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The Resurrections Of Kaha






Category: IN THE PACIFIC

Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

Kaha was granddaughter of the Wind and the Rain, whose home is still
among the vapory darks that settle in the valley of Manoa, back of
Honolulu, her remote ancestors being the mountain Akaaka and the
Cape Nalehuaakaaka. She was of such beauty that light played about
her when she bathed, a rosy light such as the setting sun paints on
eastern clouds, and an amber glow hovered above the roof that sheltered
her. From infancy she had been betrothed to Kauhi, a young chief whom
every one supposed to be worthy of her, because his parentage was high,
and he could name more grandfathers than he had toes and fingers. He
did not deserve this esteem, for he was not only cruel and jealous,
but spoiled, petulant, and thick-headed. His qualities were exhibited
on his very first meeting with his promised bride, for neither had
seen the other until reaching marriageable age. Two braggarts, who
were so ill formed and ugly that their boasts of winning ladies'
favor would have been taken by any one else for lies, declared,
in Kauhi's hearing, that they were lovers of Kaha, and they wore
wreaths of flowers which they said she had hung over their shoulders.

Setting his teeth with a vengeful scowl and wrenching a stout
branch from a tree, the prince strode over to the house of his
bride-to-be. She received him modestly and pleasantly, and her beauty
struck him into such an amazement that he could not at first find words
to express the charge he wished to make. At last, by turning his back,
he managed to speak his base and foolish thought. She, thinking this
a jest, at first made light of it, but when he faced her once more,
frowning this time, like a thunder-cloud, and brandishing the cudgel
above his head, she was filled with fear and could hardly keep her
feet. She denied the charge. She begged that he would tell the names
of her accusers that she might prove her innocence.

"You are fair to see and to hear, but you are as fickle as your
parents. I will have no such woman for a wife," shouted the chief,
lashing himself into a rage. She extended her arms appealingly. He
struck her on the temple, and she fell dead. He had gone but a mile or
so when her voice was heard in song behind him, and the fall of her
steps on the path. To his astonishment, she now appeared bearing no
mark of injury, save that the rough way had cut her feet, and again
she besought him to say on whose charge he had so foully wronged
her in his thought, and why he wished to kill her. His answer was
another blow, more savage than the first, and this time there was no
doubt that he left her dead. Yet, before he had gone another mile,
her lamenting song was heard; she came to him, and he struck her down
again. Five times this monster laid the defenceless girl a corpse,
and the last time he scraped a hole under the tough roots of a tree,
crowded her body into it, covered it with earth, and went on to
Waikiki without further interruption.

The owl-god had been Kaha's friend. After each stroke he had flown
to her, rubbed his head against the bruised and broken temple, and
restored her to life. To drag her from under the tangled roots was
beyond his strength, and he flapped away into the depths of the wood,
filled with sadness that such beauty had been lost to the world. But
it was not lost. The girl's spirit could not rest under the false
accusal that had caused her death. All bloody and disfigured, her
ghost presented itself before Mahana, a young warrior of the nearest
town, with whom she had in life exchanged a kind though casual word
or two, and understanding, through his own deep but unspoken love,
the reason for this visitation, he hurried after the phantom as it
drifted back to the tree. The disturbed earth and the splashes of
blood explained enough. He set to work vigorously, exhumed the body
while it was still warm, and holding it close to his breast, with
eyes fixed on the hurt but lovely face, he carried it to his home.

Once more the gods befriended her and restored Kaha to life. For many
days she was ill and weak, and throughout those days it was Mahana's
delight to serve her, to talk with her, to sit at her side, and hold
her hand. This life of love and tenderness was a new and delightful
one; yet she sorrowfully declared that she must become the wife of
Kauhi, because her parents had so intended. The lover was not content
with this. He made a visit to Kauhi, and in the course of their talk
he mentioned, as the merest matter of fact, the visit of the famous
beauty to his home. Kauhi pooh-poohed this. He was sure of the girl's
death. Mahana adroitly kept the conversation on this theme until Kauhi
lost his temper, confessed that he had killed Kaha for faithlessness,
and swore that the woman whom Mahana sheltered was a spirit or an
impostor. He would wager his life that it was so. The lover took the
wager. It was agreed that the loser should be roasted alive. A number
of chiefs, priests, and elderly men were assembled, and the girl was
brought into their presence. It was no spirit that bent the grass and
fixed on the quailing ruffian that look of soft reproach. No impostor
could boast such beauty. Kauhi tried to exonerate his conduct by
repeating the falsehoods of the two men who claimed to have received
her favors. They were dragged before the assembly, confronted by the
innocent Kaha, made confession, and were ordered to the ovens, where
Kauhi also went to his death, vaunting to the last. The lands and
fish-ponds of this chief, who had no owl-god to resurrect his ashes,
were, with general acclaim, awarded to Mahana, and as chief he ruled
happily for many years with the fair Kaha for his wife.





Next: Hawaiian Ghosts

Previous: Lo-lale's Lament



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