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King Alfred and the Cakes

Once, when good King Alfred of England was forced to flee from his strong foes the Danes, he hid himself in a wood. In this wood, there was a small cottage, and Alfred asked the woman who lived there if he might go in and rest.

Now the woman did not know the king, but she saw that he was an English soldier, and that he was very tired, so she let him come in and sit in her kitchen.

Upon the hearth before the fire, some cakes were baking, and the woman told the stranger that if he watched them, and took care that they did not burn, she would give him some supper. Then she went away to do her work.

At first, King Alfred watched the cakes carefully; when they were well cooked on one side he turned the other to the fire. But, after a time, he began to think of his country, and of his poor people, and then he forgot his task.

When the woman came back, the cakes were black and burnt. "You are an idle fellow," cried she angrily. "You would be quite ready to eat the cakes, but you will not take the trouble to watch them."

While she was loudly scolding, her husband came home. He knew King Alfred. "Hush, wife!" cried he. "It is our noble lord the king!"

When the woman heard this, she was much afraid, and she begged Alfred to forgive her.

The king smiled, and said: "I will gladly forgive you for your scolding, good wife, if you will forgive me for spoiling your supper."


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