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The Magic Spear


Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

Kaululaau, prince of Maui, had misbehaved so grossly, painting the
sacred pigs, imitating the death-bird's call before the doors of
nervous people, opening the gates of fish-ponds, tippling awa, and
consorting with hula dancers, that his father, believing him to be
incorrigible, shipped him off to Lanai in disgust. Knowing that island
to be infested with gnomes, dragons, and monsters, the lad would fain
have turned the usual new leaf, but he had promised reform so many
times and failed that his father was deaf to his pleadings. Just
before he embarked the old high priest called him aside--he always
had a soft spot in his heart for this scape-grace--and entrusted to
him an ivory spear which had been dipped in the river of the dead and
left on an altar by Lono, the third person of the trinity. With that,
which was both weapon and talisman, the possessor need fear nothing.

Kaululaau had been but a little while in his new home when he was
compelled to put his gift to use. There were malignant beings on
Lanai who hurt people, hogs, fowls; blighted cocoanuts, bananas,
and taro patches, and were a common sorrow to the inhabitants. Worst
among these tormentors was the gnome Mooaleo, who, in the guise of
a big mole, burrowed under houses and caused them to settle, with a
thump. The prince caught this fellow within a circle he had drawn on
the earth, for the witchery of the spear was so strong that the effect
of drawing that line was felt to the centre of the globe. Burrow as
he would,--and he did burrow until he reached fire,--Mooaleo could
not escape from it. The magic barrier confined him like iron. He
came to the air at last and begged to be released, promising to
leave the island forever, if he might gain his liberty. Kaululaau
rubbed out twenty or thirty yards of the enchanted line, whereupon
the creature rushed madly through the gap and dived into the sea,
never again emerging in the sight of men.

For a year the prince kept up his war against the demons and slew
or banished every one of them. For this the men rewarded him with
praise and gifts and service, the women with love, the children with
trust. He was glad he had been exiled. Of course, so soon as his
father heard of his changed life and his courage in knight-errantry he
repented his hardness of spirit and sent messengers to bid Kaululaau
return. This was an unwelcome summons, and while he dared not refuse,
he took his own time in getting home again, his alleged reason for
delay being that he wished to see the world and further instruct
himself; his real reason being a love of praise and adventure. He
stirred up strife in Hawaii; visited, without harm, the wind-god's
home on Molokai and Kalipahoa's poison grove, and on Oahu found
another chance to win the people's favor. A bird so huge that its
head weighed near two hundred pounds had been depredating among the
villages, tearing children from their mothers and killing domestic
animals, yet always defended by the priests, who, having confused it
with a strange species of owl, considered it as sacred. The rover did
not ask permission to slay it. Nobody knew him, or guessed why he
was going among the hills. He came upon the bird in the mountains,
when its beak was dripping with human blood, and at a mile distance
hurled the spear, which flew through the air, as if self-directed, and
pierced the creature through and through. For this he was arrested and
consigned to the sacrificial altar; but when he abandoned his disguise,
appeared in the feather cloak and helmet of a chief, and made known
that he was Kaululaau, the trembling, stammering priest owned that
he was mistaken in supposing the bird to be taboo. Its huge head was
produced; its eyes rolled, its jaws clashed, and with a scream an
evil human spirit that had lived in its body flew into the air. The
ne'er-do-weel had a royal reception when he returned. Finding that
his old friend, the high priest, was dead, he fulfilled a promise by
secretly burying the magic spear-point in his grave.

Next: Hawaiian Witches

Previous: The Wronged Wife

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