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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Fight With Urrea

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"How long have you been with them?" asked Will, looking at Obed and the Panther.

"I was first with Obed away down in Mexico. We were prisoners together in the submarine dungeon of San Juan de Ulua. I'd never have escaped without him. And I'd never have escaped a lot more things without him, either. Then we met the Panther. He's the greatest frontiersman in all the southwest, and we three somehow have become hooked together."

Will looked at Ned a little enviously.

"What comrades you three must be!" he said. "I have nobody."

"Are you going to fight for Texas?"

"I count on doing so."

"Then why don't you join us, and we three will turn into four?"

Will looked at Ned, and his eyes glistened.

"Do you mean that?" he asked.

"Do I mean it? I think I do. Ho, there, Panther! You and Obed, just a minute or two!"

The two turned back. Ned and Will were walking at the rear of the little company.

"I've asked Will to be one of us," said Ned, "to join our band and to share our fortunes, good or bad."

"Can he make all the signs, an' has he rid the goat?" asked the Panther solemnly.

"Does he hereby swear never to tell any secret of ours to Mexican or Indian?" asked Obed. "Does he swear to obey all our laws and by-laws wherever he may be, and whenever he is put to the test?"

"He swears to everything," replied Ned, "and I know that he is the kind to make a trusty comrade to the death."

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"Then you are declared this minute a member of our company in good standin'," said the Panther to Will, "an' with this grip I give you welcome."

He crushed the boy's hand in a mighty grasp that made him wince, and Obed followed with one that was almost equally severe. But the boy did not mind the physical pain. Instead, his soul was uplifted. He was now the chosen comrade of these three paladins, and he was no longer alone in the world. But he merely said:

"I'll try to show myself worthy."

They were compelled to stop at noon for rather a long rest, as walking was tiresome. Fields, who was a good scout, went back and looked for pursuers, but announced that he saw none, and, after an hour, they started again.

"I'm thinkin'," said the Panther, "that Urrea has already organized the pursuit. Mebbe he has pow'ful glasses an' kin see us when we can't see him. He may mean to attack to-night. It's a lucky thing for us that we can find timber now an' then."

"It's likely that you're right about to-night," said Obed, "but there's no night so dark that it doesn't have its silver lining. I guess everybody in this little crowd is a good shot, unless maybe it's Mr. Roylston, and as we have about three guns apiece we can make it mighty hot for any force that Urrea may bring against us."

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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