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0105_001E The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

In The Alamo

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"Santa Anna's army, five thousand strong, is not two miles away!" he said. "I tell you because I have seen it!"

"Good God!" cried Bowie. "It's the boy, Ned Fulton. I know him well. What he says must be truth."

"It is every word truth!" croaked Ned. "I was pursued by their vanguard! My horse swam the river with me! Up! Up! for Texas!"

Then he fainted dead away. Bowie seized him in his powerful arms and carried him into one of the houses occupied by the Texans, where men stripped him of his wet clothing and gave him restoratives. But Bowie himself hurried out into the Main Plaza. He had the most unlimited confidence in Ned's word and so had Crockett. They and Travis at once began to arrange the little garrison for defence.

Many of the Texans even yet would not believe. So great had been their confidence that they had sent out no scouting parties. Only a day or two before they had been enjoying themselves at a great dance. The boy who had come with the news that Santa Anna was at hand must be distraught. Certainly he had looked like a maniac.

A loud cry suddenly came from the roof of the church of San Fernando. Two sentinels posted there had seen the edge of a great army appear upon the plain and then spread rapidly over it. Santa Anna's army had come. The mad boy was right. Two horsemen sent out to reconnoiter had to race back for their lives. The flooded stream was now subsiding and only the depth of the water in the night had kept the Mexicans from taking cannon across and attacking.

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Ned's faint was short. He remembered putting on clothing, securing a rifle and ammunition, and then he ran out into the square. From many windows he saw the triumphant faces of Mexicans looking out, but he paid no attention to them. He thought alone of the Texans, who were now displaying the greatest energy. In the face of the imminent and deadly peril Travis, Crockett, Bowie and the others were cool and were acting with rapidity. The order was swiftly given to cross to the Alamo, the old mission built like a fortress, and the Texans were gathering in a body. Ned saw a young lieutenant named Dickinson catch up his wife and child on a horse, and join the group of men. All the Texans had their long rifles, and there were also cannon.

As Ned took his place with the others a kindly hand fell upon his shoulder and a voice spoke in his ear.

"I was going to send for you, Ned," said Bowie, "but you've come. Perhaps it would have been better for you, though, if you had been left in San Antonio."

"Oh, no, Mr. Bowie!" cried Ned. "Don't say that. We can beat off any number of Mexicans!"

Bowie said nothing more. Much of Ned's courage and spirit returned, but he saw how pitifully small their numbers were. The little band that defiled across the plain toward the Alamo numbered less than one hundred and fifty men, and many of them were without experience.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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