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while bands of crows wheeled ceaselessly in the air above their heads.
It was thus that the Carthaginian peasants avenged themselves when
they captured a wild beast; they hoped to terrify the others by such
an example. The Barbarians ceased their laughter, and were long lost in
amazement. "What people is this," they thought, "that amuses itself by
crucifying lions!"

They were, besides, especially the men of the North, vaguely uneasy,
troubled, and already sick. They tore their hands with the darts of the
aloes; great mosquitoes buzzed in their ears, and dysentry was breaking
out in the army. They were weary at not yet seeing Sicca. They were
afraid of losing themselves and of reaching the desert, the country of
sands and terrors. Many even were unwilling to advance further. Others
started back to Carthage.

At last on the seventh day, after following the base of a mountain for a
long time, they turned abruptly to the right, and there then appeared
a line of walls resting on white rocks and blending with them. Suddenly
the entire city rose; blue, yellow, and white veils moved on the walls
in the redness of the evening. These were the priestesses of Tanith,
who had hastened hither to receive the men. They stood ranged along the
rampart, striking tabourines, playing lyres, and shaking crotala, while
the rays of the sun, setting behind them in the mountains of Numidia,
shot between the strings of their lyres over which their naked arms were
stretched. At intervals their instruments would become suddenly still,
and a cry would break forth strident, precipitate, frenzied, continuous,
a sort of barking which they made by striking both corners of the mouth
with the tongue. Others, more motionless than the Sphynx, rested on
their elbows with their chins on their hands, and darted their great
black eyes upon the army as it ascended.

Although Sicca was a sacred town it could not hold such a multitude; the
temple alone, with its appurtenances, occupied half of it. Accordingly
the Barbarians established themselves at their ease on the plain;
those who were disciplined in regular troops, and the rest according to
nationality or their own fancy.

The Greeks ranged their tents of skin in parallel lines; the Iberians
placed their canvas pavilions in a circle; the Gauls made themselves
huts of planks; the Libyans cabins of dry stones, while the Negroes with
their nails hollowed out trenches in the sand to sleep in. Many, not
knowing where to go, wandered about among the baggage, and at nightfall
lay down in their ragged mantles on the ground.

The plain, which was wholly bounded by mountains, expanded around them.
Here and there a palm tree leaned over a sand hill, and pines and oaks
flecked the sides of the precipices: sometimes the rain of a storm would
hang from the sky like a long scarf, while the country everywhere was
still covered with azure and serenity; then a warm wind would drive
before it tornadoes of dust, and a stream would descend in cascades from
the heights of Sicca, where, with its roofing of gold on its columns of
brass, rose the temple of the Carthaginian Venus, the mistress of the
land. She seemed to fill it with her soul. In such convulsions of the
soil, such alternations of temperature, and such plays of light would
she manifest the extravagance of her might with the beauty of her
eternal smile. The mountains at their summits were crescent-shaped;
others were like women's bosoms presenting their swelling breasts, and
the Barbarians felt a heaviness that was full of delight weighing down
their fatigues.

Spendius had bought a slave with the money brought him by his dromedary.
The whole day long he lay asleep stretched before Matho's tent. Often he
would awake, thinking in his dreams that he heard the whistling of the
thongs; with a smile he would pass his hands over the scars on his legs
at the place where the fetters had long been worn, and then he would
fall asleep again.

Matho accepted his companionship, and when he went out Spendius would
escort him like a lictor with a long sword on his thigh; or perhaps
Matho would rest his arm carelessly on the other's shoulder, for
Spendius was small.

One evening when they were passing together through the streets in the
camp they perceived some men covered with white cloaks; among them was
Narr' Havas, the prince of the Numidians. Matho started.

"Your sword!" he cried; "I will kill him!"

"Not yet!" said Spendius, restraining him. Narr' Havas was already
advancing towards him.

He kissed both thumbs in token of alliance, showing nothing of the anger
which he had experienced at the drunkenness of the feast; then he spoke
at length against Carthage, but did not say what brought him among the
Barbarians.

"Was it to betray them, or else the Republic?" Spendius asked himself;
and as he expected to profit by every disorder, he felt grateful to
Narr' Havas for the future perfidies of which he suspected him.

The chief of the Numidians remained amongst the Mercenaries. He appeared
desirous of attaching Matho to himself. He sent him fat goats, gold
dust, and ostrich feathers. The Libyan, who was amazed at such caresses,
was in doubt whether to respond to them or to become exasperated at
them. But Spendius pacified him, and Matho allowed himself to be ruled
by the slave, remaining ever irresolute and in an unconquerable torpor,
like those who have once taken a draught of which they are to die.

One morning when all three went out lion-hunting, Narr' Havas concealed
a dagger in his cloak. Spendius kept continually behind him, and when
they returned the dagger had not been drawn.

Another time Narr' Havas took them a long way off, as far as the
boundaries of his kingdom. They came to a narrow gorge, and Narr' Havas
smiled as he declared that he had forgotten the way. Spendius found it
again.

But most frequently Matho would go off at sunrise, as melancholy as
an augur, to wander about the country. He would stretch himself on the
sand, and remain there motionless until the evening.

He consulted all the soothsayers in the army one after the other, - those
who watch the trail of serpents, those who read the stars, and those who
breathe upon the ashes of the dead. He swallowed galbanum, seseli, and
viper's venom which freezes the heart; Negro women, singing barbarous
words in the moonlight, pricked the skin of his forehead with golden
stylets; he loaded himself with necklaces and charms; he invoked in
turn Baal-Khamon, Moloch, the seven Kabiri, Tanith, and the Venus of
the Greeks. He engraved a name upon a copper plate, and buried it in the
sand at the threshold of his tent. Spendius used to hear him groaning
and talking to himself.

One night he went in.

Matho, as naked as a corpse, was lying on a lion's skin flat on his
stomach, with his face in both his hands; a hanging lamp lit up his
armour, which was hooked on to the tent-pole above his head.

"You are suffering?" said the slave to him. "What is the matter with
you? Answer me?" And he shook him by the shoulder calling him several
times, "Master! master!"

At last Matho lifted large troubled eyes towards him.

"Listen!" he said in a low voice, and with a finger on his lips. "It is
the wrath of the Gods! Hamilcar's daughter pursues me! I am afraid of
her, Spendius!" He pressed himself close against his breast like a child
terrified by a phantom. "Speak to me! I am sick! I want to get well! I
have tried everything! But you, you perhaps know some stronger gods, or
some resistless invocation?"

"For what purpose?" asked Spendius.

Striking his head with both his fists, he replied:

"To rid me of her!"

Then speaking to himself with long pauses he said:

"I am no doubt the victim of some holocaust which she has promised to
the gods? - She holds me fast by a chain which people cannot see. If I
walk, it is she that is advancing; when I stop, she is resting! Her eyes
burn me, I hear her voice. She encompasses me, she penetrates me. It
seems to me that she has become my soul!

"And yet between us there are, as it were, the invisible billows of a
boundless ocean! She is far away and quite inaccessible! The splendour
of her beauty forms a cloud of light around her, and at times I think
that I have never seen her - that she does not exist - and that it is all
a dream!"

Matho wept thus in the darkness; the Barbarians were sleeping. Spendius,
as he looked at him, recalled the young men who once used to entreat
him with golden cases in their hands, when he led his herd of courtesans
through the towns; a feeling of pity moved him, and he said -

"Be strong, my master! Summon your will, and beseech the gods no more,
for they turn not aside at the cries of men! Weeping like a coward! And
you are not humiliated that a woman can cause you so much suffering?"

"Am I a child?" said Matho. "Do you think that I am moved by their faces
and songs? We kept them at Drepanum to sweep out our stables. I have
embraced them amid assaults, beneath falling ceilings, and while the
catapult was still vibrating! - But she, Spendius, she! - "

The slave interrupted him:

"If she were not Hanno's daughter - "

"No!" cried Matho. "She has nothing in common with the daughters of
other men! Have you seen her great eyes beneath her great eyebrows, like
suns beneath triumphal arches? Think: when she appeared all the torches
grew pale. Her naked breast shone here and there through the diamonds of
her necklace; behind her you perceived as it were the odour of a temple,
and her whole being emitted something that was sweeter than wine and
more terrible than death. She walked, however, and then she stopped."

He remained gaping with his head cast down and his eyeballs fixed.

"But I want her! I need her! I am dying for her! I am transported with
frenzied joy at the thought of clasping her in my arms, and yet I hate
her, Spendius! I should like to beat her! What is to be done? I have a
mind to sell myself and become her slave! YOU have been that! You were
able to get sight of her; speak to me of her! Every night she ascends
to the terrace of her palace, does she not? Ah! the stones must quiver
beneath her sandals, and the stars bend down to see her!"

He fell back in a perfect frenzy, with a rattling in his throat like a
wounded bull.

Then Matho sang: "He pursued into the forest the female monster, whose
tail undulated over the dead leaves like a silver brook." And with
lingering tones he imitated Salammbo's voice, while his outspread hands
were held like two light hands on the strings of a lyre.

To all the consolations offered by Spendius, he repeated the same words;
their nights were spent in these wailings and exhortations.

Matho sought to drown his thoughts in wine. After his fits of
drunkenness he was more melancholy still. He tried to divert himself at
huckle-bones, and lost the gold plates of his necklace one by one. He
had himself taken to the servants of the Goddess; but he came down the
hill sobbing, like one returning from a funeral.

Spendius, on the contrary, became more bold and gay. He was to be seen
in the leafy taverns discoursing in the midst of the soldiers. He mended
old cuirasses. He juggled with daggers. He went and gathered herbs in
the fields for the sick. He was facetious, dexterous, full of invention
and talk; the Barbarians grew accustomed to his services, and he came to
be loved by them.

However, they were awaiting an ambassador from Carthage to bring
them mules laden with baskets of gold; and ever beginning the same
calculation over again, they would trace figures with their fingers in
the sand. Every one was arranging his life beforehand; they would have
concubines, slaves, lands; others intended to bury their treasure,
or risk it on a vessel. But their tempers were provoked by want of
employment; there were constant disputes between horse-soldiers and
foot-soldiers, Barbarians and Greeks, while there was a never-ending din
of shrill female voices.

Every day men came flocking in nearly naked, and with grass on their
heads to protect them from the sun; they were the debtors of the rich
Carthaginians and had been forced to till the lands of the latter, but
had escaped. Libyans came pouring in with peasants ruined by the taxes,
outlaws, and malefactors. Then the horde of traders, all the dealers in
wine and oil, who were furious at not being paid, laid the blame upon
the Republic. Spendius declaimed against it. Soon the provisions ran
low; and there was talk of advancing in a body upon Carthage, and
calling in the Romans.

One evening, at supper-time, dull cracked sounds were heard approaching,
and something red appeared in the distance among the undulations of the
soil.

It was a large purple litter, adorned with ostrich feathers at the
corners. Chains of crystal and garlands of pearls beat against the
closed hangings. It was followed by camels sounding the great bells
that hung at their breasts, and having around them horsemen clad from
shoulder to heel in armour of golden scales.

They halted three hundred paces from the camp to take their round
bucklers, broad swords, and Boeotian helmets out of the cases which they
carried behind their saddles. Some remained with the camels, while
the others resumed their march. At last the ensigns of the Republic
appeared, that is to say, staves of blue wood terminated in horses'
heads or fir cones. The Barbarians all rose with applause; the women
rushed towards the guards of the Legion and kissed their feet.

The litter advanced on the shoulders of twelve Negroes who walked in
step with short, rapid strides; they went at random to right or left,
being embarrassed by the tent-ropes, the animals that were straying
about, or the tripods where food was being cooked. Sometimes a fat hand,
laden with rings, would partially open the litter, and a hoarse voice
would utter loud reproaches; then the bearers would stop and take a
different direction through the camp.

But the purple curtains were raised, and a human head, impassible and
bloated, was seen resting on a large pillow; the eyebrows, which were
like arches of ebony, met each other at the points; golden dust sparkled
in the frizzled hair, and the face was so wan that it looked as if
it had been powdered with marble raspings. The rest of the body was
concealed beneath the fleeces which filled the litter.

In the man so reclining the soldiers recognised the Suffet Hanno, he
whose slackness had assisted to lose the battle of the Aegatian islands;
and as to his victory at Hecatompylos over the Libyans, even if he did
behave with clemency, thought the Barbarians, it was owing to cupidity,
for he had sold all the captives on his own account, although he had
reported their deaths to the Republic.

After seeking for some time a convenient place from which to harangue
the soldiers, he made a sign; the litter stopped, and Hanno, supported
by two slaves, put his tottering feet to the ground.

He wore boots of black felt strewn with silver moons. His legs were
swathed in bands like those wrapped about a mummy, and the flesh crept
through the crossings of the linen; his stomach came out beyond the
scarlet jacket which covered his thighs; the folds of his neck fell down
to his breast like the dewlaps of an ox; his tunic, which was painted
with flowers, was bursting at the arm-pits; he wore a scarf, a girdle,
and an ample black cloak with laced double-sleeves. But the abundance of
his garments, his great necklace of blue stones, his golden clasps, and
heavy earrings only rendered his deformity still more hideous. He might
have been taken for some big idol rough-hewn in a block of stone; for
a pale leprosy, which was spread over his whole body, gave him the
appearance of an inert thing. His nose, however, which was hooked like
a vulture's beak, was violently dilated to breathe in the air, and his
little eyes, with their gummed lashes, shone with a hard and metallic
lustre. He held a spatula of aloe-wood in his hand wherewith to scratch
his skin.

At last two heralds sounded their silver horns; the tumult subsided, and
Hanno commenced to speak.

He began with an eulogy of the gods and the Republic; the Barbarians
ought to congratulate themselves on having served it. But they must show
themselves more reasonable; times were hard, "and if a master has only
three olives, is it not right that he should keep two for himself?"

The old Suffet mingled his speech in this way with proverbs and
apologues, nodding his head the while to solicit some approval.

He spoke in Punic, and those surrounding him (the most alert, who
had hastened thither without their arms), were Campanians, Gauls, and
Greeks, so that no one in the crowd understood him. Hanno, perceiving
this, stopped and reflected, swaying himself heavily from one leg to the
other.

It occurred to him to call the captains together; then his heralds
shouted the order in Greek, the language which, from the time of
Xanthippus, had been used for commands in the Carthaginian armies.

The guards dispersed the mob of soldiers with strokes of the whip; and
the captains of the Spartan phalanxes and the chiefs of the Barbarian
cohorts soon arrived with the insignia of their rank, and in the
armour of their nation. Night had fallen, a great tumult was spreading
throughout the plain; fires were burning here and there; and the
soldiers kept going from one to another asking what the matter was, and
why the Suffet did not distribute the money?

He was setting the infinite burdens of the Republic before the captains.
Her treasury was empty. The tribute to Rome was crushing her. "We are
quite at a loss what to do! She is much to be pitied!"

From time to time he would rub his limbs with his aloe-wood spatula,
or perhaps he would break off to drink a ptisan made of the ashes of a
weasel and asparagus boiled in vinegar from a silver cup handed to
him by a slave; then he would wipe his lips with a scarlet napkin and
resume:

"What used to be worth a shekel of silver is now worth three shekels
of gold, while the cultivated lands which were abandoned during the war
bring in nothing! Our purpura fisheries are nearly gone, and even pearls
are becoming exhorbitant; we have scarcely unguents enough for the
service of the gods! As for the things of the table, I shall say nothing
about them; it is a calamity! For want of galleys we are without spices,
and it is a matter of great difficulty to procure silphium on account
of the rebellions on the Cyrenian frontier. Sicily, where so many slaves
used to be had, is now closed to us! Only yesterday I gave more money
for a bather and four scullions than I used at one time to give for a
pair of elephants!"

He unrolled a long piece of papyrus; and, without omitting a single
figure, read all the expenses that the government had incurred; so much
for repairing the temples, for paving the streets, for the construction
of vessels, for the coral-fisheries, for the enlargement of the
Syssitia, and for engines in the mines in the country of the
Cantabrians.

But the captains understood Punic as little as the soldiers, although
the Mercenaries saluted one another in that language. It was usual to
place a few Carthaginian officers in the Barbarian armies to act as
interpreters; after the war they had concealed themselves through fear
of vengeance, and Hanno had not thought of taking them with him; his
hollow voice, too, was lost in the wind.

The Greeks, girthed in their iron waist-belts, strained their ears as
they strove to guess at his words, while the mountaineers, covered with
furs like bears, looked at him with distrust, or yawned as they leaned
on their brass-nailed clubs. The heedless Gauls sneered as they
shook their lofty heads of hair, and the men of the desert listened
motionless, cowled in their garments of grey wool; others kept coming up
behind; the guards, crushed by the mob, staggered on their horses;
the Negroes held out burning fir branches at arm's length; and the big
Carthaginian, mounted on a grassy hillock, continued his harangue.

The Barbarians, however, were growing impatient; murmuring arose, and
every one apostrophized him. Hanno gesticulated with his spatula; and
those who wished the others to be quiet shouted still more loudly,
thereby adding to the din.

Suddenly a man of mean appearance bounded to Hanno's feet, snatched up
a herald's trumpet, blew it, and Spendius (for it was he) announced that
he was going to say something of importance. At this declaration, which
was rapidly uttered in five different languages, Greek, Latin, Gallic,
Libyan and Balearic, the captains, half laughing and half surprised,
replied: "Speak! Speak!"

Spendius hesitated; he trembled; at last, addressing the Libyans who
were the most numerous, he said to them:

"You have all heard this man's horrible threats!"

Hanno made no exclamation, therefore he did not understand Libyan; and,
to carry on the experiment, Spendius repeated the same phrase in the
other Barbarian dialects.

They looked at one another in astonishment; then, as by a tacit
agreement, and believing perhaps that they had understood, they bent
their heads in token of assent.

Then Spendius began in vehement tones:

"He said first that all the Gods of the other nations were but dreams
besides the Gods of Carthage! He called you cowards, thieves, liars,
dogs, and the sons of dogs! But for you (he said that!) the Republic
would not be forced to pay excessive tribute to the Romans; and through
your excesses you have drained it of perfumes, aromatics, slaves,
and silphium, for you are in league with the nomads on the Cyrenian
frontier! But the guilty shall be punished! He read the enumeration of
their torments; they shall be made to work at the paving of the streets,
at the equipment of the vessels, at the adornment of the Syssitia, while
the rest shall be sent to scrape the earth in the mines in the country
of the Cantabrians."

Spendius repeated the same statements to the Gauls, Greeks, Campanians
and Balearians. The Mercenaries, recognising several of the proper
names which had met their ears, were convinced that he was accurately
reporting the Suffet's speech. A few cried out to him, "You lie!" but
their voices were drowned in the tumult of the rest; Spendius added:

"Have you not seen that he has left a reserve of his horse-soldiers
outside the camp? At a given signal they will hasten hither to slay you
all."

The Barbarians turned in that direction, and as the crowd was then
scattering, there appeared in the midst of them, and advancing with the
slowness of a phantom, a human being, bent, lean, entirely naked, and
covered down to his flanks with long hair bristling with dried leaves,
dust and thorns. About his loins and his knees he had wisps of straw and
linen rags; his soft and earthy skin hung on his emaciated limbs like
tatters on dried boughs; his hands trembled with a continuous quivering,
and as he walked he leaned on a staff of olive-wood.

He reached the Negroes who were bearing the torches. His pale gums were
displayed in a sort of idiotic titter; his large, scared eyes gazed upon
the crowd of Barbarians around him.

But uttering a cry of terror he threw himself behind them, shielding
himself with their bodies. "There they are! There they are!" he
stammered out, pointing to the Suffet's guards, who were motionless
in their glittering armour. Their horses, dazzled by the light of the
torches which crackled in the darkness, were pawing the ground; the
human spectre struggled and howled:

"They have killed them!"

At these words, which were screamed in Balearic, some Balearians came up
and recognised him; without answering them he repeated:

"Yes, all killed, all! crushed like grapes! The fine young men! the
slingers! my companions and yours!"

They gave him wine to drink, and he wept; then he launched forth into
speech.

Spendius could scarcely repress his joy, as he explained the horrors
related by Zarxas to the Greeks and Libyans; he could not believe them,
so appropriately did they come in. The Balearians grew pale as they
learned how their companions had perished.

It was a troop of three hundred slingers who had disembarked the evening
before, and had on that day slept too late. When they reached the
square of Khamon the Barbarians were gone, and they found themselves
defenceless, their clay bullets having been put on the camels with the
rest of the baggage. They were allowed to advance into the street of
Satheb as far as the brass sheathed oaken gate; then the people with a
single impulse had sprung upon them.



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