Salammbo HTML version
CHAPTER XI: IN THE TENT
The man who guided Salammbo made her ascend again beyond the pharos in
the direction of the Catacombs, and then go down the long suburb of Molouya,
which was full of steep lanes. The sky was beginning to grow grey. Sometimes
palm-wood beams jutting out from the walls obliged them to bend their heads.
The two horses which were at the walk would often slip; and thus they reached
the Teveste gate.
Its heavy leaves were half open; they passed through, and it closed behind them.
At first they followed the foot of the ramparts for a time, and at the height of the
cisterns they took their way along the Taenia, a narrow strip of yellow earth
separating the gulf from the lake and extending as far as Rhades.
No one was to be seen around Carthage, whether on the sea or in the country.
The slate-coloured waves chopped softly, and the light wind blowing their foam
hither and thither spotted them with white rents. In spite of all her veils,
Salammbo shivered in the freshness of the morning; the motion and the open air
dazed her. Then the sun rose; it preyed on the back of her head, and she
involuntarily dozed a little. The two animals rambled along side by side, their feet
sinking into the silent sand.
When they had passed the mountain of the Hot Springs, they went on at a more
rapid rate, the ground being firmer.
But although it was the season for sowing and ploughing, the fields were as
empty as the desert as far as the eye could reach. Here and there were scattered
heaps of corn; at other places the barley was shedding its reddened ears. The
villages showed black upon the clear horizon, with shapes incoherently carved.
From time to time a half-calcined piece of wall would be found standing on the
edge of the road. The roofs of the cottages were falling in, and in the interiors
might be distinguished fragments of pottery, rags of clothing, and all kinds of
unrecognisable utensils and broken things. Often a creature clothed in tatters,
with earthy face and flaming eyes would emerge from these ruins. But he would
very quickly begin to run or would disappear into a hole. Salammbo and her
guide did not stop.
Deserted plains succeeded one another. Charcoal dust which was raised by their
feet behind them, stretched in unequal trails over large spaces of perfectly white
soil. Sometimes they came upon little peaceful spots, where a brook flowed amid
the long grass; and as they ascended the other bank Salammbo would pluck
damp leaves to cool her hands. At the corner of a wood of rose-bays her horse
shied violently at the corpse of a man which lay extended on the ground.
The slave immediately settled her again on the cushions. He was one of the
servants of the Temple, a man whom Schahabarim used to employ on perilous
With extreme precaution he now went on foot beside her and between the
horses; he would whip the animals with the end of a leathern lace wound round
his arm, or would perhaps take balls made of wheat, dates, and yolks of eggs