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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Sad Surrender

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Ned was standing at the edge of the hollow, and his head was just about on a level with the surrounding prairie. After his look at the Mexican circle, something whistled by his ear. It was an unpleasant sound that he knew well, one marking the passage of a bullet, and he dropped down instantly. Then he cautiously raised himself up again, and, a half dozen others who had heard the shot did the same. One rose a little higher than the rest and he fell back with a cry, a bullet in his shoulder.

Ned was surprised and puzzled. Whence had come these shots? There was the line of Mexican cavalry, well out of range, and, beyond the horsemen, were the infantry. He could see nothing, but the wounded shoulder was positive proof that some enemy was near.

There was a third crack, and a man fell to the bottom of the hollow, where he lay still. The bullet had gone through his head. Ned saw a wreath of smoke rising from a tiny hillock, a hundred yards away, and then he saw lifted for only a moment a coppery face with high cheek bones and coarse black hair. An Indian! No one could ever mistake that face for a white man's. Many more shots were fired and he caught glimpses of other faces, Indian in type like the first.

Every hillock or other inequality of the earth seemed to spout bullets, which were now striking among the Texans, cooped up in the hollow, killing and wounding. But the circle of Mexican horsemen did not stir.

"What are they?" called Fannin, who was lying upon a pallet, suffering greatly from his wound.

"Indians," replied Ned.

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"Indians!" exclaimed Fannin in surprise. "I did not know that there were any in this part of the country."

"Nor did I," replied Ned, "but they are surely here, Colonel, and if I may make a suggestion, suppose we pick sharp-shooters to meet them."

"It is the only thing to do," said Fannin, and immediately the best men with the rifle were placed along the edge of the hollow. It was full time, as the fire of the red sharpshooters was creeping closer, and was doing much harm. They were Campeachy Indians, whom the Mexicans had brought with them from their far country and, splendid stalkers and skirmishers, they were now proving their worth. Better marksmen than the Mexicans, naked to the waist, their dark faces inflamed with the rage to kill, they wormed themselves forward like snakes, flattened against the ground, taking advantage of every hillock or ridge, and finding many a victim in the hollow. Far back, the Mexican officers sitting on their horses watched their work with delighted approval.

Ned was not a sharpshooter like the Panther or Davy Crockett, but he was a sharpshooter nevertheless, and, driven by the sternest of all needs, he was growing better all the time. He saw another black head raised for a moment above a hillock, and a muzzle thrust forward, but he fired first. The head dropped back, but the rifle fell from the arms and lay across the hillock. Ned knew that his bullet had sped true, and he felt a savage joy.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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