The Headless Horseman is a novel by Mayne Reid, first published in monthly serialized form during 1865 and 1866, and subsequently published as a book in 1866, based on the author's adventures in the United States. "The Headless Horseman" or "A Strange Tale of Texas" was set in Texas and based on a south Texas folk tale.
The Headless Horseman is a story about an Irish adventurer and hero in the War with Mexico. First Lt. Reid, writing as "Captain Reid," penned a series of popular novels and attributed his headless horseman idea to a south Texas folk tale Vladimir Nabokov recalled The Headless Horseman as a favorite adventure novel of his childhood years: "which had given him a vision of the prairies and the great open spaces and the overarching sky." At 11, Nabokov even translated The Headless Horseman into French alexandrines.
The story takes place in Texas soon after the War with Mexico. Louise Poindexter, a beautiful newcomer, is courted by two men – the arrogant and vindictive Cassius Calhoun and the dashing but poor mustanger Maurice Gerald. Calhoun plots to eliminate his rival when tragedy strikes: Louise's brother, the young Henry Poindexter, is murdered. All clues point to Maurice Gerald as the assassin. At the same time, a headless rider is spotted in the environs of the Poindexter plantation.
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