Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/286

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FACE TO FACE WITH THE MEXICANS.

friends to adjust the matter and prevent a catastrophe. The rupture between the boys was never healed, but neither of them won the señorita. So, after all, perhaps it is better that they should have "bear playing" in order to win their wives. I confess that after witnessing these love affairs I was for once, as our latter-day politicians say, "on the fence," and quite as ready to fall on the "bear side" as on that of our less conventional, more modern love-making.

A Mexican lady related to me a method of courtship somewhat different. A señorita is sometimes made aware of the interest a young man takes in her, by being continually followed when walking along the street. In the course of time he writes a letter which he leaves with the portero, and it is always necessary to enlist the interest of these men by the bestowal of a little cash. She pays no attention to his first letters, but after a while she may perhaps notice his advances. He goes to the house each day and finds out her movements from the portero, governing himself accordingly. At last, accompanied by a responsible friend, he makes bold to call on the father and asks her hand in marriage. Then the father asks the girl if she is willing to marry the young man. She replies she cannot say until she has met him. When at length he calls, every member of the family, and even the servants, have the privilege of being present. After this, he is the novio oficial (accepted lover), but even if the marriage be postponed six months or as many years, he is never left alone for a moment with his fiancée.

Once admitted as novio oficial, it may be imagined that the fervor of his devotion will find vent in many lover-like expressions. As indicative of their warm, poetic imagination and passionate Southern nature, I append a few of the most characteristic of these phrases as used by both sexes:

Niña de mi alma!     Child of my soul!
¿Me quieres?     Dost thou love me?
Te adoro, te idolatro!     I adore thee, I idolize thee!
Me muero por ti!     I die for thee!