But were they not in possession of Carthaginians - twenty captives taken
in the last encounter, whom no one had noticed up to the present? These
disappeared; moreover, it was an act of vengeance. Then, as they must
live, as the taste for this food had become developed, and as they were
dying, they cut the throats of the water-carriers, grooms, and all the
serving-men belonging to the Mercenaries. They killed some of them every
day. Some ate much, recovered strength, and were sad no more.

Soon this resource failed. Then the longing was directed to the wounded
and sick. Since they could not recover, it was as well to release
them from their tortures; and, as soon as a man began to stagger, all
exclaimed that he was now lost, and ought to be made use of for the
rest. Artifices were employed to accelerate their death; the last
remnant of their foul portion was stolen from them; they were trodden
on as though by inadvertence; those in the last throes wishing to make
believe that they were strong, strove to stretch out their arms, to
rise, to laugh. Men who had swooned came to themselves at the touch of
a notched blade sawing off a limb; - and they still slew, ferociously and
needlessly, to sate their fury.

A mist heavy and warm, such as comes in those regions at the end
of winter, sank on the fourteenth day upon the army. This change
of temperature brought numerous deaths with it, and corruption was
developed with frightful rapidity in the warm dampness which was kept
in by the sides of the mountain. The drizzle that fell upon the corpses
softened them, and soon made the plain one broad tract of rottenness.
Whitish vapours floated overhead; they pricked the nostrils, penetrated
the skin, and troubled the sight; and the Barbarians thought that
through the exhalations of the breath they could see the souls of their
companions. They were overwhelmed with immense disgust. They wished for
nothing more; they preferred to die.

Two days afterwards the weather became fine again, and hunger seized
them once more. It seemed to them that their stomachs were being
wrenched from them with tongs. Then they rolled about in convulsions,
flung handfuls of dust into their mouths, bit their arms, and burst into
frantic laughter.

They were still more tormented by thirst, for they had not a drop of
water, the leathern bottles having been completely dried up since the
ninth day. To cheat their need they applied their tongues to the metal
plates on their waist-belts, their ivory pommels, and the steel of their
swords. Some former caravan-leaders tightened their waists with ropes.
Others sucked a pebble. They drank urine cooled in their brazen helmets.

And they still expected the army from Tunis! The length of time which it
took in coming was, according to their conjectures, an assurance of its
early arrival. Besides, Matho, who was a brave fellow, would not desert
them. "'Twill be to-morrow!" they would say to one another; and then
to-morrow would pass.

At the beginning they had offered up prayers and vows, and practised all
kinds of incantations. Just now their only feeling to their divinities
was one of hatred, and they strove to revenge themselves by believing in
them no more.

Men of violent disposition perished first; the Africans held out
better than the Gauls. Zarxas lay stretched at full length among the
Balearians, his hair over his arm, inert. Spendius found a plant with
broad leaves filled abundantly with juice, and after declaring that it
was poisonous, so as to keep off the rest, he fed himself upon it.

They were too weak to knock down the flying crows with stones. Sometimes
when a gypaetus was perched on a corpse, and had been mangling it for
a long time, a man would set himself to crawl towards it with a javelin
between his teeth. He would support himself with one hand, and after
taking a good aim, throw his weapon. The white-feathered creature,
disturbed by the noise, would desist and look about in tranquil fashion
like a cormorant on a rock, and would then again thrust in its hideous,
yellow beak, while the man, in despair, would fall flat on his face in
the dust. Some succeeded in discovering chameleons and serpents. But it
was the love of life that kept them alive. They directed their souls to
this idea exclusively, and clung to existence by an effort of the will
that prolonged it.

The most stoical kept close to one another, seated in a circle here and
there, among the dead in the middle of the plain; and wrapped in their
cloaks they gave themselves up silently to their sadness.

Those who had been born in towns recalled the resounding streets, the
taverns, theatres, baths, and the barbers' shops where there are tales
to be heard. Others could once more see country districts at sunset,
when the yellow corn waves, and the great oxen ascend the hills again
with the ploughshares on their necks. Travellers dreamed of cisterns,
hunters of their forests, veterans of battles; and in the somnolence
that benumbed them their thoughts jostled one another with the
precipitancy and clearness of dreams. Hallucinations came suddenly upon
them; they sought for a door in the mountain in order to flee, and tried
to pass through it. Others thought that they were sailing in a storm
and gave orders for the handling of a ship, or else fell back in terror,
perceiving Punic battalions in the clouds. There were some who imagined
themselves at a feast, and sang.

Many through a strange mania would repeat the same word or continually
make the same gesture. Then when they happened to raise their heads


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