Having arrived at his journey’s end, Kit’s love of adventure led him not to return with the traders, by the route over which he had just passed, but to push on still further in his explorations. About eighty miles northeast of Santa Fe there was another Spanish settlement, weird-like in its semi-barbarous, semi-civilized aspects, with its huts of sun-baked clay, its Catholic priests, its Mexican Indians and its half-breeds. It was a small, lonely settlement, whose population lived mainly, like the Indians, upon corn-meal and the chase. Kit ever kept his trusty rifle with him. His gun and hatchet constituted his purse, furnishing him with food and lodging.
It was a mountainous region; here in one of the dells, Kit came across the solitary hut of a mountaineer by the name of Kin Cade. They took a mutual liking to each other. As Kit could at any day, with his rifle bring in food enough to last a week, the question of board did not come into consideration. It was in the latter part of November that Kit first entered the cabin of this hunter. Here he spent the winter. His bed consisted probably of husks of corn covered with a buffalo robe, a luxurious couch for a healthy and weary man. Pitch pine knots brilliantly illumined the hut in the evening. Traps were set to catch animals for their furs. Deer skins were softly tanned and colored for clothing, with ornamental fringes for coats and leggins and moccasins. Kit and his companion Kin were their own tailors.
Thus passed the winter of 1826. Both of the men were very good-natured, and of congenial tastes. They wanted for nothing. When the wind howled amid the crags of the mountains and the storm beat upon their lonely habitation, with fuel in abundance and a well filled larder, and with no intoxicating drinks or desire for them, they worked upon their garments and other conveniences in the warmth of their cheerful fireside. It is not hazarding too much to say that these two gentle men, in their solitary cabin, passed a far more happy winter than many families who were occupying, in splendid misery, the palatial residences of London, Paris and New York.
Kin Cade was perhaps a Spaniard. He certainly spoke the Spanish language with correctness and fluency. The intelligence of Kit is manifest from the fact that he devoted himself assiduously during the winter to the acquisition of the Spanish language. And his strong natural abilities are evidenced in his having attained, in that short time, quite the mastery of the Spanish tongue. It is often said that Kit Carson was entirely an uneducated man. This is, in one respect, a mistake. The cabin of Kin Cade was his academy, where he pursued his studies vigorously and successfully for a whole winter, graduating in the spring with the highest honors that academy could confer.