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HIIAKA, the youngest sister of Pele, the goddess of fire, is the central figure of many a beautiful Hawaiian myth. She was sent on a wearisome journey over all the islands to find Lohiau, the lover of Pele.

Out of the fire-pit of the volcano, Kilauea, she climbed. Through a multitude of cracks and holes, out of which poured fumes of foul gases, she threaded her way until she stood on the highest plateau of lava the volcano had been able to build.

Pele was impatient and angry at the slow progress of Hiiaka and at first ordered her to hasten alone on her journey, but as she saw her patiently climbing along the rough way, she relented and gave to her supernatural power to aid in overcoming great difficulties and a magic skirt which had the power of lightning in its folds. But she saw that this was not enough, so she called on the divine guardians of plants to come with garments and bear a burden of skirts with which to drape Hiiaka on her journey. At last

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the goddess of ferns, Pau-o-palae, came with a skirt of ferns which pleased Pele. It was thrown over Hiiaka, the most beautiful drapery which could be provided.

Pau-o-palae was clothed with a network of most delicate ferns. She was noted because of her magic power over all the ferns of the forest, and for her skill in using the most graceful fronds for clothing and garlands.

Pele ordered Pau-o-palae to go with Hiiaka as her kahu, or guardian servant. She was very beautiful in her fern skirt and garland, but Hiiaka was of higher birth and nobler form and was more royal in her beauty than her follower, the goddess of ferns. It was a queen of highest legendary honor with one of her most worthy attendants setting forth on a strange quest through lands abounding in dangers and adventures.

Everywhere in ancient Hawaii were eepas, kupuas, and mo-os. Eepas were the deformed inhabitants of the Hawaiian gnomeland. They were twisted and defective in mind and body. They were the deceitful, treacherous fairies, living in the most beautiful places of the forest or glen, often appearing as human beings but always having some defect in some part of the body. Kupuas were gnomes or elves of supernatural

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power, able to appear in some nature-form as well as like a human being. Mo-os were the dragons of Hawaiian legends. They came to the Hawaiian islands only as the legendary memories of the crocodiles and great snakes of the lands from which the first Hawaiian natives emigrated.

Throughout Polynesia the mo-o, or moko, remained for centuries in the minds of the natives of different island groups as their most dreadful enemy, living in deep pools and sluggish streams.

Hiiaka's first test of patient endurance came in a battle with the kupuas of a forest lying between the volcano and the ocean.

The land of the island Hawaii slopes down from the raging fire-pit, mile after mile, through dense tropical forests and shining lava beds, until it enfolds, in black lava shores, the ceaselessly moving waters of the bay of Hilo. In this forest dwelt Pana-ewa, a reptile-man. He was very strong and could be animal or man as he desired, and could make the change in a moment. He watched the paths through the forest, hoping to catch strangers, robbing them and sometimes devouring them. Some he permitted to pass, but for others he made much trouble, bringing fog and rain and wind until the road was lost to them.

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He ruled all the evil forces of the forest above Hilo. Every wicked sprite who twisted vines to make men stumble over precipices or fall into deep lava caves was his servant. Every demon wind, every foul fiend dwelling in dangerous branches of falling trees, every wicked gnome whirling clouds of dust or fog and wrapping them around a traveller, in fact every living thing which could in any way injure a traveller was his loyal subject. He was the kupua chief of the vicious sprites and cruel elves of the forest above Hilo. Those who knew about Pana-ewa brought offerings of awa[1] to drink, taro and red fish to eat, tapa for mats, and malos, or girdles. Then the way was free from trouble.

There were two bird-brothers of Pana-ewa; very little birds, swift as a flash of lightning, giving notice of any one coming through the forest of Pana-ewa.

Hiiaka, entering the forest, threw aside her fern robes, revealing her beautiful form. Two birds flew around her and before her. One called to the other, "This is one of the women of ka lua (the pit)." The other answered, "She is not as strong as Pana-ewa; let us tell our brother."

Hiiaka heard the birds and laughed; then she chanted, and her voice rang through all the forest:

[1. Piper methysticum.]

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"Pana-ewa is a great lehua island;
A forest of ohias inland.
Fallen are the red flowers of the lehua,[1]
Spoiled are the red apples of the ohia,[1]
Bald is the head of Pana-ewa;
Smoke is over the land;
The fire is burning."

--Translated from a Hiiaka Chant.

Hiiaka hoped to make Pana-ewa angry by reminding him of seasons of destruction by lava eruptions, which left bald lava spots in the midst of the upland forest.

Pana-ewa, roused by his bird watchmen and stirred by the taunt of Hiiaka, said. "This is Hiiaka, who shall be killed by me. I will swallow her. There is no road for her to pass."

The old Hawaiians said that Pana-ewa had many bodies. He attacked Hiiaka in his fog body, Kino-ohu, and threw around her his twisting fog-arms, chilling her and choking her and blinding her. He wrapped her in the severe cold mantle of heavy mists.

Hiiaka told her friend to hold fast to her girdle while she led the way, sweeping aside the fog with her magic skirt. Then Pana-ewa took his body called the bitter rain, ua-awa, the cold freezing rain which pinches and shrivels the skill.

[1. One ohia tree is supposed to bear apples, another flowers only, the flowers being called lehua. There is much confusion regard to these two trees even among botanists.]

{p. 101} He called also for the strong winds to bend down trees and smite his enemy, and lie in tangled masses in her path, so the way was hard.

Hiiaka swiftly swept her lightning skirt up against the beating rain and drove it back. Again and again she struck against the fierce storm and against the destructive winds. Sometimes she was beaten back, sometimes her arms were so weary that she could scarcely move her skirt, but she hurled it over and over against the storm until she drove it deeper into the forest and gained a little time for rest and renewal of strength.

On she went into the tangled woods and the gods of the forest rose up against her. They tangled her feet with vines. They struck her with branches of trees. The forest birds in multitudes screamed around her, dashed against her, tried to pick out her eyes and confuse her every effort. The god and his followers brought all their power and enchantments against Hiiaka. Hiiaka made an incantation against these enemies:

Night is at Pana-ewa and bitter is the storm;
The branches of the trees are bent down;
Rattling are the flowers and leaves of the lehua;
Angrily growls the god Pana-ewa,
Stirred up inside by his wrath.
        Oh, Pana-ewa!
        I give you hurt,
Behold, I give the hard blows of battle."

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She told her friend to stay far back in the places already conquered, while she fought with a bamboo knife in one hand and her lightning skirt in the other. Harsh noises were on every hand. From each side she was beaten and sometimes almost crushed under the weight of her opponents. Many she cut down with her bamboo knife and many she struck with her lightning skirt. The two little birds flew over the battlefield and saw Hiiaka nearly dead from wounds and weariness, and their own gods of the forest lying as if asleep. They called to Pana-ewa:

"Our gods are tired from fighting, They sleep and rest."

Pana-ewa came and looked at them. He saw that they were dead without showing deep injury, and wondered how they had been killed. The birds said, "We saw her skirt moving against the gods, up and down, back and forth."

Again the hosts of that forest gathered around the young chiefess. Again she struggled bitterly against the multitude of foes, but she was very, very tired and her arms sometimes refused to lift her knife and skirt. The discouraged woman felt that the battle was going against her, so she called for Pele, the goddess of fire.

Pele heard the noise of the conflict and the voice of her sister. She called for a body of her

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own servants to go down and fight the powerful kupua.

The Hawaiian legends give the name Ho-ai-ku to these reinforcements. This means "standing for food" or "devourers." Lightning storms were hurled against Pana-ewa, flashing and cutting and eating all the gods of the forest.

Hiiaka in her weariness sank down among the foes she had slain.

The two little birds saw her fall and called to Pana-ewa to go and take the one he had said he would "swallow." He rushed to the place where she lay. She saw him coming and wearily arose to give battle once more.

A great thunderstorm swept down on Pana-ewa. As he had fought Hiiaka with the cold forest winds, so Pele fought him with the storms from the pit of fire. Lightning drove him down through the forest. A mighty rain filled the valleys with red water. The kupuas were swept down the river beds and out into the ocean, where Pana-ewa and the remnant of his followers were devoured by sharks.

The Ho-ai-ku, as the legends say, went down and swallowed Pana-ewa, eating him up. Thus the land above Hilo became a safe place for the common people. To this day it is known by the name Pana-ewa.

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Next: XIV. How Hiiaka Found Wahine-omao