Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/268

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Birth. Childhood. Marriage.

widowers live with one widow, and she is called wife to both, any child she may have being called the child of both. Such cohabitation, however, is not so much marriage as a convenient arrangement for people who find themselves alone in later life. In Lepers' Island, also, there has been a case lately in which two young men, brothers, returned from Queensland, have taken a young woman as a wife for both. The two men have their gamali, and she has a house; there are two children. This is a new and unheard-of thing, brought, as the natives say, from Queensland[1]; the young men could only get one woman to marry, and in their absence had lost all care for propriety. In the Banks' Islands also cases occur where a husband connives at his wife's connexion with another man; this is not counted adultery because it is allowed; it is not polyandry, for the second man is not a husband; the thing is thought discreditable.

  1. 'Polyandry is to be seen under our eyes here in Fiji among the "imported labourers."'—Rev. L. Fison. The women being very few in proportion to the men become something like communal wives to those of their island, or group, one of whom they could have married at home.