A long time ago, there lived in Rome a young man named Andy. He was not a free man, for he was a slave owned by a rich Roman merchant. This man treated his slaves badly. Andry was forced to work from dawn till dusk. He was hardly given any food and was beaten cruelly.
One morning when his master beat him up again, Andry could not bear it any longer: He decided to run away. With the furious shouts of the merchant ringing in his ears, he ran out from the house and out into the countryside.
By midday, Andy was too tired to run further, the harsh sun beat down without any mercy. He desperately looked for someplace shady to hide and caught sight of the opening of a cave. Weak with hunger and exhaustion. Andy crawled inside for a few minutes, the runaway slave rested against the cool rock wall. Suddenly, a fearsome roar echoed through the cave and a huge shape leaped towards him. It was a lion! Terrified, Andy closed his eyes. But no attack came. Instead, the slave heard a soft whimpering noise like that of a lost kitten.
Andy opened his eyes and looked at the lion. It was holding one paw off the ground. Andy hated to see a fellow-creature in pain. Speaking soothingly to the animal, he gently pulled out the thorn. The lion put its foot back on the ground and felt at once that the pain was much less. With a grunt, it turned and padded softly out of the cave.
For several days Andy hid in the cave, but he had to go out to find food and water. On one of these trips, he was spotted by some of the merchant’s men and captured. He was taken to the city and dragged to the dungeons underneath the arena. This was a huge area where fights and shows were staged. Andry knew what awaited him-to be torn apart by wild animals in front of thousands of people.
On the morning of the spectacle, two soldiers dragged Andy from his cell and pushed him into the arena. On seats high above, Andy could see rows upon rows of faces. Thousands of people had gathered to witness the slave’s sure death at the hands of a wild animal. Then, the doors of the animal’s cage opened and a fierce lion leaped out, roaring at the top of its voice! Andy fell to his knees, believing that his last moments had come.
The next moment, he felt a rough tongue licking his face and looked up to see the lion that he had helped standing before him. Instead of attacking him, the lion rubbed its head against him, just like a pet cat does. ‘So you are a prisoner too, old friend, whispered Andy, stroking its shaggy mane. The crowd loved this extraordinary display more than seeing the lion tear the slave apart. They cheered and clapped until the Roman Governor, who was trying to make himself popular, announced that Andy would be released and so, the slave’s kindness was rewarded and he walked away from the arena, a free man at last.