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An Account of the Customs and Manners of the Micmakis and Maricheets Savage Nations, Now Dependent on the Government of Cape-Breton eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about An Account of the Customs and Manners of the Micmakis and Maricheets Savage Nations, Now Dependent on the Government of Cape-Breton.

In their unconverted state, their manner of courtship and marriage is as follows:  When a youth has an inclination to enter into the connubial state, his father, or next relation, looks out for a girl, to whose father the proposal is made:  this being always transacted between the parents of the parties to be married.  The young man, who is commonly about thirty years of age, or twenty at the least, rarely consults his own fancy in this point.  The girl, who is always extreamly young, is never supposed to trouble her head about the measures that are taking to marry her.  When the parents on each side have settled the matter, the youth is applied to, that he may prepare his calumet as soon as he pleases.

The calumet used on these occasions, is a sort of spungeous reed, which may furnish, according to its length, a number of calumets, each of which is about a foot long, to be lighted at one end, the other serving to suck in the smoak at the mouth, and is suffered to burn within an inch of the lips.

The speech made to the youth on this occasion is as follows:  “Thou may’st go when thou wilt, by day or by night, to light thy calumet in such a cabbin.  Thou must observe to direct the smoak of it towards the person who is designed for thee, and carry it so, that she may take such a taste to this vapor, as to desire of thee that she may smoak of thy calumet.  Show thyself worthy of thy nation, and do honor to thy sex and youth.  Suffer none in the cabbin to which thou art admitted, to want any thing thy industry, thy art, or thy arrows can procure them, as well for food, as for peltry, or oil, for the good of their bodies, inside and outside.  Thou hast four winters given thee, for a trial of thy patience and constancy.”

At this the youth never fails of going to the place appointed.  If the girl, (who knows the meaning of this) has no particular aversion to him, she is soon disposed to ask his calumet of him.  In some parts, but not in this where I am, she signifies her acceptance by blowing it out.  Here she takes it from him, and sucking it, blows the smoak towards his nostrils, even sometimes so violently, as to make him qualm-sick, at which she is highly delighted.  Nothing, however, passes farther against the laws of modesty, though she will tress his hair, paint his face, and imprint on various parts of his body curious devices and flourishes, all relative to their love; which she pricks in, and rubs over with a composition that renders the impression uncancellable.

If the parents of the girl are pleased with the procedure of the suitor, they commonly, at the end of the second year, dispense, in his favor, with the rest of the probation-time; and, indeed, they could not well before, the girl almost always wanting, from the time she is first courted, at least two years to bring on the age of consummation.  They tell him, “Thou may’st now take a small part of the covering of thy beloved whilst she sleeps.”  No sooner is this compliment made him, than, without saying any thing, he goes out of the cabbin, armed with his bow and arrows, and hurrying home acquaints his friends, that he is going to the woods, whence he shall not return till it pleases his beloved to recall him.

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