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ANDROCLUS AND THE LION








In Rome there was once a poor slave whose name was An'dro-clus. His
master was a cruel man, and so unkind to him that at last An-dro-clus
ran away.

He hid himself in a wild wood for many days; but there was no food to
be found, and he grew so weak and sick that he thought he should die.
So one day he crept into a cave and lay down, and soon he was fast
asleep.

After a while a great noise woke him up. A lion had come into the
cave, and was roaring loudly. Androclus was very much afraid, for he
felt sure that the beast would kill him. Soon, however, he saw that
the lion was not angry, but that he limped as though his foot hurt
him.

Then Androclus grew so bold that he took hold of the lion's lame paw
to see what was the matter. The lion stood quite still, and rubbed his
head against the man's shoulder. He seemed to say,--

"I know that you will help me."

Androclus lifted the paw from the ground, and saw that it was a long,
sharp thorn which hurt the lion so much. He took the end of the thorn
in his fingers; then he gave a strong, quick pull, and out it came.
The lion was full of joy. He jumped about like a dog, and licked the
hands and feet of his new friend.

Androclus was not at all afraid after this; and when night came, he
and the lion lay down and slept side by side.

For a long time, the lion brought food to Androclus every day; and the
two became such good friends, that Androclus found his new life a very
happy one.

One day some soldiers who were passing through the wood found
Androclus in the cave. They knew who he was, and so took him back to
Rome.

It was the law at that time that every slave who ran away from his
master should be made to fight a hungry lion. So a fierce lion was
shut up for a while without food, and a time was set for the fight.

When the day came, thousands of people crowded to see the sport. They
went to such places at that time very much as people now-a-days go to
see a circus show or a game of base-ball.

The door opened, and poor Androclus was brought in. He was almost dead
with fear, for the roars of the lion could al-read-y be heard. He
looked up, and saw that there was no pity in the thou-sands of faces
around him.

Then the hungry lion rushed in. With a single bound he reached the
poor slave. Androclus gave a great cry, not of fear, but of gladness.
It was his old friend, the lion of the cave.

The people, who had ex-pect-ed to see the man killed by the lion, were
filled with wonder. They saw Androclus put his arms around the lion's
neck; they saw the lion lie down at his feet, and lick them
lov-ing-ly; they saw the great beast rub his head against the slave's
face as though he wanted to be petted. They could not un-der-stand
what it all meant.


After a while they asked Androclus to tell them about it. So he
stood up before them, and, with his arm around the lion's neck, told
how he and the beast had lived together in the cave.

"I am a man," he said; "but no man has ever befriended me. This poor
lion alone has been kind to me; and we love each other as brothers."

The people were not so bad that they could be cruel to the poor slave
now. "Live and be free!" they cried. "Live and be free!"

Others cried, "Let the lion go free too! Give both of them their
liberty!"

And so Androclus was set free, and the lion was given to him for his
own. And they lived together in Rome for many years.




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