Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/253

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247
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

in the ground and their tops bound together, may be termed. The lover then retires and awaits the issue. Should the girl favor the suitor, his horse is taken by her, led to water, fed, and secured in front of his lodge; but should she decline the proffered honor, she will pay no attention to the suffering steed. Four days comprise the term allowed her for an answer in the manner related. A ready acceptance is apt to be criticised with some severity, while a tardy one is regarded as the extreme of coquetry. Scarcely any of them will lead the horse to water before the second day, as a hasty performance of that act would indicate an unusual desire to be married; nor will any suffer the fourth day to arrive without furnishing the poor animal with its requisite food and drink, provided they intend to accept the suitor, for such a course would render them liable to the charge of excessive vanity.

With us the possession of gold and silver indicates the enjoyment of wealth. Gold and silver are the recognized mediums of exchange for goods, and are called money; but with the Apaches a horse is money, and the value of any article is regulated by the number of horses which it may bring. Of course, the animal must be sound, and not over ten years of age, and no farrier among us is more skillful in these matters than they.

The lover, having been accepted, it becomes his duty to determine how many horses her parents are willing to receive for their daughter, it being mutually understood that the animals are given as a recompense for her services to the family. In exact proportion to the number of horses given, her worth and attractiveness are exalted. If a girl is sold for one animal, no matter how good, she is deemed of little account—quite plebeian, and by no means of the bon ton—by the rest of those present, and