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The Letters of Lucius Spurius Pomonianus, #4

I did not feel like sleeping, and so decided to put things to rights for the coming day's work. as the Chief Engineer was a stickler for neatness and order in the workroom I thought about the Centurion hurrying through the Praetorium, and as I did so, I realized a great deal more respect was due to this man who was in charge of building this bridge. He was alone here with no staff except for me and what little time the
Praefect would be able to spare, which did not appear to be much. His office was always busy, with stacks of reports, and requests, not to mention the complaints, and he alone was responsible for the supplies here at the fortress. Food, weapons, clothing, horses, forage, building
materials, the list seemed endless.

This fear of the goddess would spread like a wildfire through the troops quartered here and the winter drill to keep the men's minds off their problems was simply not that much. It was much too cold to drill on the drill field, and the patrols usually came back with someone suffering from frostbite in the feet, or another victim of the fever, for the surgeon's to assist as they were able. Several legionaries had died so far at the fortress since the first snowfall. Those from the Spanish lowlands, and Italy as well as those lands farther to the lands where the sun rises, and they simply do not understand what this cold in the Rhinus Valley can do. Around me the "room of drawings" as we called this part of the Praetorium was alive with the drawings that we had placed on the walls, and slightly scored the lines and filled the with ink. I shook off my fears of the Earth-Mother, and the threats of the cold, and set myself to neatly copying the Chief Engineer's Notes and report information onto the pile of blank wax tablets placed there for that purpose. This was rather difficult at first since his instructions were not
always clear to me. We had not progressed very far in my education and some of the information was beyond my understanding. However, as I worked , it became clearer to me what was expected, and the references began to fall into place. I found that I remembered more of what the the Chief Engineer had said in my presence, and my interest was also peaked by anything having to do with the task of an architecturas. The Chief Engineer was a methodical man and his notes were reflective of that. I began to se that I had picked up a great deal more than I first thought in my recent training, and soon the work went much easier.

Suddenly the door curtain was pushed aside, and the Praefect entered the room, a heavy robe around his shoulders to combat the chilled hallways. I was sitting at the table working on the tablets and I slammed to attention the moment I saw him. Unfortunately one of the wax tablets fell to the stone floor and split , spilling out it's wax interior is
several pieces. I could feel the burning in my face from the embarrassment, but there was nothing to be done about it now. The legions have a way of not understanding either failure or accidents, and it was altogether possible that for that broken tablet, I would be again facing the Centurio fatigues and drills that my new position had relieved me of.


The Praefect nodded his head toward me in the way that he had of telling a person to relax, and asked in a quiet voice after the Chief Engineer. I replied that he had gone out, without mentioning where he would be, which was unusual in itself. The Praefect mused for a moment and then instructed me to notify the Chief Engineer to report to hi as soon a as he returned. I saluted him smartly and he turned to leave the room. He paused for a moment and turned back to me.

"Are you enjoying the work here in the Room Of Drawings?" he asked looking at me as though he could see to my very insides.

"Uhhhhh, Yes very much," I finally got out stuttering badly.

"What is it that you are doing at this table?' he asked, pointing at the piles of wax tablets and styluses.

I wasn't ready for such a question and again I stumbled on my words. "Uhhh, recording the Chief Engineer's Notes onto these tablets."" I pointed to the pile unnecessarily.

The Praefect nodded his understanding and picked up one of the tablets that I ad just finished.. He read for a moment, and then tapping the tablet with his finger asked, "how much of this do you understand?"

I was again surprised at the question, and I replied slowly. "Uhhh, most of it Praefect. It was more difficult at first, but then with the Chief Engineer's lesson's I began to understand more."

The Praefect nodded again, and looked up at me, "and when did you learn about these geometric figures?"

"The Chief Engineer explained them to me a few days ago, when we had a slow evening," I replied,

I tried to remember what I had written on that tablet. What mistakes had I made? My mind was in a whirl. Here I was having a conversation with the Fortress Praefectus, in the middle of the night, about the work that I had done. I supposed that I had simply made a mistake and was beginning to stiffen my back to receive a dressing down when the Praefect said," Come with me," and turned toward the doorway.

(To Be Continued)

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