Gaius Antonius Returns To The New Carthage Sea Wall:

Gaius Antonius had to find out where the New Carthage sea wall guards were housed. On the way back to his lodgings, he asked a few passersby. He had no choice if he was to get anywhere. But he was able to talk in Phoenician to deceive them. Tanit had inadvertently taught him a few words when she was a guest at Cato’s house.

“I have an important message for one of the guards,” he announced.

An unsuspecting citizen of New Carthage pointed out the location not far from the sea wall.
He found them in a kind of barracks. There were four different sets of guards of the watch who manned the New Carthage sea wall for six hours each. He located the barracks of the legion that was about to go on duty next and began to spy on them. One of the guards had a big bronze chalice of liquid on top of his dresser. He crept up on tiptoes and sniffed it. It was merely beer of a rather crude sort.

Gaius Antonius got the idea rather quickly that he should mix a sleeping potion in that beer. Quickly he ran off to obtain one from a shopkeeper. He was quickly back again. Fortunately the chalice was still where he first saw it. The watchman was still in the next room singing away and shaving himself.

Very quietly Gaius crept into his room while the watchman was otherwise occupied. He poured the sleeping draught into the chalice. He managed to scurry away just before the watchman returned to get dressed in his costume before joining his confederates.

From a safe distance Gaius watched as the watchman quaffed the drink. He drank it all the way down hardly leaving a drop. He observed carefully as the man started to get dressed and then yawned and yawned. He sat down on his bed and slumped against a pillow. Soon he was snoring.

Gaius took advantage of the opportunity. He crept back into the building, looking over his shoulder to make sure that no one was following him or observing him. He shut the door to the guard’s room and dressed himself in his guard costume.

He observed the nearest sundial in the courtyard of the building. It was time to join his confederates. He imitated their stance and movement and marched along with them toward the New Carthage sea wall. They relieved the previous guards with a salute and went on duty. For the first time ever Gaius was inside the sea wall which he had heard so much about ever since he was a little kid and had listened to tales of the Second Punic War and the Roman assault here.

He wondered what their duties were and hoped they were not too elaborate. He did not want to betray himself with his lack of experience. But it looked as if once inside the wall they did not do much except to spread out and lean against the back wall. A few sat down on the ground and got out their picnics. He tried to follow suit and just sat there vaguely glancing out a slit in the wall toward the ocean.

Not long after that a few of the men near him seemed to doze off. He once more took advantage of the situation to rise and explore certain areas of the inner wall. He was searching for some sort of cavity or crevice where someone might hide the maps. He reached into the darkness here, there, and everywhere. Finally his hand closed around something that felt like a wooden box.

He withdrew the box, looking from side to side to make sure that he was not being observed. But the box itself eluded him. He could not figure out how to open it. He heard footsteps and stuffed the box inside his robes. He pretended he was just gazing out to sea when a confederate ambled past.

He leaned against an interior wall and gazed out to sea for the rest of the duration of the watch. He did not dare take out the wooden box with everybody else around. He did not know what they knew and could not risk it. He waited until the end of the watch and marched back out of the New Carthage sea wall with his confederates of this particular watch.

He did not know if it was safe to return to the barracks.The man he was impersonating could have woken up. He would alert the others. Gaius instead disappeared down an alley and headed by a circuitous route back to his apartment. He stripped off his costume and threw it away so no one would associate him with it.

Only then did he sit on his bed and take out the wooden box. He grappled with it, attempting to find a clasp to open it. His finger finally hit it. The box gave way and sprang open. Out fell the maps he had drawn that day in Carthage with Cato by his side. He would never forget them.

Leave a reply