which hides at the foot of the Tenger Mountains; even now all travelers boast of battle the incomparable freshness that reigns under the tall trees on the shores of the lake with its translucent azure waters. Dark blue is the lake that arises from a spring and later rushes down like a small river to water the sawahs in the vicinity; it owes its dark blue color to the clear blue stony bed that contains the water to the deepest depths. Thousands and thousands of fish frolic in the crystal liquid; they are as sacred to the native as the numerous monkeys that frolic, whistle, scream, in the tall trees which shade the lake and drag their long branches in the water,
On the shores of the lake rose the pleasure house of the prince. It was a simple building, almost entirely hidden under the tall trees, and enclosed by a solid wall, which also followed the water quite closely. Hindu statues adorned the banks; a sort of gallery had been built above the lake, from which a staircase of a few steps reached into the water and made it easier to take a bath.
Though it was noon, there was a coolness of freshness under the tall trees and on the water, which was literally in the middle of the forest. In the gallery it was especially lovely, the sun’s rays flickered around through the dense[ 149 ]network of foliage and made the lake sparkle like a gigantic liquid sapphire; on yellow mats were few women engaged dakonspel, the legs they crosswise folded under the body on a couch higher than they coaxed the Radhen Goesik Koesoema .
The years had not gone unnoticed by the Mataram princess’s head, and the years are especially not favorable to Javanese women; yet she had much left over from the shipwreck of youth, her rich head of hair and, above all, a manner of wearing the head, which characterized the born queen; her floating, uncertain gait had given way to the self-conscious step of a princess who knows she can and may command.
At the feet of her divan sat a shriveled old little man; he could hardly walk, only crawl, the features of his large head were hideously twisted, yet he was still Radhen Goesik’s dearest company.
“Take your games and sit down,” the queen ordered her wives, “I have to speak with my counselor.”
In the twinkling of an eye the mats were rolled up, the dakons taken up, and the women rushed off; it was known that after a long silence between the princess and her dwarf such a conversation inevitably followed.
“Old Kiai never seems to return,” said Radhen Goesik hurriedly, “almost a year has elapsed since his departure.”
“Bulu Kiddur predicted it to him!” such was the broken, rattling voice of the monstrosity; “the Dutchman does not return what voluntarily throws itself into his ever-open mouth. What does my mistress’s husband say of his absence?”
“You know that Radhen Wiro Negoro did not even share with me his passing,” replied the princess bitterly, “and remember [ 150 ]I do not know what he was ordered to negotiate at Batavia, though I guess so. Oh, Boeloe, how deeply the love of the Dutchman has taken root in his soul. Nothing can exterminate them but the mighty tree must be cut down.”
“The tree has been cut down, but nothing else has wanted to thrive in the soil still saturated with fibres.”
“I couldn’t plant anything in it, nothing!” and her voice sounded almost wailing, „and Allah knows how much trouble I put forth, in my best years when I was young and fair, now I am but a shadow of old, what shall I now do? Me and my children?”
“I do not understand your lamentation, Great Lady. Hasn’t Surapati given you everything you wished for? Has he betrayed the confidence you put in him? You have given your hand to a runaway slave, a highwayman, he made you a queen more powerful than Paku Buwana’s Ratoe. Your children are princes, your daughters-in-law princesses. What more do you want?”
Radhen Goesik sighed:
“You are right, Bulu! I am ungrateful had I been Purbaya’s wife, I should have lived the sad life of a prisoner in the midst of the hated kafirs. Surapati has bestowed upon me splendor, power, and honour, he has lifted me up beside him.”
“And he won’t tolerate any other by his side. You have no one to share your title with. Sister, how demanding you are!”
“I confess to Boeloe! Many would think that I had now reached the pinnacle of my desires, and yet I am not satisfied, not at ease. This building Boeloe, erected by the mighty hand of my husband, rests on sandy soil; if he is no longer there to support it, it will collapse. And he too[ 151 ]fear it.… but never do we speak of our fear. I am nothing to him, nothing more than his Ratu, the mother of his children, the putri who helped him to ascend the ladder that leads to fame and power.”
“But isn’t that enough? What more do you want? The time has surely passed that thou didst taste the sweet quince quince, which he can in his caresses boodt? They must now disgust you, for you are no longer young, little grandmother!”
“You don’t need to remember me, dwarf! That is precisely why I want to enjoy the food that suits my age. I desire no more his honeyed flattery, his lying expressions of love, perhaps. I thirst for something else; to the knowledge of his plans, to the confidential communications of his cares and anxieties. I wanted to discuss with him the interests of his … rather, let me say of our empire, for what would have become of him without my love, without my support?”
“He treats his Ratu with a reverence hitherto unparalleled in Java; she does not share his possessions with anyone.”
“Do you think I set this privilege so highly? How, I’d rather be at the head of a well-stocked hood than live the lonely life among my maidservants, to which he condemns me. There I would rule over my equals, now they are only slaves who obey me and he also forces my sons to that Western abstinence and why, this is precisely what pains me day and night, because it is his highest ambition, the white man To imitate Christian dogs because he only awaits from them his salvation and the survival of his kingdom, while I, on the other hand, guarantee nothing unless he calls on Islam to help.”[ 152 ]
“Precisely, by appealing to the old love of the East Javanese for the religion of Batoro Guru, which has remained his own, he succeeded in subduing these peoples.”
“Do you mean that, fool? Yes, it is true that the Petite and the Southern regions have seen in him an emissary of the gods, but Pasuruan only suffers the authority of a heathen, and what are the forms of the Brahmins to him? A troublesome, boring robe, which he would joyfully throw off to accept the worship of the Westerners, and join with them to make a kind of monstrous covenant. But I the fiery Mahometan, I shudder at their cold touch, I’d rather be nothing than a princess crowned by them.”
“Pangeran Poeger didn’t think that way, and neither did your grandfather the Emperor Tagal Wangie,” grinned Bulu. “What would have become of Mataram if the kafir had not reached out to them to rescue them?”
“That help has cost them dearly too, but Surapati wants more; he desires to be treated by them as an equal, not as an infant, who cannot handle his toys himself, and thus needs the help of the elderly and wise.”
“But princess! passion leads you astray, you have always been jealous of the Dutch, first because of the love your husband had for a Christian woman, later because he only expects support from them to maintain their empire. Jealousy is the only thing that rules your life!”
“Yes, it is true, I am jealous! Had he never loved that white man, never would his thoughts have turned again and again to those to whose people she belonged. As yonder sunflower follows the sun wherever it shines, so his eye is ever fixed upon her. Without her he, the Balinese, would be all Javanese[ 153 ]he would have loved and honored me as his lawful first wife, but he would not have thought it beneath himself to show his favor to others, and I would not have murmured, rejoicing that he shared my faith and my folk customs, but now ..”
“You fear that dead woman more than a whole hijacking.”
“Dwarf, you read my mind! What good would it be to hide them from you? Yes, that’s right! As the vessel, which once doepa one was burned, his fragrances reserves, though it also casts later the strongest herbs, so it remains in the memory lives on his first youth, his greatest love. That memory pervades his days with her hated scent, after Suzanna he never loved again, not even me!”
That last word sounded like a stifled sob.
“And yet what has she given him and what I!”
“Sister, sister! Don’t blame the favors done to you! Write them down yonder in the water, then they sink into the deep, and be upright; was not then at that time the love of the robber the greatest boon which the princess desired, and for which no sacrifice seemed too great to her!”
‘Have I received them then, Boeloe? No, the love I dreamed of, I still hunger for it. Love, which shares everything with the beloved, thoughts, hopes, fears, worries, plans and what did Surapati give me? The precious gold case, which, however, lacks the glittering diamond!”
She was silent for a few moments, and Bulu spoke nothing either.
“Dwarf,” she continued, “I know nothing about what is going on now.” [ 154 ]in the realm. He has bestowed upon Sunan Mas a hospitality which weighs heavily upon the poor prince, a hospitality much like a prison sentence. What is his purpose in that? He is almost always absent, he trains his soldiers, he fortifies his fortresses. Is there a war coming? And with whom?”
“The mighty Radhen Adipati did not devote me to his secrets.”
“Against Paku Buwana, he will fight against the illegitimate emperor, but then it will also be against the Dutch! Oh if he could destroy them, if he could drive them away!”
“Will his love for them also be cut off, then, princess?”
“In the long run he cannot stand alone against his people, against his family, because his sons also detest what I detest!”
“So will my good mother melt the ornaments she received from her husband into krisses, which are to kill him?”
However, the answer to Boeloe’s defiant question, which probably shed light on still obscure places in Kusuma’s mind, was spared her.
Mas Pengantin, followed by Lembono, entered; he looked miserable, his clothes were in disarray and torn, his face bloodied, his arm hung in a silk cloth. Lembono too, though less battered, seemed pale and tired.
“What ails you my sons!” exclaimed Radhen Goesik, startled.
“Mother, behold, that’s what father’s friends, the faithful, peaceful Tengerees, have done!” cried Pengantin, and threw herself down, whimpering, on the divan beside her.
“You certainly don’t look festive to pious pilgrims,” remarked Bulu Kidur dryly.
“Curse upon the piety of that hypocritical people,” said Lembono, briskly, “if I were Radhen Wiro Negoro, I should exterminate them all from the first to the last.”[ 155 ]
“Speak no evil of them, he shares their superstitions wholeheartedly, and if they have attacked you, my sons, it is your fault,” said the queen sullenly. “Why have you taken part in their superstitious abuses, while in your heart you worship Allah the only God and his Prophet? You yourself have been guilty of hypocrisy and idolatry.”
“Father does not permit us to worship anything but what he sees fit.”
Pengantin went on moaning and complaining. Brahma, Buddha, or Mahomed were all equally indifferent to him. He whimpered so desperately only because his well-thought-out elopement had failed, but his mother did not know that.
“Tell me all,” she went on, eyes twinkling, as her maidservants labored to refresh and nurse the wounded prince. „Tell me everything Lembono, what happened! Why did the Tengerese attack you?”
“I do not know? perhaps because they thought we were mocking their foolish displays, though we tried hard to remain serious.”
And he gave a very free account of the incident, in which the poor mountain dwellers were presented as traitors and cruelties, while he and his brother seemed to be innocent victims of their bad faith.
The princess trembled with wrath; she clenched her hands and smote them on the forehead.
“That scorn must be blotted out; those people deserve the heaviest punishments. Radhen Wiro Negoro must show that those who insult his sons attack him themselves. I will urge him to vengeance against that cursed race!”
“The Tengerees are dearer to him than his children!” mocked[ 156 ]Lembono, while Pengantin pondered whether he might not arrange the revenge so as to come into possession of Siwangi.
There the beautiful young Radhen Soederma, Pengantin’s wife, rushed in; she had taken a little walk with her wives in the garden which was farther into the forest, and heard coming back of the accident which had happened to her husband.
With all the marks of terror and worry she stepped under the porch and let the other women go; she alone wanted to help him, bind him, and refresh him; Leaning on her arm, Pengantin staggered in, while Soederma gave orders to summon the dukun (court physician) of her father-in-law.
Radhen Goesik looked at her mockingly and shrugged. Lembono smiled and whispered to his mother:
“My beautiful sister should know what caused my brother to inflict that wound. Do you really think, dear mother, that those Tengerees attacked and wounded us for no reason at all?”
‘That is rather indifferent to me; there can be no reason so weighty to excuse their hostility; if you want anything from them, and they won’t give it to you willingly, you have every right to take it, even if it were their wives and children.”
“Dearest mother, were you but our princely father,” flattered Lembono. “When will Radhen Wiro Negoro come back here?”
“Do I know whether he is coming here? He is to the borders of Kediri, Nitro accompanies him with the Prince of Balembangan. Tell me now, truthfully, what happened, and I may judge what should be recovered from your father. Surely it is again Pengantin’s amorous whim?”