Kit Carson - John S. C. Abbott

Marches and Encampments


Mr. Fitzpatrick, with his party of trappers, wandering to and fro, found himself at length encamped on the head waters of the Arkansas river, in the heart of the Rocky mountains, more than a thousand miles from the point where that majestic stream empties into the Mississippi. Their intercourse with the Indians had not been such as to secure friendly relations. Powerful tribes were around them, ready to combine for their destruction. The men were widely scattered in their trapping excursions, and but few were left here to guard the camp and the furs already taken.

It is impossible to trace with accuracy the course pursued by these different bands, neither is it a matter of any moment. Kit found himself at one time, left with but one man to guard the camp. He was fully conscious of his danger, and made every possible preparation for defence, should they be attacked. With food in abundance, loop-holes properly arranged, and a number of rifles ever ready loaded, no war-party, however numerous, could seize the fort without the loss of many of their men. And as we have said, the boldest of these warriors were never willing to expose themselves unprotected to rifle shot.

Neither of the men dared to venture far from their camp for game. Fortunately this was not necessary. Game existed in such abundance that, almost from the door of their fortification, they could shoot any quantity they needed. They always kept a careful guard. While one slept the other watched. For a month these two men were in this lonely position. At the end of that time Mr. Blackwell, one of the partners in one of these expeditions, arrived with fifteen fresh men, and a very thorough outfit. It was a joyful meeting, and the whole party, taking with them their furs, commenced a march to the Salt springs, near the head waters of the Platte river.

These adventurers had been but four days on their route, when one morning as they were breakfasting, the guard gave the startling cry of "Indians." Every man was instantly on his feet, rifle in hand. The horses of the trappers were at but a short distance from the camp, turned loose to crop the grass, which was there scanty, wherever they could find it. But when Kit Carson was in a company nothing was ever left to chance. The animals were all carefully hobbled, a hind foot and a fore foot so bound together that they could not possibly run.

The Indians, on fleet horses, with flaunting pennons, hair streaming in the wind, and uttering demoniac yells, came down like the sweep of the tornado upon the animals. Their object was to cause a stampede, that is, to throw the animals into such a panic that they would break away from everything, and follow the Indian horses off into the boundless prairie. The trappers thus left without any steeds, would find pursuit impossible.

The movement was so sudden and so rapid that, though several shots were fired, but one Indian was struck. He fell dead upon the sod. One horse only was lost. One of the warriors, as he was passing by on the full run, succeeded in cutting the cord of a rearing, struggling steed, and the terrified animal disappeared with the mounted herd. Had it not been for the precaution of hobbling the horses, probably every one would have been lost in this attempted stampede. What is usually called good luck, is almost always the result of wise precautions. In reference to this adroit mode of horse-stealing adopted by the Indians, it is written:

"These stampedes are a source of great profit to the Indians of the Plains. It is by this means they deprive the caravans of their animals. The Comanches are particularly expert and daring in this kind of robbery. They even train horses to run from one given point to another, in expectation of caravans. When a camp is made which is nearly in range, they turn their trained animals loose, who at once fly across the plain, penetrating and passing through the camp of their victims. All of the picketed animals will attempt to follow, and usually succeed. Such are invariably led into the haunts of the thieves, who easily secure them.

"Young horses and mules are easily frightened. And, in the havoc which generally ensues, oftentimes great injury is done to the runaways themselves. The sight of a stampede on a grand scale, requires steady nerves to witness without tremor. And woe to the footman who cannot get out of the way when the frightened animals come along. At times, when the herd is large, the horses scatter over the open country and are irrecoverably lost.

"A favorite policy of the Indian horse thieves is to creep into camp, cut loose one animal and thoroughly frighten him. This animal seldom fails to frighten the remainder, when away they all go with long ropes and picket-pins dangling after them. The latter sometimes act like harpoons, being thrown with such impetus as to strike and instantly kill a valuable steed from among the brother runaways. At other times the limbs of the running horses get entangled in the ropes, and they are suddenly thrown. Such seldom escape without broken legs or severe contusions, which are often incurable. The necessity of travelling on, without delay, renders it an impossibility to undertake the cure, when it might be practicable under other circumstances."

The next day the party of trappers travelled fifty miles, till they thought themselves beyond the reach of the hostile savages. Still they knew how stealthily their trail might be followed, and they were vigilant to guard against surprise. They selected, for their night's encampment, a beautiful spot upon the banks of a clear mountain stream, which emptied into the Arkansas river. They had there a smooth and verdant meadow, of limited extent, affording fine pasturage. Here the wearied animals were strongly picketed. There was also a grove, where they could obtain fuel and timber for such camp protection as they might require.

It was nearly dark when they reached this spot, hungry and tired after the long journey of the day. But their camp-fires soon blazed brightly. Rich viands of choice cuts of venison and other game, were cooked by artistic hands. And the mountain springs afforded them cool and delicious water. With ravenous appetites they partook of a feast which any gourmand might covet. And then wrapped in their furs, and surrounded by the silence and solitude of the wilderness, with the whole wild scene illumined by their fires, they fell asleep. In accordance with invariable custom a careful guard was set.

They had one cause of solicitude, which to any person unfamiliar with mountain life would have been very serious; the place abounded with rattlesnakes. The whole region seemed to be a favorite rendezvous for these venomous reptiles. These mountaineers, however, had become so thoroughly acquainted with their habits, as to sleep in the midst of them without anxiety. In the night the rattlesnake seldom moves, in the daytime with his rattles he gives chivalric warning before he strikes with his fangs. Consequently it is not often that the trapper or the Indian is bitten.

Our travellers carefully examined the ground over which they reared their frail shelters, and then folded in their blankets or buffalo robes, experienced no solicitude. About midnight a faithful dog began to bark furiously. It was not doubted that the sagacious animal scented the approach of Indians. Every trapper was instantly on his feet, with his rifle in his hand. Their attention was immediately directed to the horses. The Indians were professional thieves, not murderers; they were in search of booty, not of revenge. And when they sought to take the lives of the trappers, it was merely as a necessary means for attaining their end of robbery.

It subsequently appeared that the Indians were undoubtedly near, and that the dog had not given a false alarm. The savages probably from their covert, saw that the animals were strongly tethered, and that the trappers were on the alert. Any attempt to stampede the horses, would expose them to the bullets of these unerring marksmen. They therefore withdrew, waiting for a more favorable opportunity. After an hour of watching, the trappers, about seventeen in number, having posted an extra guard, lay down again, but not for sleep. They expected every moment to see a band of mounted savages, perhaps several hundred in number, coming with the sweep of the whirlwind upon their horses, and yelling like demons, as they drove the terrified animals far away into the wilderness. The night, however, passed away without further disturbance. As the morning dawned serene and cloudless upon them, all suspicions seem to have been dispelled. They replenished their fires, cooked their savory breakfast, and decided to remain for a day or two in their delightful encampment. The region abounded with the most desirable game, and it was thought that beaver might be found in the adjacent streams.

Kit Carson had a remarkably retentive memory, and a wonderful aptitude for comprehending the mazes of rivers, mountains, and valleys. He had very thoroughly studied the geography of these regions, and told his companions that at a distance of a few miles, there was a much larger stream than that upon which they were encamped; and that he had been informed that beaver were to be found there in abundance. There were two ways of approaching that stream; the shorter, but more difficult one, was by clambering over a mountain ridge several hundred feet high, and then descending into the valley beyond, through which the river flowed. The other and much longer route, was to follow down the small stream upon whose banks they were encamped, for several miles, until they reached its entrance into the larger river.

Four of the trappers, led by Kit Carson, undertook to cross this Rocky Mountain peak, and explore the valley beyond. They mounted four horses, laden with their traps, and other articles essential for a short trapping excursion. Probably the Indians, hidden in the distance, were with keen eyes watching every movement at the camp. Carson and his companions had been absent but about four hours, and others of the party were dispersed in search of game, when a large band of Indians, mounted on fleet horses, with flaunting pennons, and hair streaming in the wind, and making the cliffs resound with their yells, succeeded in liberating a large number of the horses, and with their booty, rapidly disappeared down the winding glen.

This all took place in almost less time than it has required to describe it. The hardihood and fearlessness of these hunters is signally manifest in the fact that four of these men instantly grasped their rifles, and springing upon four of the fleetest of their remaining horses, set out in pursuit of these savages, who outnumbered them ten to one. The narrowness of the glen was such, that the pursuers had the decided advantage over the spoil-encumbered pursued. They soon overtook them, and opened upon them a deliberate and deadly fire. One warrior fell dead from his horse. The others, imminently exposed to the same fate, with terror abandoned the drove they had captured, and soon disappeared in their rapid flight. The horses were all regained, and with them the victorious party returned to the camp. One of the men however was seriously wounded, having been struck by a bullet from one of the Indian warriors, several of whom were armed with rifles.

In the meantime, Carson and his companions, after surmounting great difficulties, reached the valley they sought, and to their disappointment, found no beaver there. Crossing the ridge had proved so difficult, that they decided to return by the more circuitous route of the two valleys. As they were riding along on their pathless way, they suddenly came upon four Indian warriors, evidently on the war-path; painted, plumed and armed in the highest style of military decoration. The four Indians instantly turned their horses and fled. The four trappers at once spurred on their steeds, and pursued them.

They were dashing on at their highest speed, when suddenly they found they had been led into an ambush. Sixty warriors came rushing upon them from behind the hill, where they had been concealed. The trappers had no time for deliberation. There was but one possible escape. It was to run the gauntlet. Bowing down to the necks of their horses, so as to expose their persons as little as possible to bullets or arrows, they urged their steeds to their utmost speed. The horses had an instinctive dread of the Indian. Sharing the alarm of their riders, they became frantic with terror, and needed no urging in their impetuous race. The Indians were often within sixty feet of their victims, and bullets and arrows flew thickly around the trappers. But both parties being on the fiercest run, and there being interposing obstacles of rocks, and shrubs, and trees, accurate aim was impossible. As the fugitives drew near their camp, the Indians relinquished the pursuit. One of the men had been struck by an arrow and wounded.

It was late in the afternoon when these heroic men were all re-assembled around the camp-fires, to recount the adventures of the day. With the sleeplessness of the preceding night, and the toil and peril which the rising sun had ushered in, they were all exceedingly exhausted. Still the consciousness that they were surrounded by a vigilant and powerful foe, rendered it necessary for them to adopt every precaution for their safety. They tethered their horses with very great care, near their camp. They prepared hasty ramparts which guarded every approach; and having established a very careful guard, sought that repose which all so greatly needed. The night passed without alarm.

At the distance of four days' march, there was another encampment of trappers, under Mr. Gaunt. They decided as speedily as possible to join them. But the two wounded men found their wounds so inflamed that they could not travel. The trappers, accustomed to such exigencies, prepared for them litters very ingeniously constructed. They cut two flexible poles about twenty-four feet long. These were laid upon the ground, three feet apart, and a buffalo robe laid between them, strongly fastened on either side, so as to present a swinging hammock about six feet in length. This left at either end shafts about six feet long. Two mules or horses, of about the same size were selected as carriers. The ends of these shafts were attached to saddles, on each of the animals. Thus the patient was borne by a gentle, swinging motion, over the roughest paths.

In four days they reached Gaunt's camp. The whole united party set out for the lovely region to which we have before alluded, known as the Great Park. Here they found beautiful scenery, game in abundance, a delicious climate, rich pasturage for their animals, but no beavers. Other trapping parties had just preceded them, and emptied all the streams of their furs. For a week or two they wandered far and wide, setting their traps in vain. At length Kit Carson, weary of such profitless pursuits, took two chosen companions with him, and with the hearty good wishes of Mr. Gaunt and the remaining trappers, set out on an expedition on his own account.

He plunged directly into the very heart of the mountains, where game not being abundant he would be less likely to be annoyed by the savages. His experience and sagacity guided him safely and successfully. For several months these three men wandered about among these lonely streams, which even the Indian rarely visited. They found beaver in abundance, and loading down their animals with the well packed furs, set out on their perilous journey home. It was necessary for them to pass over miles of open prairie, where Indian bands were ever found pursuing buffalo, deer and other game. It would seem that a miracle only could preserve them from attack, and they were too few in numbers for a persistent defence.

The sagacity of Kit Carson, however, triumphed over all the obstacles he had to encounter. He traversed the forest and the prairie undiscovered, and reached Taos with all his animals and their precious freight. Here he found furs in great demand. Traders were there from various parts of the States, ready to purchase his supply at the highest prices. Kit Carson was abundantly rewarded for all his toil, and for a mountain trapper, might be deemed rich. His two companions speedily squandered their earnings in all kinds of extravagant and senseless revelry. Mr. Carson, having perhaps learned wisdom from past experience, judiciously invested the sums he had acquired.

Mr. Carson had now very decidedly stepped out from the ranks of vagabondage, in which so many of the reckless trappers were wandering, and had entered the more congenial association with intelligent and respected men. There was at that time at Taos, a gentleman by the name of Lee. He had the title of Captain, having been formerly an officer in the United States army. He was then a partner in the firm of Bent and Vrain, merchants of renown in the fur trade. This firm, in the eager pursuit for furs, had dispatched Captain Lee to these remote frontiers in New Mexico.

Bands of energetic trappers were penetrating streams and valleys, over distances thousands of miles in extent. Many of the Indians also, seeking lucrative trade with the white men, had purchased steel traps and had become quite successful in the capture of beavers. Captain Lee had obtained a large number of mules. These he was to load with packs, containing such goods as he thought would be the most eagerly sought for by the trappers. Then with a cavalcade of perhaps forty or fifty mules, horses for his party to ride, and spare horses to meet any accidental loss, he was to set out on a long tour of hundreds of miles, climbing the mountains, threading the valleys, crossing the prairies in search of these widely wandering bands.

In exchange for his goods he received furs; and the mules returned with their freightage of very rich treasure. This was in the latter part of October, 1832. Captain Lee became acquainted with Kit Carson, and immediately appreciated his unusual excellencies as a companion in an enterprise so arduous and perilous, as that in which he was engaged. He made him so liberal an offer to join his company, that Mr. Carson promptly accepted it.

There is a narrow mule-path which has been traversed for ages, between New Mexico and California. The mules and the Indians ever travel it in single file. It was then known by the name of The Old Spanish Trail.

As merchants, not trappers, they marched, without any delay, down White river, forded Green river, and struck across the country to Windy river. Ascending its windings, they reached the camp of Mr. Robidoux, who, with twenty men in his employ, was there setting his traps. They had scarcely arrived at the encampment, when snow began to fall, and an early winter seemed to be setting in. It was deemed expedient for the united party to establish winter quarters there. They erected very comfortable lodges, of buffalo skins, quite impervious to wind and rain, and made everything snug for a mountain home. They had food in abundance, ample materials for making and repairing their clothing, and when gathered around their bright and warm camp-fires seemed to be in want of nothing.

Attached to Mr. Robidoux's company there was an Indian of great strength and agility, in whom much confidence was reposed. He had become very expert with the rifle, and had shrewdly studied all the white man's modes of attack and defence. Horses were in this remote region very valuable. They could not easily be obtained, and were indispensable to transport the furs. They were worth two hundred dollars each.

This Indian, one night, selected six of the fleetest horses, and mounting one and leading the rest, with his stolen property, disappeared over the trackless waste. It was a sum total loss of twelve hundred dollars. But the immediate pecuniary loss was not all, for the horses could not easily be replaced, and without them all the movements of the trapping party were greatly crippled. Mr. Robidoux, knowing Kit Carson's reputation for sagacity and courage, immediately applied to him to pursue the Indian. It was just one of those difficult and hazardous enterprises which was congenial to the venturous spirit of Carson.

There was a friendly tribe of Indians in the vicinity, in which there was a young warrior whose chivalric spirit had won the confidence and regard of Carson. This young man was easily induced to join him in the chase. But a short time was required for preparation. Grasping their rifles, and taking their blankets, they each mounted a fine horse and set out in pursuit of the fugitive, who had several hours the start of them. The wary thief had so successfully concealed the direction of his flight that it took them some time to discover his trail. Having at length found it, they set off, at the highest speed which they felt that their animals could endure. Over soft ground, the marks left by six horses, running in one compact band, could be without difficulty followed. But at times the nature of the soil was such that but a very indistinct imprint of their footprints was left.

Medicine Man


As the thief, in his flight, conscious that he might be overtaken, would make no difference between day and night, it was necessary that his pursuers should also press on without allowing darkness to delay them. This added greatly to the difficulty of following the trail. But the sagacity of Carson and his intelligent Indian comrade triumphed over all these obstacles. For one hundred miles they followed the fugitive with unerring precision. But now they encountered a serious calamity.

This singular race was down the valley of the Green river. The Indian's horse suddenly gave out completely. He could go no farther. Nothing remained for Carson but to relinquish the pursuit, and slowly to return with the dismounted Indian, or to continue the chase alone. Carson could not endure the thought of failure. His pride of character led him ever to resolve to accomplish whatever he should undertake. He seems not at all to have thought of the peril he would encounter in grappling with the savage alone. The Indian was of herculean size and strength, and of wonderful agility. He was well armed, and thoroughly understood the use of his rifle. His bravery had already given him renown, and it was certain that under the circumstances he would fight with the utmost desperation.

Kit Carson, on the other hand, was slender and almost boyish in stature. In a conflict with the burly savage it would be a David meeting a Goliath.

It was a peculiarity of Mr. Carson's mind, that his decisions were instantaneous. He never lost any time in deliberation; but whatever the emergency, he seemed instinctively to know at the moment, exactly the best thing to be done. The most mature subsequent deliberation invariably proved the wisdom of the course he had adopted. This was said to have been a marked peculiarity in the mind of Napoleon I. However great the complication of affairs, however immense the results at issue, his mind at a single flash discerned the proper measures to be adopted; and without the slightest agitation the decision was pushed into execution.

Carson looked for a moment upon his unhorsed comrade, uttered no words of lamentation, bade him good bye, wished him a successful return, and pushed forward on his truly heroic enterprise. Thirty miles farther he rode alone through the wilderness, carefully husbanding his horse's strength, allowing him occasional moments of rest, and not unfrequently relieving him of his burden as he ran along by his side. Though Mr. Carson was, as we have said, very fragile in form, his sinews seemed tireless as if wrought of steel.

At length, just as he was rounding a small eminence on the open prairie, he caught sight of the Indian with his stolen cavalcade, not an eighth of a mile before him. He was mounted on one of the most powerful of the steeds, moving leisurely along, leading the rest. There chanced to be two or three trees not far from the savage. The moment he caught sight of Carson, his keen eye discerned who his foe was. Instantly he leaped from his horse, rifle in hand, and rushed at his highest speed for the trees. Could he but reach that covert, Carson's fate was sealed beyond any possibility of escape. Sheltered by the trunk of the tree, he could take deliberate aim at his foe, exposed on the open prairie within half rifle shot.

Carson comprehended the peril of his position. He sprang from his horse, unslung his rifle, took calm and sure aim, and just at the moment when the Indian was reaching his covert, the sharp report was heard, the bullet whistled through the air, the Indian gave one convulsive bound and fell dead upon the sod. The savage had already cocked his rifle. As he fell the piece was discharged, and the bullet intended for Carson's heart, whizzed harmlessly through the air. Such scenes were of constant occurrence in this wild mountaineer life. They produced no lasting impression. The shooting of a bear, a buffalo or an Indian seemed about alike eventful. These pioneers being entirely beyond the protection of law, were compelled to be a law to themselves.

Mr. Carson collected the horses, who were all very weary, and quietly commenced his return home. He did not urge the animals at all, allowed them to feed abundantly on the rich prairie, and after a few days' journey, modestly entered the camp with his recaptured animals all in good condition. This was another of those victories which Carson was continually winning, and which were giving him increased renown.

A few days after his return to the encampment, two or three wandering trappers entered their lodges, and informed them that a numerous party were encamped on Snake river, about fifteen days' journey from them. This party was in the employ of two men quite distinguished in the fur trade, Messrs. Fitzpatrick and Bridger. Snake river is one of the tributaries of Green river, or rather flowing from the western declivities of the Rocky mountains, it first enters Bear river, then Green river, then the Colorado river, down whose current it flows a distance of more than a thousand miles into the gulf of California.

The encampment at Snake river was five or six hundred miles almost due north from Taos. West of the Rocky mountains the climate is much more mild than in the same latitudes east of those gigantic ridges. Though it was mid-winter, and though many snow-storms were to be encountered, Mr. Lee decided to set out immediately on that journey, doubting not that he could readily dispose of his remaining goods to Messrs. Fitzpatrick and Bridger.

The execution of this enterprise would require a very laborious march; but still one not fraught with much danger from the severity of the cold. Though there were often treeless prairies, whose bleak expanse they must traverse, all the streams, even the smallest, were fringed with forests. Suitable precaution would enable them every night to obtain the shelter of some one of these groves. They were almost certain during the day to obtain all the game they would need. A couple of hours' work with their axes, would enable them to rear a sufficient shelter for the night. With an immense fire roaring, and crackling, and throwing out its genial warmth in front of their camp, they could, wrapped in their furs and with their feet to the fire, enjoy all the comfort which the pioneers of the wilderness could desire. No matter how dismally the wintry storm might wail through the tree-tops, no matter how fiercely the smothering, drifting snow-storm might sweep the prairie, they, in their warm and illuminated cabins, could bid defiance alike to gale and drift. Their hardy animals, ever accustomed to unsheltered life in winter as well as summer, knew well how to find the grass beneath the snow, or to browse upon the succulent foliage.

The journey, though it proved very toilsome, was successfully accomplished. Captain Lee, with Carson, and their accompanying band, having reached the Snake river encampment, readily sold all his goods, taking his pay in beaver skins. With his rich purchase packed upon the backs of his horses, he returned to Taos. As there was nothing in Captain Lee's journey home to require the services of so important a man as Mr. Carson, the latter decided to remain and unite himself with the trappers.

The party was large, the beavers were scarce, and after the lapse of a month Mr. Carson decided that the prospect of a rich remuneration in the distribution of their furs, was not encouraging. He therefore arranged an expedition on his own account. His popularity as a man and his reputation as a trapper were such that every man in the party was ready to join him. He selected three of the best men, and crossing the main ridge of the Rocky mountains, a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles, reached the Laramie river, a stream which flowed into the north fork of the Platte.

The warm airs of spring were now beginning to breathe through these valleys. On the Laramie and its tributaries, Carson and his companions continued trapping through the whole summer. They were successful beyond their highest expectations. As they were to carry their furs for sale to Taos, which was on the west side of the mountains, they set out, laden with their goods, to cross the wide and rocky range. It was slow work threading these defiles, and it required a journey of several days.

One afternoon having travelled for hours through a very dreary and barren ravine, in which they had found no game, they halted two hours before sunset. Carson, while his two companions were arranging the camp, set off with his rifle in pursuit of supper. He had wandered about a mile from the camp, when he came upon the fresh tracks of some elk. Following their trail for a little distance, he soon discovered a small herd of the beautiful animals grazing upon a hill-side, just on the edge of a grove. Moving with great care, circuitously he entered upon the covert of the trees, crept up within rifle range, selected the largest and fattest of the herd, and at the report of the rifle, the animal stood for a moment shivering as if struck by paralysis, and then dropped dead.

Carson was more than usually elated by his success. The party were all hungry. The region was extremely wild and barren, and there was great danger that they would have to go supperless to bed. Scarcely had the echo of his rifle shot died away, when Carson heard a terrific roar, directly behind him. Instantly turning his head, he saw two enormous grizzly bears, coming down upon him at full speed, and at the distance of but a few rods.

The grizzly bear is a larger animal and far more ferocious, than the black bear. A bullet seems to prick rather than to maim him, and he will attack the hunter with the most desperate and persevering fierceness. Carson was helpless. He had discharged his rifle. The brutes were close upon him, and there were two of them. They could outrun him. His fate seemed sealed.

For once, Kit Carson was frightened; but not so much so as in the slightest degree to lose his self-possession. With a lightning glance, his eye swept the grove, in search of a tree into whose branches he might climb. He saw one at a little distance, and rushed towards it, pursued by both of the monsters growling and gnashing their teeth. With wonderful agility, he sprang and caught a lower branch, and drew himself up into the tree, just in time to escape the blow which one of the bears struck at him with his terrific claws. But he had by no means obtained a place of safety. He had been compelled to drop his rifle in his flight. The grizzly bear can climb a tree, far more easily than can a man. He was too far distant from the camp to hope for aid from that quarter. Again it seemed that a dreadful death was inevitable.

The bears hesitated for a moment, growling and showing their claws and their white teeth. Quick as thought Carson cut and trimmed from the tree a stout cudgel, which would neither break nor bend. Soon, one of the bears commenced climbing the tree. The nose of the bear is very tender, and is the only point vulnerable to blows.

Cudgel in hand, Carson took his stand upon one of the branches, and as soon as the bear's head came within reach, assailed him with such a storm of blows, that he dropped howling to the ground. The other then made the attempt to climb the tree, and encountered the same fate. The blows which the sinewy arm of Carson had inflicted, evidently gave the animals terrible pain. They filled the forest with their howlings, and endeavored to bury their snouts beneath the sod. For some time they lingered around the tree, looking wistfully at their prey, as if loth to leave it. But they did not venture to incur a repetition of the chastisement they had already received. At length, with almost a ludicrous aspect of disconsolateness, they slowly retired into the forest.

Carson waited until assured that they had entirely withdrawn. He then descended the tree, reloaded his rifle, and repairing to the spot where he had shot the elk, found that it had already been devoured by wolves. This adventure had occupied many dreadful hours. It was not until the morning dawned, that Carson found his way back to his anxious companions in the camp. He often said that never in his life, had he been exposed to greater peril, than on this occasion.