| 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 |
OTHER WISE MEN OF GOTHAM
ONE day, news was brought to Gotham that the king was
coming that way, and that he would pass through the town.
This did not please the men of Gotham at all. They hated the
king, for they knew that he was a cruel, bad man. If he came
to their town, they would have to find food and
lodging for him and his men; and if he saw anything that pleased him,
he would be sure to take it for his own. What should they
They met together to talk the matter over.
"Let us chop down the big trees in the woods, so that they
will block up all the roads that lead into the town," said
one of the wise men.
"Good!" said all the rest.
So they went out with their axes, and soon all the roads and
paths to the town were filled with logs
and brush. The king's horsemen would have a
hard time of it getting into Gotham. They would
 either have to make a new road, or give up the plan
altogether, and go on to some other place.
When the king came, and saw that the road had been blocked
up, he was very angry.
"Who chopped those trees down in my way?" he asked of two
country lads that were passing by.
"The men of Gotham," said the lads.
"Well," said the king, "go and tell the men of Gotham
that I shall send my sheriff into their town, and have all
their noses cut off."
The two lads ran to the town as fast as they could, and
made known what the king had said.
Everybody was in great fright. The men ran from house
to house, carrying the news, and asking one another what
they should do.
"Our wits have kept the king out of the town," said one; "and
so now our wits must save our noses."
"True, true!" said the others. "But what shall we do?"
Then one, whose name was Dobbin, and who was thought to
be the wisest of them all, said, "Let me tell you
something. Many a man has been punished because he was
wise, but I have never heard of any one being harmed because
he was a fool. So, when the king's
sheriff comes, let us all act like fools."
 "Good, good!" cried the others. "We will all act like
It was no easy thing for the king's men to open the roads;
and while they were doing it, the king grew tired of
waiting, and went back to London. But very early one
morning, the sheriff with a party of fierce soldiers rode
through the woods, and between the fields, toward
Gotham. Just before they reached the town, they saw a
queer sight. The old men were rolling big stones up the
hill, and all the young men were looking on, and grunting
The sheriff stopped his horses, and asked what they were
"We are rolling stones uphill to make the sun rise," said
one of the old men.
"You foolish fellow!" said the sheriff. "Don't you know
that the sun will rise without any help?"
"Ah! will it?" said the old man. "Well, I never thought
of that. How wise you are!"
"And what are you doing?" said the sheriff to the young
"Oh, we do the grunting while our fathers do the
working," they answered.
"I see," said the sheriff. "Well, that is the way the
world goes everywhere. "
And he rode on toward the town.
 He soon came to a field where a number of men
were building a stone wall.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Why, master," they answered, "there is a
cuckoo in this field, and we are building a wall around it so
as to keep the bird from straying away."
"You foolish fellows!" said the sheriff. "Don't
you know that the bird will fly over the top of your wall,
no matter how high you build it?"
"Why, no," they said. "We never thought of that. How
very wise you are!"
The sheriff next met a man who was carrying a door on his
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I have just started on a long journey, "
said the man.
"But why do you carry that door?" asked the sheriff.
"I left my money at home."
"Then why didn't you leave the door at home too?"
"I was afraid of thieves; and you see, if I have the door
with me, they can't break it open and get in."
"You foolish fellow!" said the sheriff. "It would be
safer to leave the door at home, and carry the
money with you."
"Ah, would it, though?" said the man. "Now,
 I never thought of that. You are the wisest man
that I ever saw."
Then the sheriff rode on with his men; but every one
that they met was doing some silly thing.
"Truly I believe that the people of Gotham are all fools,"
said one of the horsemen.
"That is true," said another. "It would be a shame to harm
such simple people."
"Let us ride back to London, and tell the king all about
them," said the sheriff.
"Yes, let us do so," said the horsemen.
So they went back, and told the king that Gotham was a town
of fools; and the king laughed, and said that if that was
the case, he would not harm them, but would let them keep
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