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Remember the Alamo
By Amelia E. Barr

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"All faiths are to their own believers just,
For none believe because they will, but must;
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And thus the child imposes on the man."

"--if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment, to which heaven has joined
Great issues good or bad for humankind,
Is happy as a lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a man inspired;
And through the heat of conflict keeps the law
In calmness made; and sees what he foresaw,
Or, if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need."

"Ah! love, let us be true
To one another, through the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams!"

The gathering at Don Valasco's was constantly repeated in
various degrees of splendor among the loyal Mexicans of the
city. They were as fully convinced of the justice of their
cause as the Americans were. "They had graciously
permitted Americans to make homes in their country; now they
wanted not only to build heretic churches and sell heretic
bibles, but also to govern Texas after their own fashion."
From a Mexican point of view the American settlers were a
godless, atheistical, quarrelsome set of ingrates. For eaten
bread is soon forgotten, and Mexicans disliked to remember
that their own independence had been won by the aid of the
very men they were now trying to force into subjection.

The two parties were already in array in every house in the
city. The Senora at variance with her daughters, their Irish
cook quarrelling with their Mexican servants, only represented
a state of things nearly universal. And after the failure of
the Mexicans at Gonzales to disarm the Americans, the
animosity constantly increased.

In every church, the priests--more bitter, fierce and
revengeful than either the civil or military power--urged on
the people an exterminating war. A black flag waved from the
Missions, and fired every heart with an unrelenting vengeance
and hatred. To slay a heretic was a free pass through the
dolorous pains of purgatory. For the priesthood foresaw
that the triumph of the American element meant the triumph of
freedom of conscience, and the abolition of their own
despotism. To them the struggle was one involving all the
privileges of their order; and they urged on the fight with
passionate denunciations of the foe, and with magnificent
promises of spiritual favors and blessings. In the fortress,
the plaza, the houses, the churches, the streets, their fiery
words kept society in a ferment.

But through all this turmoil the small duties of life went on.
Soldiers were parading the streets, and keeping watch on the
flat roofs of the houses; men were solemly
{sic} swearing
allegiance to Santa Anna, or flying by night to the camp of
the Americans; life and death were held at a pin's fee; but
eating and dressing, dancing and flirting were pursued with an
eagerness typical of pleasure caught in the passing.

And every hour these elements gathered intensity. The always
restless populace of San Antonio was at a feverish point of
impatience. They wanted the war at their own doors. They
wanted the quarrel fought out on their own streets.
Business took a secondary place. Men fingered weapons and
dreamed of blood, until the temper of the town was as
boisterous and vehement as the temper of the amphitheatre when
impatiently waiting for the bulls and the matadores.

Nor was it possible for Antonia to lock the door upon this
pervading spirit. After Doctor Worth's flight, it became
necessary for her to assume control over the household. She
had promised him to do so, and she was resolved, in spite of
all opposition, to follow out his instructions. But it was by
no means an easy task.

Fray Ignatius had both the Senora and Rachela completely under
his subjection. Molly, the Irish cook, was already
dissatisfied. The doctor had saved her life and given her a
good home and generous wages, and while the doctor was happy
and prosperous Molly was accordingly grateful. But a few
words from the priest set affairs in a far pleasanter light to
her. She was a true Catholic; the saints sent the heretic
doctor to help. It was therefore the saints to whom gratitude
was due. Had she not earned her good wage? And would not
Don Angel Sandoval give her a still larger sum? Or even
the Brothers at the Mission of San Jose? Molly listened to
these words with a complacent pleasure. She reflected that it
would be much more agreeable to her to be where she could
entirely forget that she had ever been hungry and friendless,
and lying at death's door.

Antonia knew also that Rachela was at heart unfaithful, and
soon the conviction was forced on her that servants are never
faithful beyond the line of their own interest--that it is,
indeed, against certain primary laws of nature to expect it.
Certainly, it was impossible to doubt that there was in all
their dependents a kind of satisfaction in their misfortunes.

The doctor had done them favors--how unpleasant was their
memory! The Senora had offended them by the splendor of her
dress, and her complacent air of happiness. Antonia's
American ways and her habit of sitting for hours with a book
in her hand were a great irritation.

"She wishes to be thought wiser than other women--as wise as
even a holy priest--SHE! that never goes to mass, and is
nearly a heretic," said the house steward; and as for the
Senorita Isabel, a little trouble will be good for her! Holy
Mary! the way she has been pampered and petted! It is an
absurdity. `Little dear,' and `angel,' are the hardest words
she hears. Si! if God did not mercifully abate a little the
rich they would grow to be `almightys.'"

This was the tone of the conversation of the servants of the
household. It was not an unnatural tone, but it was a very
unhappy one. People cannot escape from the mood of mind they
habitually indulge, and from the animus of the words they
habitually use; and Antonia felt and understood the
antagonistic atmosphere. For the things which we know best of
all are precisely the things which no one has ever told us.

The Senora, in a plain black serge gown, and black rebozo over
her head, spent her time in prayers and penances. The care of
her household had always been delegated to her steward, and to
Rachela; while the duties that more especially belonged to
her, had been fulfilled by her husband and by Antonia. In
many respects she was but a grown-up baby. And so, in this
great extremity, the only duty which pressed upon her was
the idea of supplicating the saints to take charge of her
unhappy affairs.

And Fray Ignatius was daily more hard with her. Antonia even
suspected from his growing intolerance and bitterness, that
the Americans were gaining unexpected advantages. But she
knew nothing of what was happening. She could hear from afar
off the marching and movements of soldiers; the blare of
military music; the faint echoes of hurrahing multitudes; but
there was no one to give her any certain information. Still,
she guessed something from the anger of the priest and the
reticence of the Mexican servants. If good fortune had been
with Santa Anna, she was sure she would have heard of "The
glorious! The invincible! The magnificent Presidente de la
Republica Mexicana! The Napoleon of the West!"

It was not permitted her to go into the city. A proposal to
do so had been met with a storm of angry amazement. And steam
and electricity had not then annihilated distance and
abolished suspense. She could but wonder and hope, and try to
read the truth from a covert inspection of the face and
words of Fray Ignatius.

Between this monk and herself the breach was hourly widening.
With angry pain she saw her mother tortured between the fact
that she loved her husband, and the horrible doubt that to
love him was a mortal sin. She understood the underlying
motive which prompted the priest to urge upon the Senora the
removal of herself and her daughters to the convent. His
offer to take charge of the Worth residencia and estate was in
her conviction a proposal to rob them of all rights in it.
She felt certain that whatever the Church once grasped in its
iron hand, it would ever retain. And both to Isabel and
herself the thought of a convent was now horrible. "They will
force me to be a nun," said Isabel; "and then, what will Luis
do? And they will never tell me anything about my father and
my brothers. I should never hear of them. I should never see
them any more; unless the good God was so kind as to let me
meet them in his heaven."

And Antonia had still darker and more fearful thoughts. She
had not forgotten the stories whispered to her childhood, of
dreadful fates reserved for contumacious and disobedient
women. Whenever Fray Ignatius looked at her she felt as if
she were within the shadow of the Inquisition.

Never had days passed so wearily and anxiously. Never had
nights been so terrible. The sisters did not dare to talk
much together; they doubted Rachela; they were sure their
words were listened to and repeated. They were not permitted
to be alone with the Senora. Fray Ignatius had particularly
warned Rachela to prevent this. He was gradually bringing the
unhappy woman into what he called "a heavenly mind"--the
influence of her daughters, he was sure, would be that of
worldly affections and sinful liberty. And Rachela obeyed the
confessor so faithfully, that the Senora was almost in a state
of solitary confinement. Every day her will was growing
weaker, her pathetic obedience more childlike and absolute.

But at midnight, when every one was asleep, Antonia stepped
softly into her sister's room and talked to her. They sat in
Isabel's bed clasping each other's hand in the dark, and
speaking in whispers. Then Antonia warned and
strengthened Isabel. She told her all her fears. She
persuaded her to control her wilfulness, to be obedient, and
to assume the childlike thoughtlessness which best satisfied
Fray Ignatius. "He told you to-day to be happy, that he would
think for you. My darling, let him believe that is the thing
you want," said Antonia. "I assure you we shall be the safer
for it."

"He said to me yesterday, when I asked him about the war, `Do
not inquire, child, into things you do not understand. That
is to be irreligious,' and then he made the cross on his
breast, as if I had put a bad thought into his heart. We are
afraid all day, and we sit whispering all night about our
fears; that is the state we are in. The Lord sends us nothing
but misfortunes, Antonia."

"My darling, tell the Lord your sorrow, then, but do not
repine to Rachela or Fray Ignatius. That is to complain to
the merciless of the All-Merciful."

"Do you think I am wicked, Antonia? What excuse could I offer
to His Divine Majesty, if I spoke evil to him of Rachela and
Fray Ignatius?"

"Neither of them are our friends; do you think so?"

"Fray Ignatius looks like a goblin; he gives me a shiver when
he looks at me; and as for Rachela--I already hate her!"

"Do not trust her. You need not hate her, Isabel."

"Antonia, I know that I shall eternally hate her; for I am
sure that our angels are at variance."

In conversations like these the anxious girls passed the long,
and often very cold, nights. The days were still worse, for
as November went slowly away the circumstances which
surrounded their lives appeared to constantly gather a more
decided and a bitterer tone. December, that had always been
such a month of happiness, bright with Christmas expectations
and Christmas joys, came in with a terribly severe, wet
norther. The great log fires only warmed the atmosphere
immediately surrounding them, and Isabel and Antonia sat
gloomily within it all day. It seemed to Antonia as if her heart
had come to the very end of hope; and that something must happen.

The rain lashed the earth; the wind roared around the house,
and filled it with unusual noises. The cold was a torture
that few found themselves able to endure. But it brought a
compensation. Fray Ignatius did not leave the Mission comforts;
and Rachela could not bear to go prowling about the corridors
and passages. She established herself in the Senora's room,
and remained there. And very early in the evening she said
"she had an outrageous headache," and went to her room.

Then Antonia and Isabel sat awhile by their mother's bed.
They talked in whispers of their father and brothers, and when
the Senora cried, they kissed her sobs into silence and wiped
her tears away. In that hour, if Fray Ignatius had known it,
they undid, in a great measure, the work to which he had given
more than a month of patient and deeply-reflective labor. For
with the girls, there was the wondrous charm of love and
nature; but with the priest, only a splendid ideal of a Church
universal that was to swallow up all the claims of love and
all the ties of nature.

It was nearly nine o'clock when Antonia and Isabel returned to
the parlor fire. Their hearts were full of sorrow for
their mother, and of fears for their own future. For this
confidence had shown them how firmly the refuge of the convent
had been planted in the anxious ideas of the Senora.
Fortunately, the cold had driven the servants either to the
kitchen fire or to their beds, and they could talk over the
subject without fear of interference.

"Are you sleepy, queridita?"--(little dear).

"I think I shall never go to sleep again, Antonia. If I shut
my eyes I shall find myself in the convent; and I do not want
to go there even in a dream. Do you know Mother Teresa? Well
then, I could tell you things. And she does not like me, I am
sure of that; quite sure."

"My darling, I am going to make us a cup of tea. It will do us good."

"If indeed it were chocolate!"

"I cannot make chocolate now; but you shall have a great deal
of sugar in your cup, and something good to eat also. There,
my darling, put your chair close to the fire, and we will sit
here until we are quite sleepy."

With the words she went into the kitchen. Molly was nodding
over her beads, in the comfortable radius made by the
blazing logs; no one else was present but a young peon. He
brought a small kettle to the parlor fire, and lifted a table
to the hearth, and then replenished the pile of logs for
burning during the night. Isabel, cuddling in a large chair,
watched Antonia, as she went softly about putting on the table
such delicacies as she could find at that hour. Tamales and
cold duck, sweet cake and the guava jelly that was Isabel's
favorite dainty. There was a little comfort in the sight of
these things; and also, in the bright silver teapot standing
so cheerfully on the hearth, and diffusing through the room a
warm perfume, at once soothing and exhilarating.

"I really think I shall like that American tea to-night,
Antonia, but you must half fill my cup with those little
blocks of sugar--quite half fill it, Antonia; and have you
found cream, my dear one? Then a great deal of cream."

Antonia stood still a moment and looked at the drowsy little
beauty. Her eyes were closed, and her head nestled
comfortably in a corner of the padded chair. Then a hand upon
the door-handle arrested her attention, and Antonia turned her
eyes from Isabel and watched it. Ortiz, the peon, put
his head within the room, and then disappeared; but oh, wonder
and joy! Don Luis entered swiftly after him; and before any
one could say a word, he was kneeling by Isabel kissing her
hand and mingling his exclamations of rapture with hers.

Antonia looked with amazement and delight at this apparition.
How had he come? She put her hand upon his sleeve; it was
scarcely wet. His dress was splendid; if he had been going to
a tertullia of the highest class, he could not have been more
richly adorned. And the storm was yet raging! It was a miracle.

"Dear Luis, sit down! Here is a chair close to Iza! Tell her
your secrets a few minutes, and I will go for mi madre. O
yes! She will come! You shall see, Iza! And then, Luis, we
shall have some supper."

"You see that I am in heaven already, Antonia; though, indeed,
I am also hungry and thirsty, my sister."

Antonia was not a minute in reaching her mother's room. The
unhappy lady was half-lying among the large pillows of her
gilded bed, wide awake. Her black eyes were fixed upon
a crucifix at its foot, and she was slowly murmuring prayers
upon her rosary.

"Madre! Madre! Luis is here, Luis is here! Come quick, mi
madre. Here are your stockings and slippers, and your gown,
and your mantilla--no, no, no, do not call Rachela. Luis has
news of my father, and of Jack! Oh, madre, he has a letter
from Jack to you! Come dear, come, in a few minutes you will
be ready."

She was urging and kissing the trembling woman, and dressing
her in despite of her faint effort to delay--to call Rachela--
to bring Luis to her room. In ten minutes she was ready. She
went down softly, like a frightened child, Antonia cheering
and encouraging her in whispers.

When she entered the cheerful parlor the shadow of a smile
flitted over her wan face. Luis ran to meet her. He drew the
couch close to the hearth; he helped Antonia arrange her
comfortably upon it. He made her tea, and kissed her hands
when he put it into them. And then Isabel made Luis a cup,
and cut his tamales, and waited upon him with such pretty service,
that the happy lover thought he was eating a meal in Paradise.

For a few minutes it had been only this ordinary gladness of
reunion; but it was impossible to ignore longer the anxiety in
the eyes that asked him so many questions. He took two
letters from his pockets and gave them to the Senora. They
were from her husband and Jack. Her hands trembled; she
kissed them fervently; and as she placed them in her breast
her tears dropped down upon them.

Antonia opened the real conversation with that never-failing
wedge, the weather. "You came through the storm, Luis?
Yet you are not wet, scarcely? Now then, explain this miracle."

"I went first to Lopez Navarro's. Do you not know this festa
dress? It is the one Lopez bought for the feast of St. James.
He lent it to me, for I assure you that my own clothing was
like that of a beggar man. It was impossible that I could see
my angel on earth in it."

"But in such weather? You can not have come far to-day?"

"Senorita, there are things which are impossible, quite
impossible! That is one of them. Early this morning the
north wind advanced upon us, sword in hand. It will last
fifty hours, and we shall know something more about it before
they are over. Very well, but it was also absolutely
necessary that some one should reach San Antonio to-night; and
I was so happy as to persuade General Burleson to send me.
The Holy Lady has given me my reward."

"Have you seen the Senor Doctor lately; Luis," asked the Senora.

"I left him at nightfall."

"At nightfall! But that is impossible!"

"It is true. The army of the Americans is but a few miles
from San Antonio."

"Grace of God! Luis!"

"As you say, Senora. It is the grace of God. Did you not know?"

"We know nothing but what Fray Ignatius tells us--that the
Americans have been everywhere pulling down churches, and
granting martyrdom to the priests, and that everywhere
miraculous retributions have pursued them."

"Was Gonzales a retribution? The Senor Doctor came to us
while we were there. God be blessed; but he startled us like
the rattle of rifle-shots in the midnight! `Why were you not
at Goliad?' he cried. `There were three hundred stand of arms
there, and cannon, and plenty of provisions. Why were they
not yours?' You would have thought, Senora, he had been a
soldier all his life. The men caught fire when he came near
them, and we went to Goliad like eagles flying for their prey.
We took the town, and the garrison, and all the arms and
military stores. I will tell you something that came to pass
there. At midnight, as I and Jack stood with the Senor Doctor
by the camp-fire, a stranger rode up to us. It was Colonel
Milam. He was flying from a Mexican prison and had not heard
of the revolt of the Americans. He made the camp ring with
his shout of delight. He was impatient for the morning. He
was the first man that entered the garrison. Bravissimo!
What a soldier is he!"

"I remember! I remember!" cried the Senora. "Mi Roberto
brought him here once. So splendid a man I never saw before.
So tall, so handsome, so gallant, so like a hero. He is
an American from--well, then, I have forgotten the place."

"From Kentucky. He fought with the Mexicans when they were
fighting for their liberty; but when they wanted a king and a
dictator he resigned his commision
{sic} and was thrown into
prison. He has a long bill against Santa Anna."

"We must not forget, Luis," said the Senora with a little
flash of her old temper, "that Santa Anna represents to good
Catholics the triumph of Holy Church."

Luis devoutly crossed himself.
"I am her dutiful son, I assure you, Senora--always."

A warning glance from Antonia changed the conversation. There
was plenty to tell which touched them mainly on the side of
the family, and the Senora listened, with pride which she
could not conceal, to the exploits of her husband and sons,
though she did not permit herself to confess the feeling. And
her heart softened to her children. Without acknowledging the
tie between Isabel and Luis, she permitted or was oblivious to
the favors it allowed.

Certainly many little formalities could be dispensed with, in
a meeting so unexpected and so eventful. When the pleasant
impromptu meal was over, even the Senora had eaten and drunk
with enjoyment. Then Luis set the table behind them, and they
drew closer to the fire, Luis holding Isabel's hand, and
Antonia her mother's. The Senora took a cigarette from Luis,
and Isabel sometimes put that of Luis between her rosy lips.
At the dark, cold midnight they found an hour or two of
sweetest consolation. It was indeed hard to weary these three
heart-starved women; they asked question after question, and
when any brought out the comical side of camp life they forget
their pleasure was almost a clandestine one, and laughed outright.

In the very midst of such a laugh, Rachela entered the room.
She stood in speechless amazement, gazing with a dark,
malicious face upon the happy group. "Senorita Isabel!" she
screamed; "but this is abominable! At the midnight also! Who
could have believed in such wickedness? Grace of Mary, it is

She laid her hand roughly on Isabel's shoulder, and Luis
removed it with as little courtesy. "You were not called," he
said, with the haughty insolence of a Mexican noble to a

"My Senora! Listen! You yourself also--you will die.
You that are really weak--so broken-hearted--"

Then a miracle occurred. The Senora threw off the nightmare
of selfish sorrow and spiritual sentimentality which had held
her in bondage. She took the cigarito from her lips with a
scornful air, and repeated the words of Luis:

"You were not called. Depart."

"The Senorita Isabel?"

"Is in my care. Her mother's care! do you understand?"

"My Senora, Fray Ignatius--"

"Saints in heaven! But this is intolerable! Go."

Then Rachela closed the door with a clang which echoed through
the house. And say as we will, the malice of the wicked is
never quite futile. It was impossible after this interruption
to recall the happy spirit dismissed by it; and Rachela had
the consolation, as she muttered beside the fire in the
Senora's room. this conviction. So that when she heard the
party breaking up half an hour afterwards, she complimented
herself upon her influence.

"Will Jack come and see me soon, and the Senor Doctor?"
questioned the Senora, anxiously, as she held the hand of Luis
in parting.

"Jack is on a secret message to General Houston. His return
advices will find us, I trust, in San Antonio. But until we
have taken the city, no American can safely enter it. For
this reason, when it was necessary to give Lopez Navarro
certain instructions, I volunteered to bring them. By the
Virgin of Guadalupe! I have had my reward," he said, lifting
the Senora's hand and kissing it.

"But, then, even you are in danger."

"Si! If I am discovered; but, blessed be the hand of God!
Luis Alveda knows where he is going, and how to get there."

"I have heard," said the Senora in a hushed voice, "that there
are to be no prisoners. That is Santa Anna's order."

"I heard it twenty days ago, and am still suffocating over it."

"Ah, Luis, you do not know the man yet! I heard Fray Ignatius
say that."

"We know him well; and also what he is capable of"; and Luis
plucked his mustache fiercely, as he bowed a silent farewell
to the ladies.

"Holy Maria! How brave he is!" said Isabel, with a flash of
pride that conquered her desire to weep. "How brave he is!
Certainly, if he meets Santa Anna, he will kill him."

They went very quietly up-stairs. The Senora was anticipating
the interview she expected with Rachela, and, perhaps wisely,
she isolated herself in an atmosphere of sullen and haughty
silence. She would accept nothing from her, not even sympathy
or flattery; and, in a curt dismission, managed to make her
feel the immeasurable distance between a high-born lady of the
house of Flores, and a poor manola that she had taken from
the streets of Madrid. Rachela knew the Senora was thinking
of this circumstance; the thought was in her voice, and it
cowed and snubbed the woman, her nature being essentially as
low as her birth.

As for the Senora, the experience did her a world of good.
She waited upon herself as a princess might condescend to
minister to her own wants--loftily, with a smile at her
own complaisance. The very knowledge that her husband was
near at hand inspired her with courage. She went to sleep
assuring herself "that not even Fray Ignatius should again
speak evil of her beloved, who never thought of her except
with a loyal affection." For in married life, the wife can
sin against love as well as fidelity; and she thought with a
sob of the cowardice which had permitted Fray Ignatius to call
her dear one "rebel and heretic."

"Santa Dios!" she said in a passionate whisper; "it is not a
mortal sin to think differently from Santa Anna"--and then
more tenderly--"those who love each other are of the same

And if Fray Ignatius had seen at that moment the savage
whiteness of her small teeth behind the petulant pout of her
parted lips, he might have understood that this woman of small
intelligence had also the unreasoning partisanship and the
implacable sense of anger which generally accompanies small
intelligence, and which indicates a nature governed by
feeling, and utterly irresponsive to reasoning which feeling
does not endorse.



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