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Robyn Eastman

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Dark Side of the Wave
by Robyn Eastman   

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Historical Fiction




Dark Side of the Wave

Each chapter is filled with prophecy, sorcery, betrayal; courage, compassion and love...all that riddled the island culture and planted the seeds for the eventual overthrow of the Hawaiian people by foreigners.

Overview of Book
The Hawaiian people had the reputation of being a pious people who worshiped the gods; hospitable, kindly, giving a welcome to strangers, affectionate , generous givers, who always invited strangers to sleep at the house and gave them food and fish without pay, and clothing for those who had little; a people ashamed to trade. This was their character before the coming of the foreigners and of Christianity to Hawaii.
                        --Samuel Kamakau,

     Not since the publication of Hawaii by James Michener has a comprehensive historical fiction novel been written about the story of the Hawaiian people. Dark Side of the Wave is the first of a trilogy that explores the life of  the royalty and the common people, carefully utilizing the vast amount of historical records and study that have become available since "Hawaii's" publication in 1959.

     The story begins with the arrival of the chief Pa'ao from Tahiti and spans over 800 years of a fight for power, land and aristocracy under strict religious rules that dictated every aspect of Hawaiian life. The chapters tell of prophecy, sorcery, betrayal, courage, compassion and love, all of which made for a singular culture--and the eventual overthrow of the Hawaiian people by foreigners.

     Through the lives of both royalty and common people,

Dark Side of the Wave

gives the reader a people who were dynamic and unique-and isolated: The Hawaiian system of aquaculture sustained a million people without having any goods or the need for them from the outside world.

     With Pa'ao's migration to Hawai'i came the beginnings of the strict kapu system of religion. Then comes the story of ‘Umi and Liloa--and The Prophecy: There will be a male child born who will vanquish all other chiefs, and unite the islands of Hawai'i, after over 500 years of inter-island wars.

     As we record history in Western Civilization, it was the time of the American Revolution, French Revolution, The Napoleonic Wars, and the Russo-Turkish Wars. And in Hawaii, two women shared a life, a husband, children and their nation. They were born into a time when the long awaited prophecy was fulfilled. Kamehameha I was this man and the husband of Ka'ahumanu, his favorite wife, and Keopuolani, his most sacred wife and the mother of the next two kings of Hawai'i. Though Kamehameha had 21 wives in all, these two women fought side by side with him as he united the islands, then after his death, faced the invasion that decimated their people. Keopuolani and Ka'ahumanu became a link from the old to the new and were integral parts of both court intrigue and the struggles of the common people.

     They fought for women's liberation without realizing that they were already freer than most other women in the world, yet in their desire to rid themselves of the oppression in their own lives, they set the stage for the overthrow of their culture.


Scene from Chapter: Olowalu Massacre

Once the royalty were close to the American ship, the rush from shore began. “Ho’omakaukau[1]!” the paddlers raised their paddles above their heads, and then each person stretched their arms to the side, seat one, three and five on the right, two, four and six on the left. The thunder from East Maui was still an echo behind the tumultuous cheers and yelling of the crowd. “I mua[2]!”

The slapping of the canoe hulls on the water sounded like hundreds of snapping whips, as they pulled out in the growing shore-break. Adrenaline soared in the veins of the paddlers as the shouts of ‘hut’ riddled the air as the steersmen instructed the paddlers to change sides with their paddles. The outrigger canoes moved almost as quickly as the double-hulled. Hundreds of canoes, some almost hitting each other clamored to get out to the ship so they could be closest to it for the day’s trading.

Kekai had always been one of the fastest paddlers at Olowalu. His mother was known for her fine ability as a steersperson. Their canoe glided quickly past many of the others who were struggling to get out of the shore break.

“Pull, pull!” Kekai shouted at his cousins. The canoe slapped down as it caught between waves, but their paddles sunk deep into the water, and pulled them forward with ease.

Friends and family yelled at the paddlers, “Malama!” “Malama pono kakou[3]!”

Kalola moved to the dais that hid Wahine-Pio from the sight of the crowd, but both could easily see the water fill with the canoes, double-hulled, six-person, four-person and even some people on surfboards who paddled out to be a part of the festivities. Kalola saw her granddaughter shiver, heard the far off thunder again and wrapped a tapa kihei[4] around the smiling child’s shoulders. Wahine-Pio at eleven was already beautiful, her long hair wisped across her gentle, loving face. Kalola thought, “When the prophecy is fulfilled, she will make the highest chief very happy.” The grandmother reached up to rub Keopulani’s back softly, so that the young girl bent down as far as she could to rub noses with her tutu[5].

Like an ocean of logs huddled in the water, the multitude of canoes surrounded the Eleanora. Lalo pulled the canoe close to the first side of the ship she came to and sighed, happy that they were one of the first. Then, she felt a rock hit her head and she put her hand up to thwart anymore. Kekai screamed up at the men on the ship, though they couldn’t understand what he was saying. “Stop it. What are you doing?” He had the quick Hawaiian temper of a warrior.

“Go to the other side!” The men were yelling, but the two languages clashed, neither understood the other, except that the men motioned with their hands to go around to the other side of the ship.

Lalo saw that many more canoes were coming quickly, so she yelled at her son, “Kekai, hurry, we have to turn around and go to the other side before the others get there.” In just four strokes, they had their canoe turned around and glided around to the other side of the boat. They bowed their heads low as they passed the great double-hulled canoes of the young chiefs, but kept paddling so that they were situated close to the ship and would get a better chance at trading. The ports on the ship were closed so they couldn’t see into it, but several men were hanging over the sides with beads, scissors and mirrors in their hands, waving them and smiling.

The rest of the canoes who came up on the leeward side, were thwarted from climbing on board by sailors who pelted more stones and swung fat ropes with heavy knots on the ends. “Go around, go to that side.” The non-sensical words blared to each wave of canoes that came up, the sailors used their arms to say what their English words meant. Gradually, the swarm of canoes moved to the starboard side. Though they weren’t far off from shore, the ocean swell had grown enough that the canoes bobbed up and down, and had a hard time staying close to the ship.

“Aloha!” Lalama yelled up at the ship, waiting for John Young to come to the side. “We’re ready to trade.”

Young came to the rail with his hand raised high, as though telling them to wait.

“Kaopuiki, I’ll make way for you and then you can begin the trading first.” Lalama was ready to board the American ship with the correct protocols for his chief.

“You’re an old man, do you think you can reach their deck?” Kaopuiki teased his friend as they waited.

Some of the sailors now were holding mirrors, beads and muskets at the railing above them, foreign words spilled on them, as the Hawaiians tried to start their barters. The thunder could still be heard from far off, the wood canoes bumped against each other and the ship, and the ocean waves lapped between them all, as the air was filled with a cacophony of sounds.

Lalama turned toward the mountain when he heard thunder and then realized that the sound was closer. Wood banged on wood just above his head. When he looked up, he saw that the portholes along the side of the ship were opening, the doors slapped against the wood, men latched them and cannons protruded out of the gaping holes. Just as quickly, the first one fired, smoke puffed out, and what looked like a cannonball boomed out of the iron gun. Instead of one cannon ball though, it was a cloud of glass shards, nails and grapeshot spewing across a ten-foot swath. A large shard of glass flew at Keaumiki and sliced through his neck and spinal cord as though it were butter. His head flew to the deck of Kaopuiki’s canoe. Blood spurted from the veins as though a mechanical pump shot it out in all directions. The side of the brig was speckled with red. Six men that stood on either side of Keaumiki were riddled with nails, pocks of grapeshot feathered their chests, the yellow feathers of their cloaks turning as red as their helmets.

As Lalama and Kaopuiki looked in horror at Keaumiki’s head on the deck of their own canoe his brains oozing out like fish eggs, other men who had been near him flew in different directions, a severed arm rising in the air like a stick, another warrior sliced nearly in half hung over the rail, breaking the safety railing as he fell into the ocean that grew tentacles of red, gradually turning the blue water to deep crimson.

More cannons boomed, bodies crashed in the ocean, wood splinters, nails and glass flew and hit another canoe and then another. The warriors wailed and quickly grabbed their spears, throwing them at any form they saw on the white man’s ship. Moans came from the Eleanora, but they were drowned out by the booming of another cannon and another and another, which filled the air with smoke. The sweet fragrance of the leis around the necks of the Hawaiians, turned to the damp, musty smell of blood.

The cannonballs and grape shot crashed into the canoes closest to the ship. As these were torn apart and sank, the next canoes were hit by the deadly torrent of shrapnel.

Within seconds of the first shots, Lalo watched as her son’s head was severed by the flying debris. Screaming at the cousins, “Pull, pull, Hauopio, Mauka, Nane’a, I’m turning. Pull, pull!” But the canoe was hemmed in by hundreds of other canoes around them. A musket hit Lalo in her arm the blood spilling in the water, as she continued to push canoes away with her paddle, looking for an escape. The last thing she heard was an explosion of wood as a cannon ball hit the middle of their canoe, splitting it in two; it tore Nane’a’s leg from her body. Hauopio was thrown in the air and landed on an outrigger ama that was next to them; Mauka sank into the seething water, her head and shoulders in the mouth of a giant shark.

Children cried. Paddlers wailed their mourning dirge and tried to push away from the ship but when it wasn’t a cannon, it was a musket ball that cut into them from the sailor’s guns.

Kaopuiki’s canoe was closest to the ship, Lalama turned as he heard the sizzling of the botefeux of a cannon directly in front of them. Lalama and Kaopuiki already had their unique spears that were six tied together, a sure death for whoever was at the end of it. The sparks of the cannon being lit was enough time for Lalama to push Kaopuiki out of the way, throw his spear through the narrow cannon window, and get to hear the desperate, painful cry from behind the gun, just before the nails and shot tore through his flesh and four other warriors behind him. Blood slathered the deck making it hard for Kaopuiki to get up again. “Lalama, nooooo.” He watched his friend drop into the ocean between the ship and their canoe. It was then that he saw the fin. Ka mano[6] was here too.

“Everyone get away, get to shore, get to shore!” Kaopuiki screamed at the canoes still coming out in the water. “Auwe noho’i e…auwe, auwe…” He wailed as he looked at the carnage around him, not just the warriors, but the maka’ainana, the men, the women, the children whose blood was making the water all around the ship a deeper red, the sharks churning it in their frenzy of eating. The retainer had the sail on their canoe up and was pushing other canoes to safety at the same time trying to get their double-hull out of the middle of the chaos. As they were just beginning to glide away, Kaopuiki thrust his spear at another of the sailors he saw through the cannon window, finding its mark. Many of the canoes that weren’t hit by the firing cannons, turned over spilling the paddlers in the crimson waves, only to be snatched by one of the many sharks that were feasting.

The torrent of screams of his people ripped at his heart, the tears poured down his face as he held out his hand to pull a woman from the water, only to have the white face and jagged teeth of another shark grab her out of his hands. “Auwe, Auwe.”

Wailing from the shore and the thrashing water joined together in a macabre chorus of hundreds upon hundreds of voices.

[1] Get ready, prepare yourself.

[2] Forward!

[3] Take care. Take good care everyone.

[4] Shawl of cloth made of the paper mulberry tree.

[5] Grandmother

[6] The shark

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