Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/189

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183
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

From Dragoon Pass eastward the whole of the vast region inhabited by the Apaches is covered with this species of grass, which is more or less thick and nourishing, according to circumstances, but always in sufficient abundance to afford all the nutriment required. It is this plentiful distribution of the most strengthening grass in the world which enables the Apache to maintain his herds, make his extraordinary marches, and inflict wide-spread depredations.

A knowledge of signals, whether smokes or fires, or bent twigs and pressed grass, or of turned stones, together with the localities of water sources, the different passes through the sierras, the nature and quantity of the fodder to be had in certain districts, the capacity to distinguish tracks and state with certainty by whom made, and how long before, are absolutely indispensable to a successful campaign among those savages. To the acquirement of all these points I devoted much attention, and, without egotism, can claim such success as to privilege me in giving the result of my researches as worthy of confidence.

Smokes are of various kinds, each one significant of a particular object. A sudden puff, rising into a graceful column from the mountain heights, and almost as suddenly losing its identity by dissolving into the rarified atmosphere of those heights, simply indicates the presence of a strange party upon the plains below; but if those columns are rapidly multiplied and repeated, they serve as a warning to show that the travelers are well armed and numerous. If a steady smoke is maintained for some time, the object is to collect the scattered bands of savages at some designated point, with hostile intention, should it be practicable. These signals are made at night, in the same order, by the use of fires, which