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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Race For The Boat

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Five men, or rather four men and a boy, rode down the banks of the San Antonio, always taking care to keep well in the shelter of the timber. All the men were remarkable in figure, and at least three of them were of a fame that had spread to every corner of Texas.

The one who rode slightly in advance was of gigantic build, enormously thick through the shoulders and chest. He was dressed in brightly dyed deerskin, and there were many fanciful touches about his border costume. The others also wore deerskin, but theirs was of soberer hue. The man was Martin Palmer, far better known as the Panther, or, as he loved to call himself, the Ring Tailed Panther. His comrades were "Deaf" Smith, Henry Karnes, Obed White and Will Allen.

They were not a very cheerful five. Riding as free lances, because there was now practically no organized authority among the Texans, they had been scouting the day before toward Goliad. They had learned that Fannin and his men had been taken, and they had sought also to discover what the Mexican generals meant to do with the troops. But the Mexican patrols had been so numerous and strong that they could not get close enough to Goliad. Early in the morning while in the timber by the river they had heard the sound of heavy firing near Goliad, which continued for some time, but they had not been able to fathom its meaning. They concluded finally that a portion of Fannin's men must have been still holding out in some old building of Goliad, and that this was the last stand.

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They made another effort to get closer to the town, but they were soon compelled to turn back, and, again they sought the thickest timber along the river. Now they were riding back, in the hope of finding some Texan detachment with which they could coƶperate.

"If we keep huntin' we ought to find somebody who can tell us somethin'," said the Panther.

"It's a long lane that has no news at the end," said Obed White, with an attempt at buoyancy.

"That's so," said "Deaf" Smith. "We're bound to hit a trail somehow an' somewhere. We heard that Fannin's men had surrendered an' then we heard that firin'. But I guess that they wouldn't give up, without makin' good terms for themselves, else they would have held out as the boys did in the Alamo."

"Ah, the Alamo!" said Obed White. His face clouded at the words. He was thinking then of the gallant youth who had escaped with him from the dungeon under the sea in the castle of San Juan de Ulua, and who had been his comrade in the long and perilous flight through Mexico into Texas. The heart of the Maine man, alone in the world, had turned strongly to Ned Fulton, and mourning him as one dead he also mourned him as a son. But as he rarely talked of the things that affected him most, he seldom mentioned Ned. The Panther was less restrained.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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