Travis looked at him sympathetically. Ord talked queerly at times, and

Travis suspected he was a bit deranged. This was understandable, for the

man was undoubtedly a Britainer aristocrat, a refugee from Napoleon's

thousand-year Empire. Travis had heard about the detention camps and the

charcoal ovens ... but once, when he had mentioned the _Empereur's_ sack of

London in '06, Ord had gotten a very queer look in his eyes, as if he had

forgotten completely.

But John Ord, or whatever his name was, seemed to be the only man in the

Texas forces who understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to do.

Now Travis looked around at the thick adobe wall surrounding the old

mission in which they stood. In the cold, yellowish twilight even the

flaring cook fires of his hundred and eighty-two men could not dispel the

ghostly air that clung to the old place. Travis shivered involuntarily. But

the walls were thick, and they could turn one-pounders. He asked, "What was

it you called this place, Ord ... the Mexican name?"

"The Alamo, sir." A slow, steady excitement seemed to burn in the

Britainer's bright eyes. "Santa Anna won't forget that name, you can be

sure. You'll want to talk to the other officers now, sir? About the message

we drew up for Sam Houston?"

"Yes, of course," Travis said absently. He watched Ord head for the walls.

No doubt about it, Ord understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to

do here. So few of the others seemed to care.

Travis was suddenly very glad that John Ord had shown up when he did.

On the walls, Ord found the man he sought, broad-shouldered and tall in a

fancy Mexican jacket. "The commandant's compliments, sir, and he desires

your presence in the chapel."

The big man put away the knife with which he had been whittling. The

switchblade snicked back and disappeared into a side pocket of the jacket,

while Ord watched it with fascinated eyes. "What's old Bill got his

britches hot about this time?" the big man asked.

"I wouldn't know, sir," Ord said stiffly and moved on.

_Bang-bang-bang_ roared the small Mexican cannon from across the river.

_Pow-pow-pow!_ The little balls only chipped dust from the thick adobe

walls. Ord smiled.

He found the second man he sought, a lean man with a weathered face,

leaning against a wall and chewing tobacco. This man wore a long, fringed,

leather lounge jacket, and he carried a guitar slung beside his Rock Island

rifle. He squinted up at Ord. "I know ... I know," he muttered. "Willy

Travis is in an uproar again. You reckon that colonel's commission that

Congress up in Washington-on-the-Brazos give him swelled his head?"

Rather stiffly, Ord said, "Colonel, the commandant desires an officers'

conference in the chapel, now." Ord was somewhat annoyed. He had not

realized he would find these Americans so--distasteful. Hardly preferable

to Mexicans, really. Not at all as he had imagined.

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