Perhaps this story scarcely needs a Preface, but the child of the writer’s invention comes to possess a place in his affections, and he is reluctant to send it forth into the wide world, without something in the nature of a letter of introduction, asking for it a kindly and charitable reception. It would be unjust to apply to this volume the tests which are brought to bear upon an elaborate romance. In his narrative of the adventures of Verty and Redbud, the writer has not endeavored to mount into the regions of tragedy, or chronicle the details of bloodshed on the part of heroes—but rather, to find in a picturesque land and period such traits of life and manners as are calculated to afford innocent entertainment. Written under the beautiful autumn skies of our beloved Virginia, the author would ask for the work only a mind in unison with the mood of the narrative—asking the reader to laugh, if he can, and, above all, to carry with him, if possible, the beautiful autumn sunshine, and the glories of the mountains.
Of the fine old border town, in which many of the scenes of the story are laid, much might be said, if it were here necessary, that Thomas Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron, and formerly half-owner of Virginia, sleeps there—that Morgan, the Ney of the Revolution, after all his battles, lies there, too, as though to show how nobles and commoners, lords and frontiersmen, monarchists and republicans, are equal in death—and that the last stones of old Fort Loudoun, built by Lieutenant, afterwards General, Washington, crumble into dust there, disappearing like a thousand other memorials of that noble period, and the giants who illustrated it:—this, and much more, might be said of Winchester, the old heart of the border, which felt every blow, and poured out her blood freely in behalf of the frontier. But of the land in which this old sentinel stands it is impossible to speak in terms of adequate justice. No words can describe the loveliness of its fair fields, and vainly has the present writer tried to catch the spirit of those splendid pictures, which the valley unrolls in autumn days. The morning splendors and magnificent sunsets—the noble river and blue battlements, forever escape him. It is in the midst of these scenes that he has endeavored to place a young hunter—a child of the woods—and to show how his wild nature was impressed by the new life and advancing civilization around him. The process of his mental development is the chief aim of the book.
Of the other personages of the story it is not necessary here to speak—they will relieve the author of that trouble; yet he cannot refrain from asking in advance a friendly consideration for Miss Redbud. He trusts that her simplicity and innocence will gain for her the hearts of all who admire those qualities; and that in consideration of her liking for her friend Verty, that these friends of her own will bestow a portion of their approbation upon the young woodman: pity him when he incurs the displeasure of Mr., Jinks: sympathise with him when he is overwhelmed by the reproaches of Mr. Roundjacket, and rejoice with him when, in accordance with the strictest rules of poetic justice, he is rewarded for his kindness and honesty by the possession of the two things which he coveted the most in the world.