Thus in a few hours young Carson would erect him a home, so cosey and cheerful in its aspect as to be attractive to every eye. Reclining upon mattresses really luxurious in their softness, he could bask in the beams of the sun, circling low in its winter revolutions, or gaze at night upon the brilliant stars, and not unfrequently have spread out before him an extended prospect of as rich natural scenery as ever cheered the eye. He had no anxiety about food. His hook or his rifle supplied him abundantly with what he deemed the richest viands. He knew where were the tender cuts. He knew how to cook them deliciously. And he had an appetite to relish them.
Having thus provided himself with a habitation, he took his traps and, either on foot or on horseback, as the character of the region or the distance to be traversed might render best, followed along the windings of the stream till he came to a beaver dam. He would examine the water carefully to find some shallow which the beavers must pass in crossing from shoal to deep water. Here he would plant his trap, always under water, and carefully adjust the bait. He would then follow on to another dam, and thus proceed till six traps were set, which was the usual number taken on such an expedition.
Early every morning he would mount his horse or mule and take the round of his traps, which generally required a journey of several miles. The captured animals were skinned on the spot, and the skins only, with the tails which the hunters deemed a great luxury as an article of food, were taken to the camp. Then the skin was stretched over a framework to dry. When dry it was folded into a square sheet, the fur turned inward and a bundle made containing from ten to twenty skins tightly pressed and corded, which was ready for transportation. These skins were then worth about eight dollars per pound.
After an absence of three or four weeks, young Carson would return with his treasures, often several hundred dollars in value, to the rendezvous of Mr. Ewing Young at Taos. Soon again he would set out on another similar expedition. Thus Carson passed the winter of 1827.
Among the Trappers.
The Discomfited Trappers.—The New Party Organized.—A Battle with the Indians.—Trapping on the Colorado.—March to the Sacramento.—The Friendly Indians.—Crossing the Desert.—Instinct of the Mule.—The Enchanting Valley of the Colorado.—The Mission of San Gabriel.—Vast Herds of Cattle.—The Mission of San Fernando.—Adventures in the Valley of San Joaquin.—The Meeting of two Trapping Bands.—Reasons for Kit Carson’s Celebrity.—A Military Expedition.—The Indian Horse Thieves.—The Pursuit and Capture.
Soon after Carson returned to the cabin of Mr. Young from one of his trapping expeditions, a party of trappers came back who had set out to explore the valley of