Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/237

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

Quite a number of other innocent devices were resorted to for the purpose of quietly infiltrating the Apache mind with a sense of our superiority, but always most carefully guarding against any appearance of seeking to contrast American attainment with savage ignorance. Their bigotry and self-conceit could not be rudely assailed without exciting their natural distrust and alarm. They were ready to perceive a "nigger in every fence," and were ever on the alert to detect the slightest approximation to deceit, or effort to mislead by the assumption of higher intelligence. A person once discovered in the attempt to make them believe that in which he himself had no faith, is immediately and for ever tabooed. No subsequent acts or promises of his could restore their confidence. It was after I had acquired a very fair knowledge of their language that these traits became fully apparent, and I made it my study to conduct myself in such a manner as to allay all doubts.

I possessed a very good microscope, which I had purchased from a French priest, and also an excellent sun-dial, with several other instruments, such as burning-glass, field-glass, compass, several maps of New Mexico, etc. The anxiety to show the wonders of these instruments to my untutored visitors was very great, but I felt the imprudence of so doing until occasion could serve, when it would appear the result of their application, and not of my ostentation.

One day, while receiving instruction from Juan Cojo, my preceptor in the Apache language, I suddenly pretended that it was necessary for me to examine a minute object whose conformation was somewhat indistinguishable to the naked eye. Juan watched me with intense interest as I uncased the microscope and placed beneath its focus the body of a common flea. I was careful not