Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/264

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Birth. Childhood. Marriage.

she wears only the para, a fringed band, and out of doors she is wrapped in mats. At this time the women on both sides are very busy talking over the price to be paid by the bridegroom's friends, which varies much; if the youth is the son of a great man, a tusked pig and a hundred mats are not too much, for common people two or three ordinary pigs and fifty mats will do. These arrangements often take a long time, for the women delight in them; and while they go on the young couple are encouraged to converse and not be shy. At last the wedding day arrives; the young man's friends take the pigs, mats, and uncooked food, and set them down in the middle of the bride's village. The bride's friends have already prepared cooked food, and the two parties eat together; the marriage is thus complete. The bride is carried on someone's back to her new home, wrapped in many mats, and with palm-fans held about her face, because she is supposed to be modest and shy. Formerly there was always a house built beforehand, and food prepared for the young couple, who ate together as a sign of union. Here, as elsewhere, a girl will run away to one she loves, and he may keep her if he can satisfy her friends; but sometimes he is afraid of the disappointed bridegroom's friends, sometimes he is too poor to make it up with hers; he is obliged then to decline to receive her, and she must go back, unless indeed she had rather strangle or hang herself.

The reserve exercised between those who have been brought near by marriage, and the mutual avoidance of some, has been already mentioned, and must be understood to begin as soon as the engagement of the young couple is complete. There is a singular example of this kind of reserve at Florida, where there is no difficulty in meeting or using the names of persons connected by marriage. In case of a woman having had a lover before her marriage she will never after marriage mention his name, calling him a hanu, that person, and she will never meet him in the path. Her husband looks out for this, and observing who it is demands money of the former lover, and when that is paid no more notice is taken of the matter; but