Maui Girl

These stories from Donna Austin come from her rich Maui history and heritage.

29 January 2007

Chapter Six: Tony Understands and Forgives

“Please, will you help me?” Gus pleaded. He had spoken quietly but his face and words held the full message of his desperation and sorrow and sickness.
João eagerly answered for them all. “We will help you. My God, how you have suffered! I know my father can use a carpenter on his ranch. Let me run and talk to him. He’ll know what to do. Wait here!”
As João ran off, Gus turned to the other two and said, “I knew when I heard you two talking Portuguese and sounded so full of fun and adventure, that you might help me! That is why I followed you.” He bowed his head and looked kind of sheepish as he apologized. “I’m sorry Tony, that I hit you that day, but I was so afraid you would turn me into the authorities. Knowing the ship was still off shore and the men were searching for me, I just couldn’t take the chance of trusting you. Please forgive me.”
“Now that I understand what you have gone through and your terrible fear, I can forgive you easily. You frightened me more than you hurt me! Tony said reassuringly.
Looking at Rose, Gus asked, “Is this the girl I heard you talking about? The one you climbed the smokestack for to prove your love?
“Smokestack?” Rose asked, blushing a becoming pink. “What is he talking about Tony?”
Tony’s face turned beet red and his hazel eyes rolled upward to heaven. “I’ll explain later, Rose.” He finally stuttered.
“By the way!” Gus interrupted, “There was no gold! I thought you might be lying, but I couldn’t go without checking. How did you recognize me?”
“I noticed your gold earring. It is unusual and I guessed you might be my attacker. I’m sorry for the lie. That sort of evens us out doesn’t it? How was your climb?” Tony joked.
“Well let’s say I got my exercise for the day and I must say you sure were brave. Rose is a lucky girl if it is bravery she admires!”

25 January 2007

Chapter Six: The Stranger's (Gus) Escape

It was Terra de Fuego’s foggy mountain-tops and rain and gales that greeted us that day as we now moved westward through mountainous seas. I was terrified but resigned. We stopped in Maui and unloaded 17,000 pounds of bone. While there, small boats were sent ashore for Irish and sweet potatoes, firewood and fresh water.
“I fell in love with the beauty of the islands I gazed at it from off shore. Never was I allowed on the small boats that went ashore when we stopped in Honolulu or along the California coast or back again around the horn. My skills were too valuable and they were afraid I would try to escape.”
“I had been traveling for two years and four months and three weeks according to the notches on my bunk bed that I had made when we again docked in Maui. Remembering the beauty of the island and realizing there was no hope of my captain bringing me home or of even letting me go ashore, I decided to risk my life by swimming for the shore rather than staying in that living hell of confined quarters, terrible breathing atmosphere, poor hygiene and nausea aboard ship.”
The first mate tried to stop me when he saw what I was doing. I stabbed him in the groin as he reached for his gun. The captain called for his men to start shooting, as I leaped into the water and swam for shore. He sent men in small boats to look for me, but they were too late. As soon as I reached shore, I hid and I ran and that’s what I have been doing for days and months now. I don’t know which is worse, hanging for the stabbing of the first mate or serving under Captain Seymour on the “Bark Pacific” again

22 January 2007

Chapter Six: The Stranger's Story

“Unfortunately, I met up with Captain Jacob Seymour one day, as I worked at repairing a part of the wharf damaged by a storm. He had come ashore to unload 110 barrels of whale oil, which they had obtained on their two month trip from New Bedford to Flores.
Although Captain Seymour was big and powerful and mean looking, he acted so friendly and was very persuasive. He told me, “We need carpenters badly to repair ship parts and make new furniture. You will love the travel and adventure and make lots of money to bring home to your family.”
“I was 18 and naively innocent. I believed every word he said. Twenty four hours later, I was signed in and aboard the ship with my few belongings, my bible and my tools of the trade.”
As we passed my home island of Faial, our ship anchored in the harbor for supplies. A small boat was sent ashore. I begged Captain Seymour to let me go ashore and say goodbye to my parents. I knew they would worry terribly if they didn’t know what had happened to me.
The captain laughed and said, “Here, look through my spyglass, for that is the only sight you will ever have of this shore again!”
“I gazed longingly at my parent’s island and at their home and some of my other neighborhood friend’s homes. They looked so pretty to me. I felt homesick already. I knew then that I was in the hands of a tyrant and would never be able to escape.
“Two days later, we sailed off towards the south and the unknown. No one spoke Portuguese. I didn’t know what to do except obey the Captain who was considered the master.”
“Two months and eleven days later we heard the watch man yell, “Land ahoy!”

19 January 2007

Chapter Six: A Walk with Friends

“Let’s go for a walk before we all have to leave”? Suggested Tony.
“Yes, this will be the last chance to get to see you for quite some time.” Pleaded João.
Smiling, Rose agreed, and they raced off down a windingly steep path through some kukui trees and over some rocks and across a stream. As they waded across the cold stream, they laughed and chattered, totally unaware of the stranger hidden from their view watching them.
He stepped from behind a tree, as the three reached the streams edge. “So we meet again!” he greeted them with a crooked grin.
Rose gasped in shock at his ragged appearance and swarthy look. His skin had a sheen that looked feverish, his eyes were glassy and desperate. Tony and João pushed a frightened Rose behind them. Her heart was beating so loudly, she was sure the stranger could hear it.
“What do you want? And who are you?” Tony asked. His voice quavered a little as he protectively sheltered Rose from any possible attack.
The stranger said, “Please don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I’m sick and I’m starving. Please listen!” he begged.
João, Tony and Rose stood rooted to the spot, as they listened to the strange story unfold.
“My name is Augustine Cunha, Gus for short, and I am a carpenter by trade. I had gone to the island of Flores in the Azores to work. I had been apprenticed for 2 years in my village of Castelo Branco on the island of Faial. Because I was considered a skillful craftsman, I was offered permanent employment on the island of Flores. I was making enough money to send my parents half the amount and could still live well off the rest.

15 January 2007

Chapter Six: Ukuleles and Portuguese Tunes

Ukuleles were very popular with the Portuguese who brought the instrument from the Madeira Islands where it had been originally invented by Manuel Nunes around 1877. The ukulele sounded so good played to the Hawaiian songs as well as the Portuguese tunes. It was an instrument easily carried, easily made, and simple to play, that attracted the Hawaiian natives who named it the ukulele which means a dancing flea.

Later Rose helped distribute the food to all the families. But she rejoined João and Tony when her task was done. She enjoyed their stories and jokes and songs and they made her laugh. After they ate, their brothers joined them for awhile and exchanged gossip.

Rose felt lighthearted and happy as she confided, “My family is moving to Kokomo within 6 months. They have someone who is willing to give them a good price for their land. I’m sorry to leave Hana because I think it is such a beautiful place, but I will be glad to be nearer my brothers and sister Flora. I miss them all so much, especially Mary who lives in Honolulu.

Tony interrupted, “How about me? Will you be glad to live closer to Punene?”
“And how about me? Added João “Will you be glad you’re closer to me in Kokomo? We’ll practically be neighbors.”
Rose laughingly answered. “It will be nice to see you both every so often.” She admitted.

Then Rose helped the ladies clear the picnic remains and store them in the wagons. The boys helpfully followed, adding their meager assistance.

12 January 2007

Chapter Six: A Lei and a Kiss

Rose put the lei around each boy’s neck, but quickly stepped back to avoid their embrace. “Sorry, but the native custom ends there.” She blushingly answered, giggling helplessly.

Tony and João both grabbed for her at the same time, wrapping their arm on each side of her and each kissed her cheek, one on either side. What a picture it made, as everyone stopped talking to watch these antics.
The boys held tightly to Rose’s hand so she couldn’t escape and dragged her along with them. Tony said, “Come on and sit with us. The picnic is about to begin. We want to hear all about you since we last saw you at the wedding eight months ago.”

“Yes,” urged João, “Please sit and talk with us. You don’t know how much we have missed you!”

They pulled Rose along until they found a place they could all sit. Then João spread a quilt on the ground, and when everyone was seated, pulled out his ukulele and started to sing. He sang one love song after another, serenading Rose with his beautiful clear tenor voice. Soon others with ukulele joined in and the singing began spontaneously.

08 January 2007

Chapter Six: Picnic in the Ioa Valley

Rose Lydia and Virginia helped their mother gather the hampers of food while Joseph tied the horses securely. Julia Gomes was glad to see her old friends, the Silvas. The women gathered under a banyan tree and enjoyed a good old fashioned gossip and general catching up of news. The men clustered in small groups and talked of cattle and crops and politics.

The younger girls decided to walk in search of fern and ginger to make everyone leis. They had learned this craft at school and they could also make very beautiful wreathes for their hair.

An hour later, emerging from their green lair, they were loaded down with bough and wreathes and leis of verdant green fern and ivory white ginger flowers. They looked like happy wood nymphs, laughing and giggling as they dispersed their gifts to everyone.

When Rose hesitatingly offered João and Tony a floral decoration, they accepted with alacrity. Rose blushingly handed them each a lei that she had made herself.

“But you must put it around my neck as the natives do!” João said teasingly.
“Yes!” added Tony and give us a kiss to seal your gift! It is the Hawaiian custom!”

05 January 2007

Chapter Six: Ioa Valley

Rose heard the rush of water in a nearby stream as it wended its laborious way through winding canyons, crashing over rocks and deep ravines, finally coming to rest in pools and ponds dotting the landscape. As Rose traveled the noise of the water sometimes sounded like a gurgle, sometimes like a torrent of rain, sometimes like a tinkle of bells and sometimes like a roar from an angry lion as it pounced over mountains and craggy cliffs. Everywhere streams and pools dotted the rich fertile green valley.

“I wonder if Tony and João will join us at the family picnic?” Rose thought irrelevantly and out of the blue.

Lydia poked Rose in the ribs playfully and said, “Wake up dreamer, we’re almost there. Look at those wagons. I guess there will be quite a gathering here.”

As they got closer, Lydia smiled and said, “Look, isn’t that Tony and his little sister Mary? Oh look, João is there too!”

01 January 2007

Chapter Six: Rose Remembers

Rose sat in the bouncing wagon, dreamily gazing at the verdant Iao Valley. All along the trail, lush green ferns of maiden-hair and fragrant ginger flowers grew profusely.

Rose felt mesmerized by the clip clop of the horses’ hooves and the swaying rhythm of the wagon as it progressed toward the heart of the valley. Her thoughts were far away, remembering her parents’ stories about the Azores, the tales of horror about their terrible trip on the “S.S. Hankow” which left their beloved São Miguel in April, 1883 and arrived in Honolulu July 1883. Rose thought her parent had traveled such a long perilous journey and how brave they were. Rose’s mother still dreamed of returning to their place of birth but the journey had been so terrifying that they would never chance it again. It was such back-breaking long hours in the sugar cane fields for her father and brothers. The family had scrimped and saved so they could pay off the passage fare and then buy land of their own. What a feeling of accomplishment and joy that they now owned their own farm.

Rose had heard her parents often talking lately about moving to Kokomo and buying a smaller farm, one Joseph Gomes could manage on his own now that his boys were married and gone. They would live close enough to Manuel in Kulanui and Joseph in Punene and Flora in Macawao to visit them often.
“I wonder if we’ll ever see Mary again, now that she has moved with her husband to the Island of Oahu. I miss her so,” mused Rose. “Mary had looked so radiantly happy as she waved Aloha to Rose and threw flowers in the ocean. Even though Mary was so happy, we couldn’t help the tears that rushed to our eyes so unwillingly.”