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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




WE rode horseback all around the island of Hawaii (the
crooked road making the distance two hundred miles),
and enjoyed the journey very much. We were more than a
week making the trip, because our Kanaka horses would not
go by a house or a hut without stopping—whip and spur could
not alter their minds about it, and so we finally found that it
economized time to let them have their way. Upon inquiry
the mystery was explained: the natives are such thoroughgoing
gossips that they never pass a house without stopping to
swap news, and consequently their horses learn to regard that
sort of thing as an essential part of the whole duty of man,
and his salvation not to be compassed without it. However, at a
former crisis of my life I had once taken an aristocratic young
lady out driving, behind a horse that had just retired from a
long and honorable career as the moving impulse of a milk
wagon, and so this present experience awoke a reminiscent sadness
in me in place of the exasperation more natural to the
occasion. I remembered how helpless I was that day, and how
humiliated; how ashamed I was of having intimated to the girl
that I had always owned the horse and was accustomed to
grandeur; how hard I tried to appear easy, and even vivacious,
under suffering that was consuming my vitals; how placidly
and maliciously the girl smiled, and kept on smiling, while my
hot blushes baked themselves into a permanent blood-pudding
in my face; how the horse ambled from one side of the street
to the other and waited complacently before every third house


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 545. In-line image of a man and a woman riding together in a carriage.]
two minutes and a quarter while I belabored his back and reviled
him in my heart; how I tried to keep him from turning
corners, and failed; how I moved heaven and earth to get him
out of town, and did not succeed; how he traversed the entire
settlement and delivered imaginary milk at a hundred and
sixty-two different domiciles, and how he finally brought up at
a dairy depot and refused to budge further, thus rounding and
completing the revealment of what the plebeian service of his
life had been; how, in eloquent silence, I walked the girl home,
and how, when I took leave of her, her parting remark scorched
my soul and appeared to blister me all over: she said that my
horse was a fine, capable animal, and I must have taken great
comfort in him in my time—but that if I would take along
some milk-tickets next time, and appear to deliver them at the
various halting places, it might expedite his movements a little.
There was a coolness between us after that.

In one place in the island of Hawaii, we saw a laced and


Page 546
ruffled cataract of limpid water leaping from a sheer precipice
fifteen hundred feet high; but that sort of scenery finds its
stanchest ally in the arithmetic rather than in spectacular effect.
If one desires to be so stirred by a poem of Nature wrought in
the happily commingled graces of picturesque rocks, glimpsed
distances, foliage, color, shifting lights and shadows, and falling
water, that the tears almost come into his eyes so potent is the
charm exerted, he need not go away from America to enjoy
such an experience. The Rainbow Fall, in Watkins Glen
(N. Y.), on the Erie railway, is an example. It would recede
into pitiable insignificance if the callous tourist drew an arithmetic
on it; but left to compete for the honors simply on scenic
grace and beauty—the grand, the august and the sublime being
barred the contest—it could challenge the old world and the
new to produce its peer.

In one locality, on our journey, we saw some horses that
had been born and reared on top of the mountains, above the
range of running water, and consequently they had never drank
that fluid in their lives, but had been always accustomed to
quenching their thirst by eating dew-laden or shower-wetted
leaves. And now it was destructively funny to see them sniff
suspiciously at a pail of water, and then put in their noses and
try to take a bite out of the fluid, as if it were a solid. Finding
it liquid, they would snatch away their heads and fall to
trembling, snorting and showing other evidences of fright.
When they became convinced at last that the water was friendly
and harmless, they thrust in their noses up to their eyes,
brought out a mouthful of the water, and proceeded to chew it
complacently. We saw a man coax, kick and spur one of them
five or ten minutes before he could make it cross a running
stream. It spread its nostrils, distended its eyes and trembled
all over, just as horses customarily do in the presence of a serpent—and
for aught I know it thought the crawling stream
was a serpent.

In due course of time our journey came to an end at Kawaehae
(usually pronounced To-a-hi—and before we find fault
with this elaborate orthographical method of arriving at such

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[Description: 504EAF. Illustration page of a group of men on horseback following a path in the wilderness.]


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an unostentatious result, let us lop off the ugh from our word
“though”). I made this horseback trip on a mule. I paid ten
dollars for him at Kau (Kah-oo), added four to get him shod,
rode him two hundred miles, and then sold him for fifteen dollars.
I mark the circumstance with a white stone (in the absence
of chalk—for I never saw a white stone that a body could
mark anything with, though out of respect for the ancients I
have tried it often enough); for up to that day and date it was
the first strictly commercial transaction I had ever entered into,
and come out winner. We returned to Honolulu, and from
thence sailed to the island of Maui, and spent several weeks
there very pleasantly. I still remember, with a sense of indolent
luxury, a pienicing excursion up a romantic gorge there,
called the Iao Valley. The trail lay along the edge of a brawling
stream in the bottom of the gorge—a shady route, for it
was well roofed with the verdant domes of forest trees. Through
openings in the foliage we glimpsed picturesque scenery that
revealed ceaseless changes and new charms with every step of
our progress. Perpendicular walls from one to three thousand
feet high guarded the way, and were sumptuously plumed with
varied foliage, in places, and in places swathed in waving ferns.
Passing shreds of cloud trailed their shadows across these shining
fronts, mottling them with blots; billowy masses of white
vapor hid the turreted summits, and far above the vapor swelled
a background of gleaming green crags and cones that came and
went, through the veiling mists, like islands drifting in a fog;
sometimes the cloudy curtain descended till half the cañon wall
was hidden, then shredded gradually away till only airy glimpses
of the ferny front appeared through it—then swept aloft and
left it glorified in the sun again. Now and then, as our position
changed, rocky bastions swung out from the wall, a mimic
ruin of castellated ramparts and crumbling towers clothed with
mosses and hung with garlands of swaying vines, and as we
moved on they swung back again and hid themselves once
more in the foliage. Presently a verdure-clad needle of stone,
a thousand feet high, stepped out from behind a corner, and
mounted guard over the mysteries of the valley. It seemed to


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me that if Captain Cook needed a monument, here was one
ready made—therefore, why not put up his sign here, and sell
out the venerable cocoanut stump?

But the chief pride of Mani is her dead volcano of Haleakala—which
means, translated, “the house of the sun.” We
climbed a thousand feet up the side of this isolated colossus
one afternoon; then camped, and next day climbed the remaining
nine thousand feet, and anchored on the summit, where we
built a fire and froze and roasted by turns, all night. With
the first pallor of dawn we got up and saw things that were
new to us. Mounted on a commanding pinnacle, we watched
Nature work her silent wonders. The sea was spread abroad
on every hand, its tumbled surface seeming only wrinkled and
dimpled in the distance. A broad valley below appeared like
an ample checker-board, its velvety green sugar plantations
alternating with dun squares of barrenness and groves of trees
diminished to mossy tufts. Beyond the valley were mountains
picturesquely grouped together; but bear in mind, we fancied
that we were looking up at these things—not down. We seemed
to sit in the bottom of a symmetrical bowl ten thousand feet
deep, with the valley and the skirting sea lifted away into the
sky above us! It was curious; and not only curious, but aggravating;
for it was having our trouble all for nothing, to
climb ten thousand feet toward heaven and then have to look
up at our scenery. However, we had to be content with it and
make the best of it; for, all we could do we could not coax our
landscape down out of the clouds. Formerly, when I had read
an article in which Poe treated of this singular fraud perpetrated
upon the eye by isolated great altitudes, I had looked
upon the matter as an invention of his own fancy.

I have spoken of the outside view—but we had an inside
one, too. That was the yawning dead crater, into which we
now and then tumbled rocks, half as large as a barrel, from our
perch, and saw them go careering down the almost perpendicular
sides, bounding three hundred feet at a jump; kicking up
dust-clouds wherever they struck; diminishing to our view as
they sped farther into distance; growing invisible, finally, and


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 549. In-line image of men pushing large boulders off of the edge of a cliff.]
only betraying their course by faint little puffs of dust; and coming
to a halt at last in the bottom of the abyss, two thousand five
hundred feet down from
where they started! It was
magnificent sport. We wore
ourselves out at it.

The crater of Vesuvius,
as I have before remarked,
is a modest pit about a thousand
feet deep and three
thousand in circumference;
that of Kilauea is somewhat
deeper, and ten miles in
circumference. But what are either of them compared to the
vacant stomach of Haleakala? I will not offer any figures of
my own, but give official ones—those of Commander Wilkes,
U. S. N., who surveyed it and testifies that it is twenty-seven
miles in circumference!
If it had a level bottom it would
make a fine site for a city like London. It must have afforded
a spectacle worth contemplating in the old days when its furnaces
gave full rein to their anger.

Presently vagrant white clouds came drifting along, high
over the sea and the valley; then they came in couples and
groups; then in imposing squadrons; gradually joining their
forces, they banked themselves solidly together, a thousand


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feet under us, and totally shut out land and ocean—not a vestige
of anything was left in view but just a little of the rim
of the crater, circling away from the pinnacle whereon we sat
(for a ghostly procession of wanderers from the filmy hosts
without had drifted through a chasm in the crater wall and
filed round and round, and gathered and sunk and blended together
till the abyss was stored to the brim with a fleecy fog).
Thus banked, motion ceased, and silence reigned. Clear to the
horizon, league on league, the snowy floor stretched without a
break—not level, but in rounded folds, with shallow creases between,
and with here and there stately piles of vapory architecture
lifting themselves aloft out of the common plain—some
near at hand, some in the middle distances, and others relieving
the monotony of the remote solitudes. There was little conversation,
for the impressive scene overawed speech. I felt
like the Last Man, neglected of the judgment, and left pinnacled
in mid-heaven, a forgotten relic of a vanished world.

While the hush yet brooded, the messengers of the coming
resurrection appeared in the East. A growing warmth suffused
the horizon, and soon the sun emerged and looked out over the
cloud-waste, flinging bars of ruddy light across it, staining its
folds and billow-caps with blushes, purpling the shaded troughs
between, and glorifying the massy vapor-palaces and cathedrals
with a wasteful splendor of all blendings and combinations of
rich coloring.

It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think
the memory of it will remain with me always.