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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Race For The Boat

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"I figger it this way," said the Panther. "People don't go travelin' through this country except on horses, an' this fellow, whoever he is, didn't have any horse, as we all can see as plain as day."

"An' in such times as these," said "Deaf" Smith, "fellers don't go swimmin' rivers just for fun. The one that made these tracks was in a hurry. Ain't that so, Hank?"

"'Course he was," replied Karnes. "He was gettin' away from somewhere an' from somebody. That's why he swam the river; he wanted the San Antonio to separate him from them somebodies."

"And putting two and two and then two more together," said Obed White, "we draw the conclusion that it is a fugitive, probably one of our own Texans, who has escaped in some manner from his prison at Goliad."

"It's what we all think," said the Panther, "an' now we'll beat up these thickets till we find him. He's sure to keep movin' away from Goliad, an' he's got sense to stay in the cover of the timber."

The forest here ran back from the river three or four hundred yards, and the five, separating and moving up the stream, searched thoroughly. The hunt presently brought the Panther and Obed White together again, and they expressed their disappointment at finding nothing. Then they heard a cry from Will Allen, who came galloping through the thickets, his face white and his eyes starting.

"I've found Ned Fulton!" he cried. "He's lying here dead in the bushes!"

The Panther and Obed stared in amazement.

"Will," exclaimed the Panther, "have you gone plum' crazy? Ned was killed at the Alamo!"

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"I tell you he is here!" cried the boy, who was shaking with excitement. "I have just seen him! He was lying on his back in the bushes, and he did not move!"

"Lead on! Let's see what you have seen!" said Obed, who began to share in the boy's excitement.

The Panther whistled, and Smith and Karnes joined them. Then, led by Will Allen, they rode swiftly through the bushes, coming, forty or fifty yards away, into a tiny grassy glade. It was either Ned Fulton or his ghost, and the Panther, remembering the Alamo, took it for the latter. He uttered a cry of astonishment and reined in his horse. But Obed White leaped to the ground, and ran to the prostrate figure.

"A miracle!" he exclaimed. "It's Ned Fulton! And he's alive!"

The others also sprang from their horses, and crowded around their youthful comrade, whom they had considered among the fallen of the Alamo. Ned was unconscious, his face was hot with fever, and his breathing was hard and irregular.

"How he escaped from the Alamo and how he came here we don't know," said Obed White solemnly, "but there are lots of strange things in heaven and earth, as old Shakespeare said, and this is one of the strangest of them all."

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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