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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/441

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

just at the time they are ready to spawn. They average three and a half pounds in weight, though some are taken weighing ten to eighteen pounds. Sturgeon average fifty pounds, but occasionally one is caught that weighs a hundred pounds or over. Fish differ greatly in rapidity of growth. Some grow in one, two, or three years to a definite size, and then growth seems to be arrested. Such fish are short-lived. Other kinds, which slowly and steadily increase in size, attain a great age. Pike have been known to be over a hundred years old. There is some confusion as to the names pike and pickerel. In England, where there is but one species of Esoz, a young pike is called a pickerel. The pike of our Great Lakes is the true pike (E. lucius). The pickerel (E. reticulatus) is more common in small lakes and ponds. An easy way to distinguish them is to look at the gill-covers. If they are entirely covered with scales, it is a pickerel; but, if the lower half of the opercula is bare of scales, it is a pike.

 

Karen Funeral-Weddings.—Among the Shan Karens of Farther India, funerals are made the occasions of grand wedding festivals, in which all the marriageable young men and women of the village are prvileged to participate. As it is not always convenient to hold these interesting ceremonies at the exact time when a villager may die, it is customary to deposit the corpse of the deceased in some temporary resting-place, or to burn it and preserve the ashes till the times and the marriage-market are more favorable to giving it obsequies worthy of its former estate. Consequently, six months, or a year, or more, may frequently pass before the memory of the dead Karen receives the honor which is its due. When a good time for weddings comes, the remains are taken from their temporary resting-place and set upon a platform or mat which has been prepared for them, and the eligible bachelors and marriageable young women of the neighborhood having been invited to come and compete in a marrying-match, arrange themselves, dressed in their gayest, in two choirs on opposite sides of them. The "funeral service" is then begun with a chorus of the men celebrating the beauties of the Karen maidens in general. The girls respond in their drawling falsetto, "calmly accepting the eulogy of their graces." These overtures are usually set pieces, handed down from antiquity, or taken and translated from some popular Burmese play. Next, the bachelors, each in his turn, beginning usually, for the sake of peace, with the most muscular one, "deliver themselves of love-stricken solos," directed by name to the several damsels whom they have chosen; if one of them is rejected, he waits till his turn comes again, and addresses, if he sees fit, some other girl. The girls receive the proposals in perfect self-possession, and respond to them in phrases like those with which they have been addressed, the models of which have come down from the old times. All the praise the maiden has received, she appropriates as only her just due, and continuing, she declares that it is a shameful thing not to be married, but that it is worse to be divorced afterward, "to be like a dress that has been washed," but that she will do what she is bid. If the girl rejects the address, she may do so in a tone indicating that she does not consider she has been praised enough, or with some such indirect phrase as "Come to me when the full moon appears on the first day of the month; come dressed in clothes that have never been stitched. Dress and come before you wake. Eat your rice before it is cooked, and come before daylight." Rejections, however, seldom occur, except when some young man makes a mistake and applies to a girl who is known to be reserving herself for another. The "funeral service" goes on in this way till it is plain that no more alliances can be made, when it is closed, all the crockery that belonged to the deceased is broken, and the body is permanently buried. The matches thus made are binding, and no other way of making them is in favor; and, if any preliminary private courting takes place, it is subsidiary to the funereal occasion.

 

Steel-Iron.—Professor M. Keil has produced a composite material of iron and steel in which the valuable qualities of the two substances are combined, and the combination is made available for a variety of uses. The principle of his process is ex-