| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
 THREE score and nine years old was the red-bearded
king, Frederick Barbarossa. He was by right the master
of Germany. He had subdued Italy and had been crowned
in the imperial city of Rome. Throughout Europe his
name was known and feared; in his own country he was
the hero of heroes.
He might have ended his days in quiet and peace, but
such was not the wish of the iron-hearted warrior. War
was his chosen pastime; war was his delight; and the
glory of his country was his ambition.
From the Holy Land, far over the sea, a call for help
was sounded. The Saracens of the desert had captured
Jerusalem; they had seized upon the Holy Sepulcher, so
dear to every Christian heart; the sacred banner of the
cross had been trailed in the dust.
Throughout Europe there was great alarm. Devout men
went from land to land preaching a crusade for the
delivery of the holy places.
Chris-  tian princes raised mighty armies and, crossing
the seas, fought bravely to drive the unbelieving
Saracens back to their native deserts.
At such a time could Frederick Barbarossa remain idle
at home? Could he rest quietly who had spent fifty
years in the turmoil of war? As well could the mountain
torrent stand still on the brow of a precipice. He
sounded the word of command; he put himself at the
head of his armed hosts; he led them forth to the
defense of the Holy Land. Neither mountains nor seas
nor sun nor storm delayed his march; and dismay filled
the hearts of the Saracens when they heard of his
On a day in early spring his army arrived upon the
banks of a broad stream in Asia Minor. The land of the
Saracens was on the farther side; the banners of the
Saracen army were seen in the distance. But the stream
was deep and rapid, fed by ice-cold torrents from the
melting snows of the mountains. There was neither ferry
nor ford; and the soldiers paused, fearing to go
Then Frederick rode up and down upon his prancing war
steed. A thousand knights, clad in glittering suits of
mail, were behind him. They were the flower of Germany,
the bravest and best of the heroes of the Rhineland.
 long beard streamed in the wind like the tail of a
flaming red comet. His gleaming sword flashed like
lightning as he waved it above his head. His voice was
like rolling thunder as he turned in his saddle and
called to his eager followers.
"Beyond this stream," cried he, "lies the goal towards
which we have been pressing. I see the banners of the
Saracens upon the hill tops. I hear their cries of
defiance. Even now I smell the battle, and see the
enemy fleeing before us. Why do we pause here? Let
every brave man follow me!"
 He turned his horse quickly and plunged into the
stream. His thousand mailed knights upon their
impatient horses followed him. The roaring waters
leaped high to meet them. Horsemen and steeds battled
bravely with the flood. They were borne down by the
torrent; their heavy armor dragged them to the bottom;
not one was able to reach the farther shore.
Frederick Barbarossa was the last to be overcome. With
the strength of a giant he fought his way to the middle
of the stream. Then a great wave seized upon him. It
hurled him from his steed, and bore him helpless along
in the trough of the rushing current. The foot
soldiers, watching from the shore, soon lost sight of
the hero. The last they saw of him was his red beard
streaming far behind, and his glittering sword, which
he still held upright.
They watched until there was no longer any sign of
armored knight or warrior king, for the waters had
closed over all. Then, as if moved by a single thought,
they cried out in dismay and grief; they wept for their
lost leader; they bewailed their own hard fate, thus
left without guide or commander, in a strange and
unfriendly land. Strong men gave way to despair, and
brave warriors who feared no danger were overcome with
 As they ran in confusion hither and thither, shrieking
and lamenting, a wonderful vision appeared to them. A
holy monk, clad in long robes and holding a crucifix in
his hand, stood upon the river bank at the spot from
which Frederick the hero had leaped into the waves. He
beckoned to them to listen.
"Why do you weep for your lost leader?" he said. "He is
not dead. He has gone back to his own country and
yours—to Germany; and with him are his mailed
knights. In the Kyffhäuser Mountain, in the great hall
of the immortals, Frederick Barbarossa rests with his
chosen heroes. He will sleep there until the eagles
shall cease to fly around the mountain peaks. He will
rest there until the time is ripe for the doing of
mighty deeds. Then the bell shall toll the hour, the
trumpet shall sound, and he will ride forth with his
mailed knights to conquer the world. Weep no more; but
return to your fatherland to wait for the day and the
hour when your warrior king shall call you!"
And having spoken these words the strange monk
"Let us obey him and return to our homes," was the cry.
But, alas, there were few in that great host who would
ever see their fatherland again.
 Days passed and years and circling centuries, but no
man knew where to find the hall of the immortals in
which Frederick Barbarossa was sleeping with his
When half a thousand years had gone by, a shepherd
chanced one day to wander into a lonely glen far up the
side of the Kyffhäuser Mountain. A sheep had strayed
from the flock and he had traced it thither, to a part
of the mountain which he had never seen before.
Suddenly the path which he was following ended. In the
rocky wall before him he saw a narrow opening, like a
doorway, half hidden by vines and overhanging boughs.
Was this a cave, and could the stray sheep have
wandered into it?
He peered through the doorway. It opened into a long,
narrow passage, and beyond the end of the passage the
shepherd thought he saw the sunlight glimmering among
"Ah, my stray lamb," he said, "you have found your way
to new pastures, I see. I will follow you and learn
what sort of place it is."
He went boldly in, thinking that the passage would open
out into a sunny glen on the other side of the
mountain. The way was long, and for a while he trudged
carelessly along whistling a gay tune
 Then he began to sing in clear, joyous tones a little
song that he himself had composed:—
"A throstle in a linden tree
Sings tir-ra, lir-ra, lir-ra;
He sings for you, he sings for me,
And he sings tir-ra, lir-ra.
"All day I watch my lambs and sheep,
And whistle tir-ra, lir-ra;
'Tis better far to laugh than weep,
So I sing tir-ra, lir-ra.
"At home my loved ones wait for me,
While I sing tir-ra, lir-ra;
And when at eve—"
The singing stopped suddenly. The shepherd had reached
the end of the passage, and the sight which he saw
almost caused him to faint. He was standing in the door
of a broad hall, the roof of which was upheld by
columns of green marble. The walls and the floor were
inlaid with sparkling jewels, and it was the light from
these, reflected from the green columns, that the
shepherd had mistaken for sunlight among green trees.
At a marble table in the center of the hall sat
Frederick Barbarossa. His head was resting upon his
hands; his face was beaming with the light of other
days; his red beard had grown through the table and lay
in long, wavy masses upon the floor. Ranged along the
wall on either side of the king
 sat a thousand mail-clad warriors. Beside them were
their arms, glittering bright as on the day when they
set out for the Holy Land. The hand of sleep was upon
them all. They breathed softly; they dreamed of war and
victory; the smile of triumph was on their faces. Long
time had they waited there for the word that was to
lead them forth.
The coming of the shepherd, singing his joyous song,
had disturbed the king. Slowly he raised his head; he
opened his eyes; he looked around upon his sleeping
heroes. Then he cried in tones that echoed through the
mountains: "Comrades! Comrades!"
The warriors awoke and leaped to their feet; they
seized their lances and their swords; their armor
rattled like the sudden bursting of thunder when a
storm rages among the hills. A hum of joy ran through
"Do the eagles still circle above the mountain peaks?"
asked Barbarossa, raising his sword toward the
sparkling roof of the hall.
And a voice which seemed far, far away, echoed, "The
eagles still circle above the mountain peaks!"
The shadows again settled upon the face of the king. He
raised his hand to silence the awakened warriors.
"Sleep on, comrades," he said; "the hour has not yet
 With one accord they laid their weapons aside; the
light of joy faded from their faces; they sank upon the
ground; with closed eyes they slept as soundly as
The king remained awake for a little while. Then, with
a sigh, he again rested his elbows upon the marble
table. He leaned his head upon his hand. His fiery
beard trailed upon the floor; his face beamed bright as
when he was young; he slumbered, waiting for the
Strange, weird sounds were heard in the great hall. The
wind whistled through the crevices in the rocks; it
roared in the dome-shaped roof; it shrieked around the
figures of the sleeping warriors. Voices of unseen
beings were echoed back and forth, from wall to wall
and from column to column. Then soft music filled the
air and soothed the slumbering heroes, driving every
harsher sound from the enchanted hall.
During all this time the shepherd stood entranced,
without the power to move or speak. How he escaped from
the place he never knew. But when he came to himself he
was lying on the grass in the meadow where he was
accustomed to keep his flock, and his sheep were
quietly feeding around him.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics