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A LONG DAY'S FIGHTING
 XENOPHON and his rear-guard of hoplites had undertaken the escort of the
transport animals, who had to be brought up to the pass by the second, more
circuitous road, because the first was too steep for them. The animals were
placed in the centre of the line, half the troops marching in front of them,
and half behind.
The rear had not proceeded far when they came in sight of a peak overlooking
the road, and discovered that it was occupied by the enemy. The volunteers
had indeed thought that they had freed the road by driving the enemy from
their camp-fires on the previous evening, but this proved not to be the
Until the Carduchians could be ousted from the height, it would not be safe
for either troops or cattle to pass beneath, and Xenophon at once told off
some of his men for this service, with instructions to make the attack in
such a manner as to give the Carduchians ample opportunity for running away.
He did not want them to be forced to make a desperate stand, for he was
anxious not to be delayed by having to stop and fight.
Accordingly a detachment of hoplites, headed by Xenophon himself, set out to
climb the hill. As they did
so, they were exposed the whole time to a constant volley of arrows and
stones, discharged at them by the Carduchians from above, but no sooner had
they reached the top than the Carduchians turned and fled, leaving the road
below the peak free.
A new difficulty however now presented itself, for from this peak a second
came into sight, occupied just in the same manner. This would have to be
fought for as the first had been, and moreover it would be necessary to
leave a guard on the first peak to prevent the enemy from returning to it.
For the Carduchians were like a swarm of flies, who can easily be driven
away from the place where they have settled, but who return just as quickly,
the moment they are left alone again. And Xenophon knew that he could not
hope to get his line of men and horses past the peak of which be had just
taken possession, before the Carduchians would have time to get back to it,
for the road was so narrow that they were obliged to go very slowly.
Accordingly he left three captains, with the men serving under them, to
guard the first peak, whilst he himself went forward "towards the second.
This was captured with the same toil and the same success as the first, but
now a third came into view which had to be taken in like manner. Xenophon
accordingly set forward to attack it, but in this case the task was easier
than before, for the enemy abandoned the peak before the Hellenes arrived at
it, so that it could be climbed without hindrance or danger.
So far all had gone well, but now from the rear came disastrous news. The
men left in charge of the first peak had been surprised and defeated by the
who had killed almost all of them, including two out of the three captains.
A few only had saved their lives by making a desperate leap from the rocks
into the road below.
There was nothing for it but to reconquer the peak which they had thought
already secured,—a terrible addition to the work of a day already
overcrowded with toils and risks which cost many a brave soldier his life.
Xenophon himself was at one time in great peril. In climbing one of the
mountains, his shield-bearer became so frightened at the shower of stones
and arrows pouring down from above, that he turned and fled, taking the
shield with him. Xenophon was thus left unprotected, but happily one of the
soldiers saw his danger, and hastening to his side, held his own shield so
as to cover both.
At last however the long march was over, and before nightfall, the hoplites
had rejoined their comrades at the pass, from whence they soon reached some
well-to-do mountain villages where there was food in abundance, and where
they could shelter themselves in comfortable huts. Their loss that day had
been very severe, and unhappily it had been impossible to carry off the
To repair such a misfortune, no sacrifice could be too great, and
accordingly Cheirisophus and Xenophon sent a herald to the Carduchians,
offering to restore the man who had acted as their guide, if the
Carduchians, on their part, would give up the bodies of the fallen Hellenes.
To this they agreed, and the Hellenes had the satisfaction of burying their
comrades with the customary rites.
It was however at no small cost that they had effected this exchange, for by
so doing they had lost the services of the only man who could pilot them
through this wild and unknown land. They were now without a guide, and from
the nature of the country, no extensive view could anywhere be gained. They
could but direct their course by the sun and stars, and they decided to
continue marching northwards towards the source of the Tigris.
The next three days were spent in much the same manner as the last, the
Carduchians disputing every step of their march, and constantly assailing
them with shots and stones hurled from a higher level. But at last, to their
infinite joy, they came to the edge of the Carduchian country, and could
look down upon the broad plains of Armenia stretched out before them.
They had only been seven days, in all, in the land of the Carduchians, and
yet, during that short time they had suffered so severely, that all their
previous encounters, both with the Great King and with Tissaphernes, seemed
in comparison but child's play.