| Fifty Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|Includes fifty legendary tales depicting certain romantic episodes in the lives of well-known heroes and famous men, or in the history of a people. Children naturally take a deep interest in such stories. The reading of them will not only give pleasure but will lay the foundation for broader literary studies, as nearly all are the subjects of frequent allusions in poetry and prose. Ages 6-9 |
THE STORY OF WILLIAM TELL
 THE people of Switzerland were not always free and
happy as they are to-day. Many years ago a
proud tyrant, whose name was Gessler, ruled over them, and
made their lot a bitter one indeed.
One day this tyrant set up a tall pole in the public
square, and put his own cap on the top of it; and then he
gave orders that every man who came into the town should
bow down before it. But there was one man, named William
Tell, who would not do this. He stood up straight with
folded arms, and laughed at the swinging cap. He would not
bow down to Gessler himself.
When Gessler heard of this, he was very angry. He was
afraid that other men would disobey, and that soon the whole
country would rebel against him. So he made up his mind to
punish the bold man.
William Tell's home was among the mountains, and he was a
famous hunter. No one in all the land could shoot with bow
and arrow so well as he. Gessler knew this, and so he
thought of a cruel plan to make the hunter's own skill
bring him to grief. He ordered that Tell's little boy should
be made to stand up in the public square with an apple on
his head; and then he bade Tell shoot the apple with one of
 Tell begged the tyrant not to have him make this test of his
skill. What if the boy should move? What if the
bowman's hand should tremble? What if the arrow should not carry true?
"Will you make me kill my boy?" he said.
"Say no more," said Gessler. "You must hit the apple with
your one arrow. If you fail, my soldiers shall kill the boy before your eyes."
 Then, without another word, Tell fitted the arrow to his
bow. He took aim, and let it fly. The boy stood firm and
still. He was not afraid, for he had all faith in his
The arrow whistled through the air. It struck the apple
fairly in the center, and carried it away. The people who
saw it shouted with joy.
As Tell was turning away from the place, an arrow
which he had hidden under his coat dropped to the ground.
"Fellow!" cried Gessler, "what mean you with this second
"Tyrant!" was Tell's proud answer, "this arrow was for
your heart if I had hurt my child."
And there is an old story, that, not long after this, Tell
did shoot the tyrant with one of his arrows; and thus he set
his country free.
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