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    Chapter LXV

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    Chapter 69
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    By and by, after a rugged climb, we halted on the summit of a hill which
    commanded a far-reaching view. The moon rose and flooded mountain and
    valley and ocean with a mellow radiance, and out of the shadows of the
    foliage the distant lights of Honolulu glinted like an encampment of
    fireflies. The air was heavy with the fragrance of flowers. The halt
    was brief.--Gayly laughing and talking, the party galloped on, and I
    clung to the pommel and cantered after. Presently we came to a place
    where no grass grew--a wide expanse of deep sand. They said it was an
    old battle ground. All around everywhere, not three feet apart, the
    bleached bones of men gleamed white in the moonlight. We picked up a lot
    of them for mementoes. I got quite a number of arm bones and leg bones--
    of great chiefs, may be, who had fought savagely in that fearful battle
    in the old days, when blood flowed like wine where we now stood--and wore
    the choicest of them out on Oahu afterward, trying to make him go. All
    sorts of bones could be found except skulls; but a citizen said,
    irreverently, that there had been an unusual number of "skull-hunters"
    there lately--a species of sportsmen I had never heard of before.

    Nothing whatever is known about this place--its story is a secret that
    will never be revealed. The oldest natives make no pretense of being
    possessed of its history. They say these bones were here when they were
    children. They were here when their grandfathers were children--but how
    they came here, they can only conjecture. Many people believe this spot
    to be an ancient battle-ground, and it is usual to call it so; and they
    believe that these skeletons have lain for ages just where their
    proprietors fell in the great fight. Other people believe that
    Kamehameha I. fought his first battle here. On this point, I have heard
    a story, which may have been taken from one of the numerous books which
    have been written concerning these islands--I do not know where the
    narrator got it. He said that when Kamehameha (who was at first merely a
    subordinate chief on the island of Hawaii), landed here, he brought a
    large army with him, and encamped at Waikiki. The Oahuans marched
    against him, and so confident were they of success that they readily
    acceded to a demand of their priests that they should draw a line where
    these bones now lie, and take an oath that, if forced to retreat at all,
    they would never retreat beyond this boundary. The priests told them
    that death and everlasting punishment would overtake any who violated the
    oath, and the march was resumed. Kamehameha drove them back step by
    step; the priests fought in the front rank and exhorted them both by
    voice and inspiriting example to remember their oath--to die, if need be,
    but never cross the fatal line. The struggle was manfully maintained,
    but at last the chief priest fell, pierced to the heart with a spear, and
    the unlucky omen fell like a blight upon the brave souls at his back;
    with a triumphant shout the invaders pressed forward--the line was
    crossed--the offended gods deserted the despairing army, and, accepting
    the doom their perjury had brought upon them, they broke and fled over
    the plain where Honolulu stands now--up the beautiful Nuuanu Valley--
    paused a moment, hemmed in by precipitous mountains on either hand and
    the frightful precipice of the Pari in front, and then were driven over--
    a sheer plunge of six hundred feet!

    The story is pretty enough, but Mr. Jarves' excellent history says the
    Oahuans were intrenched in Nuuanu Valley; that Kamehameha ousted them,
    routed them, pursued them up the valley and drove them over the
    precipice. He makes no mention of our bone-yard at all in his book.

    Impressed by the profound silence and repose that rested over the
    beautiful landscape, and being, as usual, in the rear, I gave voice to my
    thoughts. I said:

    "What a picture is here slumbering in the solemn glory of the moon! How
    strong the rugged outlines of the dead volcano stand out against the
    clear sky! What a snowy fringe marks the bursting of the surf over the
    long, curved reef! How calmly the dim city sleeps yonder in the plain!
    How soft the shadows lie upon the stately mountains that border the
    dream-haunted Mauoa Valley! What a grand pyramid of billowy clouds
    towers above the storied Pari! How the grim warriors of the past seem
    flocking in ghostly squadrons to their ancient battlefield again--how the
    wails of the dying well up from the--"

    At this point the horse called Oahu sat down in the sand. Sat down to
    listen, I suppose. Never mind what he heard, I stopped apostrophising
    and convinced him that I was not a man to allow contempt of Court on the
    part of a horse. I broke the back-bone of a Chief over his rump and set
    out to join the cavalcade again.

    Very considerably fagged out we arrived in town at 9 o'clock at night,
    myself in the lead--for when my horse finally came to understand that he
    was homeward bound and hadn't far to go, he turned his attention strictly
    to business.

    This is a good time to drop in a paragraph of information. There is no
    regular livery stable in Honolulu, or, indeed, in any part of the Kingdom
    of Hawaii; therefore unless you are acquainted with wealthy residents
    (who all have good horses), you must hire animals of the wretchedest
    description from the Kanakas. (i.e. natives.) Any horse you hire, even
    though it be from a white man, is not often of much account, because it
    will be brought in for you from some ranch, and has necessarily been
    leading a hard life. If the Kanakas who have been caring for him
    (inveterate riders they are) have not ridden him half to death every day
    themselves, you can depend upon it they have been doing the same thing by
    proxy, by clandestinely hiring him out. At least, so I am informed. The
    result is, that no horse has a chance to eat, drink, rest, recuperate, or
    look well or feel well, and so strangers go about the Islands mounted as
    I was to-day.

    In hiring a horse from a Kanaka, you must have all your eyes about you,
    because you can rest satisfied that you are dealing with a shrewd
    unprincipled rascal. You may leave your door open and your trunk
    unlocked as long as you please, and he will not meddle with your
    property; he has no important vices and no inclination to commit robbery
    on a large scale; but if he can get ahead of you in the horse business,
    he will take a genuine delight in doing it. This traits is
    characteristic of horse jockeys, the world over, is it not? He will
    overcharge you if he can; he will hire you a fine-looking horse at night
    (anybody's--may be the King's, if the royal steed be in convenient view),
    and bring you the mate to my Oahu in the morning, and contend that it is
    the same animal. If you make trouble, he will get out by saying it was
    not himself who made the bargain with you, but his brother, "who went out
    in the country this morning." They have always got a "brother" to shift
    the responsibility upon. A victim said to one of these fellows one day:

    "But I know I hired the horse of you, because I noticed that scar on your

    The reply was not bad: "Oh, yes--yes--my brother all same--we twins!"

    A friend of mine, J. Smith, hired a horse yesterday, the Kanaka
    warranting him to be in excellent condition.

    Smith had a saddle and blanket of his own, and he ordered the Kanaka to
    put these on the horse. The Kanaka protested that he was perfectly
    willing to trust the gentleman with the saddle that was already on the
    animal, but Smith refused to use it. The change was made; then Smith
    noticed that the Kanaka had only changed the saddles, and had left the
    original blanket on the horse; he said he forgot to change the blankets,
    and so, to cut the bother short, Smith mounted and rode away. The horse
    went lame a mile from town, and afterward got to cutting up some
    extraordinary capers. Smith got down and took off the saddle, but the
    blanket stuck fast to the horse--glued to a procession of raw places.
    The Kanaka's mysterious conduct stood explained.

    Another friend of mine bought a pretty good horse from a native, a day or
    two ago, after a tolerably thorough examination of the animal. He
    discovered today that the horse was as blind as a bat, in one eye. He
    meant to have examined that eye, and came home with a general notion that
    he had done it; but he remembers now that every time he made the attempt
    his attention was called to something else by his victimizer.

    One more instance, and then I will pass to something else. I am informed
    that when a certain Mr. L., a visiting stranger, was here, he bought a
    pair of very respectable-looking match horses from a native. They were
    in a little stable with a partition through the middle of it--one horse
    in each apartment. Mr. L. examined one of them critically through a
    window (the Kanaka's "brother" having gone to the country with the key),
    and then went around the house and examined the other through a window on
    the other side. He said it was the neatest match he had ever seen, and
    paid for the horses on the spot. Whereupon the Kanaka departed to join
    his brother in the country. The fellow had shamefully swindled L. There
    was only one "match" horse, and he had examined his starboard side
    through one window and his port side through another! I decline to
    believe this story, but I give it because it is worth something as a
    fanciful illustration of a fixed fact--namely, that the Kanaka horse-
    jockey is fertile in invention and elastic in conscience.

    You can buy a pretty good horse for forty or fifty dollars, and a good
    enough horse for all practical purposes for two dollars and a half. I
    estimate "Oahu" to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five
    cents. A good deal better animal than he is was sold here day before
    yesterday for a dollar and seventy-five cents, and sold again to-day for
    two dollars and twenty-five cents; Williams bought a handsome and lively
    little pony yesterday for ten dollars; and about the best common horse on
    the island (and he is a really good one) sold yesterday, with Mexican
    saddle and bridle, for seventy dollars--a horse which is well and widely
    known, and greatly respected for his speed, good disposition and
    everlasting bottom.

    You give your horse a little grain once a day; it comes from San
    Francisco, and is worth about two cents a pound; and you give him as much
    hay as he wants; it is cut and brought to the market by natives, and is
    not very good it is baled into long, round bundles, about the size of a
    large man; one of them is stuck by the middle on each end of a six foot
    pole, and the Kanaka shoulders the pole and walks about the streets
    between the upright bales in search of customers. These hay bales, thus
    carried, have a general resemblance to a colossal capital 'H.'

    The hay-bundles cost twenty-five cents apiece, and one will last a horse
    about a day. You can get a horse for a song, a week's hay for another
    song, and you can turn your animal loose among the luxuriant grass in
    your neighbor's broad front yard without a song at all--you do it at
    midnight, and stable the beast again before morning. You have been at no
    expense thus far, but when you come to buy a saddle and bridle they will
    cost you from twenty to thirty-five dollars. You can hire a horse,
    saddle and bridle at from seven to ten dollars a week, and the owner will
    take care of them at his own expense.

    It is time to close this day's record--bed time. As I prepare for sleep,
    a rich voice rises out of the still night, and, far as this ocean rock is
    toward the ends of the earth, I recognize a familiar home air. But the
    words seem somewhat out of joint:

    "Waikiki lantoni oe Kaa hooly hooly wawhoo."

    Translated, that means "When we were marching through Georgia."
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