THE POISONOUS LIMU
A long time ago, children liked to swim and
surf at a bay at the northern end of Haleakala.
In order to reach the bay, they had to pass
the house of Nanaue, a strange man who always
wore a mysterious cloak on his shoulders,
lived by himself and had a sinister expression
on his face.
Sometimes he called out to the children walking by,
"Where are you going?" Frightened, they would answer,
"Swimming" and he would predict that they would find
a body floating in the bay with it's head cut off
or its legs cut off or its arms cut off.
Every time he made a prediction, a body would
be found just as he had said,
with its head or arms or legs cut off.
People began to wonder how Nanaue knew that
someone would die while swimming and that part
of his body would be cut off. The more they
thought about it, the more frightened they became.
Finally a group of villagers were determined to find
out the mystery. They went to his house,
but he wasn't there.
A man was sitting by a bench repairing his fishnet.
"Who are you looking for?", he asked, "Nanaue?"
"Yes", they replied, "Do you know where he is?"
The man pointed into the lava tube. It was dark
and opened out to the ocean, but no one was there.
They waited in the dark. Soon they saw a large
wave bringing a figure up into the tube. It
had a humpback shape, and as it got close, they
saw that it was Nanaue. Protuding from his back,
without the cape he always wore,
was the jaws of a shark.
Now they knew his secret. Nanaue was a shark man.
On land, he was a man, but as soon as he was in
the water, he became a shark. It was Nanaue who had
been attacking people as they swam and that's how
he knew who was dead. As soon as he climbed up
into the lava tube, the men grabbed him and carried
him to the edge of the bay where they dug an Imu,
a fire pit, to burn him up. Nanaue wriggled like
a fish and slipped away, running towards the ocean.
The men dashed after him to get him before he reached
the water and turned into a shark. Just at the edge
of the sea, one man caught his leg and pulled him back.
They hit him with their clubs until he was dead and
threw his body into the Imu to burn up. As his
ashes were still glowing, a breeze sprang up
and carried them over the bay where
they were scattered over the water.
Not long after, a new sort of sea-moss was
noticed on the water floor, silvery and different
than any other kind. One man picked it and fed
it to his pig and his pig died. It is said that this
silvery limu is the ashes of Nanaue that had fallen
into the sea and to this day this silvery limu is
considered poisonous and never eaten by those
who find it in the ocean by the bay.
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