(AMONG THE ISLANDS.)
In a trice it
is all changed.
We have rounded a rocky headland, and before us lies a sea of silver, with gauzy shreds of white cloud flying over the dark-blue sky, while the greenest of hills smile to us from the land; smooth beaches fringe the shore; tawny sands spread under a golden sun, and upon them the long "combers" sweep up in flakes of foam.
Here a strange
spectacle awaits you: groups of women and girls, armed with surf-boards
about two feet in length, run out on the point of rocks until they are
in a good position for the coming breakers; then, waiting for a large wave,
just as it topples over they plunge into its seething bosom, and, balancing
themselves on their tiny planks, with peals of merry laughter, or shouts
of savage joy, they ride safely on the billowy crest far up on the beach.
This feat they repeat, overand over again, amusing themselves, at times, by striking out seaward; looking, with their long, black hair streaming behind, their flashing eyes, and white teeth, as if they were of the race of mermaids that haunted the mariners of old.
Nothing can surpass
the supple dexterity of these women.
They know nothing of the cramped conventionalism of their White sisters.
They wear broad stripes of scarlet, or yellow, or blue cotton, which they pass round the body, and divide so as to enroll each limb, leaving two ends to fly in gay streamers behind.
Then, springing on their horses, they sit upright in their saddles, and dart off with the fearless grace of Amazons. Horses are as plentiful as dogs, and that is saying a good deal.
You can buy a ...
... steed- such
as he is- at any price, from twenty-five cents to twenty dollars; and,
in all cases, the saddle is of far more value than the animal.
Hawaiian women are thus accustomed, from earliest childhood, to riding; their infant limbs are set astride as soon as they leave the maternal arms.
This exercise is varied by constant surf-swimming; and so they grow up amphibious creatures - wild, daring, vigorous- incapable of enduring the confinement of high civilization, and totally deficient, as a class, in most of our requirements.
The most prejudiced of travelers, however, will admit their quick kindliness, their prompt attention, their ever-ready disposition to assist a stranger.
Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine
Volume 4, Number 3, March 1870...