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    Chapter LXXIII

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    Chapter 77
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    At noon, we hired a Kanaka to take us down to the ancient ruins at
    Honaunan in his canoe--price two dollars--reasonable enough, for a sea
    voyage of eight miles, counting both ways.

    The native canoe is an irresponsible looking contrivance. I cannot think
    of anything to liken it to but a boy's sled runner hollowed out, and that
    does not quite convey the correct idea. It is about fifteen feet long,
    high and pointed at both ends, is a foot and a half or two feet deep, and
    so narrow that if you wedged a fat man into it you might not get him out
    again. It sits on top of the water like a duck, but it has an outrigger
    and does not upset easily, if you keep still. This outrigger is formed
    of two long bent sticks like plow handles, which project from one side,
    and to their outer ends is bound a curved beam composed of an extremely
    light wood, which skims along the surface of the water and thus saves you
    from an upset on that side, while the outrigger's weight is not so easily
    lifted as to make an upset on the other side a thing to be greatly
    feared. Still, until one gets used to sitting perched upon this
    knifeblade, he is apt to reason within himself that it would be more
    comfortable if there were just an outrigger or so on the other side also.
    I had the bow seat, and Billings sat amidships and faced the Kanaka, who
    occupied the stern of the craft and did the paddling. With the first
    stroke the trim shell of a thing shot out from the shore like an arrow.
    There was not much to see. While we were on the shallow water of the
    reef, it was pastime to look down into the limpid depths at the large
    bunches of branching coral--the unique shrubbery of the sea. We lost
    that, though, when we got out into the dead blue water of the deep. But
    we had the picture of the surf, then, dashing angrily against the crag-
    bound shore and sending a foaming spray high into the air.

    There was interest in this beetling border, too, for it was honey-combed
    with quaint caves and arches and tunnels, and had a rude semblance of the
    dilapidated architecture of ruined keeps and castles rising out of the
    restless sea. When this novelty ceased to be a novelty, we turned our
    eyes shoreward and gazed at the long mountain with its rich green forests
    stretching up into the curtaining clouds, and at the specks of houses in
    the rearward distance and the diminished schooner riding sleepily at
    anchor. And when these grew tiresome we dashed boldly into the midst of
    a school of huge, beastly porpoises engaged at their eternal game of
    arching over a wave and disappearing, and then doing it over again and
    keeping it up--always circling over, in that way, like so many well-
    submerged wheels. But the porpoises wheeled themselves away, and then we
    were thrown upon our own resources. It did not take many minutes to
    discover that the sun was blazing like a bonfire, and that the weather
    was of a melting temperature. It had a drowsing effect, too.
    In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes
    and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-
    bathing. Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to
    sea, (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a
    particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he
    would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board,
    and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell! It did not seem
    that a lightning express train could shoot along at a more hair-lifting
    speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of
    it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but
    missed the connection myself.--The board struck the shore in three
    quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about
    the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives
    ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.

    At the end of an hour, we had made the four miles, and landed on a level
    point of land, upon which was a wide extent of old ruins, with many a
    tall cocoanut tree growing among them. Here was the ancient City of
    Refuge--a vast inclosure, whose stone walls were twenty feet thick at the
    base, and fifteen feet high; an oblong square, a thousand and forty feet
    one way and a fraction under seven hundred the other. Within this
    inclosure, in early times, has been three rude temples; each two hundred
    and ten feet long by one hundred wide, and thirteen high.

    In those days, if a man killed another anywhere on the island the
    relatives were privileged to take the murderer's life; and then a chase
    for life and liberty began--the outlawed criminal flying through pathless
    forests and over mountain and plain, with his hopes fixed upon the
    protecting walls of the City of Refuge, and the avenger of blood
    following hotly after him!

    Sometimes the race was kept up to the very gates of the temple, and the
    panting pair sped through long files of excited natives, who watched the
    contest with flashing eye and dilated nostril, encouraging the hunted
    refugee with sharp, inspiriting ejaculations, and sending up a ringing
    shout of exultation when the saving gates closed upon him and the cheated
    pursuer sank exhausted at the threshold. But sometimes the flying
    criminal fell under the hand of the avenger at the very door, when one
    more brave stride, one more brief second of time would have brought his
    feet upon the sacred ground and barred him against all harm. Where did
    these isolated pagans get this idea of a City of Refuge--this ancient
    Oriental custom?

    This old sanctuary was sacred to all--even to rebels in arms and invading
    armies. Once within its walls, and confession made to the priest and
    absolution obtained, the wretch with a price upon his head could go forth
    without fear and without danger--he was tabu, and to harm him was death.
    The routed rebels in the lost battle for idolatry fled to this place to
    claim sanctuary, and many were thus saved.

    Close to the corner of the great inclosure is a round structure of stone,
    some six or eight feet high, with a level top about ten or twelve in
    diameter. This was the place of execution. A high palisade of cocoanut
    piles shut out the cruel scenes from the vulgar multitude. Here
    criminals were killed, the flesh stripped from the bones and burned, and
    the bones secreted in holes in the body of the structure. If the man had
    been guilty of a high crime, the entire corpse was burned.

    The walls of the temple are a study. The same food for speculation that
    is offered the visitor to the Pyramids of Egypt he will find here--the
    mystery of how they were constructed by a people unacquainted with
    science and mechanics. The natives have no invention of their own for
    hoisting heavy weights, they had no beasts of burden, and they have never
    even shown any knowledge of the properties of the lever. Yet some of the
    lava blocks quarried out, brought over rough, broken ground, and built
    into this wall, six or seven feet from the ground, are of prodigious size
    and would weigh tons. How did they transport and how raise them?

    Both the inner and outer surfaces of the walls present a smooth front and
    are very creditable specimens of masonry. The blocks are of all manner
    of shapes and sizes, but yet are fitted together with the neatest
    exactness. The gradual narrowing of the wall from the base upward is
    accurately preserved.

    No cement was used, but the edifice is firm and compact and is capable of
    resisting storm and decay for centuries. Who built this temple, and how
    was it built, and when, are mysteries that may never be unraveled.
    Outside of these ancient walls lies a sort of coffin-shaped stone eleven
    feet four inches long and three feet square at the small end (it would
    weigh a few thousand pounds), which the high chief who held sway over
    this district many centuries ago brought thither on his shoulder one day
    to use as a lounge! This circumstance is established by the most
    reliable traditions. He used to lie down on it, in his indolent way, and
    keep an eye on his subjects at work for him and see that there was no
    "soldiering" done. And no doubt there was not any done to speak of,
    because he was a man of that sort of build that incites to attention to
    business on the part of an employee.

    He was fourteen or fifteen feet high. When he stretched himself at full
    length on his lounge, his legs hung down over the end, and when he snored
    he woke the dead. These facts are all attested by irrefragable
    tradition.

    On the other side of the temple is a monstrous seven-ton rock, eleven
    feet long, seven feet wide and three feet thick. It is raised a foot or
    a foot and a half above the ground, and rests upon half a dozen little
    stony pedestals. The same old fourteen-footer brought it down from the
    mountain, merely for fun (he had his own notions about fun), and propped
    it up as we find it now and as others may find it a century hence, for it
    would take a score of horses to budge it from its position. They say
    that fifty or sixty years ago the proud Queen Kaahumanu used to fly to
    this rock for safety, whenever she had been making trouble with her
    fierce husband, and hide under it until his wrath was appeased. But
    these Kanakas will lie, and this statement is one of their ablest
    efforts--for Kaahumanu was six feet high--she was bulky--she was built
    like an ox--and she could no more have squeezed herself under that rock
    than she could have passed between the cylinders of a sugar mill. What
    could she gain by it, even if she succeeded? To be chased and abused by
    a savage husband could not be otherwise than humiliating to her high
    spirit, yet it could never make her feel so flat as an hour's repose
    under that rock would.

    We walked a mile over a raised macadamized road of uniform width; a road
    paved with flat stones and exhibiting in its every detail a considerable
    degree of engineering skill. Some say that that wise old pagan,
    Kamehameha I planned and built it, but others say it was built so long
    before his time that the knowledge of who constructed it has passed out
    of the traditions. In either case, however, as the handiwork of an
    untaught and degraded race it is a thing of pleasing interest. The
    stones are worn and smooth, and pushed apart in places, so that the road
    has the exact appearance of those ancient paved highways leading out of
    Rome which one sees in pictures.

    The object of our tramp was to visit a great natural curiosity at the
    base of the foothills--a congealed cascade of lava. Some old forgotten
    volcanic eruption sent its broad river of fire down the mountain side
    here, and it poured down in a great torrent from an overhanging bluff
    some fifty feet high to the ground below. The flaming torrent cooled in
    the winds from the sea, and remains there to-day, all seamed, and frothed
    and rippled a petrified Niagara. It is very picturesque, and withal so
    natural that one might almost imagine it still flowed. A smaller stream
    trickled over the cliff and built up an isolated pyramid about thirty
    feet high, which has the semblance of a mass of large gnarled and knotted
    vines and roots and stems intricately twisted and woven together.

    We passed in behind the cascade and the pyramid, and found the bluff
    pierced by several cavernous tunnels, whose crooked courses we followed a
    long distance.

    Two of these winding tunnels stand as proof of Nature's mining abilities.
    Their floors are level, they are seven feet wide, and their roofs are
    gently arched. Their height is not uniform, however. We passed through
    one a hundred feet long, which leads through a spur of the hill and opens
    out well up in the sheer wall of a precipice whose foot rests in the
    waves of the sea. It is a commodious tunnel, except that there are
    occasional places in it where one must stoop to pass under. The roof is
    lava, of course, and is thickly studded with little lava-pointed icicles
    an inch long, which hardened as they dripped. They project as closely
    together as the iron teeth of a corn-sheller, and if one will stand up
    straight and walk any distance there, he can get his hair combed free of
    charge.
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