Taanach came back to her; and after arranging two candelabra, the lights of which burned in crystal balls filled with water, she tinged the inside of her hands with Lawsonia, spread vermilion upon her cheeks, and antimony along the edge of her eyelids, and lengthened her eyebrows with a mixture of gum, musk, ebony, and crushed legs of flies.
Salammbo seated on a chair with ivory uprights, gave herself up to the attentions of the slave. But the touchings, the odour of the aromatics, and the fasts that she had undergone, were enervating her. She became so pale that Taanach stopped.
“Go on!” said Salammbo, and bearing up against herself, she suddenly revived. Then she was seized with impatience; she urged Taanach to make haste, and the old slave grumbled:
“Well! well! Mistress!—Besides, you have no one waiting for you!”
“Yes!” said Salammbo, “some one is waiting for me.”
Taanach drew back in surprise, and in order to learn more about it, said:
“What orders to you give me, Mistress? for if you are to remain away—”
But Salammbo was sobbing; the slave exclaimed:
“You are suffering! what is the matter? Do not go away! take me! When you were quite little and used to cry, I took you to my heart and made you laugh with the points of my breasts; you have drained them, Mistress!” She struck herself upon her dried-up bosom. “Now I am old! I can do nothing for you! you no longer love me! you hide your griefs from me, you despise the nurse!” And tears of tenderness and vexation flowed down her cheeks in the gashes of her tattooing.
“No!” said Salammbo, “no, I love you! be comforted!”
With a smile like the grimace of an old ape, Taanach resumed her task. In accordance with Schahabarim’s recommendations, Salammbo had ordered the slave to make her magnificent; and she was obeying her mistress with barbaric taste full at once of refinement and ingenuity.
Over a first delicate and vinous-coloured tunic she passed a second embroidered with birds’ feathers. Golden scales clung to her hips, and from this broad girdle descended her blue flowing silver-starred trousers. Next Taanach put upon her a long robe made of the cloth of the country of Seres, white and streaked with green lines. On the edge of her shoulder she fastened a square of purple weighted at the hem with grains of sandastrum; and above all these garments she placed a black mantle with a flowing train; then she gazed at her, and proud of her work could not help saying:
“You will not be more beautiful on the day of your bridal!”
“My bridal!” repeated Salammbo; she was musing with her elbow resting upon the ivory chair.
But Taanach set up before her a copper mirror, which was so broad and high that she could see herself completely in it. Then she rose, and with a light touch of her finger raised a lock of her hair which was falling too low.