Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/276

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250 The Natives of New Caledonia.

the musket that all these men stipulate for as part of their payment, he stepped on board. I had got quite fond of the lad. Many a weary month he had been my sole companion almost in the house, and he had grown under my eyes from a wee thing to a stout handsome young fellow ; so I went to see him off — and also to recommend him specially to the captain's care. " I will come again and cook when I have seen my mother," said Tom, and so he went. And there went with him two of his mates, who had come to me at the same time, and had also been with me and with him all these five years. They were not, how- ever, from the same place exactly as Tom, living a few miles away, and belonging to a different tribe. By a sad error the captain landed all three together at the village of these two, and when the labour-ship came back to New Caledonia two weeks after, I learned that they fallen on my poor lad during their first night on shore, and killed and eaten him. Such is intertribal morality. A battle usually ends with the fall of the first man speared. His comrades fly, and he is cooked and eaten. Quarrels gene- rally arise from the infidelities of women, who are remote from the precise life. A duel follows, or the husband accepts "costs" — articles of value. A notorious seducer is occasionally put to death by order of the chief.

As to marriage, if a man can secure the person of a maid for twenty-four hours, she is by custom, his for ever. Next day the parents call, and receive a present. A common way is for two lovers to cohabit secretly, in Samian fashion, like Zeus and Hera. When this comes to the ears of the parents and the chief, the man makes a present to the girl's father and mother, and takes the bride to his house. If the nymph rejects him, the swain is apt to break forth into song. A famous and scornful beauty, Wialatha the tree- climber, refused the poet Wahalingen, and wedded a chief. The minstrel thus bewailed himself :