The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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scarf round his right arm. He was given a lance with which to defend himself — a forlorn hope, as he knew that he had to fight with a powerful lion which had been kept without food for some days to make it more savage and bloodthirsty. As he stepped into the arena of the huge circus, above the sound of the voices of thousands on thousands of spectators he could hear the savage roar of the wild beasts from their cages below the floor on which he stood.
Of a sudden the silence of expectation fell on the spec­tators, for a signal had been given, and the cage con­taining the lion with which Androcles had to fight had been shot up into the arena from the floor below. A moment later, with a fierce spring and a savage roar, the great animal had sprung out of its cage into the arena, and with a bound had rushed at the spot where Androcles stood trembling. But suddenly, as he saw Androcles, the lion stood still, wondering. Then quickly but quietly it approached him, and gently moved its tail and licked the man's hands, and fawned upon him like a great dog. And Androcles patted the lion's head, and gave a sob of recognition, for he knew that it was his own lion, with whom he had lived and lodged all those months and years.
And, seeing this strange and wonderful meeting between the man and the wild beast, all the people marvelled, and the emperor, from his high seat above the arena, sent for Androcles, and bade him tell his story and explain this mystery. And the emperor was so delighted with the story that he said Androcles was to be released and to be made a free man from that hour. And he rewarded him with money, and ordered that the lion was to belong to him, and to accompany him wherever he went.
And when the people in Rome met Androcles walking, followed by his faithful lion, they used to point at them and say, ' That is the lion, the guest of the man, and that is the man, the doctor of the lion.'2
1 Apparently this nice lion did not bite anybody, when he took his walks abroad. Or, possibly, he was muzzled. — Ed.
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