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WE were most of us seated round a blazing fire of pine logs, which crackled away merrily, sending the sparks about in all directions, at the no small risk of setting fire to garments of a lighter texture than ours. Although the flowers were blooming on the hill-sides, in the woods and valleys, and by the margins of the streams; humming-birds were flitting about gathering their dainty food; and the bears, having finished the operation of licking their paws, had come out in search of more substantial fare; and the buffalo had been seen migrating to the north,—thewind at night blew keenly from off the snow-capped mountain-tops which, at no great distance, rose above us, and rendered a fire acceptable even to us hardy backwoodsmen. Our location was far in advance of any settlement in that latitude of North America, for Uncle Jeff Crockett "could never abide," he averred, "being in the rear of his fellow-creatures." Whenever he had before found people gathering around him at the spot where he had pitched his tent, or rather, put up his log-hut, he had sold his property (always to advantage, however), and yoking his team, had pushed on westward, with a few sturdy followers. On and on he had come, until he had reached the base of the Rocky Mountains. He would have gone over them, but, having an eye to business, and knowing that it was necessary to secure a market for his produce, he calculated that he had come far enough for the present. He therefore climbed the sides of the mountain for a short distance, until he entered a sort of cañon, which, penetrating westward, greatly narrowed, until it had the appearance of a cleft with lofty crags on either side,—while it opened out eastward, overlooking the broad valley and the plain beyond.

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