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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Flag Of No Quarter

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"They are doing something now," said Ned, whose far-sighted vision always served him well. "They are pulling down houses in the town next to the river."

"That's so," said Bowie, "but we won't have to wait long to see what they're about."

Hundreds of Mexicans with wrecking hooks had assailed three or four of the houses, which they quickly pulled to pieces. Others ran forward with the materials and began to build a bridge across the narrow San Antonio.

"They want to cross over on that bridge and get into a position at once closer and more sheltered," said Bowie, "but unless I make a big mistake those men at work there are already within range of our rifles. Shall we open fire, Colonel?"

He asked the question of Travis, who nodded. A picked band of Mexicans under General Castrillon were gathered in a mass and were rapidly fitting together the timbers of the houses to make the narrow bridge. But the reach of the Texan rifles was great, and Davy Crockett was merely the king among so many sharpshooters.

The rifles began to flash and crack. No man fired until he was sure of his aim, and no two picked the same target. The Mexicans fell fast. In five minutes thirty or forty were killed, some of them falling into the river, and the rest, dropping the timbers, fled with shouts of horror from the fatal spot. General Castrillon, a brave man, sought to drive them back, but neither blows nor oaths availed. Santa Anna himself came and made many threats, but the men would not stir. They preferred punishment to the sure death that awaited them from the muzzles of the Texan rifles.

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The light puffs of rifle smoke were quickly gone, and once more the town with the people watching on the flat roofs came into full view. A wind burst out the folds of the red flag of no quarter on the tower of the church of San Fernando, but Ned paid no attention to it now. He was watching for Santa Anna's next move.

"That's a bridge that will never be built," said Davy Crockett. "'Live an' learn' is a good sayin', I suppose, but a lot of them Mexicans neither lived nor learned. It's been a great day for 'Betsy' here."

Travis, the commander, showed elation.

"I think Santa Anna will realize now," he said, "that he has neither a promenade nor a picnic before him. Oh, if we only had six or seven hundred men, instead of less than a hundred and fifty!"

"We must send for help," said Bowie. "The numbers of Santa Anna continually increase, but we are not yet entirely surrounded. If the Texans know that we are beleaguered here they will come to our help."

"I will send messengers to-morrow night," said Travis. "The Texans are much scattered, but it is likely that some will come."

It was strange, but it was characteristic of them, nevertheless, that no one made any mention of escape. Many could have stolen away in the night over the lower walls. Perhaps all could have done so, but not a single Texan ever spoke of such a thing, and not one ever attempted it.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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