Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/160

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would point directly at the object and detect the imposition. These injunctions were implicitly followed, and keeping the magnet in my left hand, with the index finger of the right, I approached the instrument, muttering several cabalistic words, and described a half circle close to and about the case. Of course, no movement followed, and the chicken was accepted at the price asked. In this manner two or three were bought: but then came my turn. Changing the magnet into the hollow of my right hand, I again approached the compass, at the south pole, and instantly it commenced to circle round in obedience to well known causes, and under full control of the magnet, until the north pole pointed exactly toward the doomed chicken. There! I exclaimed, in a tone of simulated indignation, did I not tell you that some of your chickens were sick and bad? Do you expect to cheat a "Great Medicine?" If you are not more honest for the future, you may possibly be visited by a malady, which will kill off all your fowls.

By this time a large and anxious crowd had assembled to witness this new and extraordinary test, and any attempt to describe their wonderment would be fruitless. Realizing the impression made, I then continued in the following strain: I do not believe that you meant to be bad, but rather give you credit for ignorance, and I only claim that all the sick chickens shall be forfeited to me, for I can cure them, and make them ultimately useful. This proposition was eagerly accepted, nem. con., and in this manner I secured six dozen of excellent birds at the rate of two bits each, while only twelve miles distant my brother officers were paying six bits each for inferior birds. The Indians, knowing us to be in their power for supplies of this kind, had raised the prices five hundred per cent., and I had turned the scales against them by a very simple process.