CHAPTER XII: THE AQUEDUCT
Twelve hours afterwards all that remained of the Mercenaries was a heap of
wounded, dead, and dying.
Hamilcar had suddenly emerged from the bottom of the gorge, and again
descended the western slope that looked towards Hippo-Zarytus, and the space
being broader at this spot he had taken care to draw the Barbarians into it. Narr'
Havas had encompassed them with his horse; the Suffet meanwhile drove them
back and crushed them. Then, too, they were conquered beforehand by the loss
of the zaimph; even those who cared nothing about it had experienced anguish
and something akin to enfeeblement. Hamilcar, not indulging his pride by holding
the field of battle, had retired a little further off on the left to some heights, from
which he commanded them.
The shape of the camps could be recognised by their sloping palisades. A long
heap of black cinders was smoking on the side of the Libyans; the devastated
soil showed undulations like the sea, and the tents with their tattered canvas
looked like dim ships half lost in the breakers. Cuirasses, forks, clarions, pieces
of wood, iron and brass, corn, straw, and garments were scattered about among
the corpses; here and there a phalarica on the point of extinction burned against
a heap of baggage; in some places the earth was hidden with shields; horses'
carcasses succeeded one another like a series of hillocks; legs, sandals, arms,
and coats of mail were to be seen, with heads held in their helmets by the chin-
pieces and rolling about like balls; heads of hair were hanging on the thorns;
elephants were lying with their towers in pools of blood, with entrails exposed,
and gasping. The foot trod on slimy things, and there were swamps of mud
although no rain had fallen.
This confusion of dead bodies covered the whole mountain from top to bottom.
Those who survived stirred as little as the dead. Squatting in unequal groups
they looked at one another scared and without speaking.
The lake of Hippo-Zarytus shone at the end of a long meadow beneath the
setting sun. To the right an agglomeration of white houses extended beyond a
girdle of walls; then the sea spread out indefinitely; and the Barbarians, with their
chins in their hands, sighed as they thought of their native lands. A cloud of grey
dust was falling.
The evening wind blew; then every breast dilated, and as the freshness
increased, the vermin might be seen to forsake the dead, who were colder now,
and to run over the hot sand. Crows, looking towards the dying, rested
motionless on the tops of the big stones.
When night had fallen yellow-haired dogs, those unclean beasts which followed
the armies, came quite softly into the midst of the Barbarians. At first they licked
the clots of blood on the still tepid stumps; and soon they began to devour the
corpses, biting into the stomachs first of all.
The fugitives reappeared one by one like shadows; the women also ventured to
return, for there were still some of them left, especially among the Libyans, in
spite of the dreadful massacre of them by the Numidians.