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Now that the senate was relieved from its anxiety about Capua, it was able to turn its attention to Spain. A force of 6000 infantry and 300 cavalry was placed at Nero's disposal, and he selected it from the two legions he had had with him at Capua; an equal number of infantry and 600 cavalry were to be furnished by the allies.  He embarked his army at Puteoli and landed at Tarraco. Here he hauled his ships ashore and furnished the crews with arms, thus augmenting his strength. With this composite force he marched to the Ebro and took over the army there from Ti. Fonteius and L. Marcius.  He then advanced against the enemy. Hasdrubal-Hamilcar's son-was encamped at the Lapides Atri (the "Black Boulders"). This is a place in the Auretanian country between the towns of Iliturgis and Mentissa. Nero occupied the two exits of the pass.  Hasdrubal, finding himself shut in, sent a herald to promise in his name that he would deport the whole of his army from Spain if he were allowed to leave his position.  The Roman general was glad to accept the offer, and Hasdrubal asked for an interview the following day.  At this conference they were to draw up in writing the terms upon which the various citadels were to be handed over, and the date at which the garrisons were to be withdrawn, on the understanding that they should take with them all their goods and chattels.  His request was granted, and Hasdrubal ordered the most heavily armed portion of his army to get out of the pass as best they could as soon as darkness set in.  He was careful to see that not very many went out that night, as a small body would make but little noise and be more likely to escape observation. They would also find their way more easily through the narrow and difficult foot-paths.  The next day he kept the appointment, but so much time was taken up in discussing and writing down a number of things which had nothing to do with the matters they had agreed to discuss, that the whole day was lost and the business adjourned till the morrow.  So another opportunity was afforded him of sending off a fresh body of troops by night.  The discussion was not brought to a close the next day, and so it went on; several days were occupied in discussing terms, and the nights in despatching the Carthaginians secretly from their camp. When the greater part of the army had escaped, Hasdrubal no longer kept to the conditions which he had himself proposed, and there was less and less desire to come to terms as his sincerity diminished with his fears.  Almost the entire force of infantry had now got out of the defile when, at daybreak, a dense fog covered the valley and the whole of the surrounding country. No sooner did Hasdrubal become aware of this than he sent a message to Nero begging that the interview might be put off for that day as it was a day on which the Carthaginians were forbidden by their religion to transact any important business.  Even this did not arouse any suspicion of trickery. On learning that he would be excused for that day, Hasdrubal promptly left his camp with the cavalry and elephants, and by keeping his movements secret, emerged into safety.  About ten o'clock the sun dispersed the mist, and the Romans saw that the hostile camp was deserted.  Then, recognising at last the trick which the Carthaginian had played upon him and how he had been befooled, Nero hurriedly prepared to follow him and force him to an engagement.  The enemy, however, declined battle; only a few skirmishes took place between the Carthaginian rear and the Roman advanced guard.
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