Soerapati’s death

The wounded prince had been carried to the village of Randa Telloe in a stretcher, and he expected only that the enemy army would not give up its advantages, but proceed to Pasuruan; so he ordered him not to be taken to his kraton,[ 237 ]but to the little place two hours from Bangil, where he had a small pleasure house.

His wound, especially that on the side, was very dangerous, that same evening severe wound fevers manifested themselves, several dukuns were called to his bed, but none of them knew what to do.

He swooned again and again, but scarcely had he a clear moment when he asked:

“Have the enemies advanced? Are they approaching? Keep my injury a secret, that no one in Pasuruan will know!”

His entourage tried to respect his wish as much as possible, as everyone understood how important it was to conceal his disappearance.

When the Dutch had returned to Surabaya, they came to bring him the glad tidings; he smiled in spite of his pains.

“The fools, my whole country lay before them, and they have left it now, if I am well, how dearly shall I make them pay for my wound and the defeat of Bangil. Surabaya has kept his promise.”

A second messenger came to report that the attack on Kediri had also failed and that Captain de Roode had been forced to return to Karta-Sura .

“If only I had recovered, we should be content!” he said.

Now he made no more objections to be led to Pasuruan, where better care awaited him in the kraton. He was transported with the greatest of caution, for his condition required much care, and the art of the Javanese wound-healers was not great; in a simple wearable one wore[ 238 ]him away, but however careful every effort was made, it could not be prevented that the movement produced a violent fever and that he arrived in a miserable condition at Pasuruan, where his illness was still little suspected. Even the Radhen Ajoe knew nothing about it; she had believed that her husband and her son Lembono were at the head of the troops who were raiding Surabaya.

When she was told that the frost had arrived in the kraton badly wounded and perhaps hopeless, she was greatly alarmed; the old love, which had so long been lulled to sleep, slumbered by jealousy, awoke again, and with tousled hair, shrieking and wailing loudly, she rushed to the couch on which the hero lay stretched.

Startled by her cries, Soerapati raised the weary eyes.

“Stay calm, Radhen Ajoe, stay calm!” he whispered. “You and your sons will soon be masters! It was not necessary that you banded together against me.”

“Who told you that?” she sobbed. “Oh, Surapati, is your love towards me completely dead then? I have been cruelly slandered to you.”

“Was that also slander?” he asked with difficulty, „what part you have taken on to tear my heart from Susanna? That lie was not she invented and confirmed by you?”

“So many years have passed since then! I loved you so much!”

“And that is why you had to wound my heart to the point of death? No, Kusuma , your love was a fatal gift.”

“Forgive me!” she went on crying, „forgive me! I hated her whom you have never been able to forget. Tell me what shall we do, thy sons and I, thy wish shall be our command, but thou shalt heal, and then I swear to thee, though we understand thee not, we will obey thee!”[ 239 ]

“Where’s Lembono?” he asked.

“He has fallen in Surabaya and is destroying everything there with fire and sword; perhaps he will march into the Dutch fortress there.”

Anger glowed in the eyes of the wounded, and his voice trembled as he stuttered out the words:

“Curse that senseless act! He destroys the lands of our dearest friend and ally. The Depati will make him pay heavily for that; now I see how it will be after my death. Foolishness and passion come to the government!”

And pressing his hands to his face he broke loose in loud cries of despair.

“All in vain! everything!” he complained, „it is as if I have not lived. Misery and war I leave behind with dishonor. The Hadji is once again mastered. Go woman! go, you and your children heap shame and sorrow on my end.”

Suddenly he straightened up, a ray of hope passed over his sunken, emaciated face, and beckoning a servant, he bade him:

“Go to prison, release Tuwan from his chains, and bring him here!”

“What is your intention?” asked Radhen Goesik.

” Kusuma ,” he said, laying his hands on hers, “promise me that my last will will be sacred to you? Do you swear obedience in the name of our children too?”

“Yes, I promise you,” she replied, weeping.

“Then I forgive you everything, everything, but if that boy comes in, leave us alone!”

Robert, too, had spent sad weeks; his prison, though better than the one he had left, was a sad gloomy abode, made the sadder by the contrast with the glorious days,[ 240 ]that he had behind him. Yet he did not feel unhappy; the awareness that he suffered for a higher principle, that he was sacrificing liberty, honour, wealth, and prestige to his duty, the thought of Digna, who no doubt approved of his conduct, the assurance that his character was being purified and that he was expiating for his deplorable lapses regained his self-esteem and gave him a sweet satisfaction which lightened his chains and made him bear with patience all the inconveniences of the dungeon.

He knew nothing of all that was going on in the vicinity of Bangil, he suspected nothing of the fate of the Dutch weapons, until the moment when he was taken off his chains and made to leave the prison.

He was brought into the royal sleeping chamber; in front of the high crib, draped with dark red curtains, he saw a woman lying on the ground, whose jet-black hair fell tangled over her loins; but at his approach she rose and staggered out of the room.

“Robert,” he heard himself called in a feeble voice. He rushed to the couch and stood as if crushed; that emaciated man with that sunken face, twisted by suffering, the bandaged shoulder and half-extinguished eyes, could it be the proud, strong Radhen Wiro Negoro, who showed himself as a prince at every step?

“Come closer, Robert, don’t be afraid!” he went on almost in a whisper, extending his right hand to his son.

Deep pity overcame Robert’s soul, for the first time he felt in full force that the strongest of all bonds attached him to that man; he forgot everything only to remember that he was facing his dying father.

He grabbed his hand and pressed it to his lips.[ 241 ]

“Father, poor father!” said he participating, “what ails you?”

Soerapati put his arm around him and pulled him closer to him.

“It is your friends who have put me in this condition,” he said, with a faint attempt at a smile. “You don’t know anything yet? They have conquered Bangil and they would not have succeeded if I had remained standing but alas! the gods did not will it. They have given up their advantages, however, and nothing is lost, but I shall soon be done, Robert!”

The young man knelt beside the bed and looked at his father with tender concern.

“Where are you wounded, father? Tell me, does it hurt a lot? O how your head glows!” he said.

“Yes, child, my end is near! You’ve lived through bitter days, poor Robert, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to force you into your happiness. Tell me soon, for time is running out, what is your answer to my question now?”

Robert lowered his eyes to the ground and was silent.

“Together we may no longer work, but a greater task awaits you alone. Can you refuse your dying father the last comfort? Can, wilt thou embitter him at the hour of his death by thy obstinacy? O Robert, have pity on me! Say you will accept the rights that I bestow upon you. It is still time, tomorrow perhaps, it will be too late to-night!”

“O father,” exclaimed the young man, sadly, “do not torment me, it is hard for me to refuse, but I may not!”

“Didn’t the seclusion make you change your mind?”

“On the contrary, she made my resolve even more solid!”[ 242 ]

“Woe, thrice woe is me! That boy has a will, an iron, an unyielding will; he sees what his duty is, and he strives for it with a firm hand, neither promises, nor threats, nor torments can distract him from it. He was exactly what I needed. How could he have done everything much better than me, but alas! he does not want.”

“I can’t, father!”

“Child, will nothing convince you of the foolishness of your decision? Are those men to whom you sacrifice so much worthy of this sacrifice? Is it not better for you to fight them than to help them carry out their petty interests? What are they looking for here in Java? Profit, money, pleasure! What they have better they close to us angrily, lest they find then what their heart only craves. Nothing is lost yet, Robert! I will call my Balinese, they will swear allegiance to you, recognize in you their leader, my Radhen Ajoe will obey and support you, and I will also teach your brothers to see in you their only savior. Thou shalt treat them as they deserve, and do no wrong. O Robert, understand your importance and that of your native land, of my people, which is also yours.”

He sank back, exhausted with the effort, and the excitement; he closed his eyes wearily, and his chest rose and fell violently.

Robert stood looking at him in silence; in silent despair he wrung his hands and thought:

“O Digna, could you tell me what duty is!”

“Answer!” the patient lisped almost inaudibly.

‘Father, I would betray my country, may I? Of free will I swore allegiance to your enemies, shall I now go to war against my former comrades in arms?”[ 243 ]

“Is it fear that makes you waver, don’t you think you’re strong enough for the task I lay on your shoulders?”

“No, a thousand times no! I have no lack of courage! Oh, if you knew how your proposal smiles at me, how the office you open for me seems beautiful and seductive.”

“And yet you refuse?”

“I cannot do otherwise.”

“Then everything is done, everything is over!”

He closed his eyes and pressed his right hand to his heart; he lay motionless, so still that Robert, sitting next to him, thought all was done; only now and then a heavy sigh betrayed that he was still alive and thinking.

An old man entered, cautiously and silently at first, but seeing the nearly lifeless form of his prince, he let out a piercing scream and threw himself wailing at his feet.

Sourapati opened his heavy eyelids and asked in astonishment:

“Thou here, Kiai, thou and in this hour!”

“Cursed, the hour when I was born; should I survive the son of my heart, should I leave the prison for that and travel all over Java at my age begging to see my child in this condition?”

“Go away, father! Do not touch me! You once prepared me a bitter drink that poisoned my life. Nonna Susanna was never unfaithful to me, and her son now embitters my last moments. Depart, I give you life, because you are old and weak, and your days are numbered, but forgive the lie, and the monstrous covenant with my wife and the dwarf, that never.”

The old man broke into a heartrending wail.

“Go! Torture me no longer, or no, one more thing! What has the great Lord answered?”[ 244 ]

“He has listened to me, taken the diamond, and imprisoned me; I fled.…”

“It’s all right, leave me now! Soon, soon, I still have power to command!” he insisted as the old man hesitated. The old man went off with a loud groan, and once again deep silence reigned in the room.

Now and then lords came to the bedside to see if their master was able to answer them if they wanted to talk about affairs of state, but he remained silent; Pengantin and Lembono also appeared, making a great noise, and casting suspicious glances at the stranger, who did not leave their father’s side.

But Surapati seemed to hear or see nothing more, until at last his old comrade-in-arms , the regent of Kediri , bent over him and wet his forehead with the tears that trickled down from his weathered cheeks.

“Wirajouda,” he said softly, “didn’t I say, comrade, that our road was coming to an end, our long, difficult road? You have always been faithful to me, I thank you for your friendship, your devotion. Do not cry, those tears do not fit on your rough face; shake my hand again!”

“Do you suffer much, master?” Wirajouda asked, sobbing.

“That wound means nothing, but my heart aches. I would gladly have left you a worthy successor, friend, who deserved to be obeyed by you; confess to me sincerely, can you stand under one of my three sons?”

“They are so different from you!”

“But this son of mine!” and he took Robert’s hand in his, ‘was fully worthy of your submission. He would have raised this realm to a higher level, if only he would.”[ 245 ]

Astonished, Wirajuda looked at the young man, then threw himself at his feet and begged:

“Son of my master, you belong to a people whom I hate and detest, but I have followed your father all my life and know that whatever he wishes is good, yes, the best. Obey his will, do not let your last hours be heavy with your fault, and I swear to you the same allegiance that I have shown him for thirty years!”

“Oh, if only I could!” sighed Robert.

“It’s enough! He will not grant your request, which he refused to my repeated pleas and threats. Now leave us alone, Wirajoeda, I have only a few words left to say to my son. I entrust his life to you!”

“I will guarantee you with mine.”

And as soon as they were alone, Soerapati half straightened up and looked for Robert with his eyes.

“The turtle box, the room next door,” he stammered, his voice already broken. Robert rose and satisfied the dying man’s desire; he received the key and opened the box.

“Portrait of your mother!” the patient whispered, and when Robert gave him Suzanna’s image, he pressed it to his pale lips. Then he put it back in the box; from his finger he took a ring with an extraordinarily large diamond.

“For you, this box, this ring, everything! Keep the ring as a memorial, but sell the stone, your inheritance!”

“O my father, my poor father!” sobbed Robert.

“You are strong and courageous! You dare suffer for your principles, for such a son it was good to found an empire. You don’t want to, maybe you’re right, they’re more than we are, don’t leave them, it’s better to be white, so be it… return to the[ 246 ]your mother’s people…. this empire is collapsing…. rather the Company’s administration than the government of the natives…. you may say all that you know… I do not wish the victory of my sons…. now that you do not lead them…. let it come to an end… and be happy among your people!”

He was silent, overcome with emotion and exhaustion.

“Run at once… before my death! Hide, they won’t hurt you while I still breathe!”

“No, father, I’m not leaving you!” exclaimed Robert.

“It must, but wait a little longer!….Call upon your God for me, the crucified God of the Christians, whom Susanna adored….I loved him….rather than Batoro Shiwa, Buddha or Allah….but He wanted my worship not.”

“Oh, don’t say that, father! He is good and merciful! Yes, I will pray for you, the prayer that He Himself taught us.”

Robert knelt down, and prayed:

“Our Father which art in heaven…”

“Our Father , ” lisped the dying voice, “yes, that’s it, that’s how it should be…. Father of us all…. children of a father, white and brown…. the children forget…. but He, He knows. .… He knows them all.… Our Father.…”

Robert with difficulty finished the prayer; the prince, however, lay immovably with his right hand pressed to his forehead… his lips half open… his heart still beat faintly and softly, but the mighty spirit had already gone to rest.

Wirajoeda entered, he saw the marks of the last battle on the face of his beloved prince, and shuddered, yet his concern was only for the living.

“Depart soon, take with you what is yours,” he insisted, “the sons of Soerapati are after your life. Follow me soon!”[ 247 ]

Mechanically Robert got up; the regent carried him away by the arm, through a multitude of halls, passages, and courtyards, until he came to a gate in the outer wall; there was a horse saddled.

“You cannot escape by the sea! Into the mountains, soon, soon to Tosari.”

Toward nightfall Robert reached the village, where the good-natured mountain dwellers recognized him and welcomed him with joy. Siwangi, now a happy wife, was his hostess. Bitter sorrow reigned in the village upon learning of Surapati’s death.

“What will be our lot now, among his wife and sons?” they wondered anxiously.

When the prince’s funeral had taken place in silence, Robert, disguised as Petite Petit, left the village with some of his friendly hosts; he arrived in Pasuruan and visited his father’s humble grave. There he also learned that the three brothers vehemently disputed his estate and that Kiai Hemboong had scratched himself on his master’s grave. The unclean flower of Pengantin’s love for Siwangi had withered happily among all that smoke and blood.

Owing to the cares of the Tengerees, Robert succeeded with a little ruse to leave Pasuruan and arrive at Surabaya, where the officers received him like a resurrected man.