For an instant he wished he had chosen Drake and the Armada instead of this

pack of ruffians--but no, he had never been able to stand sea sickness. He

couldn't have taken the Channel, not even for five minutes.

And there was no changing now. He had chosen this place and time carefully,

at great expense--actually, at great risk, for the X-4-A had aborted twice,

and he had had a hard time bringing her in. But it had got him here at

last. And, because for a historian he had always been an impetuous and

daring man, he grinned now, thinking of the glory that was to come. And he

was a participant--much better than a ringside seat! Only he would have to

be careful, at the last, to slip away.

John Ord knew very well how this coming battle had ended, back here in

1836.

He marched back to William Barrett Travis, clicked heels smartly. Travis'

eyes glowed; he was the only senior officer here who loved military

punctilio. "Sir, they are on the way."

"Thank you, Ord," Travis hesitated a moment. "Look, Ord. There will be a

battle, as we know. I know so little about you. If something should happen

to you, is there anyone to write? Across the water?"

Ord grinned. "No, sir. I'm afraid my ancestor wouldn't understand."

Travis shrugged. Who was he to say that Ord was crazy? In this day and age,

any man with vision was looked on as mad. Sometimes he felt closer to Ord

than to the others.

* * * * *

The two officers Ord had summoned entered the chapel. The big man in the

Mexican jacket tried to dominate the wood table at which they sat. He

towered over the slender, nervous Travis, but the commandant,

straight-backed and arrogant, did not give an inch. "Boys, you know Santa

Anna has invested us. We've been fired on all day--" He seemed to be

listening for something. _Wham!_ Outside, a cannon split the dusk with

flame and sound as it fired from the walls. "There is my answer!"

The man in the lounge coat shrugged. "What I want to know is what our

orders are. What does old Sam say? Sam and me were in Congress once. Sam's

got good sense; he can smell the way the wind's blowin'." He stopped

speaking and hit his guitar a few licks. He winked across the table at the

officer in the Mexican jacket who took out his knife. "Eh, Jim?"

"Right," Jim said. "Sam's a good man, although I don't think he ever met a

payroll."

"General Houston's leaving it up to me," Travis told them.

"Well, that's that," Jim said unhappily. "So what you figurin' to do,

Bill?"

Travis stood up in the weak, flickering candlelight, one hand on the

polished hilt of his saber. The other two men winced, watching him.

"Gentlemen, Houston's trying to pull his militia together while he falls

back. You know, Texas was woefully unprepared for a contest at arms. The

general's idea is to draw Santa Anna as far into Texas as he can, then hit

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