“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 neck?
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.
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.