Tanit Substitutes A New Map of Carthage:

Gaius rushed around his bedchamber, thinking that when he was getting undressed he might have misplaced the all-important maps of Carthage. But nowhere did he see them.

He summoned the servants and told them that important, irreplaceable papers were missing from his waist pack. The lead servant lined up the others and chastised them. But that made little sense. The servants had not been inside his room overnight —- or had they? When he was finished making nasty remarks, the servants were set loose to find them. Some stayed in the room and searched there. Another team went about the whole house looking. Still a third team was sent to look outside in the immediate environs of the villa for the maps of Carthage.

In all the noise and confusion Lavinia descended upon him. “What has happened?” she asked big-eyed.

He explained that the maps that everybody had been admiring during dinner last night were missing. She instantly glanced back over her shoulder towards that banquet table in the triclinium where now various members of Cato’s household were assembling for the morning meal. He heard the sparkling laugh of the Carthaginian Princess, Tanit. She was talking to her compatriots.

“Do you think that one of them took the maps?” she asked.

“I don’t think they would have dared to misbehave like that and break the terms of the time here,” he said. “And so soon too! After all, they just arrived here yesterday.”

Cato overheard the discussion and stopped by Gaius’s room. Gaius knew how much the maps of Carthage had meant to him. That had been the sole reason he had asked Gaius to accompany him on his voyage to Carthage.

“I had come to ask you for the maps so I could hide them in a safe place,” Cato said. “And they are gone already?” he could hardly believe it.

Gaius had to nod sadly. “They disappeared while I slept,” he showed Cato his empty waist pack. He even shook it out to demonstrate just how empty it was.

Cato looked back towards the table full of “guests” himself and vowed, “We will find those maps or none of our guests will be free to move around the estate.”

Cato had a loud voice. Tanit must have picked up on his frowns. She appeared at his side in a twinkling. “What is the matter here?” she asked.

“The maps are missing that were shown here at dinner time last night,” Cato eyed her.

“The fine maps of Carthage?” she looked horrified. “One of our number here has been trained in drawing,” she confessed. “I will have him replace your maps from memory. He lives right near the harbor back at home. We would not want anyone not to have pictures of our homeland. It makes me homesick just to think of it.”

She hurried back to the table where her confederates sat and explained the situation in rapid Phoenician. The young man set to work right away. Everyone was fascinated and stood over his shoulder glancing at the progress of the work. The morning meal was served and gone while he worked through half of the morning. Gaius was amazed at his skill. The drawings looked much better and much more detailed than anything he had produced with his hasty stylus while at Carthage. He found even Cato poring over them carefully.

Later that day Gaius was assembling the new drawings so Cato could put them in a safe place when he noticed something odd. The Roman naval vessel which had taken them there was in the harbor next to a Carthaginian war ship. But the ship did not look the same as the one he remembered. It lacked as many oars. It was not quite as big. He looked at it from all sorts of angles to make sure. And this was not what he remembered at all.

That clued him into studying the other details in the drawing. He noticed the outfits of the sailors on the ships. They seemed to be garbed in attire current a few decades before during the Second Punic War. They were not the outfits he remembered seeing on the spot a couple weeks ago.

He did not know the extent of the differences right now. Cato was expecting him back with the maps and drawings. He would have to look at them later.

Had this been done or purpose? Or what? He would have to keep the reservation to himself and see.