The KISS Printable Books Page
Charlemagne and the Charcoal-burner
from - Golden Deeds:
Stories from History Retold for Little Folk
London: Blackie and Son Limited
Directions: Your teacher may ask you to write your own version of this story, in class, in as much detail as you can, without looking at the text. You should therefore read the story more than once. You can make a list of the names of people and places. You can use that list when you write your version of the story.

     Once the noble Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was riding across a lonely moor with some of his courtiers, when they were overtaken by a terrific storm. It became so dark that the party lost sight of one another, and the King found himself alone in the tempest of wind and rain. As he struggled on he met a poor man leading a horse with two great baskets upon its back.
     “What is your name, friend?” enquired Charlemagne.
     “I am Ralph, the charcoal-burner,” replied the man.
     “Can you tell me where I can find shelter for my horse and myself?” asked the King.
     “If you care to come with me to my cottage you will be very welcome,” answered Ralph.
     The King was only too glad to accompany the man to his house in the forest. When they reached the door the charcoal-burner called to his wife to hasten to let them in. Ralph stood aside for his companion to pass in first, but Charlemagne hung back behind. Seeing this the man took him by the neck and pushed him in the house, saying, “It is only right that my guest should enter first.”
     When supper was ready the charcoal-burner bade King Charlemagne go to the table before him. But again His Majesty held back. Then Ralph gave his visitor such a sound box on the ear that he staggered and fell.
     “Why will you not do as I bid you?” he cried angrily.
     “These are strange doings indeed,” said the King to himself, as he rose from the ground.
     “Now tell me who you are, and where you live?” said the peasant to his royal guest.
     “My name is Uzmond, and I live at Court, where I have an office with the Queen,” replied Charlemagne.
     Early the next morning, Charlemagne before starting offered to pay Ralph for his food and lodging, but the man refused to take payment for sheltering one who belonged to the Court of the noble King of France.
     “So be it,” answered His Majesty. “But if you will not let me pay you, come to the Court with a load of coals and I will see that you sell your goods.”
     “That will I do,” answered Ralph.
     The following day Ralph loaded his mare with two large baskets of coal and set off to Court. When he arrived there he asked for one Uzmond, but no one knew of such a person. The King had given orders that he should be admitted into the Palace, and at length he came to a splendid hall, where Charlemagne sat at dinner with his nobles. The poor charcoal-burner at once pointed at His Majesty, exclaiming, “See, there sits Uzmond, but truly he must be a greater man than he said!”
     At this His Majesty burst into a loud laugh, and rising from his seat he told the whole company how he had fared at Ralph’s cottage. The lords all laughed heartily, but some of them would have had Ralph punished for having boxed the King’s ears.
     “Nay,” said Charlemagne, “Heaven forbid I should harm him. He is an honest man who can strike a hard blow, and I shall make him a knight instead.”