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A GREAT army was marching into Switzerland. If it should
go much farther, there would be no driving it out again.
The soldiers would burn the towns, they would rob the
farmers of their grain and sheep, they would make slaves of
 The men of Switzerland knew all this. They
knew that they must fight for their homes and their lives.
And so they came from the mountains and valleys to try
what they could do to save their land. Some came with bows
and arrows, some
with scythes and pitchforks, and some with only sticks
But their foes kept in line as they marched along the road.
Every soldier was fully armed. As they
moved and kept close together, nothing could be seen of
them but their spears and shields and shin-ing armor. What
could the poor country people
do against such foes as these?
"We must break their lines," cried their leader; "for
we cannot harm them while they keep together."
The bowmen shot their arrows, but they glanced off from the
soldiers' shields. Others tried clubs and stones, but with
no better luck. The lines were still
unbroken. The soldiers moved
steadily onward; their shields lapped over
one another; their thousand spears looked like so many long
bristles in the sunlight. What cared they for sticks and
stones and huntsmen's arrows?
"If we cannot break their ranks," said the Swiss, "we have
no chance for fight, and our country will be lost!"
 Then a poor man, whose name was
Arnold Winkelried, stepped out.
"On the side of yonder mountain," said he, "I have a
happy home. There my wife and children wait for my return.
But they will not see me again, for this day I will give
my life for my country. And do you, my friends, do your
duty, and Switzerland shall be free."
With these words he ran forward. "Follow me!" he cried to his
friends. "I will break the lines, and then let every man
fight as bravely as he can."
He had nothing in his hands, neither club nor stone nor
other weapon. But he ran straight
onward to the place where the spears were thickest.
"Make way for liberty!" he cried, as he dashed right
into the lines.
A hundred spears were turned to catch him upon their
points. The soldiers forgot to stay in their places. The
lines were broken. Arnold's friends rushed bravely after
him. They fought with what-ever they had in hand. They
snatched spears and shields from their foes. They had no
thought of fear. They only thought of their homes and their
dear native land. And they won at last.
Such a battle no one ever knew before. But Switzerland was
saved, and Arnold Winkelried did not die in vain.