democracy, and we can't change that. Let's talk some sense before it's too

late. We're all too old and too smart to be wavin' the flag like it's the

Fourth of July. Sooner or later, we're goin' to have to sit down and talk

with the Mexicans. And like Davey said, I own a million hectares, and I've

always paid minimum wage, and my wife's folks are way up there in the

Imperial Government of the Republic of Mexico. That means I got influence

in all the votin' groups, includin' the American Immigrant, since I'm a

minority group member myself. I think I can talk to Santa Anna, and even to

old Iturbide. If we sign a treaty now with Santa Anna, acknowledge the law

of the land, I think our lives and property rights will be respected--" He

cocked an eye toward Crockett.

"Makes sense, Jim. That's the way we do it in Congress. Compromise,

everybody happy. We never allowed ourselves to be led nowhere we didn't

want to go, I can tell you! And Bill, you got to admit that we're in better

bargaining position if we're out in the open, than if old Santa Anna's got

us penned up in this old Alamo."

"Ord," Travis said despairingly. "Ord, you understand. Help me! Make them

listen!"

* * * * *

Ord moved into the candlelight, his lean face sweating. "Gentlemen, this is

all wrong! It doesn't happen this way--"

Crockett sneered, "Who asked you, Ord? I'll bet you ain't even got a poll

tax!"

Decisively, Bowie said, "We're free men, Travis, and we won't be led around

like cattle. How about it, Davey? Think you could handle the rear guard, if

we try to move out of here?"

"Hell, yes! Just so we're movin'!"

"O.K. Put it to a vote of the men outside. Do we stay, and maybe get

croaked, or do we fall back and conserve our strength until we need it?

Take care of it, eh, Davey?"

Crockett picked up his guitar and went outside.

Travis roared, "This is insubordination! Treason!" He drew his saber, but

Bowie took it from him and broke it in two. Then the big man pulled his

knife.

"Stay back, Ord. The Alamo isn't worth the bones of a Britainer, either."

"Colonel Bowie, please," Ord cried. "You don't understand! You _must_

defend the Alamo! This is the turning point in the winning of the west! If

Houston is beaten, Texas will never join the Union! There will be no

Mexican War. No California, no nation stretching from sea to shining sea!

This is the Americans' manifest destiny. You are the hope of the future ...

you will save the world from Hitler, from Bolshevism--"

"Crazy as a hoot owl," Bowie said sadly. "Ord, you and Travis got to look

at it both ways. We ain't all in the right in this war--we Americans got

our faults, too."

"But you are free men," Ord whispered. "Vulgar, opinionated, brutal--but

free! You are still better than any breed who kneels to tyranny--"

Crockett came in. "O.K., Jim."

"How'd it go?"

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