LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI

Snare That Lures A Farflung Bird

JEAN CHARLOT

 

copyright Jean Charlot 1973 

 

 

 

CAST (in Order of Appearance)

Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, King of Kuaihelani 

Uwelekā, Guard

Uwelekī, Guard  

The Voice of Owl 

Laukiamanuikahiki, daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe   

Hina, mother of Laukiamanuikahiki 

King of Kahiki 

Kahiki‘ula, son of the King of Kahiki 

Old Paddler 

Two Old Women, great-aunts of Laukiamanuikahiki 

Hanaaumoe, a flattering spirit 

Retinue of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe  

Retinue of the King of Kahiki 

Spirits 

A Sentinel  

 

SETS

 

Prologue. A grove in Kuaihelani. Time sixteen years before the start of the play.  

 

Act One.

Scene 1. A lehua forest, Maui. 

Scene 2. Royal courtyard, Kahiki. 

Scene 3. Roadside, Maui. 

Scene 4. Sacred grove, Kuaihelani.  

 

Act Two.

Scene 1. Spirit Island. 

Scene 2. Sacred grove, Kuaihelani. 

Scene 3. Royal courtyard, Kuaihelani. 

 

 

PROLOGUE

Shallow depth backdrop with Hawaiian motifs, petroglyphs of men and dogs.[1] Crescendo drumming that stops abruptly. Enter King MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE, stage left, and two guards, UWELEKĪ and UWELEKĀ, stage right. The king is in his forties.[2] He is dressed in intense red, wide loincloth with large flaps front and back,[3] long feather cloak and crested feather helmet, whale tooth necklace, bone bracelets and anklets. In hand a long spear. 

Uwelekī is gaunt and harried-looking. Uwelekā is a pot-bellied extrovert. Both wear dun-colored flapless loincloths, elbow-length tapa cloaks of a faded red hue. Both hold stubby spears. They kneel before the king.  

 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Uwelekī and you Uwelekā, understand: These rocks, this garden, these vines and flowers, from today on and forever remain sacred to the person of Laukiamanuikahiki. Whosoever picks flowers, strips vines, bathes in this pool, takes shade even under these hala trees, breaks our royal taboo. Death be the penalty. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

O lord, how are we to know this Laukiamanuikahiki? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

How tell her from a taboo breaker? 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

She’ll wear a red feather cloak and a red head lei. A whale tooth necklace just like mine. Bone bracelets and anklets just like mine. A paddler will attend her, holding a red paddle. When she comes, pay her deep obeisance and rush the news to me. Should any token be missing, it is not she. Kill the intruder! 

(False exit of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe. Turns, addresses guards.) 

Should harm come to Laukiamanuikahiki, indeed Uwelekī, and you Uwelekā, you both die! 

 

(Exit Maki‘i‘oe‘oe. Guards rise cautiously.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

How he dotes on her! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Whosoever ever heard of this Laukiamanuikahiki? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Remember? Six months ago our lord sailed away from it all. In the kingdom of Maui, his attendants lost him. There was a search, frantic but vain. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

You believe that, Uwelekā? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

I believe every nook and fold of land was searched, except where they suspected him to be. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

If I had as many queens as grace our king’s court, and as outspoken ones at that, solitude would mean the supreme luxury!

 

UWELEKĀ 

When our lord at last was found, it was in a forest tucked at the end of a remote valley. He was quite unharmed. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Alone of course! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(A wink.) Is it for us, Uwelekī, to spy on our master’s leisure? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Ah! Then, this Laukiamanuikahiki. . . 

 

UWELEKĀ 

If you ask me, she is no forest waif or sprite.[4] Should the one we expect be our[5] lord’s daughter, conceived in the cool of a rustic Maui glade, then. . . (Counts on fingers.) One month, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. (Shakes head.) Nine, eight, seven, six. (Nods head.)[6] She ain’t born yet (scratches head) and at that may never be. If so, worst luck! We’d patrol this grove through both our lifetimes![7] 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Time aplenty for our hair to turn white as the tassel of the sugar cane, for our teeth to yellow and unhook from their gums. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Playfully fitting action to words.) Forty years from now, Uwelekī and Uwelekā may still perform their shaky rounds, wobbling on sticks, red-eyed as rats, their failing eyesight unfit to sort the taboo breakers from the birds! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Shall we start, Uwelekā? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

After you, Uwelekī! 

 

(Exit guards right and left, martial step.) 

 

ACT ONE

SCENE 1: A forest, featuring a lehua tree. Sidewise and barely seen, the edge of a grass hut. A girl of fifteen, LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI, strings a lei under the lehua tree. Her clothing is that of a rustic, dun-colored pā‘ū and shawl. Heard as if coming from ceiling level at the back of the theater, the voice of OWL.

 

(He can be seen if there is a booth in back of the spectators to display him. A hand puppet will do.) 

 

OWL 

Ooooooh! Laukiamanuikahiki, Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird! Did you trap your bird yet, your bird from farflung Kahiki? Ooooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Casually looks up, high over the heads of the spectators.) 

Mischievous owl![8] I wouldn’t trap birds. I call them by name[9] and they come, yes. They do snuggle to my warmth, ’tis true. But I am not a snare. I am a girl. If they wish to fly away, away they fly! 

 

OWL 

Who is talking about birds, Laukiamanuikahiki? I am talking about boys. Ooooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Mocking owl! There are no men in our woods.[10] Mother and I, we live alone. 

 

OWL 

The snare is set. Some bird is bound to be caught. Ooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(A sigh.) How you tease, wicked owl! Fly away!  

 

OWL 

(A diminishing hoot that recedes in space.) Oooooooh! 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki drops her work. Hands idle, she leans her head against the tree trunk, closes her eyes.) 

 

HINA 

(Offstage.) Daughter, where are you? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Without moving or opening her eyes.) Here, mother, under the lehua tree. 

 

(Enter HINA, a woman in her thirties, also dressed as a commoner, in a brown pā‘ū and a shawl.) 

 

HINA 

’Tis noon. (Looks at the girl.) Always sad, daughter, sad always. Why? You have your friends the birds to talk with, and to help you string leis the flowers of our forest are eager to be picked. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Opens eyes.) And when the lei is ready, mother, fragrant and soft, where are the shoulders, hard and square, it is made to garland? The wrinkled neck of our dear giant sea turtle is hardly what I meant it for.   

 

HINA 

We live alone, child, ’tis true. And we are poor, ’tis true. But try understand the good of your lot. Village girls are born slaves to the tapa stick.[11] Even as their chubby fingers harden[12] to adulthood, they beat tapa on the tapa board. When old, their withered claws still hug the tapa stick. When dead and gone to the nether land of Milu, these bones that once were hands forever beat spirit tapa to garb the nakedness of fellow ghosts. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(A shrug.) Mother, who is my father? 

 

HINA 

Who knows. A foreigner, come and gone all at once, whose name I did hardly catch. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Mother, where is my father? 

 

HINA 

(Mimics Laukiamanuikahiki’s voice.) “Who is my father? Where is my father?” Ask it of the bamboos and ask it of the rocks, but don’t ask me. Long ago my love cried itself to sleep. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Rises. Goes stage right, calls to offstage.) Rock there, who is my father? 

 

ROCK 

(Offstage gourd music. Offstage basso voice, chant style.) Laukiamanuikahiki, your father’s name is Maki‘i‘oe‘oe. 

 

(Gourd music tapers off.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Rushes stage left, calls to offstage.) Bamboos there, where is my father? 

 

BAMBOOS 

(Offstage nose flute. Offstage voice, chant style.) Laukiamanuikahiki, your father’s island is Kuaihelani. 

 

(Offstage nose flute music tapers off.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Turns to her mother.) Cheat. My father’s name is Maki‘i‘oe‘oe. His island is Kuaihelani. 

 

HINA 

Spare me daughter. I alone raised you. I alone love you. Why go seek who knows whom, who knows where, courting dangers every step of the way. Should you find the man, how would he know you? He demands tokens: a red feather cloak and a red head lei, a whale tooth necklace, bone bracelets and anklets. In attendance a paddler holding a red paddle. Things hardly to be picked on our lehua trees. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Mother, when he left you, what did father say about the tokens? 

 

HINA 

(Bitterly.) He said the gods would provide! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Rises.) I will go search for my father. 

 

HINA 

And the tokens? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Proudly.) The gods will provide![13] 

 

HINA 

Go then. Before you go, I shall tell you all I know about him.  ’Tis not much. Sixteen years ago. . . 

 

(Darkness. As light returns, the same set. A film of gauze between stage and spectators signifies a recital of past action. Light suggests another time of day, dawn or dusk. On the stage Maki‘i‘oe‘oe and Hina young, same kind of clothing, but a flower tucked in her hair. Maki‘i‘oe‘oe is partly decked in his chiefly attire, red loincloth, bone bracelets and anklets but without cloak, helmet or necklace. No weapon. Hina gives unhurried finishing touches to the making of an open lei of maile leaves. Varied bird calls are heard. As Hina speaks, the chirping tapers off.) 

 

HINA 

(Rises and places her lei over Maki‘i‘oe‘oe’s shoulders.) Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, if you must go, you must. These few weeks you were truly mine. It is as well I remain here. Should I follow you this forest would yearn for me. In a lifetime I made friends with its roots and branches, its vines, its moss, its rocks, its birds, the brassy ones that match in radiance the sun, and these others, plumed in gray, that glide under the moon. Men remain strange to me. This forest is my kingdom. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

And my kingdom is Kuaihelani. Should I stay, Hina, Kuaihelani would yearn for its king. I owe myself to my farmers and to my fishermen, to my queens as well, the jealous ones, more avid of power than of love. 

 

HINA 

Where is your kingdom, king? 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Far away. At sunset, chosen ones may sight its beaches, its palms and rolling surf, hung high above the gathering clouds. Others, who see nothing, say my Kuaihelani does not exist. Indeed my kingdom is far away!  

 

(While Maki‘i‘oe‘oe talks, his retinue enters quietly. One man carries the royal feather cloak, another the whale tooth necklace, another the helmet and spear. Now the king notices them. They pay deep obeisance, then rise. During the following, they ceremonially vest the king with his cloak, cast away Hina’s leaf lei, replacing it by the whale tooth necklace, put on the king’s head the helmet.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Hina, should our child be a boy, name him what you wish and say nothing of me. Better for the lad to grow up a taro farmer or feather hunter than to learn of his high caste, a fate as demanding as that of a slave.

Should our child, Hina, be a female, give her this name, Laukiamanuikahiki: Snare-that-Lures-a-Farflung-Bird. Once grown up, send her to me.   

 

(A retainer puts the spear in the king’s hand.) 

 

HINA 

Leave me a token, lord! Your necklace, a bracelet or anklet. A sign to know your daughter when in the future you meet. 

 

(Maki‘i‘oe‘oe starts to untie the cord that holds his whale tooth necklace. Attendants gesture their dismay. He hesitates, stops.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

No, Hina. These heirlooms would prove a curse to any but their rightful owner. 

 

HINA 

How may you know her then?[14] 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

My daughter shall come to me wearing a red feather cloak and a red head lei, a whale tooth necklace just like mine, bone bracelets and anklets just like mine. A paddler shall attend her, holding a red paddle.[15]

 

HINA 

Lord, no rustic ever owned such luxuries. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Daughter shall have her share of my royal blood. The gods will provide!  

 

(A quick embrace. King exits with attendants. Alone on stage, Hina squats, leaning against the trunk of the lehua tree, closes eyes, puts hand to belly in gesture of protection and anticipation. Birds resume their chirpings as light gradually fades. Total darkness. A light gradually returns, same set with Laukiamanuikahiki and Hina, now again older. They are in the same positions they were in before the “story” started.) 

 

HINA 

Now you know as much, and as little, as I do. The gods may provide, but remember, daughter, to be in their care is not to be without care. Walk on tiptoe when you walk with the gods. 

 

(Hina enters hut. Emerges with a bundle hanging from a short stick. Hands it to Laukiamanuikahiki.) 

 

HINA 

I knew this dreaded moment would come. This traveler’s pack has been waiting for you. Seven oceans lie between you and his Kuaihelani!  

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki shoulders the pack, starts away. Then impulsively turns towards Hina, embraces her.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Help me, mother. 

 

HINA 

As you emerge from the safety of our forest, there opens a roadway. It is a three days journey to the edge of a world I never want to know. Two old women dwell at road’s end, your great-aunts. In their enfeebled bodies abides much spirit strength. Enroll their help. Aloha! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Aloha! 

 

(Exit Laukiamanuikahiki. Hina squats under the lehua tree, sorrowing. Close by this time, as if from the lehua tree, Owl’s voice, sotto voce.) 

 

OWL 

Do not sorrow, Hina! 

Daughter will meet a youth 

As chiefly as she is 

As lonely as she is, 

As lovely as she is. 

Beauty matching beauty, 

They’ll love and live happy! 

Hina, do not sorrow! 

(No reaction from Hina, sorrowing.) 

 

 

ACT ONE, SCENE 2: The long house of the King of Kahiki. Propped on mats, the ailing[16] KING. Squatting attendants. Some hold motionless kahilis, others fans in motion. Others simply squat. The king’s son, KAHIKI‘ULA, stands at the foot of the royal mat. Handsome youth. “Iroquois” haircut. Red feather head lei. Red ceremonial malo. No cloak or necklace. A flower in his hand, he smells its perfume at intervals. 

 

KING 

Son, Kahiki‘ula, soon you shall be king. Our Kahiki with its plenty of taro crops, of fisheries, of fowl and of fruits, will be yours. Also its men and its women. Omens agree: no queen should be chosen from among us or disaster would strike! Respect the omens. Sail for farflung lands there to seek a queen. My messengers will precede you. At the news, faraway princesses shall primp themselves with scented tapa, shampoo their hair with crushed ginger stalks, hope to become the one of your choice. Choose wisely. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA, 

You command me to go, father, and I will. But send no messengers. I prefer to be on my own. 

 

KING 

Son, you have lived an abstemious life. When a child, already mulling deep by the royal mullet pond. As you grew up, brutally dismissing whichever girl disturbed your adolescent pride. And now lost in dreams spread over your waking hours![17] This meditative, vegetative prologue must end. Wake up! To be a king is no mooning matter.[18] To implement decision with action, to back action with power, that indeed is to be a king! As is your wish, go on your own. But go now, and return with a queen! 

 

(At a sign from the king, attendants bring the royal apparel, red cloak and helmet, whale tooth necklace, bone bracelets and anklets. Kahiki‘ula looks hesitatingly at his father. King nods a yes. Throughout the following, attendants vest Kahiki‘ula to the king’s own enumeration. When they attempt to remove his head lei and replace it with the helmet, he takes the helmet and cradles it instead on one arm.) 

 

KING 

No need to wait until I am dead. The bracelets and anklets, these ancient limbs are too weak for their weight. And the whale tooth necklace, why shelve it? This royal cloak would slip away from my wasted shoulders. This helmet add to the ache inside my skull. You are my heir. Wear them and soak in their meaning! 

 

(With a slight gesture the weary king dismisses his son, closes his eyes in what may be sleep. Enter a white-haired PADDLER holding a red paddle. A length of rope is coiled over his shoulder.) 

 

PADDLER 

(Pays quick obeisance to Kahiki‘ula. In a whisper.) 

Red one, princely fisherman, the canoe is waiting, stocked with stick charts and provisions. Wherefore do we sail? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

In search of a queen, master paddler, one born in some farflung land! 

 

(Exit Kahiki‘ula, flower in hand, with paddler. Attendants rearrange mat about the motionless king, then squat. Only the fans are in motion.) 

 

 

ACT ONE, SCENE 3: Road’s end. A black lava landscape. Two old women, look-alikes, roast bananas on a bed of hot stones half-covered with ti leaves. They lean on crutches. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

Bananas! Bananas! Bananas! Pah! Oh! To be young again! Rival chiefs would bribe us[19] with scented ōla‘a tapa skirts, leis of pink Ni‘ihau shells, fat fish to feast upon! 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

Whining! Whining! Whining! Why? What power over men beauty once gave us is puny[20] compared with what power the gods invest in our wasted frames. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

Yet I’d delight in it, would my youth come back, and with it the scented tapa and the fat fish. Even the men! Gods are all right, but men are much more fun! 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

The bananas, they must be cooked! (Looks under the ti leaves.) Stop stealing, sister, soon as I turn my back. We’ll never eat if you tease so! 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

(Looks under leaves.) I didn’t, I swear! 

 

(Both hobble about, investigating back to back. Laukiamanuikahiki enters center, from behind a rock, munching on a roast banana.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Mmm. So good, aunties! I was so hungry![21] 

 

BOTH OLD WOMEN 

(Turn around facing the girl. Threaten her with raised crutches.) 

Thief! Thief! 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki munches peacefully.) 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

Rascal, what is your name? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Laukiamanuikahiki. I am Hina’s daughter, ancient ones. 

 

(Both pay obeisance.) 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

Welcome, o chiefess. We will serve you. . . 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

. . . to the limit of our poor strength. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Stop teasing, aunties. I am no chiefess. Only a commoner. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

(Slyly.) What of your name? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

My name? It’s just a name, the name mother gave me: Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird. Silly! I am not a snare, I am a girl! 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

You make a lovely snare, Laukiamanuikahiki. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

The farflung bird better hurry, or another, close by, may be caught! 

 

OWL 

(In the distance, unnoticed.) Oooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Stop fooling aunties. Please help me! 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

Our brittle bones can be of little use to you, o lei! Hardly could we lift a tapa stick between us. 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

Tomorrow, down we slide to the land of Milu. How could we be of help? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

 ’Tis said when the body is emptied of strength and health, its racked frame becomes a choice landing place for the gods. 

OLD WOMAN 1 

More wisdom sits in your head, moppet, than on many a bald one. 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

What is your wish? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Help me find my father. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

What is his island? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Kuaihelani. 

 

(Old Women react intensely.) 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

It complicates things. Kuaihelani has firm sand, bountiful shrubs, a glorious king. But it is far away. 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

And on the way, there lies another island, not at all like[22] Kuaihelani. 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

Of that one it is said that its beaches recede as the surf rolls in. Its sands are no firmer than fog. Those who live there. . . 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

(Interrupting. Quickly.) It is no place for a little girl like you. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Aunties, nothing shall stop me.[23] My mind is made up. (A sniffle. She stumbles.) 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

Already you have been a long way on your way. . . 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

. . . and a much longer way lies ahead. Come. Rest. 

 

(Old Women help her towards a bed of leaves.) 

 

OWL 

(Close and loud.) Ooooooh! 

 

OLD WOMEN 

(Startled.) What was that! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Sleepily.) It’s Owl, ancient ones. Just a bird. 

 

OWL 

Oooooh! just a bird! I like that! You are not just a girl, child of a moonbeam, nor am I just a bird![24] Ooooh!

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Already half asleep.) Don’t mind Owl, ancient ones. It teases, but we are buddies! 

 

OWL 

(A receding hoot in space.) Hooooo. . . 

 

(Squatting by the improvised bed, the Old Women fan Laukiamanuikahiki with banana leaves. Their thin voices hum a high-pitched wordless lullaby. Soon the girl is asleep.) 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

She is asleep. Let’s conjure! 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

You and I already know the fellow is on his way. Why peek? 

 

OLD WOMAN 1 

The girl will reach her Kuaihelani. We’ll see to that. But what of him? 

 

OLD WOMAN 2 

We lack control there. Best we can do is hope! 

 

(The humming becomes chanting. It acquires words, volume, and authority. The Old Women straighten up, swing their crutches in wild conjuring arcs.) 

 

OLD WOMEN 

Eh! Red man from a farflung land 

Make ready your canoe! 

A long canoe? 

A short canoe? 

A fat canoe? 

A red canoe, 

With red sail, 

Red bailing cup, 

And red cordage. 

A red cloak is ready for Kahiki‘ula, 

Red man from a farflung land! 

 

(As the chant proceeds, the group of the sleeping girl and the two Old Women recedes into marginal darkness. A red canoe on a red sea comes into focus. Its red sail is set against a red sky. Kahiki‘ula, wearing the red cloak and the red head lei, stands at the helm. Seated behind him, the old paddler moving his red paddle in slow rhythmic motion. In a deep-throated voice contrasting with the high-pitched one of the women, the paddler chants, picking up their tune.) 

 

PADDLER 

Kahiki‘ula, red chief from Kahiki, 

Sail your canoe to a farflung land! 

A long canoe? 

A short canoe? 

A fat canoe? 

A thin canoe? 

A red canoe, 

With red sail, 

Red bailing cup, 

And red cordage. 

Don your red cloak, eh! Kahiki‘ula, 

Red one from the farflung land! 

 

(Old Women, Laukiamanuikahiki, have disappeared. On stage, only the canoe and the ocean. Kahiki‘ula picks up a reed chart, orients it to a star, “reads” chart.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

All in one piece, this ocean. Nights and days, bump after bump, we rode its sturdy backbone. 

 

PADDLER 

True, chiefly fisherman. May one perchance ask where one is headed for? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

(Taps on map.) One knows where one is, tutor of seafarers. How could one know when or where we’ll land? 

 

PADDLER 

The use of[25] this newfangled net of reeds escapes me, learned voyager. I’d rather trust the sea. The sea tells me we are getting nowhere. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Nowhere we ever were, crusty grumbler. Perhaps nowhere where man has ever been! 

 

PADDLER 

(Stops paddling. Lays paddle across width of canoe.) Enough said or too much, bridegroom-soon-to-be. Remember: the king your father bid you go choose a queen, not a monster. Girls are an ornament of the known world. Monsters inhabit the unknown. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Why worry, retailer of antique tales? Are not women kin to monsters? And again the wide universe, both its unprobed worlds and ours, it may be peopled just[26] by men begotten of women. A dull thought. 

 

PADDLER 

You forget the dragons, seaborne philosopher. Whosoever came back from there, wherever that is, saw dragons as clear as we see rats or bats. Only, alas, substantially bigger, and fully as frisky!  

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

The monsters of the ocean are awesome enough. (Absentmindedly fondles his whale tooth lei.) Yet men carve their teeth into chiefly baubles. Landlocked dragons I have yet to meet. Whales with legs, perchance, pounding underfoot the kukui forests? 

 

PADDLER 

What of witches, heroic tenderfoot?[27] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Of witches[28] ’tis said they change form at will, an evil will, hunch inside the hollow of a decaying stump to snag our weary footfall, command the midnight bat to prick our skin with its poisoned claw. Witches may foul even the water a thirsty traveler scoops up from some beach freshet. 

 

PADDLER 

What of ghosts, king-to-be?[29] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

A ghost is you or I. Once ghosts were like us. We shall be like them. Over untold spans of time and eons of space, ’tis a friendly gesture to hold hands with ghosts and allow their snow to melt against our warmth. Come our turn, it may mean a welcome. A female ghost for a queen, what a cool summer sport! Father would disapprove though.[30] She-ghosts are notoriously barren! 

 

PADDLER 

Enough, lover of nightmares! Granted that ghosts and men are two of a kind, still men can be nasty. And if so, so can ghosts. Some get in cahoots with witches. This chart you trust may be in truth a magic tool, crafted to beach our hull on some crooked shore[31] where hungry spirits squat, awaiting their canoe-load of flesh. 

(Kahiki‘ula checks his bamboo chart, signals ahead.  Paddler resumes paddling.)[32] 

 

 

ACT ONE, SCENE 4: Sacred grove in Kuaihelani. Hala trees hung with maile vines. A sunken pool lined with glossy black rocks dappled with lemon yellow patches of moss. From opposite sides enter Uwelekī and Uwelekā. They meet center stage. Sixteen years have passed since we saw them first. They look and act substantially older. 

 

UWELEKĪ

You again! 

 

UWELEKĀ

You always! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

To talk to you, Uwelekā, it is like talking to myself. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

I wish I could say that, Uwelekī. When I talk to myself, I answer intelligently! 

 

(Weak attempt at a fight.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Stop it, both of you! (Both stop.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

We are going crazy! Always you and me, me and you. Deep in there (pats stomach) I love you, Uwelekī. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

We feel different then! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Oh! For a taboo breaker to drop in! After sixteen years of boredom, we’d rub noses with him in gratitude! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Then we’d tear him from limb to limb! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Slowly to make the pleasure last! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

This sacred grove I know it as I know my own skin! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

That patch of moss two turns to the left and three to the right, on dry days it reminds me of the unpleasant shape of a ghost, also of you, Uwelekī! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

And on wet days, swelled with damp and sweaty with dewdrops, it reminds me of you, Uwelekā! 

 

(Another indecisive attempt at a fight.) 

 

BOTH 

Stop!

 

(Both stop.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Some things are new though. That nest of rats that breed by the sacred pool, that last litter, what a beauty: little pink ones, pell-mell in a ball of raw skin. Put your ear to the warm squiggling mess and you hear tiny squeals! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

That mamma rat rates me much above you, Uwelekī. She lets me watch while they feed. Fills me with pride! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

There’s something else new. We are visited by owls.[33] Never before! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Right! I heard one hoot: “Oooooh!” 

 

UWELEKĪ 

No. It said “Hoooo. . .” 

 

UWELEKĀ 

It said “Ooooooh!” 

 

UWELEKĪ 

It said “Hooooo. . .”

 

(Another weak attempt at fight.) 

 

OWL 

(Far off.) Oooooh! 

 

(Uwelekā swells with pride. Uwelekī feels deflated.) 

 

OWL 

(Far off.) Hoooo. . . 

 

(It is Uwelekī’s turn to feel good. They make up.) 

(Enter Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, sixteen years older. Dressed in kingly paraphernalia as before. Guards kneel.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

No news? 

 

UWELEKĀ

No news, lord. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

(To himself.) No news ever! 

 

(A gesture dismisses the guards. They exit backwards so as not to turn their back on their king. Maki‘i‘oe‘oe sits on a rock.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Sixteen years waiting. I am more of a king now than even then. Indeed a seasoned king. All power is mine man may crave over men. Kings are my messengers. Kings’ daughters my wives. Kings’ wives mine for the wishing. Only for three weeks, sixteen years ago, did I feel alive. With Hina, we lay under giant ferns and their fronds cooled us in more cadenced rhythms than do fan-bearers. Birds perched at will on my shoulder.[34] I received their muffled confidences, whispered from tiny beak to ear.[35] Today only the pitch of barked commands and conch shell alarums stirs[36] me! Truly, we kings are fakes vested in borrowed splendor. Our plumage, we steal it from the birds. What precarious glory is ours, quill after quill craftily inserted into the wickerwork of our make-believe! What stench of pretence we ooze compared with these winged ones whose birthright are these royal colors, theirs only! 

(Rises and walks through the grove.) 

Daughter should be fifteen. Moss, vine, trees, flowers,[37] all long for her. Her pool, will it go dry before she bathes in it? Her flowers, must they wither without adorning her hair? Her vines yellow and die before they garland her? 

 

(Exit. Enter Uwelekī and Uwelekā, on tiptoe.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

The master fares hardly better than we do. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Something about this grove drives men, high and low, batty! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

How l crave for a taboo breaker! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Slim chance! After sixteen years![38]  

 

 

OWL 

(Close by.) Oooooh! 

 

(Both guards look up, spears at the ready, but fail to locate Owl.) 

 

 

ACT TWO

SCENE 1: Spirit Island. Sand dunes. Dead hala stumps silhouetted against an apple-green sky. Lapping of waves over sand is heard. HANAAUMOE, a flattering spirit, squats on top the dune. Other spirits, seen only heads and shoulders, are ambushed behind it. The spirits’ features tend to the featureless, their color to colorlessness. They speak with a rustling sound, as wind whistling through a bamboo grove. 

 

SPIRIT 1 

We are hungry. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

What that last wreck brought, it pretty much wrecked my stomach, or what passes for it! 

 

SPIRIT 3 

So long had it been tossing sail-less, that canoe, its cargo was stringy as dried-up gourds! 

 

SPIRIT 4 

No flesh to chew on to speak of! No blood to suck! No marrow in the marrow bones! 

 

SPIRIT 1 

Please, Hanaaumoe, do your stuff. You are a flattering spirit. Flatter them. Bid them land. We are hungry. 

 

HANAAUMOE 

There is no canoe in sight. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

A canoe! Westward a canoe! 

 

SPIRIT 3 

I see it now, against the sunset! 

SPIRIT 4 

There it sails, red in the green afterglow! 

 

(All spirits arrange themselves in orderly fashion, and throughout the following speech, mimic the lovely gestures of a kneeling hula. Center, boldly silhouetted on the crest of the dune, Hanaaumoe. Both hands cupped to mouth in the manner of a loudspeaker. Loud voice, but kept very suave and pleasant.) 

 

HANAAUMOE 

Welcome, travelers. We bid you rest here. Here you will be safe. Lucky winds and currents took you to our shores. What hardships you missed! What frights you skirted! Lucky indeed! Most islands are infested with spirits. Don’t bypass us and drift to Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i crawls with spirits. Kanika‘a lives there! Maui is black with spirits. Ke‘ōlewa is their king! On Lāna‘i there live only spirits. Pahulu commands them! Moloka‘i is foggy with spirits. Kauholu is their chief! How fortunate chance takes you to our shores. Ours is the one island untainted, unblemished. Beach your canoe! Rope it tight! Make sure you rope it tight! Then partake of our delights! For the sturdy paddler there shall be two wives. And for the chief, so bravely clad in red, five wives. And much, much food! Come! Land! Rejoice! 

 

SPIRIT 1 

Thank you, Hanaaumoe. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

We’ll boil them! 

 

SPIRIT 3

We’ll broil them! 

 

SPIRIT 4 

We’ll kālua them! 

 

HANAAUMOE 

No bickering. We’ll boil the paddler and broil the chief. 

 

SPIRIT 1 

The fuel! 

 

SPIRIT 2 

The pot! 

 

SPIRIT 3 

Hot stones! 

 

SPIRIT 4 

The forks! 

 

(All spirits exit, ducking behind the dune. Scraping sound of canoe being beached added to the sound of the surf. Enter paddler and Kahiki‘ula, both pulling forcefully on canoe ropes. Paddler ties rope elaborately to foreground stump.) 

 

PADDLER 

Safe. The earth underfoot feels good after so long. Honest folks, these rustics. How could one doubt their plainspoken welcome. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

’Tis said wisdom and age go hand in hand, waterlogged optimist. In you I see only age! 

 

PADDLER 

You heard it. That voice. It was choked with aloha! Generous folks (looks around, sees no one). . . and shy too. Two wives for the old paddler to feel young with! Though what you may achieve with five females, chiefly philosopher, remains to be seen! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Forget the wives. I very much doubt that things are as they seem. Philosophizing may come handy, lusty blockhead, should we contact our metaphysical well-wisher. 

(Unnoticed, Hanaaumoe slowly rises over the crest of the sand dune.) 

That smell? 

 

PADDLER 

What smell? A nose I have for currents, and a nose for the winds. None at all for smells. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

A stink rather. Close enough to bat dung. Closest to clotted putrid blood. 

(Sees Hanaaumoe. To paddler.) 

Whatever happens, don’t contradict me. We may still get out of this alive. 

 

HANAAUMOE 

(In a raspy whisper, the opposite of his “flattering” voice.) 

You are as good as dead! No way out. In the sea, spirit sharks. On land us. (A snort.) Your flesh is consumed. Your bones cracked. Devoured their marrow. Your guts are chewed up. Your blood gulped. Sucked the juice out of your eyeballs. (Two snorts.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA   

What a wonderful voice you have. Such a very wide range! At one time loud and sweet. At another hushed and harsh. 

 

HANAAUMOE 

(Mollified.) Don’t mention it. It’s just a trick. It’s throat deep. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

I wish I could do that. I can’t though. My voice is just my voice. (Coughs.) When I was alive, I used to do it. 

 

HANAAUMOE 

When you were alive? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

(Laughs.) Oh! I see! Don’t let it fool you, this feather cloak, these bracelets and anklets. That skin! (Pinches himself.) Pretence all! No, I am truly dead, so’s my canoe mate. Only we are rigged, so to speak, for a very special errand. 

(Spirits rise, head and shoulders over the ridge. They carry cooking implements, trident forks, a large pot, a stirring spoon.) 

You spirits may be able to help. Live men could not. Bright, brainy spirits. Unborn, never harried by thoughts of death, that sort of a dead end for us mortals. (A light laugh.) Come brothers, if a dead man may be so bold as to call immortal spirits brothers. Come, gather around us, and I’ll tell you a tale you’ll never forget.  

 

(Spirits hurdle over the dune, squat in a circle around Kahiki‘ula and paddler. Throughout the following, we observe their mannerisms: they cackle like chicks, sniffle like piglets, scratch like monkeys. Their gestures are bug-like.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Of course you know we men are made of two kinds, men and women. (Spirits sagely nod.) Alive, I was in love with a girl, a girl I had never seen. My father the king thought me dull, half asleep. Wise sorcerers, famed kahunas, were called in to diagnose my illness and to awake me. I refused to awake! For when I was awake, the girl in my dreams was nowhere to be seen. Once I dreamed of her munching on bananas. 

 

SPIRIT 1 

People eat bananas? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

And all kind of fruits. But that is beside the point. Two guardian spirits[39] watched over the girl, shaped like old women. At times, with their crutches they pointed for me a way to her. At others, thrusting their sticks directly at me, they speared me straight to my insides. For this searing wound, only one remedy, the girl. On what island was she, in which one of the seven oceans? 

 

SPIRIT 2 

In the wrecks that reach us, men only. Tough these men, in more ways than one.

 

(Subdued titter among spirits.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Where was the girl I loved? 

 

SPIRIT 3 

What is love? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

It’s a funny feeling, like one wasn’t meant for oneself anymore but for another. 

 

SPIRIT 4 

That’s what men are for, for others than men!

 

(A shush from other spirits.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

That girl, how I yearned for her. I pined for her. 

 

SPIRIT 1 

You were hungry. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

I hungered for her! Then one day the king, my father, bid me go to farflung lands, there to seek a queen. I said yes I’d go. I thought if I’d touch at all the islands that pock the seas, at last I’d find the girl of my dreams. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

What are dreams? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

We men we know death, that is true, and you don’t. But we dream, and you don’t. Maybe to dream and to die, man’s lot, balances your own lot of no death and no dreams. We roamed through five of the seven oceans. We beached our canoe on hundreds of beaches. White sand, yellow sand, black sand. Surfs high and low. But the girl was nowhere. We sailed the sixth ocean, and only whales were brave enough to follow, consolingly nudging our hull. As we sighted the seventh ocean, stomach failed even the whales. They turned back. 

 

SPIRIT 3 

What happened? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Another island. It was lush with hala forests so thickly lashed by their roots to the soil that their cordage wove mats that hid the earth. Trails crisscrossed this jungle, made of footprints each bigger than the cozy circle we make. The footfalls had mashed trees and roots into a pulp, so heavy was the marcher. Then we saw the foot, and attached to it, the beast. A dragon. Dragons all over, big as cliffs, their skin slippery as seaweed, necks ringed like palm trunks and taller than the tallest. Tipped with a head no bigger than a sea turtle egg, but the tongue that shot out of that head, it was longer than the neck, blood-red and spear-tipped. 

 

SPIRIT 4 

They ate you? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

We didn’t make a dent in their attention. They were busy browsing on the pili grass. 

 

PADDLER 

O late chief, how well I remember the next island we reached. Tell them what we found there! 

 

SPIRIT 1  

What did we find there? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

It was rather pleasant. Witches befriended us. For us the dry hags changed themselves into saucy girls. For a while a good time was had by all. But when they danced their old bones rattled inside their young skin. There’s a limit to what witches can do. 

 

PADDLER 

And that next island, chiefly ex-man, tell them about it! 

 

(Spirits thrust heads forward in anticipation.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Old nobody, your memory fails you, just as it used to when you had a body. There was no other island. Instead a giant wave propelled by the belch of an undersea volcano sucked under our canoe. Auwē! Miles down we went, to our death, for man a major change of life. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

What is a change of life? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Another thing you don’t have, one we could do without. We men live three lives. You spirits one only. Man as he thinks of himself, taking a brave stance face to the sun, is the same who before that lived a hunched, deaf, mute and blind life, jailed in the womb, fed by the proxy of an umbilical cord. After his stretch for a while in the warmth of the day, another change, this time to the muted, lashed-in, uncertain ways of the hereafter, a womb scarcely roomier than the first. You spirits are made of one piece. Men are more like bugs. Egg, grub, bug: three in one. And us, fetus, man, ghost: three in one. 

 

SPIRIT 3 

Which do you like best to be? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Ghost of course. Our highest estate, the closest to being a spirit we’ll ever get. 

(Understanding nod from his hearers.) 

In my case though, cut short my love errand, I was not ready! So intent on reaching my goal, the girl, I hardly noticed I was dead. I threw a fit! They understood. They compromised. I was given back my form if not my substance, and my paddler’s form, together with that of my wrecked canoe. I am on leave, so to speak, until I find the girl. Then, and only then, will I be allowed to relax. How happy we both shall be in our nether land of Milu. Hand in hand, walking its fragrant groves, garlanded with maile vines.  

 

(Spirits sigh.)   

(Kahiki‘ula boldly rises. Paddler rises cautiously. Spirits open up their circle ever so little to let them pass.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

I am sorry I disappointed you. Your lookouts were not at fault. Our disguise is more than adequate.  

 

(As the two walk to the stump where the canoe rope is lashed, spirits close their circle tight in the manner of a football huddle. Nose to nose, heated whisperings, curt monkey shrieks, slow sighs. Paddler unties rope with deliberate lack of haste but with a shaky hand. Kahiki‘ula helps him.) 

 

PADDLER 

(Whisper.) You laid it on thick, quick-witted binder of spells. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA

Maybe. Much of it was made-up, but not the dream or the girl. 

(Exit paddler gathering canoe rope. Following him, Kahiki‘ula gently waves back towards huddled spirits.) 

Aloha! 

(To himself.) Poor spirits, how famished they look.  

 

(Spirits attempt an answer but “aloha” does not come easy to them. They stutter, invert syllables, get it all wrong, but anyhow wave adieu. Exit Kahiki‘ula.) 

 

SPIRIT 4 

(Musingly.) To love. 

 

SPIRIT 1 

To be born. 

 

SPIRIT 2 

To dream.  

 

HANAAUMOE 

Maybe there is more inside men than meat! 

 

(Rising murmur, weak attempt at action as some dimly realize that perhaps they have been taken in. Sound of canoe launched and rhythm of waves lapping over sand. Those half-risen squat again.) 

 

SPIRIT 3 

I am hungry. 

 

(Suddenly beats a furious tattoo with the stirring spoon against the cooking pot.) 

 

 

ACT TWO, SCENE 2: The sacred grove in Kuaihelani. Enter Uwelekī and Uwelekā from opposite sides. Meet center. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

It’s you Uwelekā! 

UWELEKĀ 

Who else! Don’t pretend!

 

(Attempted fight. Then stop sheepishly.)[40] 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Now I know I am crazy! You heard that owl? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Sure, I heard it. It hooted.   

 

UWELEKĀ 

No, no! Now it says things! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Owls can’t talk! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

That one talks as clear as I do when I talk to myself. It says, “Laukiamanuikahiki.” 

 

(Uwelekī laughs. Uwelekā feels offended.)[41] 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Soothingly.) That Laukiamanuikahiki! Wishing for her to come. Waiting in vain![42] Of course you hear her name, but you are not truly crazy. A head-kahuna could explain it all to you. (Pats Uwelekā’s stomach.) It comes from your insides. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Ogling pool crazily.) If nothing happens soon, I’ll break the taboo myself. After sixteen years, I need a bath! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Probes the tip of his spear meaningfully.) Do that! 

 

(Both exit opposite sides. Enter Laukiamanuikahiki, dressed as before. Stick with bundle on shoulder. Lays it behind a rock. Strips vine of leaves, garlands herself. Sits, feet dangling in pool.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

So this is Kuaihelani, father’s own island. Aunties were darlings. Without sail or paddle their canoe! But its nose did point straight and true for this shore. All they did was caution me to sit straight and not weigh it sidewise. So sleek, more like a sleigh than a hull! 

 

OWL 

(Close by.) Oooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

 (Without bothering to look up.) So you flew in. Well, owl, I don’t mind if I tell you: it makes me feel good to know you are here.[43] Someone I know, a friend to talk to. 

 

OWL 

Oooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

All right. Play it dumb. Still I am happy you are here.  

(She looks into the pool. Busies herself with her hair.) 

I want to be pretty to meet father. So much wind, so much spray. I look a fright! 

(She combs her hair forwards, brushing it with open fingers over her features, head down. Then she’ll brush it back, head up. The while she sings.) 

‘Ono ia a nā kūpuna, 

I‘a kaulana o ka ‘āina, 

‘Ono i ka ‘ai maka, i ka lomilomi, 

‘Ono nō i ka nahunahupū. 

Mai kali ā pau nā niho, 

Ā hala ‘ē ka Pu‘ulena. 

‘O ka wā kēia o ke ‘ono lā 

Ā e ‘ike i kuhikuhinia. 

 

(While she sings, enter Uwelekā, unnoticed. He leans over a boulder at the edge of the pool and spies at leisure on Laukiamanuikahiki. The song ended, she notices him.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Following his thoughts.) . . . and pretty too! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Aloha to you. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Aloha to both of us. Such a great criminal and pretty too. It hurts my innards to think of it. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

I am not a criminal. I am a girl. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

I have eyes. I can see you are a girl. But you are a criminal too! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Picks a flower. Puts it in her hair.) What did I do? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Not much! You wade in the sacred pool. That is taboo! You cool yourself in the shade of the hala trees. That is taboo! You strip leis off the maile vines. That is taboo! And just now I saw you, worst of all, pluck a flower sacred to the person of Laukiamanuikahiki![44]

(Enter Uwelekī.) 

(Beaming.) Meet a taboo breaker. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Glad to. What’s your name? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Laukiamanuikahiki.[45] 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Wags a finger at Laukiamanuikahiki.) She is a liar too! She just heard me say that name! Shall we kill her on the spot? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Should we spare her, our all-wise king would kill us both, and her too! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Should we kill her, you and I we’d be alone again, Uwelekā and Uwelekī, just the two of us. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Sixteen years may pass before we catch another taboo breaker. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Next time it may be a bum. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Or an old hag![46] 

 

 UWELEKĀ 

 (Gently to Laukiamanuikahiki.) You are our prisoner. We’ll tie you up. To that tree.  

 

(They tie her hands behind her back, and tether her to the tree. She slumps to the ground.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

I am hungry. 

 

(Uwelekā exits, reappears with a banana, offers it to the girl. She shakes her head disconsolately.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

You don’t like bananas? 

 

 (She nods a yes. He looks at the banana, carefully strips back its skin. She eats from his hand.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Watching. Sadly.) More fun than rats. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(A belly laugh.) What do we do with the litter! 

 

(Uwelekī gestures caution.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Meekly. Her meal over.) I wish you hadn’t tied me this way. It makes me itch. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Eagerly.) I’ll scratch you. Where? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Tip of my nose. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(As he scratches. Mournful.) We’ll kill you at sundown. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

How? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Still scratching.) First we’ll prepare a bed of red hot stones. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Don’t be a brute. We could just strangle her. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Or drown her. 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki bursts into tears.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

I can’t stand it. 

 

UWELEKĪ  

It gives one a turn. 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki quiets down. Soon she’ll sleep. Guards go into a huddle. Argue in whispers.) 

 

OWL 

(Faintly heard.) 

Eh! Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

You shall die, you shall die! 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki turns in her sleep and moans. Guards are alerted.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Say! You heard that? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Sure. It was an owl. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Did you hear what it said? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

It hooted, what else? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(A gesture of despair.) Didn’t you hear what it said? 

(Imitates owl, none too successfully.) 

Eh! Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

You shall die, you shall die! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Severely.) O Uwelekā! Quick, go see the kahuna. You are crazy all right! Owls can’t talk! 

 

OWL 

(Louder.) 

Eh! Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

You shall die, you shall die! 

 

(Uwelekā looks at Uwelekī in sweet reproach.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

I take that back. Owls may talk![47] What is it it said?

(Halting delivery, groping for memories.) 

Eh, Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

Die you shall, die you shall! 

Say, that owl, it sort of hints maybe the girl is our lord’s daughter, Laukiamanuikahiki! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Pah! Who’s going to believe an owl! Where are the tokens: the feather cloak and the head lei, the whale tooth necklace, bone bracelets and anklets? Where the paddler holding a red paddle? No, that girl is not a chiefess, but a tramp! 

 

(Laukiamanuikahiki turns and moans in her sleep. Both guards go to her. They untie her hands. They remove their tapa capes. One lays his over her. The other folds his to make a pillow for her head.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Agreed. She is a tramp. Still I don’t want her to die! 

 

UWELEKĀ  

Me neither! Could we lay hands on a red feather cloak, 

 

UWELEKĪ 

On a red head lei. . . 

 

UWELEKĀ 

On a whale tooth necklace… 

 

UWELEKĪ 

On bracelets… 

 

UWELEKĀ 

And anklets. . . 

 

UWELEKĪ 

I would chance death to save her. I would lie to our lord! 

 

UWELEKĀ[48] 

Poor girl! Would that we were the ones to say what’s what and who’s who! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(Looks offstage.)  Perhaps we are the ones! 

 

(Enter Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, with great strides.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

(Brusquely.) Any news? 

 

(Guards hastily kneel, but arrange themselves between the sleeping girl and Maki‘i‘oe‘oe.) 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Indeed, lord! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

The Owl! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

The taboo breaker! 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

(Sarcastic.) Wicked owl to break the taboo. Did it bathe in the sacred pool, strip the vine of its bark, pick the sacred flowers? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

No, lord. The girl did that! 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

(Suddenly alert.) What girl? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

The girl who came from nowhere! She bathed in the pool, cooled herself in the shade of the hala trees, stripped the maile vines, plucked a flower for her hair. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Emphatic.) She wore a red feather cloak and a red head lei, a whale-tooth necklace that big! Bone bracelets and anklets just like yours, o lord! Before bathing, she left her cloak, her necklace, her bracelets and anklets on a rock, that one there with the round yellow patch of moss. . . 

 

UWELEKĪ 

And her head lei too! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

And an owl swooped down from blue space. It was an enormous owl, that big! Its wings were that wide! The wind of its flight blew aside the hala leaves with a swish! It swooped down with claws that long! It picked up the cloak, the necklace, the bracelets and anklets. . . 

 

UWELEKĪ 

And the head lei too! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

And up it flew and vanished into the blue! It frightened us! It frightened the girl![49] She said how shy she was to meet her father without her beautiful chiefly garments. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

So we made her cozy down there, and she cried herself to sleep. 

 

(Both guards open up a passage for Maki‘i‘oe‘oe. He raises the tapa cape, takes a long look at the girl.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

(To himself.) So smooth her skin. Like the covering of the young banana shoot! I need to believe. I want to believe. But this is so obviously a made-up story.

(To guards, patiently.) Uwelekā, and you, Uwelekī, you patrolled this grove for sixteen years. It is a sacred place. It is an awesome place.[50] You both may well be tired of it. (Gently, then on a rising tempo.) Uwelekī and you, Uwelekā, suppose there should have strayed into this grove a tramp girl, a nobody, a taboo breaker! Suppose you felt pity for her, a pity added to the pity you both feel for yourselves! Suppose you saw your chance to end the long, long vigil, and also save the girl, by the simple expedient of lying to your lord! 

(Most forceful.) Would you both be villainous enough, would you both be rebellious enough to make up that tale of a thieving owl, to hatch full-grown out of your miserable lowborn skulls a bird that big! With claws that sharp! And so try and fool the one who has right of life and death over both you and the girl? What kind of a death may prove slow and horrible enough to fit such a terrible and rebellious crime! 

 

(Both guards tremble violently and from their kneeling position flatten themselves on the ground. The girl is awake now. From behind the hala trunk she observes[51] Maki‘i‘oe‘oe.) 

 

 MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

 (Again gently.) Bring me one single red feather blown off that chiefly cloak, or a gray one shed by your giant owl, show me a scratch of its claw on the rock––that one there, with its yellow patch of moss––and I swear neither you nor the girl shall die! Rise! Start searching!  

 

(Both guards dejectedly mimic an intense search, look up into the foliage, crawl under rocks, gaze in and around the pool.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

 (To himself.) How proud a king I was sixteen years ago! So conceited I believed[52] the gods would run my errands! When Hina begged for a token, I refused! Let the gods provide! Since that day I have had many occasions to probe deeper into the ways of gods. Not as straightforward theirs as the ways of kings. A yes or no is not in their nature. Shall I ever know my daughter when and if she comes! Could I guess sixteen years ago that a devouring thirst would grow in me to meet at least once before I die the one child I ever conceived from love, Laukiamanuikahiki! 

 

(Guards dejectedly return. Kneel.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

 (To guards.) No feather, red or gray! Not a single scratch on that rock! For all of us here, it is bad luck indeed! Take the tramp girl with you. Surrender her and yourselves to my bodyguards.[53] At dawn I shall decide your fate! 

 

 (Uwelekī and Uwelekā,[54] the girl held between them, exit.[55] As she exits, Laukiamanuikahiki turns towards the king as if to say something, desists. Left alone, Maki‘i‘oe‘oe checks the surroundings as if he too was looking for a scratch or a feather. He finds the stick with the bundle instead.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

A tramp girl! A taboo breaker! 

 

(Violently discards stick and bundle. Exit.) 

 

 

ACT TWO, SCENE 3: Courtyard in the royal compound, Kuaihelani. Stage right, we look inside a fenced-in enclosure, its only means of access a very low aperture. Inside, the three prisoners. Asleep in a heap, Uwelekī and Uwelekā snore in two different keys. Laukiamanuikahiki leans against the fence, wide awake.

Stage left, an armed sentinel. He dozes upright, leaning on his spear. Perched atop the fence, directly over Laukiamanuikahiki, Owl. Strong moonlight.  

 

OWL 

(Flaps wings.) Cock-a-doodle-doo! 

 

SENTINEL 

(Suddenly alert. Rubs eyes, shakes head.) Dawn already, I must have fallen asleep! Why didn’t they relieve me?[56] I’ll go see. 

 

(Exits.) 

 

OWL 

Eh! Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

You shall die! You shall die! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Loose-mouthed owl! To call people by name is not polite. Or to mention their father’s name or their mother’s name! And it is unfriendly to tell friends they are going to die![57] 

 

OWL 

Eh! Child of the owl, eh! 

Mothered by a hala blossom! 

Fathered by a war club! 

Must you die! Must you die! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

That is better. Of course I don’t want to die, but, now that I found father, should he prove mean enough to wish me dead, then maybe I’d want to die. 

 

OWL 

You forget your name, child: Snare-that-Lures-a-Farflung-Bird. To catch your bird, you must live![58] 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Loose-mouthed owl! I met no more men on father’s island than in mother’s forest![59] Uwelekī and Uwelekā are silly darlings, but I wouldn’t care to string leis for them! 

 

OWL 

String me one! Oooooh! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

When you joke, you make me cry. That farflung bird, if he doesn’t appear right here and now, I think I’ll die of boredom.[60] They won’t even have to kill me! 

 

OWL 

Shush! He is on his way, silly. Shush! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Making fun again! 

 

OWL 

Not this time, child, not this time! (Exit owl, ducking behind fence.) 

 

(Maki‘i‘oe‘oe enters furtively, wrapped in dun-color tapa with no sign of rank, his features hid under a scarf. Roughly he pulls Laukiamanuikahiki out of the pen and into the yard. She does not resist. King squats center stage, legs crossed. Pulls her down in front of him, holding her against his chest in his arms. Both face the spectators. She does not try to turn and look at him.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Quietly.) Are you going to kill me? 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE 

I should, but I cannot. Those two idiot guards are not clever at making up stories. Even less artful at telling them.[61] And yet I, their king, have decided that I shall be fooled!

Girl, were you afraid when you saw the giant owl? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

There was no giant owl. You know that. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Girl, did you cry when you lost your feather cloak, your head lei, your necklace, your bracelets, and anklets? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

There was no cloak or lei. No necklace. No bracelets or anklets. Only what I have on, a piece of rough tapa cloth. And a bundle of provisions mother packed for me. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE   

(Emphatic.) You lie! There were red feathers galore and chiefly bones aplenty, treasures worthy of a king’s daughter. And I saw the giant owl.[62]

Girl, were you afraid to meet your father without the tokens? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

I was so eager to meet my father I didn’t even give a thought to tokens! To meet him the sooner, I would have ripped off my poor tapa skirt, even to the last shred! And faced him lovingly! 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Those are words worthy of a longed-for daughter. For you shall be, from now on, my daughter, by name Laukiamanuikahiki. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

I am Laukiamanuikahiki. 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Of course. Didn’t I say so! Why wait for some other Laukiamanuikahiki, when to wait could prove to be in vain.[63]

 

OWL  

(Reappears on fence.) Cock-a-doodle-doo! 

 

 (Maki‘i‘oe‘oe hastily rises. Gently pushes the girl back towards the pen. She enters, leans against fence.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

Dawn already. Wait, while I summon my chiefs to share in the joy of this most auspicious happening.[64] 

 

(Exit Maki‘i‘oe‘oe.)

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

(Inside the pen.) You are a wicked owl, Owl. I have a rather nice father, if somewhat headstrong. You should not make fun of him! I haven’t slept a wink. I’d better. . . 

 

(As she goes to sleep, Uwelekī and Uwelekā awake.) 

 

OWL 

Feel free! Feel free![65] 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Uwelekā, you heard the owl. Maybe what it hints at is that there are no guards left out there! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Pah! An owl got us into this fix. Ain’t going to trust owls no more! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Let’s go see. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Let’s 

(They go to door on all fours, peek cautiously out.)  No guards out here! 

 

(They start to crawl out, but on hearing offstage voice, desist.) 

 (Offstage, Kahiki‘ula’s voice, chanting.)[66]  

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Paddling through seven oceans, 

Gliding over many surfs, 

Beached on sands black or white, 

With love my sole spur and aim! 

A bitter lot mine, to love 

The one woman who is not there! 

 

(Enter Kahiki‘ula, holding the red paddle.)

 

Love is more filling than food 

And more needed than breath! 

A chief over chiefs is love! 

Love is a king over kings! 

It commands from dawn to dusk. 

It is obeyed from dusk to dawn! 

 

I feel chilled to the marrow. 

The dew hardens to frost. 

Would my search end here? 

Is this the turn of the path? 

Is this the truth of the dream? 

Love unanswered wells in tears! 

 

OWL 

(On fence, in a whisper to itself.)[67] The bird flew in. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Paddler is guarding the canoe.[68] His paddle came handy to slap open the brush. (Looks about.) One more island. Of all kinds there were. Some peopled by men, some by spirits. (A smile.) Or by witches or by dragons! This island, what peoples it? 

 

OWL 

(To Kahiki‘ula.) Hoohoo, Bird from Kahiki! 

 

(Kahiki‘ula looks for speaker. Locates it on fence.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

(To himself.) So, this is an island of talking birds. (To Owl.) You got me wrong, sir. I am by name Kahiki‘ula, come all the way from Kahiki.[69] I am a man, not a bird. You are. 

 

OWL 

So are you, but you don’t know it. Hoohoo! 

 

(Exits.) 

(Kahiki‘ula shrugs. On stage blue moonlight is giving way to rosy dawn. Uwelekī and Uwelekā come out of the pen on all fours, rush to Kahiki‘ula.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Save us, great lord. We are as good as dead! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Or worse! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

We lied to our lord. . . 

 

UWELEKĪ 

. . . to save the girl.[70] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Just a moment. Natives here, are they men? Are they birds? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Mostly men.[71] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

I see. Well, I have time to spare. On with your story. 

 

(He sits. Guards kneel on both sides.) 

 

UWELEKĀ 

It all began with that owl. It said. . . 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

In my Kahiki owls don’t talk! However, customs vary. Proceed! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

(To Uwelekā.) Let me tell it! I tell it better than you! You always forget the lei. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(To Uwelekī.) Pah, I tell it better than you! You get all mixed up! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Why not tell it together then! 

 

(They chant together, not much in unison, and for the last line each holds to his own version.) 

 

BOTH 

Eh! Laukiamanuikahiki, eh! 

Daughter of Maki‘i‘oe‘oe, 

Daughter of Hina, 

(Together.)

You shall die! You shall die! (Uwelekā) 

Die you shall! Die you shall! (Uwelekī)

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Your owl can talk. But it is quite obvious it can’t sing. Then what?[72]

 

UWELEKĀ

That’s all! All that happened! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

But not all we told our lord! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

To live, the girl needed to show tokens.[73]  

 

UWELEKĪ 

So we said the owl swooped down and stole them![74] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Did your lord see the tokens? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

There were no tokens. 

 

UWELEKĪ 

We made them up! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Tokens may turn up yet. At times the gods do help people who mean well, especially those who are not very bright. 

(An understanding nod from both.) 

Where is the girl now? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

(Points to pen.) Asleep in there. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

I doubt your lord wishes you well. Would you prefer a new master?[75] 

(Both nod heads forcefully.) 

Go to the sea then. There is a beached canoe, a red one. An old paddler dozes inside it. Awake him and tell him Kahiki‘ula sends you. (To Uwelekā.) Your name? 

 

UWELEKĀ 

Uwelekā. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Lord Uwelekā, I now appoint you my war counselor. You shall take charge of men, weapons, logistics by land and sea. 

 

UWELEKĀ 

But…[76] (Knocks disconsolately on head.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

You are just fine for the post. We’ll have no wars in my Kahiki! And you. . .

 

UWELEKĪ 

Uwelekī. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Chief Uwelekī, you are to supervise all affairs of concern to my wives: lodging, food, clothing, entertainment, and so forth! 

 

UWELEKĪ 

But…[77] (Same gesture as Uwelekā.)

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

You’ll do fine! I am still a bachelor! Go! 

 

(Both guards exit. Laukiamanuikahiki, awake now, comes out of the pen.) 

 

OWL 

(Sotto voce, to itself.) The snare is sprung! The bird is caught! 

 

(They notice each other.)[78] 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Flawless! She glows like the full moon! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Flawless! Straight as a cliff, his back! 

 

(They walk towards each other.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

How beautiful you are! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

How beautiful you are. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

This is the turn of the path. 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

This is the truth of the dream. 

 

(They embrace. It is a long embrace.) 

 

OWL 

(Chanted.) 

The chief met a chiefess 

As princely as he is, 

As lonely as he is, 

As lovely as he is. 

Beauty matches beauty! 

 

The princess met a youth 

As chiefly as she is, 

As lonely as she is, 

As lovely as she is. 

Both love. Both are happy! 

 

 (End of embrace.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Do you come from far away? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

From the most faraway of farflung islands: Kahiki! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Then you are my bird! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA  

If you wish me a bird, a bird I’ll be! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Do I look like a snare? 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

If you are a snare, then indeed I demand to be a bird. I stand by my right to be caught! Feather by feather you’d pluck me, and I’d sing for joy all the way! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

These bracelets and anklets, how smooth! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

They are yours. Father swore these bones had power.[79] He was right. Power enough they have, if they please you! 

 

(Puts bracelets and anklets on Laukiamanuikahiki’s wrists and ankles.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

What majestic necklace! 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Father’s pride, and before him, his father’s pride. Instead of whale ivory, would that it be the tusk of some landlocked dragon, to be rarer and more worthy of you! 

 

(Ties necklace at her neck.) 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

How red your lei! 

 

(She takes it off his head, puts it on her own.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

When you are done with me, love, I’ll truly be a plucked bird. You overlooked a few feathers. 

(Opens his cloak. She snuggles under it. He slides it from his shoulders to hers. His only clothing now is the red loin cloth.) 

What is your name? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Laukiamanuikahiki. 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Laukiamanuikahiki: Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird![80] Hello, snare! 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

Hello, bird! 

 

(Embrace.) 

 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Should I meet your father or guardian before I take you with me? 

 

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI 

If we are to sail, the tide just now should be right. Why delay? 

 

 (Kahiki‘ula picks up his paddle. As they exit, enter Maki‘i‘oe‘oe in full regalia, attended by warriors and kahili bearers. He stops in his tracks, brusquely motions his retinue to a stop.) 

 

MAKI‘I‘OE‘OE  

All the time it was she. Sixteen years ago,[81] I demanded tokens from the gods. Here they are, every single one, even to the paddler holding a red paddle! Would that I had only asked for my daughter!

How very much in love they are! Be he a god, a paddler, or a king, why intrude! Already daughter has forgotten the father she hardly knew! 

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

auwē, expression of grief or astonishment. 

 

hala, pandanus 

 

kahili, ceremonial fly-whisk 

 

kahuna, priest, expert

 

kālua, to cook in an earth oven

 

kupuna, grandparent.  Plural: kūpuna

 

lehua, flower of ‘ōhi‘a tree

 

lei, necklace or circlet of flowers or leaves 

 

malo, loincloth 

 

ōla‘a, plant

 

pā‘ū, skirt 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Jean Charlot’s intense interest in theater stimulated him to use that medium to express his ideas about Hawaiian culture (John Charlot 1977, 1998).  He first published three all-English plays (1963) and began working on two plays in Hawaiian and English, which were eventually published (1976).  One of these was Laukiamanuikahiki, Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird, which was produced on May 25, 1964.  At the same time, a longer version of the same subject was being drafted, a section of which was extracted and produced on May 11–16, 1964, under the title Spirit Island. 

The longer, English-language version of Laukiamanuikahiki––published here for the first time––was started as a movie script.  The earliest draft is headed:

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI

MOVIE SCRIPT.

(ROUGHS.)

HAWAIIAN–ENGLISH

The nineteen-page typescript has manuscript changes by Charlot’s and one other hand, probably that of Charlot’s teacher of Hawaiian, Samuel H. Elbert. 

The second draft divides the Hawaiian and English passages, headed, respectively: “Script Movie. Hawaiian Only” (eight pages) and “Script Movie –– English Only” (eleven pages). 

The third draft is all English:

LAUKIAMANUIKAHIKI

(SCRIPT.)

ENGLISH

This typescript is eighteen pages long with three loose pages at the end on which Charlot is working on chants.  This draft is meant to be all-English, with no Hawaiian passages other than possible chants.  The next step was to lengthen the play mainly by inserting the scenes of Kahiki‘ula with his father and on Spirit Island.  This process must have started in 1964 because Spirit Island was produced in May of that year. 

Charlot then produced what he called Text C of sixty-three pages.  The Kahiki‘ula scenes have been added; in fact, a copy of Spirit Island is attached to the end of the typescript.  On February 20, 1965, Charlot sent this version to Newell Tarrant, who had helped with Charlot’s English-language Na‘auao in 1962.  

Dear Newell,

Here is the play I mentioned.  In case it interests you enough to consider putting it on the stage, some of the cast of Hawaiian actors already exists, as it is the same theme that the play given at Punahou had, although here greatly enlarged.  The musical parts could be adapted from the tape recording of that other play’s Hawaiian chants, and costumes, feather cloaks and bone necklaces are stored in your costume Dept. since the days of Na‘auao.

Anyhow, thank you for volunteering to read it.  I hope to hear from you. 

An Aloha

Charlot already had a few manuscript changes on the typescript and had indicated points at which audiotapes of the Hawaiian-English production could be used.  Tarrant made notes in the margins and added seven small sheets of notes. 

Charlot then produced the sixty-three-page Text D: “text w. additions from the Hawaiian version.”  Charlot made many manuscript changes and added chants.  A later note indicates that this work was done in 1967. 

This text is probably the basis of the clean copy or version made in 1973.  One copy has the note in Charlot’s hand: “June / 67 to 12 –– 1973.”  Typed on the title page is: “preliminary version/copyright Jean Charlot 1973.”  The version was considered preliminary because Charlot was expecting that many changes would be made in the course of production, as had occurred with his two other plays.  Charlot then worked on two copies of this version.  The earlier has a small number of changes, many of which were overruled later.  The later has many changes, and these lines were added to the title page: “with manuscript corrections/This is the final version.” 

In editing, I have looked at both the earlier and later working copies of the 1973 text.  I have used the later one as the primary text and accepted almost all of its changes.  I have noted the most important manuscript changes from the 1973 typescript.

All the materials referred to in this note are held by the Jean Charlot Collection, Hamilton Library, University of Hawai‘i, and have been posted on the web site of the Jean Charlot Foundation: jeancharlot.org. 

Edited by John Charlot

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jean Charlot

Three Plays of Ancient Hawaii.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1963. 

Laukiamanuikahiki, Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird: A Bilingual Playlet, Hawaiian–English.  Honolulu: privately printed, 1964. 

Spirit Island, One act play taken from the English Laukiamanuikahiki, Snare that Lures a Farflung Bird.  (Produced: John F. Kennedy Laboratory Theatre, May 11–16, 1964.) 

Two Hawaiian Plays: Hawaiian English.  Honolulu: published by the author, distributed by the University Press of Hawaii, 1976.  (Contents: Laukiamanuikahiki, Snare–That–Lures–a–Farflung bird; Na Lono Elua, Two Lonos.)  

John Charlot 

“Les piŹces dramatiques en langue hawaēenne de Jean Charlot.” Journal de la Société des Océanistes 33, no. 54–55 (Mars–Juin 1977): 65–75.   

“Jean Charlot's Hawaiian-Language Plays.” Rongorongo Studies 8, no. 1 (1998): 3–24. 

 

 



[1] Cut: on a background textured as rock. 

[2] Original: late forties. 

[3] Cut: intense…large. 

[4] Cut: Of chiefly blood to rate such pomp. 

[5] Cut: farsighted. 

[6] Cut: Before she comes, she’s got to be born. 

[7] Changed to: a lifetime. 

[8] Cut: How well you know. 

[9] Cut: by name. 

[10] Original: Show me the men in our woods. Oh! For a man to match the beauty of my leis!

[11] Original: their hands close early around the tapa stick. 

[12] Changed to: lengthen. 

[13] Original: He said the gods would provide! 

[14] Cut: then. 

[15] Cut: These tokens should be more than enough! 

[16] Replaces: dying. 

[17] Cut: ’Tis said of the fish, the birds, the sea, that all these are closer to you than women.  ’Tis even said you have known no woman. 

[18] Cut: idleness never was a king’s lot. 

[19] Original: Again rival chiefs would vie at bribing us. 

[20] Original: small. 

[21] Cut: so. 

[22] Original: alike. 

[23] Original: Aunties, don’t try to stop me. 

[24] Original: and I am not just a bird either! 

[25] Original: What you see in. 

[26] Cut: just. 

[27] Original: Enough said or too much, heroic tenderfoot. But what of witches? 

[28] Cut: The thought of witches makes me fidget, lowborn babbler. 

[29] Cut: Enough said or too much, king-to-come. 

[30] Original: The dynasty would suffer. 

[31] Original: crafted to orient the nose of our hull straight for some crooked shores. 

[32] Original:

Wherever that may be, let’s get there quick and get it over with! 

 

(Paddler resumes paddling. Kahiki‘ula, standing at the prow, chart in hand, scans the horizon.) 

 

[33] Original: infested with owls. Never heard any before! 

[34] Cut: Hearing with Hina’s ear. 

[35] Cut: Now I am deaf. 

[36] Replaces: reaches. 

[37] Cut: all belong to her and. 

[38] Cut:

And not a glimpse of one! 

UWELEKĪ 

Not even in a dream! 

 

[39] Replaces: spirit guardians. 

[40] Cut:

BOTH 

Stop it!

(Both stop. They look sheepish.) 

UWELEKĀ 

All my good humor is gone. Now I know I am crazy! You heard the owl? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Sure. It said Oooooh! Just to humor you, Uwelekā! 

 

UWELEKĀ 

I wish it had. Oooh! Hooo. . . What’s the difference! No, now I hear it say things! 

 

[41] Cut: (Attempted fight. They make up.) 

[42] Original: Waiting, wishing for her to come and relieve us from our watch. 

[43] Original: good to have you with me here. 

[44] Cut: That is taboo most of all! 

[45] Cut:

UWELEKĪ 

(Unbelieving.) Show me your feather cloak and your red head lei, your whale tooth necklace, your bracelets and anklets! Where is the red paddler holding a red paddle? 

 

[46] Cut:

UWELEKĀ 

Suppose she escapes, would our lord notice? 

 

UWELEKĪ 

Suppose she escapes, we’d be alone as sure as if she was dead. Just the two of us, Uwelekī and Uwelekā!

 

[47] Replaces: All right. I take some of it back. Owls may talk! Well, this one seems to anyhow! 

[48] Cut: Feather cloaks hang from chiefs’ shoulders, and whale tooth necklaces from their necks. Out of reach! 

[49] Cut: She was crying. 

[50] Cut: Its trees, its vines, its flowers, its rocks even, how they strain towards the day when the expected one shall come. Soaked for sixteen years in this unease. 

[51] Replaces: looks intensely at. 

[52] Replaces: never doubted that. 

[53] Cut: You shall be kept prisoners overnight. 

[54] Cut: surrender their spears to the king. 

[55] Cut: heads bowed. 

[56] Cut: They should have hours ago! 

[57] Replaces: Loose-mouthed owl! Don’t you know it is not polite to call people by name for all to hear! And to mention their father’s name. And their mother’s name! And it is not nice at all to tell friends that they shall die! 

 

[58] Replaces: You forget, child. There is power in your name, Laukiamanuikahiki: Snare-that-Lures-a-Farflung-Bird. Catch your bird and you’ll want to live! 

 

[59] Replaces: Now you are more loose-mouthed than ever, Owl! I don’t know why I think of you as a friend! I met no more boys on father’s island than in mother’s forest! 

[60] Replaces: When you joke, you make me cry. You said that farflung bird in my name was no bird but a man. Where is he? If he doesn’t come right now I think I’ll die of boredom. 

[61] Cut: They leave telltale clues behind. 

[62] Cut: Who would dare to contradict me! 

[63] Replaces: Of course. Didn’t I decide it is so! I need you badly daughter. I am glad you came at last! Why wait for some other Laukiamanuikahiki, when the wait could be in vain.

I thank the gods I now hold my daughter in my arms! 

 

[64] Replaces: Dawn is at hand! It would not do to be seen in this disguise. 

[65] Replaces: No guard here! No guard here!

                        Come out! Come out! 

[66] Cut: Enters as the chant is halfway through. Holds the red paddle.) 

[67] Cut: in a whisper.)  The snare is set. 

[68] Replaces: After our last adventure, paddler chose to stay close to the canoe. No blame attached! 

[69] Replaces: The Red One from Kahiki. 

[70] Cut:

UWELEKĀ 

Auwē! The story we made up wasn’t a very good story. 

UWELEKĪ 

We didn’t tell it very good either. (Points to Uwelekā.) He forgot about the lei! 

 

[71] Replaces: Mostly people, more or less like us. 

[72] Cut:

UWELEKĪ 

It did it somewhat smoother, more owl-like! 

KAHIKI‘ULA 

Then what? 

[73] Replaces:

UWELEKĀ 

We knew the girl needed tokens: a red feather cloak, a whale tooth necklace, bone bracelets and anklets. 

UWELEKĪ 

A head lei. 

[74] Cut: Our lord didn’t believe us. 

[75] Replaces: After what happened, I doubt your lord wants you around, live or dead! Would you consider a new master?

[76] Replaces: But, sir, like you said, I am not very strong in there! 

[77] Replaces: But, sir, in there (knocks on head) I am a little bit like Uwelekā. 

[78] Replaces: (They pay no attention to Owl, as they notice each other.) 

[79] Replaces: I am glad father made me wear them. He said these bones had power. 

[80] Cut: A bird from farflung Kahiki! 

[81] Replaces: In my pride, sixteen years ago.