Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/112

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lent, as for instance in Neppendorf, a large village in the neighborhood of Hermanstadt, inhabited partly by Saxons, partly by Austrians, or Ländlers, as they call themselves. This latter race is of more recent introduction in the country than the Saxons (who count seven centuries since their emigration), having only come hither in the time of Maria-Theresa, who had summoned them to the country in order to replenish some of the Saxon colonies in danger of becoming extinct. If it is strange to note how rigidly the Saxons have kept themselves from mingling with the surrounding Magyar and Roumanian races, it is yet more curious to see how these two German races have existed side by side for over a hundred years without amalgamating—and this for no antagonistic reason, for they live together in perfect harmony, attending the same church, and conforming to the same regulations, but each preserving its own identical customs and costume. The Saxons and Ländlers have each their different parts of the church assigned to them; no Saxon woman would ever think of donning the fur cap of a Ländler matron—as little would the latter exchange her tight-fitting coat for the wide-hanging cloak of the other woman.

Until quite lately, unions have very seldom taken place between members of these two races. Only within the last twenty years, have some of the Saxon men awoke to the consciousness that the Austrian women made better and more active housewives than their own phlegmatic country-women, and have consequently sought them in marriage. Even then, when both parties are willing, and all preliminaries have been arranged, many a projected union makes shipwreck on the inflexibility of the two fathers, who will neither concede the least trifle to the other's wishes. Thus, for instance, when the Saxon father of the bridegroom demands that his future daughter-in-law should adopt Saxon attire when she becomes the wife of his son, the Austrian father, as likely as not, will take offense, and withdraw his consent at the last moment. Not a pin nor a bow will either of these two consent to sacrifice to their children's happiness. Thus many hopeful marriages have been nipped in the bud, and those few which have been accomplished have been almost invariably based on the understanding that each party retains its own attire, the daughters following the mother, the sons the father, in the matter of costume.

Among the Ländlers, the marriage proposal takes place in a way which deserves to be mentioned. The youth having secretly fixed upon the girl he would like to make his wife, prepares a new silver thaler (about 2s. 6d.) by winding round it a piece of bright-colored ribbon, and wrapping the whole in a clean sheet of white letter-paper. With this coin in his pocket, he repairs to the next village dance, and takes an opportunity of slipping it unobserved into the maiden's hand while they are dancing together. By no word or look does she betray any consciousness of his action, and only when back at home she produces the gift, and acquaints her parents with what has taken place.