The precious interval was employed in preparing
catapults and armour; day and night all, without distinction of age or
sex, were occupied in constructing machines and forging arms; the public
buildings were torn down to procure timber and metal; women cut off
their hair to furnish the strings indispensable for the catapults; in
an incredibly short time the walls and the men were once more armed.
That all this could be done without the consuls, who were but a few
miles off, learning anything of it, is not the least marvellous feature
in this marvellous movement sustained by a truly enthusiastic, and in
fact superhuman, national hatred. When at length the consuls, weary
of waiting, broke up from their camp at Utica, and thought that they
should be able to scale the bare walls with ladders, they found to their
surprise and horror the battlements crowned anew with catapults, and
the large populous city which they had hoped to occupy like an open
village, able and ready to defend itself to the last man.