|The Book of Legends|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|Legends to supplement Fifty Famous Stories Retold. Includes the stories of St. George and the Dragon, William Tell, King Cophetua, St. Christopher, The Wandering Jew, and the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, retold in fine English prose. Ages 7-10 |
THE BELL OF JUSTICE
 A ROMAN emperor had the ill fortune to lose his sight. He
wished that his people might not be the worse for this loss;
so he hung a bell in his palace, and a law was made that any
one who had a wrong to be righted must pull the rope with
his own hands and thus ring the bell. When the bell rang, a
judge went down to hear the complaint and right the wrong.
It chanced that a serpent had its home under the end of the
bell-rope. Here it brought forth its young, and one day,
when the little serpents could leave the place, it led them
out for fresh air. While they were gone, a toad came and
took a fancy to the place. Nor would he go away when the
serpent came back.
The serpent could not drive the toad out, so it coiled its
tail about the bell-rope, and rang the bell of justice. Down
came the judge, but saw nobody, and went back. Again the
serpent rang the bell in the same way.
This time the judge looked about with care and espied the
serpent and the toad. He went
 back to the emperor and told him what he had seen.
"It is very clear," said the emperor, "that the toad is in
the wrong. Go down, drive out the toad, kill it, and let the
serpent have its place again."
All this was done. Now, not many days after, as the
emperor lay in his bed, the serpent came into the room, and
toward the emperor's bed. The servants were about to drive
the serpent away, but the emperor forbade them.
"It will do me no harm," said he; "I have been just to
it. Let us see what it will do."
At that the serpent glided up the bed and laid a precious
stone, which it carried in its mouth, upon the emperor's
eyes. Then it slipped out of the room and no one saw it
again. But no sooner had the stone lain on the eyes of the
emperor than his sight was restored and he could see as well
as other men.
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