The Cannibals





Despite the denials of Hawaiians that their ancestors ever ate the

flesh of men, it is admitted that a large company of cannibals, strong,

dark, tattooed, and speaking a strange language, were storm-blown

to Kauai in the seventeenth century. It is guessed that they were

Papuans. The daughter of Kokoa, their chief, a beautiful girl of

eighteen or so, with braided hair that almost touched the ground,

and strings of pearls at her neck and ankles, found an admirer and a

husband in an island chief who tried to instruct her in the taboo,

for he had seen with horror and apprehension that the new-comers

allowed their women to eat bananas, cocoanuts, and certain fish, and

even to take them from the dishes used by the men. The bride promised

to reform and live on poi, but she had not been bred to this sort of

victual, and had never been reproved by the gods for eating other,

so it was almost inevitable that she should backslide in her virtuous

intention, and when she so far defied public opinion, and thunders,

and earthquakes as to eat a banana in view of the priests, the public

arose as one man and demanded punishment. The chief begged that he

might be allowed to send her back to her father, but the high priest

told him that the gods had been flouted beyond endurance, and would

be satisfied only with her death. The beautiful and hapless woman was

therefore torn from the arms of her afflicted husband, strangled, and

thrown into the sea,--a warning to all the sex against forbidden fruit.



Then trouble began. Women's appetites might be restrained, but not

those of men,--especially the appetite for blood. Kokoa revenged

himself for his daughter's murder by killing a relative of her

husband and serving him hot to an eager, because long abstemious,

congregation. The taste of Hawaiian chops and shoulders revived a greed

for this sort of meat, and they preyed openly on the populace of Kauai

until those who remained arose as several men and drove them out of

the island. The cannibals fled in haste to Oahu, taking possession

of the plateau of Halemanu, which was high, reachable by only one

or two paths, and those of steepness, difficulty, and under constant

guard, and here they established themselves as a sort of Doone band,

literally living upon the people in the country below. They had their

temple,--oh, yes, indeed, they could pray as long and as loud as any

one,--and a creditable piece of masonry it was, with its walls two

hundred feet by sixty, and seven yards high. Near it was an oven

where five human bodies could be roasted at a time, and a carving

stone six feet long, lightly hollowed, where the hungry were served,

Kokoa claiming the hearts and livers as a chief's right.



It did not take long for the Oahuans to become bashful about visiting

the neighborhood of Halemanu, and the man-eaters then took to eating

one another. One big, savage fellow, named Lotu, began to kill off

his wife's relatives. This roused one of her brothers to revenge. He

strengthened himself in exercises of all kinds until his muscles were

like steel, and encountered with Lotu on the edge of the precipice

near the principal path. They fought hand-to-hand until both were

covered with blood, then, finding that he was about to be forced

over the brink, Lotu clasped his brother-in-law and enemy about the

neck and both went to their death together. The wife and sister of

the two combatants either fainted at the verge and fell or wilfully

cast herself from the same cliff. It is not recorded whether these

victims of an unruly passion were interred in earth or conveniently

disposed of otherwise, but the affair created such a gloom in the

neighborhood that the cannibal colony moved away to parts unknown,

to the vast relief of the community in the more peaceful districts.





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