The Romance of the Wilds relived. Tom Brown, Jr., became celebrated as a kind of human bloodhound for tracking criminals and runaways. But his tale is one of spiritual awakening, not hot pursuit. Brown grew up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey under the guidance of Stalking Wolf, a wise old Apache tracker whom Fenimore Cooper would have known at a glance. Together they reenacted a cherished myth: the passing of nature lore from the serene native to the wideeyed initiate. Tracking is only one part of a meticulous process of observance. Brown learns to enter the world of birds, stalk deer until he can actually touch them unawares, appreciate ""Good Medicine"" and avoid bad. Stalking Wolf leads the boy out in a blizzard and has him make the return trip in a pair of shorts. ""The cold wind is your brother,"" his mentor explains. Battles with coy dogs and brushes with the ""Jersey Devil"" are tense and funny by turn. As Brown's practical knowledge expands with each adventure, so too does his pantheistic faith and his commitment to ""track the mystery to its source."" And, in the footsteps of Thoreau, he keeps a mix of woods lore, minute observation, and common-sense mysticism moving along apace. It's a frank, urgent, young-man's account which ends, tellingly, with Brown tracking a retarded runaway and impressed by the man's canniness.