Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/466

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


430 Some Matrimonial Problems of

always considered sufficient to salve a wound, and the hero of a romance can be cast into prison for two years. It n:iay seem hard, but it saves murders. It was one of these cases that I was trying, and, as I have said, it nearly ended in a miscarriage of justice. The accused declared that he had married the fair object of dispute with the consent of her uncle, and denied that she had been married before. The complainant, however, brought a parish priest and several other witnesses, who maintained on oath that a previous marriage to himself had been solemnized with pomp a year before in the presence of the whole village. In the absence of a system of marriage registration, the evidence appeared conclusive. Fortunately for myself and the accused, I discovered that I was bound to tour through this particular village very shortly, and, on a sound principle of never deciding till the latest possible minute, I kept the case over till I went there. Now, among Pathans of the Attock district all men are liars, but still men are not such great liars in their own village as they are in the precincts of a law court. The truth came out, therefore, and was found to be as follows: — There had been no previous marriage, and the parish priest and the rest of them were all liars. The alleged husband and the witnesses were hireling knaves put forward by the second uncle of the young lady concerned. On the death of her father her eldest uncle had married her mother, and brought the little girl up to a marriageable age, and had obtained in recom- pense for his trouble in doing so ten pounds from her chosen spouse, the accused before me. The second uncle had turned up with a demand to share and share alike. His argument, put crudely, was that he was a co-sharer in the property left by his deceased brother, that the girl was property valued at ten pounds, and that he was there to receive five pounds. The other man replied that during all the years of the minority of the child he had had to keep her without assistance from his brother, and that therefore