Remember the Alamo
by Amelia E. Barr
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Such a pleasant city, Marquis! Spanish monks founded it. Spanish and Mexican soldiers have defended it. Look at its fine churches and missions; its lovely homes, and blooming gardens."

"It is also all our own, father. It was but yesterday I said to one of those insolent Americans who was condescending to admire it: 'Very good, Senor; and, if you deign to believe me, it was not brought from New York. Such as you see it, it was made by ourselves here at San Antonio.' Saints in heaven! the fellow laughed in my face. We were mutually convinced of each other's stupidity."

"Ah, how they envy us the country! And you, Marquis, who have traveled over the world, you can imagine the reason?"

"Father, I will tell you the reason; it is the craving in the heart to find again the lost Eden. The Almighty made Texas with full hands. When He sets his heart on a man, he is permitted to live there."

"Grace of God! You speak the truth. Shall we then give up the gift of His hand to heretics and infidels?"

"I cannot imagine it."

"Then every one must do the work he can do. Some are to slay the unbelievers; others; are to preserve the children of the Church. Your niece and her two daughters will be lost to the faith, unless you interfere for their salvation. Of you will their souls be required."

"By Saint Joseph, it is a duty not in agreement with my desire! I, who have carefully abstained from the charge of a wife and daughters of my own."

"It is but for a day or two, Marquis, until the matter is arranged. The convent is the best of all refuges for women so desolate."

The marquis did not answer. He lifted a book and began to read; and Fray Ignatius watched him furtively.

In the mean time the Senora had reached her home. She was pleased with the result of her visit. A little kindness easily imposed upon this childlike woman, and she trusted in any one who was pleasant to her.

"You may believe me, Antonia," she said; "my uncle was in a temper most unusual. He kissed my hands. He offered me his protection. That is a great thing, I assure you. And your father cannot object to our removal there."

Antonia knew not what answer to make. Her heart misgave her. Why had Fray Ignatius made the proposal? She was sure it was part of an arrangement, and not a spontaneous suggestion of the moment. And she was equally sure that any preconcerted plan, having Fray Ignatius for its author, must be inimical to them.

Her mother's entry had not awakened Isabel, who lay asleep upon a sofa. The Senora was a little nettled at the circumstance. "She is a very child! A visit of such importance! And she is off to the land of dreams while I am fatiguing myself! I wish indeed that she had more consideration!" Then Antonia brought her chocolate, and, as she drank it and smoked her cigarito, she chatted in an almost eager way about the persons she had seen.

"Going towards the Plaza, I met judge Valdez. I stopped the carriage, and sent my affections to the Senora. Would you believe it? He answered me as if his mouth were full of snow. His disagreeable behavior was exactly copied by the Senora Silvestre and her daughter Esperanza. Dona Julia and Pilar de Calval did not even perceive me. Santa Maria! there are none so blind as those who won't see! Oh, indeed! I found the journey like the way of salvation—full of humiliations. I would have stopped at the store of the Jew Lavenburg, and ordered many things, but he turned in when he saw me coming. Once, indeed, he would have put his hat on the pavement for me to tread upon. But he has heard that your father has made a rebel of himself, and what can be expected? He knows when Santa Anna has done with the rebels not one of them will have anything left for God to rain upon. And there was a great crowd and a great tumult. I think the whole city had a brain fever."

At this moment Isabel began to moan in her sleep as if her soul was in some intolerable terror or grief; and ere Antonia could reach her she sprang into the middle of the room with a shriek that rang through the house.

It was some minutes before the child could be soothed. She lay in her mother's arms, sobbing in speechless distress; but at length she was able to articulate her fright:

"Listen, mi madre, and may the Holy Lady make you believe me! I have had a dream. God be blessed that it is not yet true! I will tell you. It was about Fray Ignatius and our uncle the Marquis de Gonzaga. My good angel gave it to me; for myself and you all she gave it; and, as my blessed Lord lives! I will not go to them! SI! I will cut my white throat first!" and she drew her small hand with a passionate gesture across it. She had stood up as she began to speak, and the action, added to her unmistakable terror, her stricken face and air of determination, was very impressive.

"You have had a dream, my darling?"

"Yes, an awful dream, Antonia! Mary! Mary! Tender Mary, pity us!"

"And you think we should not go to the house of the marquis?"

"Oh, Antonia! I have seen the way. It is black and cold, and full of fear and pain. No one shall make me take it. I have the stiletto of my grandmother Flores. I will ask Holy Mary to pardon me, and then—in a moment—I would be among the people of the other world. That would be far better than Fray Ignatius and the house of Gonzaga."

The Senora was quite angry at this fresh complication. It was really incredible what she had to endure. And would Antonia please to tell her where else they were to go? They had not a friend left in San Antonio—they did not deserve to have one—and was it to be supposed that a lady, born noble, could follow the Americans in an ox-wagon? Antonia might think it preferable to the comfortable house of her relation; but blessed be the hand of God, which had opened the door of a respectable shelter to her.

"I will go in the ox-wagon," said Isabel, with a sullen determination; "but I will not go into my uncle's house. By the saint of my birth I swear it."

"Mother, listen to Antonia. When one door shuts, God opens another door. Our own home is yet undisturbed. Do you believe what Fray Ignatius says of the coming of Santa Anna? I do not. Until he arrives we are safe in our own home; and when the hour for going away comes, even a little bird can show us the way to take. And I am certain that my father is planning for our safety. If Santa Anna was in this city, and behaving with the brutality which is natural to him, I would not go away until my father sent the order. Do you think he forgets us? Be not afraid of such a thing. It cannot take place."

Towards dusk Senor Navarro called, and the Senora brought him into her private parlor and confided to him the strait they were in. He looked with sympathy into the troubled, tear-stained faces of these three helpless women, and listened with many expressive gestures to the proposal of the priest and the offer of the old marquis.

"Most excellent ladies," he answered; "it is a plot. I assure you that it is a plot. Certainly it was not without reason I was so unhappy about you this afternoon. Even while I was at the bull-fight, I think our angels were in a consultation about your affairs. Your name was in my ears above all other sounds."

"You say it is a plot, Senor. Explain to us what you mean?"

"Yes, I will tell you. Do you know that Fray Ignatius is the confessor of the marquis?"

"We had not thought of such a thing."

"It is the truth. For many years they have been close as the skin and the flesh. Without Fray Ignatius the marquis says neither yes or no. Also the will of the marquis has been lately made. I have seen a copy of it. Everything he has is left to the brotherhoods of the Church. Without doubt, Fray Ignatius was the, lawyer who wrote it."

"Senor, I always believed that would happen. At my marriage my uncle made the determination. Indeed, we have never expected a piastre—no, not even a tlaco. And to-day he was kind to me, and offered me his home. Oh, Holy Mother, how wretched I am! Can I not trust in the good words of those who are of my own family?"

"The tie of race will come before the tie of the family. The tie of religion is strongest of all, Senora. Let me tell you what will take place. When you and your children are in the house of the marquis, he will go before the Alcalde. He will declare that you have gone voluntarily to his care, and that he is your nearest and most natural guardian. Very well. But further, he will declare, on account of his great age, and the troubled state of the time, he is unable to protect you, and ask for the authority to place you in the religious care of the holy sisterhood of Saint Maria. And he will obtain all he wants."

"But, simply, what is to be gained by such treachery? He said to-day that I was like his sister Mercedes, and he spoke very gently to me."

"He would not think such a proceeding really unkind. He would assure himself that it was good for your eternal salvation. As to the reason, that is to be looked for in the purse, where all reasons come from. This house, which the good doctor built, is the best in the city. It has even two full stories. It is very suitable for a religious house. It is not far from the Plaza, yet secluded in its beautiful garden. Fray Ignatius has long desired it. When he has removed you, possession will be taken, and Santa Anna will confirm the possession."

"God succor our poor souls! What shall we do then, Senor? The Mexican army has entered Texas, it will soon be here."

"Quien sabe? Between the Rio Grande and the San Antonio are many difficulties. Urrea has five thousand men with him, horses and artillery. The horses must graze, the men must rest and eat. We shall have heavy rains. I am sure that it will be twenty days ere he reaches the settlements; and even then his destination is not San Antonio, it is Goliad. Santa Anna will be at least ten days after him. I suppose, then, that for a whole month you are quite safe in your own home. That is what I believe now. If I saw a reason to believe what is different, I would inform you. The good doctor, to whom I owe my life many times, has my promise. Lopez Navarro never broke his word to any man. The infamy would be a thing impossible, where the safety of three ladies is concerned."

"And in a month, mi madre, what great things may happen! Thirty days of possibilities! Come, now, let us be a little happy, and listen to what the Senor has to tell us. I am sure this house has been as stupid as a convent"; and Isabel lifted the cigarette case of the Senora, and with kisses persuaded her to accept its tranquilizing consolation.

It was an elegant little golden trifle studded with gems. Her husband had given it to her on the anniversary of their twenty-fifth wedding day; and it recalled vividly to her the few sweet moments. She was swayed as easily as a child by the nearest or strongest influence, and, after all, it did seem the best to take Isabel's advice, and be a little happy while she could.

Lopez was delighted to humor this mood. He told them all the news of their own social set; and in such vivid times something happened every day. There had been betrothals and marriages, quarrels and entertainments; and Lopez, as a fashionable young man of wealth and nobility, had taken his share in what had transpired.

Antonia felt unspeakably grateful to him. After the fretful terror and anxiety of the day—after the cruel visit of Fray Ignatius—it was indeed a comfort to hear the pleasant voice of Navarro in all kinds of cheerful modulations. By and by there was a slow rippling laugh from Isabel, and the Senora's face lost its air of dismal distraction.

At length Navarro had brought his narrative of small events down to the afternoon of that day. There had been a bull-fight, and Isabel was making him describe to her the chulos, in their pale satin breeches and silk waist-scarfs; the toreros in their scarlet mantles, and the picadores on their horses.

"And I assure you," he said, "the company of ladies was very great and splendid. They were in full dress, and the golden-pinned mantillas and the sea of waving fans were a sight indeed. Oh, the fans alone! So many colors; great crescents, growing and waning with far more enchantments than the moons. Their rustle and movement has a wonderful charm, Senorita Isabel; no one can imagine it.

"Oh, I assure you, Senor, I can see and feel it. But to be there! That, indeed, would make me perfectly happy."

"Had you been there to-day you would have admired, above all things, the feat of the matadore Jarocho. It was upon the great bull Sandoval—a very monster, I assure you. He came bellowing at Jarocho, as if he meant his instant death. His eyeballs were living fire; his nostrils steamed with fury; well, then, at the precise moment, Jarocho put his slippered feet between his horns, and vaulted, light as a bird flies, over his back. Then Sandoval turned to him again. Well, he calmly waited for his approach, and his long sword met him between the horns. As lightly as a lady touches her cavalier, he seemed to touch Sandoval; but the brute fell like a stone at his feet. What a storm of vivas! What clapping of hands and shouts of 'valiente!' And the ladies flung their flowers, and the men flung their hats into the arena, and Jarocho stepped proudly enough on them, I can tell you, though he was watching the door for the next bull."

"Ah, Senor, why will men fight each other, when it is so much more grand and interesting to fight bulls?"

"Senorita Isabel, if you could only convince them of that! But then, it is not always interesting to the matadore; for instance, it is only by the mercy of God and the skill of an Americano that Jarocho is at this moment out of purgatory."

The Senora raised herself from among the satin pillows of her sofa, and asked, excitedly; "Was there then some accident, Senor? Is Jarocho wounded? Poor Jarocho!"

"Not a hair of his head is hurt, Senora. I will tell you. Saint Jago, who followed Sandoval, was a little devil. He was light and quick, and had intelligence. You could see by the gleam in his eyes that he took in the whole scene, and considered not only the people in the ring, but the people in the amphitheatre also, to be his tormentors. Perhaps in that reflection he was not mistaken. He meant mischief from the beginning; and he pressed Jarocho so close that he leaped the barrier for safety. As he leaped, Saint Jago leaped also. Imagine now the terror of the spectators! The screams! The rush! The lowered horns within an inch of Jarocho, and Fray Joseph Maria running with the consecrated wafer to the doomed man! At that precise moment there was a rifle-shot, and the bellowing brute rolled backward into the arena—dead."

"Oh, Maria Purissima! How grand! In such moments one really lives, Senor. And but for this absurd rebellion I and my daughters could have had the emotion. It is indeed cruel."

"You said the shot was fired by an American?"

"Senorita Antonia, it was, indeed. I saw him. He was in the last row. He had stood up when Saint Jago came in, and he was watching the man and the animal with his soul in his eyes. He had a face, fine and thin as a woman's—a very gentle face, also. But at one instant it became stern and fierce, the lips hard set, the eyes half shut, then the rifle at the shoulder like a flash of light, and the bull was dead between the beginning and the end of the leap! The sight was wonderful, and the ladies turned to him with smiles and cries of thankfulness, and the better part of the men bowed to him; for the Mexican gentleman is always just to a great deed. But he went away as if he had done something that displeased himself, and when I overtook him at the gates of the Alamo, he did not look as if he wished to talk about it.

"However, I could not refrain myself, and I said: 'Permit me, Colonel Crockett, to honor you. The great feat of to-day's fight was yours. San Antonio owes you for her favorite Jarocho.'"

"'I saved a life, young man,' he answered and I took a life; and I'll be blamed if I know whether I did right or wrong.' 'Jarocho would have been killed but for your shot.' 'That's so; and I killed the bull; but you can take my hat if I don't think I killed the tallest brute of the two. Adjourn the subject, sir'; and with that he walked off into the fort, and I did myself the pleasure of coming to see you, Senora."

He rose and bowed to the ladies, and, as the Senora was making some polite answer, the door of the room opened quickly, and a man entered and advanced towards her. Every eye was turned on him, but ere a word could be uttered he was kneeling at the Senora's side, and had taken her face in his hands, and was kissing it. In the dim light she knew him at once, and she cried out: "My Thomas! My Thomas! My dear son! For three years I have not seen you."

He brought into the room with him an atmosphere of comfort and strength. Suddenly all fear and anxiety was lifted, and in Antonia's heart the reaction was so great that she sank into a chair and began to cry like a child. Her brother held her in his arms and soothed her with the promise of his presence and help. Then he said, cheerfully:

"Let me have some supper, Antonia. I am as hungry as a lobos wolf; and run away, Isabel, and help your sister, for I declare to you girls I shall eat everything in the house."

The homely duty was precisely what was needed to bring every one's feelings to their normal condition; and Thomas Worth sat chatting with his mother and Lopez of his father, and Jack, and Dare, and Luis, and the superficial events of the time, with that pleasant, matter-of-course manner which is by far the most effectual soother of troubled and unusual conditions.

In less than half an hour Antonia called her brother, and he and Lopez entered the dining-room together. They came in as brothers might come, face answering face with sympathetic change and swiftness; but Antonia could not but notice the difference in the two men. Lopez was dressed in a suit of black velvet, trimmed with many small silver buttons. His sash was of crimson silk. His linen was richly embroidered; and his wide hat was almost covered with black velvet, and adorned with silver tags. It was a dress that set off admirably his dark intelligent face.

Thomas Worth wore the usual frontier costume; a dark flannel shirt, a wide leather belt, buck-skin breeches, and leather boots covering his knees. He was very like his father in figure and face—darker, perhaps, and less handsome. But the gentleness and strength of his personal appearance attracted every one first, and invested all traits with their own distinctive charm.

And, oh! What a change was there in the the{sic} Senora's room. The poor lady cried a little for joy, and then went to sleep like a wearied child. Isabel and Antonia were too happy to sleep. They sat half through the night, talking softly of the danger they had been in. Now that Thomas had come, they could say HAD. For he was a very Great-heart to them, and they could even contemplate the expected visit of Fray Ignatius without fear; yes, indeed, with something very like satisfaction.


"What thing thou doest, bravely do; When Heaven's clear call hath found thee, Follow—with fervid wheels pursue, Though thousands bray around thee."

"Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seemed to know; With slow but stately pace kept on his course; You would have thought the very windows spoke, So many greedy looks of young and old, Through casements darted their desiring eyes Upon his visage."

Left to themselves, the two men threw off like a mask the aspect of cheerfulness they had worn in the presence of the Senora. Thomas Worth ate heartily, for he had been without food since morning; but Navarro did not attempt to join his meal. He sat patiently waiting his sombre eyes fixed upon the mental visions which circled in the enchanted incense of his cigarette.

Presently Thomas Worth turned toward the hearth, pushed the cedar logs on it to a focus, and at their leaping blaze lighted the pipe which he took from his pocket. "Lopez," he said, "it strikes me that I am just in time to prevent some infamous plan of Fray Ignatius and my uncle Gonzaga."

"I should not have lost sight of the Senora and your sisters. I have watched them faithfully, though for many good reasons it has been best to appear indifferent. Will you now remain in San Antonio?"

"I have come with orders to Travis to blow up the Alamo, and fall back upon Houston, who is at Gonzales. But I do not think the men will permit him to do so."

"You have too many leaders. Also, they undervalue the Mexican soldiers. I assure you they do. They fought Spain for ten years; they do not want, then, the persistence of true valor. The Americans may die in the Alamo, but they cannot hold it against the thousands Santa Anna will bring with him."

"They will die, then. They have no thought of retreat, nor of any deed that argues fear. Every man relies on himself, as if in his hand the moment of victory lay."

"Every man will perish."

"They will not perish in vain. Defeat is only a spur to the American soldier. Every, one makes him a better fighter. If Santa Anna massacres the men in the Alamo, he seals the freedom of Texas."

"Houston should have come himself."

"Houston is biding his time. He is doing at present the hardest duty a great man can do: setting an example of obedience to a divided and incompetent government. Lopez, you said rightly that we had too many leaders. When those appointed for sacrifice have been offered up—when we are in the extremity of danger and ruin, then Houston will hear the word he is waiting for."

"And he will lead you on to victory. Indeed, I know it. I have seen him. He has the line—the fortunate line on the forehead. He is the loadstone in the breast of your cause; the magnet who can draw good fortune to it. If fate be against you, he will force fate to change her mind. If fate weave you a common thread, he will change it into purple. Victory, which she gives to others reluctantly, he will take like a master from her hand HOUSTON! What essence! What existence! What honor! What hope there is in those seven letters. Consider this: He will find a way or make a way for freedom."

Subsequent events proved the opinion of Thomas Worth correct with regard to the garrison in the Alamo. David Crockett! James Bowie! Barret Travis! The names were a host in themselves; one and all refused to couple them with retreat.

"Military defeats may be moral victories, young man," said Crockett to Thomas Worth; "and moral victories make national greatness. The Roman that filled the gulf with his own body—the men who died at Thermopylae—they live to-day, and they have been talking with us."

"But if you join Houston you will save many lives."

"That isn't always the point, sir. Jim Bowie was saying there was once a lover who used to swim two miles every night to see a young woman called Hero. Now, he might have waited for a boat and gone dry-shod to his sweetheart; but if he had, who would have cared whether he lived or died? The Alamo is our Hero. If we can't keep her, we can die for her."

The same spirit moved every soul at Goliad. Fanning was there with nearly nine hundred men, and he had named the place Fort Defiance, and asserted his determination to hold it. In the mean time, Houston was using his great personal influence to collect troops, to make treaties with the Indians, and to keep together some semblance of a provisional government.

But it had become evident to all the leading spirits of the revolution that no half-way measures would now do. They only produced half-way enthusiasm. For this end, Houston spoke out with his accustomed boldness:

"Gentlemen, we must declare the independence of Texas, and like our fore-elders, sink or swim by that declaration. Nothing else, nothing less, can save us. The planters of Texas must feel that they are fighting for their own constitution, and not for Mexican promises made to them twelve years ago and never yet kept."

The simple proposition roused a new enthusiasm; for while Urrea was hastening towards Goliad, and Santa Anna towards San Antonio, and Filisola to Washington, the divided people were becoming more and more embittered. The American soldiers, who had hitherto gone in and out among the citizens of San Antonio during the day, and only slept in the Alamo, were conscious of an ominous change in the temper of the city. They gathered their recruits together and shut themselves in the fortress.

Again Thomas Worth urged them to fall back either upon the line of Houston at Gonzales, or Fanning at Goliad; but in the indecision and uncertainty of all official orders, Crockett thought it best to make the first stand at the Mexican city.

"We can, at least," he said, "keep Santa Anna busy long enough to give the women and children of our own settlements time to escape, and the men time to draw together with a certain purpose."

"The cry of Santa Anna has been like the cry of wolf! wolf!" said Bowie. "I hear that great numbers that were under arms have gone home to plant their corn and cotton. Do you want Santa Anna to murder them piecemeal—house by house, family by family? Great George! Which of us would accommodate him with a prolonged pleasure like that? No! he shall have a square fight for every life lie gets"; and the calm, gentlemanly Bowie was suddenly transformed into a flashing, vehement, furious avenger. He laid his knife and pistols on the table, his steel-blue eyes scintillated as if they were lightning; his handsome mouth, his long, white hands, his whole person radiated wrath and expressed the utmost lengths of invincible courage and insatiable hatred.

"Gentlemen," answered Travis, "I go with Crockett and Bowie. If we hold the Alamo, it is a deed well done. If we fall with it, it is still a deed well done. We shall have given to Houston and Fanning time to interpose themselves between Santa Anna and the settlements."

"We have none of us lived very well," said Bowie, "but we can die well. I say as an American, that Texas is ours by right of natural locality, and by right of treaty; and, as I live, I will do my best to make it American by right of conquest! Comrades, I do not want a prettier quarrel to die in"—and looking with a brave, unflinching gaze around the grim fortress—"I do not want a better monument than the Alamo!"

The speech was not answered with any noisy hurrahing; but the men around the bare, long table clasped hands across it, and from that last interview with the doomed men Thomas Worth came away with the knowledge that he had seen the battle begun. He felt now that there was no time to delay longer his plans for the safety of his mother and sisters. These were, indeed, of the simplest and most uncertain character; for the condition of the country and its few resources were such as to make flight the only way that promised safety. And yet flight was environed with dangers of every kind—hunger, thirst, exhaustion, savage beasts, Indians, and the triple armies of Mexico.

The day after his arrival he had begun to prepare, as far as possible, for this last emergency, but the Senora's unconquerable aversion to leave her native city had constantly hampered him. Until Santa Anna really appeared she would not believe in the necessity of such a movement. The proposal of Fray Ignatius, even if it did end in a convent, did not seem so terrible as to be a wanderer without a roof to cover her. She felt aggrieved and injured by Antonia's and Isabel's positive refusal to accept sanctuary from the priest, and with the underhand cunning of a weak woman she had contrived to let Fray Ignatius know that SHE was not to blame for the refusal.

All the same the priest hated her in conjunction with her children. On the morning after her interview with her uncle, he went to receive her submission; for the marquis had informed him of all that had passed, and he felt the three women and the valuable Worth property already under his hard hand. He opened the gate with the air of a proprietor. He looked down the lovely alleys of the garden, and up at the latticed stories of the handsome house, with that solid satisfaction which is the reward of what is acquired by personal effort or wisdom.

When he entered the door and was confronted by Thomas Worth, he was for the moment nonplussed. But he did not permit his confusion and disappointment to appear. He had not seen Thomas for a long time. He addressed him with suavity and regrets, and yet, "was sure he would be glad to hear that, in the present dangerous crisis, the Marquis de Gonzaga had remembered the blood-tie and offered his protection to a family so desolate."

Thomas Worth leaned upon the balusters, as if guarding the approach to the Senora's apartments. He answered: "The protection of the marquis is unnecessary. Three ladies are too great a charge for one so aged. We will not impose it." The face of the young man was calm and stern, but he spoke without visible temper, until the priest prepared to pass him. Then he stretched out his arm as a barrier.

"Fray Ignatius, you have already passed beyond the threshold; permit me to remind you of Dr. Worth's words on that subject."

"I put my duty before any man's words."

"Sir, for my mother's sake, I would not be disrespectful; but I assure you, also, that I will not permit any man, while I live, to disregard my father's orders regarding his own household."

"I must see the Senora."

"That, I reply, is impossible."

"Presume not—dare not to interfere with a priest in the duty of his office. It is a mortal sin. The curse of the Church will rest upon you.

"The curse of the Church will not trouble me. But to treat my father's known wishes with contempt—that is an act of dishonor and disobedience which I will not be guilty of."

"Santa Maria! Suffer not my spirit to be moved by this wicked one. Out of my path, Satanas!"

The last word was not one which Thomas Worth had expected. He flushed crimson at its application, and with a few muttered sentences, intelligible only to the priest, he took him firmly by the shoulder, led him outside the door, and closed and barred it.

The expulsion was not accomplished without noisy opposition on the part of Fray Ignatius, and it pained Thomas deeply to hear, in the midst of the priest's anathemas, the shrill cries of his mother's distress and disapproval.

The next domestic movement of Thomas Worth was to rid the house of Molly and Manuel, and the inferior servants. It was not as easy a task as may be supposed. They had been ordered by Fray Ignatius to remain, and the order had not been countermanded. Even if the Senora and her daughters were going east, and their services were not needed, they had no objections to remain in the Worth house. They understood that the Church would take possession, and the housekeeping of the Church was notoriously easy and luxurious.

However, after exorbitant compensation had been made, and Molly had given in return "a bit of her mind," she left for the Irish colony of San Patricio, and Manuel immediately sought his favorite monte table. When he had doubled his money, he intended to obey Molly's emphatic orders, and go and tell the priest all about it.

"I would rather, face a battery of cannon than Fray Ignatius and the servants again, Antonia." Antonia looked at her brother; he was worried and weary, and his first action, when he had finally cleared the house, was to walk around it, and bolt every door and window. Antonia followed him silently. She perceived that the crisis had come, and she was doing as good women in extremity do—trying to find in the darkness the hand always stretched out to guide and strengthen. As yet she had not been able to grasp it. She followed her brother like one in a troubled dream, whispering faintly, with white lips, "O God, where art Thou? Help and pity us!"

Thomas led her finally to his father's office. He went to a closet filled with drugs, removed them, and then a certain pressure of his hand caused the back of the closet to disappear in a groove, and a receptacle full of coin and papers was disclosed.

"We must take with us all the coin we can carry. What you are not likely to require, is to go to the men in the field. Then, hide in its place the old silver, and the laces, and the jewels, which came with the Flores from Castile; and any other papers and valuables, which you received from our father. I think even Fray Ignatius will not discover them here."

"Is there any special need to hurry to-day?

"Santa Anna is within forty-eight hours of San Antonio. He may force a march, and be here earlier. Travis told me last night that their advance scouts had come in with this intelligence. To-day they will gather every man they can, and prepare to defend themselves in the Alamo. As soon as Santa Anna arrives, we are in danger. I must leave here to-night. I must either take you with me or remove you to a place of more safety."

"Let us go with you."

"If my mother is willing."

"If she is not, what then?"

"Lopez has prepared for that emergency. He has an empty house three miles west of San Antonio. He has had it completely victualled. I will take you there after dark in the large green chariot. Ortiz will drive the light Jersey wagon on the Gonzales road. When inquiry is made, the Jersey wagon will have attracted the attention of every Mexican, and Fray Ignatius will receive positive assurances that you were in it and are beyond his power. And certainly, without definite intelligence, he would never suspect you of being anywhere on the highway to Mexico."

"Shall we be quite alone?"

"For two or three days you will be quite alone. Ortiz will, however, return with the wagon by a circuitous route; for, sooner or later, you are sure to need it. Fear not to trust him. Only in one respect will you need to supplement his advice by your own intelligence: he is so eager to fight Santa Anna, he may persuade himself and you that it is necessary to fly eastward when it is not. In all other points you may be guided by him, and his disguise as a peon is so perfect that it will be easy for him to gather in the pulquerias all the information requisite for your direction. I have been out to the house, and I can assure you that Lopez has considered everything for your comfort."

"However, I would rather go with you, Thomas."

"It must be as mother desires."

When the circumstances were explained to the Senora, she was at first very determined to accept neither alternative. "She would remain where she was. She was a Flores and a Gonzaga. Santa Anna knew better than to molest her. She would rather trust to him than to those dreadful Americans." Reminded of Fray Ignatius, she shed a few tears over the poor padrecito, and assured her children they had made a mistake regarding him, which neither oil nor ointment, nor wit nor wisdom, could get over.

It was almost impossible to induce her to come to a decision of any kind; and only when she saw Antonia and Isabel were dressed for a journey, and that Thomas had locked up all the rooms and was extinguishing the fires, could she bring herself to believe that the trial so long anticipated had really come.

"My dearest mother! My own life and the lives of many others may now hang upon a few moments. I can remain here no longer. Where shall I take you to?"

"I will not leave my home."

"Santa Anna is almost here. As soon as he arrives, Fray Ignatius and twelve of the Bernardine monks are coming here. I was told that yesterday."

"Then I will go to the convent. I and my daughters."

"No, mother; if you go to the convent, Antonia and Isabel must go with me."

She prayed, and exclaimed, and appealed to saints and angels, and to the holy Virgin, until Isabel was hysterically weeping, Antonia at a mental tension almost unendurable, and Thomas on the verge of one of those terrifying passions that mark the extremity of habitually gentle, patient men.

"My God, mother!" he exclaimed with a stamp of his spurred boot on the stone floor; "if you will go to the devil—to the priests, I mean—you must go alone. Kiss your mother farewell, girls. I have not another moment to wait."

Then, in a passion of angry sobs and reproaches, she decided to go with her daughters, and no saint ever suffered with a more firm conviction of their martyrdom to duty than did this poor foolish, affectionate slave to her emotions and her superstitions. But when Thomas had gone, and nothing was to be gained by a display of her sufferings, she permitted herself to be interested in their hiding-place, and after Antonia had given her a cup of chocolate, and Isabel had petted and soothed her, she began gradually to allow them to explain their situation, and even to feel some interest in its discussion.

They sat in the charmful, dusky glimmer of starlight, for candles and fire were forbidden luxuries. Fortunately, the weather was warm and sunny, and for making chocolate and such simple cookery, Lopez had provided a spirit lamp. The Senora was as pleased as a child with this arrangement. She had never seen anything like it before. She even imagined the food cooked upon it had some rare and unusual flavor. She was quite proud when she had learned its mysteries, and quite sure that chocolate she made upon it was chocolate of a most superior kind.

The house had been empty for two years, and the great point was to preserve its air of desolation. No outside arrangement was touched; the torn remnants of some balcony hangings were left fluttering in the wind; the closed windows and the closed doors, the absence of smoke from the chimneys and of lights from the windows, preserved the air of emptiness and loneliness that the passers-by had been accustomed to see. And, as it was on the highway into the city, there were great numbers of passers: mule-trains going to Mexico and Sonora; cavaliers and pedestrians; splendidly-dressed nobles and officials, dusty peons bringing in wood; ranchmen, peddlers, and the whole long list of a great city's purveyors and servants.

But though some of the blinds were half-closed, much could be seen; and Isabel also often took cushions upon the flat roof, and lying down, watched, from between the pilasters of the balustrade surrounding it, the moving panorama.

On the morning of the third day of what the Senora, called their imprisonment, they went to the roof to sit in the clear sunshine and the fresh wind. They were weary and depressed with the loneliness and uncertainty of their position, and were almost longing for something to happen that would push forward the lagging wheels of destiny.

A long fanfare of trumpets, a roll of drums, a stirring march of warlike melody, startled them out of the lethargic tedium of exhausted hopes and fears. "It is Santa Anna!" said Antonia; and though they durst not stand up, they drew closer to the balustrade and watched for the approaching army. Is there any woman who can resist that nameless emotion which both fires and rends the heart in the presence of great military movements? Antonia was still and speechless, and white as death. Isabel watched with gleaming eyes and set lips. The Senora's excitement was unmistakably that of exultant national pride.

Santa Anna and his staff-officers were in front. They passed too rapidly for individual notice, but it was a grand moving picture of handsome men in scarlet and gold—of graceful mangas and waving plumes, and bright-colored velvet capes; of high-mettled horses, and richly-adorned Mexican saddles, aqueras of black fur, and silver stirrups; of thousands of common soldiers, in a fine uniform of red and blue; with antique brazen helmets gleaming in the sun, and long lances, adorned with tri-colored streamers. They went past like a vivid, wonderful dream—like the vision of an army of mediaeval knights.

In a few minutes the tumult of the advancing army was increased tenfold by the clamor of the city pouring out to meet it. The clashing bells from the steeples, the shouting of the populace, the blare of trumpets and roll of drums, the lines of churchmen and officials in their grandest dresses, of citizens of every age,—the indescribable human murmur—altogether it was a scene whose sensuous splendor obliterated for a time the capacity of impressionable natures to judge rightly.

But Antonia saw beyond all this brave show the ridges of red war, and a noble perversity of soul made her turn her senses inward. Then her eyes grew dim, and her heart rose in pitying prayer for that small band of heroes standing together for life and liberty in the grim Alamo. No pomp of war was theirs. They were isolated from all their fellows. They were surrounded by their enemies. No word of sympathy could reach them. Yet she knew they would stand like lions at bay; that they would give life to its last drop for liberty; and rather than be less than freemen, they would prefer not to be at all.


"The combat deepens. On, ye brave! Who rush to glory or the grave."

"To all the sensual world proclaim: One crowded hour of glorious life Is worth an age without a name."

"Gashed with honorable scars, Low in Glory's lap they lie; Though they fell, they fell like stars, Streaming splendor through the sky."

The passing-by of Santa Anna and the Mexican army, though it had been hourly expected for nearly three days, was an event which threw the Senora and her daughters into various conditions of mental excitement. They descended from the roof to the Senora's room, where they could move about and converse with more freedom. For the poor lady was quite unable to control her speech and actions, and was also much irritated by Antonia's more composed manner. She thought it was want of sympathy.

"How can you take things with such a blessed calmness," she asked, angrily. "But it is the way of the Americans, no doubt, who must have everything for prudence. Sensible! Sensible! Sensible! that is the tune they are forever playing, and you dance to it like a miracle."

"My dear mother, can we do any good by exclaiming and weeping?"

"Holy Virgin! Perhaps not; but to have a little human nature is more agreeable to those who are yet on the earth side of purgatory."

"Mi madre," said Isabel, "Antonia is our good angel. She thinks for us, and plans for us, and even now has everything ready for us to move at a moment's notice. Our good angels have to be sensible and prudent, madre."

"To move at a moment's notice! Virgin of Guadalupe! where shall we go to? Could my blessed father and mother see me in this prison, this very vault, I assure you they would be unhappy even among the angels."

"Mother, there are hundreds of women today in Texas who would think this house a palace of comfort and safety."

"Saints and angels! Is that my fault? Does it make my condition more endurable? Ah, my children, I have seen great armies come into San Antonio, and always before I have been able to make a little pleasure to myself out of the event. For the Mexicans are not blood-thirsty, though they are very warlike. When Bravo was here, what balls, what bull-fights, what visiting among the ladies! Indeed there was so much to tell, the tertulia was as necessary as the dinner. To be sure, the Mexicans are not barbarians; they made a war that had some refinement. But the Americans! They are savages. With them it is fight, fight, fight, and if we try to be agreeable, as we were to that outrageous Sam Houston, they say thank you, madam, and go on thinking their own cruel thoughts. I wonder the gentle God permits that such men live."

"Dear mother, refinement in war is not possible. Nothing can make it otherwise than brutal and bloody."

"Antonia, allow that I, who am your mother, should know what I have simply seen with my eyes. Salcedo, Bravo, Martinez, Urrea—are they not great soldiers? Very well, then, I say they brought some pleasure with their armies; and you will see that Santa Anna will do the same. If we were only in our own home! It must have been the devil who made us leave it."

"How truly splendid the officers looked, mi madre. I dare say Senora Valdez will entertain them."

"That is certain. And as for Dorette Valdez—the coquette—it will certainly be a great happiness to her."

Isabel sighed, and the Senora felt a kind of satisfaction in the sigh. It was unendurable to be alone in her regrets and her longings.

"Yes," she continued, "every night Senora Trespalacios will give a tertulia, and the officers will have military balls—the brave young men; they will be so gay, so charming, so devoted, and in a few hours, perhaps, they will go into the other world by the road of the battlefield. Ah, how pitiful! How interesting! Cannot you imagine it?"

Isabel sighed again, but the sigh was for the gay, the charming Luis Alveda. And when she thought of him, she forgot in a moment to envy Dorette Valdez, or the senoritas of the noble house of Trespalacios. And some sudden, swift touch of sympathy, strong as it was occult, made the Senora at the same moment remember her husband and her sons. A real sorrow and a real anxiety drove out all smaller annoyances. Then both her daughters wept together, until their community of grief had brought to each heart the solemn strength of a divine hope and reliance.

"My children, I will go now and pray," said the sorrowful wife and mother. "At the foot of the cross I will wait for the hour of deliverance;" and casting herself on her knees, with her crucifix in her hand, she appeared in a moment to have forgotten everything but her anguish and her sins, and the Lamb of God upon whom, with childlike faith, she was endeavoring to cast them. Her tears dropped upon the ivory image of the Crucified, and sympathetic tears sprung into Antonia's and Isabel's eyes, as they listened to her imploration.

That night, when all was dark and still, Ortiz returned with the wagon. In the morning Antonia went to speak to him. He looked worn-out and sorrowful, and she feared to ask him for news. "There is food in the house, and I have made you chocolate," she said, as she pitifully scanned the man's exhausted condition.

"The Senorita is kind as the angels. I will eat and drink at her order. I am, indeed, faint and hungry."

She brought him to the table, and when he refused to sit in her presence, she said frankly, "Captain Ortiz, you are our friend and not our servant. Rest and refresh yourself."

He bent upon one knee and kissed the hand she offered, and without further remonstrance obeyed her desire. Isabel came in shortly, and with the tact of true kindness she made no remark, but simply took the chair beside Ortiz, and said, in her usual voice and manner: "Good morning, Captain. We are glad to see you. Did you meet my brother Thomas again?"

"Senorita, God be with you! I have not seen him. I was at Goliad."

"Then you would see our brother Juan?"

"Si. The Senor Juan is in good health and great happiness. He sent by my willing hands a letter."

"Perhaps also you saw his friend, Senor Grant?"

"From him, also, I received a letter. Into your gracious care, Senorita, I deliver them."

"I thank you for your kindness, Captain. Tell us now of the fortress. Are the troops in good spirits?"

"Allow me to fear that they are in too good assurance of success. The most of the men are very young. They have not yet met our Lady of Sorrows. They have promised to themselves the independence of Texas. They will also conquer Mexico. There are kingdoms in the moon for them. I envy such exaltations—and regret them. GRACE OF GOD, Senorita! My heart ached to see the crowds of bright young faces. With a Napoleon—with a Washington to lead them—they would do miracles."

"What say you to Houston?"

"I know him not. At Goliad they are all Houstons. They believe each man in himself. On the contrary, I wish that each man looked to the same leader."

"Do you know that Santa Anna is in San Antonio?"

"I felt it, though I had no certain news. I came far around, and hid myself from all passers-by, for the sake of the wagon and the horses. I have the happiness to say they are safe. The wagon is within the enclosure, the horses are on the prairie. They have been well trained, and will come to my call. As for me, I will now go into the city, for there will be much to see and to hear that may be important to us. Senoritas, for all your desires, I am at your service."

When Ortiz was gone, Isabel had a little fret of disappointment. Luis might have found some messenger to bring her a word of his love and life. What was love worth that did not annihilate impossibilities! However, it consoled her a little to carry Jack's letter to his mother. The Senora had taken her morning chocolate and fallen asleep. When Isabel awakened her, she opened her eyes with a sigh, and a look of hopeless misery. These pallid depressions attacked her most cruelly in the morning, when the room, shabby and unfamiliar, gave both her memory, and anticipation a shock.

But the sight of the letter flushed her face with expectation. She took it with smiles. She covered it with kisses. When she opened it, a curl from Jack's head fell on to her lap. She pressed it to her heart, and then rose and laid it at the feet of her Madonna. "She must share my joy," she said with a pathetic childishness; "she will understand it." Then, with her arm around Isabel, and the girl's head on his shoulder, they read together Jack's loving words:

"Mi madre, mi madre, you have Juan's heart in your heart. Believe me, that in all this trouble I sorrow only for you. When victory is won I shall fly to you. Other young men have other loves; I have only you, sweet mother. There is always the cry in my heart for the kiss I missed when I left you. If I could hold your hand to-night, if I could hear your voice, if I could lay my head on your breast, I would say that the Holy One had given me the best blessings He had in heaven. Send to me a letter, madre—a letter full of love and kisses. Forgive Juan! Think of this only: HE IS MY BOY! If I live, it is for you, who are the loveliest and dearest of mothers. If I die, I shall die with your name on my lips. I embrace you with my soul. I kiss your hands, and remember how often they have clasped mine. I kiss your eyes, your cheeks, your dear lips. Mi madre, remember me! In your prayers, remember Juan!"

With what tears and sobs was this loving letter read by all the women; and the Senora finally laid it where she had laid the precious curl that had come with it. She wanted "the Woman blessed among women" to share the mother joy and the mother anguish in her heart. Besides, she was a little nervous about Jack's memento of himself. Her superstitious lore taught her that severed hair is a token of severed love. She wished he had not sent it, and yet she could not bear to have it out of her sight.

"Gracias a Dios!" she kept ejaculating. "I have one child that loves me, and me only. I shall forgive Juan everything. I shall not forgive Thomas many things. But Juan! oh! it is impossible not to love him entirely. There is no one like him in the world. If the good God will only give him back to me, I will say a prayer of thanks every day of my life long. Oh, Juan! Juan! my boy! my dear one!"

Thus she talked to herself and her daughters continually. She wrote a letter full of motherly affection and loving incoherencies; and if Jack had ever received it he would doubtless have understood and kissed every word, and worn the white messenger close to his heart. But between writing letters and sending them, there were in those days intervals full of impossibilities. Love then had to be taken on trust. Rarely, indeed, could it send assurances of fidelity and affection.

Jack's letter brightened the day, and formed a new topic of conversation, until Ortiz returned in the evening. His disguise had enabled him to linger about the Plaza and monte table, and to hear and observe all that was going on.

"The city is enjoying itself, and making money," he said, in reply to question from the Senora. "Certainly the San Antonians approve of liberty, but what would you do? In Rome one does not quarrel with the Pope; in San Antonio one must approve of despotism, when Santa Anna parades himself there."

"Has he made any preparations for attacking the Alamo? Will the Americans resist him?"

"Senorita Antonia, he is erecting a battery on the river bank, three hundred yards from the Alamo. This morning, ere the ground was touched, he reviewed his men in the Plaza. He stood on an elevation at the church door, surrounded by his officers and the priests, and unfurled the Mexican flag."

"That was about eleven o'clock, Captain?"

"Si, Senorita. You are precisely exact."

"I heard at that hour a dull roar of human voices—a roar like nothing on earth but the distant roar of the ocean."

"To be sure; it was the shouting of the people. When all was still, Fray Ignatius blessed the flag, and sprinkled over it holy water. Then Santa Anna raised it to his lips and kissed it. Holy Maria! another shout. Then he crossed his sword upon the flag, and cried out—'Soldados! you are here to defend this banner, which is the emblem of your holy faith and of your native land, against heretics, infidels and ungrateful traitors. Do you swear to do it?' And the whole army answered 'Si! si! juramos!' (yes, we swear.) Again he kissed the flag, and laid his sword across it, and, to be sure, then another shout. It was a very clever thing, I assure you, Senora, and it sent every soldier to the battery with a great heart."

The Senora's easily touched feelings were all on fire at the description. "I wish I could have seen the blessing of the banner," she said; "it is a ceremony to fill the soul. I have always wept at it. Mark, Antonia! This confirms what I assured you of—the Mexicans make war with a religious feeling and a true refinement. And pray, Captain Ortiz, how will the Americans oppose these magnificent soldiers, full of piety and patriotism?"

"They have the Alamo, and one hundred and eighty-three men in it."

"And four thousand men against them?"

"Si. May the Virgin de los Remedios [4] be their help! An urgent appeal for assistance was sent to Fanning at Goliad. Senor Navarre, took it on a horse fleet as the wind. You will see that on the third day he will be smoking in his balcony, in the way which is usual to him."

"Will Fanning answer the appeal?"

"If the answer be permitted him. But Urrea may prevent. Also other things."

Santa Anna entered San Antonio on Tuesday the twenty-third of February, 1836, and by the twenty-seventh the siege had become a very close one. Entrenched encampments encircled the doomed men in the Alamo, and from dawn to sunset the bombardment went on. The tumult of the fight—the hurrying in and out of the city—the clashing of church bells between the booming of cannon—these things the Senora and her daughters could hear and see; but all else was for twelve days mere surmise. But only one surmise was possible, when it was known that the little band of defiant heroes were fighting twenty, times their own number—that no help could come to them—that the Mexicans were cutting off their water, and that their provisions were getting very low. The face of Ortiz grew constantly more gloomy, and yet there was something of triumph in his tone as he told the miserably anxious women with what desperate valor the Americans were fighting; and how fatally every one of their shots told.

On Saturday night, the fifth of March, he called Antonia aside, and said, "My Senorita, you have a great heart, and so I speak to you. The end is close. To-day the Mexicans succeeded in getting a large cannon within gunshot of the Alamo, just where it is weakest. Senor Captain Crockett has stood on the roof all day, and as the gunners have advanced to fire it he has shot them down. A group of Americans were around him; they loaded rifles and passed them to him quickly as he could fire them. Santa Anna was in a fury past believing. He swore then 'by every saint in heaven or hell' to enter the Alamo to-morrow. Senor Navarro says he is raging like a tiger, and that none of his officers dare approach him. The Senor bade me tell you that to-morrow night he will be here to escort you to Gonzales; for no American will his fury spare; he knows neither sex nor age in his passions. And when the Alamo falls, the soldiers will spread themselves around for plunder, or shelter, and this empty house is sure to attract them. The Senorita sees with her own intelligence how things must take place."

"I understand, Captain. Will you go with us?"

"I will have the Jersey wagon ready at midnight. I know the horses. Before sun-up we shall have made many miles."

That night as Antonia and her sister sat in the dark together, Antonia said: "Isabel, tomorrow the Alamo will fall. There is no hope for the poor, brave souls there. Then Santa Anna will kill every American."

"Oh, dear Antonia, what is to become of us? We shall have no home, nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep. I think we shall die. Also, there is mi madre. How I do pity her!"

"She is to be your care, Isabel. I shall rely on you to comfort and manage her. I will attend to all else. We are going to our father, and Thomas—and Luis."

Yes, and after all I am very tired of this dreadful life. It is a kind of convent. One is buried alive here, and still not safe. Do you really imagine that Luis is with my father and Thomas?"

"I feel sure of it."

"What a great enjoyment it will be for me to see him again!"

"And how delighted he will be! And as it is necessary that we go, Isabel, we must make the best of the necessity. Try and get mi madre to feel this."

"I can do that with a few words, and tears, and kisses. Mi madre is like one's good angel—very easy to persuade."

"And now we must try and sleep, queridita."

"Are you sure there is no danger to-night, Antonia?"

"Not to-night. Say your prayer, and sleep in God's presence. There is yet nothing to fear. Ortiz and Lopez Navarro are watching every movement."

But at three o'clock in the morning, the quiet of their rest was broken by sharp bugle calls. The stars were yet in the sky, and all was so still that they thrilled the air like something unearthly. Antonia started up, and ran to the roof. Bugle was answering bugle; and their tones were imperative and cruel, as if they were blown by evil spirits. It was impossible to avoid the feeling that the call was a PREDESTINED summons, full of the notes of calamity. She was weighed down by this sorrowful presentiment, because, as yet, neither experience nor years had taught her that PREDESTINED ILLS ARE NEVER LOST.

The unseen moving multitudes troubled the atmosphere between them. In wild, savage gusts, she heard the military bands playing the infamous Dequelo, whose notes of blood and fire commingled, shrieked in every ear—"NO QUARTER! NO QUARTER!" A prolonged shout, the booming of cannon, an awful murmurous tumult, a sense of horror, of crash and conflict, answered the merciless, frenzied notes, and drowned them in the shrieks and curses they called for.

It was yet scarcely dawn. Her soul, moved by influences so various and so awful, became almost rebellious. Why did God permit such cruelties? Did He know? Would He allow a handful of men to be overpowered by numbers? Being omnipotent, would He not in some way, at least, make the fight equal? The instinct of her anglo-American nature revolted at the unfairness of the struggle. Even her ejaculations to heaven were in this spirit. "It is so unjust," she murmured; "surely the Lord of Hosts will prevent a fight which must be a massacre."

As she went about the simple preparations for their breakfast, she wept continuously—tears of indignation and sorrow—tears coming from the strength of feeling, rather than its weakness. The Senora could eat nothing. Isabel was white with terror. They wandered from window to window in the last extremity of anxiety.

About seven o'clock they saw Ortiz pass the house. There were so many people on the road he could not find an opportunity to enter for some time. He had been in the city all night. He had watched the movement of the troops in the starlight. As he drank a cup of chocolate, he said:

"It was just three o'clock, Senorita, when the Matamoras battalion was moved forward. General Cos supported it with two thousand men.

"But General Cos was paroled by these same Americans who are now in the Alamo; and his life was spared on condition that he would not bear arms against them again."

"It is but one lie, one infamy more. When I left the city, about four thousand men were attacking the Alamo. The infantry, in columns, were driven up to the walls by the cavalry which surrounded them."

"The Americans! Is there any hope for them?"

"The mercy of God remains, Senorita. That is all. The Alamo is not as the everlasting hills. What men have made, men can also destroy. Senor Navarro is in the church, praying for the souls that are passing every moment."

"He ought to have been fighting. To help the living is better than to pray for the dead."

"Permit me to assure you, Senorita Antonia, that no man has done more for the living. In time of war, there must be many kinds of soldiers. Senor Navarro has given nearly all, that he possesses for the hope of freedom. He has done secret service of incalculable value."

"Secret service! I prefer those who have the courage of their convictions, and who, stand by them publicly."

"This is to be considered, Senorita; the man who can be silent can also speak when the day for speaking arrives." No one opposed this statement. It did not seem worth while to discuss opinions, while the terrible facts of the position were appealing to every sense.

As the day went on, the conflict evidently became closer and fiercer. Ortiz went back to the city, and the three lonely women knelt upon the house-top, listening in terror to the tumult of the battle. About noon the firing ceased, and an awful silence—a silence that made the ears ache to be relieved of it—followed.

"All is over!" moaned Antonia, and she covered her face with her hands and sobbed bitterly. Isabel had already exhausted tears. The Senora, with her crucifix in her hand, was praying for the poor unfortunates dying without prayer.

During the afternoon, smoke and flame, and strange and sickening odors were blown northward of the city, and for some time it seemed probable that a great conflagration would follow the battle. How they longed for some one to come! The utmost of their calamity would be better than the intolerable suspense. But hour after hour went past, and not even Ortiz arrived. They began to fear that both he and Navarro had been discovered in some disloyalty and slain, and Antonia was heartsick when she considered the helplessness of their situation.

Still, in accordance with Navarro's instructions, they dressed for the contemplated journey, and sat in the dark, anxiously listening for footsteps. About eleven o'clock Navarro and Ortiz came together. Ortiz went for the horses, and Navarro sat down beside, the Senora. She asked him, in a low voice, what had taken place, and he answered:

"Everything dreadful, everything cruel, and monstrous, and inhuman! Among the angels in heaven there is sorrow and anger this night." His voice had in it all the pathos of tears, but tears mingled with a burning indignation.

"The Alamo has fallen!"

"Senorita Antonia, I would give my soul to undo this day's work. It is a disgrace to Mexico which centuries cannot wipe out."

"The Americans?"

"Are all with the Merciful One."

"Not one saved?"

"Not one."


"I will tell you. It is right to tell the whole world such an infamy. If I had little children I would take them on my knee and teach them the story. I heard it from the lips of one wet-shod with their blood, dripping crimson from the battle—my own cousin, Xavier. He was with General Castrillon's division. They began their attack at four in the morning, and after two hours' desperate fighting succeeded in reaching a courtyard of the Alamo.

"They found the windows and doors barricaded with bags of earth. Behind these the Americans fought hand to hand with despairing valor. Ramires, Siesma and Batres led the columns, and Santa Anna gave the signal of battle from a battery near the bridge. When the second charge was driven back, he became furious. He put himself in front of the men, and with shouts and oaths led them to the third charge. Xavier said that he inspired them with his own frenzy. They reached the foot of the wall, and the ladders were placed in position. The officers fell to the rear and forced the men to ascend them. As they reached the top they were stabbed, and the ladders overturned. Over and over, and over again these attempts were made, until the garrison in the Alamo were exhausted with the struggle."

Navarro paused a few minutes, overpowered by his emotions. No one spoke. He could see Antonia's face, white as a spirit's, in the dim light, and he knew that Isabel was weeping and that the Senora had taken his hand.

"At last, at the hour of ten, the outer wall was gained. Then, room by room was taken with slaughter incredible. There were fourteen Americans in the hospital. They fired their rifles and pistols from their pallets with such deadly aim that Milagros turned a cannon shotted with grape and canister upon them. They were blown to pieces, but at the entrance of the door they left forty dead Mexicans."

"Ah Senor, Senor! tell me no more. My heart can not endure it."

"Mi madre," answered Isabel, "we must hear it all. Without it, one cannot learn to hate Santa Anna sufficiently"; and her small, white teeth snapped savagely, as she touched the hand of Lopez with an imperative "Proceed."

"Colonel Bowie was helpless in bed. Two Mexican officers fired at him, and one ran forward to stab him ere he died. The dying man caught his murderer by the hair of his head, and plunged his knife into his heart. They went to judgment at the same moment."

"I am glad of it! Glad of it! The American would say to the Almighty: 'Thou gavest me life, and thou gavest me freedom; freedom, that is the nobler gift of the two. This man robbed me of both.' And God is just. The Judge of the whole earth will do right."

"At noon, only six of the one hundred and eighty-three were left alive. They were surrounded by Castrillon and his soldiers. Xavier says his general was penetrated with admiration for these heroes. He spoke sympathizingly to Crockett, who stood in an angle of the fort, with his shattered rifle in his right hand, and his massive knife, dripping with blood, in his left. His face was gashed, his white hair crimson with blood; but a score of Mexicans, dead and dying, were around him. At his side was Travis, but so exhausted that he was scarcely alive.

"Castrillon could not kill these heroes. He asked their lives of Santa Anna, who stood with a scowling, savage face in this last citadel of his foes. For answer, he turned to the men around him, and said, with a malignant emphasis: 'Fire!' It was the last volley. Of the defenders of the Alamo, not one is left."

A solemn silence followed. For a few minutes it was painful in its intensity. Isabel broke it. She spoke in a whisper, but her voice was full of intense feeling. "I wish indeed the whole city had been burnt up. There was a fire this afternoon; I would be glad if it were burning yet."

"May God pardon us all, Senorita! That was a fire which does not go out. It will burn for ages. I will explain myself. Santa Anna had the dead Americans put into ox-wagons and carried to an open field outside the city. There they were burnt to ashes. The glorious pile was still casting lurid flashes and shadows as I passed it."

"I will hear no more! I will hear no more!" cried the Senora. "And I will go away from here. Ah, Senor, why do you not make haste? In a few hours we shall have daylight again. I am in a terror. Where is Ortiz?"

"The horses are not caught in a five minutes, Senora. But listen, there is the roll of the wagon on the flagged court. All, then, is ready. Senora, show now that you are of a noble house, and in this hour of adversity be brave, as the Flores have always been."

She was pleased by the entreaty, and took his arm with a composure which, though assumed, was a sort of strength. She entered the wagon with her daughters, and uttered no word of complaint. Then Navarro locked the gate, and took his seat beside Ortiz. The prairie turf deadened the beat of their horses' hoofs; they went at a flying pace, and when the first pallid light of morning touched the east, they had left San Antonio far behind and were nearing the beautiful banks of the Cibolo.


"How sleep the brave who sink to rest By all their country's wishes bless'd? * * * * *

By fairy hands their knell is rung; By forms unseen their dirge is sung. There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray, To bless the turf that wraps their clay; And Freedom shall awhile repair, To dwell a weeping hermit there."

"How shall we rank thee upon glory's page? Thou more than soldier, and just less than sage."

"Grief fills the room up of my absent child; Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me; Remembers me of all his gracious parts."

Near midnight, on March the ninth, the weary fugitives arrived at Gonzales. They had been detained by the deep mud in the bottom lands, and by the extreme exhaustion of the ladies, demanding some hours' rest each day. The village was dark and quiet. Here and there the glimmer of a candle, now and then the call of a sentry, or the wail of a child broke the mysterious silence.

Ortiz appeared to know the ground perfectly. He drove without hesitation to a log house in which a faint thread of light was observable, and as he approached it he gave a long, peculiar whistle. The door was instantly thrown open, and, as the wagon stopped, two men stepped eagerly to it. In another instant the Senora was weeping in her husband's arms, and Isabel laughing and crying and murmuring her sweet surprises into the ear of the delighted Luis. When their wraps had been removed from the wagon, Ortiz drove away, leaving Navarro and Antonia standing by the little pile of ladies' luggage.

"I will take charge of all, Senorita. Alas! How weary you are!"

"It is nothing, Senor. Let me thank you for your great kindness."

"Senorita, to be of service to you is my good fortune. If it were necessary, my life for your life, and I would die happy."

She had given him her hand with her little speech of thanks, and he raised it to his lips. It was an act of homage that he might have offered to a saint, but in it Lopez unconsciously revealed to Antonia the secret love in his heart. For he stood in the glow of light from the open door, and his handsome face showed, as in a glass darkly, the tenderness and hopelessness of his great affection. She was touched by the discovery, and though she had a nature faithful as sunrising she could not help a feeling of kindly interest in a lover so reticent, so watchful, so forgetful of himself.

The log cabin in which they found shelter was at least a resting-place. A fire of cedar logs burned upon the hearth, and there was a bed in the room, and a few rude chairs covered with raw hide. But the Senora had a happy smile on her weary face. She ignored the poverty of her surroundings. She had her Roberto, and, for this hour at least, had forgiven fate.

Presently the coffee-pot was boiling, and Doctor Worth and Luis brought out their small store of corn-bread and their tin camp-cups, and the weary women ate and drank, and comforted themselves in the love and protection at their side. Doctor Worth sat by his wife, and gave Antonia his hand. Isabel leaned her pretty head against Luis, and listened with happy smiles to his low words:

"Charming little one, your lips are two crimson curtains. Between curtain and curtain my kiss is waiting. Give it to me."

"Eyes of my soul, to-night the world begins again for me."

"At this blessed hour of God, I am the happiest man he has made."

"As for me, here in this dear, white hand I put my heart."

Is there any woman who cannot imagine Isabel's shy glances, and the low, sweet words in which she answered such delightful protestations? And soon, to add a keener zest to his happiness, Luis began to be a little jealous.

"With us is Dias de Bonilla. Do you remember, my beloved one, that you danced with him once?"

"How can you say a thing so offensive?"

"Yes, dear, at the Senora Valdez's."

"It may be. I have forgotten."

"Too well he remembers. He has dared to sing a serenade to your memory—well, truly, he did not finish it, and but for the Senor Doctor, I should have taught him that Isabel is not a name for his lips to utter. Here, he may presume to come into your presence. Will you receive him with extreme haughtiness? It would be a great satisfaction to me."

"The poor fellow! Why should I make him miserable? You should not be jealous, Luis."

"If you smile on him—the least little smile—he will think you are in love with him. He is such a fool, I assure you. I am very distressed about this matter, my angel."

"I will tell you Luis—when the myrtle-tree grows figs, and the fig-tree is pink with myrtle flowers, then I may fall in love with Dias de Bonilla—if I can take the trouble."

No one heeded this pretty, extravagant talk. It was a thing apart from the more serious interests discussed by Doctor Worth and his wife and eldest daughter. And when Ortiz and Navarro joined the circle, the story of the fall of the Alamo was told again, and Luis forgot his own happiness, and wept tears of anger and pity for the dead heroes.

"This brutal massacre was on the morning of the sixth, you say, Navarro?"

"Last Sabbath morning, Senor. Mass was being offered in the churches, and Te Deums sung while it went on."

"A mass to the devil it was," said Ortiz.

"Now, I will tell you something. On the morning of the second, Thomas was in Washington. A convention sitting there declared, on that day, the independence of Texas, and fifty-five out of fifty-six votes elected General Houston Commander-in-Chief."

"Houston! That is the name of victory! Gracias a Dios!" cried Navarro.

"It is probable that the news of this movement influenced Santa Anna to such barbarity."

"It is his nature to be brutal."

"True, Ortiz; yet I can imagine how this proclamation would incense him. On the morning of the sixth, the convention received the last express sent by poor Travis from the Alamo. It was of the most thrilling character, breathing the very spirit of patriotism and courage—and despair. In less than an hour, Houston, with a few companions, was on his way to the Alamo. At the same time he sent an express to Fannin, urging him to meet him on the Cibolo. Houston will be here to-morrow."

"Then he will learn that all help is too late."

But Houston had learned it in his own way before he reached Gonzales; for Travis had stated that as long as the Alamo could be held, signal guns would be fired at sunrising; and it is a well-authenticated fact that these guns were heard by trained ears for more than one hundred miles across the prairie. Houston, whose senses were keen as the Indians with whom he had long lived knew when he was within reach of the sound; and he rose very early, and with his ear close to the ground waited in intense anxiety for the dull, rumbling murmur which would tell him the Alamo still held out. His companions stood at some distance, still as statues, intently watching him. The sun rose. He had listened in vain; not the faintest sound did his ear detect.

"The Alamo has fired its last gun," he said, on rejoining his companions.

"And the men, General?"

"They have died like men. You may be sure of that."

At Gonzales he heard the particulars. And he saw that the news had exerted a depressing influence upon the troops there. He called them together. He spoke to them of the brutal tragedy, and he invested its horrors with the grandeur of eternal purpose and the glory of heroic sacrifice.

"They were soldiers," he cried; "and they died like soldiers. Their names will be the morning stars of American history. They will live for ever in the red monument of the Alamo." He looked like a lion, with a gloomy stare; his port was fierce, and his eyes commanded all he viewed. "Vengeance remains to us! We have declared our independence, and it must be maintained."

He immediately sent off another express to Fannin; apprised him of the fall of the Alamo; ordered him to blow up Goliad and fall back upon Gonzales. Then he sent wagons into the surrounding country, to transport the women and children to the eastern settlements; for he knew well what atrocities would mark every mile of Santa Anna's progress through the country.

These wagons, with their helpless loads, were to rendezvous at Peach Creek, ten miles from Gonzales; where also he expected Fannin and his eight hundred and sixty men to join him. This addition would make the American force nearly twelve hundred strong. Besides which, Fannin's little army was of the finest material, being composed mostly of enthusiastic volunteers from Georgia and Alabama; young men, who, like Dare Grant and John Worth, were inspired with the idea of freedom, or the spread of Americanism, or the fanaticism of religious liberty of conscience—perhaps, even, with hatred of priestly domination. Houston felt that he would be sufficient for Santa Anna when the spirit of this company was added to the moral force of men driven from their homes and families to fight for the lands they had bought and the rights which had been guaranteed them.

So he watched the horizon anxiously for Fannin's approach, often laying his ear to the ground to listen for what he could not see. And, impatient as he was for their arrival, the Senora was more so. She declared that her sufferings would be unendurable but for this hope. The one question on her lips, the one question in her eyes, was, "Are they coming?" And Antonia, though she did not speak of her private hopes, was equally anxious. Brother and lover were both very dear to her. And to have the whole family together would be in itself a great help. Whatever their deprivations and fatigues, they could comfort each other with their affection.

Every day wagon-loads of women and children joined the camp, and the march eastward was very slow. But no circumstance extols more loudly the bravery and tenderness of these American soldiers than the patience with which this encumbrance was endured. Men worn out with watching and foraging were never too weary to help some mother still more weary, or to carry some little child whose swollen feet would no longer aid it.

One night they rested at a little place on the Colorado. In one room of a deserted cabin Houston sat with Major Hockly, dictating to him a military dispatch. They had no candles, and Houston was feeding the fire with oak splinters, to furnish light enough for their necessity. In the other room, the Worth family were gathered. Antonia, in preparing for their journey, had wisely laid a small mattress and a couple of pillows in the wagon; and upon this mattress the Senora and Isabel were resting. Doctor Worth and Thomas sat by the fire talking of Fannin's delay; and Antonia was making some corn-meal cakes for their supper.

When the Senora's portion was given to her she put it aside, and lifted her eyes to Antonia's face. They asked the question forever in her heart, "Is Jack coming?" and Antonia pitifully shook her head.

Then the poor woman seemed to have reached the last pitch of endurance. "Let me die!" she cried. "I can bear life no longer." To Mary and the saints she appealed with a passionate grief that was distressing to witness. All the efforts of her husband and her children failed to sooth her; and, as often happens in a complication of troubles, she seized upon the most trifling as the text of her complaint.

"I cannot eat corn bread; I have always detested it. I am hungry. I am perishing for my chocolate. And I have no clothing. I am ashamed of myself. I thank the saints I have no looking-glass. Oh, Roberto! Roberto! What have you done to your Maria?"

"My dear wife! My dear, dear wife! Be patient a little longer. Think, love, you are not alone. There are women here far more weary, far more hungry; several who, in the confusion, have lost their little children; others who are holding dying babes in their arms."

"Giver of all good! give me patience. I have to say to you that other women's sorrows do not make me grateful for my own. And Santa Maria has been cruel to me. Another more cruel, who can find? I have confessed to her my heartache about Juan; entreated her to bring my boy to me. Has she done it?"

"My darling Maria."

"Grace of God, Roberto! It is now the twenty-third of March; I have been seventeen days wandering with my daughters like very beggars. If only I had had the discretion to remain in my own house!"

"Maria, Lopez will tell you that Fray Ignatius and the brothers are in possession of it. He saw them walking about the garden reading their breviaries."

At this moment General Houston, in the opposite room was dictating: "Before God, I have found the darkest hours of my life. For forty-eight hours I have neither eaten an ounce of anything, nor have I slept." The Senora's sobbing troubled him. He rose to close the door, and saw two men entering. One leaned upon the other, and appeared to be at the point of death.

"Where is there a doctor, General?"

"In that room, sir. Have you brought news of Fannin?"

"I have."

"Leave your comrade with the doctor, and report."

The entrance of the wounded man silenced the Senora. She turned her face to the wall and refused to eat. Isabel sat by her side and held her hand. The doctor glanced at it as he turned away. It had been so plump and dimpled and white. It was now very thin and white with exposure. It told him far better than complaining, how much the poor woman had suffered. He went with a sigh to his patient.

"Stabbed with a bayonet through the shoulder—hard riding from Goliad—no food—no rest—that tells the whole story, doctor."

It was all he could say. A fainting fit followed. Antonia procured some stimulant, and when consciousness returned, assisted her father to dress the wound. Their own coffee was gone, but she begged a cup from some one more fortunate; and after the young man had drunk it, and had eaten a little bread, he was inclined to make light of his wound and his sufferings.

"Glad to be here at all," he said. "I think I am the only one out of five hundred."

"You cannot mean that you are of Fannin's command?"

"I WAS of Fannin's command. Every man in it has been shot. I escaped by a kind of miracle."

The doctor looked at the Senora. She seemed to be asleep. "Speak low," he said, "but tell me all."

The man sat upon the floor with his back against the wall. The doctor stooped over him. Antonia and Isabel stood beside their father.

"We heard of Urrea's approach at San Patricio. The Irish people of that settlement welcomed Urrea with great rejoicing. He was a Catholic—a defender of the faith. But the American settlers in the surrounding country fled, and Fannin heard that five hundred women and children, followed by the enemy, were trying to reach the fortress of Goliad. He ordered Major Ward, with the Georgia battalions, to go and meet the fugitives. Many of the officers entreated him not to divide his men for a report which had come by way of the faithless colony of San Patricio.

"But Fannin thought the risk ought to be taken. He took it, and the five hundred women and children proved to be a regiment of Mexican dragoons. They surrounded our infantry on every side, and after two days' desperate fighting, the Georgia battalions were no more. In the meantime, Fannin got the express telling him of the fall of the Alamo, and ordering him to unite with General Houston. That might have been a possible thing with eight hundred and sixty men, but it was not possible with three hundred and sixty. However, we made the effort, and on the great prairie were attacked by the enemy lying in ambush there. Entirely encircled by them, yet still fighting and pressing onward, we defended ourselves until our ammunition gave out. Then we accepted the terms of capitulation offered by Urrea, and were marched back to Goliad as prisoners of war. Santa Anna ordered us all to be shot."

"But you were prisoners of war?"

"Urrea laughed at the articles, and said his only intention in them was to prevent the loss of Mexican blood. Most of his officers remonstrated with with{sic} him, but he flew into a passion at Miralejes. 'The Senor Presidente's orders are not to be trifled with. By the Virgin of Guadelupe!' he cried, 'it would be as much as my own life was worth to disobey them.'

"It gave the Mexican soldiers pleasure to tell us these things, and though we scarcely believed such treachery possible, we were very uneasy. On the eighth day after the surrender, a lovely Sunday morning, we were marched out of the fort on pretence of sending us to Louisiana; according to the articles of surrender, and we were in high spirits at the prospect.

"But I noticed that we were surrounded by a double row of soldiers, and that made me suspicious. In a few moments, Fannin was marched into the centre, and told to sit down on a low stool. He felt that his hour had come. He took his watch and his purse, and gave them to some poor woman who stood outside lamenting and praying for the poor Americans. I shall never forget the calmness and brightness of his face. The Mexican colonel raised his sword, the drums beat, and the slaughter began. Fifty men at a time were shot; and those whom the guns missed or crippled, were dispatched with the bayonet or lance."

"You escaped. How?"

"When the lips of the officer moved to give the order: Fire! I fell upon my face as if dead. As I lay, I was pierced by a bayonet through the shoulder, but I made no sign of life. After the execution, the camp followers came to rob the dead. A kind-hearted Mexican woman helped me to reach the river. I found a horse tied there, and I took it. I have been on the point of giving up life several times, but I met a man coming here with the news to Houston, and he helped me to hold out."

The doctor was trembling with grief and anger, and he felt Antonia's hand on his shoulder.

"My friend," he whispered, "did you know JOHN WORTH?"

"Who did not know him in Fannin's camp? Any of us would have been glad to save poor Jack; and he had a friend who refused to live without him."

"Dare Grant?"

"That was the man, young lady. Grant was a doctor, and the Mexicans wanted doctors. They offered him his life for his services, but he would not have it unless his friend's life also was spared. They were shot holding each other's hands, and fell together. I was watching their faces at the moment. There wasn't a bit of fear in them."

The Senora rose, and came as swiftly as a spirit to them. She looked like a woman walking in her sleep. She touched the stranger. "I heard you. You saw Dare Grant die. But my boy! My boy! Where is my Juan?"

"Maria, darling."

"Don't speak, Roberto. Where is my Juan? Juan Worth?"

"Madam. I am sorry enough, God knows. Juan Worth—was shot."

Then the wretched mother threw up her hands, and with an awful cry fell to the ground. It was hours ere she recovered consciousness, and consciousness only restored her to misery.

The distress of the father, the brother and sisters of the dead youth was submerged in the speechless despair of the mother. She could not swallow food; she turned away from the the{sic} sympathy of all who loved her. Even Isabel's caresses were received with an apathy which was terrifying. With the severed curl of her boy's hair in her fingers, she sat in tearless, voiceless anguish.

Poor Antonia, weighed down with the double loss that had come to her, felt, for the first time, as if their condition was utterly hopeless. The mental picture of her brother and her lover meeting their tragic death hand in hand, their youth and beauty, their courage and fidelity, was constantly before her. With all the purity and strength of her true heart, she loved Dare; but she did not for a moment wish that he had taken a different course. "It is just what I should have expected from him," she said to Isabel. "If he had let poor Jack die alone, I could never have loved him in the same way again. But oh, Isabel, how miserable I am?"

"Sweet Antonia, I can only weep with you. Think of this; it was on last Sunday morning. Do you remember how sad you were?"

"I was in what seemed to be an unreasonable distress. I went away to weep. My very thoughts were tired with their sorrowful journeys up and down my mind, trying to find out hope and only meeting despair. Oh, my brave Jack! Oh, my dear Dare, what a cruel fate was your's!"

"And mi madre, Antonia? I fear, indeed, that she will lose her senses. She will not speak to Thomas, nor even to me. She has not said a prayer since Jack's death. She cannot sleep. I am afraid of her, Antonia."

"To-night we are to move further east; perhaps the journey may waken her out of this trance of grief. I can see that our father is wretched about her; and Thomas wanders in and out of the room as if his heart was broken."

"Thomas loved Jack. Luis told me that he sat with him and Lopez, and that he sobbed like a woman. But, also, he means a great revenge. None of the men slept last night. They stood by the camp-fires talking. Sometimes I went to the door and looked out. How awful they were in the blaze and darkness! I think, indeed, they could have conquered Santa Anna very easily."

Isabel had not misjudged the spirit of the camp. The news of the massacre at Goliad was answered by a call for vengeance that nothing but vengeance could satisfy. On the following day Houston addressed his little army. He reminded them that they were the children of the heroes who fought for liberty at Yorktown, and Saratoga, and Bunker Hill. He made a soul-stirring review of the events that had passed; he explained to them their situation, and the designs of the enemy, and how he proposed to meet them.

His voice, loud as a trumpet with a silver sound, inspired all who heard it with courage. His large, bright visage, serious but hopeful, seemed to sun the camp. "They live too long," he cried, "who outlive freedom. And I promise you that you shall have a full cup of vengeance. For every man that fell fighting at the Alamo, for every one treacherously slaughtered at Goliad, you shall be satisfied. If I seem to be flying before the enemy now, it is for his destruction. Three Mexican armies united, we cannot fight. We can fight them singly. And every mile we make them follow us weakens them, separates them, confuses them. The low lands of the Brazos, the unfordable streams, the morasses, the pathless woods, are in league with us. And we must place our women and children in safety. Even if we have to carry them to General Gaines and the United States troops, we must protect them, first of all. I believe that we shall win our freedom with our own hands; but if the worst come, and we have to fall back to the Sabine, we shall find friends and backers there. I know President Jackson, my old general, the unconquered Christian Mars! Do you think he will desert his countrymen? Never! If we should need help, he has provided it. And the freedom of Texas is sure and certain. It is at hand. Prepare to achieve it. We shall take up our march eastward in three hours."

Ringing shouts answered the summons. The camp was in a tumult of preparation immediately; Houston was lending his great physical strength to the mechanical difficulties to be encountered. A crowd of men was around. Suddenly a woman touched him on the arm, and he straightened himself and looked at her.

"You will kill Santa Anna, General? You will kill this fiend who has escaped from hell! By the mother of Christ, I ask it."

"My dear madam!"

He was so moved with pity that he could not for a moment or two give her any stronger assurance. For this suppliant, pallid and frenzied with sorrow, was the once beautiful Senora Worth. He looked at her hollow eyes, and shrunk form, and worn clothing, and remembered with a pang, the lovely, gracious lady clad in satin and lace, with a jewelled comb in her fine hair and a jewelled fan in her beautiful hands, and a wave of pity and anger passed like a flame over his face.

"By the memory of my own dear mother, Senora, I will make Santa Anna pay the full price of his cruelties."

"Thank you, Senor"; and she glided away with her tearless eyes fixed upon the curl of black hair in her open palm.


"But to the hero, when his sword Has won the battle for the free, Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word, And in its hollow tones are heard. The thanks of millions yet to be,"

"Who battled for the true and just,

"And grasps the skirts of happy chance, And breasts the blows of circumstance.

"And lives to clutch the golden keys, To mould a mighty state's decrees."

The memorial of wrongs, which resulted in the Declaration of Texan Independence, was drawn up with statesmanlike ability by David G. Burnett, a native of New Jersey, a man of great learning, dignity, and experience; who, as early as 1806, sailed from New York to join Miranda in his effort to give Spanish America liberty. The paper need not be quoted here. It gave the greatest prominence to the refusal of trial by jury, the failure too establish a system of public education, the tyranny of military law, the demand that the colonists should give up arms necessary for their protection or their sustenance, the inciting of the Indians to massacre the American settlers, and the refusal of the right to worship the Almighty according to the dictates of their own consciences. Burnett was elected Governor, and Houston felt that he could now give his whole attention to military affairs.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse