| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
HANNIBAL, THE HERO OF CARTHAGE
I. THE VOW
 IT is a great day in Carthage. The shops and warehouses
are all closed. The streets are full of people as on a
holiday. The principal houses, as well as
the ships in the harbor, are gay with bright-colored
banners. The quays by the waterside are crowded with
soldiers waiting their turn to embark on the war
vessels which lie moored along the dock. Everywhere
there are hurrying feet and busy hands and anxious,
hopeful faces. For to-day Hamilcar, the greatest
general of Carthage, is to sail with his army for
Spain, and the whole city is celebrating the event.
The temples are crowded with worshipers. Officers and
tradesmen are there to implore gods to bless the voyage
of Hamilcar. Women and children are there to pray for
the protection of their husbands or fathers who are
going out to fight for the glory of Carthage. All bring
gifts for the stern god, and the altars are smoking
with burnt offerings.
It is noon. A grand procession passes down
 the street and enters the chief temple of Baal.
Hamilcar himself is there, and with him are the
officers of state and the most famous men of the city.
They have come, according to the custom of the time, to
make their due offerings to the gods. It is thus that
they pray for the success of their army in Spain.
By the side of the general is his little son Hannibal,
now nine years of age. Young though he is, he is
already a man in thought and ambition. It is his wish
to be a great warrior like his father. Every day he has
begged to be allowed to go with the army to Spain.
"I am not a child, father; for I reach almost up to
your shoulder. I will be strong and brave. I will fight
in the front ranks. No one shall call me weak or
cowardly. I will serve you well if I may go."
But the father firmly refuses.
"Wait yet a few years, my son. The time is coming when
we shall have a much greater war; for soon Carthage
must destroy Rome or be destroyed by her. Be patient,
Hannibal. Stay at home yet a while; nurse your hatred
of the Romans; study the art of war. You shall at
length lead our armies to greater victories than mine
shall be in Spain."
 And now father and son walk side by side down the long
dim aisle of the temple of Baal. Through the smoke and
the dark shadows of the overhanging arches, the
grim-faced idols look down upon the pair. The priests
stand in their places. Drums are beaten. Discordant
music fills the air.
"Place your hand on the altar, Hannibal."
The boy obeys.
The father pours out costly incense as an offering to
"Now make your vow, my son."
And Hannibal, nothing daunted, repeats before Baal and
the long-robed priests the vow he has been taught to
make. He vows that he will cherish undying hatred for
the Romans, that day and night he will study to do them
harm, and that he will never pause nor give up until
their proud city has been laid in ashes.
The priests chant their approval. The smoke of the
incense rises. The bugles sound, the drums are beaten,
the cymbals clash. The grand procession moves slowly
out of the temple; it makes its way through crowds of
shouting people to the busy quay. There the farewells
are spoken. The general and his officers embark in the
vessel that has been waiting for them. There is much
shouting; there is a great waving of banners. The long
 are dipped into the water, and the ship begins its
The boy Hannibal returns to his father's house to nurse
his hatred of Rome.
II. CROSSING THE ALPS
Five, ten, fifteen years passed by, and then the words
of Hamilcar came true. A great war was begun between
Rome and Carthage. It was the second time that these
mighty nations had engaged in a fierce struggle for the
Hamilcar was dead; and Hannibal, twenty-four years old,
had taken his place as leader of the armies of
Carthage. "The day that I have been waiting for has
come at last," he said.
He was ready for the war. Before the Romans could
collect an army he was on the march. With many
thousands of fighting men and a great number of horses
and elephants, he moved northward through Spain. He
marched into southern France which was then called
Gaul. The Romans hastily sent an army against him, but
they could do nothing to hinder his progress. He
crossed the great river Rhone. The Alps mountains,
lofty and rugged, stood like an impassable wall before
In Italy, far beyond these mountains, was the city
 he had set out to conquer and destroy. But how should
he lead his army thither? There were but two ways by
which to go, and both these seemed impossible.
The shorter way was by sea. But where were the ships to
carry so great a host with wagons and baggage and the
necessaries of war? Plainly they were not to be had.
The other way was over the Alps. But how could an army
with horses and elephants and provisions climb those
rugged heights? No one but Hannibal would have thought
"Beyond these snow-capped mountains lies Rome!" he
cried, and gave the word to press forward.
There is a narrow pass through the Alps, steep and
dangerous even for the mountaineers who live there.
Along this pass Hannibal led his army, for other way
there was none.
Hannibal crossing the Alps
Rough and narrow was the road. In places it wound
around the foot of some towering rock; in places it
skirted the edge of some bottomless chasm; in places
there seemed to be scarcely; room for a man to pass,
and yet with great labor and pains a way was made for
the horses and elephants.
From the cliffs above the pathway, the people
 who lived among the mountains hurled great stones upon
the heads of the soldiers.
Hundreds of men and animals perished, some by falling
into chasms, some by being struck with the stones, and
some from weariness and cold. And yet Hannibal pressed
At last the fearful upward march was ended. The army
had passed the summit of the mighty mountain wall.
Looking down from the heights, the weary men could see
the green forests and fields of Italy spread out like a
map below them.
"It is there that Rome lies!" cried Hannibal.
But the Roman armies were waiting for him below. Many a
hard battle did he fight, vainly trying to reach the
city which he had set out to destroy. In the end his
army was beaten, and he was forced to escape from Italy
as best he could, taking only a small remnant of his
men with him.
Rome and not Carthage was to be the mistress of the
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