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"I do have fleeting memories of some of that day, all a broken-
hearted mad rage against fate - of my hair down and whipped wet and
stinging about me in the driving rain; of endless tears of weeping
contributed to the general deluge, of passionate outbursts and
resentments against a world all twisted and wrong, of beatings of
my hands upon my saddle pommel, of asperities to my Kilohana
cowboy, of spurs into the ribs of poor magnificent Hilo, with a
prayer on my lips, bursting out from my heart, that the spurs would
so madden him as to make him rear and fall on me and crush my body
for ever out of all beauty for man, or topple me off the trail and
finish me at the foot of the palis" (precipices), "writing pau at
the end of my name as final as the unuttered pau on Lilolilo's lips
when he tore across my ilima lei and dropped it in the sea. . . .

"Husband George was delayed in Honolulu. When he came back to
Nahala I was there waiting for him. And solemnly he embraced me,
perfunctorily kissed my lips, gravely examined my tongue, decried
my looks and state of health, and sent me to bed with hot stove-
lids and a dosage of castor oil. Like entering into the machinery
of a clock and becoming one of the cogs or wheels, inevitably and
remorselessly turning around and around, so I entered back into the
grey life of Nahala. Out of bed was Husband George at half after
four every morning, and out of the house and astride his horse at
five. There was the eternal porridge, and the horrible cheap
coffee, and the fresh beef and jerky. I cooked, and baked, and
scrubbed. I ground around the crazy hand sewing machine and made
my cheap holokus. Night after night, through the endless centuries
of two years more, I sat across the table from him until eight
o'clock, mending his cheap socks and shoddy underwear, while he
read the years' old borrowed magazines he was too thrifty to
subscribe to. And then it was bed-time - kerosene must be
economized - and he wound his watch, entered the weather in his
diary, and took off his shoes, the right shoe first, and placed
them, just so, side by side, at the foot of the bed on his side.

"But there was no more of my drawing to Husband George, as had been
the promise ere the Princess Lihue invited me on the progress and
Uncle John loaned me the horse. You see, Sister Martha, nothing
would have happened had Uncle John refused me the horse. But I had
known love, and I had known Lilolilo; and what chance, after that,
had Husband George to win from me heart of esteem or affection?
And for two years, at Nahala, I was a dead woman who somehow walked
and talked, and baked and scrubbed, and mended socks and saved
kerosene. The doctors said it was the shoddy underwear that did
for him, pursuing as always the high-mountain Nahala waters in the
drenching storms of midwinter.

"When he died, I was not sad. I had been sad too long already.
Nor was I glad. Gladness had died at Hilo when Lilolilo dropped my
ilima lei into the sea and my feet were never happy again.
Lilolilo passed within a month after Husband George. I had never
seen him since the parting at Hilo. La, la, suitors a many have I
had since; but I was like Uncle John. Mating for me was but once.
Uncle John had his Naomi room at Kilohana. I have had my Lilolilo
room for fifty years in my heart. You are the first, Sister
Martha, whom I have permitted to enter that room . . . "

A machine swung the circle of the drive, and from it, across the
lawn, approached the husband of Martha. Erect, slender, grey-
haired, of graceful military bearing, Roscoe Scandwell was a member
of the "Big Five," which, by the interlocking of interests,
determined the destinies of all Hawaii. Himself pure haole, New
England born, he kissed Bella first, arms around, full-hearty, in
the Hawaiian way. His alert eye told him that there had been a
woman talk, and, despite the signs of all generousness of emotion,
that all was well and placid in the twilight wisdom that was
theirs.

"Elsie and the younglings are coming - just got a wireless from
their steamer," he announced, after he had kissed his wife. "And
they'll be spending several days with us before they go on to
Maui."

"I was going to put you in the Rose Room, Sister Bella," Martha
Scandwell planned aloud. "But it will be better for her and the
children and the nurses and everything there, so you shall have
Queen Emma's Room."

"I had it last time, and I prefer it," Bella said.

Roscoe Scandwell, himself well taught of Hawaiian love and love-
ways, erect, slender, dignified, between the two nobly proportioned
women, an arm around each of their sumptuous waists, proceeded with
them toward the house.

WAIKIKI, HAWAII.

June 6, 1916


THE BONES OF KAHEKILI


From over the lofty Koolau Mountains, vagrant wisps of the trade
wind drifted, faintly swaying the great, unwhipped banana leaves,
rustling the palms, and fluttering and setting up a whispering
among the lace-leaved algaroba trees. Only intermittently did the
atmosphere so breathe - for breathing it was, the suspiring of the
languid, Hawaiian afternoon. In the intervals between the soft
breathings, the air grew heavy and balmy with the perfume of
flowers and the exhalations of fat, living soil.

Of humans about the low bungalow-like house, there were many; but
one only of them slept. The rest were on the tense tiptoes of
silence. At the rear of the house a tiny babe piped up a thin
blatting wail that the quickly thrust breast could not appease.
The mother, a slender hapa-haole (half-white), clad in a loose-
flowing holoku of white muslin, hastened away swiftly among the
banana and papaia trees to remove the babe's noise by distance.
Other women, hapa-haole and full native, watched her anxiously as
she fled.

At the front of the house, on the grass, squatted a score of
Hawaiians. Well-muscled, broad-shouldered, they were all strapping
men. Brown-skinned, with luminous brown eyes and black, their
features large and regular, they showed all the signs of being as
good-natured, merry-hearted, and soft-tempered as the climate. To
all of which a seeming contradiction was given by the ferociousness
of their accoutrement. Into the tops of their rough leather
leggings were thrust long knives, the handles projecting. On their
heels were huge-rowelled Spanish spurs. They had the appearance of
banditti, save for the incongruous wreaths of flowers and fragrant
maile that encircled the crowns of their flopping cowboy hats. One
of them, deliciously and roguishly handsome as a faun, with the
eyes of a faun, wore a flaming double-hibiscus bloom coquettishly
tucked over his ear. Above them, casting a shelter of shade from
the sun, grew a wide-spreading canopy of Ponciana regia, itself a
flame of blossoms, out of each of which sprang pom-poms of feathery
stamens. From far off, muffled by distance, came the faint
stamping of their tethered horses. The eyes of all were intently
fixed upon the solitary sleeper who lay on his back on a lauhala
mat a hundred feet away under the monkey-pod trees.

Large as were the Hawaiian cowboys, the sleeper was larger. Also,
as his snow-white hair and beard attested, he was much older. The
thickness of his wrist and the greatness of his fingers made
authentic the mighty frame of him hidden under loose dungaree pants
and cotton shirt, buttonless, open from midriff to Adam's apple,
exposing a chest matted with a thatch of hair as white as that of
his head and face. The depth and breadth of that chest, its
resilience, and its relaxed and plastic muscles, tokened the knotty
strength that still resided in him. Further, no bronze and beat of
sun and wind availed to hide the testimony of his skin that he was
all haole - a white man.

On his back, his great white beard, thrust skyward, untrimmed of
barbers, stiffened and subsided with every breath, while with the
outblow of every exhalation the white moustache erected
perpendicularly like the quills of a porcupine and subsided with
each intake. A young girl of fourteen, clad only in a single
shift, or muumuu, herself a grand-daughter of the sleeper, crouched
beside him and with a feathered fly-flapper brushed away the flies.
In her face were depicted solicitude, and nervousness, and awe, as
if she attended on a god.

And truly, Hardman Pool, the sleeping whiskery one, was to her, and
to many and sundry, a god - a source of life, a source of food, a
fount of wisdom, a giver of law, a smiling beneficence, a blackness
of thunder and punishment - in short, a man-master whose record was
fourteen living and adult sons and daughters, six great-
grandchildren, and more grandchildren than could he in his most
lucid moments enumerate.

Fifty-one years before, he had landed from an open boat at
Laupahoehoe on the windward coast of Hawaii. The boat was the one
surviving one of the whaler Black Prince of New Bedford. Himself
New Bedford born, twenty years of age, by virtue of his driving
strength and ability he had served as second mate on the lost
whaleship. Coming to Honolulu and casting about for himself, he
had first married Kalama Mamaiopili, next acted as pilot of
Honolulu Harbour, after that started a saloon and boarding house,
and, finally, on the death of Kalama's father, engaged in cattle
ranching on the broad pasture lands she had inherited.

For over half a century he had lived with the Hawaiians, and it was
conceded that he knew their language better than did most of them.
By marrying Kalama, he had married not merely her land, but her own
chief rank, and the fealty owed by the commoners to her by virtue
of her genealogy was also accorded him. In addition, he possessed
of himself all the natural attributes of chiefship: the gigantic
stature, the fearlessness, the pride; and the high hot temper that
could brook no impudence nor insult, that could be neither bullied
nor awed by any utmost magnificence of power that walked on two
legs, and that could compel service of lesser humans, not by any
ignoble purchase by bargaining, but by an unspoken but expected
condescending of largesse. He knew his Hawaiians from the outside
and the in, knew them better than themselves, their Polynesian
circumlocutions, faiths, customs, and mysteries.

And at seventy-one, after a morning in the saddle over the ranges
that began at four o'clock, he lay under the monkey-pods in his
customary and sacred siesta that no retainer dared to break, nor
would dare permit any equal of the great one to break. Only to the
King was such a right accorded, and, as the King had early learned,
to break Hardman Pool's siesta was to gain awake a very irritable
and grumpy Hardman Pool who would talk straight from the shoulder
and say unpleasant but true things that no king would care to hear.

The sun blazed down. The horses stamped remotely. The fading
trade-wind wisps sighed and rustled between longer intervals of
quiescence. The perfume grew heavier. The woman brought back the
babe, quiet again, to the rear of the house. The monkey-pods
folded their leaves and swooned to a siesta of their own in the
soft air above the sleeper. The girl, breathless as ever from the
enormous solemnity of her task, still brushed the flies away; and
the score of cowboys still intently and silently watched.

Hardman Pool awoke. The next out-breath, expected of the long
rhythm, did not take place. Neither did the white, long moustache
rise up. Instead, the cheeks, under the whiskers, puffed; the
eyelids lifted, exposing blue eyes, choleric and fully and
immediately conscious; the right hand went out to the half-smoked
pipe beside him, while the left hand reached the matches.

"Get me my gin and milk," he ordered, in Hawaiian, of the little
maid, who had been startled into a tremble by his awaking.

He lighted the pipe, but gave no sign of awareness of the presence
of his waiting retainers until the tumbler of gin and milk had been
brought and drunk.

"Well?" he demanded abruptly, and in the pause, while twenty faces
wreathed in smiles and twenty pairs of dark eyes glowed luminously
with well-wishing pleasure, he wiped the lingering drops of gin and
milk from his hairy lips. "What are you hanging around for? What
do you want? Come over here."

Twenty giants, most of them young, uprose and with a great clanking
and jangling of spurs and spur-chains strode over to him. They
grouped before him in a semicircle, trying bashfully to wedge their
shoulders, one behind another's, their faces a-grin and apologetic,
and at the same time expressing a casual and unconscious
democraticness. In truth, to them Hardman Pool was more than mere
chief. He was elder brother, or father, or patriarch; and to all
of them he was related, in one way or another, according to
Hawaiian custom, through his wife and through the many marriages of
his children and grandchildren. His slightest frown might perturb
them, his anger terrify them, his command compel them to certain
death; yet, on the other hand, not one of them would have dreamed
of addressing him otherwise than intimately by his first name,
which name, "Hardman," was transmuted by their tongues into Kanaka
Oolea.

At a nod from him, the semicircle seated itself on the manienie
grass, and with further deprecatory smiles waited his pleasure.

"What do you want?" demanded, in Hawaiian, with a brusqueness and
sternness they knew were put on.

They smiled more broadly, and deliciously squirmed their broad
shoulders and great torsos with the appeasingness of so many
wriggling puppies. Hardman Pool singled out one of them.

"Well, Iliiopoi, what do YOU want?"

"Ten dollars, Kanaka Oolea."

"Ten dollars!" Pool cried, in apparent shock at mention of so vast
a sum. "Does it mean you are going to take a second wife?
Remember the missionary teaching. One wife at a time, Iliiopoi;
one wife at a time. For he who entertains a plurality of wives
will surely go to hell."

Giggles and flashings of laughing eyes from all greeted the joke.

"No, Kanaka Oolea," came the reply. "The devil knows I am hard put
to get kow-kow for one wife and her several relations."

"Kow-kow?" Pool repeated the Chinese-introduced word for food which
the Hawaiians had come to substitute for their own paina. "Didn't
you boys get kow-kow here this noon?"

"Yes, Kanaka Oolea," volunteered an old, withered native who had
just joined the group from the direction of the house. "All of
them had kow-kow in the kitchen, and plenty of it. They ate like
lost horses brought down from the lava."

"And what do you want, Kumuhana?" Pool diverted to the old one, at
the same time motioning to the little maid to flap flies from the
other side of him.

"Twelve dollars," said Kumuhana. "I want to buy a Jackass and a
second-hand saddle and bridle. I am growing too old for my legs to
carry me in walking."

"You wait," his haole lord commanded. "I will talk with you about
the matter, and about other things of importance, when I am
finished with the rest and they are gone."

The withered old one nodded and proceeded to light his pipe.

"The kow-kow in the kitchen was good," Iliiopoi resumed, licking
his lips. "The poi was one-finger, the pig fat, the salmon-belly
unstinking, the fish of great freshness and plenty, though the
opihis" (tiny, rock-clinging shell-fish) "had been salted and
thereby made tough. Never should the opihis be salted. Often have
I told you, Kanaka Oolea, that opihis should never be salted. I am
full of good kow-kow. My belly is heavy with it. Yet is my heart
not light of it because there is no kow-kow in my own house, where
is my wife, who is the aunt of your fourth son's second wife, and
where is my baby daughter, and my wife's old mother, and my wife's
old mother's feeding child that is a cripple, and my wife's sister
who lives likewise with us along with her three children, the
father being dead of a wicked dropsy - "

"Will five dollars save all of you from funerals for a day or
several?" Pool testily cut the tale short.

"Yes, Kanaka Oolea, and as well it will buy my wife a new comb and
some tobacco for myself."

From a gold-sack drawn from the hip-pocket of his dungarees,
Hardman Pool drew the gold piece and tossed it accurately into the
waiting hand.

To a bachelor who wanted six dollars for new leggings, tobacco, and
spurs, three dollars were given; the same to another who needed a
hat; and to a third, who modestly asked for two dollars, four were
given with a flowery-worded compliment anent his prowess in roping
a recent wild bull from the mountains. They knew, as a rule, that
he cut their requisitions in half, therefore they doubled the size
of their requisitions. And Hardman Pool knew they doubled, and
smiled to himself. It was his way, and, further, it was a very
good way with his multitudinous relatives, and did not reduce his
stature in their esteem.

"And you, Ahuhu?" he demanded of one whose name meant "poison-
wood."

"And the price of a pair of dungarees," Ahuhu concluded his list of
needs. "I have ridden much and hard after your cattle, Kanaka
Oolea, and where my dungarees have pressed against the seat of the
saddle there is no seat to my dungarees. It is not well that it be
said that a Kanaka Oolea cowboy, who is also a cousin of Kanaka
Oolea's wife's half-sister, should be shamed to be seen out of the
saddle save that he walks backward from all that behold him."

"The price of a dozen pairs of dungarees be thine, Ahuhu," Hardman
Pool beamed, tossing to him the necessary sum. "I am proud that my
family shares my pride. Afterward, Ahuhu, out of the dozen
dungarees you will give me one, else shall I be compelled to walk
backward, my own and only dungarees being in like manner well worn
and shameful."

And in laughter of love at their haole chief's final sally, all the
sweet-child-minded and physically gorgeous company of them departed
to their waiting horses, save the old withered one, Kumuhana, who
had been bidden to wait.

For a full five minutes they sat in silence. Then Hardman Pool
ordered the little maid to fetch a tumbler of gin and milk, which,
when she brought it, he nodded her to hand to Kumuhana. The glass
did not leave his lips until it was empty, whereon he gave a great
audible out-breath of "A-a-ah," and smacked his lips.

"Much awa have I drunk in my time," he said reflectively. "Yet is
the awa but a common man's drink, while the haole liquor is a drink
for chiefs. The awa has not the liquor's hot willingness, its spur
in the ribs of feeling, its biting alive of oneself that is very
pleasant since it is pleasant to be alive."

Hardman Pool smiled, nodded agreement, and old Kumuhana continued.

"There is a warmingness to it. It warms the belly and the soul.
It warms the heart. Even the soul and the heart grow cold when one
is old."

"You ARE old," Pool conceded. "Almost as old as I."

Kumuhana shook his head and murmured. "Were I no older than you I
would be as young as you."

"I am seventy-one," said Pool.

"I do not know ages that way," was the reply. "What happened when
you were born?"

"Let me see," Pool calculated. "This is 1880. Subtract seventy-
one, and it leaves nine. I was born in 1809, which is the year
Keliimakai died, which is the year the Scotchman, Archibald
Campbell, lived in Honolulu."

"Then am I truly older than you, Kanaka Oolea. I remember the
Scotchman well, for I was playing among the grass houses of
Honolulu at the time, and already riding a surf-board in the
wahine" (woman) "surf at Waikiki. I can take you now to the spot
where was the Scotchman's grass house. The Seaman's Mission stands
now on the very ground. Yet do I know when I was born. Often my
grandmother and my mother told me of it. I was born when Madame
Pele" (the Fire Goddess or Volcano Goddess) "became angry with the
people of Paiea because they sacrificed no fish to her from their
fish-pool, and she sent down a flow of lava from Huulalai and
filled up their pond. For ever was the fish-pond of Paiea filled
up. That was when I was born."

"That was in 1801, when James Boyd was building ships for
Kamehameha at Hilo," Pool cast back through the calendar; "which
makes you seventy-nine, or eight years older than I. You are very
old."

"Yes, Kanaka Oolea," muttered Kumuhana, pathetically attempting to
swell his shrunken chest with pride.

"And you are very wise."

"Yes, Kanaka Oolea."

"And you know many of the secret things that are known only to old
men."

"Yes, Kanaka Oolea."

"And then you know - " Hardman Pool broke off, the more effectively
to impress and hypnotize the other ancient with the set stare of
his pale-washed blue eyes. "They say the bones of Kahekili were
taken from their hiding-place and lie to-day in the Royal
Mausoleum. I have heard it whispered that you alone of all living
men truly know."

"I know," was the proud answer. "I alone know."

"Well, do they lie there? Yes or no?"

"Kahekili was an alii" (high chief). "It is from this straight
line that your wife Kalama came. She is an alii." The old
retainer paused and pursed his lean lips in meditation. "I belong
to her, as all my people before me belonged to her people before
her. She only can command the great secrets of me. She is wise,
too wise ever to command me to speak this secret. To you, O Kanaka
Oolea, I do not answer yes, I do not answer no. This is a secret
of the aliis that even the aliis do not know."

"Very good, Kumuhana," Hardman Pool commanded. "Yet do you forget
that I am an alii, and that what my good Kalama does not dare ask,
I command to ask. I can send for her, now, and tell her to command
your answer. But such would be a foolishness unless you prove
yourself doubly foolish. Tell me the secret, and she will never
know. A woman's lips must pour out whatever flows in through her
ears, being so made. I am a man, and man is differently made. As
you well know, my lips suck tight on secrets as a squid sucks to
the salty rock. If you will not tell me alone, then will you tell
Kalama and me together, and her lips will talk, her lips will talk,
so that the latest malahini will shortly know what, otherwise, you
and I alone will know."

Long time Kumuhana sat on in silence, debating the argument and
finding no way to evade the fact-logic of it.

"Great is your haole wisdom," he conceded at last.

"Yes? or no?" Hardman Pool drove home the point of his steel.

Kumuhana looked about him first, then slowly let his eyes come to
rest on the fly-flapping maid.

"Go," Pool commanded her. "And come not back without you hear a
clapping of my hands."

Hardman Pool spoke no further, even after the flapper had
disappeared into the house; yet his face adamantly looked: "Yes or
no?"

Again Kumuhana looked carefully about him, and up into the monkey-
pod boughs as if to apprehend a lurking listener. His lips were
very dry. With his tongue he moistened them repeatedly. Twice he
essayed to speak, but was inarticulately husky. And finally, with
bowed head, he whispered, so low and solemnly that Hardman Pool
bent his own head to hear: "No."

Pool clapped his hands, and the little maid ran out of the house to
him in tremulous, fluttery haste.

"Bring a milk and gin for old Kumuhana, here," Pool commanded; and,
to Kumuhana: "Now tell me the whole story."

"Wait," was the answer. "Wait till the little wahine has come and
gone."

And when the maid was gone, and the gin and milk had travelled the
way predestined of gin and milk when mixed together, Hardman Pool
waited without further urge for the story. Kumuhana pressed his
hand to his chest and coughed hollowly at intervals, bidding for
encouragement; but in the end, of himself, spoke out.

"It was a terrible thing in the old days when a great alii died.
Kahekili was a great alii. He might have been king had he lived.
Who can tell? I was a young man, not yet married. You know,
Kanaka Oolea, when Kahekili died, and you can tell me how old I
was. He died when Governor Boki ran the Blonde Hotel here in
Honolulu. You have heard?"

"I was still on windward Hawaii," Pool answered. "But I have
heard. Boki made a distillery, and leased Manoa lands to grow
sugar for it, and Kaahumanu, who was regent, cancelled the lease,
rooted out the cane, and planted potatoes. And Boki was angry, and
prepared to make war, and gathered his fighting men, with a dozen
whaleship deserters and five brass six-pounders, out at Waikiki - "

"That was the very time Kahekili died," Kumuhana broke in eagerly.


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Online LibraryJack LondonOn the Makaloa Mat → online text (page 3 of 13)