Friends Meet Again
D AVY and his two companions sat beside their campfire. They were oiling their rifles.
"Bee Hunter," said Thimblerig looking up from his rifle, "you have been in Bexar many times. Tell us something about the town."
Bee Hunter laid his rifle down on the ground, arose to his full height and stretched. He put another piece of mesquite on the smoldering embers. Then he said,
"Its real name is San Antonio de Bexar. Some people call it Bexar, and some call it San Antonio. It is a beautiful old Spanish town, The Spanish government established a military post there in 1718. In 1721 several Spanish families came to the post and started a settlement. Now there are about seven thousand people living there. Most of the inhabitants are Mexicans although there are a few American families, too. The houses are made of adobe and stone. Mostly they are low, one story structures. There are some beautiful houses, too. The streets are narrow and winding."
"What about the Alamo?" questioned Davy.
"Alamo is a Spanish word and it means cottonwood. About 1772 the Franciscan monks built the Alamo on the outskirts of San Antonio," said Bee Hunter. "They built a chapel, a monastery, and several other buildings. There is a large plaza on one side of the monastery. A wall surrounds the plaza and all of the buildings except the chapel. The chapel has walls that are four feet thick. The Alamo is no longer a mission. It is a fortress."
"Colonel Travis is in command of the Alamo," said Davy. "Have you ever met him?"
"Yes," said Bee Hunter, "about a year ago." "What kind of man is he?" Davy wanted to know.
"He is about twenty-seven years old. He came to Texas to practice law. He is a brave soldier. Colonel James Bowie is also at the Alamo."
"I know about Colonel Bowie," said Davy. "He married a beautiful Spanish woman. At one time he was very powerful in Northern Mexico."
"Yes, he was a power. But after his wife and children died, he lost interest in everything. Now, however, he is fighting for Texas. He is a brave man. He still has his old courage and his enemies fear him."
"I know about the bowie knife," spoke up Thimblerig. "I had to give mine to that Comanche chief."
Davy and Bee Hunter laughed. Thimblerig frowned and said, "It was the best knife I ever had."
"It was the only knife you ever had," laughed Davy. "But don't take it too hard. You can get another one in San Antonio."
"How much farther is it to San Antonio?" asked Thimblerig.
"If we keep going we should be there some time tomorrow afternoon," said Bee Hunter. "We must be on the alert the rest of the way. We shall meet more enemies than friends."
"Our turkey is ready. Let's eat," said Davy.
"All right," said Bee Hunter.
Thimblerig stood up and stretched. He stiffened and reached for his rifle. "Wait!" he said, "I see two men on horseback coming this way."
"Don't shoot!" said Davy. "Wait until we see who the men are."
"Be alert, more enemies than friends," said Thimblerig.
The men stood with their rifles ready. The two strangers came on, their horses at a gallop. When they were near enough Davy's keen eyes recognized them. "Hurrah!" he shouted, "it's Pirate and Red Fox."
"Where did you get the horses?" Davy asked when the two men dashed into camp.
"Picked them up on the way," said Pirate. "They had Mexican saddles and bridles on so we just took them. I hope mine belongs to a Mexican general and that he has to walk for the rest of his life."
Thimblerig stood silent. He had not lowered his rifle as Davy and Bee Hunter had done.
"What's the matter?" asked Pirate.
"I saw you coming before either Davy or Bee Hunter saw you. I was all ready for a fight. But you both had to turn out to be friends," said Thimblerig with such disappointment that the others laughed.
Pirate and Red Fox stayed with Davy's party. In the morning they all started for San Antonio. They rode for several hours without meeting anyone.
"Halt!" called Davy suddenly. He pointed straight ahead. "About twenty Mexicans," he said. "They are coming toward us at a gallop. Spread out! Dismount and wait for orders!"
Each man stood beside his horse tense and alert. The four men held their rifles ready to fire at Davy's command. Each held his bridle reins over one arm. The Mexicans halted.
"Pick out a rider," ordered Davy. "When I give the command to fire, shoot and shoot to kill."
The Mexicans spread out in a thin line. They rode toward the five men. The Mexican officer in command called out something in Spanish.
"What did he say?" Davy asked Bee Hunter.
"He said, 'Surrender or we fire.' "
"Fire!" commanded Davy.
Five Mexican cavalrymen dropped from their horses to the ground, where they lay without moving. The other Mexicans returned the fire. Then they turned their horses about and raced across the prairie.
"After them!" shouted Davy as he mounted his own horse. He and his companions took after the fleeing Mexicans.
"We can't overtake them," Davy said. "Let's get back on our trail."
Once more they followed the old Spanish trail. Late in the afternoon the outline of San Antonio appeared over the horizon. Without a word the men put spurs to their horses. They galloped toward the town.
Davy pointed ahead, "The flag!" he called.
"It is the flag of Independent Texas," said Bee Hunter. "It is flying over the Alamo."
Davy stopped his horse. The other men pulled up beside him.
"That flag means freedom," said Pirate.
"It means a new life," said Thimblerig.
"It means honor and loyalty," said Bee Hunter.
"It means bravery," said Red Fox.
"It means all of those things," said Davy.
"It means liberty and independence, too."
The men were silent for a moment. They did not look at each other. Then, suddenly, Davy gave his mustang the spurs and shouted, "Go ahead!"
1. Why did the Comanche Indians admire Davy?
2. Why did Davy's mustang stand still when the Indian tried to lasso him?
3. Why was the Comanche chief glad to get the bowie knife?
4. What did Bee Hunter say about San Antonio?
5. Write a short paragraph about each of the following:
Colonel William Barrett Travis,
Colonel James Bowie,
General Santa Anna.