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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Flag Of No Quarter

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"What are you going to do now?" asked Ned.

"I'm goin' to eat dinner, an' after that I'll take a nap. My advice to you is to do the same, 'cause you'll be on watch to-night."

"I know I can eat," said Ned, "and I'll try to sleep."

He found that his appetite was all right, and after dinner he lay down in the long room of the hospital. Here he heard the cannon of Santa Anna still thundering, but the walls softened the sound somewhat and made it seem much more distant. In a way it was soothing and Ned, although sure that he could not sleep, slept. All that afternoon he was rocked into deeper slumber by the continuous roar of the Mexican guns. Smoke floated over the convent yard and through all the buildings, but it did not disturb him. Now and then a flash of rifle fire came from the Texans on the walls, but that did not disturb him, either.

Nature was paying its debt. The boy lying on his blankets breathed deeply and regularly as he slept. The hours of the afternoon passed one by one, and it was dark when he awoke. The fire of the cannon had now ceased and two or three lights were burning in the hospital. Crockett was already up, and with some of the other men was eating beefsteak at a table.

"You said you'd try to sleep, Ned," he exclaimed, "an' you must have made a big try, 'cause you snored so loud we couldn't hear Santa Anna's cannon."

"Why, I'm sure I don't snore, Mr. Crockett," said Ned, red in the face.

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"No, you don't snore, I'll take that back," said Davy Crockett, when the laugh subsided, "but I never saw a young man sleep more beautifully an' skillfully. Why, the risin' an' fallin' of your chest was as reg'lar as the tickin' of a clock."

Ned joined them at the table. He did not mind the jests of those men, as they did not mind the jests of one another. They were now like close blood-kin. They were a band of brethren, bound together by the unbreakable tie of mortal danger.

Ned spent two-thirds of the night on the church wall. The Mexicans let the cannon rest in the darkness, and only a few rifle shots were fired. But there were many lights in San Antonio, and on the outskirts two great bonfires burned. Santa Anna and his generals, feeling that their prey could not escape from the trap, and caring little for the peons who had been slain, were making a festival. It is even said that Santa Anna on this campaign, although he left a wife in the city of Mexico, exercised the privileges of an Oriental ruler and married another amid great rejoicings.

Ned slept soundly when his watch was finished, and he awoke again the next day to the thunder of the cannonade, which continued almost without cessation throughout the day, but in the afternoon Travis wrote a letter, a noble appeal to the people of Texas for help. He stated that they had been under a continual bombardment for more than twenty-four hours, but not a man had yet been hurt. "I shall never surrender or retreat," he said. "Then I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism, and of everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch." He closed with the three words, "Victory or death," not written in any vainglory or with any melodramatic appeal, but with the full consciousness of the desperate crisis, and a quiet resolution to do as he said.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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