The Resurrections Of Kaha

: 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 infa
cy 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.