Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 208 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.
islands being ruled by the wise-ones, who lived on the mountain tops in the Female Island.  But the inhabitants of the two islands still continued to live apart, the males on one island and the females on the other.  On the Male Island the males dwelt alone, without their wives, or any other women.  Every year, in the month of March, the men came to the Female Island, and tarried there three months, to wit, March, April, and May, dwelling with their wives for that space.  At the end of those three months they returned to their own island, and pursued their avocation there, selling ambergris to the traders from Sumatra.  As for the children whom their wives bore them, if they were girls they stayed with their mothers; but if they were boys their mothers brought them up until they were fourteen years old, and then sent them to their fathers.  Those women who were married did nothing but nurse and rear their children.  Their husbands provided them with all necessaries.  Those who were unmarried, and until marriage, became Amazons, doing all the work on the island that would, in the ordinary course, be done by men.  They were very strictly reared, and were as hardy as boys.  If necessary they could fight in defence of their country with a courage equal to that displayed by the bravest warriors.  Such were the strange customs of the people on these two islands as related to me by Sylvia Cervantes.

CHAPTER XXXVII

A TASK IS SET ME

On the day after I was made captive to the people on the Female Island in the Engano group, I was given an opportunity to observe the customs which prevail among these Amazons.  They appeared to be a happy, healthy people, nor could I fail to notice the absence of ill-temper and discord, which may be observed in all communities in which men and women live together, and where jealousy between the sexes is too often the cause of lifelong feuds.  Here the matrons seemed content to devote themselves to the rearing of their offspring, who, in return, rendered heart-whole affection to their mothers.  I never witnessed such docility and loving obedience as was displayed by the children of this island to those who had the care of them, and while I remained at Engano I never heard a child cry or saw a woman in tears.

As the girls reach maturity, which they do in these latitudes at the age of about twelve years, they are instructed by their mothers how to perform the necessary work, and become very skilful at throwing the lance, harpoon, or any manner of dart, being bred to it from their infancy.  These girls, from this training, possess wonderful eyesight, and will descry a sail at sea farther than any sailor could see it.

The dress adopted by the dwellers on the Female Island, though scanty to civilized eyes, is nevertheless suited to their manner of life.  It consists of tapa cloth cut in a deep fringe depending from waist to knee.  Their hair, which is long, hangs down their backs.  Those who, like Sylvia, have red hair, are mostly freckled and rosy, which, so far from detracting from their beauty, rather adds to their charms.  The dark-haired ones are burnt brown by the sun.

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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