The protagonist of the novel, nicknamed Birdy, is approaching marriageable age at 14, and she is not interested in serving traditional feminine roles.
As soon as she was of marriageable age (probably about A.D.
Divorces are granted for adultery, desertion for three years) habitual drunkenness, impotence at the time of marriage, fraud, lack of marriageable age (eighteen for males, sixteen for females), and failure of husband to provide for his wife during three consecutive years.
The marriage rates in quinquennial periods up to 1905 were 19.6, 18.6, 21.0, 19.8, 15.6, 18.6, 18.6, 18.6, 17.4 and 17.4; the ratio of marriages to the marriageable population was for males (above 16 years) 61.5, for females (above 14) 46.0; the fecundity of marriages seemed to have increased, being about twice as high for foreigners as for natives.
Next to the proportion of the married to the total marriageable the most important factor connected with the natural increase of the population is the age at which marriage takes place.
A custom prevails among the coast tribes of placing their marriageable maidens on view in little bowers specially built for the purpose - the skin of the girls being stained red.
Fosterage began when the child was a year old and ended when the marriageable age was reached, unless previously terminated by death or crime.
The word is possibly connected with the root of vECAos, p ubes (" cloud"), and originally meant "veiled," referring to the custom of a bride being led veiled from her home to that of the husband: hence, a married woman, and, in general, one of marriageable age.
The annual marriage-rate was for many years considerably below the average of Australia generally, a condition sufficiently accounted for by the continued emigration of men unmarried and of marriageable ages; this emigration had ceased in 1900, and the marriage-rate may be taken as 7.8 per thousand.