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The Young Voyageurs
Or Boy Hunters of the North by Captain Mayne Reid


Chapter I. The Fur Countries
Chapter II. The Young Voyageurs
Chapter III. The Trumpeter Swan and Bald Eagle
Chapter IV. The Swans of America
Chapter V. A Swan-Hunt by Torchlight
Chapter VI. Cast Away
Chapter VII. A Bridge of Buckskin
Chapter VIII. Decoying the Goats
Chapter IX. A Partridge Dance
Chapter X. Basil and the Bison-Bull
Chapter XI. Three Curious Trees
Chapter XII. How to Build a Bark Canoe
Chapter XIII. The Chain of Lakes
Chapter XIV. Wapiti, Wolves, and Wolverene
Chapter XV. A Pair of Deep Divers
Chapter XVI. A Grand Sunday Dinner
Chapter XVII. The Marmots of America
Chapter XVIII. The Blaireau, Tawnies, and Leopards
Chapter XIX. An Odd Sort of Decoy-Duck
Chapter XX. The Ducks of America
Chapter XXI. The Shrike and the Humming-Birds
Chapter XXII. The Fish-Hawk
Chapter XXIII. The Osprey and his Tyrant
Chapter XXIV. The Voyage Interrupted
Chapter XXV. Fishing Under the Ice
Chapter XXVI. An Odd Alarm
Chapter XXVII. Encounter with a Moose
Chapter XXVIII. Life in a Log-Hut
Chapter XXIX. Travelling on Snow-Shoes
Chapter XXX. The Barren Grounds
Chapter XXXI. The Rock-Tripe
Chapter XXXII. The Polar Hare and Great Snowy Owl
Chapter XXXIII. The Jumping Mouse and the Ermine
Chapter XXXIV. The Artic Fox and White Wolf
Chapter XXXV. The Jerfalcon and the White Grouse
Chapter XXXVI. The Hare, Lynx, and Golden Eagle
Chapter XXXVII. The "Alarm Bird" and the Caribou
Chapter XXXVIII. A Battle with Wolves
Chapter XXXIX. End of the "Voyage"


No one who has written books for the young during the present century ever had so large a circle of readers as Captain Mayne Reid, or ever was so well fitted by circumstances to write the books by which he is chiefly known. His life, which was an adventurous one, was ripened with the experience^ of two Continents, and his temperament, which was an ardent one, reflected the traits of two races. Irish by birth, he was American .in his sympathies^ with the people of the New World, whose .acquaintance he made ’at an early period, among whom he lived for years, and whose battles he helped to win. He was probably more familiar with the Southern and Western portion of the United States forty years ago than any native-born American of that time. A curious interest attaches to the-life of Captain Reid, but it is not of the kind that casual biographers dwell upon. If he had written it himself it would have charmed thousands of readers, who can now merely imagine what it might have been from the glimpses . of it which they obtain in his writings. It. was not-passed in the fierce" light of publicity, but in that pimple, silent obscurity which is the lot of. most men, and is their happiness, if they only knew it.

Briefly related, the. life of Captain Reid was as follows: He was born in 1818, in the north of Ireland. ,the son of a Presbyterian clergyman', who was a type of the class, which Goldsmith has described so freshly in the “Deserted Village,” and was highly thought of for his labors among the poor of his neighborhood. An earnest, reverent man, to whom his calling was indeed a sacred one, he designed his son Mayne for the ministry, in the hope, no doubt, that he. would be his successor. But nature had something to 'say about that,, as well as his good father. He began to Study for the ministry, but it wag not long before he was drawn in another direction. Always a great reader, his favorite books were descriptions of travel in foreign lauds, particularly those which dealt with the scenery, the people, and the resources of America. The spell which these exercised over his imagination, joined to a love of adventure which was inherent in his temperament, and inherited, perhaps with his race, determined his career. At the age of twenty he closed his theological tomes, and girding up his loins with a stout heart he sailed from the shores of the Old World for the New. Following the spirit in his feet he landed at New Orleans, which was probably a more promising field for a young man of his talents than any Northern city, and was speedily engaged in business. The nature of this business is not stated, further than it was that of a trader; but whatever it was it obliged this young Irishman to make long journeys into the interior of the country, which was almost a terra incognita. Sparsely settled, where settled at all, it was still clothed in primeval verdure—here in the endless reach of savannas, there in the depth of pathless woods, and far away to the North and the West in those monotonous ocean like levels of land for which the speech of England has no name—the Prairies. Its population was nomadic, not to say barbaric, consisting of tribes of Indians whose hunting grounds from time immemorial the region was; hunters and trappers, who had turned their backs upon civilization for the free, wild life of nature; men of doubtful or dangerous antecedents, who had found it convenient to leave their country for their country’s good ; and scattered about hardy pioneer communities from Eastern States, advancing waves of the great sea of emigration which is still drawing the course of empire westward. Travelling in a country like this, and among people like these, Mayne Reid passed five years of his early manhood. He was at home wherever he went, and never more so than when among the Indians of the Red River territory, with whom he spent several months, learning their language, studying their customs, and enjoying the wild and beautiful scenery of their camping grounds. Indian for the time, he lived in their lodges, rode with them, hunted with them, and night after night sat by their blazing can^p-fires listening to the warlike stories of the braves and the quaint legends of the medicine. In here was that in the blood of Mayne Reid which fitted him to lead this life at this time, and whether he knew it or not educated his genius as no other life could have done. It familiarized him with a large extent of country in the South and West; it introduced him to men and manners. which existed nowhere else; and it revealed to him the secrets of Indian life and character.

There was another side, however, to Mayne Reid than that we have touched upon, and this, at the end of five years, drew him back to the average life of his kind. We find him next in Philadelphia, where he began to contribute stories and sketches of travel to the newspapers and magazines. Philadelphia was then the most literate city in the United States, the one in which a clever writer was at once encouraged and rewarded. Prank and warmhearted, he made many friends there among journalists and authors. One of these friends was Edgar Allan Poe, whom he often visited at his home in Spring Garden, and concerning whom years after, when he was dead, he wrote with loving tenderness.

The next episode in the career of Mayne Reid was not what one would expect from a man of letters, though it was just what might have been expected from a man of his temperament and antecedents. It grew out of the time, which was warlike, and it drove him into the army with which the United States speedily crushed the forces of the sister Republic—Mexico. He obtained a commission, and served throughout the war with great bravery and distinction. This stormy episode ended with a severe wound, which he received in storming the heights of Cha-pultepec—a terrible battle which practically ended the war.

A second episode of a similar character, but with a more fortunate conclusion, occurred about four years later. It grew out of another war, which, happily for us, was not on our borders, but in the heart of Europe, where the Hungarian race had risen in insurrection against the hated power of Austria. Their desperate valor in the face of tremendous odds excited the sympathy of the American people, and fired the heart of Captain Mayne Reid, who buckled 'on his sword once more, and sailed from New York with a body of volunteers to aid the Hungarians in their struggles for independence. They were too late, for hardly had they reached Paris before they learned that all was over: G5rgey had surrendered at Arad, and Hungary was crushed. They were at once dismissed, and Captain Reid betook himself to London.

The life of the Mayne Reid in whom we are most interested—Mayne Reid, the author—began at this time, when he was in his thirty-first year, and ended only on the day of his death, October 21, 1883. It covered one-third of a century, and was, when compared with that which had preceded it, 'uneventful, if not devoid • of incident. There is not much that needs be told—not much, indeed, that can be told—in the life of a man of letters like Captain Mayne Reid. It is written in his books. Mayne Reid was one of the best known authors of his time—differing in this from many authors who are popular without being known— and in the walk of fiction which he discovered for himself he is an acknowledged mas-* ter. His reputation did not depend upon the admiration of the millions of young people who read his books, but upon the judgment of mature critics, to whom his delineations of adventurous life were literature of no common order. His reputation as a story-teller was widely recognized on,the Continent, where he was accepted as an authority in regard to the customs of the pioneers and the guerilla warfare of the Indian tribes, and was warmly praised for his freshness, his novelty, and his hardy originality. The people of France and Germany delighted in this soldier-writer. * “ There was not a word in his books which a school-boy could not safely read aloud to his mother and sisters. So says a late English critic, to which another adds, that if he has somewhat gone out of fashion of late years, the more’s the pity for the school-boy of the period. What Defoe is in Robinson Crusoe-—realistic idyl of island solitude—that, in his romantic stories of wilderness life, is his great scholar, Captain Mayne Reid.

R. H. Stoddard

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