Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/92

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ing gew-gaws are quite as good or better. They unquestionably prefer polygamy, as it exists.

A really brave man does not rank as high as a really clever, thievish poltroon. His gallantry is admired, and in times of danger all flock around him for protection; but at other periods the young squaws give him the cold shoulder, and he is regarded as little better than a fool who will run into danger, but does not know how to steal, or enrich himself at the expense of others. "He is a very brave warrior," say they, "a man who will fight and shed his blood in our defense; but he is little better than an ass, because he is always poor and don't know how to steal and not be caught." I am not too sure that something of this characteristic does not obtain among people who profess to rank much higher than the Apaches in the scale of mankind. It might be as well, perhaps, to pull the mote out of our own eyes before we attempt to extract the beam from those of our savage brethren. Nevertheless, the Apache character is not lovely. In point of natural shrewdness, quick perception and keen animal instinct they are unequaled by any other people. They know what is just and proper, because in all their talks they urge justice and propriety, and profess to be guided by those virtues; but all their acts belie their words. Deceit is regarded among them with the same admiration we bestow upon one of the fine arts. To lull the suspicions of an enemy—and to them all other people are enemies—and then take advantage of his credence, is regarded as a splendid stroke of policy. To rob and not be robbed; to kill and not be killed; to take captive and not be captured, form the sum of an Apache's education and ambition, and he who can perform these acts with the greatest success is the greatest man in the tribe. To be a prominent Apache is to be a prominent scoundrel.