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The War Trail The Hunt of the Wild Horse   By: (1818-1883)

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The War Trail, The Hunt of the Wild Horse, by Captain Mayne Reid.

This book, along with several other of this author's, occupies an important position in the history of English literature, for it was one of the first to deal with the Wild West. The events take place shortly after the Mexican War of the late 1840s. The Mexicans themselves have been conquered, but now it is necessary to protect them from a further enemy, one who would war with both Americans and Mexicans the Comanche Indians. The troop of rangers consists of many kinds of men, of Scots, Irish, English, German, Swiss, Polish descent, and many others. Some of these take major roles in this story, and their words are reported just as they would have been said.

Numerous extremely difficult situations are encountered, and it is often the woodcraft and ingenuity of these men that gets them out of them, sometimes in extremely (for you and me) unexpected ways. This results in a series of tense incidents, and, though the literary style is a bit unusual, they are very gripping.

Many books by this author were published in the second half of the nineteenth century, and some of them were printed with rather damaged type. The copy of this book that we worked from was one of these, so there may well be a very few typos left, for which we apologise.




Land of the nopal and maguey home of Moctezuma and Malinche! I cannot wring thy memories from my heart! Years may roll on, hand wax weak, and heart grow old, but never till both are cold can I forget thee! I would not; for thee would I remember. Not for all the world would I bathe my soul in the waters of Lethe. Blessed be memory for thy sake!

Bright land of Anahuac! my spirit mounts upon the aerial wings of Fancy, and once more I stand upon thy shores! Over thy broad savannahs I spur my noble steed, whose joyous neigh tells that he too is inspired by the scene. I rest under the shade of the corozo palm, and quaff the wine of the acrocomia . I climb thy mountains of amygdaloid and porphyry thy crags of quartz, that yield the white silver and the yellow gold. I cross thy fields of lava, rugged in outline, and yet more rugged with their coverture of strange vegetable forms acacias and cactus, yuccas and zamias. I traverse thy table plains through bristling rows of giant aloes, whose sparkling juice cheers me on my path. I stand upon the limits of eternal snow, crushing the Alpine lichen under my heel; while down in the deep barranca, far down below, I behold the feathery fronds of the palm, the wax like foliage of the orange, the broad shining leaves of the pothos, of arums, and bananas! O that I could again look with living eye on these bright pictures, that even thus palely outlined upon the retina of memory, impart pleasure to my soul!

Land of Moctezuma! I have other souvenirs of thee, more deeply graven on my memory than these pictures of peace. Thou recallest scenes of war. I traversed thy fields a foeman sword in hand and now, after years gone by, many a wild scene of soldier life springs up before me with all the vividness of reality.

The Bivouac ! I sit by the night camp fire; around are warlike forms and bearded faces. The blazing log reflects the sheen of arms and accoutrements saddles, rifles, pistols, canteens, strewing the ground, or hanging from the branches of adjacent trees. Picketed steeds loom large in the darkness, their forms dimly outlined against the sombre background of the forest. A solitary palm stands near, its curving fronds looking hoary under the fire light. The same light gleams upon the fluted columns of the great organ cactus, upon agaves and bromelias, upon the silvery tillandsia , that drapes the tall trees as with a toga... Continue reading book >>

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