Before him was a sheet of refreshments well provided; he used nothing but a draft of Dutch brandy from time to time from a golden cup, which he eagerly brought to his lips.
At some distance his servants crouched on the ground, keeping a reverent silence; a gloomy mood seemed to prevail among them, all looked up to their master’s dejected, mourning face; however, no one ventured a comment.
There, among the green groves that formed a graceful wreath around the tall house, a man approached, who, coming under the verandah, threw himself to the ground and crawled up to the master.
“My Lord and Master!” said he, Anum’s deformed foot[ 92 ]kissing. “Doesn’t my master recognize his father’s old servant?”
The Emperor, pleasantly touched by the ceremonial unfamiliar here, cast his dull squinting eyes upon the newcomer, a feeble old man in Javanese court attire, collected his memories, and suddenly exclaimed:
“Amirang Kusumo ! How are you still alive?”
“The servant lives to offer his master his services.”
“And I’ll need them, old friend! For, ah, I am so desolate, so low.”
And the same creature that that morning had boasted of its power full of pride and self-conceit, now burst into an unmanly, bitter cry; he threw his head on the pillows, whimpered and groaned as if he had been a sick woman and not an emperor’s son.
“Gentleman!” said Amirang Koesoemo , who was squatting at the foot of the couch, “there is no need for tears and sighs. It is true Karta-Sura has fallen into the power of the Pangeran Poeger, but mighty help and support are assured to my master to reclaim throne and court-city.”
“Help from a slave! The son of Hamangkoe-Rat depends on a wretched Balinese, who dared to deny him imperial honors.”
“Quiet, O prince, quiet! Do not forget that you are in his realm, that everything here bows to him and that he reigns supreme there.”
“Supremely you say!” lamented the emperor; “Have you forgotten how just we raised him to the pedestal from which he began his soaring flight? Do you remember how the highwayman appeared in my father’s kraton, with no other way out but to humble himself before us, awaiting death or freedom from our grace,[ 93 ]or return to the wilderness? You gave him your daughter and…”
“And thereby I armed the hand which must defend my master’s son against the Dutch.”
“I incurred their enmity as my father’s fatal inheritance, and nothing more. Why did I not reject their help, why did I prefer the slave’s? The Dutch would at least recognize me as emperor! The Balinese greets me like a runaway adventurer, nothing more!”
The appearance of his lost dignity was the only thing Sunan Mas regretted; of his power he always perceived so little, identifying it wholly with his own person, that he scarcely perceived its loss.
“Everything prostrates itself before him, everything pays him imperial honour, and me, as his guest, is honored for nothing else. Everyone forgets that I am Emperor of Java, that I carry Mataram’s royal jewels with me; he does not even give me the honor which the Sultan of Tjeribon and Bantam deem themselves fortunate to do to me as their liege lord. He behaves as an independent monarch, and by whose right can he be?”
“By his sword, the most indisputable right. But grant thy servant, Lord, to express his wonder at thy vexation and dismay; for years Your Highness knew that Surapati ruled supreme here.”
“Yes, I knew that and rejoiced over it, but I thought he acknowledged that he had received that rulership from my hand.”
And it was only the appearance that he missed; by some ceremonies the host might have made the fugitive the happiest of mortals; without difficulty Surapati could have pretended that he had found his lawful master within his own[ 94 ]instead of showing him a tangible benevolence.
“What ails his power, O Emperor!” continued the ex-ruler, “if only he restores the lost glory to you?”
“I’ve already half lost them, now that he owns them.”
“In the name of the Prophet, Radhen Wiro Negoro do not suspect that you behold his might with sorrowful eyes. Remember that you and yours are wholly at his mercy. My Emperor is here in the kraton of a Regent, who is one of Surapati’s closest friends and comrades in arms. His soldiers, the most trained in all Java, form your honor guard, an honor guard, which, however, needs only a word from him to turn you and your retinue into jailers.”
In impotent rage the pretend-emperor threw himself back, wallowed in the pillows whimpering loudly, and wringed his hands while moaning.
“Then what did I do, unfortunate one? Why did I go into the tiger’s den, I guileless deer…”
The comparison evoked a faint smile on Kusoemo ‘s thin lips .
“What will await me here? Humiliation, nothing more! Oh why did I flee the Dutch? Had I surrendered myself to them in time, they would not have withheld imperial honours from me.”
“Like your father gave to Troeno-Djojo ,” said the old man with a mocking laugh.
“How you yourself mock me ! It is not good to mock Kusumo , the fallen waringin tribe ; remember, I am your emperor, whatever may have happened. You remain my subject!”
He did not miss a quick glance, which the old governor cast at his master’s horse’s foot; as if instinctively he pulled the sarong over the deformed part of the body.[ 95 ]
“Or do you also recognize Surapati for your master?” the frost continued with painful urgency.
“Your servant lives in his kingdom, he enjoys his favours, why should he not recognize him as his master?”
“But how far does his realm or what he calls his realm extend? Tell me, that I may know the power of him into whose hands I surrendered myself.”
“His realm touches the foot of the Willisberg and meets the sea that separates Java from Bali, the Ardjoeno and Smroe raise their tops to the clouds in the midst of its soil; up to the border of the Surabaya landscape he has subjects; in the area of the Ratoe Kidoel 1he shares the scepter with her. Nothing resists the strength of his weapons. The old king of Balembangan gave his children in marriage to his and his son recognizes him as his liege lord. No brown-blooded soldiers can match his well-trained armies. The Dutch alone are worthy to resist him. He is brave and stern but strictly fair; his warriors fear the look of his eyes, but in their hearts they love him dearly; they know that everything he undertakes succeeds, that he seems invulnerable in battle, that his will is a law, but also that he wills only what appears good and sensible. They trust in him, and all the people build upon his prince as upon a rock of stone; they obey all his commands, they adore the impression of his feet, seeing a higher being in him.[ 96 ]a new appearance in human form of Shiwa their supreme god, whose shrines he restored, whose worship he revived.”
“How, he despises Allah and his Prophet?”
“He worships the Supreme Being and allows each one to name Him according to the conviction of his soul; behind his dalem he has built a tjandi in honor of the supreme god of the Hindus, but me and all who worship Mahomed as the great Prophet of Allah, he let him build freely missigits. Whom he himself reveres in the depths of his heart, what god made him win these victories, and who endowed him with such power as was never seen in Java, this is a secret that even his consort my daughter cannot fathom.”
“But wasn’t my father mightier than he?”
“Your father, my old master, received the crown back from the hands of the Dutch, who had taken it from Troeno-Djojo ; your father was a king, who reigned over a nation of slaves, but he the slave reigns over a kingdom of free men.”
And how did he get that power? Why do all bow voluntarily to him, who a short time before was still less than nothing, a fugitive, an outlaw?”
“Some say because he knows a magic spell which tenfolds the number of his men in the sight of the enemy, others because he is assisted by the mighty Dewahs, the gods, expelled from Java by the servants of the Moslem, others say because he draws the hearts of men to himself by justice and goodness, because he himself knows slavery and poverty, near-knowing terror and terror, which seeks to spare his people. He made them experience what they never felt before, that the cornerstone of every power fear not[ 97 ]need be but love. Some say that; your servant sees and hears everything but does not dare to decide. One thing he only knows, Surapati is mightier, O Emperor, than even your grandfather, the dreaded Tagalwangi, ever was, before a Dutchman entered his domain, for his power resides in the hearts of his subjects, and not in fear of death and mutilation. ”
Blindly as if hearing a foreign language, Sunan Mas listened to the old man’s words; at last he asked in a trembling tone:
“But if he is so mighty, what proof have I that he will not kill me?”
“He has shown you hospitality, and never again has this right been violated by him. Trust him!”
Sunan Mas looked anxiously around him at his motionless courtiers with their weak limbs and strident criss-crosses, and again new terror crept over him.
“Didn’t he ambush me? Will he not kill me?…”
“What interest does he have in your death?” asked Kusumo with bitter sincerity. ‘Were you Paku Buwana the victorious friend of the Dutch, perhaps the benefit would triumph over the right even of hospitality. Now, however, your presence will not harm him. He will speak to you and then he will return to his dalem in Kotta Maroeng near Pasoeroean, entrusting you to Gusti Wirajoeda, regent of Kediri.”
“And you Kusumo , where do you live?”
“He gave me twenty dessahs and a large area of land around Bangil; I hope to receive you there as my guest.”
“Is your daughter the beautiful Radhen Goesik still alive, and is she happy?”[ 98 ]
“She is a mighty Ratoe, and we are all fortunate to seek in our own breasts. If we don’t find it there, it is in vain that we expect it from elsewhere. And be tidy now, my Prince! Use the food which Radhen Wiro Negoro offers you so generously, strengthen your weary limbs with them, and look to the future with glad hopes!”
“Unfortunately! what will that future give me if I am no longer allowed to be emperor. Was I therefore so eager for the death of my father, who would not bid farewell to life? And now I am rejected and cast out, while the wretch Poeger triumphs.”
“It is written in the holy book of the Prophet: “Whoever is guilty of sin will suffer the severe punishment of it.” And so have you, O Emperor! covered you with guilt by wishing your father’s death. Therefore refuse not to bear the penalty of your sin.”
Sunan Mas gave him a poisonous look, but said nothing; perhaps he was already thinking with what refined cruelty, once unlimited power became his share again, every less pleasant treatment would repay every insulting word.
There, on the siliceous sand, many steps approached. Koesoemo got up and went to the entrance of the veranda, Sunan Mas rose from his couch halfway and looked curiously at the approaching people.
At their head was Surapati with the regent of Kediri, who had always remained his closest friend and comrade in arms; his three sons and son-in-law followed him. Weak images were these sons of their father; the resemblance of features and posture was striking, but they lacked the steely strength of the muscles, the free development and exercise of the limbs through[ 99 ]hardship and dire necessity. The luxury and comfort had already awaited the princely children on their first entry into the world, never had hunger and poverty, bitterness and resentment, which so often tormented the body and soul of the father, made their sting felt in the young princes; but never were their senses and mental faculties sharpened by the lessons of those stern teachers.
A group of noblemen followed the princes; they all wore the white and red uniforms which Surapati had introduced into his army, which were quite different from the effeminate court dress prescribed at the Mataram court; they all spoke and jeered aloud, and it became clear to Sunan Mas that Radhen Wiro Negoro had banned from his immediate circle the servile servitude and stupid man-worship of the Javanese princes.
For a moment he hesitated, and did not know how to receive his host. He would have preferred to have remained in the same position to await them, a feeling of annoyance overcame him when even his servants prostrated themselves before him, after Kusoemo set the example for them.
This custom was not able to abolish the monarch, his first servants and friends forced this tribute on him themselves, as the very existence of his rule depended to a great extent on this ceremonial.
Amirang Koesoemo got up at once, however; when his commander entered the gallery, he extended his hand to him in European fashion, and came between him and the regent toward the Emperor.
Sunan Mas rose from his bench and, hiding his crippled gait as much as possible, took a few steps forward.
“Sit down, don’t tire yourself, Radhen Adipati!” spoke surapati[ 100 ]and led him by the hand to the couch, where he sat down beside him; the Emperor’s face twisted painfully, the allusion to his physical infirmity was always distasteful to him, but still more grievously struck him the title that Surapati gave him.
“I have come to discuss our affairs with my brother,” he beckoned the Regent and Kusoemo to approach, while the princes and their retinue walked further into the gallery and conversed with the Mataram nobles.
The two lords of the court squatted on the mat at the feet of the two princes.
“I will return to Bangil this evening,” said Radhen Wiro Negoro. “My busy business scarcely afforded me this little excursion, but I thought it fitting to greet my brother personally, as I could not forget how twenty years ago your imperial father, on the intercession of my friend the noble Radhen Amirang Koesoemo, gave me shelter in his kraton. granted.”
“Your memory seems to be wonderfully strong, Lord!” said Sunan Mas with a forced laugh.
“I have no regrets at all for the insults of the years,” said the other, glancing with proud self-satisfaction at his strong arms and healthy, stout frame. “Nothing has escaped my notice of the eventful time I was allowed to spend in Karta-Sura. I also know, Prince, that you were one of my most trusted friends, and did not begrudge me your father’s help.”
“Without my intercession you would certainly not have been given the opportunity to avenge yourself on the Dutch, much less to escape them after the massacre at the Kraton. has a lot of suffering[ 101 ]what has happened brought upon us; Karta-Sura had to pay bitterly for what was then committed against the powerful whites, and I still bear the consequences of that deed. Without the death of the envoy Tuwan Tak there would have been no enmity between the Soesoehunan and the Dutch; I would have succeeded my father in complete peace.”
“If you had wished that peace, Prince!”
“I do not understand you.”
“You and your father have chosen war with the strangers, because you have bitter hatred for them in your heart, but in danger do not spurn their help, on the contrary, kneeling invoke it. Pakoe Buwana has now also sold himself to them, as the emergency became imminent. If the danger is less urgent, he will look elsewhere for a saving hand to free him from the burden of gratitude. So did your father, and so you thought you would do, Prince, but they despised your services at the eleventh hour. You were right to turn to another in time when their assistance failed you.”
Surprised Sunan Mas looked at the speaker; how could Radhen Wiro Negoro know about his attempts at the Dutch? The whole fabric of baseness and dissimulation in misfortune, by foolish presumption in prosperity, lay open to the clear gaze of his present ally. But a single thought preoccupied the fugitive above all else.
“And what will you do for me now?” he asked.
“The same thing your father did for me once. I will seek enmity with the Dutch, apparently for your sakes, actually to achieve my own ends.”
“Yes, you want to avenge yourself on them, and vengeance was never more just, for they have treated you disgracefully!”[ 102 ]
A cloud obscured the high forehead; the lips contracted painfully for a moment; it was evident that the guest’s hand had deliberately tore open a wound, which was never healed, though it was also covered with gold and purple.
“What Soerapati suffered the slave and the lieutenant of the Company, Radhen Wiro Negoro remembers no more,” he replied with proud scorn, “my intention is not to avenge me, but to carry out my plans, and for that I need tools. . One of them you are Adipati Anum. For these reasons I have personally welcomed you to my field. I have shown before my people that I receive you as a highly revered guest…”
“But not as your Emperor!” exclaimed the other, as at last his wounded feeling wrested that grievous cry from him.
“No, not that. Here I am master, I speak to you as your equal, and my people should know that too.”
“Then also do you yourself recognize Pangeran Poeger as legitimate Emperor? To him the syrup of the Dutch?”
Soerapati shrugged his shoulders in pity.
“Others, too, would be happy if they could be used in that way for syrup. You can still return, Prince! The way is open for you. Do you wish to remain on the footing in which I received you as my guest and protege, or do you wish to be Emperor here? I cannot tolerate two princes in my realm; my men will escort you out to the borders of Mataram, however ill-defined they may be. The way is open for you, Prince! Then decide!”
“And my restoration to the throne?”
“I’ll wait and see what the Dutch make the new Emperor do. If you trust in me, I will know how to beat you against him[ 103 ]If you would rather surrender yourself to your uncle, then return by the way you came.”
“But my restoration to the throne of Mataram!”
“It would be folly to try to drive the Dutch out of Karta-Sura; the new treaty is concluded there. They have fortified themselves, they will know how to defend themselves, An attacking war can only prove fatal to me, I would rather await them in my realm when the time comes. My time is limited, Prince! So answer my question quickly, if you choose to live under my protection and that of my friend the Regent here in this palace, I swear to you that no Dutchman or no servant of the Soesoehunans will touch a hair of your head. But if you wish to return, you are also free to do this!”
“Return to my uncle, whom I had locked up in the iron cage, whose daughter I caused to die, return, no I cannot. I remain Surapati, I remain!”
“Well then, my brother, follow me to the great pendoppoh where the banquet which must conclude our alliance awaits us. Wirajouda, you swear to me by your head to vouch for the life and safety of my friend and ally Radhen Adipati Anum!”
The regent bowed to the ground and kissed his master’s feet first, then those of the fallen emperor.
“If I fail in my duty, punish me Batoro Shiwa, the destroyer!” said he solemnly, for still this Balinese worshiped the God of his fathers.[ 104 ]
1Fabulous queen of the South Sea, venerated almost all over the south coast of Java.