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The Wronged Wife






Category: IN THE PACIFIC

Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

In 1530, or thereabout, a Spanish ship from Molucca was driven
across the Pacific and flung, in a dismantled condition, on the Keei
Reefs, Hawaii. Only the captain and his sister were rescued. Until
it was discovered that these strangers required food and sleep, like
themselves, the natives worshipped them as gods. They were hardly less
welcome when it was found that they were human, and they married among
the islanders. The woman's grandchild, Kaikilani, was reputed to be the
most beautiful woman ever born in Hawaii. Kaikilani became the wife
of the heir-apparent, who cared so little for government, however,
that the young woman was made chief. Her marriage to this easy-going,
ambitionless, though generous prince had been a failure. As it was a
state marriage, she cared little for him. His stalwart brother, Lono,
was the object of her love and admiration. When the people resolved
that Lono should be king, Kaikilani was divorced and given to him as
queen, for her first husband prized her happiness above his own. Lono
built a yacht worthy of this Cleopatra, a double canoe eighty feet
long and seven wide, floored and enclosed for twenty feet amidships,
so that the queen had an apartment which was luxuriously furnished
with couches, cloths, festoons of flowers, shells, and feathers,
and containing a sacred image and many charms against evil. The twin
vessels were striped with black and yellow, figures of big birds with
men's heads were at the prow, and on calm days, when the sails hung
idly, forty oarsmen pulled the royal barge at a gallant rate.

During a long honeymoon tour the bridal party landed on Molokai, to
await the passing of heavy weather, and the young couple were playing
draughts to beguile the time, when a dark and sudden cloud fell upon
their happiness. One of the servants of the queen was a girl named
Kaikinani, who had a lover, and while the king was studying his next
move he heard a man's voice call, as he thought, "Come, Kaikilani,
your lover is waiting." The man was calling Kaikinani. He abruptly
asked his wife who had dared to address the queen in that easy fashion,
and taking her own surprise and confusion for a token of guilt, he
struck her with the checker-board, rushed away to the beach, ordered
his private canoe to be launched, and seizing one of the paddles,
he rowed with his twenty attendants until he was exhausted. That
night he gained the shores of Oahu.

When Kaikilani had come out of a delirium of nine days, and understood
the nature of the mistake that had separated her from her husband, she
hastily equipped her barge and began a search for him,--a search that
lasted for months. Lono, ensconced at the court of Oahu, was trying
to stifle his regrets; he would not reveal his name; he refused all
companionship with women; he worked at play most earnestly, hunting,
rowing, swimming, surf-riding, racing, leaping, casting the spear,
halting at nothing that involved peril or that would tire him at
night to a forgetful sleep. His stay was drawing to an end. He was
to sail for Hawaii in a day or two, for rebellions were threatening
in his absence, and his departure was none too early, for certain
of the gallants were jealous of his success in sports and of the
unrewarded admiration that the fair sex gave to him. One of these men
taunted him with being a nameless chief. Lono, scowling down on him,
answered that he would tear the skin from his living body if he ever
caught him beyond his king's protection, and producing a big calabash
filled with rebels' bones, he chanted the names of those he had slain.

He was interrupted by a soft voice, outside of the enclosure,
chanting his name-song. Who could have learned his name? The court
had risen. "Yes," he said, "the singer is true. I am Lono, and she
whom I hear is my wife. The gods be praised."

Leaping the wall, he found, as he had hoped, Kaikilani, smiling through
her tears. He held her in a long embrace. Next day they returned to
their native island, where they reigned to an old and happy age.





Next: The Magic Spear

Previous: The Sailing Of Paao



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