As the brilliant light of the Texas sun appeared on the eastern horizon on the morning of March 6, 1836, the Alamo was a tumultuous bedlam of barking rifles, roaring cannons, and shouting men. The acrid smell of burned gunpowder filled the smoky air.
Lifeless bodies of Mexican soldiers lay scattered outside the Alamo’s battered stone walls. Others, still alive, lay on the ground in agony, their bodies torn by bullets and shrapnel. Inside the walls, many of the Alamo’s defenders already lay dead and wounded as the battle went on.
While firing their cannons and rifles, the Texans atop the stone walls could see Generalissimo Antonio López de Santa Anna as he rode his white horse back and forth out of cannon range, shouting encouragement to his troops.
Along the walls, determined Mexican soldiers were raising ladders, leaning them against the walls and scrambling upward to gain entrance into the Alamo. Many were successful, and once inside they were met by gallant defenders wielding rifles, bayonets, revolvers, and bowie knives. Both Texans and Mexicans were going down, dead or wounded.
At other places along the walls, the stubborn men of the Alamo met the Mexicans with rifle butts, striking their heads and faces savagely, sending them to the ground outside the walls.
With the Alamo cannons firing into the swarms of charging Mexican infantrymen on all four sides, the Texas riflemen at the parapets on the walls had relatively easy targets to pick off with their rifles. But it seemed that no matter how many of the Mexicans fell, hundreds more took their places.
From where he stood atop one of the walls, Alan Kane could see Santa Anna’s cavalrymen charging at a full gallop while firing their rifles at the men who controlled the cannons and occupied the parapets.
The Texans were taking their toll on the enemy, but fear touched Alan’s heart as he saw thousands more Mexican troops running across the Texas plains toward them. A tight knot formed in his stomach. The few men defending the Alamo don’t have a chance.
A cold shiver slithered down Alan’s back as he ran his gaze over the dauntless fighting men of the Alamo and recognized most of them. He saw Captain Almeron Dickinson standing a few yards inside the west wall, where it was possible to scale the stones and drop down within the confines of the Alamo. Dickinson was blasting away with his revolver to defend his position.
Alan saw Colonel William Travis, sword in hand, standing on the south wall shouting orders to his men. Davy Crockett was on the ground near the north wall, firing his rifle at Mexicans who had made it over that wall.
Suddenly Alan’s eyes focused on his brother Adam, who was atop the wall several yards from him, loading a cannon. Alan recalled that Adam had been trained to fire the big cannons. Alan tried to rush to his brother’s aid, but his feet would not move. Adam was ramming gunpowder and a cannonball into the mouth of the cannon so he could fire it into the hordes of Mexican troops that were coming in waves across the prairie..
Alan blinked as he saw six or seven Mexicans scale the wall from ladders, aim their guns at Adam, and fire. Alan’s eyes bulged with terror as the bullets ripped into Adam’s body. Still, his feet would not move.
Adam fell to his knees clutching his midsection, which had taken most of the slugs. The Mexicans who had shot him laughed as one of them kicked him in the face and sent him rolling to the edge of the wall, where he lay flat on his back.
Alan saw Texans charging toward the Mexicans who had shot Adam, firing their rifles. Three Mexicans were hit and peeled headfirst over the wall. The others jumped to the ground inside the wall, trying to get away. The Texans dashed past the fallen Adam Kane, intent on killing the Mexicans.
Alan’s feet were finally able to move, and he ran across the top of the wall to his fallen brother, where he skidded to a halt. With the roar of the battle thundering in his ears, Alan looked down at Adam, who lay in a pool of blood. The sight tightened Alan’s chest like cold steel bands.
Adam’s droopy eyes widened when he saw his brother kneel beside him, realizing that somehow Alan had made it back to the Alamo after going to General Sam Houston for help, as ordered by Colonel William Travis.
Adam saw the terror on his brother’s face. Alan was hardly able to speak as he gasped, “Adam, I don’t want you to die! I–”
The touch of Adam’s shaky hand on his arm cut off Alan’s words.
Adam swallowed hard and said in a broken voice, “I am
dying, little brother… But I will meet you in heaven.” His eyes closed, and his head flopped to one side.
Alan’s chest was heaving. “Oh, Ada-a-a-a-am-m-m!” he cried loudly and breathlessly. “No-o-o! Don’t die! Ada-a-a-a-am-m-m! Don’t die!”
Suddenly, Alan “Alamo” Kane found himself sitting up in his bed at the Diamond K ranch house, his own loud words echoing in his ears. Gasping for breath, he heard himself cry out at the top of his lungs, “No! Adam, no! I want you to live!”
Down the hall of the ranch house’s second floor, Julia Kane raised up on her elbows in bed, rubbed her eyes, and looked toward the bedroom door. Alamo had invited Julia to stay in the big ranch house because it would still be too hard for her to return to the house where she and Adam had lived.
The loud cries from her brother-in-law’s bedroom had awakened her. He was still crying out that he wanted Adam to live as Julia left her bed. By the dim light of dawn that was filtering through the curtains, Julia put on her robe, took a candle from the small bedside table, and felt around for a match.
Alan wiped his sweaty face with the bed sheet, dabbed at his tears, and looked toward the bedroom windows. He had not closed the curtains before going to bed the night before, and now he could see dawn lighting the sky.
He sniffed, rubbed his face and eyes again, and thought about how his own voice crying out had awakened him. Then it came to him that this was Thursday morning, March 10, four days after the battle at the Alamo, where every man had been killed–including his beloved brother Adam. He took a deep breath and shuddered in mortal agony. “I–I was having a nightmare! I–I was only dreaming. Oh, Adam… Oh, Adam!”
The effect of the horrible nightmare was still lingering on Alamo Kane as he wiped his face with the sheet again and breathed out the words, “Oh, dear Lord, it was as if I was there with Adam when he died. He–”
Alamo then recalled Adam’s dying words in the nightmare: “I am
dying, little brother… But I will meet you in heaven.”
Tears burst from Alamo’s eyes. “Yes! Dear Lord Jesus, Adam is with You right now in heaven. Thank You, Lord! Thank You for that time in our lives when Adam and I received You into our hearts as our Saviour. I will
meet him in heaven!”
Suddenly there was a tap on Alamo’s bedroom door, and he heard Julia call to him, “Alamo, are you all right?”
He pulled the covers up to his neck, choked slightly, and called, “Come in, Julie!”
The knob turned, and Julia opened the door. She took a couple of steps into the room, holding the lighted candle level with her chin. The flickering flame illuminated the tired lines in her face. Her long, dark brown hair was plaited into a single soft braid that hung over her shoulder. Sleep still misted her eyes as she peered toward the bed by the faint light of dawn that was coming through the windows and the yellow glare of the candle flame.
“I heard your screams from my room. Are you all right, Alamo?” As Julia spoke barely above a whisper, she took a few hesitant steps farther into the room.
“I’m all right, Julie,” Alamo replied, reaching toward the lantern on the small table beside his bed. “Just a minute. I’ll light the lantern, and you can blow out the candle.”
He wiped his shaking hands down his face in an attempt to remove the tears that the nightmare had produced, then struck a match, lifted the glass chimney, and touched the flame to the wick. The glow of the lantern flame quickly brightened the room, leaving the far corners still shrouded in shadow. He put the chimney back in place.
Julia blew out the candle flame, then stepped up beside the bed. “I–I heard you crying out to Adam, telling him not to die, that you wanted him to live.”
Alamo swallowed hard. “Julie, I was having a nightmare. I dreamed I was in the battle at the Alamo last Sunday. I saw all those men I knew getting killed. I saw Adam get shot by Mexican soldiers, and I knelt at his side. In my terror, I told him I didn’t want him to die. He said to me, ‘I am
dying, little brother… But I will meet you in heaven.’ Oh Julie, it was as if the Lord let me be there at the Alamo when my brother died. Of course, it was only a dream, but it was like I was really there!”
Julia bent down and touched his face tenderly. “Oh, Alamo. Adam will indeed meet you in heaven, but I hope you won’t have any more nightmares about his death.” Her heart was breaking at the anguish on her dear brother-in-law’s features. Alamo’s eyes were closed as he bit down on his lower lip and shook his head.
At the same time, Julia felt a presence at her side and turned to see Alamo’s sister, Angela. She smiled and nodded.
Angela slipped her arm around Julia’s waist and pulled her close. “Is he all right? I heard him crying out.”
Alamo opened his eyes and looked up at lovely Angela. “I had a nightmare, Sis. I dreamed that I was at the Alamo. I–I watched Adam die.” Tears filled his eyes. “He said he would meet me in heaven.”
Angela reached down, closed her fingers around her brother’s hand, and cradled it in her own. Julia touched his face again.
At that instant, Alamo Kane felt a soft shaft of peace pierce his heart. Running his teary gaze between the two young women, he said, “I’m so fortunate to have my family living here on the ranch. All of you have been such a blessing to me.”
Angela gripped his hand tighter. “It is a blessing for all of us Kanes to be able to share our heartaches together and to depend on one another when we need help.”
“That’s for sure, honey,” Julia said softly.
“Yes,” nodded Alamo. “That’s for sure.”
Julia took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “When I was reading my Bible last night before going to sleep, the Lord brought some verses to my attention. They meant so much to me that I memorized them right then and there: Psalm 147:3—5. It says of our loving God, ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.’”
Alamo blinked at his tears. “Oh yes, Julie. Those verses are precious. We know that God feels our pain and is ever merciful to help us.”
“Amen,” said Angela. “His grace is always sufficient, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.”
Tears were now in the eyes of all three heartbroken young people.
With his free hand, Alamo wiped tears from his cheeks with his palm and said, “I appreciate both of you coming to see about me. I think you should go back to your beds now and get some rest before it’s time to get up for the day.”
Both young women nodded. Angela kissed Alamo’s hand, let go of it, and smiled at her brother. “I’m sorry about the nightmare, Alamo. I haven’t had any nightmares since learning of Adam’s violent death, but I have had a hard time getting a good night’s sleep.”
Julia looked down at her brother-in-law. “I’m still not sleeping soundly since you came home and told me that Adam had been killed.” She then leaned over and planted a kiss on his forehead. “You stay here and get some rest yourself.”
He smiled and nodded. “For a little while. I love you both. May God’s peace and grace rest upon us all.”
As the two young women left the room, Alamo put fingertips to the spot on his forehead where Julie had kissed him. He closed his eyes and held his fingertips there. “Lord, please one day, when the impact of Adam’s death has eased for Julie…let her love me like I love her.”
When Julia entered her room and slipped back between the covers, she burst into tears. “Oh, dear Lord, I miss Adam so much! Help me! Please help me!”
Sniffling, Julia let her thoughts go back to the time when Adam came to her parents’ cotton plantation in Louisiana on his journey to join Alan in Texas…and how she and Adam had fallen in love.
Angela stepped into her room and closed the door behind her, leaning back against it. Her heart fluttered like the wings of a frantic bird. She could hardly breathe. The pulse in her throat, caused by her pounding heart, made her voice tighten as she closed her eyes. “Oh, Lord in heaven, please help Julia. She’s trying so hard to keep control of herself. I could sense it the whole time we were in Alamo’s room. Adam’s death has hit her so hard.”
Angela drew in a shuddering breath, walked to the bed, and sat down. “Lord, my heart goes out to Julia, as You well know. With her baby coming, I know she must be thinking a lot about the fact that this baby won’t have a father.”
She swallowed hard. “Dear Lord, I know Alamo has tried hard to camouflage his feelings for Julia, and he has done it well. I’m sure she has no idea how he really feels about her. But as his sister, I have seen enough in his eyes when they are together to read his thoughts. I may be wrong, Lord, but I don’t think so. I believe he is in love with Julia. I–I am asking, heavenly Father, that You let it work out between them. Julia’s baby is Alamo’s nephew or niece, but it’s going to need a father. How wonderful it would be if Julia could fall in love with Alamo after enough time has passed for her to adjust to Adam’s absence and they could marry! Please, Lord. Make it happen.”
Angela thumbed tears from her eyes and swallowed hard again. “And dear Lord, once again I ask You to work in my
life. I’m twenty-three years old. Most women my age have been married three or four years by now. There are some fine young Christian men in our church. Some of them are employed right here on the ranch. But nothing has developed with one of them because it has not been Your will.”
Angela sniffed. “I’m sure You have the young man You have chosen to be my husband somewhere. I don’t mean to push You, Lord, but would you send him to me sometime soon? Please? You know that some of the married women on the ranch have been jokingly calling me an old maid, but it’s beginning to get to me. Please, dear Father, send him soon.”
Angela slid between the covers, closed her eyes, and prayed some more for Julia.
In Alamo’s room, as his nerves began to settle down, his thoughts went once again to his brother’s widow. He had fallen in love with Julia Miller when he first met her, which was some time before Adam had met her.
Alamo sat up, leaned against the headboard, and closed his eyes. His thoughts drifted back to the trip he had made by ship from Boston with William Childress in June 1834, on his way to work as a ranch hand at the Circle C Ranch in Texas. They had stayed a few days with Childress’s Christian friends, the Justin Miller family, who owned a large cotton plantation just outside New Orleans.
Alan “Alamo” Kane sighed as he recalled the very moment he first laid eyes on beautiful Julia Miller and fell in love with her…
Alan and rancher William Childress had been riding in the backseat of a hired buggy from the New Orleans docks at sunset on June 28. The driver put his horse to a brisk walk and headed through the city.
As the steel-rimmed wheels rambled over the cobblestone streets, William said, “I haven’t really told you much about the Millers except that they’re Christians and they’re wealthy. They also have two beautiful daughters.”
Alan met his gaze. “Oh really?”
“Mm-hmm. Sally is twenty and Julia is eighteen. Sally has a young man who belongs to their church that she’s been dating steadily for some time, but even though many of the young men in the church have shown interest in Julia, the last I knew, she didn’t have a steady boyfriend.”
“Fine family, Alan. You’ll like them.”
Alan let his eyes roam to the lamplighters on each side of the street doing their job in the gathering dusk. “I’m sure I will, boss.”
A bayou mist gathered among the moss-covered oak trees as the buggy rolled out of the city. The steel-rimmed wheels were comparatively quiet on the soft dirt road. It was totally dark as the buggy, its own lamps burning, had pulled up to the Miller mansion. A silver moon was rising in the east. Alan had a momentary feeling of unreality as he stepped from his side of the buggy while William stepped from the other. The mansion was exquisitely beautiful. The sound of countless crickets and fireflies flitting about only added to Alan’s feeling of fantasy.
Moments later, Justin Miller welcomed his old friend William Childress in the vestibule, saying that his wife and daughters would be coming downstairs soon. William introduced Justin to Alan, explaining that he had met Alan in Boston and was taking him home to be one of his ranch hands. He quickly added that Alan was a fine Christian young man from a good Christian family. Mr. Miller shook Alan’s hand and welcomed him warmly.
William looked Justin up and down and asked, “Ol’ pal, why are you dressed up so fancy?”
“Well, ol’ pal,
” Justin said, “we’re attending a dinner this evening at the Dardanelle plantation. Sally and the Dardanelles’ oldest son, Jeffrey, are formally announcing their engagement to the guests at dinner. Most of those guests are from our church in New Orleans, including the pastor and his wife.”
William’s eyes widened. “Oh! So Sally’s going to marry that steady boyfriend of hers!”
Justin chuckled. “She sure is.”
William and Justin talked about how quickly Sally and Julia had grown up. Then Justin said, “William, I’m sorry we have to be gone this evening. I hate to go off and leave you and Alan.”
William gave him a warm look. “Hey, it’s all right. We both understand. Alan and I will get a good night’s sleep.”
Presently, two lovely ladies approached the top of the stairs. At first Alan thought it was the Miller sisters, but as they moved down the stairs, he could see that one of them had to be the mother. He wondered if the younger one was Sally or Julia. Her dark brown hair was done in an upsweep, revealing a lovely, slender neck. She was strikingly beautiful. The kind of woman a man dreams about,
When the two ladies reached the bottom of the stairs, they were introduced to Alan, and he learned that the beautiful young woman was Sally. After they exchanged greetings, another young lady appeared at the top of the stairs and immediately caught Alan’s attention. This must be Julia.
Alan swallowed hard at the sight of her and blinked. Julia’s long, dark brown hair swirled around her head and lay softly on her elegant shoulders.
Alan watched her descend the spiral staircase with ease and grace like a dove descends from the blue. He thought, Sally is beautiful, but Julia is
Julia’s deep blue eyes fell on Alan as she neared the bottom of the staircase, and she gave him a warm smile. Alan felt his heart turn to flame. Somewhere deep within him, a drum seemed to thunder, vibrating his rib cage. Alan knew it. He had fallen in love!
William said, “Julia, I want you to meet Alan Kane.”
Alan felt his knees turn to water as the stunning Julia Miller gave him her hand. “I’m pleased to meet you, Miss Julia.”
William told Julia that he had met Alan some time ago in Boston and had hired him as a ranch hand. He was taking Alan to the Circle C. “Alan’s going to work on the ranch and learn the cattle business. His brother Adam is coming down from Boston shortly to do the same. They plan to one day have a big ranch of their own in Texas.”
Julia looked at Alan. “Your brother Adam?” she said with a giggle. “Is he as tall and handsome as you?”
Alan’s face flushed. “He’s…uh…he’s exactly the same height as me, Miss Julia, but Adam is lots better looking.”
She smiled. “I have a hard time believing that.”
Alan’s face flushed again.
“One’s as good-looking as the other,” said William. “And I want you to know that Alan is part of a fine Christian family, and he is dedicated to the Lord. He and I are going to church with all of you tomorrow.”
Julia smiled at Alan. “I hope your new career as a cattle rancher works out well for you and your brother, Alan. I am glad to know that you have Jesus in your heart.”
Yes, Alan Kane had fallen in love.
Now, sitting there in bed, Alan “Alamo” Kane remembered the day when his brother Adam made a return trip to New Orleans to visit the Millers a second time and brought Julia back with him to the ranch, announcing that they had gotten married.
The blow Alan had felt was powerful, but he hadn’t let on. And since that day, he had never let Adam or Julia know that he was in love with Julia. She felt a friendship love for him, not knowing that he was head over heels in love with her and had been since the day he first met her.
Alamo’s attention was drawn to the brightness now entering his room, and he looked toward the nearest window. The radiant morning sunlight was streaking across the sky.
He rose from his bed and was soon using his straight-edge razor at the mirror to plow through the shaving soap on his face. As he shaved, he thought of the baby in Julia’s womb…his little nephew or niece. He told himself that since Adam had arrived in heaven, the Lord no doubt had told him that Julia was carrying his baby.
When he was finished shaving, Alamo splashed cool water on his face, used a towel to dry it, then put away the razor and shaving soap. His love for Julia still throbbing in his heart, Alamo looked upward and spoke almost the same words he had prayed the night before.
“Lord, You know I am still in love with Julie. The love she feels for me is a friendship love. Maybe someday, Lord, when she is over the jolt of losing Adam and becoming a widow who is expecting a baby, You could change that love in her heart so it is like the love I’ve felt for her since we first met. Maybe someday she could become Mrs. Alan–or as she would probably be called now–Mrs. Alamo
He picked up the comb before him, looked at himself in the mirror, then closed his eyes. “Lord, please keep my heart true to Julie if she’s the one You have chosen for me.”
Alamo combed his hair, dressed, and headed downstairs to eat breakfast with Julia and Angela.
Excerpted from Web of Destiny by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Copyright © 2008 by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.