Tuesday, May 24, 2022 |
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The following story is an abridged version of a tale once told by Kaua‘i Sheriff William Henry Rice (1874-1945).
Rice’s tale had been passed on to him by his father, William Hyde Rice (1846-1924), the governor of Kaua‘i during the reign Queen Lili‘uokalani, while the two were driving cattle through Knudsen Gap.
Rice said that it was around 1839 when a Spanish paniolo named Miguel arrived on Kaua‘i.
Miguel fashioned the first Kaua‘i saddle out of black hau, and also introduced the art of making ropes out of horsehair and rawhide, as well as the Spanish style of rope-throwing that employed a bolas — a long rope with a weight on its end.
Instead of lassoing cattle, he would whirl and hurl his bolas so that it entangled the legs of cattle, temporarily hobbling them.
One day, Miguel was riding on horseback from Lihu‘e to Koloa, when he was suddenly accosted by bandits lying in wait for lone travelers in Knudsen Gap.
Miguel instantly knew that he must either fight or flee and decided to make a run for it.
The leader of the bandits then quickly whirled and unleashed his bolas, which he’d secured to his arm instead of only holding it in his hands, and sent it snaking through the air at Miguel.
But, Miguel having gauged the speed and distance of the bandit’s bolas, was able in the proper split second to flash his hands out and catch it in midair.
He then twisted the bolas around his saddle horn, put spurs to his mount and gave a mighty lunge that pulled the bandit by his arm from his saddle onto the ground.
The remaining bandits panicked and rode off into the hills.
Miguel took the bandit leader into custody, turned him over to the authorities in Koloa and then set off to track down his accomplices.
He discovered their hideout in the hills, caught them by surprise and surrendered them to the authorities.
Word spread around Kaua‘i of Miguel’s daring, and from that time forward lone riders could travel safely through Knudsen Gap.
My grandma told me William Hyde Rice got his mo’olelo from her grandfather George Mānoa Huddy.at Moloa’a Beach, Kaua’i.
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