The Princess of Manoa
The Well of Last Resource
A King's Ransom
The Story of the Eight Islands
The Forest of Haina Kolo
The Magic Arrow
The Island of Demons
The Maid of the Twilight
The Culprit Star
THE PRINCESS OF MANOA
all the little valleys that cut
into the mountain range of old Oahu on its southern slope, that of Manoa
is the most beautiful. It cleaves the very heart of the hills where the
peaks are highest, where they are so high that the white clouds slip
down over their heads and look, for all the world, like the white
ruffled cap of an old-fashioned grandmother. It is always cool and
fresh, for the wind, tempered in the shadows of the cliffs, sings
through a pass in the mountains, and, catching the clouds at rest,
whirls them away out to sea, dropping rain in sudden showers on the
It was at the head of this valley that long ages ago
Hine, spirit of the rain-clouds, and Kani, her husband, who was god of
the winds, came to live. They had one child, Kaha, a young maid whom all
the gods loved, and whom the great and powerful god of the sea had asked
for, to be the wife of his son, Kauhi, prince of the sea. But Kaha was
only a happy sprite who cared not the least for Kauhi, but who loved
best of all a swift flight in the cloud-chariot of Hine, when, driven by
the winds of Kani, it skimmed over the shining green earth and far out
above the blue ocean. It was such fun to spy out the little grass huts
of the earth-folk, and pour down swift gusts of rain, just to see the
people scurry to shelter.
One day, however, scudding so low
that the clouds almost caught the tree tops, they
met a breeze just in from the sea, and stopped a
moment above a group of young
earth-folk who were dragging their sleds up
a long, smooth, grassy hill, and making the walls
of the valley ring with
"Oh, wait, mother, wait! I must
see what they are going to
do!" she begged
"Not now, dear, we
will spoil their sport if we stay.
See, their sleds are wet already."
As they passed on, a wild shout
came up to them from below, and the little air
princess, looking back wistfully, saw the whole
merry company speeding, with the swiftness
of the wind itself, down the slope
in the bright sunshine; and for the first
time she felt that she was well, she did not know
exactly what, it was so new a sensation, but
somewhere inside of her there was a queer place
that felt like a hole.
Many times after that she caught
distant glimpses of them,
but one day she pleaded so hard that Hine stopped her
chariot above the hill where the earth-people were eagerly
discussing the fine points of the young
chief's new sled. Down poured the rain, quenching
their laughter and drenching their
sleds, while their brown shoulders shone
in the wet like polished bronze.
What happened next made the air-child
know that there was something within her that had never been
there before, for the young chief
throwing back his fine head until his eyes looked straight up into
Kaha's though that he did not know shook his clenched fist at the cloud;
and then, startled at his own daring, turned and sped to cover after his
companions. Poor little Kaha! She had just been thinking how much finer
he looked than Kauhi who wanted to marry her some day.
Back in her home on the high mountain peak, there was
still something so odd about Kaha's eyes that the air-people asked what
had happened Hine knew, and wisely said nothing ; but she took Kaha and
retired to the other side of the great mountain, and for a long time the
little valley of Manoa parched in the hot tropical sun, and the
waterfalls, that had always been so noisy and rollicking as they leaped
from the rocks, shrank to tiny streams and almost dried up. The air was
so still that not a leaf in all the valley stirred ; the heat rose in
blue crinkles even to the tops of the cocoanut trees, and the earth-folk
went about slowly with heavy eyes and parted lips.
But the other side of the great peaks was dark and
dreary. Kaha missed the sunshine ; she shivered in the damp mountain
shadows and grew listless and sad The air-folk gathered together and
told their wildest tales to amuse her; but though she tried hard to
please them, her pitiful little mouth would droop instead of smile.
Sometimes she did not even hear them so intently was she listening for
some sound from the valley.
Then one day a wonderful thing happened! She was sitting
on a high rock looking longingly down into Manoa when a great cloud,
dense and dark, gathered about her, shutting her in alone, and blotting
out the sky, the mountains, the valley. She thought she heard sobs and a
low moan that sounded like a farewell, and she called out, but her own
voice was deadened by the thick mist Presently the cloud moved, she felt
herself lifted from her seat, and gently borne down, down, until her
feet touched the earth.
Wonder of wonders ! She stood a little brown earth-maid
with scarlet flowers in her long black hair. Her dress was of the finest
and softest tapa; around her waist was a girdle woven of the tiniest
iridescent shells; while clasping her neck and smooth arms were many
strands of the same brilliant gems of the sea.
She stood a long time, dazed, for the earth looked so
different now that she was really on it. The trees were taller than she
had thought, and the grass softer. She took a few steps ; a delicious
new sense thrilled up through her little bare feet and filled her why,
what was this she almost felt now for the first time? something within
her that seemed to hold more joy than she ever had known before.
So she tripped on over the springy grass singing a song
quite new to her, singing in a voice that sounded at times like the
sweetest whisper of the wind, and again like the gentle patter of
raindrops, until she found herself close to the very group of young
earth-folk she had so often watched from above.
Startled, they all gazed at her in silence the sons and
daughters of the lesser chiefs because they did not dare to approach,
unbidden, one whose dress and ornaments proclaimed her of the most
But Mahana, son of their great chief of chiefs, he who
had dared to shake his hand threateningly at Mine's chariot, why did he
Mahana stood bewitched He had never seen any one so
beautiful, and his heart pounded so at the roots of his tongue that he
could not speak.
And Kaha, looking shyly at Mahana, thought, "Yes, he is
braver and more beautiful than Kauhi, son of the sea-god"
At last, the young chief remembered his manners, and
bowing low before her, said:
"Shame on my father's people that we treat a stranger so
discourteously. Will you not join us? If you have come from the other
side where the mountains are like walls of rock, you have never known
the pleasures of our hillsides. What shall we call you?"
"I am Kaha, and I come from there," pointing to the
mountains. "May I go, too? I have always wanted to, but ' and then she
stopped, afraid that if she told them that she did not truly have a
beautiful, brown, satiny skin like theirs, they might not like her; and
their bright, laughing black eyes and red lips seemed to her most
Mahana swung his long sled of polished wood in front of
her, and said, almost breathlessly, for he was still somewhat confused:
'You have come a long way. My sled shall carry you to
the top." But Kaha, laughing, was half-way up the hill before he could
overtake her, and they walked on shyly together, eager questions burning
on Mahana's tongue, but on his lips only words of courteous hospitality.
When it came to seating herself on the sled, Kaha was a
little awkward at first, but that was not surprising, and no one seemed
to notice. When all were ready Mahana gave his sled a sudden push and
sprang on behind her. Down they sped over the shining grass, faster and
faster, until the blood fairly tingled in her veins, and her long black
hair whipped across the lad's brown shoulders.
The young chief's sled went faster and farther than any
of the others. It was far beyond the foot of the hill when he skilfully
turned it into the shade of a wide-spreading tree. Kaha's cheeks glowed
like crimson roses under a creamy-brown veil, and her eyes shone with
glinting lights that danced in rhythm to her rippling voice, while they
sat a moment to breathe before the upward climb. Again and again they
flew, breathless, down the long hill ; again and again they climbed it
to the music of happy laughter.
Once Kaha heard her father's whisper in the wind that
stung her face; at another time she looked up and threw a kiss to a
cloud sailing slowly overhead; but she did not want it to come for her,
"Once more we will ride our sleds," Mahana said at last,
"then we will return to the feast at my father's house." But he
whispered in Kaha's ear, "You will come, too, Kaha, and later, when your
people come for you, my father will treat with them, and you shall stay;
for a chief's son must marry, as you know, and I would rather have you
for my wife than any one I have ever seen."
"If they will not, what then?" and Kaha's eyes laughed
"'Then we shall fight," said Mahana, his flashing eyes,
his broad chest and his straight limbs burnished brown in the sunshine,
making him quite as fine to look at as any god could possibly be.
Down the hill they flew again, but this time Mahana gave
the sled such a vigorous push that it sped away out across the plain and
down another hill before it stopped out of sight of all the company.
Kaha tried to rise but could not ; her knees shook and she was afraid,
for now she knew she must confess and go. Fear was a new sensation to
her, and showed how very nearly like a mortal she was growing. She sat
still on the sled until Mahana leaned over, and taking her by the hands,
raised her to her feet and kissed her.
Then the little maid knew what had happened to her; that
the air-spirit in her borrowed body had become a mortal soul, and that
she could never go back to the clouds again. A splash of rain fell on
the hand Mahana still held, and she looked up to the clouds rolling
heavily overhead Soon great drops were falling swiftly but gently all
about them, while the wind moaned,with a new note of sadness, through
the long grass. But Kaha was a spirit no longer, and she let Mahana take
her in his arms while she told him, as well as she could for the sobs
that choked her, who she was and how she had come to him.
When she had finished, Mahana raised his face to the
sky, and stretching out his arms with his palms turned upwards, chanted
a vow to the gods for their great gift. When he led Kaha before his
father and the nobles of the court, there was a new dignity and
stateliness in the boyish figure. He stood a moment, searching in his
mind for the right words with which to present the girl. Kaha, though
very shy and rosy, was quite self-possessed again, and wonderfully
beautiful, so beautiful that before Mahana spoke she had won for herself
the favor he would beg.
"As you commanded, my father, I have chosen my bride. I
give her to you until the time is right for our marriage." And the great
chief answered: 'You have chosen well."
So Kaha went to live in the big house that was so
beautifully woven of grasses. At first she was the great chief's beloved
daughter, and the daughters of the lesser chiefs were her maids of honor
and companions. Soon she knew all the brave deeds of the great warriors,
and wove them into such sweet melodies that the people came from the
mountainsides and up from the seashore to listen to her wonderful songs.
She learned to swim in the deep pools under the waterfalls at the head
of the valley ; she could dive from the highest rocks into the dark
water, and come up on the farthest side, laughing and shaking her thick
hair from her eyes.
She knew where to find the fine matte, and how to twist
it into fragrant leis; and every day she wove the brightest flowers into
garlands for the great chief and Mahana.
At first, when they went down to the sea to watch the
fisherman and to gather seaweed for the feasts, she kept well within the
reef where the water was shallow and clear, for she remembered Kauhi,
son of the sea-god, and feared his power; but as the dreamy days went by
in security, her other life slipped into the dim past, and she almost
forgot him. But always when it rained she bared her head to the drops,
and always she turned her face into the wind to feel its caress on her
After a while she became Mahana's wife. Then one day the
great chief said that the time had come when Mahana should be made a
chief in his own right; that he would give a feast that should last a
whole week, and that all the nobility of the island should attend, to
honor the young chief and his bride.
Kaha called her maids and went singing down to the sea
to gather seaweed for the feast. The water was so clear and still that
they could see every tiny shell and branch of coral, and they plunged in
fearlessly. Farther and farther from the shore they wandered in the
shallow water, picking only the finest and rarest of the sea plants,
until they came to a break in the reef where the water was deep, and a
channel opened out to the ocean.
I will swim across," Kaha said, for the best of all are
on the other side."
She sprang into the channel, but had only taken a few
strokes with her strong, young arms when the black fin of a shark cut
the waves. It disappeared, and a moment later a white shadow shone in
the blue depths; then it sank out of sight again, but Kaha, too, was
Terror-stricken, the women rushed up the valley. The men
heard their cries and came out to meet them, and they turned back to
show the place where Kaha had disappeared; but when they came to the
shore again they found her body on the sand
The wailing could be heard far beyond Leahi, and Mahana,
beating his breast, cried aloud: "It was Kauhi, son of the sea-god, who
did this deed!"
And Mahana was right Always on the watch, Kauhi had seen
her in the water, and, quickly taking the form of a shark, had caught
her and carried her away, meaning to restore her to her own people of
the air. But Kaha had become mortal, and he soon found that it was only
the little drowned body ot a Hawaiian girl that he held Sorrowfully then
he carried her back, near to the shore, and, when a long wave rolled in
from the sea, he laid her on its crest, and sent her on to the yellow
Tenderly they took the little girl up and wrapped her in
the finest tapa, and in the glistening leaves of the ti plant, which,
every one knows, all evil spirits fear more than anything else ; and
they laid her in a grave in the heart of the green valley she loved.
For long years Mahana and his people mourned her; then,
one by one, they, too, died; but Hine, spirit of the rain, and Kani, god
of the winds, still weep and mourn about the spot where their daughter
And to this day when the rain splashes on the sleds of
the children of Manoa, they look up and exclaim impatiently, "Oh, there
comes Hine with her tiresome tears!"
Back to Contents
OF LAST RESOURCE
the most ancient of times, when the eight islands themselves were new,
two children once sat on a rock of the great dark mountain, almost on
the edge of the precipice that drops sheer to the floor of the valley
"Do you think, Mana, that our father will soon return?"
asked the girl. Her pretty lips drooped at the corners,
and two big tears overflowed" her dark eyes. He has been gone less than
a moon yet, and war is long. Some of the warriors never return,"
answered the boy. His teeth closed till they ground together, and down
the little girl's face the tears rolled thick and fast.
"I think they want to kill us," she sobbed. "I tried I
did try to beat the tapa right, but holes would come in it ; I couldn't
help it ! We never worked so in the days before our father went away.
She she snatched the stick out of my hands and hit me with it many
times. My arms are bruised and sore, and my head aches." The child
sobbed desolately. The boy sprang to his feet and strode to the edge of
the precipice, turning his back toward his sister for the first time
since the morning.
"Mana!" she exclaimed "Again, today?" There were burning
welts across his back, and she laid her cool hand on them. He turned
quickly, his face lowering with shame and anger.
Yes, Umi is a man grown, and powerful, but I shall be a
man some day, too!" his
hands clenched threateningly.
'They are fiends! they are
devils this sister of our
father and her ugly son ! They mean to kill us
while he is away so that Umi will be the young
chief of Waialua; then they will
tell some smooth tale to account for our disappearance." a
threatening voice called.
The girl sprang up trembling. "She
will beat me again. She said
she would if I did not finish
the tapa before the sun slept, and I
"Noe!" called the shrill
voice again, this time nearer.
"Come," whispered Mana suddenly. "She
shall not beat you again! The mountains are kinder than
they. Come." Grasping his
sister's hand he drew her into the shadow
of the bushes where they crouched,
scarcely breathing, till the woman passed; then aching,
sore and desperate, they
stole away down the farther slope of the mountain
toward the pale star of evening.
The next day the sun was sinking close
to the edge of the world when the two
runaways, tired and spent, dropped on the sand
at the foot of Leahl Noe
leaned her head against the warm rocks, tears
creeping slowly from under her long lashes.
"Don't, Noe," Mana begged gently.
"We're tired and hungry, of course ; but many
times it has been so with us since
our father went over the sea, and we were
beaten and tormented besides. Rest here
in this shelter while I go
down to the shore. There are
fish in the pools among the
coral; I can see them, and
the limu beckons to us from the wet
rocks. We shall eat before the night
Noe winked the tears from her
eyes, and sprang up smiling.
'Then I shall go, too," she
said, "for many hands make a quick feast."
Together they ran down to a cove in the
rocks, where the waves ebbed and flowed over the
dark, ragged coral, and the seaweed waved its
juicy fronds in the shallow
water. Soon Mana picked up a struggling fish on
the point of his spear, and when,
presently, it lay on the glowing
coals of a fire, Noe returned with a net full
of seaweed and tiny
shell-fish. Since they left the mountain they had eaten nothing but a
few half-ripe berries, and the white
flakes of the steaming fish and the brown limu
were more delicious than all the luxuries
of the king's feasts.
On the white sand among the warm, dry rocks the
children stretched their tired bodies
in drowsy comfort, while
across the darkening water the moon flung a path paved with broken chips
of silver, and over it the stars
beckoned to golden dreams.
They were happy again, almost as
happy as they had been before their father sailed
away with the king to make war on another island,
and left them to the care of his ambitious sister.
By day they fished or raced over the white sand
of the beach; at night they
slept under the open sky.
But one morning when the dawn waited just beyond the
shadow of night, and the late moon cast a pallid light over the land,
Mana suddenly awoke.
On the beach stood Umi looking down at their fish-net
spread to dry on the sand On his evil face was a triumphant smile, and
his long cruel fingers were spread in anticipation.
Stealthily arousing his sister, they crept, crouching in
the shadows of the rocks, up over the hill into the shelter of the
forest where they lay concealed among the thick ferns and vines,
creeping out only now and then to gather a few berries and wild fruits.
When, however, day after day passed in peace they took
courage again. The season of rains was near, and Mana built a cabin of
dried grasses, while Noe gathered the long, shining leaves of the hala
and wove them into mats for the beds. They planted a garden, and Mana
set snares in the forest for game. Months passed in security, and they
began to laugh aloud again.
One evening they sat before the door of their hut, Mana
playing softly on his bamboo flute, and Noe chanting low the song of
their great ancestor, the rain-god. Slowly the sun sank into the ocean,
and the star of evening shot a cold shaft of light through the warm
afterglow. Mana laid down his flute and spoke. "In three days, my
sister, we shall gather the roots of the taro. We shall be rich now, for
the garden flourishes, and we have many mats and calabashes."
"And better yet," answered his sister, "we work without
But that night they awoke with a fiendish laugh ringing
in their ears, and the hot breath of flames scorching their faces.
Stealing out of a little opening in the back of the hut they fled deeper
into the forest. Within the shadows of the big trees they turned and
saw, in the glare of the burning thatch, the huge, distorted figure of
Umi furiously laying waste the garden. In terror they ran through the
woods, tripping among the tangled vines, falling over loose stones,
panting, sobbing, no retreat seemed safe enough.
For weeks they wandered, sick at heart, hungry, worn,
now driven to the mountain heights by the taunts of their foe, now
fleeing to the plains to escape the echoes of his jeering laugh as he
Then came the season of the great waterfamine, when Hine
called the clouds to the other side of the great dark mountain, and the
ground of the plains opened ragged lips beseeching the blazing sky for
rain. Grass seered brown in the scorching winds, and the leaves crisped
and fell from the branches, till the naked rocks were exposed like gaunt
bones through the rags of a beggar.
At last Umi drove the children down the parched valley
to where the mountains open out to the sea, and left them there to die.
About them spread dry rolling hillocks sparsely covered with coarse
grass and a few straggling berry bushes. The sun beat on their
unsheltered heads, their lips dried and cracked with thirst; and in
Noe's dark eyes there smoldered the fire of a consuming fever.
"What is the use," she muttered dully, "of planting and
weaving, of cutting and polishing calabashes, and beating the tapa, only
to have them turn to ashes before our eyes? My head throbs and grows
dizzy at the thought, and see how your hands, the hands of the son of a
great chief, are worn with the heavy toil!"
Mana sat on a sun-baked rock, his heart sore with
bitterness, and Noe lay whispering to herself with her eyes closed. He
changed his position so that his shadow fell across her face.
"Noe," he whispered, bending anxiously over her, "littie
sister, what are you saying?"
The dull voice only babbled on unmeaningly.
"Noe!" the boy called, his voice sharp with a new fear,
"wake up ! You are having a bad dream. Wake up!"
Suddenly Noe opened her eyes glittering with fever and
delirium. " Water!" she called hoarsely, "Water, I tell you!
"But there is no water," Mana sobbed miserably.
Noe beat her hands into the hot grass.
Mana shook her, calling her name frantically, and she
laid back again, muttering softly with her eyes closed.
Frightened and desperate the boy sprang to his feet,
facing the mountain where the gray draperies of the great rain-god lay
on the dark peaks. Stretching out his arms with his palms turned
upwards", he prayed to the Great Spirit.
"Father of our fathers," he cried, "God of the blessed
waters, turn your eyes toward the unhappy children of your children !
Send us the life-giving medicine, or my sister will die."
High up in the mountains the clouds stirred, then
gathered thick and dark over the pool at the foot of the waterfall. Out
of the mist rumbled the deep voice of the water-spirit, and the call
awoke Moo, the great green lizard, from his long sleep in the earth.
He stretched himself, and listened. When the voice of
the spirit ceased, Moo slipped into the pool, and burrowed under the
spur of the mountain, down under the foothills, under the hot hillocks,
and the dried stream-bed, through to the place where lay the sick child.
With a lash of his powerful tail he broke open the rocks, and the water,
following him through the newly made tunnel, gushed out crystal-clear,
filling the stream full to overflowing.
Mana, crouching with his face buried in his arms, heard
the gurgle of the water and sprang to his feet. Deep and cool spread the
pool before him, and on down through the parched fields rippled the
little stream. And by and by where it ran new life sprang up. The
straggling bushes burst into luxuriant bloom, and the berries grew
luscious and sweet The soaring birds heard the splash of the water, and
dropped on stilled wings to drink at the margin.
And there the warrior-chief found his children. But
hardly had the salt dried on his canoes ere they were launched again,
this time to carry the wicked woman and her son into exile on the Island
of Demons. But the spring still flows from the rocks, the Well of Last
Resource, to the people of the valley.
Back to Contents
king stepped from his canoe to the beach, and his keen eyes, roving the
sea, saw a dark head rising and felling with the waves far out from the
shore. It was then but a speck on the broad blue ocean, but so swiftly
it approached that he waited among his chiefs, watching and marveling at
the force that lifted the sinewy body half its length out of the water
at each stroke. Even then they saw that the man carried a long spear in
one hand, or drove it before him across the smooth stretches between the
waves. At last the swimmer rose to his feet in the shallow water and
strode up the shore. He was naked, lean, and lithe; and his wet brown
skin shone in the sun like polished koa. There were wounds on his arms,
and a deep ragged gash across his chest, but he stood erect in the royal
presence, and when the king spoke he answered unafraid.
"From Moku Ola, I come. A day and a night in the sea."
"From Moku Ola!" exclaimed an old chief in surprise.
"From the City of Refuge."
"And who is the youth who comes thus
boldly from Moku Ola to Waipio?" asked the
"Kuala, am I, son of Laa who is
dead through the treachery of his brother. Seven
days ago the battle was fought,
and when I sought my father among the slain I
found him with his dead arms locked about his living foe. Sons of one
father were they, but the clasp of death was stronger than had been the
living bond Then came the son of my father's brother, great of stature,
and powerful, but with all his strength he could not undo the embrace.
He called for help
"And where was the son of the dead chief?" asked" the
"I stood beside them, looking on." The youthful face was
grim and scornfuL
"And then?" the king's eyes gleamed under their heavy
'The day after the battle my father's brother, who was
too weak from his many wounds to leave his couch, sent for me ; but I
was searching the battle-field and did not go. The next day he came to
me, and offered me a part of my father's land, and a place in the
household he had stolen."
"And, boy, what did you answer?" asked the great
"I have yet to answer," said Kualu. "At that moment I
found what I sought my father's spear, and it grazed the cheek of our
foe before I scarce knew it had been in my hand"
"Go on," said the king with savage interest
"His son sprang upon me, but my javelin was a stout one.
I left him lying on the ground, and fled toward the sea with a
half-score of their warriors following me. It was a long chase, and they
were net a dozen paces behind when I plunged into the sea, for I had
lost much blood in the battle and was weak; but, even as they clutched
at my feet, my fingers touched the sacred rock of the Island of Life,
and I turned and laughed in their faces."
"And what is your desire now?" asked the great chief of
chiefs whose valiant heart warmed to the unconquered lad
"A place in your service, O king. The reckoning between
them and me will come before I lay down my father's spear."
And Kualu that day entered the service of the king.
It was well known among the chiefs of Hawaii that the
king looked with war-like eyes upon Maui, the island whose shores could
be seen from Waipio when the waves of the channel rolled unbroken and
the sun drank up the mists. But the time of the feast of Lono was near
the five days of the year which the gods claim as tribute from the
months, and the preparations for the conflict gave place tP the great
festival. By day there were games of skill and tests of strength among
the chiefs ; music and dancing and feasting in the light of the
candle-nut torches filled the long nights; and in the reckless time of
the gods Kualu laid aside the memory of his wrongs.
But, though the stalwart young chief had looked
unflinchingly into the eyes of the great king, in the presence of the
king's daughter the hot blood burned in his face, and his tongue clung
to his teeth. As a chief of the royal household he saw her many times
between the rising and the setting of the sun. When the women sang in
the moonlight to the music of the ukeke he heard only the clear tones of
her voice, and in the dark of the starless nights he knew the sound of
her soft footfall on the rushes. She was a small maid, light as the down
of the pulu fern, and as brown, and her dark eyes laughed at his
confusion. But the days of the gods were days of greater freedom, and
the handsome young chief found that after all the laugh was only in her
On the first day of the new year, when the festival was
ended, the king sent his runners over the island to demand a tribute of
soldiers and canoes from the chiefs of the outer districts, and the
preparations for war went on openly.
"Kualu," said the little princess when they met in the
moonlight by the spring of Waiamoa, I have talked with Wahia, the
Sorceress, and her words are that you will bring back from the war that
which shall give you power over kings. We will pray the gods that she be
a true prophet."
"It is well," said the young chief eagerly, "for I have
much to win before the king will listen to us."
When, at last, the great fleet of canoes was launched,
and the army sailed away, the winds were favorable, and the waves
propitious. On the morning of the second day they landed near Lele,
where the king of Maui and all his army awaited them. From the first the
surge of battle was with the hosts of Hawaii, though fierce and stubborn
the resistance; and the conflict raged over the hills till scarce a Maui
warrior remained. One band alone held out, strongly entrenched behind a
stone wall, and defiant as though possessed of some invincible power.
Kualu led the charge over the bulwark, and one by one
the brave defenders fell, till, through the thinning guard, he caught
the flash of an unknown weapon. Shouting with exultation, he hewed his
way into the center of the tumult, and, with a swinging blow of his
javelin, brought a strange, white-faced warrior to the ground. As the
gleaming blade slipped from the inert hand Kualu seized it, and plunged
it to the hilt in the earth; then, with his foot covering the handle,
and his javelin dealing fearful blows about him, he stood his ground
till the last of the Mauiians were dead, or had fled over the hills. If
any save the young chief had seen the strange knife, he had not lived to
tell it; and when the army of Hawaii returned to Waipio, the strange
weapon was hidden in a bundle of captured spears, and on the tapa
covering was the tabu mark of the chief Kualu.
In secret he carried it to the cabin of the old seer. "I
need your counsel," he said to her in a whisper. "Know you, mother, what
I have in this tapa?" He unrolled the covering.
"Auwei!" she said softly. "It is the iron knife! But a
little while ago a white-faced stranger came to the shores of Maui in a
canoe of an unknown shape, and in his hand he carried a knife, the like
of which was never seen on all the eight islands : harder than the
hardest rock, sharper than the sharpest bone, but thin and bending as
the lance of a palm leaf, and with the fire of the noonday sun leaping
from haft to tip. They thought he was the white god of whom the prophets
spoke, but he died, you say, like any man? The gods have befriended you,
Kualu. Leave the knife with me. It is safe here, and there are many who
would covet it The time of its power is not yet"
While the army still reveled in the glory of victory,
the king prepared to strike a blow for still greater power; and from
shore to shore, from mountain peak to mountain peak, there sounded the
call to arms. By land and by sea the chiefs came with their bands of
warriors, till the hills of Hainakolo were covered with camps, and the
war canoes lay on the beach from where the first morning light strikes
the sand to the last rock burnished by the setting sun. Kualu's kinsmen,
both father and son, came by sea with a hundred warriors ; but Kualu
bore himself with cold pride, and the feud was buried before the king.
But one day when the little princess met her lover at
the spring, her eyes were full of tears, and she sobbed as she said to
him: "Your kinsman urges me to marry Olapana, his son. He is the most
powerful noble on the island and has many warriors, and my mother looks
upon him with favor. What shall we do?"
Kualu's brows lowered ominously, and he struck his
clenched hand on the rock.
"Yet Wahia hides the
iron knife and counsels us to
wait!" he cried passionately. "I am tired
of waiting! I have but to
lift my hand and a score or more of
his warriors will come to me ;
then, with the iron knife '
"Hush!" said the maid, looking
fearfully about. "Wahia says it is a thing
of evil. It invites
disaster. Also, she says, this
war will make great changes; some stars will
rise and some will set. Yours is still
behind the clouds of the horizon,
my chief, but not for long is it to be hidden,
But, though the powerful chief pleaded and the queen
urged, the king was too intent on his own ambition to consider the
marriage of a maid.
Never before had such an army put out from any island
shore; never before had an island war song rolled from so many throats.
The wind brought the sound back over leagues of ocean, and the sea-birds
flew to the mountains, screaming with alarm. On the morning when the
dawn showed the blue hills of Kauai before them, the king stood on the
deck of the royal canoe and saw his fleet spread out over the channel
like the wings of a bird so great that, from tip to tip, it measured the
width of the island.
Kauai lay on the still, blue sea like an enchanted land.
Along the shore no canoe broke the placid ripple of the waves; as far as
eye could see, neither man nor beast moved on the shore; among the hills
no spear caught the flash of the rising sun. All night the strange
stillness brooded, but at break of day ten thousand spearsmen poured out
of the hills, like a flood through a broken dam, and the impact of the
hosts was like the charge of stormy billows on a rocky shore. The air
was torn with shouts and cries, with the sound of clashing spears and
whirling javelins, and the panting breath of desperate struggle.
Suddenly another great army rounded the point by sea to
attack and destroy the canoes, and the king sent Kualu to the rescue
with a band of picked fighters. They sprang to the boats, and as they
cast them off, fleet met fleet with a crash. Men fought on the decks and
in the water; foes clenched on the bed of the ocean, and drowned, or
rose to the surface to be beaten under again with paddles ; spears and
javelins shrieked through the air, till at last Kualu and a score or so
of warriors looked at one another across a splintered fleet.
"To the king! To the king!" called the young chief; but
on the land the battle was lost. The slain lay under the blistering sun,
and not one man of all the invading host held out against the defenders.
The little band stood aghast before the ruin, until discovered by the
foe ; only half of the score escaped. For many days they skirted the
coast, trying to learn the fate of the king. At night they landed and
crept to the outskirts of the villages, and in the frequent skirmishes
five of their number were lost. At last they fled before the chase of a
dozen canoes, and two more warriors fell under the waves.
Weakened by painful wounds, starved and exhausted, they
turned toward Hawaii, and after many weary days reached the island.
Though watchers stood on the shore as they drew near, when they landed
the beach was deserted Everywhere Kualu found only averted faces. He
spoke to the guard before the palace, and the man turned and walked to
the other side. He called to a child who had loved him; it ran to its
mother, and she covered the little face with her hand. Bewildered and
angry, he strode up the valley to the cabin of Wahia.
"What is it?" he demanded fiercely. "What evil has
worked against me?" The old woman looked in his scarred face ; she
lifted his cut and bruised hands, and turned his broad back to the light
"The chief Kualu bears not the marks of a coward," she
said, "though Olopana returned from the war full seven days ago, and
told that you had deserted the king and escaped with all the canoes."
Kualu stared in angry amazement at the old woman. He
tried to speak, but his throat was choked with fury.
"But Kalaunui is not dead," Wahia went on. "Only this
morning a wounded spearman returned alone in a broken canoe. He died on
the shore, but not before he whispered that the king was a prisoner."
With all the old hate stirring in his heart, Kualu
returned to the palace. As he crossed the courtyard he passed Olopana
and the little prince. They were talking with an old warrior, and near
them sat the women of the queen's household; and all but the little lad
looked another way.
"Turn your young eyes from the sight of a coward, my
prince/' Olopana said in a loud voice.
The red blood died out of Kualu's face; he turned slowly
and walked back to them. No sound came from his rigid lips, but he took
the spear from the hand of the old man, and, stepping back a pace,
pointed to the weapon in his kinsman's hand. Olopana saw the vengeance
in his eyes, and his spear flew wildly, but Kualu waited the space of a
dozen breaths, then with a furious blow he buried the spear with the
insult in the heart of the slanderer.
The days that followed were days of deep humiliation.
Taunts showered about him taunts that he resented till his heart was
sick with the unending strife.
Then one night Wahia brought the iron knife. "The time
is come now," she said. "You must go to Kauai and bring back the king."
"I bring back the king!" he exclaimed bitterly.
"You mock me ! I could not gather twenty men to my
"You have what is more powerful than an army: the iron knife. It is a
king's ransom, boy.
Take but five men who have proved their faith;
be cunning and wise, and you will return
to marry the princess,
and to hold the highest
place in the council
of the king."
When the canoe with the six young chiefs
sailed away from the shore of
Waipio, no one but an old
woman, and a maid who watched from the shelter of
the forest, knew of the
treasure that lay wrapped in
many folds of tapa
in the boat of the
disgraced chief, or that he was gone to seek
Then the gods gave their favors freely. Fresh
breezes filled the sails by day, and at
night the canoes rocked in safety
on the gentle swells of the
peaceful ocean. As they approached Kauai they
raised on a spear the emblem of
an envoy; and when they landed,
the king of the island,
surrounded by his chiefs of council,
received them at once.
Kualu announced their mission boldly.
"Victorious king," he said, "we
of Hawaii know that our sovereign lives a prisoner
on your island." The king gravely bowed.
"And we have come to offer canoes and
spears, to the number you ask, in
exchange for his freedom."
"We have more canoes than can find
refuge on our shores when the storms sweep the sea,"
replied the great king with stately courtesy,
"and the spears lie in uncounted thousands
in the courtyard."
"And many of them we should know
were we to see them," said
Kualu sadly. The next day the six
chiefs of Hawaii
again asked an audience of the royal council, and added twenty feather
cloaks of priceless value to the offer for the king's ransom; and again
they were courteously refused. The next day still other treasures were
tendered, equally in vain.
Then Kualu raised his right
hand, and they knew that he had a matter of grave and secret importance
to communicate. The attendants fell back, and the King of Kauai
and his chiefs each lifted the right hand in token of good faith. Kualu
took from under his cloak a long slender roll of tapa and laid it at the
feet of the sovereign. Looking keenly about the circle of august faces,
he stooped and opened the roll, and the long, thin steel blade lay naked
in the sunlight, like a flash of lightning snared.
"This alone I offer," he said," without canoe, or spear,
or treasure of any kind"
"Auwe-e-e," breathed the council of old
"The iron knife!" whispered the
king in awe.
"The knife of the white god. Will
it buy our sovereign's freedom?"
"The king of Hawaii is free,"
replied the stately old savage.
Back to Contents
THE STORY OF THE
NCE upon a
time, many ages ago, that portion of the earth's surface where the blue
waves of the Pacific Ocean surge, beating back and forth from the Golden
Gate to the land of the Great Dragon, was a desolate waste of arid
country, where no green thing grew, and where no bird or beast of any
kind had ever been tempted to build a nest or make a lair. It was a
region of dreadful mountains towering into the sky, and of hot, sandy
valleys between, at least, so some folk say. They ought to know, too,
for they are the people who now live on the islands that, in that long
ago age, were the tops of the very highest peaks in the middle of that
An old man who lives in a grass hut on the slope of one
of those mountains, up where the mists trail through the tree tops, and
the rainbows are forever pointing out treasures of potted gold that
nobody ever finds, knows all about it; and for the proof of the truth of
this strange tale of his why, there are the mountains and there is the
blue rolling sea!
Away off to the south,
the old man says,
where the sky comes down to
meet the ocean, was another land where the mountains were giant furnaces
of white-hot fire; though waving palms fringed
the shores and the hillsides were covered with a glowing carpet
of flowers. It was where the gods lived
when they were not busy interfering
with the affairs of
time Pele, spirit of
fire, was the most beautiful of
all the goddesses. Her hair
was long and dusky as the cloud of
black smoke that poured
from the throat of the great mountain; her
face was like the flakes of
white ash that floated away
through the air, glowing rosily in the light
of the fire; her eyes were black as the
shining lava where it cooled on the edge
of the pit The great
Kane was her father, her mother was a sea nymph, and though she
lived in the heart of the
mountains, every day she went down to the
shore to talk with her mother.
It happened one day when there was
great commotion out in the world of mortals, and
the gods and goddesses were being so constantly
invoked that it
did not pay to return between times to their own
abode, that Pele wandered alone by the sea. It was
a golden morning ; the night haze still lay far
out on the water, where the blue of the sea melted
into the blue of the
sky, and the shadows of the
cocoa palms were long on the yellow
Suddenly a fleet of canoes broke
through the mists, cutting the dancing waves with
their thin, graceful prows,
and sending the spray in white showers from the
points of their sweeping outriggers.
On they came, skimming the water like seabirds,
paddles flashing in the sun,
and a sheen of golden brown bodies swaying rhythmically.
Threescore and one canoes in all, spread out like a flock of wild fowl
in migrating order ; and the one that led was large and strong and
Pele retreated to the shelter of a rocky cavern
overgrown with ferns and creeping vines, and watched them breathlessly,
waiting the tragedy of the reef that no mortal had ever yet survived.
Then up rose a figure in the prow of the foremost canoe.
From under a shading hand bold eyes searched the coast, found the hidden
channel, and the fleet shot through the spindrift and spume of the angry
breakers, into the quieter waters within the reef. Straight and tall
stood the young chief, the white foam of the fawning surf purring along
the sides of the canoe. On his head was a helmet of yellow feathers, and
from his shoulders hung a sweeping cloak of the same golden plumage.
With strong, swift strokes of their paddles the warriors
sent the canoes crunching through the shells on the sand, and beached
the fleet high out of reach of the waves. Then the chief threw his great
spear, and where it struck and stood upright quivering in the ground,
there the guard of honor spread the royal mats. A score or more of
warriors began immediately to build the royal lodge of the long fronds
of the palm trees woven together; another score set about preparing the
morning feast, and a third was picketed about the camp with spear and
shield ready to repel a foe, if foe should come.
At last the young chief turned and saw Pele standing in
the shadow of the rocks, a strange light in her great somber eyes. In a
moment he was kneeling at her feet, and Pele saw that he was beautiful
as well as strong and brave. She had never seen any one like this bold
young chief with the eager eyes and handsome face. For a moment she
paused, fascinated; then she turned and fled swiftly up the mountain,
Malia following her.
Day after day Malia disappeared from the camp for hours
at a time, and so successfully did he woo the beautiful goddess of fire,
who appeared to him but a simple maid, that she always met him in the
cool, green depths of the forest shade. Together they wandered,
gathering strange, beautiful flowers or sat on the rocks, Malia
recounting his conquests, his long journeys over the vast ocean ;
telling of the strange peoples he had warred with, and the treasures he
had captured and carried away, while Pele listened with inscrutable
For a long time Malia and his band made their camp on
the shore, but at length the soldiers grew restless; adventurers all,
they had set out for conquest and wealth, and here there was neither
gold nor a people to conquer.
Then Kekaha, a goddess whose jealousy of the beautiful
Pele made her wicked, took the form of an Amazon, and mingling with the
warriors, told them of a wonderful country far to the north, where the
gold lay under the open sky, and promised to lead them there.
Malia was loath to leave Pele, but the counsel of the
lesser chiefs at last prevailed, for one morning when Pele had waited at
their trysting-place and he did not come, she wandered on down through
the forest, watching and listening. When at last she reached the place
where the camp had been, she saw the shore strewn with the disorder of a
hasty flight; but the whole fleet of canoes had passed beyond the
Pele sank on the sand, and the wind lifting her long
black hair, covered her with it as with a mourning veil. For a long time
she sat there unheeding; the fires in the mountains smoldered to a dull
glow and almost died out, and still she sat unmoving. Then in the
darkness of the night her mother came up out of the sea and spoke to
"Go, my daughter," she said, "and light a torch at the
fire in the great mountain, there is still a spark left. With it search
along the coast for a canoe. One of the three-score I capsized, and when
the men grew weak with the buffeting and sank to the bottom of the sea,
I brought it back to you. Take it and set forth, and I will guide you;
but keep the light burning."
Pele arose and found the canoe. When she had fixed the
torch in the bow and seated herself, a hugh wave rolled up the sand,
and, receding, lifted the boat and carried it out to sea. On and on it
sped without sail or paddle, the prow always to the north; on and on
over the trackless sea, with never a sail in sight; on, until even the
seabirds were left behind. At last Pele saw a long black cloud hanging
low on the horizon, and under it loomed the shores of a Dreadful Land.
Still the canoe sailed on ; the cloud spread and shut out the sunshine,
and the air grew thick and heavy. Poisonous vapors floated up from the
land, and darkness dense darkness shut down over the whole region.
"Alas," cried Pele, "my boat will be wrecked on the
terrible rocks! I can go no further!" Crouching in the bottom of the
canoe she covered her face with her hands, waiting the shock of the keel
on the shore.
When she looked up the land had disappeared. She sprang
to her feet, raising the torch high above her head. From the sky on the
north to the sky on the south, from the east to the west, the sea
rolled. The Dreadful Land lay fathoms deep, and only the tops of the
highest mountains rose above the waves, eight rocky islands on the bosom
of a mighty ocean.
When the canoe grated on the shore of the island
farthest to the north, Pele took the torch and climbed to the top. She
touched the light to the rocks, and they burned with a flame that lit up
every spur and crevice on the mountainside; but Malia was not there. She
left the fire burning and embarked again, landing on the island next to
the south, where she again lit a fire and searched for her lover, again
in vain. From island to island she wandered, until all but one of the
mountains were throwing fountains of fire high into the air. As the
canoe touched the shore of the last island Pele saw a spear lying on the
"Here will I find Malia," she cried, casting her boat
adrift Seizing the torch she sprang from crag to crag, calling in her
clear, beautiful voice to her faithless lover. At last she found him,
lying dead where the wicked Kekaha had deserted him.
Long she mourned on the desolate mountain. Where the
torch dropped from her hold it burned a great cavern in the rocks. There
Pele made her home. Sometimes she slept, and then the fire died away
until only a thin column of smoke floated up from the pit to mingle with
the fleecy clouds; when she awoke the whole mountain shook with her
restless muttering. She breathed on the smoldering coals, and fountains
of red-hot lava shot into the air. Now and then she broke into raging
fury, and swept the land with streams of liquid fire that shriveled
every living thing in their paths.
That was eons ago. One by one the volcanoes on the other
islands died out; but to this day in the depths of Kilauea the fire
still burns, and the lava surges hot and red. Long ago the fresh sea
winds cleared the deadly air; the rain crumbled the rocks to soil. Then
the waves of the ocean brought seeds from distant lands, and they took
root and flourished; flowers opened to the smiling sky, and fruits
ripened in the warm sunshine, until now those dreadful mountain peaks
glow with the colors of jewels set in the blue enamel of the tropic sea.
Back to Contents
THE FOREST OF
LONE on the
lonely sea, in the wide, dark night, a canoe drifted. As it rolled
heavily on the sluggish swells, a plaintive chant, weighted with woe,
rose and fell with the throbbing waves, and the voice was rich with the
pathos of a long past age:
"Wide is the dark and dreary ocean,
Long the night of unseen terrors,
The night of dark and fearful terrors,
The night of rain and driving storm ;
The night that ends in blazing sunbeams,
In flames that scorch the brazen sky;
In light that burns the rolling waters,
And strikes the waves to white-hot flames
That blind the weary eyes.
Broad is the arch of the fiery heavens,
Slow the pace of the laggard sun;
But when, at last, it sinks to the ocean,
It plunges under the darkening waves,
And night, long, dreadful night, holds sway again."
The wail died away
in a low moan, and only the wash of the
restless sea sounded through the empty night.
"The long, long
night," the plaint began
"The cold night"
A child whimpered
in the bottom of the canoe,
and the woman drew it into her arms and
wrapped the thick veil of
her long, dusky hair around
the little naked brown body. Again the lament floated
over the dark water:
"Sleep, son of the great chief, Loakalani,
Son of the father who sailed from the
gardens of Kauai,
From the shady groves of the Garden Isle
To the land of the burning mountains.
He remembers not the daughter of the king,
He has forgotten the son she
Forgotten is Haina Kolo, the wife;
Forgotten is Lei Makani,
Heavy with weariness, the woman drooped over
the child and her eyes closed. The canoe
rocked deeper on the rising waves; it dipped
to the water, and a dash of spray roused her
again. She caught up the paddle,
and turned the prow
of the canoe toward a star
hanging low over the sea.
are the unmarked paths
of the ocean,
Lost is the road to
To the land of the great chief, Loakalani,
To the home of the man and father."
had wailed fretfully when it slipped
from the mother's arms, and
she crooned it to sleep again.
"Sleep, for the calabash is empty,
And the water-gourd lies open
Parched as the husks of
a long-past feast."
A tinge of
gray brightened the line
where the sea met the sky ; the day was breaking.
But sleep weighed
heavily on the woman, and she swayed under the
burden; the paddle dropped unheeded from her
hand and floated away in
the darkness. Still holding the child in
a close embrace, she
slipped to the bottom of
the canoe, and her pain was eased in
dreamless slumber ; the child slept in
the warmth of the mother's
body, and the canoe drifted aimlessly.
One by one the stars
gathered in their rays and
hid in the depths of
the blue; the shadows fled swiftly
from the face of the
ocean, and when the great red sun rose again over the
world the canoe still rocked on the empty sea, as it had rocked for many
long, burning days.
The woman and the child slept on; and the
glory of the new day gilded
the ocean and the dripping canoe with useless
gold The freshening breeze lifted the cloud of
dusky hair from the
face of the woman, and she was beautiful - beautiful
as the dawn, and still in the morning of slim, dainty youth.
But while the sun was yet low, a great,
dark storm-cloud rolled up
from the place of unknown terrors at
the back of the sky.
The wind struck the water like the flat of
a paddle, and the spray
leaped high over the crouching waves. With a quick jerk the canoe dipped
the water, then rolled back and dipped on the
other side. The woman, suddenly aroused, dragged herself
painfully to her knees.
Already the storm-cloud spread over half the heavens, and the
waves, white and broken, fled before the lash
of the wind. She looked wildly around for her
paddle, and the canoe, unguided, swung its
length to the rush of
screamed with fright The
mother held it close in the hollow of
her arm, waiting, for
beyond the race of waves towered a mountain
of water, its thin
edge barely frayed. She braced herself and
lay out over the outrigger;
but her slender body was like the feather of a
sea-bird, and the merciless billow picked up the canoe in its giant's
clutch, as though it were but a chip from the hewer's ax, and threw it
face down, beating it into the water. When the wave passed on, the canoe
lay like a log rolling helplessly in the trough of the sea.
The woman came to the surface, still clutching her
child, and struck out for the splintered hull Through the long hours of
the storm she clung to the slippery wreck, though again and again the
sea tore it from her grasp. At last, toward the end of the day, an
island loomed dimly through the driving spray, and she left the hull and
swam toward the shore. Some time in the blackness of the night she felt
the land under her feet ; she dragged herself up the beach, gripping a
little limp body in the hollow of her arm, and sank on the dry, warm
In the gray of the dawn she
roused, but the child lay as
she had gathered it to her with the last of her
spent strength. Sitting on the
sand, she rocked it in her arms, crooning
coaxingly with her warm lips on the little cold
face. By and by she staggered to her feet, gathered the long grass that
grew in the crevices of the rocks above the beach,
and made a nest for the little one.
"It but sleeps," she
said wistfully. "When I return with
food it will wake."
Then came two fishermen of the
queen who had caught nothing that day. "The
fish-god is angry," said old Niiu. "He has
called them all away." They cast
their net again, and drew it
"The queen will eat flesh or fowl
this day," said the old man
as they strode up the beach. There were
footprints on the shore, small,
slender molds that dragged at the
toes as though the feet had been lifted
in great weariness. They led
up from the edge of the water to a place where
some one had lain long and heavily
in the sand. From there the
prints were fresher, and the fishermen
followed till they suddenly came upon the child in
the green nest As they gazed at it
in astonishment it moved feebly.
"This is a strange fish to come out of
the sea," said Niiu. The
tiny waif moaned, and he took it in his
arms to warm it against his broad chest "Auwei!"
he breathed softly in wonder, lifting a
slender necklace from the little brown neck. "The
child of a high chief! Fish or
no fish, I must take it to the queen,"
When Haina Kolo, daughter of a
king, dragged her stiffened
limbs back to the beach, the
fern-lined nest in the rocks was empty. She
gazed into it stupified, but at
last her face brightened and she laughed
"Lei Makani! " she called, and her voice
was as sweet as the sound of the waters
of Hulawo. She peered among the
rocks, but no laughing face greeted her, no
shout of baby glee answered;
she ran along the beach calling, "Lei Makani! Lei Makani!"
coaxingly at times, then again her
voice rose clear and loud as the sound of a
battle-ax striking the Ringing Rocks. The winds
answered, but the child who was named for them was
beyond the call.
Then for hours she crouched on the shore
in the blazing sun, neither hearing nor
seeing, till the tide crept up and lapped her
feet At the first touch of
the water a wild, unreasoning horror leaped
into her eyes; she sprang up
and ran away from the sea, away from the sight of
the rolling billows, away from the sound of the
thundering surf, up into the heart
of the mountain forest.
There she lived for many long years; and in the deep,
cool, green shade the peace of the everlasting hills crept into her
heart But when the sound of the surf boomed through the hills in the
early dawn, and a storm brooded on the ocean, a haunting memory stirred
in her half-darkened mind; she would go swiftly down to the shore, and,
running along the beach, would call, "Lei Makani ! Lei Makani! " now
softly, enticingly, now rousing the echoes with her clear sweet voice.
"The mad woman calls the winds,"
the fishermen would say, and hasten to make ready for a gale.
At last there came a season of fierce storms from the
south that raged over the land and sea. For many weeks the fishermen
dared not venture on the water, and the taro patches were washed away in
the floods, so that the people were hungry. It was in the time of the
year when the sun hurries across the heavens, and the days are short.
The clouds spread over the sky like a thick gray tapa without rent or
seam, and the days were dreary and sunless.
Then a strange, swift sickness fell on the island, and
so many died, that from dawn to dark, and from dark to dawn, the wailing
never ceased. It throbbed over the island from sea to sea, and mingled
the cries of woe with the shrieking winds.
"It is the strange mad woman of
the mountains," said the high
priest to the queen. "She calls, and
the sick wind blows from the south; then the
souls of the afflicted are lured
into it, as the feather of a
sea-bird is caught in the gale and
carried no one knows whither. She is possessed
of an evil spirit, and the wailing
will not pass from the island of Hawaii
until her body lies on the altar
of the gods."
That same day the queen sent messengers through the
mountains, searching for the mad woman. They found her sitting on the
rushes before her cabin, quietly
weaving, and on her face rested the peace
of the great silent forest
She folded away her mats and went with them
willingly, for her sufferings had drained her
heart of fear.
In the night the half-lulled storm rose
again, and raged furiously. It tore the
limbs from the trees and shrieked through the
groves like the demons of Milu, and
the surf rolled in endless thunder. From a
hut in the temple courtyard a
plaintive cry rose above the tempest: "Lei
Makani! Lei Makani!"
In the sleeping-house of the
palace a young chief, who was called Olulo because
he was found on the seashore, stirred uneasily on
his mats. "Lei Makani! " came the call
again, and he rose quickly
and went out into the storm; but the
rain on his face woke him,
and he wondered why he had left his bed
Then in the dark hut a sad, lonely
chant rose and fell on the waves of
the storm :
"Lost is the son of
And the mother, Haina Kolo,
Daughter of the great Kailiula,
Mourns in the land of strangers.
Bereft is Haina Kolo, the mother,
Forgotten is Haina Kolo, the wife,
Doomed to death is Haina Kolo, the princess.
The long, long night. The sad
When the morning dawned one of the
guard went to the queen and told her what he had
heard, and the queen sent quickly to the temple
in great fear that it might
be too late ; but the high priest
himself brought Haina Kolo to the
She is the wife of the
chief of Waimanu who, these many
years, has mourned for her," said the
queen. "When he returned to Kauai after the long
war they told him that, fearing
he would never return, she had gone
in search of him; and he
himself found her wrecked canoe on the shore of the Island
"Auwei! Then she is the lost princess of
"But the son, where is he?" The
queen and the priest looked at
each other in startled wonder.
Send for old Niiu," said the
priest. "He has but lately returned
to these shores after many years."
And the old fisherman, when he saw
the woman sitting in the house of
the queen, said, "It is the mother
of the child I saw her searching among the rocks
by the sea, but I had given the waif to the queen
and could not take it back."
The swiftest runner
in all Hawaii, at the command
of the queen, threw off his
tapa and sped away over the rain-washed
plains; and in the
blast of the storm the chief of
Waimanu returned, pace by
pace, with the fleet-footed messenger.
When father and
son, the one gray with the years that had
passed, and the other grown to
a stalwart youth, stood before her, Haina
Kolo knew them both; and the haunting shadows passed from her mind as
the mist clears from the hills in
the rays of the rising sun.
And the forest where for so many
years she lived in lonely solitude is still
called The Forest of Haina
Back to Contents
RE you sure,
Hina, that the earth has not grown since the days of my father?"
The woman sitting on the rush-strewn ground looked up
from her weaving of dried grasses, and a smile dawned slowly in her
great, somber eyes.
"The space between the stone and the sandalwood tree is
the same, my son," she answered.
"But the trees are larger. I remember when this one was
only a single branch out of the ground; and you have often told me that
when we came here to this forest, I was but a small child in your arms."
"But the earth is past its youth, and the measure of its
growth is backward."
"Then tell me again," demanded the
boy, throwing himself on the
rushes beside his mother, "what manner
of man was he who, standing on this
stone, could throw a spear to yonder mark. Begin
at the beginning, and tell me, how came he to the
shores of this island?"
Hina's thin brown
fingers flew swiftly among the quivering
strands, but the silence was
unbroken for the space of a score
of breaths, while the leaves whispered
softly to a low-drifting cloud, and the sunshine
glinted in the deep green tunnels
of the forest. At last she spoke, and her voice,
rich and low, filled and swelled the
harmony of the bird-songs.
"From out of the golden dawn floated his canoe," she
said, "a tiny speck, shot by the rays of the rising sun across the
shimmering blue. So swiftly it came the fishermen forgot the fish
struggling in the nets, and stood chest-deep in the surf, waiting to see
what being it was whose canoe cut he water like the fin of a spear-fish
When the boat reached the rim of breakers on the reef it
paused, then, obeying a mighty stroke of the paddle, leaped to the crest
of a wave, and sped shoreward with the swiftness of an arrow sprung from
a warrior's bow.
"And I," interrupted the boy, "I have never seen a man
save old Pakeo, who comes to our mountain to gather the brown floss of
the treefern. But he is crooked and little, though he throws a swift
spear. And then, mother Hina?"
"And then, when they saw that the stranger bore the
emblems of a high rank, they led him to the king, and the king received
him as a noble guest. Very soon he became a member of the royal
household, for he had great skill with the javelin and the long spear,
and was wise in warfare." Hina paused, and the boy took up the tale
"And when the stranger had won the great joust before
the king, he asked the high priest of the temple for his daughter.
Mother, think you that the maids in the valley now are as beautiful as
"As I, Hiku! The young girls are smooth skinned,
with black, shining hair, and -
"But the birds with the black
feathers are not so beautiful
as the little manu that is soft gray and white ; and the black
cloud is the cloud of storm and fierce
lightning. I like not the black things
of the forest. Now, tell me of
the time when my father brought us up here
into the mountains, before the great
battle on the plains."
"It was after the fishermen had fled from the sea with
the tale of the thousand war canoes ready to be
launched from the shore of Lele, to descend on our
coast. The king was calling in the
chiefs and their warriors from the
distant valleys of the island, and making ready a
strong defense. Your father
came, and taking you from my arms bade me follow
him. High up in the mountains we climbed, into the
depths of the forest Here, as you
see it now, was the house ready for our use; mats were spread for
the bed, and food was stored
enough for many weeks. Giving you back to my arms, he stepped to yonder
stone and threw his spear. Across the open it
whistled, like the shrill call of
a bird, and buried its point in the trunk
of the sandalwood. When he brought back the
spear, he said, 'My lance I leave
to my son, and the mark on the
tree for him to grow to. When he is strong and
sure, and can plant the spear of
his father in the heart of the scar,
then, and not until then,
must he leave the mountain and go down into the
valley to learn the ways of
men. Before he goes, give him the
arrow that is fastened above the
door, and if his hands are free of
the stains of life-blood, it will show him the way
and the task I leave him. I go to fight for his land and his king and to
return no more. "Then calling to the gods to protect us, he went quickly
away through the forest"
"And he was killed?" whispered the boy, his eyes wide
and wistful though he knew well the tale.
"He was seen fighting beside the king till the last foe
was down ; but his body was not among the dead, nor stood he among the
living. Some said he was of the race of the gods, and they had called
The sad voice ceased, but in the woman's dark eyes there
burned a fire that seemed the driving force of the flying fingers; the
weaving grasses trembled in the still air, and the warm, damp fragrance
of the forest rose like incense to the noonday sun. On the rush-strewn
ground Hiku lay thinking of the unknown hero whose son he was, until his
waking fancies flowed unbroken into the marvels of dreamland adventure.
The mother turned to speak again; but seeing him asleep,
rose quietly and gathered her beautiful mats into a bundle. With another
glance at the boy she slipped away through the trees, down the mountain
on the further side, into the village of a people who knew her not, and
traded the work of her busy hands for food.
When the boy awoke, the shadow of the sandalwood lay
twice the length of the stately trunk across the turf. He sprang to his
feet, his eyes still alight with the fire of a dream-battle.
"Hina! mother Hina!" he called softly. Only the woodland
echo answered, and he stretched his lithe body, listening. In all the
wide forest there was no human sound. The murmuring breeze, the rustle
of growing things, the twitter of the birds but underscored the silence.
Suddenly a laugh, clear and sweet though distant,
floated up through the still air. Hiku bounded to the edge of a cliff
overhanging the valley, and, throwing himself at full length on the
rocks, peered eagerly over the brink.
His brows drew quickly together in an impatient frown,
for, instead of a sunny green valley, he looked into a sea of fleecy
vapor, through which the mountain tops rose to the clear, amber light of
the waning day. Billows upon billows of tumbled whiteness covered the
lowlands and sea, though the sound of laughing voices came up to the
boy's ears, now clear, now muffled, as the clouds shifted in the
freshening wind. So often Hiku had lain thus, listening and peering, but
always the clouds or the thick underbrush baffled, and no one but old
Pakeo had ever dared the mountain height, for the valley-folk believed
it the abode of a sorceress.
Hiku waited until the last sound died away; then he
sprang to his feet and strode back to the hut, followed by the mocking
cry of the birds.
"'Twas a maid, 'twas a maid, 'twas a maid!" they seemed
to call after him, and he crashed through the brush, his pulses
Never before had he heard young voices so near, and the
hot blood tingled through his veins to his finger-tips. It was the call
of youth to youth, and all the lad's powerful strength responded. He
swung across the clearing before the cabin, where Hina again sat at her
weaving, and caught up the spear from the ground.
For a moment he poised on the worn stone, his muscles
slowly swelling and knotting under the brown, satiny skin. Then, swift
as the dart of a scorpion's sting, his sinewy arm shot out, and
recoiled, and the spear flew through the air, swift and true, into the
very heart of the old scar.
"Hina!" he shouted, "mother Hina! I have done it! See!
See! The spear of my father again quivers in the trunk of the old tree!"
The woman rose slowly to her feet, and stood uncertain
dazed. Unexpectedly she reached the goal that, she had thought, was
still many turns in the maze of the future. She watched Hiku spring to
the tree and tear out the spear; then she turned and brought him the
"It is yours," she said. "But the night comes swiftly.
Wait now the new day, then go down into the valley. When you reach the
foot of the mountain, shoot the arrow from your bow and follow its
flight It will lead you; but fail not to return before the day is gone."
In the early morning, as the sun came up out of the sea
dripping showers of gold, Hiku left the cabin and ran eagerly down the
mountainside, springing from ledge to ledge, leaping the rifts in the
rocks, down through the thick mist of clouds into the long-dreamed-of
He drew his bow and shot the arrow out into the unknown
world before him. It fell in an open field where young men were
practicing with the javelin and the long spear. For a time he watched
them curiously, then turned and fitted the arrow to his bow again.
"These are but children," he thought, "I shall find men
At the second flight the arrow led him to a grove where
men and women were drinking from a big bowl of awa. Some were reeling
about singing, others were quarreling, while a few lay in heavy, noisy
slumber; but it all looked foolish to the untaught boy, and he passed
For the third time he drew the tense string of the bow,
and followed the slender barb. It led him through taro patches and
gardens, past village huts, into the courtyard of the high chief, where
it dropped at the feet of a young girl.
Laughingly she caught up the dart and hid it behind her
as Hiku entered through the gateway. "How do I know it is yours?" she
asked when he held out his hand ; and her lips made the youth
think of the ripe, red ohias in the mountains.
"My own will come to me," he answered, and whistled
softly. Instantly the arrow slipped from her fingers and fluttered to
"Auwei!" cried all the people in astonishment; and the
old chief came out of his house at the sound
"Who is this stranger?" he asked.
"Hina, the daughter of Neula, is
my mother," Hiku answered for himself, "and I
bring my father's strong-bow to
the service of the king."
When Hiku entered into the new life, the old existence
faded away to the dimness of a half-forgotten dream. The primeval
forest, the hut in the clearing, even the lonely, waiting woman, were
veiled from his memory, even as the dark peak was hidden from the valley
by the thick curtain of mist that banked against the mountainside. Each
day held new wonders: the bountiful feasts, the sports where his great
strength won him high honor among the young men; the music, the dancing,
the singing and laughter and jest; but more than all, the beautiful,
laughing eyes of Kawelu, the fairest daughter of the chief, she at whose
feet the arrow had fallen, held him enthralled.
At last, in the darkness of the night, he awoke suddenly
to find the magic arrow lying in his open hand With the touch came a
quick, accusing thought of Hina, alone in the forest At once he arose
and stole out of the sleeping village, and in the still dawn reached the
hut. His mother sat on the rushes weaving, and he threw himself on his
knees before her.
"Give me your pardon, mother," he begged "I thought I
was a man, but I have forgotten like a child"
Hina stood up; taking his head between her hands she
raised his face to the light and read in his eyes the honest shame of
"Ah, Hiku," you are but a lad after all, though a good
lad, for you repent wholly."
"Then come with me, mother Hina. Return to the village
where you are still remembered and loved."
Hina glanced about the little clearing where every tree,
every stone was so familiar that she read the hour of the day in the
shadows, and Hiku saw, growing in her face, the dread of change.
With heart throbbing to return to the human life of the
village, he set himself patiently to the task of stealing, one by one,
the fears and misgivings from her mind. When she took up her work again
he stretched his long limbs beside her, and began the tale of his
adventures in the valley.
To the boy, the days on the mountain dragged almost
intolerably, but he waited resolutely for the woman's slower mind to
wake to the desire for old associations. But though the peace of the
mountain lay unbroken, the village in the valley seethed with excitement
The powerful young chief who had won the favor of the whole clan had
mysteriously disappeared; and Kawelu, his promised wife, lay on her
couch of mats with her face to the wall.
When, at last, Hiku persuaded his mother to return with
him to the valley, they found the village a place of sorrow. Kawelu lay
dead in thehouse of the chief, and the
mourners wailed unceasingly.
Hiku threw himself beside the
couch inthe darkened room, and
called upon the spirit ofhis beloved
to return to him. No flutter
of lifemoved the still heart;
and sobbing he went outinto the fields.
Fitting the magic arrow to hisbow,
"Go, shaft of the
gods, and search out the place where hides the spirit
Wide and long was the arc of its
flight Hiku followed and saw it fall
into a thicket where the
rocks jut out into the sea
at the foot of the great
mountain. Beating the brush aside he found a
cavern so deep and dark that eyes could not fathom
its depth. Without returning to
the village, he went away into the
For three days he gathered vines,
and wove them into a rope,
long and strong, at the end of
which he fastened a stout cross-bar
of wood. He cut a cocoanut in
halves, and taking out the meat, fitted the pieces
together so that not even the smallest crack could be
seen. Then, gaunt with
sleeplessness, his eyes burning, he returned to
the house of the chief.
"Brothers of Kawelu," he said,
"your sister is not dead. Weakened by
grief her body held not strongly to the
soul, and Milu, the evil
one, snatched it away. Upon you I call for the strength
of your stout arms to
help rescue it from the deep caverns of the earth
whither the fiend carried it
"How know you that this is so?" asked one of the
"My death be upon my own head/' he answered, "if I
restore her not."
At the mouth of the cave Hiku took his bow and arrow and
the cocoanut shell, and stepping to the cross-bar of the swing, told the
four brothers to lower him into the pit.
Swinging dizzily like a spider at the end of a web, he
slipped down, down, till the light gleamed like a star above him; down,
down, deeper and deeper still in the fearful blackness. The air grew
foul and dank, evil sounds hissed from the crevices of the rocky walls,
and vile odors choked him. Away below a faint spark appeared a light
that grew into a glow, then into a radiance; and he found himself in a
vast cavern, the cavern of Milu, the evil god of the underworld.
On the throne sat the demon, while about him were
gathered the souls he had stolen; with them, her face hidden in her
hands, crouched the spirit of Kawelu. As Hiku swung above her he called;
she looked up, and then sprang to his arms. Milu shouted, and a tumult
of echoes rolled under the vaulted roof; he commanded the spirit to
leave her lover, and at once Hiku's arms were empty, but above his head
hovered a beautiful white butterfly, which he caged in the cocoanut
When the fiend saw that Hiku held the spirit a prisoner,
he caught up a lightning dart, but swifter still, the magic arrow sprang
from the bow and buried itself in the heart of the monster. Through the
son of Hina the gods had rid the world of a dreadful evil Hiku hastened
back to the house of the chief, and when he opened the shell the rescued
spirit entered again into the body of Kawelu, and she arose and greeted
her lover and his mother as though she had but waked from a deep,
Back to Contents
THE ISLAND OF
UST how Lanai
came to be the abode of the demons no one knows nowadays, though every
little naked brown child on the island can tell the story of Kau-lu-laau,
son of an ancient king of Mauai; and how he drove the evil spirits into
the sea, and freed the people from their thrall.
It all happened in the time when Mauai had two kings,
for one was foolish and unfit to rule, though still the rightful
They held their court at Lele, on the shore that looks
toward the setting sun; and they reigned in peace unbroken, except by
the wild pranks of the son of the wise king. Though from the royal
father himself to the tiniest child playing in the sand on the seashore,
the people loved the reckless youth who was as beautiful as a young god,
whose eyes were like the dancing waves of the windswept sea, whose laugh
brought an answering smile to the sternest face, who, though lawless,
was brave and true.
But one morning the court of Lele
was plunged in gloom. From palace and hamlet rose the
high treble of the petition to the gods;
the old chiefs sat in the council
chamber in moody conference;
the young men came forth
with the right half of their heads shaven
in token of bereavement; the
maids stealthily wiped the tears
from their heavy lashes.
Crushed with shame the high priest stood
before his desecrated altar; and the wise king
sat in the darkened palace and mourned as
for the dead. In all the
realm of the two sovereigns the
foolish king was the only being who smiled that
day, for Laau, prince of Mauai, was
to be banished to Lanai, the
most fearsome of all the eight
islands, where swarmed the demons of evil.
For the prince, in a
reckless freak of daring,
had stolen into the temple in
the night, and had painted,
with the hues of the rainbow, the pure white birds
that awaited the sacrificial rites for the welfare
of the mad king. It was an
offense against the gods and the sacred person of the
real sovereign. Swift and terrible fell the
punishment; but the royal father had laid
his head in the dust
of grief when he pronounced the doom of
And Laau, proudly alone in his disgrace, gathered
together the spears and javelins he had won in the jousts, and strode
down to the beach where his canoe lay drawn up on the sand. But on the
shore beside the boat stood a young chief, the son of the chief of the
king's council. Since the day when they had first strayed away together
on their own tottering feet, each had been as the other's shadow, and in
the close bond of their love both were prince, or both were chief.
"It is foolish of you, Kamaka, to draw suspicious eyes
on yourself this way," said Laau, his voice choking in his throat
you know that the command of the king is that no
one shall speak to the
"But two outcasts may speak to
each other. Think you that I would let my brother
bear the disgrace alone for what we did together?"
Kamaka drew up his slender, brown shoulders proudly. "You forget that I, too,
am of the royal line." And
through the mist of unshed tears
each lad looked into
the heart of the other.
Then they bent their backs to the
canoe, and sent it spinning out into the surf.
They sprang in and the two paddles dipped deep
in the water, but before
they leaned to the stroke the high
priest strode down into the sea. Laau
dropped his paddle, and stretched out
his hands entreatingly to
the old man.
'Your pardon, Father Waolani," he sobbed,
"give me your pardon."
"That you have, my prince. It is with
the voice of the gods I speak, and
therefore the king cannot be angry. Against the
demons of Lanai you have no weapon ;
javelins injure them not, but I have brought you the
sacred spear-head of Lono. Now, swear by
the gods by the great Kane that
when you return to Mauai, as you will some
day, for the oracles
foretell it, swear that you will
bury the spear-head with my bones,
and that no one shall know
High above his
head the prince lifted his
hands with palms open to the setting sun. "By
the gods whom I have offended, I swear to
return their gift in
honor retrieved!" Then turning toward the dark
island rising beyond the wind-swept channel,
his voice rang across the water like the call
of the trumpet-shell of Kiha.
Lanai, listen! I, Kaululaau, son of
Kakaalaneo, swear by the spear-head of
Lono that I will bind you
and cast you into the sea, and will
give your island as a
peace-offering to the gods." Waolani stepped
back, the lads bent to
the paddles again, and the
canoe shot away from the shore.
Across the dark water the swift-rolling clouds
chased the sunshine, and the sea broke in
white anger on the reef. The wind sprung up and whipped the waves
to flying spray, and the ocean heaved like the
bed-covering of a restless
All night the frail canoe tossed on the stormy sea; now and then the
dark shores of Lanai showed through the scud of stinging mist,
only to vanish again like a
wraith as the canoe spun around in
the clutch of the racing
waves. Unseen hands lifted the outrigger, and
the canoe dipped to the water; but no splash
of wave or fleck of
dashing spray wet the spot where lay the
talisman of the gods.
In the morning the misty outline of Lanai
lay on the rim of the sea, leagues to the east, and they saw that, in
the darkness, the wind had blown them past the island and out to sea.
All day they beat into the face of the storm, but, when night came on
again, the shadow of the land seemed as far off as at the beginning of
the day. Another long night of sleepless watching, of thirst and hunger,
and of deadly weariness passed; then suddenly out of the fading darkness
loomed the island, crouching over them like a black and dreadful
With a last desperate effort they sent the
canoe through the breakers, up the beach, and threw themselves on the
sand, and slept. They slept through the half-light of the dawn, through
the rosy glow of the rising sun, into the
broad, full light of day.
In his dreams the
exiled prince stood again in the
house of his father, and
his disgrace weighed heavily on his
heart He heard the hushed movements of
the frightened household; now a wail,
now a prayer floated
vaguely through his sleeping fancy; then a
confusion of sounds.
At last a long, shrill cry snapped
the thread between dream and reality, and he sprang to his feet.
Beyond the line of sandy beach
lay a cluster of huts, and
from end to end of the little
village there surged a wave of lamentation
that broke and rose again and
again. About the huts the tilled fields
were laid waste; banana trees were broken below
the blossom, the gardens uprooted, the dykes
of the taro patches plowed through; and
before the dreadful calamity the
people stood bewildered and helpless. They
were poor and ignorant, with wild,
hungry eyes set deep in
gaunt faces; clothed in tatters of tapa;
too wretched even to wonder how the strangers came
among them; and between their broken cries they
told the tale of their
"Always it is like this," they said We plant and till,
half-starved, waiting for the harvest; and when it
is almost ready, when the crops are green on the
hillsides, and the taro leaves are grown broad and
dark, then the gnomes come down from the mountains
and ravage the fields. We are hungry ; our women are too
weak to gather seaweed,
even from the shallow water, and our children bend in
the middle for want of a full stomach
to support their backs."
Here an old fisherman took up the
story. "The evil spirits break down the walls of
our fishponds, and let the fish out
into the sea where we cannot catch them, for they have wrecked
all our canoes on the rocks." And
he, too, broke into a wail
that was carried along the shore and up the
valleys, from throat to throat, till it
rolled over the whole island in
waves of woe.
"The gods have forgotten the
people of Lanai!" they cried.
"Then," said Laau," we
will wake the gods with our
Close to the mark of the high tide the young men built a
hut with the leaves of the cocoa palm, and thatched it with grass from
the hills; and they fished and gathered seaweed like the poor among whom
they lived. Day by day they labored with their hands for the food they
ate, and the hardy life of the Kanaka taught them many things that were
never learned about a court. Laau hid the sacred spear-head in a dark
corner of the hut, and no one knew him for the son of a king, though the
people looked into his brave young face and took heart again.
He encouraged the men to level the terraces and to
rebuild the banks of the taro patches. When it was all done he drew a
deep mark in the earth with the spear-head of Lono, and the line was as
a wall of rock, protecting the whole of the garden and the village down
to the sea, for its magic power reached from the sky to the lowest
depths of the earth. On the beach he set men to hewing canoes, others to
rebuilding the broken walls of the fish-ponds; the children played
unafraid among the shells on the shore, while laughter and the music of
the hula were heard again on Lanai.
But one night a dreadful demon found a place where a dog
had dragged himself across the mark of the spear-head, and made an
opening in the line. The fiend burrowed into the earth, and worked its
way under a hut where a family were sleeping, and when the monster rose
from the ground, it was as though the earth quaked; the children were
hurled from their mats, the house was ripped from sill to roof- tree;
and their cries of distress roused the village. As Laau ran he bound the
spear-head to his javelin, and when he hurled it at the fiend, the
sacred point found its way to the wicked heart Its dying cry echoed
among the hills till it woke all the gnomes on the island, and they
flocked to its rescue, the shrill clamor of their threats filling the
air with a deafening noise. They hurled themselves against the magic
wall, only to fall back shrieking with baffled fury.
Then Laau saw that the time of the great
struggle had come. His heart quaked, but he grasped his javelin, and
went out of the village alone, into the raging mob of demons. As he
crossed the mark of the spear-head the fiends rushed upon him. They
caught at his hands, they hung about his neck, and clutched at his feet;
but he shook himself free. He swung his javelin about him, and the
gnomes stood back snarling with rage. He cut a groove in the earth about
his feet, and they tore with their long claws at the rocks and soil
outside the circle; they blew their vile breath in his face, but it
eddied in coils of poisonous vapor around the magic ring.
Back he beat them to the hills, pace by pace, line
beyond line; suns rose and set, and the nights were filled with
desperate struggle. He drove them over the crest of mountains, herding
them closer and closer together, down the slope on the other side of the
island, till, caught at last between the vengeance of the gods and the
sea, they plunged into the waves, and the island of Lanai knew them no
Then the bare, rocky land slowly drew a cover of green
over its gaunt ribs. Flowers bloomed on the hillsides, gardens and taro
patches flourished, and bananas and cocoanuts grew heavy on the unbroken
Then the king sent a pardon to his son, and made him
chief of the island. When the old priest died Laau returned to Maui to
fulfil his promise; and since that day the sacred spear-head of Lono has
never been seen by mortal eyes, nor has a single demon been caught on
Back to Contents
THE MAID OF THE
people of old, there were weird stories of a secret cavern, the only
entrance to which was under the black water of the mysterious pool whose
surface lies three fathoms below the level of the Koolau plain. Some
said it was a favorite retreat of the lizard god; some thought that a
magician of great power an evil one lived in the cave, and slipped in
and out of his abode in the form of a green lizard, or changed to an
eel, and took an underground passage to the coral bed of the deep sea.
And because of these fearsome tales, the simple folk of the hills
traveled the long beach path when the sun had drawn the light of the
world into the ocean; or climbed the rougher way that skirted the foot
of the mountains rather than pass the dread spot after the shadows of
the cliffs had fallen on the plain.
Old Mele, of four-score years and ten, who sits all day
long in the shade of a tiny cabin on the Koolau coast, croons an ancient
song of the pool that she says is true. And this is the tale:
Once upon a time, when the
doors between the spirit-land and the mortal were left unguarded and
gods and demons alike overran the earth, the chief who ruled over all
Koolau had two daughters, who were as unlike as the stormy night is
different from the beautiful, radiant evening. Therefore the maids were
called Pouli and Liu-la, for Pouli was dark-browed and frowning, and
Liu-la's laughing face was
as softly tinted as the twilight
One day when the plain shimmered
in the warm sunshine, and the sea surged with slow
rhythm on the low-lying shore, the two sisters
called the women of the
household, and went down to the beach to bathe.
Pouli threw herself on the warm sand out
of reach of the waves, but Liu-la
plunged into the rolling
surf, and swam fearlessly out
into deep water. Supple and strong,
her slender brown body slipped through the
blue water as gracefully as the darting fish, and
outstripped even the strongest of
the swimmers following her. Beyond the reef
she turned and looked back at them, laughing and
shaking the salt spray from her face the fairest
face on all the island of
Oahu. Still laughing she called to her sister; but
even while she called, a wild terror leaped up
in her beautiful eyes, and
within sight of all the
women she sank under the waves.
Then Pouli, still sitting on the
sand, covered her face with her hands to hide her joy, for to this end
she had secretly plotted with the evil one of the pool.
In all the grief and lamentation Pouli' s voice was the
loudest; her tears fell like rain from the winter skies. But, by and by,
the time of mourning passed, and Liu-la became a memory as beautiful as
the twilight for which she was named.
Many moons had gone when Wohi, son of the great chief,
returned from the war with new honors bestowed by the king, and with a
fleet of canoes captured from the foe; and all Koolau, from Kahuku to
Makapu, and from the mountains to the sea, resounded with the chants of
Twilight falls early
on the Koolau plain, for the towering wall of the
mountain range catches the sun high in the heavens, and flings the
shadows of the frowning rocks far out on the sea In the grove of palms
before the wide, cool house of the chief the shadows of the waning day
were falling when, at the end of the feast, the old men gathered about
the warrior to hear his tales of adventure. Later, in the deepening
dusk, the young girls came and danced before them, and the sound of the
rattling gourd and the twang of the ukeke echoed through the deep
But at the very height
of the revel Wohi looked up
and saw, back in the shadows of
the grove, the shrinking
figure of his lost sister. Her beautiful
eyes were brimming with tears, and her brown arms
stretched out imploringly toward him. Like a flash
of light that moment extinguished, the
vision struck across his sight
and was gone! He sprang to his feet and
rushed into the enshrouding shadows, but no one
stirred among the trees, and beyond the grove the wide reaches of the
plain lay bare and open. And Wohi, though a
stately young chief and a
brave warrior, leaned his folded
arms against a tree with his
head bowed upon them, and sobbed, for his
heart was sore with grief.
When he returned to the grove the people were drifting
away to their homes ; laughter echoed back from
the mountains, and the tinkle of high-keyed
strings blending with the melody of
the voices came fainter
and fainter through the starlit gloom.
But the next night the
vision came again; and still a
third time. Always in the early twilight it
flashed across his sight,
and vanished His mind was troubled, and he went to
Pouli and begged her to tell him in what manner, and at
what place, Liu-la had disappeared.
For why should a maid," he asked, "who was
strong, and bred to the sea
almost as the dolphins, sink in the
quiet channel?" Under his searching eyes
she stammered her answer, and he pressed his
questions till she grew angry and left him.
That morning a grizzled old warrior,
who had followed his young
chief in desperate charges on dreadful
battle-fields, who had fought beside him
exultingly against fearful numbers, came to Wohi,
his rugged face ashen with
"My chief, I have seen your dead sister; not
once, but three times. As
you know, my house is up mountainwards, and my doorway looks toward the
deep water-hole. Two nights following I turned my eyes suddenly, and
in the twilight I saw a
woman sitting by the edge of the
pool; but each time she vanished, like the flash
of the sun on a flying spear." His
voice dropped to a whisper, and his
knees shook under him, "Yesterday I returned late from the sea.
Therefore I took the shortest way
to my cabin, and as I walked quickly along
with my eyes on the ground I thought not of the
pool till I was almost beside it. Suddenly I
looked up, and there on the long,
flat stone that lies by the brink
sat Liu-la, her chin sunk on her
breast, and her hands clasped in despair.
In that same instant she was not! My
hair stood up like the spears of
an army awaiting the rush of
the foe, but I had great love for the
little maid, and I went to the edge and looked down into
the pool. Not a ripple stirred the black
surface of the water, but as I turned away I heard
plainly the sobs of a
woman." When the old man finished
his tale he shook with a heavy chill, and Wohi threw
his tapa over his shoulders.
"See that you speak of this to no one," said the young
chief. "If my sister lives I will find her!"
When the old warrior left him, Wohi hurried away to the
pool, his eyes searching every crease in the ground along the way,
following every shadow of the flying clouds. Four times he circled the
great water-hole, but neither the rocky wall nor the dark, mysterious
depths betrayed its secret.
He sat down on the flat rock where the old man had seen
Liu-la, and his hands dropped dejectedly on the sun-warmed stone. Wide
and lonely the plain lay about him, not even a blade of grass moved in
the breathless air ; no sound broke the tense stillness, nothing lived
but himself and a small brown lizard half hidden in a crevice of
the brown rock.
He watched it,
fascinated by the steady gaze of
the bright questioning
eyes. Hesitatingly the wee brown creature
advanced a tiny foot, then another,
and the sinuous body curved
gracefully; but with the horror of his
race for creeping things he sprang away from it. The
lizard lay as still as the stone itself, but
in the wonderful eyes he saw the tears well up
and overflow. Then like a little brown
streak, it darted across the rock and
disappeared, but from the depths of
the pool a long quivering sigh
broke into a torrent
of muffled sobs.
"Liu-la!" cried Wohi, "Liu-la!" The
name rolled from cliff to cliff as though the very walls of Koolau
called the lost maid, but there was no answer
save the heart-breaking sounds. Then he
remembered that it was only in
the twilight that she had
been seen, and he strode
back to the village.
At the house of his
father he found a halfscore
of visiting chiefs, and the customs of
hospitality were rigid. Long they sat
over the feast, and the light of
day faded while they still talked.
But Wohfs thoughts were with Liu-la,
alone somewhere in the dark,
and frightened, and
at last he stole away and ran to the pool.
The night was dark,
and on the unmarked plain
he came upon the water-hole suddenly. As he
looked up he caught his breath, his feet clung
to the ground like roots, for there on the
stone crouched Liu-la, the weight of her woe crushing her
graceful head to her breast, as the south rain beats the white pua kala
to the earth. Even then, as though he had closed his eyes and so blotted
out the vision, she was gone. He sprang to the spot where she had been,
but there was no one nothing but the little brown lizard almost hidden
by the darkness as it glided away; but softly on the night air broke
sobs of unspeakable sadness. Wohi returned to his father's house and
called his elder sister from among the women.
'What is this?" he demanded fiercely. 'What evil have you
wrought upon our sister? Why does her spirit linger, weeping, about the
black water-hole on the plain when her body
sank in the sea?"
The girl's black brows drew together in an angry frown. "Ask of the eels," she taunted.
But the young chief went away into the heart of the
mountains, up the big valley where the water leaps
from the ridge just under the sky and
breaks into a wind-blown veil of mist.
There under a rainbow he found the cabin of
Waka, the good sorceress, with whom
he talked till the stars faded
from the morning sky. "Forget not," she said
at parting, "If your eyes rest upon her but for the space of the
lightning's flash, before she is within the circle of ti she will become
a lizard again; for the terms of the bond are
that she shall see and be seen, but only as the wraiths that men follow
and never possess."
While the shadows still lay in hiding under the rocks,
Wohi went again to the water-hole, this time with two girdles woven of
the leaves of the ti plant that the demons fear. The sun shone straight
down on the surface of the pool, and lit up every crevice on the wall.
Even in the blaze of the noonday sun the pool looked dark and
treacherous ; but he called upon the gods to help him, and climbed
resolutely down till his feet touched the water. A cold chill struck to
his bones, and his heart throbbed in his throat, but he loosened his
hold on the rocks and dropped to the slimy bottom. Up he struck for the
surface again, and the warm sun on his face gave him courage. Again and
again he dived, groping along the face of the slippery stones, and at
last his wandering hands felt an opening in the jagged wall.
He rose to the air and breathed, then plunged swiftly
and entered the passage. On his hands and knees he worked his way
through a tunnel full of water, and so narrow that the sharp rocks cut
his shoulders and back. His temples throbbed, and a roar like that of an
angry surf thundered in his ears. He longed to gasp just once, his chest
seemed splitting when suddenly a wind like the breath of the gods struck
across his face, and he crept out on a dry floor of stone, breathing
painfully. The place was as dark as the cavern of Pele when she sleeps,
and he listened, his flesh creeping with a chill of fear, his heart
pounding his ribs.
"Liu-la!" he called "Are you here?" Only the echoes
"Liu-la!" he called again. "It is Wohi, your brother.
Speak!" A gasping, incredulous cry greeted him, two trembling hands met
his and clung desperately.
"You, Wohi! How did you know?"
There was no time to answer, and in the dense blackness
he loosened one of the girdles from his waist and bound it about her.
"Come," he said. 'We will go home now, little sister
of the twilight"
In all Koolau no one slept that
night. The people wept for joy and wailed for pure happiness; and the
old minstrels sang the songs of the great ancestors of Wohi and Liu-la
Then some one made a new song about the maid of the twilight and the
little brown lizard; and that is the one old Mele sings today in the
shade of the tiny cabin on the Koolau coast
Back to Contents
great sun crossed the azure arch of the sky, and sank into the sea, and
soft, dusky twilight fell over the earth. High above the ocean, and
glinting the restless waves, a radiant star sprang to its place in the
darkening blue, and looked down on the humble folk-life of the island of
Hawaii. Here and there it darted its friendly beams into the deepening
shadows; it peered under the waving palms; it burnished the
weather-beaten thatch of a house, and gleamed along the haft of an idle
More wonderful even than the genii of the present day,
who look through solid things with their strange green light, it sent
its bright rays into the blackest heart, and into the deepest mind. It
knew all the hidden bad, and the undiscovered good; all the selfish, and
all the generous motives; all the secret sorrows, and the concealed
joys. And though it had watched the world for ages had known each
passing generation for eons of time, it found infinite variety, and it
quivered with infinite comprehension. It laughed in the face of the wee
babe when it stretched its tiny, brown hands to catch the bright rays;
it looked into the tired eyes of the great king with friendly sympathy.
One night when the wise star shone down into the shadowy
greens of the island forest, it flashed across the face of a stalwart
youth swinging sturdily up the
mountain path from the village by the sea
It knew him well, and knew how
often he traveled the mountain
path, and why. He was the
strongest, fleetest runner in the
king's service. At each stroke of
his paddle his canoe shot a double
spear's length through the stormiest water; the
flight of his arrow was the
longest; the aim of his javelin the
truest of all the young warriors.
And each night the star smiled
into a sheltered nook by the
sea, and took account of the day's work on a
tiny house building under
the waving lances of the palms. From the evening
when the young people of the
village danced beside the
freshly hewn timbers, to the last plait of
the thatch, the star watched
its growth; for it was in the
twilight that the king's young runner had
first looked into the laughing eyes
of the mountain maid, and it was in the
same soft radiance between daylight and dark that,
together, they chose the quiet
little cove for their new home. And
at last the house was finished, and the mats and
tapas and calabashes were ready for the furnishing.
The young man looked up and smiled at the star, for it
made him think of the eyes of the maid when the cloud of her long, thick
lashes suddenly lifted, and fell again. At the thought he hurried his
swinging strides till he came in sight of a fire over which bent the
slender figure of the girl. He stepped eagerly into the circle of light.
"It is Pele herself," he said, laughing, as he threw
down his gift of silvery fish fresh from the sea She
lifted a warning hand and shook her head.
"True," said the
young man teasingly, "I am wrong. Pele was never so
"Hush!" said the girl in a frightened whisper. "One must
not speak so of the gods."
"What matter," laughed the lad. "Pele sleeps
sound these days."
Up in the great cavern on the
top of the mountain the vigilant
star saw a spark of fire, and knew
that the goddess was awake, and angry. Suddenly as
it watched from the peaceful sky, there came from
the rocks a sound like the crash of
thunder. A column of smoke, dark and thick,
shot out from the place where dwelt the goddess
of fire, and as it rose, it rolled
over the mountain, and shut out the light
of the stars. Dense and choking it spread from rim
to rim of the ocean, and under it was unbroken
The earth heaved as in a
throe of agony, great rocks broke from the cliffs
and crashed through the forest; and the lad and
the girl clung together in
speechless terror. Then with a roar the side of the
mountain split open, and from the gaping rent
there flowed a torrent of molten lava
that lit up the forest like
the noonday sun. It crisped the
green to tinder, it charred the trees to
blackened stumps, and turned the clouds to flaming
Half strangled with deadly vapor, panting with
fear, they ran, a sinuous stream of
living fire sweeping after them. The air grew
black again with the smoke of the burning trees
mingled with the sulphurous fumes of Pele's
breath, and hot ashes sifted
over them. Tripping, stumbling, they struggled through the awful chaos
till they felt the cool
sands of the seashore under
"Now, O gods, help us!" cried the boy despairingly. "A
boat is here I know, but the darkness hides it from my eyes!"
Suddenly a rift opened in the thick clouds, and the
blazing star flung a ray of light across the water; it rimmed the black
waves with silver, and lit up the prow of a canoe rocking on the
ebb-tide. They sprang in and shoved it clear of the sand as the seething
lava flowed, hissing, into the sea. Desperately their paddles dipped in
the black water, and the canoe shot away from the treacherous shore.
When the sun set again on the torn and desolate island,
there in the fathomless blue of the darkening sky shone the star, but
radiant no longer, for it had lost forever its brightest ray. One
blazing point was broken.
It had thwarted the will of one of the most powerful
gods, and its doom came swiftly. Struck from the heavens, it fell
spinning dizzily through the cloudless ether. Faster and faster grew its
pace, shrinking, whirling, falling; past other stars that looked coldly
on at its degradation; past the pale moon. Away in the distance floated
the earth growing larger and nearer, till at length it seemed to reach
out an invisible hand and snatch the quivering thing to the cool, moist
bosom of the ocean.
Long it rocked on the gentle tides, but one day a
rolling wave carried it high up on a lonely shore, and left it there a
living star no longer, but a wee, dark thing that sank into the warm
sand and lay still.
How long it lay there no one knows, but from the place
where the culprit star had hidden itself from the sparkling heavens,
there grew up a dark green shrub, that spread over the barren sands, and
opened to the smiling sky hundreds of dainty, white blossoms. But every
one of the wee star flowers had lost a petal.
Back to Contents