Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/308

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Soon the wily savage pretended to be delighted at the reata, which he declared was the finest he ever saw, and commenced to examine it with critical attention throughout its length until he reached the horse, which he also evidently admired. Patting the animal, he remarked, mucho bueno; yes, answered the soldier, he is a fine horse. In the meantime, the Indian, unnoticed by the soldier, had drawn a small knife from the leg of his moccasin and severed the reata close to the horse, keeping the cut ends concealed in his left hand while patting the horse with his right. Suddenly he pointed behind the soldier and shouted, Comanche on dahl; which means, "the Comanches are coming." Involuntarily the soldier turned to see, and at the instant the Apache sprang into the saddle, and in two bounds was behind the friendly shelter of a huge rock, from whence he effected his escape with the horse, leaving the soldier holding the reata in one hand and his pistol in the other. I might go on and relate many more incidents of the same character, but as they all illustrate the same special traits, they will be omitted. The moral to be drawn is, that the traveler can never exercise too much prudence while among the Apaches, and it will never do to underrate their boldness, skill and craftiness.

They are fond of bathing in the summer, and are all expert swimmers; but nothing can induce them to wash themselves in winter. They are the most reckless of all gamblers, risking anything they possess upon the turn of a card. Men, women and children indiscriminately engage in this vice; but there are some games to which women are never allowed access. Among these is one played with poles and a hoop. The former are generally about ten feet in length, smooth and gradually tapering like a lance. It is marked with divisions through-