The hermit of Mt. Waialeale

During the 1880s, and for some time before, an old hermit by the name of Carleton Banfill made his home in a cavern within the uninhabited and scarcely accessible recesses of Kauai’s Mt. Waialeale.

He’d come to Hawaii as a young man during the reign of Kamehameha III, and after shifting about Honolulu for a time had relocated to Kauai with his young wife.

There, he built a small house on a secluded stretch of coast out of the stones of a long-abandoned heiau, and spent his days fishing on calm days at sea in his little boat, or gathering wild taro and fruits in the mountains, oftentimes with his wife.

Then one night, a ship was wrecked on the nearby reef in a storm, and in the morning, Banfill found a badly bruised and unconscious young sailor lying on the shore.

He kindly took the injured sailor home, where he and his wife nursed him.

It was not long afterwards that Banfill left for Honolulu to purchase needed provisions, and the sailor, still weak, was left behind in the care of his wife.

When Banfill returned home about a month later, he was shocked to discover that the place was deserted.

Although he searched frantically along the coast and in the interior of the island for quite some time, he could find no trace of his wife or the shipwrecked sailor.

Eventually, neighboring Hawaiians observed that Banfill no longer returned to his house, so they went to examine it one day, unaware that Banfill had withdrawn to the mountains.

But, before entering, they were overcome by the awful stench of decaying flesh, and when they entered, they stood aghast at the sight of the mutilated bodies of the sailor and Banfill’s faithless wife lying on the floor.

Above them, suspended from the ceiling, hung a large placard upon which was engraved a single word, “Avenged.”


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