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Mary Macgregor

The Twin Boys

The twin boys, it was said, were guarded by the god Mars. So it was not strange that, as they grew older, the god should send his sacred birds, the woodpeckers, to feed the children. In and out of the cave the birds flew each day, bringing with them food for the little boys.

But neither the wolf nor the birds could do all that was needful, so before long, the god who watched over the children sent Faustulus to their aid.

Faustulus was one of the herdsmen of King Amulius. He had often seen the wolf going in and out of the cave, and had noticed, too, how the woodpeckers came and went each day. So when the wolf went off to prowl in the woods, Faustulus ventured into the cave, where to his amazement he found two beautiful and well-fed children. He took them in his arms and carried them home to his wife. She gladly welcomed the little strangers, and, naming them Romulus and Remus, brought them up as though they had been her own sons.

As the years passed the boys grew ever more beautiful. Stronger and braver, too, they became, until the rough herdsmen among whom they dwelt called them princes.

The lads soon showed that they were fitted to lead the herdsmen. If wild beasts attacked the flocks, or if robbers tried to steal them, Romulus and Remus were ever the first to attack, and to drive away either the robbers or the wild beasts.

Faustulus lived on Mount Palatine, near to the spot where the boys had been washed ashore when they were babes.

This hill belonged to the cruel king Amulius, and it was his sheep and cattle that the princes, unwitting of the evil the king had done to them, defended from danger.

Not far from Mount Palatine was another hill, named Mount Aventine, and here also were herdsmen guarding flocks, but these herdsmen belonged to the dethroned King Numitor. Numitor was living quietly in the city of Alba.

Now it chanced that the herdsmen of Amulius began to quarrel with the herdsmen of Numitor. One evening, forgetting all about their enemies, the shepherds on Mount Palatine were merrymaking at a festival in honour of the god Pan.

Then the herdsmen on Mount Aventine said one to the other, "See, here is our chance. We will lay an ambush for these unwary merrymakers."

As the gods willed, they captured none other than Remus, and well pleased with their prize, they carried the prince a prisoner to their master Numitor.