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The Sailing Of Paao


Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

Paao, who afterward became a high priest in Hawaii, migrated thither
in the eleventh century from Samoa, after a quarrel with his brother,
Lonopele. Both of these men were wizards, and were persons of riches
and influence. It came about that Lonopele had missed a quantity of
his choicest fruit, which was conveyed away at night, and although
he could see visions and tell fortunes for others, he could not
reveal for his own satisfaction so simple a matter as the source of
these disappearances. In a foolish rage he accused his nephew, the
son of Paao. Paao was indignant, but, with even greater foolishness,
he killed his son, in order to open the boy's stomach and prove that
there was no fruit in it. This act so rankled in his mind that he
decided to leave the country and forget it, and to that end he built
several strong canoes and stored them well with food and water.

Before sailing, Paao revenged himself for his own folly by killing
a son of Lonopele. The latter discovered the murder too late to
retaliate with weapons, so he summoned the powers of magic to his
aid. He sent a hurricane in chase of the receding boats, but a great
fish pushed them on, despite the wind, which was against them, while
another friendly monster of the sea swam around and around the little
fleet, breaking the force of the waves. Lonopele then sent a colossal
bird to vomit over the canoes and sink them, but mats were put up in
tent-form as protections, and this project also failed.

Paao landed in Hawaii with about forty followers, one of whom was a
powerful prophet. As the canoes were setting off, several would-be
wizards begged to be taken to the new land. Paao called to them to
leap into the sea, if they trusted their own powers, and he would take
them on board. All who jumped were killed by striking on rocks or
by drowning,--all but the real prophet, who did not leave the shore
till the boats were a mile or so away from land. Paao answered his
thunderous hail by an equally thunderous refusal to return, as to go
back after starting was bad luck, but added, "There is room for you, if
you will fly to us." Putting all his strength into his arms and legs,
the prophet swam through the air and reached the boats without injury.

The real Paao is said to have been a Spanish priest who was cast away
on the islands by the wreck of the galleon Santo Iago in 1527. The
ship was bound from Acapulco to Manila with shrines and images. The
priest grafted Christian practices on the native religion, abolished
sacrifice, and begat a line of chiefs.

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