My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Impatient princess

» The Tube

As Randy Makapu'u was meeting with the Pono Commission, just a couple of blocks away in the lava tube that runs below 'Iolani Palace and exits in the Palace basement (and on the other end at Kualoa Ranch), the most exciting news of his life was reaching Kaneloa, a young chief of lowly status.

He had just finished his daily service to the local ruling chief and his family -- Kaneloa's family was charged with removing the royal excrement, a duty they performed to honor the gods -- when he heard a commotion in the main chamber beneath the palace. Hurrying along a smaller tributary of The Tube, he found the other local Tubers gathering around strangers, exchanging ha, offering food and drink.

They were royal runners from King Kavawai, king of the Tubers, Kaneloa's friend Puka whispered. Puka's family guarded The Tube entrance.

"We bring aloha and blessings from King Kavawai and Queen Tuberosa 'Ekahi, and this proclamation," one of the runners said, chanting in Hawaiian. "Hear now, all people of The Tube, and celebrate with us the news that our daughter, Princess Tuberosa La'a, has come of age and mind to find a suitable young man to marry."

A murmur swept through the gathered throng and echoed off the walls.

"Can you believe it? Marry a princess?" Kaneloa whispered to Puka.

"You? Me? Ha!" his friend said. "Freakin' dreamer."

The royal runner added that all prospective suitors should show themselves forthwith at the king's Royal Rotunda below the Kona Coast. Certain tests would be administered, religious, mental and physical, which the princess, her family and their kahus would observe. The princess must be pleased with the ultimate winner, but so must her parents. The king, of course, was of very high chiefly lineage, but Queen Tuberosa 'Ekahi was higher, of sacred lineage, descended almost directly from the gods and goddesses. The princess carried on that sacred line. Thus her name, which translated as Sacred Rose of The Tube.

The Palace Tubers offered the runners more food, but they had to hele on to Kauai -- the king said it was urgent that all Tubers receive the news as soon as possible.

"The princess, I think, is a little impatient," one of the runners said. "And it will be a difficult test, I must warn you, in every way. But for the winner, well worth the journey and the effort. Her beauty is unmatched, she moves with grace, her smile is easy, her heart is pure."

With that, the runners were off through a smaller passageway that connected with the immense lava tube that led from Kaena Point to Kauai.

"We must go," Kaneloa said.

"For the chance to marry the princess?" Puka said, laughing.

"Yes, but mostly for the journey, and for the chance at last to worship the Great King's bones."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com



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