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Title: Myths & Legends of our New Possessions & Protectorate

Author: Charles M. Skinner

Release Date: March 2, 2008 [EBook #24732]

Language: English

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[Contents]

Myths and Legends
of
Our New Possessions

[Contents]

Gate of the Walled City of Manila.

Gate of the Walled City of Manila.

Myths & Legends
Of Our
New Possessions & Protectorate

Philadelphia & London
J. B. Lippincott Company
1900

[Contents]

Copyright, 1899
By
J. B. Lippincott Company

Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U. S.A.

[Contents]

This book is
affectionately
dedicated to
Cornelia Otis
Skinner, our
new possession [15]

[Contents]

Table of Contents

  1. In the Caribbean PAGE
    1. The Mysterious Islands 23
    2. The Buccaneers 33
    3. The Boat of Phantom Children 46
    4. Early Porto Rico 48
    5. The Deluge 55
    6. How Spaniards were Found to be Mortal 56
    7. Ponce 58
    8. Water Caves 61
    9. How a Dutchman Helped the Spaniards 65
    10. The Ghost of San Geronimo 67
    11. Police Activity in Humacao 71
    12. The Church in Porto Rico 74
    13. The Mermaids 78
    14. The Aborigines 83
    15. The Caribs 88
    16. Secret Enemies in the Hills 92
    17. Sacred Shrines 98
    18. Tobacco 103
    19. The Two Skeletons of Columbus 106
    20. Obeah Witches 108
    21. The Matanzas Obeah Woman 113
    22. How Havana Got its Market 121
    23. The Justice of Tacon 127
    24. The Cited 133
    25. The Virgin’s Diamond 141[16]
    26. A Spanish Holofernes 144
    27. The Courteous Battle 150
    28. Why King Congo was Late 153
    29. The Chase of Taito Perico 156
    30. The Voice in the Inn 163
  2. In the Pacific
    1. Finding of the Islands 177
    2. Ancient Faiths of Hawaii 178
    3. The Giant Gods 188
    4. The First Fire 189
    5. The Little People 190
    6. The Hawaiian Iliad 194
    7. The Hawaiian Orpheus and Eurydice 201
    8. The Rebellion of Kamiole 206
    9. The Japanese Sword 212
    10. Lo-Lale’s Lament 217
    11. The Resurrections of Kaha 220
    12. Hawaiian Ghosts 224
    13. The Three Wives of Laa 225
    14. The Misdoing of Kamapua 226
    15. Pele’s Hair 233
    16. The Prayer to Pele 234
    17. Lohiau and the Volcano Princess 237
    18. A Visit of Pele 239
    19. The Great Famine 243
    20. Kiha’s Trumpet 248
    21. How Moikeha Gained a Wife 252
    22. The Sailing of Paao 254
    23. The Wronged Wife 256
    24. The Magic Spear 259
    25. Hawaiian Witches 262
    26. The Cannibals 267[17]
    27. The Various Graves of Kaulii 270
    28. The Kingship of Umi 273
    29. Keaulumoku’s Prophecy 276
    30. The Tragedy of Spouting Cave 277
    31. The Grave of Pupehe 283
    32. The Lady of the Twilight 285
    33. The Ladrones 286
    34. Old Beliefs of the Filipinos 290
    35. Animal Myths 300
    36. Later Religious Myths and Miracles 304
    37. Bankiva, the Philippine Pied Piper 315
    38. The Crab Tried to Eat the Moon 317
    39. The Conversion of Amambar 319
    40. The Bedevilled Galleon 322
    41. Two Runaways from Manila 329
    42. The Christianizing of Wong 333
    43. The Devil’s Bridge 335
    44. The Great Earthquake 339
    45. Suppressing Magic in Manila 345
    46. Faith that Killed 348
    47. The Widow Velarde’s Husband 351
    48. The Grateful Bandits 352
[19]
[Contents]

Illustrations

  1. Gate of the Walled City of Manila Frontispiece
  2. A Cuban Residence Page 146
  3. Down the Valley came Pouring a Flood of Lava Page 232
  4. Avenue of Palms, Hawaii Page 262
[21]

In the Caribbean

[23]
[Contents]

The Mysterious Islands

Somewhere—anywhere—in the Atlantic, islands drifted like those tissues of root and sedge that break from the edges of northern lakes and are sent to and fro by the gales: floating islands. The little rafts bearing that name are thick enough to nourish trees, and a man or a deer may walk on them without breaking through. Far different were those wandering Edens of the sea, for they had mountains, volcanoes, cities, and gardens; men of might and women lovelier than the dawn lived there in brotherly and sisterly esteem; birds as bright as flowers, and with throats like flutes, peopled the groves, where luscious fruit hung ready for the gathering, and the very skies above these places of enchantment were more serene and deep than those of the storm-swept continents. Where the surges creamed against the coral beaches and cliffs of jasper and marble, the mer-people arose to view and called to the land men in song, while the fish in the shallows were like wisps of rainbow.

It was the habit of these lands never to be where the seeker could readily find them. Some legends [24]pertaining to them appear to do with places no farther from the homes of the simple, if imaginative, tellers than the Azores, Canaries, and Cape Verdes; but others indicate a former knowledge of our own America, and a few may relate to that score or so of rocks lying between New England and the Latin shores; bare, dangerous domes and ledges where sea fowl nest, and where a crumbling skeleton tells of a sailor who outlived a wreck to endure a more dreadful death from cold and thirst and hunger. Some of these tales reach back to the Greek myths: survivals of the oldest histories, or possibly connected America with the old world through voyages made by men whose very nations are dead and long forgotten; for the savages and ogres that inhabited these elusive islands may be European concepts of our Indians. But in the earlier Christian era all was mystery on those plains of water that stretched beyond the sunset. It was believed that as one sailed toward our continent the day faded, and that if the mariner kept on he would be lost in hopeless gloom.

Perhaps the most ancient story in the world tells of the sinking of Atlantis. When the Egyptian priest told it to Solon it was already venerable beyond estimate; yet he recounted the work and pleasures of the Atlantans, who were a multitude, who drank from hot and cold springs, who had mines of silver and gold, pastures for elephants, and plants that yielded a sweet savor; who prayed in temples of white, red and black stone, sheathed in [25]shining metals; whose sculptors made vast statues, one, representing Poseidon driving winged horses, being so large that the head of the god nearly touched the temple roof; who had gardens, canals, sea walls, and pleasant walks; who had ten thousand chariots in their capital alone; the port of twelve hundred ships. They were a folk of peace and kindness, but as they increased in wealth and comfort they forgot the laws of heaven; so in a day and a night this continent went down, burying its millions and its treasures beneath the waters. A few of the inhabitants escaped to Europe in their ships; a few, also, to America. It has been claimed that Atlantis may still be traced in an elevation of the ocean floor about seven hundred miles wide and a thousand miles long, its greatest length from northeast to southwest, and the Azores at its eastern edge—mountain tops not quite submerged. As some believe, it was from this cataclysm that has sprung the world-wide legend of a deluge.

From some of the enchanted lands, perhaps near the American shore, Merlin went to England, piled the monoliths of Stonehenge on Salisbury moor, and after gaining respect and fear as a magician and prophet, sailed back across the waste. The Joyous Island of Lancelot; the island where King Arthur wrestled and bested the Half Man; Avalon, the Isle of the Blest, where Arthur lived in the castle of the sea-born fairy, Morgan le Fee, were probably near the British or Irish coasts. [26]

Many days’ sail from Europe was the Island of Youth. A daring Irish lad reached it, borne by a horse as white as the foam, that never sank. He paused on the way to slay a giant who held a princess in his enchantment, and reached, at length, a land where birds were so many that the trees shook with the burden of them, and the air rang with their song. There, with his wife and a merry band of youths and maids, he spent a hundred years—one long joy of killing; for from dawn till dark the deer met death at his hand, bleeding from the stroke of dart and knife. A floating spear was found near the shore one day, rusted and scarred with battle, and as he grasped it memories of old wars returned to him, so that he was sick with longing to go home and hurl the cutting metal through the ribs of his enemies and see the good red flood burst from their hearts. He remounted his white steed and reached Ireland, careless of the happiness he had left: for those who deserted the island might never return. He reached his home to find men grown too small and mean to fight him, which probably means that he had waxed so great as to make them seem like dwarfs. Appalled at this change, dismayed at the loss of all chance for battle, he sank to the earth. His age came suddenly upon him, and he died.

In one of the great Irish monasteries lived St. Brandan, of the holy brotherhood that tilled the soil, taught the permitted sciences, copied and illumined [27]the works of the early Christians, fed four hundred beggars daily, though living on bread, roots, and nuts themselves, lodging and studying in unwarmed cells of stone. Once in seven years the people saw from shore the island of Hy-Brasail. The monks tried to stop its wanderings by prayer and by fiery arrows, yet without avail. Kirwan claimed to have landed on it, and he brought back strange money that he said was used by its people. So late as 1850 Brasail Rock remained on the British Admiralty chart, to show how hard tradition dies. The appearance of this phantom land made Brandan long to explore the realm of mystery wherefrom it had emerged. He hoped to find even the Promised Island of the Saints, when at last he was able to leave the convent where he had endured so many hardships and embarked on Mernoc’s ship; blessed region where fruit was borne on every tree, flowers on every bush; region strewn with precious stones and full of perfume that clung to one’s garments for weeks, like an odor of sanctity.

Seventeen priests set sail in the coracle, or boat of basket work covered with leather. They had no fear, for they were holy men, and in those days Christians were immune from peril. Not long before a company of nuns had been blown across the sea and back again, seated on a cloak that rode the waves like a ship. After forty days Brandan’s company found a group of islands peopled by courteous natives. Next they disembarked on what [28]they thought to be a rock to cook a dinner, but it was no rock; it was a whale, that, feeling the sting of flame through his thick hide, rushed off for two miles, carrying their fire on his back. They hastily re-entered their boat before the monster had gained much headway and ere long reached the Paradise of Birds, where they enjoyed the music made by thousands of little creatures with their wings—a music like fiddling. After this came visits to a den of griffins; to a land of grapes such as the Norsemen told about; to a mountain country aflame with the forges of one-eyed people, or cyclops. Twice, on Easter Sunday, they put lambs to death, and so, being blessed for the sacrifice, were allowed to reach the Island of Saints, where an angel bade them take all the precious stones they wished, as they had been created for holy people, but to attempt no exploration beyond that point. No men appeared; still, in order to leave the impress of their calling, St. Malo, one of the company, dug up a giant who had died several years before, preached to him and baptized him. These reformatory services revived the giant a little, though he was pretty far gone, and he died again as soon as the priest stopped preaching. St. Brandan went back to Clonfert, where three thousand monks joined him in good works, and mendicants swarmed from all over the land to benefit by their labor. He often told the people and the brethren of the wonders he had seen in lands Columbus was to rediscover nine hundred [29]years later, and he dwelt with marvelling on the mercy of God as shown to Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ, who was encountered in the northern seas, lying naked on an iceberg in silent delight. St. Brandan recognized him by portraits he had seen and hailed him. Judas then told his story; he was roasting in hell when the Lord remembered that once in Joppa this disciple had thrown his cloak over the shoulders of a leper who was agonized by a wind that blew sharp sand into his sores. An angel was sent to tell the doomed one that for this mercy he would be allowed, for one hour in every year, to breathe the wholesome air of the upper world, and stretch his scorched body on the ice. Moved by this tenderness toward the most despised of men, St. Brandan bowed and prayed, just as Judas, with despair in his upturned face, slipped down again to the deeps of fire.

Some men of Ross, Ireland, had killed their king, despite his successful wars against his rival monarchs, some of whose kingdoms were as large as a township. For this offense the heir to the throne, or his advisers, decreed that sixty couples should be set adrift on the ocean, to meet what fate they might. A guard was put along the shore to keep them from landing again, and an easterly gale blew them quickly out of sight of their relatives and friends. For years none dared to seek for them. Conall Ua Corra, of Connaught, had prayed in [30]vain to the Lord for children, so in anger he prayed to the devil, and three boys were born to his wife. The neighbors jeered at them as the fiend’s offspring, and harassed them and made them bitter. They said, one to the other, “If we are really sons of Satan we will justify these taunts,” and collecting all the vicious boys of their village they robbed farmers, ruined churches, killed men who resisted plunder, and were about to murder their father when they were warned in a vision of the eternal punishment they would endure in blazing sulphur pits if they did not repent. Their father had long regretted his hasty prayer to the evil one, and had tried to regain the good-will of heaven by industry, and by giving freely of his substance to the sick and pauperized. By advice of St. Finnen, to whom they confessed, the boys repaired the churches they had injured and mourned the victims of their brutality; yet, as the people doubted their conversion, they resolved to leave the country and go to some land where they would not be constantly exposed to the danger of breaking their good resolves by reproaches and attacks. Where to go? It was suggested by some designing neighbor that if they were to search for the one hundred and twenty exiles they would be doing a service to heaven and the world. This suggestion was promptly acted on. In a frail coracle they swept the sea, discovering strange lands, in one of which the half-forgotten people of Ross were found, living so contentedly [31]that few of them cared to go back. The most exciting incidents of the voyage were the three meetings with the Island of Satan’s Hand, a lone rock in icy waters, where fogs always brooded. At the will of a malignant demon it changed its place from time to time, and it was the hand of this monster, a vast, rude shape looming out of the mist, which endangered all the ships that passed, for it struck at them,—as it did at the coracle of these three voyagers,—injuring hulls, tearing sails, or knocking the crews overboard, when it did not send them to the bottom. If the blow fell short it made the sea boil and sent billows rolling for a mile. Some of the shore folk said it was icebergs that the shipmen saw; but icebergs never sailed so far from the pole, they answered. Despite its wandering habit, the map-makers eventually agreed on a site for this rock of the smiting hand, calling it Satanaxio. It can be seen on charts of the eighteenth century.

A thousand years before Columbus it was reported that tropic islands had been discovered and ruled by Archbishop Oppas, of Spain, who was fain to leave his country because he had betrayed his king to the Moors. He found a race friendly and gentle, sharing with one another whatever was given to them, as not knowing selfishness. This prelate burned his ships, that his people might not return, laid off the largest island into seven bishoprics, and, impressing the natives into his service, built churches and convents, for there were women in his company [32]whom he placed in nunneries. This island, which figures on early maps as Antillia and as Behaim, was known also as the Land of the Seven Cities, from its seven bishoprics. When Coronado heard of the pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico, he may have confounded them with the towns of Oppas, and to this day the seven cities of Cibola are a legend of our desert. Harold’s Norsemen were told by the wild Skraelings of Maine of a pale-faced people farther south, who walked in processions, carrying white banners and chanting.

Near Florida was the island of Bimini, with its fountain of youth. Juan and Luis Ponce de Leon sought it vainly among the Bahamas, then crossed to Florida and kept up the search among the pine barrens, the moss-bearded cypresses, the snaky swamps, and alligator infested rivers. The Indians, strong, active, healthy with their simple, outdoor life, their ignorance of wine and European diseases, seemed so favored that the Spaniards believed they must have bathed in the magic fountain and drank its waters. Green Cove Spring, near Magnolia, is the one where Luis bathed, hoping that he had found at last the restorative fountain; but an angry Indian shot a poisoned arrow through his body, and neither prayers nor water stayed long the little life that was in him. So the spring is in the unfound Bimini, after all. [33]

[Contents]

The Buccaneers

How the free traders in the West Indies became smugglers, how by easy stages they passed from the profession of illicit dealing to piracy, are matters that concern history rather than legend. Their name of buccaneers comes from buccan, an Indian word signifying a smoke-house, in which beef and other meats were dried; as one of the earliest enterprises of the rovers was the stealing of Spanish cattle in San Domingo, and the drying of their flesh in the native buccans for use at sea.

A general hatred or jealousy of Spain, that was shared by the English, Dutch, and French, led to the first privateering expeditions. Indeed, throughout the seventeenth century the pirates operated principally against Spain, and were tolerated because of the injury they did to her ships, her people, her property, and her trade. Having finally ruined her commerce, they sacked her colonies, and, the lust for blood and treasure having been roused to a sort of madness, they cast off patriotic allegiances and became mere robbers and outlaws. The history of the successes of L’Ollonois, Morgan, Davis, and the rest, is an exciting though painful one, inasmuch as all sense of right and mercy seems to have been crushed in the breasts of these men by their brutal business. For a handful of dollars they were ready to wreck a city, reduce even its ruins to ashes, [34]slaughter women and babes, and cut the throats of the aged. They were as harsh and treacherous toward one another as they were toward peaceable men, and for acts of rebellion against a leader they were killed off-hand, while it was customary, also, to butcher a sailor whenever a chest of treasure was buried, and place his body on or in the chest, that his ghost might guard it and terrify intruders. Yet the ultimate influence of the buccaneers was for good, inasmuch as they wrested a part of the rich Antilles from the cruel and ignorant Spaniard and gave it to more enlightened powers.

When the freebooting days were at their height there was no harbor of safety between Rio and Halifax; but there was, in every town the rascals visited, an element that profited by their robberies: the keepers of inns, brothels, and gaming-houses, and, lastly, the royal governors. These bloody-fingered varlets would sack a church, get tipsy on the communion wine, and demand the blessing of the priests on the next enterprise of the same kind they had in contemplation. With the chalices, candlesticks, and altar furnishings, they would go to the nearest city, where they were sure of finding this friendly element, and riot away the last piece of metal in their pockets; or, if pipes of wine were among the prizes, any island would serve for a long debauch. Devil’s Island, the place of Dreyfus’s captivity, was a popular rendezvous, though it is so named not because of these gatherings, but because [35]of a particularly unmanageable prisoner who was once confined there.

The governors of some of the West Indies were as keen on the scent of the sea-robbers as the latter were in the chase of merchant-men, and they were unable to see a good many sad goings-on when a few pieces-of-eight were held before their eyes. Gaming was no disgrace in those times, nor was hard drinking, nor coarse speech, and even piracy had a sort of sanction when the victims were people of a nation with whom the buccaneers were at war. Many tales of gamesters’ luck are told, but a couple will suffice. Vent-en-Panne, a Frenchman, had received five hundred crowns as his share of a robbery, and on the first night ashore, at Kingston, Jamaica, he staked and lost it all, with three hundred more that a reckless comrade had lent to him. Though penniless, he was not discouraged. He became a wine-drawer and pipe-lighter in the tavern, and with a few pennies received for tips he bet on the cards again. This time he won, and his fortune mounted to twelve thousand crowns. With this amount in hand he felt he could be virtuous, so he took ship for home, intending to settle in Paris and fulfil the ambition of every honest Frenchman,—to own a furnished room, fish in the Seine, and hear the bands play. He got only as far as Barbadoes, for at that island a rich Jew came aboard, persuaded him to play for a small amount, and lost everything to Vent-en-Panne,—money, houses, sugar, and slaves. The [36]fever was on them both, however, and so soon as the Jew could borrow a little his luck also turned, and Vent-en-Panne was stripped of every sou,—even the clothes he wore. Paris became an iridescent dream, and the gambler found his way to the Tortugas, where he doubtless shipped with Morgan, Teach, or some other of the scourges of the Spanish main.

Two rovers are credited with beating the governor of Jamaica at another game, after they had lost to him a matter of ten thousand crowns,—the earnings of several weeks faithfully devoted to privateering. In order to continue the game (to their complete beggary), the fellows had borrowed from acquaintances in Kingston, who, seeing no way to get their money back, decided to have them imprisoned for debt. Hearing of this plan, the elder of the precious pair reported to the governor that he had a negro whom he would like to sell, cheap, in order to pay his debts and start in a mechanic trade, such as he had followed in years gone by. The governor bade him have the fellow brought in, and finding him to be a sturdy, intelligent man, with a skin as black as the ten of clubs, he bought him and set him at work. Next day the negro had disappeared. Notice and offers of reward were sent to all parts of the island, but nothing came of it. The two ex-pirates followed a peaceful and thriving trade of making keys, possibly for burglars, and in a few years had saved enough to enable them to return to England. Before sailing they called on the ex governor, who had [37]drank and gambled himself into poverty, and emptied a fistful of gold before him.

“That’s for the nigger, with interest,” said one.

“The nigger? What, the one that ran away?” asked the governor.

“Oh, he didn’t run far. Here he is.” And the speaker clapped his companion on the shoulder. “He had only to curl his hair with a hot iron and rub charcoal on his chops to deceive a governor.”

The tickled old fellow drank their health and wished them a safe journey, out of Jamaica.

While luck seemed to bide with the rovers, it was not always smooth sailing on the Spanish seas. Now and then the buccaneers attacked an innocent looking ship that waited until they had come within musket-reach, when it ran up the Spanish standard, opened a dozen ports, and let fly at them with hot-shot and a hail of bullets. Now and again a mutiny would occur, and the victorious either forced the defeated to walk the plank or marooned them on some desolate sand key to perish of thirst and sunstroke.

Blackbeard’s men once found a fishing-vessel drifting off the Burmudas and eagerly boarded her to look for treasure. In a minute they tumbled out of the cabin and scrambled into the sea like the swine possessed of devils. The vessel had but one living man on board, and he had not many hours of life before him, while corpses strewn about the floor were spotted with small-pox. Half of the pirate crew were slain by the pestilence. [38]

When Roberts was cruising off Surinam a supposed war-ship bore down on him in a fog. He pelted her with all his guns, but she kept her way unheeding. The fog then breaking showed that it was not a frigate, but a sloop, which had been magnified by the mist, and he quickly grappled her and sent his men to see what manner of ship she was. Ten or twelve Spaniards lying about the deck with their throats cut proved that some other buccaneer had been before him. As the men were about to leave their floating charnel-house to hold her way whither the gales might send her, a furious swearing in Spanish caused them to shiver and look back. Were the dead speaking? Had some crazed sailor escaped, and was he gibbering from the roundtop? No: it was a parrot in the rigging, and he was saying all he knew.

Montbar, having discovered a company of Spanish on one of the Windward Islands, went ashore with guns, knives, and axes, and destroyed them all, except one. This man told how he and his fellows had been put ashore. They were the crew of a slaver, and were on their way from Africa to Cuba with a cargo of slaves, when the ship began to leak badly. The carpenter, accompanied by several of the more intelligent of the blacks, made a careful inspection of the hold, yet could find no leak; so the constant inflow, that kept all hands at the pumps, was at length declared to be the devil’s work. The slaves wailed and wrung their hands, the captain [39]swore and prayed, the crew toiled to exhaustion. When it seemed as if the ship could not float for another day the island appeared ahead, and quickly loading arms, provisions, and water into the boats, the Spaniards abandoned ship and left the negroes to their fate. Great was their surprise and dismay when the slaves ran, cheering, over the deck, hoisted all sail, and squared away for the eastward, the vessel rising higher in the water as her former crew sat watching her. These blacks, who were confined in the hold, had got possession of knives with which they cut through the outer planking, causing the ship to leak alarmingly. They had also fitted plugs to these leaks, and packed them with oakum, so that when the carpenter made his rounds no water came in. As soon as he returned to the deck the holes were opened again, for it was known that the Antilles were near, and the scheme to frighten their captors to land was successful. These facts the crew learned from the negro cook, who had accompanied them to shore.

The devil, who was supposed in this case to have been the enemy instead of the ally of the slavers, often mixed in the affairs of a class that must have filled him with admiration. Some of the pirates are reported to have placed themselves entirely in the hands of the foe of the human race, swearing on strange objects to give their souls to him, and formally burying a Bible on shore as a token that they were through forever with religion and mercy. [40]Yet they were a superstitious lot, fearful of signs and portents, and do not, therefore, appear to have been trusting subjects of His Satanic Majesty. They always had an ear and a coin for a fortune-teller, and early in the eighteenth century there were negroes and Indians in the West Indies and the tropic Americas who openly practised that trade and art of witchcraft for which their white brethren in Salem had been hanged. Their principal customers were pirates and buccaneers, who went to them for a forecast of fortune, and also bought charms that would create fair winds for themselves and typhoons for their enemies. These witches kept open ears in their heads, and information carelessly dropped by the outlaws they sold for an aftermath of gain to the Spaniards, who found truth in so many of the prophesies that they respected the soothsayers and fully believed that the English were the chosen of the fiend.

Among the most trusted of the witches was a withered Indian woman of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. She was close upon her fifth score of years before she departed this life, but the rumor that she had lived in New Providence since the flood was not denied, for it made her the more regarded. Her best commodity was strings. For a large price she would sell a string in which she had tied several knots, each one of which represented the particular wind that the captain might wish to prosper him on his way. Captain Condent was a [41]blaspheming corsair from the wicked town of New York, who had left that port as quartermaster on a merchant-man and next morning had appeared with a battery of pistols and had calmly taken the ship out of the hands of her officers. This fellow had bought a string from the witch that carried him to the Cape Verdes and back to America, but when he had cut off all the knots, except two or three, he feared that he might run out of winds altogether; so he put upon certain servants of the Lord the task for which he had paid the servant of the devil. He had with him two or three Spanish monks whom he had stolen in the Cape Verdes, though what he wanted of them neither he nor they could have guessed. They were having a most unhappy time of it. Now and then the scallawag sailors would force them upon all fours, and sitting astride their backs would compel them to creep about the deck, pretending to be horses, while Condent whipped them smartly with the rope’s end. Thinking to save his precious twine, he ordered these monks to pray for favoring winds, and he kept them on their marrow bones petitioning from daylight until sunset. Often they would fall exhausted and voiceless. At last, believing that the wind peddler of Nassau had more power over the elements than a shipload of monks, he threw the wretched friars overboard, and, as luck would have it, the wind he wanted came whistling along a few minutes after. [42]

He came to the end of his string at Zanzibar, where he was caught in a tremendous storm, and was in hourly peril of destruction. His masts had cracked, his sails had split, his water barrels had gone by the board. It was time to hold the witch to her bargain. He swung the cord about his head three times, called the woman’s name, and although eight thousand miles of sea and continent lay between them, she heard the call. The string was pulled through his fingers so smartly that it made them burn, and was whisked out of sight in the wind and the spray. Within an hour the gale abated. Next day Condent attempted to make his way by dead reckoning, but whenever he went wrong a bird flew in his face, and a ship crowded with skeletons approached him in the mist. He presently gained the Isle of Bourbon, or Reunion, where his stealings enabled him to cut such a figure in society that he married into the family of the governor and died in an odor of—well, maybe it was sanctity. At all events, he died.

It was a witch also that had foretold the march of the buccaneers across Panama isthmus, and her warning was considered of such importance that the Spanish troops and merchants were notified, though they made but a feeble resistance when the foray actually occurred.

One of the Spanish slavers bound for our coasts was overhauled by the English pirate Lewis. She was a fast sailer and had nearly escaped when Lewis [43]ripped a handful of hair from his head, flung it to the wind, and shouted, “Ho, Satan, keep that till I come.” Instantly the wind rose to a gale. In a few minutes the Spaniard was in the hands of the pirates, and the slaves, being only an encumbrance, were tossed overboard to the sharks, as one might fling away a damaged cargo. One of the black men was a dwarf, gnarly, wrinkled, misshapen, with eyes that blazed like a cat’s in the dark. No sooner had this man been pushed over the side than he uttered an ear-splitting yell, and seemed to bound back to the deck. It was a cat, however, not a human being, that was seen to rush into the cabin, and it looked into Lewis’s face with the same shining, menacing eyes that he had seen in the dwarf. A negro boy who had been spared to act as a servant for the captain having unconsciously roused his anger, Lewis rushed upon him with his sword, cut him through the heart and beat his corpse, the cat sitting by and squealing with glee at the sight. When a mate struck at the animal in a tort of disgust and fear, the creature leaped at him and almost blinded him with its claws. From that time the cat became Lewis’s familiar; was before him at the table, on his pillow when he slept, on his shoulder when he gave orders. The crew agreed that it could be none other than the devil himself. On Lewis’s last night alive, while he was quite drunk, the cat seemed to be whispering into his ear. He arose and staggered away, saying, [44]“The devil says I shall be killed to-night.” An hour later his ship was boarded by French pirates, and Lewis was despatched. After scratching the faces of nearly all the enemy, the cat ran up the mainmast, throwing off sparks and screeching, scrambled to the end of the topsail-yard, and leaped off into the night.

Morgan, the English sea robber, had captured a number of Spanish prisoners in Panama, among them a woman of beauty and distinction, who had been left without other protection than that of a faithless servant during her husband’s absence in Peru. The dignity and refinement of his prisoner made a certain impression on Morgan. After he had put to sea a cabin was reserved for her, she was treated with respect by the crew, but a guard kept her in sight always. The gross nature of the pirate disclosed itself in a few days, when, fresh from a debauch and reeking with the odors of rum, he forced her cabin door and attempted to embrace her. She sprang back with a cry of loathing, and grasping a dagger swore that if he ever intruded himself in her presence again she would drive the weapon into her own heart, since she could never hope to reach his by any means, violent or gentle. In a fit of anger, the pirate ordered his sailors to cast her into the hold among the slaves and hostages, there to endure fever, crowding, hunger, and thirst.

A week or two later these lean, half-dead wretches were kicked out of their dark and stifling dungeon [45]to be sold to some planters. A woman among them asked for a few words with Morgan. Haggard, tear-stained, ragged, neglected as she was, the captain did not at first recognize her as the one whom he had insulted by his show of love. When he did recall her name and state he asked indifferently what she wanted. She told him that an injustice had been done; that she had at first told him it was in her power to buy her liberty, believing it to be so; but her hope was destroyed, and she was so ill and wasted that she would be useless as a slave. As she was going on board of the ship she had whispered to a couple of Spanish priests telling them where her money was concealed, and asking them to pay her ransom with it. They also were under guard, but they persuaded one of the buccaneer officers to go with them, recovered the money, bought their own freedom with it, and ran away. Hearing this, Morgan sent the woman back to Panama, succeeded in capturing the priests, and sold them into slavery.

It is said of Morgan that he had a fire ship, which he would tow as close as possible to the fleets of his enemies, both to draw their fire and kindle a more disastrous one. What appeared to be its crew were logs of wood, placed upright between the bulwarks, each log surmounted by a hat. As to fire, it is recorded that Teach, or Blackbeard, now and then shut himself into his cabin and burned sulphur to prove to his crew that he was a devil. He used [46]to tie his whiskers with red ribbons into pigtails that he tucked over his ears, and he looked the part. Yet he was less of a monster than L’Olonnais, who so hated Spaniards that he would not only slaughter his prisoners, but would bite their hearts like a savage beast after he had cut them out. Beside Blackbeard there was a Redbeard and a Bluebeard. All three of these gentlemen had castles in St. Thomas, and that of Bluebeard had a room in which it is alleged that he killed his wives after the fashion of his Eastern relative.

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The Boat of Phantom Children

Sir Francis Drake, destroyer of many of the “invincible” ships of Spain, came to America with Sir John Hawkins, to subdue the Spanish colonies with the heaviest fleet he ever commanded. Though wrangles between the commanders made this expedition a comparative failure, still wherever the head of a don was seen, a cracking blow was struck at it. War was a crueller business then than it is to-day, in spite of our high explosives, our armored ships, our mighty guns, and our nimble tactics, and things were done that no captain would dare in these times; at least, no captain with a fear of the world’s rebuke, or that of his own conscience. Just before Christmas, 1594, Drake was scourging the coast of Colombia, burning houses, and shipping and despoiling the towns. [47]The people of one village near Rio de la Hache, having been warned of his coming, buried their little property, closed their houses, put fifty of their children on a fishing smack, while they hurriedly provisioned some boats to carry all the people to a distant cape, where they would remain in hiding until after Drake had destroyed their homes and passed on. The fisherman who owned the smack set sail too soon; he was separated from the others in a gale, and Drake, who then appeared, ran between him and the shore, and with a couple of shots drove him farther into the wild sea. The smack never returned. After the English had passed, the people watched for it, and, truly, on the next day, a boat was seen beating against the gale and trying to make the pier. As it came nearer, the parents saw their children holding out their arms and laughing. Then the outlines of the hull and sail grew dim, the children’s forms drooped as if weary; and in another moment the vision had passed. Long was the grief and loud were the curses on the English. When Drake learned that he had fired on a harmless fishing vessel and driven a company of little ones away from land to be sunk in a tempest, he was filled with compunction and misgiving. The same vision that the parents had seen crossed the path of his own ships. Before every storm the boat of phantoms appeared, and when he sailed for Escudo and Porto Bello it followed him. Wearied with many wars, ill with tropical fever, repentant [48]for this useless killing, he sank into a depression from which nothing could rouse him, and in January he died on his ship, at Nombre de Dios. His remains were consigned to a sailor’s grave—the wide ocean—and as the ship moved on her way, the crew, looking back to the place where the body had gone down, saw the phantom smack rise from the deep, rush like a wind-blown wrack across the spot, and melt into the air as it neared the shore.

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Early Porto Rico

Though Columbus made his first landing in Porto Rico at Naguabo, where the Caribs afterward destroyed a Spanish settlement, he gave its present name to the island when he put in Aguada for water. Charmed with the beauty of the bay, the opulence of vegetation, the hope of wealth in the river sands, he christened it “the rich port,” and extending this, applied to the whole island the name of San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico—St. John the Baptist of the Rich Port. The natives knew their island as Boriquen. Later came Ponce de Leon, who founded Caparra, now Pueblo Viejo, across the bay from San Juan, to which spot he shifted a little later and built the white house that may still be seen. San Juan is the oldest city of white origin in the Western world, except Santo Domingo, albeit Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa claim [49]to be contemporary. The body of Ponce is buried in San Juan, in the church of Santo Domingo.

When this fair island was claimed by Spain, it had a population of over half a million, but Ponce at once set about the extinction of the native element. The populace was simple, affectionate, confiding, and in showing friendship for the invaders it invited and obtained slavery. It has been ingeniously advanced that the Spaniards disliked the natives because of the cleanliness of the latter. On account of the heat they wore no clothing, to absorb dirt and perspiration, and bathed at least once every day. In those times white people were frugal in the use of water, Spain being more pronounced against it than almost any other nation. Listen to one of the Spanish writers, though he is talking, not of our Indians, but of the Moors: “Water seems more needed by these infidels than bread, for they wash every day, as their damnable religion directs them to, and they use it in baths, and in a thousand other idle fashions, of which Spaniards and other Christians can make little account.” We know that a Spanish queen refrained, not only from washing, but from changing her clothes for a whole year. The Porto Ricans were naked, but unaware of their nakedness, therefore they were moderately virtuous; at least, more virtuous than their conquerors. Had they been treated with justice and mercy they would have remained friendly to the white men, and would have been of great [50]service to them in the development of the island. As early as 1512, Africans were shipped to the island to take the places, at enforced labor, of the Indians who had been destroyed. A religion was forced down the throats of the natives that they did not understand, especially as the friars preached it; and being unable at once to grasp the meaning or appreciate the value of discourses on the spiritual nature, the trinity, vicarious atonement, transubstantiation, and the intercession of saints, the soldiers, always within call, followed their custom when the congregations proved intractable: killed them.

It is said that the Spaniards acquired such ease in the slaying of Indians that they would crack a man’s head merely to see if it would split easily or if their swords were keeping their edge, and that they varied their more direct and merciful slaughters by roasting one of the despised infidels occasionally. Slavery in damp mines, fevers in swamps, unaccustomed work, strain, anxiety, grief, insufficient food, lack of liberty, separation from friends and families, killed more than the sword. It was the same in all the conquered lands. In Hayti a million people were oppressed out of existence or slain outright in fifteen years, and but sixty-five thousand were left. In less than a century that island had not a single native. So in Porto Rico: not a man is to be found there to-day who is a pure-blooded aborigine. Even their relics and monuments, their traditions and history, were obliterated by their conquerors—the race [51]that destroyed the libraries of the Moors and the picture records of the Aztecs. Few even of their burial places are known, although the Cave of the Dead, near Caguana, was so named because of the Indian skeletons found in it.

Some of the tools and implements of stone found on the island are so strange that one cannot even guess their purpose. Of the heavy stone collars that have been preserved, a priest holds that they were placed about the necks of the dead, that the devil might not lift them out of their graves, but this sounds like an invention of the church, for there is no proof that a belief in the devil existed among these people. They had a god, as well as minor spirits, and sang hymns to them; they had some crafts and arts, for they made canoes, huts, chairs, nets, hammocks, pottery, weapons, and implements, and, although the fierce Caribs vexed them now and again, they were accounted as the gentlest and most advanced of the native people in the Antilles. Speaking of the hammock, that is one of their devices that the world has generally adopted, and the name is one of the few Indian words that have survived the Spanish oppressions, though there are many geographic titles. Other familiar survivals are the words hurricane, canoe, tobacco, potato, banana, and a few other botanical names.

It is probable that these Boriqueños were allied in speech and custom, as well as in blood, to their neighbors the Haytiens, of whom saith Peter [52]Martyr, “The land among these people is common as sun and water. ’Mine’ and ’thine,’ the seeds of all mischief, have no place among them. They are content with so little that in this large country they have more than plenty. They live in a golden world without toil, in open gardens, not intrenched, defended, or divided. They deal truly with one another, without laws, judges, or books. He that will hurt another is an evil man, and while they take no pleasure in superfluity, they take means to increase the roots that are their food—diet so simple that their health is assured.” Still, it is known that in their defence against the marauding Caribs the Porto Ricans were courageous, and had become adept with arrow and club, and it was believed by some of the first explorers that they ate their captives.

The aborigines of Porto Rico probably differed little, if at all, from the Haytiens in their faith in an all-powerful, deathless god, who had a mother but no father, who lived in the sky and was represented on earth by zemes or messengers. Every chief had his zemi, carved in stone or wood, as a tutelary genius, to whom he addressed his prayers and who had a temple of his own. Zemes directed the wind, waves, rains, rivers, floods, and crops, gave success or failure in the hunt, and gave visions to or spoke with priests who had worked themselves into a rhapsodic state by the use of a drug (it may have been tobacco), in order to receive [53]the message, which often concerned the health of a person or of a whole village. The Spaniards regarded these manitous as images of the devil, and in order to keep them the natives hid the little effigies from the friars and the troops. In the festivals of these gods there were dances, music, and an offering of flower-decorated cakes.

Hayti was the first created, the sun and moon came from the cave near Cape Haytien known as la voute a Minguet, through a round hole in the roof. Men came from another cave, the big ones through a large door, the little men from a smaller one. They were without women for a long time, because the latter lived in trees and were slippery; but some men with rough hands finally pulled four of them down from the branches, and the world was peopled. At first, the men dared to leave their cave only at night, for the sun was so strong it turned them to stone, though one man who was caught at his fishing by the sun became a bird that still sings at night, lamenting his fate. When a chief was dying in pain he was mercifully strangled,—though the common people were allowed to linger to their end,—and his deeds were rehearsed in ballads sung to the drum. There was a belief in ghosts, albeit they could not be seen in the light, unless in a lonely place, nor by many persons. When they did mingle with the people it was easy to distinguish them from the living, as they had no navel. What became of the wicked after death we [54]do not know, but the good went to a happy place where they met those whom they loved, and lived among women, flowers, and fruits. During the day the departed souls hid among the mountains, but peopled the fairest valleys at night, and in order that they should not suffer from hunger the living were careful to leave fruit on the trees.

From these quaint and simple faiths the people were roused by the professors of a more enlightened one, who made their teaching useless, however, if not odious, to the brown people by their practises. It was an old belief, at least among the Haytiens, that a race of strangers, with bodies clad, would cross the sea and would reduce the people to servitude. This prophecy may have made them the more unwilling to yield to the Spaniards, in respect of religious faith, despite the signs and wonders that were shown to them. When chief Guarionex raided a Spanish chapel and destroyed the sacred images within, the shattered statues were buried in a garden, and the turnips and radishes planted there came up in the form of the cross. But even this did not convince the savages, whom it became necessary to burn, in order to smooth the way to reform. [55]

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The Deluge

Like many unschooled peoples, the Antillean tribes had their legend of a time when the earth was covered by a flood. The island of St. Thomas was one of the first to rise out of the sea. The Haytiens said that the deluge did not subside and that the present islands are the summits of mountains that formerly towered to a great height above the plains. Far back in the days when people lived more simply, and white men, with their abominable contrivings for work, had not even been invented, a cacique or chief of their island killed his son, who had tried to harm him, albeit when the lad was dead a natural affection prompted the father to clean his bones and conceal them in a gourd. Some time afterwards the cacique and his wife opened this vegetable tomb, to look on the mortal relics of their child, when a number of fish jumped out. Believing that he now had in the gourd a magic receptacle, from which he could take food at any time, the chief placed it on his roof, where mischief-makers might not reach it. While absent on a hunting-trip his four surviving sons took down the gourd to see what peculiar properties it had, and why it had been thus set apart. In passing it from one to the other it fell and was broken into little pieces. Instantly a vast quantity of water gushed from it, increasing in volume every instant. The water arose so that it reached their knees, and they had to climb the hills. [56]Whales, sharks, porpoises, dolphins, and smaller creatures came swimming forth, and the flow of the water never ceased until the whole world was flooded, as we see it now, for the ocean came from that gourd.

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How Spaniards were Found to be Mortal

The first Spaniards to reach the American islands were everywhere greeted as heavenly visitors, and the natives would not have been astonished had the caravels spread their sails—their wings, as they first were called—and flown into the clouds, carrying Columbus and his wrangling, jealous, sensual, gold-greedy company with him. Afterward they would have been more astonished than sorry. When the white men discovered this simple faith among the savages they encouraged it, for it induced the Indians to give up their wives, daughters, houses, weapons, and, above all else, their gold, to the strangers. The little bells and beads they gave in return were treasured because of their celestial origin and adored as fervently as the bones of saints are adored in some of the European churches. Everywhere and always the demand was for gold, and in the belief that the supply was going to last forever, Spain began to ruin herself with more industry than she had ever shown in peaceful callings. Her wars, her splendors, her vanities, her neglect of education and morality, bore their fruit when she [57]pulled her flag down from the staff on Havana’s Moro, and gave up her claims to the last foot of land in the Western world.

Ponce de Leon permitted the fiction that the Spaniards were angels—save the mark!—for it smoothed his progress in stripping the Porto Ricans of their poor little possessions, taking their lands for settlement, foraging over the island, forcing his religion upon them, and compelling them to serve him as miners, carriers, farmers, fishermen, and laborers. Many died because it was thought to be cheaper to work them to death and get fresh ones than to feed them. After a time the Indians began to have doubts, and when the friars enlarged on the glories of heaven, and described it as the abode of Spaniards, more of them than Hatuey were anxious to be allowed to go to the other place. They did not at first dare to attack the intruders, for what could men avail against gods, and of what use were spears and clubs against their thunderous arms and smashing missiles?

As the aggressions increased and became less and less endurable, Chief Agueynaba resolved, out of the soreness of his heart, to test this reputed immortality of his guests. A messenger, one Salzedo, was to be sent away from San Juan on some official errand, with a little company of natives as freighters and servants. This was Agueynaba’s chance. He ordered his men to slip Salzedo into a river and hold him under water for a time. If he was an immortal this would not hurt him, and if he died, why—they [58]would try very hard to bear up under the loss. While crossing the river—the spot is still shown—the men who bore Salzedo on their shoulders pitched him off and detained him beneath the surface for a couple of hours; then, fearing that he might be still alive and vicious, they put him on a bank and howled apologies to his remains for three days. By that time there was no longer a doubt about his deadness. Reports of this discovery traversed the island with the speed of a South American mail service, so that within a week people even forty miles away had heard about it. Thus encouraged to resistance by the discovery that white men were mortal, the populace fell upon their persecutors and troubled them, although after one defeat the Spaniards rallied and drove the Indians back to the mines.

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Ponce

When Ponce de Leon visited and conquered Porto Rico he heard of the elixir of life. It may not have been among the springs of that island, but the natives had a faith in it and some of them referred it to the Bahamas. Their possible reason for this was to persuade the white men to go there and look for it, for they were not popular in Porto Rico, and this was the more to be regretted in Ponce’s case, because he was far from popular at home. At the court of Ferdinand and Isabella was a page who was handsome, spirited, and saucy. One [59]of the daughters of the royal pair, wearied with the forms and ceremonies of her state, which, in the most punctilious court in Europe, were especially trying, found means to converse with this well-appearing, quick-witted scamp. A tattling courtier, recalling a faux pas of the last queen, and desiring no more scandals, reported that the princess had been seen to smile on the youngster. No guilt was proven upon him, but handsome pages were ill-chosen company for young women of blue blood.

Ponce de Leon was the page, and he was sent to the New World to discover something to the advantage of his own modesty, and incidentally to accumulate for shipment anything that might be useful to the Spanish treasury. He landed in Boriquen, as Porto Rico was then called, and began a general subjugation and slaughter of the natives. Some were slain in battle, but thousands were carried away and made to work in mines and on distant plantations, as slaves, until their health was destroyed, and they, too, were no longer an obstacle to Spanish control, though the lack of their hands was a hindrance to Spanish enterprise. Ponce took his share of the gold and treasure he had forced these unfortunates to supply, and went back to Spain with it. Sea air had spoiled his complexion, fighting had roughened his manners, slave-driving had made his voice coarse. Possibly, also, his princess had recovered from her disappointment. Maybe she had been married off to some nobody of Portugal, or France, or Austria, for state [60]reasons, and had entered on the usual loveless life of royalty. Or she may have beguiled her maidenly solitude by drinking much wine of Oporto, Madeira, and Xeres with her dinner, thereby acquiring that amplitude of girth, that ruddiness of countenance, and that polish of nose, which add so little to romance. At all events, we hear nothing more of the affair.

In the course of years Ponce took to himself the gout, rheumatism, dyspepsia, and a few such matters, and he scolded his dresser more than usual because his clothes did not fit at the waist as they had done, once. He parted his hair with a towel, and it was grizzled where it curled about his neck and temples. Then he recalled the tales the Boriqueños had told of the bright waters that gushed from the earth amid banks of flowers,—waters so sweet that who drank would drink again, and with every draught would throw off years and pain until at last he was a youth once more,—a youth with hot blood, sparkling eyes, lithe muscles; a youth who saw the world full of beauty and adventure. Ah, to be once more as he was when the princess beamed on him; to throw away his cares, his ails, his conscience, his regrets; to sing and dance, to ruffle it with other cavaliers, to dice, to drink, to feast, to win the smiles of ladies! It was a joy worth trying to attain.

He sailed once more, an older, sober man. He discovered Florida, bathed in its springs, drank from its flower-edged streams, but to no avail. Bimini, [61]the place of the living waters, evaded him. Boriquen, renamed Porto Rico, could offer no more. But, though his living presence passed, the first building on the island—the White House, near San Juan—remains, and he left his name in the town that was first among the Antillean cities to raise the flag of a republic that should wave over the continent he had helped to discover and colonize:—the city of Ponce.

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Water Caves

As in most of the Spanish American countries, so in Porto Rico, ghosts are common,—so common that in some towns the people hardly turn to look at them; and if on a wild night in the hurricane season they hear them gibbering at their doors, they patter an ave or throw a piece of harness at the disturbance, and sleep again. Ponce, for instance, has a number of these spooks, such as the man who searches for his hidden money, and the child with a snowy face that knocks on the panes, then stares fixedly in, with corpse eyes, at the windows. Best known among these supernatural citizens are two lovers who “spoon” on dark nights, and are faintly outlined on the landscape as figures of quivering, smoky blue. Their favorite haunt is their death-place, eight miles from Ponce, in a hollow among limestone hills, now environed by a coffee plantation. Here are found three basins—results of erosion, most likely—that are described as natural [62]bath-tubs. The middle and largest of these pools is partly filled with silt, probably occluding the entrance to a cavern which formerly opened into it, a fathom or so below the water-surface. This cave was the hiding-place of a native woman whose father had discovered her love for one of Ponce de Leon’s soldiers. He forbade her to have anything to do with the enemies of his country, enlarged on their rapacity, cruelty, and treachery, and tried to create in her a sense of shame that she should have chosen a Spaniard, instead of a Boriqueno chief, for a lover. There were no locksmiths in the Antilles for love to laugh at, but there were spears and knives to fear, and the young couple, who seemed to be inspired by genuine affection, met at this lonely spot to do their courting. On the least suspicion of a hostile approach, the maid could slip into the water, enter the cave, and wait for an hour or a day, until the intruder had retired. However it happened nobody could tell,—or would,—but the Spaniard was found drowned one morning in that pool. He may have been found waiting there, by the angry parent, thrown in, on general principles, and held to the bottom by his steel arms and armor; or he may have been trying to find the cave in which his charmer had secreted herself, and while so engaged may have bumped his head against the rocky wall and stunned himself, or he may have been a poor swimmer and lost his wits and his wind. At all events, drowned he was, and the dusky virgin who loved him, seeing [63]his form at the bottom of the water, sang her sorrow chant, dived in, and, holding to his body, perished wilfully at his side. Their love endures, and that is why their luminous shadows sit at the brink of the pool, with locked arms and meeting lips, to the disgust of voting women and confirmed bachelors.

This legend, with variants, is found in many parts of the world. There are two or three instances of it in the Hawaiian islands, and a tradition pertaining to Hayti is worth quoting here, as it refers to the same period and illustrates the same enmity between the white and native races. Near the city of San Domingo is, or was, a “water cave,” so named because the entrance to it was several feet below the lake whose shore it undermines. When the young half-breed, Diaz, returned from Spain to his native island of Hispaniola in 1520, his mother, Zameaca, queen of the Ozamas, had disappeared, possibly killed outright by the Spaniards, or more slowly killed by enslavement at the mines in vainly trying to satisfy the rapacity of the white race for gold. Diaz, though partly of Spanish blood, was allied in his sympathies to the Indians. Hence, they planned to make him ruler. Their conspiracy was quelled for the time being, with such brutality that those natives who escaped death hated their tyrants with a deeper hatred than ever, and fixed them the more strongly in their resolution to be avenged. The leading chiefs and warriors of the Ozamas took refuge in the water cave, spying on their enemies and going about to make converts among the islanders [64]at night. It was not long before the watchful Spaniards discovered that mischief was afoot, and there were reasons for believing that the chiefs had their hiding place not many miles from town. By following various suspects into the country, and noticing the time and way of their return, they became convinced that the leaders of the rebellion were somewhere near the lake.

A young woman, a slave in the family of the Spanish governor, was so often absent on mysterious errands that the authorities at last fixed on her as the one most likely to betray her countrymen. She was won to their purpose through her vanity. Her mistress had a comb of elaborate and curious workmanship, and to have one like it was the principal object in her existence. The governor told her that she should have this priceless treasure itself if she would tell him where the chiefs were meeting. To this act of treachery she finally agreed on condition that her lover, who was one of the chiefs, should be pardoned. That evening she carried bread and fruit to the lake, and sitting on the bank sang loudly for some minutes. The Spanish soldiers, who were watching from the shrubbery, were astonished to see a man rise like a seal from the water, swim to the shore, take the parcel from the girl’s hands, exchange a few words with her, and disappear again beneath the surface. The song was a signal for one of the men to come out and receive the food, and it was heard through a crevice in the cave roof. [65]Next day the girl sang again, and the whole company left the cave. They had no sooner gained the shore than the Spaniards sprang from the shrubbery and surrounded them. As they were led away to death, one of the chiefs levelled his finger at the girl and said, “I am going to a land of peace. You will never find the way to it.” Her lover cast her off with bitter reproaches. Then, as the murderous volley pealed across the fields, and the rebellion was ended, her heart broke. She still sits at the lakeside in the evening, weeping over her comb.

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How a Dutchman Helped the Spaniards

Had any Dutchman been charged with intending a kindness to the dons when his country was smarting under the Spanish scourge he would have offered the life of some distant relative to disprove the accusation. Without a guess that he could be injuring his own land and enriching that of his enemy, an innocent magistrate of Amsterdam did that for which he would afterward have submitted to the abuse of his friends, and if sackcloth and ashes had been in vogue he would have worn them. It all came about through his wish to be pleasant to a Frenchman, the same being Louis XIV. He sent to this monarch a curiosity in the form of a young coffee-tree, thinking, no doubt, that a warm corner could be found for it in the Jardin [66]des Plantes among the orchids and cacti, and little recking that Louis had a Spanish father-in-law. At that time Holland enjoyed, in her colonies, almost a monopoly of the coffee trade of the world, but that one little tree broke her monopoly, just as one little leak in her dikes led to the eating away of miles of earthen wall and an in-rush and devastation of the sea.

For Louis was more clever than some other kings, almost clever enough to have been in trade, or else he had smart advisers. He had slips cut from the coffee tree, and ere many moons had passed a promising dozen of young plants were ready for shipment to Martinique, the new French colony in the Antilles. A botanist was sent in charge of them, it being the purpose of Louis to turn the island into a coffee plantation and be free of obligation to Holland. The voyage was long, because of head winds and storms, and the precious plants were in peril. Long before the American shores were reached the water supply had run low, and there was much suffering; yet the loyal botanist gave up half of his daily allowance in order that his coffee-trees should live. Salt water would have killed them, and in those days ships had no distilling apparatus. Martinique was reached in safety, however, the little trees struck their roots into congenial soil, and thus the seeds, such as first yielded their aroma to a surprised and gratified Abyssinian chief more than a thousand years before, now spring from the strong earth of the Western world. [67]Whether Spaniards stole some of these trees, or bought them, or whether they got away by accident, certes, they reached Porto Rico, and so became a source of pleasure and profit to people whom the Dutchman did not have in mind when he made his little gift to King Louis. It is believed that all the coffee raised in Batavia for the Dutch also grew from a handful of seeds that had been sent from Arabia to Java. And, oh, that ever the time should have come when France had to buy coffee from her own plant in Porto Rico, and send to that same island for logwood to make claret with,—the kind she sells to New York for bohemian tables d’hote!

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The Ghost of San Geronimo

The castle of San Geronimo, San Juan de Porto Rico, was founded a century ago. It occupies a rocky point at the east end of San Juan Island, and year by year had been strengthened until, when the American ships appeared in the offing, it was thought important enough to garrison. Six guns were emplaced, two other gun mounts were found by our troops when they entered, and a hole was discovered extending from a dungeon fifteen feet toward the breastworks. This had been freshly dug, and, it is believed, was devised for the storage of explosives, that the citadel might be blown up when the boys in blue entered to take possession. That the fort was abandoned without resorting to [68]this revengeful and unmilitary act may be due to the ghost. He would naturally be in evidence at such a time, and would do what he could to thwart the schemes of his enemies. For he gave his body to the worms fifty years or more ago. In the flesh he was a revolutionist, and had been dreaming vain things about liberty for his beloved island. It is not recorded that he ever harmed any one, or that his little insurrection attained the dignity of anything more than a rumor and an official chill, but the Spaniards caught him, threw him into the dark prison of this castle, and after he had undergone hunger, thirst, and illness, they went through their usual forms of trial and condemned him to death. This among the civilized would have meant that he would be sent to the gallows or the garrote; but this victim was alleged to have accomplices, and quite likely he was suspected of having a small fund; for the first thing to do when you overthrow a government, or want to, is to pass the hat. To secure the names of his fellow-conspirators, but more especially their money, the revolutionist was therefore consigned to the torture chamber, where the rack, the thumb-screw, the hot irons, the whip, and other survivals of the Inquisition were applied. When the officers had extorted what they wanted, or had made sure there was nothing to extort, the poor, white wreck of a human being was delivered by the judges to an executioner, and a merciful death was inflicted. [69]

Shortly after this occurrence the officers of the San Geronimo garrison began to request transfers, and the social set that had been formed in and near the castle was broken up. Gradually the troops thinned away, and although the works were kept in moderate repair and occasionally enlarged, the regular force was finally withdrawn, and even the solitary keepers who were left in charge died unaccountably. This was because the ghost of the tortured one pervaded its damp rooms and breathed blights and curses on the occupants. Its appearance was always heralded by a clatter of hoofs on the stone bridge leading into the court. The on-rush of spectre horses is variously explained, some believing that the dead man is leading an assault on the fort, others wondering if it may not be a conscience-smitten governor hurrying to rescue or reprieve his victim, and arriving too late,—a theory quite generally rejected on the ground that there never was that kind of a Spanish governor.

An American officer, who took up his home in San Geronimo after the occupation, was disturbed for three successive nights by the ghost, and on learning the tradition of the place he investigated the palace and brought to light the torture chamber with its rows of hooks and rings and chains about the walls. The piercing of its roof, so that the sun came in and the ghosts and malaria went out, the removal of the grim relics of mediævalism, the cleaning and whitewashing of the apartments, have [70]probably induced the spectre to take up his quarters elsewhere, for his old haunts are hardly recognizable, and he can have no grudge against the soldiers of a republic who carried out his plans with a perfection and promptness of which he could not have dreamed.

The climate of the West Indies has ever been favorable to the preservation of spirits, and this haunted castle of San Juan has counterparts in the island, and in other islands, and the ghosts are not always victims of the Spaniards, either. The appearance of spectres in the New World was almost contemporary with Columbus. Indeed, one of the most startling of supernatural appearances occurred in the town he founded,—the town of Isabella, Hayti, the first white man’s city in America. It was created by the great navigator on his second voyage, but it remained for only a few years on the map. The dons whom he brought with him refused to work, even when the colony was starving, and reported him in Spain as a tyrant for asking them to put up their own shelters, cook their own food, and grind their own flour. They would not even work in the mines where gold could be seen in the river sands, because they had expected to pick up the metal in lumps, or force it from the natives in such quantities that each adventurer might return with a bushel. Hardship, illness, short commons, the need of occasional labor, the heart-breaks over the gold failure, the retaliations [71]of the natives for the cruelties and injustices of the invaders, led to the rapid decline of the city of Isabella. Its foundations may still be visible; at least they were a few years ago; but it is peopled only by ghosts. Some years after it had been deserted, two Spaniards, who had been hunting in that part of the island, entered its ruined streets. They had heard from the Indians of strange, booming voices that echoed among its dead houses, but had dismissed this tale as invention or fancy. The sun was low and mists were gathering. As the hunters turned a corner they were astonished to see a company of cavaliers drawn up in double rank, as if for parade, sword on hip, plumed hats aslant, big booted, leather jacketed, grim, and silent. The two men asked whence they had come. The cavaliers spoke no word, but all together lifting their hats in salute, lifted their heads off with them, then melted into air. They were the dead of the fated town. The two spectators fainted with horror, and did not recover their peace of mind in many days.

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Police Activity in Humacao

For three centuries a Spanish convict station was kept in Porto Rico. The unpleasant and undesirable found, not a welcome here, but a more congenial company than in the home land. Life was easier because one needed less food and clothes, and [72]they were furnished by the authorities, anyway. What with the convicts and discontented slaves, it is a wonder that any sort of comfort or safety existed on the island, and especially that so much of pleasant social life was to be found in the cities. Those who knew Porto Rico in those days, however, say that class distinctions were not sharply marked; that the master was kind to the slave, and the slave felt as if he were a member of his master’s family, rather than a dependent; that the two were often seen at the cockpit sitting elbow to elbow, kneeling side by side in the same church, greeting the same friends or cracking the heads of the same enemies before the church doors at Epiphany, and in the humbler homes sitting at the same table.

In those simple times the robber gangs were a great vexation. Killing was something to grow used to, and a disagreement over cards was liable to result in having one’s head snipped off by a machete; but to be robbed of one’s machete, or of one’s jug of rum, or of one’s only trousers, was a sad affliction, and soldiers and police were as active as Spanish functionaries could persuade themselves to be, in running down—or walking down—these outlaws. It is said that the detectives were especially amusing. They would go about in such obvious disguises, with misfit wigs, window-glass spectacles, and the costumes of priests or notaries, that a robber could barely keep his countenance when he met them in the street. The thief always [73]escaped, either through the incompetence of the officers, or by sharing his profits with them.

But there was one fellow who made such trouble that the police began to chafe beneath the public criticism. To impugn their honor did not hurt them much, though they ruffled a good deal under it, but to threaten them with reduction of pay or removal was a serious matter; so the chief of the San Juan constabulary bestirred himself, after a particularly daring robbery had occurred in his bailiwick, the rogue making off with six thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry. He got safely away from town and was traced to Humacao, where his footprints were found leading to the door of a small, tumble-down, deserted house, and none of these prints could be seen with toes pointing away from it. The chief dismissed his men and prepared to conduct a siege. He had a dagger, a machete, two pistols, and a gun, with a box of ammunition. Thus equipped he went to the front door, gave it a sounding whack with the flat of his machete, and bawled, “Open, in the name of the law!”

There was no response, so he struck his weapon impatiently against the panels two or three times and called on the bandit to emerge and give himself up. Again there was no reply. A bolder move was necessary. He pushed open the window, crouching down outside, that he might not become a target for the fellow, who was probably lurking in the dark interior, and after calling on him for a third [74]time to appear and go to jail, he thrust his firearms in and began to blaze in all directions over the floor.

After emptying the pistols and gun he shouted, “If you don’t come out I’ll blow you to the bad place, for I have one hundred and fifty cartridges here, and I can surely shoot you.”

All this time the robber had been lying on the floor, just below the window, very flat and very still. As the chief did not show himself to take aim, but reached up from his kneeling position and fired at random, the bold, bad man in-doors began to feel a return of confidence. He waited until a second fusillade was over, when he slipped softly through the back door, went around to the front, waited until a third volley had been fired, when he pounced on the chief from behind, and in a trice had a stout rope around him. In a few seconds more he had the astonished and indignant functionary tied securely to one of the posts of the veranda. Then, calmly taking possession of the weapons, he lifted his hat, wished the officer a very good day and a pleasant siesta, and sauntered off to some other town where the police were still less active.

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The Church in Porto Rico

If the Spanish colonies have been immoral, it must be granted that they have been religious. This fact has made them easier to govern, for the words of the priests and friars have been accepted as [75]divinely inspired at times when, as a matter of fact, they have been inspired only by the governor or the garrison colonel. The church in the colonies is nothing like the modern and American institution that we know. It is a survival from the Middle Ages. Yet it has shown shrewdness in Porto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, its prosperity proving that the Spaniard can be a thrifty mortal whether he wears a monkish cowl or a military uniform. Much money has been demanded by the church, but much of it has been honestly spent in the beautifying of altars and the dressing of the statues. Our Lady of the Remedies, in the Church of La Providencia, San Juan, for example, wears a cloak worth fifteen hundred dollars, and is emblazoned with twenty thousand dollars’ worth of jewels; but then, she is the patron of the island. The priests have been quick to see an advantage in benefits or disasters and have often impressed the natives by lessons drawn from natural phenomena. Thus, in 1867, a conspiracy for the overthrow of Spanish rule had been organized, and violence was hourly expected: but on the eve of an uprising the island was shaken by an earthquake. The priests made the most of this, assuring the natives that it was a warning from heaven never to interfere with Spaniards; so the insurrectos stealthily laid down their arms and stole away to their various substitutes for employment, leaving their Lexington unfought.

In one way this willingness to keep out of fights has [76]been a bad thing for the island, because insurrection became a matter of business with some of the natives. They used it as a mode of blackmail. These insurrectos would throw a wealthy planter into a state of alarm by pretending to hold meetings on his premises. He knew that if the authorities got wind of this it might go hard with him, for if he were suspected of being a member of a lodge of the White Saber or the Red Hand, it could mean imprisonment, perhaps death; so he paid the revolution something to move on and occur on some other man’s land. By levying thus on fear and policy a few members of an alleged junta managed to live quite comfortably without work, and it is whispered that the padres of certain villages received their share of the reluctant tributes.

Porto Rico has been the place of abode of some noted fathers of the church, including two martyrs who were canonized by Pius IX. as saints: Charles Spinola and Jerome de Angelis. They left Portugal for Goa in 1596, but having been blown far out of their course, they put in at this island to repair their ship, and there for two months they preached with success. On their return to Lisbon they were captured by English pirates, who treated them kindly, however, and set them safely down in London. They reached Portugal eventually, and ended their work in Japan, where the people killed them. These and other saints receive the prayers of the people on stated occasions, for in Porto Rico the saints have [77]not only their special days, but their special crops, and guard them from special injuries. Thus, the farmer prays to St. James, it is said, when he asks for deliverance from tobacco-worms, while he must address St. Martial if he wants to free his field from ants.

Of the holy hermits who have resided on the island, several have dwelt in the caves where Caribs or Arawaks buried their dead, but the best-known shrine is that of Hormigueros. The Church of Our Lady of Monserrate, which crowns a hill and is a conspicuous landmark, is said to have been copied from the chapel of a Benedictine monastery in Barcelona, which is famous in Spain for its statue of the Virgin, carved by St. Luke and carried to Barcelona in the year 50 by St. Peter. The Monserrate church was founded in 1640 by a poor farmer. He had been ploughing over the hill-top, though weak with fever, and before he could finish his work he fell to the ground exhausted. After he had partly recovered, and had gone back to the plough, he turned a tile up from the earth, on which was engraved a portrait of the Virgin, and no sooner had he taken this object into his hands than his pain, his fever, his lassitude disappeared. Convinced that the relic was sacred, he carried it to his priest, and on that very day he gave the land he had ploughed for a votive church. It has become the best known sanctuary in Porto Rico, for the large painting of the Virgin, copied from the smaller portrait on the tile, is just as potent [78]as the original in curing diseases. In the last half-century a hundred miracles have been performed, and the silver and golden arms, legs, ears, eyes, fingers, feet, livers, and hearts that have been given to the church, in thanks and testimony, amount in value to sixty thousand dollars; for a patient who has been cured or helped is expected to send a little model, in precious metal, of the part of him that needed mending. At intervals these offerings are melted up for the altar service and decorations, and few churches in America have such resplendent candlesticks, chalices, draperies and vestments. The altar is of silver plates, and the gold cross upon it weighs thirteen pounds. Pilgrims to Hormigueros go from all parts of the West Indies. They are lodged, free of charge, in an old house behind the church, each cripple or invalid receiving a bed and chair, but no food. The pilgrims must supply their own sustenance. On entering the church, in procession, they are sprinkled with water from the Jordan, and then kneel before the cross, where the cures are worked.

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The Mermaids

In dime museums and county fairs one may still find among the “attractions” a mermaid, dried and stuffed, consisting of the upper half of a monkey artlessly joined to the lower half or two-thirds of a codfish, the monkey’s head usually adorned with a handful of oakum or horse-hair. When this kind [79]of thing was first exhibited by the lamented P. T. Barnum, it is just possible that some bumpkin really believed it to be a mermaid, but the invention has become so common of late that it is found in the curio-shops of every town, and as an eye-catching device is often put into show-cases by some merchant who deals in anything rather than mermaids. Trite and ridiculous as this patchwork appears, it symbolizes a belief of full three thousand years. Men have always been prone to fill with imaginations what they have never sounded with their senses, and it is to this tendency we owe poetry and the arts. The sea was a mystery, and is so still. It was easy to people its twilight depths with forms of grace and beauty and power, for surely the denizens taken from it were strange enough to warrant strange beliefs.

And so the old faith in men and women who lived beneath the water was passed down from generation to generation, and from race to race, changing but little from age to age. Ulysses stopped the ears of his crew with wax that they should not hear the sirens luring them toward the rocks as his ship sailed by, and knowing the magic of their song had himself bound to the mast, so, hearing the ravishing music, he might not escape if he would. In a later day we hear of the Lorelei singing on her rock, striking chords on her golden harp, and, as the raptured fisherman steered close, with eyes filled by her beauty and ears by her music, he had a moment’s [80]consciousness of a skull leering at him and harsh laughter clattering in echoes along the shore; then his boat struck and filled, and the dark flood curtained off the sky. Wagner has made familiar the legend of the Rhine daughters, singing impossibly under the river as they swim about the reef of gold,—the treasure stolen by the gnome, Alberich, who in that act brought envy, strife, greed, and injustice into the world, and accomplished the destruction of the gods themselves. The wild tales of Britain and Brittany, of thefts and revenges by the sea-creatures, are among the oldest of their myths, and when we cross to our side of the sea, the ocean people are close in our wake and they follow us through the fresh waters and far out in the Pacific.

Among the Antilles, as in the South Seas, the tritons blow their conchs and shake their shaggy heads, while the daughters of the deep gather, at certain seasons, on the water, or about some favorite rock, and sing. Always, in Eastern versions of the myth, there is music, save in the case of Melusina, who became a half fish only on Saturdays, when her husband was supposed not to be watching, and this music follows the myth around the world. Among the vague traditions of certain Alaskan Indians is one of an immigration from Asia, under lead of “a creature resembling a man, with long, green hair and beard, whose lower part was a fish; or, rather, each leg a fish.” He charmed them so with his singing that they followed him, unconsciously, [81]and reached America. We find in Canada the tale of a dusky Undine, a soulless water sprite, who, through love of a mortal, became human. Some of the beings of the sea were of more than human power and authority,—gods, in fact; barbarian Neptunes. Such was the Pacific god, Rau Raku, who, being entangled in a fishing-net, was lugged to the surface, sputtering tremendously. Yet he had no grudge against the fisherman. That trembling unfortunate was too small for his revenge. He would devastate the whole earth to which he had been thus unceremoniously dragged, and, bidding his captor take himself away while he made trouble, he deluged the globe until all upon it had perished, except the fish, the fisherman, and a few land animals that the sole human survivor had taken to a lofty island with him.

The mermaid of story was a damsel fair to view, until she had risen from the waves so as to show her fish-like ending. It was her habit to sit on sunny beaches, comb her golden hair with a golden comb, and sing delightfully, though her wilder sisters would perch on juts of rock on lonely islands and scream in frightening ways when a gale was coming. When the sea-maidens went ashore they sometimes met sailors and fishermen, and if they liked these strangers a frank avowal of love was made; for it is always leap year in the ocean. It was a most uncomfortable position for a mortal to be placed in, especially one who had a wife waiting for him at [82]home, because if their addresses were rejected the mermaids were liable to throw stones, and always with fatal results; or they would brew mists, and set loose awful storms; yet, if the man who inspired this affection was not coy, and yielded to one of these slippery denizens, she dragged him under the sea forthwith, unless he could persuade her to compromise on a cave or a lonely rock as a home, for it is reputed that mortals have formally wedded them and raised amphibious families. On the Isle of Man they tell of one caught in a net, who was woman to the waist and fish as to the rest of her. As she sulked in captivity, refusing to eat or speak,—perhaps they forgot to offer raw fish for her supper,—it was decided to let her escape; and as she wriggled over the beach she was heard to tell her people (in Manx?), as they arose to greet her, that the earth-men did nothing wonderful except to throw away water in which they had boiled eggs!

The home of the mermaids was at the bottom of the deep. A diver, who said he had reached it, reported a region of clear water, lighted from below by great, white stones and pyramids of crystal. These haunts contained bowers of coral, gardens of bright sea weeds and mosses, tables and chairs of amber, floors of iridescent shell and pearls, gems strewn about the jasper grottoes,—diamonds, rubies, topazes,—and the sea people had combs and ornaments of gold. Columbus was disappointed in the mermaids that he saw in the Caribbean. They [83]were not, to his eyes, so handsome as the romancers had alleged, nor were their voices sweet. The doubters claim that he was asleep when the mermaids appeared, and that he saw nothing but the sea cow, or manatee, which is neither tuneful nor pretty.

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The Aborigines

In following the southern coast of Cuba, Columbus supposed he was working toward India. He died ignorant of the fact that he had discovered a new world, and he gave up the exploration of this island when almost in sight of open water at its western end. Of the first inhabitants of Cuba (called by some Macaca, and by others Caboi, “land of the dead,” for the people killed their prisoners), little is known, for they were exterminated as a distinct race, and their few relics were disregarded as worthless or destroyed as idolatrous. It is believed, however, that they had some knowledge of the arts; they worked gold into ornaments, and copper and stone into tools and weapons, and they wore helmets of feathers, like those of the Hawaiian chiefs. Near Bayamo have been found farming tools, painted pottery, and little statuettes supposed to represent gods. Their houses were hardly more than shelters, frames of bamboo or light boughs, though they were prettily environed by walks and flowers, and their clothing—sometimes of fur, oftener of leaves and coarse cloth—[84]was of the scantiest. Heavy dresses in a tropic country, or in a temperate country in tropic weather, are manifestly absurd.

As on the other Antilles, the people of Cuba were brown, broad, straight-haired, flat-faced, and decorated with slashes and tattooing. They were singularly mild, honest, and trusting. They were frightened by the Spanish ships, believing them to be great birds that had come down from the sky, bringing the white adventurers in their brave array; but when Columbus had sent a few beads and hawks’ bells to them, they expressed their confidence and delight in a hundred ways, swam and rowed about his caravel offering fish and fruit, not in trade, but as gifts, and when a crowd of hungry sailors ashore invited themselves to a feast that had been prepared for a religious ceremony the Indians made no objection, because they could prepare one like it by another night’s work. Food, indeed, was free to whoso needed it, like air and water, and no stranger needed to go hungry. While the Spaniards did little to invite their confidence, were insolent to most other people and even to one another, the Indians set an example of charity in conduct and in faith. The dons were intolerant of all religions except their own, whereas the Cubans were quick to realize that the performance of the mass was of some sacred significance, and they preserved a reverent attitude throughout a ceremony whose details they did not understand. When missionary [85]work had fairly begun it is said that some Spaniards drove Indians into the water, forcibly baptized them, then cut their throats that they might not repent their acceptance of the true faith. In their own belief there appeared to be a purgatory and a paradise, but no hell or devil; and, as beliefs reveal the character of the people who hold them, it speaks well for the Cubans that the grewsome images invoked by certain mediæval theologians had never been created in their more generous imaginations. When a soul left the body it had two journeys before it: one to a dismal place, where the cruel and unjust awaited; the other to a fair land, like the best of earth, where all was pleasant and peaceful; for, in spite of the warlike undertakings made necessary by irruptions of the fierce Caribs, these people held to peace as the highest good.

Of these Indians hardly a dozen are remembered by their names, but the chief Hatuey was revered among them for his courage and his military skill. He had fled from Hayti to Cuba in a vain hope of escaping his white enemy, and counselled the natives to throw all their gold into the sea, that the Spanish might not linger on their coasts. He might have been the one who ordered gold to be melted and poured down the throats of his prisoners, that for one and the last time they might have enough. The Spaniards caught him and burned him to death at Baracoa. As he stood on the logs in chains, just before the flames were applied, the friars pressed [86]about him and earnestly advised him to become a Christian, that he might not be required to roast in hell, which would be worse than the torture he was about to endure, and which would last forever. If only he would be baptized he could go direct to heaven. “The white man’s heaven?” he asked. “Yes.” “Are there any Spaniards in that heaven?” “Oh, yes, many.” “Then light the fire.”

Columbus was the more convinced that he had reached Asia because the name of one Cuban province, Mangon, he assumed to be Mangi, a rich district of China. That its people had tails, like monkeys, was nothing against this theory; that footprints of alligators should be the tracks of griffins, which had the bodies of lions and the wings and heads of eagles, was quite in order; but most convincing of all was the discovery by an archer, who had entered a wood in search of game, of thirty men with pale faces, armed with clubs and lances, and habited in white gowns, like friars. The man fled in fear. When his comrades returned with him to find this white company, not a human being appeared to them, and, except for the chatter of birds and the clicking of land-crabs as they scuttled over the stones, the place was still. The coast Indians were understood to say that among the mountains dwelt a chief whom they called a saint, who wore a flowing robe of white and never spoke aloud, ordering his subjects by signs. This was surely Prester John, the shadowy king of a shadowy kingdom, of [87]whom much was said and written a few centuries ago. He was declared by one author to rule a part of India and was reputed to be a Nestorian priest who had made himself king of the Naymans. Other travellers placed him in China, Persia, and Timbuctoo. In a battle with the infidel Tartars Prester John mounted a number of bronze men on horseback, each figure belching clouds of smoke from a fire of punk within, and lashed the horses against the enemy, filling them with such terror, and so veiling in smoke the dash of his flesh and blood cavalry, that his victory was easy. So, it was a great satisfaction to Columbus to think that he had reached the confines of a Christian kingdom.

While working through the thousand little islands off the southern coast of Cuba, that he called the Queen’s Gardens, Columbus found added reason for believing that this was the Asiatic shore, and he hoped shortly to reach Cipango, or Japan, where pearls and precious stones abounded, and where the king abode in a palace covered with plates of gold more than an inch thick. The attempts of the Mongols to overrun the Asian islands were defeated, because the Cipangalese were invulnerable, having placed between the skin and the flesh of their right arms a little stone that made them safe against swords, arrows, clubs, and slings. The people of Cuba fell too easy a prey to Spanish blades—of both sorts—to allow a belief like this to last long.

That Columbus thought he was approaching the [88]earthly paradise, the mountain-guarded Eden where our first parents lived, when he neared these lovely shores, inhaled the fragrance of fruits and flowers, heard the cries of birds and saw the flash of bright waters, is probable. That paradise he sought. The serpent of oppression and wrong has left it, and as America comes into her own, that paradise shall be.

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The Caribs

Had it not been for the Caribs the Antilleans would have led a placid existence. Those warlike and predacious Indians would not keep the peace, nor would they allow other people to do so. Though they had their capital in Guadaloupe, they extended their military enterprises in every direction, and Cuba, Porto Rico, Hayti, Jamaica, and the lesser islands suffered from their assaults. They were trained to fight from childhood, and attained to great proficiency in arms. Being active voyagers, they had some knowledge of astronomy. When operating in the waters of a hostile country it was their custom to mask their boats with palm leaves, for in this guise they stole upon the enemy the easier. Like the red men of our plains, they painted their faces, and, indeed, they retained many of the practices common to our tribes. In their traditions they came from the North, like other strong races, their old home being among the Alleghanies, and they conquered their way from Florida [89]to Brazil. Their tribe, they say, grew up from stones that their remote ancestors had sowed in the soil. They buried their dead in a sitting posture that they might be ready to leap up when the spirit came for them, and they faced the sunrise that they might see the day of resurrection the quicker.

In their mythology the first men came down from heaven on clouds to purify the world and make it as clean as the moon; but, while they were looking about at this untidy planet, the clouds floated back and they were left in a sorry plight, for they had brought no provisions with them. Their hunger having sharpened so as to become unbearable, they scraped up clay and baked it to make it less tough and more eatable, and were grieved when it came out of the fire as hard as stone. Then the birds and beasts had pity on them, and led them to the groves and fields where they could find fruit, nuts, maize, and yams. One tree was of such size that they chopped it with stone axes for ten months before it fell, and they ate all of it. Beneath its roots, in a cave, lived the Water Mother, who, possibly because she was angered by the destruction of the tree, released a flood that would have covered the earth had not a rock fallen into the throat of the cavern and stopped the flow. This rock had life and speech. It warned the new race that when its founders should grow old they were to expect a deluge. Until that appeared they should find in the atone their best adviser and protector, and if they [90]would pray to it, giving a deaf ear to the wood-devils, it would cure them of illness, gray hair, and age. After a time came the monkey out of the woods, beguiling and wheedling, while at every chance, with a monkey’s love of mischief, he worked at the stone, trying to dislodge it from the mouth of the cave. At last he succeeded, and out poured the flood. An old woman ran to a palm that touched the sky with its vast leaves, and climbed with feverish haste, but fright and fatigue brought her to a stop when half-way up, and she hardened to stone, thus blocking the way to all behind her, who, when they touched her, became stone likewise. Some scrambled down, splashed through the rising waters, and reached another palm tree, which they climbed to its top, and so saved their lives.

As the waters were subsiding, Amalwaka came sailing across the ocean from the east, ascended the Orinoco, carved the figures found near the head of that river, without leaving his canoe, smoothed the rugged hills and invented the tides, so that men might go from place to place on the current, but, being unable to make the Orinoco flow up stream, he sailed away again into the arch of the rising sun, guided at night by the constant star and by the tapir and Serikoai,—which is another story, told by the Arawaks, to this effect: The bride of Serikoai was seduced by the tapir god, who had first aroused her curiosity and interest by his attentions, and had finally won her love by promising to put [91]off his swinish shape and reveal himself as a finer being than her husband. If only she would follow him to the edge of the earth, where the sky comes down, she would see that he was a god. The poor husband was crippled by the wife, that he might not follow, for she chopped off his leg as he descended an avocado pear-tree, in which he had been gathering fruit for her. He nearly bled to death, but a wandering spirit revived him and called his mother, who healed the wound with gums and helped to make a wooden leg, on which he stumped over the earth in search of his runaway wife. It is known that the aborigines performed trepanning with skill, but this is probably the earliest appearance in an American legend of a wooden leg. Though he found no foot-prints, it was easy to trace the couple, because avocados were springing up from seeds that the woman spat out as she journeyed on. At the edge of the earth he caught the tapir and killed him; yet the creature’s shadow arose from the body and kept on its flight with the wife. Straightforth she leaped into the blue vast, and there she hangs, only we call her the Pleiades. The brute is the Hyades. He glares and winks with his red eye: Aldebaran. The husband is Orion, who follows the others through the sky.

The Caribs were a handsome people, and one tradition narrates the madness that afflicted a governor of Antigua, because of his jealousy of a native chief. In 1640 this dusky Paris stole the [92]English woman and her child, and carried them to Dominica. The governor pursued. Arrived where Roseau now stands, he learned that a captive woman and her child had been landed there, and had been taken to some stronghold in the forest. Drops of blood, pricked out by cactus thorns on the march, formed a trail which he was able to follow, and believing that they betokened murder, he killed all the Caribs he encountered. His wife and boy were safe, however, except for their bleeding feet, and he found them in the otherwise deserted cabin of the chief and took them back to Antigua. The affair preyed on his mind. He began to doubt his wife, thinking she had accompanied the savage willingly, and his jealousy so increased that his friends had to secrete her, to save her from his wrath. He probably recovered his senses in time.

The Spaniards chased the Caribs out of several of the islands. That of Grenada terminates on the north in a tall cliff called Le Morne des Sauteurs, over which the white men compelled the flying Indians to leap to their death. Not one Carib was left alive on this island.

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Secret Enemies in the Hills

The brutalities of the Spaniards who first occupied the West Indies would seem incredible if so many of them had not continued to our own day. It is estimated that half of the natives of [93]Porto Rico were killed, and within sixty or seventy years after the seizure of Cuba its populace of three hundred thousand had been destroyed or removed by war, murder, slavery, hunting with blood-hounds, imported vices and diseases, flight and forced emigration. These natives are said to have been a peaceful and happy race, practised in the simpler arts, observing the moralities better than their oppressors, holding a faith in one god—a god of goodness, not of hate—and in the immortality of the soul, and abstaining from useless forms and ceremonies. They held that when the soul had left the body it went into the woods and hills or abode in caves, and took its food and drink as in the flesh. When a man calls out in a solitary place among the mountains and an answering voice comes back, it is not an echo, but a wandering soul that speaks.

Even the relics of these folk—the Cubans or Siboneyes—have vanished, save in the instance of the temple remains near Cobre, and an occasional caney or mound of the dead, a truncated cone of earth and broken stones. Some fossil skeletons found in caves, and of an alleged age of fifty thousand years, denote an ancient race of large, strong people. There are other skeletons of Siboneyes, Chinese, and negroes in the caves,—victims of herding, slavery, fever, cruelty, and suicide. There is little doubt that of the aboriginal stock not a man remains. Yet there are stories of strange people who were seen by hunters and explorers among the mountains, [94]or who peered out of the jungle at the villagers and planters and were gone again, without track or sound,—people with swarthy faces, sinewy forms, long black hair, decorations of coral shells and feathers, and bracelets, armlets, and anklets of gold. Almost from the first, the conduct of the Spaniard toward his enemies and dependents was such as to earn for him a permanent hate; so, when his cruelty had been practised, and the futility of opposing arms against his heavy weapons and his coat of steel had been proved, it was natural that those who escaped him should keep as far from reach as possible, and it is idle to suppose that he traversed the seven hundred and thirty miles of Cuba’s length, whipping every forest and climbing every mountain, for no more than the pleasure of killing. Negro slavery was introduced into the New World before its existence had been known in Spain for a century, and although the black men have usually been tractable, the severities of their masters led to many revolts and to the organization of bands for retaliation. These bands often degenerated, and during this century the Spanish Antilles have been troubled by companies of beggars and outlaws, mostly blacks and half-breeds, who have robbed and murdered in the dark, run off stock from the farms, burned houses and shops, and because of their secret and cowardly methods have been feared as much as the Spaniards were hated.

The Nañigos originally formed a secret order of [95]negroes, banded for protection against unkind slave-owners and overseers, but feeling their power, and being swayed by passion and superstition, they constituted, after a time, a body correspondent to the voodoos, or wizards, of our Gulf States. With hideous incantations, with mad dances, with obscene songs, with the slaughter of animals, with oaths on an altar and crucifix, they invoked illness, ruin, and death on their enemies. In time they gained accessions to their fraternity from Spanish residents,—thieves, vagrants, deserters from the army, the half-witted and wrong-hearted outcasts from the towns,—and the fantastic ceremonies of the jungle came to mean something more to the purpose of mischief, for the newer Nañigos had more skill and courage than the slaves, and were familiar with more sins. To enter this order it was required of the candidate that he steal a cock, kill it, and drink the warm blood. A darker tale is that they were required to drink human blood. In Havana this part of the initiation was performed on the Campo Marti. The man’s right nostril was pierced, and a skull and crossbones branded on his chest. It was then expected of him that within fifteen days he would kill an official or a policeman, a white, black, or yellow marble, drawn by chance from a globe, deciding whether he was to slay a white man, negro, or mulatto. When he had, by this crime, attained to full membership, a little shield was given to him which he might wear beneath his coat, and which was [96]decorated with the device of a skull and bones. For every murder he committed a red stitch was put in at the edge of the skull. Once a month, in the dark of the moon, the Nañigos paraded the streets of the towns, their naked forms painted fantastically, their faces ghastly with flour, tramping and leaping to the thud of drums and clash of cymbals, yelling defiance to the military, brandishing knives and firing pistols. It was a kind of thing that in an American city could have happened for one consecutive time, but no more. In Havana the Spaniards were terrorized. The police refused to make arrests, lest they should fall victims to the outlaws. One judge who refused to liberate an assassin was slain in his own house by his servant.

As a partial revenge on the Cubans for wishing liberty the Spanish captains-general have at times pardoned some hundreds of these rascals and set them free to prey on the people; while, in retaliation, the insurgents adopted some of the methods of the Nañigos and carried on a guerilla warfare that neither troops nor trochas could abate. Many are these more or less bold spirits of the hills who are celebrated in inland stories: aborigines, Frenchmen, Creoles, mulattoes, who have gathered bands of reckless fellows about them from time to time and raided the Spaniard, flouting him in his strongholds, pillaging from his farms, striking him, hip and thigh, and making off to the woods before he knew how or by whom he had been struck. Sometimes even [97]the name of the guerilla has been forgotten, but the tradition remains of a predecessor of Lopez, Gomez, and Garcia, who aided the English before Havana in 1762. In that year Lord Albemarle took the town with two hundred ships and fourteen thousand soldiers, beating a Spanish army of almost double that size, though it was covered by heavy walls and well provided with artillery. It took two months to reduce the city.

During one of the land operations the red-coats lost themselves in a dense wood, and were in considerable peril from bodies of Spaniards who were almost within speaking distance. To advance or to retreat was an equal risk. As the column was halted, pending a debate and a reconnoissance, there was a rustle in a clump of bushes beside which the colonel was standing; then, as every sword was drawn and a row of muskets held ready, a tall man bounded into the space, laid his finger on his lip to enforce silence, and, beckoning all to follow, crept on stealthily through the chaparral. He was a man advanced in years, a long white beard flowed over his chest, yet he was lithe and quick, and his look and manner were those of one who lives in the open and in frequent danger. He spoke not a word, but after a time drew himself erect and pointed before him. He had led the English to the rear of one of the Spanish batteries. The colonel, who had at first regarded him with doubt, as a lunatic or a false guide, ordered his men to attack, and after a [98]short fight he returned to his lines with prisoners and trophies of victory. He sought in all directions for the old man, to thank him, but the jungle had swallowed him, and he was never seen again.

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Sacred Shrines

Cuba has many shrines containing evidences of divine blessing, and some of these are of wide renown. When the image of our Lady of Charity was found in Nipe Bay it was delivered to the priests of Cobre, the centre of the copper-mining industry, and they erected a church above it. The statue is fifteen inches high, and is seemingly carved from gold. A splendid shrine has been made as a setting, and for years it has been the object of pilgrimages during the Lady’s festival in September. Those who ask for special favors, such as the cure of lameness and blindness, ascend the long flight of steps before the statue on their knees. The figure was found in 1627 by two Indians and a Creole boy who were crossing the bay at dawn in a search for salt. It appeared to them as a white body rising from the water, but as they approached it revealed itself as the image of the Virgin, the holy child on her left arm, a golden cross in her right hand. The board on which it stood was inscribed, “I am the Virgin of Charity.” After it had been shown in the fold at Verajagua and venerated by the multitude it was placed in a chapel, a number of priests leading [99]the march with a pomp and joy of banners, while bells and guns signalized its progress. The Virgin was dissatisfied, however, with the lack of splendor in her shrine and with the site on which the chapel had been placed. She told her displeasure to a girl named Apolonia, while she burned pale lights on a hill above the mines, to mark the place on which she wished her church to be erected. Her request was heeded so soon as the needed funds could be collected. It was generally believed that the statue was given by Ojeda to a native chief who, afraid of the enmity of his people as a result of accepting a gift from a treacherous and hated race, or, more reasonably, afraid that the Spaniards would kill him for the sake of the gold that adorned it, set it afloat in the bay. A thief despoiled it of thirty thousand dollars’ worth of jewels after the American occupation.

This ambulatory practice of sacred images is not uncommon, and a similar instance is recorded in Costa Rica, where in 1643 the state had been thrown into a panic by the devil, who lives in the volcano of Turrialba, when he is at home, and who generally was at home in those days, for he seized upon every wayfarer who ventured on the peak. General joy was therefore felt at the discovery of a Madonna by a peasant woman at Cartago. She carried it to her hut, but it was dissatisfied and ran away—twice—three times. The village priest then took it and put it under lock and key in his [100]house. Again it ran away. It was carried to church in procession, and it ran away again. Then the priest laid a heavy assessment on his flock for silk and gold and emeralds with which to deck the image, and this concession having been made to a feminine fondness for appearance, the statue has remained patiently on its pedestal ever since. One of the treasures of the Church of Mercy, Havana, is a painting of the cross, with a woman seated on one arm of it, holding a child. Spanish soldiers and proud-looking Indians are gathered about the emblem. The origin of the picture is involved in doubt, but it was installed in recognition of an appearance vouchsafed by the Virgin to Columbus at Cerro de la Vega, in presence of the Indians. The natives, alarmed at this vision in the air, and associating it—justly, as it fell out—with calamity, discharged their arrows at it, and were still more frightened when their darts passed through the apparition without causing a flow of blood. This onslaught put the Spaniards into an instant rage, and, encouraged by the Virgin’s smiles, they fell upon the heathen with sword and musketoon and stamped them out of existence.

Some of these supernatural appearances had so occult a purpose that it has never been fathomed. At Daiquiri, for example, where the American troops landed in the late war, a native reported to the wondering community that while walking through the wood he met a tall, shaggy stranger, [101]who looked as though he might have been one of the fisherman disciples, and who pointed to the earth with an imperious gesture. So soon as the Cuban had looked down the tall man melted into air. On the ground was the print of the face of Christ. A stone was placed on the spot to mark the miracle.

When the fiery Ojeda set out on his several voyages of discovery and adventure,—and no man ever had more excitement and tribulation,—he carried in his knapsack a small painting of the Virgin, the work of a Fleming of some artistic consequence. During his halts in the jungle it was his custom to affix this picture to a tree, say his prayers before it, receive spiritual assurance of protection, then, grasping sword and buckler, to undertake the slaughter of the natives with fresh alacrity and cheer. So confident was he in his heavenly guard that he exposed himself recklessly in fight, and the Indians were fain to believe him deathless, until one of their arrows pierced his leg. If this injured his confidence it did not stint his courage. He ordered his surgeon to burn the leg with hot irons, threatening to hang him if he refused, for he fancied that the arrow was poisoned. When wrecked on the south coast of Cuba with seventy varlets, who had no concern for exploration and much for booty, he struck out bravely for the east end of the island, floundering through marshes and breaking his way through tangles of vegetation, the company living [102]for several days on a few pounds of raw roots, moldy cassava, and cheese, and at last breaking down in despair. In thirty days they had crossed ninety miles of morass, and were too feeble to go farther. Ojeda set up his picture for the last time and besought the thirty-five cut-throats who survived to pray to it also, assuring the Virgin that if she would only guide them through their peril this time he would make a chapel for her in the first village he might reach.

In answer to this prayer a path was disclosed that led them to dry ground, and they soon arrived at the hamlet of Cuebas, where the natives received them with every kindness, and went to the marsh to rescue such of the party as had been abandoned but were still alive. These rascals afterward reached Jamaica, where some were hanged for their various murders and sea-robberies, while others re-enlisted in various freebooting enterprises. Ojeda kept his promise. He explained to the chief at Cuebas the principal points in the Christian faith, built a little oratory in the village, and placed the picture above the altar, with orders that the Indians should always treat it with reverence. Though they did not comprehend the relation of the painting to the white man’s religion, they saw from the demeanor of Ojeda and his friends that it was a thing of value and might avert hoodos. Therefore it was attired and cared for with as much assiduity as if it had been consigned to a Spanish cathedral, and although the [103]Indians had not been Christianized, they decorated the oratory, overhung its walls with sacrifices, while at stated intervals they sang and danced before it. When Father Las Casas tried to get this picture away from them, afterward, it was hidden in the forest until he had passed on. Ojeda reformed, killed several of his associates who had attempted his life, turned monk, and was buried under the door-stone of his monastery, that the populace might trample on his pride.

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Tobacco

Tobacco suggests Cuba, or Cuba more than suggests tobacco. Havana cigars are the synonym for excellence, and it was on this island that the native American was first seen with a cigar in his mouth. It was not much like the cigars of our day, for it consisted of loose leaves folded in a corn-husk, as a cigarette is wrapped in paper. It amazed the Spaniards as much to see these dusky citizens eating fire and breathing smoke as it astonished the Filipinos when the Spaniards, having learned the trick, and having landed on their islands, proceeded to swallow flame and utter smoke in the same fashion,—a proceeding which convinced the people of the Philippines that the strangers were gods. The white adventurers never found the palace of Cubanacan, whose gates were gold and whose robes were stiff with gems, but they found [104]the soothing and mischievous plant that was eventually to create more wealth for them than the spoil of half a dozen such palaces. The Cuban word for this plant was cohiba. The word tobago, which we have turned into tobacco, was applied to a curious pipe used by the Antilleans, which had a double or Y-shaped stem for inserting into the nostrils, the single stem being held over a heap of burning leaf. The island of Tobago was so named because its explorers thought its outline to resemble that of the pipe.

In one form or another the use of the weed was prevalent throughout the Americas. Montezuma had his pipe after dinner, and rinsed his mouth with perfume. For medicinal purposes snuff was taken through a tube of bamboo, and tobacco leaves were chewed. The practice of chewing also obtained to a slight extent among the natives as a stay against hunger, and they are said to have indulged it in long and exhaustive marches against an enemy. They would chew in battle, because in a fight at close range they tried to squirt the juice into the eyes of their foemen and blind them. The herb was taken internally as a tea for medicinal reasons, was used as a plaster, and was valued as a charm. Francisco Fernandez took it to Europe; Drake and Raleigh introduced it in England, and though its use was regarded as a sin, to be checked not merely by royal “counterblasts” and by edicts like that of William the Testy, but by laws prescribing torture, [105]exile, whipping, and even death, it was not long in reaching the uttermost parts of the earth.

Men of all races and conditions incline to the tradition of the Susquehannas, that the plant was the gift of a benevolent spirit. In their account this manitou had descended to eat meat, which they had offered to her in a time of famine. As she was about to go back to the skies she thanked them for their kindness, and bade them return to the spot in thirteen months. They did so, and found maize growing where her right hand had rested, beans at her left, and tobacco where she had been seated.

The Indians of Guiana say that tobacco was given by a sea-goddess to a man who was begging the gods to do something for him,—he didn’t know exactly what; he would merely like to have somebody do something for him on general principles. As a divine gift, therefore, it was used in certain of the rites of the Indians, and the man who wished to go into a trance and see visions would starve for a couple of days, then drink tobacco water. He generally saw the visions,—if he lived. In some islands the priests inhaled the smoke of a burning powder and thereupon fell into a stupor or a frenzy in which they talked with the dead. Was this the smoke of tobacco, plus a little abandon, a little falsehood, a little enthusiasm? Its enemies in King James’s time would have said that the smokers deserved not merely to talk with the dead, but to join them. [106]

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The Two Skeletons of Columbus

Following the return of the vanquished army of Spain to its home country was another solemn voyage, undertaken for the transfer of the bones of Christopher Columbus from the world he had discovered to the land that grudgingly, cautiously permitted him to discover it. Spain claimed all the benefits that arose from his knowledge, his bravery, his skill, his energy, and his enthusiasm, and rewarded his years of service with dismissal from office and confinement in chains as a prisoner, but now it repented, and wished to house his unwitting relics in state. Once before these bones had crossed the sea. After the death of the great navigator, in Valladolid, Spain, in 1506, his body remained in that city for seven years. Then it was taken to Seville and placed in Las Cuevas monastery with that of his son, Diego. In 1536 both bodies were exhumed and sent to Santo Domingo, or Hispaniola, an island that Columbus appeared to hold in a warmer liking than either of the equally picturesque, fertile, and friendly islands of Cuba, Porto Rico, or Jamaica. In the quaint old cathedral of Santo Domingo, built in 1514, the bodies of the great admiral, his son, and also his grandson, Louis, first Duke of Veragua, rested for more than a century without disturbance.

On the appearance of the English fleet, however, in 1655, the archbishop was so fearful of a raid on [107]the church and the theft of the bodies that he ordered them to be hidden in the earth. During the years in which they remained so covered the exact burial-place of the admiral may have been forgotten, or, it may be, as several people allege, that the San Dominicans tricked the Spaniards when, in 1795, the latter gave their island to France and carried with them to Havana the supposed skeleton of Columbus. Bones of somebody they certainly did take, but it is no uncommon belief in the Antilles that the monks of Santo Domingo had hidden the precious ones and sent to the monks of Havana the bones of the son, Diego, albeit a monument was erected to the memory and virtues of the great Columbus in Havana cathedral.

In 1878 the old church in Santo Domingo was undergoing repair when the workmen came upon a leaden box containing the undoubted remains of the first Duke of Veragua. Breaking through the wall of the vault they found themselves in a larger one, and here was a box two feet long, enclosing a skull, bones, dust, jewelry, and a silver plate bearing the words “C. Colon,” and on the end of the box, according to some witnesses, the letters “C. C. A.,” meaning Christopher Columbus, Admiral (the English initials being the same as for the name and title in Spanish). A more circumstantial account places the time of this rediscovery in 1867, and says that a musket-ball was the only object found in the little coffin, while the silver plate on the lid was [108]thus inscribed, “Una pt. de los restos del Primar Alm. to Du Christobal Colon.” The Santo Dominicans claim their right to the relics on the ground that in his life the Spanish misused the discoverer, though his grief was not deep enough to justify the ancient rumor of his electing to be buried with the chains in which he was carried back to Spain. Meantime Seville is to build a monument, and Santo Domingo is putting up another, each city claiming to have his only real skeleton.

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Obeah Witches

From the earliest days of Spanish occupancy the Antilles have been the haunt of strange creatures. Mermen have sung in their waters, witches and wizards have perplexed their villages, spirits and fiends have dwelt among their woods. Everybody fears the jumbie, or evil spirit that walks the night; and the duppy, the rolling calf, the ghost of the murdered one; all pray that they may never meet the diablesse, the beautiful negress with glittering eyes, who passes silently through fields where people are at work, and smiling on any one of them compels him to follow her,—where? He never returns. Anansi (grotesquely disguised sometimes as Aunt Nancy) is a hairy old man with claws, who outwits the lesser creatures, as Br’er Rabbit does. To him and his familiars are attributed all manner [109]of queer tales, one of which, from Jamaica, may be quoted as an illustration:

Sarah Winyan, an orphan of ten, lived with her aunt, while her two brothers kept house by themselves a mile or two away. This aunt was an Obeah witch, the duppy, or devil ghost, that was her familiar, appearing as a great black dog that she called Tiger. Sarah stood between this old woman and a little property, and after finding that the child endured her abuse with more or less equanimity and was not likely to die, she told her that she was too poor to support her any longer, and she must go. Sarah sat on a stone before the house, wondering how she could make a living, and all the time sang mournfully. A racket as of some heavy creature plunging about in the bushes aroused her with a start and she scrambled into a tree. It was Tiger who had been making the disturbance. He told her to descend at once. If she would go with him peacefully, and would be his servant, all would be well, but if she refused he would gnaw the tree down and tear her into a thousand pieces. He showed his double row of teeth, like daggers, whereupon Sarah immediately descended. As she walked beside him to his lair she sang low, in the hope of being heard and rescued. It was well that she did so, for her brothers, who were hunting in the wood, recognized her voice and softly followed. Peering in at the cave where Tiger made his home, they saw him sleeping soundly with his head in Sarah’s lap. Cautiously, [110]slowly, she drew away, leaving a block of wood for his head to rest upon, and crept out of the cavern. Then the boys entered, and with their guns blew the head of the beast into bits, cut his body into four parts, buried them at the north, south, east and west edges of the wood; then killed the wicked aunt. And since that day dogs have been subject to men.

The evil eye is not uncommon in the Antilles. It blights the lives of children, and it is one of the worst of fates to be “overlooked” by an Obeah man possessing it. Higes, or witches, too, are seen, who take off their skins, and in that state of extra-nudity go about looking for children, whose blood they suck, like vampires. Lockjaw is caused by this loss of blood. There is a three-footed horse, also, that gallops about the country roads when it has come freshly out of hell and is looking for victims it can eat. If it halts before a house, that stop means death to somebody within, and the peculiar sound made by its three hoofs tells what has passed. It is not well to look, because the creature has an eye in the centre of its forehead that flashes fire. One who meets it is so fascinated by this blazing eye that he cannot look away. He stares and stares; presently paralysis creeps over him, and in a little while he falls dead. Sometimes a creature is seen riding on this horse,—a man with a blue face, like that of a corpse, and with that face turned toward the tail. Related, in tradition, to the horse was the [111]king-snake of Carib myth, a frightful creature that wore a brilliant stone in its head, which it usually concealed with a lid, like that of the eye, but which it would uncover when it went to a river to drink, or played about the hills. Whoever looked on this dazzling stone would lose his sight on the instant.

The Obeah man has an hereditary power that comes to him in advanced age, and that, when at its strongest, enables him to send an evil spirit into any object he pleases. Not only do the people believe in him, but he has the fullest faith in himself. When he boils a witch broth of scorpions’ blood, toads’ heads, snake bellies, spider poison, and certain herbs picked by moonlight (an actual mixture used by Obeah witches),—boils it over a fire of dead men’s bones, between midnight and dawn,—he has no more doubt of its power to harm than the physician doubts the power of his quinine and antipyrin for good.

A Cuban planter who suspected one of his older slaves of being an Obeah man determined to punish him if he were found guilty, and to suppress the diabolism attending the midnight meetings. Watching his chance, he followed his slaves into the wood, peeped through the crevices of the deserted hut which they had entered to perform their fantastic rites, saw their mad dance, when, stripped and decorated with beads, shells, and feathers, they leaped about with torches in their hands; then saw his suspected slave enter through a back door, his black [112]skin painted to represent a skeleton. The old man held up a fat toad, which, he said, was his familiar, and the company began to worship it with grotesque and obscene ceremonies. Though he felt a thrill of disgust and even a dim sense of fear at the spectacle, the planter broke in at the door and confronted the Obeah man. Had he ordered the old fellow to do any given task about his house or grounds in the daytime, that order would have been obeyed. What was the planter’s astonishment, therefore, when the slave calmly disregarded his command to return to quarters, and bade his master leave the place at once and cease to disturb the meeting, or prepare for a great misfortune. Enraged, and fearing lest this defiance might encourage the other slaves to mutiny, the master shot the old man dead. A few days later the planter’s wife died while seated at the table. A week after his daughter died, a seeming victim of poison. All the latent superstition in his nature having been aroused, he sought out another Obeah man, to beg that he would intercede with the powers of darkness, but the wizard was stern. He told him that the slave he had killed was the most powerful master of spirits in the country, and that nothing could stay the revenges of fate. When the planter reached his home he found a letter there announcing the death of his only son in Paris. [113]

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The Matanzas Obeah Woman

On a hillock near Matanzas, with a ragged wood behind it, stood for many years an unkempt cottage. In our land we should hardly dignify it by such a name. We would call it, rather, a hovel. Some rotting timbers of it may still be left, for the black people who live thereabout keep away, especially at night, believing that the hillock is a resort of spirits. Yet not many of them remember the incident that put this unpleasant fame upon it, for—that was back in the slavery days. The brutal O’Donnell was governor-general then. He found Cuba in its usual state of sullen tranquillity, and no chance seemed to offer by which he could make a name for himself, so he magnified every village wrangle into an insurrection. It looked well in his reports when he set forth the skill and ease with which he had suppressed the uprisings, and, as he did not scruple to take life in punishment for slight offences, nor to retaliate on a community for the misconduct of a single member of it, he almost created the revolution that he described to his home government. The merest murmur, the merest shadow was enough to take him to the scene of an alleged outbreak, and he would cause slaves to be whipped until they were ready to confess anything.

A black boy in Matanzas, arrested on suspicion of inciting to rebellion, was condemned to seven hundred blows with the lash. At the end of the [114]flogging, being still alive, he was shot, at O’Donnell’s order. He would confess nothing, because he had nothing to confess. This boy had been brought up in a well-to-do Spanish family, and was the play-mate, the friend, of the son of that family, rather than his slave. The white boy begged for the life of his associate, the family implored mercy, and asked for at least a trial, but the governor-general would not listen to them, and after the shooting the white boy became insane with shock and grief. Thus much of the legend is declared to be fact.

It was the mother of the black boy who lived in this cabin outside of the town. She had also been a slave until the Spanish family, giving up its plantation, moved into the city, sold the younger and stronger of their human properties, and set free the elderly and rheumatic, taking with them only a couple of servants and the boy, who went with his mother’s consent, for she knew he would be cared for, and she could see him often, the relation between slave and owner, being more commonly affectionate than otherwise. At its best, slavery is morally benumbing to the enslaved, destructive of the finer feelings, and when the old woman learned of her son’s death,—and such a death—she did not go mad, as his playfellow had done. She lamented loudly, she said many prayers, she accepted condolences with seeming gratitude, but the tears had ceased to flow ere many weeks, and she was seen to smile when her old mistress, whose [115]affliction was indeed the heavier, had called on her in her cabin, no doubt feeling as much in need of her servant’s sympathy as the servant felt of the creature comforts she took to her.

Yet deep in Maumee Niña’s nature a change had taken place. She did not know it herself for many months. Her loss had not affected her conduct or appearance greatly, yet her heart had hardened under it and she began to look upon the world with a different eye. She cared less for her friends, and went to church less often,—a suspicious circumstance, for when a negro failed to go to mass, and kept away from confession, it was surely because he had something mischievous to confess. The rumor got about that Maumee Niña had become an Obeah woman,—a voodoo worker, a witch. It is not unlikely that the accusation inspired her to live down to it. Not only were witches held in respect and fear, but she might be able, through evil arts, to plague the race that had worked her husband to death in the mines, and now had killed her only son. She kept still more at home, brooding, planning, yielding farther and farther to the evil suggestions that her repute as a voodoo priestess offered to her, yet keeping one place in her heart even warmer than before,—the place filled by her daughter, Juanita.

This girl of fifteen or sixteen was not black, like her mother. She was a handsome mulatto. In a country where relations are so easily established without marriage, and where marriage is so difficult [116]and has so little force, the fatherhood of many children is in doubt. If Juanita knew her father’s name she was not known to him. It mattered little. The old woman intended to bring her up as a lady,—that is, to qualify her for a place as waiting-maid in the house of some good family; so she made many sacrifices on her account, clothing her vividly, requiring less work of her than she should have done, and even, it was said, paying money to have reading taught to her, and that was an accomplishment, indeed.

Considering the pains and self-denials that the rearing of this child incurred, it was a trifle inconsistent that Maumee Niña should have opposed the friendly advances of gallants from the town. She was not of a class that is wont to consider the etiquette of such attentions, nor would she have refused to give her daughter in marriage to any Cuban. It was that her feeling toward the Spaniards was deepening into hate, and it rejoiced her to learn that a revolution was really intended. By her native shrewdness she was able to do something for her people’s cause. Whenever a young negro went to her to have his fortune told,—and from this art she began to realize a steady income,—she managed to hint at his future greatness as a military leader, his gains in the loot of Spanish camps, his prowess in bush-fighting when hostilities should really have begun.

In this way she really incited a number of the [117]ambitious, the quarrelsome, and the greedy to enlist in the schemes for Cuba’s liberation. Nañigo meetings were held in and near her house; there were wild dances and uncanny ceremonies, sacrificing of animals in the moonlight, baptisms of blood, weird chants and responses, and crime increased in the town. All this being reported to the military the guard lines were extended and a squadron was posted at a house not over a mile from Maumee Niña’s, with Lieutenant Fernandez in command. Fernandez was a dashing fellow, with swarthy countenance, moustachios that bristled upward, close-trimmed hair and beard, a laughing, pleasure-loving eye, and he wore a trig uniform that set off his compact shape to advantage. Old Niña heard, though it was not true, probably, that he had carried out the order of O’Donnell for the shooting of her boy. Naturally he was the last man she could wish to see, and she made no secret of her dislike when, on returning to her home from a visit to Matanzas, she found this young officer seated on a chair before her door, twirling his moustache and gayly chatting with her daughter. She instantly ordered the girl to go indoors, and bade the lieutenant pack off about his business. Being an easy-going fellow, with no dislike for the people among whom the fortunes of his calling had cast him, and with a strong fondness for pretty maids, the young man deprecated the anger of the woman, but finding, after some persiflage, that it was of small use to try [118]to make friends with her, he marched away toward his quarters, trolling a lively air and drumming with his fingers on his sword-hilt. On the next evening he was at Maumee Niña’s again, and before the very nose of that indignant dame chaffed her daughter, whom he also chucked under the chin; and he gazed long and searchingly at a couple of low-browed, shifty-looking blacks who were talking with the old woman when he entered.

“Who are these fellows?” he demanded.

“What right have you, señor lieutenant, to question me about my guests, in my own house?” replied Niña. “It is enough that they were invited, and you were not.”

The lieutenant glanced sharply at Juanita. She looked at the shabby fellows for an instant, smiled contemptuously, and gave her head a saucy fling. The officer’s good-nature was restored in a moment. “Give me a calabash of water from that spring of yours, your grace, and I’ll take myself off,” said he. “But, mind, there are to be no more dances here,—no more voodoo practice.”

Old Niña left the room grumbling to herself, while Fernandez talked with Juanita, quite disregarding the sour and silent pair of black men. As he glanced through a crack in the timbers of the house he saw the old woman raise a gourd of water, wave her hand above it three times, mutter, and shake her head. Then she drew from her pocket a tiny object and dropped it in the water, stirring it [119]around and around, as if to dissolve it. There was a quiet smile on the lieutenant’s face as he received the calabash from the old woman’s hand.

“In the old days, señora,” he said, “it was the way to sweeten the drink of a cavalier by getting the fairest lady of the house to sip from it before he drank. Señora Juanita, you will take a little from this shell, and I will then drink to your eyes.”

Juanita had taken the calabash and had lifted it to her mouth, when Niña sprang forward and struck it to the floor. The lieutenant looked steadily into the face of the old woman. Her eyes, at first expressing fear, then anger, dropped under his gaze. “I thought so,” he said, calmly, and left the house without a backward look or another word.

Late that night a subaltern, who had called on Fernandez to carry a report to headquarters, set off alone in the direction of the city. When half a mile on his way a man suddenly confronted him and asked him for a light. He promptly offered his cigar. Puffing fiercely the stranger created a glow, and in the shadow behind it he eagerly scanned the face of the soldier. He then returned the stump, saying, “Pass on, sir. You are not he I seek. Your cigar has saved your life.” There was a click, as of a knife thrust into its sheath, and the stranger was gone.

Fernandez heard of this and drew an inference, but it did not deter him from another visit to the Obeah woman’s house next evening. The old [120]woman was away. Juanita was there alone. Truly, the girl was fair, her eye was merry, she had white teeth and a tempting lip; moreover, she appeared by no means indifferent to the young officer. In ten minutes they were talking pleasantly, confidently, and Fernandez held the maiden’s hand.

The hours went by without any one there to take account of them. It was a fair and quiet night, except for the queer and persistent call of some insects that seemed always to be drawing nearer to the house. Faint now came the sound of the clock in Matanzas striking twelve. As if it were a signal to the dead, shadows appeared about the house of the Obeah woman, creeping, nodding, motioning, moving toward the door. One stood close beside it and struck it twice, loudly, with a metal implement that rang sharply; then it waited. Steps were heard inside,—the steps of a man in military boots: Fernandez. There was a swish of steel, too, like a sword whipped out of its scabbard, but almost at the instant when this was heard the door was opened. A blow, a faint cry, a fall, a hurry of steps in the grass; then a light. Fernandez held it. A long, agonized scream quavered through the darkness, and Maumee Niña, with blood on her hands, fell prone on the body of her daughter, her Juanita, lying there on the earth with a knife in her heart. [121]

[Contents]

How Havana Got its Market

Among the Spanish governors of Cuba, some of whom managed by strict economy to save a million dollars out of a salary of forty thousand dollars,—men of Weyler’s stamp,—it is pleasant to know of one or two who really had the good of the island at heart. Such was the honest Blanco, and such was Tacon, to whom Havana owes much of its beauty and architectural character. He did what he could to abolish brigandage, which under preceding administrations had become common. He organized a force of night watchmen; he dealt with offenders according to their deserts, and if at times he was too severe it was because he believed that a lesson in the impartiality of justice was needed by certain favored classes. He had a Latin’s love of the sensational and spectacular, though in conduct, rather than in appearance, and in these days some of his acts would be set down to a love of self-advertising. As they had their effect, those who profited by increased safety could afford to be incurious of reasons. He startled the populace on the very day he landed. Cuba had been overrun with bandits, some masquerading as insurgents, while others prowled through the towns cutting throats in the shadow of the church. Cries of “Stop thief!” and “Murder!” were common at midday. More than one hundred people had been stabbed to death before the Chapel of Our Lord of the Good Death. [122]Police and soldiery were terrorized, and no man cheerfully went through the side streets after dark. Startling depravity was instanced. Jose Ibarra, a mulatto, had killed seventeen people before he was hanged at the age of seventeen. It was supposed that Tacon would arrive with a flourish of trumpets and would try to impress the public. The Spanish army was represented at the landing-place by generals and colonels bedizened with bullion and buttons; there were troops with silken flags and glittering sabres and bayonets; there was a copious exhibit of bunting; society was there in carriages, with liveried footmen and outriders; foreign diplomats were in uniform, as if to meet royalty, and the clergy had a place of honor. The boat touched the pier. A small man in civilian dress walked smartly to the land. He had a riding-whip in his hand,—symbol of his rule: for this was Tacon, and within a month he was to whip crime into its dens and make the capital of Cuba safe. His first order carried consternation to the advocates of fuss and feathers. It was to dismiss the parade, remove the decorations, send the police to their posts, and declare Havana in a state of siege. This was startling, but it gratified and assured those who had long begged for an honest and watchful government, and had continued not to get it. Crime recognized and feared this master. “In a little while,” says a Cuban, “you could have gone about the streets at any hour of the night with diamonds in your open [123]hands and nobody would have touched you, not even the Spanish Robert Macaire or Robin Hood, who is remembered bitterly in Andalusia,—Diego Corrientes.” Merchants going to and from the bank with money had formerly been compelled to hire soldiers as guards, and when they complained of violence the magistrates had said, “Go to bed at seven, as we do, and you’ll have no trouble.” Thieves bought their liberty from jailers. Tacon arrested the jailers in that case.

It does not take long to erect a reputation when it has a basis of desert. An odd modern instance is told in the case of an American newspaper reporter, John C. Klein, who, after ten years of absence, was canonized by the Samoans, among whom he had lived for some years, as a hero in battle, a slayer of Germans, and a wizard who closed his own wounds by magic. The gods approved him, and the people in their trouble prayed for the return of Talaini o le Meleke (Klein, the American) to rescue them. And with Tacon it took hardly longer to become a sort of national hero. The qualities he showed in reforming, building, extending, and protecting Havana were so unusual that the people willingly credited others to him he may not have possessed. He has become legendary already.

Tacon, after gathering in two thousand of the riff-raff and putting them at work on roads, piers, and prisons, applied himself with special energy to the suppression of Marti, the most daring, yet the [124]slyest and most cautious of all the robbers in the country. He and his band thought no more of splitting the weasand of a soldier than tossing off a glass of brandy, and the people were more than half his friends, because he joined smuggling to his other industries, and was therefore able to provide them with many necessities, such as wine and bandanas, at a price much lower than they commanded in the shops. Yet the secret agents, the constabulary, and the troops began to make it perilous for these law-breakers, and General Tacon was hopeful of their speedy capture. On a certain morning he looked up abstractedly from some letters he was writing on the case of Marti and was astonished to see a burly but well-dressed stranger standing before his desk. “How in the devil did you get in here, sir, unannounced?” he asked, in some irritation.

“I come on secret business,” replied the other, in a lower tone.

“Ha! About ——”

“Exactly. About Marti.”

“Speak, then. You will not be overheard. What do you know?”

“First, your Excellency, let us understand the situation. There is a large reward for this man, is there not?”

“There is. Capture him and the money is yours. Ah, I see! You wish to turn state’s evidence. So much the better. You shall be protected.”

“But suppose I had been associated with the [125]worst of these men? Suppose I had committed crimes? Suppose I had been a leader?”

“Even in that case you shall be protected.”

“Give me your word, as an officer and a gentleman, that, no matter what my offences have been, I shall have an official pardon when I put you on the track of the outlaws.”

“You must earn the pardon. If you know the haunts of the smugglers we shall expect you to pilot us to every one of them.”

“I will do it. I am tired of an evil life, tired of hiding, tired of fear, tired of hate. I wish to come back and live among men.”

“Well spoken. And Marti?”

“I shall be pardoned, absolutely, when I bring him here?”

“Absolutely. When may we expect him?”

“Now.”

“Where?”

“Here.”

“What! To-day? This Marti ——”

“You are looking at him.”

Tacon started, and his glance fell on a couple of pistols that lay on the desk before him. He always kept them there, primed and loaded. Marti smiled, drew from beneath his coat two larger ones, handsomely mounted with silver, and placed them on the desk. “I am through with them,” said he.

Tacon looked at him almost with admiration. “You begin well,” he admitted, “and you shall [126]have your pardon. But until you have fulfilled your promise and helped us to break up these bands of smugglers and—ah——”

“Oh, speak out: Thieves! That is right.”

“Well, thieves,—we must keep you under guard.”

“I am satisfied; only, let us get to work as soon as possible, and have the business over.”

“We will start to-morrow.”

Marti was placed in a large room in a hotel under watch of the constabulary, but free to order any comfort or luxury he could pay for. On the very next morning he set out with a posse of soldiers and visited all the resorts of his former associates in the vicinity. The fellows had evidently suspected something, for they had made off. Their haunts being thus disclosed, however, much of their plunder was afterward recovered, and Marti’s surrender having left them without a leader, they retreated to distant provinces, and safety and peace were restored to the island.

If Marti had any misgivings as to the certainty of his pardon after this exploit, he did not show them. He returned to General Tacon’s office as cool and self-possessed as if he were running a boat-load of spirits under the noses of the customs officers.

“You have been true to your part of the agreement,” said the general, “and I will be to mine. Here is your pardon, signed and sealed, and this is my order on the treasury for the reward for your arrest. Sly dog!” [127]

“I accept the pardon with gratitude, your Excellency, but I do not need the money. My country is poor. Let her keep it. I am rich. Never mind how I became so. Yet, if I may claim a reward, give me a monopoly of the fisheries on this coast. Havana will not suffer if your generosity takes this form.”

And it did not. He got the fisheries, but he spent his profits freely, and one of the first of his benefactions was the construction of a market that had no superior in beauty and fitness elsewhere in the world.

[Contents]

The Justice of Tacon

When the parades were over, or church was out, or it was near time for the play, one always found a dozen officers and gallants sauntering down the Calle de Comercio, bound for the same place: the tobacco shop of Miralda Estalez. In 1835 Miralda was known all over the town as “the pretty cigar girl,” and it was quite the thing for young sprigs of family to lounge against her counter, tell her how charming she was, make her light their cigarettes and sometimes take the first puff from their cigars. All this she took with jesting good-nature, chaffing all of her customers, commiserating with them in mocking tones on their fractured hearts, and lamenting the poverty that confined their purchases to the cheaper brands of her wares. She knew how far to allow a compliment to go. If it became too [128]free the smile faded from her lip, her black eyes flashed, and an angry rose mounted into the clear olive of her cheek.

If there was one young man who, more than any other, caused these angry symptoms to appear it was the Count Almonte. His attentions had become annoying. She had told him that his flattery was distasteful; that her betrothed was Pedro Mantanez, the boatman, and that they were waiting to be married only until their savings had reached a certain figure. After one of these dismissals of more than usual frankness, the count went to his apartments in town, arrayed himself in his uniform of honorary lieutenant of the guards, asked the commandant to let him have an escort of half a dozen men, as he expected trouble at his country-place at Cerito, and within an hour or two appeared before Miralda’s little shop. He entered this time with an easy, confident air and an evil smile. “You must come with me, my beauty,” he said, trying to chuck her under the chin.

“Leave my place at once, señor. I have nothing more to say to you.”

“Oh, but I have much to say to you; and to begin with, I have a warrant for your arrest.”

“Arrest!”

“For theft,—the theft of a heart,—my heart.”

“Your jokes are always in such wretched taste. Your heart! You never had one.”

“Then my duty becomes all the easier. You see [129]this paper? It is an order for your arrest. Will you go quietly, or do you prefer to go under guard of a whole company.”

Astonished, confused, afraid, yet hoping that one of those wretched pleasantries known as practical jokes would be the upshot of this seeming outrage, the girl locked her door, allowed the count to assist her into the carriage that was in waiting, and was rapidly driven, not to the jail, not to the forts, not to the police office, but out of town—to Cerito. He assisted her to alight, urged her hastily in at the door of a handsome residence, where she was received by a couple of servants, and escorted to a large, comfortably furnished apartment, with windows barred after the fashion usual in Spanish houses.

“This, my pretty one, is your home for the future,” explained the count, dropping easily upon a divan and lighting a cigar.

“What place is this?”

“It is my house. Ah, but it shall be yours, if only you are kind. It is for you to say how long you will be a prisoner.”

“But the arrest—the order——”

“Ha! ha! Mere sham. I was bound to have you in one way, if I could not get you in another. All’s fair in love and war. You made war. I made love.”

There was an explosion of wrath, of scorn, of hate; there were tears, cries, prayers, threats, promises. [130]Count Almonte merely laughed, and left the young woman to weep herself into a state of resignation or exhaustion.

Mantanez, the boatman, learned before long that the shop was closed, and naturally fearing that Miralda had been taken ill, he hurried around to make inquiry. What he heard was disquieting enough, but he could not, would not believe it, until he had gone to Cerito to see for himself. In the gown of a monk he gained access to the grounds, and walked slowly by, singing the verse of a song that Miralda liked, meanwhile scanning the windows closely. His heart gave a leap, and then sank miserably low, for his love appeared behind the bars of an upper window. She stretched her hands to him appealingly, told him in a few half-whispered words the story of her abduction, implored him to hurry back to town, put the case before General Tacon and demand justice.

Mantanez did so. The tale was so unusual that the general made him swear to the truth of it on his knees before the crucifix. Then he sent for the count and ordered him to bring the girl with him. In two hours they were at the palace. The general looked searchingly at Almonte. “It is a strange charge that has been brought against you, count,” said he, “that of stealing a woman in open day, taking her to your house and keeping her under lock and key.”

“The young woman has been well treated, general.” [131]

“You arrested her?”

“Yes.”

“In our uniform?”

“It was the only way. I loved her.”

“You still love her?”

“To distraction.”

“Humph! We shall see. Orderly, send a priest to me, and tell him to come prepared to perform a marriage ceremony.”

Tacon was sphinx-like, and busied himself with his papers. The count was puzzled, yet smiling, and disposed to be incredulous. The girl and her lover wore looks of doubt and fear. The priest arrived.

“Father,” said Tacon, “you will make the Count Almonte and Miralda Estalez man and wife.”

“Impossible!” exclaimed the count.

“You have just said that you loved her.”

“But, your Excellency, you seem to forget that she is but a girl of the people. I have to remind you that I am of the Spanish nobility; that my ancestors—”

“Tush, tush! What have your ancestors to do here? You have ruined the girl, and you shall make amends, here and now.”

Miralda clasped her hands in a passion of entreaty, and her betrothed, the boatman, sank upon a bench, overcome with despair.

“I am sorry for you,” continued Tacon, “but there is no other way. Proceed with the ceremony.” [132]

Knowing Tacon to be inflexible, and with a wholesome dread of punishment in case of refusal, the young rake finally expressed his willingness to yield to the command, and with a freckled trooper for bridesmaid, and another for groomsman, the marriage rites were said. While the priest was speaking Tacon had written a note which he gave to an orderly, instructing him to deliver it to the captain of the guard. After the nobleman, flushed and trembling with anger, and the half-fainting girl had been pronounced man and wife, the boatman meanwhile abandoning himself to a frenzy of tears, Tacon said to the count, “Your wife will remain here for the present. It is my order that you return to your country-house alone. You will depart at once.”

With blazing eye, widened nostril, and hard-set jaw, Count Almonte left the room without any recognition of his bride, without the usual acknowledgment of the governor-general’s presence. Tacon bade the young woman be seated, and told Mantanez also to remain, as he wished to speak with them after a time. Ten minutes passed. Some guns were heard at a distance. In ten minutes more an officer hastily entered the room. Tacon looked up from his writing. “Report, captain,” he commanded.

“I have to inform your Excellency that your orders have been obeyed. The Count Almonte lies dead with nine bullets in his body.” [133]

The general arose, took the hand of the young woman and placed it in that of the boatman. “Countess,” he said, “you are the widow of a rich man. You are sole heir to the estate of the late Count Almonte. As to you, sir, I presume you have no objection to wedding a lady so well provided with this world’s goods. Adieu, Madame Countess, and may your second marriage be happier than your first.”

[Contents]

The Cited

Did Alonzo Morelos begrudge liberty or happiness to Felipe Guayos? Surely the life of a Havanese artisan could have mattered little to a prosperous lawyer. Politics may have set the big man’s enmity against the little one, or it may possibly have been that more advanced form of politics that is called patriotism. It was a good time for a man to refrain from airing his opinions, unless they were orthodox, for the revolution of 1829 had just been declared. If Guayos was a party to this rising he was an indifferent and inactive one, or else he kept his counsel wondrous well. His acquaintances testified that he was industrious,—that is, he practised what in Havana passed for industry,—was fond of his wife, cared little for cock-fighting or the bull-ring, was of placid demeanor, and was altogether the sort of man who could be relied on not to attend secret meetings or lose valued sleep by [134]drilling in hot barns or chigger-infested clearings in the woods. Yet it was on Morelos’s oath that this obscure citizen was arrested.

The tongues clacked up and down the by-ways: What was the rich man’s interest in the poor one? the professional man’s in the mechanic? the man of society in the man unknown? Then it was true, eh? that the mulatto (for Guayos was a “yellow man”) had spoken to the lawyer familiarly in the street in presence of ladies and officers? Maybe. The laundress at the second house down the street had said so, but, fie! it was only on a matter of business. Tut! Business was no excuse, considering that Don Alonzo was of Spanish parentage, while the other had been nothing but a Cuban for two centuries. To forget this breach or try to bridge it, to presume on the tolerance of an occasional employer, unless one were a slave or a servant and used to indulgence—that was not to be forgiven. A rumor that travelled more quietly was that Morelos himself was a revolutionary and had caused this arrest as a blind, or in order to silence a tongue that might speak damage. A third rumor, that went in a whisper, and so went farther than the others, said that the yellow man had a pretty wife, and that the lawyer had been seen to call at the little house in the master’s absence. This tale seemed to be doubted, for the wife of the butcher gave it as her opinion that the Señora Guayos was too rusty of complexion to be pleasing, and the Señor Morelos was so faultless [135]in his appearance and his taste; the club steward’s unmarried sister declared the señora’s manners to be rustic and her voice loud; the woman in the carpenter’s family would lend no ear to such a scandal because the subject of it was dumpy, shapeless, and dressed absurdly, even for the wife of a stonemason. Howbeit, the little woman was now in grief, for her husband lay in jail awaiting trial on the gravest charge that could be brought against a Cuban,—the charge of treason. In that day, as on many sad days that were to follow, to be charged with disaffection toward the crown was virtually to be sentenced to death.

Cuban law was at least as tardy and involved as any, but on the day when they tried Guayos it was strangely brisk. The stifling, unclean court-room was crowded, but of all the company none seemed to feel so little concern in the proceedings as the accused man himself. Through an open window he saw a couple of palms swinging softly against the sky in the warm wind. The trees appeared to pacify, to fascinate him. They were his realities, and the goggling throng, the judge, the officers, were visions. Often when his name was spoken by a witness or examiner he would look around with a start, then fall into his dreams again. His case was traversed without waste of words. Evidence was adduced to prove that he had once owned a gun, had attended a certain meeting, had carried letters to such and such persons, had spoken equivocal [136]phrases, had been seen to lift his nose in passing certain men, had admitted a suspect to his house at night. He was declared guilty. The celerity in reaching this verdict led his friends to believe that it had been agreed upon in advance.

During the last hour of the trial Guayos had aroused from his revery, had turned from the window, and had fixed his eyes steadily on Morelos, who was seated among the lawyers in the centre of the room. Morelos returned the gaze calmly for a time; then he frowned and turned the pages of a law-book. After a little he moistened his lips with his tongue, took a studied attitude of listlessness, and showed signs of weariness and boredom. He did not look at the prisoner again until the verdict had been given.

When the chief judge put the usual question as to whether the convicted man had anything to say why death-sentence should not be passed upon him, Guayos arose, his face pale but fixed in a stony calm. Looking at neither judge nor audience, but straight at his accuser, with eyes that were no longer the eyes that had dreamed upon the palms, so great and black they were and searching, he said, in a clear, tense voice, “I go to my death. It is useless to speak, for you have condemned me. But I cite you, Don Alonzo Morelos, to appear beside me at the bar of God, one year from my death-day, and testify how I came to my end.”

There was a moment of silence; then moans and [137]murmurs in the crowd. The lawyer was white, as with wrath. The judges gestured to the officers and left the bench. The court was cleared. As he was led away, Guayos looked once more at the palms, and half smiled as a breath of freshened air came in at the window. Palms! Where had he been told of them? What did they mean? Had they not somewhere, in some far land, been waved in victory when One innocent was about to suffer? Were not palms awarded in another world to the meek and the honest who had been despitefully used in this?

Last to leave the room was Morelos. He had remained, seated at a table, biting a pen, fingering some papers, gazing abstractedly at the vacant bench. The whoop of a barefooted, black-faced urchin in the corridor roused him. With a scowl and a shrug he slowly resumed his hat and went to his home by a roundabout way.

Priests called daily at the prison. Guayos made no appeal, asked for no delay. The loyalists were clamoring for an example that should stay the revolution. In a week the condemned man was hanged. An odd thing happened at the execution: the rope had slipped a little, and the knot, working toward the front, had left an impress there after the body was cut down, as of two crossed fingers. The friends of Guayos held this to be a sign of grace.

Now, if there were any in the world to pray for [138]the peace of a human soul, it was not the soul of Guayos that asked it. He had affirmed his innocence to the end, had been shrived, had gone to the gallows with a dauntless tread, and there were palm branches on his coffin. But the lawyer? In a month after the trial white hairs appeared among his locks, hitherto as black as coal. He grew gray and dry in his complexion, his shoulders began to stoop, his eyes lost their clearness and boldness, his mouth was no longer firm. Often he wore a harried, hunted look. Yet they said he was growing softer in his humor, that he oftener went to church, that he gave more for charity than other men of his means, and that if the widow Guayos did not know from whom the five hundred pesetas came that a messenger left at her home one night the neighbors pretended to. Don Morelos became an object of a wider interest than he knew. Even the boys in the street would point as he passed, with head bent and hands clasped behind his back, and whisper, “There goes El Citado” (the cited), and among the commoners he was known as well by that name as by the one his parents had given to him. But he appeared less and less in public. He began to neglect his practice; he resigned from his club; he avoided the company of his former associates, taking his walks at night alone, even though the sky was moonless, storms were threatening, and the cut-throat crew were abroad that made life at some hours and in some quarters of the city not of a pin’s fee in [139]value. His housekeeper told a neighbor that on some nights he paced the floor till dawn, and that now and again he would mutter to himself and appear to strike something. Was he smiting his own heart?

Before long it was rumored, likewise, that the grave of Guayos was haunted, or worse, for a black figure had been seen, on some of the darkest nights, squatted or kneeling before his tomb. It was remarkable that this revolutionist should have had a burial-place of his own, when all his relatives and a majority of the people in his station were interred in rented graves, and their bones thrown into the common ditch if the rent were not paid at the end of the second year. Certain old women affirmed that this watching, waiting figure in the dark had horns and green eyes, like a cat’s, while other people said that it was merely the form of a man, taller, thinner, more bent than Guayos; therefore not his ghost. But what man?

The anniversary of the hanging had come. The small hours of the morning were tolling, heavily, slowly, over the roofs of the sleeping city. Sleeping? There was one who had no rest that night. An upper window of the house of Morelos looked out upon a court in which two palm trees grew. They had been tall and flourishing. One might see them from the court-room. But for a year they had been shedding their leaflets and turning sere. Tonight their yellow stems had clashed and whispered [140]until the wind was down, leaving the night sullen, brooding, thick, starless, with dashes of rain and a raw chill on the ground that brought out all the malefic odors of the pavement. The window on the side toward the court was closed and curtained. The one overlooking the street was slightly open, and if the night-bird prowling toward the den he called his home had looked up, or had listened, he would have seen the glimmer of a candle and heard the eager scratching of a pen and rustling of papers. For an hour in the first half of the night Morelos had been walking about his chamber. At about three in the morning the housekeeper, whose room was at the opposite end of a corridor from her master’s, found herself sitting upright in bed. She did not know why. Nobody had called to her. Listening intently, as if she knew that somebody was about to speak, she distinguished a faint sound of crumpling paper. A chair was moved hastily, and there was a cry in a strained voice, “No, no! My God!” Then the house shook. She bolted her door and prayed. In the morning twilight Don Alonzo Morelos lay very still on the floor of his chamber, with a mark on his throat like that made by the pressure of two crossed fingers.

The citation had been obeyed! [141]

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The Virgin’s Diamond

Miguel Jose was a loving and dutiful son, but he could help the old folks only a little. He had a heartache every time a letter came from Leon, for he knew it held a request for money, and a private’s pay, which at best is small, is frequently nothing in a Spanish regiment. Young Miguel had been on service in Havana for a couple of years, and his parents had been growing steadily poorer. He could hardly buy cigarettes. First it was a pig that was wanted at home; then a better roof on the cottage; then a contribution for a new altar in the village church; finally it was illness, and his mother needed medicines and delicacies. How could he get money? The paymaster had received none in months, he said, and even the officers were in debt. His fellow-soldiers? No; they were as poorly off as he,—so he could not borrow. He could not steal in the streets, for his uniform would betray him. He was not allowed to accept work from civilians, for that was against the army regulations. After dress-parade one evening he went to a lonely place behind the barracks and cried. Then, having leave of absence, he went to one of the churches and knelt for a long time before the Virgin’s shrine, imploring her, with moans and tears, to give him some means of relieving his mother’s distress. She was a mother. She would understand. She would pity the sufferings of others. There was no answer. [142]He left the dark and empty building tired and disheartened.

Next evening he returned, and for an hour and more he begged the Virgin to bestow some material mercy on his mother. Looking up he was startled, though delighted, to see that the statue of Mary was rolling its glass eyes upon him, and tears stood in them. He bent to the floor, overcome by his emotions. Then a light step sounded over the stones, and, behold! the Virgin had left her pedestal and was regarding him with kindness and pity in her face. Slowly she extended her hand. He gazed with new astonishment, for this was the right hand, bearing the famous diamond which had been placed upon it some years before by a pious resident of Havana. It could not be that she intended this treasure for him! Yes, she smiled and nodded assuringly. With trembling fingers he withdrew the jewel, kissed the outreached hand, stammered his thanks, and, hardly waiting till she had remounted her pedestal, ran from the church.

There was in the city at that time one Señor Hyman Izaaks, whose business—which a cruel law required him to follow in secret—was the relief of pecuniary embarrassments, on security, and our soldier went straightway to the office of that philanthropist, arriving breathless but happy. Señor Izaaks advanced a larger sum on the diamond than Jose had dared to hope for. He wrote a hasty letter, enclosing the banknotes, and mailed it to his parents on that very night. [143]

Next morning the sacristan of the church, who was making his rounds and placing fresh candles on the altar, received a shock. The Virgin’s diamond was gone! The priests, the bishop, the governor, the general, the police were notified, and there was a mighty coil. What sacrilegious wretch had done this thing? Miguel had been seen to enter the church on the previous night; therefore suspicion attached to him. He was arrested and charged with the crime. To the astonishment of all, he made no secret of it, though he protested against the word “theft.” He was proud to have been the recipient of kindness from heaven, and he related, frankly and circumstantially, how he had appealed to the Virgin, for what good purpose, how she had answered, how Señor Izaaks had taken the stone and given him money for it. A military court was ordered to try him, but it was puzzled to know what to do with him. If the fellow were a common thief he deserved more than prison: he merited the gallows and a quicklime burial, for he had added sacrilege to robbery. But if he were a thief, why did he confess so freely, and even glory in his sin? Then, too, if it were the wish of the Virgin that he should receive this gift, by what right did any civic or military body interfere, for would it not be blasphemy to doubt or deny the designs of Providence? Was not the accused soldier under the acknowledged protection of the Virgin? Would she not visit with indignation, if she did not vigorously [144]punish, the attempt to set aside her benefits?

Truly, here was a pickle! The confession of the accused man had enabled the police to secure the diamond,—which they did without any formalities of payment to Señor Izaaks, to his unbounded grief,—and the ring being restored to the finger of the statue, and the money being on its way across the sea, and the soldier being entitled to some part of it as back-pay, the court-martial at length resolved to release Miguel Jose from arrest. It did so with the historic finding of “Not guilty, but don’t do it again.”

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A Spanish Holofernes

While it has been the fate of women in the Spanish islands to suffer even more than their husbands and brothers from severity and injustice, instances are not lacking in which they have shown an equal spirit with the men. In the insurrections a few of them openly took the field, and the Maid of Las Tunas is remembered,—a Cuban Joan of Arc, who rode at the head of the rebel troops, battled as stoutly as the veterans, and was of special service as scout and spy. Three times she fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Twice she coaxed her way to freedom. The third time the governor gave her to a crowd of brutal soldiers, who afterward burned her alive.

Quite another sort of woman was Niña Diaz, [145]whom Weyler intended to compliment when he said she was the only loyal Cuban, and who is hated by all other Cubans as a fiend. Her love for a Spanish captain was cleverly played upon by Weyler, who induced her to become his spy. She begged contributions for the insurgents. Of course, those who gave were in sympathy with the insurrection, so that all she had to do was to place her list of subscribers in the hands of Weyler, who promptly shot or imprisoned them, or herded them among the reconcentrados to die of starvation. When the Cubans caught her she said that she had a father and a brother in their ranks,—which was true,—and was on her way to them. Where could they be found? They told her and set her free, and in the morning the Spanish troops were on the march to their hiding-place.

It is pleasanter to read of Spanish women serving their own cause than of Cuban women who betrayed their country, and the Spanish dames have often shown as much grit and pride as the dons. Pauline Macias is alleged to have led the soldiers back to their guns in San Juan de Puerto Rico after they had run from Sampson’s shells. She seized a sword from an officer, beat the runaways with it, roused them by pleas and commands, and kept them at their work until their pieces were disabled or the ammunition had given out.

In the tradition of an earlier and slighter war the heroine is a woman of still different type. Isabella, [146]wife of the Doctor Diaz, was often called “the queen” in Bayamo, not merely because of her name, but because of her piety, her charities, her beauty, and her dignified bearing. She was young, well reared, distinguished, and her home was a centre for the best society of the town. Among those who felt free to call without invitation were several of the officers of the garrison, most of them models in deportment and dress, and of sufficient breeding to refrain from allusion to politics; for the Diazes, though Spanish by only one remove, were avowedly Cuban in their sympathies, and the revolution was fast coming to a focus. It was understood, however, that Doctor Diaz would remain a non-combatant, for the duty he owed to suffering humanity was higher than the duty his friends tried to persuade him he owed to his country. Hence, the physician and his wife would be under the white flag, it was supposed, and if remarks were made as to their share in the approaching hostilities, it was always with a frank and laughing admission on their part and a jest on that of the accusers.

A Cuban Residence.

A Cuban Residence.

Among all the men in the garrison but one was actually disliked by the young practitioner and his wife. Captain Ramon Gonzales had been quartered upon them once for a week in an emergency, and his removal to another household had been asked for. It was not that he lacked manners or was obviously disrespectful, but his compliments to the lady of the house were something too frequent, his regard of [147]her too admiring, his air toward the doctor that of the soldier and superior, rather than the friend. Señora Diaz never saw him alone, never invited him to call. He disappeared one afternoon, and it was understood that he had received a summons to return to Havana.

The rising came at last. Fires glimmered on the hills, bodies of men assembled in the woods, the drumming and brawling of troops were heard in hitherto quiet villages, and prayers for the success of the Cuban arms were offered in a hundred churches. But not all the women were content to pray. They were helping to arm their husbands, brothers, sweethearts, sons; they worked together in assembling supplies, hospital stores, clothing, and even in casting bullets.

One or two nights after the first blow had been struck there came a loud summons at the door of Doctor Diaz. Thinking it a call for his services, he stepped into the dark street, when he was seized, handcuffed, placed between two lines of soldiers, and marched away to prison. The despairing cry of his wife, as she peered from the open door and saw this arrest, was the only farewell. He never heard her voice again. He was shot a few days later as an enemy to Spain, the specific charge against him being that of “aiding and sheltering” a rebel, the said rebel being a feeble-minded youth, a “moon-struck,” to whom, as a matter of charity, he had given occasional work in weeding his garden. On [148]the night after Doctor Diaz’s arrest his wife was requested by a messenger to go quickly to a small house on the edge of the town to meet one who might secure his release, but wished to consult with her as to the means. Hastily wrapping a mantilla about her, she followed the messenger to the street; then, as acting under sudden impulse, left him waiting for a moment, while she returned to bolt a door. In that moment, unseen by the messenger, she slipped a sheathed stiletto into the bosom of her dress.

The house was a ramshackle cottage, with a damp and moldy air pervading it within and without. The negro messenger opened the door without knocking, held it open while she passed in, then abruptly closed it and turned a key on the outside. The woman was trapped. In a minute voices were heard in the street; that of the messenger, and one that she knew better,—and worse,—the voice of Captain Gonzales.

The situation flashed upon her. Her husband had been falsely charged. She had been lured to this place, and would leave it dead or dishonored. The walls of the cabin swam before her, and she had nearly fallen when the sound of the key in the lock aroused her. A fierce chill shook her frame. She held to a table for support. A tumult of thought possessed her, but as the door swung open it quieted to a single idea: hardly a thought: a purpose. [149]

In the light of the single candle that stood on the table she saw Captain Gonzales enter. He had been at the wine. His eyes were heavy, his cheeks a dusky red, his mouth was more sensual, his jaw more cruel than ever. He stepped inside and locked the door. “Your pardon, señora, for these strong measures,” he said, in a thick tone. “I am a victim of love and hate. Your hus—another—has hated me. Your husband is—is—likely to be absent for some time. You will require a protector. I have the honor to offer myself. I throw myself at the feet of the loveliest lady in Cuba. I tell her of the love that for the past year has turned my life to torture. I will be her companion, her adorer, only—ha! You smile! It is not possible you care for me? It is joy too great. Señora! Isabella! Can it be?”

“And you never suspected it before?”

The face was white, the lips twitched, but the smile remained. The woman cast down her eyes—what star-bright eyes they were!—then slowly opened her arms. With a roaring laugh Gonzales strode across the room. The laugh changed to a gurgling cry as he placed his hands upon her waist. His hand went to his sword, but fumbled; his knees shook; then he fell backward at full length, with his heart’s blood pulsating from a dagger-wound. The wife of Doctor Diaz picked up the key that had fallen from his fingers, unlocked the door, and returned to her home alone. [150]

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The Courteous Battle

In the bay where more than three and a half centuries later the Spanish fleet was to be destroyed the don once fought the enemy with different result. It was in 1538, in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba, that the battle occurred,—Santiago of sad memory, with its shambles, where insurgents were shot by platoons; with its landings, where slaves were unloaded at night and marched thence to the plantations, like mules and cattle; with its Morro, connected by wells and traps with caves in the rock beneath, where bodies of men mysteriously done to death slipped away on the tide. A French privateer had appeared before the town, demanding ransom or surrender. Luckily for Santiago, a Spanish caravel had arrived a few days before, under command of Captain Diego Perez, and this gallant sailor offered to go out and defend the town. His ship was attacked as soon as it came within range of the enemy’s guns, and, turning so as to deliver an effective fire, he gave as good as he got. All that day the people of the town heard the pounding of the brass pieces and saw the smudge of powder against the blue to the south, yet at the fall of evening little damage had been done: the ships lay too far apart, and the aim on both sides was ridiculous.

Each commander had seen enough of his adversary to respect him, however, and moved by a common impulse they raised white flags, declared for a [151]cessation of hostilities through the night, and every night, so long as they should continue to oppose one another. Then followed an exchange of fruit and wine, of which both crews were in need, and, confident in the honor of their enemies, all hands slept as tired men usually sleep. Said the Spanish captain to the French commander in the morning, “Artillery is a cowardly and abominable invention. It is desired to hurt a foe while those who serve it run no risk. How say you if we put the tompions back into our cannon and fight, as chivalric men should ever fight, with sword and pike?”

To this the Frenchman gave willing consent, and, the ships ranging near, the battle reopened, after prayers and breakfast, to some purpose. With cries of “Santo Iago!” the Spanish tried to board the pirate ship, but could not secure a footing. Blows were exchanged throughout the day, save when one ship or the other drew off, that the wounded might have attention, and the dying prayers, for much blood was shed and several lost their lives. At the end of the day both commanders declared their admiration for the skill and courage of their opponents, and again gave presents of fruit and wine as they stopped work until the morrow. Perez sent ashore that night to tell the people of Santiago that fighting was an exhausting business, and to some extent a risky one, and would they kindly send a few able-bodied fellows to replace the dead and disabled on his ship? [152]

The response to this call was so meagre that he began to mistrust his countrymen, and he asked if, in case he lost his ship, the town would reimburse him, considering that he was risking his all in their defence. After much debate the townsmen replied, through their officials, that they were not in a position to make good his loss, but they trusted that such a calamity would not be possible; that he would maintain a stout heart and fight on to prove the superiority of Spanish valor to French craft; that the blessed Santo Iago would watch over him and his gallant crew; that their best wishes were with him, and that his kindness would never, never be forgotten. A trifle disheartened, Captain Perez nevertheless resumed the fight on the next day, and again on the fourth day, and after the usual exchange of courtesies at evening, he told the privateer on the fifth day that he would encounter with him as usual. The persistence of the Spaniard in thus holding out against seeming odds—for the Frenchman had the larger crew—set the privateer to thinking, and a sudden fear arose within him that Spanish reinforcements were on their way, and that Perez was merely fighting for time until they should arrive. This fear grew until it became belief, though a baseless one, and, hoisting sail as quietly as possible, he stole out of Santiago Bay on the fourth night after hostilities had opened. As thanks are cheap, Perez received a good many of them. [153]

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Why King Congo was Late

As in all the Spanish Americas, there were churchly feasts and celebrations in Cuba whose origin has been forgot. Why did the slaves serenade their masters on New Year morning, jingling huge tambourines, and in the villages how came it to be thought that the cause of righteousness was advanced by parades and music on saints’ days? Hatred of the Jews was an inheritance rather than an experience, and for lack of Jews to prove it upon there was an annual display of wrath at Judas, who was represented by a grotesque effigy made up of straw, old clothes, and a mask. In the cities this figure was merely called The Jew, and after being carried through the streets with revilings, on the day after Good Friday, it was hanged in some conspicuous place and there stoned and shot by the crowd.

In Santiago there used to be a queer celebration on the 6th of January, “the day of the kings,” or “All Kings’ day,” meaning the kings who journeyed to Bethlehem to worship the new-born Christ. In time this function lost its dignity and became a sport, a gasconade, in which the slaves attired themselves extravagantly and paraded about, begging, blowing horns, beating drums, and bandying jokes with the spectators. In the days of King Congo the procession had some claim to show and importance, if only because he was at the head of it, for he had, in ways known only to himself, come into [154]possession of the chapeau of a captain-general, a lieutenant’s coat, one epaulette, a pair of blue breeches, and a belt; hence, attired in all these grandeurs at once, and mounted on a mule, he looked every inch the king he said he was. For, albeit, he had been a slave, he claimed an African king as his father, and as that parent was dead, for aught he could certify to the contrary, the title, if not the crown and emoluments, descended to him; leastwise, nobody on this side of the sea could dispute it; and he bore it with conscious dignity. His family name, if he had one, has been lost, and it is as King Congo that he was known. That his royalty was genuine the other negroes never doubted, and to parade on the day of the kings without a real king of their own color to marshal the procession was not to be thought of.

El Rey Congo was aware of his power and of the impression he made on the humbler residents of Santiago. Every now and then he heightened his superiority to common clay by appearing in public in a starched collar, looking over the top of it with an assumption of pride and ease, as of one born to such luxury, but in reality chafing his neck against its ragged edges and longing to be in the fields, where he would not need to be spectacular. One year the day of the kings dawned without a cloud, and Santiago was in a holiday humor. Everybody who had work to do postponed it till to-morrow, as if All Kings’ Day were like every other day; for the [155]procession that year was to be extra large and fine. King Congo was to ride with spurs, though barefooted, and was to have a military guard of four men. The band had been increased, especially in the drum department, and the ladies, who would have figured in the king’s court if he had had a court, were turbaned in new bandanas of red and yellow. The clergy and officers of the garrison had promised to review the parade, and the cooper, down by the custom-house, suggested that he’d better put a few hoops around King Congo to keep his swelling heart from cracking his ribs.

A long trumpet-call from the square announced the hour for assembly, and all eyes turned toward the street through which the king had been used to make his entry. He did not come. Tardiness is a privilege of kings. It proves them superior to the obligations laid upon the vulgar herd. Beside, what is an hour in a mañana country? But as the hour went by and the king kept refraining from his arrival, some presuming subjects went to look him up, and after much inquiry and pedestrian exercise they found the sovereign in jail. His Majesty explained that he had been arrested for debt a few days before, and that because of a shortage in the paltry coin of a white man’s state—a wretched matter of $4.15—he was doomed to remain behind the bars, perhaps forever. The messengers ran back to the square, made an excited appeal to the populace, scratched the required sum together in penny subscriptions, [156]paid the innkeeper every centavo that the king owed him, woke up the sheriff and the magistrate, and before noon King Congo was a free man, in the same old uniform, riding the same old mule, and stiffly bowing to the admiring populace as he passed. The parade was a great success. So was the scheme conceived that morning by el Rey Congo; for, every year thereafter, three or four days before the festival of the adoration, he laid in supplies of rum and cigars, with even a new hat or a second-hand medal, and after getting the goods safely bestowed in his cabin, defied his creditors to collect their pay. The shopkeepers winked at this device, and regularly sent him to jail, for they knew that on the 6th of January their royal customer would pay, though by proxy. And that is more than you can say of some kings. Isn’t it?

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The Chase of Taito Perico

In 1779 the Bishop of Havana took into his household as servants, and into the cathedral as altar-boys, three harum-scarum Indians, then said to have come from Florida, now believed to have been of Mexican origin, though there were not wanting citizens who solemnly declared that the trio had come from a warmer place than any on the surface of this planet. The object in the bishop’s mind was to Christianize the scapegraces and turn them loose among their own people, that they, too, might [157]be made to see the light. The poor old clergyman little knew with whom he had to deal. When the astonishment of the youngsters at the glories of Havana had subsided, and even a regiment with a band could parade without their company, the Indian in them asserted itself once more, and they grieved the bishop by playing hookey, shirking mass, running off to the mountains on hunting trips, and once, when he went out in his night-cap to inquire the cause of a rumpus in his yard, they tripped him up and circled around and around, whooping like demons while he was trying to regain his feet and apply his cane.

At last they upset, not the clergy but the laws. Their offence was not grave, being rather a result of high spirits than of malice, but it brought the constabulary upon them and they were carried to the arsenal to work out the term of their imprisonment at loading ships and other heavy, uncongenial labor. Not many days had passed here before a chance offered for their escape, and they seized upon it, vanishing under the noses of the guard—at least, that was the way the guard reported it—like shadows before the sun. In fact, from that hour they were looked upon as a bit uncanny. The three lads found a hiding-place in the Falaco vegas, among a vagrom populace of brigands, runaway slaves, and wreckers, and there for several weeks they supported themselves by hunting, fishing, gambling, even working a little when sore pressed. Better if [158]they had been left alone to live out their lives there. If useless, they at least were harmless. But, no; the majesty of the law again asserted itself. They were caught by a company of soldiers and marched back to Havana. Their protector and friend, the bishop, was dead. Again they were laden with chains and returned to the arsenal to work out some months of penal servitude. Their natures seemed to change in a day. To them Spaniards and Cubans now stood for tyranny and injustice. They did not understand their imprisonment as a correction: it was an act of oppression, and how were they to know that it would not last for the remainder of their lives? Every waking moment from the time of their second arrest they gave to plots for liberty and vengeance. The escape came presently. It seemed as if walls and bars were not made that could restrain them.

Two days after this last escape the country-side was stirred with horror, for just before dawn a hamlet near Guanes was burned, and when the neighbors, attracted by the flame and smoke seen above the tree-tops, arrived on the ground they found the gashed bodies of the inhabitants lying about on the gore-sodden earth. The quickness, the secrecy of the act were terrifying. All sorts of fantastic reports were spread about the province, especially after the massacre and the burning had been repeated in a second village—and a third—and a fourth. The vega was in a panic. The people [159]went from place to place only in armed bands. The Vuelta Abajo was completely cowed, and sentries patrolled every settlement. It was reported that the murders had been committed by three giants who cut down men, horses, and cattle as they stalked across the country, and whose weapons were charmed, so that they always struck a vital spot, no matter how carelessly they were aimed. The three monsters were of vast strength and horrible countenance; they climbed tall cliffs as cats climb fences, and leaped chasms fifty feet across as other men skip over gutters.

A cave near Cape San Antonio that the aborigines had chambered for tombs was their reputed hiding-place, where they also worshipped their master, Satan, with fantastic ceremonies, and sacrificed in his honor the best of the cattle, sheep, and horses they captured on their raids. And the utter helplessness of the Spanish authorities gave a certain color to these rumors, for the giants snapped their fingers at their pursuers and went on killing, looting, burning, running off stock, always appearing in unexpected places and disappearing like mists at sunrise. Thus, two and a half years went by, and the offer of five thousand dollars each for the heads of the devil-brigands had come to nothing. Finally the Havana authorities were prayed and pestered into a spell of activity. They organized a troop of one hundred and fifty men and sixty dogs, put twenty officers at the head, and sent along four chaplains to pray [160]the evil charms away. The three savages were cornered on a mountain, where two of them were killed after they had inflicted many hurts on their pursuers. The heads of these two were lopped, forwarded to the capital, and every one supposed that the reign of terror was at an end.

But, as if the strength of the slain ones had passed into his arm, the third man, Taito Perico, who had escaped during the fight, became a greater scourge than ever. He was fury incarnate, and so sudden were his visitations, so quick and deadly his work, so complete his disappearances, that more than ever it was believed he was a fiend. He resumed the work of slaughter in the Vuelta Arriba. He had a horse now, carried a huge lance, and killed or wounded almost every one he met,—but not all. There was in this black heart a core of sympathy. Once he stole a little child and kept her with him for some time, lavishing on her the affection of a barbarian big brother, and so endearing him to her that when she was rescued from his jungle haunt, while he was absent hunting, she wept for the kind Taito Perico, even in her parents’ arms. Then he stole a boy of eight years and kept him for some months, allowing him at the end of that time to return unharmed to his parents.

It was in one of these abductions that he worked his own undoing. Near St. John of the Remedies lived the pretty Anita de Pareira, daughter of a frugal and worthy couple and fiancée of a prosperous [161]planter of the district. The time for the wedding having been set, the father and mother were in their little garden discussing ways and means, and Anita was indoors trimming the gown in which she was to walk to the altar. Her head was full of pretty fancies, and she hummed softly to herself as she plied her needle or gazed into the distance, smiling at the pictures created by her own fancy. She was rudely awakened from these pleasing reveries. The door was burst in by a tremendous blow with a fist and there stood glaring upon her a Caliban with mighty neck and shoulders, great goggling eyes, a hooked nose, a bush of coarse hair erect upon his head, and a stout lance in his hand. As this creature advanced into the room with extended arms she swooned and did not regain her senses until she had been carried for a mile or more from her home. She found herself lying across the back of a horse that was galloping furiously toward the hills with the savage in the saddle behind her.

The father and mother ran into the road tossing their hands in despair; a dozen belated rescuers hurried to them, each arrival adding his screams to the hubbub; then each advising the rest what should be done, and nobody doing anything. The young planter, Anita’s betrothed, was quickly on the ground, and he alone was resolute and cool. He gathered the bolder men about him, saw that they were supplied with proper arms and mounts, and with encouraging words to those who were left [162]behind, he rode away on the outlaw’s trail. Over pastures, through ravines, across rivers, under forest arches dim as twilight, they hurried on, a pack of hounds yapping in advance, a broken branch, a trampled bush, a hoof-print in the margin of a stream also giving proof that they were on the right path; a herder, who had seen the ruffian pass, likewise testifying to the fact, and giving his service to the company; and so they came to a clearing, where they found the marauder’s abandoned and exhausted horse.

Putting their own horses under guard of negroes, twenty of the men pressed on afoot through tangled vines and thorny bushes, still led by the dogs, until they brought up at the bottom of a tall cliff, and here the hounds seemed to be at fault, for they ran around and around a tree, looking up into it and whining. The herder swung himself into the branches and scrambled almost to the top. “Nobody here,” he called. Then, when he had partly descended, they heard him utter an exclamation of surprise. He crept to the end of a long branch and swung lightly to a shelf on the face of the crag. “Footsteps!” he exclaimed, in a low, strained voice, and pointed to a thin turf that covered the jut of rock. The dogs were right. Taito Perico had climbed the tree and scaled the cliff. The dogs were hoisted by means of a lariat, the men gained the shelf, and clambering along in single file they presently reached the summit. A furious barking led them on; then [163]those in the rear heard a shout. The savage was seen, half a mile away, crossing an opening at a run and striking at the dogs that leaped and yelped around him. Leaving his companions to follow the Indian, the lover devoted himself to the search for Anita, and presently found her at the foot of a tree, bound, gagged, but safe and thankful.

For several days and nights the chase went on and on with reinforcements, and the Indian was at last overtaken on the mountain that, in memory of the event, bears the name of Loma del Indio, where he was slain, to the great relief of the whole island. Even in death his aspect was so terrific that the people along the way were set a-shaking and a-praying as his body was carried on to Puerto Principe. Though he could do harm no longer, the post-mortem punishment inflicted on him gave general satisfaction; for the corpse was first hanged, then dragged at a horse’s heels, then chopped apart and buried in several places, and the head, in a cage, was exposed on a pole in Tanima. And if three men like Taito Perico could terrorize all Cuba, a hundred of such would have freed it.

[Contents]

The Voice in the Inn

“No trifling, señor. Speak up plainly and say what you heard.” The prosecuting attorney gave a nervous twitch at his pointed beard, a habit peculiar to him, and leaned a little toward [164]the witness. The elder judge blinked drowsily, straightened in his chair, then turned and looked at the crucifix on the wall, for when the sun touched the bloody figure on the cross it was time for lunch. It was still in shadow. He sighed. His associates of the tribunal were duly attent.

“I’m afraid you will not believe me,” objected the witness.

“Never mind your fears. Come, now: You were passing the deserted inn on the Minas road, you say, when you heard a voice. The voice of one of the brigands?”

“I hardly think so, señor.”

“How? You charge this defendant here ——”

“With attempted robbery. Yes, señor attorney. But it was not his voice that spoke. I think worse mischief has been done near the inn.”

“Worse mischief?”

“Truly. For when this thief heard the words he let his pistol fall and dropped the bridle of my mule. By the moon I could see his face glisten with sweat, and it looked white.”

“He was afraid, eh? He was a coward? This poor cheat of a creature could not even be a brigand?”

“Afraid! Any one would be. As for myself, I gave my mule a cut and he was off at a lope, with this fellow coming after as fast as his legs could carry him, until he ran plump into the arms of the civil guard.” [165]

“Yes, yes. You have told all that. But this voice. You heard it plainly?”

“Why, yes, although it sounded as if it came from a distance, or from under a building, or—or—out of a tomb. I couldn’t—I couldn’t help thinking it sounded like a man beneath a floor.”

The attorney twisted his beard again impatiently, coughed, then tightly folded his arms. He was silent for a little. Then, as if surprising himself out of a revery, he commanded, “Well, well. Go on.”

“This voice, señor,” resumed the witness, leaning forward and speaking mysteriously, “it was so hollow and low, and spoke the words so long, like a creature dying and in pain, and it gave me a chill.”

“Are you never to tell us what it said?”

“It moaned, ‘For the sake of the Virgin, of Her Blessed Son, of the Holy Saint Peter, of the Good God, pray for me. Pray for a sinner. Beg the good fathers at Nuevitas to say a mass for the soul of Enrique Carillo.’ Then there was a sort of groan——”

“My God!” It was the prosecutor who had gasped the words.

“Yes, just like that. Ah! Pardon, señor. I did not see. You are ill.”

For the lawyer’s face had become of a deathly pallor, his head had sunk forward, his lips trembled, his hands shook as they clutched the edge of the [166]table behind him. The idlers in the back of the room were awake in a moment. The sun touched the figure of Christ, splashed with blood in the fashion of the official crucifix, and it seemed to look down on the scene below as in torture. The prisoner’s counsel sprang forward, placed a chair for his opponent and helped him to be seated. An officer brought a glass of water, which the lawyer drank eagerly, then sat as in a daze for an instant, shuddered, passed his hands over his face, and said, “I ask the indulgence of the court. I have lost my sleep for the last few nights. I—I——”

The senior judge had half-risen, his wig awry, his hands gripping the arms of the chair. “Clear the court! It is the fever!” he cried.

There was a stampede of the unoccupied in the back of the room. The others in the court reached for their hats and drew away, leaving the prosecutor alone. He smiled faintly. “No, your Honor,” he said. “It is over now. It was a touch of faintness; nothing more.”

“With the consent of counsel I will adjourn the case.”

The face of the prosecutor hardened; he set his jaw doggedly, he regained his feet with a sort of spring. The judges slipped back deeper into their seats; the elder wiped his brow and puffed.

“We will go on,” said the attorney, in a calmer voice. “The testimony is practically exhausted. I have to confess that I have been somewhat disappointed [167]in the witnesses, but I submit the case on the evidence without argument.”

It was plain that the people’s representative was not at his best that morning. The trial was hurried on, the lawyer for the defence insisting principally that, as the complainant had fled from the scene of the attempted robbery without looking back, he could not possibly swear that the man in the prisoner’s dock was the one who had held his bridle. Was it not at least probable that the accused had told the truth when he said he had been roused by the outcry of the man on mule-back and had run down the road to see what the matter was? Moreover, as no loss had been suffered, was it not a slender ground for prosecution? The old judge looked back at the crucifix. The illumination was passing. The knees were already in shadow. He was an hour late for his lunch. He whispered with the other judges for a moment, then smote the desk before him. “No evidence. The prisoner is discharged. Adjourn the court,” he exclaimed. And for once in the history of Puerto Principe the law had been prompt. The accused, who had been stolid and dull throughout the trial, now smiled cunningly to himself, and saying no word to any one, but with a sidelong look at the lawyers, left the building without loss of time, and after investing a few coppers in bad brandy at the least inviting groggery in town, disappeared down the road leading toward Minas. There were several anxious inquiries [168]at the house of Prosecutor Ramirez that evening, but he was in his usual health. There was no occasion for alarm as to the fever.

Two nights after this a couple of planters were stopped near the old inn by a man of rough appearance, whose face was masked, and were forced at the pistol’s point to give up their watches and money. A few nights later a man left town with money to discharge a bill. He never reached his destination. In each case the criminals left no trace. The environs of Puerto Principe were growing in ill-repute.

The prosecutor was leaving home on an evening when rain seemed threatening. This was probably his reason for wearing a cloak,—a protection seldom needed, except at night and in bad weather. It was against his usual habit that he had drawn his cloak high about his shoulders, so that his face was half-concealed, and this made it the more difficult for one who was following to know if he were, or were not, the man he sought. Convinced, after a little, that he was, he hurried forward and placed his hand on his arm. The lawyer started and uttered an exclamation. “Are you not Don Pablo Ramirez?” asked the unknown.

The prosecutor looked long and searchingly at the frank-faced stranger, then answered, shortly, “I am he.”

“I thought so. Allow me: I am Captain Alfonso Garcia Estufa, of the Engineer Corps. I [169]come from Havana with authority from the governor-general to confer with you about the brigands in this province.”

“Ah, indeed! You are welcome, señor captain. I was about to make a business call on a tenant in this street. May I ask if you will make my house your own till I return? I shall be absent but a few moments. I will go back with you and open the door. Enter, if you please. The sherry is on the sideboard. Cigars you will find on the table. Call my servant, if you require anything.” Then, hurrying out once more, the lawyer almost ran upon his errand. In a quarter of an hour he returned and the two began their discussion over a decanter of choice Madeira.

“It still seems to me,” said the young officer, after the talk had been going on for some minutes, “that the bold policy is the better, though we may need secrecy in certain cases, for these devils of brigands smell powder a mile away. On my life, they do. I’ve dealt with them in Pinar del Rio, and they tell me they are more slippery and far-seeing, or far-smelling, in this province. They must have confederates here in town.”

“Confederates? Preposterous, señor! Why do you think that?”

“Oh, I’ve been investigating a little. Either the brigands here are clever, or some man who is more clever has them in hand, and knows enough not to mix with them,—some man who can persuade them, [170]or terrorize them, or shield them. Have you no conceit as to who in this city is fitted for a chieftainship like that?”

“I? None.”

“I had hoped you knew your fellow-citizens well enough to advise me whom to watch. No? Then, at least, tell me where it would be best to place my men.”

“The trails toward Sibanicu.”

“Trails? Sibanicu? Why, there’s no travel in that quarter. The robberies have happened between here and Minas.”

“Exactly. So many have happened that the brigands must abandon it henceforth. They know they are watched, and I’ll warrant your coming here, and the object of it, are already common talk among them.”

“Humph!”

“People who are bound for the coast are beginning to go around already, so as to avoid the Minas road. If our scamps are as clever as you think, they will not be long in following.”

“There is something in that, and I thank you for the hint. We will meet again shortly. Meanwhile, pray study the situation.”

“You are not going?”

“I cannot stop with you, señor, greatly as I should be pleased to do so, for I have agreed to meet my lieutenants at the other end of the town. Good-night.” [171]

“Good-night, then, if you will not stay. Tell me early what success you have in the chase of our good citizens of Puerto Principe.”

The captain left the house with a light and jaunty step, yet he looked about him thoughtfully. He had not gone far when the night stillness was broken by the crack of a fire-arm not ten paces away. A bullet cut his hat. He turned quickly. Nobody was in sight. The air was thick with mist, and nobody was stirring. “Scoundrel!” cried the officer, shaking his fist at the darkness. “You shall pay dear for that—you and your people. Do you hear?”

There was no answer. He walked on at a faster pace.

Before the sun was up next morning the captain and his men had withdrawn from Puerto Principe. Few in the town knew that he had been there. None knew whither he had gone.

It was nine o’clock on the night following the interview. A fitful wind stirred the trees that densely shadowed the Minas road. From a chink in the walls of a dilapidated house that stood back from the highway a light shone faintly, but except for the sough of the leaves and the whirring and lisping that betoken the wakefulness of insect life there was no sound. None? What was that? Down the road, from Nuevitas way, came a blowing and stamping of horses laboring through mud. The crack of light still shone, and nothing moved along [172]the wayside. As the horses came nearer a lantern could be seen hanging from the sheep-neck of the older one, and two voices could be heard in talk,—such village gossip as farmers might exchange when the way was tiresome. The horses plodded on till they were abreast of the house, when there was a whistle; the crack of light widened, suddenly there was a rush of feet, a torch was brandished, and brown hands fell upon the bridles.

One of the riders cried out, flung up his arms, and begged for mercy. They might take his master’s money, if they would, but for the sake of St. Isaac, St. Matthew, and St. John, let them spare his life. The other horseman, tall, spare, wrapped in a cloak, swung down from his saddle in a business-like way, addressed a remark in a low tone to the brigands, took the lantern from the neck of his neighbor’s nag,—it was a fine, mettled black he rode himself,—turned up the flap of his hat a little, only a little, not enough to reveal his face, and proceeded to rifle the pockets and saddle-bags of his amazed companion. The lantern and the torch shone on six or eight as hang-dog faces as would be met in a day’s journey, and among them was one closely resembling the prisoner who had been discharged on a trial two or three weeks before for lack of evidence. The victim of this robbery having given up all he seemed to possess was told to ride straight into town without word or halt, else he would be shot, and a fierce stroke being given with the whip, his [173]horse was off at such a gallop that he had much ado to keep his seat. The thieves heaped the saddle-bags and parcels into the middle of the road and bent near, while the man in the cloak opened them and examined their contents in the flickering light. A gust of wind made the torch flare and put the lantern out. The cloaked man muttered an oath, and had partly risen to his feet, when there came a sound that caused him to stagger and hold his hands to his head as if in mortal terror. It was a wailing voice, and it pleaded, “For the sake of the Virgin, of Her Blessed Son, of the Holy Saint Peter, of the Good God, pray for me. Pray for a sinner. Beg the good fathers at Nuevitas to say a mass for the soul of Enrique Carillo.”

The cloaked man groaned. The others crouched, shuddering, and their eyes in the red torch-flame were the eyes of goblins. In another moment a shock ran through the group, for another voice, clear and stern, commanded, “As you value your lives, don’t stir. Men, do not fire unless I tell you.”

A light flashed up, then another, and the bandits discovered themselves in the centre of a ring formed by twenty men, with the young captain in command. Resistance would have been foolish, flight impossible; yet, as the captain stepped toward the brigand leader, the man in the cloak attempted the foolish and impossible; he fired his pistol full at the captain’s head, flung the weapon after the bullet, [174]missing his aim each time, then started to run, upsetting one of the soldiers as he did so.

“Fire!” cried the captain.

Two musket-shots came upon the word. The tall man tumbled headlong. “It is one the less to hang,” exclaimed the officer, as he snatched a torch from the hand of one of his men. He bent over the prostrate form: the robber had been killed instantly. He withdrew the cloak from the face and looked long without speaking. Finally he said, “I was a better ghost than I supposed. These brigands will have to elect a new leader, and Puerto Principe must have a new prosecuting attorney.”

In the deserted inn, under the kitchen floor, were found the remains of Enrique Carillo and several other victims of the robbers. And it is said that on All Souls’ eve their ghosts block the road and beg all who pass to pray for them and to pay for a few masses. Most importunate of all is the ghost of Pablo Ramirez. [175]

In the Pacific

[177]
[Contents]

Finding of the Islands

One of the oldest legends of the Hawaiians relates to the finding of their islands by Hawaiiloa, a great chief and great-grandson of Kinilauamano, whose twelve sons became the founders of twelve tribes. Guided by the Pleiades he sailed westward from America, or northward from some other group,—doubtless the latter,—and so came to these pleasant lands, to the largest of which he gave his own name, while the lesser ones commemorate his children. In another tradition the islands of Oahu and Molokai were the illegitimate children of two of his descendants, who were wedded, but jealous of one another and faithless. Still another folk-tale runs to the effect that an enormous bird, at least as large as the American thunder-bird or the roc of Arabia, paused in its flight across the sea and laid an egg which floated on the water. The warmth of the ocean and the ardor of the sun hatched the egg, and from it came the islands, which grew, in time, to their present size, and ever increased in beauty. Some years after they were found by a man and a woman who [178]had voyaged from Kahiki in a canoe, and liking the scenery and climate, they went ashore on the eastern side of Hawaii, and remained there to become the progenitors of the present race. It suggests the ark legend that this pair had in their canoe two dogs, two swine, and two fowls, from which animals had come all that were found running wild there a hundred years ago. The people can never be thankful enough that these visitors differed from Nuu in their lack of regard for the snakes, scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas, and mosquitoes that are so common to tropic lands, for, having neglected to import these afflictions, the islands got on without them until recently. Mosquitoes were taken to Hawaii on an American ship. The hogs and dogs are descendants of animals that escaped from the wreck of the Spanish galleon Santo Iago in 1527.

[Contents]

Ancient Faiths of Hawaii

Hawaiians claim descent from the Cushites of Arabia, and in their folk-lore they have the same agreement with the Jewish myths which we find so strangely in other tribes that seem to have no relation to one another. Like the Israelites, they believed in a first pair that forfeited paradise by sinning, and were put out of it. Like the Israelites, they built temples and places of worship. Like the Israelites, they practised circumcision. Their priests and chiefs were kin of the gods, and well may they [179]have seemed so if it is true that the kings of the islands were men whose height was nine feet, and who flourished spears ten yards long. Even Kamehameha, who died in 1819, and who was politically the greatest of these rulers, as he established one government over all of the islands, is said to have been a giant in strength.

Without compasses, guided only by sun and stars, the people made long voyages in their canoes—vessels of a length of a hundred feet—and did battle with other races, fighting with spears, slings, clubs, axes, and knives, but not with bows or armor. Doubtless they exaggerate their numbers and their heroism, and in the last great battle, by which Kamehameha became ruler of the group, it may be that there were not quite the sixteen thousand men he claimed to have when he forced the troops of Oahu over the cliff of Nuuanu. The language of Hawaii resembles the tongues spoken in the southern archipelagoes, thereby bearing out the legend of early migrations. As, in the East, we hear tales that seem to hark back to the lost Atlantis, so among the Pacific tribes are faint beliefs in a continent in the greater ocean that sank thousands of years ago, and of coral islands built on its ruins that crumbled or were shaken down in their turn, albeit they served their purpose as stepping-stones between the surviving groups.

The Columbus of Hawaii was Nanaula, a Polynesian chief, who reached them in the sixth century, [180]either blown upon them by gales or actuated in a long search by love of adventure. He carried dogs, swine, fowls, and seeds of food-plants, and for several centuries the people increased, lived in comfort, and enjoyed the blessings of peace. Four hundred years later a large emigration occurred from Samoa and the Society group to these islands, and the new-comers proved to be the stronger. Each island had its chief or chiefs until this century, but their families had intermarried until a veritable aristocracy had been set up, with a college of heraldry, if you please, that recorded the ancestry brags of the Four Hundred. Captain Cook chanced on evil days when his turn came to discover the islands again, for although the people at first thought him to be the god Lono, they were so busy hating each other that they had not time to extend as many courtesies to him as they might have granted at some other period. When they killed him he had incurred their wrath by his overbearing manner, his contempt for their customs, and by trying to make prisoner of a chief who was innocently pulling one of the ship’s boats apart to get the nails out. Juan Gaetano, a Spanish captain, sailing from Mexico to the Spice Islands in 1555, is said to have discovered Hawaii, but he said little about it. There are traditions of other white visitors likewise.

While Christian missionaries claimed to have worked the moral regeneration of the islands, the Martin Luther of the group anticipated them by [181]half a year. Liholiho—that was his name—publicly kicked the idols, burned the temples, ate from the dishes of women, and defied the taboo. So soon as the natives discovered that the sea did not rise nor the sky fall, they rejoiced exceeding, and when one of the priests gathered an army and mutinied against the new order, they vehemently suppressed him. Yet the gods whom this soldier-priest defended are said to lament his fall in battle, and the south wind, stirring the shrubbery about his grave, is often heard to sob. The first missionaries were Yankees. They made some converts, acquired real estate, their example and teaching in political and industrial matters were profitably heeded, and peace and prosperity returned to the islands. Catholic missionaries were forbidden by the government to land until 1839, when they were put ashore under the guns of a French man-of-war, and have remained in safety ever since.

The religious faith that white men drove from Hawaii, or think they did, is based on the customary moral precepts, while the theogeny comprehends a trinity, composed of Kane, who plans and who lives in the east; Ku, who builds, and Lono, who directs. These three gods in one, who had existed from the beginning, created light; next they built the three heavens; they then made the earth, sun, moon, and stars. The angels were spat from their mouths, and after the fruitless or experimental creation of Welahilana and Owe, the chief god, Kane, with his [182]saliva, mixed with red earth, made the first man, Kumuhonua, and from his rib took the first woman, Keolakuhonua. These parents of the race were put into a beautiful garden, divided by three rivers that had their source in a lake of living water, which would bring the dead to life when sprinkled over them, and which was filled with fish that fire could not destroy. This living water was found again, ages after, by Kamapikai, who led some of the Hawaiians back to it that they might bathe, and they emerged young, strong, and handsome; but from their third voyage to the lake they never returned. In the garden stood a bread-fruit tree and an apple tree, both taboo. Whether Kanaloa, the rebellious angel, persuaded the first pair to pluck the forbidden fruit, or whether he wrought their downfall in some other fashion, we do not know; but he was angry because they refused to worship him, and because the man whom he had created could neither rise nor speak; so, in the form of a lizard, he went into the garden and beguiled the pair. Kane sent a large white bird and drove them out. Of the three sons of the parents of the race the elder slew the second, and in the thirteenth generation came the deluge, from which Nuu was saved, for at the command of Kane he built an ark, took refuge in it with his family, and, with pairs of every species of bird, beast, and reptile, was released by the gods after the water had gone down, and found that his ark was resting on the top of Mauna Loa. The rainbow was the [183]stair by which Kane descended to him, and it was left in the sky as a token of forgiveness. As the history proceeds we recognize the story of Abraham, and of Joseph and his brethren, and the likeness to the Bible narrative ceases after an account of the long wanderings and troubles of the people in their search for the land set apart for them by Kane,—a search in which they were led by two brothers.

It was only in the eleventh century that the priesthood became a power, exalted itself above the kings, prescribed senseless ceremonials and forms of worship, invented so many gods that they often forgot the names of them, and devised the prohibition, or taboo, the meaning of that word being “Obey or die.” Among these gods none are more curious than the stones of Kaloa beach, Ninole, Hawaii. The natives, who believed that they had sex, and propagated, chose male specimens for their household deities. In order to make sure whether or not they were really gods, the stones were blessed in a temple, wrapped in a dress, and taken to see a game of skill or strength. If the owner of the god won he gave to the piece of stone the credit for his victory and established it in his house; but if he lost, the stone was thrown aside. If the believer wanted to make sure of finding a god he would take a beach pebble of each sex, wrap the two in cloth, and put them away for a time. When they were brought back to the light a smaller pebble, the result of their union, was found with them. This grew, like an [184]animal, until it was of a size to be blessed by the priests and formally declared to be a god. The original pebbles are of black trap, compact lava, and white coral. Beside the gods there were spirits that could be called from the grave by wizards, although this power rested only with the strongest and most righteous of the class. The soul of a living creature might also leave his body and exhibit itself to one at a distance, as Margrave projected his luminous apparition in Bulwer’s “Strange Story.”

It was the gods of the second rank, however, that seemed most busy for good or mischief in human affairs: such gods as Pele, the spirit of the volcanoes, with her five brothers and eight sisters who lived in the flaming caverns of Kilauea; or as Kalaipahoa, poison-goddess of Molokai, and her two sisters, who put a bane on the trees so deadly that they rivalled the fabled Upas of Java, and birds fell lifeless as they attempted to fly above them (a volcanic sulphur vent was probably the origin of this tale); or, as Kuahana, who slew men for sport; or, as Pohakaa, who rolled rocks down the mountains to scare and hurt travellers; or, as the shark and lizard gods that lashed the sea into storms and wrecked canoes. War gods of wood were carried in battle, among them the fierce-looking image of Kalaipahoa, born in the van of the army of Kamehameha, and made at a cost of many lives from one of the trees poisoned by that goddess. Its fragments were divided among his people after the king’s death. [185]Apropos of this figure, a gamester had lost everything except a pig, which he did not dare to stake, as it had been claimed for a sacrifice by a priest with a porkly appetite. At the command of a deity, however, who appeared in his dreams, he disregarded the taboo and wagered the pig next day. Being successful in his play, he in thankfulness offered half of his gains to the deity. This god appeared on a second night and told him that if the king would make an idol of a certain wood growing near she would breathe power into it, and would make the gambler her priest. So the king ordered a tree to be cut. As the chips flew into the faces of the choppers they fell dead. Others, covering their bodies with cloth and their faces with leaves, managed to hew off a piece as large as a child’s body, and from this the statue was carved with daggers, held at arm’s-length; and Kalaipahoa means Dagger-cut. Another god of the great king was Kaili, which was of wood with a head-dress of yellow feathers. This image uttered yells of encouragement that could be heard above the din of conflict.

Statues of the gods were kept in walled enclosures, sometimes four or five acres in extent, within which stood the temples and altars of sacrifice, and there the people read the fates, as did the Greek and Roman soothsayers, in the shapes of clouds and the forms and colors of entrails of birds or of pigs killed on the altars. Human sacrifices were offered [186]on important occasions, but always of men,—never of women or children. If no criminals or prisoners were available, the first gardener or fisherman was captured, knocked on the head, and his body left to decay on the altar. Oil and holy water were used to anoint the altar and sacred objects, and when a temple was newly finished its altar was piled with the dead. There is a striking universality among people in the brutal stage of development in this practice of pacifying their deities by murder. When a king or high priest offered a sacrifice of a foeman the butcher gouged the left eye from the body and gave it to his superior, who pretended to eat it. If a victim succeeded in escaping to a temple of refuge he was safe, even though he had killed a king or slapped the chops of a wooden god.

All over the islands are natural monuments associated with instances that prove the faith of the people in gods, fiends, spirits, and heroes. At Mana Beach the “barking” or whistling of the sands under the tread is held to be the wailing of buried Hawaiians, complaining that they are disturbed. Here, too, dwells the ghost of the giant Kamalimaloa, rising through the earth with spear and helmet at certain seasons and seeking two beautiful girls who scorned him in life, and whom he is doomed never to meet in death. Holes and caves that abound in the lava—old craters, bubbles, and steam-vents—also have their stories. On Kauai they show a series called Pele’s Jumps, because [187]when the fire-goddess was driven from that island by the water-gods she made three long steps in the soft crust before undertaking the final leap that landed her on the slope of Kilauea. Each of these pits would hold a hotel. Another chasm was made by pulling a monster turtle out of his lair, while he slept, with the intent of eating him. This pit is thousands of cubic yards in extent, and the turtle may be seen on a neighboring mountain, turned to stone by the curses of the chief from whom he tried to sneak away when he noticed that preparations for cooking were forward. Near the famous Hanapepe Falls is the cave of Makaopihi, variously regarded as a chief, a devil, and a god, who took refuge here from his enemies, but every now and then showed his contempt for them by going down the long slope that is still called his slide,—a recreation that to an ordinary mortal would mean death.

It is curious, if not significant, that in the language of Tahiti, which is related to that of these islands, Maui appears, not as a place, but as a sun god who destroyed his enemies with a jaw-bone, while the word hawaii means hell. Strange, indeed, that one of the most heavenly corners of the earth should have taken on a name like that. The volcanoes may have terrified the early comers to such a degree that it seemed the only fitting one if they chanced to arrive in the time of an eruption. [188]

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The Giant Gods

Gods and demi-gods as vast as their mountains are celebrated in the traditionary chants of the Hawaiians. While the largest island in the group seems to have been their favorite residence, it was the easiest thing imaginable to move, since they had only to step on board of their enchanted canoes and make a wish and they were at once wafted to any port they desired. A few of them did not need any canoes: they were of such height they could step from island to island, and could wade through the deepest oceans without submerging their heads. Kana would often straddle from Kauai to Oahu, like a colossus of Rhodes, and when a king of Kahiki, who was keeper of the sun, undertook to deprive the people of it, because of some slight, Kana waded across the sea and forced that king to behave himself instanter; then, having seen the light properly placed in the sky, he spread his breech-clout over a few acres of volcano to dry, and took a nap on a mile or so of lava bed. This deity had the power of compressing himself into a small space, and likewise of pulling himself out to any desired length, like an accordion, so that there was not water in the eight seas deep enough to drown him.

And Maui, the demi-god, was even more tremendous in his bulk. Whales were his playthings, and sharks were minnows beside him. He had to swim in water that reached only to his waist, because [189]there was no deeper, and even then his head was circled by clouds. He had a wife of an immensity comparable to his own. Once, while busily beating out a piece of bark-cloth, the sun sank low before she had finished her task. Like the excellent housewife that she was, she did not wish the day to end on work unfinished, so, at her request, Maui reached out into the west, seized the sun, without burning his fingers much, pulled it back to noon and held it there for two or three hours while the making of the cloth proceeded. Then it resumed its journey through the heavens, and has kept excellent time ever since.

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The First Fire

The demi-god Maui lived near Mauna Kea, and in roaming over that mountain he often felt the chill that is in high places. It set him wondering why the volcano gods had never given to men the secret of fire, that so warmed and comforted one at night. To take it from the craters was dangerous. One was liable to be stifled by sulphur, blinded by dust, scalded by steam, and destroyed by lava, for the crust was continually breaking and falling. The mud-hens, or bald coots, had the secret, however, and when he came upon their little fires in the woods, Maui hid among the trees and watched. Despite his vast bulk, he was not observed, or was more probably mistaken for a hill, [190]for presently the mud-hens assembled in a glade, before his eyes, and made a fire by rubbing dry sticks together. They cooked fish and roots over the fire, and the savor of the banquet was so appetizing that Maui could not resist the temptation: he reached out and confiscated the dinner, and the mud-hens flew off crying.

His attempt to catch the hens and learn from them how to make fire did not succeed until he had rolled himself in bark-cloth; for, so disguised, and after patient waiting, he captured the mother hen. She tried to deceive him, for she did not want the secret to leave her family. She told him to rub taro stalks on the line of their spirals, the twist being put there for that purpose. He tried it without effect, and gave the old hen’s neck a twist to make her tell the truth. She finally showed him how to make sparks with old, dry chips, and he let her go, but not until he had rubbed her head until it was raw, to punish her delay and falsehoods. And to this day the head of this bird is bare of feathers.

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The Little People

Hawaiians believe in “little people” that live in deep woods and peep and snicker at travellers who pass. This belief is thought to go back to the earliest times, and to hint at the smallness of the original Hawaiians, for one may take with a grain of salt these tales of the giant size of their kings [191]and fighters. The first “little people” were grandchildren of Nuu, or Noah, and the big people who came after were Samoans. While anybody may hear these fairies running and laughing, only a native can see them. They are usually kind and helpful, and it is their law that any work they undertake must be finished before sunrise; for they dislike to be watched, and scuttle off to the woods at dawn.

Pi, a Kauai farmer, wanted a ditch to carry water from the Waimea River for the refreshment of his land near Kikiloa, and, having marked the route, he ordered the menehune, as they call the little people, to do the work. It would have been polite to ask rather than to command; still, they did what was required of them, each oaf lugging a stone to the river for the dam, which may be seen to this day. The hum and bustle of the work were heard all night, and so pleased was the farmer, when morning came and the ditch was built, that he set a feast for the menehune on the next night, and it was gone at daybreak. There were no tramps in Hawaii, so the menehune must have eaten it. Conceiving that he had acquired what our ward statesmen call a “pull” with these helpers, he planned an elaborate fish-pond and put them at work again. He had staked off such an immense area that the little people could not possibly finish it by morning. As light streaked the east and the cocks crew they scampered away to the mountains, dripping with sweat and angered at the man who had so abused [192]their willingness. And they could never be induced to work for him again.

Although of supernatural power themselves, the little people are religious, and have built several houses to the gods. On the face of the mountain wall, two thousand feet high, back of the leper settlement at Molokai, is a ledge that can be reached neither from above nor below, and on it stands a temple of their construction. In Pepeeko, Hilo, the natives labored for a month in quarrying and dressing stone, but when it was ready the elves built their temple in a night. So at Kohala they formed a chain twelve miles long between the quarry and the site, and, passing the blocks from hand to hand, finished the great enclosure before sunrise.

Yet these fairies had a taste for mischief, and could be as active in it as so many boys. When a child on Maui, Laka was so loved by his father that he would travel many miles to buy a toy for him, and hearing of a strange new plaything in Hawaii, the father sailed to that island to get it. He never returned, for the natives killed him and hid his skeleton in a cave. When Laka had come to man’s estate he began preparations for a voyage to that island, that he might either find his father or know his fate, for of his death he did not learn until long after. In these preparations he was oddly thwarted. Every time he hewed down a tree for a canoe it was gone in the morning. Out of patience, he resolved to catch the thieves. In order to make their task [193]especially hard, he dug a hole into which the tree fell, when he had chopped it, so that his enemies would have to lift it out before they could carry it away. Then, in the shadow, he waited. At midnight a small humming and giggling were heard in the bushes and a company of menehune stole out into the shine of the moon. They began to tug at the fallen tree. Laka sprang upon them and captured two, the others running away with shrill screams. Laka threatened to kill his prisoners for the trouble they had made, but he did not really intend to hurt them. Their tears and cries and the rapid beating of their hearts, that he could feel as he held them under his arms, stirred his pity, and he agreed to let them go if they would promise to assemble their tribe, drag the tree to his canoe shed on the shore and fashion it into a boat. This they promised so eagerly that he put them back on the earth and laughed as they scampered into the thicket. True to their promise, they dragged the tree to the ocean that very night, and carved and hollowed it into the finest vessel to be seen on the island; so, friendly relations being thus established, Laka set a feast for them, which they ate in thankfulness and never troubled him more. Whether he succeeded in the search for the parental bones, or left his own to whiten on the same soil, is not recorded, but you can see for yourself the hollow he dug for the tree, and his canoe shed was standing after white men reached the group. [194]

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The Hawaiian Iliad

Kaupepee, who might have governed Molokai in the twelfth century, had he not chosen war as his vocation, was a believer in home rule. He did not like the immigrants who were swarming northward from Tahiti and Samoa. Though they resembled his own race, to be sure, and spoke a language he could understand, he regarded them as greedy and revolutionary, and they worshipped strange gods and sometimes misused the people among whom they had cast their fortunes. So Kaupepee resigned his kingship to his brother, and became a fighter, a devastator. With some hundreds of hardy men at arms and the finest ships of the time, hewn from Oregon pines and Canada spruces that had drifted to the islands, he bitterly harassed the other kingdoms, dashing ashore at the principal towns in buccaneer fashion, laying violent hands on their stores, capturing their handsomest women, breaking the taboo in their temples, killing a dozen of their men, then flying to his canoes again, hoisting his red sails, and putting off before the astonished people knew exactly what had happened.

This prince had fortified himself in quite a modern fashion at Haupu, in his native kingdom. From the land side the tract was reached only by a narrow dike which he had walled across with lava blocks, a tunnel beneath this obstruction affording the only [195]exit toward the mountains. On the ocean front he had also built his forts of stone, although the sea boiled five hundred feet below and the plateau ended in an almost sheer precipice. Deep ravines on either side of the stronghold bent around it to the rocky neck, thus making the place almost an island. In these ravines were narrow paths by which his people descended to their boats, secreted on the dark and winding waters or hoisted on the rocks. This was the Troy of the Pacific; Kaupepee was the Paris, and here he brought his Helen, who was Hina, the most beautiful woman of her day, and the wife of a chief in Hawaii. Kaupepee, encouraged by his oracles, inflamed by reports of the woman’s charm, had been lurking along the coast for some time, watching for his opportunity. It came when Hina ventured into the sea to bathe on a moonlight evening. Kaupepee, dashing from his concealment, intercepted her escape, shouted to his men who were in waiting behind a wooded point, and while the woman’s friends and attendants fled shrieking to the shore, he lifted her into his canoe, paddled away to his double barge a half mile out, placed his lovely captive in a shelter on board, and began the return voyage. The drum could be heard in the village rousing the people, and lights twinkled among the trees, showing that a pursuit was intended. In vain. The dusky Menelaus may have put to sea, but he never appeared in view of the flying ships. During the two days occupied in the [196]run to Molokai the prisoner refused food, and begged to be put to death. She was assured that no harm was intended to her. On arriving at the fort of her captor she was surprised by the appearance of women who had been stolen from her villages before, and who were now to be her maids; nor could she restrain an exclamation of pleasure when she was ushered into what for the next eighteen years was to be her home. It was hung and carpeted with decorated mats; its wooden frame was brightly painted, festooned with flowers, and friezed with shells; couches of sea-grass were overspread with cloth beaten from palm fibre; heavy curtains hung at the doors; ranged on shelves were ornaments and carved calabashes, while there was a profuse array of feathered cloaks and other modish millinery and raiment.

All, from Kaupepee to the humblest soldier, had paid the respect to her that was the due of a queen. She was told that she could enjoy a certain amount of liberty, and if she suffered from her slight captivity she was asked what might be thought of her new lord whose heart she had absolutely in her keeping, and who was therefore less free than she. This pretty speech and the really kind treatment she had received, together with a hearty and needed meal of fruit, fish, potatoes, and poi, caused her to look on her situation with less of despair. She belonged to a simple race, whose moral code was different from ours; she was more luxuriously surrounded [197]than she had ever been before; Kaupepee was bold and handsome; he was, moreover, strangely gentle in her presence, thoughtful of her comfort, and—well, she fell out of love with her old husband and in love with the new.

Matters were not so very dull while the war lord was away on his forays. A considerable populace had been drawn to Haupu, and there were dances and feasts, games, excursions, trials at arms, races, and swimming matches, in which Hina shared when it pleased her. Reservoirs for water, storehouses for food, and parks of ammunition were also to be established, for none could tell when the fort might be attacked. A long time passed before it was besieged. That time might never have come had not Hina left at home two sons with long memories. For years, as they approached manhood, they devoted themselves to rousing the people of all the islands and preparing a navy that should be invincible. Kaupepee kept himself informed of these measures, and now and again discouraged them by swooping on their shipyards, destroying their craft, and running off with a priest or two for a sacrifice. This kind of thing merely hastened his punishment, and in time ten thousand soldiers in two thousand boats were sighted from the battlements of Haupu. A land force was sent to attack the stronghold from the hills. Kaupepee’s brother could not prevent this. He was allowed to remain neutral. He foresaw the inevitable. When he implored the chief to [198]give up Hina, save himself and his warriors, and agree to a future peace, Kaupepee would not listen. He had a thousand men, well armed, and his enemies had an almost life-long hate to gratify. “If my day has come,” he said, “let it be as the gods will. When the battle is over, look for me on the walls. I shall be there among the dead.” The king went away with bowed head, for he knew he should never see the defender of Molokai again.

Early in the morning the fleet put out from its harborage, where the gods had been invoked and the priests had declared the omens kindly. The mother of Hina stood in the prow of one of the first canoes, her white hair blowing about her head in snaky folds, her black eyes glittering. A fire burned before her on an altar of stone, and on this she threw oils and gums that yielded a fragrant smoke. As the walls of Haupu came in sight, bristling with spears, she began a battle-song, which her warriors took up, crew by crew, until the mighty chant echoed from the crags and every heart thrilled with the hope of conflict. As the boats advanced almost within reach of the slings from the citadel, the land army was seen advancing over the mountains far in the distance. Haupu would be beleaguered shortly. Kaupepee gathered his people around him, told of the odds against them, and confessed that the end might be defeat, adding that if there was one whose heart failed him the gates were open [199]and he could leave, freely, with the good-will of all who stayed.

Not a man moved. With one cry of “Close the gates!” they declared for death, if so be that the gods were against them. The chief smiled and prepared for the defence. Some cried that the shore was crowded with enemies. Kaupepee replied, in Spartan phrase, “Our spears will be the less likely to miss.” A messenger arrived offering terms if Hina were given up. The answer was, “She is here. Come and take her.”

The land force had been making a demonstration against the narrow bridge of rock that led to the fortress, and had succeeded so well, according to a prearranged plan, that almost the entire garrison had crossed the plateau to that side, when shouts of triumph arose from the ravines. The enemy had entered them and was smashing the boats of Kaupepee to fragments. That cry of defiance was mis-timed. In a few moments a thunderous roar was heard that echoed through the abyss and paralyzed the hands of those who were attacking the gates. The men who had run to the walls, on hearing the shouts below, had let loose, into the depths, a deadly avalanche of earth, rocks, and timber. When the dust of it had drifted out, scores, hundreds, of dead and dying were seen half-buried in the fallen mass. Armed with spears, knives, and axes, a little company sprang over the parapet, and, running down the narrow trail to the bottom, despatched the survivors,[200]—all save a few who swam to the reserve boats, and six who were carried up to the fort for sacrifice. One majestic chief, who had led this attack from the sea, avoided knives and missiles and drew away in safety with the other few who escaped. He was one of the sons of Hina. “He is brave; I am glad he remains unharmed,” said Kaupepee.

For several days the siege went on, the men within the defences taking heart from this first success, that had cost the enemy two thousand men. The sea approach was abandoned, and now that Kaupepee’s boats were destroyed or injured, so that he could not get away, the assailants concentrated their efforts on the landward side. They had devised a movable wall of wood, heavily braced, like that used by the Romans and Assyrians in their military operations. Foot by foot they gained the isthmus and slowly crossed it, those immediately behind this defence being protected from the slings and javelins of the garrison,—that reached those at a greater distance, however. On a rainy night they pushed this wall against the gates, found the entrance to the tunnel, and at dawn were ready for the final assault. It began with a downpour of spears and stones, before which it was impossible to stand. Then the heavy slab that masked the inner door to the tunnel was lifted, and in another minute five thousand men were pouring over the walls and through the passage. Not one man attempted flight. [201]Contesting every inch of ground and fighting hand to hand, the men of Molokai retired before the invaders. There was an incessant din of weapons and voices. At last, the garrison—the fifty who were left of it—and their chief were crowded to the temple in the centre of the plain. One of the besieging party scrambled to the roof and set it afire with a torch. The fated fifty rushed forth only to hurl themselves against the hedge of weapons about them. Kaupepee was transfixed by a spear. With his last strength he aimed his javelin at the breast of a tall young chief who suddenly appeared before him,—aimed, but did not throw; for he recognized in the face of the man before him the features of the woman he loved,—Hina. The javelin fell at his side and he tumbled upon the earth, never to rise again. Every man in Haupu was killed, and its walls were levelled: Hina was found in her cottage, and although she bewailed the death of her lover, she rejoiced in her restoration to her mother and her sons.

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The Hawaiian Orpheus and Eurydice

Upon the slopes of Hualalai, just under the clouds and among the fragrant sandal-woods, lived Hana and her son, Hiku. They made their living by beating bark into cloth, which the woman took to the coast to swap for implements, for sea [202]food, for sharp shells for scraping the bark, and she always went alone, leaving Hiku on the mountain to talk to the animals, to paint pictures on the cloth, and to play on curious instruments he had made from gourds, reeds, and fibre, for he could play music that made the birds stop in their flight to listen. The mother loved the son so much that she wished to keep him by her so long as she lived, and that was why she never let him go with her to the shore. She believed that if he visited the towns and tasted the joys of surf-riding, shared in the games of the athletes, and drank the beer they brewed down there, and especially if he saw the pretty girls, he would never go back to his mountain home. And though Hiku wondered what life was among the people on the shore, he was obedient and not ill content until he had passed his eighteenth birthday.

As he sat one evening with eyes fixed on the far-off sea, sparkling under the moon, the wind brought the hoarse call of the surf and a faint sound of hula drums, and a sudden impulse came upon him to see the world for himself. He called to his mother that he was going down the mountain. She tried with tears and prayers and warnings to stay him, but his resolution was taken, and off he went, saying that he would be back again some day. Though he was as green as grass and untaught in the practices of the settlements, Hiku was a fellow of parts. He was not long in making a place for himself in society, [203]and his first proceeding was to tumble head over heels in love. His flame was Kawelu. She received him graciously, flung wreaths of flower petals about his neck in the pretty fashion of her people when he called, as he did every day from sunrise until dark; and when he could row a canoe and had learned how to swim and to coast over the breakers in her company, he had gained paradise.

The day came, however, when these pleasures palled upon him, when he wondered if his mother had kept on sorrowing, when he had a longing to see his old home, to breathe the pure, cool air of the hills. He was an impulsive fellow, so he kissed Kawelu and told her that he must go away for a while; that she could not go with him, because his mother would probably dislike her. He had not walked a mile before he discovered that Kawelu was following secretly. He increased his speed, yet still she followed, and presently this persistence on her part began to anger him. The one thing he had taken from home was a magic staff that would speak when questions were put to it, and the youth now asked what could be done to turn the girl homeward. It told him to order vines to spring so thickly behind him that she could not break through, and they so sprang at his command. He could no longer see Kawelu when he looked back, though he heard her voice calling softly, reproachfully, and when he reached home, to the joy of his mother, he knew that the girl must have given up the pursuit, [204]as she really had; for, discouraged by the steepness of the mountain and the ever-increasing tangle of vegetation, she returned to her village.

This seeming indifference on the part of the young mountaineer was more than she could bear. She lost interest in sports and work, fell into a lovesickness, and though her father, the chief, sacrificed many black pigs on her behalf, it was of no use,—she died of a broken heart. They wrapped her body in the finest cloth, beaten by the widow and her son, and placed it, with many lamentations, in a burial cave hard by. Such was the dismal news that Hana took to her son after she had been to the settlement to sell a batch of fabric, and it filled Hiku with consternation, for he had intended to go back for the girl as soon as he could reconcile his mother to the idea of a daughter-in-law. He realized what a fool and a brute he had been, and it was of little use for him to tear out his hair and roll upon the ground in the way he did. He left his work and wandered among the lava fields, muttering to himself, gesturing wildly, and beating his breast. Finally it occurred to him to ask his staff how he could amend for his wrong-doing, and was told there was but one way: to rescue the girl from the place of the dead, in the pit of Milu, on the other side of the island.

He lost no time in obeying this oracle, and on arriving at the wild and lonely spot he made a swing of morning-glory vine, which here grows very long, [205]and let himself down, having first smeared himself with rancid grease to make the shades believe he was dead. Thousands of spirits were chasing butterflies and lizards in the twilight gloom of the place or lying under trees. He despaired of being able to discover the spirit of Kawelu. But she had seen him; she hurried to him; she clasped him in a fond embrace; for she had forgiven his wrong conduct, and now she was asking him, sympathetically, how he had died. He evaded an answer, but bestowed on her a thousand endearments, the while he was slowly working his way up the vine, in which he affected to be merely swinging; then, just as she began to show alarm at having been taken so far from her new home, he clapped a cocoanut shell over her head and had her safe, a prisoner.

With the soul enclosed in the shell, he tramped back to her home, living on wild fruits and yams on the way, and on poi that was offered to him by strangers whom he met. The chief received him and his news joyfully, but he did not know how to restore a soul to a body until his oldest priest took the case in hand. Kawelu’s corpse was taken from the tomb, its shiny wrappings were removed and incantations were performed about it. Then the priest raised a toe-nail, took the soul from the shell and pressed it under the nail, working it upward with both hands. It passed the ankle and knee with difficulty, but was finally pushed into place in the heart. Kawelu gasped, opened her [206]eyes, sat up, embraced Hiku, and the people cried that their princess was alive again. There was a great pounding of drums, much singing, dancing, and feasting; every one wore wreaths, and Hiku was praised without stint for his love and daring. The lovers were married, never to part again. Kawelu remembered nothing of what had happened to her after she was turned back by the vines on the mountain, and did not know that her soul had been among the dead. And though he might have taken a dozen wives when he succeeded his father-in-law as chief, Hiku loved Kawelu so well that he never thought of taking even a second helpmate. He brought his mother from her solitary hut on the mountain, and she and the bride became very fond of one another. So all the days of Hiku and Kawelu thereafter were days of happiness.

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The Rebellion of Kamiole

In the year 1170, or thereabout, Kanipahu was king of Hawaii. He was of Samoan origin, grandson of the builder of that temple whose ruins are still to be seen at Puepa in walls over eight hundred feet around, twenty-six feet high, and eight feet thick at the top. It is recorded that the stone for this construction was passed from hand to hand by a line of men reaching all the way to Niuli, a matter of nine miles. Despite the improvements in building and other arts that had come in with the Samoans, [207]the Normans of this Pacific Britain; despite the centralizing of power that enabled them to break down the oppressions of petty lords; despite the satisfaction of the common people, the aristocracy was restive, and sought constantly for excuses to rouse their subjects against the new domination. Wikookoo, head of King Kanipahu’s army, having eloped with the sister of Kamiole, a disaffected chief, the latter burst in upon the king’s privacy soon after with a demand for vengeance. He had met the woman near the king’s house and had struck her dead, as he supposed, that she might not be “degraded” by bearing children to a plebeian immigrant.

The king was a just and patient man, and kept his temper, in spite of the visitor’s harshness, not only to Wikookoo but to all his people. Though he could have ordered him to be slain, he yielded to his general’s demand for permission to fight a duel. The pair faced each other at fifty feet, hurled two spears without effect, then closed with javelins. Wikookoo was hurt, and deeming that honor was satisfied the king ordered the fight to cease. Kamiole gave no heed to his words. He had a tiger’s thirst for blood. Like a flash he leaped upon the fallen man and pounded the weapon into his heart. This rebellion against the king and the savagery of the killing caused an outcry of rage and horror. The murderer’s chance was desperate. “Face down!” commanded the king. This was the command to [208]put the offender to death. A dozen sprang to execute the order. Kamiole tugged the javelin out of his foeman’s body and hurled it at the king. It wounded a young man, who had flung himself in front of his liege, and in the confusion of the moment Kamiole escaped, running like a deer through a shower of stones and darts, gaining his boat and sailing away for his native state of Kau.

Blown with pride in his exploit, the rebel set about the raising of an army to drive the new people from the island. It needed only a leader, like him, to urge disaffection into revolt, and not many weeks after nearly all Hawaii was on the march against the king. Deserted by thousands of his followers, and being a man of peace, albeit having no lack of courage, the king withdrew to the island of Molokai and became a simple farmer among a strange people. He was nearly seven feet in height,—a common stature among men of the first families in that day,—and the neighbors marked him; but he stooped his shoulders and worked hard; so, ere long, his appearance was not accounted strange. Kamiole was now the first man in Hawaii. He was not a reformer. Consumed with pride, arrogant, brutal, brooking no opposition, he made enemies day by day. Only because the people had had enough of war did they endure in silence, and hope for an illness or an accident to remove the now hateful tyrant.

Unknown to Kamiole, the sister he had struck [209]down survived his assault, and bore a daughter to the late Wikookoo, a pretty maid, who, in good time, married the son of the exiled king, a quiet, dreamy youth, who lived apart from his fellows in the interior of Hawaii, finding his company and his employ in the woods and on the vast mountain slopes. Eighteen years had passed when this prince was rudely waked from his idyllic life. An old priest, who alone knew the hiding-places of the king and his son, had tried to rouse the former to reassert his rule. The king welcomed him and wished success to the movement for the overthrow of Kamiole, but he refused command of his old army,—refused to return to Hawaii. “I am old,” said he, “and so bent that I can no longer look over the heads of my people, as becomes a king. I am no longer served with dainties; in the noon heat no servant fans me or brings water; I live in a hut and fare on coarse food; but, old friend, I eat with an appetite, I sleep like a tired and honest man; I have forgotten ceremony and care, and I am happy. Not to be king of all these islands, and the islands of our fathers likewise, would I return. See how blue the sky is, how fresh the trees and grass! What music in the roll of the ocean and in the birds’ songs! What sweetness in the flowers!”

Wondering at this change in his former master, the priest dropped his hands in a gesture of despair. “Then our cause is lost,” said he.

“Not so,” answered the king. “Go to my son. [210]Tell him his father wishes him to reign. Untried as he is, he has my strength; he is resolute, he is wise, he loves justice. He will head your men of war.”

The prince was found to be a willing leader. The arrogance of Kamiole, the decreasing liberties of the people, the thought that the dictator had attempted the lives of his father and his wife’s parents, stirred in him resolves of vengeance. The fickle masses that eighteen years before had overturned his dynasty now gathered under his standard, and battle was offered at Anehomaloo. Kamiole had the fewer men, but the better position, being defended in front by a stone wall five feet high that stretched across the plain, and at the back by a gorge too deep and steep, as he imagined, for an enemy to cross. The fight was fierce and long, and thousands fell on both sides. The prince was cautious, however, for he was waiting the result of a secret move: an assault on the rear of his foe by a large body of spearmen who were making a long detour to prevent detection of this manœuvre. Presently he saw the stir and shimmer of arms on the hill beyond the chasm, and ordering a general charge on Kamiole, kept him so occupied for a quarter of an hour that the advance from the hill was not observed until the detachment had descended the ravine, clambered up again, and was now rushing upon the doomed army. Penned between two forces, Kamiole’s men were beaten to the earth, and the battle ended in a massacre. [211]

When the successful movement was made across the ravine the prince was astonished to see at the head of his troops in the distance a stranger,—a tall, weathered, sinewy man with a mass of white beard and hair that flowed over his chest and shoulders,—who hewed a passage through the battling legion with a club that few men could have lifted. After the fight this stranger stood long before the fallen Kamiole and looked into his fading eyes. As the prince hastened to the dying tyrant, his princess followed with a calabash of water; for in those times women accompanied their husbands and brothers to the field, waiting at a little distance to dress their wounds and supply food and drink. His stature had enabled her to keep him in sight, and she was now about to offer the drink to him, when Kamiole, though he had never before seen his niece, appeared to recognize her voice, and faintly exclaimed, “Iola!”

“My mother’s name!” cried the princess, in surprise. “Then you must be her brother.” Dropping on her knees at his side, she gave the water to Kamiole. The dying man extended his hands toward her and drew a deep breath,—his last.

The prince, who had been smiling at this unusual mercy to an enemy, now looked up and caught the eye of the stranger fixed intently upon him. “By whose arm did Kamiole fall?” he asked.

“By mine,” replied the white-haired man.

“Are you a god?” asked the prince, a sense of [212]awe creeping over him as he noted the strength and dignity of this form.

“I am Kanipahu,—your father.”

And among the heaped dead the two embraced. Having seen his son enthroned and peace restored, the old king refused all offers and persuasions, and went back to Molokai to end his days in peace as a simple farmer. The prince, whose name was Kalapana, and who was the ancestor of the great Kamehameha, reigned tranquilly and died lamented.

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The Japanese Sword

More than two centuries before Columbus reached America on its Atlantic side a Japanese junk visited the western shore. The tradition is too vague to specify whether the navigators attempted a landing or not, but as their boat was small and could not have been provisioned for a voyage of thousands of miles, it is probable that they took on fresh supplies of food and water before they put about and started on the homeward journey. They never saw Japan again, for their vessel went to wreck on Maui, whose king personally rescued five of them,—three men and two women. This was the second appearance in the Hawaiian islands of “white people with shining eyes.” When the captain of the junk reached the shore he still carried the keen sword of steel he had girded on in the expectation of an attack from savages. There was no attack. He and [213]his mates were received with kindness, and provided with houses, although they shocked the multitude by their ignorance of the taboo, the men and women eating from the same dishes. It was explained that their gods were poor, half-enlightened creatures, and that it was as well to let them alone until they should learn truth and manners.

In time these castaways took Mauians to husband and wife, the captain’s sister marrying the king himself, but the captain was held in superstitious reverence because of his sword. The natives had daggers, knives, axes, adzes, hammers, and spears of stone, bone, shark teeth, and fire-hardened wood, but metals were unknown to them, and this long, glittering blade, that cut a javelin stem as the javelin would crack a rib, was a daily wonder. It was the common belief on that island that whoever wielded the weapon would win a victory, though his enemies should be thousands in number. This belief was comforting, but it did not last, for Kalaunui, king of Hawaii, undertook in the year 1260 the subjugation of the whole group, and although his force was defeated with great slaughter on Kauai, he had subdued Maui, Oahu, and Molokai, for the time being, with his fleet of two thousand well-manned, well-armed canoes.

In the great fight on Maui the Japanese warrior fought to the last, but was struck down by a Hawaiian captain, one Kaulu, who buried the precious sword on the spot where he had taken it, and recovered it by [214]starlight. Knowing that the king would demand it if it were seen, he gave it in charge of his mother Waahia, a seer of such renown and verity that she accompanied the army at the request of its leaders. The old woman concealed the blade in the hollow of a rock. Unhappily for her cause, she had not foreseen the result of this campaign, for the expedition met its Waterloo on the shores of Kauai, hundreds of the men being drowned or slain by slings and javelins before a landing could be made. King Kalaunui was made prisoner, the kings of Maui, Oahu, and Molokai, whom he had taken with him as hostages for the surrender of their islands when he should return, were released, and a remnant of the invading force, under lead of Kaulu, returned. The queen was filled with wrath at the failure of this expedition, and rebuked Kaulu for treachery and cowardice,—Kaulu, who had stood by his lord to the moment of his capture, and who had wrested the magic sword from its owner.

Burning under this charge, he sought his mother and asked what he should do to disprove it. She replied that he should not only be cleared by the king himself, but he should marry the king’s daughter. The queen began at once to negotiate for the release of her husband. That monarch was confined in a hut, surrounded by a stone wall and strongly guarded, but was, nevertheless, treated with the respect and distinction worthy of the Napoleon that he was. A fleet of canoes with many spears [215]was offered in exchange; but, with the spoils of battle still in their possession, the victors only smiled at this. Next came an offer of twenty feather cloaks, with stone axes, ivory, and whalebone; but this, too, was rejected. A third proposition by the queen was that the ruler of Kauai should wed her daughter and agree to a perpetual peace. This came to nothing. Several attempts were made to renew the war, but they fell flat, for the experience had been too bitter and the people refused. Three years thus passed,—a time sufficient to convince the queen of her political weakness. She had almost resigned hope when old Waahia sought an audience at court, and said, when she had received permission to break the taboo and speak before the councillors, that she, and she alone, could rescue the king, but she would not undertake this unless the chiefs would promise to grant her request, whatever it might be, on their lord’s return.

This pledge they gave with the understanding that it was not to affect life or sovereignty or possessions, and the seer left for Kauai, with but a single oarsman, in the morning. She arrived while the new-year festivities were in progress, and everybody was in good-humor. There were music, dancing, chanting of poems and traditions, feasting, and much swigging of spirits, not to speak of indulgences that would have shocked civilization. Unannounced, a weird-like, commanding figure, Waahia sought the presence of the court. She had come, she said, to [216]make a final offer for the release of the royal prisoner: the offer of a sword that flashed like fire, that was harder than stone, that broke spears like reeds, that gave to its owner supreme fortune and supreme command. The fame of the bright knife had gone abroad ere this, and an offer had at last been made that carried persuasion with it. The liberty of the king was promised when it should be brought. But first she wished the prisoner’s assurance that on his return he would give his daughter in marriage to her son, since the young people loved each other, and the marriage would also remove the disgrace that the queen had angrily tried to fix upon Kaulu.

This was agreed to, and a few days later the old woman reappeared at the palace with the splendid weapon,—one that would still be splendid, for such blades are not made nowadays,—and with general rejoicing at the possession of this wonder, the chiefs liberated Kalaunui, and he returned to Hawaii, cured of ambition for leadership and military glory. His daughter was married to Kaulu, captain of the royal guard, and kings were their descendants. For many years the glittering prize remained with the ruling house of Kauai, but its virtue had fled when the invincible Kamehameha undertook the conquest of the islands and their union under a single king, for he succeeded in that enterprise, as Kalaunui had not. [217]

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Lo-Lale’s Lament

Lo-Lale, a prince of Oahu in the fifteenth century, took no joy in the sea after the girl had been drowned in it who was betrothed to him. Retiring inland, he led a quiet, thoughtful life, to the regret of those who had looked to see him show some fitness in leadership, for as youth verged toward middle age he was repeatedly besought to marry, that his princely line might be continued. Tired of these importunities, and possibly not averse to the lightening of his spirit, he consented that a wife should be sought for him, and appointed his handsome, dashing cousin, Kalamakua, as his agent in the choice. The cousin sailed at once for Maui, where rumor said a young woman of rare beauty was living at the court, whose hand had been sought by a dozen chiefs. On arriving near the shore of the king’s domain the messenger and his rowers were startled by the uprising from the waves of a laughing, handsome face, and behold! the woman who introduced herself in this unusual fashion was the one they sought: Kelea, the king’s sister. She had been surf-riding on her board, and in the delight of swimming had ventured farther from shore than usual.

The captain of the canoe helped this dusky Venus to rise completely from the sea, and as she did not wish to return at once, he put his boat at her service for the exhilarating and risky sport of coasting the breakers; but putting far out to meet a wave of uncommon [218]size, they were struck by a squall and blown so far that they found it easier to put in for shelter near the home of Lo-Lale than to return to Maui. The storm, the spray, the chilling gusts, compelled Kelea to sit close in the shelter of Kalamakua’s sturdy form. He levied on the scant draperies of his crew for cloth to keep her warm, and all the men dined scantily that she might be fed. It is not strange that a friendship was born on that voyage between the two people who had been so oddly introduced. Lo-Lale had never heard of John Alden and Myles Standish, principally, no doubt, because they had not been born, but it must be allowed in his behalf, or in hers, that he had never seen the damsel whom he was courting thus by proxy. When he did behold her he was vastly pleased, and as he appeared in all the paraphernalia of his rank and instituted in her honor a series of feasts and entertainments unparalleled in Oahu, the consent of Kelea to a speedy marriage was obtained, a courteous notice to that effect being sent to her relatives, who had mourned for her as lost in the storm. He built a temple and adorned it with a statue as a thank-offering for having blown so fair a bride to his domain. No prettier compliment could be paid to a wife, even by a white man.

For a time Kelea was content. Lo-Lale was a kind husband, and he was constantly studying to advance her happiness, but he was meditative and silent; he loved the woody solitudes, while she was fond of company, babble, sport, and especially of [219]swimming and surf-riding. Presently it was noticed that she laughed less. She did not welcome Lo-Lale when he returned from his walks or his communings with Nature on the hills. The voice of the sea was calling her,—and the voice of Kalamakua. A separation had to come. It was without any spoken bitterness. The husband wished her well, bestowed on her some parting gifts, and sent her to the shore in a palanquin borne by four men and attended by a guard of three hundred, as became her station. Kalamakua was waiting on the beach,—Kalamakua, handsome, reckless, ardent. She never returned to Maui. Though Lo-Lale resumed his old, still way and kept his dignity and countenance before his people, his lament, that has been preserved by the treasurers of island traditions for more than four centuries, discovers a pang in his heart deeper than he could or would have voiced when he parted from his wife. The English version is by King Kalakaua:

“Farewell, my partner on the lowland plains,

On the waters of Pohakeo, above Kanehoa,

On the dark mountain spur of Mauna-una!

O, Lihue, she is gone!

Sniff the sweet scent of the grass,

The sweet scent of the wild vines

That are twisted by Waikoloa,

By the winds of Waiopua,

My flower!

As if a mote were in my eye.

The pupil of my eye is troubled.

Dimness covers my eyes. Woe is me!”

[220]
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The Resurrections of Kaha

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 [221]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 [222]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 [223]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. [224]

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Hawaiian Ghosts

Hawaii has its “haunts” and “spooks,” just as do some countries that do not believe in such things. One of the spectres troubles a steep slope near Lihue, Kauai. An obese and lazy chief ordered one of his retainers to carry him to the top of the slope on his shoulders. It was a toilsome climb, the day was hot, hence it is no wonder that just before he gained the summit the man staggered, fell, and sent his dignified and indignant lord sprawling on the rocks. This was a fatal misstep, for the chief ran the poor fellow through with his spear. And the ghost possibly laments because it did not drop its burden sooner and with more emphasis.

Another place that the natives avoid is the Sugar Loaf on Wailua River, Kauai. Hungry robbers broke a taboo and ate some bananas that had been consecrated to a local god, Kamalau. Missing the fruit, the deity turned himself into the rock known as the Sugar Loaf, which is sixty feet high, that he might watch his plantation without being identified. The thieves noticed the rock, however, could not recall that it had been there on the day before, and suspecting something kept away. The sister of the god, believing him to be lost, leaped into the river and became a stone herself. And so, having rid themselves of the flesh, these two are free to wander in the spirit. [225]

Another deity that is occasionally seen is Kamehameha’s large war god, from his temple in Hawaii, that even in his lifetime would leave its pedestal and thrash among the trees like a lost comet.

At Honuapo, Hawaii, is the rock Kaverohea, jutting into the sea, where at night a murdered wife calls to her jealous husband, assuring him of her love and innocence. The voice is oftenest heard when a great disaster is at hand: war, storm, earthquake, the death of a chief, or a season of famine.

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The Three Wives of Laa

Laa, a young man of distinguished family, who had gone to Raiatea in his boyhood, returned a number of years after to visit his foster-father, Moikeha, then chief of Kauai. The boats that were sent for him were painted yellow, the royal color, and Laa was invested in a feather robe that had cost a hundred people a year of labor, and caused the killing of at least ten thousand birds, since the mamo had but one yellow feather under each wing. Hawaiian millinery was, therefore, as cruel a business as it became in America several centuries later. When this favorite scion landed his path was strewn with flowers, and the feasts in his honor lasted for a month. He had agreed to go back to Raiatea, for he had been accepted there as heir-apparent, yet it was thought a pity that his line should cease in his native land; and while he felt that for state reasons he must [226]take a Raiatea woman for his queen,—for the people there would never consent to his carrying home a Hawaiian to help rule over them,—he cheerfully consented to take a temporary wife during his stay in Kauai. His house and grounds were, therefore, decorated, the nobility was assembled, musicians and poets and dancers were engaged, and a great feast was ordered, when a hitch arose over the choice of a bride. Each of the three leading priests had a marriageable daughter of beauty and proud descent. How were their claims to be settled? Easily enough, as it fell out. Laa married all three on the same day, and before his departure for Raiatea each wife on the same day presented a son to him. From these three sons sprang the governing families of Oahu and Kauai.

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The Misdoing of Kamapua

When a child was born to Olopana, a lord of Oahu, in the twelfth century, he conceived a dislike to it, and freely alleged that his brother was its father. Such as dared to speak ill of dignitaries, and there were gossips in those days, as in all other, chuckled, at safe distance, that if Olopana’s suspicions were correct, the boy should have somewhat of his—er—uncle’s good looks and pleasant manner, whereas he was hairy, ill-favored, and, as his nature disclosed itself with increasing years, violent, thievish, treacherous; in short, he was Olopana at his [227]worst. Every day added to the bad feeling between the boy and his father, for when he had grown old enough to appreciate the position to which he had been born, the youngster repaid the hate of his parent, and strove to deserve it. Vain the attempt of the mother to make peace between them and direct her offspring into paths of rectitude. In contempt, the chief put the name of Kamapua, or hog-child, on the boy, and in some of the older myths he actually figures as a half-monster with a body like that of a man, but with the head of a boar.

Kamapua gathered the reckless and incorrigible boys of the neighborhood about him, and the band became a terror by night, for in the dark they broke the taboo and heads as well, stripped trees of their fruit, stole swine and fowls, staved in the bottoms of canoes, cut trees, and in order to look as bad as he felt, the leader cropped his hair and his beard (when one came to him) to the shortness of an inch, tattooed the upper half of his body in black, and wore a hog-skin over his shoulders with bristles outward. On attaining his majority he left his parents, taking with him some of his reprobates, and set up in life as a brigand, making his home in lonely defiles of the hills, and subsisting almost entirely by pillage. Several attempts were made to catch him, and a local legend at Hauula has it that when close pressed by an angry crowd he turned himself into a monstrous hog, made a bridge of himself across a narrow chasm, so that his [228]companions could run over on his back, scrambled on after them, and so escaped.

The neighbors endured these goings-on until Kamapua had added murder to his other crimes, when they resolved that he was no longer a subject for public patience. An army was sent against him, most of his associates were killed, he was caught, and was taken before his father for judgment. Olopana sternly ordered that he be given as a sacrifice to the gods. His mother was in despair at this, for though he was a most unworthy fellow, a nuisance, a danger, still, he was her son, and she loved him better than her life. She bribed the priests, whose duty it was to slay him, and they, having smeared him with chicken-blood, laid him on the altar. The eye that was gouged from the body of a victim, and offered to the chief who made the sacrifice, was in this case the eye of a pig. Olopana did not even pretend to eat this relic, as he should have done, to follow custom, but flung it aside and gazed with satisfaction at the gory features of the man who was shamming death. He had turned to leave the temple when Kamapua leaped from the altar, picked up the bone dagger with which a feint had been made of cutting out his eye and stabbed his father repeatedly in the back. At the sight of a corpse butchering their chief the people fled in panic, the priests, awe-struck at the result of their corruption, hid themselves, and the murderer, so soon as he was sure that Olopana was dead, hurried away, assembled [229]the forty surviving members of his band, leaped into his canoe, and left Oahu forever.

He landed at Kauai, on the cliff of Kipukai, and remembering a well of sweet water on its side, he sought for it, up and down, and back and forth, for he had a raging thirst. Two spirits of the place, knowing him to be evil, had concealed the spring under a mass of shrubbery that he might not pollute it; but he found it, and as he drank he saw their figures reflected in the surface, despite their concealment in the shadow, and heard their laughter at his greed and his uncouthness. That angered him. He sprang up, chased them through the wood, caught them, and with a swing of his great arms hurled them to the hill across the valley, where they became stone and art seen to this day. So ill did he behave in Kauai, assailing innocent people and destroying their taro patches, that they determined to despatch him, and in order to have him under their advantage it was resolved to fence him in near Hanalei. The wall of mountain now existing there is the fence. Just before it was finished the prince in charge of the work sat to rest in a gap which admits the present road. He heard a harsh laugh, and looking up saw Kamapua sitting on the top of Hoary Head. A running fight ensued, in which the outlaw escaped across the mountain, and the prince, hurling his spear, but missing his mark, sent the weapon through the crest of the peak, making the remarkable window that is one of the sights of the island. And [230]now, when a cloud rests on this mountain, the people say that Kamapua is sitting there.

Some years before this Pele and her brothers had migrated from the far southern islands and had made their home in Hawaii, close to the crater of Kilauea,—so close that they were believed to be under the special protection of the gods; and from that belief no doubt grew the later faith that Pele and her family were gods themselves; that they lived in the cones thrust up from the floor of Kilauea by gas and steam while it was in a viscid state; that the music of their dances came up in thunder gusts, and that they swam the white surges of lava in the hell-pit.

Having heard of the beauty of this woman, Kamapua resolved to abduct her, and after a visit, in which the usual courtesies and hospitalities were observed, but which he paid in order to estimate the strength of her following, he attacked the outlying huts of the village in the night and killed their occupants, intending to follow this assault by surrounding Pele’s house and forcing the surrender of all within: but hearing the outcry in the distance and divining its meaning, she and her brothers hastily gathered weapons and provisions and fled to a cave in the hills three miles away. There was a sufficient spring in this place, and the entrance was defended by heavy blocks. The fugitives could have endured a siege of a week with little likelihood of loss. In the morning a dog, following their scent, led Kamapua to this stronghold. An attack costing several [231]lives on his side, and making no effect on those entrenched within, convinced him that it was useless to expect success from this method, so he piled fuel against the entrance and set it afire, hoping to suffocate the defenders to unconsciousness, when he would force his way to the interior and rescue Pele. Here again he failed, for a strong draft blowing from the cave carried the smoke into his own face. Then he ordered a hole to be cut in the cavern roof, for this appeared to be not more than fifteen or twenty feet thick, and being friable was easily worked by the stone drills and axes of his men. The workers plied their tools industriously, while Kamapua shouted threats and defiance through the chinks in the wall before the cavern door.

His taunts were vain. While the sinking of the shaft was in progress, a strange new power was coming upon Pele. The gods of the earth and air had seen this assault and had resolved to take her part. The sky became overcast with brown, unwholesome-looking clouds, the ground grew hot and parched, vegetation drooped and withered, birds flew seaward with cries of distress, and a waiting stillness fell upon the world. Kamapua had cut away ten feet of rock, when the voice of Pele was heard in long, shrill laughter, dying in far recesses of the mountain, as if she were flying through passages of immense length. The hills began to shake; vast roarings were beard; a choking fume of sulphur filled the air, dust rolled upward, making a darkness like [232]the night; then, with a crash like the bursting of a world, the top of Kilauea was blown toward the heavens in an upward shower of rock; a fierce glow colored the ash-clouds that volleyed from the crater, and down the valley came pouring a flood of lava, a river of white fire, crested with the flame of burning forests, as with foam.

Down the Valley came Pouring a Flood of Lava.

Down the Valley came Pouring a Flood of Lava.

Kamapua and his bandits fled, but again he heard the laughter, this time from the crater, which Pele had reached from within, and was now mounting, free, vaulting through the clouds, revelling in the heat and blaze and din, and hurling rocks and thunderbolts at the intruder. At the ocean’s edge the lava was still close at his heels. Its heat blistered his skin. He had no time to reach his boats. With his spear he struck a mighty blow on the ground and cracked the mountain to its base, so that the ocean flowed in, and a fearful fight of fire and sea began. Steam shot for miles into the air, with vast geysers leaping through it, and the hiss and screech and bellow were appalling. The crater filled with water, so that Pele and her brothers had to drink it dry, lest the fires should be quenched. When they had done this they resumed the attack on Kamapua, emptying the mountain of its ash and molten rock, and hurling tons of stone after the wretch, who was now straining every muscle to force his boat far enough to sea to insure his safety. He did not retaliate this time, but was glad to make his escape; for Pele had come to her godhood at last. [233]

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Pele’s Hair

Fiercest, though loveliest, of all the gods is Pele, she whose home is in Kilauea, greatest of the world’s volcanoes. When this mountain lights the heavens, when lava pours from its miles of throat, when stone bombs are hurled at the stars, when its ash-clouds darken the sun and moon, when there are thunders beneath the earth, and the houses shake, then does this spirit of the peak, in robes of fire, ride the hot blast and shriek in the joy of destruction,—a valkyrie of the war of nature. Kanakas try to keep on the good side of this torrid divinity by secret gifts, either of white chickens or of red ohelo berries, and an old man once put into a guide’s hand the bones of a child that he might throw them down the inner crater,—Halemaumau, the House of Eternal Burning, whose ruddy lava cones are homes of the goddess and her family. The dogs sacrificed to Pele, when human victims were scant, were nursed at the breasts of slaves, and the priests and virgins received as their portion, after the killing, the heart and liver. Next to her eyes, of piercing brightness, the most striking thing in the aspect of this deity is her wealth of hair, silky, shining red in the glow, and shaken from her head in a cloud-like spread as of flame. When the eruption is at an end and a sullen peace follows the outbreak, tufts of this hair are found in hollows for miles around. Birds gather it for their nests, and [234]unfearing visitors collect it for cabinets and museums.

Science tells us that Pele’s hair is a molten glass; threads of pumice: a stony froth. When a mighty blast occurs, or when steam escapes through the boiling mass, particles of pumice shred off in the upward flight, or are wire-drawn by winds that rage over the earth. These viscid threads cool quickly in that chill altitude, and float down again. They can be artificially made by passing jets of steam through the slag of iron furnaces while it is in a melted state, the product, which resembles raw cotton, being used, in place of asbestos, for the packing of boilers, steam-pipes, and the like. To such base uses might the goddess’ shining locks be put, if she tore them out in large enough handfuls during the carnival of fire and earthquake; but they are not found in quantities to justify this search by commercial-minded persons, and conservative Kanakas might be alarmed by thought of revenges which Pele would visit on them should they misuse her hair as the foreign heathen do.

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The Prayer to Pele

Although Pele is the most terrible of deities, she can be kind. If a village makes sacrifices to her she is liable at any hour to continue to keep the peace. Otherwise, she loses her temper and pours out floods of lava or showers of ashes on [235]the neglectful people, or dries their springs and wastes their farms. Sacrifices of unhappy beings were made to her whenever the volcano spirits began to growl, the victims being bound and thrown into the crater of the threatening mountain. Princess Kapiolani was probably the first native to protest against these sacrifices, and in 1824, after her conversion to Christianity, she gave an instructive exhibition by defying the taboo of Kilauea, eating the berries growing on the sides of the peak, in defiance of the priestly order, and throwing rocks contemptuously into the pit.

Pele is the Venus of the islands, and is of wondrous beauty when she takes a human form, as she does, now and again, when she falls in love with some Mars or Adonis of the native race, or when she intends to engage in coasting down the slippery mountain sides,—a sport of which she is fond. As always with distinguished company, you must let your competitor win, if you fancy that it is Pele in disguise who is your rival in a toboggan contest; for a chief of Puna having once suffered himself to distance her, she revengefully emptied a sea of lava from the nearest crater and forced him to fly the region. Many tales of her amours survive. Kamehameha the Great was among her most favored lovers. It was to help him to a victory that she suffocated a part of the army of his enemy with steam and sulphur fumes.

It fared less happily with the debonnair Prince [236]Kaululaau when he attempted force in his wooing. He found Pele watching the surf-riders at Keauhou, and was ravished by her loveliness. Her skirt glittered with crystal, her mantle was colored like a rainbow, bracelets of shell circled her wrists and ankles, her hair was held in a wreath of flowers. His admiration was not returned. She was contemptuous toward him,—one could almost say cold, but Pele was seldom that, for when the young chief approached, the earth about her was blistering hot and he was compelled to dance. With his magic spear he dissipated her power for a little and lowered the temperature she had inflamed the very earth withal. So soon, however, as she had regained her freedom, and had passed beyond the influence of this spear, she undertook to avenge herself by opening the gates of the mountain and letting loose a deluge of lava. Again with his spear-point Kaululaau drew lines on the ground, beyond which the deadly torrent could not pass, and through the hot air, amid the rain of ashes and the belching of sulphurous steam, he regained his canoe and escaped.

Only so far back as 1882 this goddess was petitioned by one of the faithful, and with effect. Mauna Loa was in eruption. A river of lava twenty-five miles long was creeping down the slope and was threatening the town of Hilo. The people raised walls and breaks of stone to deflect this stream; they dug pits across its course to check it, but without avail. The vast flow of melted rock kept on, lighting [237]the skies, charring vegetation at a distance, and filling the air with an intolerable heat. Princess Ruth, a descendant of Kamehameha, was appealed to. She hated the white race, and would have seen with little emotion the destruction of all the European and American intruders in Hilo; but it was her own people who were most in danger, so she answered, “I will save the Hilo fish-ponds. Pele will hear a Kamehameha.” A steamer was obtained for her, and with many attendants she sailed from Honolulu to the threatened point. Climbing the slope behind the village, she built an altar close to the advancing lava, cast offerings upon the glowing mass, and solemnly prayed for the salvation of Hilo. That night the lava ceased to flow. It still forms a shining bulwark about the menaced town. The princess sailed back to Honolulu, and the faithful asked the Christians why the pagan divinity alone had answered the many prayers.

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Lohiau and the Volcano Princess

With gods, as with men, who would speed his affairs must keep them in his own hands. Pele, the volcano goddess, fell in love with Lohiau, a Kauaian prince, and in human guise remained with him so long that her sisters were afraid the Kilauea fires would go out. The prince took an illness, and appeared to die, ere the honeymoon was over, so, wrapped in cloth of bark, he was put under guard to [238]lie in state. When Pele had gone back alone to her mountain home a longing came upon her to feel the young man’s arms about her once more and hear the words of love he had such a pretty talent for telling. But, instead of going herself, she sent her sister Hiika to rescue his soul and bring it to her. This was a mistake, for the sister was not a serious creature. Stopping to brave the devils and giant lizards of the woods, turning the boards of surf-riders to stone for a prank, and scaring a fisherman by causing him to pull a human head out of the sea, the sister next found a half-released spirit hovering near a dying chief. She tied it in a corner of her skirt and slapped the skirt against a rock, so the chief finished his dying promptly. In Kauai, at last, her search was rewarded. She saw the ghost of Lohiau beckoning from a cave, in which it had been imprisoned by demons, who fled, hissing, on her approach. She broke the bars of moonbeam that confined it, tied it in her skirt, carried it to its body, restored the prince to life, then led him to Hawaii and with him scaled the mountain where Pele was waiting in great dudgeon. For Hiika had been gone so long on this journey that a wrong construction had been put on her delay. Lohiau and Hiika had, indeed, learned to esteem each other, but they had not violated the trust imposed in them by the goddess.

Pele was madly jealous, however. She turned the prince to stone on the crater brink,—the poor fellow was growing used to dying now,—and, dismayed [239]by this act of cruelty, Hiika descended through the five spheres to the dark underworld where the spirits lived. She hoped that the young man’s ghost would follow her, for pity in his sufferings had fast increased to love. As the spirit did not come, she returned to the surface of the earth and went on a voyage of search in a boat that a god had lent to her,—a boat of cowrie shell, which in overland travel would shrink so that it could be carried in the hand; then, at the word, would swell to a stately barge of pearl with ivory masts and sails as white as the snow on the mountain. This vessel moved with the speed of the wind in any direction the occupant indicated by pointing the finger. The prince’s wandering spirit was found in Kauai, its old home; was taken by a messenger to the stone image on the crater, and put back into the body, and the prince lived again. Pele was by this time in a soft and repentant humor. She asked forgiveness of Lohiau and bade him love and wed her sister, who was good, and had earned his love. This Lohiau did, whereupon Pele restored to life several of Hiika’s friends whom, also, in her first anger, she had turned to statues of lava.

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A Visit of Pele

While a great storm was raging over Hawaii a boy was born to a woman chief in the camp of King Alapai. At once the soothsayers proclaimed him as the man of prophecy who should [240]conquer the eight islands and end their strifes. It seemed as if for once—or oftener—the kahunas were wrong, for the babe disappeared that very night. There were rumors of foul play; rumors that Alapai had killed him, that he might not stand in the way of his own progeny, for this barbarian Macbeth would have no Banquo to intercept his line or wrest the crown from him. It was five years before the fate of the child was known. He was not dead: Naole, a chief, had kidnapped him that the prophecy might come to pass. When the king heard of this he commanded that the boy be placed at court, where he might learn manners and the laws, and be kept under the eyes of the great; but, doubting his master’s motive, Naole did not send the child; he sent another of the same age, who was to cut no figure in the history of the islands, not being the favored of the gods.

The real prince was kept in so secluded a place and the secret of his parentage so well preserved—it was prophecy that he should be fathered of three kings—that he had reached the age of twenty before Naole deemed it safe to let him mingle with the multitude. He then made it known that the young man was Kamehameha. By this time King Alapai was dead, or helpless with age; but the prince, albeit liberal and just, was rough, strong, dictatorial, a natural military leader, and he did not lack enemies. Worst among these was his uncle, Pepehi, an elderly chief, who had read omens in the entrails [241]of sacrifice warning him to be discreet and guarded in his life or it would be taken from him by one related to him, and of greater power. He could not brook the thought of Kamehameha’s ascendency, for he was a man used to deference, a man of weight and dignity, while this new-found prince was a boor. He therefore made himself unpleasant by criticisms and carpings, by false interpretations of signs, by implications against his nephew, and finding that the young man did not retaliate, he resolved to have his life.

Pretending anger with Kamehameha because he would not study for the priesthood and succeed to his honors, the soothsayer dinned a tirade into his ears in the temple ground, hoping to receive a blow, that he might stab, in return, for he wished the killing to appear as if done in self-defence. Stung by his insolence, Kamehameha did knock him down: a good, stout blow, well won. So soon as he had recovered his wits and got upon his feet the priest plucked out his long bone knife and made a stroke, but the priestess of the temple, her eyes blazing with anger at this trespass, caught his wrist and cried, “Down to your knees! Ask pardon of your future king and mercy of the gods.”

At that instant came a rush of wings and a blaze of light filling the temple space. All fell to the earth, for they had recognized the tall form before them with the coronet of vari-colored sparks bound on the golden hair that swept around it like a cloud [242]of glory, and the robe of tissue that was like flame of silver whiteness. It was the volcano goddess.

“Peace!” she commanded. “This boy is in the charge of Pele. Let no hand be lifted against him. No knife, no art, no poison, and no spell shall shorten his life. He will be your greatest king: your best. He will put an end to these wretched wars between your families, and prepare for the day when a pale race will come to these lands, making them a step in their conquering march around the world. As for you, Pepehi, speak another word against those I love, lift a hand against them, and I turn you to a cinder. Aloha!” She had vanished like flame. Kamehameha, on this revelation of his destiny, sprang to his feet. His breath was quick and strong, a smile was on his lips, and he looked into the distance with lifted face and flashing eye, as if a glorious vision had arisen there. A touch on his foot brought him to himself. Pepehi was grovelling before him, baring his breast and offering to Kamehameha the poisoned dagger he had but a few moments before aimed at the young king’s heart. Lifting him from the ground, Kamehameha comforted the priest with a few words and sent him homeward with bowed head and dragging step. [243]

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The Great Famine

Hua, the licentious king of Maui,—who kept a hundred hula dancers, was drunk for days together on awa, and spared no wife or daughter of a friend or subject if she took his fancy,—had been chafing under the restraints imposed or attempted by his high priest, a blameless man whose age and long service should have gained even a king’s consideration. It was approaching a new-year feast (the end of December), toward the close of the twelfth century, and Hua had made such levies on his people for useless wars and wasteful orgies that the old man was moved to protest. Hua paid no attention to him, but loudly ordered his hunters to go to the mountains and bring him some water-birds for his table.

“Those birds can be found only by the sea,” ventured the priest.

“You countermand my orders, do you?” roared the monarch.

“I gave no order,” protested the venerable man.

“Hark you,” insisted the king. “My men are going to the mountain. If they find the birds there—and they will—you shall be slain as a rebel and a false prophet.”

Seeing that his master desired his death, the priest bowed and made no answer. He went to his sons, who were studying for the priesthood, prevailed on them to fly to Mount Haleakala, and probably hoped to follow them, but being slow and lame with years, [244]the hunters had returned before he could escape. They bore their prey, the water-birds, and said they had found them inland. Knowing this to be a lie, told by the king’s command, the priest said, “These birds came from the sea. You can smell it upon them. Look.” And he cut open two or three of their bodies. “Here are little fish and bits of seaweed they have eaten within the hour.”

Enraged at the discovery of his paltry subterfuge, the king caught up a spear and thrust it into the old man’s heart. Though everything is permitted to a king, the people could not repress a groan of horror, and one by one they stole away from the spot, fearful of what might follow this sacrilege. Well might they fear. The body of the priest had barely reached the wooden cross that marked the temple-ground as sacred when its bearers dropped it upon the earth and fled, for a sudden fever smote the ground; hot, stifling winds began to blow; the images of the gods wailed and moaned; the sky was red and dripped blood, and the altar that was to have received the body sank through the rock, leaving a hole from which gushed steam and dust. At that hour every well, brook, and spring in the island went dry, save a rill in a cave back of Hana that the gods devoted to the daughter-in-law of the murdered priest and to the old woman who attended her, while a nightly dew fell thereafter about the sons of the dead man, providing drink to them and encouraging a growth of fruit and taro sufficient for their needs. [245]

In a day or two the people were desperate. Their crops were withering, the forests shedding their leaves. Some men killed their neighbors and drank their blood; others drank from the ocean and their increased thirst drove them mad; a few took poison; several offered themselves as sacrifices and were forthwith killed on the altars; but in vain. Prayer and offering were unheeded. The wickedness of the people in submitting to a king like Hua had brought its punishment. Frightened, repentant, maybe, Hua himself fled to Hawaii, and his retainers scattered themselves in Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai. They could not escape the curse. Like the Wandering Jew, they carried disaster with them. Blight, drouth, thirst, and famine appeared wherever they set foot, and though the wicked king kept himself alive for three and a half years, he succumbed to hunger and thirst at last, and in Kohala his withered frame ceased to be animate. To this day “the rattle of Hua’s bones in the sun” afford a simile in common speech. And the wrath of the gods was heavy, so that the people died by thousands.

Hua being dead, the survivors looked anxiously for a return of rain and of life to the islands, and many turned to Naula, of Oahu, imploring him to intercede with the gods in their behalf. This priest was of great age, and was reverenced and feared. He could command the spirits of the living, as well as the spirits of the dead, and talk with them, far from the place where their bodies lay in trance. He [246]had descended into hell, had risen to paradise, and had brought back from the region of the blessed a calabash of the water of life. The animals knew and obeyed him so well that when he journeyed to Kauai and his canoe capsized, a whale swallowed him and vomited him forth on the beach at the very spot where he had intended to land, while at another time two sharks towed his vessel against a head wind with such speed that the sea fowl could hardly keep him in sight. Clearing his eye by a fast and prayer, he climbed to the topmost height of the Waianae Mountains and closely scanned the horizon. The earth was as brick, and the sky as brass, and the sea as silver, save in one quarter: a tiny blur on the universal glare could be seen, he fancied, over Maui. He would wait, in order to be sure. Yes, in the morning the vapor was still there.

“The sons of the murdered priest are in Maui. I will go to them,” he said, and descending to the shore he entered his canoe alone, with neither oar nor sail, yet in the dawn he was at Maui, and the cloud was now plainly seen waving about the great peak of Hanaula. From their eyrie on the mountain the two young men had seen the approach of Naula, for his boat shone in the dark with a moon-like radiance. They knew that it bore some message for them, and when the old man arrived at Makena landing they were there to meet him. His white beard swept the earth as he bowed, and they bent low while waiting for him to speak. “You are the sons of [247]the most worthy priest who was slain by Hua,” he said. “That evil man has expiated his crime, and his bones lie unburied in the light. The people suffer and die. The punishment for Hua’s crime has been severe and long. Let us join our prayers to the gods that they may turn to mercy. I am Naula.”

The elder of the sons replied, “Great priest, we will gladly pray with you for our people, but first tell me of my wife. Is she alive?”

The old man wrapped his head in his cloak and put against his forehead an amulet of stone. After some moments of silence he flung off the covering and spoke, “She lives, and is well. The gods have cared for her in the valley back of Hana.”

This announcement carried joy to the heart of the questioner, and he began at once the erection of an altar, the aged priest sprinkling it with blessed water and placing beside it the phallic symbol of the trinity. The invocation was over, but no living creature appeared in the desert to serve as a sacrifice. A rustling was heard among the dead bushes and the snout of a black hog was thrust out. Before it could escape they had seized the creature, with a cry of joy, lifted it to the altar, stabbed it again and again, and its blood flowed over the stones. Then all bent about it and prayed with fervor. As they prayed their shadows grew fainter, and the hot wind lulled. A low rumble was heard in the south. They looked up. The heavens were darkening. [248]The rain was coming. “Praise the gods, who are merciful and who receive our sacrifice!” the priests cried. And with that immolation the days of suffering were over.

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Kiha’s Trumpet

Waipio, in Hawaii, is claimed by people who live thereabout to be the loveliest valley on the island. It was a low and marshy stretch until a great fish that lived there begged the god Kane to give him sweeter water and more of it. Kane therefore tumbled rocks across the stream, so as to dam it into wide pools, and also opened new springs at the source. The marks of his great hands are still seen on the stone. In this valley, now so peaceful and so rich in charm, lived Kiha, king of Hawaii, in the earlier years of the fifteenth century, a great and dreaded monarch. Of all his possessions he valued none more highly than his war-trumpet, a large shell adorned with the teeth of chiefs who had been killed in war. The roar of this instrument could be heard for ten miles, for it was a magic shell, and when blown in battle it reproduced the cries of victory and shrieks of the dying; when blown to summon the people it was like the gale in the forest, and when it called a sea-god to listen to a prayer it was like surges thundering against the cliffs.

That day was long remembered when the horn [249]was stolen. It had been taken from its wrapping and its box, and a hideous mask of stone had been found in its place. Search availed nothing, and the only comfort that the priests could offer was a promise of restoration by a being without cloak or hands, when a cocoa palm, to be planted by the king at the next full moon, should bear fruit. The tree was planted, but seven years passed before the nuts appeared. These were eaten by the king, and on that very night a strange man was arrested on a charge of thieving and taken before the king for sentence. All through the questioning a dog with one white eye and a green one kept close beside the prisoner, appearing to understand every word that was spoken. The intelligence of this animal was so remarkable as to divert all thought of punishment for the time, and when the robber had given instances of the creature’s more than human cleverness, Kiha realized suddenly that this was the agency whereby the magic horn was to be restored to him.

If the dog could find and restore that shell the captive should not merely be set free, but should be fed at the royal table for the rest of his life. On hearing this promise, the dog, who had been watching the king so fixedly out of his green eye as to make his Majesty uncomfortable, sprang up with a joyous bark, and capered about with every token of enthusiasm for the task that was to be put upon him.

At the time when the trumpet disappeared from [250]Kiha’s house a band of mountebanks and thieves disappeared from Hawaii. They had camped in the woods above Waipio, and had been stealing pigs, fowls, fruit, and taro from the farmers, and had occasionally visited the settlements to show their skill in juggling and hanky-panky, hoping to earn as a reward some drinks of the native beer, and perhaps a weapon or a strip of cloth. It was the chief of this band who had stolen the trumpet. He had learned its history,—how the god Lono had blown it on the top of Mauna Kea until trees were uprooted in the blast that came from it, until the fires kindled in the crater below and threw a red light against the stars, until the earth shook and the sea heaved like a monster sighing. It had the voice of a god from that hour, and other gods obeyed it. The band fled to Oahu with the prize and there led a graceless life until the populace drove them out, and they returned to Hawaii.

The arrival of these suspicious characters had been reported to the king, and he suggested that the dog seek the shell in their camp at the head of the valley. No sooner was the suggestion made than the animal rushed away in that direction with the speed of the wind. Some hours passed, and the night was wearing on wearily, when a tremendous burst of sound issued from the hills, echoing far and wide. The king leaped to his feet, the men of his village roused and grasped their spears, for this was the call to arms,—the first time they had heard it in [251]seven years. But who was blowing it? Nearer and nearer came the sky-shaking peal, and presently the dog, bearing the magic shell in his mouth, ran in, sank at his master’s feet, gasped, shook, stiffened. He was dead from exhaustion.

His master, overcome with grief for the loss of his little friend, was liberated at once; then, confident that the returned thieves had had the trumpet in their possession, the king led his forces against them without waiting for the sun to rise, and slew nearly all. From one or two survivors of the band he learned that their captain had offended them by his arrogance and selfishness until they were forced to reduce him to their own state by silencing the instrument whereby he called to the gods and gained their help. During one of his drunken sprees they carried the shell to a wizard, who put a secret taboo mark on its lip, and when the pirate blew it, on regaining his wits, it made only a low, dull moaning. Try as he would, he could never restore it. It was chiefly to propitiate the gods and give its notes back to the trumpet that he had returned to Hawaii.

When the dog seized the shell, as it lay on the earth near the sleeping chief, he bit off the edge that had been marked by the wizard and instantly its voice came back. The wind blown into it long before by the robber chief was now liberated in quantities in those tremendous blasts that had roused the king and his people and appalled the robbers. In this respect it resembled the post-horn of Baron Munchausen’s [252]story, which, on being hung before a fire, allowed the notes that had been played into it (but not heard) to thaw out and entertain the company. And if the story of the shell is doubted, one has only to look at it in the Honolulu Museum to be convinced.

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How Moikeha Gained a Wife

Puna, lord of Kauai, was a well-beloved and merciful man. Though he would not brook insolence, he was always ready to pardon a fisherman or servant who, in ignorance of his personality, broke the taboo by stepping on his shadow. His love for Hooipo, his daughter, was so strong that he delayed her marriage until the gallants began to complain, and the girl herself became uneasy, lest her charms should expand to a maturity that might hurt her matrimonial chances. As she had no preference, however, she agreed that her father might name the happy man. He, loth to incur the enmity of any at his court, resolved to offer her as a prize, and the fairest contest seemed in his mind to be a run to Kaula and back, each contestant to be allowed to use sail and carry four oarsmen, and the winner of the race to marry Hooipo.

A couple of days before the race was undertaken there arrived at Kauai a sturdy mariner, one Moikeha, who had just returned from a voyage to Raiatea, two thousand five hundred miles to the southward. Long trips of this sort were not unusual [253]among the adventurous islanders, and there is a tradition that one of them brought to Hawaii two white men who became priests, and on a later exploration secured four “foreigners of large stature, bright, staring, roguish eyes, and reddish faces,” who may have been American Indians. Moikeha became the guest of Puna. He had not been long in the daughter’s company before Hooipo regretted the arrangement for a race, for she had found a man whom she could love. It was too late to argue with the candidates; there could be no hope of peace if the princess were withdrawn as an object of competition and thrown at the head of this stranger. By general consent he was allowed to take part in the race, provided he could cite an honorable parentage. This he did, for he was the son of a former chief in Oahu, and he rattled off the names of his ancestors for sixteen generations, ending the catalogue in this fashion, “Maweke and Niolaukea, husband and wife; Mulilealii and Wehelani, husband and wife; Moikeha and Hooipo, husband and wife.” This little joke, his assumption that the girl was already his, made everybody laugh and put the company in good humor.

At the word of command a score or more of lusty fellows pushed their boats through the surf, hoisted sail, and pointed their prows for Kaula, fifty miles away. Moikeha alone showed no haste. He bade a cheerful farewell to his host and the pretty daughter, marked with delight her serious look as he took [254]his leave, then, with a single attendant and the smallest boat in the fleet, he set off across the blue water. Directly that her sail was up the little craft sprang through the sea as if blown by a hurricane, while the other boats slid over the glassy waves under the push of oars. “It is the fish-god, Apukohai, who drags his canoe,” declared the rowers, as he passed. In twenty-four hours he was at the side of Kooipo with the whale-tooth, proof of his voyage, that was delivered to him at Kaula by a servant who had been sent there with it in advance. He was easily the victor, the other contestants arriving from one to three days later. No objection being offered, the couple were married with rejoicings, and on the death of Puna the husband became chief, and married off eight or ten youngsters of his own. Not for a long time was it known that in the race for a wife his lone but potent companion was Laamaomao, the wind-god, who, loosing favorable breezes from his magic calabash, that blew whither he listed, carried him swiftly past all other competitors.

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The Sailing of Paao

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 [255]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 [256]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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The Wronged Wife

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 [257]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, [258]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, [259]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.

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The Magic Spear

Kaululaau, prince of Maui, had misbehaved so grossly, painting the sacred pigs, imitating the death-bird’s call before the doors of nervous people, opening the gates of fish-ponds, tippling awa, and consorting with hula dancers, that his father, believing him to be incorrigible, shipped him off to Lanai in disgust. Knowing that island to be infested with gnomes, dragons, and monsters, the lad would fain have turned the usual new leaf, but he had promised reform so many times and failed that his father was deaf to his pleadings. Just before he embarked the old high priest called him aside—he always had a soft spot in his heart for this scape-grace—and entrusted to him an ivory spear which had been dipped in the river of the dead and left on [260]an altar by Lono, the third person of the trinity. With that, which was both weapon and talisman, the possessor need fear nothing.

Kaululaau had been but a little while in his new home when he was compelled to put his gift to use. There were malignant beings on Lanai who hurt people, hogs, fowls; blighted cocoanuts, bananas, and taro patches, and were a common sorrow to the inhabitants. Worst among these tormentors was the gnome Mooaleo, who, in the guise of a big mole, burrowed under houses and caused them to settle, with a thump. The prince caught this fellow within a circle he had drawn on the earth, for the witchery of the spear was so strong that the effect of drawing that line was felt to the centre of the globe. Burrow as he would,—and he did burrow until he reached fire,—Mooaleo could not escape from it. The magic barrier confined him like iron. He came to the air at last and begged to be released, promising to leave the island forever, if he might gain his liberty. Kaululaau rubbed out twenty or thirty yards of the enchanted line, whereupon the creature rushed madly through the gap and dived into the sea, never again emerging in the sight of men.

For a year the prince kept up his war against the demons and slew or banished every one of them. For this the men rewarded him with praise and gifts and service, the women with love, the children with trust. He was glad he had been exiled. Of course, so soon as his father heard of his changed life and [261]his courage in knight-errantry he repented his hardness of spirit and sent messengers to bid Kaululaau return. This was an unwelcome summons, and while he dared not refuse, he took his own time in getting home again, his alleged reason for delay being that he wished to see the world and further instruct himself; his real reason being a love of praise and adventure. He stirred up strife in Hawaii; visited, without harm, the wind-god’s home on Molokai and Kalipahoa’s poison grove, and on Oahu found another chance to win the people’s favor. A bird so huge that its head weighed near two hundred pounds had been depredating among the villages, tearing children from their mothers and killing domestic animals, yet always defended by the priests, who, having confused it with a strange species of owl, considered it as sacred. The rover did not ask permission to slay it. Nobody knew him, or guessed why he was going among the hills. He came upon the bird in the mountains, when its beak was dripping with human blood, and at a mile distance hurled the spear, which flew through the air, as if self-directed, and pierced the creature through and through. For this he was arrested and consigned to the sacrificial altar; but when he abandoned his disguise, appeared in the feather cloak and helmet of a chief, and made known that he was Kaululaau, the trembling, stammering priest owned that he was mistaken in supposing the bird to be taboo. Its huge head was produced; its eyes rolled, its jaws clashed, and with [262]a scream an evil human spirit that had lived in its body flew into the air. The ne’er-do-weel had a royal reception when he returned. Finding that his old friend, the high priest, was dead, he fulfilled a promise by secretly burying the magic spear-point in his grave.

Avenue of Palms, Hawaii.

Avenue of Palms, Hawaii.

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Hawaiian Witches

To the native Hawaiian, who shuns work, dresses only for decorative purposes, and is willing to subsist on fruits that grow without teasing, life is not so simple as we should suppose, to look at him. Nature abhors a vacuum, even in a man’s head, and when the man cares to put nothing in his noddle that will increase his understanding and resource, his ancestry will have planted something there which is sure to swell and grow until it may dominate his conduct and his fate. And if you open the head of an average barbarian you will find a flourishing crop of superstition fungi inside. So surely as he is a barbarian he will believe in witches. If he contents himself with imagining wizards and spooks, he may find recreation enough in the dark, but when he accuses other people of practising against him, and gets them hanged or roasted, his imagination has become too frisky to be at large. Death for the practice of witchcraft is no longer possible, however, unless it results from private revenge. [263]

To this day fear and ignorance paint gnomes and elves in the palm groves and among the wild Java uplands of the mid-Pacific, and Honolulu itself is not free from the lingering and traditionary kahuna. This is the wizard, or medicine man, or voodoo worker, who does by prayer and spell what his employers would do with a club if it were not for the awkward institution of the law. When a Kanaka has endured an injury he hires a kahuna to pray his enemy to death. This imposes on the victim the necessity of hiring a kahuna to pray down the other one, or of running away, if he cannot afford the expense. The wizard calls on his intended victim and tells him what is about to happen, and you would naturally suppose that the visitee would take the visitor by the collar and the “bosom of his pants” and persuade him away from the premises, even if he did not go out and exercise upon him in the yard. In fact, record has been made of explosive exits of these wizards from Americans’ houses when they made their usual courtesy call before praying the resident out of existence, and ’tis said that they bore marks of Lynn-made shoe-soles on their seats of honor for a week after.

But your Kanaka fears his medicine man and receives the news of doom politely. The kahuna tells him that his conduct has displeased some god or goddess and that he must die. Every kahuna claims what statesmen call a “pull” with his deities that enables him to have his prayers answered, while [264]opposition kahunas are snubbed. After a couple of days the kahuna drops around to see how his victim is getting on, and generally he finds him in low spirits, with a meagre appetite, because this process is as reliable as its opposite, which is called faith-cure. If a man can sufficiently persuade himself that nothing ails him, he is almost sure to recover from an illness that he hasn’t got; and, by the same token, if he makes himself believe that he is going to have indigestion, or a fall on the ice, or must die, he unnerves himself and makes it easy for the expected to happen. If he runs away and hides, the kahuna’s prayers do not work as well, and if he has been to school and reads the papers, they do not work at all. Indeed, the islanders have given up white people as tough subjects, so seasoned in whisky and a wrong religion that curses are wasted on them as water is wasted on ducks and Kentucky colonels. The goddess Pele has resigned the foreigner in discouragement.

Well, on this second visit the victim remembers all his misfortunes of the past two days, his stomach ache, his thirst, his stubbed toe, his failure to collect eight cents that a neighbor owes him, his nightmare after a supper of poi,—not mince-pie: just poi,—his discovery of a bottle too late to know what was in it, and his wife’s demand for a new dress. All these miseries he ascribes to the left-handed prayers of which he is the subject, and he offers to temporize. As in other parts of the world, silver is a [265]strong dissuader. If he has hired a kahuna himself to neutralize his enemy’s bad prayers with good ones, the two voodoo workers will retire and consult as to a settlement, each preserving a dignity and courtesy worthy of his high profession, for, although the Roman soothsayers could not keep from snickering when they met one another in the street, these kahunas really believe in themselves, for they have prayed too many people out of the world not to do so.

If an apology and a couple of dollars fail to soften the enemy, or if the kahunas believe they can raise the stake to three dollars by toiling a while longer, a prayer duel follows and the best man wins. Kahuna number one delivers a veritable anathema, bestowing on his subject more aches and illnesses and deformities and difficulties than Pius IX. conferred on Victor Emmanuel, while number two sweats with the haste and force of his invocations for the continued or increased health and fortune of his client. If he can afford them, the victim may hire two kahunas and have them pray around the house until the opposition is silenced or the malevolent employer’s money gives out. When one of the two prays for his patron, in such a case the other may pray against the enemy who began the trouble, so that, instead of doing a deadly injury, the instigator of the disturbance may discover, to his alarm, that he is in more danger than his foe, and some morning he may find himself dead. [266]

King David Kalakaua made a law against praying folks into their graves, but the kahunas, to a man, cried, “Why, this will kill business! If you don’t abolish that law we will pray you to death in two days.” And King David took the law away, quick. In order to make a prayer for death effectual the kahuna must possess himself of some object closely associated with the person he intends to kill. Finger-nails, hair, and teeth are especially desired, but if they cannot be had, a few drops of saliva will do. The kings were always so careful of their precious selves that nail-parings and hair-croppings were burned to keep them from falling into the hands of ghoulish kahunas, and they were always attended by a spittoon-bearer, who was a chief of high rank, and whose duty it was to see that none of the royal spittle was accessible to wizards or suspicious strangers. The spittoon was emptied into the sea at a distance from land secretly and in the middle of the night. What a lecture Charles Dickens would have read to the Americans out of this circumstance!

The last death attributed to the kahunas was that of Princess Kaiulani in the spring of 1899. Though this young woman was enlightened, had travelled and studied in Europe and America, and presumably disbelieved in the superstitions of her ancestors, it is whispered that the rumor of kahuna influence against her shortened her days by many. The people believed so, at any rate, though they were perplexed by the failure of the little red fish to run into the [267]harbor just before she breathed her last, as it was believed that they always made their appearance prior to a death in the royal family. The rumbling and hissing and the sounding of a heavy major chord in the depths of Kilauea that followed the funeral of Kaiulani were directly attributed to her death.

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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 [268]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, [269]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. [270]

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The Various Graves of Kaulii

When the Hawaiians were discovered by Captain Cook, in 1779, they had not been visited by white men, so far as any native then living could remember. At all events, they had acquired only a fair assortment of vices and not many diseases. Human sacrifice and the worship of phallic emblems and effigies of their gods and dead kings were common. The king expected everybody to fall prostrate before him when he appeared and pretend to go to sleep,—to be of as little account as possible. And the people were pliant and willing under their restraints. They allowed that the king was absolute master. Yet they were contented usually and not ill looking; lithe and graceful, too, and gay, fond of sports and swimming, lovers of music, dancing, flowers, and color, friendly in disposition, and good-natured. Except in shedding a few of their beliefs with the taking on of more clothes, they have not changed greatly. As to cannibalism, white men have become too numerous and too tough for eating, anyway, and they feel safe in any native company of Pacific Islanders in these times.

Hawaiians claim that they never were cannibals, and that if they ate such of Captain Cook as they did not return to his second in command it was because they were absent-minded or mistook him for pork. They had ceased to believe him a god, for he had displayed infirmities of temper and consideration [271]that led to his death. A tradition of theirs may account for a once general belief in their man-eating propensities. It dates back to the chieftaincy of Kaulii, in Oahu. The people were careful in the sepulture of their chiefs, fearing that enemies might find the remains and commit indignities on the senseless relics, or that the bones might be used for spear-points and fish-hooks, such implements having magic power when they were whittled from the shins of kings. To prevent such a possibility, so soon as the spirit tenant had gone the wise men took charge of the body and prepared it for the grave. This they did by first cutting off the flesh, which, being transitory and corruptible, they said was not worthy to be kept, so was therefore burned; then cleaning the skeleton, soaking it in oil, and painting it red with turmeric. This melancholy, if gaudy, object was tied in a parcel and buried in some cave or cranny where no foeman would be likely to find it. Sometimes the bodies were sunk at sea, with rocks tied at the feet, and the hearts of Hawaiian kings were often flung into the molten lava of Kilauea.

Kaulii was chief in Oahu in the seventeenth century. Most of his ninety years he had faithfully devoted to killing other chiefs and the people of other islands, wherefore he knew that many would try to find his bones and break them. Just before his death he enjoined his councillors to place his skeleton in some receptacle whence it could not easily be taken. After his death his head councillor [272]took it into the mountains and was gone for several days. When he returned he sent an invitation to every one whom his messengers could reach to share in a feast in memory of the dead chief. Free lunch was just as great an incentive in that century as it will be in the next. They came, those faithful people, afoot and in boats, and camped in thousands near the kitchen. After the games had been dutifully performed—for funerals were seasons of cheer in those times—the dinner was served to the assembly. There were boiled dogs, roots, fruits, fish, sour beer, and poi.

When the last calabash had been emptied and the company had taken a long breath, an elder in the party asked the councillor if he had obeyed his master’s command and buried the skeleton where it would be safe from the vendetta that pursues an enemy to the grave. The councillor made an embracing gesture above the multitude. “Here,” he cried, “are the graves of Kaulii. His bones can never be disturbed again.”

The people looked about the grass and under their dishes, and, seeing nothing, asked to be enlightened. Then the councillor explained that he had not only cleaned the bones of his dead lord, but had dried and pounded them to a fine meal, had stirred them into the mass of poi which these warriors and statesmen had enveloped, so that every man who had shared in that feast was a grave. And they agreed that he was a faithful and sagacious servant, [273]and passed a resolution to keep his memory a bright green for several years after he was dead. They say that was the only time they ate a man, and they did not know it then.

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The Kingship of Umi

When King Liloa died he left his younger son, Hakau, to rule Hawaii in his place, but an older and natural son, Umi, whose mother had been a farm-worker among the hills, he appointed as guardian of the temples and their sacred statues. Umi had not learned of his royal parentage until he had grown to be a fine stout fellow. He had lived a lonely though adventurous life, and his kingly origin was shown in the fact that he could never be induced to work or do anything useful, unless it might be hunting and fishing. Impulses were his guides. He was in nowise disturbed when he learned that Liloa was his father. On the contrary, he took on a new dignity, donned the feather cloak and helmet of a prince, walked, in a couple of days, to the king’s house, passed the guards without a word, carelessly striking down their threatening spears with his own; then, gaining the king’s presence unannounced, he plumped himself into the old gentleman’s lap. For one of low descent to venture on a liberty like this was death, and for a moment Liloa was mightily offended. He sprang up, spilling the prince upon the earth; then, recognizing [274]on the young man’s breast an ivory necklace clasp that had been his love-token to the girl on the mountain farm years before, and admiring the courage of the youngster, he kissed him and welcomed him to his family.

The old king died soon after, his skeleton being duly hidden in the sea, and Hakau, who from the first had been jealous of his half-brother, now began a series of slights and rebukes which hardly justified rebellion, yet were so irritating that after enduring them for a little, Umi retired to the hills and resumed his old, lonely, wandering life. Not for long, however. Hakau developed into a tyrant, narrow-minded, selfish, suspicious, cruel. One by one his followers left him; treasons were rumored in his own household; his very priests connived against him. At last, reports came to him of a resort to arms,—of a company advancing from the other side of Hawaii, led by Umi and Maukaleoleo, the latter a giant eleven feet high, who wore a thicket of hair that fell to his shoulders, bore a spear thirty feet long, and inspired terror by his very aspect, albeit in times of peace he was one of the gentlest of men. When this giant was a child the god Kanaloa had given him a golden fish, bidding him eat it and be strong. He had done so, and on that very night began his wonderful growth, his strength so increasing that presently he could hurl rocks no two other men could lift.

Troubled by reports of the uprising, the king [275]consulted the oracles in a temple he had promised to endow, but never had,—his principal gift (to be)—consisting of a figure of the war god Akuapaao. This had long before been taken to Hawaii by a prophet whose canoe had been drawn to its landing-place by the shark god and the god of the winds. In darkness he entered the inner chamber of the temple. An unknown voice, speaking from the holy of holies, bade him send his people to the woods next day for plumage of birds, with which to decorate the statue, when he should get it, and thereby atone for the neglect and contempt of the gods that had done so much to bring him into disfavor with the people.

Clever priests! They were already in league with Umi, and this was but a ruse to dissipate the king’s forces. The oracle was obeyed; the people were sent out to collect the feathers of bright-hued birds, grumbling that they should be made to labor because of the laxity and impiety of their ruler; and while they hunted, Umi, almost within hearing, was praying before the very statue Hakau had sent his messengers to fetch. He had imposed a strict taboo on his two thousand warriors for half a day, the taboo in this instance imposing silence, fasting, and retirement, the forsaking of all industries, the extinction of all fires and lights, the muzzling of pigs and dogs, and quieting of fowls by putting them under calabashes. As Umi advanced toward the statue to decorate it with wreaths a beam of light fell through [276]a rent in the temple roof and crowned him and the god. It was a promise. Fires on the mountain tops that night assembled all the insurgent forces, who were awaiting these signals, and a few hours later Umi sat on the throne of his father, and the hated tyrant Hakau was offered to his neglected gods: a sacrifice.

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Keaulumoku’s Prophecy

Keaulumoku died in 1784. He was a poet, dreamer, prophet, and preserver of the legends of his people. For more than three-score years he had roamed about Hawaii, esteemed for his virtues and his wisdom by those who knew him, tolerated as harmless by those who did not. He wandered about the vast and desolate lava fields and talked with spirits there. He learned rhythm and music from the swing of the waves. The “little people” in the wood were his servants when he needed help. In his closing years he occupied a cabin alone near Kauhola. Though not churlish, he cared little for human society,—it seemed so small to him after daily contemplation of the ocean and mountain majesties and the nightly vision of the stars; but he was alive to its interests, and when the future opened to him he was always willing to read it for comfort or warning.

It was reported in the villages at last that he would look on the faces of his people but once more, and [277]they were asked to assemble at his hut on the next evening, when he would chant his last prophecy. Before sunset they gathered about his cabin a thousand or more, waiting quietly or talking in whispers, and presently the mat which hung in the entrance was drawn aside, disclosing the shrunken form and frosted hair of the venerable prophet. He began his chant in the quavering voice of age, but as he sang he gained strength, and his tones were plainly heard by all in the assemblage. He foretold the union of the islands under Kamehameha, the death of monarchy, the ruin of the temples, the oncoming of the white race, the disappearance of the Hawaiian people from the earth. Then blessing the company with uplifted hands, Keaulumoku sank back lifeless. He was buried with solemn rites in a temple, and, under the inspiration of his prophecy, Kamehameha began his work of conquest. In eleven years the islands were one nation. The rest of the prophecy is coming true.

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The Tragedy of Spouting Cave

Many caves pierce the igneous rock of the Hawaiian group, some with entrances below the ocean level, and discovered only by accident. Famous among them is the spouting cave of Lanai. Old myths make this a haunt of the lizard god, but the shark god, thinking this venture below the water an intrusion on his territory, threatened to block the [278]entrance with rocks, so the lizard god swam over to Molokai and made his home in the cave near Kaulapana, where the people built temples to him. An attempt of a daring explorer to light the cave of Lanai with fire hid in a closed calabash was also resented, the vessel being dashed out of the hand of the adventurer by some formless creature of the dark, who also plucked stones from the cave roof and hurled at him until he retreated.

To this island, at the end of the eighteenth century, came King Kamehameha to rest after his war and enjoy the fish dinners for which the island was famous. One of his captains was Kaili, a courageous and susceptible Hawaiian, who celebrated the outing by falling head-over-heels in love. Kaala, “the perfumed flower of Lanai,” returned his vows, and would have taken him for a husband, without ceremony or delay, save for the stern parent, who is a frequent figure in such romances. This parent, Oponui, had a reason for his hate of Kaili, the two having encountered in the last great battle. Kaili had probably forgotten his opponent, but Oponui bitterly remembered him, for his best friend had been struck down by the spear of the young captain. Another cause for opposing this marriage was that Kaala had been bespoken by a great, hairy, tattooed savage known as “the bone-breaker.” It occurred to Oponui that a good way to be rid of the cavalier would be to let him settle his claim with the famous wrestler. He chuckled as he thought of the outcome, [279]for the bone-breaker had never been beaten. The challenge having been made and accepted, the king and his staff agreed to watch the contest. It was brief, brutal, and decisive. Though the big wrestler had the more strength, Kaili had the more skill and quickness. He dodged every rush of his burly opponent, tripped him, broke both his arms by jumping on them when he was down, and when the disabled but vengeful fighter, with dangling hands, made a bull-like charge with lowered head, the captain sprang aside, caught him by the hair, strained him suddenly backward across his knee, and flung him to the earth, dying with a broken spine. Kaili had won his bride.

The girl’s father was not at the end of his resources, however. He appeared in a day or two panting, as with a long run, and begged Kaala to fly at once to her mother in the valley, as she was mortally ill and wished to see her daughter before she died. The girl kissed her lover, promising to return soon, and was hurried away by Oponui toward the Spouting Cave. Arrived there, she looked up and down the shore, but saw none other than her father, who was smiling into her face with a look of craft and cruelty that turned her sick at heart. In a broken voice she asked his purpose. Was her mother dead? Had he killed her? Oponui seized her arms with the gripe of a giant. “The man you love is my foe,” he shouted. “I shall kill him, if I can. If not, he shall never see you again. When he has [280]left Lanai, either for Hawaii or for the land of souls, I will bring you back to the sun. Come!”

Now, the water pushing through the entrance to this cavern becomes a whirlpool; then, as it belches forth in a refluent wave, it is hurled into a white column. Watching until the water began to whirl and suck, Oponui sprang from the rocks, dragging his daughter with him. She struggled for a moment, believing that his intention was to drown her. There was a rush and a roar; then, buffeted, breathless, she arose on the tide, and in a few seconds felt a beach beneath her feet. Oponui dragged her out of reach of the wave, and as soon as her eyes grew accustomed to the dimness she found herself to be in a large, chill cavern. Crabs were clattering over the stones, and rays and eels could be seen writhing shadowy, in pools. The brawling of the ocean came smothered, faint, but portentous, and in the green light that mounted through the submerged door the grotto seemed a place of dreams,—a dank nightmare.

“Here you stay until I come,” commanded Oponui. “Make no attempt to escape, for so surely as you do, you will be cut to pieces on the rocks, and the sharks await outside.” Then, diving into the receding water, he disappeared, and she was left alone.

Kaili awaited with impatience the return of his betrothed. He chided himself that he had allowed her father to persuade him against following her to the cabin of her mother. Then doubt began to perplex [281]him; then suspicion. A bird croaked significantly as it flew above his head. He could not longer endure inaction. Kaala’s footprints were still traceable in the sand. He would go as far as they might lead. He set off at a round pace, stopping now and then to assure himself, and presently stood perplexed near the Spouting Cave, for there they ceased. As he was looking about for some clew that might set him right once more, a faint movement behind him caused him to turn, and he saw a figure slinking along from rock to rock, bending low, as if seeking to be concealed: Oponui! Why should he be alone? Why should he hide like that? Why was he trying to escape? The truth flashed upon him. He remembered the man’s face in battle, remembered their vain though savage interchange of spears. Oponui had taken Kaala from him. Had he killed her? He sprang toward the creeping figure with a shout, “Where is my wife?”

There was a short struggle; then Oponui, wriggling from his grasp, set off at a surprising pace toward a temple of refuge, with Kaili close at his heels. The chase was vain. Oponui reached the gate, rushed through, and fell on the earth exhausted. Two priests ran forward and offered their taboo staffs against the entrance of his pursuer. The gods could not be braved by breaking the taboo. With a taunt and a curse at his enemy, the captain returned to the shore where the footprints had disappeared. His heart-beats stifled him. His head was whirling. [282]As he stood looking down into the boiling waters it seemed to his wandering fancy as if the girl had risen toward him in the spout from the cave. Hardly knowing what he did, he spoke her name and leaped from the rock to clasp her pale form. He was drawn under, and in a few seconds was flung violently upon the beach in the cave.

Kaili’s leap had been seen by his king, who, with a guide, had gone to seek him, and on learning of this grotto the king and the guide plunged after. They found the lover seated on the pebbles in the green twilight, with Kaala’s head upon his lap, his arms about her. She was dying, but a smile of content was on her face. He tried to restore her, to rouse her to an effort to live. It was of no avail. With a whispered word of love she closed her eyes and ceased to breathe.

King Kamehameha advanced, his rude face softened with pity. “Come, Kaili,” he said. “The poor child was happy in her last hour. This cave is her proper burial-place.”

“I cannot leave her, O king, for without her I cannot live.” Before his purpose could be divined, Kaili had seized a rock and brought it down on his own head with crushing force. He swayed for a moment and fell dead beside the body of his bride. The king had the corpses wrapped in cloth, but left them there, and the few who have ventured through the whirlpool have seen in the cave the skeletons of the lovers. [283]

The lament of Ua has been preserved. She was a girl whose secret love for the captain had impelled her to follow him, and who had seen his plunge into the leaping water. It runs in this fashion:

“Dead is Kaili, the young chief of Hawaii,

The chief of few years and many battles.

His limbs were strong and his heart was gentle.

His face was like the sun. He was without fear.

Dead is the slayer of the Bone-Breaker;

Dead the chief who crushed the bones of Mailou;

Dead the lover of Kaala and the loved of Ua.

For his love he plunged into the deep water.

For his love he gave his life. Who is like Kaili?

Kaala is hid and I am lonely.

Kaili is dead, and the black cloth is over my heart.

Now let the gods take the life of Ua!”

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The Grave of Pupehe

Just off the southwest shore of Lanai is a block of lava eighty or ninety feet high, vertical or overhanging on every side, absolutely without foothold. Yet at its top one may see from the neighboring shore a grave with a low wall built about it. This is the resting-place of Pupehe, the wife of one to whom was given the name of Misty Eyes, because the woman’s eyes so dazzled his own. These two loved so well that they were all in all to one another. They chose to live apart from their people, roaming the woods, climbing the hills, surf-riding, fishing, berrying as the whim took them. [284]

Lest some chief should look on her face and envy him, Misty Eyes hid his companion in a little hut among the trees, as secret and secure as a bird’s nest, and sometimes they would go together to a cave, opening from the sea, opposite Pupehe’s Rock, to catch and cook a sea-turtle.

The season of storms was at hand, but as the day had broken fair, Pupehe went to the cave to prepare a meal, while her husband took the calabashes to fill at a spring up the valley. A mist had come up from nowhere when he turned to go back; the wind was rising to a gale, the sea was whitening. His heart went into his throat, for he recalled how the breakers thundered in at the cave and swept the strip of beach inside. Flinging down the calabashes, he ran with all his speed. Immense waves were sweeping the cavern from end to end. Their thunder deafened him. Out of an acre of seething white a brown arm lifted. He leaped in, seized Pupehe, and succeeded in gaining the shore, but to no avail. She was dead. After the storm had passed he paddled to the lonely rock; was raised, with his burden, by a pitying god, and on the summit, where none might stand even beside the grave of her whom in life he had guarded so jealously, he buried the cold form. When the last stone had been placed on the wall, Misty Eyes sang a dirge for his wife and leaped into the sea. [285]

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The Lady of the Twilight

In Koolauloa, Oahu, is a natural well, of unknown depth and thirty yards in diameter, that is believed to be connected with the ocean. Bodies drowned in this crater are said to have been found afterward floating in the sea. This pond, known as Waiapuka, hides the entrance to a cave that can be reached only by diving, and in that cave was concealed during her infancy Laieikawai, Lady of the Twilight. Her father, enraged that his wife always presented female children to him, swore he would kill all such offspring until a male issue should appear, and Laieikawai was therefore kept out of his sight and in retirement until she had grown to womanhood. Her beauty attracted even the gods, and chiefs from many islands travelled far to see her face when she had been taken from the cavern by her grandmother and bestowed more fittingly in a house thatched with parrot feathers and guarded by the lizard god. Her bed was bird-wings, the birds were her companions, she wore a robe tinted like a rainbow, and wherever she went a fragment of rainbow hung over her and might be seen afar.

Laieikawai married a sun prince, and the same rainbow served as a ladder to take her to his new home in the moon, his place in the sun being too hot and glaring for endurance. This was a fickle prince, for having seen another pretty face on earth, he descended, and it was a year ere he appeared in [286]the moon again. The young wife meanwhile had gone to the bowl of knowledge, a wooden vessel enclosed in wicker, decorated with feathers and with birds carved in wood along the rim. Looking in and uttering the command, “Laukapalili!” a vision of her recreant husband appeared. The father and mother of the prince were joint witnesses with the wife of his faithlessness. As the picture vanished the air grew dark; faint, grisly shapes arose, and wailing voices sounded, “Heaven has fallen!” Standing on the rainbow bridge, the father, mother, and wife cast off their love for the prince, and condemned him to be a wandering ghost, living on butterflies. Then, having tired of heaven, the Lady of the Twilight returned to earth.

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The Ladrones

The taking of Guam during the war with Spain was one of the comedies of that disagreement. When its rickety fort was fired upon by one of our ships, the Spanish governor hastened down to the shore to greet the American officers, and apologized because he was out of powder and could not reply to what he supposed was a salute. Off in that corner of the world he had not heard of any war.

With the cession of this largest of the Ladrone islands we fall heir to some race problems as baffling as those presented by our Indians. The natives of this group belong to the Tarapons, and the traditions [287]of these people say that they came in part from the east and partly from the west. It has been thought that they have a slight mixture of Mongolian blood, and this is not unlikely, for Chinese and Japanese junks have at various times been blown over sea to farther shores than these. History for this group begins with Magellan, who named it for the ladrones or thieves, who annexed his belongings when he arrived on the first voyage that had ever been made around the world. That they had crafts and arts is proved by their weapons, canoes, cloth, and armor, and they have left here some remarkable stone columns, more than twice the height of a man, with hemispheres of rock on their tops, flat sides uppermost, and six feet wide. In Tinian, Kusaie, and also in Ponape, in the Carolines, there are ruins, including, in the latter island, a court three hundred feet long with walls ten yards high, some of the monoliths being twenty-five feet long and eight feet thick. On Tongataboo are larger rocks, forty feet high, which were quarried elsewhere and shipped to that coral island. On Easter Island are platforms a hundred yards long, ten wide and ten high, with great statues all cut from stone. None of these remains, nor the picture-writing found near the statues, throw light on the history, purpose, or personality of their builders. Every family has its little circle of shells and stones which is a shrine where the gods are worshipped, and most of the gods are spirits of the great and wise who died long ago. Offerings to these took [288]the form of food and of anointing for their altars, but human sacrifices were no doubt demanded at times, when the priests had been specially venturesome in asking favors. When a man died his soul sprang out, went below the earth, and found felicity in the west. This belief resembles the Indian faith in the happy hunting-ground, and incidentally it points the course of empire. The spirit could return once in a while, and ghostly visitations were sorely dreaded. The institution of the taboo was and is connected with the native religions of the Pacific islands. We have adopted the word and use it in its true meaning of forbidden. If an article were dedicated to a god, or used in his worship, or had been touched by him, or claimed by a chief or a priest, no commoner dared lay finger on it, for it was as sacred as the ark of the covenant. Some canny planters kept boys out of their orchards and palm groves by offering the fruit to certain gods until it was ripe, for a sign of taboo kept out all marauders till the crop was ready for gathering, when the owner changed his mind and claimed it himself. To break a taboo was not only to incur the wrath of the priests, but of the gods to whom the gift was offered, and who would surely reward the blasphemer for his sin by illness, accident, loss, or death.

As soon as the Spaniards had occupied the Ladrones—afterward named the Marianas, in honor of Maria Anna, queen of Philip IV. of Spain—they proceeded to slaughter the natives. In seventy years [289]they had slain with sword, rack, toil, grief, and new diseases about fifty thousand people, reducing the populace to eighteen hundred. Of this aboriginal race, the Chamorros, nearly all have perished. In their original estate these were the most advanced of the Pacific islanders; they had more arts, more refinement, more kindliness, and more morality than the others. Under an age of oppression and abuse they naturally deteriorated, and have cared little to advantage themselves by the few schools and chapels that the Spaniards established in Guam and thereabout. It may be that the Chamorros shared with the people of the Carolines in the suffering caused by the great irruption of savages from the south under Icho-Kalakal. These warriors, in their wooden navies, destroyed the great tombs and temples because they had been raised to other gods than their own, slew the defenders of the temples, and broke up the old civilization, passing from island to island, and continuing their waste and murder. It was a raid of Goths and Vandals, and the effect of it was lasting. In Ponape it is said that the great structures they overthrew are haunted, and people thereabout will not eat a certain fresh-water fish of a blue color, because the king, Chauteleur, flying before Icho-Kalakal, fell into Chapalap River and was changed by the gods into one of these fish. [290]

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Old Beliefs of the Filipinos

Respecting their myths the Filipinos differ in little from other human families whose civilization is incomplete. They had in former times the same tendency to create gods and spirits for particular hills, woods, seas, and lakes, to endow the brutes with human qualities, to symbolize in the deeds of men and animals the phenomena of the heavens. Even now the Monteses tell of a tree that folds its limbs around the trunk of another and hugs it to death, the tree thus killed rotting and leaving a tube of tightly laced branches in which are creatures that bleed through the bark at a sword-thrust or an ax-cut. These creatures are mischievously alleged to be Spaniards. The Tagalogs believe in Tic-Balan, an evil spirit who inhabits fig-trees, but is kept off by wearing a certain herb, and in a female spirit of the woods, Azuan, who is kept away from the house in times of domestic anxiety by the husband, who mounts to the roof and keeps up a disturbance for some hours.

In their feasts and ceremonies the natives have hymns and prayers to the rain-spirit, the sea, the star-god, the good birds, and the winds. Little has been done toward the preservation of their myths, for the Spaniards, during their centuries of control, suppressed learning, except as it pertained to religious studies, and tolerated but scant liberty of opinion. The friars, against whom the people nursed [291]so strong a hate, stood for all that was harsh, narrow, tyrannical, and unprogressive. In order to gain money and maintain their political ascendency they engaged in commerce, became owners of real estate and buildings, including saloons and dance-houses, debased their churchly functions, discouraged attempts at progress, practically forbade the printing of secular books and papers, making illiteracy, with its attendant vice, poverty, and superstition, universal; and when Dr. Jose Rizal urged his reforms in the church and civil service, he was shot, though not as a blasphemer, but because his secret order, the Katipunan, with its Masonic ritual and blood initiation, was thought to be dangerous to the public peace.

The change from this mediæval condition to that of the nineteenth century, with its impatience of title, caste, form, and ceremony, its trust in equal right, its insistence on freedom of belief, came suddenly. In shaking off their ancient political and religious bonds the Filipinos may lose some of the quaint and poetic records of their ancient faiths; for the first progress of a nation after a long sleep is a material one, and art, literature, all the more delicate expressions of national taste, history, and tendency, have to bide their day until the fortunes of the nation are assured. In this period of reconstruction let us hope that those fables and dreams will not be forgotten which tell, more truly than dates and names and records, the ancient state of the people, and afford [292]us a means of estimating the impetus and direction of their advance.

The influence of Christian teaching is plain in some of the songs, plays, and stories of the natives, especially in the plays, for in them the hero is often a Christian prince who defeats a strong and wicked Mohammedan ruler, and releases an injured maiden. Change the names and the play becomes a modern English melodrama. In several of the islands, however, the impress of Spanish occupancy is slight, and customs are still in force that have existed for hundreds of years. On Mindanao are still to be found the politic devil-worshippers, who, instead of seeking to ingratiate themselves with benevolent deities, whose favor is already assured, try to gain the goodwill of the fiends. Their rites are practised in caves in which will be found ugly figures of wood and an altar on which animals are sacrificed. The flesh of these animals is eaten by the devils, according to the priests, and by the priests, according to the white men. The evil spirits who appear in the half-darkness of these caves, leaping and screaming, goading the company to frenzy, are priests in disguise and in demoniac possession.

Tagbanuas tear a house down when a death occurs in it, bury the corpse in the woods, and mark the grave by dishes and pots used by the deceased in life. These implements are broken. Among our American Indians the outfits supplied to a dead man are in sound condition, as it is supposed he will need them on his [293]journey to the happy hunting-grounds, while the Chinese put rice and chicken in sound vessels on the graves of their brethren, believing they will need refreshment when they start on the long journey to the land of the shades. Tramps know where the Chinese are accustomed to bury their dead in American cities. When food is placed before an Otaheite corpse it is not for the dead, but for the gods, and is intended to secure their good offices for the departed. While a Tagbanua corpse is above ground it is liable to be eaten by a vampire called the balbal that lives on Mindanao, has the form of a man with wings and great claws, tears open the thatch of houses and consumes bodies by means of a long tongue, which it thrusts through the opening in the roof. These Tagbanuas do not believe in a heaven in the skies, because, they say, you could not get up there. When a man dies he enters a cave that leads into the depths of the earth, and after travelling for a long time he arrives in the chamber where Taliakood sits,—a giant who employs his leisure in stirring a fire that licks two tree trunks without destroying them. The giant asks the new-comer if he has been good or bad in the world overhead, but the dead man makes no reply. He has a witness who has lived with him and knows his actions, and it is the function and duty of this witness to state the case. This little creature is a louse. On being asked what would happen if a native were to die without one of these attendants, the people protest that no such thing ever happens. [294]So the louse, having neither to gain nor lose, reports the conduct of his commissary and associate, and if the man has been bad, Taliakood throws him into the fire, where he is burned to ashes, and so an end of him. If he has been good, the giant speeds him on his way to a happy hunting-ground, where he can kill animals by thousands, and where the earth also yields fruits and vegetables in plenty. Here he finds a house, without having the trouble to build one, and a wife is also provided for him,—the deceased wife of some neighbor usually, although he can have his own wife if she is considerate enough to die when he does. Down here everybody is well off, though the rich, having had much pleasure in the world, have less of it than the poor. After a term of years the Tagbanua dies again and goes at once to a heaven in a deeper cave without danger from fire. Seven times he dies, each time going deeper and becoming happier, and probably gains Nirvana in the end. Occasionally a good spirit returns as a dove, and a bad one comes as a goat; indeed, a few of the bad ones are doomed to wander over the earth forever.

A common belief is that the soul is absent from the body in sleep, and if death occurs then the soul is lost. “May you die sleeping” is one of the most dreadful of curses.

Among the Mangyan mountaineers it is customary to desert a person who is about to die. They return after his death, carry the corpse to the forest, build [295]a fence about it, and roof it with a thatch. These people seem to have no word for god, spirit, or future life; they do not worship either visible or unseen things, and are the most moral of the Filipinos. The lowlanders also desert their dying, and after death close all paths to the house, leave the skeleton of the defunct to be picked clean by ants, and change their names for luck.

When an islander in the Calamianes province dies his friends ask the corpse where it would like to be buried, naming several places, and lifting the body after each question. When the body seems to rise lightly the dead man has said, “Yes.” It may then be buried, or placed in a tree in the desired locality, with such of its belongings as the family can spare, and the mourners watch around a fire that night until all the logs are consumed. The dead man walks about in the ashes, leaving his footprints, and sometimes shows himself to his relatives. Singing and feasting follow for several nights, and the house of the dead is then abandoned.

The holes in the marble cliffs of San Francisco Strait formerly contained the coffined dead of the tattooed Pintados, who sacrificed slaves at the funeral that they might attend their relatives in the next world. Fear of the spirits of these rocks was but partially overcome when a Spanish priest smashed the coffins and tumbled the bodies into the sea, for the strait is still haunted and the burial rocks are good places to keep away from after dark. [296]

Among the Moslem Moros it is a sure passport to heaven to kill a Christian, and when one remembers how the people have been robbed, tortured, and oppressed by nominal Christians, this item of faith is not surprising. The more Christians he kills the greater will be his reward. He bathes in a sacred spring, shaves his eye-brows, dresses in white, takes an oath before a pandita or native priest to die killing infidels; then, with the ugly creese, or wave-edged knife, he runs madly through the street, killing, right and left, until some considerate person shoots him. In the rage for blood he has been known to push himself farther against a sword or bayonet that had already entered his vitals in order to stab the man who had stopped him. When they hear of his death the relatives of the fanatic have a celebration, and declare that in the fall of the night they see him ride by on a white horse, bound for the home of the good, where no Christians ever go to vex the angels. These people are often fatalists. They will drink water known to be poisoned with typhoid germs, and when epidemics come they declare them to be the will of God, and refuse to take the slightest measure against infection. They believe that when a strange black dog runs by cholera follows on his heels.

Yet, like our Indians, the better Tagbanuas and Calamianes try to heal the sick through the aid of drugs and charms and incantations, and they have their medicine man or papalyan. There is in the forest a strange little fellow, known as the man of the [297]wood, who has the power of giving to these doctors the art of healing. He rushes out upon one who walks alone, seeking power, and brandishes a spear, finally aiming it at the breast of the candidate, and advancing his foot as if to throw it. If the candidate runs he is unworthy, but if he stands his ground the little man of the wood drops his spear and gives a pearl to him. This pearl is never shown to anybody. It is looked at secretly at a patient’s bedside, and if clear the physician will prescribe, but if it is dark, or has taken on a stony aspect, he resigns the case. The “drugs” are similar to those used by the Chinese, consisting in part of powdered teeth and bones and other animal preparations. Charms are in common use as a protection not only from disease but from murder and misfortune, and in the fighting between the Americans and the natives about Manila many poor, half-naked creatures, armed with bows and arrows, had ventured fearlessly into the zone of fire, believing themselves to be safe because they wore an anting-anting at the neck. This object, like an Indian’s “good medicine,” is anything,—a little book, a bright pebble, a church relic, a medal, an old bullet, a coin, a piece of cloth, a pack of cards. It is the faith that goes with it, not the object itself, that counts. Even Aguinaldo has been invested by his followers with superhuman power. Just before he resorted to arms against the Americans the natives knew that the time for rebellion had come, for a woman in Biacnabato gave birth to a child dressed [298]in a general’s uniform, and above Tondo a woman’s figure crowned with snakes was painted in fire upon the night-sky.

In details of their faiths the tribes differ, but there is a prevalent belief in a principle of good that the Moros call Tuhan. The sun, moon, and stars are the light that shines from him,—he is everywhere, all-seeing, all-powerful; he has given fleeting souls to brutes and eternal souls to men. The soul enters a child’s body at birth, through the soft space in the top of the head, and leaves through the skull at death. Their first men were giants, and Eve was fifty feet high, but as men’s minds grew their bodies became of less account, and they will shrink and shrink until, at the world’s end, they will be only three feet high, but will consist mostly of brains. Comparing a brawny savage with an anæmic scholar, one fancies there is reason in this forecast. The Tagbanuas have no Adam and Eve. Those of them who live beside the ocean say they are the children of Bulalacao, a falling star that descended to the shore and became a beautiful woman. The gods of these people are like men, but are stronger, living in caves, eating an ambrosia-like boiled rice that has the power of moving. Their gods sometimes steal their children.

Old Testament traditions are commonly accepted by the Moros, who believe in No (Noah), Adam, Mosa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham), Sulaiman (Solomon), Daud (David), and Yakub (Jacob); but creation myths are locally modified, and some tales of [299]recent emergence of islands out of the sea are probably true. In all volcanic districts mountains may be shaken down and hills cast up in a day. Siquijor formerly bore the name of the Isle of Fire, for the natives say that in the days of their grandfathers a cloud brooded on the sea for a week, uttering thunders and hisses and flashing forth bolts of fire. When the cloud lifted, Siquijor stood there. The geology of the island supports the tradition.

The future is differently conceived by different sects and families, some panditas teaching that the soul, having come from God, will return to him at death; others that it will sleep in the earth or the air until the world has ended, when all will be swept on a wind to a mount of judgment, where saints and angels will weigh them, and souls heavy with sin will fall into hell; others that there is no hell of fire, because there is not coal enough to keep it going, but that every man is punished until his soul is purified, when it rises to heaven, glowing with light and color; others that men are punished according to their sins; liars and gossips with sore mouths and tired jaws; gluttons with lame stomachs; jealous, cruel, tricky people with aching hearts; abusive and thievish ones with pains in their hands; others that one finds hell enough on earth in fear, illness, disappointment, misunderstanding and Spaniards, to atone for all the mischief he is liable to make. [300]

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Animal Myths

In the fables of the Filipinos the animals often speak together in a common language. The dove, however, is the only one that comprehends human speech, and it is a creature of uncommon shrewdness and intelligence, like the hare in the Indian myths and Br’er Rabbit in the stories of our Southern negroes. Once the dove was a child. In shame and anger that its mother should refuse to give it some rice she was pounding for panapig (a sort of cake), it ran out of the cabin, took two leaves of a nipa, shaped wings from them, which it fastened to its shoulders, and fluttered into the boughs of a neighboring tree, changing, in its flight, from a child to a dove. It still calls for panapig.

Darwin is read backward by the natives, for they say that the monkey was a man, long, long ago, and might have been one still but for his mañana habit, so general in the Spanish colonies. He had a partner whom he greatly vexed by his idleness, and once, when this partner was planting rice, he glanced up and saw the monkey squatted on the earth, with his face between his hands, watching the labors of the industrious member of the firm,—for nothing makes loafing sweeter than to see somebody else work. Enraged, the busy one caught up a cudgel and flung it at the monkey, who was thereupon seized with a sudden but futile activity, and started to run away. The club struck him in the rear so mightily that it [301]entered his spinal column and stayed there, becoming his tail.

In the Moro tradition of the flood—a tradition almost world-wide—Noah and his family got into a box when the forty days of rain began, and one pair of each kind of bird and beast followed them. All of the human race except Noah, his wife and children, were either drowned or changed. Those men who ran to the mountains when they saw the flood rising became monkeys; those who flung themselves into the sea became fish; the Chinese turned into hornbills; a woman who was eating seaweed and kept on eating after the waves broke over her became a dugong.

In Mindanao, Basilan, and Sulu the pig is held in suspicion and its flesh is not eaten. The reason for this aversion is that the first pigs were grandchildren of the great Mahomet himself, and their conversion to these lowly quadrupeds fell out in this way: When Jesus (Isa) called on Mahomet, the latter, jealous of his reputed power, bade him guess what was in the next room. Christ said that he did not wish to do so. Mahomet then commanded him to prove his ability to see through walls, and added that if he made a mistake he would kill him. Thereupon Christ answered, “There are two animals in that chamber that are like no other in the world.”

“Wrong!” cried the Prophet, plucking out his sword. “They are my grandchildren. You have spoken false, and you must lose your head.”

“Look and see,” insisted Christ, and Mahomet [302]flung open the chamber door, whereupon two hogs rushed out. It should be added that while the divinity of Christ is denied in some of the Oriental religions, he figures in many of them as a great and good man, gifted with supernatural power. Moros charge as one reason for killing Christians that followers of Christ disgrace and belie mankind in teaching that men could kill their own god.

On Mindoro the timarau, a small buffalo that lives in the jungle, has given rise to rumors of a fierce and destructive creature that carries a single horn on his head. It is a wild and hard fighter, but it has two horns, and is not likely to injure any save those who are seeking to injure it. A creature with an armed head has lingered down from the day of Marco Polo, because in the stock of yarns assembled by that redoubtable tourist the unicorn figured. This was the rhinoceros, which is found so near the Philippines as Sumatra. The gnu of Africa is another possible ancestor of this creature, a belief in which goes back to the time of Aristotle; but the horse-like animal with a narwhal’s horn that frisks on the British arms never existed.

And, speaking of horses, it is strange that centaurs should figure in the mythology of a country like Luzon; but a mile from the church at Mariveles is a hot spring beside which lived a creature that was half-horse and half-man. As in ancient Greece, there is little doubt that a belief in this being came from the wonder excited by the first horsemen. [303]

Sea-eagles in the East are large and powerful, and are believed to have long memories. According to report, a man living near Jala Jala once stole a nest of their young and carried it to his house. It was a year from that time before any retaliation was attempted. The birds then appeared above his premises, swooped down on his wife, clawed her face and beat her with their wings until she was half-dead; then picked up her babe and carried it away before the eyes of the helpless parents. Next year they came again, and another infant, a few months old, was stolen. The man tracked them to their nest, which had been built high on a cliff that no one had ever scaled before. Nerved by grief and anger, he climbed it. In the nest were the skeletons of his children. As he clung to the rock, hanging over a dizzy space and looking on these sad relics, the father bird came swooping from the sky and began to strike at him with claws and wings. In the face of such an assault the man could not descend in safety. Death was sure. He could only hope to kill his enemy, too. As the bird drew near he leaped from the rock, caught the eagle about the neck, and the two plunged down to death together.

An animal god especially to be feared is Calapnitan, king of the bats. He is so powerful and capable of mischief that in exploring a cave where bats are likely to have congregated the natives will speak in the most respectful terms of this deity, for he would be sure to hear them if they spoke flippantly of him, [304]and might swoop from the cave roof and whip their eyes out with his leathern wings or tear them with his claws. Hence they bow their heads and speak with reverence of the Lord Calapnitan’s cave, the Lord Calapnitan’s stalactite, even recognizing his temporary ownership of their clothing, arms, lights, and so on, and alluding to their own jackets as the Lord Calapnitan’s. By carefully refraining in this manner from giving offence the Filipinos have succeeded in keeping their skins entire while guiding white travellers through the caverns in their islands.

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Later Religious Myths and Miracles

Among stories that date no farther back than the Spanish conquest we find the usual tales of sacred springs, of visions, and of blessed objects. The Church of the Holy Infant, in the city of Cebu, contains an image of the Christ child, about fifteen inches in height, carved in ebony, preserved in much state and loaded with a profusion of ornament. The priests tell you that it was made in heaven, thrown to the earth, and found in 1565 by a soldier who recovered from an illness when he touched it. It was taken to the convent in Cebu, where the clergy emplaced it with great ceremony, and where on the 20th of January in every year it is dressed in a field marshal’s regalia, receives a field marshal’s salute, and is worshipped by thousands of [305]pilgrims from all parts of the archipelago. So many women wrought themselves into an insane frenzy during these January feasts that their sacred dances, which were once a part of the ceremonies, had to be stopped. When the town was burned this statue saved itself from the flames, as did the bamboo cross near the church, which is said to be the same that was erected by the monk, Martin de Rada, on the day when the Spanish landed, more than three centuries ago. Matter-of-fact historians allow that the figure of the child may have been left there by Magellan. It worked miracles of a surprising character for years after his death, and the first settlement in Cebu was called The City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in its honor. The customary discrepancies between the piety and the practice of the conquerors existed in the Philippines, as in the Antilles. They slew the natives until the survivors threw up their hands and professed the right religion; then they shot twenty-four thousand Chinese who had settled in and about Cebu, thus reducing themselves to a wretched state, for these Spaniards had depended on the Chinese as their servants, cooks, farmers, laborers, shoemakers, and tailors. It is worthy of note that other missionaries had shown activity, but with less result, for their methods had been more conciliatory. The Mahometanism that had been introduced by Moslem preachers from Arabia got no farther than Sulu, and the Confucianism imported by Chinamen seems to have obtained no permanent hold. Through [306]all changes the Holy Child remained uninjured, and he continues his good work to this day.

When the Sulu pirates had fallen upon a year of such bad business that they reaped a profit of barely fifty per cent, on their investment in ships and weapons, there was great discontent among them. Prizes were few and defeats occasional. Looking back on their highest hill, as they sailed away, and fearing that when they returned it might be with but half a cargo of gold and rum and Christians, so many of them wept for the misery of this thought that to this day the height is known as Buat Timantangis, or Mount of Tears. In one dull season, when the pirates were almost mutinous because of their continued ill-fortune, it occurred to one of the captains that an image to which the Christians prayed so earnestly and with such good effect might do as much for him as for some other natives. In his barbarian mind there was no absurdity in trying to persuade a gentle Virgin or a pure-minded Saint to deliver into his hands the goods and persons of those who knelt before their effigies. A sacred image was “good medicine” for Spaniards and Tagalogs, and should, therefore, be good medicine for Mahometans. Thus, he bethought him of the statue now known as the Virgin of Antipolo, that came from Spain by way of Mexico in charge of early missionaries. To think was to act. He raided the village where it had been enshrined and attempted to carry it off; but the statue had warned the faithful of its peril, and [307]the marauders were met and driven off by a powerful force. The Virgin of Antipolo became one of the most influential of all the guardians of the islands, and to this day is especially besought by mothers who ask for her intercession on behalf of their sickly children. Holy water taken from her shrine will cure the sufferer, and the mother then performs a public penance in thankfulness. Before the American arrival, with its sudden imposition of new ideas on an old society, it was no uncommon thing to see on Good Friday a company of the richest women in Manila, poorly attired and with bare feet, dragging through the streets a heavy cross thirty feet in length. This was in fulfilment of vows they had made at the shrine of Antipolo.

This Virgin of Antipolo is likewise known as Our Lady of Good Voyage and Peace. She arrived from Mexico in a state galleon in 1626. On the voyage she calmed a storm so quickly that the priests proclaimed her special sanctity, and ordered her to be received in Manila with salutes of bells and guns. While the Jesuits were building a church for her she would often descend from her temporary altar and stand in an antipolo tree (Astocarpus incisa). People cut pieces from this tree for charms against disease and misfortune, until Father Salazar ordered that the trunk should be its pedestal. In an early rebellion the Chinese insurgents threw the statue into the fire. Flames were all about it, yet not a hair, not a thread of lace was singed, and the body of brass was [308]unmarked by smoke. Angered at this defiance of their power, a Chinaman stabbed it in the face, and, curiously, the wound remains to this day in protest against the savagery that incited it. When for a second time the Virgin passed unscathed through a conflagration the Spanish infantry bore her on their shoulders about the streets, shouting in the joy of her protection. A galleon having been endangered by rocks and bars in Manila Bay, the captain borrowed this statue, prayed that it would secure the safety of his ship, and, to the wonder of all, his vessel rode proudly up to the city gates, for the Virgin had ordered that the rocks should sink deeper beneath the sea. Twice afterward she did a like service to captains who borrowed the figure as a safeguard on the long voyage to Mexico and back, for each time she suppressed great storms. At the time of the assault on Manila by the Dutch she assisted in the defeat of the strangers, though St. Mark was associated with her in the victory. He had told the governor in a dream that success should attend the Spanish arms if his people would carry the Virgin into the fight. This was done, and the Dutch lost three ships with their cargoes. She was finally domiciled in the town of Antipolo, which, beside being famous as a shrine, has been one of the most noted resorts for brigands in the Philippines. The village of four thousand people subsists largely on the money spent by pilgrims to her church.

Every family in the Christian communities has a [309]little statue of the Virgin or of a patron saint, to which prayers are addressed. Occasionally as much as a thousand dollars will be paid for one of these images, for some have more power than others. When Tondo caught fire and was reduced to ashes, the houses of mat and bamboo burning like paper, one thing alone survived the flames: a wooden statue of Mary. This token of a special watch upon the figure immediately raised its importance, and it was attired in the dress and ornaments of gold in which it may now be seen. Not all the domestic saints are brilliantly dressed or originally expensive. One Filipino family worshipped a portrait of Garibaldi that adorned the cover of a raisin box, while a native elsewhere was found on his knees before a picture from an American comic paper that represented President Cleveland attired as a monk and wearing a tin halo. Both of these pictures had been placed on altars, and candles were burned before them.

Another statue of great power is in the church at Majajay. It was sent there from Spain in charge of the friars, and is especially besought by invalids, for it is a general belief that whosoever will reach the church with breath enough remaining in him to recite certain prayers before this image shall have fresh lease of life; yea, though he were at his last gasp.

Some of the attacks made on the friars in the Philippines have been construed into attacks on the Church, but this is wrong. For the good of the [310]Church, no less than of the people, it is desired to purge the islands of these ancient offenders. They have used religion as a cloak for evil, have encouraged, in private, vices they preached against in public, have availed themselves of famines and other distresses to force money from the poor, and have fathered as many half-castes as the Spanish soldiers have. As to their offspring, Filipino wives have quieted jealous husbands by assuring them that the appearance of a European complexion in a hitherto brown family was a special favor from St. Peter,—a miracle ordered by the keeper of heaven as a reward for piety and good works. Hence, one hears much of St. Peter’s children in the Philippines. Some of the white inhabitants have nevertheless been conspicuous for virtue. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, for example, the first ruler of the islands, was so good that for years after his death his body, now in the St. Augustine Monastery, Manila, underwent no decay or change, but was like that of a man in sleep.

Alitagtag, north of Bauan, became in 1595 a resort of ghosts and devils that congregated about a spring near the village, so that the people were afraid to go there for water. A native headman took wood from a deserted house, made a cross of it, and set it up near the spring to spell away the fiends. As the people still feared, a woman of courage ventured near the place to find that a stream of cold, pure water was flowing from one of the arms of the cross. To further assure the people that the evil [311]spirits had been mastered the cross arose from the earth and stalked about the fields, surrounded by bright lights. Thereupon the clergy ordered that it should be adored, and from that time it became an object of worship, healing diseases, dispelling plagues, and killing locusts. When the priests at Bauan announced that they intended to move the cross to Lake Bombon, the priest of Taal, being jealous of his brothers in the other town, hired some natives to steal it and take it to his house. No sooner had the men assembled for this purpose than sheets of green fire fell about the cross, defending it from their approach, and in a frenzy of contrition they ran back, solemnly vowing that they would never make a similar attempt again. The cross was, therefore, taken to Bauan, where it did service for the people by terrorizing a band of pirates and by stopping an eruption of the Taal volcano in 1611. This peak of Taal had been a resort of devils from time immemorial, and it had been a frequent duty of the Church to pray them into silence. In the year just named Father Albuquerque headed a procession that ascended the mountain for this purpose. Near the summit he paused and lifted the cup containing the blood of Christ. Dreadful noises were heard, like the laughter of ten thousand fiends, in vaults below. Then, with a groan and crash, the earth split and two craters appeared, one filled with boiling sulphur, the other with green water. The cross was sent for. It was brought by four hundred natives. When it [312]was put into the priest’s hands he lifted it toward the sky and all united in prayer. During this petition, while every head was bent and all eyes were shut, the craters softly closed and Taal was as it had been before. Yet the demons still linger about the mountain. Not many years ago an Englishman tunnelled the peak for sulphur. The fiends of the volcano shook the roof down on his head and he perished. In May it has been a custom to hold a feast in honor of this cross, if the natives furnish the necessary candles and raise ten dollars for the officiating priest.

Bangi, in Ilocos Norte, had a shrine in which was the image of a child with a lamb. Herbs pressed against it would cure all diseases. For years a dispute was carried on between clerical factions as to whether it represented St. John the Baptist or Christ. Bishop Miguel Garcia, having undressed it and examined it thoroughly, decided it to be a Chinese idol. Thereupon it was broken and burned as a thing unholy.

Our Lady of Casaysay, in Batangas, is so esteemed that ships salute her in passing. She was found by a fisherman in his net. He took her to a cave, not knowing what to make of his strange find, and intending to keep her there probably as a treasure not to be shared by his neighbors. She astonished and disappointed him by proclaiming herself with flashing lights of beautiful color and with loud music. As these demonstrations frightened the peaceable rustics, the Virgin left her cave, visited a native [313]woman, spoke kindly to her, and was thereupon provided with a shrine, where she might be adored with proper ceremony.

The statue of St. Joaquin at Gusi is remarkable because every year it runs away and spends two weeks with its wooden wife, the figure of St. Ann, at Molo.

Manila once had a saint that wagged its head approvingly at certain points in the sermon. This conduct drove so many women into hysterics, and crowded the church so dangerously with people who went to see the miracle, that the archbishop discountenanced its action, and ordered that it should be quiet thereafter. Quiet was easily secured by cutting the string attached to the saint’s neck. The padre was accustomed to pull this during his discourse whenever he wished his congregation to believe that the saints approved his eloquence or endorsed his doctrine.

Holy water from the Conception district of Panay saves life, and San Pascual Bailon cures barrenness. A Manila milkman who was punished for selling watered milk expressed surprise at the complaints of his customers, because no wrong had been committed, inasmuch as he had used nothing but holy water, which was far superior to milk. Water from the prison well at Iloilo was held at so high a value that the prison-keeper made a fortune from it, as it was given out that Christ and the Virgin had been seen bathing in the well. Our Lady of the Holy [314]Waters presides over the hot springs below Maquiling Mountain, an old crater. Another popular place of pilgrimage is the shrine at Tagbauang, near Iloilo, where illnesses are cured at a high mass in January.

One of the last recorded appearances of the Virgin was in 1884, when a band of robbers in Tayabas killed a plantation manager, wounded several laborers, and ransacked the house of the owner. While in one of the bedrooms tying clothes, jewelry, and other loot into parcels for removal, the Virgin appeared, and standing in the door looked with severity and distress on the bandits. They immediately left their plunder and ran pell-mell from the building. Some of these robbers were arrested, but the Virgin had compassion on them for leaving the proceeds of their raid, so none was garroted or even sentenced. Some go so far as to say that the Virgin had nothing to do with their escape from punishment, alleging that the officers of the law had conspired with them, and that the Spanish courts were even worse than those of a land that shall be nameless in respect of their slowness and the facilities they offered for adjournments, retrials, and appeals on grounds that if presented in any other cause than that of a breaker of the law would be laughed to scorn. Filipino bandits often wear medals of the Virgin and saints to protect them from harm, and some are made bold by confidence in their protection. It is a belief of theirs that they will never be punished for any crime they may commit in Easter week, for the rather obscure [315]reason that Christ pardoned the thief on the cross on Good Friday.

A curious chapel on a bluff near Pasig, overlooking the river of that name, has the form of a pagoda. It was built as a thank-offering by a Chinaman who, having been endangered by a crocodile, and having called on men and joss without receiving an answer, prayed volubly to the Christians’ God as he swam toward the shore, and promised to erect a chapel in return for his life. His prayer was answered, for the crocodile was turned to stone, and may now be seen in the bed of the stream, while the grateful Mongol kept his word, and also joined the church.

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Bankiva, the Philippine Pied Piper

Of nearly six hundred species of birds in the Philippines the jungle fowl, or bankiva, is best known, and is both killed and domesticated. Unlike the dove, it does not understand human speech, but it has a power over our kind that is exercised by no other animal. Once a year the spirits grant to it this power of charming, in order that both spirits and birds may be revenged on men, their constant enemies. When that day comes the Luzon mother tremblingly gathers her little ones about her and warns them not to leave their door, for young ears heed the strange, sweet music of the fowl’s voice, which grown people cannot hear. On that day the [316]bird sings with a new note, and the flock of bankivas choose the largest, handsomest of their number to lead the march of children. On the edge of the village he gives his song, and every toddler runs delightedly to see what causes the music. Babes respond with soft, cooing notes, and will go on hands and knees if they can. They find the bankivas gathered in a little ring, spreading their tails and wings, dancing and singing in harmony, the head bird setting the air. When the children have gathered, they, too, begin to dance and sing, following the birds as they go deeper and deeper into the wood. Night falls, and with a harsh cry the bankivas fly away in all directions. The children are as if awakened from a sleep. They do not know where they are, and cannot tell which way to turn. Jungles and swamps are about them, man-eating crocodiles are watching from the water, poisonous and strangling snakes are gliding about the brush, the pythons that loop themselves from overhanging limbs are sometimes thrice the length of a man. Dread and danger are on every hand. And at home the mothers sit crying. Sometimes, though rarely, a man or woman totters back to a village bearing marks of great age, and is sure that he or she left there only the night before. These wanderers do not know where they have been. They remember only that the bankiva sang sweetly, and they followed it, as the children of Hamelin followed the pied piper. [317]

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The Crab Tried to Eat the Moon

Among the fantastic stories told of snakes, water-buffalo, birds, and sharks are several that have obvious meaning. The crab figures in certain of these tales as the cause of the tides. He was an enormous creature and lived in a great hole in the bottom of a distant sea, whence he crawled twice a day, the water pouring into the hollow then, and leaving low water on the coast. When he settled back again the water was forced out and the tide was high. The relation of tides to the moon may have introduced this creature in another aspect as the moon’s enemy and cause of her eclipse, for it is related that one evening a Filipino princess walking on a beach saw with astonishment an island that had never been visible on the sea before. Her emotion was that of alarm when she saw the island approach the shore, and she hid in the shrubbery to watch. Presently she could make out, despite the failing light, that it was no island, but a crab larger than a hundred buffalo. Its goggling eyes were dreadful to see, its mouth was opening fiercely, its claws working as if eager to clutch its prey. The moon arose at the full, making a track of light across the heaving waters, and the crab, facing east, prepared to spring and drag it to its den beneath the ocean. Half a mile away the people of the princess were holding a feast with songs and dances. Would they hear a signal? She placed her conch-shell horn at [318]her lips and blew with all her strength. The monster still gnashed and grasped in expectancy at the sea’s edge, and a breeze brought through the wood a faint sound of drums. Her people had not heard. Again she blew. This time the woods were still. Her people were listening. A third blast followed, and in a few minutes the warriors swarmed upon the beach with knives, swords, and lances. While the princess was explaining to them the moon’s peril the crab made a leap into the air and darkened its face, causing an eclipse, but failing to get a hold it dropped back to the beach again, where the people fell upon it, the princess leading the attack with the war-call of her tribe. As the crab turned to see what had befallen, the princess slashed off his great left claw. With the other it crushed a soldier, but again her cresse fell and the right claw fell likewise. Then a hundred men rushed upon the creature, prodding their spears into joints of his legs and the dividing line between his back plate and belly. Others fell under his great bulk or were gnashed by his iron teeth, but in the end his shell was broken and the moon was safe. And often when the gentle pirate of the Sulus scoured the sea he uttered a prayer before an image of the princess for a bright night and an easy victim, for had it not been for her the crab would have swallowed the moon, and the sea would have been as dark as some kinds of a conscience. [319]

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The Conversion of Amambar

While roving over the waters that covered the earth the sun god saw the nymph Ursula sporting in the waves, and was smitten with a quick and mighty fondness. He nearly consumed himself in the ardor of his affection. She, however, was as cold and pure as the sea. As she swung drowsily on the billows she was like a picture painted in foam on their blue-green depth, and in breathing her bosom rose and fell like the waves themselves. As she saw the god descending she was filled with alarm, but as he took her into his strong embrace and placed his cheek to hers a new life and warmth came to her, and in their marriage the spirits of the air and water rejoiced. A son was born to them,—so beautiful a boy that the sun god made a land for him, stocked it with living creatures, adorned it with greenery and flowers, and gave it to the human race as an inheritance of joy forever. This land he called Cebu, and no land was more lovely. Lupa was the child, and from him came all the kings of Cebu, among them Amambar, the first chief of the island of whom we have definite record. In the day of his rule the group had long been peopled, and the use of tools and weapons had become known. One occasionally finds to-day the stone arrows and axes they called “lightning teeth,” and with which they worked such harm to one another in their many wars.

It was an evening of March, 1521, a calm and [320]pleasant evening, with the perfume of flowers mixed with the tonic tang of the ocean, birds flying and monkeys chattering in the wood, and a gentle surf whispering upon the beach. Amambar was walking on the shore alone. He had gone there to watch the gambols of the mermaids, when a great light whitened against the sunset. It came from a cross that had been planted just out of reach of the sea. He put his hands before his eyes that it might not dazzle him. Then, as the moon arose, he peered beneath his hands, out over the restless water, and there, against the golden globe that was lifting over the edge of the world, could be seen a flock of monster birds with gray wings, and dark men walking on their backs as they lightly rode the billows, the men sparkling and glinting as they moved, for they were arrayed in metal and bore long knives and lances that flashed like stars. Other of the company wore black robes and sang in unknown words, their voices mixing in a music never heard by Amambar before. A sparkling white cloud drooped slowly from the sky. A diamond vapor played about the cross. Out of the cloud came a melodious voice saying, “Look up, O chief!” And looking at the cross again, he saw, extended there, a bleeding figure with a compassionate face that gazed down upon him and declared, “I am Jesus Christ, son of the only God. Those whom you see in the ships are my people, who have come to these islands to rule you for your good.” Amambar fell prone on the sand and prayed for a [321]long time, not daring to open his eyes. When he regained courage and arose the cloud was gone; the ships had sailed away. He was alone.

The commander of the ships was Magellan. It was one of his monks who had placed the cross on shore. Landing in Cebu later, he converted two thousand of the natives in a day by destroying the statue of Vishnu and putting that of the child Jesus in its place, though he still yielded to savage opinion in so far as he consented to confirm his friendship with the king by a heathen ceremony, each opening a vein in his arm and drinking the blood of the other. As usual, the appearance and ways of the Europeans smote the natives with wonder. They described the strangers as enormous men with long noses, who dressed in fine robes, ate stones (ship-bread), drank fire from sticks (pipes), and breathed out the smoke, commanded thunder and lightning from metal tubes, and were gods. Engaging in a wrangle between two tribes, Magellan was lured into a marsh at Mactan, and there, while watching a battle to see how great the Filipinos could be in war, he was slain with bamboo lances sharpened and hardened in fire. Amambar’s Christianity did not endure, for he so wearied of the oppression and rapacity of the strangers that when a successor to Magellan appeared he invited him to a banquet and slew him at his meat. But the cross and the statue of Christ worked miracles among the faithful for many generations. [322]

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The Bedevilled Galleon

“Sing hey, sing ho! The wind doth blow,

And I’ll meet my love in the morning,”

Sang the lookout, as he paced the forecastle of the galleon Rose of May, and peered about for signs of land against the dawn. Not that he expected to meet his love in the morning, nor for many mornings, but he had been up in his off-watch and was getting drowsy, so that he sang to keep himself awake. His was one of the first among the English ships to follow in Magellan’s track. The Philippines, or the Manillas, as they were called, had been almost reached, and it was expected that Mindanao would be sighted at break of day off the starboard bow.

“Hello, forward!” bawled the man at the helm.

“Ay, ay!” sang the lookout.

“What d’ye make o’ yonder light?”

“Light? What d’ye mean, man?” And the lookout rubbed his eyes, scanned the water close and far, and wondered if his sight was going out.

“In the sky, o’ course, ye bumble-brain.”

“Now, by the mass, you costard, you gave me a twist of the inwards with your lame joke.”

“’Tis no joke. Will you answer?”

“Why, then, ’tis the daylight, in course, and you aiming for it that steady as to drive the nose of us straight agin the sun, give he comes up where he threats to. And he’ll be here straightway, for in [323]these waters he comes up as he were popped outen a cohorn.”

“The day! Heaven forefend! I’m holding her to the north.”

“You’re holding due east. Aha! Look yonder, where the cloud is lifting. Land ho!”

“Where away?” cried a mate, roused out of a forbidden doze by this talk, and blundering up to the roof of the after-castle.

“Port bow, sir.”

“Port bow! The fiend take us! You block! You jolterhead! Where are you fetching us?”

“I’m holding her due to the north, sir, as you bade me,” faltered the steersman. “Look for yourself, if it please you, for ’tis light enough to read the card without the binnacle lamp. We’re sailing east by the sky and north by the needle. The ship’s bedevilled!”

“Hold your peace, or you’ll have the crew in a fright. Head her around eight points to port, and keep her west by the card.”

“Lights in, sir? The sun is up,” called the lookout.

“Yes.” And the mate added in a lower tone, “’Tis the first time ever the sun came up in the north.”

“What’s all this gabble?” grumbled the captain, thrusting his red and whiskered face out of the cabin. “Can’t a man have his rest when you keep the watch, Master Roaker?” [324]

“Pray, captain, come and look at the compass. Do you see the lay o’ the needle? We’re sailing west to hold north, or else the sun has missed stays over night and come up in the north himself.”

“Hi, hi! That’s parlous odd. Keep her as you have her, and have out Bill, the carpenter, to see if there’s any iron overside. Nay, let her off a little more, for that’s a hard-looking piece of shore out yonder, for all of the palms and green stuff.”

The watch was changed presently, the captain preferring to take the biscuit and spirits that were his breakfast on the deck. He went to the compass every minute or so, looked curiously at the draw of the sails and studied the water alongside. The carpenter had reported all sound, with no iron out of place to deflect the needle. There was a grave look on the faces of the officers, and the men talked low together as they watched them.

“Strange-looking hill out yonder,” remarked a mate. “Not a tree on it, nor any green thing. ’Tis black and shining enough for the devil’s grave-stone.”

“Have done with your gossip of devils,” snorted the other mate. “You’re as evil a man for a ship’s company as a whistler. You’ll be calling ill luck on us to name the fiend so often.”

“Looks like shoal water forward, sir,” called the new lookout.

“Right! Head her away to port yet farther. Look you, fellow, have you no inkling of your business? [325]You’ll have us all ashore. Mary, mother! Give me the helm!” With sweat bursting from his brow the captain caught the tiller and put it hard over. The ship shook a bit, swerved, yet made side-wise toward the green patch on the sea. The land was looming large now.

“’Tis not in the rudder to keep her off, sir,” called a mate who had gone forward. “’Tis the leeway she is making.”

“There’s a scant breeze.”

“Ay, but there must be a fearsome current.”

“I see no sign of it. This water is smooth as any pond.”

“But you see for yourself, she’s gaining on the shore. Look, now, how we’re passing that patch o’ water-weed.”

“I think hell is under us. Have up the clerk and put him at prayers, and you fellows take in sail—each rag of it—that if we strike we may go easy. Call all hands. See that the boats are clear. She minds her helm no more than a straw. God help us!”

The galleon was at the edge of the shoal spot now, and all held their breath, expecting to hear the grinding of the keel on a bank; but, no, she floated in safety.

“Sound!” commanded the captain. “There may be anchorage.”

“Four fathom,” called the sailor at the lead after he had made his cast.

“Stand by to let go. We’ll tie up here till the [326]tide turns or the spell’s worked out. Alive—alive, there! Get that anchor overboard.”

“It be wedged agin the bulwark, captain, and needs another pair o’ hands.”

“Forward all! Why, you lump, the flukes are clear. What ails you? Lift all. There!”

With an united heave the sailors raised the barbed iron and cast it over the side. The faces of all dripped and went white, and their knees bent then, for the anchor flew from their hands and struck the sea quite twenty feet away,—in deep water, for the shoal was passed,—and the chain paid out like rope as the iron sank, yet not straight down. It rattled off toward the shore.

“We’ve had krakens and mermaids and all variety of horrid beasts,” said one old tar, with his jaw a-shaking, “and now the foul fiend has that anchor, and is pulling us ashore with it.”

The chain had run out to its length, but the anchor had found no bottom. A cracking and grinding of the links could be heard, as if a tug of war were going on between two giants that had this chain between them. Bits of rust powdered off, and the strain was tearing splinters from the timbers. A loud snap,—the chain had parted. Down went the anchor, but again not straight,—off toward the land, and one free link of the chain shot as if from a gun straight toward the shore, whizzing with ever-increasing speed until it was out of sight. The men looked at one another in amaze. [327]

“Get up the stores,” shouted the captain, “and be ready all to quit the ship.” He added to his mates, “A half hour’s the longest we can hope for. The Rose of May will be on the black cliff by that. Is the clerk praying? Good! We may get away in the boats, but we’ll end our days here in the Manillas. Alack, my Betsy! I’ll never look into her eyes again.”

“She’s down a little by the head, an’t please you,” cried a sailor, running aft.

“Ease her a little, then. Toss over some of the dunnage.”

“Lor’! Lor’! Spare us all this day!” yelled a sailor a minute later.

“What is it?”

“I tried to put my knife on the rail here, while I gripped the line I was to cut, when it tugged at my hand like a live thing. In a fright I let go, and away it flew toward the shore. Oh, we’ve reached the Devil’s country. Why ever did I leave England?”

“How of the compass?”

“It points steady to that rock.”

“Master captain! Master captain!” shouted the steward, running upon deck. “The fiend is in the after-castle, for the pans and the knives and a blunderbuss and two cutlasses that were loose have leaped against the forward panelling and stick there as if rivets were through them. ’Tis wizard’s work. Let us pray, all.” [328]

A sudden commotion was seen among the sailors at that moment. The cannon balls had rolled forward to the break of the forecastle, and the two guns themselves—the ship’s armament against the pirates of China and Sulu—were straining at their stays.

“Heave over the shot. It’ll lighten her,” ordered the captain.

The crew obeyed, but after the first of the balls had been lifted over the bulwarks, they had scarce the strength to cast out the rest, for amazement overcame them on seeing the shot plucked from the man’s hands and blown through the air as if sent from its gun toward the rock. The ship was leaping through the water, though the breeze was from the land. One after another the men fell on their knees and prayed loudly, the captain last of all. Suddenly he looked up, with a wondering flash in his eyes. He sprang to his feet, plucked an iron belaying-pin from its ledge, held it up, felt it pull, let go, and saw it whirl away like a leaf in a cyclone. He looked at the compass; the needle pointed straight toward the black and glistening cliff now lowering not more than half a mile ahead.

“It’s the guns,” he shrieked. “Up with you. Cut away the lashings. Stave down the bulwarks. Let them go.”

In the panic there was no stopping to argue or to question. The guns were freed, and they, too, went hurtling through the air, striking the rock with a clang. The captain leaped to the helm and put it [329]hard a-starboard. The ship’s pace slackened, she curved gracefully around, and headed from the threatening coast. “Shake out all sail, lads, for we’re free at last, by God’s good grace.”

Though trembling and confused, the sailors managed to hoist sail, and on a gentle wind from the east they left that coast never more to venture near it. The captain’s face lost its knots and seams, by slow degrees the color of it returned,—a color painted upon it, especially about the nose, by many winds, much sunshine, and uncounted bottles of strong waters. He wiped his brow and drew a big breath. “It comes to me, now,” he said. “We’ve not been bewitched. That hill beyond, that’s robbed us of our guns and anchor, is a magnet,—the biggest in the world.”

In an earthquake, several years later, the magnet-mountain disappeared.

[Contents]

Two Runaways from Manila

The name Corregidor, which stands for mayor, albeit the translation is corrector, is applied to the gateway to Manila. Thus named it was a place to inspire a wholesome fear in the breasts of dignitaries, for on at least two occasions proud and refractory bishops were sent there in exile to endure a season of correction and repentance. It was thought to be a desert. In the seventeenth century the treasure galleon arriving at Manila, after a [330]voyage of months from Mexico, brought a family from that country. One of the daughters of this house of Velez was a girl with a bit of human nature in her composition, for Maria was prone to flirting, and had no affection for sermons. In order to repress her high spirits and love of mischief, she was sent by her father to the convent of Santa Clara, which had been founded in 1621 (a few years before this incident). The parent even hoped that she might qualify as a nun.

It was not the right convent, for Fray Sanchez, one of the fathers, who said the offices in the chapel, was a Franciscan friar, young, handsome, and not an ascetic. The novice was always prompt when he said mass, and often when her pretty head should have been bowed in prayer she was peeping over the edge of her breviary, following the graceful motions of the brother as he shone in full canonicals in the candle-light, and thrilling at the sound of his rich, low voice. The priest several times caught the glance of those eyes, so black, so liquid, saw the long fringe of lashes fall across them, saw the face bend behind the prayer-book in a vain endeavor to hide a flush, realized what a pretty face it was, and went to his cell with a vague aching at his heart. He sought Maria among the pupils to give spiritual advice, or she sought him to ask it,—it little matters,—and so the first full moon looked into a corner of the convent garden and saw, despite the swaying shadow of vines and palms, that the friar [331]was making confession to the nun,—a confession of love. The face that had peered above the prayer-book was lifted to his, a white arm stole about his neck: it was the answering confession. The priest strained her to his breast and half stifled her with kisses.

These raptures were interrupted by the retiring bell, and they hastily returned to the convent by separate ways. It was the last night they expected to spend beneath that roof, for a galleon was to sail for Mexico in a day or two, and they had agreed to elope. Dressed in worldly garb, which she concealed under the robe and cowl of a monk, Maria slipped through the garden gate next day, met her lover, ran to the shore, where a boat had been tied, crossed with him to Camaya, the ship being promised there for a fag end of cargo, and prayed for a quick departure from the Philippines. In vain. They fell into the hands of unfriendly natives, who, having learned to distrust the Spanish, were always ready to wreak small injuries on them when the chance afforded. These natives attempted to separate the pair and drag the girl to their huts. The friar attacked them with spirit, but the brown men were too many for him, and in the melee both he and Maria were wounded.

A boat was seen approaching. The assailants fled, leaving the friar, bleeding and weak, but kneeling beside his mistress, whose white skin was splashed and striped with red, and whose liquid eyes stared vacantly at the sky. As the boat touched the shore [332]the corregidor leaped from it, and the friar now confronted a new peril. His flight had been discovered, the town-crier had bawled it through the streets, commanding the people to refuse shelter to the guilty pair under heavy penalty, and, to enforce their return, the mayor had brought with him twelve soldiers of the garrison. The loaded arquebuses of the men were not needed. Feeble, sore in body and spirit, repentant, the monk surrendered, Maria was lifted into the boat, and the company returned to Manila.

There it was decided that the monk should be sent to an inland mission, that in the lifting of souls to a finer faith the stain of human love that had fallen upon his own soul might be wiped away. As to the girl, her good looks and gay disposition had proved the undoing of one devotee. She was to have no chance to enslave another; so she was sent back to Mexico, forced to enter a cloistered nunnery, and so ended her life in loneliness and sanctity. The incident has left its impress on the names about the harbor, Corregidor being so called for the officer who pursued and arrested the runaways, Camaya being rechristened Mariveles,—which, you see, is Maria Velez,—while two rocks beyond the Boca Grande are named for the friar and his would-be bride,—Fraile and Monja: monk and nun. [333]

[Contents]

The Christianizing of Wong

In the city of Cebu the Chinese, who made an early settlement, accepted the prevalent religion in order to keep peace with the authorities. In fact, it was a choice between going to church and going back to China. Incidentally to their evangelization a number of them were cast into prison, their shops and houses were rifled, and laws were enacted denying rights and privileges to all Mongols who refused Christian baptism. Among the refractory citizens was a Chinese trader named Wong. So far as anybody could see, he led as moral a life as a Chinaman can endure comfortably; he was good to his family, good to himself, he was sober, he would overreach a Spaniard when he could, but when he had given his word he kept it; he burned incense before joss, he read the analects of Kung Foo Too and Mang Tse, and worshipped his ancestors; he never stole or used any kind of profanity that moral Spaniards could understand. For all this he was nagged and worried constantly, and could hardly take a walk without being pursued by friars who requested alms for their charities in so pointed a manner that he contributed with celerity, if with an inward lack of willingness. If he had been an every-day Chinaman he would have been killed, or prisoned, or exiled, or deported, but he had an excellent trade, and, in spite of his enforced outlays for masses and missionaries, was growing richer all the time. The customs [334]officers thrived on the duties that he paid, and waxed exceeding fat.

One elderly priest in Cebu had a genuine concern for the welfare of this prosperous but benighted soul. He called at his shop, he barred his way in the street, he argued, he cited, he appealed, but to no effect. Wong answered that, although a heathen, he was doing a better business than any one else; so what was the use of changing gods? And with a heart-deep sigh he requested the clergyman to change the subject. Seeing, at last, that all customary methods of conversion were doomed to failure, the friar betook himself to the shrine of St. Nicholas, and asked him to do something that should turn this poor soul to the faith. St. Nicholas praised his petitioner’s zeal, and promised to work a miracle. The friar possessed his soul in patience, and the conversion came that very week. Wong was assailed in his office by five robbers, armed with knives and daubed with blood, to show that they intended neither to give nor ask for quarter. He had sold many goods that day, and they had come for his money. Wong reached for the sword that always hung within his grasp, but to his dismay it was gone. St. Nicholas or the friar had hidden it. He glanced rapidly about the room, but saw nothing that he could oppose to the knives of the desperadoes, and even if he had, they were five to one, so his escape from a cruel death seemed impossible. Just then the robbers were struck into a stupor, for on the wall behind [335]the merchant a light was shining, and soft music floated through the room. The partition opened, and St. Nicholas stepped within the apartment. Turning to the Chinaman the visitant said, “Believe in the true faith, Wong, and your life shall be saved. Believe otherwise, and you shall die.” Wong changed his faith in one second, and said so. The saint waved his hand toward the ruffians and they dropped to the floor in a faint, whereupon Wong, plucking the knife from the hand of the nearest, carefully but expeditiously and joyfully cut the throats of all five, called in his neighbors and persuaded them to join the church with him. They did this almost immediately, and the most popular saint among the Chinese of Cebu is still St. Nicholas.

[Contents]

The Devil’s Bridge

You may say what you please, but it is certain that the Evil One never appeared in the Philippines until after the Spanish had taken possession of the islands. At least, this applies to Luzon. And, strange to tell, he has not been seen there since the Spanish left. Some will have it that he was smitten into a despairing bashfulness during Weyler’s administration, and that when the governor went home with a couple of million dollars in his valise—the savings from his salary—the Devil went home likewise, awe-struck. His Satanic Majesty’s last recorded [336]exploit occurred in the view of three men, of whom one may still be alive to vouch for it. They were farmers of Wild Laguna, a few miles above Manila, and on one memorable day were cutting wood in the ravine near by,—a deep gulch through which babbles a stone-choked stream. This glen has precipitous sides, but is so thickly overhung with green that it is almost like a verdant cave.

While they were resting—and the Filipino’s ability to rest is one of his striking qualities—they were startled by the hurried advance of something, or somebody, on the bank. There was a swish and crash of undergrowth, a hobbling stamp, and something that sounded like the smiting of leaves with a club. At first the farmers thought that a water buffalo had run away from some plantation and was angry because he could not descend the craggy sides and reach the water. Then came a volley of expletives in an unknown tongue, and in a voice so deep and harsh that the hair of the three heads bristled, and three pairs of eyes goggled with fright. The farmer who was good crossed himself; the one who was bad turned white and tried to remember how prayers were said; the one who was betwixt-and-between clung to the stone on which he was seated and held his breath; for a tall, lank personage, with overhanging brows, slanting eyes, long chin and nose, and wrathful aspect, was striding to and fro on the edge of the ravine, looking at the opposite bank as if trying to decide whether or not he could leap that [337]distance. He was scowling, gnashing his teeth, and brandishing his arms. Any Spaniard might have done as much, and brandished a sword besides; but the terrible thing about this gentleman was the great length of tail, with a dart at its tip, that he was flourishing among the bushes, for only one being, on the earth or under it, was known to have a toil like that.

As if to leave no doubt, the stranger, in stamping on the ground, lifted his leg so high that the watchers could see that it ended, not in a foot, but a hoof. It was Satan himself! The farmers did not dare to tremble, but each shrank within himself as far as he could and thought upon his sins, the worst of the trio with the least compunction, because he was not conscious of any immorality in robbing Spaniards. As he tramped back and forth, the devil now and then looked up into the branches, as if guessing the height of the trees. Presently he stopped before the tallest, levelled his finger at it, and cried with a stentorian voice a command in words that belong to none of the forty or fifty languages and dialects of the islands. Then the souls of the spectators fell, like chilling currents, and their hearts swelled like balloons and arose into their throats, and there was no joy in them; for the great tree bent slowly down and swung itself entirely across the chasm. Its reach was great, and Satan skipped along the trunk as spryly as a cat on a fence, his arms and tail held out for balance and twitching nervously. Half-way over he spied the three spectators and stopped. [338]Their circulation stopped also. He grinned from ear to ear, showing two rows of tusk-like teeth, shook his fist playfully, and shouted a laugh so loud, so awful, that they believed their last moment had come. But it had not. Their hair turned white, to be sure, and they took on fifty years’ growth of wrinkles; but the Devil was after bigger game. He scampered over the arching trunk, disappeared on the farther side, and hurried off at a run toward Manila, where a certain rich lawyer was rumored to be dying. From later whisperings it appears that His Majesty was not late.

The strange part of the incident is that, although the tree was thus ill-used to serve the Devil’s convenience, and is marked along its bark by his cloven feet, it was not blasted, but to this hour is green and flourishing. The Devil’s Bridge, as everybody calls it, is an arboreal wonder, curving lightly and gracefully over the chasm, its branches resting on the bank opposite to its root, some of them growing upside down, but all as green and healthy as those of any tree that the Devil spared when he was looking for a way to cross the ravine. Had he waded the stream he not only would have wet his feet, which would have been unpleasant, but would have touched water that had once been blessed, and that would have been torture. The bad farmer did not survive this spectacle by many years, though it is not related that he reformed. The fair-to-middling one lasted for a while longer. The good one may yet be in the [339]land of the living, unless he enlisted under Aguinaldo, which is not likely, because old men cannot run fast enough to be effective members of the Filipino army.

[Contents]

The Great Earthquake

After months of fighting, Li Ma Hong, the Chinese pirate, and his six thousand followers had been beaten out of Philippine waters. Manila was celebrating the victory on this last night of November, 1645. The church bells had been clanging and chiming, the windows had been lighted, flags and pennants had streamed from the house-tops, sounds of music and cries of rejoicing were heard, a thousand fairy lamps starred the darkness and quivered in the Pasig. The flag of Spain had been carried through the streets in solemn procession, the cathedral altar had smoked with incense, the friars had chanted the “Te Deum,” but now all was gayety and music and perfume. A ball was among the festivities, and military and civic officers, pranked in the lace and bullion so dear to the Latins, were going through the narrow ways with their ladies on their arms. Taking no part in the joyous hurly-burly, two men walked apart, near the cathedral, in talk. One was a father in the church; the other, secretary and major-domo of the governor. The calling of the one, the age and dignity of the other, to say nothing of an old wound that gave a hitch and [340]drag to his step, forbade their mingling with the throng.

The secretary spoke: “No, father, I hardly agree with your view. That heaven has been on our side I admit, since we have conquered the infidels, seized their treasure, and strewn their corpses on our shores. But that the blessed St. Francis interposes in our behalf, I doubt.”

“This is dangerous doctrine,—a reflection on our order. We have prayed daily for the success of the Spanish arms, and although we addressed the Virgin and all the saints, the statue of St. Francis is the only one that moved while we were at prayer——”

“With your eyes on the ground?”

“The sacristan saw it. Furthermore, let me tell you that the figure of the saint owned by the worthy Indian, Alonzo Cuyapit, at his house in Dilao, was stirred to tears last night.”

“Tears! For victory?”

“I fear, for some reason worthy of tears.”

“And your imaginations have nothing to do with all this? Men who are wasted with vigils and fasting”—here the secretary chuckled and made as if he would nudge the churchman in his ample paunch—“are prone to see what common men cannot. Though I protest that when I eat much cheese before retiring I have visions, too. But not always holy ones.”

The priest answered with gravity, “A life of devotion does clear the vision. It opens the gates of [341]heaven. I fear, señor, that too many in this doubting age are affected like you,—that a study of philosophy and ungodly sciences has harmed your respect for the saints and the church.”

“By no means, father. All I maintain is that the figure of St. Francis was not seen in the thick of the battle, as some of the friars allege. Good sooth! What do they know of battle? Our victories were won by stout Spanish arms and good Toledo steel. All praise to Heaven that we had the power.”

The priest shook his head and sighed. Then he looked curiously into the sky. The stars were shining, save in the south, where lightning flickered in a bank of cloud, and there was no threat of storm. Yet in the air was a curious stagnation that had fallen within the hour and brooded over the city like a palpable thing. It was hot and close and lifeless; stale smells from the streets reeked into the nostrils, and from the Pasig came a heavy, sickish odor of river vegetation.

“Sometimes it fills me with a fear that Heaven has a punishment in store for us,” said the priest, stopping in his walk and looking meditatively into the distance, where the lightning now played more brightly. “We have grown worldly. We have thought less of serving God by our wars than of increasing our power and importance in the eyes of the nations. We have grown proud. We are in danger of losing our piety. Pray that the wrath do not fall.” [342]

“With all my heart,—especially to-night. Your blessing, father. And sound sleep.”

It was the last time that these friends were to walk together. It was the last time in many a day when Manila would be in gala. At midnight the greasy calm that lay on the sea was broken by a breeze which ruffled the water and made a pleasant stir in the trees ashore. It eased the sultriness of the night and brought rest to many who had been tossing on their beds, excited doubtless by the shows and dissipations of the last few hours. Presently the sleepers were roused again, for the wind was rising steadily; the trees were writhing and wringing their branches in what was surely going to be a gale. The lightning was near. A growl of thunder could be heard. The clock boomed the hour of two. Out of an intense dark leaped a bolt of green fire, and the air was filled with baying and cannonade. Almost at the moment the earth began to rock. The city awoke. The rocking increased. Roofs began to fall, walls to bulge, masonry to split and sway.

“The earthquake! The earthquake!” screamed a thousand voices, and with cries and lamenting the people hurried into the streets and fell on their knees or their faces, unable to stand on the waving, trembling ground. It was an hour of terror. All lights were blown out by the storm or extinguished in the fall of houses, save one or two of baleful meaning that flickered above roofs which had caught fire. The sea could be heard advancing toward the land [343]with tremendous roaring, driving up the channel of the Pasig and overspreading its banks on either side, while far below, and most dreadful of all, the fall could be heard of pieces of the earth’s crust into pits of fire and the vast rumble and groan of a world. Houses crumbled, people were pressed to death and maimed in the blackness, streets cracked asunder, trees were uprooted, chaos was come again.

In the morning the survivors looked upon a scene of ruin worse than any wrought by the pirates. The sanctity of the cathedral had not saved it. Of its imposing walls hardly anything remained. A heap of masonry marked its place. Every public building was destroyed. Wretches hurt to the death were pinned under fallen stones and timbers, and many, willing enough to relieve them, were too dazed and agonized by their own pains and misfortunes to pull their wits together. Spain had enjoyed her triumphs. Now her calamities had begun.

On the night before the catastrophe, Alonzo Cuyapit, a rich Indian of Dilao, a suburb of the city, and his friend, the chaplain of the San Francisco Convent, were at prayers together before a statue of St. Francis, that was the Indian’s dearest pride. He had shrined it fittingly in his home, with flowers and candles about it, and adored it daily. The statue was of life-size, the work of an adept carver; was brilliantly painted and gemmed, and had about the neck a rosary from which hung a cross of polished gold. So many miracles of healing had been performed [344]by this figure that its renown had gone through all Luzon.

While Cuyapit and the chaplain were on their knees a tremor shook the floor. Slight earthquakes of this kind were not unusual. Though the walls of the house rattled, the statue remained fixed and still. Another jar was felt in the ground, and raising their hands to the saint, the petitioners begged him fervently to intercede against a dangerous shock. Presently they lifted their eyes, and were struck dumb with amazement, for the statue had unclasped its hands, the one pointing toward Manila, as if in warning; the other holding the golden cross toward heaven, as if in an appeal for mercy. A halo, so bright as to dazzle the beholders, played about the head, the lips moved, and from the upturned eyes tears trickled down the cheeks. Cuyapit and the priest arose and tried to stanch these tears, but the cloth they used was soon as wet as if they had just taken it from the river. Then the statue raised its arms high over its head, as in a last appeal for mercy to the world, while the tears gushed in such a stream that they made a continuous fall to the floor. A look of horror wrung the face, as if the prayer had been refused; and, extending its hands in benediction, the saint toppled from his pedestal and was broken into fragments.

When these occurrences had been told by Cuyapit in the Church of San Francisco, under an oath before the Virgin, the pieces were carried in reverential [345]procession to Manila, and the miracle of San Francisco of the Tears is accepted there as history.

[Contents]

Suppressing Magic in Manila

Crowds of all kinds are easily swayed, but it is said that nowhere is it so easy to rouse a panic or a revolution as in Manila. Several times during the earlier months of the American occupation vague fears spread through the city, people ran to their homes or locked themselves in their shops in terror, lights were put out, armed guards were posted; then, after a few hours, everybody asked everybody else what the matter had been, and nobody knew.

In 1820 a strange scene was enacted in the Philippine capital. People assembled in groups at evening and whispered mysteriously. Gowned friars moved from group to group, but whether encouraging or expostulating it was impossible for one to say, unless he understood Spanish or Tagalog. The captain of an American ship that was taking on its load of hemp reported to a neighbor captain, who sailed under the cross of St. George, that there had been a violation of the government order against the importing of Protestant Bibles and pocket-pistols,—two things taboo in the country at that time. This, however, may have been the Yankee captain’s joke. As the night deepened torches were seen flitting [346]hither and thither, the crowds thickened, the whispers and hushed talk increased by degrees to a widespread, menacing growl, then arose to a roar. Now drums were heard in the barracks, and the light, quick tread of marching feet could be distinguished through the babble of voices. The mob was slowly wedging itself into one of the streets before an inn, and just at the doors of that hostelry the noise was loudest and most threatening.

Presently came a crash. The building had been entered. Instantly there were shouts and cries, and the throng seemed fairly to boil with anger. In the light of candles that shone through windows the faces lifted toward the tavern were drawn and wolfish. Shots were heard. The mob was shaken, as a wood is shaken by a gale, but there was no retreat. There could be none. The people were packed too densely. Now a glint of bayonets was seen at one end of the street, and some sharp orders rang out. This was more effective. The throng began to thin away at the farther end, and those nearest to the soldiers attempted to break through the line, loudly declaring that they were merely spectators, and did not know what had happened. But in another moment everybody knew. Two dark shapes were passed out at the inn door, and were, in some fashion, pushed along over the heads of the multitude to its freer edge. These shapes had recently been men. With ropes about their necks they were dragged at a run through the streets. More houses were attacked. Other [347]forms were found lying on the earth, pulseless, bloody, after the mob had passed. The military was, seemingly, unable to head it off or give effective chase. Flames now lighted various quarters of the city, and shots were frequently heard. It was a night of terror. History speaks of it as a night of rioting. Many declare that it was a St. Bartholomew massacre, on a smaller scale, and that the Protestants who were killed that night were put to death at the instigation of the friars. Tradition relates that when the sun arose the people, numbering thousands, marched in triumph through the city, following a dozen of their number who bore in their hands the phials in which two French naturalists, recently landed in Luzon, had preserved a number of snakes and insects for their scientific collection.

There was the mischief,—in those jars and bottles. Nobody would put a serpent or a scorpion into alcohol except for some grim purpose, and that purpose could be nothing other than black magic. Hence the raid on the inn; hence the killing of the naturalists and of other people suspected of complicity or sympathy with forbidden arts; hence the state of education of Luzon. [348]

[Contents]

Faith that Killed

Back in the 30’s an emigrant of some account arrived in Manila. He was a young doctor of medicine who had just won his sheepskin in Salamanca, and had been persuaded that there was small hope of a living for him in a province where the people were too poor to be ill and too lazy to die. The Philippines had been suggested as a promising field for his practice, and realizing that he needed practice he made the long journey around Good Hope and reached the Luzon capital nearly penniless, but full of gratitude and expectancy. Having secured lodgings, to which he at once affixed his shingle, he sallied forth to see the town and its people, and one of the first of its inhabitants to claim his attention, though she claimed it unwittingly, was a girl of the lower class who was walking along the street with an easy, elastic step, and in seeming health, yet who was evidently suffering from a hemorrhage, for at every few paces she paused and spat blood. Her bearing and expression were in odd contrast with her peril, for she seemed indifferent to the danger.

Prompted by compassion as well as by a professional interest, the physician followed the invalid, expecting at every moment to see her fall or hear her beg for help, his wonder at the stoicism and endurance of the Filipino growing constantly. When she reached her home, an humble house in a poor [349]quarter of the city, he begged immediate audience with her parents, who were, unfortunately, acquainted with the Spanish tongue, and told them it was his duty to warn them that the girl had not twenty-four hours to live; that she was afflicted with a mortal illness; that a priest should be called at once. The girl’s cheeks were ruddy, she was in good spirits, and the old people were inclined to resent the warning as a joke, being an exceeding poor one. The visitor explained that he was a medical man, that he was actuated by the most charitable of motives, that he would do everything in his power to delay the fatal ending of the disease, but that restoration to health was impossible.

When this dreadful news was broken to the girl she had a violent fit of weeping, then hysterics, then a long fainting spell, and sank into a decline so swift that the parents were in despair. Neighbors flocked in to offer condolences and comforts; a priest received the young woman’s confession and performed the last rites; the doctor plied his patient with drugs, fomentations, and stimulants; father, mother, and friends groaned, prayed, and tore their hair. All the time the poor creature sank steadily, the color left her face, her breath grew labored, and as night fell the doctor’s warning was fulfilled,—she was dead.

In a single day the fame of this wonderful physician spread through all the city, and people flocked to his lodging with money and diseases. He was [350]dazzled at the prospect of riches. After three or four years of this kind of thing, if the tax man did not hear too much of his success, he could return to Spain and live in comfortable retirement. Alas! for human hopes, he returned sooner than he had intended. A few days after the death of his first patient somebody asked how he forecast her fate so exactly.

“It was easy enough,—she spat blood,” he answered.

“Are you sure it was blood?”

“Certainly. It was red.”

“Ah, señor, every one spits red in Manila.”

“Bah!”

“Oh, it is true! Everybody chews the buyo leaf, which is like the betel of India, that you have heard of, just as everybody smokes in Luzon. The juice of the buyo is red.”

Then the doctor realized that he had killed his patient by making her believe she was doomed to die, and with the earnings of his brief career in the Philippines he bought a passage back to Spain in the same ship that had carried him to the East. So, if you hear that a person is ill, but if your informant winks and says that he is spitting red, you may believe that the invalid will be out after a good sleep and a little bromide. [351]

[Contents]

The Widow Velarde’s Husband

Enchanted Lake, near Los Baños, on the Pasig, fills an ancient crater and is an object of natural interest. Its enchantment, so far as is generally known, consists in the visits of Widow Velarde’s husband to its shores, and his occasional moonlight excursions over its waters in a boat that has the same pale green shine as himself. This Velarde was a fisherman and being somewhat of a gallant he had roused the mortal jealousy of his wife. In revenge for his supposed slights she engaged two of his friends to confer on her the joys of widowhood, which they agreed to do for a consideration. The amount promised was six dollars, but the preliminary negotiations appear to have been hasty, for when these worthies had earned the money, having held the unfortunate Velarde under the water until he ceased to bubble, the thrifty woman wanted them to accept three dollars apiece. They held stoutly for six dollars apiece. The widow would not pay it. There was a long and undignified wrangle,—disputes over funeral bills are often warranted, but are seldom seemly,—and it ended in the angry departure of the fishermen, without even their three dollars, to lodge a complaint against the Widow Velarde for cheating.

Now, would you suppose that two men, having just murdered a fellow-creature, would go to a magistrate to complain about the payment? These Filipinos did it. They went to a judge at Los Baños [352]and tried to get an order for the woman’s arrest. The judge, fancying this must be a kind of joke peculiar to Luzon, said he would think over the matter, and he resumed his slumbers. In a day or two he learned that the men had really killed their companion, and had fallen out with the widow on the matter of terms. They meanwhile had learned that their act was contrary to white man’s law and had escaped, though it is said they were afterward caught and put to death. Perhaps it is the disquiet caused by the reflection that he was worth no more than six dollars that leads the extinguished husband to vex the scene of his demise.

[Contents]

The Grateful Bandits

Monsieur de la Gironiere, a French planter and trader, who visited the Philippines a lifetime ago, or more, told stories of the islands and their people that are taken in these days with a lump of salt. Among these narrations is one pertaining to the bandits who in the first years of the nineteenth century were numerous and troublesome on several of the islands, and who were alternately harassed and befriended by the officials,—chased when they had money and well treated when they had parted with most of it to cool the sweating palms of authority. Gironiere was visiting the cascades of Yang Yang when he found himself surrounded by brigands who were chattering volubly and [353]pointing to his horses. They did not at first offer violence, but presently he understood that soldiers were in chase of them, and they were considering whether it would not be wise to kill the horses, lest the troop, on its arrival, should seize them to aid in the pursuit.

Gironiere could not afford horses often. He eagerly assured the thieves that he would not give his nags to the military; that he would, on the contrary, depart by the road over which he had come, in order to avoid meeting the soldiers, and this promise he made on the honor of a gentleman. The leader of the brigands saluted, and the Frenchman drove away, as he had agreed, the thieves watching him until he was out of sight. For months after this incident he had no trouble with the natives. His household goods, his garden products, his poultry were spared. Some years later, when he had definitely cast his fortunes with the Spaniards, he accepted a commission as captain of the horse guards at Laguna, and it then became his duty to trouble the very robbers who once had spared him. Their fighting was usually open, and, as the marksmanship on both sides was the very worst, it was seldom that anybody was hurt. Truces were made, as in honorable war, and the leaders corresponded with one another as to terms of battle or surrender. One unofficial document received by Gironiere cautioned him to look out for himself, as there was one in the bandit ranks who was ungrateful. “Beware [354]of Pedro Tumbaga,” it said. “He has ordered us to take you by surprise in your house. This warning is in payment for your kindness at the cascades. You kept your word. We are ready to fight you now, as you would fight us; but we don’t strike in the back. Tumbaga will shoot you from hiding.”

Gironiere was a crafty person, likewise a cautious one. He knew where to send an answer to this epistle, and he sent it: “You are brave men, and I thank you. I do not fear Tumbaga, for he is a coward. How can you keep among you a man who would shoot another in the back?” Just look at that for slyness! And the message had the effect he desired and expected. Some brave bandit got behind a tree a couple of weeks afterward and shot a bullet through Tumbaga. Thus was the power of the brigands weakened, the safety of Gironiere assured, and good feeling re-established between the law and its habitual breakers.

The End

[Contents]

By Charles M. Skinner

Myths and Legends of Our Own Land Illustrated. Two volumes in a box. 12mo. Buckram, $3.00; half calf or half morocco, $6.00

Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders Illustrated. 12mo. Buckram, $1.50; half calf or half morocco, $3.00

Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions and Protectorate. Illustrated. 12mo. Buckram, $1.50; half calf or half morocco, $3.00

Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders and Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions and Protectorate. Two volumes in a box. Buckram, $3.00; half calf or half morocco, $6.00

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The following corrections have been applied to the text:

Location Source Correction
Page Manilla Manila
Page 19 Manilla Manila
Page 41 pedler peddler
Page 65 kindnesss kindness
Page 66 earthern earthen
Page 146 [Not in source] the
Page 168 [Not in source] ?
Page 265 voodo voodoo
Page 323 [Deleted]
Page 351 Banos Baños
Page 351 Banos Baños




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