Tanit Sails Away In The Middle Of The Night:
Gaius was so indignant about Tanit murdering his father in cold blood — the very man who had once paid host to her when she was visiting Rome and his latifundia — that he immediately scribbled a note and sent for Scipio Aemilianus though it was the middle of the night.
About an hour later Scipio arrived fully dressed in his military outfit. Gaius filled him in on what had just happened and how Tanit had outwitted them in the end and was now sailing away scott free at night.
“I think we should start sending the Roman navy to Carthage tomorrow,” Gaius insisted. “We cannot let her get away with murdering my father and not paying for the crime.”
Scipio nodded. “We will send the patrol boats to give them a scare. Of course the rest of the Roman army will be sailing within the week. We should all make it by Wednesday next.”
Gaius did not go back to bed that night. He worked straight way through packing his essentials for the campaign against Carthage. He wanted to leave with the advance boat to see if he could somehow catch Tanit before she arrived back in Carthage. He confided in Scipio that he wanted to go and why. And of course Scipio, the commander, honored his wish.
But as it turned out Gaius ended up sailing across the entire Mediterranean without once catching sight of the bitch of his creating. He had once flirted with her and encouraged her, making an absolute fool of himself. Fortunately nobody knew about it but himself and even that was too many people.
Days later they sailed into the port of Carthage, built as an amazing great circle in front of the city walls. It was now almost all emptied out. As they sailed up the last ships were disappearing out to sea. It would not do them much good. Soon they would not be able to bring in provisions no matter what.
Gaius gazed out to sea. He hoped one of those boats was not Tanit. He did not want her to escape.
Scipio was an experienced expert at siege warfare. They at once began constructing great siege engines. It was a slow way to get vengeance but a more certain one that trying to make attacks and enter the city prematurely. But still he worried about Tanit.
“Scipio, I would like to take a ship or two and follow that last Carthaginian ship out of the harbor,” Gaius explained. “I think it may be the princess of Carthage who stayed at Cato’s house as a hostage and a guest and then turned on him and murdered him in cold blood.”
Of course Scipio gave his permission as the leading general. Gaius set sail in the direction the ship had escaped.
But the ship proved very elusive and hard to follow just like Tanit. It would appear on the horizon far ahead of them only from time to time and then mysteriously disappear again. It only appeared often enough so that they could still follow it. And it was progressing quite a distance, too. It was obviously not headed for a neighboring port such as the Samnites.
He headed out onto the open sea wondering if Tanit would lead him to a secret stash of weapons or soldiers that he should know about. It took a couple days where he would catch sight of the ship and once again it would elude him. And another restless night would pass.
All too soon he found himself back in Spanish waters approaching the port of New Carthage. But low and behold, no sooner did the port come in view than he saw a Phoenician navy massed there to greet him. All the ships looked like the one he had drawn for Cato not that long ago. He had brought only two Roman ships with him. He had followed Tanit into a trap. Worse, he could catch sight of the Princess herself on the upper deck next to the captain. Her hand was clapped over her mouth. She was laughing at him. Her eyes were full of evil mirth — and fire.
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Senate: The War Against The Samnites Must End:
Cato sent the first Senate decree to the Carthaginians to end the war against the Samnites. He wanted them to receive the messenger and see that the Senate was resolved to prevent them from carrying on their current war with the Samnites. They must end it and now. He also hoped that they would notice that a time limit for negotiations had been established. Rome was determined to supervise the peace negotiations. Every two months they would send out a delegation that would force a meeting between the two warring parties. They would meet first in Carthage and then in the Samnites territory, alternating back and forth until all talks were completed.
The delegates sent from Rome with such authority would report back to the Senate and give reports about the progress.
Everyone waited with great alacrity for the first report which came in about one month. Things were speeded for that one to jump start matters. Cato made sure of it. He held a Senate meeting and read out his demand and the Carthaginian response.
Scowling around at the Senate House Cato read his charge and accusation: “You, Carthaginians under King Hasdrubal, have deliberately started to rebuild your navy and your army to recover from the Second Punic War. I saw evidence of it when I was personally visiting Carthage to escort the hostages back to Rome. You had new ships of a new design right in the harbor. I surprised you and found them. So before you get carried away and you start to retake your old position in the Mediterranean, the Senate insists that you make peace with the Samnites and disarm. We will need evidence of your disarming forthwith.”
The Senators all nodded gravely.
Cato broke the seal for the Carthaginian response. He read it aloud. “King Hasdrubal of Carthage reasserts his firm loyalty to the Roman command. Ever since the last war the city of Carthage has taken a new path to develop its trade routes. It wants to make sure that it finished paying his indemnity to Rome, and that much as been accomplished. All we are trying to do now is to build up our trade routes, not our old military command.”
Cato again glared around at the Senate assembled in front of him. “This is obviously a big lie!” he insisted. “The Carthaginians were beginning to fashion new warships. We saw them in the harbor in Carthage the last time we were there.”
The Senate nodded.
Cato glared at Gaius Antonius as he sat there. “Hand over your drawings!” he commanded him.
Gaius should have seen Cato’s request coming. He had been commanded to carry around the maps with him wherever he went in case Cato should need them. Now he was calling upon him. Gaius could not prevent the disaster that was now upon him. There was no way that he could warn Cato now. He had not done so before because of the man’s reaction and to give himself time to figure out what to do. The demand for the maps had come sooner than he could have expected. And now he was being caught short.
Gaius rose and handed over the maps drawn by Tanit’s friend and compatriot from Carthage.
Cato took the maps unsuspectingly. Gaius’s eyes were full of anxiety. But Cato was intent on his purpose and did not read the anxiety there. Or he misinterpreted it and thought Gaius was merely intent on his speech and anxious about the Carthaginians.
“There was a new naval ship in the harbor at Carthage. Gaius’s sharp eye caught it. It is displayed in his drawing. I will post the drawing up here at the podium. You can come around and see it one by one.”
But that was never to be. Cato opened the map and searched. He could not find what he was looking for. He scowled and summoned Gaius to him.The Senate broke into murmurs.
“Cato,” he had to confess, “the maps were stolen while I slept! These are replacements drawn by one of Tanit’s Carthaginians.”
Cato’s eyes bulged from his head. He declared to the Senate House. “Gaius Antonius tells me that the maps drawn by him have been stolen. A fake replica has been substituted for them. Treachery!” Cato declared as he pointed his finger upward.
The senators looked around at each other. They nodded sternly. They rose to their feet and repeated his words, crying, “Treachery!”
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Cato Calls Upon Carthage To Make Peace With The Samnites:
The next day Cato packed up his household and transported it back to his city house in Rome. He left the hostages in place at his country estate under full military guard which he could command from a distance and took his niece, Lavinia, and Gaius Antonius with him.
Lavinia seemed to brighten up when she got away from Tanit. Gaius could tell. She looked forward to playing hostess to her uncle in Rome and forgetting all about the hostages. She brought him a hot cup of mulsum sweetened with honey. He immediately retired to his cozy study in Cato’s house and started to reconstruct his own maps from memory. He lay down Tanit’s maps, the one her friend drew as a replacement, face down on the desk beside him to use as a contrast/comparison guide.
Lavinia was hanging over his shoulder quietly watching him draw. She even took a seat beside him. When he paused she said, “Those drawings really do look different, don’t they?” She sipped her own honeyed mulsum.
So even Lavinia noticed it!
He nodded. “That is what I thought too. Why do you think I am going to all the trouble of drawing these maps again from memory? Cato won’t have a guide to what is actually there otherwise. He might miss some important detail.”
She nodded, following his train of thought. “Do you think one of the Carthaginians stole the map and then drew a fake map to replace it?” She stated the doubt that had been tormenting him all along since he had discovered the differences in the drawings.
“It is hard to say. They seemed to be quite willing to help us. The differences could be innocent enough, just a matter of emphasis and memory. Maybe some of the sailors do still dress the way they did fifty years ago for all we know. I only know what I happened to see myself. Then again there could be a mass conspiracy to prevent us from seeing something. I just cannot tell.”
“It is better to be prudent,” she agreed.
It was his private secret with Lavinia. Cato did not know about it. Gaius had not wanted to inform him. Who knew what Cato might not do if he found out? And Cato was on the war path anyway.
The next day Gaius accompanied Cato to the Senate House. He sat beside his father who was proud that his son had a role in the current proceedings.
Cato looked around at his audience one by one taking them in and forcing them to look into his eyes as he began to speak. He made it seem as if he were addressing each one of them individually.
“Carthage must make peace with its neighbors, the Samnites,” he began. “It must take instant measures before war breaks out. He must not permit that. For what if war breaks out and Carthage wins starting with the Samnites?” he started pacing around the Senate Chamber as he was wont to do when he was orating.
The Senators began to nod gravely as if appreciating the gravity of the problem facing them today.
“Carthage will once again be a power in the Mediterranean, Our Sea, the Roman Sea, and competition to us. This is the situation that occurred before the last war when they were defeated by Scipio Africanus.”
He stopped before Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted heir of Scipio Africanus. “This is what led to the elephants and the nightmare of invasion, the nightmare that Rome was to be invaded by Hannibal.”
Cato awoke the nightmares and the fears of the whole city state. All eyes were riveted on him.
“Before this nightmare can again become reality, we must send an emissary to Carthage, or rather a team, perhaps an armed contingent, to insist on peace negotiations. Our contingent must guide and direct them and report back to us.”
Everyone nodded again.
“We should set up a time schedule. Every few months Carthage must meet a new deadline for progress, or we should take something away from them. For one thing, they have finally finished their reparations. Maybe we should threaten to start them again.”
The chamber started to cheer. They rose to their feet clapping. A group of the senators approached Cato and lifted him up on their shoulders. They paraded around the chamber with this man of the hour. The acclamations were so loud that when they burst out of the Senate House into the Forum, citizens were gathered in a crowd listening and cheering, too.
Gaius felt certain that Cato could handle the Carthaginians and the Samnites if any man could. But when he thought of his missing maps, he remembered that the devil was in the details.
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