About a hundred years ago there lived a great gen-er-al whose name was Na-po´le-on Bo´na-parte. He was the leader of the French army; and France was at war with nearly all the countries around. He wanted very much to take his soldiers into It-a-ly; but between France and Italy there are high mountains called the Alps, the tops of which are covered with snow.
"Is it pos-si-ble to cross the Alps?" said Na-po-le-on.
The men who had been sent to look at the passes over the mountains shook their heads. Then one of them said, "It may be possible, but"--
"Let me hear no more," said Napoleon. "Forward to Italy!"
People laughed at the thought of an army of sixty thousand men crossing the Alps where there was no road. But Napoleon waited only to see that everything was in good order, and then he gave the order to march.
The long line of soldiers and horses and cannon stretched for twenty miles. When they came to a steep place where there seemed to be no way to go farther, the trum-pets sounded "Charge!" Then every man did his best, and the whole army moved right onward.
Soon they were safe over the Alps. In four days they were marching on the plains of Italy.
"The man who has made up his mind to win," said Napoleon, "will never say 'Im-pos-si-ble.'"
Return to the James Baldwin library , or . . . Read the next short story; Julius Caesar