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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




PASSING through the market place we saw that feature of
Honolulu under its most favorable auspices—that is, in
the full glory of Saturday afternoon, which is a festive day
with the natives. The native girls by twos and threes and
parties of a dozen, and sometimes in whole platoons and companies,
went cantering up and down the neighboring streets
astride of fleet but homely horses, and with their guady riding
habits streaming like banners behind them. Such a troop of
free and easy riders, in their natural home, the saddle, makes
a gay and graceful spectacle. The riding habit I speak of is
simply a long, broad scarf, like a tavern table cloth brilliantly
colored, wrapped around the loins once, then apparently passed
between the limbs and each end thrown backward over the
same, and floating and flapping behind on both sides beyond
the horse's tail like a couple of fancy flags; then, slipping the
stirrup-irons between her toes, the girl throws her chest for
ward, sits up like a Major General and goes sweeping by like
the wind.

The girls put on all the finery they can on Saturday afternoon
—fine black silk robes; flowing red ones that nearly put your
eyes out; others as white as snow; still others that discount
the rainbow; and they wear their hair in nets, and trim their
jaunty hats with fresh flowers, and encircle their dusky throats
with home-made necklaces of the brilliant vermillion-tinted
blossom of the ohia; and they fill the markets and the adjacent
streets with their bright presences, and smell like a rag factory
on fire with their offensive cocoanut oil.


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 474. In-line image of two scantilly clad women on horses riding around beneath palm trees.]

Occasionally you see a heathen from the sunny isles away
down in the South Seas, with his face and neck tatooed till he
looks like the customary mendicant from Washoe who has been
blown up in a mine. Some are tattooed a dead blue color down
to the upper lip—masked, as it were—leaving the natural light
yellow skin of Micronesia unstained from thence down; some
with broad marks drawn down from hair to neck, on both sides
of the face, and a strip of the original yellow skin, two inches
wide, down the center—a gridiron with a spoke broken out;
and some with the entire face discolored with the popular
mortification tint, relieved only by one or two thin, wavy
threads of natural yellow running across the face from ear to
ear, and eyes twinkling out of this darkness, from under shadowing
hat-brims, like stars in the dark of the moon.

Moving among the stirring crowds, you come to the poi
merchants, squatting in the shade on their hams, in true native
fashion, and surrounded by purchasers. (The Sandwich Islanders


Page 475


[Description: 504EAF. Page 475. In-line image of a man squatting down outside of his house with a bowl at his feet.]
always squat on their hams, and who knows but they may
be the old original “ham sandwiches?” The thought is pregnant
with interest.) The poi looks like common flour paste,
and is kept in large bowls formed
of a species of gourd, and
capable of holding from one to
three or four gallons. Poi is
the chief article of food among
the natives, and is prepared
from the taro plant. The taro
root looks like a thick, or, if you
please, a corpulent sweet potato,
in shape, but is of a light purple
color when boiled. When boiled
it answers as a passable substitute
for bread. The buck
Kanakas bake it under ground,
then mash it up well with a
heavy lava pestle, mix water
with it until it becomes a paste, set it aside and let it ferment,
and then it is poi—and an unseductive mixture it is, almost
tasteless before it ferments and too sour for a luxury afterward.
But nothing is more nutritious. When solely used, however,
it produces acrid humors, a fact which sufficiently accounts for
the humorous character of the Kanakas. I think there must
be as much of a knack in handling poi as there is in eating
with chopsticks. The forefinger is thrust into the mess and
stirred quickly round several times and drawn as quickly out,
thickly coated, just as if it were poulticed; the head is thrown
back, the finger inserted in the mouth and the delicacy stripped
off and swallowed—the eye closing gently, meanwhile, in a
languid sort of ecstasy. Many a different finger goes into the
same bowl and many a different kind of dirt and shade and
quality of flavor is added to the virtues of its contents.

Around a small shanty was collected a crowd of natives buying
the awa root. It is said that but for the use of this root
the destruction of the people in former times by certain imported


Page 476
diseases would have been far greater than it was, and by others
it is said that this is merely a fancy. All agree that poi will rejuvenate
a man who is used up and his vitality almost annihilated
by hard drinking, and that in some kinds of diseases it will
restore health after all medicines have failed; but all are not
willing to allow to the awa the virtues claimed for it. The
natives manufacture an intoxicating drink from it which is fearful
in its effects when persistently indulged in. It covers the
body with dry, white scales, inflames the eyes, and causes premature
decrepitude. Although the man before whose establishment
we stopped has to pay a Government license of eight
hundred dollars a year for the exclusive right to sell awa root,
it is said that he makes a small fortune every twelve-month;
while saloon keepers, who pay a thousand dollars a year for the
privilege of retailing whiskey, etc., only make a bare living.

We found the fish market crowded; for the native is very fond
of fish, and eats the article raw and alive! Let us change the

In old times here Saturday was a grand gala day indeed.
All the native population of the town forsook their labors, and
those of the surrounding country journeyed to the city. Then
the white folks had to stay indoors, for every street was so
packed with charging cavaliers and cavalieresses that it was
next to impossible to thread one's way through the cavalcades
without getting crippled.

At night they feasted and the girls danced the lascivious hula
—a dance that is said to exhibit the very perfection of
educated motion of limb and arm, hand, head and body, and
the exactest uniformity of movement and accuracy of “time.”
It was performed by a circle of girls with no raiment on them
to speak of, who went through an infinite variety of motions
and figures without prompting, and yet so true was their “time,”
and in such perfect concert did they move that when they were
placed in a straight line, hands, arms, bodies, limbs and heads
waved, swayed, gesticulated, bowed, stooped, whirled, squirmed,
twisted and undulated as if they were part and parcel of a single
individual; and it was difficult to believe they were not moved
in a body by some exquisite piece of mechanism.


Page 477

Of late years, however, Saturday has lost most of its quondam
gala features. This weekly stampede of the natives interfered
too much with labor and the interests of the white folks, and
by sticking in a law here, and preaching a sermon there, and
by various other means, they gradually broke it up. The demoralizing
hula hula was forbidden to be performed, save at
night, with closed doors, in presence of few spectators, and only
by permission duly procured from the authorities and the payment
of ten dollars for the same. There are few girls now-a-days
able to dance this ancient national dance in the highest
perfection of the art.

The missionaries have christianized and educated all the natives.
They all belong to the Church, and there is not one of
them, above the age of eight years, but can read and write
with facility in the native tongue. It is the most universally
educated race of people outside of China. They have any
quantity of books, printed in the Kanaka language, and all the
natives are fond of reading. They are inveterate church-goers
—nothing can keep them away. All this ameliorating cultivation
has at last built up in the native women a profound
respect for chastity—in other people. Perhaps that is enough
to say on that head. The national sin will die out when the
race does, but perhaps not earlier.—But doubtless this purifying
is not far off, when we reflect that contact with civilization and
the whites has reduced the native population from four hundred
(Captain Cook's estimate,) to fifty-five thousand
in something over eighty years!

Society is a queer medley in this notable missionary, whaling
and governmental centre. If you get into conversation with
a stranger and experience that natural desire to know what sort
of ground you are treading on by finding out what manner of
man your stranger is, strike out boldly and address him as
“Captain.” Watch him narrowly, and if you see by his countenance
that you are on the wrong tack, ask him where he
preaches. It is a safe bet that he is either a missionary or
captain of a whaler. I am now personally acquainted with
seventy-two captains and ninety-six missionaries. The captains


Page 478


[Description: 504EAF. Page 478. In-line image of two men hugging with palm trees in the background.]
and ministers form one-half of the population; the third fourth
is composed of common Kanakas and mercantile foreigners
and their families, and the final fourth is made up of high officers
of the Hawaiian Government. And there are just about
cats enough for three apiece all around.

A solemn stranger met me in the suburbs the other day, and

“Good morning, your reverence. Preach in the stone
church yonder, no doubt?”

“No, I don't. I'm not a preacher.”

“Really, I beg your pardon, Captain. I trust you had a
good season. How much oil”—

“Oil? What do you take me for? I'm not a whaler.”

“Oh, I beg a thousand pardons, your Excellency. Major
General in the household troops, no doubt? Minister of the
Interior, likely? Secretary of war? First Gentleman of the
Bed-chamber? Commissioner of the Royal”—

“Stuff! I'm no official. I'm not connected in any way
with the Government.”


Page 479

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 504EAF. Page 479. Tail-piece image of a man with a large head sitting at a table.]

“Bless my life! Then, who the mischief are you? what
the mischief are you? and how the mischief did you get here,
and where in thunder did you come from?”

“I'm only a private personage—an unassuming stranger—
lately arrived from America.”

“No? Not a missionary! Not a whaler! not a member
of his Majesty's Government! not even Secretary of the Navy!
Ah, Heaven! it is too blissful to be true; alas, I do but dream.
And yet that noble, honest countenance—those oblique, ingennous
eyes—that massive head, incapable of—of—anything;
your hand; give me your hand, bright waif. Excuse these
tears. For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment
like this, and”—

Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned
away. I pitied this poor creature from the bottom of my heart.
I was deeply moved. I shed a few tears on him and kissed
him for his mother. I then took what small change he had
and “shoved.”