Return to Halalai

This really happened in the village of Halalai: the volcano goddess, Pele, appeared. This was not so unusual for us. True, her face had not been seen in the smoke rising over her mountain since before we were born, but back in premissionary days the goddess often came to visit her people. Always red-haired and beautiful, tall and well-formed, she would join the adults in their games—sledding down steep stone-paved paths in the hills, expertly riding a surfboard at Lumahai Beach, competing in hula or chanting competitions. She visited other villages too, but this is what made us special: sometimes she would choose one of our babies and take it to her breast. When those children grew up they had something of the goddess inside them. They had tempers like the volcano; it was easy for them to get hot. The special baby before the last one became a soldier in World War II. He made his unit hold a hill against the Germans and won a medal but got himself, and almost all his men, killed. It’s difficult to be blessed by Madam Pele. She gives wonderful trouble.

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