The clouds opened at the point where they first had gathered, and the whole sublime congregation of mountains was bathed at once in warm sunshine. They seemed more like some luxurious vision of Eastern romance than like a reality of that wilderness; all were melted together into a soft delicious blue, as voluptuous as the sky of Naples or the transparent sea that washes the sunny cliffs of Capri. On the left the whole sky was still of an inky blackness; but two concentric rainbows stood in brilliant relief against it, while far in front the ragged cloud still streamed before the wind, and the retreating thunder muttered angrily.
Through that afternoon and the next morning we were passing down the banks of the stream called La Fontaine qui Bouille, from the boiling spring whose waters flow into it. When we stopped at noon, we were within six or eight miles of the Pueblo. Setting out again, we found by the fresh tracks that a horseman had just been out to reconnoiter us; he had circled half round the camp, and then galloped back full speed for the Pueblo. What made him so shy of us we could not conceive. After an hour’s ride we reached the edge of a hill, from which a welcome sight greeted us. The Arkansas ran along the valley below, among woods and groves, and closely nestled in the midst of wide cornfields and green meadows where cattle were grazing rose the low mud walls of the Pueblo.
THE PUEBLO AND BENT’S FORT
We approached the gate of the Pueblo. It was a wretched species of fort of most primitive construction, being nothing more than a large square inclosure, surrounded by a wall of mud, miserably cracked and dilapidated. The slender pickets that surmounted it were half broken down, and the gate dangled on its wooden hinges so loosely, that to open or shut it seemed likely to fling it down altogether. Two or three squalid Mexicans, with their broad hats, and their vile faces overgrown with hair, were lounging about the bank of the river in front of it. They disappeared as they saw us approach; and as we rode up to the gate a light active little figure came out to meet us. It was our old friend Richard. He had come from Fort Laramie on a trading expedition to Taos; but finding, when he reached the Pueblo, that the war would prevent his going farther, he was quietly waiting till the conquest of the country should allow him to proceed. He seemed to consider himself bound to do the honors of the place. Shaking us warmly by the hands, he led the way into the area.