When the successful movement was made across the ravine the prince was astonished to see at the head of his troops in the distance a stranger,—a tall, weathered, sinewy man with a mass of white beard and hair that flowed over his chest and shoulders,—who hewed a passage through the battling legion with a club that few men could have lifted. After the fight this stranger stood long before the fallen Kamiole and looked into his fading eyes. As the prince hastened to the dying tyrant, his princess followed with a calabash of water; for in those times women accompanied their husbands and brothers to the field, waiting at a little distance to dress their wounds and supply food and drink. His stature had enabled her to keep him in sight, and she was now about to offer the drink to him, when Kamiole, though he had never before seen his niece, appeared to recognize her voice, and faintly exclaimed, "Iola!"
"My mother's name!" cried the princess, in surprise. "Then you must be her brother." Dropping on her knees at his side, she gave the water to Kamiole. The dying man extended his hands toward her and drew a deep breath,—his last.
The prince, who had been smiling at this unusual mercy to an enemy, now looked up and caught the eye of the stranger fixed intently upon him. "By whose arm did Kamiole fall?" he asked.
"By mine," replied the white-haired man.
"Are you a god?" asked the prince, a sense of awe creeping over him as he noted the strength and dignity of this form.
"I am Kanipahu,—your father."
And among the heaped dead the two embraced. Having seen his son enthroned and peace restored, the old king refused all offers and persuasions, and went back to Molokai to end his days in peace as a simple farmer. The prince, whose name was Kalapana, and who was the ancestor of the great Kamehameha, reigned tranquilly and died lamented.
The Japanese Sword
More than two centuries before Columbus reached America on its Atlantic side a Japanese junk visited the western shore. The tradition is too vague to specify whether the navigators attempted a landing or not, but as their boat was small and could not have been provisioned for a voyage of thousands of miles, it is probable that they took on fresh supplies of food and water before they put about and started on the homeward journey. They never saw Japan again, for their vessel went to wreck on Maui, whose king personally rescued five of them,—three men and two women. This was the second appearance in the Hawaiian islands of "white people with shining eyes." When the captain of the junk reached the shore he still carried the keen sword of steel he had girded on in the expectation of an attack from savages. There was no attack. He and his mates were received with kindness, and provided with houses, although they shocked the multitude by their ignorance of the taboo, the men and women eating from the same dishes. It was explained that their gods were poor, half-enlightened creatures, and that it was as well to let them alone until they should learn truth and manners.
In time these castaways took Mauians to husband and wife, the captain's sister marrying the king himself, but the captain was held in superstitious reverence because of his sword. The natives had daggers, knives, axes, adzes, hammers, and spears of stone, bone, shark teeth, and fire-hardened wood, but metals were unknown to them, and this long, glittering blade, that cut a javelin stem as the javelin would crack a rib, was a daily wonder. It was the common belief on that island that whoever wielded the weapon would win a victory, though his enemies should be thousands in number. This belief was comforting, but it did not last, for Kalaunui, king of Hawaii, undertook in the year 1260 the subjugation of the whole group, and although his force was defeated with great slaughter on Kauai, he had subdued Maui, Oahu, and Molokai, for the time being, with his fleet of two thousand well-manned, well-armed canoes.
In the great fight on Maui the Japanese warrior fought to the last, but was struck down by a Hawaiian captain, one Kaulu, who buried the precious sword on the spot where he had taken it, and recovered it by starlight. Knowing that the king would demand it if it were seen, he gave it in charge of his mother Waahia, a seer of such renown and verity that she accompanied the army at the request of its leaders. The old woman concealed the blade in the hollow of a rock. Unhappily for her cause, she had not foreseen the result of this campaign, for the expedition met its Waterloo on the shores of Kauai, hundreds of the men being drowned or slain by slings and javelins before a landing could be made. King Kalaunui was made prisoner, the kings of Maui, Oahu, and Molokai, whom he had taken with him as hostages for the surrender of their islands when he should return, were released, and a remnant of the invading force, under lead of Kaulu, returned. The queen was filled with wrath at the failure of this expedition, and rebuked Kaulu for treachery and cowardice,—Kaulu, who had stood by his lord to the moment of his capture, and who had wrested the magic sword from its owner.
Burning under this charge, he sought his mother and asked what he should do to disprove it. She replied that he should not only be cleared by the king himself, but he should marry the king's daughter. The queen began at once to negotiate for the release of her husband. That monarch was confined in a hut, surrounded by a stone wall and strongly guarded, but was, nevertheless, treated with the respect and distinction worthy of the Napoleon that he was. A fleet of canoes with many spears was offered in exchange; but, with the spoils of battle still in their possession, the victors only smiled at this. Next came an offer of twenty feather cloaks, with stone axes, ivory, and whalebone; but this, too, was rejected. A third proposition by the queen was that the ruler of Kauai should wed her daughter and agree to a perpetual peace. This came to nothing. Several attempts were made to renew the war, but they fell flat, for the experience had been too bitter and the people refused. Three years thus passed,—a time sufficient to convince the queen of her political weakness. She had almost resigned hope when old Waahia sought an audience at court, and said, when she had received permission to break the taboo and speak before the councillors, that she, and she alone, could rescue the king, but she would not undertake this unless the chiefs would promise to grant her request, whatever it might be, on their lord's return.
This pledge they gave with the understanding that it was not to affect life or sovereignty or possessions, and the seer left for Kauai, with but a single oarsman, in the morning. She arrived while the new-year festivities were in progress, and everybody was in good-humor. There were music, dancing, chanting of poems and traditions, feasting, and much swigging of spirits, not to speak of indulgences that would have shocked civilization. Unannounced, a weird-like, commanding figure, Waahia sought the presence of the court. She had come, she said, to make a final offer for the release of the royal prisoner: the offer of a sword that flashed like fire, that was harder than stone, that broke spears like reeds, that gave to its owner supreme fortune and supreme command. The fame of the bright knife had gone abroad ere this, and an offer had at last been made that carried persuasion with it. The liberty of the king was promised when it should be brought. But first she wished the prisoner's assurance that on his return he would give his daughter in marriage to her son, since the young people loved each other, and the marriage would also remove the disgrace that the queen had angrily tried to fix upon Kaulu.
This was agreed to, and a few days later the old woman reappeared at the palace with the splendid weapon,—one that would still be splendid, for such blades are not made nowadays,—and with general rejoicing at the possession of this wonder, the chiefs liberated Kalaunui, and he returned to Hawaii, cured of ambition for leadership and military glory. His daughter was married to Kaulu, captain of the royal guard, and kings were their descendants. For many years the glittering prize remained with the ruling house of Kauai, but its virtue had fled when the invincible Kamehameha undertook the conquest of the islands and their union under a single king, for he succeeded in that enterprise, as Kalaunui had not.
Lo-Lale, a prince of Oahu in the fifteenth century, took no joy in the sea after the girl had been drowned in it who was betrothed to him. Retiring inland, he led a quiet, thoughtful life, to the regret of those who had looked to see him show some fitness in leadership, for as youth verged toward middle age he was repeatedly besought to marry, that his princely line might be continued. Tired of these importunities, and possibly not averse to the lightening of his spirit, he consented that a wife should be sought for him, and appointed his handsome, dashing cousin, Kalamakua, as his agent in the choice. The cousin sailed at once for Maui, where rumor said a young woman of rare beauty was living at the court, whose hand had been sought by a dozen chiefs. On arriving near the shore of the king's domain the messenger and his rowers were startled by the uprising from the waves of a laughing, handsome face, and behold! the woman who introduced herself in this unusual fashion was the one they sought: Kelea, the king's sister. She had been surf-riding on her board, and in the delight of swimming had ventured farther from shore than usual.
The captain of the canoe helped this dusky Venus to rise completely from the sea, and as she did not wish to return at once, he put his boat at her service for the exhilarating and risky sport of coasting the breakers; but putting far out to meet a wave of uncommon size, they were struck by a squall and blown so far that they found it easier to put in for shelter near the home of Lo-Lale than to return to Maui. The storm, the spray, the chilling gusts, compelled Kelea to sit close in the shelter of Kalamakua's sturdy form. He levied on the scant draperies of his crew for cloth to keep her warm, and all the men dined scantily that she might be fed. It is not strange that a friendship was born on that voyage between the two people who had been so oddly introduced. Lo-Lale had never heard of John Alden and Myles Standish, principally, no doubt, because they had not been born, but it must be allowed in his behalf, or in hers, that he had never seen the damsel whom he was courting thus by proxy. When he did behold her he was vastly pleased, and as he appeared in all the paraphernalia of his rank and instituted in her honor a series of feasts and entertainments unparalleled in Oahu, the consent of Kelea to a speedy marriage was obtained, a courteous notice to that effect being sent to her relatives, who had mourned for her as lost in the storm. He built a temple and adorned it with a statue as a thank-offering for having blown so fair a bride to his domain. No prettier compliment could be paid to a wife, even by a white man.
For a time Kelea was content. Lo-Lale was a kind husband, and he was constantly studying to advance her happiness, but he was meditative and silent; he loved the woody solitudes, while she was fond of company, babble, sport, and especially of swimming and surf-riding. Presently it was noticed that she laughed less. She did not welcome Lo-Lale when he returned from his walks or his communings with Nature on the hills. The voice of the sea was calling her,—and the voice of Kalamakua. A separation had to come. It was without any spoken bitterness. The husband wished her well, bestowed on her some parting gifts, and sent her to the shore in a palanquin borne by four men and attended by a guard of three hundred, as became her station. Kalamakua was waiting on the beach,—Kalamakua, handsome, reckless, ardent. She never returned to Maui. Though Lo-Lale resumed his old, still way and kept his dignity and countenance before his people, his lament, that has been preserved by the treasurers of island traditions for more than four centuries, discovers a pang in his heart deeper than he could or would have voiced when he parted from his wife. The English version is by King Kalakaua:
"Farewell, my partner on the lowland plains, On the waters of Pohakeo, above Kanehoa, On the dark mountain spur of Mauna-una! O, Lihue, she is gone! Sniff the sweet scent of the grass, The sweet scent of the wild vines That are twisted by Waikoloa, By the winds of Waiopua, My flower! As if a mote were in my eye. The pupil of my eye is troubled. Dimness covers my eyes. Woe is me!"
The Resurrections of Kaha
Kaha was granddaughter of the Wind and the Rain, whose home is still among the vapory darks that settle in the valley of Manoa, back of Honolulu, her remote ancestors being the mountain Akaaka and the Cape Nalehuaakaaka. She was of such beauty that light played about her when she bathed, a rosy light such as the setting sun paints on eastern clouds, and an amber glow hovered above the roof that sheltered her. From infancy she had been betrothed to Kauhi, a young chief whom every one supposed to be worthy of her, because his parentage was high, and he could name more grandfathers than he had toes and fingers. He did not deserve this esteem, for he was not only cruel and jealous, but spoiled, petulant, and thick-headed. His qualities were exhibited on his very first meeting with his promised bride, for neither had seen the other until reaching marriageable age. Two braggarts, who were so ill formed and ugly that their boasts of winning ladies' favor would have been taken by any one else for lies, declared, in Kauhi's hearing, that they were lovers of Kaha, and they wore wreaths of flowers which they said she had hung over their shoulders.
Setting his teeth with a vengeful scowl and wrenching a stout branch from a tree, the prince strode over to the house of his bride-to-be. She received him modestly and pleasantly, and her beauty struck him into such an amazement that he could not at first find words to express the charge he wished to make. At last, by turning his back, he managed to speak his base and foolish thought. She, thinking this a jest, at first made light of it, but when he faced her once more, frowning this time, like a thunder-cloud, and brandishing the cudgel above his head, she was filled with fear and could hardly keep her feet. She denied the charge. She begged that he would tell the names of her accusers that she might prove her innocence.
"You are fair to see and to hear, but you are as fickle as your parents. I will have no such woman for a wife," shouted the chief, lashing himself into a rage. She extended her arms appealingly. He struck her on the temple, and she fell dead. He had gone but a mile or so when her voice was heard in song behind him, and the fall of her steps on the path. To his astonishment, she now appeared bearing no mark of injury, save that the rough way had cut her feet, and again she besought him to say on whose charge he had so foully wronged her in his thought, and why he wished to kill her. His answer was another blow, more savage than the first, and this time there was no doubt that he left her dead. Yet, before he had gone another mile, her lamenting song was heard; she came to him, and he struck her down again. Five times this monster laid the defenceless girl a corpse, and the last time he scraped a hole under the tough roots of a tree, crowded her body into it, covered it with earth, and went on to Waikiki without further interruption.
The owl-god had been Kaha's friend. After each stroke he had flown to her, rubbed his head against the bruised and broken temple, and restored her to life. To drag her from under the tangled roots was beyond his strength, and he flapped away into the depths of the wood, filled with sadness that such beauty had been lost to the world. But it was not lost. The girl's spirit could not rest under the false accusal that had caused her death. All bloody and disfigured, her ghost presented itself before Mahana, a young warrior of the nearest town, with whom she had in life exchanged a kind though casual word or two, and understanding, through his own deep but unspoken love, the reason for this visitation, he hurried after the phantom as it drifted back to the tree. The disturbed earth and the splashes of blood explained enough. He set to work vigorously, exhumed the body while it was still warm, and holding it close to his breast, with eyes fixed on the hurt but lovely face, he carried it to his home.
Once more the gods befriended her and restored Kaha to life. For many days she was ill and weak, and throughout those days it was Mahana's delight to serve her, to talk with her, to sit at her side, and hold her hand. This life of love and tenderness was a new and delightful one; yet she sorrowfully declared that she must become the wife of Kauhi, because her parents had so intended. The lover was not content with this. He made a visit to Kauhi, and in the course of their talk he mentioned, as the merest matter of fact, the visit of the famous beauty to his home. Kauhi pooh-poohed this. He was sure of the girl's death. Mahana adroitly kept the conversation on this theme until Kauhi lost his temper, confessed that he had killed Kaha for faithlessness, and swore that the woman whom Mahana sheltered was a spirit or an impostor. He would wager his life that it was so. The lover took the wager. It was agreed that the loser should be roasted alive. A number of chiefs, priests, and elderly men were assembled, and the girl was brought into their presence. It was no spirit that bent the grass and fixed on the quailing ruffian that look of soft reproach. No impostor could boast such beauty. Kauhi tried to exonerate his conduct by repeating the falsehoods of the two men who claimed to have received her favors. They were dragged before the assembly, confronted by the innocent Kaha, made confession, and were ordered to the ovens, where Kauhi also went to his death, vaunting to the last. The lands and fish-ponds of this chief, who had no owl-god to resurrect his ashes, were, with general acclaim, awarded to Mahana, and as chief he ruled happily for many years with the fair Kaha for his wife.
Hawaii has its "haunts" and "spooks," just as do some countries that do not believe in such things. One of the spectres troubles a steep slope near Lihue, Kauai. An obese and lazy chief ordered one of his retainers to carry him to the top of the slope on his shoulders. It was a toilsome climb, the day was hot, hence it is no wonder that just before he gained the summit the man staggered, fell, and sent his dignified and indignant lord sprawling on the rocks. This was a fatal misstep, for the chief ran the poor fellow through with his spear. And the ghost possibly laments because it did not drop its burden sooner and with more emphasis.
Another place that the natives avoid is the Sugar Loaf on Wailua River, Kauai. Hungry robbers broke a taboo and ate some bananas that had been consecrated to a local god, Kamalau. Missing the fruit, the deity turned himself into the rock known as the Sugar Loaf, which is sixty feet high, that he might watch his plantation without being identified. The thieves noticed the rock, however, could not recall that it had been there on the day before, and suspecting something kept away. The sister of the god, believing him to be lost, leaped into the river and became a stone herself. And so, having rid themselves of the flesh, these two are free to wander in the spirit.
Another deity that is occasionally seen is Kamehameha's large war god, from his temple in Hawaii, that even in his lifetime would leave its pedestal and thrash among the trees like a lost comet.
At Honuapo, Hawaii, is the rock Kaverohea, jutting into the sea, where at night a murdered wife calls to her jealous husband, assuring him of her love and innocence. The voice is oftenest heard when a great disaster is at hand: war, storm, earthquake, the death of a chief, or a season of famine.
The Three Wives of Laa
Laa, a young man of distinguished family, who had gone to Raiatea in his boyhood, returned a number of years after to visit his foster-father, Moikeha, then chief of Kauai. The boats that were sent for him were painted yellow, the royal color, and Laa was invested in a feather robe that had cost a hundred people a year of labor, and caused the killing of at least ten thousand birds, since the mamo had but one yellow feather under each wing. Hawaiian millinery was, therefore, as cruel a business as it became in America several centuries later. When this favorite scion landed his path was strewn with flowers, and the feasts in his honor lasted for a month. He had agreed to go back to Raiatea, for he had been accepted there as heir-apparent, yet it was thought a pity that his line should cease in his native land; and while he felt that for state reasons he must take a Raiatea woman for his queen,—for the people there would never consent to his carrying home a Hawaiian to help rule over them,—he cheerfully consented to take a temporary wife during his stay in Kauai. His house and grounds were, therefore, decorated, the nobility was assembled, musicians and poets and dancers were engaged, and a great feast was ordered, when a hitch arose over the choice of a bride. Each of the three leading priests had a marriageable daughter of beauty and proud descent. How were their claims to be settled? Easily enough, as it fell out. Laa married all three on the same day, and before his departure for Raiatea each wife on the same day presented a son to him. From these three sons sprang the governing families of Oahu and Kauai.
The Misdoing of Kamapua
When a child was born to Olopana, a lord of Oahu, in the twelfth century, he conceived a dislike to it, and freely alleged that his brother was its father. Such as dared to speak ill of dignitaries, and there were gossips in those days, as in all other, chuckled, at safe distance, that if Olopana's suspicions were correct, the boy should have somewhat of his—er—uncle's good looks and pleasant manner, whereas he was hairy, ill-favored, and, as his nature disclosed itself with increasing years, violent, thievish, treacherous; in short, he was Olopana at his worst. Every day added to the bad feeling between the boy and his father, for when he had grown old enough to appreciate the position to which he had been born, the youngster repaid the hate of his parent, and strove to deserve it. Vain the attempt of the mother to make peace between them and direct her offspring into paths of rectitude. In contempt, the chief put the name of Kamapua, or hog-child, on the boy, and in some of the older myths he actually figures as a half-monster with a body like that of a man, but with the head of a boar.
Kamapua gathered the reckless and incorrigible boys of the neighborhood about him, and the band became a terror by night, for in the dark they broke the taboo and heads as well, stripped trees of their fruit, stole swine and fowls, staved in the bottoms of canoes, cut trees, and in order to look as bad as he felt, the leader cropped his hair and his beard (when one came to him) to the shortness of an inch, tattooed the upper half of his body in black, and wore a hog-skin over his shoulders with bristles outward. On attaining his majority he left his parents, taking with him some of his reprobates, and set up in life as a brigand, making his home in lonely defiles of the hills, and subsisting almost entirely by pillage. Several attempts were made to catch him, and a local legend at Hauula has it that when close pressed by an angry crowd he turned himself into a monstrous hog, made a bridge of himself across a narrow chasm, so that his companions could run over on his back, scrambled on after them, and so escaped.
The neighbors endured these goings-on until Kamapua had added murder to his other crimes, when they resolved that he was no longer a subject for public patience. An army was sent against him, most of his associates were killed, he was caught, and was taken before his father for judgment. Olopana sternly ordered that he be given as a sacrifice to the gods. His mother was in despair at this, for though he was a most unworthy fellow, a nuisance, a danger, still, he was her son, and she loved him better than her life. She bribed the priests, whose duty it was to slay him, and they, having smeared him with chicken-blood, laid him on the altar. The eye that was gouged from the body of a victim, and offered to the chief who made the sacrifice, was in this case the eye of a pig. Olopana did not even pretend to eat this relic, as he should have done, to follow custom, but flung it aside and gazed with satisfaction at the gory features of the man who was shamming death. He had turned to leave the temple when Kamapua leaped from the altar, picked up the bone dagger with which a feint had been made of cutting out his eye and stabbed his father repeatedly in the back. At the sight of a corpse butchering their chief the people fled in panic, the priests, awe-struck at the result of their corruption, hid themselves, and the murderer, so soon as he was sure that Olopana was dead, hurried away, assembled the forty surviving members of his band, leaped into his canoe, and left Oahu forever.
He landed at Kauai, on the cliff of Kipukai, and remembering a well of sweet water on its side, he sought for it, up and down, and back and forth, for he had a raging thirst. Two spirits of the place, knowing him to be evil, had concealed the spring under a mass of shrubbery that he might not pollute it; but he found it, and as he drank he saw their figures reflected in the surface, despite their concealment in the shadow, and heard their laughter at his greed and his uncouthness. That angered him. He sprang up, chased them through the wood, caught them, and with a swing of his great arms hurled them to the hill across the valley, where they became stone and art seen to this day. So ill did he behave in Kauai, assailing innocent people and destroying their taro patches, that they determined to despatch him, and in order to have him under their advantage it was resolved to fence him in near Hanalei. The wall of mountain now existing there is the fence. Just before it was finished the prince in charge of the work sat to rest in a gap which admits the present road. He heard a harsh laugh, and looking up saw Kamapua sitting on the top of Hoary Head. A running fight ensued, in which the outlaw escaped across the mountain, and the prince, hurling his spear, but missing his mark, sent the weapon through the crest of the peak, making the remarkable window that is one of the sights of the island. And now, when a cloud rests on this mountain, the people say that Kamapua is sitting there.
Some years before this Pele and her brothers had migrated from the far southern islands and had made their home in Hawaii, close to the crater of Kilauea,—so close that they were believed to be under the special protection of the gods; and from that belief no doubt grew the later faith that Pele and her family were gods themselves; that they lived in the cones thrust up from the floor of Kilauea by gas and steam while it was in a viscid state; that the music of their dances came up in thunder gusts, and that they swam the white surges of lava in the hell-pit.
Having heard of the beauty of this woman, Kamapua resolved to abduct her, and after a visit, in which the usual courtesies and hospitalities were observed, but which he paid in order to estimate the strength of her following, he attacked the outlying huts of the village in the night and killed their occupants, intending to follow this assault by surrounding Pele's house and forcing the surrender of all within: but hearing the outcry in the distance and divining its meaning, she and her brothers hastily gathered weapons and provisions and fled to a cave in the hills three miles away. There was a sufficient spring in this place, and the entrance was defended by heavy blocks. The fugitives could have endured a siege of a week with little likelihood of loss. In the morning a dog, following their scent, led Kamapua to this stronghold. An attack costing several lives on his side, and making no effect on those entrenched within, convinced him that it was useless to expect success from this method, so he piled fuel against the entrance and set it afire, hoping to suffocate the defenders to unconsciousness, when he would force his way to the interior and rescue Pele. Here again he failed, for a strong draft blowing from the cave carried the smoke into his own face. Then he ordered a hole to be cut in the cavern roof, for this appeared to be not more than fifteen or twenty feet thick, and being friable was easily worked by the stone drills and axes of his men. The workers plied their tools industriously, while Kamapua shouted threats and defiance through the chinks in the wall before the cavern door.
His taunts were vain. While the sinking of the shaft was in progress, a strange new power was coming upon Pele. The gods of the earth and air had seen this assault and had resolved to take her part. The sky became overcast with brown, unwholesome-looking clouds, the ground grew hot and parched, vegetation drooped and withered, birds flew seaward with cries of distress, and a waiting stillness fell upon the world. Kamapua had cut away ten feet of rock, when the voice of Pele was heard in long, shrill laughter, dying in far recesses of the mountain, as if she were flying through passages of immense length. The hills began to shake; vast roarings were beard; a choking fume of sulphur filled the air, dust rolled upward, making a darkness like the night; then, with a crash like the bursting of a world, the top of Kilauea was blown toward the heavens in an upward shower of rock; a fierce glow colored the ash-clouds that volleyed from the crater, and down the valley came pouring a flood of lava, a river of white fire, crested with the flame of burning forests, as with foam.
Kamapua and his bandits fled, but again he heard the laughter, this time from the crater, which Pele had reached from within, and was now mounting, free, vaulting through the clouds, revelling in the heat and blaze and din, and hurling rocks and thunderbolts at the intruder. At the ocean's edge the lava was still close at his heels. Its heat blistered his skin. He had no time to reach his boats. With his spear he struck a mighty blow on the ground and cracked the mountain to its base, so that the ocean flowed in, and a fearful fight of fire and sea began. Steam shot for miles into the air, with vast geysers leaping through it, and the hiss and screech and bellow were appalling. The crater filled with water, so that Pele and her brothers had to drink it dry, lest the fires should be quenched. When they had done this they resumed the attack on Kamapua, emptying the mountain of its ash and molten rock, and hurling tons of stone after the wretch, who was now straining every muscle to force his boat far enough to sea to insure his safety. He did not retaliate this time, but was glad to make his escape; for Pele had come to her godhood at last.
Fiercest, though loveliest, of all the gods is Pele, she whose home is in Kilauea, greatest of the world's volcanoes. When this mountain lights the heavens, when lava pours from its miles of throat, when stone bombs are hurled at the stars, when its ash-clouds darken the sun and moon, when there are thunders beneath the earth, and the houses shake, then does this spirit of the peak, in robes of fire, ride the hot blast and shriek in the joy of destruction,—a valkyrie of the war of nature. Kanakas try to keep on the good side of this torrid divinity by secret gifts, either of white chickens or of red ohelo berries, and an old man once put into a guide's hand the bones of a child that he might throw them down the inner crater,—Halemaumau, the House of Eternal Burning, whose ruddy lava cones are homes of the goddess and her family. The dogs sacrificed to Pele, when human victims were scant, were nursed at the breasts of slaves, and the priests and virgins received as their portion, after the killing, the heart and liver. Next to her eyes, of piercing brightness, the most striking thing in the aspect of this deity is her wealth of hair, silky, shining red in the glow, and shaken from her head in a cloud-like spread as of flame. When the eruption is at an end and a sullen peace follows the outbreak, tufts of this hair are found in hollows for miles around. Birds gather it for their nests, and unfearing visitors collect it for cabinets and museums.
Science tells us that Pele's hair is a molten glass; threads of pumice: a stony froth. When a mighty blast occurs, or when steam escapes through the boiling mass, particles of pumice shred off in the upward flight, or are wire-drawn by winds that rage over the earth. These viscid threads cool quickly in that chill altitude, and float down again. They can be artificially made by passing jets of steam through the slag of iron furnaces while it is in a melted state, the product, which resembles raw cotton, being used, in place of asbestos, for the packing of boilers, steam-pipes, and the like. To such base uses might the goddess' shining locks be put, if she tore them out in large enough handfuls during the carnival of fire and earthquake; but they are not found in quantities to justify this search by commercial-minded persons, and conservative Kanakas might be alarmed by thought of revenges which Pele would visit on them should they misuse her hair as the foreign heathen do.
The Prayer to Pele
Although Pele is the most terrible of deities, she can be kind. If a village makes sacrifices to her she is liable at any hour to continue to keep the peace. Otherwise, she loses her temper and pours out floods of lava or showers of ashes on the neglectful people, or dries their springs and wastes their farms. Sacrifices of unhappy beings were made to her whenever the volcano spirits began to growl, the victims being bound and thrown into the crater of the threatening mountain. Princess Kapiolani was probably the first native to protest against these sacrifices, and in 1824, after her conversion to Christianity, she gave an instructive exhibition by defying the taboo of Kilauea, eating the berries growing on the sides of the peak, in defiance of the priestly order, and throwing rocks contemptuously into the pit.
Pele is the Venus of the islands, and is of wondrous beauty when she takes a human form, as she does, now and again, when she falls in love with some Mars or Adonis of the native race, or when she intends to engage in coasting down the slippery mountain sides,—a sport of which she is fond. As always with distinguished company, you must let your competitor win, if you fancy that it is Pele in disguise who is your rival in a toboggan contest; for a chief of Puna having once suffered himself to distance her, she revengefully emptied a sea of lava from the nearest crater and forced him to fly the region. Many tales of her amours survive. Kamehameha the Great was among her most favored lovers. It was to help him to a victory that she suffocated a part of the army of his enemy with steam and sulphur fumes.
It fared less happily with the debonnair Prince Kaululaau when he attempted force in his wooing. He found Pele watching the surf-riders at Keauhou, and was ravished by her loveliness. Her skirt glittered with crystal, her mantle was colored like a rainbow, bracelets of shell circled her wrists and ankles, her hair was held in a wreath of flowers. His admiration was not returned. She was contemptuous toward him,—one could almost say cold, but Pele was seldom that, for when the young chief approached, the earth about her was blistering hot and he was compelled to dance. With his magic spear he dissipated her power for a little and lowered the temperature she had inflamed the very earth withal. So soon, however, as she had regained her freedom, and had passed beyond the influence of this spear, she undertook to avenge herself by opening the gates of the mountain and letting loose a deluge of lava. Again with his spear-point Kaululaau drew lines on the ground, beyond which the deadly torrent could not pass, and through the hot air, amid the rain of ashes and the belching of sulphurous steam, he regained his canoe and escaped.
Only so far back as 1882 this goddess was petitioned by one of the faithful, and with effect. Mauna Loa was in eruption. A river of lava twenty-five miles long was creeping down the slope and was threatening the town of Hilo. The people raised walls and breaks of stone to deflect this stream; they dug pits across its course to check it, but without avail. The vast flow of melted rock kept on, lighting the skies, charring vegetation at a distance, and filling the air with an intolerable heat. Princess Ruth, a descendant of Kamehameha, was appealed to. She hated the white race, and would have seen with little emotion the destruction of all the European and American intruders in Hilo; but it was her own people who were most in danger, so she answered, "I will save the Hilo fish-ponds. Pele will hear a Kamehameha." A steamer was obtained for her, and with many attendants she sailed from Honolulu to the threatened point. Climbing the slope behind the village, she built an altar close to the advancing lava, cast offerings upon the glowing mass, and solemnly prayed for the salvation of Hilo. That night the lava ceased to flow. It still forms a shining bulwark about the menaced town. The princess sailed back to Honolulu, and the faithful asked the Christians why the pagan divinity alone had answered the many prayers.
Lohiau and the Volcano Princess
With gods, as with men, who would speed his affairs must keep them in his own hands. Pele, the volcano goddess, fell in love with Lohiau, a Kauaian prince, and in human guise remained with him so long that her sisters were afraid the Kilauea fires would go out. The prince took an illness, and appeared to die, ere the honeymoon was over, so, wrapped in cloth of bark, he was put under guard to lie in state. When Pele had gone back alone to her mountain home a longing came upon her to feel the young man's arms about her once more and hear the words of love he had such a pretty talent for telling. But, instead of going herself, she sent her sister Hiika to rescue his soul and bring it to her. This was a mistake, for the sister was not a serious creature. Stopping to brave the devils and giant lizards of the woods, turning the boards of surf-riders to stone for a prank, and scaring a fisherman by causing him to pull a human head out of the sea, the sister next found a half-released spirit hovering near a dying chief. She tied it in a corner of her skirt and slapped the skirt against a rock, so the chief finished his dying promptly. In Kauai, at last, her search was rewarded. She saw the ghost of Lohiau beckoning from a cave, in which it had been imprisoned by demons, who fled, hissing, on her approach. She broke the bars of moonbeam that confined it, tied it in her skirt, carried it to its body, restored the prince to life, then led him to Hawaii and with him scaled the mountain where Pele was waiting in great dudgeon. For Hiika had been gone so long on this journey that a wrong construction had been put on her delay. Lohiau and Hiika had, indeed, learned to esteem each other, but they had not violated the trust imposed in them by the goddess.
Pele was madly jealous, however. She turned the prince to stone on the crater brink,—the poor fellow was growing used to dying now,—and, dismayed by this act of cruelty, Hiika descended through the five spheres to the dark underworld where the spirits lived. She hoped that the young man's ghost would follow her, for pity in his sufferings had fast increased to love. As the spirit did not come, she returned to the surface of the earth and went on a voyage of search in a boat that a god had lent to her,—a boat of cowrie shell, which in overland travel would shrink so that it could be carried in the hand; then, at the word, would swell to a stately barge of pearl with ivory masts and sails as white as the snow on the mountain. This vessel moved with the speed of the wind in any direction the occupant indicated by pointing the finger. The prince's wandering spirit was found in Kauai, its old home; was taken by a messenger to the stone image on the crater, and put back into the body, and the prince lived again. Pele was by this time in a soft and repentant humor. She asked forgiveness of Lohiau and bade him love and wed her sister, who was good, and had earned his love. This Lohiau did, whereupon Pele restored to life several of Hiika's friends whom, also, in her first anger, she had turned to statues of lava.
A Visit of Pele
While a great storm was raging over Hawaii a boy was born to a woman chief in the camp of King Alapai. At once the soothsayers proclaimed him as the man of prophecy who should conquer the eight islands and end their strifes. It seemed as if for once—or oftener—the kahunas were wrong, for the babe disappeared that very night. There were rumors of foul play; rumors that Alapai had killed him, that he might not stand in the way of his own progeny, for this barbarian Macbeth would have no Banquo to intercept his line or wrest the crown from him. It was five years before the fate of the child was known. He was not dead: Naole, a chief, had kidnapped him that the prophecy might come to pass. When the king heard of this he commanded that the boy be placed at court, where he might learn manners and the laws, and be kept under the eyes of the great; but, doubting his master's motive, Naole did not send the child; he sent another of the same age, who was to cut no figure in the history of the islands, not being the favored of the gods.
The real prince was kept in so secluded a place and the secret of his parentage so well preserved—it was prophecy that he should be fathered of three kings—that he had reached the age of twenty before Naole deemed it safe to let him mingle with the multitude. He then made it known that the young man was Kamehameha. By this time King Alapai was dead, or helpless with age; but the prince, albeit liberal and just, was rough, strong, dictatorial, a natural military leader, and he did not lack enemies. Worst among these was his uncle, Pepehi, an elderly chief, who had read omens in the entrails of sacrifice warning him to be discreet and guarded in his life or it would be taken from him by one related to him, and of greater power. He could not brook the thought of Kamehameha's ascendency, for he was a man used to deference, a man of weight and dignity, while this new-found prince was a boor. He therefore made himself unpleasant by criticisms and carpings, by false interpretations of signs, by implications against his nephew, and finding that the young man did not retaliate, he resolved to have his life.
Pretending anger with Kamehameha because he would not study for the priesthood and succeed to his honors, the soothsayer dinned a tirade into his ears in the temple ground, hoping to receive a blow, that he might stab, in return, for he wished the killing to appear as if done in self-defence. Stung by his insolence, Kamehameha did knock him down: a good, stout blow, well won. So soon as he had recovered his wits and got upon his feet the priest plucked out his long bone knife and made a stroke, but the priestess of the temple, her eyes blazing with anger at this trespass, caught his wrist and cried, "Down to your knees! Ask pardon of your future king and mercy of the gods."
At that instant came a rush of wings and a blaze of light filling the temple space. All fell to the earth, for they had recognized the tall form before them with the coronet of vari-colored sparks bound on the golden hair that swept around it like a cloud of glory, and the robe of tissue that was like flame of silver whiteness. It was the volcano goddess.
"Peace!" she commanded. "This boy is in the charge of Pele. Let no hand be lifted against him. No knife, no art, no poison, and no spell shall shorten his life. He will be your greatest king: your best. He will put an end to these wretched wars between your families, and prepare for the day when a pale race will come to these lands, making them a step in their conquering march around the world. As for you, Pepehi, speak another word against those I love, lift a hand against them, and I turn you to a cinder. Aloha!" She had vanished like flame. Kamehameha, on this revelation of his destiny, sprang to his feet. His breath was quick and strong, a smile was on his lips, and he looked into the distance with lifted face and flashing eye, as if a glorious vision had arisen there. A touch on his foot brought him to himself. Pepehi was grovelling before him, baring his breast and offering to Kamehameha the poisoned dagger he had but a few moments before aimed at the young king's heart. Lifting him from the ground, Kamehameha comforted the priest with a few words and sent him homeward with bowed head and dragging step.
The Great Famine
Hua, the licentious king of Maui,—who kept a hundred hula dancers, was drunk for days together on awa, and spared no wife or daughter of a friend or subject if she took his fancy,—had been chafing under the restraints imposed or attempted by his high priest, a blameless man whose age and long service should have gained even a king's consideration. It was approaching a new-year feast (the end of December), toward the close of the twelfth century, and Hua had made such levies on his people for useless wars and wasteful orgies that the old man was moved to protest. Hua paid no attention to him, but loudly ordered his hunters to go to the mountains and bring him some water-birds for his table.
"Those birds can be found only by the sea," ventured the priest.
"You countermand my orders, do you?" roared the monarch.
"I gave no order," protested the venerable man.
"Hark you," insisted the king. "My men are going to the mountain. If they find the birds there—and they will—you shall be slain as a rebel and a false prophet."
Seeing that his master desired his death, the priest bowed and made no answer. He went to his sons, who were studying for the priesthood, prevailed on them to fly to Mount Haleakala, and probably hoped to follow them, but being slow and lame with years, the hunters had returned before he could escape. They bore their prey, the water-birds, and said they had found them inland. Knowing this to be a lie, told by the king's command, the priest said, "These birds came from the sea. You can smell it upon them. Look." And he cut open two or three of their bodies. "Here are little fish and bits of seaweed they have eaten within the hour."
Enraged at the discovery of his paltry subterfuge, the king caught up a spear and thrust it into the old man's heart. Though everything is permitted to a king, the people could not repress a groan of horror, and one by one they stole away from the spot, fearful of what might follow this sacrilege. Well might they fear. The body of the priest had barely reached the wooden cross that marked the temple-ground as sacred when its bearers dropped it upon the earth and fled, for a sudden fever smote the ground; hot, stifling winds began to blow; the images of the gods wailed and moaned; the sky was red and dripped blood, and the altar that was to have received the body sank through the rock, leaving a hole from which gushed steam and dust. At that hour every well, brook, and spring in the island went dry, save a rill in a cave back of Hana that the gods devoted to the daughter-in-law of the murdered priest and to the old woman who attended her, while a nightly dew fell thereafter about the sons of the dead man, providing drink to them and encouraging a growth of fruit and taro sufficient for their needs.
In a day or two the people were desperate. Their crops were withering, the forests shedding their leaves. Some men killed their neighbors and drank their blood; others drank from the ocean and their increased thirst drove them mad; a few took poison; several offered themselves as sacrifices and were forthwith killed on the altars; but in vain. Prayer and offering were unheeded. The wickedness of the people in submitting to a king like Hua had brought its punishment. Frightened, repentant, maybe, Hua himself fled to Hawaii, and his retainers scattered themselves in Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai. They could not escape the curse. Like the Wandering Jew, they carried disaster with them. Blight, drouth, thirst, and famine appeared wherever they set foot, and though the wicked king kept himself alive for three and a half years, he succumbed to hunger and thirst at last, and in Kohala his withered frame ceased to be animate. To this day "the rattle of Hua's bones in the sun" afford a simile in common speech. And the wrath of the gods was heavy, so that the people died by thousands.
Hua being dead, the survivors looked anxiously for a return of rain and of life to the islands, and many turned to Naula, of Oahu, imploring him to intercede with the gods in their behalf. This priest was of great age, and was reverenced and feared. He could command the spirits of the living, as well as the spirits of the dead, and talk with them, far from the place where their bodies lay in trance. He had descended into hell, had risen to paradise, and had brought back from the region of the blessed a calabash of the water of life. The animals knew and obeyed him so well that when he journeyed to Kauai and his canoe capsized, a whale swallowed him and vomited him forth on the beach at the very spot where he had intended to land, while at another time two sharks towed his vessel against a head wind with such speed that the sea fowl could hardly keep him in sight. Clearing his eye by a fast and prayer, he climbed to the topmost height of the Waianae Mountains and closely scanned the horizon. The earth was as brick, and the sky as brass, and the sea as silver, save in one quarter: a tiny blur on the universal glare could be seen, he fancied, over Maui. He would wait, in order to be sure. Yes, in the morning the vapor was still there.
"The sons of the murdered priest are in Maui. I will go to them," he said, and descending to the shore he entered his canoe alone, with neither oar nor sail, yet in the dawn he was at Maui, and the cloud was now plainly seen waving about the great peak of Hanaula. From their eyrie on the mountain the two young men had seen the approach of Naula, for his boat shone in the dark with a moon-like radiance. They knew that it bore some message for them, and when the old man arrived at Makena landing they were there to meet him. His white beard swept the earth as he bowed, and they bent low while waiting for him to speak. "You are the sons of the most worthy priest who was slain by Hua," he said. "That evil man has expiated his crime, and his bones lie unburied in the light. The people suffer and die. The punishment for Hua's crime has been severe and long. Let us join our prayers to the gods that they may turn to mercy. I am Naula."
The elder of the sons replied, "Great priest, we will gladly pray with you for our people, but first tell me of my wife. Is she alive?"
The old man wrapped his head in his cloak and put against his forehead an amulet of stone. After some moments of silence he flung off the covering and spoke, "She lives, and is well. The gods have cared for her in the valley back of Hana."
This announcement carried joy to the heart of the questioner, and he began at once the erection of an altar, the aged priest sprinkling it with blessed water and placing beside it the phallic symbol of the trinity. The invocation was over, but no living creature appeared in the desert to serve as a sacrifice. A rustling was heard among the dead bushes and the snout of a black hog was thrust out. Before it could escape they had seized the creature, with a cry of joy, lifted it to the altar, stabbed it again and again, and its blood flowed over the stones. Then all bent about it and prayed with fervor. As they prayed their shadows grew fainter, and the hot wind lulled. A low rumble was heard in the south. They looked up. The heavens were darkening. The rain was coming. "Praise the gods, who are merciful and who receive our sacrifice!" the priests cried. And with that immolation the days of suffering were over.
Waipio, in Hawaii, is claimed by people who live thereabout to be the loveliest valley on the island. It was a low and marshy stretch until a great fish that lived there begged the god Kane to give him sweeter water and more of it. Kane therefore tumbled rocks across the stream, so as to dam it into wide pools, and also opened new springs at the source. The marks of his great hands are still seen on the stone. In this valley, now so peaceful and so rich in charm, lived Kiha, king of Hawaii, in the earlier years of the fifteenth century, a great and dreaded monarch. Of all his possessions he valued none more highly than his war-trumpet, a large shell adorned with the teeth of chiefs who had been killed in war. The roar of this instrument could be heard for ten miles, for it was a magic shell, and when blown in battle it reproduced the cries of victory and shrieks of the dying; when blown to summon the people it was like the gale in the forest, and when it called a sea-god to listen to a prayer it was like surges thundering against the cliffs.
That day was long remembered when the horn was stolen. It had been taken from its wrapping and its box, and a hideous mask of stone had been found in its place. Search availed nothing, and the only comfort that the priests could offer was a promise of restoration by a being without cloak or hands, when a cocoa palm, to be planted by the king at the next full moon, should bear fruit. The tree was planted, but seven years passed before the nuts appeared. These were eaten by the king, and on that very night a strange man was arrested on a charge of thieving and taken before the king for sentence. All through the questioning a dog with one white eye and a green one kept close beside the prisoner, appearing to understand every word that was spoken. The intelligence of this animal was so remarkable as to divert all thought of punishment for the time, and when the robber had given instances of the creature's more than human cleverness, Kiha realized suddenly that this was the agency whereby the magic horn was to be restored to him.
If the dog could find and restore that shell the captive should not merely be set free, but should be fed at the royal table for the rest of his life. On hearing this promise, the dog, who had been watching the king so fixedly out of his green eye as to make his Majesty uncomfortable, sprang up with a joyous bark, and capered about with every token of enthusiasm for the task that was to be put upon him.
At the time when the trumpet disappeared from Kiha's house a band of mountebanks and thieves disappeared from Hawaii. They had camped in the woods above Waipio, and had been stealing pigs, fowls, fruit, and taro from the farmers, and had occasionally visited the settlements to show their skill in juggling and hanky-panky, hoping to earn as a reward some drinks of the native beer, and perhaps a weapon or a strip of cloth. It was the chief of this band who had stolen the trumpet. He had learned its history,—how the god Lono had blown it on the top of Mauna Kea until trees were uprooted in the blast that came from it, until the fires kindled in the crater below and threw a red light against the stars, until the earth shook and the sea heaved like a monster sighing. It had the voice of a god from that hour, and other gods obeyed it. The band fled to Oahu with the prize and there led a graceless life until the populace drove them out, and they returned to Hawaii.
The arrival of these suspicious characters had been reported to the king, and he suggested that the dog seek the shell in their camp at the head of the valley. No sooner was the suggestion made than the animal rushed away in that direction with the speed of the wind. Some hours passed, and the night was wearing on wearily, when a tremendous burst of sound issued from the hills, echoing far and wide. The king leaped to his feet, the men of his village roused and grasped their spears, for this was the call to arms,—the first time they had heard it in seven years. But who was blowing it? Nearer and nearer came the sky-shaking peal, and presently the dog, bearing the magic shell in his mouth, ran in, sank at his master's feet, gasped, shook, stiffened. He was dead from exhaustion.
His master, overcome with grief for the loss of his little friend, was liberated at once; then, confident that the returned thieves had had the trumpet in their possession, the king led his forces against them without waiting for the sun to rise, and slew nearly all. From one or two survivors of the band he learned that their captain had offended them by his arrogance and selfishness until they were forced to reduce him to their own state by silencing the instrument whereby he called to the gods and gained their help. During one of his drunken sprees they carried the shell to a wizard, who put a secret taboo mark on its lip, and when the pirate blew it, on regaining his wits, it made only a low, dull moaning. Try as he would, he could never restore it. It was chiefly to propitiate the gods and give its notes back to the trumpet that he had returned to Hawaii.
When the dog seized the shell, as it lay on the earth near the sleeping chief, he bit off the edge that had been marked by the wizard and instantly its voice came back. The wind blown into it long before by the robber chief was now liberated in quantities in those tremendous blasts that had roused the king and his people and appalled the robbers. In this respect it resembled the post-horn of Baron Munchausen's story, which, on being hung before a fire, allowed the notes that had been played into it (but not heard) to thaw out and entertain the company. And if the story of the shell is doubted, one has only to look at it in the Honolulu Museum to be convinced.
How Moikeha Gained a Wife
Puna, lord of Kauai, was a well-beloved and merciful man. Though he would not brook insolence, he was always ready to pardon a fisherman or servant who, in ignorance of his personality, broke the taboo by stepping on his shadow. His love for Hooipo, his daughter, was so strong that he delayed her marriage until the gallants began to complain, and the girl herself became uneasy, lest her charms should expand to a maturity that might hurt her matrimonial chances. As she had no preference, however, she agreed that her father might name the happy man. He, loth to incur the enmity of any at his court, resolved to offer her as a prize, and the fairest contest seemed in his mind to be a run to Kaula and back, each contestant to be allowed to use sail and carry four oarsmen, and the winner of the race to marry Hooipo.
A couple of days before the race was undertaken there arrived at Kauai a sturdy mariner, one Moikeha, who had just returned from a voyage to Raiatea, two thousand five hundred miles to the southward. Long trips of this sort were not unusual among the adventurous islanders, and there is a tradition that one of them brought to Hawaii two white men who became priests, and on a later exploration secured four "foreigners of large stature, bright, staring, roguish eyes, and reddish faces," who may have been American Indians. Moikeha became the guest of Puna. He had not been long in the daughter's company before Hooipo regretted the arrangement for a race, for she had found a man whom she could love. It was too late to argue with the candidates; there could be no hope of peace if the princess were withdrawn as an object of competition and thrown at the head of this stranger. By general consent he was allowed to take part in the race, provided he could cite an honorable parentage. This he did, for he was the son of a former chief in Oahu, and he rattled off the names of his ancestors for sixteen generations, ending the catalogue in this fashion, "Maweke and Niolaukea, husband and wife; Mulilealii and Wehelani, husband and wife; Moikeha and Hooipo, husband and wife." This little joke, his assumption that the girl was already his, made everybody laugh and put the company in good humor.
At the word of command a score or more of lusty fellows pushed their boats through the surf, hoisted sail, and pointed their prows for Kaula, fifty miles away. Moikeha alone showed no haste. He bade a cheerful farewell to his host and the pretty daughter, marked with delight her serious look as he took his leave, then, with a single attendant and the smallest boat in the fleet, he set off across the blue water. Directly that her sail was up the little craft sprang through the sea as if blown by a hurricane, while the other boats slid over the glassy waves under the push of oars. "It is the fish-god, Apukohai, who drags his canoe," declared the rowers, as he passed. In twenty-four hours he was at the side of Kooipo with the whale-tooth, proof of his voyage, that was delivered to him at Kaula by a servant who had been sent there with it in advance. He was easily the victor, the other contestants arriving from one to three days later. No objection being offered, the couple were married with rejoicings, and on the death of Puna the husband became chief, and married off eight or ten youngsters of his own. Not for a long time was it known that in the race for a wife his lone but potent companion was Laamaomao, the wind-god, who, loosing favorable breezes from his magic calabash, that blew whither he listed, carried him swiftly past all other competitors.
The Sailing of Paao
Paao, who afterward became a high priest in Hawaii, migrated thither in the eleventh century from Samoa, after a quarrel with his brother, Lonopele. Both of these men were wizards, and were persons of riches and influence. It came about that Lonopele had missed a quantity of his choicest fruit, which was conveyed away at night, and although he could see visions and tell fortunes for others, he could not reveal for his own satisfaction so simple a matter as the source of these disappearances. In a foolish rage he accused his nephew, the son of Paao. Paao was indignant, but, with even greater foolishness, he killed his son, in order to open the boy's stomach and prove that there was no fruit in it. This act so rankled in his mind that he decided to leave the country and forget it, and to that end he built several strong canoes and stored them well with food and water.
Before sailing, Paao revenged himself for his own folly by killing a son of Lonopele. The latter discovered the murder too late to retaliate with weapons, so he summoned the powers of magic to his aid. He sent a hurricane in chase of the receding boats, but a great fish pushed them on, despite the wind, which was against them, while another friendly monster of the sea swam around and around the little fleet, breaking the force of the waves. Lonopele then sent a colossal bird to vomit over the canoes and sink them, but mats were put up in tent-form as protections, and this project also failed.
Paao landed in Hawaii with about forty followers, one of whom was a powerful prophet. As the canoes were setting off, several would-be wizards begged to be taken to the new land. Paao called to them to leap into the sea, if they trusted their own powers, and he would take them on board. All who jumped were killed by striking on rocks or by drowning,—all but the real prophet, who did not leave the shore till the boats were a mile or so away from land. Paao answered his thunderous hail by an equally thunderous refusal to return, as to go back after starting was bad luck, but added, "There is room for you, if you will fly to us." Putting all his strength into his arms and legs, the prophet swam through the air and reached the boats without injury.
The real Paao is said to have been a Spanish priest who was cast away on the islands by the wreck of the galleon Santo Iago in 1527. The ship was bound from Acapulco to Manila with shrines and images. The priest grafted Christian practices on the native religion, abolished sacrifice, and begat a line of chiefs.
The Wronged Wife
In 1530, or thereabout, a Spanish ship from Molucca was driven across the Pacific and flung, in a dismantled condition, on the Keei Reefs, Hawaii. Only the captain and his sister were rescued. Until it was discovered that these strangers required food and sleep, like themselves, the natives worshipped them as gods. They were hardly less welcome when it was found that they were human, and they married among the islanders. The woman's grandchild, Kaikilani, was reputed to be the most beautiful woman ever born in Hawaii. Kaikilani became the wife of the heir-apparent, who cared so little for government, however, that the young woman was made chief. Her marriage to this easy-going, ambitionless, though generous prince had been a failure. As it was a state marriage, she cared little for him. His stalwart brother, Lono, was the object of her love and admiration. When the people resolved that Lono should be king, Kaikilani was divorced and given to him as queen, for her first husband prized her happiness above his own. Lono built a yacht worthy of this Cleopatra, a double canoe eighty feet long and seven wide, floored and enclosed for twenty feet amidships, so that the queen had an apartment which was luxuriously furnished with couches, cloths, festoons of flowers, shells, and feathers, and containing a sacred image and many charms against evil. The twin vessels were striped with black and yellow, figures of big birds with men's heads were at the prow, and on calm days, when the sails hung idly, forty oarsmen pulled the royal barge at a gallant rate.
During a long honeymoon tour the bridal party landed on Molokai, to await the passing of heavy weather, and the young couple were playing draughts to beguile the time, when a dark and sudden cloud fell upon their happiness. One of the servants of the queen was a girl named Kaikinani, who had a lover, and while the king was studying his next move he heard a man's voice call, as he thought, "Come, Kaikilani, your lover is waiting." The man was calling Kaikinani. He abruptly asked his wife who had dared to address the queen in that easy fashion, and taking her own surprise and confusion for a token of guilt, he struck her with the checker-board, rushed away to the beach, ordered his private canoe to be launched, and seizing one of the paddles, he rowed with his twenty attendants until he was exhausted. That night he gained the shores of Oahu.
When Kaikilani had come out of a delirium of nine days, and understood the nature of the mistake that had separated her from her husband, she hastily equipped her barge and began a search for him,—a search that lasted for months. Lono, ensconced at the court of Oahu, was trying to stifle his regrets; he would not reveal his name; he refused all companionship with women; he worked at play most earnestly, hunting, rowing, swimming, surf-riding, racing, leaping, casting the spear, halting at nothing that involved peril or that would tire him at night to a forgetful sleep. His stay was drawing to an end. He was to sail for Hawaii in a day or two, for rebellions were threatening in his absence, and his departure was none too early, for certain of the gallants were jealous of his success in sports and of the unrewarded admiration that the fair sex gave to him. One of these men taunted him with being a nameless chief. Lono, scowling down on him, answered that he would tear the skin from his living body if he ever caught him beyond his king's protection, and producing a big calabash filled with rebels' bones, he chanted the names of those he had slain.
He was interrupted by a soft voice, outside of the enclosure, chanting his name-song. Who could have learned his name? The court had risen. "Yes," he said, "the singer is true. I am Lono, and she whom I hear is my wife. The gods be praised."
Leaping the wall, he found, as he had hoped, Kaikilani, smiling through her tears. He held her in a long embrace. Next day they returned to their native island, where they reigned to an old and happy age.
The Magic Spear
Kaululaau, prince of Maui, had misbehaved so grossly, painting the sacred pigs, imitating the death-bird's call before the doors of nervous people, opening the gates of fish-ponds, tippling awa, and consorting with hula dancers, that his father, believing him to be incorrigible, shipped him off to Lanai in disgust. Knowing that island to be infested with gnomes, dragons, and monsters, the lad would fain have turned the usual new leaf, but he had promised reform so many times and failed that his father was deaf to his pleadings. Just before he embarked the old high priest called him aside—he always had a soft spot in his heart for this scape-grace—and entrusted to him an ivory spear which had been dipped in the river of the dead and left on an altar by Lono, the third person of the trinity. With that, which was both weapon and talisman, the possessor need fear nothing.
Kaululaau had been but a little while in his new home when he was compelled to put his gift to use. There were malignant beings on Lanai who hurt people, hogs, fowls; blighted cocoanuts, bananas, and taro patches, and were a common sorrow to the inhabitants. Worst among these tormentors was the gnome Mooaleo, who, in the guise of a big mole, burrowed under houses and caused them to settle, with a thump. The prince caught this fellow within a circle he had drawn on the earth, for the witchery of the spear was so strong that the effect of drawing that line was felt to the centre of the globe. Burrow as he would,—and he did burrow until he reached fire,—Mooaleo could not escape from it. The magic barrier confined him like iron. He came to the air at last and begged to be released, promising to leave the island forever, if he might gain his liberty. Kaululaau rubbed out twenty or thirty yards of the enchanted line, whereupon the creature rushed madly through the gap and dived into the sea, never again emerging in the sight of men.
For a year the prince kept up his war against the demons and slew or banished every one of them. For this the men rewarded him with praise and gifts and service, the women with love, the children with trust. He was glad he had been exiled. Of course, so soon as his father heard of his changed life and his courage in knight-errantry he repented his hardness of spirit and sent messengers to bid Kaululaau return. This was an unwelcome summons, and while he dared not refuse, he took his own time in getting home again, his alleged reason for delay being that he wished to see the world and further instruct himself; his real reason being a love of praise and adventure. He stirred up strife in Hawaii; visited, without harm, the wind-god's home on Molokai and Kalipahoa's poison grove, and on Oahu found another chance to win the people's favor. A bird so huge that its head weighed near two hundred pounds had been depredating among the villages, tearing children from their mothers and killing domestic animals, yet always defended by the priests, who, having confused it with a strange species of owl, considered it as sacred. The rover did not ask permission to slay it. Nobody knew him, or guessed why he was going among the hills. He came upon the bird in the mountains, when its beak was dripping with human blood, and at a mile distance hurled the spear, which flew through the air, as if self-directed, and pierced the creature through and through. For this he was arrested and consigned to the sacrificial altar; but when he abandoned his disguise, appeared in the feather cloak and helmet of a chief, and made known that he was Kaululaau, the trembling, stammering priest owned that he was mistaken in supposing the bird to be taboo. Its huge head was produced; its eyes rolled, its jaws clashed, and with a scream an evil human spirit that had lived in its body flew into the air. The ne'er-do-weel had a royal reception when he returned. Finding that his old friend, the high priest, was dead, he fulfilled a promise by secretly burying the magic spear-point in his grave.
To the native Hawaiian, who shuns work, dresses only for decorative purposes, and is willing to subsist on fruits that grow without teasing, life is not so simple as we should suppose, to look at him. Nature abhors a vacuum, even in a man's head, and when the man cares to put nothing in his noddle that will increase his understanding and resource, his ancestry will have planted something there which is sure to swell and grow until it may dominate his conduct and his fate. And if you open the head of an average barbarian you will find a flourishing crop of superstition fungi inside. So surely as he is a barbarian he will believe in witches. If he contents himself with imagining wizards and spooks, he may find recreation enough in the dark, but when he accuses other people of practising against him, and gets them hanged or roasted, his imagination has become too frisky to be at large. Death for the practice of witchcraft is no longer possible, however, unless it results from private revenge.
To this day fear and ignorance paint gnomes and elves in the palm groves and among the wild Java uplands of the mid-Pacific, and Honolulu itself is not free from the lingering and traditionary kahuna. This is the wizard, or medicine man, or voodoo worker, who does by prayer and spell what his employers would do with a club if it were not for the awkward institution of the law. When a Kanaka has endured an injury he hires a kahuna to pray his enemy to death. This imposes on the victim the necessity of hiring a kahuna to pray down the other one, or of running away, if he cannot afford the expense. The wizard calls on his intended victim and tells him what is about to happen, and you would naturally suppose that the visitee would take the visitor by the collar and the "bosom of his pants" and persuade him away from the premises, even if he did not go out and exercise upon him in the yard. In fact, record has been made of explosive exits of these wizards from Americans' houses when they made their usual courtesy call before praying the resident out of existence, and 'tis said that they bore marks of Lynn-made shoe-soles on their seats of honor for a week after.
But your Kanaka fears his medicine man and receives the news of doom politely. The kahuna tells him that his conduct has displeased some god or goddess and that he must die. Every kahuna claims what statesmen call a "pull" with his deities that enables him to have his prayers answered, while opposition kahunas are snubbed. After a couple of days the kahuna drops around to see how his victim is getting on, and generally he finds him in low spirits, with a meagre appetite, because this process is as reliable as its opposite, which is called faith-cure. If a man can sufficiently persuade himself that nothing ails him, he is almost sure to recover from an illness that he hasn't got; and, by the same token, if he makes himself believe that he is going to have indigestion, or a fall on the ice, or must die, he unnerves himself and makes it easy for the expected to happen. If he runs away and hides, the kahuna's prayers do not work as well, and if he has been to school and reads the papers, they do not work at all. Indeed, the islanders have given up white people as tough subjects, so seasoned in whisky and a wrong religion that curses are wasted on them as water is wasted on ducks and Kentucky colonels. The goddess Pele has resigned the foreigner in discouragement.
Well, on this second visit the victim remembers all his misfortunes of the past two days, his stomach ache, his thirst, his stubbed toe, his failure to collect eight cents that a neighbor owes him, his nightmare after a supper of poi,—not mince-pie: just poi,—his discovery of a bottle too late to know what was in it, and his wife's demand for a new dress. All these miseries he ascribes to the left-handed prayers of which he is the subject, and he offers to temporize. As in other parts of the world, silver is a strong dissuader. If he has hired a kahuna himself to neutralize his enemy's bad prayers with good ones, the two voodoo workers will retire and consult as to a settlement, each preserving a dignity and courtesy worthy of his high profession, for, although the Roman soothsayers could not keep from snickering when they met one another in the street, these kahunas really believe in themselves, for they have prayed too many people out of the world not to do so.
If an apology and a couple of dollars fail to soften the enemy, or if the kahunas believe they can raise the stake to three dollars by toiling a while longer, a prayer duel follows and the best man wins. Kahuna number one delivers a veritable anathema, bestowing on his subject more aches and illnesses and deformities and difficulties than Pius IX. conferred on Victor Emmanuel, while number two sweats with the haste and force of his invocations for the continued or increased health and fortune of his client. If he can afford them, the victim may hire two kahunas and have them pray around the house until the opposition is silenced or the malevolent employer's money gives out. When one of the two prays for his patron, in such a case the other may pray against the enemy who began the trouble, so that, instead of doing a deadly injury, the instigator of the disturbance may discover, to his alarm, that he is in more danger than his foe, and some morning he may find himself dead.
King David Kalakaua made a law against praying folks into their graves, but the kahunas, to a man, cried, "Why, this will kill business! If you don't abolish that law we will pray you to death in two days." And King David took the law away, quick. In order to make a prayer for death effectual the kahuna must possess himself of some object closely associated with the person he intends to kill. Finger-nails, hair, and teeth are especially desired, but if they cannot be had, a few drops of saliva will do. The kings were always so careful of their precious selves that nail-parings and hair-croppings were burned to keep them from falling into the hands of ghoulish kahunas, and they were always attended by a spittoon-bearer, who was a chief of high rank, and whose duty it was to see that none of the royal spittle was accessible to wizards or suspicious strangers. The spittoon was emptied into the sea at a distance from land secretly and in the middle of the night. What a lecture Charles Dickens would have read to the Americans out of this circumstance!
The last death attributed to the kahunas was that of Princess Kaiulani in the spring of 1899. Though this young woman was enlightened, had travelled and studied in Europe and America, and presumably disbelieved in the superstitions of her ancestors, it is whispered that the rumor of kahuna influence against her shortened her days by many. The people believed so, at any rate, though they were perplexed by the failure of the little red fish to run into the harbor just before she breathed her last, as it was believed that they always made their appearance prior to a death in the royal family. The rumbling and hissing and the sounding of a heavy major chord in the depths of Kilauea that followed the funeral of Kaiulani were directly attributed to her death.
Despite the denials of Hawaiians that their ancestors ever ate the flesh of men, it is admitted that a large company of cannibals, strong, dark, tattooed, and speaking a strange language, were storm-blown to Kauai in the seventeenth century. It is guessed that they were Papuans. The daughter of Kokoa, their chief, a beautiful girl of eighteen or so, with braided hair that almost touched the ground, and strings of pearls at her neck and ankles, found an admirer and a husband in an island chief who tried to instruct her in the taboo, for he had seen with horror and apprehension that the new-comers allowed their women to eat bananas, cocoanuts, and certain fish, and even to take them from the dishes used by the men. The bride promised to reform and live on poi, but she had not been bred to this sort of victual, and had never been reproved by the gods for eating other, so it was almost inevitable that she should backslide in her virtuous intention, and when she so far defied public opinion, and thunders, and earthquakes as to eat a banana in view of the priests, the public arose as one man and demanded punishment. The chief begged that he might be allowed to send her back to her father, but the high priest told him that the gods had been flouted beyond endurance, and would be satisfied only with her death. The beautiful and hapless woman was therefore torn from the arms of her afflicted husband, strangled, and thrown into the sea,—a warning to all the sex against forbidden fruit.
Then trouble began. Women's appetites might be restrained, but not those of men,—especially the appetite for blood. Kokoa revenged himself for his daughter's murder by killing a relative of her husband and serving him hot to an eager, because long abstemious, congregation. The taste of Hawaiian chops and shoulders revived a greed for this sort of meat, and they preyed openly on the populace of Kauai until those who remained arose as several men and drove them out of the island. The cannibals fled in haste to Oahu, taking possession of the plateau of Halemanu, which was high, reachable by only one or two paths, and those of steepness, difficulty, and under constant guard, and here they established themselves as a sort of Doone band, literally living upon the people in the country below. They had their temple,—oh, yes, indeed, they could pray as long and as loud as any one,—and a creditable piece of masonry it was, with its walls two hundred feet by sixty, and seven yards high. Near it was an oven where five human bodies could be roasted at a time, and a carving stone six feet long, lightly hollowed, where the hungry were served, Kokoa claiming the hearts and livers as a chief's right.
It did not take long for the Oahuans to become bashful about visiting the neighborhood of Halemanu, and the man-eaters then took to eating one another. One big, savage fellow, named Lotu, began to kill off his wife's relatives. This roused one of her brothers to revenge. He strengthened himself in exercises of all kinds until his muscles were like steel, and encountered with Lotu on the edge of the precipice near the principal path. They fought hand-to-hand until both were covered with blood, then, finding that he was about to be forced over the brink, Lotu clasped his brother-in-law and enemy about the neck and both went to their death together. The wife and sister of the two combatants either fainted at the verge and fell or wilfully cast herself from the same cliff. It is not recorded whether these victims of an unruly passion were interred in earth or conveniently disposed of otherwise, but the affair created such a gloom in the neighborhood that the cannibal colony moved away to parts unknown, to the vast relief of the community in the more peaceful districts.
The Various Graves of Kaulii
When the Hawaiians were discovered by Captain Cook, in 1779, they had not been visited by white men, so far as any native then living could remember. At all events, they had acquired only a fair assortment of vices and not many diseases. Human sacrifice and the worship of phallic emblems and effigies of their gods and dead kings were common. The king expected everybody to fall prostrate before him when he appeared and pretend to go to sleep,—to be of as little account as possible. And the people were pliant and willing under their restraints. They allowed that the king was absolute master. Yet they were contented usually and not ill looking; lithe and graceful, too, and gay, fond of sports and swimming, lovers of music, dancing, flowers, and color, friendly in disposition, and good-natured. Except in shedding a few of their beliefs with the taking on of more clothes, they have not changed greatly. As to cannibalism, white men have become too numerous and too tough for eating, anyway, and they feel safe in any native company of Pacific Islanders in these times.
Hawaiians claim that they never were cannibals, and that if they ate such of Captain Cook as they did not return to his second in command it was because they were absent-minded or mistook him for pork. They had ceased to believe him a god, for he had displayed infirmities of temper and consideration that led to his death. A tradition of theirs may account for a once general belief in their man-eating propensities. It dates back to the chieftaincy of Kaulii, in Oahu. The people were careful in the sepulture of their chiefs, fearing that enemies might find the remains and commit indignities on the senseless relics, or that the bones might be used for spear-points and fish-hooks, such implements having magic power when they were whittled from the shins of kings. To prevent such a possibility, so soon as the spirit tenant had gone the wise men took charge of the body and prepared it for the grave. This they did by first cutting off the flesh, which, being transitory and corruptible, they said was not worthy to be kept, so was therefore burned; then cleaning the skeleton, soaking it in oil, and painting it red with turmeric. This melancholy, if gaudy, object was tied in a parcel and buried in some cave or cranny where no foeman would be likely to find it. Sometimes the bodies were sunk at sea, with rocks tied at the feet, and the hearts of Hawaiian kings were often flung into the molten lava of Kilauea.
Kaulii was chief in Oahu in the seventeenth century. Most of his ninety years he had faithfully devoted to killing other chiefs and the people of other islands, wherefore he knew that many would try to find his bones and break them. Just before his death he enjoined his councillors to place his skeleton in some receptacle whence it could not easily be taken. After his death his head councillor took it into the mountains and was gone for several days. When he returned he sent an invitation to every one whom his messengers could reach to share in a feast in memory of the dead chief. Free lunch was just as great an incentive in that century as it will be in the next. They came, those faithful people, afoot and in boats, and camped in thousands near the kitchen. After the games had been dutifully performed—for funerals were seasons of cheer in those times—the dinner was served to the assembly. There were boiled dogs, roots, fruits, fish, sour beer, and poi.
When the last calabash had been emptied and the company had taken a long breath, an elder in the party asked the councillor if he had obeyed his master's command and buried the skeleton where it would be safe from the vendetta that pursues an enemy to the grave. The councillor made an embracing gesture above the multitude. "Here," he cried, "are the graves of Kaulii. His bones can never be disturbed again."
The people looked about the grass and under their dishes, and, seeing nothing, asked to be enlightened. Then the councillor explained that he had not only cleaned the bones of his dead lord, but had dried and pounded them to a fine meal, had stirred them into the mass of poi which these warriors and statesmen had enveloped, so that every man who had shared in that feast was a grave. And they agreed that he was a faithful and sagacious servant, and passed a resolution to keep his memory a bright green for several years after he was dead. They say that was the only time they ate a man, and they did not know it then.
The Kingship of Umi
When King Liloa died he left his younger son, Hakau, to rule Hawaii in his place, but an older and natural son, Umi, whose mother had been a farm-worker among the hills, he appointed as guardian of the temples and their sacred statues. Umi had not learned of his royal parentage until he had grown to be a fine stout fellow. He had lived a lonely though adventurous life, and his kingly origin was shown in the fact that he could never be induced to work or do anything useful, unless it might be hunting and fishing. Impulses were his guides. He was in nowise disturbed when he learned that Liloa was his father. On the contrary, he took on a new dignity, donned the feather cloak and helmet of a prince, walked, in a couple of days, to the king's house, passed the guards without a word, carelessly striking down their threatening spears with his own; then, gaining the king's presence unannounced, he plumped himself into the old gentleman's lap. For one of low descent to venture on a liberty like this was death, and for a moment Liloa was mightily offended. He sprang up, spilling the prince upon the earth; then, recognizing on the young man's breast an ivory necklace clasp that had been his love-token to the girl on the mountain farm years before, and admiring the courage of the youngster, he kissed him and welcomed him to his family.
The old king died soon after, his skeleton being duly hidden in the sea, and Hakau, who from the first had been jealous of his half-brother, now began a series of slights and rebukes which hardly justified rebellion, yet were so irritating that after enduring them for a little, Umi retired to the hills and resumed his old, lonely, wandering life. Not for long, however. Hakau developed into a tyrant, narrow-minded, selfish, suspicious, cruel. One by one his followers left him; treasons were rumored in his own household; his very priests connived against him. At last, reports came to him of a resort to arms,—of a company advancing from the other side of Hawaii, led by Umi and Maukaleoleo, the latter a giant eleven feet high, who wore a thicket of hair that fell to his shoulders, bore a spear thirty feet long, and inspired terror by his very aspect, albeit in times of peace he was one of the gentlest of men. When this giant was a child the god Kanaloa had given him a golden fish, bidding him eat it and be strong. He had done so, and on that very night began his wonderful growth, his strength so increasing that presently he could hurl rocks no two other men could lift.
Troubled by reports of the uprising, the king consulted the oracles in a temple he had promised to endow, but never had,—his principal gift (to be)—consisting of a figure of the war god Akuapaao. This had long before been taken to Hawaii by a prophet whose canoe had been drawn to its landing-place by the shark god and the god of the winds. In darkness he entered the inner chamber of the temple. An unknown voice, speaking from the holy of holies, bade him send his people to the woods next day for plumage of birds, with which to decorate the statue, when he should get it, and thereby atone for the neglect and contempt of the gods that had done so much to bring him into disfavor with the people.
Clever priests! They were already in league with Umi, and this was but a ruse to dissipate the king's forces. The oracle was obeyed; the people were sent out to collect the feathers of bright-hued birds, grumbling that they should be made to labor because of the laxity and impiety of their ruler; and while they hunted, Umi, almost within hearing, was praying before the very statue Hakau had sent his messengers to fetch. He had imposed a strict taboo on his two thousand warriors for half a day, the taboo in this instance imposing silence, fasting, and retirement, the forsaking of all industries, the extinction of all fires and lights, the muzzling of pigs and dogs, and quieting of fowls by putting them under calabashes. As Umi advanced toward the statue to decorate it with wreaths a beam of light fell through a rent in the temple roof and crowned him and the god. It was a promise. Fires on the mountain tops that night assembled all the insurgent forces, who were awaiting these signals, and a few hours later Umi sat on the throne of his father, and the hated tyrant Hakau was offered to his neglected gods: a sacrifice.