THE story of the journey, of the youngest sister of Pele, the goddess of volcanic fires, when seeking a husband for her oldest sister, has a simple and yet exceedingly human element in the incidents which cluster around the finding of a faithful follower and friend. It is a story of two girls attracted to each other by lovable qualities. Hiiaka was a goddess with an attendant from the old Hawaiian fairyland--the Guardian of Ferns. Then there was added the human helper, Wahine-omao, or "the light-colored woman."
While Hiiaka was journeying through the lower part of the forest which she had freed from (lemons, the Guardian of Ferns said: "I hear the grunting of a pig, but cannot tell whether it is before us or on one side. Where is it--from the sea or inland?"
Hiiaka said: "This is a pig from the sea. It
is the Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-puaa. It is the grunting, angular pigfish. There is also a pig from the land. There are two pigs. They are before us. They belong to a woman and are for a gift--a sacrifice to the sister goddess who is over us two. This is Wahine-omao."
They walked on through the restful shadows of the forest and soon met a beautiful woman carrying a little black pig and a striped, angular fish. Humuhumu means "grunting." Nukunuku means "cornered." Puaa means "pig." The Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-puaa was a fish with a sharp-pointed back, grunting like a pig. It was the fish into which the fabled demi-god Kama-puaa changed himself when fleeing from the destructive fires of Pele.
Hiiaka greeted the stranger, "Love to you, O Wahine-omao."
The woman replied: "It is strange that you two have my name while your eyes are unknown to me. What are your names and where do you go?"
The sister of Pele concealed their names. "I am Ku and Ka is the name of my friend. A troublesome journey is before us beyond the waters of Hilo and the kupuas [demons] dwelling there and along the hard paths over the cliffs of the seacoast even to the steady blowing winds of Kohala."
The newcomer looked longingly into the eyes of the young chiefess and said: "I have a great desire for that troublesome journey, but this pig is a sacrifice for the goddess of the crater. Shall I throw away the pig and go with you?"
Hiiaka told her to hurry on, saying: "If your purpose is strong to go with us, take your sacrifice pig to the woman of the pit. Then come quickly after us. You will find us. While you go say continually, 'O Ku! O Ka! O Ku! O Ka!' When you arrive at the pit throw the pig down into the fire and return quickly, saying, 'O Ku! O Ka!' until you find us."
The woman said: "I will surely remember your words, but you are so beautiful and have such power that 1 think you are Pele. Take my pig now and end my trouble." Then she started to throw herself and her offerings on the ground before Hiiaka.
Hiiaka forbade this and explained that the offering must be taken as had been vowed.
Then the woman took her sacred gifts and went up through the woods to the crater, saying over and over, "O Ku! O Ka!" all the time realizing that new activity and life were coming to her and that she was moving as swiftly as the wind. In a little while she stood on the high point above the crater called Kolea--the place where birds rested. Before her lay a great
circular plain, black-walled, full of burning lava leaping up in wonderful fire-dances and boiling violently around a group of beautiful women. She called to Pele:
"E Pele e! Here is my sacrifice--a pig.
E Pele e! Here is my gift--a pig.
Here is a pig for you,
O goddess of the burning stones.
Life for me. Life for you.
The flowers of fire wave gently.
Here is your pig."--Amama.
The woman threw the pig and the fish over the edge into the mystic fires beneath and leaned over, looking down into the deadliness of the fire and smoke which received the sacrifice. Flaming hands leaped up, caught the gifts and drew them down under the red surface. But in a moment there was a rush upward of a fountain of lava and hurled up with it she saw the body of the little black pig tossing in the changing jets of fire.
Down it went again into the whirling, groaning fires of the underworld. Then she knew that the sacrifice had been accepted and that she was free from her vow of service to Pele. Every tabu upon her free action had been removed and she was free--free to do according to her own wish. Then she saw one of the women of the pit slowly changing into an old woman lying on
a mat of fire apart from the others. It was Pele who was always growing more and more jealous and angry with Hiiaka.
Pele called from the pit of fire, "O woman! have you seen two travellers?"
When she learned that they had been seen going on their journey she charged her new worshipper to go with Hiiaka and always spy upon her movements.
Wahine-omao became angry and cried out: "When I came here I thought you were beautiful with the glory of fire resting on you. Your sisters are beautiful, but you are a harsh old woman. Your eyes are red. Your eyebrows and hair are burned. You are the woman with scorched eyelids." Then she ran from the crater, saying, "O Ku! O Ka!" Her feet seemed to be placed on a swift-moving cloud and in a few moments she was dropped by the side of Hiiaka.
The three women, Hiiaka, the powerful, Pau-o-palae, the fairy of the ferns, and Wahine-omao, the brave and beautiful young woman of the forest, went on toward Hilo. They came to a grove of ohia, or native apple, trees, and the new friend begged them to rest for a little while in this place, for it was her father's home.
Hiiaka hesitated, saying: "I am afraid that you would entangle me, O friend! Some one
is waiting below whom I must see. Our journey cannot end."
"Oh," said the woman, "I intend not to stay. Stepping sideways was my thought to see my family dwelling in this house--then journey on."
They turned aside through the red-fruited tall ohia trees to a resting-place called Papa-lau-ahi, or the fire-leaf of lava spread out flat like a board. This has always been a resting-place for travellers coming across the island to Hilo Bay. There they greeted friends and rested, but Hiiaka thought lovingly of another friend, Hopoe, far dearer to her than any one else. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Wahine-omao said, "Why do you weep, O friend?" The reply came: "Because of my friend who lives over by that sea far below us. The smoke of the fire-anger of our sister-lord is falling over toward my friend Hopoe."
Wahine-omao said: "One of our people truly lives over there. We know and love her well, but her name is Nana-huki. The name is given because when looking at you her eyes are like a cord pulling you to her."
"Yes," said Hiiaka, "that is her name, but for me she had the sweet-scented hala wreaths and the beautiful wreaths of the red blossoms of the lehua and baskets of the most delicious treasures of the sea. So my name for her is Hopoe."
The name Hopoe may mean "one encircled," as with leis, or wreaths, or as with loving arms, or possibly it might convey the idea of one set apart in a special class or company. Both thoughts might well be included in the deep love of the young goddess for a human friend.
The time came for the three women to hasten on their way. The final alohas were said. The friends rubbed noses in the old Hawaiian way and went down to Hilo.
Hiiaka looked again from the upland over to the distant seacoast and wailed:
My journey opens to Kauai.
Loving is my thought for my aikane,
My bosom friend--
Hopoe---my sweet-scented hala.
Far will we go;
Broad is the land;
Perhaps Kauai is the end."
Thus Hiiaka sent her loving thoughts over forest and rugged lava plains to her dearest friend even while she opened her heart to another friend who served her with the utmost faithfulness and love all the rest of her eventful journey.