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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Herald Of Attack

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Before morning some Lipan buffalo hunters passed, but they took no notice of the grove and soon disappeared in the west. After the dawn a detachment of Mexican lancers riding to the east to join the force of Santa Anna also passed the clump of trees, but the horse and man lay in the densest part of it, and no pair of Mexican eyes was keen enough to see them there. They were answering the call of Santa Anna, and they rode on at a trot, the grove soon sinking out of sight behind them.

Ned was awakened at last by the sun shining in his face. He stirred, recalled in a vague sort of way where he was and why he was there, and then rose slowly to his feet. His joints were stiff like those of an old man, and he rubbed them to acquire ease. A great bay horse, saddle on his back, was searching here and there for the young stems of grass. Ned rubbed his eyes. It seemed to him that he knew that horse. And a fine big horse he was, too, worth knowing and owning. Yes, it was Old Jack, the horse that had carried him to safety.

His little store of provisions was still tied to the saddle and he ate hungrily. At the end of the grove was a small pool formed by the winter's rains, and though the water was far from clear he drank his fill. He flexed and tensed his muscles again until all the stiffness and soreness were gone. Then he made ready for his departure.

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He could direct his course by the sun, and he intended to go straight to San Antonio. He only hoped that he might get there before the arrival of Santa Anna and his army. He could not spare the time to seek his comrades, and he felt much apprehension for them, but he yet had the utmost confidence in the skill of the Panther and Obed White.

It was about two hours before noon when Ned set out across the plain. Usually in this region antelope were to be seen on the horizon, but they were all gone now. The boy considered it a sure sign that Mexican detachments had passed that way. It was altogether likely, too, so he calculated, that the Mexican army was now nearer than he to San Antonio. His flight had taken him to the west while Santa Anna was moving straight toward the Texan outworks. But he believed that by steady riding he could reach San Antonio within twenty-four hours.

The afternoon passed without event. Ned saw neither human beings nor game on the vast prairie. He had hoped that by some chance he might meet with his comrades, but there was no sign of them, and he fell back on his belief that their skill and great courage had saved them. Seeking to dismiss them from his thoughts for the time in order that he might concentrate all his energies on San Antonio, he rode on. The horse had recovered completely from his great efforts of the preceding night, and once more that magnificent piece of machinery worked without a jar. Old Jack moved over the prairie with long, easy strides. It seemed to Ned that he could never grow weary. He patted the sinewy and powerful neck.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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