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Fifty Famous Stories Retold
by James Baldwin
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Fifty Famous Stories Retold is a collection of short stories written by James Baldwin for children of all ages to enjoy. Amoing these fifty stories children will find works like Julius Caesar, King Alfred and the Cakes, William Tell, and Robin Hood which will teach them about history and important lessons from the examples set forth in these stories. This collection should not be passed over, as this is the ultimate James Baldwin collection of short children stories.
About the Author
Born in 1841 in a small Quaker settlement in the backwoods of Indiana, James Baldwin rose to become a highly-respected author and textbook editor. Largely self-educated, Baldwin became a teacher at 24, then served as superintendent of the graded schools of Indiana for 18 years before moving into the publishing world. As an editor of school books, first with Harper and Brothers and later with the American Book Company, he selected the best of our literary heritage and cast it into a form that delighted children of all ages. His influence in the first decades of the twentieth century was broad because of all the grammar school books in use in the United States at that time over half had been written or edited by him. He is remembered most for the books of introductory historical sketches he wrote for younger students and his retellings of the legends of the heroes for older students.
Excerpted from Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin. Copyright © 2005. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
KING ALFRED AND THE CAKES
MANY years ago there lived in England a wise and good king whose name was Alfred. No other man ever did so much for his country as he; and people now, all over the world, speak of him as Alfred the Great.
In those days a king did not have a very easy life. There was war almost all the time, and no one else could lead his army into battle so well as he. And so, between ruling and fighting, he had a busy time of it indeed.
A fierce, rude people, called the Danes, had come from over the sea, and were fighting the English. There were so many of them, and they were so bold and strong, that for a long time they gained every battle. If they kept on, they would soon be the masters of the whole country.
At last, after a great battle, the English army was broken up and scattered. Every man had to save himself in the best way he could. King Alfred fled alone, in great haste, through the woods and swamps.
Late in the day the king came to the hut of a woodcutter. He was very tired and hungry, and he begged the woodcutters wife to give him something to eat and a place to sleep in her hut.
The woman was baking some cakes upon the hearth, and she looked with pity upon the poor, ragged fellow who seemed so hungry. She had no thought that he was the king.
"Yes," she said, "I will give you some supper if you will watch these cakes. I want to go out and milk the cow; and you must see that they do not burn while I am gone."
King Alfred was very willing to watch the cakes, but he had far greater things to think about. How was he going to get his army together again? And how was he going to drive the fierce Danes out of the land? He forgot his hunger; he forgot the cakes; he forgot that he was in the woodcutters hut. His mind was busy making plans for to-morrow.
In a little while the woman came back. The cakes were smoking on the hearth. They were burned to a crisp. Ah, how angry she was!
"You lazy fellow!" she cried. "See what you have done! You want something to eat, but you do not want to work!"
I have been told that she even struck the king with a stick; but I can hardly believe that she was so ill-natured.
The king must have laughed to himself at the thought of being scolded in this way; and he was so hungry that he did not mind the womans angry words half so much as the loss of the cakes.
I do not know whether he had anything to eat that night, or whether he had to go to bed without his supper. But it was not many days until he had gathered his men together again, and had beaten the Danes in a great battle.
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