Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/299

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293
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

prairie dogs, and at night they hunt their prey, which consists of lizards and all sorts of bugs and beetles, after which they sleep—in the early morning—and re-appear again about eleven o'clock a. m. As I have never examined into this subject, I can only relate the Apache version.

Among nearly all other of our American tribes if one man murders another, the next warrior of kin to the slain person is entitled to the right of revenging his death by killing his murderer, after he has been tried and condemned by a council of the tribe; but this custom does not obtain among the Apaches. If one man kills another, the next of kin to the defunct individual may kill the murderer—if he can. He has the right to challenge him to single combat, which takes place before all assembled in the camp, and both must abide the result of the conflict. There is no trial, no set council, no regular examination into the crime or its causes; but the ordeal of battle settles the whole matter. Should the next of kin decline to prosecute the affair, then some other warrior of the family may shoulder the responsibility and seek retribution.

Among those who had surrendered themselves was a very old man, probably nearly a hundred years of age, for other men of fifty-five and sixty told me that he was a noted warrior when they were little children. His name was Sons-in-jah, or the "Great Star." This man's frame was of enormous proportions. His height, even at that extreme age, was six feet three inches, without moccasins. His shoulders were extremely broad, his arms of uncommon length, and his shriveled limbs exhibited a volume of bone almost equal to that of a large horse. The old man's eye-sight had begun to fail, but his hearing was keen as ever. His head was as white as snow,