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Mary Macgregor

Numitor Recognises His Grandsons

The young prisoner was brought before Numitor in the city of Alba. No sooner had the old man's eyes fallen on the lad than he threw up his hands in amaze, and gazed more keenly at the prisoner.

"No herdsman this," muttered the old king to himself, "rather does he bear himself as a prince."

Scanning the face before him even more closely, it seemed to Numitor that the features were not unknown to him. Dreams of his lost daughter Silvia gladdened his heart.

Gently the old man tried to win the confidence of the lad, asking him who he was, and whence he came.

Remus was touched by the kindness of Numitor, and answered: "I will hide nothing from you, sire, for you seem of a princely temper, in that you give a hearing and examine before you punish."

Then he told the old man the story that Faustulus had often told to him and Romulus, of how the wolf had found them as babes on the banks of the river Tiber, and had carried them to her cave and fed them with her milk.

Long before Remus had ended his story, Numitor knew that it was his grandson, his daughter Silvia's child, who stood before him, and his old heart beat quick with joy. Here at length was one who would take his side against the cruel King Amulius.

At this moment Romulus, leading a rough band of herdsmen, approached the city gate, determined to rescue his brother from the hands of Numitor.

In the city were many folk who groaned under the tyranny of Amulius. These, hearing that Romulus was without the city gate, stole noiselessly away to join the prince, believing he had come to punish the king.

Meantime Romulus had divided his followers into companies of a hundred men. At the head of each company was a captain, carrying a small bundle of grass and shrubs tied to a pole.

These rough standards were called "manipuli," and it was because they carried these manipuli that captains in the Roman army came to be called Manipulares.

When Amulius heard that Numitor had recognised in the prisoner one of his long lost grandsons he was afraid. Then, hearing the shouts and blows of Romulus and his men as they attacked the city gate, he rushed to defend it, determined that the second prince should not enter the city.

But Romulus captured the gate, slew the king, and entered the city in triumph.

Here he found Remus, no longer a prisoner as he had feared, but the acknowledged grandson of Numitor.

The old king welcomed Romulus as joyfully as he had welcomed his brother, and the two princes, eager to please the gentle old man, placed him upon the throne from which he had so long ago been driven.

They then sped to the prison where their mother Silvia had lain since the princes had been born. Swiftly they set her free, and cheered her by their love and care as good sons ever will.