Six Prize Hawaiian Stories of the Kilohana Art League Part 5

One day, while fishing at the beach where he was doing more dreaming than fishing; sometimes idly watching a laughing company of girls who were bathing and surf-riding; he was startled by a cry of terror.

Springing to his feet, he saw that one of the girls was desperately struggling to swim ashore, where her affrighted companions were running wildly about crying for help. Looking toward the sea he saw a large fin on the surface rapidly following the swimmer. Accustomed to every athletic sport; perfectly at home in the water; always cool and self possessed, he saw, that to overtake her, the shark must pass a low rocky headland, and in an instant he was there with a long knife in his hand.

He remembered seeing the face of the girl as she struggled desperately to escape. There was a single terrified glance, but he saw a beautiful woman, with a face indicating a higher type than usual. There was no time for admiration. The shark was turning and, with a horrid open mouth, was about to rush upon its victim. He gave a loud shout, jumped full upon the huge beast, and in an instant had plunged his knife to the hilt again and again into its body. Then he was hurled into the seething brine, as the frightened animal with frantic plunges rushed seaward.

Coming to the surface and looking about he saw the body of the girl near by. He thought her dead. She was indeed stunned and hurt, for the shark gave her a fearful blow in turning. It was the work of only a minute to drag her out. There for a moment he saw the full measure of her youth and beauty, but did not wait for returning consciousness. Seeing that she was recovering he walked swiftly away.

But he was wounded, and, denounce and reproach himself as he would, the sweet face ever and anon came before his eyes, and sent the blood tingling and dancing through his veins. He tried to crush out the image, and determined to enter into active life; to cease dreaming, and begin then and at once to accomplish his high aims.

The political campaign, culminating in the election of 1886, had commenced. Kalakaua had announced the aim of his reign: to increase and develope the Hawaiian people. "Hawaii for the Hawaiians" made an inspiring war cry. Keawe entered with energy and hope into the conflict.

Yet it troubled him, and it seemed as if there was something wrong in opposing the noble Pilipo, who had so long faithfully represented the people of Kona in the National Legislature. But Kalakaua declared that Pilipo must be replaced by another man, and was himself coming to assist in the conflict. With the ancient faith and confidence in the chief, Keawe put aside his doubts and worked day and night for the success of the holy cause. It was holy to him and as the day of election drew near, his belief grew stronger, that at last a deliverer had come and Hawaii was to be redeemed. Already he saw, in a bright future, a government by Hawaiians with full friendship for all nations, and cordial relations with those who had helped his people into the best light of civilization. The King came, and with him a troop of palace guards from Honolulu. When all of these were, by the royal will, duly registered as voters, and means, other than argument and persuasion, were used to help on the good cause, a chilly sense of something wrong cooled Keawe's ardor. He met the King and was cordially received. His heart bounded with pleasure at words of praise for his work. An invitation to a feast and dance was accepted, and only when he went and saw, did he realize the mockery and sham behind the fine words. Heart sick, dizzy with a sore disappointment, early the next morning, when all were sleeping, he mounted his horse and stole away, alone. The cold mountain air relieved the pain in his head, but his heart was weary and the future looked dark. He saw that if there was momentary triumph, all the sooner disaster must come; and he longed to know how to avert the danger. He grew weary thinking and trying to hope, and his thoughts went to other things. Again he was in the water, struggling to save her life. Again the sweet face appeared before him, so fair and gentle. The sun was hot now; he had ridden for hours, and, alighting, threw himself on the grass and looked up through the leafy bower at the bright sky. Perhaps he slept; at any rate he dreamed that a sweet voice was singing "Aloha oe."

He sat up and listened. It was not a dream, and a strong desire to see the face of the singer possessed him. The voice drew nearer, then she passed near by carrying a pitcher, and went to a spring. It was the girl he had saved from the shark! She wore a loose flowing gown of white, and a maile branch twisted about her head hardly confined the silky hair which floated down her back. A coral pin held the gown at her neck.

Short sleeves only partly hid her graceful and shapely arms.

Keawe arose and stood watching. His heart beat tumultuously. No other woman had so strongly moved him, and now he would speak and not run again. A movement startled her, and rising with the dripping pitcher in her hand, she turned and saw him. That she knew him was instantly evident; but her eyes modestly dropped and she moved as if to go. But he was in the path, and, seeing that, she hesitated and turned to go through the woods, but could not and stood again, looking at her feet which just peeped from below the gown. Keawe stepped towards her and said, "Do you remember the shark?" "Yes, I know you," she replied. Her eyes said more and he saw it again. As he stepped nearer she said, "Why did you not let me thank you? I thought you might come." It flashed through his mind that he had wasted two months pursuing an ignis fatuus, only to have nothing but bitterness at the end, when it might have been ----! "I was afraid to come," he replied. "I wanted to work for Hawaii and our people." "Yes, I know," she said. "You have spoken bravely. All Kona trusts in your words!" "Did you believe them?" he quickly asked.

"Do you believe in _me_?" A look was her reply. "Will you believe in me if I say that I have done with 'Hawaii for the Hawaiians', under such leadership?" "I will always believe in you. But come, you are tired. My father will be glad to meet you," she said quickly. "May I drink?" he said, and held out his hand. She gave him the pitcher, which he held and looked at the pretty figure standing near the spring. "You are Rebecca at the well." "And are you Abraham's servant?" "No, I am Isaac himself,"

he replied and tried to take her hand. "Oh! but Isaac did not meet Rebecca at the well!" And, laughing merrily, she ran down the path towards her home. He followed but though he wanted, the opportunity for other words did not come; she was so coy.

It was not the only visit. Very often did business calls take him along that lovely mountain road and there was always a welcome at the home of Lilia. He told her of his love, and in April they were married.

They built a little cottage which nestled snugly in a quiet valley on the mountain side, and there they passed a few months of perfect happiness. All loved them. He was regarded as the wise adviser and friend of the country-side. She became the gentle sister of those who were ill, or suffering or wayward, and their home was the center of an influence which helped and lifted.

But a shadow came into their lives. He grew silent, reserved, almost afraid of his beautiful Lilia. She watched with eager anxiety and entreated his confidence, but his lips were sealed. Only his tremulous voice and shaking hand betrayed suffering. Sometimes she fancied that his hands grew palsied and his bright eye was dim, but repelled the fancy with terror. One day he came home with such a look that her heart stood still, and words died upon her lips. He gazed into her eyes with passionate agony and, taking her hands, said, "Will you still believe in me if I say we must part; that I must leave you and go away, and you must stay here and live out your life--your precious life, so dear to me--all, all alone?" Then her courage came, and she said, "No, I will never leave you. You are mine. I must go too, wherever you go!" "But,"

said he, "I have seen the examining surgeon to-day, and he says that I must go by the next trip of the steamer to Honolulu." And then the full measure of her woe dawned upon the stricken wife. With unutterable anguish she threw her arms about his body and clasped him tightly to her breast. "I was allowed to come here and prepare to go, and to bid a last farewell to all I hold so dear. I shall never see these trees, the flowers, this house, my friends, nor you, my precious wife, again." But her face had grown hard and stern, and, relaxing her hold, she told her plan. It was to take him into a far off deep recess in the woods. There was up the mountain side a deep crater, overgrown with trees, ferns, vines and a wild luxuriance of growth, which kindly nature had draped so softly that its hideousness was lost. It was considered inaccessible, and only the family knew of an ancient lava cavern which entered its deepest recess. One of several mouths of the cavern was near the house.

"But the law says that I must go," he urged. "There is no law higher than my love for you," and he yielded to her imperious urgency. Quickly and stealthily she carried there such articles as the simplest life might require, and a few days later, when the officers of the law came, Keawe was not to be found and no one knew where they had gone.

With untiring love the wife watched and aided her husband. Together they built a little bower out of view from the upper edges of the crater, under the spreading branches of a kukui tree. A little pool, fed by the constant drip from the over-hanging wall, supplied them with pure water.

Near at hand, under a mass of ferns, maile and ieie, was the mouth of the cavern. She grew familiar with its turns and windings, till she almost dared to brave its black recesses without a torch. In one of its dry and sheltered windings, she stored articles of food and clothing, thinking that sometime a watch might be stationed at the home on the hill-side, and she could not venture out. But days melted into weeks; weeks became months: two years passed, and their hiding place was not discovered. No one came, though Keawe often longed to see the faces of friends. But they were afraid to venture near and the cavern echoed only to her feet, and the silence of the deep pit was only broken by their voices and the music of birds. At times, a sudden gust rushed down the steep sides and every tree waved and bowed its head, and the leaves of the banana rustled and quivered. The sun-light only touched the bottom in summer and then for a few minutes only. But it was not gloomy, the glorious sky was always there and the brilliant light, and bloom and fragrance filled the air. No, it was not always bright, sometimes tempests whirled far over their heads; trees in the world above tossed their branches over the abyss, leaves and twigs fell gently, or branches, and once, a tree, were hurled down with deafening noise. The roar of thunder, and vast sheets and torrents of rain filled the pit.

Once, in a still night, they were startled and terrified by a sudden boom far below their feet and the earth shook, stones rattled down the rocky sides of the abyss, and they remembered the dread power of the volcano. "It is Pele! she is angry with us!" cried Lilia. "No," replied her husband, "we have thrown ourselves into the protecting bosom of the Goddess! We are safe in her arms." They were safe from human sight and interference, and Lilia's soul feasted in the presence of him she loved.

She poured out upon him such a wealth of devotion, that a miser might have envied. But alas, though safe from man, he was under the fell power of disease, and slowly yielded. Day after day he grew weaker and less able to help himself, until the fond wife performed the most menial tasks. But they were not menial to her. Every thing for him was a glory and a joy.

"I cannot last long," he said one day, "and I want you to have my lands.

Get your mother's young husband, the lawyer, to come, that it may be settled." He came, and, looking wonderingly about, prepared a deed which he said would accomplish the object. Keawe was not satisfied. "It sounds wrong--why should the name of your wife appear?" he asked. "She is your wife's mother," was the reply, "and you cannot convey to your wife direct. When this deed is recorded my wife can then convey to your wife.

You must hurry or it will be too late," said the coming man. With some doubt still, but trusting to his friend's good faith, knowing he was alone cut off from all the world, Keawe signed, and the deed was taken away. Patiently they waited for weeks to finish the business, "and then," said Keawe, "you will have a home." But the lawyer did not come, and evaded Lilia's eager questions.

One day when returning to the cavern, her heart stood still as she saw slowly emerging from its mouth, several police officers, bearing on a rough litter the helpless form of her beloved Keawe. At a glance she saw the whole base deception. Her step-father had betrayed their secret hiding place, and the end had come! With a frantic wail of despair, she flung herself at their feet and begged and implored. But her entreaties were vain, and the sick man was taken to Hookena where the steamer was waiting. At the landing, as the boat drew near the shore, she learned that he was to go alone and then her grief knew no bounds. As he was put on board and turned imploring eyes on her, she made a desperate attempt to go too, and in her struggle her clothing was almost torn away. The officers of the law thought they were doing their duty, but their eyes were full of pity. "Keawe! Oh Keawe, my beloved husband!" she cried, "let me go with you!" But no answer came. The steamer turned her head towards the sea, and he was gone. She fell to the earth, and lay with buried face for many minutes. It seemed to her that nothing was left and bitterly she mourned her loss. But suddenly starting, she asked eagerly for a horse, which was furnished at once by a sympathetic friend.

Mounting, she went without stopping for rest or food until, on the second day, Kawaihae was reached. Soon a steamer came, and she went to Honolulu, only to hear on landing that Keawe had died on the trip down.

Giving way to despair, she dejected sought the house of an aunt, where she was kindly received, and there she remained for several months."

"And that is the story," said the Native.

"It is rather sad, but she was a heroine sure enough," said the Planter.

The pale light of the crescent moon served only to render the landscape shadowy. All nature rested: An owl fluttered slowly by and a soft murmur from far below told that the restless sea alone moved. There was no other sound. The riders mounted and silently stole away.


Chapter end

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