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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

For Freedom's Sake

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Evidently the horses had found considerable grass through the night, as they were fresh and strong, and the miles fell fast behind them. At the gait at which they were going they would reach the cabin that night. Meanwhile they made plans. The little force would divide and messengers would go to San Antonio, Harrisburg and other points, with the news that Santa Anna was advancing with an immense force.

And every one of the three knew that the need was great. They knew how divided counsels had scattered the little Texan army. At San Antonio, the most important point of all, the town that they had triumphantly taken from a much greater force of Mexicans, there were practically no men, and that undoubtedly was Santa Anna's destination. Unconsciously they began to urge their horses to great and yet greater speed, until the Panther recalled them to prudence.

"Slower, boys! slower!" he said. "We mustn't run our horses out at the start."

"And there's a second reason for pulling down," said Ned, "since there's somebody else on the plain."

His uncommon eyesight had already detected before the others the strange presence. He pointed toward the East.

"Do you see that black speck there, where the sky touches the ground?" he said. "If you'll watch it you'll see that it's moving. And look! There's another! and another! and another!"

The Panther and Obed now saw the black specks also. The three stopped on the crest of a swell and watched them attentively.

"One! two! three! four! five! six! seven! eight! nine! ten! eleven! twelve! thirteen!" counted the far-sighted boy.

"An' them thirteen specks are thirteen men on horseback," continued the Panther, "an' now I wonder who in the name of the great horn spoon they are!"

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"Suppose we see," said Obed. "All things are revealed to him who looks--at least most of the time. It is true that they are more than four to our one, but our horses are swift, and we can get away."

"That's right," said the Panther. "Still, we oughtn't to take the risk unless everybody is willin'. What do you say, Ned?"

"I reply 'yes,' of course," said the boy, "especially as I've an idea that those are not Mexicans. They look too big and tall, and they sit too straight up in their saddles for Mexicans."

"Them ideas of yours are ketchin'," said the Panther. "Them fellers may be Mexicans, but they don't look like Mexicans, they don't act like Mexicans, an' they ain't Mexicans."

"Take out what isn't, and you have left what is," said Obed.

"We'll soon see," said Ned.

A few minutes more and there could be no further doubt that the thirteen were Texans or Americans. One rode a little ahead of the others, who came on in an even line. They were mounted on large horses, but the man in front held Ned's attention.

The leader was tall and thin, but evidently muscular and powerful. His hair was straight and black like an Indian's. His features were angular and tanned by the winds of many years. His body was clothed completely in buckskin, and a raccoon skin cap was on his head. Across his shoulder lay a rifle with a barrel of unusual length.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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