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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Fannin's Camp

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Ned lay all night in the thicket, wrapped in the blankets, and breathing heavily. Once or twice he half awoke, and remembered things dimly, but these periods were very brief and he sank back into stupor. When he awoke to stay awake the day was far advanced, and he felt an overwhelming lassitude. He slowly unwound himself from his blankets and looked at his hand. It was uncommonly white, and it seemed to him to be as weak as that of a child.

He crept out of the thicket and rose to his feet. He was attacked by dizziness and clutched a bush for support. His head still ached, though not with the violence of the night before, but he was conscious that he had become a very weak and poor specimen of the human being. Everything seemed very far away, impossible to be reached.

He gathered strength enough to roll up his blankets and shoulder his rifle. Then he looked about a little. There was the same alternation of woods and prairie, devoid of any human being. He did not expect to see any Texans, unless, by chance, Fannin came marching that way, but a detachment of Mexican lancers might stumble upon him at any moment. The thought, however, caused him no alarm. He felt so much weakness and depression that the possibility of capture or death could not add to it.

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Young Fulton was not hungry,--the chill and following fever had taken his appetite away so thoroughly,--but he felt that he must eat. He found some early berries in the thickets and they restored his strength a little, but the fare was so thin and unsubstantial that he decided to look for game. He could never reach Fannin or anybody else in his present reduced condition.

He saw a line of oaks, which he knew indicated the presence of a water-course, probably one of the shallow creeks, so numerous in Eastern Texas, and he walked toward it, still dizzy and his footsteps dragging. His head was yet aching, and the sun, which was now out in full brightness, made it worse, but he persisted, and, after an interminable time, he reached the shade of the oaks, which, as he surmised, lined both sides of a creek.

He drank of the water, rested a while, and then began a search of the oaks. He was looking for squirrels, which he knew abounded in these trees, and, after much slow and painful walking, he shot a fine fat one among the boughs. Then followed the yet more mighty task of kindling a fire with sticks and tinder, but just when he was completely exhausted, and felt that he must fail, the spark leaped up, set fire to the white ash that he had scraped with his knife, and in a minute later a good fire was blazing.

He cooked the tenderest parts of the squirrel and ate, still forcing his appetite. Then he carefully put out the fire and went a mile further up the creek. He felt stronger, but he knew that he was not yet in any condition for a long journey. He was most intent now upon guarding against a return of the chill. It was not the right time for one to be ill. Again he sought a place in a thicket, like an animal going to its den, and, wrapping himself tightly in the blankets, lay down.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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