officers' mess. 'Really, cohort commander, couldn't this have waited until morning?'

'But, sir, what shall I do with these two in the meantime? Treat them like honored guests? Or prisoners? Or release them and send them out of camp? Granted, the older one looks pretty harmless, but the big one he calls his son-in-law-'

'You must be as stupid as you look, cohort commander, though that hardly seems possible, if you're going to base your treatment of loiterers and trespassers on the basis of how they look. That's a sure way of getting a knife in the back from some Massilian spy.'

'I'm not a Massilian spy,' I said. My stomach growled to punctuate the assertion.

'Of course not,' snapped the officer. 'You're a Roman citizen named Gordianus-or so you say. Why were you loitering at the Temple of Artemis?'

'We were headed for Massilia. We lost our way.'

'Why did you leave the road?'

'The tavernkeeper told us that brigands rule that stretch of road. We attempted a shortcut.'

'Why were you headed for Massilia in the first place? Do you have family there, or business connections? Or is it someone in the camp you're seeking?'

I bowed my head.

The cohort commander threw up his hands. 'This is where he clams up, sir. He's hiding something, clearly.'

The officer cocked his head. 'Wait a moment. Guardians-

I've heard the name before. Cohort commander, you're dismissed.'

'Excuse me, sir?'

'Go. Now, before the cooks spoon all the good bits out of that swill they're slopping tonight.'

The cohort commander saluted and left, casting a last, suspicious look at me.

The officer rose from his folding chair. 'I don't know about you two, but I'm starving. Follow me.'

'Where are we going?' I said.

'You said you wanted to speak to Caesar himself, didn't you? And failing that, to the officer in charge of the siege? Come along, then. Gaius Trebonius never misses supper in his tent.' He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. 'If I'm lucky, he'll invite me to join him.'

The officer was not lucky. No sooner had he announced who I was and stated the circumstances than Trebonius, who sat chewing on a shank of pork, summarily dismissed him. The officer cast a last lingering glance not at me, but at the pork shank.

Like Marc Antony, Trebonius was part of that younger generation who had attached themselves to the comet tail of Caesar's career early on, and were now determined to ride it to glory or disaster. In the political arena, Trebonius had carried water for Caesar when he was a tribune, helping to extend Caesar's command in Gaul beyond constitutional limits. In the military arena, he had served as one of Caesar's lieutenants in Gaul, helping to crush the natives. Now that civil war had begun, he had once again cast his lot with Caesar. If his appetite was anything to judge by, he suffered no nagging regrets; the pork shank in his fist was gnawed to the bone.

I recognized him in a vague way from having glimpsed him on the rare instances when I had visited my son Meto in Caesar's camps. I suddenly remembered an occasion in Ravenna when Meto told me in passing that Trebonius kept a dossier of Cicero's witticisms, which he published for his friends. Trebonius had a sense of humor, then; or at least he appreciated irony.

He peered at me curiously. There was no reason he should have recognized my face, but he did know my name. 'You're Meto's father,' he said, pulling a string of pork from his teeth. 'Yes.'

'Don't look like him. Ah, but Meto was adopted, wasn't he?' I nodded.

'And this one?'

'My son-in-law.'

'Looks big enough.'

'I feel safer when I travel with him.'

'Tell him to step outside the tent.'

I nodded. Davus frowned. 'But, father-in-law-'

'Perhaps these men could accompany Davus to the officers' mess,' I suggested, referring to the soldiers who sat and stood about the tent, eating their supper. 'That way we won't have to listen to his stomach growling outside the tent.'

'A good idea,' said Trebonius. 'Everybody out!'

No one questioned the order. A few moments later, Trebonius and I were alone.

'I had hoped to find Caesar still here,' I said.

Trebonius shook his head. 'Left months ago. Has more important things to do than sit here and starve out a bunch of Greeks. Didn't you get the news in Rome?'

'The gossip in the Forum isn't always reliable.'

'Caesar was here at the outset, yes. He politely asked the Massilians to open their gates. They hemmed and hawed. Caesar demanded they open the gates. They refused. Caesar laid the groundwork for the siege-conferred with engineers on a strategy for bringing down the walls, oversaw the shipbuilding, instructed the officers, addressed the ranks. Then he hurried on. Urgent business in Spain.' Trebonius smiled grimly. 'But as soon as he disposes of Pompey's legions there, he'll be back-and I shall have the privilege of presenting Massilia to him, cracked open like an egg.'

'Back in Rome I heard that the Massilians simply wanted to remain neutral.'

'A lie. When Pompey sailed east toward Greece, his confederate, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, sailed here. Domitius arrived before Caesar did. He convinced the Massilians to side with Pompey and close their gates to Caesar. They were fools to listen to him.'

I raised an eyebrow. 'Summer has come and almost gone. The gates of Massilia are still shut and the walls, I presume, are still standing.'

Trebonius ground his jaw. 'Not for much longer. But you haven't come all this way to ask about military operations. You'd like to see Caesar, would you? So would we all. You'll have to settle for me in his stead. What do you want, Gordianus?'

The tent was empty. There was no one but Trebonius to hear. 'My son, Meto.'

His face stiffened. 'Your son betrayed Caesar. He plotted to kill him even before Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his troops. It all came out after Pompey fled Italy and Caesar took Rome. That's the last we've seen of him. If your son came to Massilia, he came on his own. If he's inside the city, you can't possibly reach him until the walls come down. And when that happens, if we find Meto, he shall be arrested, to be dealt with by Caesar himself.'

Did he believe what he was saying? Did he not know the truth of the matter? Even I had been fooled for a while into believing that Meto had betrayed Caesar-Meto, who fought for Caesar in Gaul, transcribed the great man's memoirs, and shared his tent. But the truth was far more complicated. Meto's betrayal had been an elaborately constructed sham, a ruse meant to trick Caesar's opponents into trusting Meto and taking him into their ranks. Meto had not betrayed Caesar; Meto was Caesar's spy.

That was why I had hoped to find Caesar. Caesar himself had concocted the scheme to fake Meto's betrayal. With Caesar alone I could have spoken freely. But how much did Trebonius know? If Caesar had kept him in ignorance, then I would never be able to convince him of the truth. Indeed, it might be dangerous to do so- dangerous to Meto, if he still lived…

Trebonius's flat tone and the steely look in his eyes betrayed no double meaning. As far as I could tell, when he spoke of Meto's betrayal, he spoke what he believed to be the truth. But was he only doing so because he thought I was ignorant of the facts? Were we playing a game of shadow puppets, each aware of the truth but wary of revealing it to the other?

I tried to draw him out. 'Trebonius, before Meto left Rome, I saw him, spoke to him. Despite appearances, I don't believe he's a traitor to Caesar. I know he's not. And surely, knowing Meto as you do-knowing Caesar-you must know that as well. Don't you?'

He shook his head curtly. His expression grew sterner. 'Listen, Gordianus, your son was my friend. His defection was a knife, not just in Caesar's back, but in mine-and in the back of every man who's fought with Caesar. Even so, strangely enough, I can't say I bear a grudge against him. These are terrible times. Families are torn

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