AT one time the Danes drove King Alfred
from his kingdom, and he had to lie hidden for a
long time on a little island in a river.
One day, all who were on the island, except
the king and queen and one servant, went out to
fish. It was a very lonely place, and no one could get
to it except by a boat. About noon a ragged beggar
came to the king’s door, and asked for food.
The king called the servant, and asked, “How
much food have we in the house?”
“My lord,” said the servant, “we have only
one loaf and a little wine.”
Then the king gave thanks to God, and said,
“Give half of the loaf and half of the wine to this
The servant did as he was bidden. The beggar
thanked the king for his kindness, and went on his
In the afternoon the men who had gone out
to fish came back. They had three boats full of fish,
and they said, “We have caught more fish to-day
than in all the other days that we have been on this
The king was glad, and he and his people were
more hopeful than they had ever been before.
When night came, the king lay awake for a
long time, and thought about the things that had
happened that day. At last he fancied that he saw a
great light like the sun; and in the midst of the light
there stood an old man with black hair, holding an
open book in his hand.
It may all have been a dream, and yet to the
king it seemed very real indeed. He looked and
wondered, but was not afraid.
“Who are you?” he asked of the old man.
“Alfred, my son, be brave,” said the man; “for
I am the one to whom you gave this day the half of
all the food that you had. Be strong and joyful of
heart, and listen to what I say. Rise up early in the
morning and blow your horn three times, so loudly
that the Danes may hear it. By nine o’clock, five
hundred men will be around you ready to be led into
battle. Go forth bravely, and within seven days your
enemies shall be beaten, and you shall go back to
your kingdom to reign in peace.”
Then the light went out, and the man was
seen no more.
In the morning the king arose early, and
crossed over to the mainland. Then he blew his horn
three times very loudly; and when his friends heard it
they were glad, but the Danes were filled with fear.
At nine o’clock, five hundred of his bravest
soldiers stood around him ready for battle. He
spoke, and told them what he had seen and heard in
his dream; and when he had finished, they all
cheered loudly, and said that they would follow him
and fight for him so long as they had strength.
So they went out bravely to battle; and they
beat the Danes, and drove them back into their own
place. And King Alfred ruled wisely and well over all
his people for the rest of his days.