Eduard Douwes Dekker4025405Famous Stories From Foreign Countries — Saidjah1921Edna Worthley Underwood




Multatuli, whose real name was Edward D. Dekker, was born in Amsterdam in 1820. His father was a merchant. When he was eighteen years old his father sent him to the Dutch East Indies to enter the service of the colonial government. He was rapidly advanced to the highest government position in the colonies. And in this position he was tireless in his endeavor to improve the condition of the native population.

Because of this desire he gave up at length his position, with all its advantages of money and honor, and went back to Holland to tell the people the true condition of the native population over whom they ruled. He was dismissed from service without a pension, and for years after this he lived in poverty. It was during this period of deprivation that he wrote the novel, Havelaar. He tells us that he was obliged to borrow money to buy the ink with which to write it.

Other books followed this in quick succession, among them the drama, A School for Princes, which is still popular in Holland.

In 1870 he went to live in Wiesbaden; from Wiesbaden he moved to a village on the Rhine where he died in February, 1887.


Saidjah was about fifteen years old when his father ran away to Buitenzorg. He did not accompany him because he had plans of his own to carry out. He had heard that in Batavia there were rich gentlemen who would employ slender youths like him, if they were nimble footed, to sit on the rear seat of the two wheeled carriages. He had been told that he could earn money in this way. In two years he could earn enough money to buy two water buffaloes. This prospect pleased him. He walked along proudly like a person who carries something important in his head. He was on his way to see Adinda to tell her his plan.

“When I come back,” he explained, “we shall be old enough to marry—and then we shall have two buffaloes to do the plowing.”

“Good, Saidjah, I will be your wife when you come back. I will spin. I will weave and embroider sarongs.”

“I believe you, Adinda. And when I come back, I will call you a long way off—”

“Who could hear if we happened to be pounding rice in the village?”

“That is true. Then wait for me by the Djati Forest, under the ketapan tree, where you gave me the melatti flower.”

“But, Saidjah, when can I know when you are coming? When shall I go to the tree?”

Saidjah thought a moment and replied.

“Count the moons. During three times twelve moons I will remain away. But this moon now does not count. See, Adinda,—cut a notch in the riceblock for each moon. When you have cut three times twelve notches, I will return. On that day wait for me under the ketapan tree.”

“I will be there by the Djati Forest, waiting for you under the ketapan tree.”

Saidjah tore a piece of cloth from his blue headdress, and gave it to Adinda. Then he said good by to her and to Badur. He went through Rangas-Betung, which was not yet a place of importance, and on to Warong-Gunang, where the assistant governor lived. The next day he saw Pandeglang, the village that looks as if it lay in a garden. A day later he reached Serang, and stood astonished at the splendor and the number of the houses. He remained here one day because he was tired, but when the sun set, he went on again and at length reached Tangerang. Here he took a bath in the river and rested in the house of a friend of his father.

As soon as it was dark he took out the melatti flower which Adinda gave him and looked at it. Then he was sad because he had not seen her for so long. The farther he traveled from Badur, the more he began to think that the thirty six moons represented a very long time. It was not so easy for him to go ahead. He felt weary and without ambition.

Saidjah arrived in Batavia. He sought a rich gentleman who hired him at once, when he found he could not understand what he said. In Batavia they prefer servants who do not understand Malay, and are not spoiled by contact with Europeans. Saidjah soon learned Malay, but he kept it to himself, because he thought only of Adinda and the two buffaloes. He grew tall and strong because he had something to eat every day, which did not happen in Badur. His master promoted him to the position of a house servant and increased his pay. But at the end of three years they said he was ungrateful, because he gave up his position. But he did not care what they said, his heart was glad because he was getting ready to go back. He counted over and over the treasures which he was going to carry home. In a hollow, bamboo stick he had his passport and the testimonial of his master. In a case swung over his shoulder by a piece of leather, was something heavy that beat against his back. Within this case were thirty Spanish dollars, with which he intended to buy three buffaloes. What would Adinda say to that! And that was not all. In his girdle shone a Malay kris with a sheathe of silver. The handle was of carved wood which he had wrapped carefully in silk. In the folds of his outer garment was a leathern girdle with silver links, and a clasp of gold. This was for Adinda. Around his neck in a little silk purse, he carried the dried melatti flower.

He did not pause to visit any of the cities along his route. It seemed to him that he could hear the voice of Adinda calling him. This music made him deaf to everything else.

At length, in the distance, he saw a great black spot. That must be the Djati Forest, which was near the tree where Adinda was going to wait for him. He groped in the darkness and felt the trunks of many trees. Soon he stumbled upon a piece of level ground that seemed familiar—the south side of a tree. He put his fingers in a gash in the side of the tree which he remembered had been cut to drive away an evil spirit that had hidden there and given some people of the village toothache.

This was the ketapan tree which he was seeking. He sat down in front of the tree and looked up at the stars. And when he saw a falling star he understood it as a greeting to him on his return to Badur. Then he wondered if Adinda were sleeping now, and if she had counted the moons correctly on the old rice-block. Would it not be a pity if she had cut one too many, or one too few? Thirty six moons there should be! He wondered if she had woven beautiful sarongs. And he wondered too who was living in the old home of his father. Then he recalled his youth, and his mother, and the buffalo that had saved him from being torn to pieces by the tiger.

Very carefully he watched the setting of the stars in the west, as they disappeared along the horizon line, and estimated the time before light would begin to come from the East, and how much time would elapse before he met Adinda. She, of course, would come with the very first ray of light. Why in the world could she not have come the day before? He was sad that she had not got ahead of this beautiful hour, which had fed his soul with delight for three long years.

His complaints were foolish. The sun had not yet risen. Not yet had the sun sent its long rays across the levels. To be sure, over his head, the stars were now growing paler, one by one, as if ashamed that their domination must end so soon. Strange, wild colors fluttered over the lonely mountain tops, which seemed blacker afterward. Something that shone, floated now and then, across the clouds banked in the east; arrows of gold—flame—but they fell back again into the darkness that hid the day from the eyes of Saidjah.

Gradually it became lighter. He could see the landscape. He could hear sound of the leaves from the Klappa forest behind Badur.

And yet how could she sleep? Did she not know that Saidjah was waiting for her? Probably the village watchman had just knocked at her door, and asked her why the night lamp was burning. Or perhaps she sat all night in the darkness on her rice-block, counting with her fingers the thirty six marks for the moons. Perhaps like him she was waiting for the rising of the sun.

He did not wish to go to Badur. He seated himself at the foot of the ketapan tree, and looked out over the levels. Nature smiled back at him and welcomed him. But his eyes kept turning toward the narrow path that led from Badur to the ketapan tree, along which Adinda would come. But there was no one to be seen upon the path. He waited a long time, and looked and looked, and still there was no one upon the path. She probably watched all night and then fell asleep at dawn, he thought to console himself. Should he get up and go to Badur? She might be ill— or dead.

He got up and ran along the path to the village. He heard nothing. He saw nothing. Yet voices called and called—“Saidjah! Saidjah!” The women of Badur came out of their houses and looked at him. Their faces were sad. They recognized Saidjah and knew he had come to see Adinda, and that she was not there. The head of the district of Parang-Kudjang had taken away the buffaloes of Adinda’s father. Her mother died of grief. Adinda’s father feared punishment because he could not pay the land-rent, and he had fled. He took Adinda with him. But because Saidjah’s father had been whipped in Buitenzorg for running away, he did not dare go there, but to the district of Lebak, which borders the sea. There they had taken ship. But Saidjah was so grieved he did not understand what they said to him.

He left Badur and went to Tjilang Kahan where he bought a boat. After a few days sail he reached the Campong coast, where there was an uprising against the rule of the Dutch. He joined a troop of soldiers less to fight than to search for Adinda. One day when there was a general massacre of natives who had been subdued by the army of the Netherlands, he wandered through a little village that had been set on fire. As he was walking around some houses that had not been yet completely burned, he came upon the dead body of Adinda’s father. There was a bayonet wound in his breast. A short distance away lay Adinda, naked and dead. A little rag of blue cloth was pressed in the bayonet wound in her breast. Saidjah met a soldier who was using his bayonet to drive the few surviving insurgents into the burning houses. With all his strength he rushed forward, and drove the soldier back, while the point of the bayonet pierced his lungs.

In Batavia there was rejoicing over the victory that had brought fresh laurels to Dutch arms in the East Indies. The Governor wrote to the home country that there was peace again in Campong. The soldiers were rewarded with crosses of heroes. In the churches prayers of thanksgiving were said because the Lord of Hosts had again fought upon the side of the Dutch.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1961, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 62 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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