With his customary caution, he ordered the caravan to press forward as rapidly as possible, through the country of the Cheyennes, while every man was ordered to be constantly on guard. Having advanced about twenty miles, he saw that the savage warriors were rapidly gathering around him, in ever increasing numbers. Throwing up an intrenched camp, he rode out to within hailing distance of an advanced party of the warriors, and proposed a council. His friendly words in some degree conciliated them. They were soon seated in a circle, and they smoked the pipe of peace. Carson had addressed them through an interpreter. They did not suppose that the pale face could understand their language. But he did understand it perfectly.
The savages began to talk very loudly among themselves. Carson, understanding every word they said, listened eagerly, hoping to ascertain the cause of their unexpected hostility. Openly, but as they thought secretly, they discussed their plot, treacherously to disarm the whites of their suspicion, and then to arise and massacre them all. With true Indian cunning, they had arranged matters so that it would appear that the Sioux Indians, had perpetrated the massacre, and that the white man’s vengeance might fall upon them.
Suddenly Carson sprang to his feet, ordered every man who attended him, to be ready for immediate action. Then to the astonishment of the savages, in pure Cheyenne, he said to them:
“You see that I understand all that you have said. Why do you wish for my scalp? I have ever been the friend of your tribe. No one of you has ever been injured by me. There are some here whom I have met in past years. If they will turn to their memories, they will recall the former hunter of Bent’s Fort. I have eaten and drank with them. And now without any provocation from me, you treacherously seek my life. If you do not instantly leave this place, I will order you to be shot.”
The warriors disappeared on swift feet. Kit Carson’s change of dress had so altered his appearance, that they did not at first recognize him. But they had not forgotten his reputation. Though they had counted his armed teamsters, and saw that they numbered fifteen, the Indian warriors held a grand council, and probably the decision was to withdraw without an attack. Perhaps they remembered their former friendship for Carson; perhaps they were intimidated by his military prowess. At all events, he was not again molested. The remainder of the journey to Razado was accomplished in safety, though the vigilance of this distinguished leader was not intermitted in the slightest degree for a single mile of the way.
Recollections of Mountain Life.