"I move that we camp here for the night. All in favor say 'aye.' The motion's carried unanimously."
With that the tall boy threw off the pack that burdened his shoulders, set his gun up against a friendly tree and proceeded in other ways to relieve himself of the restraints under which he had toiled up the steep mountain side since early morning, with only now and then a minute's pause for breath.
"This is a good place to camp in," he presently added. "There's grazing for the mules, there's timber around for fire wood and I hear water trickling down from the cliff yonder. So 'Alabama,' which is Cherokee eloquence meaning 'here we rest.'"
The party consisted of five sturdy boys and a man, the Doctor, not nearly so stalwart in appearance, who seemed about twenty-eight or thirty years old. Each member of the party carried a heavy pack upon his back and each had a gun slung over his shoulder and an axe hanging by his girdle. There were four packmules heavily laden and manifestly weary with the long climb up the mountain.
As the boys were scarcely less weary than the mules they eagerly welcomed Jack Ridsdale's decision to go no farther that day, but rest where they were for the night.
"Now then," Jack resumed as soon as he got his breath again—a thing requiring some effort in the rarefied atmosphere of the high mountain peak—"we're all starved. The first thing to do is to get a fire started and get the kettle on for supper. If some of you fellows will unload the mules and get out the necessary things I'll chop some wood and we'll have a fire going in next to no time."
With that he swung his axe over his shoulder and stalked off into the nearby edge of the wood land. There with deft blows—for he was an expert with the axe—he quickly converted some fallen limbs and dead trees into a rude sort of fire wood which the other boys shouldered and carried to the glade where the Doctor had started a little fire that needed only feeding to become a great one.
During their laborious climb up the steep mountain side the party had found the early November day rather too warm for comfort; but now that the sun had sunk behind the mountain, and evening was drawing near, there was a sharp feeling of coming frost in the atmosphere, and as it would be necessary to sleep out of doors that night with no shelter but the stars, Jack continued his chopping until a great pile of dry wood lay near the fire ready for use during the night.