BY GLANVILLE SMITH
SOMEBODY or other has said that it is better to be lucky than wise, which pernicious truth I am happy to illustrate in my own person.
Equally true, I hope, is the saying that the lucky in this life were consciously wise in another. If ever that astute guess is verified I shall be able to congratulate myself on being the reincarnation of some very clever man. Not that I try my luck recklessly in slot machines or the stock market — heavens, no! Such ticklish enterprises the wisdom of my precursor teaches me intuitively to shun. I see my luck, rather, in a subtler and a grander kind of good fortune; for example, the good fortune of being able to travel in my young days without having earned that privilege in any really tedious, or long, or unpleasantly sweaty way. What luck! I am almost ashamed of it, and beg your pardon very humbly, gentle reader.
But it is not my fault. I am helpless in the toils of my good fortune, off again with bags packed and my brow already burnt by the tropic sun, bound this time for the ends of the earth. And on the way I have already seen Kona and Maui, and other parts of Eden, and filled my brain with their songs and scents and colors, for which riches I have the grace to be thankful.
Perhaps your geography is better than mine was before I actually drove down to the Kona coast, or disembarked on Maui, and so you will know not only where these places are but what they are like. I was hazy on the subject, and perhaps you are too, and for this reason I shall explain that Maui is one of the eight Hawaiian Islands, and that Kona is the west district of Hawaii proper. Thus neither place is really very remote. The threecent stamp that carries a letter from St. Louis to East. St. Louis would carry it quite as well to Kona, and the citizens of Maui pay the same taxes into the same hungry federal treasury as are paid by the citizens of Ohio. In fact, going to Kona or Maui is going no place at all if you insist on passports and customs inspection, fleas, and plumbing that either does not work at all or explodes at a touch. For Hawaii voluntarily attached itself to, and was accepted into, the American Union before I was born, just as Texas was, and so is no foreign place, but merely another part of our own familiar U. S. A.
Copyright 1935, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. All rights reserved.
And yet how deliciously strange Hawaii is. I think first of Kona and Maui, for my mind turns naturally to things rural and unsophisticated, which it is best suited to enjoy. But Honolulu, in spite of its cosmopolitan life, fashionable society, and driving business energies, must startle even an indifferent visitor with its strangeness. Where is he decked with fragrant garlands when his ship docks but at Honolulu? Where does the band invariably play upon the same occasion but there? The ship is perfumed from stern to stern with the scent of ginger lilies, and he walks out into a pavilion hung with ferns.
If you have ever docked in New York you will have observed an instructive contrast. In New York the returning patriot is dumped out into a gloomy warehouse, and met by all the incivilities of some civil servant who has missed his breakfast at the far end of a subway ride. Patriotism does not thrive in such an atmosphere. Honolulu sets the stage more wisely. The suspicious may think they can trace the hand of the Chamber of Commerce in these pretty doings, but what of it? Let those responsible be thanked. When Louis XIV entered Rheims and was met by a delegation bearing baskets of gingerbread and wines, and the spokesman knelt and said, ‘Sire, we bring you for a gift our wines, our gingerbread, and our hearts,’ the King knew very well that those proffered hearts were not wholly disinterested. But he commended the exquisite brevity of the oration in high good humor, and never forgot that reception, because it was planned delightfully.
Or, for another Honolulu surprise, here was the Central Grammar School at noon recess. The place and hour you would not call encouraging; they suggest a flinty field adjacent to a brick jail in which the bones of pedagogy have only temporarily ceased to rattle. What I saw was no such picture; instead I was reminded of Fra Angelico’s visions of heaven. There was no gritty field, but fine turf, with the boys playing barefoot football on it like dancers trained in the ballet. The girls chased, or sat beautifully in rings. And other troops of the blest, both male and female cherubs, climbed or descended staircases from flowery inner courts, or passed from building to building in vine-hung arcades. Blossoming trees loomed over and sheltered all. And, most remarkable, nobody seemed to be in charge. The children seemed to move or group themselves according to innate notions of rhythm and design; this it was, of course, that reminded me of the old monk’s visions of paradise, where the traffic laws coincide with the laws of beauty, and no policeman with a whistle is needed to enforce them, because they are the angels’ pleasure.
A political rally in Honolulu likewise has much in it of wonder. And again the name is misleading: it conjures up in the mainlander’s brain a picture of shirt sleeves, frayed cigars, and a not-clean glass and pitcher to wet throats rasped out of all melody. The Hawaiian candidate need not hoarsen his throat promising bread and circuses, but may devote himself to the former; the circuses he provides on the spot. He comes with a band of dancers, singers, and instrumental musicians dressed in the sultriest of pinks and yellows, in silken Mother Hubbards with trains. And the party, Democratic or Republican, will have a band of its own already on the premises. As for the voters, those good-humored, friendly, simple, clean, likable people, they attire themselves in their niftiest and jam the place, flowers in their hair, garlands around their hats, babies in their arms, ready for a treat. The lights twinkle, the scent of ginger lilies fills the air, occasionally there is a dog fight, and very frequently the ladies of the orchestra will abruptly strike the guitars and ukuleles that quiver in their ample jelly-like laps, and break into song like a choir of happy screech owls. Then there will be a hula. All this very much sweetens the inevitable speech making, and if the speaker proves to be a dullard you can forget him, as I did at Kakaako, in a private game of drop-the-handkerchief with a near-by Japanese tot who also had grown bored.
But the speeches are not likely to be dull, especially in a poor district of the city like Kakaako, where judgment is not so much appealed to as the more ticklish and vulnerable fibres of the brain. One old hand at this, a master showman, was John Sing; he spoke first in ringing Hawaiian, then English, and finished off in Portuguese. All three efforts were a success, but the Portuguese part, probably delivered with a strong Chinese accent, must have been a masterpiece; the crowd nearly died of laughter at it, and I suspect that so far as Kakaako is concerned John Sing is an elected man.
Meanwhile, from the audience, up went portly Hawaiian ladies one after another to cast garlands about the necks of their favorites, until the more popular candidates had to be led out like blind men, the leis had mounted so high before their faces. A political rally in Honolulu, in fact, is an event not to be missed. I suggest earnestly that the tourist season be advanced from winter to autumn, to permit visitors to enjoy the campaign.
I was born and have lived my life for the most part at the edge of the Great Plains, which has given me a taste for landscapes of simple line and broad mass. The picturesque niggling kind, of ‘humps and hollers,’ entertains but soon tires me. And in a city, where everything is in the foreground, I am wearied all the sooner. However, ‘bury me not on the lone prairee’; I am no hermit, who must have the whole of the great open spaces to himself; in fact, I like a little company. Life in a village is what suits me best, as four years in New York followed by four in Cold Spring, Minnesota, have very plainly demonstrated. Thus Kona suited my fancy. My windows at the airy Kona Inn opened toward sea and mountain, both grandly spacious, and from them I could see the island fishermen casting their nets, or the loitering traffic of the village street.
Kona’s mountain has soul-awing strength of repose. I saw only the flank of it, day after day, which was probably quite enough for mortal eyes — a grand terrain nowhere steep, nowhere vexed with ravines or valleys (for it is built on porous lava that absorbs all rainfall), rising in one slow inexorable plane from sea to clouds, like a ramp to heaven. Now I hope to go to heaven at last, but in Kona I was content to stay at the bottom of the ramp. Kailua, the village, was heavenly enough for the present. However, seated on the wharf there, it was pleasure to contemplate that sure route to our final bliss. Beyond the cove were the sea wall and the village street, the old palace, the red church steeple, bursts of coconut leaves and the broad green domes of the banyan or monkey-pod trees, and then the mountain ramp right up into the clouds. And where the mountain and the cloud met, pinched in between and inexpressibly remote, were silver bits that were roofs of plantation houses, where the coffee growers live. And above the plantations (I knew) were grazing lands that the clouds hid, and still nearer heaven was the wreckage of old volcanic upheavals, twisted rock and cinder beds, in which solemn upland the wild goats and sheep browse, and men, even native Konans, lose their way and perish. Kona’s ramp is perhaps not intended, after all, for man’s use in climbing to heaven; my first thought I presently saw to be presumptuous. It is made, rather, for the chariots of the chief gods.
Kailua, however, was a place made for this traveler. At night I strolled the one long street, which is at its best and friendliest where it follows the curve of the cove sea wall. The sampans at anchor in the cove swung their yellow lanterns in bobbing arcs; the other way the town’s few shops opened back from deep verandahs like cardboard caves lit twinklingly at a fair. There are no street lights in Kailua to outshine these glimmers and twinkles; a tropic moon or even half-moon does quite well enough, and is artfully in key.
Very soon down the moon-gloomy street came two Hawaiians, one with a guitar, one with a ukulele, singing in small sweet yodeling voices quite unlike the Republican screech owls of Kakaako. Now I identify myself as best I can with the common life of a place, wistfully if I can do no more (for I am no good at ostentatious intrusion), and thus, when the boys after a while sat down on the sea wall, so did I, at a distance, to learn some tunes if I could hear them. I learned my tunes, too, though the surf noise broke in upon the music, which was of a private quiet kind. And when I looked out at the sampans or up at the moon it all seemed wonderfully harmonious and pleasant.
Before long the white dog that guarded the beached outrigger canoes below, having given me a careful look, decided that I was all right and jumped up and lay down beside me, so that it was handy for the stranger to scratch behind his ears, which I was glad to do. Meanwhile the singers were joined by some fishermen and a woman with a baby; the songs grew louder. One boy in bathing drawers began to dance in the moonlight; then he took the ukulele and struck it with a master hand. Henceforth he was the leader of the music. This allowed one of the original singers to detach himself from the group, and with unexpected kindness he joined me ‘to make my friendship,’ as he very directly and plainly said.
It put me in a twitter. We talked about the sampans; he told me who owned each of them and that the owner of the far one was a one-legged man; then we compared the canoes of Minnesota and Hawaii. And I learned how a kind Japanese had cured my friend the white dog of an exhausting complaint, and had repaired a much-lacerated ear belonging to the same patient.
When the fishermen went home at last, and the woman with the sleeping baby, and the concert was over, my friend the boy and his friend strolled back to the inn with me, singing what English songs they knew so that I could join in. Their instruments thump-thump-thumped in the old faithful chords, the moon shone, and down the winding street came the two brown boys and one mahalini (stranger), pink with pleasure. We went into the shade of the banyan singing, and came out singing into the moonlight on the far side, and so away between the banks of moonstruck flowers; and if ever I forget Kailua or the friendliness of its sea wall that night I shall have grown a very sour fellow indeed.
Among other things my friend Sam had told me on the sea wall was that he had just started work that morning, and was very glad to have a job again after long idleness. It was upsetting to be reminded of jobs just then, for jobs arc not properly a Hawaiian institution at all, but (like sin) were introduced when the missionaries and white men came to improve things. But I congratulated him, and next morning was much surprised at ten o’clock to find him seated under the banyan tree eating a dish of ice cream. ‘ Can’t work all the time; got to take a day off sometime,’ he explained, licking the spoon. This wrung a laugh from me. I was delighted. I saw then and there that the white man’s serpents are after all not yet at home in Eden, and that I might return some other year to Kailua and still hear singing at night by the cove sea wall.
I must not boast a knowledge of Hawaiian history, though it is short enough, heaven knows, for even a lazy brain to encompass. But in Kona the few scraps of that knowledge I did have were so integrated and made alive that I was almost won to believing myself a master of the subject, if not in facts, at least in sympathy.
At Kealakekua, in Kona, is the Hawaiian Avalon, a cliff that rises from the sea, in whose crannies the bones of prehistoric demigods were hidden. At either end of the cliff, where it dies again into the slowly ascending terrain usual in Kona, is a short beach. On the southern of these two beaches yet stands the masonry platform on which Captain Cook, attired in a sacred feather cloak, was worshiped, while his seamen put on an indeed godlike display of fireworks from the vessels in the bay. On the northern beach he was murdered, and fell struggling into the waters of the ocean he had explored more grandly than any other navigator. The effect of the fireworks had worn off; his seamen had been found to be not only mortal — one died — but a nuisance; when he sought gently enough to kidnap the pitiful old king as a hostage against the return of a stolen boat, animosity flared, and, without any official plan having been laid, he was slain.
But the slain god seemed to renew his divinity. Once a chief had asked the captain where he should be buried. To this unexpected question he without hesitation had replied, ‘Stepney,’ which was his home parish in London. It was a false prophecy. His flesh was burned with heathen rites on an island that homelike prosaic Stepney had not yet even heard of, and his bones — except those few the ship’s officers with great difficulty were able to procure for Christian sea burial — were decked in the sacred feathers of the o-o bird, and hid in the cliff crannies with the bones of other island demigods.
From Kealakekua in later days sailed a whaler with a native boy aboard; the boy never saw Hawaii again, but was taken in by New Englanders, and became a Christian. He it was who urged missionary enterprise in Hawaii, and thus he is a very important cog in the wheel of island history. The missionaries came, armed with many noble qualities and intentions, and came to stay.
It is very idle to imagine that Hawaii might have had a happier or more natural history. Civilization was bound to touch and change it; and I must say that the touch of these paternalistic missionary families has brought a blossom rather than a blight with it, as can plainly be seen on the great plantations where cottages bowered in flowers, amply staffed hospitals, libraries, schools, playing fields, are all freely enjoyed by the laborers, together with certainty of work and pay in and out of season. Another sign of health is the infinite pride the people of Hawaii take in these great families, to which they owe so much. They are always admiring them. First you will be reminded that Hawaii is not controlled by a few, which I do believe is truer than some mainland economists are willing to concede — it is one of the chief Hawaiian ditties. But then immediately your guide will wave his hand in an ample gesture and say, ‘Everything you can see from here is owned by ——,’ and then out will come one of those familiar well-loved names.
The first missionaries landed in Kailua cove; the first church on the islands stands there, a masonry building large and simple both within and without. When the bell rang I vaulted over the inn-garden wall and went to services.
But something has happened to the faith in Kailua. At first I thought I was intruding upon a Sunday-school class and backed out; but no, it was the real church service, as I presently guessed, and so I went in again and sat down. My arrival swelled the congregation from eleven to an even dozen; we looked very solemn and shrunk-up in a great white room built to house the fervor of hundreds of converts. The hymns, with no instrument to second them, rose like a whisper. One small girl, not interested, hung her head over the back of the pew and looked at the stranger upside down. There was no minister; instead, a very good woman in a sincere informal style conducted the service, and took up the collection in her own hand. The true flame, I am certain, authentically burns in that woman. But where were the descendants of the original bringers of the fire? Very likely they were assembled devotedly in some other church.
As for the descendants of the first converts, here were eleven of them. There were others at Mass, and still others at the schismatic parson’s down the street. But on the whole the church in Kailua seems frail. Backsliding in mainland style is not so much responsible for this as the shrinkage in native population since the white man became its friend — a shrinkage, let me state in fairness to our wellmeaning selves, which began before Captain Cook discovered the islands. The missionaries, in fact, labored with force and success to stamp out the only too significant signs of a racial degeneration that antedated their arrival. But in spite of our goodness and our cleverness we seem to be rather deadly. Our diseases, our superiority, our very gifts, are the undoing of simple people. They vanish before them.
It is not Hawaiians, but Portuguese and newly imported Filipinos, who live in the flowery plantat ion cottages. The Hawaiians stick to the sea coves, and fish-and-poi — it is not easy to change.
Of Kailuan Christianity there are echoes. But the history of Hawaiian royalty, the line of the conquering Kamehameha, is closed. Still, it is not sealed. Miss Mary Low, who showed me through the palace of the Governor, which stands across from the church, remembers the last of those queens and princes, and in her reminiscences their beautiful phantoms again people the still old rooms: the beautiful prince again waltzes slowly round and round under the chandelier to show off his superb figure; the beautiful princess runs in her red bathing dress fresh from the sea.
But it is impossible to imagine such fair and frolicsome beings guiding the destiny of a modern nation, and soon they were not doing it. They were by no means strangers to wisdom, but the part they had to play would have set Solomon’s head to aching: it is no common task to govern an Eden invaded by the merchants, missionaries, and planters of Victorian England or these United States. They went industriously to school in England, they industriously tried to govern at home, they danced and were very beautiful in their outlandish European garb, and then they were carried off by the measles. It is a gay, piteous, and flitting history. And finally the advice that perplexed and the influences that swayed them roused one stubborn and injudicious queen to such heights of the impractical that the system and dynasty came crashing down together.
Hawaii promptly sued for admission into the American Union, and not long afterward was accepted into it with the status of territory. Like Arizona, not many years ago with a similar status, Hawaii is fortunate in harboring so large a group of its aboriginal people, whose place names, dances, songs, and garlands, surf riding and outrigger canoes, roast pig and poi, give the islands their romantic character, just as the place names, dances, and crafts of the Hopis and other Indian-Americans give Arizona its most distinguishing colors.
Hawaii’s history, just as Arizona’s, is now a part of United States history as a whole. In our day of rapid ships the islands come closer and closer; in a mere four days and a half of comfort and fun the traveler has arrived; and if he thinks he has journeyed to some uncouth outpost, let him harken to the expert jazz band on the terrace, or try breakfast on the pavilion-lanai, at the Royal Hawaiian, and be reassured. Urbanity has followed him. Or if he dreads the horrid discomfort of racial antagonisms, let him join the songs on the sea wall at Kailua, or the swimming by the wharf there, and be comforted. He will find the swimmers to be both Hawaiians and Orientals, infinitely waterproof like fish, the most neatly built, nimble, swart, laughing amphibians that can be imagined. And perhaps after a while he will have some such experience as I did.
Fagged out and water-logged, I had stayed on to watch the fun from the wharf, when presently two women tourists in pants came out and watched too. One was a redhead, the other a platinum blonde of the utmost platinumity. Very likely they were a good sort, who would do credit to any club, but they gave me a chill because I belonged on their side of the fence, an onlooker and mahalini. For a while I had been no such self-conscious thing, but a common citizen of Kona.
There are several ways of leaving Kona, highly approved, but a cattle boat humorously christened the Humuula is not one of them. Yet when Mr. Cherry, the proprietor of the inn, drooped his eyelids and proposed my going that way, the wisdom of my precursor led me to guess that it would be no mere smelly trip, but a lark. And so it was. For one thing, the boat was not crammed with tourists, each to ask me if I had seen the volcano crater at night, and, when they learned I had not, to describe those infernal fires at infernal length. No, the Humuula carried island people, off on the usual business of life, and, though I am not a rapid insinuator of myself into other people’s society, I made acquaintances on that boat that I take pleasure in remembering.
Nor were these acquaintances nobodies, though I am usually happiest with people of that class, but members of families of real importance. Miss Cleghorn’s uncle had married a queen; the last and loveliest and most tragically brief-lived of all the princesses was her cousin. And what she told me about pineapples came from the aching heart of one whose welfare depended on that royal produce. Mr. Ackerman, a chap of my own age, discussed Hawaiian problems with me with power, information, and sincerity; and while the grand panorama of Hawaii slowdy revolved he pointed out the waste uplands where sheepand goat-shooting makes excellent sport — this was news to the mainlander. I had heard often enough of Kona’s big-game fishing, but never of its mountain game.
At a small seaport called Kawaihae the Humuula anchored for some hours, to load cattle from the Parker ranch. The cattle were roped by Hawaiian cowboys, and forced into the sea, where they lunged and snorted and blew, but finally were swum out to the ship’s boat, fastened to it, and so floated to the ship, where they were swung to the deck in a sudden motion like bovine angels called up to heaven. The cowboys barked like dogs for an encouragement, and rode back grandly from deep water on their swimming horses. But a hundred head treated in even this novel way is rather too much to watch. Ackerman and I left the aquatic rodeo for a stroll up the street, and paid a call on a sampan builder he knew, a Japanese named Matsumoto.
Now a fellow living in Cold Spring may never see a Japanese from one year’s end to another. But Matsumoto had just sprung out of a Japanese print in spotless white shirt and drawers and neat wooden clogs, a little wrinklenosed elf who looked really very familiar. Since he spoke nothing but pidgin English, — a language I soon realized was too complex to use without some study, — I was not able to determine just which series of Hiroshige landscapes he derived from. But Ackerman was an old friend. We soon moved from the boat yard into the house and had a round of drinks. ‘ Him Australia go,’ Ackerman explained of me, which caused Matsumoto to purse up his lips in a long coo of admiration. After this it soon became evident that our host wanted a letter written — would Mr. Ackerman write it? Some boat lumber had come out from Honolulu that was unsatisfactory.
A thick pad was fetched and a very sharp pencil that frequently broke, and ink for the envelope, and the scribe set to. The effort of communicating precise business information in pidgin English is very great, even between experts, — I could see that, — and it takes a long time. When the letter was done there were a great many postscripts, enough to fill a full second sheet. It was very laborious. But when I looked around at the painfully clean-swept earth floor, the rooster pecking a lunch of lettuce out of a crate in the corner, or at the housewife in the next room cooking at a stove that was like a table and washing dishes obviously ‘made in Czechoslovakia,’ I had plenty to think about, all this while. And especially when I looked at the accommodating scribe bent up at the long clean table, writing, and at little Matsumoto perched as light as a bird on the bench opposite, watching hopefully, I had a very peaceful feeling because I was in the presence of kindness and trust.
At such a moment, as on Kailua’s moonlit sea wall, racial antagonisms are seen in their true colors — as no bogeys to anybody but the man who insists on making them so. I believe these moments of plain seeing are as much to be relied upon, moreover, as the bellyaches or nightmares that are often taken as the only sure guides in the matter.
On Maui, where I landed late at night, I immediately found myself making the acquaintance of another Japanese — Tom, my driver. Tom by no means derived from a Hiroshige landscape. He was islandand so American-born, my brother citizen and voter, an ingenious, not neat, spry, chatty, jaunty-mannered fellow, whose happiest boast was that he had shaken the hand of Will Rogers. He had penetration of mind and a sad face, but would break out in a cackle of laughter, or a long whistle of wonder, or would dart a look of confidence at me as if he thought we understood each other, which I suppose we did as well as people commonly do in this world. In fact, he was a typical enough sample of the new-generation Japanese in Hawaii to be worth a little study, which I had time to give him without any prying or pumping.
There are several reasons for distrusting the Japanese in Hawaii, which may as well be looked at squarely. The chief of these is that there are so many of them. There are three times as many in Hawaii as Hawaiians, or whites. Then, this formidably large group is clannish in disposition, and tends to resist assimilation. And, most upsetting of all to the patriotic, the group maintains its own schools parallel to the public schools; the Japanese tot, emerging from the public school at three, trudges off to Japanese school, where he speaks Japanese the rest of the afternoon as well as all day Saturday.
Such facts must send a shiver up the timorous spine of any military man. But I think they are given an importance not inherent in them. It must be remembered that this group is very newly settled in American territory. What if a hundred thousand of us adoring nephews of Uncle Sam were by force of economic necessity moved out of our American environment and settled in Iceland? How soon should we become Icelanders? I think that that proud people would find us rather slow at it, and would have just cause to complain that our Icelandic was of the pidgin variety, and that we tended to use not even that, but familiar English, and to sing ‘Swanee River’ rather than their Viking sagas. At the same time we should, I think, be thoroughly conscious that we were better off in Iceland than we had been at home, and, like the Japanese of Hawaii, not at all anxious to return to the pinched circumstance that had driven us to the new land. ‘Japan — lovely place to visit, no place to go back to, to live in,’ Tom told me. He had friends who had tried it.
Another thing: the young Japanese, I learned from many sources, rebels against the Japanese school when he reaches high-school age, if not before. My driver Tom had put on a rebellion of this kind at the close of the second grade, and never set his infant foot inside the door again. Perhaps he was precocious; but his rebellion has a meaning that anybody can read — namely, that Tom’s children will not go to Japanese school at all. Such a patriotic allegiance is a burden and is cast off by the young.
A Honolulu business man, talking of this with me one day, suggested that the Japanese language should be taught in the public schools, an elective like French or Spanish. To hear a proposal at once so obvious, subtle, and just, gave me a delicious thrill; why for pity’s sake has n’t it been followed already? At one stroke the legitimate reason for continuing the Japanese schools would be canceled. And it is ignorant in crit ics of the existing Japanese schools to deny that that language is of large importance in the Pacific Basin, or that classics of poetry, drama, and novel writing have been achieved in it. Japanese culture is rich, and ancient. It were a shame if official contempt or blundering policy should seek to blot out recollection of this greatness as Mayor Thompson in Chicago sought to blot out of the school texts any recollection of the cultural debt America owes England. The wise course is the generous and fearless one — to encourage it.
There is some feeling on the islands against moving up from the status of territory to that of state, because of the power the Japanese group then could wield. But I was repeatedly told that the Japanese is very independent in his voting; he will cleave to what he considers to be the most promising candidate even if he be a Chinaman. The foes of statehood propose, rather, as a step upward, a commission form of territorial government, in which commission the army, the navy, and the civilians should each have a representative. Heaven help us! Is Eden to be governed by the army and navy? Did Hawaii join the Union with any such blessing of freedom in mind? For my part, I should prefer to see little Matsumoto in the Senate, where his speeches, in interpreted pidgin English, might by their shrewd simplicity actually wring from that body the favors the islands deserve. The military’s one song is the holy necessity of things military, a song of which I have long since grown tired. I should trust my interest sooner to a civilian with slant eyes.
But I do not think Matsumoto would accept the nomination. Nor do I think he would cast his vote for Tom my driver if Tom were running for the Senate. He would turn instead, as he did in letter writing, to some man like Ackerman to represent him in far-away Washington. And in that relationship might we not hope to see something of the kindly care on the one hand, and intelligent trust on the other, that made the letter writing at Kawaihae a heart-warming episode? It is a hope not founded on unreason. I try to flee the chinch bug of self-righteousness in considering these matters, and cannot for the life of me believe that whiteman politics are so whitely pure that they can be much darkened by a little yellow.
Tom my driver showed me Maui by the light of both moon and sun. It is a handsome island illuminated by either.
I roamed the mossy pit of the Iao Valley, and fell in the river there: fine, $250 for polluting the water supply. But nobody caught me, Tom discreetly noticed nothing bedraggled in my appearance when I got back to the road, and thus I as yet have not been haled into court on that charge. In the Puohakamoa I took a legal (though naked) swim in a pool on whose surface ripe guavas floated; a waterfall tumbled into it over a fern-grown cliff, and it was deep, hidden, and cool — one of those little secret places old Mother Nature saves for a surprise for undeserving wanderers like my lucky self.
I saw the submarine flotilla twinkling at anchor in starry Lahaina Roads; and at Wailuku Mission, on the old wall, the night-blooming cereus opening its hundred great waxen cups in the moonlight.
On Puunene Plantation I went down to the bowels of the earth, an unexpectedly neat place, to see one of the many giant pumps that irrigate the cane fields; for sugar growing is no back-yard enterprise that can be handled by you or me, but a business only profitable where it can be managed and financed on a huge scale. At the plantation office I met the cashier; he had just come in with an armload of checks averaging five dollars in value: certain of the laborers had elected to save systematically out of their wages against Maui Fair time, a great island event. The total value of those checks was well over thirteen thousand dollars, which will perhaps give you, as it did me, a clue to the magnitude of Puunene Plantation.
I rode the grassy uplands where fat cattle browse or admirably take their repose in the shade of eucalyptus groves. And from winding drives along the sea cliffs I looked down on villages or small cove Edens tucked away as if waiting for Paul and Virginia to be cast up again for another island idyll.
On the black sands of Honomanu Bay I saw an old stealthy fisherwoman take a whole supper’s fish in one cast of the net. And Tom fetched down mountain apples nimbly from a high tree, and skinned under a gate to steal pineapples from a neglected field —oh, inimitably toothsome sun-ripe juicy stolen fruit!
In fact, I did and saw a great many fine things on Maui, which is a countrified and open-hearted island, as yet little explored by the tourist. I advise the tourist to go there. And when he goes, I advise him to ascend Haleakala.
To a fellow like myself, used to Minnesota, whose highest hill, though a thousand miles from the sea, manages to stand only two thousand feet above it, a mountain five times that high thrust immediately out of the brine is a prodigy. But even a Californian must find Haleakala rather a wonder. I saw it first from the deck of the Humuula, when it had a rainbow hung before it like some mysterious emblem. And then, for a farewell to Maui and the Hawaiian chapter in my new travels, I had supper on top of it at the time of the full moon.
My host at the Grand Hotel at Wailuku, a genial man named Walsh, took me up. He was thoroughly good company. And when we got above the clouds, and the sunset had burnt itself out, we found candles lit in bottles in the rude masonry rest house that perches on the crater brink: five jolly naval officers had come before us and spread out their supper, and lit the candles.
There was no lack of laughter and anecdote on Haleakala that night, and when Mr. Walsh revealed the fact that his insignificant-looking friend had had an essay or two in the Atlantic Monthly there was a great whoop and hurrah, and a big pot of Boston baked beans, still hot from the galley oven, was opened in my honor. But it was no company that must be all noise: very often everyone would be leaning out into the ineffably still night to look down on the satin pavement of milkwhite cloud that floored our world, or away to Maun a Kea and Mauna Loa, calm, remote, the only other parts of earth that rose into it. Or we would stare below us into the black and cindery deeps of the crater, where wisps of pale cloud lay dreaming above the long moon shadows.
Hawaii is an easy place to be happy in; I think it was made for that purpose. It is a far cry from the urbane Royal Hawaiian terrace, with its expert jazz band, to the fishermen’s quiet music on the sea wall at Kailua, and still farther to Haleakala’s blank moonstruck silence above the clouds. But all three are Hawaii. Such things, and more that people who have been there will upbraid me for not dwelling on, await the poor bliss-bewildered visitor.
But Hawaii deserves to be thought of in another and deeper-hearted way than as a mere goal for lucky trippers like myself, or a picturesque playground to be frolicked in or let go to grass as the whim seizes us mainlanders. So long as we keep Hawaii a territory we govern it, and our blandly ignorant whims may do it hurt. Hawaii is not only flowers and white surf, and songs and polo, but people. And the people of Hawaii are, like ourselves, capable of pride and dignity. I wonder if they do not sometimes grow a little weary of being ‘a state in the making’ — especially when they observe some sixteen of the full-fledged mainland states paying no such taxes into Uncle Sam’s pocket as they do, and many lightheartedly borrowing or begging greater sums from that shortsighted old Yankee, year after year.
Perhaps some fine night they will have a little fun, as their forefathers in Boston did when King George III found his overseas savages impertinent in their wishes. Attired humorously in tapa-cloth clouts, they may assemble and throw a little mainland tea into Honolulu Harbor, just for a reminder that history repeats itself. Perhaps I shall be among those present, to strike a sympathetically derisive chord on my ukulele. I have seen those islands and am ready to give them their due.