“It has been to take off and put on every two hours.”
The tribune mused a moment.
“The division is hard, and I will reform it, but not now. The oars may not rest day or night.”
Then to the sailing-master he said, “The wind is fair. Let the sail help the oars.”
When the two thus addressed were gone, he turned to the chief pilot.*
* Called rector.
“What service hast thou had?”
“In what seas chiefly?”
“Between our Rome and the East.”
“Thou art the man I would have chosen.”
The tribune looked at his orders again.
“Past the Camponellan cape, the course will be to Messina. Beyond that, follow the bend of the Calabrian shore till Melito is on thy left, then- Knowest thou the stars that govern in the Ionian Sea?”
“I know them well.”
“Then from Melito course eastward for Cythera. The gods willing, I will not anchor until in the Bay of Antemona. The duty is urgent. I rely upon thee.”
A prudent man was Arrius- prudent, and of the class which, while enriching the altars at Praeneste and Antium, was of opinion, nevertheless, that the favour of the blind goddess depended more upon the votary’s care and judgment than upon his gifts and vows. All night as master of the feast he had sat at table drinking and playing; yet the odour of the sea returned him to the mood of the sailor, and he would not rest until he knew his ship. Knowledge leaves no room for chances. Having begun with the chief of the rowers, the sailing-master, and the pilot, in company with the other officers- the commander of the marines, the keeper of the stores, the master of the machines, the overseer of the kitchen or fires- he passed through the several quarters. Nothing escaped his inspection. When he was through, of the community crowded within the narrow walls he alone knew perfectly all there was of material preparation for the voyage and its possible incidents; and, finding the preparation complete, there was left him but one thing further- thorough knowledge of the personnel of his command. As this was the most delicate and difficult part of his task, requiring much time, he set about it his own way.
At noon that day the galley was skimming the sea off Paestum. The wind was yet from the west, filling the sail to the master’s content. The watches had been established. On the foredeck the altar had been set and sprinkled with salt and barley, and before it the tribune had offered solemn prayers to Jove and to Neptune and all the Oceanidae, and, with vows, poured the wine and burned the incense. And now, the better to study his men, he was seated in the great cabin, a very martial figure.
The cabin, it should be stated, was the central compartment of the galley, in extent quite sixty-five by thirty feet, and lighted by three broad hatchways. A row of stanchions ran from end to end, supporting the roof, and near the centre the mast was visible, all bristling with axes and spears and javelins. To each hatchway there were double stairs descending right and left, with a pivotal arrangement at the top to allow the lower ends to be hitched to the ceiling; and, as these were now raised, the compartment had the appearance of a sky-lighted hall.