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The Hunters' Feast Conversations Around the Camp Fire   By: (1818-1883)

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The Hunters' Feast, by Captain Mayne Reid.

The story starts in the city of St Louis, towards the end of the summer of some year in the nineteenth century. Reid collects together a group of six men who would pay to take part in an expedition, camping and hunting, into the prairies. They take with them a couple of paid men, professionals who would give them very necessary guidance. They all make a pact that they would each tell a round of tales around the camp fire, such stories to be amusing and instructive.

Reid himself is something of a naturalist, as we can learn from his many other books. We are given these tales just as they are told, in good English if told by an educated man, and in the dialect of the less educated ones. This latter arrangement makes the checking of the OCR transcriptions a little difficult, but never mind.

What people may find a little tedious is Reid's habit of giving the naturalists' Latin names for the various animals and plants described.




On the western bank of the Mississippi, twelve miles below the embouchure of the Missouri, stands the large town of Saint Louis, poetically known as the "Mound City." Although there are many other large towns throughout the Mississippi Valley, Saint Louis is the true metropolis of the "far west" of that semi civilised, ever changing belt of territory known as the "Frontier."

Saint Louis is one of those American cities in the history of which there is something of peculiar interest. It is one of the oldest of North American settlements, having been a French trading port at an early period.

Though not so successful as their rivals the English, there was a degree of picturesqueness about French colonisation, that, in the present day, strongly claims the attention of the American poet, novelist, and historian. Their dealings with the Indian aborigines the facile manner in which they glided into the habits of the latter meeting them more than half way between civilisation and savage life the handsome nomenclature which they have scattered freely, and which still holds over the trans Mississippian territories the introduction of a new race (the half blood peculiarly French) the heroic and adventurous character of their earliest pioneers, De Salle Marquette, Father Hennepin, etcetera their romantic explorations and melancholy fate all these circumstances have rendered extremely interesting the early history of the French in America. Even the Quixotism of some of their attempts at colonisation cannot fail to interest us, as at Gallipolis on the Ohio, a colony composed of expatriated people of the French court; perruquiers, coachbuilders, tailors, modistes , and the like. Here, in the face of hostile Indians, before an acre of ground was cleared, before the slightest provision was made for their future subsistence, the first house erected was a large log structure, to serve as the salon du Lal !

Besides its French origin, Saint Louis possesses many other points of interest. It has long been the entrepot and depot of commerce with the wild tribes of prairie land. There the trader is supplied with his stock for the Indian market his red and green blanket his beads and trinkets his rifles, and powder, and lead; and there, in return, he disposes of the spoils of the prairie collected in many a far and perilous wandering. There the emigrant rests on the way to his wilderness home; and the hunter equips himself before starting forth on some new expedition.

To the traveller, Saint Louis is a place of peculiar interest. He will hear around him the language of every nation in the civilised world. He will behold faces of every hue and variety of expression. He will meet with men of every possible calling.

All this is peculiarly true in the latter part of the summer season... Continue reading book >>

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