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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

In The Alamo

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He carried his suggestion to Travis, who adopted it at once, and the powder was quickly taken into the rooms. They also had fourteen pieces of cannon which they mounted on the walls of the church, at the stockade at the entrance to the plaza and at the redoubt. But the Texans, frontiersmen and not regular soldiers, did not place much reliance upon the cannon. Their favorite weapon was the rifle, with which they rarely missed even at long range.

It took the Texans but little time to arrange the defence, and then came a pause. Ned did not have any particular duty assigned to him, and went back to the church, which now bore so little resemblance to a house of worship. He gazed curiously at the battered carvings and images over the door. They looked almost grotesque to him now, and some of them threatened.

He went inside the church and looked around once more. It was old, very old. The grayness of age showed everywhere, and the silence of the defenders on the walls deepened its ancient aspect. But the Norther had ceased to blow, and the sun came down, bright and unclouded, through the open roof.

Ned climbed upon the wall. Bowie, who was behind one of the cannon, beckoned to him. Ned joined him and leaned upon the gun as Bowie pointed toward San Antonio.

"See the Mexican masses," he said. "Ned, you were a most timely herald. If it had not been for you our surprise would have been total. Look how they defile upon the plain."

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The army of Santa Anna was entering San Antonio and it was spread out far and wide. The sun glittered on lances and rifles, and brightened the bronze barrels of cannon. The triumphant notes of a bugle came across the intervening space, and when the bugle ceased a Mexican band began to play.

It was fine music. The Mexicans had the Latin ear, the gift for melody, and the air they played was martial and inspiring. One could march readily to its beat. Bowie frowned.

"They think it nothing more than a parade," he said. "But when Santa Anna has taken us he will need a new census of his army."

He looked around at the strong stone walls, and then at the resolute faces of the men near him. But the garrison was small, pitifully small.

Ned left the walls and ate a little food that was cooked over a fire lighted in the convent plaza. Then he wandered about the place looking at the buildings and inclosures. The Alamo was so extensive that he knew Travis would be compelled to concentrate his defense about the church, but he wanted to examine all these places anyhow.

He wandered into one building that looked like a storehouse. The interior was dry and dusty. Cobwebs hung from the walls, and it was empty save for many old barrels that stood in the corner. Ned looked casually into the barrels and then he uttered a shout of joy. A score of so of them were full of shelled Indian corn in perfect condition, a hundred bushels at least. This was truly treasure trove, more valuable than if the barrels had been filled with coined gold.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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