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WOULD you know the story of the Splintered Paddle? It came to pass on the island of Hawaii in the year 1783. It is a true incident in the life of Ka-meha-meha, the great consolidator of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

There are slightly different versions of the tale as frequently occurs when handed down verbally through different channels. The main points are substantially the same. The stalwart king descended to the plane of a highway robber and received his punishment. As a native writer says: "The foundation of the law of the splintered paddle was the greed and shame of a chief dealing with a common man." But, like a true man, Ka-meha-meha made this incident the occasion of a decision to neither commit nor permit any more highway robbery in his kingdom. This then is the outline of the incidents which changed a king into a self-respecting and somewhat law-abiding citizen.

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Two Hawaiian chiefs of splendid physique were hurriedly climbing a zigzag path up the face of an

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exceedingly steep bluff bordering the little bay of Lau-pa-hoe-hoe. The moment they reached the summit they hastened to the edge that broke in a sheer precipice to the ocean's brink. Eagerly they gazed over the far-reaching waters southward along the banks of the island. "There is no pursuit," said the younger man. "No," replied the elder chief, resting on his spear, "the men of Hilo have crawled back to their homes to heal their wounds. Their war canoes are not among the shadows on the water. Nor do their warriors move along the side of the white mountain (Mauna Kea). Our watchmen do not send the banner of smoke to the sky."

The two chiefs were of high rank. They could both trace their high chief blood through more than a thousand years of royal ancestors. However, the elder chief was of lower rank than the other, because his ancestry had not been guarded with the same jealous care that surrounded the birth of his friend. Among the Hawaiians the "Ahaalii" or "council of nobles" guarded the rank of each chief and assigned to him a place according to the purity of his blood-royal. The younger chief covered his face with his hands and uttered the Auwe--the Hawaiian wail for the dead. After a time he raised his head and spoke to his companion, whom we will call Kahai.

"O my Kahai," he said, "yesterday and the defeat at Hilo make my thoughts burn! How do

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the prophets chant the death of my chiefs and warriors?"

"The singers in the war canoes sang softly, O King, while the boats were hurried along through the night. They sang of our friends whose bodies lie in the ferns. They pronounced curses upon the Hilo chiefs. They called the struggle 'the bitter battle' and that shall be its name in the coming days."

A shudder passed over the young man as he said: "My chiefs no longer lie in the ferns. In my thought I see the temple servants carrying the bodies of my friends to the altars of the gods. It is almost the hour for the evening sacrifice. The hands of the priests are red with blood. The bones of my choice companions will be used for fish hooks. Auwe-Auwe-e-e! Woe to me. My name is indeed The Lonely-one--The Desolate!"

"O King! thou art Ka-meha-meha, 'The Lonely One,' the one supreme in royal genealogy, but not 'The Desolate.' Your friends are with you. To-night your war chiefs would die for you. Your prophet has said: 'The cloud of Ka-meha-meha shall rest on the mountains of all the islands.' So shall it be. The gods have said it. Your friends believe it."

Ka-meha-meha (The Only-Only) was an ideal chief. He was over six feet in height, strong and sinewy, excelling all other chiefs in athletic exercises, cruel to enemies, ruling his own household

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with a rod of iron, generous and brave among his friends, and filled with a fatalistic belief in his own destiny. At heart he was devoted to the interests of his country as far as he understood them. He believed that he knew best, therefore in after years when he became ruler over the group of islands he was thoroughly autocratic. The king's will was to be the people's will. His was a savage face, large-featured, often ferocious and repulsive. On the other hand it was capable of a vast range of playing passions.

His uncle, Ka-lani-opuu, who ruled the large island of Hawaii at the time of the death of Captain Cook, had died in 1782. Ka-meha-meha had been chosen king by a number of influential chiefs in opposition to his cousin Kiwa-lao, the son of Ka-lani-opuu. War arose between the cousins. Kiwa-lao was slain in one of the early conflicts. Other chiefs, of the southern part of the island, refused to swear allegiance to Ka-meha-meha, and had continued the war. The favors of the war gods had been almost equally distributed. The last battle had been fought at Hilo. At the time when our story opens Ka-meha-meha's attack had been repulsed with fearful loss on the part of his followers. At this time he was forty-seven years of age and just commencing the life work of a king and savage statesman.

The king looked thoughtfully down into the valley where the wounded and wearied warriors were

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drawing the war canoes out of the inrolling surf. In the village could be heard wailing as the scanty news of the battle was hastily reported, and the people realised that some loved chief or friend would never return again to their homes.

The king's heart grew warm toward his faithful friends as he want down into the valley to tell them there was no pursuit, and they could seek rest and healing. While the chiefs were around the poi-bowl that evening he was very quiet. He was thinking of the bodies of his warriors laid on the altars before the gods of the southern districts of the island. He thought of the naked altars of his own Waipio temple, to which he had brought no captives to be slain in sacrifice. He imagined that he might go alone and do some daring deed, perhaps make a hurried raid upon some unsuspecting point of his enemy's territories. He rose from his mat and quietly passed out into the darkness. He called a few strong boatmen and his favourite canoe steerer, launched one of the war canoes, and with sail and paddle sped southward.

That night was rough for Hawaiian seas. Thunder reverberated in oft-repeated echoes from the sea cliffs. Thunder and lightning are rare in this part of the great Pacific. Heavy winds blew and dashed the waves high around the canoe. The natives say, "The chief was not in danger, because his steersman was skilful and watchful. The sea

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did not break over the boat, nor were they wet. Like a dolphin the boat ran over the waves."

It was a misty morning as he passed Hilo Bay, where the greater part of his enemies was encamped. His boat, far out in the shadows, was not noticed. He passed around a corner of the island and planned to surprise the natives of a noted fishing-ground, hoping to make captives and secure booty from some of the warriors against whom the recent battle had been fought.

The morning light was touching the inland mountain tops. It rested, a silver star, on the snowy summit of Mauna Kea. It made a golden glory of the fire clouds of the volcano Kilauea. It glistened over the black beds of pa-hoe-hoe, or smooth, shining lava. It began to bring into strong relief the uplifted heads of the cocoanut trees of a century's growth. The white foam of ocean waves began to be visible along the outer reef.

The natives of Papai, a bay on the Puna coast, hastened into the sea to gather the delicacies which are usually found among the shell-fish along the reef, and also to set nets and snares for fish.

As the mists rose from the waters, the oarsmen entered into the spirit of the adventure. Like a shark the war canoe dashed toward the fishermen.

The people of Puna, looking toward the dawn on the sea, had noticed the boat far out. They asked each other, "What boat is this of the early

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morning?" After a little they counted the number of oarsmen. They saw that the newcomers were strangers. Then they asked a native who was visiting them, whose home was on the other side of the island: "O Paiea, do you know who this is?"

Paiea looked, recognised his ruling chief and called out: "It is Ka-meha-meha!" Then the people were filled with fear, for the prowess of the chief was well known and greatly feared. They seized paddles and nets and snares and with the screaming women and children fled, rushing along the reef, falling into the deep holes, swimming and stumbling toward the mainland.

The king, commanding the others not to follow, leaped from the canoe to attack two stalwart natives who had been aiding the weak to escape.

The story, related by Kukahi, is that Ka-meha-meha did not succeed in overtaking any of the Puna people before they gained the shore and fled inland. Closely pursuing he called on them to stop; but with greater terror they continued their flight. Then he became angry and quickened his pace. A fisherman turned and threw his fishnet over the pursuing chief, causing him to fall down upon the sharp lava. "Blood crawled over the stones around the fallen body." Then he tore the nets which entangled him and again rushed heedlessly on. While straining himself to see where the men were running, his foot broke through a

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thin shell of lava into a crevice. To pull it up was impossible.

The men turned back and struck at him with their paddles, but after a few blows the paddles were destroyed. He managed to grasp a large piece of lava. The men ran away. "The thrown stone struck the trunk of a Noni tree, broke it off and with the tree fell to the bottom of a small ravine, and the spot is shown to this day."

The steersman became anxious concerning his chief and came up from the boat. Meantime the fishermen had secured spears and were returning to kill Ka-meha-meha. The steersman broke the sharp edges of lava away from the imprisoned foot, but did not succeed in liberating his chief before the natives began to thrust at him with their spears.

The agile chief, fettered as he was, avoided the thrusts, but the steersman was awkward. One of the spears pierced him. Ka-meha-meha seized this spear and quickly broke it near the body. When the men saw that he had a weapon they ran away.

When Ka-meha-meha had freed himself he and his companion came down to the shore. He warned the men not to repeat the story of the injured man and the battle between himself and the flying fishermen of Puna. He did not want his high chiefs to know that he had been struck and hurt by a common man. The chiefs were very strenuous in upholding the dignity of their caste. They thought but little of putting to death their

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servants. That some of the lower classes should have struck their highest chief was sufficient ground for killing any of his companions who had failed to protect him even at the cost of their own lives.

Ka-meha-meha knew how unreasonably wilful he had been in forbidding his steersman to join in the pursuit, and therefore felt the injustice of permitting him to be punished. It was a weary journey for the defeated king and his wounded steersman.

The spear-head and part of the shaft still rested in the side of the wounded man. The king could not have the spear removed without great danger, so waited, thinking to have the wound well cared for after reaching Lau-pa-hoe-hoe. However, it was impossible to keep the boatmen from telling the story of the splintered paddle and the wounded steersman. The chiefs soon heard the particulars and called the council of chiefs. There they grimly voted to "heal" the wounded man.

Ka-meha-meha appealed to them:

"O chiefs! The night of our going away was a very evil night. There was storm and wind and thunder; yet I received no injury, nor was I even wet by the sea. Nor was I permitted to feel the least fear. My steersman was wise and skilful. He was my close friend on the deceitful and dangerous sea. Therefore I ask you, if you wish to see him healed, have him brought before my eyes for the treatment."

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But some of the chiefs went out and instead of bringing the wounded man into the council took him and twisted the spear-point, pulling it back and forth, until he died.

After Ka-meha-meha returned from his Puna excursion he rested for a time. His adventure was not encouraging. He decided that he could not hasten the plans of the gods. The ancient Hawaiian was very much of a fatalist. So also is the Hawaiian of to-day. What has to be is accepted without rebellion.

Ka-meha-meha realised that he was too weak, both in personal strength and in the number of warriors, to make further effort for the time being. Therefore, he sent his warriors home to cultivate their fields and prepare new war material for future conflicts.

While this preparation was going on, a new element entered into Hawaiian warfare. The white man's ships and the white man's weapons were becoming familiar to the great king.

White men were secured to take charge of small cannon, and to drill squads of warriors equipped with the rude firearms of a century ago.

Some of these white leaders and their muskets found their way into the service of almost all the important chiefs throughout the islands.

Ka-meha-meha owned the best harbours and offered the best inducements for trade with the foreigners. He secured the best equipment of arms

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and men. This gave Ka-meha-meha a vast advantage over the antagonistic kings and chiefs of his own and other islands. He had large boats built and armed with small swivel cannon. He had sixteen foreigners in his service. He led his victorious warriors from island to island. In his last campaign it is said his fleet of canoes lined the beach of one of the islands for a distance of four miles.

In a few years his friends saw the prophecy fulfilled. "His cloud was resting on the mountains of all the islands." He had unified the group under one autocratic government, and had established the Ka-meha-meha dynasty.

Then came the memory of that excursion made in 1783 to Puna for the sake of robbery and possible murder. The king wondered what had become of the men who had attacked him. He had gone to Hilo and was having a fine fleet of wide and deep canoes made in the splendid koa forests back of Hilo. While waiting here, some time between the years 1796 and 1802, he determined to find the men of the splintered paddle. He knew that these men might have changed their residence from the Puna district to Hilo. So he sent messengers throughout both districts summoning all the people to a great meeting in Hilo. Certain large grass houses were set apart for the large assembly. The Hilo people were separated from


HAWAIIAN GRASS HOUSES<br> <i>By courtesy Paradise of the Pacific</i>.
Click to enlarge

By courtesy Paradise of the Pacific.


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the families of the other district. When the people were thus gathered together they found themselves prisoners. They feared wholesale destruction. The days of human sacrifices among the Hawaiians had not passed by. The new king, against whom they had at one time fought, might intend their sacrifice in numbers. They were his property to be burned or cut to pieces and placed in the temples of the gods. No one could dispute the will of the chief. It was a political condition which the Hawaiians of a hundred years later could scarcely begin to realise. That man is very ignorant who thinks the old days best.

The king passed through the houses allotted to the Hilo people. It must have been an anxious time for the prisoners. Wholesale destruction, possibly because of the bitter war of 1783, stared them in the face. But the chief touched them not and passed through their lines out to the houses in which the Puna people were confined.

A suspicion at least of the reason for their imprisonment must have come to the guilty men. The story runs that when they saw Ka-meha-meha they bowed their heads, hoping to escape recognition. But this revealed them at once to Ka-meha-meha, and he approached them with the command to raise their heads. It was an interesting scene when these common men were brought before the chiefs for final judgment. It is said the chief

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asked them if they were not at the sea of Papai. They assented. Then came the question to two of them:

"You two perhaps are the men who broke the paddle on my head?"

They acknowledged the deed.

"To the death, to the death!" cried the chiefs around the king.

"Down the face!" "Command the stones!" "Let the man and his friends be stoned to death!"

The king listened to the suggestions of his companions. Then he said: "Listen! I attacked the innocent and the defenceless. This was not right. In the future no man in my kingdom shall have the right to make excursions for robbery without punishment, be he chief or priest. I make the law, the new law, for the safety of all men under my government. If any man plunders or murders the defenceless or the innocent he shall be punished. This law is given in memory of my steersman and shall be known as 'Ke Kana-wai Ma-mala-hoa,' or the law of the friend and the broken oars. The old man or the old woman or the child may lie down to sleep by the roadside and none shall injure them."

The law with the name Ma-mala-hoa is still on the statute books of Hawaii. It has been greatly modified and enlarged, but the decree against robbery by any man, and especially the plunder of the

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weak by the powerful, had its beginning for Hawaii in the days of Ka-meha-meha.

Alexander says in his history of the islands: "During the days of Ka-meha-meha energetic measures were taken for the suppression of brigandage, murder and theft throughout the kingdom."

"The Law of the Splintered Paddle" marked the awakening of a pagan conscience to a sense of just dealing between the strong and the weak.

Next: XVIII. Last of the Tabu