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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Captives

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"We can't lose 'em," said the Panther, "so I think we'd better stay out of sight now that they're on real Mexican soil. Maybe our chance will come to-night, an' ag'in maybe it won't."

"Patience will have its perfect rescue, if we only do the right things," said Obed.

"An' if we think hard enough an' long enough we're bound to do 'em, or I'm a Ring Tailed Panther an' a Cheerful Talker fur nothin'," said the Panther.

Waiting until they were certain that the Mexicans were five or six miles ahead, the three forded the Rio Grande, and stood once more on Mexican soil. It gave Ned a curious thrill. He had passed through so much in Mexico that he had not believed he would ever again enter that country. The land on the Mexican side was about the same as that on the Texan, but it seemed different to him. He beheld again that aspect of infinite age, of the long weariness of time, and of physical decay.

They rode more briskly through the afternoon and at darkness saw the camp fires of Urrea glimmering ahead of them. But the night was not favorable to their plans. The sky was the usual cloudless blue of the Mexican plateau, the moon was at the full and all the stars were out. What they wanted was bad weather, hoping meanwhile the execution of the prisoners would not be begun until the Mexicans reached higher authority than Urrea, perhaps Santa Anna himself.

They made their own camp a full two miles from Urrea's, and Obed and the Panther divided the watch.

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Urrea started early the next morning, and so did the pursuing three. The dawn was gray, and the breeze was chill. As they rode on, the wind rose and its edge became so sharp that there was a prospect of another Norther. The Panther unrolled from his pack the most gorgeous serape that Ned had ever seen. It was of the finest material, colored a deep scarlet and it had a gold fringe.

"Fine feathers are seen afar," said Obed.

"That's so," said the Panther, "but we're not coming near enough to the Mexicans for them to catch a glimpse of this, an' such bein' the case I'm goin' to put it between me an' the cold. I'm proud of it, an' when I wrap it aroun' me I feel bigger an' stronger. Its red color helps me. I think I draw strength from red, just as I do from a fine, tender buffalo steak."

He spoke with much earnestness, and the other two did not contradict him. Meanwhile he gracefully folded the great serape about his shoulders, letting it fall to the saddle. No Mexican could have worn it more rakishly.

"That's my shield and protector," he said. "Now blow wind, blow snow, I'll keep warm."

It blew wind, but it did not blow snow. The day remained cold, but the air undoubtedly had a touch of damp.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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