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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/257

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CHINESE MARRIAGE CUSTOMS.

trousers for her husband. On no account must she be assisted in this task, or fail to accomplish it before the time for cooking the evening meal, else bad luck may follow all her subsequent career. Some time during the forenoon of this third day a messenger from her mother, usually her younger brother, brings her a bottle of hair-oil, takes dinner with her husband, and returns home accompanied by the duenna, who has then finished her duties.

On the fourth day the bride must rise long before daylight to dress her hair in the complex style of a married woman, and, as she is unaccustomed to performing this difficult work alone, she may succeed only after many trials. She this day lays aside her finery, and takes up all the occupations of a daughter-in-law, serving her elders in various ways, and doing the hardest of the housework.

If she hates her husband, and cares little for the comfort of her parents, she may waste food, break dishes, threaten suicide, and make herself so disagreeable that the family she has entered will soon consider the expediency of marrying her off into another household. If she desires to remain where she is, she strives to please her mother-in-law. A husband who takes the part of his wife against his mother is reckoned unfilial, and has little peace in the home of his ancestors. If he takes the part of his mother against his wife, the wife may be driven to suicide, and this would furnish opportunity for her family to make an inquisition financially ruinous to him. The mother and the wife, each jealous of the man's devotion, are the members of the family who are most likely to be unfriendly to each other. The existence of countless families in which three or four generations of both sexes live in apparent amity under one roof proves that the Chinese have great power of self-repression.

At the end of a month the bride's mother sends her a basket of artificial flowers, that she may make acceptable presents to her young neighbors. No bonnets or other head-coverings are used by youthful ladies in southern China, and flowers are worn in the hair on all festive occasions.

At the end of four months, on a day selected as lucky by a wizard, the bride goes to pay her first visit to her mother, unless some event has made it mystically unsafe for her to leave her present domicile or to enter her old one. The length of the bride's stay in her former home varies in different villages. In some she remains a month in her mother's house, and in others it is considered very unlucky if she does not return the same day, before the smoke from the village chimneys indicates that supper is being cooked. But any circumstance that renders either of the families unclean, and therefore unpropitious to luck, prevents the bride from having this outing. Uncleanliness is of two sorts