It was a white caravan that looked down from the crest of the mountains upon the green wilderness, called by the Indians, Kain-tuck-ee. The wagons, a score or so in number, were covered with arched canvas, bleached by the rains, and, as they stood there, side by side, they looked like a snowdrift against the emerald expanse of forest and foliage. The travelers saw the land of hope, outspread before them, a wide sweep of rolling country, covered with trees and canebrake, cut by streams of clear water, flowing here and there, and shining in the distance, amid the green, like threads of silver wire. All gazed, keen with interest and curiosity, because this unknown land was to be their home, but none was more eager than Henry Ware, a strong boy of fifteen who stood in front of the wagons beside the guide, Tom Ross, a tall, lean man the color of well-tanned leather, who would never let his rifle go out of his hand, and who had Henry's heartfelt admiration, because he knew so much about the woods and wild animals, and told such strange and absorbing tales of the great wilderness that now lay before them. But any close observer who noted Henry Ware would always have looked at him a second time. He was tall and muscled beyond his years, and when he walked his figure showed a certain litheness and power like that of the forest bred. His gaze was rapid, penetrating and inclusive, but never furtive. He seemed to fit into the picture of the wilderness, as if he had taken a space reserved there for him, and had put himself in complete harmony with all its details.
It was to Henry a return rather than a removal. He almost fancied that in some far-off age he had seen all these things before. The forests and the mountains beckoned in friendly fashion; they had no terrors, for even their secrets lay open before him. He seemed to breathe a newer and keener air than that of the old land left behind, and his mind expanded with the thought of fresh pleasures to come. The veteran guide, Ross, alone observed how the boy learned, through intuition, ways of the wilderness that others achieved only by hard experience. They had met fair weather, an important item in such a journey, and there had been no illness, beyond trifling ailments quickly cured. As they traveled slowly and at their ease, it took them a long time to pass through the settled regions. This part of the journey did not interest Henry so much. He was eager for the forests and the great wilderness where his fancy had already gone before. He wanted to see deer and bears and buffaloes, trees bigger than any that grew in Maryland, and mountains and mighty rivers. But they left the settlements behind at last, and came to the unbroken forest. Here he found his hopes fulfilled. They were on the first slopes of the mountains that divide Virginia from Kentucky, and the bold, wild nature of the country pleased him. He had never seen mountains before, and he felt the dignity and grandeur of the peaks.
Up shot the sun showering golden beams of light upon the forest. The air grew warmer, but the little band did not cease its rapid pace northward until noon. Then at a word from Ross all halted at a beautiful glade, across which ran a little brook of cold water. The horses were tethered at the edge of the forest, but were allowed to graze on the young grass which was already beginning to appear, while the men lighted a small fire of last year's fallen brushwood, at the center of the glade on the bank of the brook.
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