Several straw huts
stood among the tall grasses. Other huts stood on wooden poles a few yards
from the beach. Kamea lived in one of the huts with her grandma, Pooha.
Every morning Kamea walked along the sand searching for searching for puku
shells. With bucket in hand she picked up each one, dropping them among
the bigger shells she collected for herself.
One morning, Pooha
called to her granddaughter. “Today I am going to buy some fish from Kona,
the fisherman. I will be gone most of the day. Go and gather the puku
shells and then come back here and string them into a necklace. When you
are done with that, go and visit Maleka. She will take you to pick a
pineapple and some sugar cane. I will bring back a fish for supper.”
Grandma left the small girl by herself, as she often did, and went off to
down to the beach. The waves rolled in with a gentle rhythm, spreading
across the sand in a sheet of greenish-blue. Something rolled from the
water onto the beach, landing near her feet. “It’s a bottle.” She picked
it up and examined it. “It’s pretty. I wonder where it came from.” Kamea
blew the sand out and put her eye to the hole at the top. “I can carry my
shells in this.”
She bent over and
picked up a puku shell, dropping it into the bottle. After an hour shells
bubbled out of the top of the bottle. “That’s enough. I’ll take them home
now.” She headed for her hut, kicking sand with her toes. Sea birds flew
around her, squawking. Kamea saw a kitten scurry under a fallen coconut
palm. “I like living here.” She smiled and ran the rest of the way.
Inside, she dumped
out her bottle. The puku shells spilled onto the table. “First, I need to
go to visit Maleka and get the pineapple and sugar cane and then I’ll come
home and make a few necklaces with these.” Kamea ran to her neighbor’s hut
and then came home with arms full. She put the food down and then worked
hard all day threading the shells onto string. She’d just put the last one
on when Pooha came home.
“I’ve got us a
fish, Kamea.” She saw all the necklaces. “You’ve been working hard. I’ve
got a special surprise for you.”
“What is it,
Grandma?” The girl took the fish from Pooha’s hands and put it on the
stove. “Show me. Show me.”
Pooha reached into
her pocket and pulled out a bag of shiny stones. “These are for you.
They’re made of real glass.”
Grandma. They are beautiful.” Kamea poured them on the table next to the
necklaces. “Look what I found today.” She showed her grandma the bottle.
“You can put all
your new glass beads into it so they won’t get lost. Tomorrow we’ll make
necklaces and put these and the puku shells together. We will go to town
on Saturday and sell them.”
“If we sell them,
Grandma, then we can have enough money to eat honey cakes, pineapple
coconut balls, rice candy and ginger drops.” Kamea licked her lips.
“Not only that,
but we can have some mahi mahi, chicken and pork too. Let’s go down to the
beach and swim for a while and then we’ll have some poi and taro pupu and
some fish. After that, we’ll make some more beads.” Pooha took Kamea’s
hand and they strolled down to the beach.
“Grandma, I saw a
kitten today. Maybe we’ll find another bottle to fill with more puku
shells.” Kamea smiled up at Pooha.
after feasting on fish, they made the necklaces with the shells and glass
beads. They kept them in a pile on the table and went to bed. The next
morning when they woke up they were all gone. Pooha shook her
granddaughter. “Kamea, what did you do with the necklaces?”
Kamea yawned. “I
didn’t touch them, Grandma.”
“They’re gone. All
of them!” Grandma sat on the woven mat on the floor.
breakfast in silence. She didn’t like seeing her grandma so sad. She
grabbed her bottle and ran down to the beach to gather puku shells,
thinking it would cheer her grandma up. On her way back to the hut she saw
the kitten. “What’s in your mouth, little kitten? Whatever it is, it is
shiny.” She chased the kitten under the fallen palm. “Come out. Come out.
I won’t hurt you.” Falling to her knees, Kamea reached under the log.
“What’s this?” She pulled out all of the necklaces she and her grandma had
made the day before. “So it was you! You came to our hut and ran off with
them. Grandma will be happy now.”
Kamea ran home
with the beads in hand. “Grandma! Grandma! I found them.”
Pooha stood and
went to the door. She saw Kamea with all the beads. “Where were they,
“The kitten took
them.” Kamea dropped them on the table.
“I think we need
to put them somewhere safer. Why don’t you pour a bowl of milk for the
kitten. It might be hungry. What should we name her?” Pooha put her finger
under her chin in thought
Kamea filled a
small bowl with milk and put some of the cooked fish next to it. A few
minutes later the kitten came to the door to eat.
Pooha picked it up
and stroked her. “We shall call you Beads.” She put the kitten down and it
ran back to the fish.
“That’s a funny
name, Grandma. Beads.” Kamea laughed.
Beads stayed near
the hut from them on. Every day Kamea and Pooha fed her. When Saturday
came around, they left to the village to sell their necklaces. Later that
day, after they returned home, Pooha sat on the mat. “Well, Kamea, tonight
we shall feast and every day this next week we shall feast. You and I need
to make more necklaces with the glass beads and we can eat like this every
day. I’m glad we bought some more. Now we can eat well and so can our
little kitten, Beads.”
Kamea hugged her
grandma and picked up the kitten. That night she ate until her tummy
bulged and so did Beads.