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
"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'
"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
At last, however, the casket was closed and carried
"Is it true, Cornelia, that you have no jewels?" asked her
friend. "Is it true, as I have heard it whispered, that you
"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