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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Herald Of Attack

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About midnight they rode into the thickest part of the woods that they could find, and slept there until day. Then they continued their course toward the west, and before night they saw afar small bands of horsemen.

"What do you say they are?" asked the Panther of Ned when they beheld the first group. "Seems to me they are Mexican."

Ned looked long before returning an answer. Then he replied with confidence:

"Yes, they are Mexicans. The two men in the rear have lances, and no Texan ever carried such a weapon."

"Then," said Obed White, "it behooves us to have a care. We're scouts now and we're not looking for a battle. He who dodges the fight and runs away may live to scout another day."

The Mexican horsemen were on their right, and the four continued their steady course to the west. They were reassured by the fact that the Mexicans were likely to take them in the distance for other Mexicans. It became evident now that Santa Anna was taking every precaution. He was sending forward scouts and skirmishers in force, and the task of the four was likely to become one of great danger.

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Toward night an uncommonly raw and cold wind began to blow. That winter was one of great severity in Northern Mexico and Southern Texas, noted also for its frequent Northers. Although the time for the Texan spring was near at hand, there was little sign of it. Not knowing what else to do they sought the shelter of timber again and remained there a while. By and by they saw for the second time a red glow in the south, and they knew that it came from the camp fires of Santa Anna. But it was now many miles north of the Rio Grande. Santa Anna was advancing.

"He's pressin' forward fast," said the Panther, "an' his skirmishers are scourin' the plain ahead of him. We've got to keep a sharp lookout, because we may run into 'em at any time. I think we'd better agree that if by any luck we get separated an' can't reunite, every fellow should ride hard for San Antonio with the news."

The plan seemed good to all, and, after a long wait, they rode to another clump of trees four or five hundred yards further south. Here they saw the red glow more plainly. It could not be more than two miles away, and they believed that to approach any nearer was to imperil their task. Before the first light appeared the next day they would turn back on San Antonio as the heralds of Santa Anna's advance.

The four sat on their horses among the trees, darker shadows in the shadow. Beyond the little grove they saw the plain rolling away on every side bare to the horizon, except in the south, where the red glow always threatened. Ned rode to the western edge of the grove in order to get a better view. He searched the plain carefully with his keen vision, but he could find no sign of life there in the west.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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