one comes to the gate with large spikes, beside which in two niches the statues of a musketeer and pikeman seem to stand guard. .
Above this gate is the common mark of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie , an entwined VOC surrounded by the name of the master builder Cornelis van der Lijn and the year[ 45 ]MDCXLVII. Entering this gate one enters a great hall, the walls of which are hung with pikes and muskets, and which proudly display the banners captured from the enemy. The furnishings are otherwise not abundant, a table, a chair, and some benches, and a chiming clock, the only public clock in the city, which is arranged to indicate the hours outwardly; in the evening the occupation of the castle takes place on the benches when the pastor prays.
Directly opposite the entrance at a large door two live halberdiers keep watch; this door gives access to a series of galleries and open spaces and to the meeting room of the Councils of the Indies, in which hang the portraits of all the Chiefs who have ruled the Dutch Indies .
To the right of the great hall is the office of the Governor-General, in which, although it is still quite early in the morning, he is already busy writing.
Johan van Hoorn, was now in his 53rd birthdayyears, and for one who had spent almost all his life in the Indies, and whose locks were quite grey, still very good in appearance; his thin frame seemed taller than she really was, though in recent years he walked a little stooped because of his leaning forward; a friendly expression spread across his face. Usually he greeted everyone who visited him with a merry laugh, and indeed he had reason to laugh, the heavy office of Governor-General fell lightly upon him; he had to fear no opposition from the Council of the Indies like his predecessor, Monsieur Camphuys; he had a beautiful young wife, a dear daughter, and he was accumulating an immense wealth, in what manner, the historians of[ 46 ]time does not express itself; they only point out that His Nobility the Lord Supreme Governor always did a lot of business with the Chinese and even showed them a preference, which the Dutch often envied.
On this June morning of the year 1705 the usual gay expression of His Nobleness’s countenance had given way to a more serious one; he read through several passages, made some notes, consulted a large map of Java, then got up and went up and down the room several times.
“I don’t know how the Council of Seventeen will decide, but war is inevitable,” he murmured under his breath, “we could never have a better opportunity to gain a foothold in Java. If we support Sunan Mas, Poeger will not resign and they will fight him anyway. The only question now is: what should be our attitude towards Surapati? Shall we seek the friendship, or the enmity, of that dastardly slave?”
He set his golden bell in motion, and when the halberd appeared at the door, he commanded him:
“Bring in the Chinese who waits out there!”
“Here within Your Nobility?”
“That’s what I said.”
A few moments later a very elderly Chinese man, in plain, inconspicuous, yet dignified dress, came in and bowed to the ground before the Commander.
“It’s all right, Babah!” said the governor, who was seated on his high armchair, “I have heard that you have been to the eastern corner of Java, and there seen and spoke to Radhen Wiro Negoro.”
“The great Lord speaks very well; I am from Pasaroean [ 47 ]and there visited the dalem of that prince, and even saw him face to face.”
“I have also heard that you spoke with this man about the state of the realm of Mataram, and that he expressed his opinion very frankly.”
“It is true; the great Lord advises everyone’s thoughts, Radhen Wiro Negoro, has indeed asked me many questions about the Noble Lords in Batavia and about their plans for the Mataram.”
“I have little time to spare, Babah! So make it short, what is the meaning of Surapati? Does he really sincerely wish to reconcile himself with the High Government in Batavia, and if so, will he also support the emperor whom we recognize as the legitimate heir of Hamangkoe-Rat ?”
“I don’t think this is Surapati’s intention, great Lord! For years, he has made a close friendship with Adipati Anum, the heir to the crown, and nothing will persuade him to leave the side of this prince, but I may be mistaken.”
“So when we hand over the Pangeran Poeger to his nephew and establish him as emperor on his throne, then Surapati will seek our alliance?”
“His own lips did not declare that to your servant, he spoke only of friendship and reconciliation with the Dutch.”
“I do not believe his words, however; he is unfaithful and false, he hates the Noble Company, I know that!”
“Would not the great Lord be mistaken in that? Radhen Wiro Negoro wishes nothing more than to make peace with the Dutch and to rule Java in friendship with them.”
The Governor General thought.[ 48 ]
“Is that his secret intention? To exterminate the Matarams, become emperors ourselves, and use us to do so. Indeed that slave dares a lot.”
And aloud he said:
“It is strange that he should make you, a Chinese, a confidant of his secret thoughts.”
A sly glance shot the other slyly at the Supreme Commander.
“Does the great Lord know the Chinese so little that he does not discover how only my robes and headdress are Chinese?”
Van Hoorn smiled at the thought of how often he was blamed for his predilection for the Chinese.
“Who are you then?”
“After all, the emissary of a prince is holy! I am Soerapati’s foster father his fellow slave once, I accompanied him on his flight from Batavia, I was next to him when he submitted to Captain Ruys, I stood by his side when Ensign Kuffeler defied him and provoked him to resistance. I accompanied him to Karta-Sura and on to Pasauan.”
“How, you were in Karta-Sura when my brother-in-law the Noble Lord Tak was cowardly murdered, and you dare to appeal to me your capacity as an emissary?”
“Lord, if you please take my life, little is lost. I am weighed down by the burden of the years; Accompanied only by two young men, who put Surapati’s care aside, I undertook the great journey from Java’s East Corner. If it be the will of the great Lord, then I shall die, glad to have rendered one last service to my son, and convinced that he will not leave my death unavoided.”
The calm tone of the old man was not without effect on Van Hoorn. One had to know how much interest the mysterious[ 49 ]aroused the former slave’s empire in all Batavian circles to understand the curiosity with which van Hoorn listened to the envoy; he also burned with a desire to know anything more about the formidable enemy of the Company.
“Tell me,” he continued, “how did Surapati rise so high? By what means has he come into possession of so many lands which belong to the Emperor of Mataram, and which the latter has no intention of disputing him?”
“It was written in the Book of Allah that one day he would become great and mighty, and against the will of Heaven no human means avail.”
“But is it true that the late Emperor of Mataram was kind to him and kept in correspondence with him?”
“There are secrets there which one does not even reveal to his father.”
“But his relations with Sunan Mas are no secret. Is it only to assist this prince that Surapati promises us help?”
A despicable laughtered the old man’s features for a moment, as he replied:
„What is Radhen Wiro Negoro Sunan Mas, what is him Paku Buwana ? The alliance with the Dutch alone is very important to him. Nothing about the friendship of the Javanese princes! Why should the Noble Company spurn his help? Because he was once a slave? Wasn’t the ancestor of the Mataram princes then a robber? And even though Surapati was once carried away into slavery from his homeland, he is still of noble blood.”
“You can go; if I want more information from you, I’ll have you called!”
The old man prostrated himself and his hands were above his [ 50 ]stretching out his head, he offered the Chief Regent a diamond ring of great value.
“This jewel my master sends you as a token of his sincere and friendly disposition,” he said.
The Governor-General, meanwhile, had turned and pretended to see or hear nothing.
The other put the jewel down on the writing table and crawled away toward the door.
Just now the halberd came to the gate and announced:
“The Noble Sir Ordinary Council of the Indies, the Wild.”
“Let his Edelheid come in and let this man out! Follow his ways and do not lose sight of him!” he said in Dutch, firmly convinced that the native would not understand him.
He had just had the time to throw some papers over the precious stone which Kiai Hemboong had brought him when the stout figure of Herman de Wilde appeared before him.
This Council of the Indies was still in the prime of its life; he had sharp, cold features, around his mouth was an expression of restrained, one might say of petrified grief. It is with the sorrows of youth as with some liquids, some evaporate and dissolve in the air without a trace, others freeze or petrify, and man is condemned to carry them with him for life, like a burden that weighs his life. and oppressed.
Herman de Wilde had once loved with all the strength of his strong soul, he had looked up too much to the girl of his dreams to dare to confess his love to her, and had a slave, a son of the cursed brown race, seized his ideal, smeared it by his caresses [ 51 ]and trample in the mire before him. At least that’s how the Savage judged; burning hatred filled him for that man. Few knew that Sie Oentoeng and Soerapati were the same; he kept his secret in the depths of his heart. Only bloody vengeance, he thought, could deliver him from the grievous sorrows that embittered his days; only after he had punished the audacious slave could he calmly think of Susanna, make peace with her memory.
Joan van Hoorn gave him a friendly hand and offered him a seat.
“Is there anything new that compels you to visit me so early?” asked the Governor-General.
“I can’t exactly call it news; it is said here with all certainty that Adipati Anum is arming himself to receive us, and that he has secured the help of the villain who has been oppressing the East Corner with impunity for years.”
“Then I know even more! That rogue, as you call him, we can make harmless, moreover, we can make him our friend and ally.”
De Wilde’s eyes sparkled.
“You are not serious, Your Grace! To make alliance with a slave, with the despiser of our authority, with the murderer of our brethren? What good can come from such a covenant? And so you say, Tak’s brother-in-law!”
“You see that the interests of the cause we serve can silence all feelings of family love in me. The question still remains, however, who should we regard as the main culprit, the Mataramsche Princes or Surapati?”
“Him, the wretch, that’s clear!”
“You are prejudiced against the slave, De Wilde! me for me[ 52 ]believe that he is a man to deal with, not an old woman like those little princes of Bantam, Cheribon, and Mataram, idle tools in the hands of their rulers. He knows what he wants, and if he commits himself to us, we will be able to take his word for it.”
“Precisely because he is a man with a will and a firm plan, he is doubly fearful of us. Why was Troeno-Djojo such a formidable foe, because he turned out to be no treacle like those effeminate princes. Connect with him, soon he will be our master, who lays down laws for the Company and perhaps drives us out of Java.”
The Governor-General thought seriously.
“You mean, it is more profitable to have such men as enemies than as friends?”
“Yes, Your Nobility, as an enemy one can abdicate oneself from them. The friendship, however, imposes obligations. She blinds the eyes with gifts and promises, and when these eyes open it is too late!”
“But if we start the war without consulting the Council of the Seventeen, De Wilde, we are taking on a great responsibility.”
“If you have yet to write to Europe first, give Sunan Mas time to fortify himself and speak with the centurion of the robbery kingdom.”
“We will carry out what the Council of the Indies decides,” said the Governor-General, rising, to show that the interview was over.
‘Help me, De Wilde,’ he said, ‘that I may go to breakfast; the affairs of state have taken hold of me so early that it is no wonder that my stomach begins to lament aloud about it.”[ 53 ]
He pushed the papers away and then as if by accident put the left hand, in which he was hiding something, in his breast pocket. De Wilde didn’t even notice the movement when the Supreme Governor held out his right hand to say goodbye.
“So Your Grace will not think of that dangerous friendship anymore?” he asked with a furrowed brow.
“My thinking is not limited, not even by the advice of a friend like you, De Wilde,” he replied with his usual cheerfulness, “and therefore I will also consider your words and give them all the attention they deserve. to earn.”
He beckoned him that he should go; De Wilde bowed and left. The halberd gave him back his sword, which he had to hand over when he entered, as no one was allowed to approach the Supreme Commander armed, and Van Hoorn withdrew through a side door to his special quarters.
Three ladies, Mrs Maria van Hoorn, born Van Riebeek, her stepdaughter Petronella Wilhelmina and the niece of His Edelheid, the young Mrs Voorneman, sat in an open gallery overlooking a flower garden.
“Hey, what a surprise! My three graces united!” said the governor gladly, “to what do I owe the pleasure of seeing my dear cousin at my table so early in the morning?”
There was still a tired look on Digna’s face; the ladies had just silently remarked that the freshness of their cheeks was already beginning to feel the influence of the climate, and that they exchanged their soft blush for the dull pale hue of the Indo-Europeans.
Yet the smile with which she greeted her uncle was as friendly as ever.
„My husband left for work at the usual time and Albert [ 54 ]has been tempted all day at a children’s feast at the house of M. de Boo; I dreaded being alone for so long, and so decided to seek the company of my honored aunt and dear niece for this morning!”
“So not mine! You disappoint me bitterly, Digna; I thought that my presence had some value for you too!”
“How could that be?” said Mrs. Van Hoorn, ‘our cousin knew in advance that she would be too short to count on; even at breakfast we had to miss that company.”
“The less one enjoys something, the higher one used to value it.”
“Fuck Uncle! Is that why you deliberately withhold it from us?”
“On purpose? No, my dear! such courage would I lack; or don’t you think I need to sacrifice the presence of the three fair flowers that surround me to that of troublesome visitors and musty pieces of paper, but the inexorable duty compels me to live in their midst longer than I please. For my dear wife, however, I have a surprise that will no doubt far outweigh the lack of a few minutes of my company!”
And taking her hand in his, he put on one of her fingers the precious ring which had just been brought to him by Surapati’s envoy. The sunbeams broke into the stone and cast their variegated rays to the left and right, much to the admiration of the three women. They crowded around the diamond, Digna, however, more out of politeness than because she herself took such delight in these precious pastimes.
Maria van Hoorn kissed her husband full of gratitude and Petronella’s lip hung a little at the thought:[ 55 ]
“If Dad hadn’t been married, that gift would have been for me.”
No one asked about the origin of the beautiful jewel.
“Well, my fair Digna, on that condition your husband may be late for breakfast too,” joked His Nobility.
“I would pardon, like my good aunt, before such a pledge of atonement was offered to me, and think that where even my mighty uncle stoops to cruel necessity, the sooner my husband can excuse himself with it.”
“Always as decisive! You are right; none more than the Supreme Governor of the East Indies is a slave to his duties, especially in this solemn time.”
“Will there be war?” asked Mrs. Van Hoorn.
“That will be decided by the Council of the Indies , ” was the evasive reply.
“Against Surapati at last?” and Digna’s eyes glittered.
“What would you say?” was his laughing question, “What if we went to war with him and not against him?”
“Uncle, you can’t be serious. The Company would not avenge the scorn inflicted upon it twenty years ago by a slave; she would unite with him while my father’s blood still cries out for vengeance?”
“I thought your feelings were more Christlike, Digna,” said Mrs. Van Hoorn reproachfully.
“As far as I know it is not contrary to the duties of a Christian to defend his own honor, and the honor of the Dutch flag has been miserably violated by that murderer’s act; the death of my father is not mine alone, his only daughter,[ 56 ]to all our homeland. It would be baseness to make an alliance with the usurper who has stolen his realm and wrongfully holds it in his possession.”
“You forget, dear cousin, that Caesar and Alexander, in whom you admire such great heroes and conquerors, came into possession of whole countries in the same way. I believe that an open enemy like Surapati is far preferable to questionable friends like the Mataram princes.”
“And I repeat, I should think it an eternal shame if the Company allied itself with him.”
“Would you think less of me, Digna?” Van Hoorn always smiled.
She looked at him earnestly and simply replied:
“Yes, uncle, I certainly would.”
As she drove home with her husband in the afternoon, Digna told him what precious gift the Governor General had honored his wife.
“I would not want you to buy me such precious things!” she added.
“Bought!” a mocking smile played on the dry lips of the magistrate as he repeated this word.