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The Rebellion Of Kamiole


Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

In the year 1170, or thereabout, Kanipahu was king of Hawaii. He
was of Samoan origin, grandson of the builder of that temple whose
ruins are still to be seen at Puepa in walls over eight hundred feet
around, twenty-six feet high, and eight feet thick at the top. It is
recorded that the stone for this construction was passed from hand
to hand by a line of men reaching all the way to Niuli, a matter of
nine miles. Despite the improvements in building and other arts that
had come in with the Samoans, the Normans of this Pacific Britain;
despite the centralizing of power that enabled them to break down the
oppressions of petty lords; despite the satisfaction of the common
people, the aristocracy was restive, and sought constantly for excuses
to rouse their subjects against the new domination. Wikookoo, head
of King Kanipahu's army, having eloped with the sister of Kamiole,
a disaffected chief, the latter burst in upon the king's privacy soon
after with a demand for vengeance. He had met the woman near the king's
house and had struck her dead, as he supposed, that she might not be
"degraded" by bearing children to a plebeian immigrant.

The king was a just and patient man, and kept his temper, in spite
of the visitor's harshness, not only to Wikookoo but to all his
people. Though he could have ordered him to be slain, he yielded
to his general's demand for permission to fight a duel. The pair
faced each other at fifty feet, hurled two spears without effect,
then closed with javelins. Wikookoo was hurt, and deeming that honor
was satisfied the king ordered the fight to cease. Kamiole gave no
heed to his words. He had a tiger's thirst for blood. Like a flash he
leaped upon the fallen man and pounded the weapon into his heart. This
rebellion against the king and the savagery of the killing caused an
outcry of rage and horror. The murderer's chance was desperate. "Face
down!" commanded the king. This was the command to put the offender
to death. A dozen sprang to execute the order. Kamiole tugged the
javelin out of his foeman's body and hurled it at the king. It wounded
a young man, who had flung himself in front of his liege, and in the
confusion of the moment Kamiole escaped, running like a deer through
a shower of stones and darts, gaining his boat and sailing away for
his native state of Kau.

Blown with pride in his exploit, the rebel set about the raising of an
army to drive the new people from the island. It needed only a leader,
like him, to urge disaffection into revolt, and not many weeks after
nearly all Hawaii was on the march against the king. Deserted by
thousands of his followers, and being a man of peace, albeit having
no lack of courage, the king withdrew to the island of Molokai and
became a simple farmer among a strange people. He was nearly seven
feet in height,--a common stature among men of the first families
in that day,--and the neighbors marked him; but he stooped his
shoulders and worked hard; so, ere long, his appearance was not
accounted strange. Kamiole was now the first man in Hawaii. He was
not a reformer. Consumed with pride, arrogant, brutal, brooking no
opposition, he made enemies day by day. Only because the people had
had enough of war did they endure in silence, and hope for an illness
or an accident to remove the now hateful tyrant.

Unknown to Kamiole, the sister he had struck down survived his
assault, and bore a daughter to the late Wikookoo, a pretty maid,
who, in good time, married the son of the exiled king, a quiet,
dreamy youth, who lived apart from his fellows in the interior of
Hawaii, finding his company and his employ in the woods and on the
vast mountain slopes. Eighteen years had passed when this prince was
rudely waked from his idyllic life. An old priest, who alone knew the
hiding-places of the king and his son, had tried to rouse the former
to reassert his rule. The king welcomed him and wished success to
the movement for the overthrow of Kamiole, but he refused command
of his old army,--refused to return to Hawaii. "I am old," said he,
"and so bent that I can no longer look over the heads of my people,
as becomes a king. I am no longer served with dainties; in the noon
heat no servant fans me or brings water; I live in a hut and fare
on coarse food; but, old friend, I eat with an appetite, I sleep
like a tired and honest man; I have forgotten ceremony and care,
and I am happy. Not to be king of all these islands, and the islands
of our fathers likewise, would I return. See how blue the sky is,
how fresh the trees and grass! What music in the roll of the ocean
and in the birds' songs! What sweetness in the flowers!"

Wondering at this change in his former master, the priest dropped
his hands in a gesture of despair. "Then our cause is lost," said he.

"Not so," answered the king. "Go to my son. Tell him his father wishes
him to reign. Untried as he is, he has my strength; he is resolute,
he is wise, he loves justice. He will head your men of war."

The prince was found to be a willing leader. The arrogance of Kamiole,
the decreasing liberties of the people, the thought that the dictator
had attempted the lives of his father and his wife's parents, stirred
in him resolves of vengeance. The fickle masses that eighteen years
before had overturned his dynasty now gathered under his standard, and
battle was offered at Anehomaloo. Kamiole had the fewer men, but the
better position, being defended in front by a stone wall five feet high
that stretched across the plain, and at the back by a gorge too deep
and steep, as he imagined, for an enemy to cross. The fight was fierce
and long, and thousands fell on both sides. The prince was cautious,
however, for he was waiting the result of a secret move: an assault on
the rear of his foe by a large body of spearmen who were making a long
detour to prevent detection of this manoeuvre. Presently he saw the
stir and shimmer of arms on the hill beyond the chasm, and ordering
a general charge on Kamiole, kept him so occupied for a quarter of
an hour that the advance from the hill was not observed until the
detachment had descended the ravine, clambered up again, and was now
rushing upon the doomed army. Penned between two forces, Kamiole's
men were beaten to the earth, and the battle ended in a massacre.

When the successful movement was made across the ravine the prince
was astonished to see at the head of his troops in the distance
a stranger,--a tall, weathered, sinewy man with a mass of white
beard and hair that flowed over his chest and shoulders,--who hewed
a passage through the battling legion with a club that few men could
have lifted. After the fight this stranger stood long before the fallen
Kamiole and looked into his fading eyes. As the prince hastened to
the dying tyrant, his princess followed with a calabash of water;
for in those times women accompanied their husbands and brothers to
the field, waiting at a little distance to dress their wounds and
supply food and drink. His stature had enabled her to keep him in
sight, and she was now about to offer the drink to him, when Kamiole,
though he had never before seen his niece, appeared to recognize her
voice, and faintly exclaimed, "Iola!"

"My mother's name!" cried the princess, in surprise. "Then you must be
her brother." Dropping on her knees at his side, she gave the water
to Kamiole. The dying man extended his hands toward her and drew a
deep breath,--his last.

The prince, who had been smiling at this unusual mercy to an enemy,
now looked up and caught the eye of the stranger fixed intently upon
him. "By whose arm did Kamiole fall?" he asked.

"By mine," replied the white-haired man.

"Are you a god?" asked the prince, a sense of awe creeping over him
as he noted the strength and dignity of this form.

"I am Kanipahu,--your father."

And among the heaped dead the two embraced. Having seen his son
enthroned and peace restored, the old king refused all offers and
persuasions, and went back to Molokai to end his days in peace as a
simple farmer. The prince, whose name was Kalapana, and who was the
ancestor of the great Kamehameha, reigned tranquilly and died lamented.

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