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Holidays In Hawaii
by [?]

I

On the edge of the world my islands lie,” sings Mrs. Frear in her little lyric on the Hawaiian Islands.

“On the edge of the world my islands lie,
Under the sun-steeped sky;
And their waving palms
Are bounteous alms
To the soul-spent passer-by.

“On the edge of the world my islands sleep
In a slumber soft and deep.
What should they know
Of a world of woe,
And myriad men that weep?”

On the rim of the world my fancy seemed to see them that May day when we went aboard the huge Pacific steamship in San Francisco Harbor, and she pointed her prow westward toward the vast wilderness of the Pacific–on the edge of the world, looking out and down across the vast water toward Asia and Australia. I wondered if the great iron ship could find them, and if we should realize or visualize the geography or the astronomy when we got there, and see ourselves on the huge rotundity of the globe not far above her equatorial girdle.

Yes, on the rim of the world they lie to the traveler steaming toward them, and on the rim of the world they lie in his memory after his return, basking there in that tropical sunlight, forever fanned by those cooling trade winds, and encompassed by that morning-glory sea. With my mind’s eye I behold them rising from that enormous abyss of the Pacific, fire-born and rain-carved, vast volcanic mountains miles deep under the sea, and in some cases miles high above it, clothed with verdure and teeming with life, the scene of long-gone cosmic strife and destruction, now the abode of rural and civic peace and plenty.

The Pacific treated me so much better than the Atlantic ever had that I am probably inclined to overestimate everything I saw on the voyage. It was the first trip at sea that ever gave me any pleasure. The huge vessels are in themselves a great comfort, and in the placid waters and the sliding down the rotund side of the great globe under warmer and warmer skies one gains a very agreeable experience. The first day’s run must have carried us out and over that huge Pacific abyss, the Tuscarora Deep, where there were nearly four miles of water under us. Some of our aeroplanes have gone up half that distance and disappeared from sight. I fancy that our ship, more than six hundred feet long, would have appeared a very small object, floating across this briny firmament, could one have looked up at it from the bottom of that sea.

The Hawaiian Islands rise from the border of that vast deep, and one can fancy how that huge pot must have boiled back in Tertiary times, when the red-hot lava of which they are mainly built up was poured from the interior of the globe.

Softer and more balmy grew the air every day, more and more placid and richly tinted grew the sea, till, on the morning of the sixth day, we saw ahead of us, low on the horizon, the dim outlines of the mountains of Molokai. The island of Oahu, upon which Honolulu is situated, was soon in sight. It was not long before we saw Diamond Head, a vast crater bowl, eight hundred feet high on its ocean side, and half a mile across, sitting there upon the shore like some huge, strange work of man’s hand, running back through the hills with a level rim, and seaward with a sloping base, brown and ribbed, and in every way unique and striking.

We were approaching a land the child of tropic seas and volcanic lava, and many of the features were new and strange to us. The mountains looked familiar in outline, but the colors of the landscape, the soft lilacs, greens, and browns, and the whole atmosphere of the scene, were unlike anything we had ever before seen. And Diamond Head, what a feature it was! Had it only had a head, one could easily have seen in it a suggestion of a couchant lion, bony, huge, and tawny, looking seaward, and guarding the harbor of Honolulu which lies just behind it. Into this harbor, in the soft morning air, our ship soon found its way, and the monotony of the vast, unpeopled sea was quickly succeeded by human scenes of the most varied and animated character, not the least novel of which were the swarms of half-amphibious native boys who surrounded the vessel as she lay at the wharf, and with brown, upturned faces and beckoning hands tempted the passengers to toss dimes into the water. As the coins struck the surface they would dive with the ease and quickness of seals, and seize the silver apparently before it had gone a yard toward the bottom. Holding the coins up to view between the thumb and finger, they would slip them into their mouths and solicit more.