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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Crockett And Bowie

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Crockett, with a shout of triumph, flung down his torch.

"Now, boys," he cried. "Here's the end of them jacals. Nothin' on earth can put out that fire, but if we don't make a foot race back to the Alamo the end of us will be here, too, in a minute."

The little band wheeled for its homeward rush. Ned heard a great shout of rage from the Mexicans, and then the hissing and singing of shells and cannon balls over his head. He saw Mexicans running across the plain to cut them off, but his comrades and he had reloaded their rifles, and as they ran they sent a shower of bullets that drove back their foe.

Ned's heart was pumping frightfully, and myriads of black specks danced before his eyes, but he remembered afterward that he calculated how far they were from the Alamo, and how far the Mexicans were from them. A number of his comrades had been wounded, but nobody had fallen and they still raced in a close group for the gate, which seemed to recede as they rushed on.

"A few more steps, Ned," cried Crockett, "an' we're in! Ah, there go our friends!"

The Texan cannon over their heads now fired into the pursuing Mexican masses, and the sharpshooters on the walls also poured in a deadly hail. The Mexicans recoiled once more and then Crockett's party made good the gate.

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"All here!" cried Crockett, as those inside held up torches. He ran over the list rapidly himself and counted them all, but his face fell when he saw his young friend the Bee-Hunter stagger. Crockett caught him in his arms and bore him into the hospital. He and Ned watched by his side until he died, which was very soon. Before he became unconscious he murmured some lines from an old Scotch poem:

"But hame came the saddle, all bluidy to see. And hame came the steed, but never hame came he."

They buried him that night beside the other two, and Ned was more solemn than ever when he sought his usual place in the hospital by the wall. It had been a day of victory for the Texans, but the omens, nevertheless, seemed to him to be bad.

The next day he saw the Mexicans spreading further and further about the Alamo, and they were in such strong force that the Texans could not now afford to go out and attack any of these bands. A light cold rain fell, and as he was not on duty he went back to the hospital, where he sat in silence.

He was deeply depressed and the thunder of the Mexican cannon beat upon his ears like the voice of doom. He felt a strange annoyance at the reports of the guns. His nerves jumped, and he became angry with himself at what he considered a childish weakness.

Now, and for the first time, he felt despair. He borrowed a pencil and a sheet of paper torn from an old memorandum book and made his will. His possessions were singularly few, and the most valuable at hand was his fine long-barreled rifle, which he left to his faithful friend, Obed White. He bequeathed his pistol and knife to the Panther, and his clothes to Will Allen. He was compelled to smile at himself when he had finished his page of writing. Was it likely that his friends would ever find this paper, or, if finding it, was it likely that any one of them could ever obtain his inheritance? But it was a relief to his feelings and, folding the paper, he put it in the inside pocket of his hunting shirt.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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