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THE STORY OF REGULUS








On the other side of the sea from Rome there was once a great city
named Car-thage. The Roman people were never very friendly to the
people of Car-thage, and at last a war began between them. For a long
time it was hard to tell which would prove the stronger. First the
Romans would gain a battle, and then the men of Car-thage would gain a
battle; and so the war went on for many years.

Among the Romans there was a brave gen-er-al named Reg'u-lus,--a man
of whom it was said that he never broke his word. It so happened after
a while, that Reg-u-lus was taken pris-on-er and carried to Carthage.
Ill and very lonely, he dreamed of his wife and little children so far
away beyond the sea; and he had but little hope of ever seeing them
again. He loved his home dearly, but he believed that his first duty
was to his country; and so he had left all, to fight in this cruel
war.

He had lost a battle, it is true, and had been taken prisoner. Yet he
knew that the Romans were gaining ground, and the people of Carthage
were afraid of being beaten in the end. They had sent into other
countries to hire soldiers to help them; but even with these they
would not be able to fight much longer against Rome.

One day some of the rulers of Carthage came to the prison to talk with
Regulus.

"We should like to make peace with the Roman people," they said, "and
we are sure, that, if your rulers at home knew how the war is going,
they would be glad to make peace with us. We will set you free and let
you go home, if you will agree to do as we say."

"What is that?" asked Regulus.

"In the first place," they said, "you must tell the Romans about the
battles which you have lost, and you must make it plain to them that
they have not gained any-thing by the war. In the second place, you
must promise us, that, if they will not make peace, you will come back
to your prison."

"Very well," said Regulus, "I promise you, that, if they will not make
peace, I will come back to prison."

And so they let him go; for they knew that a great Roman would keep
his word.

When he came to Rome, all the people greeted him gladly. His wife and
children were very happy, for they thought that now they would not be
parted again. The white-haired Fathers who made the laws for the city
came to see him. They asked him about the war.

"I was sent from Carthage to ask you to make peace," he said. "But it
will not be wise to make peace. True, we have been beaten in a few
battles, but our army is gaining ground every day. The people of
Carthage are afraid, and well they may be. Keep on with the war a
little while longer, and Carthage shall be yours. As for me, I have
come to bid my wife and children and Rome fare-well. To-morrow I will
start back to Carthage and to prison; for I have promised."

Then the Fathers tried to persuade him to stay.

"Let us send another man in your place," they said.

"Shall a Roman not keep his word?" answered Regulus. "I am ill, and at
the best have not long to live. I will go back, as I promised."

His wife and little children wept, and his sons begged him not to
leave them again.

"I have given my word," said Regulus. "The rest will be taken care
of."

Then he bade them good-by, and went bravely back to the prison and the
cruel death which he ex-pect-ed.

This was the kind of courage that made Rome the greatest city in the
world.





Next: CORNELIA'S JEWELS

Previous: THE STORY OF CINCINNATUS



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