Inez knew it would be impossible to pass over the bridge, and down the Alameda without detection, for seven hundred Mexican troops were stationed on the outskirts of the town; and, with the celerity of thought, she directed her way in the opposite direction, toward a shallow portion of the river, occasionally used as a ford. Happily the distance was short; and urging her somewhat unwilling horse, she plunged in. The moon rose full and bright as she reached the opposite bank; and pausing a moment, she looked back upon the sleeping town. No sound of life fell on her ear; and avoiding the beaten track, she turned her horse out on the grass, and hastened on toward the east, directing her course so as to pass beyond the Powder-House, which was dimly seen in the distance. At a quick canter it was soon passed, and she pressed on to the Salado, some three miles distant. Full well she knew she would be sought for when morning dawned; and with such speed she almost flew on, that sunrise found her many miles from her home, Inez was fearless, or she would never have dared to undertake what lay before her. Alone, unprotected, in the guise of a man, without possessing his ordinary means of defense, there was much to risk; for Indian depredations were frequent, and she must traverse a wide waste of almost interminable length ere reaching any settlement.
When the sunbeams played joyously about her Inez stopped to rest, and eating a few grains of her treasured corn, she allowed her horse to graze a short time along the margin of a stream, where the grass was tender and abundant; and then remounting, rode on somewhat more leisurely than she had previously done.
“To die, is landing on some silent
Where billows never beat nor tempests roar!”
Since morning, Mary had lain in the deep, dreamless sleep of exhaustion: and now the leafless boughs, which waved to and fro before her window, threw long shadows athwart the wall and across the deserted yard. Evening was creeping slowly on. Over the wan, yet lovely face of the sleeper had come a gradual change—agonizing, yet indescribable. It ever appears when Death approaches to claim his victim, and it seems as though the shadow cast by his black pinions. Mary opened her eyes and looked silently on the sad group which clustered around her couch. Mr. Stewart, alone able to command his voice, asked if she was not better, as she had slept so gently.