The Armor

In the first days of September the war forces destined to fight Surapati had gathered on the alon-aloen of Surabaya.

The sixteen Dutch banners precede, the red, white, and blue flutter merrily in the air, broad-brimmed felt hats cover the tanned faces, the yellow warcoats are cheered by the red collars, the rifle they carry on their shoulder, they walk on cheerfully and cheerfully. under the stately sounds of the Wilhelmus. At their head, mounted on a fine warhorse, rides Major Govert Knol, who has been entrusted with command of the entire army; below him are the stout, powerfully built captain of Bergen, the brave, though somewhat too energetic and inconsiderate, Captain de Bevere and the Surabaya officers Willem Sergeant and Hendrik van der Hout, to which Captain Bintang also belongs. These five captains each command a brigade consisting of Europeans and Natives, the latter, in turn, are under their own heads. There are the Balinese with their sturdiness, the Ambonese their coral-braided hair, fluttering about their heads, the Buginese, whose head and waist are only covered and who wear an ovoid shield on their arm, the Makassarese and Timorese as undressed as she, but with hair combed to the heights, advancing loudly singing, and rousing one another’s courage by tales of the exploits of their forefathers. At last the Javanese, quiet, small and slender, with a shy look and listless gait, behind them the colored ones, a little taller and not much more lively than them. whose head and waist are only covered, and who bear an ovoid shield on their arm, the Makassarese and Timorese clothed as little as she, but with hair combed up high, marching on loudly singing, and rousing one another’s courage by tales of the exploits of their forefathers. At last the Javanese, quiet, small and slender, with a shy look and listless gait, behind them the colored ones, a little taller and not much more lively than them. whose head and waist are only covered, and who bear an ovoid shield on their arm, the Makassarese and Timorese clothed as little as she, but with hair combed to the heights, marching loudly singing, and rousing one another’s courage by tales of the exploits of their forefathers. At last the Javanese, quiet, small and slender, with a shy look and listless gait, behind them the colored ones, a little taller and not much more lively than them.[ 221 ]

Following the army of the Company are the troops of the Madurese prince, whose presence in the army is equal to that of 10,000 men, for this eighty-year-old prince is highly honored not only by his own people, but by all of Java. He finds it difficult to walk or drive, which is why he allows himself to be carried by twelve men on a board richly covered with rugs and carpets; he is, in spite of his advanced age, a heavy, well-built man with a broad face and sharp features, the whites of his eyes are completely covered with red, only a few gray hairs remained on his skull, but his muscular arms still betray the more than usual strength which they had once possessed; a merry smile often plays on his face, he is kind and considerate, but also inexorably strict with his subordinates. He wears a rich surplice of liver-colored damask, thickly embroidered with golden flowers, and a blue silk sarong with silver edging, a multitude of rings adorn his wrinkled hands, and his kris sparkles in the jewel-encrusted gold sheath. Beside him ride equally gracefully dressed his sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom were said to be one hundred and twenty in the army; a sunshade of nipa leaves is held over his head while his golden peak is carried forward. a multitude of rings adorn his wrinkled hands, and his kris sparkles in the jewel-encrusted gold sheath. Beside him ride equally gracefully dressed his sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom were said to be one hundred and twenty in the army; a sunshade of nipa leaves is held over his head while his golden peak is carried forward. a multitude of rings adorn his wrinkled hands, and his kris sparkles in the jewel-encrusted gold sheath. Beside him ride equally gracefully dressed his sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom were said to be one hundred and twenty in the army; a sunshade of nipa leaves is held over his head while his golden peak is carried forward.

More than a thousand distinguished Madurese follow him—an army of Sumanappers and Pamakassans, with their colorful banners, bright cloths depicting spells, griffins, dragons, and crescents, also four closed palanquins, one notices, in which the fairest women of the carried old prince, who would accompany him on the campaign; the music of the gamelans and Javanese drums accompanied them.

The procession is closed by the troops of Djajang Rana, den [ 222 ]Depati of Surabaya, all small, insignificant men, led by the Regent himself and his three brothers. The Surabaya princes sat on ornate elephants; the Depati was known as one of the fairest men in his country, though, according to European taste, his nose might have been considered too flat and his features too broad; he was, however, of tall stature and heavy build, only thirty-six years old, exceedingly proud and unapproachable; no one could stand against him in the arena. His brethren were smaller but kinder, and seemed more or less depressed under the rule of their elder.

The whole army now consisted of 15,000 men, several artillery pieces, carried by 200 buffaloes, and 5,000 load-bearers.

The day of the inspection was concluded by a great feast given by the Depati, the next morning they were to set out on the march; an immense crowd of people crowded around the aloen-alon to see the advance of this almost the only spectacle of a fighting army, led by the first Javanese princes after the emperor. Early in the morning a few Dutch brigades would first leave, to be followed by the Madurese and Soerabayers, while at last a few brigades with the staff of the army had to form the rear.

The feast which the Depati arranged in his dalem was splendid; a large table, which could seat as many as three hundred people, was stored under a spacious pendoppo; Chinese chairs had been set out for the guests; at the head of the table sat the gray Panombahan, on whom this place of honor had been forced with difficulty, however, because he wanted to give it to the general. Major Knol was seated on his right and the Depati . on the left[ 223 ]Surabaya, who had at his side a man with a moody, somewhat dissatisfied face, namely the field preacher François Valentijn. Much unwillingly he joined this campaign, and with a displeased look he let the rich variety of dishes pass him by, for however deliciously prepared the venison, ox, veal , and venison might be, he could enjoy none of them. since everything was prepared with coconut oil, which made the food inedible to him; his thoughts were evidently far from there at Batavia, where he had left a sick wife and several children, or at the unsavory prospect of the forthcoming campaign.

He couldn’t help but glance now and then at the women belonging to the retinue of the Javanese princes, who, numbering a hundred, were seated in a crescent behind the table on small mats; but they seemed scarcely worth seeing, without the flowers and jewels that adorned them. The other captains, officers, Javanese and Madurese princes followed after the preacher Valentijn.

Though the feast was given by a Mahometan, and so many other Mahometans took part in it, the wine flowed in abundance, and almost untied the tongues; when the meal proper was over, the dessert appeared on the table, surpassing, if possible, all that had already been served in abundance and richness. The most delicious grapefruits, djamboes, plantains, pineapples, mangas in the richest variety, succulent nankas, golden-yellow durians, tamarind jams and ketela roots, arranged in graceful form, particularly pleased the eye of the poor clergyman, who had hitherto had to rely only on dry rice. make do.

All praised the rich reception the Depati offered to his guests, and the taste of his proud first wife, a Japara princess, [ 224 ]who stood at his side with dignity in pride; no one, doubtless, at this moment gave any credence to the slanderous gossip whispered here and there of the all-too-good relationship which existed between this prince and the enemy.

During the whole meal the Javanese orchestras had made themselves heard; a merry, cheerful spirit seemed to reign at the table, for the regent of Surabaya, in spite of his great pride, was a most agreeable, generous host.

There was a lot of drinking and clapping between the three army chiefs, on the success of the expedition and of the united arms; there the Depati suddenly paled, the hand with which he wished to lift the glass to his lips trembled so much that the contents fell over his gold cloth doublet.

The Panombahan broke into a loud laugh, he thought no other than the wine had already clouded his strong brother of Surabaya the mind and taken the strength of his fingers. With a forced laugh the Depati apologized; one of the slaves who served at the table, a large, strong man, had rushed over and wiped the drops with a cloth. No one saw how from the side the regent looked at the servant and added under his breath:

“Audacious, how darest thou?”

The slave, however, went on with his work and said:

“It’s done, my lord!”

He then withdrew and took up one of the fruit platters to present it to the commander; but the eyes of the Depati continued to follow him, and he also noticed how this slave, as he passed, addressed another, whose dark, almost black face, turned with a fierce, grim expression on the Dutch guests. Only one[ 225 ]absent ear the regent lent more to the conversations; he smiled mechanically at times, but always avoided speaking, while the two slaves were now behind the seat of the Madurese, who was discussing the details of the campaign with Govert Knol.

Who cares for a slave? Neither the major nor the Panombahan had any suspicion, while the slave stood behind their seats, arms folded indifferently, his eyes wandering coolly through the pendoppo.

In vain Reverend Valentijn held a very interesting conversation about Dutch and Javanese fruits, the Surabaya prince did not listen; to his questions concerning the various kinds of djamboes and bananas he often received the most absurd answers, so that the good teacher decided not to allow the proud prince any longer the pleasure of his conversations.

At last the Noble Lord Knol arose; the twelve porters of the Panombahan rushed forward and lifted him back onto the shelf, all the other great ones now also withdrew from the table, while the retinue rushed to partake of the rich surplus.

The Depati left the pendoppo alone; slowly and unnoticed followed him the two slaves whom he had beckoned as he passed. They went into a courtyard separated from the banquet hall by a high wall; here they were alone and unobserved, but still the regent’s face retained a worried, restless expression, which caused his two companions to burst into a hearty laugh.

“You may laugh, but I thought I was sinking through the ground!” he exclaimed angrily, “how darest thou!”

“If I didn’t dare, who else would?” replied the[ 226 ]greatest slave , ‘have I not done my duty well, though it has been years and years since I wore the slave suit and served a table? Indeed, Surabaya, your table is splendid and your consort an excellent hostess, but still more beautiful is the united army. How will it be in a month’s time?”

“You attended the inspection?”

‘Of course, I wanted to know how I was feared; Early this morning we left Kali-Carnation in a small boat, Wirajoeda and I, we arrived just in time to see the departure of the troops, but I had not had enough, I wanted to take a closer look at the Dutch and see some of their hear plans. I have succeeded very well, I have learned much with which I can take advantage.”

“But have you not considered how many dangers you expose yourself, not only yourself but me too?”

The Depati’s tone was now low and almost humble.

“Your condition is dangerous Surabaya, I admit it. Tell me honestly , don’t you feel like joining in truth with the Dutch and fighting me, the opportunity is good, I am in your power. One word and I am your prisoner!”

“No, a thousand times no! Mataram will disappear, and so will the Madurese; I hate the old lecher, for whom I have to humiliate me in the dust, the soembah one to do, as if I have a national and not an almost independent prince. Thou art my only hope, if we destroy this army the power and prestige of the Dutch will be ruined forever.”

“And if I should die, Surabaya?”

„Great perils has my brother endured, and always remained [ 227 ]he invincible, why should his hour strike now? But just as so much depends on your life, I trembled a moment when I recognized you under this disguise. Has no one been suspicious?”

“No one, there are now so many strangers in the various courts that no one distrusts his neighbor. The Madurese asked me if I was a Rembanger, and I told those of Toeban that I belonged to the Depati of Japara, but now we must leave, Wirajouda!”

“But you have not yet used anything to strengthen or refresh yourself.”

“We had our meal in a warong, less rich, it’s true, than yours, Depati, but more than enough. I go back to Bangil, you keep our agreement; let your awnings always be carried forward, and I will see that no one shoots at your men.”

“Heroism will be harder to teach them than cowardice. It’s easy for them to follow the watchword of not fighting. But shall I not give you a watch to accompany you?”

“No, every precaution increases our danger; my companion must hasten to Kediri, where another raid is expected. Nothing can be done with the cripple.”

“Well, when the time comes, let’s drop it like a standard that has served its purpose. Goodbye! How ardently I long to receive my brother here in return, then it will be a banquet, where it will fade into nothingness.”

“I wish it with you, but the odds of war are variable. It is a dice game that we play Surabaya, and the stake is our life, our country.”[ 228 ]

“Don’t lose heart, brother, for if you drop that precious gift, everything is done. Farewell! be careful, I will show you the shortest way out of my dalem to the Kali Mas.”

“Do not bother, I know the way, go back to your guests, brother, who certainly regret your absence, we will save ourselves.”

The regent turned with heavy heart to his guests, who explained his absence in their own way, and delighted or bored with the sight of the dancers, who gave their most artful tricks for the high company.

Meanwhile the two disguised slaves had gotten into their boat without accident, which was set in motion by four oarsmen. It quickly split the billows, which glittered with a fiery-red glow in the last rays of the sun.

Darkness soon fell, and with her came a golden fabric of stars reflected in the gently scaly waters. Soerapati sat in the back of the prahu, Wirajouda lay stretched out opposite him; with swift strokes the oarsmen rowed on, several boats flew past them, and no one suspected who was in that inconsiderable boat. Both men were silent, suddenly the monarch asked:

“What do you say to that force, Wirajouda, sent out to fight me, me alone?”

“Those troops don’t frighten me, but the heavy artillery does, how will we resist that in the long run? The swampy ground, the remote season are our best allies, will they eventually withstand those cannons, mortars and hand grenades? How little can we do against that? O master, why have you forbade me? A drop in the drink of those white dogs, and they were harmless…!”[ 229 ]

“Since when do we fight with such weapons, friend? An empire is very close to ruin when the monarch has to resort to these means. We will receive them behind our fortifications and then see who proves the strongest.”

“Never did the water rise so high to our lips.”

“You have forgotten much Wirajoeda, and in the prison of Batavia and in the mountains of the Preanger and in the dalem of Karta-Sura ? It’s true, we were younger then, we had less to lose, but all things considered, I now have nothing to give up but my life, is that gone, well…”

“What about your kingdom?”

“It will stand or fall with me, I have many heirs but no successor.”

“Master,” asked Wirajouda softly, “is it true what one whispers? Have you found your white wife’s son, and would you exalt him above all your other children?”

“It is true, Wirajouda, and you too would have obeyed him, for he was the only one who would have continued my empire in my mind, but I had harmed neither Lembono, nor Pengantin, nor my other children. The greatest duties would have fallen to him. Had you refused to obey him?”

“To refuse obedience to my master’s elect, that never, though my heart should have bled, my voice should have trembled at swearing the oath of allegiance!”

“I know I can count on you, old friend! How long was the road we made together from the slave-house to the royal throne, from the west of Java to the east we followed it, we went towards the sun. It would be a pity, Wirajoeda, if we had labored in vain; who can carry on my work, none of my sons, any more than the Balembanger[ 230 ]but my Dutch son is brave, fearless, honest, and faithful like his mother.”

“Like his mother?”

“Yes, as my Susanna, who chose death and disgrace to disloyalty to me. Kiai Hemboong and Radhen Goesik have deceived me, not they; my present wife, however, fears not to conspire against me just in the hour of peril, and make my task more arduous. But she was faithful as gold, and this is the comfort of my life.”

“But your son, where is he now?”

“In the dungeon; he has objections, I hope to overcome them, and nowhere is his life safer than right there!”

“Never wane your preference for the strangers, master; have you not endured enough of them? Have you forgotten the fate of Captain Jonker whom they have insulted, mistrusted, persecuted, and slew?”

“O if I may but have time to live, if my son willed, then, then…! But no! I had a strange dream last night, Wirajoeda, I imagined I was in Malang, I saw the plateau at my feet with its forests and terraces, I saw the broad streams and the high mountains, the ridges and gorges as clearly as I saw them several times. in reality beheld, and suddenly I perceived that bridges of iron and stone spanned the rivers, that cities encamped at the foot of the mountains, that on the roadstead of Pasuruan gigantic ships split the water. Suddenly I heard a strange noise, I looked down, and there, writhing and hissing, a gigantic serpent broke fire and flames through the woods, and clouds of smoke drifted over the sea and over those great ships.[ 231 ]who troubled sea and earth. The serpent penetrated the mountains and passed over the rivers, panting and howling she sometimes stopped and people left her lap, they were whites and browns, I looked at them closely and behold it became clear to me how the land did not look like had changed, however the mountains were pierced, the rivers bridged, the distances had disappeared, between our people and theirs a wide gulf still yawned. They were still the masters and we the servants. Then I realized that my work too had been in vain, and I awoke full of bitter sorrow. Friend, our way is coming to an end!”