It was a bright morning in the old city of Rome many hundred years

ago. In a vine-covered summer-house in a beautiful garden, two boys

were standing. They were looking at their mother and her friend, who

were walking among the flowers and trees.

"Did you ever see so handsome a lady as our mother's friend?" asked

the younger boy, holding his tall brother's hand. "She looks like a


"Yet she is not so beautiful as our mother," said the elder boy. "She

has a fine dress, it is true; but her face is not noble and kind. It

is our mother who is like a queen."

"That is true," said the other. "There is no woman in Rome so much

like a queen as our own dear mother."

Soon Cor-ne'li-a, their mother, came down the walk to speak with them.

She was simply dressed in a plain white robe. Her arms and feet were

bare, as was the custom in those days; and no rings nor chains

glit-tered about her hands and neck. For her only crown, long braids

of soft brown hair were coiled about her head; and a tender smile lit

up her noble face as she looked into her sons' proud eyes.

"Boys," she said, "I have something to tell you."

They bowed before her, as Roman lads were taught to do, and said,

"What is it, mother?"

"You are to dine with us to-day, here in the garden; and then our

friend is going to show us that wonderful casket of jewels of which

you have heard so much."

The brothers looked shyly at their mother's friend. Was it possible

that she had still other rings besides those on her fingers? Could she

have other gems besides those which sparkled in the chains about her


When the simple out-door meal was over, a servant brought the casket

from the house. The lady opened it. Ah, how those jewels dazzled the

eyes of the wondering boys! There were ropes of pearls, white as milk,

and smooth as satin; heaps of shining rubies, red as the glowing

coals; sap-phires as blue as the sky that summer day; and di-a-monds

that flashed and sparkled like the sunlight.

The brothers looked long at the gems.

"Ah!" whis-pered the younger; "if our mother could only have such

beautiful things!"

At last, how-ever, the casket was closed and carried care-ful-ly away.

"Is it true, Cor-ne-li-a, that you have no jewels?" asked her friend.

"Is it true, as I have heard it whis-pered, that you are poor?"

"No, I am not poor," answered Cornelia, and as she spoke she drew her

two boys to her side; "for here are my jewels. They are worth more

than all your gems."

I am sure that the boys never forgot their mother's pride and love and

care; and in after years, when they had become great men in Rome, they

often thought of this scene in the garden. And the world still likes

to hear the story of Cornelia's jewels.