“Yes, Sir. It has been a while. But it is always good to see you, Sir.”
“Well, Servius, how is retirement pleasing you? Wait, I understand your friends call you Philodorus.”
“Yes, Lord, but ….”
“Well, I will stick with ‘Servius’ if you don’t mind. I like the military ways.”
“So, I take it that this is not just a social call? After all, you would hardly travel all this way just to catch up on gossip.”
“No, sir. Not really. Was never much given to gossip.”
“How is the wound?”
“Oh, Sir, well, completely healed, Sir. I hardly am aware of it. Of course, there are always some residual effects, I suppose. Actually… Sir…. That is part or what I wanted to talk to you about. You see, Sir, I am looking for some assistance, beyond, well, what the normal retired officer can expect really, and I thought of you Sir, when I needed help.”
“I’m flattered, Servius. And, let’s drop the ‘sir’ shall we? I mean you are not longer in service, and well, I don’t need to stand on ceremony with you.” Temopolus Pompi, First Legate of the Roman Legions always stood on ceremony. His hand dropped into his lap and gently tugged at the private equipment under his tunic.
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Ah ah, ‘Polly’ please.”
“Yes, Temopolus, indeed.”
“What assistance do you need.”
“Men, si… Men, Temopolus, a few good men. You see, I would like to have a small contingent of men posted to, well, not to my home, but to my estate, or the town it is near, perhaps?”
“Men? Why? Are you in danger? Are the marauders that serious? Do you need protection that badly that you cannot hire your own bodyguard and let it go at that? We’re not accustomed to posting soldiers to private citizens, Servius.”
“No, si…..Polly.” A look from the legate told him that “Temopolus” was as far as he should leave ceremony behind. “No, of course not. But, um, well, it is a medical need, actually.
“Well, at the recommendation of a doctor, if not strictly medial in other senses.”
“A doctor has ordered you to come and get some men to guard your house?”
“Well, sir. Yes, in a manner of speaking.”
“Perhaps you should be clear.”
“Emopocles, a Greek physician , recommended by Centurion Pevine, has recommended a course of treatment to restore … if I may preserve some dignity … my former power, lost at my wounding.”
“His treatment, which I do not wish to explain fully, requires the services of 10 men of a particular talent. They would need to serve for at least 6 months, at most 12. They would have certain … duties … not customarily part of military performance.”
“Personal duties, I take it?”
“Private duties.” Philodorus stopped speaking and looked at the First Legate’s eyes and wry smile. He clenched his jaw, and went on. The other man’s hand moved in the folds in his lap.
“The men would be selected for the volume of seed they could produce and the frequency with which they could produce it.”
“Seed? What kind of seed?”
“Oh, I see.” The smile broadened. Then the Legate drew it in, pursed his lips, and affected a formal, businesslike air.
“And who would undertake the examination and selection of these men, Philodorus? You?”
“No, Excellency. The physician.”
The Legate looked away. He could hardly contain his laughter. His tunic could hardly contain his excitement.
“Sone, Imperator, I agree. You may have your men. Send your physician. He may examine the entire century and chose those he wishes. Philodorus, I want to be kept abreast of your progress. No, let me rephrase that. I suppose “abreast” is not the word….
Philodorus did not hear the rest of Legate Pompi’s rephrasing, nor respond to his laughter, which became more and more raucous, more and more lascivious. Through a near Herculean mastery of his face and his tempter, he merely bowed, muttered “The physician will contact your office, sir.” and left. If the gods were good, he would never see Polodorus Pompi again.Next chapter