Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/263

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241
Betrothal.

brethren is hurt, it is his business to make it up with him by a present. Whether this can be called capture is very doubtful; but no doubt it represents the feelings with which the bride's kinsmen regard the loss of her services; it cannot be the loss of any rights of intercourse, since she was unapproachable by any of them. The bride is taken by female friends to the bridegroom's house or his father's, sometimes crying, and dragged along if she dislikes the match. An unwilling bride will refuse intercourse with her husband, or run away to some one she likes better; in that case, if her return seems hopeless, a pig is given and she stays. Sometimes, again, the young couple are so shy of one another that they will not speak after marriage, as it has not been proper to speak before; the friends and neighbours do not approve of this, and it is on this account that it is thought wise to ensure mutual acquaintance and liking by bringing the engaged couple together as children. At Lepers' Island among people of consequence infant betrothals are the proper thing; when a chief has a girl born to him another will come and secure her for his boy, giving a present and making a feast. If the boy is old enough at the time of the feast he is made to take a young drinking cocoa-nut, put a dracæna leaf into the eye of it, and give it to the infant's mother for the child to drink. This is called huhu vuhe goroe, to give her suck with a drinking cocoa-nut and secure her[1]. When the betrothed girl is about ten years old, the boy's mother takes her to her own house to teach her household ways, and the children are for the time brought up together. When she is growing big her parents take her back for her tattooing, which is done in lines all over her body, with nothing on her face. Hitherto she has worn nothing except on great occasions; now she is always clothed; in the house

  1. 'When a female child is born, the father or mother of some male child brings him into the house with a bamboo of water, and the male child proceeds to wash the female, who henceforth becomes his betrothed, and they grow up together recognizing each other as man and wife.'—Rev. C. Bice; at Maewo, Aurora Island.