Pe-le, the Goddess, came up out of her pit in Ki-lau-ea. No longer would she sit on the lava-hearth below, with skin rugged and blackened, with hair the colour of cinders, and with reddened eyes; no
longer would she seem a hag whom no man would turn towards. She came up out of the pit a most lovely woman. Her many sisters were at her side, and each of them was only less lovely than was Pe-le upon that day. They stood each side of her because it was forbidden to come behind the Goddess or to lay a hand upon her burning back.
Pe-le and her sisters stood on the crater's edge. Around them was the blackened plain, but below them was Puna, with the surf breaking upon its beach, and with its lehua groves all decked with scarlet blossoms. This land was Pe-le's. She had made it and she had the power to destroy it. She had power in the heavens, too, for her flames reached up to the skies. All the Gods--even the great Gods, Ku, Ka-ne, Ka-neloa, and Lono--were forced to follow her when she left Kahiki, the land beyond the vastness of the ocean, and came to Hawaii. Ki-lau-ea on Hawaii's island was the home she had chosen. And now she came out of the pit, and she said to her many sisters, "Come, let us go down to the beach at Puna, and bathe, and feast, and enjoy ourselves." Her sisters rejoiced, and they went down with her to the beach.
And when they had bathed and feasted, and had sported themselves in the water and along the beach, Pe-le went into a cavern and laid herself down to sleep. She said to the sister who was always beside her, to the sister who was named Hi-i-aka-of-the-fire-bloom, "Let me sleep until I awake of my own accord. If any of you should attempt to awaken me before, it will be death to you all. But if it has to be that one of you must awaken me, call the youngest of our sisters, Hi-i-aka-of-the-bosom-of-Pele, and let her bring me out of sleep." So Pe-le said, and she lay in the cavern and slept. Her sisters said to each other, "How strange that the havoc-maker should sleep so deeply and without a bed-fellow!" By turns they kept watch over her as she slept in the cavern.
But the youngest of her sisters, the little Hi-i-aka, was not by her when she spoke before going to sleep. Little Hi-i-aka had gone to where the groves of lehua showed their scarlet blossoms. She was enchanted with the trees that she went amongst; she gathered the blossoms and wove them into wreaths. And then she saw another girl gathering blossoms and weaving them into wreaths, and she knew this other girl for the tree-spirit, Ho-po-e. And Ho-po-e, seeing Hi-i-aka, danced for her. These two became friends; they danced for each other, and they
played together, and never had Hi-i-aka, the little sister of the dread Goddess, known a friend that was as dear and as lovely as Ho-po-e--Ho-po-e whose life was in the grove of lehuas.
As for Pe-le, the Goddess, she slept in the cavern, and in her sleep she heard the beating of a drum. It sounded like a drum that announces a hula. Her spirit went from where she slept; her spirit-body followed the sound of that drum. Over the sea her spirit-body followed that sound. Her spirit-body went to the Island of Kauai. There she came to a hall sacred to Laka: a hula was being performed there. As a most lovely woman Pe-le entered that hall. All the people who were assembled for the hula turned to look upon her. And in that hall Pe-le saw Prince Lo-hi-au.
He was seated on a dais, and his musicians were beside him. Pe-le, advancing through the hall filled with wondering people, went to where he was. Prince Lo-hi-au had her sit beside him; he had tables spread to feast her. Pe-le would not eat. "And yet she must have come from a very great distance," the people around her said, "for if a woman so beautiful lived on this island, we would surely have heard her spoken about." Prince Lo-hi-au would not eat either; his mind was altogether on the beautiful woman who sat on the dais beside him.
When the hula was over he took her into his house. But although they were beside each other on the mat, Pe-le would not permit him to caress her. She let him have kisses, but kisses only. She said to him, "When I bring you to Hawaii you shall possess me and I shall possess you." He tried to grasp her and hold her, but she rose in her spirit-body and floated away, leaving the house, leaving the island, crossing the sea, and coming back to where her body lay in the cavern in Puna.
Prince Lo-hi-au sought wildly for the woman who had been with him; he sought for her in the night, in the dark night of the ghosts. And because it seemed to him that she was for ever gone, he went back into his house, and took his loin-cloth off, and hanged himself with it from the ridge-pole of the house. In the morning his sister and his people came into the house and found the chieftain dead. Bitterly they bewailed him; bitterly they cursed the woman who had been with him and who had brought him to his death. Then
they wrapped the body in robes of tapa and laid it in a cavern of the mountain-side.
In Puna, in a cavern, Pe-le's body lay, seemingly in deep sleep. For a day and a night, and a night and a day it lay like this. None of her sisters dared try to awaken Pe-le. But at last they became frightened by the trance that lasted so long. They would have their youngest sister, Hi-i-aka, awaken the Woman of the Pit. At the end of another day they sent for her.
And Hi-i-aka saw the messenger coming for her as she stood in the grove of lehua trees with her dear and lovely friend, Ho-po-e, beside her. She watched the messenger coming for her, and she chanted the me-le:
[paragraph continues] But Ho-po-e, her friend, said, "It is not true what you chant. See! Our lehuas are neither wilted nor burnt up. If they were I would no longer be able to see you nor to speak with you. Why, then, do you lament? You will stay with me, and we shall gather more blossoms for garlands." But Hi-i-aka said, "Even as I saw the messenger who is coming to take me away from you, I saw our trees destroyed by Pe-le's fires."
Then the messenger came to them, and told Hi-i-aka that she was to return to where she had left her sisters. She took farewell of Ho-po-e and went to where her sisters awaited her. They brought her within the cavern, and they showed her Pe-le lying there, without colour, without stir. Then Hi-i-aka, the youngest of her sisters, went to Pe-le's body and chanted over it. And the spirit-body that had been hovering over the prostrate body entered into it. The breath entered the lungs again; Pe-le's bosom rose and fell; colour came into her face. Then the Woman of the Pit stretched her body; she rose up, and she spoke to her sisters.
They left that place; they went back into Pe-le's dwelling-place, into the pit of Ki-lau-ea. Then, after a while, Pe-le spoke to her sisters,
one after the other. She said to each of them, "Will you be my messenger and fetch our lover--yours and mine from Kauai?" None of the elder sisters would go; each one understood how dangerous such a mission would be. But when Pe-le spoke to Hi-i-aka, the youngest of her sisters, the girl said, "Yes, I will go, and I will bring back the man."
Her sisters were dismayed to hear Hi-i-aka say this. The journey was long, and for anyone who would go on the mission that Pe-le spoke of the danger was great. Who could tell what fit of rage and hatred might come over the Woman of the Pit--rage and hatred against the one who would be with the man she would have for her lover? And Hi-i-aka who had agreed to go upon such a mission was the youngest and the least experienced of all of them. They tried to warn her against going; but they dared not speak their thought out to her. Besides, they knew that Hi-i-aka was so faithful to Pe-le, her chieftain and her elder sister, that she would face every danger at her request.
Then said Pe-le to Hi-i-aka, "When you have brought our lover here, for five days and five nights he shall be mine. After that he shall be your lover. But until I have lifted the tapu you must not touch him, you must not caress him, you must not give him a kiss. If you break this tapu it shall be death to you and to Prince Lo-hi-au." Her sisters made signs to her, and Hi-i-aka delayed her departure. She stood before Pe-le again, and Pe-le reproached her for her dilatoriness. But now Hi-i-aka spoke to her elder sister and chieftainess and said, "I go to bring a lover to you while you stay at home. But, going, I make one condition. If you must break out in fire and make raids while I am gone, raid the land that we both own, but do not raid where the lehua groves are; do not harm my friend Ho-po-e, whose life is in the lehua groves." She said this, and she started on her journey. But now the length of the journey and its dangers came before her and made her afraid. She saw herself, alone and powerless, going upon that long way. Once again she returned to where the Woman of the Pit sat. She asked that she be given a companion for the journey. She asked that a portion of Pe-le's mana, or magic power, be given her. Pe-le did not deny her this: she called upon the Sun and the Moon, the Stars, the Wind, the Rain, the Lightning and Thunder to give aid to
her sister and her messenger. And now that mana was bestowed on her, Hi-i-aka started on the way that led across islands and over seas to the house of the man whom her sister desired--her sister, Pe-le, the dread Fire Goddess.