THE ROVER OF THE PLAIN 191
Far, far away he wandered, over mountains and across rivers, till he reached a village where the people were quite different to those of his own race. As he glanced about him he noticed that the girls were fair to look upon, as they pounded maize or stewed something that smelt very nice in earthen pots — especially if you were hot and tired; and when one of the maidens turned round and offered the stranger some dinner, he made up his mind that he would wed her and nobody else.
So he sent a message to her parents asking their leave to take her for his wife, and they came next day to bring their answer.
'We will give you our daughter,' said they, 'if you can pay a good price for her. Never was there so hard-working a girl; and how we shall do without her we cannot tell! Still no doubt your father and mother will come themselves and bring the dowry?'
'No; I have the dowry with me,' replied the young man; laying down a handful of gold pieces. 'Here it is — take it.'
The old couple's eyes glittered greedily; but custom forbade them to touch the dowry before all was arranged.
'At least,' said they, after a moment's pause, 'we may expect them to fetch your wife to her new home ?'
'No; they are not used to travelling,' answered the bridegroom. 'Let the ceremony be performed without delay, and we will set forth at once. It is a long journey.'
Then the parents called in the girl, who was lying in the sun outside the hut, and, in the presence of all the village, a goat was killed, the sacred dance took place, and a blessing was said over the heads of the young people. After that the bride was led aside by her father, whose duty it was to bestow on her some parting advice as to her conduct in her married life.
'Be good to your husband's parents,' added he, 'and always do the will of your husband.' And the girl