King Alfred And The Last Loaf Of Bread
( Originally Published 1902 )
DURING the Danish invasion of Britain, the forces of King Alfred were at one time so scattered by defeat that he was compelled to seek safety in an unsettled part of the island, and, disguised as a beggar, to accept the hospitality of a poor cowherd and live for months in his little hovel. During the time they were often but poorly supplied with food, depending chiefly upon the game that the king's followers could catch, and frequently in such attempts they were unsuccessful. One day Alfred was in the hut with a " mother " who was providing for his wants, when a beggar came and asked for food. The "mother" replied that there was but one loaf remaining, and if the men should return in the evening with the ill success they had recently had there was danger that they should all starve. After a moment's hesitation, Alfred directed that half the loaf be given to the beggar, saying that the same God who could feed a multitude with a few loaves and fishes could supply the wants of his followers. Shortly after this Alfred fell asleep, and dreamed that a saint appeared to him and told him that God heard his prayers, had witnessed his act of charity and would restore him to his kingdom. As a sign of this the huntsmen would return laden that night with game. The promises of the dream found ample fulfilment. The men returned with an abundance of food. New vigor was inspired within them, and before the year was over the Danes had been overpowered and the English kingdom established.
It is a safe thing to give one-half of the last loaf of bread to the poor, trusting to a kind, heavenly Father, who has other loaves ready for his obedient children. True charity has its own reward, placing the crown of real royalty upon the brow of manhood and womanhood, and, according to the Good Book, securing through grace divine a crown of everlasting life.