James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable if unnameable tensions. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).

The Brave Three Hundred

All Greece was in danger. A mighty army, led by the great King of Persia, had come from the east. It was marching along the seashore, and in a few days would be in Greece. The great king had sent mes-sen-gers into every city and state, bidding them give him water and earth in token that the land and the sea were his. But they said,-- "No: we will be free." And so there was a great stir through-out all the land. The men armed themselves, and made haste to go out and drive back their foe; and the women staid at home, weeping and waiting, and trembling with fear.

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Socrates and his House

There once lived in Greece a very wise man whose name was Soc´ra-tes. Young men from all parts of the land went to him to learn wisdom from him; and he said so many pleasant things, and said them in so delightful a way, that no one ever grew tired of listening to him. One summer he built himself a house, but it was so small that his neighbors wondered how he could be content with it.

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Horatius at the Bridge

Once there was a war between the Roman people and the E-trus´cans who lived in the towns on the other side of the Ti-ber River. Por´se-na, the King of the E-trus-cans, raised a great army, and marched toward Rome. The city had never been in so great danger. The Romans did not have very many fighting men at that time, and they knew that they were not strong enough to meet the Etruscans in open battle. So they kept themselves inside of their walls, and set guards to watch the roads.

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The Ungrateful Guest

Among the soldiers of King Philip there was a poor man who had done some brave deeds. He had pleased the king in more ways than one, and so the king put a good deal of trust in him. One day this soldier was on board of a ship at sea when a great storm came up. The winds drove the ship upon the rocks, and it was wrecked. The soldier was cast half-drowned upon the shore; and he would have died there, had it not been for the kind care of a farmer who lived close by.

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The Kingdoms

There was once a king of Prussia whose name was Frederick William. On a fine morning in June he went out alone to walk in the green woods. He was tired of the noise of the city, and he was glad to get away from it. So, as he walked among the trees, he often stopped to listen to the singing birds, or to look at the wild flowers that grew on every side. Now and then he stooped to pluck a violet, or a primrose, or a yellow but-ter-cup. Soon his hands were full of pretty blossoms.

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The Black Douglas

In Scotland, in the time of King Robert Bruce, there lived a brave man whose name was Doug-las. His hair and beard were black and long, and his face was tanned and dark; and for this reason people nicknamed him the Black Douglas. He was a good friend of the king, and one of his strongest helpers. In the war with the English, who were trying to drive Bruce from Scotland, the Black Douglas did many brave deeds; and the English people became very much afraid of him. By and by the fear of him spread all through the land.

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The Barmecide Feast

There was once a rich old man who was called the Bar-me-cide. He lived in a beautiful palace in the midst of flowery gardens. He had every-thing that heart could wish. In the same land there was a poor man whose name was Schac-a-bac. His clothing was rags, and his food was the scraps which other people had thrown away. But he had a light heart, and was as happy as a king. Once when Schac-a-bac had not had anything to eat for a long time, he thought that he would go and ask the Bar-me-cide to help him.

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A Story of Robin Hood

In the rude days of King Rich-ard and King John there were many great woods in England. The most famous of these was Sher-wood forest, where the king often went to hunt deer. In this forest there lived a band of daring men called out-laws. They had done something that was against the laws of the land, and had been forced to hide themselves in the woods to save their lives. There they spent their time in roaming about among the trees, in hunting the king's deer, and in robbing rich trav-el-ers that came that way.

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