Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/258

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[ch.
Birth. Childhood. Marriage.

respected, is thought a low character, and will have but little given for her if she is married. The good families in Ulawa also are strict, and mothers look well after their girls. At Santa Cruz, where the separation of the sexes is so carefully maintained, there are certainly public courtesans. In the Banks' Islands there is no such thing known[1]; it was always in old times the duty of parents to look well after their children both boys and girls, and to scold and correct them if they should see them going wrong; girls were never allowed to go about alone without their mother or elder friend; however common irregular intercourse may have been it was never allowed, never respectable, public feeling was on the side of virtue. There were respectable families where the girls were known or presumed to conduct themselves perfectly well, to toga mantag, and a girl from such a family would as a rule be chaste up to the time of her marriage. Bastards were very rare in the Banks' Islands[2]. A woman living without a husband would indeed sometimes be seen with children; but then it was known in the place that she had been taken to wife by a man whose previous wife was jealous and had driven her from the house. In the Northern New Hebrides, as Pentecost and Lepers' Island, harlots are unknown, though there are unmarried girls and married women who are known to receive mats and ornaments in prostitution secretly. There is a story in Lepers' Island of a man with two wives who when he went from home hung a bag in his house which he expected to be filled with mats by the time he came home. In these islands also a reputation for chastity is valued for its own sake, and in respectable families care is taken of the girls. In every island it may be said that there are households in which it is understood that the family is generally

  1. To translate the word harlot in Mota, it has been necessary to use the phrase tavine vilevile som, a woman who gives money, with a singular inversion of meaning. In fact the women of bad character are those married women who give secretly money to youths by way of invitation. The youth gives back food by way of pledge.
  2. A bastard was called nat gaegae, a child of the thicket, and was said to be wota vanameag, born without belongings, as a desert place is vanua vanameag.