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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Herald Of Attack

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"Gallant comrade," he said, "you have done your duty and more. You, at least, will never fail."

Twilight came down, but Ned kept on. By and by he saw in the east, and for the third time, that fatal red glow extending far along the dusky horizon. All that he had feared of Santa Anna was true. The dictator was marching fast, whipping his army forward with the fierce energy that was a part of his nature. It was likely, too, that squadrons of his cavalry were much further on. A daring leader like Urrea would certainly be miles ahead of the main army, and it was more than probable that bands of Mexican horsemen were now directly between him and San Antonio.

Ned knew that he would need all his strength and courage to finish his task. So he gave Old Jack a little rest, although he did not seem to need it, and drew once more upon his rations.

When he remounted he was conscious that the air had grown much colder. A chill wind began to cut him across the cheek. Snow, rain and wind have played a great part in the fate of armies, and they had much to do with the struggle between Texas and Mexico in that fateful February. Ned's experience told him that another Norther was about to begin, and he was glad of it. One horseman could make much greater progress through it than an army.

The wind rose fast and then came hail and snow on its edge. The red glow in the east disappeared. But Ned knew that it was still there. The Norther had merely drawn an icy veil between. He shivered, and the horse under him shivered, too. Once more he wrapped around his body the grateful folds of the serape and he drew on a pair of buckskin gloves, a part of his winter equipment.

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Then he rode on straight toward San Antonio as nearly as he could calculate. The Norther increased in ferocity. It brought rain, hail and snow, and the night darkened greatly. Ned began to fear that he would get lost. It was almost impossible to keep the true direction in such a driving storm. He had no moon and stars to guide him, and he was compelled to rely wholly upon instinct. Sometimes he was in woods, sometimes upon the plain, and once or twice he crossed creeks, the waters of which were swollen and muddy.

The Norther was not such a blessing after all. He might be going directly away from San Antonio, while Santa Anna, with innumerable guides, would easily reach there the next day. He longed for those faithful comrades of his. The four of them together could surely find a way out of this.

He prayed now that the Norther would cease, but his prayer was of no avail. It whistled and moaned about him, and snow and hail were continually driven in his face. Fortunately the brim of the sombrero protected his eyes. He floundered on until midnight. The Norther was blowing as fiercely as ever, and he and Old Jack were brought up by a thicket too dense for them to penetrate.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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