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Book Review of In The Heart of The Rockies

By Brandon Smith — June 04, 2009

G. A. Henty's book, In The Heart of The Rockies, tells of the adventures of sixteen-year-old Tom Wade.

At the start of the book, Tom's parents are dead, leaving his five sisters and himself to fend for themselves. Tom, restless with the life in England, sails for America to meet his uncle Harry, with whom he had corresponded with some little time. After arriving at Denver, which was at that time a small town on the rise, Tom finds his uncle's friend, Pete Hoskings. Mr. Hoskings explains to Tom that his uncle left three months earlier on a mining venture with two comrades.

Tom sets out for Fort Bridger with Jerry Curtis, a friend of his uncle. At the fort, Jerry finds Leaping Horse, a Seneca chief who had come to the fort to meet his nephew Hunting Dog. Leaping Horse tells Tom and Jerry that only a week before, he was with Tom's uncle. The four travel together to find Tom's uncle, who was traveling north with his friends.

After following his uncle's trail, Tom and his friends find them in the midst of a fight with the Arapahoes. Needless to say, the Indians' attack is beaten off, and Tom is united with his uncle Harry. The Indians though are not going to let their enemies get away from their grasp without a chase. The now seven friends gain the mountains with the Indians hot on their trail.

Then winter sets in, giving them safety from the Indians for the moment. Tom takes part in big-game hunts of the bighorn sheep, wapiti (elk), buffalo, deer, and bear. The winter though is a danger in itself. An avalanche narrowly misses the shelter that the men built, the temperature plummets, a grizzly attacks their horses, and the Indians try another attack. To check the Indians' assault, a snow fort is built. Later on, an avalanche destroys both the snow fort and the shelter, forcing the band to travel again.

They arrive safely at Fort Bridger, and after a short rest, set out to find a gold mine that Tom's uncle found on a previous trip. Leaping Horse, with his unerring knowledge of the country, leads them straight to the mine, which turns out to be one of the biggest lodes ever found. Indians spoil their plans for the time being, forcing the men to make the incredible journey in canoes down the great Colorado River, through many canyons, one of them consisting of the Grand Canyon.

The consequences of the trip tell greatly on the group of friends. Two die during the expedition, one to the Indians, the other to the rapids, and Jerry suffers a broken shoulder. After many days are passed, the band reaches Denver. While there, Harry acquires enough money to purchase enough equipment and hire men to start the mining operation full-scale.

After a short time passed while the mining was going on, the Indians returned. The force consisted of 300 or more braves. However, on seeing that the mining camp had enough men to defend it completely, the Indians accepted a truce with the men in the camp.

When the first summer was over, Tom and his uncle returned to England very rich men. Tom chose not to return to America, although Harry Wade did every year for a few months at a time to visit with his old friend and brother Leaping Horse.

In The Heart of The Rockies is yet another great book by Henty! The story has many lessons through the pages.

— Brandon Smith

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