Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Friday, November 09, 2007


Pele and the Two Chiefs

Once two chiefs lived near the volcano in Hawaii. Their land was called Kahuku.

Now their land is under huge fields of lava, but long ago, there were trees and fields there. The two chiefs were very good at many sports -- especially racing holua lava sleds and racing on nearby lava slopes. Women and men both used the long sleds on runners to go down the hillsides. The best of them could get up a little bit and a few of them could stand up and ride the sled the way people now ride a surfboard.

Pele loved this sport. One day she came to the sledding races. She looked like an ordinary, though beautiful woman. No one recognized her. She was better at lava sledding than any of the women in the land. The two chiefs said "Race with us. We are the best. You can't go faster than we can!"

The more they raced, the more they wanted to win, but Pele almost always was first. The two men began to suspect that this was not an ordinary woman. They were beginning to be afraid. But Pele kept insisting on more racing.

Soon the grass began to die. The ground shook a little bit: an earthquake tells people on Hawaii that the volcano might be showing some activity. The two chiefs' fear made Pele angry. They saw the beautiful woman changing her form.

Her hair began to float out away from her head as hot wind blew around her. Her arms and legs began to glow slightly, as if they were very hot. Her eyes flashed. She seemed to have lightening bolts in her eyes. They caught sight of her magic apron with lightening bolts around her waist.

The chiefs were more afraid than ever. They began to run down the hill. When she saw them running, Pele began to stamp her feet. The ground shook. Red-hot lava began to flow from beneath her feet. Pele got on top of the lava and rode her holua sled like a surf board, standing tall, her hair streaming back in flames.

The chiefs rushed towards the beach, hoping to get to their canoe. Once they were in the water, Pele couldn't harm them. Pele's lava came down to the beach and clouds of steam rose up from the waves. As the first chief ran towards his canoe, she threw her arms around him and gave him a huge hot hug. He turned into a big lava boulder. The same thing happened to the second chief.

For many years, the people of the island called two real lava boulders "the hills of Pele." They explained these rocks by telling this story. Finally, though, another lava eruption made them disappear.

Another time, a chief boasted that he could surf better than Pele. She made a big wave on her crater of boiling lava. Her special volcano fairy spirits made the wave just like an ocean wave. The chief began to ride the wave. His surfboard began to smoke and burn. Soon, Pele was so angry that she told the fairy spirits to make the wave break, and he fell into the hot lava. This is Pele's meanest story of all.

The picture shows the lava flowing on November 4, 2007, a few days ago. It came from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, where there are new photos all the time showing the lava that's new.

This story is based on a legend in the book Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes by William D. Westervelt. For now, this story is too mean, and Alice and Miriam will read it later. But I will put more Pele stories for them to read soon.

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