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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Desperate Defence

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"We hid in an arroyo and waited until dark. Then we rode closer and found that there would never be any chance to get into the Alamo on horseback. We took the saddles and bridles off our horses, and turned them loose on the prairie. Then we undertook to get in here, but it was touch and go. I tell you it was touch and go. We wheeled and twisted and curved and doubled, until our heads got dizzy. Wherever we went we found Mexicans, thousands of 'em."

"We've noticed a few ourselves," said Crockett.

"It was pretty late when we struck an opening, and then not being sure we whistled. When we heard you whistle back we made straight for the wall, and here we are."

"We're mighty glad to see you," said Crockett, "but we ain't welcomin' you to no picnic, I reckon you understand that, don't you, Jim Smith?"

"We understand it, every one of us," replied Smith gravely. "We heard before we started, and now we've seen. We know that Santa Anna himself is out there, and that the Mexicans have got a big army. That's the reason we came, Davy Crockett, because the odds are so heavy against you."

"You're a true man," said Crockett, "and so is every one of these with you."

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The new force was small--merely a few more for the trap--but they brought with them encouragement. Ned shared in the general mental uplift. These new faces were very welcome, indeed. They gave fresh vigor to the little garrison, and they brought news of that outside world from which he seemed to have been shut off so long. They told of numerous parties sure to come to their relief, but he soon noticed that they did not particularize. He felt with certainty that the Alamo now had all the defenders that it would ever have.

Repeated examinations from the walls of the church confirmed Ned in his belief. The Mexican circle was complete, and their sheltered batteries were so near that they dropped balls and shells whenever they pleased inside the Alamo. Duels between the cannon and the Texan sharpshooters were frequent. The gunners as they worked their guns were forced to show themselves at times, and every exposure was instantly the signal for a Texan bullet which rarely missed. But the Mexicans kept on. It seemed that they intended to wear out the defenders by the sheer persistency of their cannon fire.

Ned became so hardened to the bombardment that he paid little attention to it. Even when a ball fell inside the Alamo the chances were several hundred to one that it would not hit him. He had amused himself with a mathematical calculation of the amount of space he occupied compared with the amount of space in the Alamo. Thus he arrived at the result, which indicated comparatively little risk for himself.

The shrewdest calculations are often wrong. As he passed through the convent yard he met Crockett, and the two walked on together. But before they had gone half a dozen steps a bomb hissed through the air, fell and rolled to their feet. It was still hissing and smoking, but Ned, driven by some unknown impulse, seized it and with a mighty effort hurled it over the wall, where it burst. Then he stood licking his burned fingers and looking rather confusedly at Crockett. He felt a certain shyness over what he had done.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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