Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/261

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Saa. Santa Cruz. Banks' Islands.

father is handed over[1]. In consequence of this familiarity, when the girl is marriageable and all is arranged she goes willingly enough to take up her abode in her new family, without any real or affected reluctance on her part, or lifting and carrying by her friends. It is sometimes, however, a long time before the marriage is consummated, through the shyness of the bridegroom, though the parents encourage the young couple to be friendly, and give them opportunities of talking and working together. The virginity of a bride is a matter of much concern to her friends, not only because the boy's friends will not pay what they have promised if her character in questionable, but because they value propriety. This all refers to the good families in the main; among inferior people early betrothals are unusual; the young people have not always made friends, and the taking of the bride to her new home is a greater affair. At Santa Cruz in the same way engagements of marriage are often made in infancy. The father looks out a suitable girl sooner or later, and the boy is not told. Presents and feather-money are interchanged between the parents on both sides. In course of time the boy is told that a girl is engaged for him, but is not told who she is; he is warned only not to go near a certain house, and guesses who it is. The youth when the time comes is often very reluctant to marry, he cries and asks why they want him to go away. However, when he marries he brings his wife to his father's house, until he builds one for himself[2].

In the Banks' Islands arrangements are made by the friends, and the payment to be made agreed upon; the young man, or his friends for him, la goro o tavine, give money and pigs to secure the woman, and her friends again tango goro o nago lagia, 'lay hold on the face of the marriage,' by an answering present.

  1. On one occasion, when Bishop Selwyn was present, eighteen porpoise teeth, fifty strings of money, twenty pigs.
  2. I have been told by a Loyalty Island teacher living on the island that a young married couple do not cohabit, but meet secretly for a time. This however was not allowed to be correct by Santa Cruz boys of whom I enquired.