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|The Texan Scouts||Joseph A. Altsheler|
Before The Dictator
|Page 4 of 12||
The Mexican laughed again.
"A lad of wisdom, you," he said. "They are demons with their rifles. When the great assault is made, many a good man will speed to his long home before the Alamo is taken."
So, they had already decided upon the assault. The premonition within the Alamo was not wrong. It occurred to Ned that he might learn more, and he paused.
"Has it been finally settled?" he asked. "We attack about three days from now, do we not?"
"Earlier than that," replied the Mexican. "I know that the time has been chosen, and I think it is to-morrow morning."
Ned's heart beat heavily. To-morrow morning! Even if he got through, how could he ever bring Roylston and the relief force in time?
"I thank you," he said, "but I must hurry with my report."
"Adios, Señor," said the man politely, and Ned repeated his "Adios" in the same tone. Then he hurried forward, continually turning in toward the east, hoping to find a passage where the Mexican line was thinnest. But the circle of the invaders was complete, and he saw that he must rely upon his impersonation of a Mexican to take him through.
He was in a fever of haste, knowing now that the great assault was to come so soon, and he made for a point between two smoldering camp fires fifty or sixty yards apart. Boldness only would now avail, and with the brim of his sombrero pulled well down over his face he walked confidently forward, coming fully within the light of the fire on his left.
A number of Mexican soldiers were asleep around the fire, but at least a half dozen men were awake. They called to Ned as he passed and he responded readily, but Fortune, which had been so kind to him for a long time, all at once turned her back upon him. When he spoke, a man in officer's uniform who had been sitting by the fire rose quickly.
"Your name?" he cried.
"Pedro Miguel Alvarado," replied Ned instantly. At the same moment he recognized Urrea.
"It is not so!" cried Urrea. "You are one of the Texans, young Fulton. I know your voice. Upon him, men! Seize him!"
His action and the leap of the Mexicans were so sudden that Ned did not have time to aim his rifle. But he struck one a short-arm blow with the butt of it that sent him down with a broken head, and he snatched at his pistol as three or four others threw themselves upon him. Ned was uncommonly strong and agile, and he threw off two of the men, but the others pressed him to the ground, until, at Urrea's command, his arms were bound and he was allowed to rise.
Ned was in despair, not so much for himself but because there was no longer a chance that he could get through to Roylston. It was a deep mortification, moreover, to be taken by Urrea. But he faced the Mexican with an appearance of calmness.
"Well," he said, "I am your prisoner."
"You are," said Urrea, "and you might have passed, if I had not known your voice. But I remind you that you come from the Alamo. You see our flag, and you know its meaning."
The black eyes of the Mexican regarded Ned malignantly. The boy knew that the soul of Urrea was full of wicked triumph. The officer could shoot him down at that moment, and be entirely within orders. But Ned recalled the words of Roylston. The merchant had told him to use his name if he should ever fall again into the hands of Santa Anna.
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|The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler
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