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HOME > Inspiring Novel > The Cruise of the Snark17 > CHAPTER VIII THE HOUSE OF THE SUN
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 There are hosts of people who journey like restless spirits round and about this earth in search of seascapes and landscapes and the wonders and beauties of nature.  They overrun Europe in armies; they can be met in droves and in Florida and the West Indies, at the Pyramids, and on the slopes and summits of the Canadian and American Rockies; but in the House of the Sun they are as rare as live and .  Haleakala is the Hawaiian name for “the House of the Sun.”  It is a noble , on the Island of Maui; but so few tourists have ever peeped into it, much less entered it, that their number may be practically reckoned as zero.  Yet I venture to state that for natural beauty and wonder the nature-lover may see dissimilar things as great as Haleakala, but no greater, while he will never see elsewhere anything more beautiful or wonderful.  Honolulu is six days’ steaming from San Francisco; Maui is a night’s run on the steamer from Honolulu; and six hours more if he is in a hurry, can bring the traveller to Kolikoli, which is ten thousand and thirty-two feet above the sea and which stands hard by the entrance portal to the House of the Sun.  Yet the tourist comes not, and Haleakala sleeps on in lonely and unseen .  
Not being tourists, we of the Snark went to Haleakala.  On the slopes of that monster mountain there is a cattle of some fifty thousand acres, where we spent the night at an altitude of two thousand feet.  The next morning it was boots and saddles, and with cow-boys and packhorses we climbed to Ukulele, a mountain ranch-house, the altitude of which, fifty-five hundred feet, gives a climate, compelling blankets at night and a roaring fireplace in the living-room.  Ukulele, by the way, is the Hawaiian for “jumping flea” as it is also the Hawaiian for a certain musical instrument that may be likened to a young guitar.  It is my opinion that the mountain ranch-house was named after the young guitar.  We were not in a hurry, and we spent the day at Ukulele, learnedly discussing altitudes and and shaking our particular whenever any one’s argument stood in need of .  Our barometer was the most graciously instrument I have ever seen.  Also, we gathered mountain raspberries, large as hen’s eggs and larger, gazed up the pasture-covered slopes to the summit of Haleakala, forty-five hundred feet above us, and looked down upon a battle of the clouds that was being fought beneath us, ourselves in the bright sunshine.
Every day and every day this unending battle goes on.  Ukiukiu is the name of the trade-wind that comes raging down out of the north-east and itself upon Haleakala.  Now Haleakala is so bulky and tall that it turns the north-east trade-wind aside on either hand, so that in the lee of Haleakala no trade-wind blows at all.  On the contrary, the wind blows in the counter direction, in the teeth of the north-east trade.  This wind is called Naulu.  And day and night and always Ukiukiu and Naulu strive with each other, advancing, retreating, flanking, curving, curling, and turning and twisting, the conflict made visible by the cloud-masses plucked from the heavens and back and in squadrons, , armies, and great mountain ranges.  Once in a while, Ukiukiu, in mighty , flings immense cloud-masses clear over the summit of Haleakala; whereupon Naulu captures them, lines them up in new battle-formation, and with them back at his ancient and eternal .  Then Ukiukiu sends a great cloud-army around the eastern-side of the mountain.  It is a flanking movement, well executed.  But Naulu, from his on the side, gathers the flanking army in, pulling and twisting and dragging it, hammering it into shape, and sends it charging back against Ukiukiu around the western side of the mountain.  And all the while, above and below the main battle-field, high up the slopes toward the sea, Ukiukiu and Naulu are continually sending out little wisps of cloud, in skirmish line, that creep and crawl over the ground, among the trees and through the , and that spring upon and capture one another in sudden ambuscades and sorties.  And sometimes Ukiukiu or Naulu, sending out a heavy charging column, captures the ragged little skirmishers or drives them skyward, turning over and over, in whirls, thousands of feet in the air.
But it is on the western slopes of Haleakala that the main battle goes on.  Here Naulu masses his heaviest formations and wins his greatest victories.  Ukiukiu grows weak toward late afternoon, which is the way of all trade-winds, and is driven backward by Naulu.  Naulu’s generalship is excellent.  All day he has been and packing away immense reserves.  As the afternoon draws on, he welds them into a solid column, sharp-pointed, miles in length, a mile in width, and hundreds of feet thick.  This column he slowly thrusts forward into the broad battle-front of Ukiukiu, and slowly and surely Ukiukiu, weakening fast, is split .  But it is not all bloodless.  At times Ukiukiu struggles wildly, and with fresh accessions of strength from the limitless north-east, smashes away half a mile at a time of Naulu’s column and sweeps it off and away toward West Maui.  Sometimes, when the two charging armies meet end-on, a tremendous whirl results, the cloud-masses, locked together, mounting thousands of feet into the air and turning over and over.  A favourite device of Ukiukiu is to send a low, formation, packed, forward along the ground and under Naulu.  When Ukiukiu is under, he proceeds to .  Naulu’s mighty middle gives to the blow and bends upward, but usually he turns the attacking column back upon itself and sets it milling.  And all the while the ragged little skirmishers, stray and detached, through the trees and canyons, crawl along and through the grass, and surprise one another with unexpected leaps and rushes; while above, far above, and lonely in the rays of the setting sun, Haleakala looks down upon the conflict.  And so, the night.  But in the morning, after the fashion of trade-winds, Ukiukiu gathers strength and sends the hosts of Naulu rolling back in confusion and .  And one day is like another day in the battle of the clouds, where Ukiukiu and Naulu strive eternally on the slopes of Haleakala.
Again in the morning, it was boots and saddles, cow-boys, and packhorses, and the climb to the top began.  One packhorse carried twenty gallons of water, in five-gallon bags on either side; for water is precious and rare in the itself, in spite of the fact that several miles to the north and east of the crater- more rain comes down than in any other place in the world.  The way led upward across lava flows, without regard for trails, and never have I seen horses with such perfect footing as that of the thirteen that composed our .  They climbed or dropped down perpendicular places with the sureness and coolness of mountain goats, and never a horse fell or baulked.
There is a familiar and strange illusion experienced by all who climb mountains.  The higher one climbs, the more of the earth’s surface becomes visible, and the effect of this is that the horizon seems up-hill from the observer.  This illusion is especially notable on Haleakala, for the old volcano rises directly from the sea without or connecting ranges.  In consequence, as fast as we climbed up the grim slope of Haleakala, still faster did Haleakala, ourselves, and all about us, sink down into the centre of what appeared a profound abyss.  Everywhere, far above us, towered the horizon.  The ocean sloped down from the horizon to us.  The higher we climbed, the deeper did we seem to sink down, the farther above us shone the horizon, and the steeper pitched the grade up to that horizontal line where sky and ocean met.  It was and unreal, and thoughts of Simm’s Hole and of the volcano through which Jules Verne journeyed to the centre of the earth flitted through one’s mind.
And then, when at last we reached the summit of that monster mountain, which summit was like the bottom of an situated in the centre of an awful cosmic pit, we found that we were at neither top nor bottom.  Far above us was the heaven-towering horizon, and far beneath us, where the top of the mountain should have been, was a deeper deep, the great crater, the House of the Sun.  Twenty-three miles around stretched the dizzy walls of the crater.  We stood on the edge of the nearly vertical western wall, and the floor of the crater lay nearly half a mile beneath.  This floor, broken by lava-flows and cinder-cones, was as red and fresh and uneroded as if it were but yesterday that the fires went out.  The cinder-cones, the smallest over four hundred feet in height and the largest over nine hundred, seemed no more than little sand-hills, so mighty was the magnitude of the setting.  Two gaps, thousands of feet deep, broke the rim of the crater, and through these Ukiukiu vainly strove to drive his fleecy herds of trade-wind clouds.  As fast as they advanced through the gaps, the heat of the crater dissipated them into thin air, and though they advanced always, they got nowhere.
It was a scene of vast and desolation, stern, forbidding, fascinating.  We gazed down upon a place of fire and earthquake.  The tie-ribs of earth lay bare before us.  It was a workshop of nature still with the raw beginnings of world-making.  Here and there great dikes of rock had thrust themselves up from the of earth, straight through the molten surface-ferment that had evidently cooled only the other day.  It was all unreal and unbelievable.  Looking upward, far above us (in reality beneath us) floated the cloud-battle of Ukiukiu and Naulu.  And higher up the slope of the seeming abyss, above the cloud-battle, in the air and sky, hung the islands of Lanai and Molokai.  Across the crater, to the south-east, still looking upward, we saw , first, the sea, then the white surf-line of the shore of Hawaii; above that the belt of trade-clouds, and next, eighty miles away, rearing their stupendous hulks out of the sky, tipped with snow, wreathed with cloud, trembling like a , the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa hung on the wall of heaven.
It is told that long ago, one Maui, the son of Hina, lived on what is now known as West Maui.  His mother, Hina, employed her time in the making of kapas.  She must have made them at night, for her days were occupied in trying to dry the kapas.  Each morning, and all morning, she at spreading them out in the sun.  But no sooner were they out, than she began taking them in, in order to have them all under shelter for the night.  For know that the days were shorter then than now.  Maui watched his mother’s and felt sorry for her.  He to do something—oh, no, not to help her hang out and take in the kapas.  He was too clever for that.  His idea was to make the sun go slower.  Perhaps he was the first Hawaiian .  At any rate, he took a series of observations of the sun from various parts of the island.  His conclusion was that the sun’s path was directly across Haleakala.  Unlike Joshua, he stood in no need of divine assistance.  He gathered a huge quantity of , from the fibre of which he braided a cord, and in one end of which he made a , even as the cow-boys of Haleakala do to this day.  Next he climbed into the House of the Sun and laid in wait.  When the sun came tearing along the path, on completing its journey in the shortest time possible, the youth threw his around one of the sun’s largest and strongest beams.  He made the sun slow down some; also, he broke the beam short off.  And he kept on roping and breaking off beams till the sun said it was willing to listen to reason.  Maui set forth his terms of peace, which the sun accepted, agreeing to go more slowly thereafter.  Wherefore Hina had ample time in which to dry her kapas, and the days are longer than they used to be, which last is quite in accord with the teachings of modern astronomy.
We had a lunch of jerked beef and hard poi in a stone corral, used of old time for the night-impounding of cattle being driven across the island.  Then we skirted the rim for half a mile and began the descent into the crater.  Twenty-five hundred feet beneath lay the floor, and down a steep slope of loose we dropped, the sure-footed horses slipping and sliding, but always keeping their feet.  The black surface of the cinders, when broken by the horses’ , turned to a yellow ochre dust, in appearance and acid of taste, that arose in clouds.  There was a across a level stretch to the mouth of a convenient blow-hole, and then the descent continued in clouds of volcanic dust, in and out among cinder-cones, brick-red, old rose, and purplish black of colour.  Above us, higher and higher, towered the crater-walls, while we journeyed on across innumerable lava-flows, turning and twisting a way among the adamantine billows of a sea.  Saw-toothed waves of lava the surface of this weird ocean, while on either hand arose jagged and spiracles of fantastic shape.&nb............
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