him when he's extended, at the right place, and right time. But Houston
needs more time--Santa Anna's moved faster than any of us anticipated.
Unless we can stop the Mexican Army and take a little steam out of them,
General Houston's in trouble."
Jim flicked the knife blade in and out. "Go on."
"This is where we come in, gentlemen. Santa Anna can't leave a force of one
hundred eighty men in his rear. If we hold fast, he must attack us. But he
has no siege equipment, not even large field cannon." Travis' eye gleamed.
"Think of it, boys! He'll have to mount a frontal attack, against protected
American riflemen. Ord, couldn't your Englishers tell him a few things
"Whoa, now," Jim barked. "Billy, anybody tell you there's maybe four or
five thousand Mexicaners comin'?"
"Let them come. Less will leave!"
But Jim, sour-faced turned to the other man. "Davey? You got something to
"Hell, yes. How do we get out, after we done pinned Santa Anna down? You
thought of that, Billy boy?"
Travis shrugged. "There is an element of grave risk, of course. Ord,
where's the document, the message you wrote up for me? Ah, thank you."
Travis cleared his throat. "Here's what I'm sending on to general Houston."
He read, "Commandancy of the Alamo, February 24, 1836 ... are you sure of
that date, Ord?"
"Oh, I'm sure of that," Ord said.
"Never mind--if you're wrong we can change it later. 'To the People of
Texas and all Americans in the World. Fellow Freemen and Compatriots! I am
besieged with a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have
sustained a continual bombardment for many hours but have not lost a man.
The enemy has demanded surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison is
to be put to the sword, if taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon
shot, and our flag still waves proudly over the walls. I shall never
surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of
patriotism and everything dear to the American character--" He paused,
frowning, "This language seems pretty old-fashioned, Ord--"
"Oh, no, sir. That's exactly right," Ord murmured.
"'... To come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving
reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand
in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain
myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is
due his honor or that of his homeland. VICTORY OR DEATH!'"
* * * * *
Travis stopped reading, looked up. "Wonderful! Wonderful!" Ord breathed.
"The greatest words of defiance ever written in the English tongue--and so
much more literate than that chap at Bascogne."
"You mean to send that?" Jim gasped.
The man called Davey was holding his head in his hands.
"You object, Colonel Bowie?" Travis asked icily.
"Oh, cut that 'colonel' stuff, Bill," Bowie said. "It's only a NationalDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>