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"He flipped the scarf into a triangle and tied it around his head. Leaning on an imaginary cane, he hobbled arthritically over to Elena's side of the table, muttering in a cracked falsetto. Once there, he removed the scarf and reverted to the role of Elena's liege-lord and guardian, and grilled the Baba as to the suitability of the suitor she represented. The Baba was sent bobbing back twice to Baz's liege-commander, to personally check and guarantee his a) continued employment prospects and b) personal hygiene and absence of head-lice.
Muttering obscene little old lady imprecations, the Baba returned at last to Elena's side of the table to conclude her transaction. Baz by this time was cackling with laughter at assorted Barrayaran in-jokes, and Elena's smile had at last reached her eyes.
When his clowning was over and the last somewhat scrambled formula was completed, Miles hooked a third chair into its floor bolts and fell into it.
"
―Miles plays Baba for Elena and Baz[src]

A baba, also called a go-between, was a Barrayaran profession originating from the Time of Isolation. A baba was issued from the male suitor's family to formally propose to the potential bride. During the period of betrothal, the baba served as a mediator between the families and as a chaperone between all meetings between the two suitors, who remained segregated until the wedding. Part of the purpose of the baba was presumably to maintain a formalized, chaste relationship between the pair to ensure any children born early would provably not be the future groom's.

After the Time of Isolation, the baba's role diminished, changing from being a mediator to that of a wedding planner. The modern perception of hiring a baba came to be viewed as both an unnecessary anachronism and romantic chivalry. Some conservative High Vor still hired traditional babas at the time of A Civil Campaign, however.

ReferencesEdit

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