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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Before The Dictator

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Ned recalled afterward that he did not say anything about Roylston's relieving force. What he thought of then was the deep feeling in Crockett's words.

"I'm coming back," he said, "and I hope to hunt buffalo with you over the plains of a free Texas."

"Go! go! Hurry, Ned!" said Crockett.

"Good-by," said Ned, and he dropped lightly to the ground.

He was outside the Alamo after eleven days inside, that seemed in the retrospect almost as many months. He flattened himself against the wall, and stood there for a minute or two, looking and listening. He thought he might hear Crockett again inside, but evidently the Tennesseean had gone back at once. In front of him was only the darkness, pierced by a single light off toward the west.

Ned hesitated. It was hard for him to leave the Alamo and the friends who had been knitted to him by so many common dangers, yet his errand was one of high importance--it might save them all--and he must do it. Strengthening his resolution he started across an open space, walking lightly. As Crockett had truly said, with his perfect knowledge of the language he might pass for a Mexican. He had done so before, and he did not doubt his ability to do so again.

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He resolved to assume the character of a Mexican scout, looking into the secrets of the Alamo, and going back to report to Santa Anna. As he advanced he heard voices and saw earthworks from which the muzzles of four cannon protruded. Behind the earthwork was a small fire, and he knew that men would be sitting about it. He turned aside, not wishing to come too much into the light, but a soldier near the earthwork hailed him, and Ned, according to his plan, replied briefly that he was on his way to General Santa Anna in San Antonio.

But the man was talkative.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"Pedro Miguel Alvarado," replied Ned on the spur of the moment.

"Well, friend, it is a noble name, that of Alvarado."

"But it is not a noble who bears it. Though a descendant of the great Alvarado, who fought by the side of the glorious and mighty conquistador, Hernando Cortez, I am but a poor peasant offering my life daily for bread in the army of General Santa Anna."

The man laughed.

"You are as well off as I am," he said. "But what of the wicked Texans? Are they yet ready to surrender their throats to our knives? The dogs hold us over long. It is said that they number scarce two hundred within the mission. Truly they fight hard, and well they may, knowing that death only is at the end."

Ned shuddered. The man seemed to take it all so lightly. But he replied in a firm voice:

"I learned little of them save that they still fight. I took care not to put myself before the muzzle of any of their rifles."

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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