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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

In Another Trap

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"What do you want?" repeated Ned.

"We want the church, yourself and all the other bandits who are within it."

Ned's face flushed at Urrea's contemptuous words and manner, and his heart hardened into a yet deeper hatred of the Mexicans. But he controlled his voice and replied evenly.

"And if we should surrender, what then?"

"The mercy of the illustrious General Santa Anna, whatever it may be."

"I saw his mercy at the Alamo," replied Ned, "and we want none of it. Nor would we surrender, even if we could trust your most illustrious General Santa Anna."

"Then take your fate," said Urrea. "Since you were at the Alamo you know what befell the defenders there, and this place, mostly in ruins, is not nearly so strong. Adios!"

"Adios!" said Ned, speaking in a firm tone. But he felt that there was truth in Urrea's words. Little was left of the mission but its strong walls. Nevertheless, they might hold them.

"What did he say?" asked King.

"He demanded our surrender."

"On what terms?"

"Whatever Santa Anna might decree, and if you had seen the red flag of no quarter waving in sight of the Alamo you would know his decree."

"And your reply?"

"I told him that we meant to hold the place."

"Good enough," said King. "Now we will go back to business. I wish that we had more ammunition."

"Fannin's men may bring plenty," said Ned. "And now, if you don't mind, Captain King, I'm going to sleep down there at the foot of the wall, and to-night I'll join the guard."

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"Do as you wish," said King, "you know more about Texas and these Mexicans than any of us."

"I'd suggest a very thorough watch when night comes. Wake me up about midnight, won't you?"

Ned lay down in the place that he had chosen. It was only the middle of the afternoon, but he had become so inured to hardship that he slept quickly. Several shots were fired before twilight came, but they did not awaken him. At midnight King, according to his request, took him by the shoulder and he stood up.

"Nothing of importance has happened," said King.

"You can see the camp fires of the Mexicans in the wood, but as far as we can tell they are not making any movement."

"Probably they are content to wait for the main force," said Ned.

"Looks like it," said King.

"If you have no objection, Captain," said Ned, "I think I'll go outside and scout about a little."

"Good idea, I think," said King.

They opened the door a moment and Ned slipped forth. The night was quite dark and, with the experience of border work that he was rapidly acquiring, he had little fear of being caught by the Mexicans. He kept his eye on the light burning in the wood and curved in a half circle to the right. The few houses that made up the village were all dark, but his business was with none of them. He intended to see, if he could, whether the main Mexican force was approaching. If it should prove to be at hand with the heavy cannon there would be no possible chance of holding the mission, and they must get away.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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