| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
HOW ROME WAS FOUNDED
I. THE TWO KINGS
 A VERY great while ago there was a city in Italy which
its people called Alba Longa, or the Long White. It
stood on the slope of a hill, a mile or more from the
river Tiber. Its houses stretched in a straggling line
down to the shore of a little lake.
The men of Alba Longa were mostly shepherds and
hunters. In times of peace they tended their flocks or
ranged the woods for game. In times of war—which
happened often enough—every man was ready with club and
pike to fight for his home.
The people were rude and barbarous in their manners, as
was common in those days. They ate mutton and coarse
vegetables. They drank the milk of goats. They clothed
themselves in sheepskins. They slept on the floor, and
never allowed their fires to go out. They seldom went
far from home, and they fancied that the whole world
was seen from the top of their hill.
Now, there was a king of Alba Longa whose name was
Numitor. He was an elderly man, gentle and kind. He
cared little for power; indeed,
 there was nothing he liked so well as his farm and his
garden and his flocks of white-fleeced sheep. Two
children were his—a promising boy of twelve and a
lovely daughter whose name was Rhea Silvia. He had also
a younger brother called Amulius, a low-browed,
dark-faced fellow, ready to do any sort of wickedness
that came into his mind.
This brother was always stirring up the young men of
"If I were king, things would be different," he would
say. "You should all live at your ease, and want for
At length, one day when Numitor was at his farm,
Amulius proclaimed himself king of Alba Longa. He
stationed soldiers at the city gates, and declared that
every man who did not acknowledge his right to the
kingship should be put to death. Then he sent word to
"You had better stay with your sheep and goats, for I
am the king!"
What else could poor, weak Numitor do? Indeed, I think
he was quite glad to be rid of his kingly burdens and
have nought to think about but his flocks. He would
have been happy if his children had been permitted to
live with him on the farm. But news soon came which
filled his heart with grief and clouded all the rest of
 His boy was dead, slain by the hand of the false
Amulius. Fair Rhea Silvia had been shut up in a temple
of Vesta, there to serve as a priestess all her days,
and nevermore to see her dear father or the pleasant
home of her childhood.
II. THE TWO BABES
After this, Amulius settled himself down to enjoy his
kingship. The shepherds of Alba Longa tended their
flocks, and were sad or joyous much as they had been
before. They hated Amulius; but they feared him much
more, and so said nothing. And poor, sorrowing Numitor
stayed on his farm and busied himself with his sheep
and his goats.
Five, six, seven years passed by, and then strange news
was told in Alba Longa. Rhea Silvia, it was said, had
escaped from her temple prison. She had gone away with
an unknown warrior who was never seen except when
dressed in a coat of mail and fully armed. Some said
that this warrior was Silvanus, the protector of all
cattle; but most believed that he was Mars, the mighty
lord of war and battles. As for me, I think he was some
hero of a neighboring tribe who had known and loved
Silvia in happier days, and who now wished to rescue
her from her prison and make her his wife.
 Great was the excitement in Alba Longa, and great was
the alarm of the false king Amulius. All through the
land close search was made for Rhea; but no sign or
trace of her could be found.
"I shall never be safe while she lives," said Amulius;
and he doubled the guards around the city. But Numitor
stayed with his flocks and seemed to know nothing of
what had occurred.
Another year passed by. It was the time of the spring
floods, and the Tiber had overflowed its banks. The
lowlands were under water. The shepherds had driven all
their flocks to the hills.
One morning King Amulius was standing alone in his
palace looking out at the drenched earth and the
pouring rain. Suddenly there was a great uproar at the
door, and two shepherds entered bearing a covered
basket in their arms.
"What have you there?" cried the king.
They removed the cover. He looked in and saw two tiny
babies, wrapped in an embroidered cloak. Their eyes
blinked, and they began to cry as the light fell upon
"Yesterday," said the shepherds, "the Tiber suddenly
flooded all our pasture lands. As we were hurrying
toward the hills with our sheep we beheld a woman
standing on a rock in the midst of the flood. We drew
nearer, and saw that she was
 none other than Rhea Silvia, the daughter of old
Numitor. When we would have seized her she leaped into
the river, and the swirling waters carried her beyond
our reach. But on the rock she left her cloak; and
wrapped in the cloak, as you see them now, were these
twin baby boys."
"I doubt you not," said Amulius, "for the cloak is the
same that Rhea Silvia wore when a girl. Why did you not
fling the brats into the river and let them die with
"We dared not do so without your command," was the
"Well, then," said the king, furious with rage, "I
command it now. Carry them back to the place where you
found them, and make sure that they are drowned. Out of
my sight, and be quick about it!"
The shepherds again drew the cloak over the faces of
the crying infants, and hurried away to do the king's
III. THE TWO SHEPHERDS
"I cannot bear to see the pretty babes drown before my
eyes," said one of the shepherds.
"Neither can I," said the other. "They make me think of
my own twin boys at home."
 "I could not see a lamb struggling in the waves without
trying to save it," said the first.
"Only yesterday," said the second, "I saved two young
wolves from drowning. And now what am I about to do?"
Thus the men talked to each other while they went on
their undesired errand. Just as they reached the river
they saw, floating in an eddying pool, a small trough,
such as shepherds used when feeding their lambs in
"I have it now," said the second shepherd. "Let us put
the babes in the trough and send it floating into the
current. They will be drowned, but not by us nor while
we are looking on."
"You are right! You are right!" answered his companion.
"Seize the thing as it comes near the shore, and let us
end this ugly business."
They dipped the water out of the trough and wiped it
dry and clean. Then they wrapped the babes in their
mother's cloak and laid them down, side by side, in the
bottom of the rude vessel.
"Fare you well, sweet babes," said the second
shepherd. "I could never look my own twin boys in the
face were I to see you drown."
"Fare you well, and a long, safe voyage," said the
other, as he pushed the trough far out from the shore.
 Then, without once looking behind them, the two men
silently turned away and returned to Alba Longa to tell
Amulius that they had done his bidding.
"Now at last I can breathe freely," he said to himself.
IV. THE SHE-WOLF
Far down the stream floated the little trough boat with
its tiny passengers. In the strong current it was
rocked like a cradle, yet not a drop of water found its
way into the frail craft. Lulled by the gentle motion
and soothed by the rippling music of the waves, the
babes soon fell asleep.
Then the boat drifted into smoother water. It was
caught in a broad eddy and carried toward the shore.
Slowly now it floated among logs and brushwood and over
the flooded land. At nightfall it grounded in shallow
water at the foot of a wooded hill; and the voyage was
That night an old she-wolf was roaming through the
underwoods by the shore, looking for her whelps which
had been carried away by the flood. Suddenly she heard
a feeble, wailing sound, as of some young creature in
She paused and listened. Could it be her own little
 The sound seemed to come from some driftwood close at
hand. She ran out into the shallow water, leaped upon a
floating log, and looked down upon the strangest sight
that wolf ever saw—two babies lying in a sheep trough
and wailing, oh, so pitifully!
As the beast scrambled to the top of the log the
children were attracted by the sound; they looked up
and smiled and held out their tiny arms.
The wolf wondered, as only wolves can wonder. Could it
be possible that these were her own lost whelps,
strangely changed in form since she last saw them? At
any rate they were young and helpless and hungry; and
she would be a mother to them.
 Her den was not far away. It was high and dry on the
hillside. She would carry them thither.
With her strong jaws and huge, sharp teeth she seized
the cloak to tear it away. But the infants were wrapped
in it so tightly that she lifted them at the same time.
What a fine way to carry them! It was much better than
grasping them by the nape of the neck as she had always
done with her own babies.
The babes were small and light; the wolf was big and
strong, and it was easy for her to carry them. She ran
joyfully up the hill, holding her head high so that
they would not drag on the rocks. Into her dry, warm
den she hastened, as glad as any mother returning home
with her lost loved ones.
In a few minutes the wailing of the infants ceased;
they fancied themselves in the arms of their own dear
mother. The night was dark. Around the foot of the hill
the waves lapped against the shores. In the wolf's den
all was silent.
came. The rains had ceased. The river Tiber was
no longer a foaming torrent overflowing the plains,
but only a narrow, yellow stream
 creeping along toward the distant sea. The mountain
torrents were dried up; the earth was dusty and hot;
the grass was withering on the hillsides.
Early one morning a wolf broke into the fold where the
king's sheep were kept, and carried away a lamb. The
head shepherd, whose name was Faustulus, gave chase to
the robber. He followed her to the very cave in which
she had her den. It was on the slope of the hill called
At the door of the cave the wolf turned and showed
fight. Faustulus was ready for her. As she rushed
fiercely toward him, a well-aimed blow from his ax
felled her to the ground; another blow put an end to
Faustulus bethought him then that he would look in the
den—perhaps there were young wolves there. The door of
the cave was low and narrow; but with his ax in his
hand he crept forward and peered inside. At first he
could make out nothing plainly; but in a little while
his eyes became accustomed to the darkness and he
could see quite well. What a strange sight was that
which met his gaze! In the farthest corner of the cave
was the wolf's lair—a rough pile of sticks and leaves
and dry grass, with a torn cloak lying beside it. On
 top of this rude bed sat two baby boys. They were
cooing and goo-gooing as happily as though they were in
their mother's lap. They were fat and hearty and
appeared to be seven or eight months old; and when they
saw Faustulus coming toward them they shrank back and
began to scream with fear.
Faustulus picked them up in his arms. He wrapped the
remains of the old cloak around them. He crawled out
through the low door and, without stopping to take
another look at the place, hurried home.
His wife, Acca Larentia, was astonished to see the two
babes in his arms.
"Where did you find them, and what shall we do with
them?" she asked.
He told her about finding them in the cave, and showed
her the torn cloak.
"This is the cloak of Rhea Silvia," he said; "and no
doubt these are her babes whom the king ordered to be
drowned. Shall we be less kind to them than was the
"Ah, no!" she answered. "Although we have twelve
children of our own to care for, there is still plenty
of room in our poor hut. We will keep the twins and
care for them as our own."
"And nobody must know that they are not our
 own," said Faustulus; "for should this be told to King
Amulius it would mean death to us all."
The two babies were therefore taken into the shepherd's
family and given the same food and the same care and
love as the other children. They were named Romulus and
Remus, and they looked as much alike as two grains of
wheat on the same stalk.
VI. THE RIVAL SHEPHERDS
Many years passed, and Romulus and Remus grew up to be
tall young men, graceful and strong and fearless. With
their foster brothers they tended the flocks on the
Palatine Hill, and they were known among the shepherds
as the sons of Faustulus. They hunted wild beasts in
the forest by the Tiber; they fought with robbers; they
became noted throughout the land for their fearless
valor. In every enterprise they were the leaders.
Just across the valley from the king's pastures there
was another hill called the Aventine. It was there that
poor old Numitor had his farm, and there he pastured
his sheep and his goats.
"The grass is greener and taller on the Aventine,"
said Romulus one day. "Let us drive our flocks over
there to fatten in the fields of old Numitor."
 "Agreed!" said his companions; and soon the thing was
It was not long, however, before the shepherds of
Numitor discovered the intruders. There was a great
outcry. Numitor's men rushed down the hill-side with
clubs and stones and pikes, and there was a sharp
fight. The king's shepherds were out-numbered four to
one. They fought fiercely, but in the end were glad
enough to hurry their flocks back to their own pasture.
A day or two after this, when Romulus was absent on a
hunting excursion, it was discovered that the finest
lamb in the king's flock was missing.
"Wolves!" said the shepherds.
"Yes," said the sharp-sighted Remus, "the two-legged
wolves that keep old Numitor's sheep! If you had as
good eyes as I have, you could see the lamb now,
tethered to a stake just this side of the great rock
over there. Stay you here, and I will go and fetch it
And all alone, with nothing but his staff in his hands,
he strode off toward the Aventine.
"Let us go with you, Remus," cried the shepherds. "You
may need help."
"Attend to your sheep, and do my bidding," Remus
VII. THE DISCOVERY
 An hour later there was a great ado on the Aventine
Hill. Remus had made his way up the slope without
seeing a single enemy. He had reached the lamb and cut
the cord with which it was tethered. He was about
lifting it in his arms, when a dozen dark-faced fellows
rushed suddenly upon him from their hiding place behind
the great rock.
Remus dropped the lamb and fought manfully with his
staff. But what could he do against so many? He was
thrown to the ground; his hands were bound behind him;
and then he was led over the hill to the farmhouse of
"Here is the ringleader of the gang that trespassed on
your grounds," said his captors.
"Then away with him!" cried Numitor, without looking up or rising from his couch.
"Take him away and make an end of him."
But before the men could turn round with their
prisoner, there was a great hubbub at the door, and the
king's shepherd, Faustulus, pushed his way into the
"My lord Numitor, my lord Numitor," he cried, "would
you put your own grandson to death?" And then he
hurriedly told the story of the twin
 babies and the wolf, and of the manner in which the
boys had been brought up in his own house.
"And where is the other young man?" asked old Numitor,
his memory going back slowly to his dear lost daughter
"Here I am, grandfather," said Romulus, coming
suddenly in, and going boldly forward to the old man's
couch. He had returned from hunting just at the moment
that the news of his brother's capture was told on the
Palatine Hill. Calling to the shepherds to follow him,
he was hurrying toward the Aventine to rescue the
prisoner by force, when Faustulus had met him and told
him about his parentage and urged him to another
"Here I am, too, grandfather," said Remus, as Numitor
raised himself slowly and gazed at the two brothers
with his weak old eyes.
"Whom do I see?" cried Numitor. "They have the face,
the eyes, the look of Rhea Silvia; but what manly
forms, what grace and strength! Yes, I must believe
your story, Faustulus. They are my grandsons—their
looks prove it."
"And if further proof were wanting," said Faustulus,
"look upon this embroidered robe that was found with
the children in the wolf's den."
Numitor took the soiled, torn garment in his
 hands, and his eyes filled with tears. "Alas, my dear
lost daughter!" he moaned. "And cruel Amulius will slay
your sons, too, when he learns they are still alive."
"Not so, not so, King Numitor!" cried a voice at the
door. "Down with Amulius!"
"Romulus and Remus! Let Romulus and Remus lead us!"
shouted all the shepherds and serving men. "Down with
Amulius the tyrant! Hail to our King Numitor!"
Within an hour a strong force of men, armed with axes
and pikes and clubs, was marching against Alba Longa;
and Romulus and Remus were the leaders.
Amulius was feasting in his palace, little thinking of
danger, when the brothers rushed in at the head of
their shepherd army. The fight was sharp but quickly
over. The people of Alba Longa were so tired of Amulius
that few cared to aid him. When he found that all was
lost he tried to escape; but a shepherd from the
Palatine pastures felled him with a club, and an end
was soon put to his wicked life.
"Our grandfather, Numitor, is again the king of Alba
Longa!" cried Romulus.
"Long life to King Numitor!" shouted the rabble of
shepherds. Some of them hastened to
 fetch the old man from his farm; and amid great
rejoicings he was again seated on the throne from which
he had been driven so long before.
VIII. THE NEW CITY
Romulus and Remus might have remained in Alba Longa and
lived at ease in their grandfather's palace; and,
indeed, the poor man needed their help badly enough.
But they longed for the pleasant hills where they had
spent their childhood—for the Palatine and the
Aventine, with their pasture lands and their green
"Grandfather," they said, "you are the king of Alba
Longa and we wish you long life and prosperity. But
Alba Longa is no place for us. Give us leave to go out
in the wild region by the Tiber and build a new town of
What could Numitor do but tell them to go wherever they
pleased? And so, at the head of a company of reckless
men,—some shepherds and some robbers,—they went
back to the hills by the Tiber.
"We will build our town on the Palatine," said Romulus.
"No, indeed," said Remus, "we will build it on the
 They could not agree; neither could the men who were
with them. At last, when they were about to come to
blows, old Faustulus stepped between them.
"For your own sakes, my boys," he said, "don't be
wolves, but men. Settle this question in a peaceful
way. Let the augurs decide."
"You are right," said the brothers; "the augurs shall
decide. To-night we will watch for such signs as the
powers above may send us."
All night long Romulus sat alone on the summit of the
Palatine; all night long Remus sat alone on the summit
of the Aventine. Thick clouds concealed the sky; the
world was wrapped in pitchy darkness; nothing could be
seen; nothing was heard. At last the dawn appeared,
feeble and gray on the hilltops. Then Remus, watching
from his lonely post, saw some large birds winging
their way toward the woods beyond the Tiber.
"The augurs are for me," he cried to the shepherds in
the valley below him. "I see six vultures flying from
A few minutes later the clouds rolled away and the
rising sun gilded the tree tops with its golden beams.
Then the shepherds heard from the summit of the
opposite hill the deep-toned voice of Romulus crying,—
 "The victory belongs to me. I see twelve vultures
flying over the Palatine."
"The augurs decide for Romulus," said the shepherds.
"The town shall be built on the Palatine, and it shall
be called Rome in honor of our captain."
Romulus began at once to lay off the bounds of his
little town. A few huts of brush and bark were built
for the men. A better one of stones and clay was put up
for the brothers. But Remus sulked and complained and
tried in every way to hinder
 the work. "And this is the city of Rome, is it?" he
sneered. "What a grand city, indeed!"
"We must have a strong wall around our city," said
At once, with sharpened stakes and wooden spades, the
men began the work. The space to be inclosed was not
large, and soon a wall of earth and loose stones arose
around the new city of Rome. It was but waist high,
crooked, and uneven; and it was little wonder that
Remus laughed at it.
"What a fine, strong wall it is!" he scornfully cried;
and, running forward, he leaped over it at a bound.
" 'What a fine strong wall it is!' "
But his feet had scarcely touched the ground when an
angry shepherd struck him fiercely with a spade. As he
fell, speechless and dying, the men crowded to the spot
with rough cries and savage exultation.
"Thus perish all who attempt to pass the walls of
Rome!" they shouted.
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