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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

In The Alamo

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They were not far upon the plain when Ned saw a great figure coming toward him. It was Old Jack, who had been forgotten in the haste and excitement. The saddle was still on his back and his bridle trailed on the ground. Ned met him and patted his faithful head. Already he had taken his resolution. There would be no place for Old Jack in the Alamo, but this good friend of his should not fall into the hands of the Mexicans.

He slipped off saddle and bridle, struck him smartly on the shoulder and exclaimed:

"Good-by, Old Jack, good-by! Keep away from our enemies and wait for me."

The horse looked a moment at his master, and, to Ned's excited eyes, it seemed for a moment that he wished to speak. Old Jack had never before been dismissed in this manner. Ned struck him again and yet more sharply.

"Go, old friend!" he cried.

The good horse trotted away across the plain. Once he looked back as if in reproach, but as Ned did not call him he kept on and disappeared over a swell. It was to Ned like the passing of a friend, but he knew that Old Jack would not allow the Mexicans to take him. He would fight with both teeth and hoofs against any such ignominious capture.

Then Ned turned his attention to the retreat. It was a little band that went toward the Alamo, and there were three women and three children in it, but since they knew definitely that Santa Anna and his great army had come there was not a Texan who shrank from his duty. They had been lax in their watch and careless of the future, faults frequent in irregular troops, but in the presence of overwhelming danger they showed not the least fear of death.

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They reached the Alamo side of the river. Before them they saw the hewn stone walls of the mission rising up in the form of a cross and facing the river and the town. It certainly seemed welcome to a little band of desperate men who were going to fight against overwhelming odds. Ned also saw not far away the Mexican cavalry advancing in masses. The foremost groups were lancers, and the sun glittered on the blades of their long weapons.

Ned believed that Urrea was somewhere in one of these leading groups. Urrea he knew was full of skill and enterprise, but his heart filled with bitterness against him. He had tasted the Texan salt, he had broken bread with those faithful friends of his, the Panther and Obed White, and now he was at Santa Anna's right hand, seeking to destroy the Texans utterly.

"Looks as if I'd have a lot of use for Old Betsy," said a whimsical voice beside him. "Somebody said when I started away from Tennessee that I'd have nothing to do with it, might as well leave my rifle at home. But I 'low that Old Betsy is the most useful friend I could have just now."

It was, of course, Davy Crockett who spoke. He was as cool as a cake of ice. Old Betsy rested in the hollow of his arm, the long barrel projecting several feet. His raccoon skin cap was on the back of his head. His whole manner was that of one who was in the first stage of a most interesting event. But as Ned was looking at him a light suddenly leaped in the calm eye.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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