Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/265

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

they became much excited, and reiterated their request, stating that but one scalp was required to fulfill their obligations to the Most High. Major Whalen remained immovable, and gave me orders to get my company in readiness immediately to frustrate any such attempt on the part of the Apaches, at the same time instructing me to inform them of this order. They heard me through with Indian patience, and then, with undisguised expressions of hate against the commanding officer, rode down the river in solid square until they arrived at a point about three miles, below the fort, where the ceremonies, I am about to relate, were solemnized.

My company had been got ready, pursuant to order; but were kept in waiting, at the fort, until it should become certain that the Apaches were determined to visit the battle ground. Accompanied by two chosen men I kept about four hundred yards in their rear, but never intruded upon their privacy. Having reached a point where the bank of the Pecos descended gradually toward the stream—a very rare occurrence in that river—they wheeled to the right, and having reached the water, formed line, the right toward the south, while the prophet, dismounting from his horse, entered the stream, about knee deep, and commenced a series of incantations, the warriors preserving profound silence. Having performed the rite of ablution upon his own person and arms, he proceeded to the warrior at the southernmost end of the line, and received from him the weapons he had used in the fight above mentioned. The lance blade, the knife and the arrow heads were bathed in the stream, and then dried with a cloth, after which they were pointed upward, and the prophet, with a strong expiration, blew upon their respective blades, beginning at the hilts and ending at the points, at the same time muttering a series