ROMANTIC HISTORY OF MARY MAHIAI
PROBABLY the most interesting woman in all Hawaii is the white-haired old wahine of four-score and ten, or thereabouts, who answers to the name of Mary Mahiai.
Last week an intricate land case came up in Judge Gear’s court and Mary Mahiai was summoned to appear as a witness, her testimony being relied upon to establish the validity of certain patents to extensive and valuable lands, the ancient boundaries of which were in dispute.
The old lady scorned the services of the interpreter on the witness stand and proceeded with her own story in good English astonishing the court and silencing the lawyers as, with Hawaiian freedom of gesture and animated features, she related the details of a most remarkable career.
It developed that she was born on the Island of Kauai before the coming of the first missionary, the arrival of Rev. Hiram Bingham being distinctly within her memory; at the age of seven years, little Mahiai, whose name (meaning “Working in the taro”) had been given her by her mother, went out in a rowboat with her uncle and five other men, starting for Molokai, to “go look see.” A storm came up and the boat was driven out of sight of land, its occupants having no food or drink with them, and suffering terribly from the pangs of hunger and thirst: for ten days and nights they drifted, becoming crazed and unable to cry out, and at last, when all hopes had been abandoned, and it was certain that the frail boat would go to pieces before the end of another day, a sail appeared upon the horizon and the faint outcries and feeble signals of the seven unfortunates attracted the attention of a sailor on board the ship, which was a sailing vessel bound for China. The six men and the little girl were taken on board and treated kindly. When the little girl was able to be about she was given the task of taking care of the captain’s little daughter, and the men were put to work on the ship; the vessel put in at Ladrone Islands, and by their own desire, the five men who had set out with little Mahiai and her uncle, were put ashore. It was afterwards learned that they were eaten by cannibals. Continue reading