It is believed that the scene of this tale, and most of the information necessary to understand its allusions, are rendered sufficiently obvious to the reader in the text itself, or in the accompanying notes. Still there is so much obscurity in the Indian traditions, and so much confusion in the Indian names, as to render some explanation useful.
It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self-denial of the practiced native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it would seem that, in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe.
Newly abridged by Timothy Meis, James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans comes to life under the paintbrush of N.C. Wyeth, with illustrations originally published in 1919. The artist offers readers a close-up view of the French and Indian War, in paintings such as British colonel Duncan's struggle against a Huron warrior or the Mohican Chingachgook similarly fighting off another Huron warrior in the clearing of a wood. Wyeth's paintings also accompany Meis's adaptation of Daniel DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe, due out in February.