Gateway to the Classics: The Golden Ladder Book by E. Hershey Sneath
The Golden Ladder Book by  E. Hershey Sneath

The Slave and The Lion

In the old days of Rome, Androcles was a slave. His master was so cruel to him that he ran away.

By and by he reached a deep forest in which he found a cave. Here he lay down to sleep.

While he was asleep, a lion entered the cave. He roared so loudly that Androcles was awakened.

Of course he was afraid of the wild beast. But the lion did not rush upon him and kill him. The poor animal was in great pain. He was limping like a wounded dog.

Androcles genly took the lion's paw into his hand to see what was the matter. He found the paw was pierced by a long, sharp thorn. With a quick, hard pull he drew it out, and the lion was soon free from pain.

He was so glad that he rubbed his face against the body of Androcles, and they soon became good friends.

They lived together in the cave. Every day the lion would go to hunt for food and bring some back for his companion.

One day, when a band of Roman soldiers was passing that way, they found Androcles. They knew that he was a runaway slave. So they took him and carried him back to Rome.

Now it was the law that slaves who tried to escape, and were captured, should be made to fight with lions.

One day a large crowd gathered to see Androcles fight a lion. The runaway slave was brought out first, and soon a fierce-looking animal came bounding into the ring.

Of course the people expected to see the wild beast rush at Androcles and tear him in pieces. But what do you suppose happened?

Instead of springing upon him to kill him, the lion lay down before Androcles and licked his feet. Androcles put his arms about the lion's neck, and seemed glad to see him. The lion was his old friend of the cave, and as soon as he saw him, the wild 259 beast forgot his fierceness, and came up to lick the hand of the man who had taken the sharp thorn from his paw.

All the people were greatly surprised.

Then Androcles stood before them and cried: "I have only one friend in the world, and he is by my side." He told them how he had met the lion in the cave, how he had relieved him of pain, and how he and the lion had lived together for many days.

When the people heard what he said, some cried: "Set the slave free! Others cried: "Set the lion free, too!"

Then both were set free, and they lived happily together for many years.

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