alls of blue stones. So limpid was the wave that the flames of the torches quivered in it at the very bottom, on a bed of white pebbles and golden dust. It began to bubble, luminous spangles glided past, and great fish with gems about their mouths, appeared near the surface.
With much laughter the soldiers slipped their fingers into the gills and brought them to the tables. They were the fish of the Barca family, and were all descended from those primordial lotes which had hatched the mystic egg wherein the goddess was concealed. The idea of committing a sacrilege revived the greediness of the Mercenaries; they speedily placed fire beneath some brazen vases, and amused themselves by watching the beautiful fish struggling in the boiling water.
The surge of soldiers pressed on. They were no longer afraid. They commenced to drink again. Their ragged tunics were wet with the perfumes that flowed in large drops from their foreheads, and resting both fists on the tables, which seemed to them to be roc
Set immediately after the end of fighting in the First Punic War with Rome, the mercenaries from all over Europe and Africa who defended Carthage from the Roman army are waiting to be paid. Carthage is bankrupt, so the city leaders throw a party for the mercenaries at the home of their (absent) ruler. After a drunken debauch, the mercenaries are convinced to head out into the countryside to live while Carthage gets their pay together and brings it to them.
A story of double-crosses, treachery, fickle loyalty, and wanton killing. The writing is rich (almost ornate) with description, and the winning side changes from day to day. Some of the story is slightly revolting.