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Title: For the Liberty of Texas
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "With Taylor on the Rio Grande," "Under Scott in Mexico,"
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"Lakeport Series," etc.



Copyright, 1900, by Dana Estes & Company
Copyright, 1909, by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

_All Rights Reserved_

For the Liberty of Texas



"For the Liberty of Texas" is a tale complete in itself, but it forms
the first of a line of three volumes to be known under the general
title of the "Mexican War Series."

Primarily the struggle of the Texans for freedom did not form a part of
our war with Mexico, yet this struggle led up directly to the greater
war to follow, and it is probably a fact that, had the people of Texas
not at first accomplished their freedom, there would have been no war
between the two larger republics.

The history of Texas and her struggle for liberty is unlike that of any
other State in our Union, and it will be found to read more like a
romance than a detail of facts. Here was a territory, immense in size,
that was little better than a wilderness, a territory gradually
becoming settled by Americans, Mexicans, Spaniards, French, and
pioneers of other nations, a territory which was the home of the
bloodthirsty Comanche and other Indians, and which was overrun with
deer, buffalo, and the wild mustang, and which was, at times, the
gathering ground for the most noted desperadoes of the southwest.

This territory formed, with Coahuila, one of the States of Mexico, but
the government was a government in name only, and the people of Texas
felt that it was absolutely necessary that they withdraw from the
Mexican Confederation, in order to protect themselves, their property,
and their individual rights, for, with the scheming Mexicans on one
side of them, and the murderous Indians on the other, nothing was safe
from molestation.

The contest was fought largely by men who knew little or nothing of the
art of war, but men whose courage was superb. At first only defeat
stared the intrepid band in the face, and hundreds were lost at the
Alamo, at the massacre of Goliad, and elsewhere, but then there came
upon the scene the figure of the dashing and daring General Sam
Houston, and under his magnetic leadership the army of the Mexican
general, Santa Anna, was routed utterly, and the liberty of Texas was
secured beyond further dispute.



CHAPTER                                                      PAGE

    I.  THE HOME ON THE FRONTIER                               11

   II.  THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE DEER                          19

  III.  A QUARREL AND ITS RESULT                               28


    V.  THE ATTACK ON THE RANCH                                44

   VI.  POKE STOVER TO THE FRONT                               53

  VII.  IN AND OUT OF THE BURNING CABIN                        62

 VIII.  AN UNSUCCESSFUL PURSUIT                                71

   IX.  BIG FOOT AND THE MISSING PAPERS                        81

    X.  THE SITUATION IN MEXICO                                89

   XI.  THE OPENING OF THE WAR                                 97

  XII.  THE MARCH ON SAN ANTONIO                              105

 XIII.  A FIGHT WITH A PUMA                                   113

  XIV.  THE BATTLE OF CONCEPCION                              121

   XV.  DAN TURNS THE TABLES                                  129

  XVI.  AFTER A MISSING MUSTANG                               137

 XVII.  THE GRASS FIGHT, AND WHAT FOLLOWED                    145

XVIII.  DAN COMES TO GRIEF                                    154

   XIX.  THE CAVE IN THE RAVINE                               161

    XX.  FLIGHT AND PURSUIT                                   169

   XXI.  WHAT HAPPENED TO RALPH                               177

  XXII.  THE ATTACK ON SAN ANTONIO                            185

 XXIII.  THE SURRENDER OF THE CITY                            194

  XXIV.  A MIDNIGHT DISCOVERY                                 204

   XXV.  MARCH OF SANTA ANNA INTO TEXAS                       212

  XXVI.  WILD TURKEYS AND ANOTHER TRAIL                       223

 XXVII.  THE MEXICAN ARMY AT SAN ANTONIO                      233

XXVIII.  WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE MISSION                      242

  XXIX.  THE FALL OF THE ALAMO                                250

   XXX.  ESCAPING TO THE RIVER                                257



XXXIII.  THE VICTORY OF SAN JACINTO                           283

 XXXIV.  BACK TO THE RANCH--CONCLUSION                        293




AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT!'"                               27

"FOLLOWING THE TRAIL OF THE COMANCHES"                         70

THAT BUSH!'"                                                   98

"'HOLD BACK!' YELLED DAN"                                     157

"'YOU RASCAL! GET BACK, OR I'LL SHOOT!'"                      212

ENTHUSIASTICALLY"                                             229

"HE BEGAN TO LOWER HIMSELF INTO THE HOLE"                     258




"Dan! Dan! Come quick and see what I brought down with the gun!"

"Why, Ralph, was that you I heard shooting? I thought it was father."

"No; I was out, down by the river bank, and I brought down the finest
deer you ever set eyes on. He was under the bunch of pecan-trees, and I
let him have it straight in the neck and brought him down the first
crack. Now what do you think of that?"

Ralph Radbury's rather delicate face was all aglow with excitement and
pardonable pride, as he spoke, leaning on his father's gun, a long,
old-fashioned affair that had been in the family's possession for many
years. Ralph was but a boy of eight, although years of life in the open
air had given him the appearance of being older.

"What do I think?" cried Dan, who was Ralph's senior by six years. "I
think you'll become a second Davy Crockett or Dan'l Boone if you keep
on. It's a wonder the deer let you come so close. The wind is blowing
toward the stream."

"I trailed around to the rocks where we had the tumble last winter, and
then I came up as silently as a Comanche after a scalp. I was just
about ready to fire when the deer took alarm, but I caught him when he
raised his head, and all he gave was one leap and it was all over.
Where is father? I must tell him." And Ralph looked around impatiently.

"I don't know where father is, if he isn't down by the river. I thought
he went off to look up those hogs that got away last Saturday. In these
times, so he says, we can't afford to lose six fat porkers."

"Perhaps those rushers who were on their way to Bexar rounded them up
on the sly."

"No; father put the crowd down for honest men, and he rarely makes a
mistake in judging a man, Ralph. Either the hogs got away by themselves
or else some of those sneaking Comanches have been around again."

"Oh, Dan, that puts me in mind,--when I was up at the rocks I was
almost certain I saw one of the Indians farther up the river. As soon
as I looked that way he dodged out of sight, so I only caught one
glimpse of him--if he really was an Indian."

At his younger brother's words, Dan Radbury's face took on a look of
deep concern. "You are not real sure it was an Indian?" he questioned,
after a pause.

"No, but I'm pretty sure, too. But even if it was an Indian it might
have been Choctaw Tom, you know."

"You're wrong there, Ralph. All the Caddo Indians are friendly to the
whites, and if it was Tom he wouldn't hide away after you had spotted
him. More than likely it was a dirty Comanche, and if it was--well, we
had better tell father about it, that's all."

"Why, you don't think----" Ralph paused, abruptly.

"I know a Comanche isn't to be trusted. Come, let us look at the deer,
and let us try to find father at the same time. Is the gun loaded?"

"No." Ralph looked sheepish. "I--I was so pleased to bring down the
deer I forgot all about loading again."
"Then you're not such a famous hunter, after all, Ralph. The wise man,
especially in these parts, loads up before his gun-barrel has a chance
to cool. Put in your load at once, and I'll bring along that Mexican
_escopeta_ father traded in for a mustang last week. I don't believe
the old gun is of much account, but it will be better than nothing."

"Father wouldn't take it from the greaser if it wasn't all right. But
why must we both be armed? Do you think the Indians are close by?"

"As I said before, I don't believe in trusting these bloodthirsty
Comanches. Poke Stover knows them like a book, and he says they are
just aching to go on the war-path, now the government is having so much
trouble of its own."

"If the Indians are around it won't be safe to leave the cabin alone,"
was the younger boy's comment.

"I reckon we can leave it for awhile, Ralph. We won't be gone more than
an hour, at the most," concluded Dan Radbury, as he disappeared into
the cabin for the firearm he had mentioned.

The scene was that of a typical frontier home, in the heart of Texas,
close to the Guadalupe River, and about ten miles from what was then
the village of Gonzales. It was the year 1835, and the whole of
northern and western Texas could truthfully be put down as a "howling
wilderness," overrun with deer, bison, bears, and other wild animals,
wild horses, and inhabited only by the savage and lawless Comanche,
Apache, Cherokee, and numerous other tribes of Indians. As regards the
rest of the State, it may briefly be stated that this immense territory
of thousands of square miles contained not over twenty-two thousand
white and black people combined. How many Indians there were is not
definitely known, but they have been estimated at fifteen to eighteen
thousand. The main cities were San Antonio de Bexar, San Felipe de
Austin, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Columbia, and the seaport town of
Velasco, but not one of these boasted of more than thirty-five hundred

To this territory had come, three years before, Amos Radbury, the
father of the two lads introduced at the beginning of this chapter. The
family were from Georgia, where Mr. Radbury had once owned a large
interest in a tobacco plantation. But a disastrous flood had robbed him
not only of the larger portion of his property, but also of his much
beloved wife, and, almost broken-hearted, the planter had sold off his
remaining interest in the plantation for five thousand dollars, and
emigrated, first to New Orleans, and then to his present home. The trip
from New Orleans had been made in a prairie wagon, drawn by a double
yoke of oxen, and had consumed many weeks, and that trip over the
prairies, through the almost trackless forests, and across numerous
dangerous fords, was one which the boys were likely never to forget. On
the way they had fallen in with a small band of treacherous Indians,
but they had been saved by the timely arrival of some friendly Caddos,
under the leadership of Canoma, a chief well known throughout the
length and breadth of Texas.

On reaching the Guadalupe River, a stop of two weeks had been made at
Gonzales, and then Mr. Radbury had obtained possession of a grant of
land embracing over five hundred acres, the tract lying on both sides
of the stream. The price paid for the land was ten cents per acre. This
is not to be wondered at, since land in other portions of the State was
sold as low as two cents per acre!

The three years spent in the wilderness had done wonders for all of the
members of the family. The hard work of clearing off the timber,
planting, and of building a cabin and a cattle shelter, had done much
to make Mr. Radbury forget his grief over the loss of his wife and
property, and the rough outdoor life had made Daniel Radbury "as tough
as a pine-knot," as he was wont to say himself. It had likewise done
much for little Ralph, who had been a thin and delicate lad of five
when leaving the old home in the magnolia grove in far-off Georgia.
Even yet Ralph was not as strong as Dan, but he was fast becoming so,
much to his parent's satisfaction.

Amos Radbury's venture had prospered from the start. The land was rich
and his crops were consequently heavy, and no disease reached his
cattle, which speedily grew to the number of several hundred heads. In
addition to his beeves he had nearly a hundred hogs, and during the
last year had taken to raising horses and mustangs, for the market at
Bexar, as San Antonio was commonly called.

The raising of mustangs had been a source of much satisfaction to the
boys, who speedily learned to ride so well that even the liveliest of
the animals failed to shake one or the other off, although, of course,
neither could do a thing when the beast got down and began to roll

"It's immense, to ride like the wind!" Dan would cry. "There is no
better sport in the world! I don't wonder the Indians enjoy it so

"Yes, the Indians enjoy it, and they'll enjoy getting our mustangs,
too, if we give them the chance," had been Mr. Radbury's reply. But so
far only one mustang had been taken, and that by a Comanche half-breed
named Hank Stiger. Stiger had been accused of the crime by Mr. Radbury,
but had pleaded his innocence, and the pioneer had dropped the matter
rather than have more trouble, since it was known that the half-breed
and the Comanches in the neighbourhood were closely related in all
their underhanded work. In those days it was no uncommon thing to hang
a horse thief, but had this happened to Hank Stiger, it is likely that
the Comanches under Bison Head, who had their hunting-grounds in the
Cross Timbers, so-called, of the upper Colorado River, would have gone
on the war-path immediately following.



The cabin was a strongly built affair of rough logs, fifteen feet deep
by thirty feet long. It was divided into two apartments on the ground
floor, the first used as a general living-room and the second as a
bedchamber. From the bedchamber a rude ladder ran to a loft, used as
extra sleeping-quarters when the Radburys had company, and also as a
storeroom. There were two windows in the sleeping-room below, and a
window and a door in the general living-room. Each of the windows were
shuttered with slabs of oak, secured, inside, by square bars of ash.
All of the furniture excepting one bed, a table, and two chairs was
home-made, and consequently rather primitive in style, and built more
for use than for ornamentation.

At one side of the living-room was a wide, open fireplace, and here,
above the mantel-shelf, hung the old Mexican _escopeta_, or cavalry
musket, which Dan intended to take along on his expedition to the spot
where Ralph had brought down the deer. Taking the gun down, the youth
saw to it that the weapon was loaded and ready for use, and rejoined
his brother.

In those days every Texan trusted his neighbour implicitly, and nobody
thought of locking up his home even though he expected to be gone
several days, unless it was thought that unfriendly Indians were about.
The Radburys had gone away frequently, leaving everything open, and had
never suffered, excepting as previously mentioned. Once, on returning,
they had found that some other settlers from fifty miles away had
stopped there over night, but this was explained in a note stuck to the
eating-table, the "neighbour" offering to "square up" on demand. When
the two parties met, Mr. Radbury told the other that the only way he
could settle up was by calling again,--which was the usual Texan method
of rounding out such hospitality.

"I've a good mind to lock up," remarked Dan, as he reached the
dooryard. "I don't like this idea of Indians spying about."

"Oh, come on," interrupted Ralph. "We won't be gone long, and no Indian
could do much in such a short time."

The elder brother shook his head doubtfully. "I don't know," he mused,
but when Ralph took hold of his arm, he suffered himself to be led
away; and soon they were hurrying for the river. There was quite a
clearing to cross, and as they gained the timber Dan paused to look
back and to gaze around them. But neither man nor beast was in sight.

On hurried the two boys, through a tangle of brush and tall pines, the
latter of the long straw variety and smelling strongly of turpentine
whereever the last storm had broken off a top or a heavy branch. Closer
to the stream was a stately row of cottonwoods, with here and there a
fragrant magnolia, which reminded the lads of the former homestead left
so many miles behind. It was the spring of the year and the magnolias
were just putting forth their buds, and Dan paused for a second to gaze
at them.

"I'll tell you what, Ralph, it will be a long while before Texas is as
civilised as Georgia," he observed.

"Will it ever be as civilised, Dan? I heard father say last week, when
he was talking to Brossom, that he never thought it would be,--so long
as Texas was joined to Coahuila and belonged to the Mexican
Confederation. He said Texas ought to be free."

"He is right, too,--we ought either to be free, or else belong to the
United States. It's all well enough for the Mexicans living in Coahuila
to belong to the Confederation if they want to, but they don't care for
us Americans, and they are going to grind us under if they can."

"But they were glad enough to have us come in, weren't they?--I mean at

"Yes, when Stephen Austin came in with his first batch of emigrants
they welcomed the newcomers with open arms, and gave each man a large
tract of land for himself, one for his wife, and more land for each
child or servant, and they were mighty glad to have other _empresarios_
bring in emigrants, too, so I've read in the papers. But now they are
getting afraid that the Americans will overrule them, and there is
bound to be a lot of trouble sooner or later."

Ralph was anxious to show his brother his prize, and as they neared the
spot where the big deer had been brought down he ran on ahead, and so
the talk on State affairs came to an end. But Dan was right, there was
much trouble ahead, as we shall see as our story progresses.

The cottonwoods passed, the boys faced another small clearing, where a
forest fire years before had lain many a towering pine low. Beyond this
burnt and barren spot were the pecan-trees overhanging the river, where
the deer had come to slake his thirst when Ralph had trailed him and
brought him low.

"Oh, Dan! The deer's gone!"

The cry came straight from Ralph's heart, as with staring eyes he ran
in under the pecan-trees and gazed at the spot where the game had
rested less than an hour before.

"Gone?" repeated the brother. "Then you didn't kill him?"

"Yes, I did,--I am sure of it, for I turned him over after he was shot.
Could some wild animal have carried him off?"

"More than likely, although it would take a pretty fair sized animal to
tote a deer, especially if he was as big as you say. Let us see if we
can find any tracks."

They began to search around the bank of the stream, and soon discovered
a number of footprints.

"Indian moccasins!" exclaimed Dan. "Ralph, you were right about that
Indian. He was watching you, and after you left the deer he came in and
took possession."

"But he hadn't any right to do that," burst out the smaller boy,
angrily. It cut him to the heart to have his first big game taken from
him. "It's downright robbery."

"It certainly wasn't fair, but about its being robbery, that's
questionable. You shouldn't have left your game without leaving
something on top of it, a knife or anything, just to show that you were
coming back for it."

"But this is father's land."

"It isn't fenced yet, and the Indians don't recognise such ownership,

"But they must have known I was coming back. No one would throw away
such choice venison as that was." Ralph heaved a sigh. "I wish I was a
man,--I'd go after that redskin in short order, and make him either
give up the game or bring him down with my gun."

"If you shot him you'd bring on a regular war, more than likely. But if
you wish, we can follow this track for a stretch, and look for father
at the same time."

Ralph was more than willing to do this--anything to learn what had
really become of his game, and so they continued up the river bank for
the best part of half a mile. Here they came to a creek, leading
directly west, and saw that the footprints followed this new
water-course. Along the creek the way was rocky and uneven, and it was
plain to see where the deer had been dragged along.

Ralph was going on, with his eyes bent to the trail, when suddenly his
brother caught him by the arm, bringing him to a halt. In silence Dan
pointed to the opposite side of the creek, at a distance a hundred feet
farther up the water-course.

"It's Hank Stiger, the half-breed!" burst in a low tone from Ralph's
lips. "And see, he is tying my deer fast to his pony."

"You are right, Ralph."

"I'm not going to let him get away in this fashion!" went on the
younger lad, excitedly.

"He's got to give up that meat, or I'm going to know the reason why."

"Don't be rash. Hank Stiger is a bad man to deal with."

"Are you going to let him go without doing anything?" demanded Ralph.
"I'm sure you wouldn't if it was your deer!" he added, bitterly.

"No, we'll talk to him and put our claim as strongly as we can. But be
careful, that's all."

With this caution Dan ran along the bank of the creek until he reached
the ford where the half-breed had crossed. He went over, with Ralph at
his heels and both boys were within easy speaking distance of Hank
Stiger before the latter discovered them.

"Hi there, Stiger! what are you doing with that deer?" demanded Dan, as
he came closer, with his gun in both hands across his breast.

At the sound of the boy's voice the half-breed turned quickly and his
repulsive reddish-brown face fell sullenly. He was a short, stocky
fellow, with a tangled head of hair and wolfish eyes which betrayed the
Comanche blood that flowed in his veins from his mother's side.

"Who are you?" demanded the man, hardly knowing what to say, so
completely had he been taken by surprise.

"I am Dan Radbury, as you know very well. This is my brother Ralph, and
he shot the deer you are carrying off."

"Not much!" ejaculated the half-breed. "I brung that deer down
myself--shot him through the neck."

"It's not so!" burst out Ralph. "The deer is mine, I brought him down
over in the pecan grove on the river."

"Why, youngster, you're dead wrong, I tell you. I shot this deer right
down thar on this creek, two hours ago. He limped off after I hit him,
but I followed the trail easily and found him in the pecan grove, dead
from whar I had struck him in the neck."

This cool answer almost took Ralph's breath away from him. "It was I
struck him in the neck, Hank Stiger, and the deer belongs to me, and
you sha'n't bluff me out of my meat, either."

"Hush, Ralph, don't be so headstrong," remonstrated Dan, in low tones.
"You'll gain a good bit more by keeping cool."

At Ralph's words the half-breed let out a rough, unnatural laugh.

"Boy, you must be daft, to tell me I don't know when I bring down a
deer. The deer is mine, and if you shot at him you wasted your powder,
that's all."

So speaking, Hank Stiger swung himself on the back of his mustang,
which little beast looked all out of proportion to the deer and man
mounted on him. His gun was slung over his shoulder, and there he
allowed it to remain while he gathered up the reins and urged his pony

Ralph was white. As told before, he was but a boy of eight, yet his
life on the frontier had given him the appearance of being ten or more.
Rushing in front of the mustang, he raised his gun and pointed the
muzzle at Stiger's head.


"Stop where you are!" he cried, commandingly. "You sha'n't leave this
spot until you give up that deer, and that's all there is to it!"



It must be confessed that Hank Stiger was badly frightened when Ralph
confronted him with the loaded gun. He was naturally not an overly
brave fellow, and while the boy before him was young, yet he realised
that Ralph could shoot as well as many a man. Besides this, Dan was
there, and he was also armed, and now had his finger on the trigger of
the ancient cavalry musket.

"Don't shoot!" The words came from Dan. He could not help but admire
his brother's pluck, yet he was sorry that the affair had taken such an
acute turn. His caution was unnecessary, for Ralph had no intention of
firing, excepting Stiger should attempt to rush by him or use the gun
slung on his shoulder.

The mustang took several steps, and then the half-breed brought him to
an abrupt halt. "You're carrying matters with a putty high hand, to my
notion," he remarked, sarcastically.

An awkward pause followed, Ralph knowing not what to say, and glancing
at Dan, half afraid that his brother would be tremendously angry with
him over the hasty threat he had made. Yet he felt that he was in the
right, and he kept his gun-barrel on a line with the half-breed's head.

"Stiger, you might as well give up the deer," said Dan, as quietly as
he could. "It's Ralph's first big game, and of course he feels mighty
proud of it. A good shot like you ought to be able to bring down lots
of game of your own."

Dan imagined that this tempered speech and side praise would put the
half-breed in good humour, but he was mistaken. Stiger glanced from one
lad to the other, his face growing more sullen each instant.

"This deer is mine, and you can't force me to give it up," he muttered.
"Put down that gun, or we'll have trouble."

"You put down the deer, first," said Ralph, sturdily.

"It's my deer, not yours, and I won't put it down. I'm not afraid of
two youngsters like you."

Again Ralph's temper got the better of him. "You shall put it down,
Hank Stiger. You are nothing but a horse-thief, and I----"

"Ha! call me a hoss-thief!" ejaculated the half-breed, in a rage. "I
won't stand that, boy. You shall suffer for it."

"You are a horse-thief, and stole one of my father's animals last year.
Now you want to steal my deer, but you shall not do it. Dan, he's got
to give it up, hasn't he?"

"Yes, he has got to give it up," answered the older brother, seeing
that matters had gone too far for either of them to back down. Dan was
slow to make up his mind, but, once it was made up, he was
uncompromising to the last degree.

"Supposing I refuse to give up the deer?" came from the half-breed. He
spoke in a brusque manner, but there was a shade of anxiety in his

"You had better not refuse."

"You wouldn't dare to shoot at me."

"Don't you be too sure of that," put in Ralph. "You must remember that
father could have had you shot down for a horse-thief, had he wanted to
do so. I don't want any trouble with you, but I am bound to have my

"All right, then, you keep the game!" ejaculated Hank Stiger, in deep
rage, and, turning on his mustang, he picked up the deer and flung it
to the earth. "But remember, I say I shot that deer and that he is
mine. Some day you'll rue your work here, mark my words!" And with an
angry shake of his dirty fist at them he kicked his mustang in the
sides and was soon lost to view in the forest to the north of the

The two boys watched him carefully, and they did not lower their guns
until they were certain that he had gone too far to turn and fire at
them. Then Ralph knelt over the deer and examined the torn open neck.

"There, I was sure of it!" he cried, triumphantly. "There is my bullet,
and that's the only shot he received."

"Let me see." Dan took the bullet. "You are right, Ralph. But, even so,
we have made an enemy of Stiger for life. He will never forgive you for
calling him a horse-thief."

"I don't care,--I got the deer. Do you believe he'll come back to make
more trouble?"

"There is no telling. I think we had better be getting back to the
house,--father doesn't seem to be anywhere about. There is a tree
branch. You can tie the game to that, and we can both pull it down the
creek to the river and then over to the burn. It won't be worth while
bringing a pony out to do it."

Both set to work, and in a few minutes the deer was fastened to the
branch and slid into the creek. The bottom was sandy, and the water
made the load slip along readily. The lads had just crossed the burn
with their drag when a gunshot rang out, coming from the direction of
the ranch home.

"Listen!" ejaculated Dan. "A shot from the house! What can that mean?"

He dropped his hold on the branch and leaped forward, unslinging the
_escopeta_ as he did so. For a moment Ralph hesitated, not wishing to
leave his game again, but then, as his brother disappeared into the
belt of timber hiding the cabin from their view, he also dropped his
hold, feeling that, even though a boy, his presence might be needed

When Dan reached the clearing about the ranch home he found his father
in the doorway, rifle in hand, gazing anxiously in one direction and
another. Mr. Radbury was tall and thin, and constant exposure to the
sun had browned him considerably. A glance sufficed to show what he
really was, a Southern gentleman of the old school, despite the rough
life he was at present leading.

"Dan!" cried the parent, gladly. "I am happy to see you are safe. Where
is Ralph?"

"He is just behind me, father. But what's the trouble? Has anything
happened here while we have been away?"

"I hardly think so, but the Indians are around,--I saw two of them
directly across the river, and half a dozen at the big tree ford, all
Comanches, and several of them in their war-paint. I was afraid you had
had trouble with them."

"No, we've had trouble with somebody else," answered Dan, but before he
could go any further Ralph appeared. The tale about the deer and Hank
Stiger was soon told, Mr. Radbury listening with close attention.

"And do you think I did wrong, father?" questioned the youngest
Radbury, as he concluded his narrative.

"No, I can't say that, Ralph," was the grave answer. "But I am afraid
it will make us more trouble all around. Stiger and Bison Head are
intimate friends, and if the Indians are going on the war-path again,
the half-breed may direct an attack upon us. It was a great mistake to
speak about that stolen horse. We can't prove that Stiger took it,
although I am morally sure he was the guilty party."

After a short talk, it was decided that Mr. Radbury should go into the
timber for the deer alone, leaving Ralph and Dan to watch around the
cabin and the cattle shelter. At the shelter were several cows, used
for milking, and a number of pigs. The other stock was off on the range
between the ranch and Gonzales, grazing.

"I'd like to know if the cattle are safe," remarked Dan, after his
father had left. "If those Indians should take it into their heads to
round them up and drive them off it would be a big loss."

"Perhaps Hank Stiger will put them up to it," returned his brother. "I
suppose he is mad enough to do most anything."

Leaving Ralph to see to the defences of the ranch home, Dan hurried
down to the cattle shelter. This was in plain view of the cabin and
could readily be covered from two firing-holes left in the shutter
which covered one of the windows of the sleeping apartment.

Everything was as the youth had left it that morning, and there were no
indications that any marauders had been around during the absence of
Ralph and himself. The gate to the cattle enclosure was open, and some
of the cows were outside. These he drove in and then barred up the

Back of the cattle shed, at a distance of several hundred feet, was a
slight hollow, where there was a pool of water surrounded by
mesquite-trees and bushes. This pool could be seen only from the back
of the shed, and as Dan walked in that direction, something caught his
eye which instantly arrested his attention.

It was a plume of feathers waving above the bushes close to the pool.
There was a similar plume a short distance away.

"Turkey feathers," he muttered to himself. "But there are no wild
turkeys down there, and I know it. Father was right, the Comanches are
watching our home and surrounding it."

As soon as he had made his discovery, Dan felt inclined to run back to
the cabin with all speed. But this would let the Indians know that they
were discovered and probably make them hasten their plans. So instead
of running he took his time, walked completely around the shed, stopped
to pat a favourite cow on the nose, and then sauntered slowly to the

Once inside, however, his manner changed. "Ralph, father was right, the
Comanches are on the war-path!" he exclaimed. "Bar up the windows, and
I'll look to it that every gun and pistol in the house is ready for

"Then you saw more of them?"

"Yes, two down by the hollow."

"Do they know that you saw them?"

"I hardly think so." Dan began to look over the stock of pistols,
several in number, including a "hoss" nearly two feet long. "I wish
father was back," he added, anxiously.

"Shall I fire a signal?"

"Not yet, for it may only make the Comanches hurry up. But you can
watch for father from the doorway, and if you see him, beckon him to
run for it," concluded the elder brother.



While the two boys are waiting for their father's return, and wondering
what will be the next movement of the Comanches surrounding the ranch
home, let us turn aside for a moment to consider the state of affairs
in Texas in this momentous year of 1835.

As said before, Texas and the territory known as Coahuila, lying on the
southern bank of the Rio Grande River, formed one of the states of the
Mexican Confederation. At the time Texas became bound to Coahuila there
was a clause in the constitution which allowed her to become a separate
state whenever she acquired the requisite size, although what the
requisite size must be was not specified.

The Texans were satisfied, at that time, to belong to the Mexican
Confederation, but they soon discovered that to be tied fast to
Coahuila was going to become very burdensome. The latter-named
territory was inhabited almost entirely by Mexicans who had nothing in
common with the Americans, and these Mexicans kept the capital city of
the state at Monclova or Saltillo, so that the settlers in Texas had to
journey five hundred miles or more by wagon roads for every legal
purpose. Besides this, the judiciary was entirely in the hands of the
inhabitants of Coahuila, and they passed laws very largely to suit

The first troubles came over the land grants. A number of men, headed
by Stephen Austin, had come into Texas, bringing with them hundreds of
settlers to occupy grants given to these leaders, who were known as
_empresarios_, or contractors. Each settler's grant had to be recorded,
and the settlers grumbled at journeying so far to get clear deeds to
their possessions. At the same time, Mexico herself was in a state of
revolution, and often one so-called government would not recognise the
grant made by the government just overthrown.

The next trouble was with the Indians. The Comanches, Apaches,
Shawnees, Wacos, Lipans, and separated tribes of Cherokees, Delawares,
and Choctaws, some driven from the United States by the pioneers there,
overran the northern and central portions of Texas, and those on the
frontier, like Mr. Amos Radbury, were never safe from molestation. The
Mexican government had promised the settlers protection, but the
protection amounted to but little, and at one time only ninety soldiers
were out to guard a frontier extending hundreds of miles, and where the
different tribes of the enemy numbered ten to twenty thousand. The only
thing which saved the settlers from total annihilation at this time was
the friendliness of some of the Indians and the fact that the red men
carried on a continual warfare among themselves.

Some of the Indian fights had been notable. One of the worst of them
was an encounter between a band of over a hundred and about a dozen
whites under the leadership of James Bowie, better known as Jim Bowie,
of bowie-knife fame,--this knife having become famous in border
warfare. In this struggle the whites were surrounded, and kept the
Indians at bay for eight days, killing twenty odd of the enemy,
including a notable chief. The loss to the whites was one killed and
two wounded.

This fight had occurred some years before the opening of this tale,
but, only a month previous to the events now being related, another
encounter had come off, on Sandy Creek, but a few miles from the
Radbury home. A party of French and Mexican traders, thirteen in
number, had gone up to the house of one John Castleman, and during the
night the Indians came up, murdered nearly all of the number, and made
off with the traders' packs. Castleman hastened to Gonzales with the
news, and a posse was organised to follow the red men. This resulted in
another battle, in the cedar brakes along the San Marcos, and some of
the Indians were killed. But the majority got away, taking most of the
stolen goods with them.

The mentioning of these two encounters will show with what the early
settlers of Texas had to contend while trying to raise their crops and
attend to their cattle. Often a bold settler would go forth into the
wilderness, erect his rude hut, and then never be heard from again, his
habitation being found, later on, either deserted or burnt to the
ground. And men were not the only sufferers, for women and children
were often either killed or carried off into captivity. Once two
well-known ladies were spirited away in the most mysterious fashion,
and they were not returned to their homes until both had spent several
years among the red people.

Dan and Ralph thought over many of these affairs as they set about
preparing the ranch home against any attack which might be made upon
it. Ralph especially was much agitated, for, some six months before,
several Indians had stopped at the ranch for the purpose of trading
ponies, and one of them had eyed the soft-haired boy's scalp in a
manner which had given the youth a shiver from head to foot.

"They sha'n't have my scalp," he murmured to himself. "I'll die first!"
And, young as he was, it may be believed that he meant what he said.

"Do you see anything of father?" called out Dan, as he finished
inspecting the last of the pistols.


"He ought to be coming up by this time."

"I really think we ought to fire a shot for a signal."

"We'll wait a few minutes longer."

They waited--every minute seeming like ten. It was a clear, sunshiny
day, and outside only a faint breeze stirred the trees, otherwise all
was silent. At the end of five minutes Dan stepped to the doorway.

"Father!" he called, at the top of his voice.

No answer came back, and then Ralph joined in the cry, which was
repeated several times.

"He ought to hear that," said Ralph, as the silence continued. Then his
face grew pale. "Perhaps they have killed him, Dan!"

"I heard no shot; did you?"

"No, but some of the Indians may have bows with them. I heard one of
those Indians who was here last say he didn't like the white man's
fire-bow because it made so much noise it scared all the game. If
they've got bows and arrows they could easily crawl up behind father,
and----" Ralph did not finish in words, but his brother understood what
he meant only too well. Reaching for one of the pistols, Dan ran
outside of the door, and fired it off.

Mr. Radbury had gone for the deer with his gun slung over his back, so
he could easily fire a return signal if he wished. Eagerly the brothers
listened, but the exasperating silence continued.

Then, as Dan reloaded, Ralph fired a second shot.

"Something is wrong," said the older brother, after several more
minutes had gone by. "If father was coming with the deer he would be in
sight sure. Either the Indians have surrounded him or killed him, or
else they have got between him and the house so that he can't get in.
I'm going up to the loft with the spy-glass and take a squint around."

Glass in hand, Dan ran up the rude ladder to the loft, which was some
six feet high at the ridge-pole and two feet high at the edge of the
sloping sides. There were windows on all four sides, but those at the
slopes were small and only intended for observation holes.

Ralph had closed all of the shutters, so the loft was almost dark. With
caution Dan opened one shutter after another and swept the woods and
country around with the glass.

He could not see the hollow, but at the crest of the hill by the cattle
shed he made out the heads of several Indians gathered back of some
bushes and talking earnestly. Presently the Indians, separated, and two
of the number walked off in the direction of the river, on the opposite
side of the ranch home.

"They are up to something," reasoned the boy, and took up a position on
the other side of the loft. From this point he could see a small
portion of the river as it wound in and out among the trees and brush.
He waited impatiently for the Indians to reappear, and at last saw them
cross a glade close to where he and his brother had met the half-breed.
As the Indians came out into the open, Hank Stiger met them.

"He will join them now if he wasn't with them before," thought Dan, and
in this he was right. The Indians and Stiger held a short talk, and
then all three disappeared in the belt of timber surrounding the burn.

"Can you see anything?" called up Ralph.

"Yes, several Indians, and Stiger has joined them."

"Stiger! And what of father?"

"I see nothing of him. Ralph, I am afraid we are in for it this time,
and no mistake."

"You think the Indians really intend to attack us?"

"I do."

"Right away?"

"No, they will probably wait until it grows dark, especially now, after
they have seen us barring the windows."

"Then I had better be ready to bar up the door, too."

"Yes, but keep a lookout for father. He may come in on the run, you

Dan continued to use the glass, stepping from one window to another.
But the Indians had disappeared from view, and not another glimpse of a
feather or a painted face was to be seen.

Presently he found himself looking toward the burn. Back, in the timber
bordering the river, was a tall tree which reared its head a score of
feet above its fellow trees. As he turned his glass in that direction,
something unusual in the top of the tree attracted his attention.

He gazed long and earnestly at the object, and at last made out the
form of a man, who was waving some dark thing, probably his coat, to
and fro.

"It must be father!" he thought. "I'll signal in return and make sure,"
and catching up a bed sheet he stuck it out of the window for a minute
and swung it vigorously. As he did this, the party in the tree flung up
the coat and caught it, then disappeared from view. At once Dan drew in
the sheet, closed all the shutters of the loft, and went below.



"Well, I've just seen father and signalled to him."

"Where was he, Dan?"

"In the top of the king pine by the river. He was waving his coat to
attract my attention. I waved a bed sheet at him and then he threw his
coat up in the air and caught it, and got out of sight as soon as he

"Then he was going off."

"Yes," answered Dan. For among these pioneers to throw an object from
one and then catch it meant to go away and return. "Probably he is
going away for assistance."

"I shouldn't think he would leave us alone," mused Ralph, his face
falling perceptibly.

"That makes me feel certain that the Indians don't intend to attack us
until dark. Perhaps father heard some of their powwowing, or some talk
between them and Stiger. Anyway, I am sure he is going away."

"Then we may as well close up tight."

"All but the door. But bring in all the buckets full of water first. We
may be in for a regular siege of it."

Dan's suggestion was carried out, and the older boy also made a raid on
the cattle yard and brought in one of the cows, tying her close to the
door. "Now we'll have milk and meat too, if the worst comes to the
worst," he observed. No matter what else happened he did not intend to
be starved out.

Their regular chores done, the two boys locked up below, but left the
door unbarred, and then went to the loft, taking with them their guns
and the spy-glass.

"I suppose we can count this something of a fort," remarked Ralph. "But
I don't care to play soldier--I'd rather have the Indians leave us

"So would I. But I guess I can play soldier if I have to," added Dan,
with quiet emphasis. Secretly he loved soldiering much better than life
on the ranch, but in those days he never dreamed of the adventures on
the battle-field which were still in store for him.

The afternoon wore away slowly until the sun began to set behind the
timber west of the ranch. In the meantime, the boys, having had no
dinner, grew hungry, and Ralph spent some time below in boiling a pot
of coffee and stirring and baking some ash-cakes, serving both with a
bit of broiled steak.

"It's too bad we can't have some venison," he sighed to his brother.
"But I reckon my first big game is going to get us into a whole lot of

"I reckon the Indians were getting ready to come down on us, anyhow,"
answered Dan. "It seems they can stay quiet just so long, and then
their animal nature breaks loose for a shindy."

Dan had just returned to the loft after his repast, when he uttered a

"An Indian is coming toward the cabin, Ralph!"

"Do you know him?"

"No, but he is a Comanche."

"In war-paint?"

"I don't know if it's war-paint or not, but he is daubed full of all
the colours of the rainbow."

"It must be war-paint. Is he alone?"

"Yes, and riding a white pony. His gun is on his back, and he doesn't
look as if he was up to mischief."

"Oh, I wouldn't trust him!" cried the younger lad. "He may be up to
some of their treachery."

"But I can't stop him from coming to the cabin. I'll be on my guard,
and you must be, too," concluded Dan, and went below. With quickness he
hid away all the weapons but two pistols, one of which he stuck in his
shirt bosom and gave the other to Ralph.

"We must keep apart," said Ralph. "Then if he attacks one or the other
the free one can fire on him."

"That's good generalship," returned Dan, with a grim smile.

By this time the Indian rider was close to the dooryard, and Dan walked
outside to meet him. As soon as the youth appeared, the savage halted
his steed.

"How! How!" he said, in guttural tones, meaning "How do you do?"

"How are you?" returned Dan.

"Wolf Ear is sick--got pain here," and the red man pointed to his

"Sick, eh? What have you been doing,--eating and drinking too much?"

"No, Wolf Ear big sick two moons past,--sick come back,--can't ride and
must lay down," groaned the savage, grating his teeth as if in intense
pain. "White boy help Wolf Ear, me lof him."

Under ordinary circumstances Dan would have been touched by this
appeal, for he knew that the Indians suffered just as many aches and
pains as did the white folks.

"I am no good at doctoring sick men," he answered. "Wolf Ear had better
go back to his own medicine man."

At this the Indian stared at the boy stolidly for fully half a minute.
He understood that he was not wanted, and that he would not be allowed
into the cabin.

"White boy have no medicine for Wolf Ear?" he said, slowly.

"I don't know what would be good for you."

"Where white boy's fadder?"

"He has gone away." A sudden idea came to Dan's mind. "I think he has
gone to Gonzales to bring along some of the lumbermen to look over the
plans for a sawmill. There are about a dozen men thinking of setting up
a sawmill around here."

The Indian pursed up his mouth, trying to conceal his chagrin. "He come
back soon?"

"I expect him every minute. But you had better not wait for him.
Perhaps you'll feel better if you wash off that war-paint on your

At this Wolf Ear scowled viciously. "White boy big fool!" he cried, and
reached around for his gun. But before he could raise the weapon both
Dan and Ralph had him covered with the pistols. Not having seen the
weapons while speaking, the Indian was taken aback.

"Put that gun down," said Dan, sternly. "I am not such a fool as you

"Wolf Ear only make fun," grinned the savage, feebly. "No mean to

"I don't like your fun, and I want you to leave this place."

At once the red man straightened up like an arrow on his pony. "Wolf
Ear will go," he said, loftily. "But Wolf Ear shall not forget you!"
And he turned his steed to ride away. Evidently he had forgotten all
about his alleged pain.

"Dan, make him give up his gun," cried Ralph, in a low voice. "If you
don't he'll try to shoot us as soon as he reaches cover."

"Halt!" exclaimed the older brother. "Wolf Ear, you must leave your gun
with us. You can come back for it when my father is here."

At first the Indian pretended not to hear, then he turned back to look
at them, but without stopping his pony.

"My firearm is mine," he said. "The white boy shall not rob the poor
Indian," and digging his heels into his pony's sides he set off at a
breakneck pace for the nearest patch of timber. Ralph was about to fire
on him, but Dan stopped the proceedings.

"No, let him go," he said. "Whatever happens, don't give them the
chance to say that we opened the fight. If we start the affair we'll
get into all sorts of trouble with the agency."

Before they could argue the matter Wolf Ear had gained the timber. Both
of the boys were now in the doorway of the cabin. Bang! went the
redskin's gun, and the bullet embedded itself in the door-post close to
their heads. Like lightning the boys leaped into the living-room and
barred the oaken barrier behind them.

"He has opened the attack!" gasped Ralph, the shot, coming so close,
temporarily unnerving him. "I told you he'd do it."

Dan did not answer, but, running to the closet, brought out the best of
the guns belonging to his father. Leaping up to the loft, he opened the
firing-hole fronting the direction Wolf Ear had taken, and squinted
through. But the Indian horseman was long since out of sight.

"Can you catch him?" asked Ralph, from the foot of the ladder.

"No, he's gone."

"Do you think he'll bring the others down on us now?"

"No. They know we are armed, and they couldn't rush across the clearing
and break in without one or more of them being shot, and they are too
afraid of their hides to undertake the job. But they'll close in as
soon as it's dark, beyond a doubt."

"I hope father comes back by that time."

"So do I. Do you suppose they are driving off the cattle on the range?"

"There is no telling. For all we know they may be up back of the cattle
shed, too."

It was now so dark that but little could be seen beyond the clearing
immediately surrounding the cabin. Each of the boys stationed himself
in the loft, Dan watching to the north and the east, and Ralph to the
south and west.

With the coming of night the silence seemed more oppressive than ever,
and only the occasional mooing of the cow tied near the door broke the
stillness around the cabin. From the woods came now and then the cry of
a night bird, but that was all. The breeze had died out utterly.

But presently came a cry that caused the hearts of both lads to thump
vigorously within their breasts. It was the note of a night-owl,
repeated six times.

"That's a Comanche signal," said Dan, in almost a whisper. "Ralph, they
must be coming now, and if they are, God help us to do our best in
repelling their attack!"

"Amen!" came almost solemnly from the younger Radbury. "Can you make
out anything yet?"

"No--yes! Somebody is sneaking through the timber toward the river.
It's an Indian with a gun! He's turning toward the house, and two other
Indians are behind him!"

Several minutes more passed--minutes that seemed like hours to the
boys, whose hearts thumped as never before. Both felt that a crisis in
their lives had arrived.

"They are coming, five strong," whispered Dan, at last. "Perhaps I had
better fire a pistol to warn them off."

"Do it," answered his brother, and soon the report broke the stillness.
At the sound the Comanches came to a halt in the clearing, midway
between the cabin and the timber. The halt, however, was only
temporary, for an instant later a wild war-whoop rang out, and they
charged swiftly on the ranch home!



"Here they come, Dan!"

"Yes, Ralph. Watch your chance, and fire at the fellow on the left.
I'll take the one on the right."

There was no time to say more, for now the Comanches were close to the
cabin. Both youths were tremendously excited, but they felt that it was
a case of life or death, and did their best to nerve themselves
accordingly. Each picked his man, and both guns rang out at the same
time. The reports had not yet died away when the redskin aimed at by
Dan flung up one arm and sank back, badly wounded in the side. Ralph
had missed his mark by a few inches.

The sudden attack brought the remaining Indians to a halt, and for a
second they appeared not to know what to do next. Then the wounded man
staggered back toward the timber, and with another war-whoop the others
continued toward the cabin.

The boys had no time left to reload, and caught up the pistols and let
drive again. This time it was Ralph who hit his man, a slight wound in
the leg. Hardly had the pistols belched forth than the Indians opened
fire, and four bullets buried themselves close to the firing-holes in
the loft openings.

"They mean to overpower us if they can," cried Dan. "We must load up as
fast as we can!"

The Indians, or at least the three that were not wounded, had now
gained the door, and were trying to force it open. But their hatchets
and the axe they had brought along failed to make much of an impression
on it, and all they could do was to shout in their rage and demand that
the boys open the door at once.

"Open! Open!" came in Wolf Ear's voice. "Open, or we will scalp you!"

"Go away, or we'll shoot you all down!" answered Dan, who had now
reloaded his gun.

"We will not go away. What is in the house belongs to the red man, and
he must have it."

"It belongs to our father, and you shall not have one thing," retorted

He had unbarred the shutter of one of the upper windows, and now,
leaning out swiftly, he took aim at the forms grouped below, and fired.

A howl went up, for the bullet had nipped one red man in the ear and
glanced along the shoulder of a second. Then came a quick fire in
return, and Dan gave a scream that caused Ralph's heart to almost stop

"You are struck?" queried the younger brother.

"It's not much," came from Dan, and, breathing heavily, he flung to the
window-shutter and bolted it again. Then he came down the ladder, the
blood flowing from a wound in his neck. Had the bullet come two inches
closer, Dan would have been killed on the spot.

The Indians were now trying to batter the door down with a log of wood
picked up close at hand. The cow bothered them in their efforts, and
one of the red men had to take time to cut her loose, at which the cow
ran off to the cattle shed once more.

Thus far three of the attackers had been wounded, one quite seriously.
The other two continued to hammer away at the door, which presently
showed signs of giving way.

"Let us try to fire through the door," whispered Ralph, when he saw
that his brother was still able to continue the struggle. "We may hit
them, and, anyway, we'll give them a scare."

Dan nodded, and both drew closer to the barrier with their guns. But
before they could level their firearms, there came a report from the
edge of the timber next to the burn, and one of the Indians was heard
to yell in mortal agony and fall on the doorstep.

"Somebody is coming!" cried Dan, joyfully. "It must be father!" Then a
second report rang out, and another red man was struck, in the arm.
This was the savage who had previously been nipped in the ear, and,
without waiting for another shot, he sped away in the darkness, and his
two companions after him, leaving the dead Indian where he had fallen.

There was now no use of trying to fire through the door, and Dan
motioned Ralph to run up to the loft.

"See if you can make out who it was that fired," he said, "and if it is
father, and he wants to come in, call for me to open the door."

The boys had lit a single lantern, but now this was put out, since they
were afraid some treacherous red man might still be lurking at hand, to
fire at them through a crack in the cabin walls. While Ralph made his
survey from above, Dan stood at the door, his hand on the bar, ready to
throw it back on an instant's notice.

"A man is coming on the run!" announced Ralph, presently. "He is waving
for us to open the door. I can't make out who it is."

"Is it father?"

"No, I can't make out---- It's Poke Stover! Let him in, quick!"

Back shot the bolt and up went the heavy bar, and as the door was
opened to the width of a foot, the figure of a tall, heavily bearded
frontiersman slipped into the cabin. He helped hold the door while Dan
secured it again.

"Poke Stover!" cried the youth. "I'm mighty glad you've come!"

"Are you and Ralph safe?" was the question, as soon as the man could
catch his breath, for he had been running with all the swiftness at his

"Yes, although I've got a scratch on the throat. But father--do you
know anything of him?"

"Yes, he has gone to Gonzales to bring help. He says he signalled to
you from the tall pine."

"So he did. Did he have a fight with any of the Indians?"

"Yes, he was attacked by Bison Head and Hank Stiger, the half-breed. He
put a bullet through Stiger's left calf, and knocked the Injun down
with the butt of his gun. That's the reason the two were not with the
party that attacked the cabin."

"How many are there, all told?" asked Ralph, who had come down the
ladder again.

"Not more than ten, and one of 'em's dead outside."

"And two or three of them are wounded," added Dan.

"The wust on it is, they'll be gittin' thicker and thicker," resumed
the old frontiersman, who had drifted into Texas from Missouri several
years ago, and who had spent all of his life on the plains. "I've half
a notion as how Bison Head is tryin' to git the whole Comanche nation
on the war-path."

"If that's the case, they may organise around here," said Ralph. "How
long do you suppose it will be before father gets back?"

"He said he would try to make it by daybreak," answered Poke Stover.
"It's accordin' as how he finds his men."

The talking now dropped off, as the frontiersman said it would be best
to remain silent and keep on guard at the various port-holes in the

Slowly the night wore away, until it was three o'clock in the morning.
Only one alarm had come, but this had amounted to nothing.

"I see a light," announced Dan. "Can it be a camp-fire?"

"Not likely, lad," answered Stover. "Comanches on the war-path don't
light 'em. It's a signal."

"Another signal to attack?" queried Ralph.

"More'n likely. We must keep our eyes peeled for 'em."

Another half-hour dragged by, and the only sound that broke the
stillness was the morning breeze, as it began to stir through the
timber surrounding the clearing. Outside not a soul was to be seen.

"Perhaps that was a signal to withdraw," suggested Dan. "I hope it
was." But Poke Stover shook his head, for he had seen much of the
Comanches and understood them thoroughly.

"They won't go until they've had another round at ye," he said. "I'm
expectin' 'em every minit now."

Scarcely had he finished, when something attracted Dan's attention back
of the cattle shed. An object was moving around. Presently it started
straight for the cabin.

"It looks like one of the cows--and it is," he announced. "I wonder
what started her up?"

"Let me take a squint," said the frontiersman, and covered the
port-hole searchingly for half a minute. Then he raised his rifle, took
careful aim, and blazed away. There was a grunt of dismay, and an
Indian, who had been driving the cow and dodging directly behind, ran
back, while the cow kicked up her heels and flew in the opposite

"Thar, I reckon he'll know enough to keep back after this," growled
Poke Stover, with much self-satisfaction. "He thought he was goin' to
sneak up unbeknown to us, but I crossed his trail fer him that trip."

"What do you suppose he was going to do, if he had gotten close to the
cabin?" asked Ralph.

"He had a bunch of brush in his hand, lad, and probably a bit o' fire
about him, too, although I allow as how I didn't see no light."

"Then he wanted to burn us out!" ejaculated the youngest Radbury.

"That was his game."

Ralph shivered at the thought. It was bad enough to be shot at, but to
be burned out! He wished daylight would come and his father would
return with the much-needed aid.

With the coming of daylight those in the cabin could see with greater
clearness under the tall timber, and soon Poke Stover announced that
several Indians were in sight.

"They are making something," he announced. "Looks like a stone-boat,"
meaning thereby a sort of flat drag-sled often used for removing stones
from a field.

"I know what it is!" exclaimed Dan. "It's a shield! One or two of them
will come up behind it. See if I am not right."

The three waited anxiously, Ralph fairly holding his breath in
expectancy. At last the shield, for such it was, was done, and slowly
two Comanches came forward, holding it in front of them, and taking
care that neither should expose so much as a hand or foot.

"Hang 'em!" muttered the tall frontiersman, and, taking deliberate aim
at a slight crack in the wooden shield, he fired. But the barrier was
thick and tough, and the bullet failed to penetrate to the opposite

One of the Indians behind the shield carried a bunch of dry grass and
some brush, and as they came closer this was lighted. Then the burning
stuff was hurled forward. It was tied into a bundle with some strong
vines, and had a stone attached to give it weight. It landed on the
roof of the cabin, blazing brightly, then rolled off to a spot directly
below one of the windows.



"The roof is on fire!"

"The wall is on fire under one of the sleeping-room windows!"

The first cry came from Ralph, who was in the loft, the second from his
brother, who saw the flames and smoke coming through the cracks where
the wall and the flooring of the cabin joined. The breeze was
increasing, and soon both fires were burning merrily, as if such flames
were not tending toward a tragedy.

"Some water--we must put it out!" came from Poke Stover, and, catching
up one of the buckets the boys had thoughtfully provided, he ran to the
window beneath which the conflagration was spreading. "Unbar it, Dan,
and I'll souse it out. Look out that you don't expose yourself."

The shutter was unbarred and opened for the space of several inches. At
once the smoke began to pour into the cabin, setting them all to
coughing. Then the breeze carried the smoke in the opposite direction.

Suddenly Poke Stover set down the bucket of water and grabbed Dan's
gun. A quick aim and a flash, and one of the Comanches let go of the
shield and danced around with a broken elbow. Then both of the enemy
retreated far more rapidly than they had come.

"Got him that trip," was the frontiersman's satisfactory comment. "But
be careful, Dan, there are others watching us from the timber."

The shutter was pushed open a little more, and with much skill Poke
Stover dashed the water on the blaze and put the most of it out. Then
he wet an old coat and beat out what remained.

"It's a pity we didn't have no dirt handy to shovel on," he said,
pausing to catch his breath, while Dan locked the shutter again. "We
may need this water afore we git through. How is it up thar, Ralph?" he

"It's burning pretty lively," was the reply. "But perhaps we can beat
it out with the coat."

"The Indians can spot you on the roof," said Dan.

"Go down and unbar the door and swing it partly open," said Poke
Stover. "That will attract the attention of the Injuns, and they won't
be a-lookin' at the roof. But wait a minit, till I'm ready fer ye!" he
added, as he laboured up the ladder with a second bucket of the
precious water. The old coat was soused thoroughly, and Stover opened
the shutter nearest to the fire.

"Now go ahead!" he called out, and Dan opened the door, and swung it
back and forth several times. He also showed his hat on a stick, and in
a trice came several shots, one going through the head-covering and
entering the closet in the corner. Then he swung the hat out again, and
another shot followed.

During this time the old frontiersman had reached out of the upper
window and beat out part of the fire and hurled the remainder to the
ground, far enough away from the cabin to keep it from doing further
harm. One shot was aimed at him, as the breeze exposed him through the
smoke to the Comanches, but this luckily flew wide of its mark.

"By gosh, but that was a close shave!" ejaculated Stover, as he dropped
back into the loft, while Ralph closed the shutter. His beard was
singed in two places and his face was red and hot. "It's a good thing
that fire wasn't allow to gain no more headway."

He bathed his face and took a drink of water, and then all three began
to speculate upon the next probable movement of the Comanches. By the
clock on the living-room mantel it was now half-past four.

"Father ought to be coming now," said Ralph. "But perhaps he has been
unable to get anybody to come back with him."

"Don't worry about that," returned Poke Stover. "They'll all come if
only they git the word. The buck ague don't go around here." By buck
ague the frontiersman meant the fright which occasionally takes
possession of a pioneer or soldier when facing Indians who are on the

It was not long after this that the Indians began to show their
activity once more. Others of the tribe had arrived, until they
numbered eighteen or twenty, the majority of whom were armed with guns,
only one or two of the older warriors sticking to their bows and

"I reckon they suspect we are waiting for help, and they mean to do
something before it gits too late," observed Poke Stover. "Perhaps
they'll give us another rush before they withdraw fer good. We had
better inspect all of our shootin'-irons, fer we may want 'em badly."

The frontiersman was right, the Comanches were organising an attack, to
be divided into three parts,--one party to come from the timber
skirting the burn, the second to come up behind the cabin, and the
third to make a dash from behind the cattle shed. The first division
carried a heavy log, with which they hoped to batter down the door in
short order.

"They are coming!" The cry came from Dan, who was watching the timber
in front of the burn. "There are six of them!"

"Here comes another crowd from the shed!" ejaculated Ralph.

"They have divided up," said the frontiersman. "Boys, I'm afraid we now
have a stiff piece of work cut out for ourselves. A third party is
coming from the rear, and there is no telling but what there may be
still more. We must do our best and fight to a finish, for they are on
the war-path for fair, and they'll show us no mercy if once they git at
us. Load up and fire jest as quick as ye can! Give it to 'em hot!"

As Poke Stover finished, he leaped to the window nearest to him, shoved
the muzzle of his weapon through the port-hole, and pulled the trigger.
A yell went up as one of the redskins threw up his arms and fell. But
then the others came on faster than ever, yelling and shouting in a
manner to cause the stoutest heart to falter. Surely, as Stover had
said, it would be a fight to the finish, and they were but three to

Dan was at one port-hole and Ralph at another, and now both fired
simultaneously. Whether the shots were effective they could not tell.
Certainly none of the Indians dropped.

In two minutes more the Comanches were running around the house in
every direction, trying to batter down the door with the log, and
likewise trying to pry open several of the shutters with their

At such close quarters it was next to impossible to fire on them,
although several gun and pistol shots were exchanged. Once an Indian
fired through a port-hole into the bedchamber, and the burning gun-wad
landed on one of the straw bedticks.

"Put it out!" roared Poke Stover, and while Dan trampled on the fire to
extinguish it, the frontiersman let the Indian have a shot in return.

Crash! crash! The heavy bombardment on the door was beginning to tell,
and already there was a long crack in the oaken slab, and the splinters
were flying in all directions.

"We'll take our stand here!" cried Poke Stover, motioning to a spot
facing the door. "Give it to 'em the minit daylight shines through!"
And they did, with such serious results that the party with the ram
dropped that instrument and ran to the opposite side of the house. But
their places were quickly taken by others, and now it looked as if the
door must give way at any instant.

Suddenly, just when it looked as if the next shock to the door must
smash it into a hundred pieces, there came a scattering volley of
rifle-shots from the timber near the river, answered almost instantly
by a second volley from the forest opposite. Then came a yell from the
Comanches, and a cheer in English.

"Hold the cabin! We are coming!" came in Mr. Radbury's well-known
voice, and never had it sounded more comforting to the two boys than at
that moment. Then followed more shots, some striking the cabin and
others hitting the Indians, who were so demoralised that for the moment
they knew not what to do.

"Down with the redskins!" came in the tones of a settler named
Whippler, who had lost his wife in a raid about a year previous. "Kill
every one of 'em! Don't let them escape!"

In his eagerness to annihilate those he so hated, he rode to the front
of the others, discharging his gun and his pistol as he came, and then
leaping upon the nearest redskin with his long hunting-knife. He
brought the red man down with a stroke in the breast, and was then laid
low himself by Red Pony, an under chief, who was in charge during the
absence of Wolf Ear and Bison Head. Red Pony then ran off for his very
life, followed by fourteen others, the remainder being either killed or

"Boys! Are either of you wounded?" asked Mr. Radbury, as he leaped from
the mustang he was riding, and rushed into the cabin.

"We are all right, father," answered both lads.

"Thank God for that!" murmured the parent, reverently. "But, see, your
neck is bleeding," he added, to Dan.

"It's only a scratch."

"Good. Poke, I see you managed to get to them. You are a brave fellow,
if ever there was one."

"We've had a hot time of it, father," put in Ralph. "If it hadn't been
for Mr. Stover, I don't know what we would have done."

"Ralph is right," assented Dan. "If he hadn't put out the fire we would
have been burnt out, and the cabin would have gone up in smoke in the

"I shall not forget your kindness, Poke," said Mr. Radbury, taking the
frontiersman's horny hand. "But, as you are all right, I fancy I had
better join the others, and follow the miscreants."

"And I'll go with ye," said Poke Stover, who disliked too much praise,
although not averse to some laudatory speech. "We ought to round up
every mother's son of 'em while we are about it."

"Shall we go too?" asked Dan. "I'd rather do that than remain behind,"
he continued.

"You may come, if you'll promise to keep to the rear," answered the
father. "Remember, the Indians are wily, and may set a trap for us."

All went outside, crawling through the battered doorway, and were soon
mounted on several extra mustangs Mr. Radbury had brought along. The
planter informed them that he had brought with him twenty-four men,
including Jim Bowie, who had happened to be in Gonzales at the time.
Soon the party of four were riding hard to catch up with the other
whites, who were following the trail of the Comanches along the bank of
the upper Guadalupe River.




After leaving the vicinity of the cabin, the Comanches struck a trail
leading through a cedar brake over the hill back of the cattle shed.
Here they came together, and without halting swept straight along the
Guadalupe River, as previously mentioned. They felt that the whites
would follow them, and their one hope of safety lay in gaining the
wilderness about San Saba Hill, sixty to seventy miles north of San

The leadership of the whites naturally fell to Colonel Jim Bowie, for
he had been in numerous Indian quarrels, and was a good man on the
trail. It may be here mentioned that Bowie, who was afterward to become
so well known in Texas, was one of two brothers who came to that
territory from Louisiana, after having been engaged for years in the
slave-trade. The man was as bold as he was daring, and it was said that
he knew not the meaning of the word fear.

The Indians were all on horseback, and as their steeds had had a long
rest they were fresh, and made rapid progress. On the other hand, the
mustangs of the whites were tired from the hard night's ride from
Gonzales and vicinity, and they could not keep up the pace, although
urged to do their best by their riders. All of the whites bewailed the
fate of Whippler, and swore to be revenged if given "the ghost of a

When Amos Radbury, Stover, and the two boys gained the other whites,
they found Bowie's party fording one of the creeks running into the
Guadalupe. The Indians had passed there about ten minutes before, and
it was to be seen that they had not even stopped to water their horses.
All of the settlers' horses were thirsty, and some refused to budge
from the stream until they had slaked their thirst.

"Do you think they will be caught?" asked Dan, as he swept along beside
his father.

"They will not be caught if they can help it," replied Mr. Radbury,
with a faint smile. "They know it will go hard with them if we do come
up with them."

"What of the wounded?" asked Ralph. But his father merely shrugged his

"They'll crawl off in the bushes, and either git away, or die,"
answered Poke Stover, philosophically. To him the life of an Indian was
of no account. He had never considered that an Indian might be educated
into becoming a useful member of the great human family.

On and on swept the little body of determined whites, each with his gun
in his hands, and his eyes on the alert for the first sign of danger.
The trail was still along the river, but presently it branched off, and
entered an _arrayo_, or gully, thick with thorny plants and entangling
vines. At the end of the _arrayo_ was a rocky plateau, and here for
the time being the trail was lost.

"The Indian that's leading them knows his business," remarked Colonel
Bowie, as he brought his command to a halt.

"That's right, but we'll soon be on his tail ag'in," returned Poke
Stover, who had come to his side. "Let's spread out in a fan, colonel;"
and this was done, each man examining his part of the great semicircle
with extreme care. A short while after, the trail was again struck, and
they swept on. But at both this place and at the ford valuable time had
been lost.

Noon found the Comanches still out of sight and hearing. But the trail
was fresh and easily seen, and it seemed only a question of endurance
upon one side or the other.

"If it wasn't for the jaded hosses," sighed Poke Stover. His own steed
was fairly fresh, but it would have been foolhardy for him to have gone
on ahead of the main body, with perhaps only one or two others being
able to do likewise. The Comanches would have liked nothing better than
to have gotten at the whites one at a time.

As the afternoon came and went, the party in pursuit began to grow
hungry. A few of the horsemen had brought rations with them, and these
were divided, each man and boy eating as he rode on. Some of the men
likewise carried liquor, and this was also divided, although Ralph and
Dan procured drinks of water at a spring instead. In those days it was
share and share alike with all of the settlers, and one man was
considered as good as another so long as he was honest and willing to
work. For dandies, from Philadelphia, New York, or other large cities,
the Texans had no use, nor did they love those who tried to show off
their learning. They were whole-souled, as it is called, to the core,
and they wanted everybody else to be so, too.

It was growing dark when Bowie called a halt on the edge of a small
clearing leading up to a hill thickly overgrown with scrub pines.

"We must be careful here, men," he said. "They may be scattered along
yonder timber belt, watching for us to uncover ourselves. We had better
move to the right and the left, and give the old signal if any of the
redskins appear in sight."

The split was made, but the Radburys and Poke Stover kept together. One
Indian was discovered, and the settler who saw him at once shouted, as
prearranged. Then the Indians, seeing that the attempt to draw the
whites into the open had failed, dashed along up the hillside, as
rapidly as the tangle of growth permitted. A number of shots were
exchanged, but nobody was hit.

During the afternoon one of the men had brought down a wild turkey, and
another several hares, for game of all kinds was still thick.

"That will do for supper," said Mr. Radbury. "But we will have to be
careful how we build a fire."

At seven o'clock the chase came to an end for the day, the jaded ponies
refusing to climb the hill that loomed up before them. One of the
ponies was a bucker, and threw his rider over his head into a

"Thet settles Bill Darson," drawled the Texan, as he extricated himself
from his difficulty. "When the pony kicks, I kick, too. We don't go no
further jest now, hyer me!"

But Bowie, Mr. Radbury, and several others insisted upon gaining the
brow of the hill, as a point of vantage, and all plodded to the top,
where they went into camp in the midst of the trees, half a dozen men
being sent out to do picket duty, so that Bison Head's band might not
crawl up during the night and surprise them.

"I'd like to know what became of Wolf Ear and Hank Stiger," remarked
Dan, as he flung himself on the ground, glad enough to get out of his
high and uncomfortable Mexican saddle.

"They know enough to git out o' sight when thar's a fight on," answered
Poke Stover, with a broad laugh. "Them kind o' varmin always does."
Usually the frontiersman spoke fair English, but at times he dropped
into the vernacular of the plains.

"I hope he doesn't go back to the cabin, now it's deserted," put in

"He may do that!" burst out Dan. "I never thought of it before." And he
mentioned the matter to his father.

"He will hardly dare to go back, for other settlers will be coming up
from time to time," said Mr. Radbury. "He knows only too well that he
is already in bad favour with all straight-forward men."

"He's a sneak," said Ralph. "But by the way, father, you haven't told
us your story yet, although we have told ours."

"There is not much to tell, Ralph. I went for the deer, as you know. I
was dragging it back to the cabin, when I caught sight of several
Indians, and, by their movements, I saw that they wanted to cut me off
and, more than likely, slay me. I at once abandoned the deer and ran
deeper than ever into the woods."

"Of course they followed you?" came from Dan.

"Yes, they followed me, but only one or two shots were exchanged, and I
was not hit. I think I wounded one Indian, but I am not certain. Then I
gave them the slip and climbed into the king pine, as you boys named
the tree. You remember the signal I gave you?"

"To be sure."

"I meant I would try to get help near by, if possible. I had seen
several lumbermen around, and I fancied they might be down the river a
mile or so. I ran along the river with all my might, and there met Poke
Stover and told him what was happening. He at once agreed to go to your
aid, and urged me to arouse the settlers around Gonzales. He promised
to hold the cabin and stand by you as long as he could draw his

"And he did it!" cried Ralph. "He's a noble man."

"At first I could find nobody at home," went on Mr. Radbury. "Joel
Nalitt was away, and at the Runyons' only the women folks were in. But
over to the Powers's ranch I met Powers, Anderson, Striker, and a
German, who was a stranger, and they said they would all come along.
Anderson rode over to Whippler's, and those two brought along the other
men. It's too bad that Whippler was killed."

All in the party agreed with Mr. Radbury in this, although some said
that it was better Whippler should be killed than some man with a wife
and children. Whippler and his late wife had never had any offspring.

The night was raw and cold, and toward morning a fine rain set in,
adding greatly to the discomforts of the whites. The game brought down
proved but a scanty meal all around, and for breakfast there remained
absolutely nothing.

"This is too bad," said Dan, referring to the rain. He was soaked to
the skin, and so was everybody else in the party.

The trail was taken up as soon as it was light enough to see, and the
Indians were followed fully fifteen miles, over a winding way leading
over hills and rocks, and through immense belts of timber land. They
had to ford several streams, and at one of these points they stopped
for an hour to catch and cook some black bass, which were plentiful.
Toward nightfall the chase came to an end.

"It's no use," said one of the oldest of the settlers. "They've got too
good a start of us, and it will be foolishness for a mere handful of
whites to ride right into the Indian country. They'll lay a trap and
massacre every one of us."

All of the others agreed with the spokesman, and it was not long before
the party was riding back toward Gonzales. At first they followed the
winding trail, but, coming to one of the numerous creeks of the
vicinity, they branched off and took almost a direct route to the town.

"Will you go back with us?" asked Mr. Radbury of Poke Stover, when it
came time for the Radburys to separate from the others. The ranch home
could be seen from the top of a neighbouring hill, and all seemed to be
as they had left it two days before.

"Yes, I reckon I will," answered the frontiersman. "I ain't got nothin'
else to do, and ye may want an extra man about fer a day or two, jest
for to keep his eye open."

The storm had cleared away, and the sun was shining brightly as the
party of four rode up to the battered door of the deserted cabin. Down
around the cattle shed the cows were browsing away as usual, and
several of the pigs gave Ralph a grunt of recognition as he passed

"Home again!" cried Dan, and hopping to the ground he crawled through
the doorway into the living-room of the cabin. As he went in he noticed
that the body of the dead red man had been removed from the doorstep.

"Is it all right?" asked Ralph, when a cry from his brother aroused

"An Indian!" came from Dan. He had discovered a wounded red man lying
on the floor in the corner. Then he gazed around the room and glanced
into the sleeping apartment.

"Father, come in, quick!" he went on. "Somebody has been here, and has
carried off a dozen or more things. And your desk is broken open, too,
and all your papers are scattered about. Did you have any money in the



Dan's cry brought Mr. Radbury into the cabin without further delay,
followed by Ralph and Poke Stover.

"What has been stolen?" queried Amos Radbury. "I see that old
Revolutionary sword of your grandfather is gone."

"So are two of the pistols, and that half dozen solid silver spoons
mother got from Aunt Elizabeth," answered Dan. "But what of money in
the desk?"

"I had but little--not over twenty dollars all told, Dan." Mr. Radbury
walked over to the little desk, which was a rude affair made by himself
during his leisure hours. "Yes, it's been ransacked pretty thoroughly."

"Is anything missing?" asked Ralph.

"I can't say." Amos Radbury looked over a number of the papers. "I
guess they are all right. No, there is my discharge from the army,
after the war of 1812. The rascal who broke open the desk took the
pleasure of tearing that in half." He rummaged about a bit more.
"Hullo, it's gone!" he cried.

"What's gone?" came from both boys.

"The papers relating to this grant of land."

"Are you sure?" asked Dan.

"Yes, it isn't anywhere about."

Mr. Radbury was more worried about the papers pertaining to the land
grant than over anything else, and at once a search was instituted,
outside of the ranch home as well as indoors. It proved of no
avail,--the papers were gone.

"Will it do much harm?" asked Ralph, who knew very little as yet about
real estate matters.

"It may and it may not," answered the father. "Of course the grant is
recorded, but with matters in such a revolutionary state the records
may at some time be destroyed, and then somebody else might come
forward and claim this grant."

"Well, I reckon you won't give it up, partner," put in Poke Stover,

"Not without a fight, Stover," was Mr. Radbury's firm answer. "The land
is mine, paid for, and I'll hold it, papers or no papers, and no matter
how the affairs of the government turn."

"I wonder who was the thief," mused Dan. "I don't believe it was an
Indian. He might take the other things, but he wouldn't know anything
about the papers, nor care for them."

"He might be cute enough to take the papers just to throw us off the
scent," suggested Ralph.

"You're wrong, Ralph, for he wouldn't know one paper from another."

"But he'd know the land papers were important, because of the seals on
them," persisted the youngest Radbury.

The Indian in the corner now demanded their attention. He was plainly
in a bad way, and Poke Stover said it was very doubtful if he would

"If he does pull through it will only be because he's a redskin and as
tough as all creation," added the old frontiersman.

In his guttural tongue the redskin appealed to Dan for a drink of

"Certainly, I'll give you a drink," answered the boy, kindly, and went
out to get some water that was cool. After the Indian had had his fill,
Dan used the remainder of the water in washing his wounds and then
bound them up. After this he got out an old blanket, and he and Ralph
placed the wounded fellow on this. Before, the red man's face had had a
scowl on it, but now it became more friendly.

"White boys heap good," he grunted. "Big Foot no forget dem," and he
nodded his head suggestively. He had been shot in the leg, and was
suffering from loss of blood.

"Tell me who robbed the cabin," said Dan, for he felt that Big Foot had
had nothing to do with it.

The Indian knit his brow in speculation.

"White boy ask Big Foot hard question," he said, presently.

"But you must know."

"Big Foot t'ink know, not sure. Big Foot crawl in here out of hot sun.
He half dead. Udder man come, rob place while Big Foot half dead."

"Well, who do you imagine the other man was? It couldn't have been one
of your tribe."

"I t'ink him half my tribe. I t'ink him 'Merican-Indian, um Hank

"Hank Stiger!" cried Dan. "Father, did you hear that?"

"What is it, Dan?"

"This Indian was half in a faint when the cabin was robbed, but he
thinks the thief was Hank Stiger."

"That is not improbable, for Stiger was around this vicinity and did
not fight with the Comanches. He could easily have come in after we
went off on the trail. When was the robbery committed?"

"Him come in at the last sundown," answered Big Foot, meaning the
evening before.



"And which way did he go?"

The wounded red man could not answer this query, and he now became so
exhausted that the others questioned him no further.

The fire was started up, and a generous meal for all hands was
prepared, of which the Indian was given all that was good for him. Then
the red man went to sleep, while the Radburys began to mend the
battered door and put things into shape generally. Poke Stover went off
to the timber, to find out what had become of Ralph's deer, and to see
if any of the enemy were still lurking in the vicinity.

It was learned by nightfall that no Indians were around for miles, and
this made the Radburys breathe much more easily. Strange to say, Stover
had found the deer just where Mr. Radbury had left it, and now brought
it in.

"A good shot, lad," said the old frontiersman to Ralph. "No one could
have made a better."

"Yes, it was a good shot," answered the boy. "I'm afraid I'll not be
able to do as well every time."

"You mustn't expect it. If you could do as well every time you'd be as
fine a shot as Davy Crockett himself."

"They tell me Crockett thinks of coming down to Texas," put in Mr.
Radbury. "They say he is tired of things up in Tennessee."

"Yes, I heard he was coming down," replied Poke Stover. "Well, he's a
wonderful old fighter, and if we have any trouble with the Mexicans ye
can reckon on it as how he'll be to the front from the very start." How
true was the old frontiersman's prediction the future chapters of our
tale will show.

They hardly knew what to do with the Indian. Stover wished to turn him
out to shift for himself, but the boys pleaded for the wounded red man,
and in the end he was allowed to remain where he was. The Radburys
retired to their sleeping-apartment, while Stover made himself
comfortable in front of the big open fireplace. All, however, slept, as
the saying goes, "with one eye open."

The next week was a busy one. It was found that not only had the
Indians attacked the cabin, but they had also tried to wreck the cattle
shed, and both structures had to be mended and put into order. During
the absence of the settlers some of the cattle and the mustangs had
strayed away to other ranges, and these had to be rounded up, for in
those days men of limited means, like Mr. Radbury, did not allow their
live stock to wander far away, to be rounded up once or twice a year.
If they had allowed this, cattle and ponies might have gotten into the
Indian country and never been heard of again.

At the end of the week Poke Stover left, stating that he was going to
make a trip to San Antonio de Bexar, to learn how matters were going

"There may be a scrap on already," he remarked, "and, if so, I don't
want to be sitting here, sucking my thumbs."

"I admire your sentiment," replied Mr. Radbury. "If there is trouble,
can I rely upon you to give me warning?"

"Certainly," answered Poke Stover.

He left on Saturday morning, and on Sunday Big Foot sat up for the
first time. The Radburys had done their best for him, and for this he
was extremely grateful.

"Big Foot pay back some day," he said. "Pay back sure." The boys hardly
gave attention to these words, but had good cause to remember them

During the next few months matters ran smoothly, until one day when
some of the settlers from Gonzales came in. They reported another
Indian uprising farther eastward, and declared that the local
government was doing nothing to check the red men.

"We must take the law into our own hands, neighbour Radbury," said one,
who lived a matter of thirty miles away, yet considered himself a
fairly close neighbour. "The Mexicans don't care a rap for us, and I
reckon they'd just as lief see the Injuns ride over us as not."

"I trust Santa Anna does the right thing by us," answered Mr. Radbury.

"I wouldn't trust any of 'em."

"Well, if they don't do right, they had better look out for Sam
Houston, or he'll be on their heels."

"Yes, I've great faith in Houston," was the other settler's answer.
"He's a lawyer and a fighter, and I reckon he can whip 'em both in the
court-room or on the battle-field."



In his conversation with his neighbour, Mr. Radbury had mentioned Santa
Anna, and it may be as well to look for a moment at this remarkable
personage, who at that time, and for several years to follow, was the
most important man in Mexico.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was born in Jalapa, in 1795, and entered
the army at an early age. With Iturbide he joined in the revolution and
came out a brigadier-general, and was made commandant of Vera Cruz. A
few years later he organised a revolt and overthrew the man he had
aided, and in 1828 he deposed Pedraza and put Guerrero in his place.

So much of war would have satisfied any ordinary man, but it did not
satisfy General Santa Anna, who was cruel and cunning to the last
degree, and prided himself on being "The Napoleon of the West," as he
styled himself. He wanted Mexico for his own, and in 1829 he defeated a
large division of the Spanish army, that had landed at Tampico for the
purpose of reconquering the country.

Having saved the Confederation, as he put it, Santa Anna considered
that he had more of a right to Mexico than ever, and in 1832 he got
into a wrangle with Bustamente, who was then occupying the Mexican
presidential chair, with the result that Bustamente was banished by
Santa Anna's followers, who forthwith made the general president. At
this Santa Anna went still further by dissolving the Mexican congress,
which action made him virtually a dictator. How it was that the
Mexicans at large stood such treatment is one of the political
mysteries of the age that has never been explained.

Yet Santa Anna's dictatorship, if such it may be called, was a position
full of peril. There was constant wrangling in nearly every state of
the Confederation, and in a number of places there were actual
outbreaks, which might have resulted seriously had Santa Anna not
nipped them promptly in the bud. Stephen Austin had gone to Mexico to
further the interests of the Texans, and been there imprisoned for
political reasons. This helped along the war between Texas and Mexico,
which was bound to burst sooner or later.

The first dark cloud came in the passage of a decree reducing the
number of the militia to one man for every five hundred inhabitants,
and requiring all the remaining armed persons to give up their weapons.
The Texans refused to submit, stating that they needed all the
protection they could get, on account of the Indians and because of the
desperadoes who flocked into the territory. In the meantime Mexico had
sent many of her jailbirds to settle in Texas.

While this was going on, during the summer of 1835, Austin returned
from his imprisonment in Mexico, and was given a grand public banquet
at Brazoria. In his speech there he counselled moderation, but declared
that the civil government was going to pieces, and that the Texans must
take care of themselves. He still believed in Santa Anna and his golden
promises, hoping against hope for a peaceful change for the better.

At San Antonio were stationed five hundred Mexican soldiers, under
Colonel Ugartchea, and, according to orders, this command commenced to
disarm such of the Texans as had failed to comply with the decree
regarding firearms. At Gonzales, fifty miles to the eastward, the
settlers had a four-pounder, a brass cannon given to them by the
government for protection against the Indians.

"The people of Gonzales must give up the cannon," said Colonel
Ugartchea. "Tell them to send it to Bexar without delay."

"We need the cannon," said the people of Gonzales. "It's the only
cannon we have along the whole river front."

"Santa Anna's orders must be obeyed," was the Mexican colonel's
comment, and he despatched a force of one hundred and fifty dragoons,
under Captain Castinado, to take the cannon by force. The Mexican
soldiers arrived at the river on September 28th. On the opposite side
of the stream was Gonzales, but the ferry-boat was on that side, too.

The Mexican commander waved for the boat, but no attention was paid to
his movement. Then a horn was blown, but still the Texans paid no

"We will march to the ford," cried the Mexican captain, and the
dragoons started. But on reaching the ford, half a mile below the town,
they found themselves confronted by Captain Albert Martin, a merchant
of the place, backed up by several dozens of determined-looking Texans.

The alarm had now gone forth, and express riders rode their steeds
almost to death to summon the people of Bastrop, Victoria, and other
places. Soon the settlers began to flock in, all on horseback and
armed, ready to do or die for Texas, as the case might be. With the
number were Mr. Radbury and Dan. Dan had been to Gonzales to buy some
household stores, and his father, hearing of the uprising, had hastened
down the river to find his son and see that no harm befell him. This
had left Ralph home alone, saving for the company of Pompey Shuck, a
negro, who had, during the summer, followed Mr. Radbury from the old
home in Georgia and insisted that he be taken in and set to work, "jess
as on de ole plantation, Mars' Radbury." Big Foot, the Indian, had
departed some time before Pompey's arrival.

"This looks like a fight, father," observed Dan, as his parent joined
him on the bank of the stream, where Dan had gone, following Captain

"It certainly looks like trouble," answered Mr. Radbury, as he gazed at
the Mexican dragoons with anxiety. "That cannon may be responsible for
a whole lot of bloodshed."

"Well, they haven't any right to disarm us," returned the youth,
determinedly. "You'll fight first, won't you?"

"Perhaps I will; it will depend upon circumstances," was the
non-committal reply. Amos Radbury was no "fire-eater," and, like
Austin, preferred a settlement without a passage at arms.

At the ford the Mexican commander had ridden into the water to consult
with the leader of the Texans.

"I am sent here to obtain the cannon you are holding," he said. "There
is my order," and he held it out.

"We don't dispute the order, captain," was the reply. "But we consider
it unjust to ask us to give up a piece that we may need against the

"If you will give up the cannon you will be protected."

"We haven't been protected for a long while. We have had to protect

"You are thinking of using that cannon against the government," was the
angry remark of the Mexican commander.

"We are not thinking of doing so,--but it may be we will be forced to
do so," was the significant reply.

"I am coming over, and I demand the cannon," went on the Mexican
leader, pompously.

"If you dare to come over, it will be at the peril of your life," was
the calm return.

The Mexican commander continued to bluster and threaten, but all to no
purpose, and at length he withdrew his force from the ford, and went
into temporary camp in a valley opposite to Gonzales.

It was now night, and the town was at a white heat. Meetings were held
in half a dozen places, and while some counselled delay others were for
forcing the fighting. In the end, however, it was decided to wait, and
in the meantime pickets were sent out to watch the Mexicans so that
they might not enter Gonzales by stealth.

"I wonder if they will come over to-night," said Dan, as he and his
father picked their way along the river to where forty or fifty
horsemen who owned ranches in the vicinity had pitched their
headquarters, the taverns in the town being already overcrowded.

"I doubt it, Dan. We have fully as many men, if not more, and a Mexican
soldier never loves to fight in the dark."

"Perhaps the Mexican captain has sent back for reinforcements."

"That may be. Well, all we can do is to watch and be on guard."

By this it will be seen that Mr. Radbury was as anxious as any one to
keep the cannon. He had refused to give up any of his firearms, and had
buried two of his pistols under the floor of the cabin home.

The night wore away without any alarm sounding, and the next day the
Mexican commander sent another demand for the cannon, and on the day
following he asked that a time be set for a general conference
regarding the now precious bit of property.

The conference was refused, and instead he was asked to vacate his
position so close to Gonzales. This he would not do, and all of the
settlers now agreed that he was awaiting reinforcements from Bexar.

"He will wait for Colonel Ugartchea to come up with the balance of the
command, and then wipe us out altogether," said one.

"Or perhaps he is waiting for Cos to come up," said another. It was
known that the Mexican general, Cos, was on the march for San Antonio
de Bexar with six hundred additional troops for the garrison of that

The morning of the first of October came foggy and disagreeable. But
little could be seen beyond the river bank, and it was not known if the
Mexican command was advancing, retreating, or standing still. Again the
leaders of the Texans met, and it was unanimously decided not to delay
action longer, but if the Mexicans were still on the opposite side of
the stream to compel them to move away before their force could be
increased. Volunteers were called for to cross the river with the brass
cannon and begin an attack, and a hundred and sixty Texans rode to the
front for that purpose. Mr. Radbury was too loyal-hearted a man to hang
back, and as Dan begged very hard to go too, he was permitted to join
half a dozen young men who brought up the rear.



To get so many men across the river by boat would have taxed the
resources of Gonzales to the utmost, so the majority of the Texans went
around by way of the ford, only a few going over in the ferry with the

The trip was made during the night of October first, and every man was
cautioned to be as silent as possible.

"We'll give them a surprise," said Dan to one of the young men, a
_ranchero_ named Henry Parker. He had known Henry Parker for over
a year, and the two were warm friends.

"Or get a surprise," was the answer. "They may be watching us just as
hard as we are watching them."

"Pooh! I am not afraid of a greaser!"

"Neither am I. But it will pay to be careful."

They had passed the ford, and now in the utter darkness the little band
made its way through the brush toward the spot where the Mexican
command had been in camp before the fog settled down.

Coming closer, the Texans were spread out in a sort of skirmish line,
with the four-pounder in the centre. Dan and his friend were on the
extreme right, down by the water's edge.

Here there was more than one little inlet to cross, and while Dan's
horse was picking his steps the youth fancied he detected a sudden
movement among the bushes overhanging the water's edge.


"Hold on," he cried to Henry Parker. "Something is in that bush."

"Man or beast?" whispered Henry, and placed his hand to the trigger of
his gun.

"I can't say. Wait till I investigate."

Leaving his mustang in his friend's care, Dan leaped to the ground and
ran close to the bushes. As he did this, he stumbled into a hole and
fell. He picked himself up, and while doing so heard a splash and saw
some dark object disappear beneath the river's surface.

"Come here! Something is up!" he called to Henry, and at once his
friend complied, and both ran down to the water's edge and strained
their eyes to pierce the gloom and the fog.

"What did you see?"

"Something slipped into the water, and I am half of the opinion it was
a man."

"Then it must have been a Mexican!"

"To be sure. Stay here and watch, and I'll go down the stream a bit. He
ought to come up soon."

Dan had hardly spoken when he espied a head coming up but thirty or
forty feet away. It was the head of a Mexican soldier, evidently a spy.

"Halt there!" cried Dan. "Come back here, or I'll fire!"

It is doubtful if he would have fired on the swimmer, having no desire
to open the war in person, but his threat had considerable effect.

"No shoota me!" cried the Mexican. "No shoota!" And then he continued
to talk in Spanish, which Dan and his friend understood, but

"I want you to come back here," went on the youth, and he pointed his

At this the Mexican dove out of sight, not to come up for a distance of
a rod or more.

"Shoot him--you have the right," urged Henry. "Or else I'll do it."

"Don't, Henry, it might be murder. Besides, we were ordered not to
discharge any firearms until we received orders. A shot down here would
alarm the whole Mexican camp."

"But we don't want that rascal to escape, Dan."

"I have it." Dan looked around and soon found several fair-sized
stones. "Come back at once!" he ordered, and, taking aim, he let drive
with one of the stones.

Dan had always been good at that sort of thing, and the stone landed,
as intended, on the Mexican's back. He let out a howl of pain, so loud
that several Texans at once rode up to the vicinity to learn what was
the matter.

"Yes, he's got to come ashore," declared one of the men. "He may be a
spy who has been over to Gonzales, and carries some kind of a message."
He raised his voice in Spanish. "Come ashore, or we'll shoot you; do
you hear?"

_"Si, capitan_" ("Yes, captain"), was the answer, and without further
ado the Mexican turned and came back to the river bank. As he crawled
out, wet and muddy, he looked the picture of despair.

"It's Pietro the gambler, from Bastrop," said one of the Texans, after
a close scrutiny. "I'll wager he was going to give us away to the
greasers in camp."

"No, no, me watch fight, dat's all, señor," said the Mexican, who was
noted not only for his skill at cards but also for his skill at
cheating. "Pietro fight for Texans when fight 't all."

"That don't go down, you card-sharp!" cried another of the men. "I know
him well, and he would cheat his own grandmother if he could. Let us
make him a prisoner, at least until this business we are on is over."

So it was agreed, and despite the gamblers' protests he was bound hands
and feet and tied up to a near-by tree. Had he not been captured, the
fight so close at hand would probably not have come off.

On went the Texans, until a point was gained overlooking the camping
spot of the Mexicans. The advance guard reported that Captain Castinado
was still at the place with his dragoons.

"Then we'll wait until daybreak and open up on them," said the Texans,
and went into temporary camp. It is doubtful if any of the number
closed his eyes for the balance of that never-to-be-forgotten night. To
them this contest was to be like that of Concord and Lexington to the
patriots of 1775,--it was to mark the dawn of Texan liberty.

The Mexicans had located at a spot called DeWitt's mound; while the
Texans occupied a position farther down the valley and close to the
river. As soon as it began to grow light, the four-pounder was placed
in position, and the rough but rugged little army was drawn up in
battle array. Only here and there was there a man in uniform, and the
weapons were of all sorts and sizes. Leaders and privates had come
over, some on horseback, some on ponies, and others on foot.

"Give it to them!" came the sharp order, when it was light enough to
locate the Mexicans with certainty, and the brass four-pounder belched
forth its contents, and the battle was opened at last.

"Forward!" was the cry down the line, and away swept the Texans, in two
long lines, Mr. Radbury well to the front, and Dan not very far behind.

The Mexicans had been taken completely by surprise and for the moment
knew not what to do. But they quickly organised and returned the fire,
and then the Texans swept closer, and the constant crack, crack, of the
musketry could be heard upon every side.

"Gracious, this is war, sure!" cried Dan, as he discharged his gun and
proceeded to reload with all speed, while still riding forward. "It
looks as if we were going to have a hand-to-hand encounter."

"Forward, for the liberty of Texas!" shouted one of the leaders, and a
score of voices took up the cry. "For the liberty of Texas! For the
liberty of Texas!" It was a battle-cry fit to inspire any body of men.

The Mexicans could not withstand such an onslaught, and, having fired
several rounds, they broke and began to retreat before the Texans could
get within two hundred yards of them. Away they went for the road
leading to San Antonio, the Texans following them for some distance and
then giving up the chase.

The first fight for Texan independence had been fought and won, and a
mighty cheer went up, which was several times repeated. It was found
that four of the Mexicans had been killed and several wounded, while
the Texans had suffered little or nothing.

"Father, we have gained the day!" exclaimed Dan, as he rode up to his
parent. Somehow, he had never felt so proud before in his life.

"Yes, we have gained the day," answered Mr. Radbury. "The question is,
what next? You may be sure the government will not let this go by

"The government! What government?" put in one old settler. "I
acknowledge no government but that of the independent State of Texas!"
And a cheer went up.

"Let us hope it will be so, neighbour Johnson," went on Mr. Radbury.
"But what if Santa Anna send out a large army to crush us?"

"He can't do it!" came from a dozen voices. "Let him come, and we'll
show him what real American blood and backbone can do."

"We must organise, and without further delay," said one of the leaders.
"We must have a regularly formed Texan army inside of thirty days, or
else we'll have to pay the piper, and that means with Santa Anna that
we'll either get a dose of lead or else dance on nothing," meaning they
would all be shot or hung. This may seem an extravagant statement, but
in view of what followed it was far from being so.



The Mexicans had been routed, and for over a week matters went along
quietly in the vicinity of Gonzales; that is, there was no further
fighting. Meetings there were without number, and young and old began
to drill and to talk of nothing but military matters.

"Will you join the army, father?" asked Dan, when, two days after the
fight, he and his parent returned to the ranch home.

"I do not see how I can avoid it," answered Mr. Radbury. "Many of the
neighbours are going, and it might appear cowardly to hang back.
Besides, I must say that, after long thought, I have come to the
conclusion that there is nothing for us to do but to fight for our

"Hurrah! I knew you would say that," cried Dan. "We must be free by all
means, and then perhaps some day we'll become joined to the United

"That is for after consideration," smiled Mr. Radbury, but the thought
had often crossed his own mind.

Ralph and the negro were anxious to hear the particulars of what had
occurred, and the boy listened to his brother's tale in open-mouthed

"A real battle! Oh, Dan, how I wish I had been there!"

"Well, to tell the truth, it was rather one-sided. The Mexicans did not
stand up in front of us long."

"And what are they going to do next?"

"Nobody knows. But there will be war, beyond a doubt."

"Oh, yes, I suppose General Santa Anna will be as mad as a hornet when
he hears of the affair. And all over an old brass cannon, too!" And
Ralph gave a laugh.

Matters were going along smoothly at the ranch, for Pompey was a
faithful worker and had dropped into the routine without an effort. Mr.
Radbury was glad that he had come, for he felt that he wanted a man
around, in case the coming war carried him a distance from home.

As intimated, the fight at Gonzales became the talk of all Texas, and,
the day after the contest, the committee organised at San Felipe issued
a statement and called upon each man in Texas to decide for himself
whether or not he would submit to the destruction of his rights and
liberties by the central government of Mexico, and stating that the war
had begun.

While meetings were going on in a dozen places or more, and
frontiersmen and settlers were hurrying to the scene of action, a force
of about forty men, under the leadership of Captain Collingsworth,
gathered for the purpose of capturing Goliad, a small town on the lower
San Antonio River. The river was gained on the night of October 9th,
and while scouts were out reconnoitring, the brave little band was
joined by Colonel Ben Milam, an old Texan _empresario_, who had been
confined for political reasons in the jail at Monterey. Of this gallant
man we will hear more later.

Finding the coast clear, the band entered the town, and silently made
their way to the quarters of Lieutenant-Colonel Sandoval, the
commandant. They were less than a hundred feet from the garrison when a
sentry discovered them and gave the alarm. The sentry was shot down on
the spot, and then the door was splintered to kindling-wood with axes,
and the Texans poured into the building, and the commandant was made a
prisoner. There was great surprise for several minutes, but the Mexican
soldiers had been taken off their guard, and could offer little
resistance. Twenty-five were captured, and the rest escaped in the
darkness. By this quick movement the Texans gained a quantity of
valuable army stores, horses, three pieces of artillery, and five
hundred guns and pistols.

As Gonzales had been the starting-point of the war, it now became the
general centre for the gathering Texan army, and by the middle of
October there were gathered there between three and four hundred men
who were willing and anxious to serve their country. By common consent
Austin was appointed chief in command, with the title of general. The
volunteers, as they were called, were formed into a regiment, with John
H. Moore as colonel. Old Colonel Milam, who had just arrived from
Goliad, was made chief of a band of scouts,--men who did valiant
service from the beginning to the end of the war.

It was to this regiment that Mr. Radbury became attached, and Dan and
Ralph rode down to Gonzales to see their parent join. As Mr. Radbury
was a veteran of the war of 1812, he was given the position of a
lieutenant. Drilling went on constantly, and the little regiment was
gotten into the best condition that the means at hand afforded. In the
meantime other volunteers poured in daily.

At first the Texans had thought to act only on the defensive, but, as
the days slipped by, the war spirit grew on the settlers, and they said
they wanted the thing "over and done with," that they might return to
their homes and prepare for the winter. It was then decided to march
toward San Antonio, to see if the Mexicans would come out of the
stronghold to do them battle.

"Good-bye, boys," said Mr. Radbury, when the order was passed around to
prepare for the march. "It may be some time before I see you again."

"I wish I could go," answered Dan, pleadingly.

"Your time may come, Dan. But for the present I think we have enough
men for this expedition. I think you and Ralph will have enough to do
around the ranch, with me absent."

"But if I hear you are in trouble, father, I shall come on at once,"
went on Dan, and from this decision his parent could not dissuade him.

The troops were soon on the way, Dan and Ralph riding several miles
with their parent. Then, at the top of the hill, they separated. But
the boys remained on the hill until the soldiers were lost to sight in
the distance on the dusty plain below.

"Good-bye, and may success go with them!" cried Ralph, half sadly. "I
do hope father comes back safe and sound."

"If he doesn't, I shall take his place in the ranks," replied Dan,
quickly. "But come, we must be getting home now, or Pompey will be
anxious about us."

"Here comes a horseman, riding like the wind," came from the younger
Radbury, a moment later. "I declare, it's Poke Stover!"

"Hullo, boys!" cried the old frontiersman, as he came up. "What are ye
a-doin' here?"

"We just saw the troops off for San Antonio," answered Dan.

"Gone this way?"



"An hour ago. See that black line over yonder? That's our army."

"Whoopee! I was afraid I'd be too late. Good-bye. We are bound to bring
them greasers to terms this trip!" And, with a wave of his sombrero,
Poke Stover rode off as rapidly as he had come.

"He'll be a whole company in himself," was Ralph's comment. "He doesn't
think any more of a Mexican soldier than he does of a fly, to bother

They were soon on the way to Gonzales, where they loaded their ponies
with stores for the ranch. This accomplished, they set on up the river,
hoping to reach the ranch home by night.

In those days the banks of the Guadalupe River were altogether
different from to-day. Where numerous settlements now exist were then
immense belts of timber, with here and there a burn, or a stretch of
thorns and entangling vines. In some spots the banks were steep and
rocky as to-day, and these rocks were the homes of numerous wild
animals, including the fierce Texan wolf, the puma, the jaguar, the
wildcat, and the black bear. The stream was full of fish, the best of
which was the black bass, which, I believe, still holds its own in many
Texan waters.

As the boys passed along the narrow wagon trail, which their father and
other pioneers had blazed for themselves, they kept their eyes on the
alert for any wild beasts that might appear, having no desire to let a
fierce and hungry wolf pounce down suddenly upon themselves or their
steeds, or a black bear stalk out to embrace them. Their packs lay
behind them, and they held their guns on the saddle in front.

They were thus passing through the largest of the timber belts when the
howl of a wolf reached their ears. It was immediately answered by a
similar howl from another wolf. Both came from directly in front.

"Hullo! a wolf--two wolves!" cried Ralph, as he brought his pony to a
halt. "I don't like that much."

"Is your gun all right?" came quickly from his brother.


The two lads remained motionless in the saddle for several minutes,
listening. No other howl reached their ears, and the only sounds were
that of the rushing stream as it tumbled over some rocks, and the cries
of the night birds and the humming of the insects.

"Let us set up a yell," suggested Dan. "That may scare them off."

They called out at the top of their lungs several times. One distant
howl answered them, then all became as silent as before.

"We may as well go on," said the older brother. "We'll be as safe
moving as standing still. But keep your eyes peeled, Ralph."

They moved on slowly, with eyes turned to the right and the left, and
keeping as far as possible from the brushwood and the low-hanging
boughs of the trees. The mustangs seemed to realise that all was not
right, and pricked up their ears and smelled the air.



"By George! Something is wrong now!"

It was Dan who uttered the words, as he again drew rein, followed by
Ralph. They had passed along a distance of less than quarter of a mile,
and the end of the forest was still a goodly distance ahead.

A fierce howling had arisen, followed by a snarling and a snapping
which caused the hearts of both boys to beat violently. The mustangs
trembled, and acted as if they wished to turn and run.

"It's a wildcat or a painter, or something, and he's got into a fight
with the wolves," continued Dan, as he strained his ears to catch the
sounds of the encounter. "They are having a lively tussle, aren't

"Let them fight it out," answered Ralph, with something of a shudder.
"I hope they all kill each other, too," he added.

The howling and snapping and snarling continued for several minutes,
then gradually died away in the distance. Still listening, they heard
some large beast trailing through the brush to one side of them. They
turned in the direction, and levelled their guns, but the animal did
not show itself.

Darkness was now coming on, and the boys wished themselves safe at the
ranch. It was one thing to ride through the timber in the daylight; it
was quite another to do so at night, and especially when the wild
animals were on the move.

"The worst of it is, one wild beast sets the other to fighting," said

"And it's so dark a fellow can't see fifty feet ahead of him."

What to do was indeed a question, but neither of the lads wished to
remain in the timber all night, and, after another consultation, they
decided to rush their ponies along until the next burn was gained.

"If we go fast enough, no wild animal will have time to organise an
attack," said Ralph.

The wind was coming up, setting the dying leaves to scattering in all
directions. As the wind increased, the boughs of the trees swayed
violently over their heads.

Suddenly Dan, who was ahead, set up a shrill cry of alarm. He had seen
two eyes glaring down at him from the branches of a tree he was just
passing. He tried to pull back his mustang, and on the same instant a
huge puma, or, as he is commonly called in the southwest, a painter,
landed almost directly on his pony's neck.

The attack was a fierce one, and had it not been for a lucky accident
either Dan or his steed must have been killed within a few seconds, for
the puma is a heavy-built and powerful beast, and its bite, or a stroke
of its huge paw, is generally meant to be deadly.

But, as mentioned before, Dan held his gun over his saddle, and as the
painter came down the weapon went off, and the beast received the full
charge in the upper part of his left shoulder. The wound did not kill
him, or even seriously wound him, but it shocked and surprised the
beast so much that he fell back, and tumbled to the ground.

"Oh, Dan, look out!" shrieked Ralph, and pulled in his own steed. Then,
as his brother's mustang reared to one side, and the puma prepared to
make a second leap, he endeavoured to get a bead on the beast.

The puma had struck on his back. Now he had turned over and was
crouching down, like a cat getting ready to pounce upon a bird, his
bushy tail sweeping the grass with quick, nervous motion.

Bang! Ralph's gun spoke up just as the painter was in the act of
springing for Dan, and the shot took the beast in the stomach, making a
jagged and ugly wound. Again the beast dropped back, uttering a mingled
snarl of rage and pain. The snarl was exactly like that the boys had
previously heard, and they felt that this must be the beast that had
gotten into the fight with the wolves. Probably the wolves had gotten
away from him, and this and the taste of their blood had angered him
into making the present attack.

Both mustangs were now kicking and plunging, and the boys had all they
could do to keep their seats. The steeds backed away from the wounded
painter, and then Dan's mustang started to bolt. His course was under a
tree with low branches, and in a second the youth was brushed from his
back, and sent spinning to the ground.

Half stunned by his fall, Dan had yet sense enough left to know that he
must get away at once or the painter would be on him to rend him to
pieces. He leaped up, and as the fierce beast came on, grabbed the
nearest tree limb, to which he clung with might and main.

"He's coming!" roared Ralph. "Pull yourself up!" And he started to
reload with all possible speed, no light task while on the back of a
mustang that was so nervous and inclined to bolt.

Dan was doing as advised, when the puma limped up, his eyes blazing
with a fury which is indescribable. He did his best to make the leap,
and his teeth struck one of Dan's boot heels. But the boy kicked him
away and drew himself still higher, and for the moment was safe.

The wounds of the painter were now beginning to tell upon him, and he
could scarcely suppress a whine of pain. But his savage nature was not
yet conquered, and, unable to leap directly into the tree, he sprang
for the trunk and came up, slowly but steadily. When he was opposite to
where Dan lay, he paused, as if uncertain what should be his next move.

If the puma was undecided, so was the youth. If he leaped to the ground
again he was certain the beast would follow him, and he had no desire
to face the painter at such close quarters, especially as he had no
weapon of any kind with him, unless the jack-knife in his pocket might
be brought into play.

Ralph settled the question, both for his brother and the puma. As the
mustang refused to come closer, the youngest Radbury slipped to the
earth and ran up directly under the bough upon which Dan rested. At
this point he could get a fair view of the painter, and once more he
blazed away, aiming for the beast's neck and head.

Ralph's shot was all that could be wished for, and it was lucky that,
having fired, he leaped back, for, the instant after, the painter came
tumbling down, with a thud that fairly shook the earth. The shock also
brought down Dan, who landed just in front of the beast and lost no
time in retreating to his brother's side.

"Good for you, Ralph!"

"Look out, he's not dead yet!" answered Ralph. "See, he is going to
make another leap!"

But in this the youngest Radbury was mistaken. Fatally wounded, the
painter was merely endeavouring to get up on his legs, that he might
crawl into the bushes. He stood for a moment, then stumbled and fell
flat. Twice did he try thus to rise, then with a final whining growl he
lay out, stretched himself, and gave a quiver or two--and all was over.

"He's dead," said Ralph, when he could collect himself sufficiently to
speak. He was trembling like a leaf in a gale of wind.

"Don't be too sure,--they are as tough as a pine-knot," answered Dan.
"Load up again," and he picked up his own gun, which had fallen when he
was thrown from his saddle.

But the puma was dead, beyond a doubt, and they gradually drew closer
to inspect the beast they had brought down. He was at least four feet
long, and correspondingly tall and heavy, with a powerful tail and a
rather small head. His colour was of a tawny tint, fading out to a
dirty white between the limbs. The tip of the tail was black.

"He's a big fellow," remarked Ralph. "I wish we could get that skin
home. It would make a splendid rug."

"That's true, Ralph, but do you want to stay here long enough to skin

"No. But maybe we can tie him up in the tree and come back for him
to-morrow or next day."

This was decided upon, and then Dan set about catching his mustang. The
pony had run to a considerable distance, but he knew Dan's whistle
well, and after this was repeated several times he came back timidly,
although he would not go within a hundred feet of the dead puma.

Ralph carried a lariat, and this was tied to the dead beast and the
carcass was swung to the breeze, so that the other beasts of prey might
not get at it.

"Of course the vultures and hawks may attack him, but that can't be
helped," said Dan.

The work finished, they lost no time in continuing on their way, riding
rapidly, and keeping their eyes and ears on the alert as before. But
nothing else happened to alarm them, and shortly before midnight they
came within sight of the cabin.

"Home, sweet home!" cried Ralph. "I'll tell you I am glad to be back."

"And so am I," added Dan. "No more fights with a painter for me."

Pompey Shuck had heard them coming, and now ran out with a lantern to
take care of the horses, just as he had been in the habit of doing for
his master in Georgia, years before.

"I'se dun glad to see yo' back," he said, with a broad smile on his
ebony face. "Did de sodgers git away?"

"Yes, they are off for San Antonio," replied Dan. And then he told of
the adventure in the timber.

"A painter!" gasped Pompey. "I declar' to gracious, Mars' Dan, yo' an'
Mars' Ralph dun gittin' to be reg'lar hunters, he! he! I'se glad dat
beast didn't cotch dis chile!"

"I'm not anxious to hunt any more, at least for the present," said
Ralph, soberly. "I'll go back for that skin, and then I'm going to work
around the ranch, and wait for news from father and the army."



At the time of the war between Texas and the government of Mexico, San
Antonio de Bexar could truthfully be said to be a city of importance
gone to decay. Many of the churches, convents, and missions were
deserted and fast going to ruin. The friars had returned to Mexico, and
with them had gone many of the best of the old Spanish families,
although here and there some Castilians remained, to keep up the style
of the times as best they could.

All told, the city numbered about twenty-five hundred inhabitants, the
majority of whom were Mexicans, with a fair sprinkling of American
trappers and traders. It was situated mostly on the west bank of the
river, at a point where both banks of the stream were lined with pecan
and other trees. There were two large public squares, once the scene of
much gaiety, but now overrun with grass and weeds, and between the two
squares stood the grand old buildings of the San Fernando Church. On
the east side of the river, about half a mile from the city proper,
stood the mission, with its church, convent, and walled courtyard,
commonly called the Alamo.

General Cos had now arrived at San Antonio with six hundred Mexican
militia, and as soon as he learned that the Texans were gathering for
another contest, he sent down to the Rio Grande for additional troops
and extra pieces of artillery. In the meantime, the troops under Austin
moved up to Salado Creek, four miles from San Antonio.

The time was a momentous one, and, arriving at the creek, the Texans
sent forth a flag with a message to General Cos, demanding the
surrender of the place.

"I refuse to surrender," was the Mexican commander's answer. "And if
you send another such flag it will be fired upon." This, of course,
brought negotiations to a complete standstill. Austin waited for
reinforcements, and the Mexicans spent the time in barricading the
highways leading out of the city and in strengthening their several

"We are not getting along very fast," remarked Mr. Radbury, to one of
his brother officers, while in the camp at Salado Creek.

"I believe Sam Houston is coming on to take charge," was the answer.
"He's an old war-horse and will be certain to lead us to victory."

Everybody felt that under Houston the Texan cause could not fail. But,
although Houston came up, he did not take command, declaring that the
expedition was in the hands of Austin, and that he was needed

Several days passed, with much anxiety on both sides, and then Colonel
Bowie and Colonel James W. Fannin were ordered to take a band of scouts
with them and reconnoitre the enemy's position, with a view to moving
the Texan army still closer to San Antonio.

"We'll do it," said both officers, without hesitation, and hurried off,
taking about ninety men with them. In this body was a detachment under
Mr. Radbury, and Poke Stover was also along.

The party moved along slowly and cautiously through the clumps of trees
and mesquite-bushes, until some time during the afternoon, when they
came to a bend in the river known as the Horseshoe, where was located
the Mission Concepcion.

"This is a strong position," said Colonel Bowie. "The river and timber
will shelter us from behind, and in front is the bluff. It's an ideal

"You are right," said Colonel Fannin. "General Austin cannot do better
than bring the army here."

The orders had been to return, if possible, before nightfall, but at
this time in the year it grew dark rapidly, and it was decided to go
into camp for the night; and outposts were accordingly stationed in all
directions, that they might not be surprised.

Although the Texans were not aware of it, the Mexican scouts had been
watching them closely, and no sooner did the party go into camp than
the enemy resolved to surround them in the darkness, and either shoot
them all down, or take them prisoners. For this purpose General Cos
sent out four hundred of his best troops, determined to teach the
Texans a lesson that they should never forget.

Lieutenant Radbury, as we must now call him, had charge of the outposts
along the river, and, anxious to see that his men did their duty, he
remained out with them, travelling slowly from one sentinel to another.
On duty at one point was Stover, as alert as though after some big

"Any alarm, Poke?" asked the lieutenant, in a whisper, for it was not
known but that the Mexicans might be close at hand.

"Yes, and no," answered the old frontiersman, slowly. "Perhaps my
hearsight is deceivin' me, but I 'most reckoned as how I heard the
creakin' o' wheels about--thar they go ag'in!"

He broke off short, and held up his hand for silence. Both men listened
intently, and from the river bank they heard the steady, lumbering
creak as of heavy wagon wheels.

"Am I right, leftenant?" demanded the frontiersman, when the sounds had
come to an end.

"You are, Poke; do you know what it was?"

"Can't say exactly."

"It was the creaking of artillery wheels."

"Whoopee! Then they must be comin' over fer fair!"

"Yes. I will report at once."

Lieutenant Radbury lost no time in making his way to the tent in which
Colonel Fannin was poring over an old map of San Antonio.

"I have to report the coming of some artillery," he said, as he

"Artillery?" repeated the commander. "Mexican artillery?"

"I think so, colonel." And Lieutenant Radbury related as much as he
knew. He had scarcely finished, when Colonel Bowie came in on the run.

"They are starting to surround us!" he cried. "They are bringing over
men and cannon!"

The whole camp was soon in alarm, and, after a short talk among the
officers, it was decided to bring up the men in a semicircle, close to
the bluff's edge. While this was going on, a shot rang out, and then
another, showing that one of the outposts had been fired upon.

As the night wore away, a heavy mist swept up the river, and even when
dawn came but little could be seen. Yet, anxious to avenge the loss at
Gonzales, the Mexicans opened fire at once, which, however, did no
harm. As the mists cleared away, the Mexican cavalry surrounded the
whole front of the Texans' position.

"Give it to 'em!" shouted the Texan officers. "Give it to 'em hot!"

The cry was drowned out by a solid fire from the Mexicans, who
continued to pour in volley after volley just as fast as they could

The Texans did not fire by volleys. The orders were: "Fire at will, and
make every shot bring down a greaser!" And there was a constant crack!
crack! and the Mexicans were seen to fall in all directions.

Lieutenant Radbury now found himself under actual fire, and instantly
his mind took him back to his service in the war of 1812. He carried a
rifle as well as a pistol, and did as good work as any man on the

"They are preparing for a charge! They are bringing up a cannon!" was
the cry that soon rang along the line, and then the Mexican bugler
sounded out the command, and the cavalry came on with a rush calculated
to sweep everything before it. But the Texans stood firm.

"Drop 'em!" roared Colonel Bowie. "The first line, boys!" And a score
of shots rang out, and the first row of saddles was emptied almost
completely. Some of the horses were killed or wounded, and these,
falling, caused some confusion. In the meantime, other Mexicans
continued to drop, and soon the cavalry retreated to reform.

"Now they are going to use the cannon!" was the cry which went up
directly afterward, and then a four-pounder, stationed on a bluff, was
discharged. The cannon was aimed much too high, and it is said that
every shot from the piece went over the Texans' heads.

The cavalry now came on again, and it was seen that the Mexicans
intended to shift the position of the cannon so that they might
enfilade the line,--that is, shoot from one end to the other.

"Not much ye don't!" sang out Poke Stover, and, leaping to a slight
knoll, he took careful aim at one of the mules attached to the piece
and fired. Then he discharged his pistol at a second mule. Both beasts
were badly wounded, and, breaking away, they tore first through the
cavalry and then through the infantry, throwing the latter into much

"We have 'em on the run!" Like magic the cry arose from nearly every
Texan's throat. The cavalry had charged again, and again the leading
line had gone down. Now they were retreating, with the infantry beside
them. Seeing it was of no use to remain longer, the cannoneer attempted
to spike the four-pounder, but a Texan sharpshooter cut him down in the

"Come on, boys, let us follow 'em into San Antonio!" cried several, but
this the leaders would not allow, for they were only ninety strong, and
all were exhausted from the battle, which had been sharp if not of long
duration. So the Mexicans were allowed to form in the plain half a mile
away, and from there they marched rapidly back to the city. Their loss
was sixty-seven killed and forty wounded, which showed how deadly had
been the Texans' aim. The Texans lost but one killed and several
slightly wounded.



To the boys at the ranch the days passed impatiently enough. But few
settlers came that way, so that they were cut off almost entirely from
communication with the outside world.

The puma skin had been brought in and cared for, and now they turned
their attention to getting ready for the winter, which was close at

One day, unable to stand it longer, Dan rode down to Gonzales for the
news. He found the town bubbling over with joy because of the victory
at Concepcion.

"They can't stand up against our men," said the storekeeper who was
talking to Dan. "The Texans are brave and nearly all good shots, and
they are fighting for their homes. The greasers, on the other hand, are
lazy and unreliable, paid to do what they are doing, and consequently
think of nothing but saving their own skin."

"Oh, I reckon some of them are patriotic enough," answered Dan. "But
they are in the minority."

"How can they be patriotic, and follow such a man as Santa Anna, who is
continually leading all Mexico by the nose? No, they are doing it for
the pay, and nothing else."

At the post-office Dan found a brief letter from his father, stating
that he was well, and that if no more fighting came off in the near
future he would come home on a short visit. So far there had been no
regular enlistments in the Texan army, and volunteers came and went
pretty much as they pleased.

From the storekeeper Dan learned that several bands of Indians had been
seen in the vicinity, moving to the west and north. Some were
Comanches, and others friendly Caddos.

"Well, I don't mind the Caddos," thought the boy, "but I don't want to
fall in with any more Comanches."

He had thought to go home that afternoon, or evening, as it is called
in Texas, but, after learning about the Indians, resolved to remain in
Gonzales all night and make the journey the first thing in the morning.

On the outskirts of Gonzales was the farm belonging to Henry Parker's
father, and thither he went, satisfied that he would be sure of a warm
welcome. He found Henry at home, and also Mrs. Parker, Mr. Parker being
away on business.

"Why, of course you must stay," said Mrs. Parker. "I am glad to have

The balance of the day passed pleasantly, and after supper the young
man and Dan took a stroll up into the town to learn if any later news
had come in.

They had just gained the main street of the town when Dan saw before
him a figure that looked familiar. He quickened his pace, and soon
ranged up alongside of the man, who proved to be the half-breed, Hank

Stiger was partly under the influence of liquor, or otherwise he would
not have shown himself in Gonzales at that time, when the Indian raid
was still fresh in the settlers' minds. He glared angrily at Dan when
he saw the boy.

"Stiger, I want to have a talk with you," said Dan, with more firmness
than is usual in one of his age.

"What you want now?" demanded the half-breed.

"I want to know what you have done with my father's papers."

"What papers do you mean?"

"The papers you stole from my father's cabin while we were out after
the Indians."

"I was not near your house--I took no papers!" cried the half-breed,
fiercely. "Who says so tells a lie."

"I know you did take them, and unless you give them up I will have you
placed under arrest."

"Ha! don't you talk to Hank Stiger that way, or you will be sorry for
it." The half-breed's hand stole under his coat, and he showed the
handle of his hunting-knife. "Do you see dat?"

Dan sprang back, for he knew how treacherous the man before him could
be. But now Henry Parker stepped up.

"None of that, Stiger," he said, sharply, and placed his hand on the
handle of the pistol he carried in his belt.

"He wants to make trouble for me. He says I stole some papers," growled
Hank Stiger, sullenly.

"And I guess he is right, too," returned Henry. "If I understand the
matter, he has proof against you."

"Ha! did Big Foot tell----" Stiger broke off short, realising that he
was exposing himself.

"Yes, Big Foot told me everything," said Dan. "And you must give up
those papers, or take the consequence."

Hank Stiger's face grew as dark as a thunder-cloud.

"I'll pay off that Injun for it!" he cried. "I knew he wasn't to be
trusted, the skunk! But I ain't got no papers, never had 'em! This is a
put-up job to get squar' on account o' that deer," he continued, trying
to change the subject. "You got the deer, what more do you want?"

"I am not talking deer now,--I am asking for those papers,--and the
other things which were stolen," resumed Dan, doggedly. "What have you
done with them?"

"Find out fer yourself!" growled Hank Stiger, and turning swiftly, he
started on a run for the nearest corner.

"Stop! or I'll fire!" cried Henry Parker, as he drew his pistol, but
before he could make up his mind whether or not he had a right to fire
on the half-breed, Stiger was out of sight. Dan ran after him, and his
friend joined in the chase.

Stiger's course was toward the river, and having reached this, he
leaped into a canoe which was handy and began to paddle with all speed
for the opposite shore. A large lumber-raft was lying in midstream, and
this he kept as much as possible between himself and his pursuers.

"He's bound to get away if he can," observed Henry, as the pair gained
the bank of the Guadalupe almost out of breath.

"Here is another canoe--let us follow him in that," replied Dan.

Henry was willing, and they were soon on the river. Dan could paddle
well, and they made rapid progress around the raft and in the direction
Hank Stiger was taking.

Reaching the opposite shore at a point some distance below Gonzales,
the half-breed leaped into the bushes and made his way to a pine grove
farther away from the bank. The pursuers followed him to the point of
embarkation with ease, but here came to a halt.

"If it wasn't so dark we might follow his trail," observed Henry. "But
I can't see a thing under the trees."

"Here it is," came from Dan, who was on his hands and knees. "He went
into the pines. I'm going a bit farther," and he stalked off. Henry
remained behind to fasten the canoe, that the current might not carry
the craft off.

Dan had scarcely come up to the first row of pines when he saw
something moving over to his left. Satisfied that it was Stiger, he
sped in the direction. The half-breed saw him, and ran on.

"I've spotted him!" cried Dan to his friend. "Come on!"

"All right, I'm coming!" answered Henry.

On through the tall pines ran pursued and pursuers, until nearly
quarter of a mile had been covered. Dan was in front, with Henry close

"You are fools to follow me here!" roared Hank Stiger, as he came to a
halt. "Take that for your foolishness."

"Hide! he is going to fire!" exclaimed Dan, but before either he or his
friend could gain any shelter Hank Stiger discharged a pistol which he
carried. The bullet missed Dan, but struck Henry Parker across the
temple, and the young man went down, stunned and unconscious.

The unexpected turn of affairs made Dan's heart leap into his throat,
and he felt how imprudent both had been to thus expose themselves in
such an out of the way spot to a man in Stiger's condition. He drew his
own pistol, but the half-breed knew enough to dart out of sight behind
a thick clump of bushes.

"Henry, are you badly hurt?" questioned the boy, anxiously, but no
reply came back, and running to Parker, he found the young man flat on
his back and as still as death.

Never had Dan felt so badly as at this moment, for if his friend was
dead he felt that he would be more or less responsible for the murder.

He bent down and made a closer examination, and as he did this Henry
gave a deep shudder and opened his eyes for an instant.

"Thank God, he is alive!" burst from Dan's lips. Then, noticing the
blood trickling from Henry's temple, he bound up the young man's
forehead with his handkerchief.

In the meantime, Hank Stiger was making a détour, expecting to come up
behind Dan and surprise him. He had drank just enough to be utterly
reckless, and carried his pistol in his hand ready for another shot.

Providence saved Dan from the anticipated attack. While Stiger was
still two rods off, the boy happened to turn and catch sight of him.
His pistol was still in his hand, and, without stopping to think twice,
he fired on the half-breed.

The effect of the shot was curious, and the feat performed would be
hard to duplicate. The bullet from Dan's pistol struck the hammer of
Stiger's weapon, and while the pistol exploded and the ball sank into
the ground, the hammer was knocked off and hit the half-breed in the
cheek, inflicting an ugly wound. The bullet itself, having hit the
hammer, glanced downward and lodged in Stiger's leg, close to his
half-bent knee. The man gave a howl of pain and then fell flat.

In a moment Dan was ready for a second shot, but it was not needed.
Stiger's pistol was now useless, and as he could not stand up, because
of the intense pain in his knee, handling his knife was out of the
question. As he sat up, the boy faced him sternly.

"Up with your hands, Stiger," he said, sternly; and the hands went up,
and Dan was master of the situation.



"What are you going to do with me?" asked Hank Stiger, after a moment
of painful silence, during which Dan glanced toward Henry, to find his
friend reviving rapidly.

"You'll find out later, Stiger. I can tell you one thing, you've gotten
yourself in a pretty tight box."

"It wasn't my fault,--you forced the shooting," was the sullen
response. "Why didn't you leave me alone from the start?"

"Because I am bound to have those papers and the other articles you
stole, that's why."

"I took nothing, I swear it."

"Do you expect me to believe you,--after what has happened here, and
after that affair of the deer?"

At this Stiger was silent. He wanted to get up and rush at Dan, despite
the levelled pistol, but the wounded knee held him back. Had he been a
full-blooded Indian he would have suffered in silence, but, being only
a half-breed, and of poor Indian and white blood at that, he groaned

"Dan!" The cry came faintly from Henry, who had slowly raised himself.
"Where--what--oh, I remember, now!" And he sank back again.

"It's all right, Henry; I've made Stiger a prisoner."

"A prisoner!" whined the half-breed. "Ain't I suffered enough already?
My leg is somethin' fearful!" and he groaned again.

"You brought it all on yourself, Stiger, so you need not complain to

"I didn't, you----"

"I won't listen to any more explanations. Throw your knife over here,
and be careful you don't hit anybody with it."

The half-breed fumed and raved, but all to no purpose, and at last the
knife came over, and was followed by the broken pistol.

"Now don't you dare to move," went on Dan, and then turned his
attention to Henry. Not far away was a little brook flowing into the
Guadalupe, and here Dan procured some water with which he bathed his
friend's wound.

The departure from the town shore had been noted by several lumbermen,
and, having heard the pistol-shots, several came over to learn if a
fight was going on. By calling out, the lumbermen managed to locate our
friends and soon came up to them. They listened to Dan's tale with
close attention.

"We ought to go fer to string the half-breed up," was the comment of
one of the woodsmen. "We've got enough trouble on hand without allowin'
sech chaps to make more."

"Thet's jest the size on it," added another. "String him up on the

But Dan would not countenance this, nor would Henry, who had now fully
recovered, although the bullet had left an ugly scratch which he was
bound to wear to the day of his death. Finally a compromise was made
with Stiger, who offered to hobble down to the river, although scarcely
able to walk. The threat to hang him had rendered the half-breed
thoroughly sober.

The return to the town was made without incident, and at the local
lockup Dan told his story, and it was decided to keep Stiger a prisoner
for the time being. He was searched, and in one of his pockets was
found some small silver trinkets, which Dan at once identified as
belonging to his father. But no trace was there of the papers relating
to the land grant.

"But these trinkets prove that Stiger was the thief," said Dan. "I
would like you to keep him a prisoner until my father can come here and
make a regular charge against him." And so the matter was allowed to
rest. Stiger was in a rage, and vowed that he would surely get even
with Dan some day.

When Henry Parker arrived home his mother was much alarmed to find that
he had been shot. Yet beyond the shock the young man had suffered
little, and after having the wound properly dressed he felt as well as

"I might rather have gone off to the war," he grumbled. "Dan and I are
getting all the fighting by staying at home."

It was hardly daybreak when Dan started to return to the ranch. He
would not have gone back at all just then, only he knew Ralph would
grow anxious if he did not return. As soon as he could arrange it, the
youth had determined to ride over to where the army was encamped, to
tell his parent of the encounter with Stiger, and learn if Mr. Radbury
wished to take up the case.

Dan had not to take the trip alone, as two of the lumbermen were going
up the Guadalupe on business. As yet only a small portion of the Texans
had joined the army, many of the others having no idea that a regular
revolution was at hand.

"It won't amount to shucks," said one of the lumbermen, as the three
rode along the river trail. "We'll have a lot of meetings and a
scrimmage or two, and then Santa Anna will come over with a big army,
and our leaders won't dare to call their souls their own."

"I cannot agree with you," answered Dan. "Our folks have suffered too
much to turn back now."

"But we ain't got no army,--only a lot o' farmers and rancheros, and
blacklegs who have run away from the United States to escape justice.
Mexico has a finely trained lot o' soldiers."

"Well, the United States didn't have any trained army at the opening of
the Revolution," retorted Dan, warmly. "But we showed King George's men
a thing or two before we got through with them."

"Well, if we do fight 'em and obtain our liberty, what then?" put in
the second lumberman. "The politicians will run everything to suit
themselves. We won't have any more rights than we have now."

"Never mind, I think matters will be a good deal better," answered Dan.
"Anyway," he added, with a peculiar smile, "do you believe in giving up
your arms?"

"Not much!" answered both lumbermen, promptly. "That's a fool law."

"Then what are you going to do, if the greasers demand your guns and
pistols, as they demanded that cannon?"

This proved a clincher, and the lumbermen changed the subject. They
were for peace, but it may be as well to state here that, in the end,
they joined the army, and fought as nobly for liberty as did the
average Texan soldier.

Before the journey was half over, it had begun to rain, and by the time
the ranch home was reached, Dan and his companions were wet to the
skin. As it still poured down steadily, the lumbermen were glad to
avail themselves of the Radburys' offer to stay at the cabin for the
balance of the day.

"Hurrah for our side!" cried Ralph, when told of the battle at the
Mission Concepcion. "If they have a few more such fights, perhaps the
Mexicans will wake up to the idea that we have some rights they are
bound to respect."

He was glad to hear that Stiger had been jailed, and sorry that Henry
Parker had been wounded. "Henry can make a charge even if father
doesn't," he said.

Ralph and Pompey had had troubles of their own during Dan's brief
absence. Two prize mustangs, not yet broken in, had gotten out of the
corral near the cattle shed, and although the boy and the negro had
managed to round up one of the steeds, the other had persisted in
keeping just out of their reach.

"I tried to lasso him," said Ralph, "but I wasn't equal to it, and, of
course, Pompey knows nothing of a lasso."

"Well, we can go after him when the storm clears away," answered Dan.

Pompey had prepared a substantial dinner, and the balance of the day
passed off pleasantly enough. By morning the storm had cleared away,
and the lumbermen took their departure. Then Dan procured a lasso, and
he and Ralph mounted their steeds and set off on a search for the
missing mustang, which was a beauty, and which Mr. Radbury prized very

"He went off to the southwest," said Ralph, as the brothers rode away.
"Of course, there is no telling how far he ran. I suppose it will be a
good deal like looking for a needle in a haystack to locate him."

"Well, we can do our best, Ralph. I know father set a great store by
that white pony. He was thinking of breaking him in for his own use."

"I know it, and that is why I tried so hard to capture him. But I can't
get the hang of the lasso," and Ralph shook his head, for he had tried
to land the loop over the mustang's head at least a score of times.

"You'll learn in time. It's more the knack of it than anything else.
Come, let us hurry!" and Dan set off at a gallop. He was thinking
altogether of the mustang, and never dreamed of the other odd adventure
in store for him,--an adventure which was to make a soldier of him
almost before he was aware.



The victory at Concepcion, as was natural, greatly strengthened the
cause of the Texans, and immediately afterward the number of volunteers
in the army increased. Seeing this, Austin moved his command still
closer, and settled into a regular siege of San Antonio. The scouts,
under Colonel Bowie, surrounded the town, to give warning of the
approach of any reinforcements for General Cos, who remained within,
still barricading the streets and wondering how soon the revolutionists
would attack him.

In the meantime, a general meeting of citizens and political leaders
was held at San Felipe, and at this convention, as it was termed,
Austin was elected as a commissioner to seek aid in the United States.
This left Austin's place in the army vacant, and General Edward
Burleson, an old Indian fighter, was selected to fill the position.

General Cos was boxed up in San Antonio with a force estimated at from
twelve hundred to sixteen hundred men. Many of his soldiers belonged to
mounted companies, and it became a problem, not only how to feed the
men, but also how to feed so many animals. There were rations to hold
out for some time, but little forage. To make the matter still more
difficult for the Mexican commander, Bowie and others ordered all the
grass in the immediate vicinity of San Antonio burnt. This caused one
or two small fires among the huts on the outskirts of the town, and
came near to starting a panic.

At last General Cos felt that he must either have forage for his
soldiers' horses, or else slaughter them, and he hired bodies of the
Mexican farmers to go out, during the night, to gather such grass as
could be gotten within a reasonable distance of the town. These bodies
of men invariably went out under the protection of one or more
companies of cavalry.

The expeditions after forage brought on what was called the Grass
Fight. Among Bowie's scouts was an old frontiersman called Deaf Smith,
and one day when Smith was out he discovered a body of farmers and
cavalry, about a hundred strong. The panniers of the horses and mules
were stuffed with grass, but as the body was a long way off, Smith
mistook them for some troops come to reinforce General Cos, and
supposed the stuffed panniers to be filled with silver to pay off the
Bexar garrison.

Without waiting to make certain about his discovery, Deaf Smith rode
pell-mell into the camp of the Texans. "The reinforcements are coming!"
he shouted. "Ugartchea is here!"

"Ugartchea! Ugartchea!" was the cry taken up on all sides, and it was
not long before Colonel Bowie set off with a hundred of the best Texan
horsemen to intercept the supposed newcomers.

The Mexicans saw them approach, but it was too late to get back into
San Antonio, and while a few of the farmers managed to escape, the
Mexican cavalry took up a position in the bed of a dry creek. The
plight of those outside of the city was seen by those within, and
General Cos instantly despatched more cavalry to the relief, and also
two pieces of artillery.

The creek, which was in reality a deep gully, was overgrown on either
side with tall brush, and Bowie had some difficulty in bringing up his
command to a firing position. But some of the scouts could not be held
back, and rushing up they speedily laid several of the Mexicans low.

"Now then, fire on them!" shouted Bowie, when the proper range was
obtained; but the Texans had scarcely opened up, when the relief guard
of the Mexicans swung into position behind the Texans, and they found
themselves caught between two fires. They wheeled about, and charged
those behind them, who speedily scattered in every direction, leaving
their dead and dying behind them.

In the meantime, the main body of the Texan army was coming up, and,
arriving at the gully, they drove out the cavalry, killing a dozen or
more of them, and capturing many mules and horses, and a large quantity
of grass, the so-called "silver" which was supposed to fill the
panniers, and which caused many a laugh for long afterward. The loss to
the Texans was small.

In the midst of the conflict one of the officers dashed up to Amos
Radbury. "Lieutenant, several Mexicans are escaping in yonder
direction," he said, pointing with his sword. "You will take a
detachment of twelve men, and go after them."

"I will, major," answered the lieutenant, and saluted. He was soon on
the way, with Poke Stover, and eleven others, for Poke happened to be
near him when the order was given. The Mexicans they had been sent to
capture were four in number, and one of them looked like an officer of
considerable rank.

"I think we can ride them down, Poke," observed Lieutenant Radbury, as
he dashed over the prairies at the full speed of his mustang.

"Well, we kin give 'em a putty tough ride fer it, anyhow," drawled the

"We must catch them, if possible, before they gain yonder timber land."

"Thet's so. If we don't, it won't be no easy work to locate 'em in the

The party of thirteen were all fair riders, but for once the number
seemed fated to be really unlucky. Less than quarter of a mile had been
covered when one of the mustangs, going at full speed, stepped into the
hole of some wild animal, and pitched headlong with a broken leg. The
rider behind the one to go down, pitched in on top of him, and in a
thrice there lay on the prairie a mustang so badly injured that he had
to be shot, and two men so bruised that further pursuit for them of the
Mexicans was out of the question.

"Halt!" cried Lieutenant Radbury, and brought the balance of his
command to a standstill. "Are you much hurt, Readwell?"

"I--I reckon not," was the answer, but when Readwell attempted to stand
up he found his foot and back badly strained.

"And you, Alton?"

"My left arm is bruised,--I don't know but what it is broken."

"The mustang is done fer," put in Poke Stover, after examining
Readwell's steed. "Might as well shoot him, and put him out of his

This was ordered by the lieutenant, and the command carried out on the
spot. The second mustang was slightly injured, but could still be

"Both of you had better go back, on the one mustang," said Amos
Radbury. "And, Glenwood, you can go back with them, for fear they may
have trouble with other Mexicans who may be wandering about."

So it was arranged, and this brought the lieutenant's force down to ten
men. The two parties separated without delay, and those in pursuit of
the flying Mexicans went on as fast as before.

But the delay had given the enemy an advantage, and before the Texans
could come within good firing distance the four Mexicans reached the
timber. At the edge they came to a halt.

"They are going to fire on us, leftenant!" cried Stover.

"Down!" cried Amos Radbury, and the Texans had scarcely time to drop to
the sheltered sides of the steeds, a favourite trick with old
frontiersmen, when a volley sounded out, and the bullets whistled over
their heads. Another volley followed; then, as the Texans swept closer,
and fired in return, the Mexicans disappeared into the timber.

Ordinary soldiers would have hesitated about following the Mexicans
into the forest, but all of the Texans were expert in woodcraft, and
thought they could keep out of an ambuscade as well in the woods as out
of it.

"Stover, supposing you and Dilberry go ahead and reconnoitre,"
suggested the lieutenant. "I know I can trust you to keep out of

"Certainly, I'll go ahead, if ye want me to," answered Poke Stover, in
his free and easy manner, and rode on with the other soldier mentioned.
As soon as they got into the thickets of the timber, they dismounted,
tied their steeds to a tree, and advanced on foot. In the meantime,
Amos Radbury spread out the balance of his party into a line fifty
yards long, extending from a deep ravine on the right to a steep hill
on the left. He felt that the Mexicans could not climb the hill very
well, for it was covered with large and loose stones, and to take their
ponies down into the ravine would be equally difficult.

The advance of Stover and his companion was necessarily slow, for they
had no desire to be picked off by some Mexican concealed behind a tree.
Yet they kept on for a dozen rods before finding any trace of the

"The trail goes toward the ravine," said Stover, presently. "They are
following an old Comanche path."

"Right ye air," answered the other frontiersman. "Years ago, them air
Comanches had a village in this ravine, erbout four miles from hyer."

"I've heard tell on it, Dilberry, though I never sot eyes on it myself.
It war the home o' thet Bison Head, the wust of 'em as ain't dead yet."

Having made certain that the Mexicans had gone straight on for a goodly
distance, the two scouts so reported, and the entire party set off
along the ravine, which at some points was broad and shallow and at
others narrow and deep.

Suddenly the report of a gun rang out, coming from a point where the
ravine made an abrupt turn to the north. Several other reports

"They must be shooting at something," said Lieutenant Radbury. "But
they are not aiming at us, for no bullets have come this way, so far as
I can ascertain."

"Perhaps they are having a brush with some Indians," suggested another
of the party. "They may--Hello, what's this coming along the trail? A
white mustang, I declare, with a black blaze on his forehead. None o'
those greasers rode that animal, I'm certain on it."

"A white mustang!" cried Amos Radbury, and then, as the animal came
closer, he gave a start. "It's the same, I declare!"

"The same?" queried Poke Stover. "What do ye mean, leftenant?"

"That mustang belongs to me. I was trying to break him in when the call
to arms came. He must have gotten away from my boys. But what is he
doing away out here?"

That question could not be answered just then, and in another moment
the white mustang was out of sight. Then, as the firing ahead had
ceased, the movement forward was continued.



"Well, this looks as if it was going to be a long-winded search."

"So it does, Ralph; but you must remember that a wild mustang who had
been shut up in a corral for a couple of weeks will feel very much like
stretching his legs when he gets out."

"We must have come at least eight miles."

"It's nearer ten."

"And we haven't seen the least sign of him."

"Oh, yes, we have; we discovered that trail."

"But we are not sure it was the mustang's."

"I take for granted that it was, for I do not believe any other pony
passed this way since it rained."

The boys had not gone on straight ahead, but in a grand semicircle,
until the footprints mentioned had been discovered. Now they were
riding over a broad patch of prairie land, with a belt of timber to the
north and another to the south.

"I wonder if there are any Indians in the vicinity," resumed Ralph, a
while later. "I won't care to fall in with some of those Comanches who
made it so hot for us at the cabin."

"Oh, they were chased a good many miles off, Ralph. Besides, they won't
dare to show up here while they know that all of our best fighters are
massing between Gonzales and San Antonio."

"I wonder how matters are going on at the front. I should think our
army would march on Bexar without delay."

"They don't want to make an attack until they are strong enough to
overcome General Cos's force. He may have considerable reinforcements
by this time."

So the boys talked and rode until noon was passed. Both were now
hungry, and coming to a pool in the prairie surrounded by
mesquite-trees and bushes, they drew rein and tethered their ponies,
and sat down to enjoy the midday meal they had brought along.

Pompey had packed for them a tempting hamper, and the boys remained
over the repast rather longer than anticipated. The sun shone bright,
and as there was no wind, the day was pleasant, even though late in the

"I suppose some day all this territory will be built up with towns and
villages," remarked Dan, as he dug his knife-blade into the earth in a
meditative way. "And when it is, I wonder if the boys of that
generation will ever remember what a howling wilderness it was in our

"A few will, but not many," laughed Ralph. "We are too much of a
go-ahead people to do much looking back." The youngest Radbury leaped
suddenly to his feet. "What's that, Dan?"

The brother sprang up also, and gave a searching glance in the
direction Ralph pointed out.

"Unless I am greatly mistaken, it's the mustang."

"Just what I thought. He seems to be grazing just at the edge of the
timber. How had we best get at him?"

The matter was talked over for several minutes, and they came to the
conclusion to ride to the timber at some point below where the pony was
grazing and then work up behind him.

"Then, if he bolts, it will be for the prairie," said Dan. "That will
give me a chance to lasso him."

The timber was soon gained, and they skirted this with the silence of
Indians until within a hundred yards of the white mustang. Then the
older brother called another halt.

"Now you take the north side, and I'll keep to the south," said Dan.
"Have you got your lasso ready?"

Ralph had, and it was decided that he should make the first throw, but
not until Dan was prepared to make the second.

With great caution the two boys advanced to the point agreed upon. Then
they rode out to where the lassoes could be used freely.

In the meantime the mustang was grazing peacefully, utterly unconscious
of their presence in the vicinity. But now, as they drew still closer,
he stopped cropping the grass and raised his head as if to listen.

"Throw!" cried Dan, and the lasso left Ralph's hand with a whizzing
sound. A few seconds later Dan made his own cast.

As luck would have it, both landed over the mustang's head, but while
Dan's was drawn tight with great quickness, Ralph's remained loose, so
that in a twinkle the mustang shook it off, and then of course the line
tightened around Dan's lariat instead.

[Illustration: "'HOLD BACK!' YELLED DAN."]

"Hold back!" yelled Dan, as he saw Ralph sit bewildered in the saddle.
"Run off to the other side!"

The younger Radbury attempted to obey, but as quick as a flash the
mustang turned and rushed forward, bringing the lasso around Ralph's
own steed. Then came a snap of the lariat, and Ralph went down, with
the mustang on top of him.

All this took scarcely more time than to describe it, and now Dan found
himself holding the white mustang alone, with Ralph's lariat end
entangled in his own. Then off went the wild animal, kicking and
plunging in a desperate fashion, which even the tightened leather about
his neck did not appear to hinder. His course was straight for the
timber, and he went on dragging Dan's pony after him. It is true the
pony might have held back, but he was not well broken for such a
purpose, having participated in but few round-ups.

"Look out! You'll be killed!" yelled Ralph, as he struggled to get out
from under his pony. The wind had been knocked out of him, but
otherwise he was uninjured.

Dan scarcely heard him, so busy was he trying to bring the white
mustang to a halt. Soon he disappeared into the timber, and then Ralph
arose, mounted the pony once more, and came after him.

The white mustang did not enter the forest far before the lariat around
his neck began to hurt him. He tried to circle around several trees,
and thereby cut himself short to such an extent that he was in great
danger of choking to death.

"Hold my pony!" shouted Dan to Ralph, and slipped to the ground. The
free end of the lariat was passed around a tree and tied, and Dan
sprang forward toward the white mustang, who was now acting as if ready
to give up the battle.

"Easy now, easy," said Dan, soothingly, and watching his chance, he
hopped up on the mustang's back. Immediately the animal bucked and
plunged, trying his best to throw his rider. The lariat was depriving
him of his wind, and of a sudden he stopped short and trembled, as if
about to fall.

Not wishing to strangle the animal now he had caught him, Dan cried to
Ralph to come up and help hobble the steed, that he might walk but not
run. At the same time he continued to talk soothingly to the mustang
and patted him on the neck. Then, fearing he would breathe his last if
the lariat remained as it was, he drew his knife and cut the leather.

In a twinkle the whole manner of the mustang changed, and, before Ralph
could reach his big brother's side, the steed was off like a streak of
lightning, with Dan clinging fast to his neck. Over some low brush the
pair went, and then under some tall pines and out of sight.

"Hi! hi!" cried Ralph, but Dan had too much to do to call back to him.
On and on went the mustang, and the youth could neither stop him, nor
did he dare try to leap to the ground, for fear of a kick from one of
those flying hoofs. It was such a wild ride as Dan never forgot.

By instinct the white mustang seemed to know the best course to pursue,
and went on where the trees were high branched and tolerably far apart.
This was lucky for Dan, for had the limbs been low he must certainly
have been knocked off and killed. He bent as low as he could.

"Go it, if you must," he thought, grimly. "You'll get tired some time.
But I hope you don't go all the way to Bexar."

Fully two miles were covered, when the white mustang came out of the
woods at the edge of a ravine. He ran like the wind until the very edge
was reached, then stopped short all in an instant.

Dan was holding on with might and main, but no boy's grip could
withstand such a shock, and up flew his body, and over the pony's head
he sailed. Then he felt himself going downward, toward the bottom of
the ravine. Some brushwood scratched his hands and face, there followed
a great thump,--and then he knew no more.



When Dan came to his senses all was dark around him. The sun had set
over the timber in the west, and scarcely a sound broke the stillness
of the night.

For several minutes the youth could not imagine where he was or what
had happened. Then slowly the realisation of the events just passed
dawned upon his muddled brain.

He tried to pull himself together and sit up, but the effort was so
painful he was glad enough to give it up and rest just as he lay. The
brushwood had saved him from death, but it had not saved him from a
nasty fall on the flat rocks which rested at the bottom of the ravine
at this particular point.

"It must be at least two or three hours since I went over," he thought,
dismally. "I wonder what became of the mustang, and where Ralph and the
ponies are?"

He tried to see the face of the silver watch he carried,--an heirloom
from his mother,--but it was too dark, and he had to give it up. Then
he attempted to call out, but his voice was so feeble no one standing
fifty yards off would have heard it. And Ralph was miles and miles
away, hopelessly lost in his hunt after his missing brother.

Not a bone had been broken nor a muscle strained to any extent, yet it
was almost daybreak before Dan felt like getting on his feet, and in
the meantime he had fallen into a doze and dreamed all manner of
horrible dreams. When he awoke, his mouth was parched for water, and
his first move was in the direction of the wet portion of the ravine,
beyond the rocks.

As it was the fall of the year, the night had been cold, and after
procuring a drink he was glad enough to sit down again beside a fire
made of leaves and such small brush as was handy. He was now hungry,
but nothing was at hand to satisfy the cravings of the inner man. His
gun had been left behind, but in his belt still rested his
hunting-knife,--something he had taken to carrying constantly since the
brush with the Comanches.

Dan could not help but wonder what had become of Ralph, and wished that
he had some firearm by which he might discharge a shot as a signal.

Slowly the morning wore away, and by noon the lad felt that he must
make a move. "I'll get out of the ravine first," he thought, but this
was no easy matter, for the sides were steep and he was still too weak
to exert himself in climbing.

Presently he imagined that he heard, at a great distance, the firing of
a volley of shots. To make sure he was right, he laid on the ground and
listened. Soon the volley was repeated, and a number of single reports

"There is a fight on of some sort," he thought, but could not locate
the direction of the shots with any degree of accuracy. "I trust Ralph
is out of danger."

He walked along the ravine, looking for some convenient spot where he
might ascend to the level of the timber beyond, until he came to where
there was a split in the hollow. Here, in the centre of the ravine, was
a huge pile of rocks, overgrown with a tangle of vines and thorns,
which hid a cave of fair dimensions. In those days this cave was known
to the Indians as the Haunted Rock. It is said that many a Mexican
trader was lured there, only to be killed and robbed.

As Dan was passing the cave he saw, with much surprise, a Mexican
soldier leading two mustangs into the opening. Each saw the other at
the same time, and instantly the Mexican set up a shout in Spanish,
and, letting go of the horses, levelled a pistol at the boy's head.

Dan did not understand the Spanish, but he understood the motion of the

"Don't shoot!" he cried. "I am unarmed!" And he held up his hands to
verify his statement.

"You surrender?" asked the Mexican, in broken English.

"I suppose I'll have to," answered Dan. "But what are you doing here,
and why do you wish to make me a prisoner? I am not a soldier."

At this the Mexican shrugged his bony shoulders and called out again in
Spanish, whereupon three other Mexicans showed themselves at the mouth
of the cave.

"Come in here, boy," said one of the three, who was evidently a
captain, by his uniform. "Are you alone?"

"I am," answered Dan, as he entered the mouth of the cave.

"Where are the soldiers?"

"What soldiers?"

"The rascally Texans who were after us."

"I know nothing of any soldiers, captain."

"You are telling me the truth?" And the Mexican captain turned a pair
of piercing black eyes on the youth.

"I am, sir; I have seen no soldiers for a week or more, and they were
nowhere about here."

Dan's frank manner apparently impressed the Mexican officer favourably,
for he breathed more freely. He paused for a moment, as if in deep

"What brought you here, boy?"

In a few simple words Dan told his tale. When he mentioned the white
mustang, two of the Mexicans smiled.

"I saw him," said one. "He was running like the wind, directly for
those soldiers, too."

"And who are the soldiers you speak about?" asked Dan.

"It is not for you to ask questions," answered the captain, abruptly.
"Sit down on yonder rock and keep quiet. A noise might betray us, and
then it might become necessary to put a bullet in you."

As there was no help for it, Dan walked still farther into the cave,
and sank down on the rock pointed out. He noted that there were but
four of the Mexicans, and that each had a mustang that seemed to be
much exhausted.

"I reckon I am worse off than I was before," was his mental comment,
after reviewing the situation. "These chaps are evidently in hiding,
and they won't let me go for fear of exposing them. Well, I sha'n't
stay any longer than I have to."

In the matter of eating, the Mexicans were as badly off as the youth.
"You have had nothing, eh?" said one. "Well, we are just as hungry, and
perhaps more so. It cannot be helped, and we must make the best of it."

"But we can't remain here and starve to death," insisted Dan.

At this the Mexican drew up his face into a scowl and turned away. To
comfort themselves, the men smoked cigarettes incessantly, being used
to the tobacco habit from childhood. Dan had as yet found no comfort in
the use of the weed.

While two of the Mexicans remained in the cave to care for the
mustangs, the others went out on guard, one stationing himself just
above the opening and the other below. The numerous rocks afforded both
excellent hiding-places.

From those in care of the mustangs Dan learned but little, yet, during
the Mexicans' talk, the youth managed to gain a bit of information
which led him to believe that there had been a battle, and the four had
become separated from their companions and had been pursued. The
Mexicans thought to remain in the cave until night, and then escape
under cover of the darkness.

As the hours went by Dan became more hungry, and with this empty
feeling came one of desperation. He must escape, be the cost what it

"If only I could collar one of their mustangs, and get away on it," he
thought. "Perhaps I might find those soldiers and have the Mexicans
made prisoners."

The more he thought of this plan the more did it appeal to him, and
then he cast about for some means of putting it into operation.

The chance came shortly before sundown. A distant shot was heard, and
the two Mexicans in the cave hurried to join their companions, to learn
what it might mean. Dan had cast himself down as if asleep, and one of
the soldiers did not, therefore, pick up his gun as he hurried past the
entrance of the cave.

No sooner were the men out of sight, than Dan leaped upon the back of
the nearest mustang, and turned him straight for the entrance. He made
the animal do his best from the start, yet, as he passed the entrance
to the cave, he hung out from the saddle and managed to pick up the gun
that rested against the wall.

"He is escaping!" cried one of the Mexicans, in Spanish, and leaped in
front of the mustang. The next instant the horse knocked him flat and
galloped over his body.

The Mexicans were bewildered, for, on the brink of the ravine, one of
them had caught sight of several Texan soldiers in the distance. If
they fired on Dan, they would betray themselves, and, if they did not,
the youth would surely escape.

"After him!" cried the captain, and two of the soldiers made a dash for
the boy. But they might have as well tried to catch the wind, for the
mustang was fresh from his rest, and Dan made him do his level best.

Then along the ravine sped animal and boy, Dan riding as never before,
and expecting a shot at any moment. He knew not where he was going, and
hardly cared, so long as he made his escape from the Mexicans.



Lieutenant Radbury's party had come up to the ravine at a point
opposite to the cave, about half an hour before Dan attempted to make
his escape.

"I see nothing of the Mexicans here," he remarked to Poke Stover, as he
swept the ravine from one end to the other with his well-trained eye.

"No more do I see anything," answered the old frontiersman. "But they
may be behind yonder rocks, leftenant. If ye say the word, I'll climb
down and scout around a bit."

"There is a cave among yonder rocks," put in another of the Texans. "It
is called Haunted Rock by the Indians. The Comanches used to use it as
a meeting-place when they were out for plunder. I've often heard old Si
Bilkens tell about it."

"I have heard of such a cave," answered Amos Radbury. "If the Mexicans
knew of it, they might think it just the right sort of a hiding-place.
Yes, Poke, you can scout around. But be careful. They may be watching
for a shot."

The frontiersman nodded, to show that he understood, and went off
immediately on foot, it being impossible to go down the ravine's side
on mustang-back, no matter how sure-footed the animal might be.

The descent into the ravine took time, and Poke Stover was still some
distance from the cave's entrance when he heard a commotion among the
bushes and rocks.

"A mustang a-comin' this way," he muttered to himself. "And somebody
ridin', too. It must be one of them dirty greasers trying to git away.
I'll cut him short."

He raised his rifle, and stepped out into the open to get a better aim.
Then of a sudden his weapon dropped to his side.

"Dan! Dan Radbury! What in thunder are you doing out here?"

At first Dan did not hear the call, for the hoof-strokes of the mustang
made considerable noise on the rocks over which he was clattering. But
then the youth caught sight of the old frontiersman and his face beamed
with joy.

"Poke Stover! and is it really you?" he exclaimed.

"Yes. What are you doing here?"

"I just escaped from four Mexican soldiers, who are hiding in a cave up
the ravine."

"The greasers we are after!"

"Are you after them? They said something about being followed."

"Yes, I am after them, and so is your father, who is in command of our

"Father! Where is he?"

"At the top of the ravine--in that direction," and Poke Stover pointed
it out. "He jest sent me out to do a bit o' scoutin'."

"To locate the greasers?"


"I can tell you all about them. They are at the cave on guard. I took
this mustang from them, and also this musket."

"Then thar won't be no need fer me to scout any more, Dan, and we might
as well join the rest," answered Poke Stover. "We must capture them

"How did you come to go after them?"

Stover told the particulars as they were climbing out of the ravine,
Dan leading the mustang by the head. In a short while, the youth was
with his father.

Of course the parent was astonished to find his son in this wilderness,
so many miles from the ranch home, and Dan had to tell his story in

"I am glad you are safe," said Amos Radbury. "But what of Ralph?"

"I can tell you nothing of him, father."

"We saw the white mustang twice, but nothing of him," added Amos
Radbury, thoughtfully. And then he decided to go on a hunt for his boy
as soon as the affair of the four Mexicans was settled.

To the others Dan pointed out the exact location of the cave, and the
entire party drew within a hundred yards of the opening, without
exposing themselves. The Mexicans, also, kept out of sight.

"We are now eleven to four," said Amos Radbury. "I believe if they
understood the matter, they would surrender, rather than risk being

"If they won't surrender I know what you can easily do," returned Dan.

"And what is that?"

"Starve them out. They are all as hungry as bears,--and so am I, for
the matter of that."

"An excellent idea. But if you are hungry, here are rations in the
saddle-bags," and Dan was speedily supplied with sufficient food to
stay his hunger for the time being.

One of the party, who could talk Spanish fluently, was now ordered to
show a white handkerchief tied to a stick, and this he did, moving to
the very edge of the ravine for that purpose. At first, owing,
probably, to the darkness, the Mexicans did not see the flag of truce,
but at last the captain came forward, and demanded to know what was

"We want you to surrender," said the Texan.

"We will not do so, and you will attack us at your peril," was the
Mexican's sharp reply.

"You are but four, while we number twelve."

"We will fight, even so, señor. A Mexican never surrenders."

"What if we starve you out?"

"You cannot do that. Still, you may try it, if you wish," continued the
_capitan_ hurriedly. If the Americans tried starving them out, it
would give them time in which to perfect some plan for escape.

The talk continued for several minutes, and then the Texan came back
with the information that the enemy would agree to nothing.

"He's willing to be starved out," went on the ranger. "But I think he
wants the chance to get away in the darkness."

"We will draw closer to the cave as the darkness settles down,"
answered Amos Radbury. This was the first time, as an officer, that he
had been sent out on a commission, and he was resolved not to fail.

The night came on swiftly. Evidently a storm was brewing, for not a
star lit up the heavens.

"We'll catch it, in more ways than one, soon," said Stover to Dan,

The Texans had had a small fire, but now this was deserted, and the
party moved down into the ravine on foot.

Just as the first rain of the coming storm began to fall, one of the
men of the party set up a shout.

"There they go!"

He was right. The Mexicans were making a mad dash for liberty up the
ravine, the four men on three mustangs.

"Fire at them!" ordered Lieutenant Radbury, and instantly half a dozen
shots rang out. None of the enemy was hit, but two of the mustangs
pitched headlong, carrying three of the riders down with them. The
fourth Mexican, the captain, continued on his way, forcing his steed
along at a greater pace than ever.

Before those on the ground could rise, they found themselves

"Surrender!" cried Lieutenant Radbury. "Surrender, or we must shoot you

"I surrender!" cried one of the Mexicans. "No shoot me!" And he held up
his hands.

But the others were game, so to speak, and, rising, they discharged
their muskets, and continued their flight on foot. They had scarcely
gone a dozen steps, when the Texans opened fire again, and one dropped,
shot through the heart. The second man was wounded, but kept on and
disappeared up the side of the ravine, in a thick pine brake, where all
was now pitch dark.

"Make that man a close prisoner!" shouted Lieutenant Radbury to two of
his followers. "Come on!" and he dashed away after the Mexican captain.
Several, including Poke Stover and Dan, followed him, while others went
after the fellow in the pine brake.

It was largely a go-as-you-please hunt, for, as mentioned before, the
army was not yet sworn in, and every man felt that he could do about as
he wished.

Before leaving the Mexican who had surrendered, Lieutenant Radbury had
appropriated his horse, consequently he readily outdistanced those who
followed. But he could not catch his man, although he got close enough
to note that the fellow left the ravine where there was a cut upward,
and took to the timber on the north.

"We can't follow him in this darkness," said Amos Radbury. "We will
have to wait until morning. It is raining now, and probably there will
be an easy trail to follow."

They returned to the others, and then the entire party went into camp
in the cave the Mexicans had just vacated, the horses being also
brought in, to keep them out of the storm, for it was now raining in
torrents. A fire was kindled and a warm supper prepared.

"Two out o' four," declared Poke Stover. "That wasn't so bad, after

The captured Mexican was questioned, and said the missing officer was
Captain Arguez, from Santa Cruz.

"He belongs to a most noble family," said the prisoner. "He will never
give up."

"He will if I lay my hands on him," said Amos Radbury, quietly.

Both father and son were much worried over Ralph, and wondered what had
become of him. It was agreed that while looking for Captain Arguez they
should hunt for the boy also.



"I'm lost, and that is all there is to it!"

Ralph sat on the back of his mustang the picture of dismay. He had
tried to follow his big brother and had failed, and had spent the night
on the bank of the ravine, but at a point several miles from the cave.

Ralph was not nearly as well versed in woodcraft as his big brother,
and he hardly knew how to turn or what to do. All about him was one
vast wilderness, and the silence and loneliness made him shiver in
spite of himself.

"If I only knew what had become of him," he said, over and over. "But
perhaps he is dead!" And the tears started to his eyes.

He had eaten nothing since the evening before, but he was too worried
now to satisfy the cravings of his stomach. He had his own mustang and
that of Dan with him, and they were feasting on the rich grass close at
hand. Procuring a drink at a stream near by, he watered the animals and
set forth once again on the hunt.

The day drifted by swiftly, and Ralph found neither Dan nor the way out
of the belt of timber. He was now weak from so much travelling, and was
compelled to rest and partake of the scant lunch still left in the
hamper Pompey had provided.

As night came on so did the storm, and with the first fall of rain he
sought shelter under some overhanging rocks near the top of one side of
the ravine.

It was anything but a pleasant position, and no wonder Ralph wished
himself safe at home again.

The storm increased until the rain came down in a deluge, forming a
good-sized stream in the basin of the ravine. Ralph was thankful that
there was but little thunder and lightning.

Having found a dry place in a corner of the rocks, he was on the point
of falling into a doze when a clatter not far off aroused him.

"It must be Dan," he thought. "Dan! Dan!" he cried, starting up. "Is
that you?"

At the sound of his voice the clatter ceased, and only the violence of
the storm broke the stillness. Then Ralph called again, that his
brother might not go astray.

"Who calls?" The voice was a strange one, and the words were spoken
with a Spanish accent. Ralph fell back in dismay, but it was too late,
and soon the newcomer showed himself, riding a jaded steed, and
carrying a long horse-pistol in his hand.

"Ha, boy, are you alone?" demanded the man, who was none other than
Captain Arguez.

"I am," answered Ralph.

"And what brought you here?"

"I was out looking for a lost mustang, and missed my way."

"Ha, that is what the other boy told me!" muttered Captain Arguez, half

"The other boy? Then you have seen my brother?"


"Where is he now?"

"I cannot tell you. He ran away, taking one of my soldier's mustangs."

"But I don't understand," stammered Ralph. "Are you a Mexican army

"I am."

"And Dan was with you?"

"I think he fell in with us by accident, and he got away just as we
were having a brush with some of your accursed Americans." The Mexican
captain looked around suspiciously. "You are quite sure you are alone?"

"Yes, señor."

"You have two ponies."

"One belongs to my brother. He got on the white mustang,--the one that
ran away,--and that is the last I saw of him. You have no idea where he
is now?"

"Probably with the Texans who attacked my party."

"And where are they?"

Captain Arguez's brow grew dark. "You are asking too many questions for
a mere boy," he growled. "I do not know where they are, nor do I care,
so long as they do not bother me any more," and in this he spoke the
exact truth. He cared nothing for his men, and wished only to get back
to San Antonio in safety.

The Mexican had had nothing to eat throughout the day, and was glad
enough to avail himself of what little was left in the hamper. Then he
put his mustang beside the others, and made himself as comfortable as
possible near Ralph.

"Do you know the way to Bexar?" he demanded.

Ralph shook his head. "I don't know the way anywhere; I am totally

"From whence do you come?"

"From the Guadalupe River, at least thirty or forty miles from here."

"Then I must be almost as far from Bexar?"

"Yes; perhaps farther."

"It is too bad! I was foolish. But let that pass, what is done cannot
be undone."

Captain Arguez had relapsed into Spanish, so Ralph did not understand
his last words. He remained silent, wondering what the officer would
say next. But instead of talking, the Mexican rolled a cigarette, and
began smoking vigorously.

Ralph was sleepy, and in spite of his repeated attempts to keep awake,
he soon dozed off, and then fell into a sound slumber, from which he
did not rouse up until daylight.

The captain was asleep, snoring loudly, and with a half-smoked
cigarette between his fingers. At first Ralph thought to leave without
disturbing him, but no sooner had the boy risen to his feet than the
Mexican opened his eyes and stared about him.

"So it is morning?" he muttered. "Very good. Let us be on our way."

"I do not know which way to go," returned Ralph.

"That is easily answered, boy. You will go with me."

"With you?"

"Yes. I am lonely and want company."

"But you are going to San Antonio de Bexar."

"You are right. It is an ancient Mexican town, and there you will be
quite safe."

"But I don't want to go there,--I want to go home."

"You will be better off with me; anyway, you must come on. If I let you
out of my sight, and you fall in with those Americans, you will betray
me to them. Come, we must lose no time."

Ralph attempted to argue, but the Mexican officer would not listen, and
soon they were in the saddle, riding side by side, and with the extra
mustang behind. Captain Arguez had noted how the water was flowing in
the ravine, and now he crossed the hollow, and struck out down the
water-course, but on the opposite side to where the Texans had

It must be confessed that Ralph felt more downhearted than ever. It was
true he had wished for company, but this Mexican was not desirable, and
the thought of being taken to the fortified town filled him with

Yet there was no help for it, and he rode along as directed, and thus
they journeyed for many miles, until they struck a road leading
directly into San Antonio. Here Captain Arguez met the Mexican who had
escaped into the brush, and the two compared notes, the result of which
was that both, along with Ralph, made a long détour to the north and
the west.

Once on the way the party passed several Indians, but no words were
exchanged. In this party was Big Foot, the Comanche, who had been
nursed at the Radbury ranch, but Ralph did not recognise the red man,
for he was too far away.

The storm had let up a little during the day, but now as night came on
it broke forth once more, as furiously as ever.

"This just suits me," said Captain Arguez. "It will wet us to the skin,
to be sure, but it will put the Texans off their guard."

Once during the afternoon Ralph had thought to escape, but the captain
had threatened to shoot him on the spot, and the attempt had amounted
to nothing. The boy's weapons had been taken from him, and the mustang
belonging to Dan had been appropriated by the Mexican private.

The private knew the vicinity of San Antonio well, and said they had
better halt at a certain gully until two or three in the morning. This
was done, and by four o'clock they were safely inside of San Antonio
without the Texan pickets being the wiser, the rain and darkness
proving the Mexicans' best ally.

As soon as he was safe, Captain Arguez went to headquarters to report,
taking the private and Ralph with him. Ralph was put in a side room of
the quarters, and left under guard for several hours.

"We have resolved to keep you here for the present," said the soldier,
who came to him at last.

"Keep me here!" gasped Ralph. "What for? Surely you don't count me a
prisoner of war?"

"Captain Arguez is convinced that your brother was a spy, and that you
will help him if you can. It will, therefore, be safer for us to keep
you here."

This was all the satisfaction Ralph could get, and soon after he was
marched away to the San Antonio jail, there to remain for some time to



"This looks like a hopeless task, father."

"So it does, Dan, but while I am willing to give up looking for that
Mexican captain, I am not willing to give up looking for Ralph."

"Nor I. But the question is, which way shall we turn next?"

Amos Radbury shook his head slowly. The party had been out in the
timber two days, and, though they had followed several trails, it had
availed them nothing.

"Perhaps Ralph went back to the ranch," suggested Poke Stover.

"We found no trail leading in that direction," said Lieutenant Radbury.

"That is true, but he might have gone back, even so, leftenant."

Amos Radbury shook his head slowly. "You only wish to give me a little
encouragement, Poke," he said, with a sad smile. "I am afraid he has
fallen into the hands of the Indians."

"Talk about Indians, here come several Indians now," put in Dan, who
was riding beside his father. "They look like Comanches, too."

The red men, who were three in number, had appeared at the brow of a
small hill. Now, on discovering the whites, they seemed on the point of
turning to run away.

One, however, gave the Texans a searching look, and then his face lit
up with satisfaction. He came running toward Dan, holding up both hands
in token of peace.

"Big Foot!" exclaimed the youth, as he recognised the Indian.

"Good Dan," answered the Indian. "I glad I see you. How! How!" and he
looked at Amos Radbury and the others.

"I reckon this is the critter ye nursed at the ranch," remarked Stover.

"It is," answered Dan. He turned to the Indian. "So you are glad to see
me, eh?"

"Yes, much glad." The Indian looked at one and another of the party.
"Where little brudder Raf?"

"Ralph is missing," put in Lieutenant Radbury; and then added, quickly,
"Do you know anything of him, Big Foot?"

The Indian nodded slowly.

"You do!"

"Yes, see little Raf wid Mexican soldiers."

"With the Mexican soldiers!" cried father and son, simultaneously. "You
are certain?"

The Indian nodded again.

"When was this?"

As well as he could, with his limited knowledge of English, Big Foot
told of the meeting with Captain Arguez, the Mexican private, and
Ralph. "They all go into Bexar," he concluded.

"Then Ralph is a prisoner of the enemy," said Amos Radbury.

"But will they hold a mere boy like that?" snorted Poke Stover. "It
seems to me thet ain't human nater, nohow."

"The Mexicans will do anything to harass the Texans," answered the
lieutenant, quietly. "I don't know but what I would rather have Ralph a
prisoner in Bexar than lost in the timber or in the hands of some
treacherous Indians."

"If only we could get into Bexar after him," sighed Dan.

"We'll get in pretty soon," returned another member of the party. "I
heard old Ben Milam say that if our troops didn't start pretty soon
he'd form an attack on his own account."

Big Foot was anxious to learn what all the trouble was about, and Dan
explained to the Indian. At the conclusion of the talk Big Foot stared
stolidly at Dan for fully ten seconds.

"You say so, Big Foot go into Bexar an' hunt out little Raf," he said
at last.

"Oh, will you?" cried Dan. "It will be very kind."

"Big Foot not so kind as Good Dan," returned the Indian. "Yes, will go
right now. Where Big Foot find Good Dan if have news for him?"

"At the camp of the Texan army," answered Dan, before his father could
speak. Then he turned to his parent. "Father, you must let me go with
you. I am sure I am old enough to fight."

"Why, Dan, you are but a boy!"

"I think I can fight as well as some of the men," said the youth,
boldly. "I am a pretty good shot, and I wouldn't be a coward and run,"
he added, earnestly. "I don't want to go back to the ranch alone."

"But life in the army is no easy thing, my son. We may have untold
hardships before this struggle comes to an end."

"I am willing to take what comes. Please say I can go."

Amos Radbury could not resist his son's appeal, especially as he was
glad to have the boy where he might have an eye on him. So it was
settled that Dan should accompany his parent; and thus did the youth
become a soldier to fight for the liberty of Texas.

A while later Big Foot left, stating that he would endeavour to get
into San Antonio that night, and the party under the lieutenant rode
off to the camp of the Texan army. Here Amos Radbury reported what he
had done, and there, for the time being, matters rested.

In the meantime, the Texan army had moved slightly closer to San
Antonio de Bexar, but, as yet, nothing had been done toward storming
the town. Volunteers came and went, and the army lacked so much of
complete organisation that the leaders hesitated upon opening an attack
upon such a force as General Cos had under him.

"If we lose, the Texan cause is lost for ever," said one of the
leaders. "We cannot afford to put up the stake at this time."

Bowie, Crockett, and other scouts were off doing duty of another kind,
otherwise the attack might have opened without delay. But now the old
veterans, especially those of the war of 1812, became impatient, and
among these was old Ben Milam, previously mentioned. One day Milam
could contain himself no longer, and, rushing out in front of the
general headquarters, he swung his hat into the air, and shouted at the
top of his lungs, "Who will follow old Ben Milam into Bexar?"

"I will!" "I will!" came from a score of throats, and soon over a
hundred men were gathered around the old fighter. In the number were
Amos Radbury, Poke Stover, and a party of scouts who had served under
Crockett. Dan, of course, followed his father.

As soon as it was learned how enthusiastic the soldiers were, it was
decided that Milam's party should meet on the following day at an old
mill near the camp. At this mill the company of volunteers numbered
exactly three hundred and one, and this force was divided into two
divisions, the first under Milam and the second under Colonel Frank W.

"We will move on the town about three o'clock in the morning," said
Colonel Milam, and this was done, the first division going down Acequia
Street and the second taking to Soledad Street. Both streets led
directly to the main plaza of San Antonio, and each was heavily
barricaded and swept by General Cos's artillery.

The two divisions moved with caution, but as they crept along between
the low-lying stone houses a Mexican sentinel saw the body under
Johnson, and gave the alarm.

"We are discovered!" came the cry, and the next instant the rifle of
Deaf Smith spoke up, and the sentinel fell dead where he had stood.

Further attempts at concealment were now useless, and both divisions
rushed into the town as far as possible. Johnson's command went as far
as the house of the vice-governor, Veramendi, and here sought shelter
from the Mexicans, who swarmed down upon them in great numbers.

"Dan, take care of yourself," cried Lieutenant Radbury, who with his
son had joined Colonel Milam's division. "Don't run any risks if you
can help it."

"I'll stick close to you, father," answered Dan.

They were going down Acequia Street on a dead run, every Texan firing
as rapidly as he could reload.

"The plaza! The plaza!" was the cry; but that square was still a
hundred yards off, when the Mexican garrison appeared, with their
artillery, as if ready to sweep the Texans from the face of the earth.
Then came the cry, "To shelter!" and Milam's men, about a hundred and
forty strong, broke into the nearest mansion, which was that of De La

"Drop!" The cry came from Poke Stover, and he called to Amos Radbury,
as he saw a Mexican in the act of picking off the lieutenant from the
garden of a residence opposite to that of De La Garcia. He raised his
gun to fire on the man, but the weapon was empty.

Dan heard the cry and noted where Stover was looking. He, too, saw the
Mexican about to fire on his father, and his heart leaped into his
throat. Then, by instinct more than reason, he raised his own gun and
blazed away. Both guns spoke up at once, and Dan saw the Mexican throw
up his arms and fall backward. Then his father dropped like a lump of

"Father!" cried the boy, hoarsely, and knelt beside his parent. "Are
you hit?"

"I--I guess not," stammered Lieutenant Radbury. Then he passed his hand
over his ear and withdrew it covered with blood. "But I reckon he
nipped me."

"That's wot he did," put in Stover. "But Dan plugged him for it," he
went on, with much satisfaction.

The Texans got into the house as soon as possible, much to the surprise
and consternation of the family, who protested in vain at the
intrusion. Once within, doors and windows were barricaded, and the
residence turned into a veritable fort.

It was now growing daylight, and without delay the Mexicans began a
furious onslaught. The crack of musketry and the roaring of cannon was
incessant, but the Texans were wise enough to keep out of sight, and
but little damage to human life was done. The Texans stationed
themselves at convenient loopholes and calmly picked off every Mexican
soldier who showed himself within range.

"I wonder how the second division is making out," said Lieutenant
Radbury, as the day wore away and the cracking of firearms continued.
"They seem to be doing about as much firing as we are."

"They are at the vice-governor's house," announced one of the other
officers. "We could join them were it not that the greasers are
sweeping Soledad Street with their twelve-pounder."

Rations were scarce and water was more so, yet the men under Milam did
not complain. They had come to take the city, and they meant to do it.

"I hope Ralph won't suffer through this," remarked Dan, while on guard
at one of the loopholes, with his father not far away.

"We must trust for the best," answered Amos Radbury, and breathed a
silent prayer that all might go well with his younger offspring.

As night came on it was resolved to dig a trench across Soledad Street,
so that the two divisions might communicate with each other. This was
dangerous work, for the Mexicans kept a strict guard and fired every
time a head was exposed to view. The trench was started at each end and
was completed long before daybreak. While this was going on the
Mexicans also dug a trench, hoping thereby to catch the Texans in a
cross-fire, but the scheme failed.



"If only I was at liberty once again!"

Ralph had said this to himself over and over, as he sat on the hard
wooden bench which served him both for a seat and a couch in the little
stone cell which he occupied in the San Antonio lockup.

Several days had gone by, and no one had come to see the youth but his
jailer, who delivered food twice a day, morning and afternoon. The
jailer spoke nothing but Spanish, so communications between the two
were limited.

Ralph often wondered what had become of Dan and the white mustang. Was
his brother lost in the timber, or had he fallen in with the Indians?

There was a tiny window in the cell, high up over the couch. From this
Ralph could get a slight view of the river and of a patch of sky, and
that was all.

But one afternoon, when all was quiet, Ralph noticed a shadow at the
window, and, gazing up, made out part of an Indian face stationed
there. Quickly he stood on the bench.

"Big Foot,----" he began, when the Indian let out a low hiss of

"Soldier hear Raf," said the Indian, in a whisper. "Me come to find
you,--tell fadder and Good Dan would do dat."

"Father and Dan!" returned the boy. "Then they are together?"

"Yes, both in big army outside of dis place. Big Foot say he find Raf.
Must go now. Maybe save Raf soon. You watch!"

And then the Indian disappeared as quickly as he had come. By some
means known only to himself, he had found out where Ralph was located,
and had watched for thirty hours on a stretch for a chance to
communicate with the lad. He had caught a sentinel off guard, and had
mounted to the window by means of a lariat thrown around one of the
bars of the opening. As he leaped down, the sentinel turned in time to
catch him winding up his lariat.

"What are you doing there?" demanded the Mexican.

"Indian squaw in dare?" asked Big Foot, meekly.

"No, we do not keep squaws here," answered the Mexican. "Begone, or
I'll shoot you;" and then, as the Comanche loped off, he resumed his
cigarette smoking.

The coming of Big Foot comforted Ralph greatly, for he now knew that
Dan was with their father, and that both were in the army, outside of
San Antonio. That night he slept soundly.

He awoke to hear loud firing, showing that a battle of some kind had
started. The firing continued, and, before long, the lockup was struck
by a cannon-ball, although little damage was done. The attack created a
great confusion, and Ralph was left largely to himself.

At night, while the sounds of firing still kept up, Big Foot appeared,
with both his lariat and a short iron bar. Mounting to the window, in
the gloom, he called Ralph, and passed him the bar.

"Break window and drop out," he whispered. "Big Foot wait for you close
to river."

He fell back, and with the bar Ralph set to work to liberate himself.
The masonry of the window was old and loosened, and he soon had two of
the bars out, leaving a space just large enough to admit of the passage
of his body.

As he leaped into the window-opening, he heard voices in the corridor,
outside of the cell. Then his jailer and a Mexican officer appeared at
the cell door.

"Ha! he is escaping!" roared the jailer, in Spanish. "Stop!" And he ran
to Ralph, to detain him, but the boy dropped to the court outside, and
scampered off as fast as his feet would carry him.

An alarm at once sounded, and the cry arose that the prisoners
throughout the jail were rising. This, of course, was not so, yet the
excitement was great within the walls, and, for the minute, Ralph was
allowed to depart unmolested.

In the darkness Big Foot joined him, and thrust into his hands a stout
club. "Club much good, sometime," said the Comanche. "Knock down
Mexican, maybe, if in way."

He led the way down one street and another, until the vicinity of the
plaza was gained.

Suddenly, as they turned an alleyway, a volley from the Mexican
garrison was fired.

"Run! run! or get shot!" shouted the Comanche, and then, as Ralph
turned in one direction, the Indian turned in another, and, in a trice,
they became separated in the darkness.

Ralph kept on running, he knew not where, only that he might escape the
bullets, which appeared to be flying in all directions.

He could not go around by the plaza nor by the church, and so cut into
a gloomy courtyard. Still running, he reached the stone wall of a
house. A window was close at hand, and he leaped through this, to pitch
headlong on the floor beyond, too exhausted to go another step.

As related before, the firing kept up all this night, and was renewed
with vigour in the morning. In the meantime, the trench across the
street had been completed, so that the two divisions were in
communication with one another. It was fighting at close quarters, and
San Antonio looked as if in the throes of a big riot.

The Texans had been trying to bring a twelve-pounder into position,
but, so far, they had failed. Now, however, it was mounted at a
commanding point, and fired several times, with fair effect. In the
meantime, Deaf Smith and a party began to do some sharpshooting from
the top of the vice-governor's residence, but the Mexicans drove them
off, and Smith was severely wounded.

When Ralph came to himself, he found that he was in a room that was
pitch-dark. From a distance came a hum of voices, and the steady blows
of some blunt instruments, probably axes or picks. The firing continued

He felt his way along from the room in which he found himself to the
one adjoining. From this a stairs led upward, and he went to the upper
floor. Here, from a window, he saw part of the fighting, and as the
morning came, he saw still more.

The noise below kept on steadily, and as daylight advanced, the firing
on all sides became almost incessant. In the midst of this, there came
a loud hurrah, and a detachment of Texans, under Lieutenant W.
McDonald, ran out into the street, and battered down the door of the
very house where Ralph was in hiding.

"Hullo, a boy!" shouted one of the Texans, as he caught sight of Ralph.
And then he continued, quickly, "By George! ain't you Amos Radbury's

"I am," answered Ralph. "And you are Mr. Martin, from the Pecan Grove

"Right, my lad. How in the world did you come here?"

"I just escaped from the lockup, and was trying to reach the Texan
lines. Do you know anything of my father?"

"Do I? Why, he's in the house just below here, along with your brother.
We came---- Back, or you'll be shot!"

Ralph retreated, and none too soon, for a second later several bullets
entered the window and buried themselves in the wall opposite. The
Mexicans were firing from several roofs in the neighbourhood. This fire
was returned with such good interest that soon the Mexicans were as
glad to get out of sight as those who opposed them.

Ralph wished to join his father and Dan without delay, but Mr. Martin
held him back.

"Wait until dark," said the settler. "You are fairly safe here, and it
would be foolhardy to expose yourself."

"Do you think we will win out?" asked the lad, anxiously.

"I do,--but it is going to be a tougher struggle than any of us

On the morning of the third day of the attack matters were at first
quiet, but then came a fierce fire by the Mexicans on the Texans'
trench. The sharpshooters were called again to the front, and in an
hour the enemy had stopped almost entirely.

"Here goes for another dash!" came the cry at noon, and sure enough
another dash was led to a house still closer to the plaza, and the
building was soon in the possession of the Texans. They were gaining
their victory slowly but surely.

At evening Colonel Milam attempted to leave his own position to consult
with Colonel Johnson, still at the Veramendi house. "You must be
careful, colonel," came the warning, as the gallant fighter stood in
the courtyard. The words had scarcely been spoken when a bullet took
Milam in the head, killing him instantly.

The loss at this critical moment was a severe one, and the officers
were called into hasty consultation, the result of which was that
Colonel Johnson was placed at the head of the expedition.

The battle was now growing fiercer and fiercer, and, angered over the
loss of Colonel Milam, the Texans forced their way to another house,
which fronted the Military Plaza and was but a block from the Main

"Down with the Mexicans! Hurrah for the liberty of Texas!" were the
cries, and the Texans grew more enthusiastic than ever. In the midst of
this uproar Ralph discovered his father and Dan at the doorway to one
of the houses, and ran to join them.

"Ralph, my son!" cried Amos Radbury, and caught the lad to his breast,
and Dan hugged his brother with a bear-like grip. "You are quite well?"

"Yes, father. But what a fight this is!"

"Yes, and it will be worse before it is over."

"Did you see Big Foot?" questioned Dan.

"Yes, he helped me to get out of prison."

There was no time just then to say more, for the Texans were fighting
hotly, holding several houses and endeavouring to keep the Mexicans out
of such buildings where they might have an advantage.

On the fourth day of the attack the Texans fought their way to what was
called the Zambrano Row, which line of stone buildings reached to one
end of the Main Plaza. "Let us get to the Main Plaza, and Cos will be
done for!" was the cry.

From one house the Texans cut their way through the thick stone walls
to the next, until at last the whole row was theirs, and the Mexicans
were driven in every direction.

The Main Plaza could now be covered in part, but during the coming
night the Texans captured still another building, called the Priest's
House, which fronted directly on the great square. As soon as this was
captured, the Texans barricaded doors and windows, and made of the
house a regular fort.

"We've got 'em on the run," said more than one Texan, after the
Priest's House had been barricaded, and this proved to be true. With
both the Military Plaza and the Main Plaza swept by the fire of the
enemy, the Mexicans knew not what to do. The citizens of the town were
in a panic, and men, women, and children ran the streets as if insane.
Then the cry went up in Spanish: "To the Alamo! To the Alamo!" and away
went the civilians, some with their household effects on their backs.
Seeing this, the Mexicans also withdrew, meaning at first to protect
the inhabitants (which was unnecessary, for the Texans did not wish to
molest them), and then to reorganise at the Alamo for an attack on
General Burleson's camp. But at the Alamo things were in the utmost
confusion, and before General Cos could call his troops together, some
of them fled, making straight for the Rio Grande River.

This wound up the fighting, and it was not long before the Mexican
general sent out a flag of truce, asking upon what terms the Texans
would receive his surrender. The Texans were very lenient, and the
matter was quickly settled. The loss to the Texans had been about
thirty killed and wounded; the loss to the Mexicans was six or eight
times greater.



In view of what was to follow at Goliad, it will be well for us to look
for a moment at the terms which the Texans made with General Cos at the
time of the latter's surrender.

The Texans, having things all their own way, might have been very
dictatorial in their demands, yet they agreed to allow General Cos and
his officers to retain their arms and all of their private property.
The Mexican soldiers were to return home or remain in Texas as they
preferred, the convicts which had been pressed into the service were to
be conducted across the Rio Grande River under guard, and the sick and
wounded were to be left to the care of the Texans. On his retreat
General Cos took with him over eleven hundred men, many of whom were
armed against a possible attack by the Indians.

"I think he is getting off easy," observed Dan, when it became known
under what conditions the Mexican commander was leaving. "I don't
believe he would be so considerate with us."

"Not by a long shot," put in Poke Stover. "He'd be for treating us wuss
nor prairie-dogs."

"Well, it is always best to be considerate," said Amos Radbury. "It may
be the means of bringing this contest to a happier conclusion."

"Well, we're going to keep the regular muskets and army stores, aren't
we?" asked Ralph.

"Yes, all public property comes to Texas," said his father.

General Cos left San Antonio on the 14th of December, and on the
following day General Burleson resigned from the Texan army, and a good
many of the volunteers went home, to learn how matters were progressing
for the winter. On all sides it was felt that no other movement of
importance would occur for some time to come, for, in those days in
Texas, there were no railroads to carry an army wherever wanted, and
the distance from San Antonio to the lower Rio Grande River was a
distance of several hundred miles.

"We may as well go home, too, boys," said Lieutenant Radbury, two days
after his commander had resigned. "I am anxious to know how Pompey is
getting along."

"What of the white mustang?" questioned Dan.

"I reckon we will have to let the white mustang take care of
himself,--at least for the present," smiled Amos Radbury.

It was decided that Poke Stover, who had become very much attached to
the Radburys, should accompany them, and, a few days later, they set
out for the ranch on the Guadalupe by way of Gonzales.

The stop at Gonzales was made to see what had been done with Hank

"He must not be given his liberty until he confesses what he has done
with my claim papers," said Amos Radbury.

The ride to Gonzales was made without special incident, but along the
whole of the road it was seen that the people were aroused to the
highest pitch. Everybody wondered what Mexico would do next.

It was a bitter cold day when Gonzales was reached, and it looked as if
the first norther of the season was at hand.

"You're too late," said one of the citizens, to Amos Radbury, as they
rode up to the lockup.

"Too late?"


"What do you mean?" asked Dan.

"You're after that Hank Stiger, I take it?"

"We are."

"He skipped out, day before yesterday."

"Broke jail?"

"Well, not exactly that, Radbury. Louis Reemer was a-watching of him,
and Louis got drunk and left the jail door unlocked, and----"

"And Stiger walked out, I suppose," finished Lieutenant Radbury,

"We allow as how he run out--an' putty quick-like, too."

"Did anybody make a hunt for him?"

"To be sure. But he had two or three hours the start of us, and so we
couldn't find his trail."

"Reemer ought to be locked up himself."

"We ducked him in the horse-trough. But he wasn't so much to blame,
after all. We had a jollification because of the capture of Bexar, and
a good many of the men weren't jest as straight as they might be."

With a heavy heart, Amos Radbury rode down to the jail. But Reemer was
away, and a new man had taken his place,--a man who knew absolutely
nothing concerning the half-breed who had gotten away thus easily.

"We may as well go home," said the lieutenant.

"I would like to see Henry Parker first," said Dan, and received
permission to take a run to Henry's house, while his father did some
necessary trading.

Dan found Henry Parker as well as ever, and hard at work preparing for
the winter, for his father could do but little. Henry was deeply
interested in the particulars of the attack on San Antonio.

"I wish I had been there," he cried. "But I am going when the army
reorganises; mother and father have promised it."

"There wasn't much fun in it," said Dan, soberly. "It was real hard
fighting from start to finish. The fellows who went in for a mere
dust-up got left."

"Oh, I know war is no play, Dan. But I mean to do my duty by Texas, and
that is all there is to it," concluded Henry Parker.

Early the next morning the party of four began the journey up the river
to the ranch home. It was still cloudy, and Ralph declared that he saw
a number of snowflakes come down, but the others were not so sure of
this. Yet the weather was dismal enough.

"We are going to have a pretty heavy winter for this section," said
Amos Radbury,--and the prediction proved a true one.

As they journeyed along, the wind swept mournfully through the pines
and pecans, but not once did they catch sight of any wild animal,
outside of a few squirrels and hares. Some of these Poke Stover brought
down, "jest to keep his hand in," as he declared.

While yet they were a long distance off, Pompey saw them coming and ran
forward to meet them.

"Bless de Lawd yo' is all safe!" he cried. "I dun fink one or de udder
of yo' been shot suah!" And he shook hands with his master and fairly
embraced the boys.

"And how have you been, Pompey?" asked Amos Radbury.

"I'se been all right, Mars' Radbury. Had quite a job 'tendin' to fings
alone, but I'se dun gwine an' done it, neberdeless, sah. But las' night
I'se dun got scared, mars'," and Pompey rolled his eyes mysteriously.

"Got scared? At what?"

"A man, sah, wot was a-creepin' around de ranch, sah, peepin' in de
doah an' de winders, sah."

"A man?"

"Hank Stiger, I'll wager a dollar!" cried Dan.

"It must have been that fellow," added Ralph.

"What became of the man, Pompey?" went on Mr. Radbury.

"I can't say as to dat, sah. As soon as I dun spot him, sah, I got de
gun, an' he run away like de Old Boy was after him, sah."

Asked to describe the stranger, Pompey gave a fairly good description
of him, and this fitted Hank Stiger exactly.

"He is around for no good purpose," said Amos Radbury. "Are all of the
mustangs safe?"

"Yes, sah. I'se dun watch dem de whole night, sah."

"We must keep a watch to-night, too, and to-morrow we can go on a hunt
and see if he is hiding anywhere near."

In honour of the home-coming, Pompey, as tired as he was, spread a
generous table, and all sat around this for several hours, eating,
drinking, and discussing the situation. The Radburys were glad Poke
Stover had accompanied them, for now the frontiersman could help keep
guard against the half-breed, should the latter mean mischief.

The next day proved so stormy and cold that the boys were glad to
remain indoors. It did not snow, but the rain was a half hail and the
wind was of the kind that reaches one's marrow. Only Amos Radbury and
Poke Stover went out, to the cattle shed and the nearest range, and
they were glad enough to come in long before evening.

"Hank Stiger won't stir around much in this weather," observed Mr.
Radbury, as he shook the water from his greatcoat. "He's too much
afraid of himself."

"Yes, but he'll want shelter somewhere," said Ralph.

"Perhaps he has gone after the Comanches," said Dan. "He may have been
just on a journey when Pompey saw him."

So the talk ran on, but nothing came of it. That night, completely
tired out, all retired early. Just before he went to bed Dan looked out
of the window and saw that it was clearing off, and that the stars were
trying to break through the clouds.

Down in a corner of the cattle shed rested a small keg of powder which
Amos Radbury had brought home from Gonzales, for his stock of this
article had run low. As Dan lay in bed he could not get this keg of
powder out of his head.

"I hope it didn't get wet," he thought. "But surely father must have
covered it up with great care."

For thinking of the keg, Dan could not get to sleep, and at last he
arose and walked out into the living-apartment of the cabin. Here, in
the middle of the floor, he came to a sudden standstill, as a noise
outside reached his ears.

What the noise came from he could not determine. First there was a
slight bump, and then a rolling sound, and then he heard a scratching,
as of steel upon flint.

"I'm going to investigate this," he said to himself, and, catching up
his gun, he ran to the door and threw it open.

What he saw surprised him beyond measure. There, in the darkness, stood
Hank Stiger. The half-breed had a bit of lighted tinder in his hand,
and at his feet lay the keg of powder with a long fuse attached to the
open bung-hole!



"You rascal! Get back, or I'll shoot!"

[Illustration: "'YOU RASCAL! GET BACK, OR I'LL SHOOT!'"]

Such were the words which burst from Dan's lips as soon as he recovered
sufficiently from his surprise to speak.

But Hank Stiger was already retreating, carrying the lighted tinder in
his hand. He could not make out who was there, but saw it was somebody
with a gun, and the sight of the weapon was enough for him.

"What's up?" came from Poke Stover, who had been snoring in the corner,
and the old frontiersman scrambled to his feet and joined Dan at the

"There goes Hank Stiger! He was going to blow up the cabin with our keg
of gunpowder."

"Can it be possible! I'll stop him." Stover ran outside. "Stop, Hank
Stiger, or you're a dead man!" he called out, loudly.

But the half-breed was now running like a deer and paid no attention to
the words. Taking hasty but careful aim at Stiger's legs, Poke Stover
pulled the trigger of his gun.

The report, which awakened all of the others, was followed by a scream
of pain from the half-breed, who went a step or two more and then sank
in a heap.

"What does this mean?" demanded Amos Radbury, as he, too, seized his
gun. "Are we attacked by Indians?"

"No, we were attacked by Hank Stiger," answered Dan, and pointed to the
keg of powder.

"My powder! What was he going to do with that?"

"Blow us all sky-high."

"And you saw him?"

"Yes, I caught him in the act of lighting the fuse lying there."

"But how came you to be up?"

"I was restless,--thinking about the keg and other things."

"It must have been an act of Providence," murmured Amos Radbury. "Who
fired the shot?"

"Poke Stover. He has gone after Stiger," concluded Dan.

All ran out of the cabin, and found the frontiersman and the half-breed
at the edge of the clearing. Hank Stiger had been struck in the knee
and was evidently suffering great pain, for after screaming for awhile
he fell back in a dead faint.

Stover and Pompey were for leaving him where he had fallen, but neither
Amos Radbury nor his sons had the heart to do this, and in the end the
half-breed was carried to the cattle shed and put in the corner from
whence he had removed the powder. All were anxious to question him
about his actions, but the wounded man was in no condition to talk.

"After this I'll put this powder in a safer place," said Mr. Radbury,
and stored it in a corner of the dugout, under the living-room.

Hank Stiger's wound was dressed, and then Pompey was set to watch him
for the remainder of the night. The negro was given a pistol and was
instructed to discharge it at the first intimation of danger of any

But the balance of the night passed quietly, and toward morning Dan got
into a sound sleep, from which he did not awaken until long after the
others were up.

After breakfast Amos Radbury started to question Hank Stiger. He found
the half-breed resting easily, but in a sullen mood. At first he
utterly refused to talk.

"Very well," said Mr. Radbury. "If you won't talk, neither shall you
eat nor drink."

"Then take me back to the Gonzales lockup," muttered Stiger.

"We will,--when we have the time. At present we have other matters to
attend to."

Left once more in charge of Pompey, the half-breed flew into a rage and
muttered all sorts of imprecations against those who had outwitted him.
Then, as the day wore on, he calmed down, and tried to bribe the
coloured man into giving him something to eat and to drink.

Pompey was obdurate. "Can't do it, nohow," he said. "It's ag'in Mars'
Radbury's ordahs, sah."

A wounded man always craves water, and by one o'clock in the afternoon
the half-breed's tongue was fairly lolling out of his mouth. He stood
it awhile longer, then summoned Pompey.

"Give me a drink,--I am dyin'."

"I dun tole you dat it was ag'in the massah's ordahs, sah."

"He said I could have water if I would talk," growled Stiger.

"Is yo' ready to talk?"


At once the negro called his master, who was busy, with the boys and
Poke Stover, in putting down some hog-meat for the winter. Knowing how
greatly Stiger must suffer, Amos Radbury went to him without delay.

"So you are willing to talk now, Stiger?"

"How can I help myself?"

"Then tell me why you tried to blow up my cabin?"

"I wanted to git squar' fer havin' me locked up."

"But you deserved to be locked up, after that attack on Dan and Henry

At this the half-breed shrugged his shoulders.

"And you must remember perfectly well what you did before that,"
continued Amos Radbury.

"I didn't get Bison Head to attack you,--he did that on his own

"But you came in afterward and robbed the place. It is useless for you
to deny any longer that you took those papers relating to this grant of

For several minutes Stiger was silent. At last he lifted his eyes.

"Are you goin' to give me dat drink?" he asked, falling back into his
Indian accent.

"Yes,--if you'll promise to tell me about the papers."

"I--I will."

Pompey was at once sent for a pitcher of fresh water, and when it
arrived Hank Stiger grabbed it with both hands and drained it dry.
Nectar could not have tasted sweeter to him.

"Now what did you do with the papers?" Amos Radbury asked, after Stiger
had given a long sigh of satisfaction.

"I--I lost 'em."

Instantly Amos Radbury's face flushed, and he sprang to his feet.

"Stiger, you are falsifying! I do not believe you!" he exclaimed.

"It's de truf."

"It is not. You have either hidden the papers or else given them to

At this the half-breed shrugged his shoulders again.

"You cannot deceive me longer," went on the settler. "By and by you
will want food and more water. You shall have neither."

"Goin' ter starve me to death?"

"It will be your own fault. I am now treating you with more kindness
than you deserve. Many a man would have strung you up to the nearest
tree for your misdeeds."

At this Hank Stiger winced, for he knew only too well that Mr. Radbury
spoke the truth. He felt that he could not go too far or he might get
into deeper trouble.

"I'll tell yer all," he said at last. "But give me somethin' to eat

"Not a mouthful until you have told your story. Then you can have all
the food and water you wish, and we'll try to make you as comfortable
as we can."

This was the straw which broke the camel's back, so far as Hank Stiger
was concerned, and with much hesitation he told his story, which in
substance was as follows:

About six months before, he had fallen in with a man of mixed American
and Spanish blood named Carlos Martine, who was anxious to obtain
possession of a large grant of land on the Guadalupe from the Radbury
claim northward.

Carlos Martine was in league with a number of Mexican officials, and
had obtained ownership of a large portion of the land without much
difficulty. But the best of the land, that fronting the river, belonged
to Amos Radbury, and this Martine could not obtain, although he tried
to do so through a certain John Morgan. Morgan had asked Mr. Radbury to
sell several times, but had been refused.

Carlos Martine had had a hold on Hank Stiger, and during the Indian
raid had asked the half-breed to obtain possession of the papers
relating to the land, if they could be found in the Radbury cabin. What
Martine was going to do with the papers Stiger did not know.

Having obtained the papers, Hank Stiger had gone off to Gonzales with
them. From there he had journeyed to Goliad, and there met Carlos
Martine. The latter had promised him twenty dollars, Mexican money, for
the documents, but at the time of the meeting the half-breed had been
so intoxicated that he could not remember whether he received the cash
or not. Certainly, when he had sobered up, two days later, every cent
of the money was missing.

"And have you seen Carlos Martine since?" questioned Amos Radbury.


"Then you do not know where he is?"

Once more Hank Stiger shrugged his shoulders. "I think he got afraid
and went to Mexico. A good many people around Gonzales do not like him,
and I think he was afraid I would expose him," he ventured.

Amos Radbury questioned the half-breed, and at last concluded that the
story must be largely true. This being so, he ordered Pompey to fetch
some more water and prepare such a meal as might be good for the sick
man. The planter had had considerable experience at doctoring, and he
attended to the wounded knee with almost as much skill as a surgeon.

As Carlos Martine was out of reach, nothing could at present be done
toward getting back the missing documents.

"But I shall fortify myself as much as possible," said Amos Radbury;
and on the following day he wrote down Hank Stiger's confession in
full, made the half-breed sign it with his mark, and had Poke Stover
witness the paper.

"Thet might not hold with the Mexican government," drawled the old
frontiersman, "but I calkerlate 'twill hold with the government o' this
free an' enlightened State o' Texas, hear me!" And at this the others
had to laugh.

The holidays came and went, and nothing of more than ordinary interest
happened at the ranch. It was at times bitter cold, the sweeping
"northers," as they are called, hurling themselves over Texas with
great fury. During those times everybody remained indoors hugging the
fire. Hank Stiger still kept to his couch at the cattle shed, and was
provided regularly with all that he needed to eat and drink. If the
truth must be told, the half-breed was thankful that he had such a
comfortable home for the time being, knowing it was much better than
any the Indians could offer him, or better than he would get at the
Gonzales lockup.

In the meantime, matters politically were in a very mixed-up state
throughout Texas. The majority of the settlers were for liberty, but
some, while wishing State rights, still thought it best to remain in
the Mexican Confederation, while others wanted annexation to the United
States without delay.

Many meetings were held, but this only increased the confusion, and
though a portion of the Texans set up a provisional government, others
continued to act largely on their own responsibility. There were many
wrangles and, to look back, it is a great wonder that anarchy did not
reign supreme. But it is a satisfaction to know that, in the end, law
and order conquered. With the political troubles our tale has nothing
to do.

While the Texans were speculating upon what to do next, Santa Anna, in
Mexico, was not idle. At the head of a party peculiarly his own, he had
cut off many of the rights of the Mexican citizens, and made himself
virtually a dictator, although still called simply the president. This
accomplished, he set out to subdue Texas, the only spot where his
authority was resisted.

Santa Anna had sent out a small command to relieve General Cos at San
Antonio. The two forces met at the Rio Grande River, and there waited
for further orders. Early in February, General Santa Anna came up to
Monova with about four thousand troops. These soldiers were joined by
those on the Rio Grande, thus increasing the Mexican army to about
seven thousand.

The order now came for a direct advance upon San Antonio, and the army
set off on its wearisome journey of about six hundred miles over a
plain which was hardly protected by any timber from the cutting winter
winds. Slow progress was made, and, food falling short, the whole army
had to be put on short rations. Some of the soldiers tried to desert,
but these were promptly shot by Santa Anna's orders. Whenever a
settlement was passed, the inhabitants were made to give the hungry
Mexicans all the provisions they could possibly spare. Once the whole
army came close to open rebellion, but Santa Anna's orders were
supreme, and on the 22d day of February, 1836, the first of his troops
appeared within sight of San Antonio; and the war, which had hung fire
since the December before, was again begun.



One day, early in February, Amos Radbury came riding back from a trip
to Gonzales with news that he had heard from Carlos Martine.

"The man has been at San Felipe," he declared, "and I have it on good
authority that he intends to claim my land."

"Well, what are ye going to do?" queried Poke Stover, who was still at
the ranch.

"I hardly know. But I wish I could have a talk with Martine. It might
be the means of saving a good deal of trouble."

"Is Martine still at San Felipe?"

"No, Gusher told me that he had gone to San Antonio."

"Then why not take a trip to San Antonio and find him?" suggested the
old frontiersman. "I reckon that is what I would do."

"I think you are right, Poke, and I'll start tomorrow," answered the

He went in to talk the matter over with his sons, and the land claim
was the chief topic of conversation for the balance of the evening.

"I now wish I had kept Hank Stiger here," said Mr. Radbury. The
half-breed had left the ranch but three days before, apparently very
grateful for the manner in which he had been treated.

"Well, one thing is certain," declared Dan, "I don't stand for giving
up the claim. I'll fight first. Those Mexican officials can do as they
please, but they can't budge me."

"Good fer Dan!" shouted Stover. "He's the kind the State o' Texas will
want in days to come."

On the next day Mr. Radbury was too busy to think of leaving the ranch.
There was much work at the cattle shed, part of which had been blown
down by a norther which had proved little less than a hurricane.

In working upon the shed the planter had a mishap. The rung of a short
ladder broke beneath his weight, and he came down flat on his back. No
bones were broken, but he was hurt otherwise, and decided that it would
be best for him to keep off his horse for a week or ten days.

He was apparently much worried to think he could not see Carlos
Martine, and, noticing this, Dan went to him, and asked if he could not
do the errand.

"You, Dan!"

"Yes, father. I know you think I am but a boy, yet----"

"No, my son," interposed Mr. Radbury. "I used to think you were but a
boy, but, since you showed your fighting qualities at Bexar, I have
changed my mind. You are but a boy in years."

"Then let me go and see if I can hunt up this Carlos Martine. I can at
least have a talk with him, and learn how matters stand."

Amos Radbury shook his head, but in the end he consented to let Dan go,
providing Poke Stover would accompany him on the trip. The old
frontiersman was willing, and early on the following morning the pair
set off on their mustangs, each carrying his gun, which was now a
custom with all of the settlers.

In those days there were two main trails, or wagon roads, crossing the
Guadalupe River. The lower trail was the one running through San
Felipe, Gonzales, and San Antonio, and this could very properly be
termed the main highway of Texas. From fifty to a hundred miles north
of this was the trail running through Nacogdoches, and across a hilly
and uncultivated territory to San Antonio and the Rio Grande. At San
Antonio the two trails came together in the form of the letter V, and
in the notch thus formed stood the Franciscan Mission, commonly called
the Alamo, which means the cottonwood-tree. Of this mission, which was
to be so bravely defended, we will soon learn many interesting details.

The Radburys usually rode to San Antonio by way of Gonzales, but Dan
and Poke Stover decided to ride through the timber lands to the
northwest until the upper trail was gained. This way might be a trifle
rougher, but it was no longer, and the trees along the upper trail
would serve to break the force of the northers which were continually
sweeping the face of the country.

The two set off in high spirits, each with his saddle-bags well stocked
with provisions, and each well armed.

"Who knows but what we may meet some Indians on the way?" said Dan.

"I doubt if the Indians are active now," replied the old frontiersman.
"They have had some pretty good lessons lately, and, besides, they know
that all of the settlers are arming against the Mexicans, and are,
consequently, ready for them."

"Do you know why I came this way?" went on Dan, after a pause.

"I didn't calkerlate you had any perticklar reason, Dan."

"I have an idea we can run across that white mustang father lost."

"Humph! That nag may be miles an' miles away from this deestrict."

"That is true. But yesterday, when I rode up to the edge of this
timber, I caught sight of something that looked very much like the
white mustang."

"You did! Then why didn't you say so afore?"

"I didn't want to worry father. I thought I would tell you,--when we
got out,--and I've done it," added Dan.

"Where did ye spot the critter?"

"Right over to the left, near that fallen pine. But I'm not sure it was
the white mustang. But it was some creature in white."

"If it wasn't the mustang, it couldn't be anything else. There are no
other white critters here,--'ceptin' it might be a silver deer, and
they are as scarce as snowstorms in July."

They were now in the timber, and moving along at a steady gait. On all
sides the ground was as hard as a rock, and the keen air was bracing to
the last degree. A stiff breeze was blowing, swaying the branches
overhead, and occasionally bringing down a belated nut on their heads.

By noon they calculated that they had covered eighteen miles, which was
not bad, considering the nature of the ground they had traversed. With
the rising of the sun it grew warmer, and, seeking a sheltered spot,
they dismounted and partook of their midday meal. They had still
twenty-six miles to go, but hoped to cover that distance before

"I wonder how the garrison at San Antonio is making out," said Dan, as
they sat eating.

"Like as not a good many of the soldiers went home for Christmas,"
returned Stover. "To my mind, it's a great pity that Sam Houston ain't
succeeded in organising the army as he intended. He seems to be the
only leader who thinks that Santa Anna will come over here with a big
force to knock the spots out of us. All the others are quarrelling over
politics and places."

"I don't think it's quite as bad as that," laughed Dan. "But it seems
to me they ought to get an army together."

"The leaders ought to act in concert, Dan. If they don't, their
soldiers are licked afore they go into battle," remarked the old
frontiersman, sagely. "What Texas needs most of all is one first-class
leader, whom all obey." And in this speech Stover came very near to
telling the exact truth.

The meal finished, they were soon in the saddle again, and less than an
hour later they came upon the trail leading directly into San Antonio.
There was a hill of rocks on one side and a belt of timber on the
other, with here and there a water-course to be crossed.

So far, nothing had been seen of any game but a deer that was too far
away to be brought down, and a few hares, which neither took the
trouble to shoot. But now Poke Stover called attention to a flock of
wild turkeys resting along the rocks not a hundred yards distant.

"A fine shot, Dan!" he whispered. "We can make a good trade with 'em,
down in Bexar."

"That's so," answered the boy. "I'm ready to shoot when you are."

"Let us go into the timber, and come up in front of 'em," suggested the
old frontiersman. "The rocks kind o' hide 'em from this p'int."

They dismounted and tied their mustangs to a tree. Then, with guns
ready for use, they crept off in a semicircle, coming up to within
sixty yards of the turkeys before they were discovered.

"Fire!" cried Stover, and bang! bang! went the two guns, one directly
after the other. They had loaded with large shot, and five turkeys
fell, two killed outright and the others badly wounded. Rushing in,
Stover quickly caught the wounded ones and wrung their necks.


"That's what I call a pretty good haul," cried Dan, enthusiastically.

"It's not bad, lad, although I've seen better. I wish I could have
gotten a second shot at 'em. We might have----" The old frontiersman
broke off short. "What's that?"

"It's a horse's hoofs on the trail," answered Dan. "Somebody is coming
this way."

He ran out of the bushes into which the wild turkeys had fallen, and
gazed along the road. Just above was a curve, and around this came
sweeping something which caused his heart to bound with delight.

It was the white mustang.

"By hookey!" came from Poke Stover. "It's him, eh, Dan?"

"Yes. Oh, if only I had my lasso!" For that article was attached to the
saddle of the mustang in the timber. Dan was on the point of crossing
the trail when Stover caught him by the arm.

"Don't scare the pony----" began the frontiersman, but he was too late.
The white mustang had caught sight of Dan and he came to a halt
instantly. Then he reared and plunged and swept by, and the last they
saw of him, he was running toward San Antonio at the top of his speed.

"We've seen him,--and that's all the good it will do us," remarked Poke
Stover, as Dan gazed blankly up the road, and then at his companion.

"Can't we catch him, Poke? Oh, we must!"

"Might as well try to catch a streak o' greased lightning, lad."

"I don't know about that. He looked tired, as if he had been running a
long while."

"You are sure on that? I didn't git no fair view of the critter."

"Yes, he was covered with sweat. Perhaps somebody else has been
following him."

"Well, it won't do no harm to go after him,--seein' as how he is
steerin' in our direction," said the old frontiersman, and, picking up
the dead turkeys, they ran for their mustangs and leaped into the

Several miles were covered, and they were on the point of giving up the
chase when they encountered a settler with his prairie schooner, or big
covered wagon, on his way to Guadalupe.

"Ye-as, I seen thet air white critter jest below yere," the settler
drawled. "He war goin' 'bout fifteen miles an hour, I reckoned. Looked
tired. I wanted to go arfter him, but Susy, she wouldn't allow it."

"No, Sam Dickson, ye sha'n't go arfter no game or sech," came from the
interior of the schooner. "Ye'll settle down an' go ter farmin', an'
the sooner the better 'twill be fer yer hide, mind me!" And the dark,
forbidding face of a woman, some years older than the man, appeared
from behind the dirty flaps of the wagon-covering. At once the settler
cracked his whip and drove on.

Poke Stover chuckled to himself. "Thar's married life fer ye, Dan," he
remarked. "Do ye wonder I'm a single man?"

"My mother wasn't of that kind," answered the youth, and then Stover
abruptly changed the subject, and away they galloped again after the
white mustang, little dreaming of the trouble into which that chase was
to lead them.



The day was almost spent when, from a slight hill, they came in sight
of San Antonio, the setting sun gilding the tops of the church
steeples, and making the sluggish river appear like a stream of gold.

"No white mustang yet," said Dan. "I reckon we might as well give up
the chase and go right into the city."

"Not yet!" cried Poke Stover, pointing with his hand to the
northwestward. "Thar ye are, Dan!"

Dan looked in the direction, and in a patch of cottonwoods made out a
white object, moving slowly along. It was the mustang they were after,
so tired out that he could scarcely move from one spot to the next.

"We've got him now!" ejaculated the youth, enthusiastically. "And just
as I was ready to give up, too! Come on!"

Away he swept, with all the quickness of which his own wearied steed
was capable, and Poke Stover followed him. The white mustang saw them
coming, and set off into the timber on a feeble run.

The course of the pursued creature was around the northern approach to
San Antonio and then toward the Medina River. Many times they thought
to give up the chase, but then the white mustang seemed so near and so
ready to drop that they kept on until the river bank was gained. Here
the mustang disappeared into a pine brake; and it may be as well to
add, right here, that neither the Radburys nor Poke Stover ever saw him

"Where is he?" asked Dan, a few minutes after the animal had
disappeared. "Do you think he leaped into the water?"

"I heard a splash," answered the old frontiersman. "There it goes
again." He tried to pierce the darkness with his eyes. "There is
something over yonder, that---- Whoopee, Dan, look!"

There was no need for Poke Stover to call the boy's attention to what
was on the other side of the Medina, for Dan was already looking, "with
all eyes," as the saying is. He had made out a number of Mexican
cavalrymen, moving up and down along the west bank, and now he noted
two pieces of artillery, which the cannoneers were trying to run out on
two rafts moored close at hand.

"The Mexican army, as sure as you are born!" cried Stover, in an
excited whisper. "Lad, we have made an important discovery. They must
be bound for Bexar!"

"Yes, and there are thousands of them," answered Dan. His heart was
beating so rapidly that he could scarcely speak. "Poke, what had we
best do?"

"Find out what their game is, first, and then ride back to Bexar as
fast as our mustangs can make it. If the garrison isn't warned, there
will surely be a great slaughter."

There was a stiff norther blowing, making the swollen stream rough and
dangerous to cross, and the Mexicans were consulting among themselves
as to how they should proceed. With bated breath, the boy and the old
frontiersman watched every movement, and, at the same time, tried to
figure up mentally how many Mexicans there were.

"At least a thousand," said Poke Stover, but, as we know, he was
mistaken; the force of the enemy numbered nearly seven times that many,
although, to be sure, they were not all in that immediate vicinity.

"We will cross the river and investigate," said one of the officers,
presently, and a large flat-bottomed boat was brought around and a
dozen soldiers leaped into it.

"We had better get out now," whispered Poke Stover, and turned his pony
to ride away from the river bank.

"Halt! Who goes?" came the cry, in Spanish, from one of the Mexican

"We are discovered," whispered Dan. "Come on!"

He turned away from the river bank and dove straight into the pine
brake. Then came a shot of warning, but the Mexican fired high, not
daring to take aim for fear of hitting a friend.

The shot caused a commotion, and soon Dan and Stover felt that they
were being followed. They tried to make their mustangs move on a run,
but the animals could not be urged farther.

"They will catch us, sure," gasped the boy, as the steps of the enemy
sounded nearer and nearer. "What shall we do?"

"Move to the right, and we'll see if we can't throw them off the
trail," answered Poke Stover.

To the right there was a slight hollow, filled with mesquite-trees and
bushes, and beyond this was a sandy plain covered with cacti. But of
the latter both were ignorant.

Down into the hollow they dove, their horses glad enough of the chance
to get a drink at the pool among the bushes. Under the mesquite-trees
they halted, and Stover went back to reconnoitre.

The scout was gone for fully quarter of an hour, and came back
chuckling softly to himself.

"We threw 'em nicely," he said. "We are safe now, providin' we don't
make too much noise."

"Then let us go on, Poke. We must carry the news to Bexar."

"It's funny there are no scouts around," was the old frontiersman's
comment. "They ought to be on the watch." But none of the Texan
soldiers were on guard, the greater portion of them being in attendance
at a Mexican fandango in the town, never suspecting the attack so close
at hand. Santa Anna heard of this fandango, and would have pushed
forward to capture San Antonio at once, but could not get his army
across the Medina River.

Leaving the pool, Dan and the frontiersman ascended to the plain, and
presently found themselves among the cacti. This was anything but
pleasant, and they had to pick their way with great care in the
darkness, and even then their steeds often refused to budge, so prickly
were the plants. It was almost morning when they arrived in sight of
the _jacals_, or huts, which dotted the outskirts of the city.

The pair at once sought out the commander of the garrison,
Lieutenant-Colonel William B. Travis, who was still sleeping. Travis
was a dashing young soldier of twenty-eight, a lawyer by profession,
and a native of North Carolina. The commander was "red-hot" for
independence, and one who never gave up, as we shall soon see.

"So you wish to see me," he said to Stover, whom he had met before.
"It's rather an early visit."

"I have to report that a large body of Mexicans are approaching the
town," answered the old frontiersman, saluting in true military style.
"Young Radbury here and myself were down along the Medina, when we
spotted them trying to bring a couple of cannon over on a raft."

"Mexican soldiers?" exclaimed the lieutenant-colonel. "You are certain
of this?"

"We are."

"How many of them do you think?"

"At least a thousand."

The commander knit his brows in perplexity. "It is odd none of my
scouts have brought me word. But a fandango----" He broke off short, as
another officer came in. "What is it, Chester?"

"It is reported that some Mexican dragoons are in the vicinity,

"These people here tell me a whole army is coming. Where did your
report come from?"

"The church steeple. The dragoons are in the vicinity of Prospect
Hill," went on the officer, mentioning a hill to the west of San

"I must have the particulars of this without delay," said the
commander, hurriedly; and while he questioned Stover and Dan he sent
for several scouts, who were hurried off to verify the reports. When
the scouts came back, they reported that Santa Anna's army was coming
straight for San Antonio, several thousand strong.

The whole city was at once thrown into a commotion, and it was felt
that the garrison could do little or nothing toward defending the

"We are but a hundred and forty odd strong," said Lieutenant A. M.
Dickenson, one of the attachees of the garrison. "We cannot hold the
plaza, no matter how hard we try. Let us retreat to the Alamo, until we
can summon reinforcements."

The matter was hastily discussed, and it was decided to retreat to the
Alamo without delay. Later on, express riders were sent off for
help,--but help never came for those who fought so nobly and bitterly
to the very last.

The retreat from the town to the mission was necessarily a rapid one,
for Santa Anna was advancing with all possible speed. Few stores could
be taken along, but as the garrison swept across the plain lying
between the city and the mission, they came upon a herd of cattle,
numbering thirty-six heads, and drove these before them into the
mission's courtyard.

"Let us go with the soldiers!" cried Dan, who was as excited as
anybody. "If there is a battle ahead it will be all foolishness to
attempt to look for Carlos Martine."

"Well, lad, I'm willing," replied Stover. "But I don't want to get you
into trouble."

"I'll risk the trouble, Poke; come on," and on they went after the
garrison. It was not long before they reached the soldiers, who were
just rounding up the cattle mentioned, and in this operation the two

It was felt that the soldiers might be besieged in the Alamo for quite
some time, so as soon as the cattle were rounded up some of the men
visited the near-by houses, and collected all the stores at hand,
including a number of bushels of wheat and some dried fruits.

In the meantime Santa Anna's army had marched into San Antonio, and
taken possession. This done, the general held a consultation with his
leading officers, and sent out a flag of truce toward the mission.

"Flag of truce," announced one of the guards.

"Very well, we'll see what they demand," said Lieutenant-Colonel
Travis, and despatched Major Morris and Captain Marten to hold the

"General Santa Anna demands the immediate surrender of the mission,"
said the official sent out by the Mexican president.

"We will convey your message to our commander," replied the major of
the Texans, and withdrew.

Travis received the message with all the quiet dignity for which he was

"I will send him his answer at once," he replied, and ordered a
cannon-shot to be fired over the heads of the Mexican army.

This threw the Mexicans into a rage, and they quickly hung a blood-red
flag from the tower of the San Fernando Church in San Antonio. This
flag meant "no quarter," and, as it went up, several cannon-shots were
aimed at the Alamo; and thus was the battle begun.



The Alamo church, the principal building of the mission, was built in
the form of a cross, of rough stone, with walls several feet thick. At
the time of the battle which was to witness its downfall the centre of
the structure was roofless, but the ends were well covered. The sides
of the church were over twenty feet high, and the windows were
exceedingly narrow, for the building had been built to resist attacks
by the Indians. It faced both the river and San Antonio proper.

Attached to the left wing of the church was a large square called the
convent yard, with walls of heavy stone sixteen feet high. Spread out
in front of this yard, and beyond it, was the convent, two stories
high, and nearly two hundred feet long. In front of the convent was a
long and broad plaza, covering over two acres, and surrounded by walls
at either end and by the convent in the rear, and a house and wall in
the front. On the right of the plaza was a small prison and a gateway,
and from the corner of the prison there was a stockade of cedar logs
extending to the nearest corner of the church.

For this extensive fortress, if such we may call it, Lieutenant Travis
had less than twenty cannon, and the construction of the place was such
that but few of the pieces could be placed to advantage, and even then
hardly any of the soldiers knew how to do any effective firing.

Next in command to Travis was Colonel James Bowie, already mentioned in
these pages, and among the best of the fighters was Davy Crockett,
celebrated as a hunter and trapper, who had come down to Texas, with
twelve other Tennesseans, about three weeks before the arrival of Santa
Anna. Crockett carried with him his favourite rifle, "Betsy," and as a
fighter on this memorable occasion proved a whole host in himself.

"We'll whip 'em," said Crockett, confidently. "They can't stand up
against real Americans."

"You're right, Davy," answered Bowie. "An American who isn't equal to a
dozen greasers isn't fit to live." And so the talk ran on from one to
another of the garrison. Once Crockett came to Dan, and eyed him

"You're rather a young soldier boy," he observed.

"Yes, sir, but I can shoot."

"Can you bring down a bird on the wing?"

"Yes, he can, and he has done it lots of times," put in Poke Stover.

"If that's so, he's all right," said Crockett.

Santa Anna did not make an immediate attack on the Alamo, for the
reason that all of his troops had not yet arrived, and because he
wished to give his soldiers a little rest after the long journey
northward. He ordered General Castrillon to knock down some of the old
houses near the river, and construct a bridge with the timbers.

"They are going to build a bridge!" was the cry that went through the

"A bridge? Where?" asked Crockett, and, when told, he smiled, and
patted his rifle. "Let 'em try it!"

The Mexicans did try, and soon a detachment of at least a hundred were
at work. About forty of the garrison, led by Bowie and Crockett, opened
fire upon the workers, and at least a dozen were killed.

"Down they go!" was the cry. "Give 'em another round!" And again the
rifles cracked at a lively rate. With thirty killed outright, and a
number badly wounded, the Mexicans left the river in a great hurry, and
hid in the neighbouring houses.

On February 24th, Travis sent out a strong appeal for assistance. "I am
besieged by a thousand or more of Mexicans, under Santa Anna," he
wrote. "I have sustained a continual bombardment for twenty-four hours,
and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at
discretion; otherwise the garrison is to be put to the sword if the
place is taken. I have answered the summons with a cannon-shot, and our
flag still waves proudly from the walls. _I shall never surrender, or
retreat!_" Could anything be more unflinchingly patriotic than that?

This appeal was followed by another, and a despatch was sent to Colonel
Fannin, at Goliad, asking him to bring reinforcements without delay.

"They are drawing in closer to us," said Poke to Dan, on the morning of
the 25th, as the two mounted one of the walls for a survey of the
situation. Far off, a portion of the Mexican army could be distinctly

"A division of the soldiers is approaching with some cannon," answered
the youth. He was right, and presently Santa Anna attempted to plant a
battery three hundred yards south of the gateway to the plaza of the

"Shall we allow that?" asked the Texan commander, while the Mexican
soldiers were coming up.

"No! No!" came back the cry. "Down with the Mexicans!" And in less than
five minutes the garrison was pouring through the gateway and out on
the plain beyond. The sharpshooters were in front, and so deadly were
their aims that the enemy was speedily forced to retreat, dragging
their cannon with them.

"Hurrah! They are running!" shouted the Texans, joyfully. This second
repulse made them more determined to resist than ever.

But when the following morning came, it was seen that Santa Anna had
taken advantage of the darkness and planted the battery, anyway, and so
well was it protected that none of the guns from the Alamo could reach
it. But the sharpshooters under Crockett watched the gunners, and one
Mexican was shot dead while in the very act of discharging a shot at
the plaza gate.

"It looks as if we might hold this place for an indefinite period,"
said Dan, on the day following. "That is, if we don't fall short of

"The meat we drove in will last us for some time, lad," answered
Stover. "And they have found a lot of grain in one of the friar's
houses. But about holding the place, that's a question. We are only
about a hundred and fifty strong. What if Santa Anna storms the place
some night, with several thousand men? We'll all be put to the bay'net
afore sunrise."

"Do you really think he'll do such a barbarous thing, Poke?"

"Think it? I know it. He's one of the most bloodthirsty Mexicans a man
ever met. To surrender to him would be foolish. We've got to do as
Travis says, fight or die."

"Then I'll fight,--and to the bitter end," answered the boy, earnestly.
The enthusiasm of those around him had entered his soul, and he had
forgotten the meaning of the word fear.

As one day and another passed, Santa Anna's army increased in size, and
he succeeded in planting many other batteries around the Alamo. The
bombarding was continual, yet but few of the Texans suffered from this,
being well protected by the heavy stone walls of the mission.

On the first of March, when the garrison was much worn by constant
guard duty, there was a commotion during the night. At first it was
thought that the Mexicans had begun an attack, but soon it was
discovered that the newcomers were Texans. They numbered thirty-two men
from Gonzales, who had stolen through the Mexican lines with scarcely
any difficulty.

"Henry Parker!" cried Dan, as he recognized his friend in the crowd. "I
never dreamed of seeing you here."

"I couldn't stay behind, after I read Travis's appeal for help,"
answered Henry Parker. "I guess a lot more of our men are coming, too."
But in this Parker was mistaken; none others arrived at the ill-fated
place. Colonel Fannin started from Goliad with three hundred men and a
few pieces of artillery, but his ammunition wagon broke down, he had no
rations but a little rice and dried beef, and at the river his cannon
got stuck and could not be gotten across. So the party returned whence
it had come.

Henry Parker and the others had come in on Monday night, and by Tuesday
the last of Santa Anna's troops arrived at San Antonio. Following this
came three days in which but little was done upon either side.

"This looks as if the Mexicans were going to give up trying to take the
place," remarked Dan to Stover, as both rested in one of the side rooms
of the convent on a litter of straw.

"Don't worry, lad; it may be the calm afore the storm," was the answer.
"Sumthin' is bound for to happen soon, hear me!"

"If it doesn't, I'll be for going home," went on Dan. "I believe I can
get through the Mexican lines just as well as Henry Parker and those

"It would be risky, Dan, mighty risky." Poke Stover puffed away
thoughtfully at the corncob pipe he was smoking. "We missed it
altogether on the white mustang and on Carlos Martine, didn't we?"

"Yes. I would like to know if Martine is still in San Antonio."

"Like as not--and hobnobbing with some of them Mexican officers, too.
Well, he sha'n't have your pap's land, and that's all there is about

So the talk ran on, man and boy hardly knowing how to put in their time
when not on guard duty. At first the mission had proved of much
interest, with its quaint carvings and curious decorations, but now
even this was beginning to pall.

On Saturday Santa Anna called a counsel of war, and at this it was
decided that a general assault should be made upon the Alamo at
daybreak on Sunday. The assaulting troops numbered twenty-five hundred
against a pitiful one hundred and eighty-two Texans!--and were divided
into four columns, the first of which was under the command of General
Cos, the same Mexican who had surrendered to the Texans but a short
time before.

Each column of the attacking party was furnished with ropes,
scaling-ladders, crowbars, and axes, as well as with their ordinary
military weapons. As the soldiers advanced, the cavalry were drawn up
in a grand circle around the Alamo, so that no Texans might escape. In
the meantime the blood-red flag of "no quarter" was still flying high
from the Mexican camp, and now the band struck up the Spanish
quickstep, "Deguelo," or "Cut-throat," as an inspiration to the
soldiers to have no mercy on the rebels!



"The enemy are upon us!"

This cry, ringing clearly throughout the Alamo, aroused everybody to
action, and hither and thither ran the soldiers to their various points
of duty,--some in uniform, and others just as they had leaped up from
their couches.

"Are they really coming?" demanded Henry Parker, who had been sleeping
beside Dan, in one of the rooms of the convent.

"I reckon they are, Henry," was the quick response, and up leaped the
youth, and ran, gun in hand, to where Poke Stover was doing guard duty.

"Are they coming, Poke?"

"Yes, Dan, and plenty of 'em, too. They are divided into several

There was no time to say more, for already one of the divisions,
commanded by Colonel Duque, was attacking the northern wall. Here
Lieutenant-Colonel Travis commanded in person. The commander was
bareheaded, and carried a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other.

"Now, boys, give it to them hot!" he shouted. "Don't let them get over
the wall. Fire to kill! Fire to save your own lives!" And then the
cannon belched forth, followed by a crack-cracking of the smaller
firearms. The aim of the Texans was so deadly that the column was
repulsed for the moment, and Colonel Duque was seriously wounded.

By this time the divisions to attack the other sides of the mission had
come up. As one column tried to raise their scaling-ladders, Davy
Crockett threw his coonskin cap at them in defiance, and laid one of
the officers low with a shot from his trusty "Betsy." Fifty other shots
rang out, and the morning air became heavy with the smoke of rifles and

"We must beat 'em back!" cried Stover, who was close to Crockett, and
as the old hunter blazed away so did the frontiersman and Dan, and the
youth had the satisfaction of seeing the Mexican he had aimed at go
down, rope and gun in hand, shot through the ankle.

The fighting was now incessant on all sides, but gradually the Mexicans
concentrated on the northern wall. They were yelling like so many
demons, and their officers urged them forward by threats and sword
blows, until the first rank was fairly wedged against the stone wall of
the mission. A cannon belched forth, doing fearful havoc, but those in
front could not retreat because of those pushing behind them, and in a
twinkle one Mexican soldier was piled above another, until the top of
the wall was gained, and, as one authority states, they came "tumbling
over it like sheep," falling, in some cases, directly on the bodies of
the Texans below.

"The convent yard is taken!" was the cry. "To the convent! To the
hospital!" And as quickly as it could be done the Texans left the yard.

In the crowd were Dan, Stover, and Henry Parker. As the latter turned,
a Mexican under-officer aimed his pistol at the young man.

"Down, Henry!" yelled Dan, but, before Parker could drop, the pistol
was discharged and Henry Parker fell like a lump of lead, shot through
the brain.

The sudden death of his friend made Dan spellbound, and he gazed at the
corpse in horror. Then he felt his arm seized by Poke Stover, and in a
minute more found himself being hurried toward the church.

"We can't do anything more," exclaimed the old frontiersman. "They
number ten to one, and more. We are doomed, unless we can manage to

"Poor Henry!" murmured Dan, when he could speak. "What will his

"Yes, yes, lad, I know; but we can't talk about it now. Come on."

"To where?"

"Anywhere, away from that howling, raging mob of greasers. They'll show
us no quarter."

"Travis is dead!" said somebody who was passing them. "They fairly
hacked him to pieces!"

As Stover and Dan ran into the church building, there was a loud report
in the courtyard. The Mexicans had captured one of the cannon, and
turned it upon the long ward of the hospital building, and the
grape-shot laid fifteen Texans low. The Texans were now fighting from
room to room of the convent, and the whole place looked like a

"To the church!" came the cry. "To the church! Let the last stand be in
the church!" The cry was taken up on all sides, and every Texan who
could do so ran for the church with all possible speed. In the
meantime, the stockade had been carried, and fresh Mexican soldiers
were pouring over this in droves.

At the entrance to the church stood Davy Crockett, clubbed rifle in
hand, and with the blood pouring from a wound in the head.

"Rally around me, boys!" he shouted. "Don't give up! We are bound to
whip 'em yet!" And as the first of the Mexicans came on, he laid two of
them low with one mighty blow of his favourite "Betsy," that cracked
the rifle in half. And, as the rifle fell, so did lion-hearted Davy
Crockett, to rise no more.

With the fall of Crockett, the other Texans, especially those who had
emigrated from Tennessee, fought like demons, and soon the whole church
was so thick with smoke that scarcely one man could be told from
another. In a side apartment lay Bowie, suffering from a fall from a
platform, where he had been directing operations. As the Mexicans
swarmed into the room, Bowie raised himself up and fired his pistols.
Seeing this, the Mexicans retreated, and fired on him from behind the
door, killing him almost instantly.

It had been decided that, should the worst come to the worst, the
Texans must fire the powder-magazine located in one part of the church.
It was now seen that further resistance would be useless.

"The magazine!" came from half a dozen. "Blow the Mexicans up!"

"I will!" shouted back Major T. C. Evans, commander of the artillery,
and started forward with a firebrand for the purpose. The Mexicans,
however, saw the movement, and before Evans could go a dozen paces, a
score of guns were aimed at him, and he went down fairly riddled with

"I'm shot!" cried Poke Stover, in the midst of the din and confusion,
and clapped his hand to his left shoulder. He had been leading Dan to a
rear apartment of the church, between overturned benches and sacks of
wheat and rice.

"Shot?" gasped the boy. "Where? Oh, I hope it isn't serious!"

"It's in the shoulder," and the old frontiersman gave a suppressed

"Can I do anything for you?"

"No! no! not now, Dan. Come, before it is too late."

"Where to?"

"Let us see if we can't hide from these bloodthirsty greasers. It is
worse than useless to stand up ag'in 'em longer!"

Again Stover caught hold of Dan, and the two pushed on through the
smoke and dust. Rifleshots still cracked out, and yells, screams, and
curses filled the air. The Alamo had fallen and now the Mexicans were
bent upon butchering every Texan who still remained alive. Out of the
whole gallant garrison not one man was spared!

Presently Dan and his companion entered a small room but a short
distance away from the powder-magazine. Here all was pitch-dark, as the
room contained no window. There were boxes and barrels stored here, but
for what purpose neither knew. Behind several of the boxes was a niche
about three feet square, and almost as deep.

"It's not much of a hidin'-place," said Stover, "but I reckon as how
it's better nor nothin'. Anyway, we can't do no more than try it. If
they root us out, we'll die game."

They squeezed themselves into the opening, Stover with many a supressed
groan over his wounded shoulder, which pained him not a little. Dan had
been struck in the side with a flying bit of masonry, and had an ugly
scratch under his arm in consequence, but just now he counted this as
little or nothing. The one thing was to escape with their lives. To
fight further would indeed have been sheer foolishness.

The din was gradually subsiding, and only the occasional yell of a
Texan being massacred in cold blood reached their ears. Dan could not
keep himself from shuddering. What a terrible Sunday morning! He
thought of the ranch home, and of his father and Ralph. Would he ever
see those loved ones again?

"Hush!" The warning came from Stover, and he placed his hand over
Ralph's mouth. Footsteps were approaching the little room.

"Hunt the rats out!" came in a rough Spanish voice. "Hunt them out!
Don't let one of them escape your bayonets!" And then several Mexican
soldiers entered the room and began to rummage among the boxes and



When the soldiers entered the little room, Dan felt inclined to give
himself and his companion up as lost. He felt that the enemy would
surely look into the niche, for the officer meant that not a hole or
corner should be missed.

When first coming in he had loaded a pistol he carried,--his gun had
been lost in the fight in the courtyard,--and he had done the same for
the old frontiersman. Boy and man held the pistols ready for use. They
did not mean to give up without a final struggle at close quarters.

But just as one of the soldiers took hold of a big packing-case that
hid the pair from view, there was a commotion in the church proper,
followed by the discharge of several rifles. Three Texans had made a
last stand, and were fighting back to back.

"Come, let us see what that means," cried the Mexican officer, and ran
from the little room, followed by his companions.

Dan felt relieved for the moment, yet he knew only too well that those
Mexicans, or others, would soon be coming to give the place a thorough

"They will kill us----" he began, when, on turning, his foot struck an
iron ring in the flooring of the niche. He felt of the ring and soon
became convinced that it was attached to a trap-door of some kind.

"If it's a trap-door it must lead to a cellar!" said Stover, hurriedly.
"I hope to heaven it does. Try it, lad, an' be quick!"

Both crawled from the narrow opening, and Dan pulled upon the ring with
all of his strength. Up came a trap-door about two feet square. Beneath
this was a space of inky darkness.

"Don't mind the dark," went on the old frontiersman. "Let me go fust,
and be sure an' shet the trap after ye!"


He began to lower himself into the hole, and his feet struck a flight
of stone steps. Down this he sped and soon reached a narrow passageway
lined with rough stone, from which the moisture oozed into pools at his

"I'll try to put them off the scent," said Dan, and drew up one of the
boxes in such a fashion that, when the trap fell into place, the box
came down on top of it. Then he hastened to join Stover.

"I don't believe any of our soldiers knew of this secret passage," said
Stover. "I wonder where it runs to?"

"Perhaps it doesn't run to anywhere," replied Dan. "Go slow, or you may
dash your brains out on the rough wall."

They moved along cautiously. The passageway was not over six feet in
height and from three to four feet wide. It was uneven, but soon they
found themselves going downward and away from the church and convent,
as they learned by the muffled noises overhead.

"This is some secret passage put in by the friars, years ago," was
Stover's comment, after several hundred feet had been passed. "Like as
not they built it to escape in case the Injuns attacked 'em."

"Well, if they did, it must lead to some place of safety," answered
Dan. "I sincerely hope it does."

Stover was still suffering great pain, and he had lost so much blood
that he could scarcely walk.

"I must rest and try to bind up that wound," he panted, and sank in a
dead faint at Dan's feet.

Dan could do nothing in the darkness, and now he resolved to risk a
light, and lit the stump of a candle which he usually carried with him
when on a hunting expedition. By these feeble rays he bound up the
wound as well as he was able and also attended to his own hurt. Then,
as Stover gave a long sigh and opened his eyes, he blew out the light.

"Don't make a light ag'in," were the frontiersman's first words. "It
may cost us our lives. We will keep still and lay low," and then he
became partly unconscious again.

The hours which followed were like some horrible nightmare to Dan,
whose nerves had been wrought up to the top notch of excitement by the
scenes in the courtyard and the church. From a distance he heard calls
and groans and an occasional shot. The Alamo had fallen and now Santa
Anna was himself upon the scene, to make certain that not one of the
Texans should escape. "I told them what to expect," he is reported to
have said, and then, when five men were brought before him, and his own
officer, General Castrillon, interceded for the Texans, he gave
Castrillon a lecture for his soft-heartedness, and the prisoners were
speedily put to the bayonet. Such was Santa Anna, now high in power,
but who was destined in time to be shorn of all rank and to die in
bitter obscurity. His last act of atrocity at the Alamo was to have the
bodies of his victims piled up with layers of brushwood and burned.

The hours passed, how slowly or swiftly neither Dan nor Poke Stover
knew. No one came to disturb them, and at length the boy sank into a
doze due to his exhausted condition.

When he awoke he found the frontiersman also aroused. "I hope the sleep
did ye good, Dan," he said.

"Was I asleep? I did not know it. How long have we been here?"

"I can't say."

"Have you heard anything more of the Mexicans?"

"Only a faint sound or two, comin' from behind. I reckon we had best
push on and see whar this passage leads to."

They arose, to find their legs stiff from the dampness of the
passageway. At least three hundred yards were passed, and still there
seemed to be no end.

"One satisfaction, we are gittin' farther away from the church,"
observed Stover. "I can't hear nuthin' now."

"Nor I, Poke. But did you notice how wet the passageway is getting?"

"I did, lad. We must be nigh to a spring or else the river."

They went on again, but not for long. A hundred feet further and they
walked into water up to their ankles.

"We are blocked," groaned Dan. "What if we can't get out this way?"

"I reckon ye had best strike another light."

This was no easy matter with their clothing and everything else so
damp. But finally the light was struck, and they pushed on into the
passageway until the water was up to their waists.

"We can't go much farther," said Dan soberly. "Do you think this leads
to the river?"

"I do; but I can't say how far off the stream is. Let us go a little

A couple of rods were covered, and they sank down until the water was
up to Dan's neck.

"If I go any further I'll have to swim," he observed, and just then the
candle slipped from his hand and fell into the water, leaving them in
total darkness.

As there seemed nothing else to do, they moved back to the nearest dry
spot and sank down to rest and to consider the matter.

"We can stay here for several days, if we wish," said Stover. "We have
got enough to drink."

"Yes, but I've had nothing to eat since last night."

"Neither have I. But I'd rather go hungry nor fall into them greasers'

"If the river is ahead we ought to see some light, Poke."

"That's true,--if it's daylight outside. But it may be night."

"Well, we can watch."

And they did, first one going down into the water, and then the other.
It was indeed night, and it yet lacked several hours to daylight.

At last Dan came back with a smile on his face.

"I swam a short distance down the passageway," he exclaimed, "and I saw
a faint light. I am sure it leads to the river."

"Then let us try our luck."

"Can you swim with that wounded shoulder?"

"I can swim with one hand, lad, although I allow it will be slower work
than with two hands."

"Then come on. If we can get away, the sooner the better," returned the
boy, and led the way into the water once more. They walked as far as
they could and then began to swim. Stover insisted on taking the lead.

"I'm used to scoutin'," he said. "We don't want to run in no hornet's

The water now reached almost to the top of the passageway, and they had
to move with caution for fear of striking their heads. The light grew
clearer and clearer as they advanced, until Stover announced that he
could see the river bank ahead, with some roots of trees and bushes
hanging down in the passageway.

"Keep back, and I'll take a look out," he whispered, and drew slowly to
the end of the opening. He was gone several minutes, during which time
Dan supported himself by clinging to a jagged rock sticking out from

"Come on back; we can't escape jest yet," whispered Poke Stover, on his
return. "Come," and he led the way up the passageway again.

"But why can't we escape?" asked Dan, impatiently.

"Because there is a whole company of Mexican soldiers encamped at the
very spot where this passageway leads into the stream," was the answer
that filled the youth with dismay.



The Alamo had fallen, and now it was necessary to figure up results. As
said before, all of the Texans, about one hundred and eighty in number,
had been slaughtered, while the loss to the Mexicans was variously
estimated at from three to five hundred. The sights about the mission
were truly horrible, and never forgotten by those who witnessed them.

It must be said, in all frankness, that the defence of the Alamo was a
mistake, for those gallant men must have known that they could not hold
out against the overwhelming forces of Santa Anna. And they did not
remain there because all escape was cut off, for they could have gotten
away just as easily as the reinforcements from Gonzales got in. It was
not until the final days of the siege that the Mexicans drew around
them closely.

Why, then, did they remain?

The answer is one that every American boy and man ought to remember
with pride. They remained because of the _principle_ involved. They had
staked their lives for liberty or death, and they waged the contest to
the bitter end.

The slaughter of the Alamo garrison thrilled the hearts of the Texans
as they had never been thrilled before. Those who had been doubtful
before were now doubtful no longer. "We must be independent," they
said, "absolutely independent. We must raise a regular army. We must
not be divided into factions, but must fight as one man, and under one
leader." And then they prepared to strike one grand blow from which
Santa Anna should never be able to recover.

But of none of these things did Dan or Poke Stover think as they rested
in the dark passageway just beyond the reach of the water from the
river. Both were cold and hungry and almost exhausted, yet there was
nothing at hand to eat, and rest seemed out of the question.

"We must try to escape, as soon as it grows dark," said the old
frontiersman, and all through that long, weary day they waited and
watched for the light to disappear up the passageway. At last it was
gone, and they swam again to the river, making as little noise as

At the opening were a number of bushes, and, as they emerged among
these, they heard the footsteps of a Mexican sentinel not a dozen feet
off. At a distance was the camp, with several fires burning brightly.

Suddenly Stover caught Dan by the arm, and pointed to a tree
overhanging the stream. Under the tree was a long canoe with the paddle
lying at the bottom.

"We'll set the canoe adrift, and float down the stream with it,"
whispered Stover, so softly that Dan could scarcely hear him. "It's our
one chance."

They waited until the sentinel had turned to walk to the other end of
his station, then slipped down and swam over to the canoe. It was drawn
partly up over some marsh-grass, and they easily dislodged it. Then
they turned it down the stream and kept along with it as it floated,
their heads up, on the side opposite to the Mexican camp.

They expected that the Mexican sentinel would discover the floating
canoe, but such was not the fact until they were twenty yards from the
mouth of the passageway. Then the Mexican turned and stared stupidly.

"The canoe has drifted off," he murmured to himself, in Spanish. "Well,
it is not mine, so why should I care? Let the owner take care of his
property." And he resumed his walk.

As soon as they were out of the range of the light from the camp-fires,
Poke Stover crawled into the canoe and took up the paddle.

"Stay where you are, Dan," he said. "They needn't have but one of us to
shoot at," and while Dan clung fast to the rear of the craft, Stover
paddled with all the vigour at his command, which was considerable,
considering his condition.

In ten minutes they were out of rifle-range, and safe, and then the
frontiersman sent the craft ashore, and he and Dan climbed to the river
bank. "Thank God, we are out of that!" exclaimed Stover, fervidly, and
Dan uttered a hearty Amen.

"I think the fust thing we want to do is to git sumthin' to eat,"
remarked Stover, after they had rested for a bit. "I'm that hungry I
could eat most anything."

"I don't know this location at all, Poke. Where are we?"

"Not many miles from the Gonzales road, lad. About a mile back is Nat
Woodver's cabin. I reckon as how we'll git a warm welcome there, if Nat
is able to give it to us."

They set out in the darkness, and reached the cabin half an hour later.
They found that the settler was away, to join the army; but his wife
and daughters were home, and they speedily did all they could for our
friends, giving them a hot supper, and dressing the wounds as skilfully
as trained nurses. They had heard of the fall of the Alamo, but had not
imagined that all of the garrison were slaughtered.

His awful experience had driven Carlos Martine entirely out of Dan's
head, and all the youth thought of now was to rejoin his father and his

"They will worry about us, Poke," he said. "More than likely they will
think us dead, for they must know that all of the Texans in and about
San Antonio went to the Alamo when Santa Anna appeared."

"You are right, lad; we'll steer for the ranch the first thing in the
morning," answered Stover, and this they did, riding two ponies that
Mrs. Woodver loaned them.

When the pair reached Gonzales they found the town wild with
excitement. The news of the disaster of the Alamo had just come in, and
by the deaths of the thirty-two men from Gonzales who had entered the
mission shortly before it fell, twenty women were left widows and twice
as many children fatherless. One woman went crazy, and rushed about the
streets crying for the Mexicans to come and kill her, too. It is
needless to add that the Parkers were deeply affected over the loss of

As Dan and Stover were about to start for the trail leading up the
Guadalupe, they met Amos Radbury riding post-haste into Gonzales.

"My son!" cried the father, joyfully. "And Poke, too! I was afraid you
were dead!"

"We came close enough to it, father," answered Dan. And then he and the
frontiersman told their stories in detail.

"I would have gone with the men from Gonzales," said Lieutenant
Radbury, "but I hated to leave Ralph home with nobody but Pompey. These
are certainly terrible times. I wonder what Santa Anna will do next?"

"Perhaps he'll march on Gonzales," said the youth. "It looks as if he
meant to wipe out everybody in Texas."

"The whole State is aroused now. It must and will be a fight to the
finish. If the Texans are whipped, every ranch will go up in flames,
and every man will be butchered."

The party returned to Gonzales, for Amos Radbury did not want to return
to the ranch, now he knew that Dan was safe.

While the siege of the Alamo was in progress, the General Convention of
Texas, which had been called, met at Washington, and a declaration of
independence was adopted, and General Sam Houston was unanimously
reëlected commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over all army
forces, regular and volunteer. Heretofore, Houston had been little more
than commander in name; now it was felt upon all sides that he must be
given the absolute authority that the situation demanded. All other
appointments which had been made in a haphazard, irregular way were

For the work that was ahead no better selection of a leader than that
of General Sam Houston could have been made. Houston was born in
Virginia, in 1793, and at the age of nineteen he enlisted for the war
of 1812, becoming an ensign, and fought with such courage that he and
General Jackson became warm friends. At thirty years of age he became a
member of Congress, and five years later he was made governor of
Tennessee, and was one of the most popular men in the West. He was up
for reëlection, when some unfortunate domestic difficulties overtook
him, and he resigned his position and plunged into the wilderness,
taking up his abode, later on, with some friendly Indians with whom he
had hunted years before. These Indians elected him one of their great
chiefs, and in return for this, Houston went to Washington for them and
exposed a number of Indian agents who had been defrauding the red men
out of the allowances made to them by the government. For this these
Indians swore undying friendship, and they called Houston their
best-beloved brother to the day of his death. Because of his life among
the red men Houston frequently attired himself in an Indian blanket and
stuck in his hair the feathers of a chief, a custom that was often
followed by other mighty hunters of this portion of our country.

Besides being governor of Tennessee, Houston had been a lawyer of
well-known reputation, and as such had closely studied legal affairs
relating to the United States, Texas, and Mexico. He saw, long before
war was declared, that Texas must one day strike for freedom, and he
resolved, after leaving the Indians, to throw in his fortunes with the
Texans, or Texians, as some have called them. As soon as he arrived he
took hold, in his own peculiar way, of certain public affairs, and at a
meeting at Nacogdoches he was elected commander of the forces of
eastern Texas. This was directly after the opening of hostilities at

Had Houston been allowed to act as he wished from the start, it is
possible that the slaughter at the Alamo might have been avoided, but,
as mentioned before, matters, politically, were very much mixed, and
there were frequent clashes of authority. Some secondary leaders took
the liberty to do about as they saw fit, and at one time it looked as
if Houston's command would fall to pieces. In the midst of this came
trouble with the Indians, but this was patched up by the man who had
lived so long among them and who understood them thoroughly.

As the Convention which had reëlected Houston commander-in-chief of the
army was in session, the President was handed a letter from
Lieutenant-Colonel Travis, making a last appeal for help. As the letter
was read there was wild excitement, and then it was moved that the
meeting adjourn and the members march in a body to the relief of the

But Houston would not have this. "Your place is here, gentlemen," he
said. "Here, to pass laws and make our State an assured fact. I will
take the field and organise a relief force, and I give you my word that
no enemy shall come near you." The Convention settled down, and inside
of an hour Houston, accompanied by several of his staff, was riding
like the wind for Gonzales.



As the excitement in Gonzales continued, and there was no telling what
would happen next, Amos Radbury resolved to remain in the town for at
least several days.

"If I am needed I shall reënter the army," he said.

"Then I shall go with you," said Dan.

"But your side, my son----"

"My side is all right again. It was a mere scratch."

"I wish I could call my wound a scratch," put in Poke Stover. "But
instead of getting better my shoulder seems to get wuss, hang the

"I think it would be a good plan for you to go up to the ranch, and
take it easy," said Amos Radbury. "Pompey can wait on you, and at the
same time you can keep an eye on Ralph and the place. I do not like to
leave my boy and the negro all alone."

"Then I'll go up to once," answered the frontiersman. "I'm no good at
fighting in the saddle, but perhaps I can mind things about the ranch,
as you say." And he departed up the Guadalupe before night. His going
was a great relief to the planter, for he was afraid Ralph might get
into trouble if left to his own devices. And in this he was not far
wrong, for when Stover reached the ranch he found that the youngest
Radbury had just heard of the fall of the Alamo, and was going to ride
off in the direction of San Antonio, thinking to find his father and
brother there.

In the meantime, General Houston, having heard of the fall of the
Alamo, at once sent word to Colonel Fannin to blow up the
powder-magazine at Goliad, and abandon the place. "You must hurry all
you can," added the commander-in-chief, "for the enemy is reported to
be advancing upon you." Fannin was to intrench at Victoria, on the
Guadalupe, and await further orders.

Colonel Fannin was in command of between four hundred and five hundred
men, the majority of whom were volunteers from the United States,
including the New Orleans Grays, the Georgias, the Alabama Red Rovers,
and the Kentucky Mustangs. On receiving Houston's order he sent out one
of his captains to bring in the settlers and their families at Refugio.
Before the settlers could be assisted, the Texans were attacked by an
advance guard of Mexican cavalry, and then Fannin sent out another body
of men to help the first. There were several fierce skirmishes, and the
Texans tried to get away, but in the end they were either shot down or
taken prisoners.

Having tried in vain to give succour to those sent to Refugio, Colonel
Fannin started, several days later, for Victoria, after dismantling his
fort and burying his cannon. Not a Mexican was in sight as the troop,
numbering about three hundred, crossed the San Antonio River and
marched across the prairie, and coming to a fine bit of grazing ground
the colonel halted to give his horses a chance to feed and to rest.

"We ought not to halt here,--we ought to push on to the timber," said
one under-officer, and several others agreed with him, but the halt was
made, and time lost that proved fatal to the entire expedition.

The soldiers had just resumed their march when some Mexican cavalry
were seen at a distance, in front. Hardly had they spread out before
the Texans when a large force of Mexican infantry appeared to the rear.
This was at two o'clock in the afternoon, and a little later the Texans
were entirely surrounded, and the Mexicans began a furious attack.

The Texans formed into something of a square, with the wagons in the
centre, and the artillery at the corners, and so withering was their
fire that the Mexicans were repulsed again and again, and retreated,
leaving the prairie crimson with the blood of the dead and wounded.
With the Mexicans were a number of Indians, but they quickly retreated
when their leaders were shot down by the Texan sharpshooters.

As night came on, Colonel Fannin called his men together, and asked
them if they wished to remain and fight it out, or try to escape to the
timber. "You can escape if you wish," he said, "for the Mexicans are
demoralised by the large numbers that they have lost."

"We can't leave the wounded to be butchered," was the reply. "We will
stand by them to the end," and so they remained.

In the morning it was seen that the enemy had been reinforced, and once
again the battle was renewed, the Mexicans opening with their howitzers
loaded with grape and canister, and doing fearful damage. At last the
Texans could stand it no longer, and sent out a flag of truce, although
against Colonel Fannin's desire.

The flag was received, and it was arranged that the Texans should
surrender as prisoners of war, to be treated according to the usages of
civilised nations. Their arms were then taken from them, and they were
marched back to Goliad, and placed in an old church in that town. The
wounded were also brought in, but only a few received medical aid.

It had been stipulated that the prisoners' lives be spared, yet when
the capture of the Goliad garrison was reported to General Santa Anna
he instantly sent word that all of the prisoners should be taken out
and shot! The command was an infamous one, yet it was obeyed almost to
the letter, only a handful of the Texans escaping out of about three
hundred. Small wonder was it that Santa Anna was often termed the
Mexican butcher.

Houston's arrival at Gonzales did something toward allaying the
excitement, and in a short time he gathered together some three hundred
men. But as report after report came in of the advance of Santa Anna
with a large force, he felt that it would be useless to give battle,
and began to fall back toward the Colorado River, hoping there to be
joined by Fannin and others. He took with him most of the inhabitants
of Gonzales, and the town was left behind in flames.

With the army went Amos Radbury and Dan, both well mounted and well
armed. The first stop was at Peach Creek, fifteen miles distant; and
here, on the day following, over a hundred additional volunteers joined
Houston's command. From Peach Creek the little army moved to Nevada
Creek, and here Houston delayed his march in order that some of his men
might bring in a blind widow, who had been left at her home some
distance back with her six children. When the Colorado was gained, the
army went into camp at Burnham's Crossing, and then across the river at
Beason's Crossing.

Here the general received news of the surrender of Fannin's force,
brought by a settler from Goliad. This was a great blow to Houston, and
he felt that he must fall back still farther, and wait for
reinforcements from other sources before risking a battle with the
powerful Mexican general who was bent upon crushing him. He began to
fall back to the Brazos River.

The retreat toward the Brazos caused much murmuring. "Houston is a
coward,--he won't fight the greasers," said some, but others who
understood their commander more thoroughly said nothing and did as
ordered. Once an under-officer tried to start an open rebellion, but
Houston threatened to "lick him out of his boots," if he didn't mind
his own business. Then he made a little speech, and told the men that
he would soon give them all the fighting they wanted, and "on the top
side," as he expressed it. Many of the volunteers were of lawless
character, and it needed just such a man as the dashing and daring, yet
cautious, Houston to keep them in check and make them do their best
when the proper moment arrived.

"What do you make of this, father?" asked Dan of his parent, when the
retreat toward the Brazos was ordered.

"I don't know what to make of it," answered Amos Radbury. "I suppose
General Houston knows what he is doing."

"But see how the settlers are leaving their homes. There is a regular
panic among them."

"That is true, Dan. I wish I knew how Ralph and Stover are faring at

"Can we get back to them?"

"Hardly now, for we would most likely have to pass right through Santa
Anna's lines. I do not believe it will be long before we have a big

"Do you believe it is true that Colonel Fannin has been defeated?"

"It may be so, for, judging by what took place at the Alamo, Santa Anna
must have a large army concentrating here."

It was raining at the time; indeed, it rained now nearly every day, and
the march was anything but a pleasant one. Often the wagons and cannon
got stuck, and the men had to put their shoulders to the wheels to help
things along. Volunteers came and went, and so did the settlers, and
sometimes the commander could not calculate how many men he had to rely
upon in case of emergency. Yet on struggled the body until, on March
28th, the army reached San Felipe. From here they went up the Brazos
and encamped near Groce's Ferry.

In the meantime, Santa Anna's army was pressing forward, but in several
different ways. The Mexican general had thought that the slaughter at
the Alamo and the massacre at Goliad would make the Texans submit
without further difficulty. He had yet to learn that it was indeed
liberty or death with these stern people, who were so soon to risk
their all in one final contest.

One portion of the Mexican army, having gained the Colorado, crossed in
rafts, while another portion moved upon San Felipe; and then a portion
of the concentrated forces went to Fort Bend. From here Santa Anna
pushed on, through the rain and mud, to Harrisburg, hoping to surprise
the town; but, when he arrived, the place was practically abandoned.

He wished most of all to capture the heads of the government the Texans
had set up, and, learning they were off for Galveston Island, he set
out on the march for New Washington, which is located just north of
Galveston Bay.

Houston, hearing that Santa Anna had at last crossed the Brazos, began
to march south to meet him. The Texans encamped at Buffalo Bayou,
opposite to what was left of the smoking ruins of Harrisburg. Every
soldier was now more than eager to fight.

"Very well; fight you shall," said General Houston.

"We will! We will!" shouted the soldiers.

Then Houston continued: "Some of us may be killed, and some must be
killed. But, boys, remember the Alamo!"

"Yes, we will remember the Alamo!" came back in a deep chorus. "Down
with every Mexican in the State of Texas!"

Buffalo Bayou was crossed with great difficulty, on rafts and by
swimming, and the soaked and weary army took its way to Lynch's Ferry,
where the Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River join. Here were found
some rafts belonging to the Mexicans, piled high with army stores, and
these were confiscated. Falling back to a shelter of live-oaks, General
Houston planted his cannon, and then prepared to fight the enemy on



"I reckon we are in for it now, father."

"Yes, Dan, we shall soon see some heavy fighting, I am afraid. I trust
you come out of it unharmed."

"And I hope you come out unharmed, too, father," added Dan, earnestly.

The two sat under a live-oak, overlooking a wide expanse of prairie,
dotted here and there with patches of timber. Behind them flowed the
broad and muddy stream, with a stretch of treacherous marsh-land
separating them from the water. The soldiers had been formed into
something resembling companies, and Mr. Radbury had been assigned to
his old position of lieutenant, with Dan as one of the privates under

The Texans had gathered around in little knots to discuss the situation
in low tones. Under one of the trees stood General Houston, clad in
nothing more striking than an old slouch hat, a shiny black coat, and a
light-coloured pair of trousers which had long since seen their best
days. His sword, also an old affair, was tied to his belt with bits of
a lariat. Altogether he looked anything but a general bent upon leading
a raw and undisciplined army to victory.

"We will win!" he was saying. "We cannot afford to lose. The whole fate
of Texas hangs upon our courage!"

Amos Radbury looked at Dan, and something of a smile crossed his face.
"Did you hear that, lad?" he asked. "I believe our general speaks the
truth. He is not a man to fail."

The day wore along until two in the afternoon, when several
cannon-shots were heard in the distance, and incoming scouts announced
that Santa Anna was coming, but not with his entire army. The Mexican
general had divided his forces again, much to his disadvantage, as we
shall see.

A light skirmish occurred late in the afternoon, but Houston could not
draw on a general engagement, and while Santa Anna pitched his camp and
fortified it, the Texans remained on strict guard all night, fearing a

In the morning General Cos arrived with five hundred men, to reinforce
Santa Anna, but the soldiers were so tired out by a forced march they
could scarcely stand, and so for the time being the Mexican general did
nothing. In the meantime, the Texans called a council of war. Some were
for attacking the Mexicans, and others wanted to wait to be attacked.
Houston said but little, yet by his face he showed that some plan of
action was forming in his brain.

The council over, the commander called two trusty scouts to him, and
sent them off with axes on a secret mission, which was to cut away the
bridge by which both armies had reached their present encampments. This
done, neither could retreat, so the fight would have to be "to a

"To arms!" came the call in the middle of the afternoon, and the
solitary drum the Texans possessed began to roll. Then, as the men
formed to march, the single fifer struck up the popular tune of the
day, "Will You Come to the Bower?"

"Dan, be careful of yourself!" cried Amos Radbury, as he pressed his
son's hand. "Be careful for my sake!" And then he rushed off to lead
his men forward. Dan's face was pale, but his clear eyes shone with a
determination that could not be mistaken. He would do his duty, come
what might.

"Vance's bridge has been cut down!" came the cry. "You must fight now
to a finish! Remember the Alamo!"

"Remember the Alamo!" came back wildly. "_Remember the Alamo!_ Down
with Santa Anna!" And then the long lines rushed on, straight for the
barricades which the Mexicans had erected.

The Mexicans were taken completely by surprise, for it had grown so
late that they had come to the conclusion that hostilities would be put
off until the next day. Santa Anna was taking a nap in his tent, while
his officers lay around smoking and playing cards. The soldiers were
partaking of such food as their scanty means afforded.

"Forward!" came from the Texan officers. "Forward! Don't give them time
to form!" And on swept the line, and crack! crack! went the rifles and
pistols. Some of the Mexicans tried to return the fire, while others
fell flat to avoid the bullets.

"The cannon!" shouted the Mexican general, Castrillon, when a bullet
killed him instantly. Some of the cannoneers were already at the
field-pieces, but they could do little, for the Texans were already
upon them. The smoke was thick, and the yelling upon both sides
incessant. In the midst of all was General Houston, firing his pistol
and using his sword to every possible advantage, and calling to his men
to remember the Alamo and not let one Mexican get away.

Side by side Amos Radbury and Dan gained the barricade. A Mexican
loomed up before them and the lieutenant despatched him with a
pistol-shot. Then over the barricade went father and son, Dan using his
empty gun as a club, and the lieutenant drawing his bowie-knife, a
weapon with which nearly every Texan was provided. The Texans came over
at leaps and bounds, and charged straight into the heart of the enemy's
camp, striking down every Mexican that opposed them.

Coming out of his tent, Santa Anna yelled to his men to arm themselves
and form into battle-line. But the confusion was so great that none of
his followers paid attention to him. The Texans were aroused as never
before, and struck at the Mexicans with such lightning-like rapidity
that the enemy was dazed, and scores of them fell upon their knees
begging for mercy. The shooting still continued, and now Dan was
horrified to see his father go down, stabbed in the leg by a Mexican

"Father!" he yelled, hoarsely, and then turned to the Mexican who had
done the deed. The fellow tried to pierce Dan with his steel, but more
by instinct than reason the youth leaped to one side. Then Dan's gun
came crashing down, and the Mexican with it, his skull cracked by the
force of the blow.

A crowd was now rushing that way, a score of Mexicans pursued by fully
as many Texans, and Dan had his hands full to keep his parent from
being trampled upon. There was a strange humming in the boy's ears, and
he seemed to be lifted up as though walking on air, while he panted for

"Keep off,--he is my father!" he screamed, and hurled one of the
Mexicans to one side. Then another came to take his place, and man and
boy rolled over on the prairie--grass close to the wounded lieutenant.
The Mexican had Dan by the throat when a Texan, rushing forward, kicked
the enemy in the head, rendering him partly unconscious.

Leaping up, Dan tried to collect his confused senses. Texans and
Mexicans were running in every direction, but at a glance he saw that
his own side had the best of the battle, and a prayer of thankfulness
burst from his lips. Then he saw General Houston go down, struck in the
ankle by a bullet. Yet the staunch commander kept to his post. His
horse was also shot several times.

At last the Mexicans were in full retreat. Paralysed with fear, some of
them sought the open prairie, where they were shot down by the Texan
sharpshooters, while others ran frantically for where the Vance bridge
had been located. Here the banks of the river were high and rocky, and
but few escaped to the opposite side.

The battle had been fought and won, but the end was not yet. On the
prairie, one of the Mexican commanders tried to make a stand, but the
Texans shot down the line almost as quickly as it was formed. Then the
Mexicans began to throw down their firearms, and the officers held up
their swords, handles to the front, as a token of surrender.

"It's too late to surrender!" cried a number of Texans. "Remember the
Alamo!" Meaning, "Remember how you butchered our soldiers!"

"Me no Alamo! Me no Alamo!" shrieked many of the Mexicans. "Good
Americano! Me no Alamo!" They wished the Texans to understand that they
were not responsible for the cold-blooded slaughter at the mission. At
last Colonel Almonte gathered together nearly four hundred of the
defeated and made a formal surrender, and to the everlasting honour of
Texas be it said that these prisoners were not maltreated.

The night that followed was one never to be forgotten. Santa Anna had
escaped, and while some ran around crying, "Santa Anna! Hunt down Santa
Anna!" others procured from the Mexicans' store a number of candles,
which they lit, and then formed a grand procession through the live-oak
grove and across the prairie, dancing and yelling like a lot of
Indians. The victory had been so long delayed that now, when it was
really theirs, they were intoxicated with joy.

The contest had been a remarkable one in many ways. The Texan army
numbered exactly 743, of whom eight were killed and thirty wounded.
Santa Anna's force numbered over sixteen hundred, and of these, 630
were killed, two hundred wounded, and 730 made prisoners. The enemy had
lost, in killed and wounded, more men than the Texan army contained,
and at the end of the battle the Texans had more prisoners than they
had men in the ranks! Besides prisoners, the Texans took over a
thousand firearms, two hundred sabres, four hundred horses and mules,
and about $12,000 in silver. Part of the money was divided among the
soldiers, each man receiving $7.50, and that was his entire pay for the

The Texans were bound to find Santa Anna, and scouts went out in all
directions in search of him. On the following day he was discovered in
the long grass near the edge of a ravine, on the other side of the
river. He tried to hide in the grass, but was compelled to crawl out
and surrender. At first he claimed to be a private, but his jewels
betrayed him, and then he said he was one of Santa Anna's
aides-de-camp. But no one believed him, and he was taken into the Texan
camp without delay. Here there was a most dramatic scene between
General Houston and his noted prisoner. Houston, exhausted and covered
with the dirt of battle, lay at the foot of a tree, where he had just
taken a nap after having his ankle dressed.

"I am General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President of the Mexican
Republic," said that individual, as he bowed low and flashed his jewels
and military decorations before Houston. "I claim to be a prisoner of
war at your disposal."

General Houston regarded him in utter silence for several seconds, a
silence in which each man measured the other thoroughly. Plainly Santa
Anna was disconcerted, and he looked around nervously, as if expecting
that at any moment he might be shot in the back. Then Houston waved him
to a seat on a near-by box of ammunition.

An interpreter was called up, and Santa Anna asked for a piece of
opium, saying he was suffering much pain. The opium was given him and
this quieted his nerves.

"That man may consider himself born to no common destiny who has
conquered the Napoleon of the West," went on the Mexican general,
bombastically. "It now remains for him to be generous to the

Again Houston looked at him, a look that made Santa Anna quail.

"You should have remembered that at the Alamo," said the Texan

"I am not to blame--I acted under the orders of the government of
Mexico," cried Santa Anna, hastily, and tried to explain that there was
a law which held that prisoners taken with arms must be treated as
pirates. But Houston cut the interpreter short when translating the

"Who is the government of Mexico?" he exclaimed. "You, and you alone,
and you are responsible for the law that made the slaughter at the
Alamo possible. And you are likewise responsible for the massacre at
Goliad!" went on Houston, with great intensity of feeling.

"No, no, you are mistaken," answered Santa Anna, and then tried to
excuse the massacre of Fannin and his men in various ways. He wanted to
treat for peace and for his release, but Houston told him that only the
government of Texas had jurisdiction in the matter. Then Santa Anna was
placed in a tent, given his private baggage, and a strong guard was
set, that some of the more headstrong of the Texans might not kill him.



Immediately after the battle, Dan sought out medical aid and had his
father attended to. Mr. Radbury was still unconscious, and for several
days it was not known whether he would live or die. During all that
time, his son remained at his side, hoping and praying for the best. At
last the planter was pronounced out of danger, but the wound had been a
deep one and it was doubtful if Mr. Radbury would ever be as strong
again as he had been.

While father and son were at the temporary hospital which the Texans
had opened, Dan made a discovery which filled him with interest. Among
the Mexican prisoners that had been taken, the youth found a man from
San Antonio whom he knew well,--a person who had joined Santa Anna's
army after the fall of the Alamo. During a talk with this individual,
he learned that Carlos Martine was also in the army, having joined at
the same time.

"I must find that man and have a talk with him," said Dan to himself,
and as soon as his father was a little better he set out on his hunt.

He had not made many inquiries, when he learned that Carlos Martine was
dead, having been shot down while trying to escape across the open
prairie, and the body had already been put away.

"But what of the dead--were the things in their pockets buried with
them?" asked Dan of one of the Texan guards.

"No, their pockets were emptied, and everything found was turned over
to the quartermaster," was the reply, and then the youth went to the
officer named and told him of Martine and of the missing papers.

"Here is a lot of stuff, Radbury. You can look it over and see if there
is anything there belonging to your father."

Dan examined the pile with care, and presently came upon the papers,
safe and sound, just as they had been stolen by Hank Stiger.

"They are here!" he cried, and passed them over for examination. "Won't
father be glad of this!" And off he ran a little later to tell his
parent. Amos Radbury could scarcely speak, but his satisfaction shone
in his eyes.

"It is a great relief," he murmured. "They cannot disturb my home now."
And then he added with a sigh, "I wish I were there now!"

"All in good time, father," said Dan, affectionately. "We have truly
nothing more to fear. Santa Anna is whipped and has already sent word
that his other troops must withdraw. The independence of Texas is
assured beyond a doubt."

Dan was right in what he said. Not long after Santa Anna's defeat the
remainder of his army was in full retreat. As they fell back they were
closely watched by the Texans, but no further fighting took place.

The government of Texas had retired to Galveston, but as soon as the
victory of San Jacinto became known, President Burnett and his cabinet
hurried to the Texan camp and opened negotiations with Santa Anna. The
Mexican general was ready to promise almost anything in return for his
liberty, and Houston suggested that he be made to recognise the
independence of Texas, that the Rio Grande River should become the
boundary between the independent State and Mexico, that all Texan
prisoners should be released, that all private property should be
restored, and numerous other things, all of which were afterward
embodied in a treaty signed at Velasco.

Yet even then Santa Anna was not given his liberty. The people were
aroused to the depths of their very souls and they feared that the
"Mexican Butcher" could not be trusted. Against the advice of many he
was put into prison, and it was not until nearly a year later that he
was allowed to return to Mexico. Here he found himself "out in the
cold" in more ways than one, and highly disgusted he retired to his
estate at Mango del Clavo, not to be heard of again for some time to

With the closing of the war matters waxed hot in Texas politically, but
with politics Amos Radbury had little to do. As soon as he was able, he
returned to his ranch on the Guadalupe, where both he and Dan were
received in a warm manner by Ralph and the ever faithful Poke Stover
and Pompey.

"You are both heroes," cried the youngest Radbury. And then he added,
with all the ardor of youth: "How I wish I had been along!"

"Never mind, lad, your time may come some day," said Poke Stover.

"If it dun cum dat boy will prove as brave as any of dem," said Pompey.
"Yo' see, it's in de Radbury blood, wot fit in de Rebolution, de wah ob
1812 and de Injun wahs. Da can't help it no moah dan da kin help
eatin', he! he!" And he slapped his thigh enthusiastically. That
evening Pompey served the "spread of his life," as Dan designated it,
and never were a party happier than the Radburys and Poke Stover as
they sat and ate and drank, and talked over the many things which had
happened since the first trouble with the Indians.

"But I am glad it is over," said Amos Radbury. "Glad it is over, and
equally glad that we are all home once more."

                    *      *      *      *      *

Here let us bring to a close this tale of the war, "For the Liberty of
Texas." Summer was now at hand, and as soon as Dan felt rested he and
Ralph, assisted by Pompey, set to work to put the ranch in order and
attend to the stock, which had suffered more or less from neglect.
Later on, both Mr. Radbury and Poke Stover joined in the labour, and
before fall everything was running as smoothly as it had the spring

The liberty of Texas had been assured, but the people were not
satisfied, and clamoured to be admitted to the United States. In a few
years this was accomplished, and Texas became as she is to-day, the
largest State in our glorious Union. Then followed trouble about the
boundary line between the United States and Mexico, and soon war was
declared between the two principal republics of North America. The
further adventures of the Radburys before this war and through a
portion of it will be told in the next volume of this series, to be
entitled, "With Taylor on the Rio Grande," in which we shall meet all
of our old friends once more, and learn what they did to defeat both
their personal enemies and also the enemies of their country.

Yet for the time being all went well, and here we will say good-bye,
echoing the shout Ralph gives as he dashes over the range on his pet

"Hurrah for the liberty of Texas! Hurrah for the heroes of San


                    *      *      *      *      *





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Much is told here of Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Colonel Bowie, and
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                    *      *      *      *      *

These books were first issued under a pen name and by another publisher.
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                    *      *      *      *      *

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  Or the Schooldays of an American Boy

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                    *      *      *      *      *

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                    *      *      *      *      *

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career in the army, his struggles to obtain a footing as a lawyer, his
efforts as a Congressman and a Governor, and lastly his prosperous
career as our President, all told in a style particularly adapted to
boys and young men. The book is full of interesting anecdotes, all
taken from life, showing fully the sincere, honest, painstaking efforts
of a life cut all too short. The volume will prove an inspiration to
all boys and young men, and should be in every library.

For nearly a year Mr. Stratemeyer has been gathering material and
giving careful study to the life of the young William, his childhood,
his boyhood, and all his inspiring and romantic history. The story was
nearing its end when the awful finale came and tragedy ended the drama
of President McKinley's life.--_New York Journal._



300 pages  12mo  Illustrated from Photographs  $1.25

This excellent work for young people covers the whole life of our
strenuous executive, as schoolboy, college student, traveler, author,
hunter and ranchman, as assemblyman, as civil service commissioner, as
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, as a daring rough rider, as Governor
of New York, and lastly as President. Full of stories taken from real
life and told in a manner to interest both young and old.

We unreservedly recommend Mr. Stratemeyer's books for boys. They are
wholesome, accurate as to historical details, and always
interesting.--_Boston Times._

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