It was over at last, when I was stiff with kneeling and had ornamented myself with much candle grease. I went up to congratulate the bride, but felt that the handshake was not coming off properly. Finally I discovered that I was resisting an effort on her part to bring my hand to her lips. So I succumbed and submitted to the distinction, and she then proceeded to salute the other madrinas.
There was nothing coy or sentimental about that bride. She needed no support, moral or other. Sweet sixteen, “plump as a partridge,” she gathered up her white silk skirt with its blue ribbons and struck out for home. Her husband made no attempt to follow her. She beat us all home by a quarter of a mile. When we arrived, she had changed her gown and was supervising breakfast preparations.
I was tired, and when a native sled drawn by a carabao came along, was glad enough to seat myself on its flat bottom, together with one or two wearied maidens, and be drawn back in slow dignity. We intercepted a boy with roasting ears, and the wedding guests sat about, nibbling like rodents while we waited breakfast.
After that meal dancing began again and continued until dinner. Once the floor was cleared, and the bridal pair danced one waltz together. They did not glance once at each other, and seemed bored.
Dinner was another feast, and afterwards we sought our state barge and the perils of the return journey. The newly married couple came down to see us off, still bearing themselves with a preoccupied and listless air. The orchestra remained until the next day, and we threaded the water lanes in quiet, emerging at last on the full-breasted river. The home journey consumed only three hours, and was comparatively uneventful. The wife of the Presidente gathered her family about her and artlessly searched their raven pates for inhabitants which pay no taxes, and most of the young people drooped with weariness. We rounded the bend at five o’clock; and thankful I was to put foot on terra firma once more. I was tired, but glad that I had gone.
Sickbeds and Funerals
Customs in the Treatment of the Sick—Stately Funeral Processions—The Funeral of a Poor Man—Unsociableness of the Poor—Wakes and Burial of the Rich—A “Petrified” Man.
Filipinos are punctilious about many things concerning which we have passed the extremely punctilious stage. Some of their strictest observances are in the matters of sickness and death. The sick have what we would consider a hard time. To begin with, they are immured in rooms from which, as far as possible, all light and air are excluded. In a tropical climate, where the breeze is almost indispensable to comfort, the reader may imagine the result. Then all their relatives, near and far, flock to see them; they crowd the apartment, and insist on talking to keep the patient from becoming triste. When the sufferer finds this insupportable and gives up the struggle to live, the whole clan, out to the last connection, set about preparing their mourning.