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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




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

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


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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 priesfs
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


Page 467
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
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.


Page 468
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

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 trait 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 cheek.”


Page 469



[Description: 504EAF. Page 469. In-line image of two men talking with one pointing off in another direction.]

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,


Page 470


[Description: 504EAF. Page 470. In-line image of a man riding a horse and holding onto his hat.]
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. Where-upon
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


Page 471


[Description: 504EAF. Page 471. In-line image of a man carrying a load of hay over his shoulder.]
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


Page 472
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 504EAF. Page 472. Tail-piece image of a group of people sitting in a wagon, and crossing a river.] 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:

“Walkiki lantoni œ Kaa hooly hooly wawhoo.”

Translated, that means “When we were marching through