Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/265

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243
Adultery.

if satisfaction were refused a quarrel would ensue. A newly-married husband, without waiting for observations, would often beat his bride to make her confess who her paramour had been.

The old habits of the people in all the islands were very strict in regard to adultery. The punishment of the man was death; but the punishment was very generally mitigated on payment of a fine. Thus in Florida an injured husband would give money to the chief to have the adulterer killed, and he, if he could, would make satisfaction in money to both chief and husband, and so save his life. The woman, however, would probably be made a rembi, harlot, for the profit of the chief. At Saa an adulterous wife is dismissed, and the adulterer is punished with death, exile, or fines. In case of adultery in a chief's family he will have the adulterer killed, or receiving a large fine will let him go to Ulawa and live; a man's friends will sometimes hide him for a time, hoping that the chief will consent to take a fine, and if they find him implacable, will kill the man themselves or give him up. When the wrong has been done among lesser men, the friends of the husband and of the adulterer will often fight about the damages to be exacted; and from this cause indeed most of the fighting throughout all the groups proceeds. A chief of Saa, Ulawa, Ugi, or San Cristoval, who has had the adulterer killed, makes a bea, a stage from which speeches are made, and rewards those who have killed him; and for himself at Saa he makes the sacrifice toto 'akalo (page 137), to clear away any danger that may happen to him as the cause of death. In the Banks' Islands and Northern New Hebrides the treatment of adultery is very simple; the man is shot or clubbed by the husband or his friends in their first indignation, and the woman is beaten, scolded, and threatened with death, but the matter is compromised very generally by payment of money and pigs. A wife jealous of her husband, or in any way incensed at him, would in former times throw herself from a cliff or tree, swim out to sea, hang or strangle herself, stab herself with an arrow, or thrust one down her