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The Tiger Hunter
DURING one of many journeyings through the remote provinces of the Mexican republic, it was my fortune to encounter an old revolutionary officer, in the person of Captain Castaños.
From time to time as we travelled together, he was good enough to give me an account of some of the more noted actions of the prolonged and.
Sanguinary war of the Independence; and, among other narratives, one which especially interested me was the famed battle of the Puente de Calderon.
Where the Captain himself had fought during the whole length of a summer’s day!
Of all the leaders of the Mexican revolution, there was none in whose history I felt so much interest as in the priest-soldier, Morelos-or, as he is familiarly styled in Mexican annals.
The “illustrious Morelos”-and yet there was none of whose private life I could obtain so few details.
His public career has become historic, and was, of course, known to everyone who chose to read of him.
But what I desired was a more personal and intimate knowledge of this remarkable man, who from being the humble curate of an obscure village in Oajaca.
Became in a few short months the victorious leader of a well-appointed army, and master of all the southern provinces of New Spain.
“Can you give me any information regarding Morelos ?” I asked of Captain Castaños, as we were journeying along the route between Tepic and Guadalajara.
“Ah! Morelos? he was a great soldier,” replied the ex-captain of guerillas. “In the single year of 1811, he fought no less than twenty-six battles with the Spaniards.
Of these he won twenty-two; and though he lost the other four, each time he retreated with honour” “Hum 1 I know all that already,” said I, interrupting my fellow traveller.
“You are narrating history to me, while I want only chronicles. In other words, I want to hear those more private and particular details of Morelos’s life which the historians have not given.”
“Ah! I understand you,” said the captain, “and I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your desires: since, during the war.
I was mostly engaged in the northern provinces and had no opportunity of knowing much of Morelos personally. But
if my good friend, Don Cornelio Lantejas, is still living at Tepío, when we arrive there, I shall put you in communication with him.
He can tell you more about Morelos than any other living man: since he was aide-de-camp to the General through all his campaigns,
And served him faithfully up to the hour of his death.” Our conversation here ended, for we had arrived at the inn where we intended to pass the night-the Venta de la Sierra Madre.
Early on the following morning, before anyone had yet arisen, I left my chamber-in a corner of which, rolled in balls ample manga, Captain Castaños was still soundly asleep.
Without making any noise to disturb him, 1 converted my coverlet into a cloak-that is, I folded my serape around my shoulders, and walked forth from the inn.
Other travellers, along with the people of the hostelry inside, with the domestics and muleteers out of doors, were still slumbering profoundly.
And an imposing silence reigned over the mountain platform on which the venta stood.
Nothing appeared awake around me save the voices of the sierras, that never sleep with the sound of distant waterfalls, as they rushed through vast ravines, keeping up.
As it were, an eternal dialogue between the highest summits of the mountains and the deepest gulfs that yawned around their bases.
I walked forward to the edge of the table-like platform on which the venta was built; and halting there stood listening to these mysterious conversations of nature.
AD at once it appeared to me that other sounds were mingling with them-sounds that suggested the presence of human beings.
At first, they appeared like the intonations of s hunter’s horn-but of so harsh and hoarse a character, that I could scarcely believe them to be produced by such an instrument.
As a profound silence succeeded, I began to think my senses had been deceiving me; but once more the same rude melody broke upon my ears, in a tone that, taken in connexion with the place where I listened to it, impressed me with an idea of the supernatural.
It had something of the character of those horns used by the shepherds of the Swiss valleys, and it seemed to ascend out of the bottom of a deep ravine that yawned far beneath my feet.
I stepped forward to the extreme edge of the rock and looked downwards.
Again the hoarse cornet resounded in my ears; and this time so near, that I no longer doubted as to its proceeding from some human agency.
In fact, the moment after, a man’s form appeared ascending from below, along the narrow pathway that zigzagged up the face of the cliff.
I had scarce time to make this observation, when the man, suddenly turning the angle of the rock, stood close by my side, where he halted apparently to recover his breath.
His costume at once revealed to me that he was an Indian; though his garments, his tall stature, and haughty mien, lent to him an aspect altogether different from that of most of the Indians I had hitherto encountered in Mexico.
The proud air with which he bore himself, the fiery expression of his eye, his athletic limbs, and odd apparel, were none of them in keeping with the abject mien which now characterises the descendants of the ancient masters of Anahuac.
In the grey light of the morning, I could see suspended from his shoulders the instrument that had made the mysterious music a large sea shell-a long, slender, curved conch, that ung glistening under his arm.
Struck with the singular appearance of this man, I could not help entering into conversation with him; though he appeared as if he would have passed me without speaking a word.
|Author||Captain Mayne Reid|
|No. of Pages||372|
|PDF Size||12.5 MB|
The Tiger Hunter Book PDF Free Download