HIIAKA, the sister of Pele, and the goddess of ferns, and their new friend Wahine-omao, were hastening through the forests above the bay of Hilo. They came near a native house. Two girls were lying on a mat near the doorway. The girls saw the strangers and with hearts full of hospitality cried: "O women strangers, stop at our house and eat. Here are dried fish and the kilu-ai [a-little-calabash-full-of-poi, the native food]." It was all the food the girls-had, but they offered it gladly.
Hiiaka said: "One of us will stop and eat. Two of us will pass on. We are not hungry." The truth was that Wahine-omao of the light skin needed food like any one not possessing semi-divine powers.
So Wahine-omao stopped and ate. She saw that the girls were kupilikia (stirred-up-with-anxiety) and asked them why they were troubled.
"Our father," they said, "went to the sea to fish in the night and has not returned. We fear that he is in trouble."
Hiiaka heard the words and looked toward the
sea. She saw the spirit of that man coming up from the beach with an ipu-holoholona (a-calabash-for-carrying fish-lines, etc.) in his hands.
She charged the girls to listen carefully while she told them about their father, saying: "You must not let tears fall or wailing tones come into your voices. Your father has been drowned in the sea during the dark night. The canoe filled with water. The swift-beating waters drove your father on to the reef of coral and there his body lies. The spirit was returning home, but now sees strangers and is turning aside. I will go and chase that spirit from place to place until it goes back to the place where it left its house--the body supposed to be dead. Let no one eat until my work is done."
Hiiaka looked again toward the sea. The spirit was wandering aimlessly from place to place with its calabash thrown over its shoulder. It was afraid to come near the strangers and yet did not want to go back to the body. Hiiaka hastened after the ghost and drove it toward the house where the girls were living. She checked it as it turned to either side and tried to dash away into the forest. She pushed it into the door and called the girls in. They saw the ghost as if it were the natural body. They wept and began to beseech Hiiaka to bring him back to life.
She told them she would try, but they must remember to keep the bundle of tears inside the eyes. She told them that the spirit must take her to the body and they must wait until the rainbow colors of a divine chief came over their house. Then they would know that their father was alive. But if a heavy rain should fall they would know he was not alive and need not restrain their cries.
As Hiiaka rose to pass out of the door the ghost leaped and disappeared. Hiiaka rushed out and saw the ghost run to the sea. She leaped after it and followed it to a great stone lying at the foot of a steep precipice. There the heana (dead body) was lying. It was badly torn by the rough coral and the face had been bitten by eels. Around it lay the broken pieces of the shattered canoe. Hiiaka washed the body in the sea and then turned to look for the ghost, but it was running away as if carried by a whirlwind.
Hiiaka thrust out her "strong hand of Kilauea." This meant her power as one of the divine family living in the fire of the volcano. She thrust forth this power and turned the spirit back to the place where the body was lying. She drove the ghost to the side of the body and ordered it to enter, but the ghost thought that it would be a brighter and happier life if it could be free among the blossoming trees and fragrant ferns of the forest, so
tried again to slip away from the house in which it had lived.
Hiiaka slapped the ghost back against the body and told it to go in at the bottom of a foot. She slapped the feet again and again, but it was very hard to push the ghost inside. It tried to come out as fast as Hiiaka pushed it in. Then Hiiaka uttered an incantation, while she struck the feet and limbs. The incantation was a call for the gift of life from her friends of the volcano.
"O the top of Kilauea!
O the five ledges of the pit!
The taboo fire of the woman.
When the heavens shake,
When the earth cracks open [earthquakes],
Man is thrown down,
Lying on the ground.
The lightning of Kane [a great god] wakes up.
Kane of the night, going fast.
My sleep is broken up.
E ala e! Wake up!
The heaven wakes up.
The earth inland is awake.
The sea is awake.
Here am I."--Amama (The prayer is done).
By the time this chant was ended Hiiaka had forced the ghost up to the hips. There was a hard struggle--the ghost trying to go back and yet yielding to the slapping and going further and further into the body.
Then Hiiaka put forth her hand and took fresh water, pouring it over the body, chanting again:
"I make you grow, O Kane!
Hiiaka is the prophet.
This work is hers.
She makes the growth.
Here is the water of life.
E ala e! Awake! Arise!
Let life return.
The taboo [of death] is over.
It is lifted, It has flown away."--Amama.
--These were ancient chants for the restoration of life.-
All this time she was slapping and pounding the spirit into the body. It had gone up as far as the chest. Then she took more fresh water and poured it over the eyes, dashing it into the face. The ghost leaped up to the mouth and eyes--choking noises were made--the eyes opened faintly and closed again, but the ghost was entirely in the body. Slowly life returned. The lips opened and breath came back.
The healing power of Hiiaka restored the places wounded by coral rocks and bitten by eels. Then she asked him how he had been overcome. He told her he had been fishing when a great kupua came in the form of a mighty wave falling upon the boat, filling it full of water.
The fisherman said that he had tried to bail the water out of his canoe, when it was hurled down into the coral caves, and he knew nothing more until the warm sun shone in his face and his eyes opened. Hiiaka told him to stand up, and putting out her strong hand lifted him to his feet.
He stood shaking and trembling, trying to move his feet. Little by little the power of life came back and he walked slowly to his house.
Hiiaka called for the glory of a divine chief to shine around them. Among the ancient Hawaiians it was believed that the eyes of prophets could tell the very family to which a high chief belonged by the color or peculiar appearance of the light around the individual even when a long distance away. Thus the watching anxious girls and the friends of Hiiaka knew that the ghost had gone back into the body and the fisherman had been brought back to life.