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THE MURDER OF TARQUIN
 TARQUIN was called upon to wage many wars during his
reign. He once brought home a female prisoner, whom he
gave to his wife as a servant. This was nothing
unusual, for Romans were in the habit of making slaves
of their war prisoners, who were forced to spend the
rest of their lives in serving their conquerors.
Shortly after her arrival in Tarquin's house, this
woman gave birth to a little boy; and Tanaquil,
watching the babe one day, was surprised to see a flame
hover over its head without doing it any harm. Now
Tanaquil was very superstitious, and fancied that she
could tell the meaning of every sign that she saw. She
at once exclaimed that she knew the child was born to
greatness; and she adopted him as her own son, calling
him Servius Tullius.
The child of a slave thus grew up in the king's house,
and when he had reached manhood he married Tanaquil's
daughter. This marriage greatly displeased the sons of
Ancus Martius. The young princes had hoped that they
would be chosen kings as soon as Tarquin died; but they
saw that Servius Tullius was always preferred to them.
They now began to fear that he would inherit the
throne, and they soon learned to hate him.
To prevent Servius from ever being king, they resolved
to get rid of Tarquin and to take possession of the
crown before their rival had any chance to get ahead of
them. A murderer was hired to kill the king; and as
soon as he had a good chance, he stole into the palace
and struck Tarquin with a hatchet.
 As the murderer
fled, Tarquin sank to the ground; but in spite of this
sudden attempt to murder her husband, Tanaquil did not
lose her presence of mind. She promptly had him placed
upon a couch, where he died a few moments later. Then
she sent word to the senate that Tarquin was only
dangerously ill, and wished Servius to govern in his
stead until he was better.
She managed so cleverly, that no one suspected that the
king was dead. The sons of Ancus Martius fled from Rome
when they heard that Tarquin was only wounded, and
during their absence Servius Tullius ruled the Romans
for more than a month.
He was so wise and careful in all his dealings with the
people that they elected him as the sixth king of Rome,
when they finally learned that Tarquin was dead. It was
thus that the two wicked princes lost all right to the
kingdom which they had tried to obtain by such a base
crime as murder.