For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey is part of HackerNoon Books Series . You can jump to any chapter in this book here. The Three Cakes
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Henry, who was away from his home at a boarding school.
He was a very special kind of boy, forever at his book, and he happened once to get to the very tip top of his class. His mother was told of it, and when it came morning, she got up early and went to speak with the cook as follows:
“Cook, you are to make a cake for Henry, who has been very good at school.”
“With all my heart,” said the cook, and she made a cake. It was as big as—let me see—as big as the moon. It was stuffed with nuts, and raisins, and figs, and candied fruit peel, and over it all was an icing of sugar, thick, and smooth, and very white. And no sooner was the cake home from the baking than the cook put on her bonnet and carried it to the school.
When Henry first saw it, he jumped up and down. He was not patient enough to wait for a knife, but he fell upon the cake tooth and nail. He ate and ate until school began, and after school was over he ate again with his might and main. At night he ate until bedtime, and he put the cake under his bolster when he went to bed and he waked and waked a dozen times that he might take a bite.
But the next day when the dinner bell rang, Henry was not hungry, and was vexed to see how heartily the other children ate. His friends asked him if he would not play at cricket, tan, or kits. Ah! Henry could not; so they played without him, and Henry could scarcely stand upon his legs. He went and sat down in a corner, and the head master sent for the apothecary to come with all his phials of physic. After some days Henry was well again, but his mother said that she would never let him have another cake.
Now there was another scholar in the same school, whose name was Francis. He had written his mother a very pretty letter without one misspelled word or blot, and so his mother, like the mother of Henry, sent him a great cake.
Francis decided that he would not be so unwise as to follow the example of Henry, so he took the cake, which was so heavy that he could hardly lift it, and he watched to see that no one was looking, and he slipped up to his chamber and put the cake in his box under lock and key. Every day at play time he used to slip away from his companions, go upstairs on tiptoe, and cut off a tolerable slice of his cake which he would eat by himself. For a whole week did he keep this up, but alas—the cake was so exceedingly large! At last the cake grew dry, and quickly after it became moldy. Finally the maggots got into it, and Francis, with great reluctance, was obliged to throw it away.
There was a third little gentleman who went to the same school as Henry and Francis, and his name was Gratian. One day his mother, whom he loved very dearly, sent him a cake because she also loved him. No sooner had it arrived than Gratian called his friends all about him, and said:
“Come! Look at what my mother has sent me. You must, each one, have a piece.” So the children all got around the cake as bees resort to a flower, just blown, and Gratian divided the cake with a knife into as many pieces as he had invited boys, with one piece over, for himself. His own piece he said he would eat the next day, and he began playing games with the boys.
But a very short time had passed, as they were playing, when a poor man who was carrying a fiddle came into the school yard. He had a very long, gray beard, and he was guided by a little dog who went before him, for the old man was blind.
The children noticed how dexterous was the little dog in leading, and how he shook a bell which hung underneath his collar, as if to say:
“Do not throw down or run against my master!”
When the two had come into the yard, the old man sat down upon a stone, and said:
“My dear little gentlemen, I will play you all the pretty tunes that I know, if you will give me leave.”
The children wished for nothing half so much as to hear the music, so the old man put his violin in tune and then played over jigs and tunes that had been new in former times.
But Gratian, who was standing close to him, noticed that while he played his jolliest airs, a tear would often roll down his cheeks. And Gratian asked him why he wept.
“Because,” said the old man, “I am hungry. I have not any one in the world to feed me, or my faithful dog.”
“Here, good man, here is some cake for you.”
Then Gratian put the cake into the old man’s hands and he, laying down his fiddle, wiped his eyes and began to eat. At every piece he put into his mouth he gave a bit to his faithful little dog, who ate from his hand; and Gratian, standing by, had as much pleasure as if he had eaten the cake himself.
From the French of Monsieur Berquin’s L’Ami des Enfants—1784
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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin. 2018. For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/58107/58107-h/58107-h.htm#Page_35
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