Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/50

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they never engage in any pursuit except that of war and the chase, all their worldly goods are the results of their skill and proficiency in these vocations. Polygamy being an institution among them, the man who can support or keep, or attract by his power to keep, the greatest number of women, is the man who is deemed entitled to the greatest amount of honor and respect. Gianatah is a great brave, said one in my hearing does he not keep seven squaws? and yet Gianatah was not, so far as personal bravery goes, the leading warrior of his band; but he was the most dexterous thief.

After our return to the Copper Mines, I was sitting in front of my tent one afternoon, writing a letter, when an Apache approached and for some reason regarded me attentively.

"What are you doing?" he at length inquired.

"Talking to my friends at home."

"But how can you talk to them so far off?"

"I will tell you. When the Apache desires to indicate speed he makes the figure of a bird; if he wishes to denote something beautiful or sweet, he delineates a flower; if he desires to express sloth, he makes the figure of a tortoise. These facts you know; but we do not use those symbols, and in their place we have agreed upon certain, characters, which being put together make words and indicate ideas. For instance, you see we make such marks; well, I send this paper to my friends, and they know just what these marks mean, the same as you would know what a bird or a tortoise meant; because we have all agreed upon a distinct and special interpretation."

These ideas were expressed to him in Spanish with great distinctness, and repeated until he seemed to comprehend their gist.

The savage pondered for a while, and then said: "I