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The Free Lances A Romance of the Mexican Valley   By: (1818-1883)

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The Free Lances, by Captain Mayne Reid.

CHAPTER ONE.

VOLUNTEERS FOR TEXAS.

"I'll go!"

This laconism came from the lips of a young man who was walking along the Levee of New Orleans. Just before giving utterance to it he had made a sudden stop, facing a dead wall, enlivened, however, by a large poster, on which were printed, in conspicuous letters, the words

"Volunteers for Texas!"

Underneath, in smaller type, was a proclamation, setting forth the treachery of Santa Anna and the whole Mexican nation, recalling in strong terms the Massacre of Fanning, the butchery of Alamo, and other like atrocities; ending in an appeal to all patriots and lovers of freedom to arm, take the field, and fight against the tyrant of Mexico and his myrmidons.

"I'll go!" said the young man, after a glance given to the printed statement; then, more deliberately re reading it, he repeated the words with an emphasis that told of his being in earnest.

The poster also gave intimation of a meeting to be held the same evening at a certain rendezvous in Poydras Street.

He who read only lingered to make note of the address, which was the name of a noted cafe . Having done this, he was turning to continue his walk when his path was barred by a specimen of humanity, who stood full six foot six in a pair of alligator leather boots, on the banquette by his side, "So ye're goin', air ye?" was the half interrogative speech that proceeded from the individual thus confronting him.

"What's that to you?" bluntly demanded the young fellow, his temper a little ruffled by what appeared an impertinent obstruction on the part of some swaggering bully.

"More'n you may think for, young 'un," answered the booted Colossus, still standing square in the way; "more'n you may think for, seein' it's through me that bit o' paper's been put up on that 'ere wall."

"You're a bill sticker, I suppose?" sneeringly retorted the "young 'un."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the giant, with a cachinnation that resembled the neighing of a horse. "A bill sticker, eh! Wal; I likes that. An' I likes yur grit, too, young feller, for all ye are so sassy. But ye needn't git riled, an' I reckon ye won't, when I tell ye who I am."

"And who are you; pray?"

"Maybe ye mount a hearn o' Cris Rock?"

"What! Cris Rock of Texas? He who at Fanning's "

"At Fannin's massacree war shot dead, and kim alive agin."

"Yes," said the interrogator, whose interrogatory referred to the almost miraculous escape of one of the betrayed victims of the Goliad butchery.

"Jess so, young feller. An' since ye 'pear to know somethin' 'bout me, I needn't tell ye I ain't no bill sticker , nor why I 'peared to show impartinence by putting in my jaw when I heern ye sing out, `I'll go.' I thort it wouldn't need much introduxshun to one as I mout soon hope to call kumarade. Yer comin' to the rendyvoo the night, ain't ye?"

"Yes; I intend doing so."

"Wal, I'll be there myself; an' if ye'll only look high enough, I reck'n ye kin sight me 'mong the crowd. 'Tain't like to be the shortest thar," he added, with a smile that bespoke pride in his superior stature, "tho' ye'll see some tall 'uns too. Anyhow, jest look out for Cris Rock; and, when foun', that chile may be of some sarvice to ye."

"I shall do so," rejoined the other, whose good humour had become quite restored.

About to bid good bye, Rock held out a hand, broad as the blade of a canoe paddle. It was freely taken by the stranger, who, while shaking it, saw that he was being examined from head to foot.

"Look hyar!" pursued the Colossus, as if struck by some thought which a closer scrutiny of the young man's person had suggested; "hev ye ever did any sogerin'? Ye've got the look o' it."

"I was educated in a military school that's all."

"Where? In the States?"

"No. I am from the other side of the Atlantic."

"Oh! A Britisher. Wal, that don't make no difference in Texas. Thar's all sorts thar. English, ain't ye?"

"No," promptly answered the stranger, with a slight scornful curling of the lip: "I'm an Irishman, and not one of those who deny it... Continue reading book >>




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