A GOOD DEED
Once upon a time, there lived in Rome a slave called Androcles. His master who had purchased him was very cruel. He made Androcles work hard day and night and whipped him if he committed even a small mistake. So, one day, Androcles ran away from his master’s mansion and hid himself in a forest where he found a cave for shelter.
One early morning Androcles was awakened by a frightening sound which came nearer and nearer. It was the roar of a lion groaning in pain. After some time, he saw the lion enter the cave limping and groaning. It stretched itself in a corner and started licking its swollen foot. Androcles’ heart melted on seeing the lion’s miserable condition. He boldly crawled up to the lion and saw the injury. He found that a big thorn had gone deep into its paw. He carefully removed the thorn and treated the wound with some medicinal herbs. After three days the wound was completely healed. The grateful lion lovingly licked Androcles’ hand and moved away.
Androcles stayed in the cave for some days and then went to a nearby city. Unfortunately, his cruel master, who had come to the same city, saw him in the market place. Immediately, he got Androcles arrested and imprisoned. The Roman law of those days gave severe punishment to slaves who tried to run away from their masters. The run-away slaves, with only a small dagger to fight the beast, were thrown before a hungry lion in a cage. A large crowd including the king and his family would witness this cruel fight which always ended with the beast killing and eating the slave.
According to the law, Androcles entered the huge iron cage, dagger in hand. After a short while, a hungry lion was let into the cage. It roared angrily and rushed towards Androcles. But before Androcles could lift his dagger, the lion suddenly halted and stopped its roar. Slowly and silently it came towards Androcles and began licking his hands and feet. Androcles, too, recognised his friend from the forest cave and put his arms around the lion’s neck.
The spectators witnessing this scene felt that a great miracle had happened, so they clapped and shouted with joy. The king and the members of his family sent for Androcles and heard from him how he made friends with the wild beast. They heard from him all about his cruel master and his running away to the forest. “But were you not afraid to go near the wounded lion in the cave?” asked the king, “Not at all,” said Androcles. “I felt that it was better to die and feed the hungry lion than be a life-long slave of a cruel master.” The king was touched by this reply. He at once announced before the crowd, “Androcles is no more a slave. I command his cruel master to set him free. Androcles is a free man from today.”
Androcles had done a small service to the lion. In return, the lion not only spared his life in the cage but got him freed for all time from the chains of slavery.
- Why did the lion not attack Androcles in the cave when he went near the lion?
- What do you learn from this story?
- What animals do you love? Why do you love them? Have you ever done any service to them?