A thorn had pierced a lion’s foot;
And much it roared and wailed.
Just then a slave named Androcles
Approached and saw what ailed.
With pitying skill, he dared to draw
The sliver from the lion’s paw.
Thereat the creature licked his hands;
And soon the beast and slave,
Close friends, were living side by side
Within a desert cave,
Until one day, by sad mishap,
Some hunters caught them in a trap.
Then in the city, scarcely fed,
The great majestic beast
Was led into a circus pit,
Where he could make a feast
Upon a slave they threw to him,
While crowds looked on, intent and grim.
With a great bound, forward he sprang,
Hungry to snatch his prey,
Then haled, and in wild delight
Began to frisk and play,
Seeing the slave, now quite at ease,
Was his old comrade Androcles.
The Emperor, when he heard the tale,
Ordered the man set free,
While in his native wood the beast
Received his liberty.
“For gratitude,” the sovereign said,
“Sometimes is more than wine or bread.”