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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Race For The Boat

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The little party decided to ride for the cove, and meet the schooner if possible. They could reach it in another day and night, and they would await the landing.

"We've got good friends in New Orleans," said Smith, as they rode over the prairie. "You'll remember the merchant, John Roylston. He's for us heart and soul, an' I've no doubt that he's sendin' us help."

"All the Texans owe him a debt," said Ned, "and I owe him most of all. His name saved my life, when I was taken at San Antonio. It had weight with Santa Anna, and it might have had weight with him, too, at Goliad, had he been there."

They rode steadily all the next day. Their horses were tough mustangs of the best quality, and showed no signs of weariness. They passed through a beautiful country of light rolling prairie, interspersed with fine forest. The soil was deep and rich, and the foliage was already in its tenderest spring green. Soft, warm airs swept up from the gulf. Five of the riders felt elation, and talked cheerfully. But Ned maintained a somber silence. The scenes of Goliad were still too vivid for him to rejoice over anything. The others understood, and respected his silence.

They camped that night as usual in the thickest forest they could find, and, feeling that they were now too far east to be in any serious danger from the Mexicans, they lighted a fire, warmed their food, and made coffee, having replenished their supplies at the last settlement. Obed White was the coffee maker, heating it in a tin pot with a metal bottom. They had only one cup, which they used in turn, but the warm food and drink were very grateful to them after their hard riding.

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"Keeping in good condition is about three-fourths of war," said Obed in an oracular tone. "He who eats and runs away will live to eat another day. Besides, Napoleon said that an army marched better on a full stomach, or something like it."

"That applied to infantry," said Will Allen. "We march on our horses."

"Some day," said Ned, "when we've beaten Santa Anna and driven all the Mexicans out of Texas, I'm going back and hunt for Old Jack. He and I are too good friends to part forever. I found him, after abandoning him the first time, and I believe I can do it again, after leaving him the second time."

"Of course you can," said the Panther cheerily. "Old Jack is a horse that will never stay lost. Now, I think we'd better put out our fire and go to sleep. The horses will let us know if any enemy comes."

All were soon slumbering peacefully in their blankets, but Ned, who had slept so much the night before, awakened in two or three hours. He believed, at first, that a distant sound had broken his sleep, but when he sat up he heard nothing. Five dusky figures lay in a row near him. They were those of his comrades, and he heard their steady breathing. Certainly they slept well. He lay down again, but he remained wide awake, and, when his ear touched the ground, he seemed to hear the faint and distant sound again.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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