The Face in the Window

The Face in the Window

© 2008 Brian Reeves

Honolulu — January 24, 1895

Image of Queen Lili`uokalani courtesy K. Kendall under Creative Common License

The Queen of the Nation of Hawai`i stood at the window of the tiny, hot room where she was held prisoner and gazed through fine lace curtains on the streets beyond. This Thursday morning Honolulu went about its business, horse-drawn carriages rattling along dirt avenues and men and women in their finest dress walking briskly around the grounds. Islands of clouds obscured the sun, staining all the city with shadow. Few faces turned toward her window as they passed the grassy yards of the `Iolani Palace grounds. Perhaps they were afraid of appearing to sympathize with the Royalists, or perhaps they were ashamed to see the figure of their Queen, the Ali`i Nui and rightful heir to the monarchy of Hawai`i, reduced to a ghost haunting an upper window of the palace. Perhaps it was the weight of seeing the end to a thousand years of bloodlines brought low by a committee of foreigners. Or perhaps was simply that her presence, and that of the palace itself, occupying as it was the center of Honolulu, within sight of the bustling harbor with its whalers and fishing vessels and American ships of war, situated not far from the cramped mass of Chinatown or the businesses along Merchant street, and right across from the lovely stone structure of Kawaiha`o church, was like a reminder of days that many thought were surely passing. The 20th century would soon arrive, and Hawai`i would be swept up in its new technologies and new ways of thinking. The old Hawai`i would have to die to make way for the new one, a Hawai`i where kahuna were exchanged for universities, mahele land divisions for land grants and titles, outriggers for steam-powered iron ships, spear fishing for cattle ranching. It was a new way, and it was the way of the world, and Queen Lili`uokalani, daughter of Analea Keohokaloe and Kaluaiku Kapa`akea, widow of His Royal Highness John Dominis, Prince Consort of Hawai`i, mother of none, was not of that world. She was a bridge between old ways and new ways, having been born in a pili grass hut but educated among the elites at the Royal School.

She was a transition. And as she gazed through the curtains, sometimes standing, sometimes perched on a chair drawn up to the wooden coping, letting the harbor breeze play through the open window, she watched her home moving on without her.

It had been nearly three weeks, by her counting, and all that time she had been held in this room. Formerly it was guest quarters – she knew it as the “Japanese Room,” for its two or three items of décor granted by the royalty of that distant land. She still thought of it as guest quarters, and the fact that she was now a guest in her own palace did not escape her.

Built stocky, like her people, Lili`uokalani had a stout frame that supported her heavy missionary-style dresses well. None could fail to notice her statuesque appearance, her power and poise. She had a handsome face that spoke of the same power and strength within her that she displayed as a statesman. Her eyes were stern and brown, above a flat, equine nose. Her jaw was rounded and yet muscular. Her graying hair she preferred to pile atop her her head and kept it there with jeweled pins. Though she was not a mother, she carried herself as one, the matron of an entire nation.

And these were her children. Not the foreigners, though she felt some affection for many of them, including her lady in waiting, Mrs. Eveline Wilson. Not the foreigners but the people of Hawai`i, the maka`ainana – those were her children and she felt keenly that she had let them down. She should have been able to see the signs of this revolt coming, should better have been able to negotiate the treacherous channels of politics these Americans had brought with them. It had only been a few years since, after returning from an extended trip to Europe, she and her husband had found her brother, then King Kaläkaua, the victim of an attempted overthrow of the monarchy. At gunpoint they had forced him to sign away much of his authority as the monarch, strip the power of the vote from all but Hawaiian, American and European men, and then only if they were “properly” educated and wealthy. How resentful the population had been at this! And yet, for years he abided, until his death. The conspirators who had worked behind the scenes to bring this about, men and even women of high society, some of whom had even been Lili`uokalani’s closest allies and associates and had attended balls and celebrations in this very palace under the banner of friendship, had been a part of it. The so-called “Hawaiian League” had been quietly putting in place the machinery of the theft of her kingdom and the disenfranchisement of her people. And they continued long past Kaläkaua’s death, far beyond the articles of the Bayonet Constitution, as it was now being called. It was only recently that she had begun to understand the full nature of the conspiracy and how deep it actually ran.

Outside in the hall, the sound of heavy boots marked time as a sentry made his way across the wood floors. Lili`uokalani did not stir other than to look over at Mrs. Wilson, who set quietly in a chair reading a hardbound book. A bead of sweat stood out on her temple. Though the windows were full open, only a light wind stirred outside, and it barely reached beyond the window. Stifling hot, the room was perched on the southeast corner of the palace, directly in the path of the morning and afternoon sun, and by mid-morning the heat had built up in its vaulted space to become nearly unbearable. Often Mrs. Wilson would excuse herself in the middle of the day and would not return for some time. Lili`uokalani could not blame her, and said nothing of the matter. Eveline wasn’t of the islands, though she had grown up here, and she did not have the strength to withstand such heat.

The sentry paused at the door. There was a rattling of keys and the latch turned. Lili`uokalani remained at her seat, returning her gaze out the window. In the distance she could see the ramparts of Le`ahi, called “Diamond Head” by the Americans, across the farmlands of eastern Honolulu and her thoughts turned to happier times at her estate along the empty shores of Waikïkï.

“Morning, Your Highness,” the sentry said, letting the door swing open. The swirl of wind that accompanied it couldn’t penetrate through Lili`uokalani’s ankle-length dress, but she felt it momentarily on the back of her neck. “Everything in order?”

“We’re fine, thank you.” Eveline nodded to him, looking up from her book. This day it was Mark Twain. Dimly, she remembered parties held in the verandah outside the Blue Room downstairs, where that old rogue would have everyone, including Kamehameha V, Lot Kapuäiwa himself, leaning in to catch every word.

“I could use some water, thank you,” Lili`uokalani said, turning to regard the sentry. He was young, with an angular jaw upon which he was attempting to grow a thin porkchop. Sweat coursed from under his flat cap. He must have been doubly hot in the wool uniform, and for a moment Lili`uokalani was grateful to be merely clad in a long dress. “Has there been any word from Washington?”

The lad shook his head. “None, Your Majesty.” His eyes shifted away from her, glancing from her simple bed to her dresser to the far window, finally settling on the cage near her in which a canary hopped gaily, ignorant of the oppressing heat. “No word at all.”

She turned back to the window and did not watch him leave. He was a bad liar.

Eveline shifted in her chair and stood to walk to a far window. “I do believe that’s Mr. Hartwell. And my husband, coming up the walk. I wonder what they could want at this hour?”

Lili`uokalani rose and joined Eveline by the eastern window. The breeze, coming as it was from the harbor, could hardly be felt by these windows, but the fresh air outside stood out as stark relief nonetheless. A shaded verandah that encircled the second floor of the palace helped mitigate the sun, and not for the first time Lili`uokalani wished she could at least be permitted to step out onto its long walkway, pull up a rocking chair, and take in the morning air. But she was not even allowed onto the deck but once every few days, when she was escorted for a brief walk around the grounds for exercise.

She looked down to where Eveline was pointing. There, dressed in proper suits buttoned to the neck, Eveline’s young husband and the stern-looking lawyer he retained were coming up the eastern walk. They were talking in animated gestures and never glanced up toward the upper rooms. At last they disappeared around the northern corner of the palace.

“Could you hear any of that?” Eveline asked.

Lili`uokalani sighed, turning back toward the open, austere room. “I’m sure it was nothing.”

But something inside her said otherwise.

Several minutes passed, and she had gone to sit down on the bed where she positioned herself at the edge and picked up a portion of a quilt she had begun to work on. Sewing was something she had learned as a girl, and now it gave her something to occupy her hands during the long hours of her imprisonment. She rested it in her lap, gripping the needle tightly between her slender fingertips, and breathed slowly as she worked the needle tip back and forth through the fabric.

“How long, Eveline, do you suppose they mean to keep me here?”

“I’m sure I can’t say, Your Highness,” she replied, once again into her Twain. “Surely not long.”

“They should charge me. That’s what I think.” Lili`uokalani looked up just for a moment, eyes scanning the outside world through the gauze of the curtain. Kawaiha`o church, its yard filled with the graves of the missionary families, peered westward toward the city. A parishioner strolled the grounds. “I need to speak with my people. I have a feeling they are planning violence, even now. Nothing could be worse.”

Eveline glanced up from the book. “My husband’s a good man. I’m sure even now he is working on having you released from this room and properly reinstated back at Washington Place. He knows you would be far more comfortable there.”

“They’re doing this to humiliate me. To break me down before my people. You’ve seen it through these very windows. Every day they pass and cannot bear to look up here for fear they will be called traitor, as I have been. By now word must have already spread that I am to be hung for the revolt. My people must be terrified of the Americans for them to not storm these gates and free me. Imagine had this been done to someone like Ka`ahumanu. There should have been bloodshed by now.”

“That would make it worse.”

“It would. I fully agree. We cannot have a repeat of the cowardly display from two years ago. As long as the Americans have their gunships, a rebellion would be doomed to fail, and would only further strengthen the position of the Hawaiian League. Already they have other Americans here convinced my reign would mean a threat to their safety.”

Thoughts of the events of that day, nearly two years before, flushed her cheeks. Marines came ashore at the behest of Mr. Stevens, the American ambassador, telling all they were landing to keep order, but that did not explain why they had been marched directly to the palace. Nor did it explain why it was on the very day that Lili`uokalani had announced a new constitution to be drawn, which would have the effect of countering the provisions of the Bayonet Constitution of some years before. It had been her intention to draw up the document so that the Americans and Europeans who lived and worked in Hawai`i would not lose any of the positions or rights they enjoyed, but that others who lived here, from Chinese merchants in the crowded alleys downtown, the Japanese laborers in the cane fields, the Portuguese whalers, or those hailing from Mexico, the Phillipines, Sämoa, Thailand, Tahiti, or anywhere else, would be elevated to the same status. And that above all should be her own people, the Hawaiians, those born of these islands. She wished to preserve their status and their pride and their right to self-determination, and the way to do it was to forever code it into a constitution. Her enemies had known this, and in it they had seen a future where their children would be beholden forever to the people of Hawai`i. They had wanted, all along, from the earliest missionaries who had landed these shores for the peaceful reason of spreading the gospel to those who had not yet heard the good word, to the most recent businessmen who saw fortune in Hawai`i as a crossroads between east and west – all had wanted to see their children come to control these lands, flourishing here as though granted the islands by God himself. It was obvious to Lili`uokalani, now, as it should have been all along, that they saw it as a birthright, and that the brown-skinned children of this `aina were but temporary stewards, unfortunate and accidental occupants of a land divinely created for the Americans and Europeans. They did not respect the land like Hawaiians, and in the same way, they did not respect the people that had been given birth by these lands. Already they had undermined her language, her gods, her ways, her songs, her history. Inexorably, as the tide wearing away at a great island, they had broken Hawai`i down to where she could be controlled. To where the righteousness and power of the sovereign held so little weight that a group of nineteen men, allied by a naval crew and a small militia, could overthrow the entire kingdom and lock away the Queen in an ignoble guest room.

What had it all come to? Where had the Kamehamehas gone? The bloodline, carrying down from the King of all Hawai`i, the uniter who had spread his armies across these divided islands, forcing each ali`i to accede at his feet? Where had vanished the princes, the kings, who had entertained foreign heads of state as they came through the Sandwich Isles? Hawai`i had once been a majestic kingdom of proud people, standing out as the strongest among the kingdoms of the South Seas? Where had gone the plan to unite all of the peoples of the Pacific, with Hawai`i as its capitol? Where had gone the unity and dignity of the people? Now it was so clear to her that it had been crushed slowly, piece by piece, for if it had all come at once the maka`ainana would have had the resolve to fight back and overcome the transgressors. Hers were a fierce people of passion and dignity, whose weakness, now revealed, was only their openness to strangers and their willingness to allow others to live among them in peace. Had the first settlers been met with spears and sharktooth clubs at the harbor, had the missionaries been forced to turn about and carry their God with them back to American, had the whalers been forbidden to sail the blue moana that blanketed these islands, perhaps things would be very different today. Hawai`i’s beacon was going out. This she could see merely by gazing out the window everyday, at the horse-drawn carriages, the European styles, the modern skyscrapers as tall as five stories being erected to block the view of the Ko`ölau, the abolition of hula, the cluttering of the language of Hawai`i by the languages of China and Japan and America.

A time was passing in Hawai`i. Something huge was coming, and she could feel it. And yet she could not leave these chambers to even speak to her people, warn them of its coming, help them grow accustomed to it. They needed someone to help them; that was always how it had been, the men and women and children of Hawai`i united under their ali`i, who looked after them and loved them, and when the white men first came it had been the ali`i who were the bridge between the two cultures, keeping the needs of their people at the forefront at the same time they greeted the newcomers as brothers. What would the Hawaiian people do without their monarch? How would their interests be looked after, if the rulers of this land ceased to be of their kind? Would they become second-class citizens in the lands of their own birth, relegated to subservience by the children of those who claimed to have come in peace? Would they cease to exist altogether? Even now their numbers dwindled, from the proud nation of self-sufficient islands, to scattered populations of impoverished and uneducated “darkies.” With their changes and their God and their laws the white men had brought liquor, prostitution, disease. So few remained.

Soon, they too would be gone.

I need you now, John, Lilu`uokalani thought. I wish you could be here. More than ever, now I need your help. You were stronger than me, older and wiser. You would know what to do.

She rested the needle and thread, forgotten, in her lap and looked at a framed tintype of John Dominis, where it rested on the dresser. In it, he was tall and thin, and looked much like one of the European kings in his sashes and regalia. His thick beard extended down from his buried chin, a look that seemed to age his otherwise youthful face. He had a stature that bespoke unflinching resilience. Watching him shake the hands of foreign heads of state had been thrilling, as though Lili`uokalani had been watching the acceptance of Hawai`i herself into the circle of nations.

When John had fallen ill, unable to take up residence in `Iolani Palace for his inability to climb the broad staircase in the Grand Hall, Lili`uokalani had seen his future. She had watched him dwindle until he was bedridden, and then had been by his side as he exhaled his final air. It had only been four years, but she missed him just as acutely every day as she had the day of his burial at the Royal Mausoleum.

You would know what to do, John. I let the traitors in to my personal circle of friends and I never saw them for what they were until it was too late, and they stole it all from me. How would you have fought them? Would you have known all along? Together, we could have done something. Now I’m alone, and they’re taking our people away from us.

The sound of boots on the staircase echoed through the palace. It hadn’t been long enough to expect the sentry again, and by the sound of it, there were several persons.

Eveline looked up from her book, passing a wordless question to Lili`uokalani before resting her book on the ground beside the chair.

`Iolani Palace, where Queen Lili`uokalani was imprisoned. Photo courtesy Cliff1066 under Creative Commons License.

“It appears we are to have visitors,” Lili`uokalani said. She carefully set aside the quilt patch she had been working on, and rose to greet the party. No sound other than the footfalls met her ears, no voices, until at last the rattle of the key in the lock indicated the sentry was opening the door.

Entering the room was a group of several men. Grim expressions all around, they took in her plain room, the furniture, and the two women with a flick of guilty eyes. Among the men, Lili`uokalani saw Eveline’s husband and the lawyer, both men they had seen just some minutes before coming up the walk. But now the two were accompanied by her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Parker, her Minister of the Interior, Mr. Spencer, and her Minister of Finance, Mr. Widemann. With them was her marshal, and Eveline’s husband, Charles Wilson, and two others of her cabinet.

They nodded formally to her as they filed into the room, taking up positions in a cluster near the door. Lili`uokalani stepped back to allow them all to fit into the room.

“Your highness,” Eveline’s husband said, and the others followed suit.

Seeing them like this, Lili`uokalani’s heart began to beat faster. Something was happening. The other times she had seen a similar assemblage of men and women of the community, something had always been happening. Some decision had been made. First it was she had been forced to yield the throne to the Provisional Government, then it was when they called her to her imprisonment. And here was another occasion, surely not a happy one. She was beginning to learn that, whenever the foreigners wished to further rob her of her dignity, they needed to come to her in large numbers, perhaps to spread among them their shame, or perhaps because they were afraid.

“To what do I owe the honor, gentlemen?” Lili`uokalani said, standing with her hands clasped lightly before her. She was determined to carry herself with as much dignity as she could manage, no matter what they brought before her. Though she was certain they had come to her today with the order for her execution. Among them was Paul Neumann, who had come to her just two days before with the news that a call had been made for her to be hung, along with six other conspirators. He had delivered the news with an obvious heavy heart that, despite her natural suspicion in these days, seemed to be quite sincere. He had asked then if she was prepared to die for the revolt, and though Lili`uokalani had nothing to do with it, she had told him then without wavering that she did not fear death.

Has he come back, now, to announce it to me? Oh, John, would that you were here!

“My Lady,” Mr. Neumann began. “We are delivering to you the complete draft of an act of Abdication. It has been drafted a number of times by all the fellows you see here, and we deliver it to you now for your signature. I know this is difficult, but it is for the best.”

“I see.”

“You have to understand there are those who are calling for your head, even now. I don’t know how to appease them other than this. Certainly the only way to mollify them is to meet their demands. They have told me that, should you sign this act, they will stay the execution of those accused of attempting a revolution, yourself included.”

“And,” Lili`uokalani said, lifting her chin and attempting to come across as haughty, “if I refuse?”

“I cannot say, my Lady. But I fear the worst.”

“So,” she said, walking slowly from the bed to the window, where she lowered herself into the chair. Eveline stood rigid nearby, afraid to speak. “So, you are telling me, in essence, that the only way to avoid these unnecessary killings is for me to sign this piece of paper you gentlemen have written?”

“That is correct,” another said, and Lili`uokalani noted it had come from the lawyer, Mr. Hartwell.

“Does it not strike you that this bears the stain of duress? How could that possibly hold up in court?”

“Lydia,” Mr. Hartwell said, referring to Lili`uokalani by her birth name, a name she hadn’t used in some time. Shocking – either a calculated move to diminish her station even further, or a gaffe by a newcomer who did not understand the ways of royalty. “Your signing of this document would not legally qualify as duress, as we have assembled here among you several of your most trusted allies for council. We are here to make sure you completely understand the situation in which you find yourself-”

“In which I find myself?” Lili`uokalani asked, but Mr. Hartwell continued without stopping.

“-and to offer you the best legal council. It is in the presence of such council that any charges of duress shall be baseless. One can only sign under duress if not given the opportunity to consider closely such matters and take legal advice.”

“And I suppose you are here for the legal advice?”

“Yes, that’s right,” he said, clearing his throat and pushing his wire-rim glasses back up his nose. Sweat was beginning to form on the brow of every man present, including the only Hawaiian-born among them, Kalua Ko`okano, who stood shifting nervously at the back of the group.

Lili`uokalani looked over all of them, one by one, allowing them to drop their gaze when met by hers. “Am I to understand, then,” she said in as imperious a manner as she could manage, though she felt surely they could hear the tremor in her voice, “that each of you come to me with the advice of signing this document?”

None answered. All stood quietly, regarding her.

She sat forward slightly in her chair, and for a moment it was as though she was back on the throne, looking over petitioners. “Is there any among you who believe I should not sign this document?”

Again, she was met with silence.

“Let me see it.”

Mr. Wilson stepped forward, the paper held in his hands. As he unrolled it, Eveline lightly gasped, “Charles.” He didn’t look at his wife, but instead placed it in Lili`uokalani’s outstretched palm. She unrolled it and read it over.

After a couple of minutes, she looked up to look at the men. Each of them had been waiting, bated, and now forced themselves to gaze her direction.

“Mr. Parker,” she said, looking to the one on the left. “You’re my Minister of Foreign Affairs. Do you believe I should sign this document?”

“Yes, my Lady,” he said, with a nod.

“And you, Mr. Widemann. Are you also of the opinion that I should sign this document?”

“I am,” he said, firmly.

She went one to the next, each of them affirming their belief that she should sign. To the last, Mr. Wilson himself, she asked, “If I do not sign, am I to understand that several persons, including myself, will be put to death?”

He nodded, without glancing at Eveline.

“Then I have taken my council, it appears. I want all of you gentlemen to be aware that I see now what has been happening beneath my nose. Your complicity in this illegal act has not gone unnoticed. It pains and shames me that you, my most trusted members and those I naïvely appointed to my cabinet, should have been working beneath me all this while. Truly Hawai`i is now a nest of snakes.

“In the days to come, my petition will be heard by the President of the United States and I believe you will find justice will be carried out. I have met the honorable Mr. Grover Cleveland, and he is a man of his word. Hawai`i will soon be returned to her people and at that time I shall be as merciful as I can to those who attempted to undermine the throne, but nor shall I turn my face from treachery. So think upon this, all of you. And may God have mercy on your souls.”

“Will you sign the document, or not?” Kalua said, his voice tight. Lili`uokalani looked over at him. It brought particular pain to see him among the white men in the room.

“I will, because to stay my pen means the death of the innocent.”

“Be that as it may,” the lawyer offered.

“How shall I sign?”

He stepped forward and presented a fountain pen and a bottle of ink. Pulling up the side table to her, he rested the pen and ink upon the table. “Please, if you would sign it as your legal name, Lili`uokalani Dominis.”

“That isn’t my legal name. I bear only the title ‘Lili`uokalani.’”

“But you were married to Mr. Dominis. Does that not make you Mrs. Dominis?”

She looked up at him where he stood looming over her. Sensing her reaction to his close proximity, he stepped back slightly. He pressed his lips together primly. “In America,” he attempted to explain, “the woman takes the name of the man. That has always been the way of it.”

“So even in marriage, you have the act of submission? Must even love be something for your men to conquer?”

“Please, if you would just sign the document.”

“Lili`uokalani,” Eveline said, but a razor glare from her husband silenced her.

The Queen of Hawai`i, the last in the long line of royalty stretching back to the early, ancient days of the islands when the first mariners fell upon her shores from far Kahiki, the last remaining sovereign in lands that were being taken away from her in spirit before they had ever been taken in letter, dipped the ink into the well and signed along the space at the bottom. Upon it she placed a name that was not hers, and she did so knowing that soon, Grover Cleveland would address the wrong that had taken place in these islands and that commissioners in charge of looking into the inquest would find not even her signature legal.

I will get these lands back, John. I know you’re watching me from Heaven and siding with me. I hope you understand why I had to sign this, but one day it will all be resolved. Hawai`i will not become a part of the United States. I will see to it.

She rose, handing the paper back to Mr. Wilson. Eveline brushed past them, weaving through the crowd of men to race from the room, hiding her face.

“You need to do something about that wife of yours,” Mr. Parker said, and a couple of them chuckled.

“You have your signature, gentlemen. Now when shall I be permitted to leave these chambers?”

Mr. Wilson turned from the door, forgetting about his wife. The others began crowd around the table and sign the act, and as they were finished, made their way out the door.. “I suggest you get comfortable,” Mr. Wilson said. “The trial will be on February 5th, and I will be working to make sure you are not executed, as many would like.”

“Executed?” Lili`uokalani asked with a gasp. “Didn’t I just sign the paper?”

“You did,” he replied, rolling it up in his hands. “And it shall carry weight at your trial.”

“Exactly what am I being charged with, Mr. Wilson?”

“Misprison of treason, I believe the charge shall be. I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until the day of the trial.”

She felt faint, her heart racing as though she had just run from Canal street. “Am I to stay in this room the whole time?”

“I believe so.”

“I don’t know if I can take it. My health is deteriorating.”

He nodded. “I can see a pallor. I will send a physician after you. Please take care of yourself, Lili`uokalani. My wife will bring to me any needs you might have.”

The now former Queen sank back into the chair, trying to breathe. The air outside had calmed and no breeze stirred the curtain. She longed to go outside, even just to the balcony, only a few feet from her. Someone had left a wicker chair there, which faced out toward the harbor where even now she could see schooners and whalers drawn up to the wharf.

Mr. Wilson turned and left, presumably to catch up with Eveline. The last one to sign was Mr. Hartwell, who lingered over the paper.

Eveline came slowly back into the room, sniffing and pressing her hands to her forehead.

“I’m sorry,” she said in a halting voice. “I got carried away.”

“Think nothing of it,” Lili`uokalani said, her attention still on the lawyer.

As Eveline returned to her chair and buried her face in her hands, book forgotten, Mr. Hartwell stood up and sealed the bottle of ink. Sliding the pen back into a slim case, the took up the document. Then, instead of turning to leave as the others did, he stood and regarded Lili`uokalani. She could see a faint watering in his eyes.

She rose, holding her imperious gaze. He seemed to look at her for a moment, then stepped forward and took her hand in his, giving it a strong shake. The tears in his eyes brimmed over and spilled down his cheeks.

“I just-” he began, but couldn’t finish his sentence. Letting go, he turned and left the room. In a couple moments, the sentry turned the lock in the door and the Queen was once more alone in her prison with her lady in waiting.

Lili`uokalani stood in silence for a minute, then at last turned to Eveline. Mrs. Wilson had looked up from her chair and gave Lili`uokalani a sorrowful look.

“Did he cry for me?” she asked. “Do you think he felt the gravity of his actions?”

Eveline shook her head. “Crocodile tears,” she said.

The last sovereign of Hawai`i nodded, slowly, and returned to her view. Outside, Honolulu went about its business and no one saw the woman standing, alone, in the window.

For more information, read President Grover Cleveland’s response to the imprisonment of Lili`uokalani and the subsequent coup to overthrow the Hawaiian kingdom

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