The Roman Road; Part II

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The Roman Road; Part II

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:15 pm

A Fictitious Story (Continued)

The Military Journal of Marcus Minucius Audens, Tribunus Architectas, (acting) - Part Two

The new day broke with a weak light from sun hidden now by billowing foam in the sky. The gods must be sleeping late, but I cannot, I thought, as for the first time I must meet the legate at the morning meeting at the Praetorium. Last night, I sent him a message identifying myself as the new junior architectas, and the only one able to take the Chief Engineer's place temporarily. Today, I will meet with him for the first time and report to him personally about what I have done so far, as well as my plans for the future. He is said to be a stern fellow but fair, however, the disappearance of one asst. architectas and the accident on the river of another, would not have been welcome news.. So, as I had instructed, my slave had called me early and lit the charcoal brazier, so that at least my bedroom was fairly warm. The slave had done the same, as well, for the brazier in my office. I must remember to thank him, for starting a charcoal brazier on a cold morning is not an easy task. I gather my scrolls that I had been working with and which contained all the things that I had done since my arrival, and my plans for the next few weeks. Also included were my plans for a sled that was designed to push the snow off the roadway to clear it for any supply wagons who might be moving toward the military base, as well as the military patrols along the river road. I had my small staff awakened, and I explained my plans to them, as well as my coming visit to the legate. The cornicularius assigned to the Tribunus Architectus Prime, had offered his services to me during the Tribunes absence, as well as his staff, so I also had his advice and counsel. He seemed to know what was going on and had a good grasp of not only he construction underway but also of the political aspect of the whole project. It would be necessary to tread lightly at first so as not to make any enemies unwittingly and the cornicularius had already talked to me about how best to impress the legate and who in the legate's staff to be beware of. As I gathered my scrolls and packed them into their leather bag, I felt that I was ready to consult with the legate.

The walk across the Praetorium to the meeting hall near the legate's quarters had been pretty well cleared of snow by the slaves assigned to the Praetorium. It was cold in the Praetorium and I was wearing my heaviest tunic and a wool toga, and yet I was still cold and the slave carrying the scroll bag was shivering When we arrived at the morning meeting hall, I dismissed my slave to go get warm, just as the legate appeared and the meeting began. The legion tribunes got their orders first and then moved to one side for the senior centurions to receive the orders of the day and the password. The centurions in their turn moved to one side. The legate then had his cornicularius make a few military camp announcements and then he turned to me and dismissing the assembly, he beckoned to me to follow him. The small group of us marched down the long hallway behind the meeting place, and entered a large room with benches along the wall and a large table with both chairs and long couches. The room braziers had been lit and the room was almost comfortably warm. Heavy draperies covered the two doorways to the room. When all were seated and the slaves standing along the walls ready to be of service, the Legate gestured for me to come forward, and he looked me over carefully, as if looking for some flaw in my dress. He said in a low voice, "Please introduce yourself, and give me your experience and training background." I was a bit taken aback by this, since I was only to be a temporary engineer, while the Tribunus Prime was in Rome. However, I did as I was bid, giving credit to my instructors at the School of Architechture and Engineering at Rome and my short experience as an engineer working the gold mines in the northern Appenine mountains. He asked what I had done since my arrival and I showed him the five scrolls that I had drawn up for the continuation of the roads leading to the great bridge project, and my orders closing down road construction and continuing the marking of trees for bridge supports. The legate then turned to his two administrative tribunes who asked a blizzard of questions related to the bridge and the approach roadway. I had not prepared for such a question period, but I managed to answer most of the questions, and what I saw in these questions were mostly on the aspect of administrative subjects. The legate then gestured to a box of a pieces of chalk and bade me draw several pictures on the broad wall next to the table. He wanted first, a picture of a mechanical joint of two logs such as were planned for the great bridge. Next he wanted me to draw a cut-a-way view of a roman road and how it was built. Thirdly, he asked for a more detailed picture of a wall of a building, obviously intended to be part of a fortification. When I had completed the drawings, he asked the cornicularius to review them and point out any and all errors. The cornicularius found four what he called errors and I pointed out that those "errors" had all been corrections in the instructions at the engineering school that I had attended.

The legate then stood and said," Marcus Minucius Audens, we are glad to have you here with us. I have some unfortunate news for all of us. The junior engineer in the hospital has died during the night and will be buried outside the village as soon as the roads can be cleared to the burial tombs. The Tribune Architectas Prime, on his way to Roma, has been captured by pirates, and he will , if ransomed, be away for the best part of a year, only if he is returned in good health which is doubtful. Therefore, Marcus Audens you are now the Tribunus Archtectas Prime. This is an acting appointment, which has all the rights, authority, and responsibilities of the position. Under your management, the Road and Bridge project will continue. You have my support and that of my legion, Good Luck to You!" To the remainder of the group the legate ordered dismiss, and the group dissolved after a congratulatory comments from all at the meeting.

I sat in the room on my bench for a long time after the last person had left the room. I was stunned. I had come here to learn my craft from an expert and now I was to take the place of the teacher. I would be a momentuous task. Was I up to it, and failure was no excuse, as I well knew. Finally the Cornicularius touched my shoulder and said, "Come, I will show you to your new office." I got up slowly, as though an old man, and followed him out.

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens
Marcus Minucius Audens
 

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