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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Idyll of Saïdjah and Adinda
By Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli) (1820–1887)
 
From ‘Max Havelaar’

SAÏDJAH’S father had a buffalo, with which he plowed his field. When this buffalo was taken away from him by the district chief at Parang-Koodjang he was very dejected, and did not speak a word for many a day. For the time for plowing was come, and he had to fear that if the rice field was not worked in time, the opportunity to sow would be lost, and lastly, that there would be no paddy to cut, none to keep in the store-room of the house. He feared that his wife would have no rice, nor Saïdjah himself, who was still a child, nor his little brothers and sisters. And the district chief too would accuse him to the Assistant Resident if he was behindhand in the payment of his land taxes, for this is punished by the law. Saïdjah’s father then took a poniard which was an heirloom from his father. The poniard was not very handsome, but there were silver bands round the sheath, and at the end there was a silver plate. He sold this poniard to a Chinaman who dwelt in the capital, and came home with twenty-four guilders, for which money he bought another buffalo.  1
  Saïdjah, who was then about seven years old, soon made friends with the new buffalo. It is not without meaning that I say “made friends,” for it is indeed touching to see how the buffalo is attached to the little boy who watches over and feeds him. The large strong animal bends its heavy head to the right, to the left, or downward, just as the pressure of the child’s finger, which he knows and understands, directs.  2
  Such a friendship little Saïdjah had soon been able to make with the new-comer. The buffalo turned willingly on reaching the end of the field, and did not lose an inch of ground when plowing backwards the new furrow. Quite near were the rice fields of the father of Adinda (the child that was to marry Saïdjah); and when the little brothers of Adinda came to the limit of their fields just at the same time that the father of Saïdjah was there with his plow, then the children called out merrily to each other, and each praised the strength and the docility of his buffalo. Saïdjah was nine and Adinda six, when this buffalo was taken by the chief of the district of Parang-Koodjang. Saïdjah’s father, who was very poor, thereupon sold to a Chinaman two silver curtain-hooks—heirlooms from the parents of his wife—for eighteen guilders, and bought a new buffalo.  3
  When this buffalo had also been taken away and slaughtered—  4
  (I told you, reader, that my story is monotonous.)  5
  … Saïdjah’s father fled out of the country, for he was much afraid of being punished for not paying his land taxes, and he had not another heirloom to sell, that he might buy a new buffalo. However, he went on for some years after the loss of his last buffalo, by working with hired animals for plowing; but that is a very ungrateful labor, and moreover sad for a person who has had buffaloes of his own.  6
  Saïdjah’s mother died of grief; and then it was that his father, in a moment of dejection, fled from Bantam in order to endeavor to get labor in the Buitenzorg districts.  7
  But he was punished with stripes because he had left Lebak without a passport, and was brought back by the police to Badoer. But he was not long in prison, for he died soon afterwards. Saïdjah was already fifteen years of age when his father set out for Buitenzorg; and he did not accompany him hither, because he had other plans in view. He had been told that there were at Batavia many gentlemen who drove in two-wheeled carriages, and that it would be easy for him to get a post as driver. He would gain much in that way if he behaved well,—perhaps be able to save in three years enough money to buy two buffaloes. This was a smiling prospect for him. He entered Adinda’s house, and communicated to her his plans.  8
  “Think of it! when I come back, we shall be old enough to marry and shall possess two buffaloes:… but if I find you married?”  9
  “Saïdjah, you know very well that I shall marry nobody but you; my father promised me to your father.”  10
  “And you yourself?”  11
  “I shall marry you, you may be sure of that.”  12
  “When I come back, I will call from afar off.”  13
  “Who shall hear it, if we are stamping rice in the village?”  14
  “That is true,… but Adinda—… oh yes, this is better; wait for me under the oak wood, under the Retapan.”  15
  “But Saïdjah, how can I know when I am to go to the Retapan?”  16
  “Count the moons; I shall stay away three times twelve moons…. See, Adinda, at every new moon cut a notch in your rice block. When you have cut three times twelve lines, I will be under the Retapan the next day:… do you promise to be there?”  17
  “Yes, Saïdjah, I will be there under the Retapan, near the oak wood, when you come back.”
*        *        *        *        *
  18
  [Saïdjah returns with money and trinkets at the appointed time, but does not find Adinda under the Retapan.]

  … But if she were ill or … dead?
  19
  Like a wounded stag Saïdjah flew along the path leading from the Retapan to the village where Adinda lived. But … was it hurry, his eagerness, that prevented him from finding Adinda’s house? He had already rushed to the end of the road, through the village, and like one mad he returned and beat his head because he must have passed her house without seeing it. But again he was at the entrance to the village, and … O God, was it a dream?…  20
  Again he had not found the house of Adinda. Again he flew back and suddenly stood still…. And the women of Badoer came out of their houses, and saw with sorrow poor Saïdjah standing there, for they knew him and understood that he was looking for the house of Adinda, and they knew that there was no house of Adinda in the village of Badoer.  21
  For when the district chief of Parang-Koodjang had taken away Adinda’s father’s buffaloes …  22
  (I told you, reader! that my narrative was monotonous.)  23
  … Adinda’s mother died of grief, and her baby sister died because she had no mother, and had no one to suckle her. And Adinda’s father, who feared to be punished for not paying his land taxes …  24
  (I know, I know that my tale is monotonous.)  25
  … had fled out of the country; he had taken Adinda and her brother with him. He had gone to Tjilang-Rahan, bordering on the sea. There he had concealed himself in the woods and waited for some others that had been robbed of their buffaloes by the district chief of Parang-Koodjang, and all of whom feared punishment for not paying their land taxes. Then they had at night taken possession of a fishing boat, and steered northward to the Lampoons.  26
  [Saïdjah, following their route] arrived in the Lampoons, where the inhabitants were in insurrection against the Dutch rule. He joined a troop of Badoer men, not so much to fight as to seek Adinda; for he had a tender heart, and was more disposed to sorrow than to bitterness.  27
  One day that the insurgents had been beaten, he wandered through a village that had just been taken by the Dutch, and was therefore in flames. Saïdjah knew that the troop that had been destroyed there consisted for the most part of Badoer men. He wandered like a ghost among the houses which were not yet burned down, and found the corpse of Adinda’s father with a bayonet wound in the breast. Near him Saïdjah saw the three murdered brothers of Adinda, still only children, and a little further lay the corpse of Adinda, naked and horribly mutilated.
*        *        *        *        *
  28
  Then Saïdjah went to meet some soldiers who were driving, at the point of the bayonet, the surviving insurgents into the fire of the burning houses; he embraced the broad bayonets, pressed forward with all his might, and still repulsed the soldiers with a last exertion, until their weapons were buried to the sockets in his breast.  29
 
 
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