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Cornelia's Jewels

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - MOTHERS' DAY





BY JAMES BALDWIN





It was a bright morning in the old city of Rome many hundred years ago.
In a vine-covered summer-house in a beautiful garden, two boys were
standing. They were looking at their mother and her friend, who were
walking among the flowers and trees.

"Did you ever see so handsome a lady as our mother's friend?" asked the
younger boy, holding his tall brother's hand. "She looks like a queen."

"Yet she is not so beautiful as our mother," said the elder boy. "She
has a fine dress, it is true; but her face is not noble and kind. It is
our mother who is like a queen."

"That is true," said the other. "There is no woman in Rome so much like
a queen as our own dear mother."

Soon Cornelia, their mother, came down the walk to speak with them. She
was simply dressed in a plain, white robe. Her arms and feet were bare,
as was the custom in those days; and no rings or chains glittered about
her hands and neck. For her only crown, long braids of soft brown hair
were coiled about her head; and a tender smile lit up her noble face as
she looked into her sons' proud eyes.

"Boys," she said, "I have something to tell you."

They bowed before her, as Roman lads were taught to do, and said: "What
is it, mother?"

"You are to dine with us to-day, here in the garden; and then our friend
is going to show us that wonderful casket of jewels of which you have
heard so much."

The brothers looked shyly at their mother's friend. Was it possible that
she had still other rings besides those on her fingers? Could she have
other gems besides those which sparkled in the chains about her neck?

When the simple outdoor meal was over, a servant brought the casket from
the house. The lady opened it. Ah, how those jewels dazzled the eyes
of the wondering boys! There were ropes of pearls, white as milk, and
smooth as satin; heaps of shining rubies, red as the glowing coals;
sapphires as blue as the sky that summer day; and diamonds that flashed
and sparkled like the sunlight.

The brothers looked long at the gems. "Ah!" whispered the younger; "if
our mother could only have such beautiful things!"

At last, however, the casket was closed and carried carefully away.

"Is it true, Cornelia, that you have no jewels?" asked her friend. "Is
it true, as I have heard it whispered, that you are poor?"

"No, I am not poor," answered Cornelia, and as she spoke she drew her
two boys to her side; "for here are my jewels. They are worth more than
all your gems."

The boys never forgot their mother's pride and love and care; and in
after years, when they had become great men in Rome, they often thought
of this scene in the garden. And the world still likes to hear the story
of Cornelia's jewels.





Next: Queen Margaret And The Robbers

Previous: The Lark And Its Young Ones



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