Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/251

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245
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

the Apaches proper. When an Apache girl has reached the second year of her puberty the fact is widely circulated, and all present are invited to a grand feast and dance. She is then deemed marriageable and open to the solicitations of the young warriors. On such occasions the girl is dressed in all her finery. Small bells are hung to the skirts of her buckskin robe and along the sides of her high moccasins, which reach the knee. Bits of tinsel are profusely scattered all over her attire, until she is fairly weighed down by the quantity of her ornaments. Meat in abundance is cooked after their fashion, and the guests partake of it ad libitum. Twilt-kah-yee, an intoxicating beverage, is freely distributed. A dried ox-hide is laid upon the ground, and some of the more noted musicians entertain the company with improvised songs, while others beat time upon the ox-hide with long and tough sticks. The noise of this drumming can be heard for two miles on a clear, calm night. Old warriors meet and recount their exploits; young ones ogle and court the marriageable girls; old women delight in cooking the supper and furnishing it to their hungry applicants. Suddenly a shout is raised, and a number of young men, variously attired in the skins of buffaloes, deer, cougars, bears, and other beasts, each looking as nearly natural as possible, make their appearance, and commence dancing to a regular measure around a huge central fire. The women pretend to be greatly alarmed at this irruption of beasts; the men seize their weapons and brandish them with menacing gestures, to which the human menagerie pays no sort of attention. Finding their efforts to intimidate futile, they lay aside their arms and join in the dance, which is then made more enjoyable by the intermingling of the young girls. In the meantime the one in whose honor all these