cake, Danes, scold, hunger
Story, Tale, Legend, Folktale, Myth,
Fable, Learning, Teaching
King Alfred was very willing to watch the cakes,
but he had far greater things to think about.
King Alfred watching the
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.
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
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 woodcutter¡¯s 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 was in the
woodcutter¡¯s hut. His mind was busy making plans for tomorrow.
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!¡± It is said that she even struck the king with
a stick. 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 woman¡¯s angry words half so much as the loss of the
cakes. Nobody knows 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 great battle.