Produced by Eric Eldred, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
Romantic Tales, Epic Poetry
Translated Into English For The First Time
With A Special Introduction By
CHAUNCEY C. STARKWEATHER, A.B., LL.B.
Easily the most charming poem of Malayan Literature is the Epic of Bidasari. It has all the absorbing fascination of a fairy tale. We are led into the dreamy atmosphere of haunted palace and beauteous plaisance: we glide in the picturesque imaginings of the oriental poet from the charm of all that is languorously seductive in nature into the shadowy realms of the supernatural. At one moment the sturdy bowman or lithe and agile lancer is before us in hurrying column, and at another we are told of mystic sentinels from another world, of Djinns and demons and spirit-princes. All seems shadowy, vague, mysterious, entrancing.
In this tale there is a wealth of imagery, a luxury of picturesqueness, together with that straightforward simplicity so alluring in the story- teller. Not only is our attention so captivated that we seem under a spell, but our sympathy is invoked and retained. We actually wince before the cruel blows of the wicked queen. And the hot tears of Bidasari move us to living pity. In the poetic justice that punishes the queen and rewards the heroine we take a childish delight. In other words, the oriental poet is simple, sensuous, passionate, thus achieving Milton’s ideal of poetic excellence. We hope that no philosopher, philologist, or ethnologist will persist in demonstrating the sun-myth or any other allegory from this beautiful poem. It is a story, a charming tale, to while away an idle hour, and nothing more. All lovers of the simple, the beautiful, the picturesque should say to such learned peepers and botanizers, “Hands off!” Let no learned theories rule here. Leave this beautiful tale for artists and lovers of the story pure and simple. Seek no more moral here than you would in a rose or a lily or a graceful palm. Light, love, color, beauty, sympathy, engaging fascination–these may be found alike by philosopher and winsome youth. The story is no more immoral than a drop of dew or a lotus bloom; and, as to interest, in the land of the improviser and the story-teller one is obliged to be interesting. For there the audience is either spellbound, or quickly fades away and leaves the poet to realize that he must attempt better things.
We think that these folk-stories have, indeed, a common origin, but that it is in the human heart. We do not look for a Sigurd or Siegfried on every page. Imagine a nation springing from an ignorant couple on a sea-girt isle, in a few generations they would have evolved their Sleeping Beauty and their Prince Charming, their enchanted castles, and their Djinns and fairies. These are as indigenous to the human heart as the cradle-song or the battle-cry. We do not find ourselves siding with those who would trace everything to a first exemplar. Children have played, and men have loved, and poets have sung from the beginning, and we need not run to Asia for the source of everything. Universal human nature has a certain spontaneity.
The translator has tried to reproduce the faithfulness and, in some measure, to indicate the graceful phrases of the original poem. The author of Bidasari is unknown, and the date of the poem is a matter of the utmost uncertainty. Some have attributed to it a Javanese origin, but upon very slight evidence. The best authorities place its scene in the country of Palembang, and its time after the arrival of the Europeans in the Indian archipelago, but suggest that the legend must be much older than the poem.
The “Makota Radja-Radja” is one of the most remarkable books of oriental literature. According to M. Aristide Marre, who translated it into French, its date is 1603. Its author was Bokhari, and he lived at Djohore. It contains extracts from more than fifty Arab and Persian authors. It treats of the duties of man to God, to himself and to society, and of the obligations of sovereigns, subjects, ministers, and officers. Examples are taken from the lives of kings in Asia. The author has not the worst opinion of his work, saying distinctly that it is a complete guide to happiness in this world and the next. He is particularly copious in his warnings to copyists and translators, cautioning them against the slightest negligence or inaccuracy, and promising them for faithfulness a passport to the glories of heaven. This shows that the author at least took the work seriously. That there is not a trace of humor in the book would doubtless recommend it to the dignified and lethargic orientals for whom it was written. Bokhari seemed to consider himself prophet, priest, and poet-laureate in one. The work has a high position in the Malayan Peninsula, where it is read by young and old. The “Crown of Kings” is written in the court language of Djohore. The author was a Mohammedan mendicant monk. He called the book the Crown of Kings because “every king who read and followed its precepts would be a perfect king, and thus only would his crown sit well on his head, and the book itself will be for him a true crown.”
La Fontaine and Lamartine loved stories. The schoolmates of the latter called the latter “story-lover.” They would have loved the story of the Princess Djouher Manikam, which is written in a simple and natural style and is celebrated in the East, or, as the Malays say, in the “country between windward and leeward.”
From the “Sedjaret Malayou,” worthless as it is as history, one may obtain side lights upon oriental life. Manners are portrayed in vivid colors, so that one may come to have a very accurate knowledge of them. Customs are depicted from which one may learn of the formality and regard for precedents which is a perspicuous trait of oriental character. The rigid etiquette of court and home may be remarked. From the view of morals here described, one may appreciate how far we have progressed in ethical culture from that prevailing in former times among the children of these winterless lands.
The readers of this series are to be congratulated in that they are here placed in possession of a unique and invaluable source of information concerning the life and literature of the far-away people of the Indian archipelago. To these pages an added interest accrues from the fact that the Philippines are now protected by our flag.
The name Malay signifies a wanderer. As a people they are passionate, vain, susceptible, and endowed with a reckless bravery and contempt of death. The Malays have considerable originality in versification. The pantoum is particularly theirs–a form arising from their habits of improvisation and competitive versifying. They have also the epic or _sjair_, generally a pure romance, with much naive simplicity and natural feeling. And finally, they have the popular song, enigma, and fable.
And so we leave the reader to his pleasant journey to the lands of Djinns and Mantris and spells and mystic talismans. He will be entertained by the chrestomathy of Bokhari; he will be entranced by the story of the winsome and dainty Bidasari.
CHAUNCEY C. STARKWEATHER
THE PRINCESS DJOUHER-MANIKAM
THE EPIC OF BIDASARI
_Metrical Translation by Chauncey C. Starkweather, A.B., LL.B._
Hear now the song I sing about a king Of Kembajat. A fakir has completed
The story, that a poem he may make. There was a king, a sultan, and he was
Handsome and wise and perfect in all ways, Proud scion of a race of mighty kings.
He filled the land with merchants bringing wealth And travellers. And from that day’s report, He was a prince most valorous and strong, Who never vexing obstacles had met.
But ever is the morrow all unknown. After the Sultan, all accomplished man, Had married been a year, or little more, He saw that very soon he’d have an heir. At this his heart rejoiced, and he was glad As though a mine of diamonds were his.
Some days the joy continued without clouds. But soon there came the moment when the prince Knew sorrow’s blighting force, and had to yield His country’s capital. A savage bird,
Garouda called, a very frightful bird, Soared in the air, and ravaged all the land. It flew with wings and talons wide outstretched, With cries to terrify the stoutest heart. All people, great and small, were seized with dread, And all the country feared and was oppressed, And people ran now this way and now that. The folk approached the King. He heard the noise As of a fray, and, angry, asked the guard, “Whence comes this noise?” As soon as this he said One of his body-guard replied with awe, “Illustrious lord, most merciful of kings, A fell garouda follows us about.”
The King’s face paled when these dread words be heard. The officers arose and beat their breasts. The sorrow of the King was greater still Because the Queen was ill. He took her hand And started without food or anything.
He trusted all to God, who watches o’er The safety of the world. The suff’ring Queen Spoke not a word and walked along in tears. They went by far _campongs_ and dreary fields Beneath a burning sun which overwhelmed Their strength. And so the lovely Queen’s fair face From palest yellow grew quite black. The prince Approached the desert with his body torn By thorns and brambles. All his care and grief Were doubled when he saw his lovely wife Who scarce could drag herself along and whom He had to lead. Most desolate was he,
Turning his mind on the good Queen’s sad lot. Upon the way he gave up all to her.
Two months they journeyed and one day they came Unto a _campong_ of a merchant, where
They looked for rest because the Queen was weak. The path was rugged and the way was hard. The prince made halt before the palisades, For God had made him stop and rest awhile. The Sultan said: “What is this _campong_ here? I fain would enter, but I do not dare.” The good Queen wept and said: “O my beloved, What shall I say? I am so tired and weak I cannot journey more.” The King was quite Beside himself and fainted where he sat. But on they journeyed to the riverside, Stopping at every step.
And when the King
Had gained the bank he saw a little boat With roof of bent bamboos and _kadjang_ screen. Then to the Queen, “Rest here, my precious one.” The silver moon was at the full, but veiled With clouds, like to a maid who hides her face And glances toward her lover timidly.
Then there was born a daughter, like a flower, More beautiful than statue of pure gold, Just like the tulips that the princess plucked. The mother’s heart was broken at the thought That she must leave the babe, the child beloved They both adored, such beauty it presaged. The King with tears exclaimed, “How can we take The infant with us o’er this stony road Beset with thorns, and burned with dreadful heat? Pearl of my palace,” said he to the Queen, “Weep not so bitterly about the child.
An offering let us make of her to God. God grant she may be found by loving hearts Who’ll care for her and raise her in their home.” As soon as they had quite determined there To leave the infant princess, their great grief No limit knew. But ere they went away
The King took up the infant in his arms And rocked her on his knees until she slept. “Sleep on, heart’s love, my soul, my little one, Weep not for thy dear mother’s lot. She fain Would take thee with her, but the way is hard. Sleep on, dear child, the apple of my eye, The image of thy sire. Stay here, fear not. For unto God we trust thee, Lord of all. Sleep on, my child, chief jewel of my crown, And let thy father go. To look at thee
Doth pierce my heart as by a poniard’s blow. Ah, sweet my child, dear, tender little one, Thy father loves yet leaves thee. Happy be, And may no harm come nigh thee. Fare thee well.” The little princess slept, lulled by his voice. He put her from his knees and placed her on A finely woven cloth of Ind, and covered her With satin webbed with gold. With flowing tears The mother wrapped her in a tissue fine Adorned with jewels like to sculptured flowers. She seized the child and weeping murmured low: “O dearest child, my pretty little girl! I leave thee to the Master of the world. Live happily, although thy mother goes
And leaves thee here. Ah, sad thy mother’s lot! Thy father forces her to quit thee now. She would prefer with thee to stay, but, no! Thy father bids her go. And that is why Thy mother’s fond heart breaks, she loves thee so, And yet must leave thee. Oh, how can I live?” The mother fainted, and the grieving King Was fain to kill himself, so was he moved. He took the Queen’s head on his knees. And soon By God’s decree and ever-sheltering grace She to her senses came and stood erect. Again she wept on looking at the child. “If I should never see thee more, sweet soul, Oh, may thy mother share thy fate! Her life Is bound to thine. The light is gone from out Thy mother’s eyes. Hope dies within her heart Because she fears to see thee nevermore. Oh, may some charitable heart, my child, Discover thee!” The prince essayed to dry Her tears. “Now come away, my dearest love. Soon day will dawn.” The prince in grief set out, But ever turned and wanted to go back.
They walked along together, man and wife All solitary, with no friends at hand,
Care-worn and troubled, and the moon shone bright.
I sing in this song of a merchant great And of his wealth. His goods and treasures were Beyond all count, his happiness without Alloy. In Indrapura town there was
No equal to his fortune. He possessed A thousand slaves, both old and young, who came From Java and from other lands. His rank Was higher than Pangawa’s. Wives he had In goodly numbers. But he lacked one thing That weighed upon his heart–he had no child. Now, by the will of God, the merchant great Came very early from the palace gates,
And sought the river-bank, attended by His favorite wife. Lila Djouhara was
The merchant’s name. He heard a feeble voice As of an infant crying, like the shrill Tones of a flute, and from a boat it seemed To come. Then toward the wondrous boat he went And saw an infant with a pretty face.
His heart was overjoyed as if he had A mine of diamonds found. The spouses said: “Whose child is this? It surely must belong To one of highest rank. Some cause he had To leave her here.” The merchant’s heart was glad To see the bright eyes of the little one. He raised her in his arms and took her home. Four waiting-maids and nurses two he gave The pretty child. The palace rooms were all Adorned anew, with rugs and curtains soft, And tapestries of orange hue were hung. The princess rested on a couch inlaid with gold, A splendid couch, with lanterns softly bright And tapers burning with a gentle ray.
The merchant and his wife with all their hearts Adored the child, as if it were their own. She looked like Mindoudari, and received The name of Bidasari. Then they took
A little fish and changing vital spirits They put it in a golden box, then placed The box within a casket rich and rare.
The merchant made a garden, with all sorts Of vases filled with flowers, and bowers of green And trellised vines. A little pond made glad The eyes, with the precious stones and topaz set Alternately, in fashion of the land
Of Pellanggam, a charm for all. The sand Was purest gold, with alabaster fine
All mixed with red pearls and with sapphires blue. And in the water deep and clear they kept The casket. Since they had the infant found, Sweet Bidasari, all the house was filled With joy. The merchant and his wife did naught But feast and clap their hands and dance. They watched The infant night and day. They gave to her Garments of gold, with necklaces and gems, With rings and girdles, and quaint boxes, too, Of perfume rare, and crescent pins and flowers Of gold to nestle in the hair, and shoes Embroidered in the fashion of Sourat.
By day and night the merchant guarded her. So while sweet Bidasari grew, her lovely face Increased in beauty. Her soft skin was white And yellow, and she was most beautiful. Her ear-rings and her bracelets made her look Like some rare gem imprisoned in a glass. Her beauty had no equal, and her face
Was like a nymph’s celestial. She had gowns As many as she wished, as many as
A princess fair of Java. There was not A second Bidasari in the land.
I’ll tell about Djouhan Mengindra now, Sultan of Indrapura. Very wide
His kingdom was, with ministers of state And officers, and regiments of picked
Young warriors, the bulwark of the throne. This most illustrious prince had only been Two years the husband of fair Lila Sari, A princess lovable and kind. The King
Was deemed most handsome. And there was within All Indrapura none to equal him.
His education was what it should be, His conversation very affable.
He loved the princess Lila Sari well. He gave her everything, and she in turn Was good to him, but yet she was so vain. “There is no one so beautiful as I,”
She said. They were united like unto The soul and body. And the good King thought There could not be another like his wife. One day they were together, and the Queen Began to sing: “Oh, come, my well-beloved, And listen to my words. Thou tellst me oft Thou lovest me. But I know not thy heart. If some misfortune were to overwhelm
Wouldst thou be true to me?” He smiled and said: “No harm can touch thee, dear. But should it come, Whenever thou art ‘whelmed I’ll perish too.” With joy the princess said: “My noble prince, If there were found a woman whose flower face Were fairer than all others in the world, Say, wouldst thou wed her?” And the King replied: “My friend, my fairest, who is like to thee? My soul, my princess, of a noble race,
Thou’rt sweet and wise and good and beautiful. Thou’rt welded to my heart. No thought of mine Is separate from thee.”
The princess smiled;
Her face was all transfigured with her joy. But suddenly the thought came to her mind, “Who knows there is none more fair than I?” And then she cried: “Now hear me, O my love! Were there a woman with an angel-face,
Wouldst them make her thy wife? If she appeared Unto thine eyes more beautiful than I,
Then would thy heart not burn for her?”
But smiled, and answered not. She also smiled, But said, “Since thou dost hesitate, I know That thou wouldst surely wed her.” Then the prince Made answer: “O my heart, gold of my soul, If she in form and birth were like to thee I’d join her with thy destiny.” Now when The princess heard these words she paled and shook. With eyes cast down, she left her royal spouse. But quick he seized her. With a smile he said: “Gold, ruby, dearest friend, I pray thee now, Oh, be not vexed with me. Light of my eyes, Keep not within thy heart a bitterness
Because I answered thus unto thy words.” He took her in his arms and kissed her lips And wooed her. And her face again grew sweet The while she heard. And yet her woman’s heart Was grieved and saddened. And she sat apart, And swift these thoughts came to her anxious mind: “I’ll seek to-morrow through this kingdom wide, Lest there should be within the land a maid More fair than I. To death I shall condemn Her straight, lest rival she may be to me. For if my lord should marry her, he’d love Her more than me. He’d love the younger one, And constantly my tortured heart would bleed.” They angered her, these thoughts, as if her heart Were filled with gall. “Now may I be accursed If I go not unto the end in love.”
Her heart was not assuaged; she sighed alone. Upon the morrow morn the King went out, And with him many officers and men.
Meanwhile the Princess Lila Sari sent A summons to a jeweller of skill,
And at the same time called her four _dyangs_, Who came and sat. Dang Wilapat bowed low And said, “Our greetings to thee, princess great.” The Queen replied: “Go forth, _dyangs_, at once And find me gold and dust of gold, and take It all unto a goldsmith. Let him make
For me a fan, all decked with beauteous gems, With rubies red and pearls; and after that A girdle virginal. Count not the price. I want it all as quickly as may be.”
And so they hastened, took the gold, and went Outside the city, through the whole _campong_ Of goldsmiths, seeking there the best to make The fan and girdle. And the hammered gold Soon shone with many amethysts and gems. It was a marvel to behold those rare
And quaintly fashioned ornaments, to deck A sultaness. Of priceless worth they were. Four days, and all was ready for the Queen. But she had never eaten all this time
Because of grief. She thought the fan more fine Than Java princess ever yet possessed.
She called the four _dyangs_ and said to them: “A secret mission have I now for ye.
Go up and down among the officers
And show this fan for sale, but never name The price. Seek ever if there be a face More beautiful than mine; and should ye find A face more fair, come tell it straight to me. If ye obey my will I’ll make ye all
Inspectresses within the royal home.” Then forth the women went upon the quest. And first among their friends they went with words Of mystery and hints of wondrous things They had for sale. And so these servants bore The story to their masters, “The _dyangs_ Have something wonderful to sell.” And soon The daughters of the houses rich began
To clamor for a sight of this great prize. Then the _dyangs,_ went to the houses all. The young girls said, “Oh, tell us now the price.” Dyang Wiravan quickly answered, then
Dyang Podagah: “Tis a princely thing; I’ll go and ask the price and tell it thee.” And so they spoke, and so they looked about To find a face more beautiful and rare
Than their own Queen’s, and wearied in the search. “Where can we further look?” they said, and then Bethought them of the strangers and the priests. But in that quarter no one dared to touch The precious things, but thought it passing strange The Queen should wish to sell. To the _campong_ Of merchants next they went. A double line Of ramparts guarded it. “Here is more stir And gayety,” they said, “with sport and song, Than elsewhere have we found.” And so they sought The richest merchants. “We have something rare,” They said, “made by an artist Javanese.” When Bidasari’s servants saw these folk They said: “Bring these things to our house and we Will show them to our master. He will buy.” Then the _dyangs_ with smiles replied: “They are Not ours, but our good Queen’s. And only we May show them, lest a stone be lost, perchance, And we be punished.” Bidasari’s maids
Were glad and said, “Wait but a moment here Until we find what Bidasari wills.”
They found her with her maids, and told the tale. Then Bidasari bade them bring to her
The stranger folk, and said, “If I be pleased I’ll buy.” Dang Ratna Watie went and told The women that young Bidasari wished
To see their wares. The four _dyangs_ came in Together. Joy their faces all suffused, But they seemed timid, modest, full of fear. Then Bidasari’s women said to them:
“Come, O young women, all are loyal here. Enter, our sisters and our friends.”
The Queen’s _dyangs_ had looked about them there They all were dazzled, Bidasari’s face
So beautiful appeared. How beat their hearts! As they upon her lovely features gazed, Each murmured to herself, “She is more fair Than our great Queen.”
Then Bidasari wished
To buy the fan, and sent a maid to ask Her parents for the gold. The merchant said, “Go see what thing it is, and weigh the gold For her.” The mother feared a trap or trick. “Oh, do not buy the fan, my child,” she said; “I’ll buy a finer one for thee. Send this Away.” But when her father saw her tears Of disappointment, “It is thine,” he said. “What is the price? I’d buy it though it cost Thy weight in gold, my darling. Tell me now, _Dyangs_.” Tjendra Melinee answered him, “Are two timbangs too much?” “I’m very poor,” He said; “but I will buy it for the child.” The gold was weighed. The four _dyangs_ straightway Departed, hurried to the Queen and said: “At last we have discovered, O our Queen, What thou hast sought. ‘Tis in a near _campong_ Of merchants very rich and great. Oh, there We found a princess fairer than the day; More like an angel than a mortal maid.
No woman in this land compares with her. Her name is Bidasari. And the King
Would surely marry her if once they met, For soon she will be ready for a spouse; Her innocence is charming. Like a cloud The merchant and his wife keep watchful guard. Her hair is curly, like a flower full blown. Her brow is like the moon but one day old. She’s like a ring in Peylou made. She would Outshine thy beauty, shouldst thou bring her here.” The princess heard and quickly said: “I feel My hatred rise. Oh, may I never see
Her face! To hear ye speak of her inflames My heart with anger. Say, why do ye think That she’s more fair than I?” Then made reply The women: “Bidasari’s eyes are soft.
Her smile is sweet, her skin is tinted like The green _tjempakka_, and her graceful form Resembles some famed statue nobly made. Her cheeks are like the bill of flying bird. We loved to look upon her neck. Her nose Is like a jasmine bud. Her pretty face
Is like the yellow of an egg. Her thoughts Are pure as crystal. And she wears her hair In such a charming way. Her lips are like A little polished box. The flowers she wears But make her look the prettier. Her teeth Are like a bright pomegranate. Ah, the heart Doth open when one looketh on her face. She’s like a princess of the Mount Lidang. Her features are like those of Nilagendi, Her heels are like the eggs of hens, and make Her seem a princess of Siam. Her fingers More tapering are than quills of porcupine. And solid is the nail of her left hand. No noble’s girl is Bidasari’s peer.”
Now when the princess heard them sing her praise Her soul was wounded as if by a thorn.
Her dark eyes flashed. “Ah, speak no more of her,” She said, “nor speak abroad what ye have seen. But bring me Bidasari. I would see
If what ye say be true.”
“Then we must take
Her presents first, and strive to gain by them Her friendship, and attain our end at last.” They went to see her every day, and bore Rich gifts.
The merchant and his wife remarked The visits of the Queen’s _dyangs_, and how They loved their daughter. That is why they gave Them all that they desired. But the _dyangs_ Among themselves kept saying: “How can we Take her away? We love her so, and deep Within our hearts we pity her. And now
Her parents have such trust in us, and load Us down with gifts. But when, alas, at home The princess questions us, what shall we say? For she’s a powerful Queen. Yet if we make Unhappy this dear girl of these good folk, Shall we not sin? And still the princess is So violent and harsh! Her jealousy
Would know no limit should the King but hear Of this affair.”
Dang Djoudah answering spoke: “We all can go to her and quiet her.
A word suffices oft. She is our Queen, But to the King belongeth power supreme. If Bidasari should disdain the throne
We shall renounce our functions at the court, For what the Queen desires is most unjust. And if we prove unfaithful we shall be
O’erwhelmed with maledictions.” Thus they spoke And went back to the busy-lived _campong_ Of merchants. Here they thought to go and find Djouhara, and obtain what they desired. A messenger went after them and said:
“To Dang Bidouri: Come at once; my friend The princess summons you.” Then the _dyangs_ Went to the Queen and found her with the King At dinner. With malicious wink of eye
She made them understand they must not talk Before the prince. When he had dined he took Some _siri_ from the betel-box, himself Anointed with a perfume sweet, and went To teach the young folk how to ride and shoot The arrow straight, and played at many games. Meanwhile the princess Lila Sari called Before her the _dyangs_ and questioned them: “Why have ye come so late?” Bidouri bowed And said: “‘Twas very hard to bring her here To thee. The merchant and his wife do not A moment leave her, for they love her so. Her tiring-women ever are about.
Thou shouldst demand her of her parents, if Thou dost desire to see her. Treat her like Thy child, for she is still so very young! From Bidasari’s father thou wilt gain
All that thou canst desire, he is so rich, If thou wilt only love his daughter dear. And dost thou give command to bring her here? Let us go all alone and summon her
For Bidasari’ll freely follow us.” They tried to calm the anger of the Queen. She bowed her head in silence, but her soul Was very heavy, and hypocrisy
With hate and envy vied within her heart. “They love the child, these _dyangs_,” to herself She said, “and I shall have no easy task. I shall attract her here by trickery,
But she shall never my companion be. With Bidasari once within my power
My heart will be no longer on the rack. Go now, _dyangs_,” she said, “and seek for me The merchant and his wife and hither bring Young Bidasari, whom I’ll elevate
Unto the rank of princess, for I have No child. Mazendra take with ye. And when Young Bidasari shall arrive, conceal
Her for a day or two. And gently speak Unto the merchant and his wife, and say Concessions will be granted to the priests And strangers in their quarter, should she come. Console Lila Djouhara thus, and pledge
That he may come to see his child whene’er His heart impelleth him.” An escort went With them, and the _dyangs_ bowed low before The merchant and his wife, and greeted, too, Fair Bidasari. But the merchant said:
“Why come ye here in so great numbers?” Then They straight replied: “Our most beloved Queen Hath sent us here with greetings unto thee, The master of the house. If thou’lt permit, We’ve come to seek fair Bidasari here.” They beat their breasts, the merchant and his wife. “Our darling, only child! It will be hard For her to be the servant of a prince;
For she hath had her way so long! Her traits Are not yet formed. Go back, _dyangs_, and pray The Queen to pardon us. Say how we grieve.” But the _dyangs_ repeated all the words
Said by the Queen, and so their fears were calmed. They hoped Queen Lila Sari would love well Fair Bidasari. Then the merchant said:
“I will obey, and let my darling go, So that she may become unto the Queen
A servant, and perchance a daughter loved. Now shall she go with ye. Only I beg
The Queen to let her come back home to us At three days’ end. She is not used to stay With strangers. Never hath she left us for A single day.” Then Dang Bidouri said:
“We’ll do our best before the Queen; and why Should she not grant to Bidasari this?” They bathed fair Bidasari with sweet scents, And then arranged her in rich raiment new. A fine _sijrash_ she wore with broidered flowers Of Pekan, and a satin robe all fringed
With gold. She bore a plaque of beaten gold Bound to a necklace, chiselled, gem-bedecked; Her over-tunic was of yellow silk
With tiny serpents on the buttons ‘graved. Three bracelets wore the maid, and rarest rings, And ear-rings like a wheel in motion wrought. Chaste links of gold set forth her beauty rare, A fair flow’r in a vase, whose perfume sweet Wafts scented breaths as far as one may see. They kissed her then with tears and held her close
Upon their breasts. “Be humble to the Queen,” They said, “remember that thou art before The King, and near the throne. Ask leave to come To see us when thou dost desire. Speak sweetly With low and gentle voice.”
Thus they enjoined.
And then the merchant said, “_Dyangs_, if ye Love Bidasari, see ye vex her not.”
They dried their tears and said: “Be without fear. Intrust thy daughter to our mistress dear.” “My child,” he said, “I’ll come to see thee oft. Thou wilt be better there, my love, than here.” But Bidasari wept and cried: “Oh, come, Dear mother, with me! Wilt thou not, alas?” But the fond parents were astounded then To learn the mother was not asked to come. She stayed with tears, the while the father went. As far as to the city’s gates. With tears He said: “Farewell, O apple of my eye
I leave thee here. Fear not, my dearest child.” Then Bidasari wept. Her heart was wrung. She went. The merchant followed with his eyes. She entered by a hidden door. _Dyangs_
And _mandars_ flocked to see her, but she hung Her head and kept her eyes downcast.
Announced the evening, and the King was still Surrounded by his officers. ‘Twas then
Fair Bidasari to the palace came,
And stood before the Queen. All the _dyangs_ Sat on the floor, with servants of the house. Like the _pengawas_ Bidasari bowed,
‘Mid the _dyangs_, in presence of the Queen. They gave her all the merchant’s gifts, as sign Of homage. All astonished was the Queen At Bidasari’s beauty. She appeared
Almost divine. Bidouri spoke and said, “Thou seest Bidasari, O our Queen,
Lila Djouhari’s daughter.” At these words The Queen was stupefied, and thought: “In truth ‘Tis as they said. She is more lovely than The fairest work of art.” Bidouri told
All that the merchant and his wife had said. The Queen inclined her head and silence kept, But wicked thoughts were surging in her brain. A combat raged within her heart. She feared The King might see the maiden. “Send away,” She said, “the nurses and the women all.” Fair Bidasari wept when they retired.
The princess called her to her side and said:
“Thou must not weep so, Bidasari. They Will all return. When thou dost wish to go, They will go with thee. Now depart, _dyangs_. Ye need not care for Bidasari more.
I will procure her dames of company And servants. You may come from time to time.” So they arose, and, with prostrations, went. The Queen conducted Bidasari then
Into a room and left her all alone, And all afraid.
When evening shadows fell,
The great King bade the Queen to sup with him. He sat beside her, smiled and gayly talked, As he had been young Bedouwandas, on
His horse, with sword at belt. “My royal spouse, How thou dost love me! for thou wouldst not sup Without me, though thou needest food and drink.” Now when the King had eaten, he retired Unto his sleeping-chamber.
And weeping much, fair Bidasari stayed, In darkness with no one to speak to her. She thought on her dear parents. “O my God! Why dost Thou leave me here?” The solitude Filled her with terror, and she wept until The middle of the night, and thought of home. Out spake the King: “Now what is that I hear? What voice is that so sorrowful and sweet?” “It is an infant crying,” said the Queen. “In all the darkness it has lost its way.” Her heart was burning, and she sent a word To Bidasari that she must not weep,
And held her peace and waited till the dawn. But Bidasari wept the whole night long
And cried for home. When the _dyangs_ all ran To comfort her, they found the door was locked, And none could enter. Bidasari thought, “What wrong have I committed, that the Queen Should be so vexed with me?” When day appeared, To the pavilion went the King. The Queen Threw wide the door of Bidasari’s room
And entered all alone.
The Queen’s hand kissed, and begged that she would let Her homeward fare. “O gracious Queen,” she said, “Take pity on me; let me go away.
I’ll come to thee again.”
The wicked Queen
Struck her, and said, “Thou ne’er shalt see again Thy home.” The gentle Bidasari drooped
Her head and wept afresh, shaking with fear. “Forgive the evil I have done, my Queen, For I am but a child, and do not know
How I have sinned against thee,” falling at Her feet she said. The Queen in anger struck Her once again. “I know full well,” she said, “All thy designs and projects. What! Am I To rest in peace and see thy beauty grow, And thee become my rival with the King?” Then Bidasari knew ’twas jealousy
That caused the fury of the Queen. Her fear Increased, she trembled and bewailed her fate. The livelong day she was insulted, struck, And of her food deprived.
Before the King
Returned, the Queen departed from the room Of Bidasari. The poor child had lost
Her former color. Black her face had grown From blows, as if she had been burnt. Her eyes She could not open. Such her sufferings were She could not walk. Then unto God she cried: “O Lord, creator of the land and sea,
I do not know my fault, and yet the Queen Treats me as guilty of a heinous crime. I suffer hell on earth. Why must I live? Oh, let me die now, in the faith, dear Lord. My soul is troubled and my face is black With sorrow. Let me die before the dawn. My parents do not help me. They have left Me here alone to suffer. In the false
_Dyangs_ I trusted, as to sisters dear. Their lips are smiling, but their hearts are base. Their mouths are sweet as honey, but their hearts Are full of evil. Oh, what can I say?
It is the will of God.”
Such was the grief
Of Bidasari, and her tears fell fast. Now when the King went forth again, the Queen Began anew her persecutions harsh.
With many blows and angry words, she said: “Why dost thou groan so loudly? Dost thou seek By crying to attract the King, to see
Thy beauty? ‘Tis thy hope, I know full well, His younger wife to be. And thou art proud Of all thy beauty.” Bidasari was
Astounded, and replied with many tears: “May I accursed be if ever I
Such plottings knew. Thou art a mighty Queen. If I have sinned against thee, let me die At once. For life is useless to the hearts That suffer. Hast thou brought me here to beat? How thou hast made me weep! O Queen, art thou Without compassion?”
All possessed with rage
The Queen replied: “I do not pity thee. I hate thee, when I see thee. Open not
Thy mouth again.” The wicked Queen then seized The lovely tresses of the beauteous maid, And took a piece of wood with which to strike; But Bidasari wept and swooned away.
The King’s voice sounded through the corridor, As he returned. The Queen then hastened forth And left a _mandar_ there to close and guard Fair Bidasari’s room, that nothing should Be seen. Then asked the King of her, “Whom hast Thou beaten now?” The hypocrite replied, “It was a child that disobeyed my will.” “Are there not others for that discipline? Is it for thee to strike?” His _siri_ then He took, and kissed the Queen with fondest love. All the _dyangs_ fair Bidasari’s plight Observed, and kindly pity filled their breasts. “How cruel is the conduct of the Queen!” They said. “She made us bring her to her side But to maltreat the child the livelong day. It seems as if she wished to slay her quite.” Then secretly they went, with some to watch, And sprinkled Bidasari’s brow. To life
She came, and opened those dear wistful eyes. “My friends,” she said, “I pray ye, let me go Back home again unto my father’s house.” “Oh, trust in God, my child,” said one in tears. “My lot is written from eternity.
Oh, pray the princess great to take my life,” The poor child cried; “I can no longer stand; My bones are feeble. Oh, she has no heart!” But the _dyangs_, for fear the Queen might see, All fled.
Meanwhile the merchant and his wife
Wept all the day, and sighed for their dear child, Sweet Bidasari. Nor did gentle sleep
Caress their eyes at night. Each day they sent Rich presents of all kinds, and half of them Were for the child. But naught the wicked Queen To Bidasari gave. So five days passed
And then Dyang Menzara forth they sent. The merchant said: “Oh, tell the mighty Queen That I must Bidasari see. I’ll bring
Her back in three days’ time.” The good _Dyang_ went to the queen and bowing low: “The merchant fain would see his child,” she said. At this the features of the Queen grew hard. “Did they not give their child to me? Now scarce A day has passed, and they must see her face. Is it thine own wish or the merchant’s? I Have said the girl could go where’er she would. Can I not have her taken back myself?”
Then the _dyang_ bowed, beat her breast, and went, Sad that she could not Bidasari see,
And quaking at the anger of the Queen. Of the _dyang_, fair Bidasari heard
The voice, and felt her heart break that she could Not speak to her and send a message home.
Upon the morrow, when the King had gone Among his ministers and men of state,
The Queen again to Bidasari’s room Repaired, to beat her more. As soon as she Beheld the Queen, poor Bidasari prayed
To her, “O sovereign lady great, permit That I may go unto my father’s house.”
The princess shook with rage, her face on fire. “If thou but sayest a word, I’ll slay thee here.” To whom could Bidasari turn? She bent
Before the will of God, and in a sweet Voice said: “O Lord, my God, have pity now Upon me, for the cruel world has none.
Grant now the Queen’s desire and let me die, For she reproacheth me, though naught I’ve done. My parents have forgotten me, nor send
A word.” The angry princess struck again Her piteous face, and as she swooned away A napkin took to twist into a cord
And strangle her. She summoned to her aid Dang Ratna Wali. “Help me pluck this weed; I wish to kill her.” But the woman fled, As base as cruel. Bidasari’s ghost
Arose before her. Yet the child came back To consciousness, and thought amid her tears: “I’ll tell the story of the golden fish Unto the Queen, that she may know it all; For I can but a little while endure
These pains.” She spoke then to the Queen and said: “O Queen, thou dost desire that I shall die. Seek out a little casket that doth lie
All hidden in the fish-pond at our house. Within it is a fish. Have it brought here And I will tell thee what it signifies.” The princess called Dyang Sendari: “Go
And bring here the _dyangs_, with no delay From out the merchant’s house.” When they arrived: “Go, now, _dyangs_, for Bidasari saith
There is a little casket in the pond Where she is wont to bathe. Go bring it me, In silence, letting no one see ye come.” Then the _dyangs_ replied: “Oh, hear our prayer For Bidasari. How her parents grieve!
Oh, pardon, princess, let her go with us.” The Queen with smiles responded: “The young girl Is very happy here, and full of joy.
Her parents must not grieve, for in two days If Bidasari doth desire to go
I’ll send her freely. She is vexed that ye Come here so often.” The _dyangs_ bowed low, And smiled, and called enticingly: “Come forth, O charming child, pure soul; it is not right To treat us so, for we have come to see Thy lovely face, and in its beauty bask.” Sweet Bidasari heard, and could not speak, But answered with her tears. The cruel Queen Said to them: “Speak no more. But if ye bring The little casket, ye will fill the heart Of Bidasari with great joy.” Forth fared Then the _dyangs_, and found the casket small, And brought it to the palace of the Queen. Again to Bidasari called the good
_Dyangs_: “Oh, come, dear heart, and take it from Our hands yourself.” “She sleeps,” the princess said. “Come back to-morrow.” So they bowed and went. The princess hastened with the casket rich To Bidasari’s room, and opened it
Before her eyes. Within it was a box Of agate, beautiful to see, and filled
With water wherein swam a little fish Of form most ravishing. The princess stood Amazed to see with eyes of fire a fish
That swam. Then was she glad, and spoke with joy To Bidasari: “Say what signifies
The fish to thee? What shall I do with it?” Then Bidasari bowed and said: “My soul
Is in that fish. At dawn must thou remove It from the water, and at night replace.
“Leave it not here and there, but hang it from Thy neck. If this thou dost, I soon shall die. My words are true. Neglect no single day To do as I have said, and in three days Thou’lt see me dead.”
The Queen felt in her heart
A joy unspeakable. She took the fish And wore it on a ribbon round her neck. Unto the Queen then Bidasari spoke,
“Oh, give my body to my parents dear When I am dead.” Again the young maid swooned. The Queen believed her dead, and ceased to beat Her more. But she yet lived, though seeming dead. The joyful Queen a white cloth over her Then spread, and called aloud to the _dyangs_, “Take Bidasari to her father’s house.”
They groaned and trembled when they saw that she Was dead, and said with many tears: “Alas! O dearest one, O gold all virginal!
What shall we say when we thy parents see? They’ll beat their breasts and die of grief. They gave Thee to the King because they trusted us.” But the proud Queen, her face all red with hate: “Why stay ye? Take the wretched girl away.” They saw the Queen’s great rage, and bore the maid Upon their shoulders forth, and carried her Unto her father’s house at dead of night. Fear seized the merchant. “Say what bring ye here? Tell me, _dyangs_.” They placed her on the ground. The merchant and his wife, beside themselves, With tears embraced her form. “I trusted in The Queen, and so I sent my child to her. O daughter dear, so young, so pure, so sweet, What hast thou done that could the Queen displease, That she should send thee home like this to me? How could the Queen treat Bidasari so?
For seven days she imprisoned her and sent Her home in death. Ah, noble child! alas! Thy father’s heart will break, no more to hear Thy voice. Speak to thy father, O my child, My pearl, my gem of women, purest gold, Branch of my heart; canst thou not quiet me? O Bidasari, why art thou so still?
Arise, my pretty child, arise and play With all thy maids. Here is thy mother, come To greet thee. Bid her welcome. Why art thou So motionless? Hast thou no pity, dear, To see thy father overwhelmed with woe? My heart is bursting with despair because Thou’rt lost to me.”
Long time the merchant thus
Lamented. “What have I to live for now? Since thou art dead, thy father too shall die. It is his lot both night and day to sigh For thee. My God, I cannot understand
Why this dear child should thus a victim be! ‘Tis the _dyangs_ who have this evil wrought.” Then, through the whole _campong_, the merchants all Made lamentations, rolling on the ground, With noise of thunder, and their hearts on fire. They sought to speak and could not. Then began Again the merchant, and unto his friends Told his misfortune, asking back his child.
The Queen’s _dyangs_ shed tears, and gently said: “Speak not so loudly. Thou dost know that we Are but poor servants, and we tremble lest The Queen should hear. If any one of us Had done this wrong, we’d tell it to the King. Fate only is at fault. Oh, be not wroth With us. Our will was good. We had no end Except to see thy lovely daughter great And powerful. Naught the King hath known of this. It was the Queen’s mad jealousy and hate.”
The merchant and his wife accepted these, The _dyangs’_ words. “It is as they declare. The Queen was jealous and embittered thus Against our Bidasari. To your home
Return, _dyangs_. I fear me that the Queen May learn of your delay and punish ye.” They bowed and went, with hearts of burning grief.
The merchant and his wife then lifted up Poor Bidasari. They were all but dead
With sorrow. On his knees the father took The body wrapped in crimson silk. He felt A warmth. Then he remembered that within The water was her vital spirit still,
And, placing her upon a mat, sent Dang Poulam, the casket from the pond to bring. But ’twas not there. Then all the household searched, But found it not. The merchant beat his breast. “Branch of my heart,” he said, “we all had thought Thou wouldst become a princess. I have lost My reason. I hoped now to summon back
Thy spirit vital, but the casket’s lost. My hope is gone. It may be the _dyangs_ Have stolen it. They’re faithful to the Queen. We may not trust in them. They’re filled with hate And trickery.” Unconscious all the time Lay Bidasari; but at midnight’s hour
She for the first time moved. They torches brought And there behind Egyptian curtains, right And left, ignited them, with many lamps’ Soft flames. The servants watched and waited there. The father, always at his daughter’s side, With fixed glance looked for life to come once more Back to his darling one. She moved again. With opening eyes she saw and recognized Her own soft couch, her parents, and her maids. She tried but could not speak. Her hot tears fell, She slowly turned and looked with fondest love Upon her parents.
When the merchant saw
That Bidasari’s spirit had returned, He took her on his knees and gave her rice. She could not walk because such pain she felt. She thought upon the Queen and wept afresh. They dried her tears, and placed within her mouth What food she liked. The merchant tenderly Said, “Bidasari, dear, what has thou wrought To cause the Queen against thee thus to act?” Young Bidasari, with a flood of tears, replied: “No wrong at all I wrought the cruel Queen. All suddenly her insults she began,
And beatings.” They were stupefied to hear Such tales. “Light of my eyes,” the father said, “We do not doubt thine innocence. Her deeds Were those of madness. For her haughty birth I care no whit. Wisdom and virtue bind
True hearts alone. As friends we ne’er must name Those false _dyangs_. Not plants medicinal, But poison foul, are they. These days are bad. Injustice reigns. Believe me, friends, it is A sign the last great day shall soon appear. Those false _dyangs_ are but a race of slaves, Insensible to all that’s good. The hour The princess knoweth Bidasari lives,
We all shall die, the princess is so wroth. Illustrious Queen they call her–but her words Are hard and cruel. May the curse of God O’erwhelm her and annihilate! From thee, O God, she shall receive the punishment Deserved. She who pursueth thus a soul
Shall know remorse and pain. So God hath willed. So God hath willed. Who doth another harm Shall suffer in his turn. It shall be done To him as he hath done to others. So,
My child, my crown, have no more fear at all. Intrust thyself to God. The cruel Queen Shall yet be treated as she treated thee.” The merchant thus lamented till the night Was half departed, shedding sapphire tears. The innocent young girl, like marble there, Slept till the evening twilight came. Toward dawn She swooned anew.
The merchant and his wife
Were much disturbed to see at night she came To life, but when the daylight shone again They lost her, and her spirit fled away. This so distressed the merchant’s heart, a lone Retreat he sought to find. The parents cried: “O dearest child, there’s treason in the air. Hatred and anger the companions are
Of lamentations and of curses dire. Foul lies for gold are uttered. Men disdain The promises of God, the faith they owe. Oh, pardon, God! I ne’er thought the _dyangs_ Would thus conspire. But since they are so bad And treated Bidasari thus, we’ll go
And in the desert find a resting-place. And may it be a refuge for us all,
Hidden and unapproachable.”
He gathered then, and all his servants paid, And built a home far in the desert land, A spot agreeable. A cabin there
He raised, with ramparts hemmed about, and strong _Sasaks_, and seven rows of palisades.
They placed there many vases full of flowers, And every sort of tree for fruit and shade, And cool pavilions. This plaisance so fair They called Pengtipourlara. It was like The garden of Batara Indra. All
About, the merchant set pomegranate-trees And vines of grape. No other garden was So beautiful. ‘Twas like the garden fair Of great Batara Brahma, filled with fruits. When all was ready, forth they went, toward night, And took young Bidasari, and much food. They fared two days and came unto the spot, A garden in the desert. Softest rugs
From China there were spread and of bright hue The decorations were, in every tint.
The house was hung with tapestries, and ceiled To represent the heavens flecked with clouds. And all about were lanterns hung and lamps. Soft curtains and a couch completed this Enchanted resting-place. Always the light Was uniform, and brilliant as the day.
‘Twas like a palace of a mighty king, Magnificent and grand beyond compare.
There was a table on a damp rug set, With drinks for Bidasari, and with bowls Of gold, and vases of _souasa_, filled
With water. All of this beside the couch Was placed, with yellow _siri_, and with pure _Pinang_, all odorous, to please the child. And all was covered with a silken web.
Young Bidasari bracelets wore, and rings, And ear-rings diamond studded. Garments four All gem-bedecked upon a cushion lay,
For Bidasari’s wear. When night had come Young Bidasari waked. Her parents dear
Then bathed her, and her tender body rubbed With musk and aloes. Then she straight was clad In garments of her choosing. Her dear face Was beautiful, almost divine. She had
Regained the loveliness she erst possessed. The merchant was astonished, seeing her. He told her then that they would leave her there, “Branch of my heart and apple of my eye, My dearest child, be not disturbed at this. I do not mean to work thee any harm,
Nor to disown thee, but to rescue thee From death.” But as she listened to these words Young Bidasari wept. She thought upon
Her fate. Into her father’s arms she threw Herself, and cried: “Why wilt thou leave me here, O father dearest, in this desert lone?
I’ll have no one to call in case of need. I fear to stay alone. No one there’ll be To talk to me. I only count those hours As happy when I have my parents near.”
The merchant heard fair Bidasari’s words And wept with his dear wife. With bitter grief Their hearts were shattered. Counsels wise they gave To Bidasari. “Dearest daughter mine,”
The father said, “gem of my head, my crown, Branch of my heart, light of my eyes, oh, hear Thy father’s words, and be thou not afraid. We brought thee hither, to this fair retreat, Far from the town, for, if the Queen should know Thou liv’st at night, the false _dyangs_ would come, And who against the princess can contend? They’d take thee back, and thus exonerate Themselves. I’d let myself be chopped in bits Before thou shouldst unto the Queen return. Thy father cannot leave companions here, But after three days he will come to thee. Thy parents both will soon come back again.” Then Bidasari thought: “My parent’s words Are truth, and if the Queen should find I live She would abuse me as before. Give me
One maid-companion here to be with me,” She asked. “My child, trust not,” he said, “in slaves, Nor servants, for they only follow pay.” Then Bidasari silence kept, and they,
The father all distraught and mother fond, Wept bitterly at thought of leaving her. Fair Bidasari bade them eat, before
They started. But because of heavy hearts They but a morsel tasted. At the dawn
Young Bidasari swooned again. They made All ready to return to town. With tears The father said: “O apple of my eye,
Pearl of all women, branch of my own heart, Pure gold, thy parents leave thee with distress. No more they’ll have a daughter in the house. But, dear, take courage, we shall soon come back.” They left here with a talking bird to cheer Her loneliness, close shutting all the gates Of all the seven ramparts. Through a wood Bushy and thick they took a narrow path, In sorrow, but with confidence in God.
“O sovereign God, protect our child,” they said. When they had fared unto their house, they prayed And gave much alms.
When evening shadows came
Young Bidasari waked, and found herself Alone, and was afraid. With bitter tears Her eyes were filled. What could she say? She gave Herself to God. Alas, our destiny
Is like a rock. Twas hers to be alone. It is in no man’s power to turn aside
Or change whatever is by fate decreed. All desolate sat Bidasari. Sleep
Wooed not her eyes. Now when he heard the cry Of “Peladou,” the owl lamented loud.
Upon her parents coming, loaded down With dainties for the child, she for a while Her woe forgot, and ate and drank with joy. The little bird with which she talked upheld Her courage with its soothing voice. So ran The days away. Upon pretext he gave
Of hunting deer, the merchant daily came.
Hear now a song about the King Djouhan. The wise and powerful prince e’er followed free His fancy, and the Princess Lila Sari
Was very happy in her vanity.
Since she had killed (for so she thought) the maid, Young Bidasari, tainted was her joy.
“The King will never take a second wife,” She mused, “since Bidasari is now dead.” The King loved Princess Lila Sari well. He gratified her every wish, and gave
Her all she asked, so fond was he of her. Whene’er the princess was annoyed, the King, With kisses and soft words would quiet her, And sing to her sweet songs till she became Herself again. “Poor, little, pretty wife,” He’d say, and laugh her fretful mood away. One night as he lay sleeping on his bed, A dream tormented him. “What may it mean?” He thought. “Ah, well, to-morrow morn I’ll seek An explanation.” At the dawn he sat
Upon a rug Egyptian, breaking fast, And with him was the princess. When she had The dainties tasted, the _dyangs_ arrived With leaves of perfume. Then the King went forth Into the garden. All the officers
Were there assembled. When they saw the King They all were silent. To a _mantri_ spoke The King: “My uncle, come and sit thee here. I fain would question thee.” The King had scarce These words pronounced, when, bowing very low, The _mantri_ in respectful tones replied, “My greetings to thee, O most merciful
Of kings.” He sat him near the throne. “I dreamed Last night,” the King continued, “that the moon In her full glory fell to earth. What means This vision?” Then the _mantri_ with a smile Replied: “It means that thou shalt find a mate, A dear companion, like in birth to thee, Wise and accomplished, well brought up and good, The one most lovable in all the land.”
The King’s eyes took new fire at this. He said With smiles: “I gave the Queen my promise true That never I would take a second wife
Until a fairer I could find than she. And still she is so lovely in my eyes,
Her equal cannot anywhere be found. You’d take her for a flow’r. Yet when arise Her storms of anger, long it takes to calm Her mind, so waspish is her character.
The thought of this doth sadden me. Should one Not satisfy her heart’s desire, she flies Into a passion and attempts to kill
Herself. But ’tis my destiny–’tis writ. The Queen is like a gem with glint as bright As lightning’s flash. No one can ever be, I tell thee now, so beautiful to me.”
The _mantri_ smiled. “What thou dost say is just, O King, but still if thou shouldst someone find More beautiful, thou yet couldst keep thy word. The beauty of the Queen may fade away.
The princess thou shalt wed, O King, hath four High qualities. She must, to be thy queen, Be nobly born, and rich, and fair, and good.” The prince replied: “O uncle mine, thy words Are true. Full many princesses there live, But hard it is to find these qualities. The Queen is good and wise and lovable. I do not wish another wife to wed,
And wound the Queen with whom three years I’ve lived In love and harmony. Yet if I saw
A quite celestial maid, perhaps I might Forget, and marry her, and give the Queen A gay companion.” “O accomplished prince, Thou sayest truly. Stay long years with her Thy Queen, thy first beloved, for she hath all– Great beauty and intelligence.” They bowed As forth from them the King went palaceward. He sat beside the Queen, and kissed her cheeks, And said: “Thy features shine with loveliness, Like to a jewel in a glass. When I
Must leave thy side, I have no other wish But to return. Like Mount Maha Mirou
Thou art.” The princess said: “Wherefore art thou So spirited to-day? Thou’rt like a boy.” “Branch of my heart, my dearest love,” he said, “Vex not thyself. Thou know’st the adage old: First one is taken with a pretty face,
Then wisdom comes and prudence, and, with these, One loves his wife until the day of death. If thus thou dost deport thyself, my dear, My heart between two wives shall never be Divided; thou alone shalt own it all.”
The Queen was charmed to hear his loving words. At night the Queen slept, but King remained Awake, and watched the moon, and called to mind His dream. As dawn approached he slept, and seemed To hear an owl’s shrill voice, like Pedalou’s. When it was fully day, the royal pair
Together broke their fast. The King went forth And orders gave, in two days to prepare A mighty hunt, to chase the dappled deer, With men and dogs and all apparel fit.
Then back into the palace went the King, And told the Queen, who straightway gave commands For food to be made ready. At midnight
Behind Egyptian curtains went to rest The King and Queen, but slept not. Still the dream Was ever in his thoughts and worried him. At dawn he said farewell unto the Queen. She was all radiant, and smiling, said: “Bring me a fawn. I’ll tell the servants all To take good care of it, so it may grow Quite tame.” “What we can do, my dear, we shall, So all of thy desires may come to pass.” And so the King took leave, with kisses fond, And, mounted on a hunter brown, set forth, With velvet saddle decked with fringe of pearls. Lances and shields and arrows and blow-guns They bore. The wood they entered, and the beasts All fled before their steps at dawn’s first ray. And when the sun was up, they loosed the hounds With savage cries. Toward noon an animal In flight they saw, and would have followed it, But then up spake the King and said, “We are So hot and weary, let us linger here
For rest.” One-half the company astray Had gone, each striving to be first of all. The King, attended by a faithful three, Reclined upon the ground, and sent them forth For water. So the _mantris_ went to find A river or a pond, and faring far
To Bidasari’s plaisance came at last. They stopped astounded, then approached the place. When they were near the lovely garden close, They said: “There was no garden here before. To whom does this belong? Perchance it is A spirit’s bower. No human voice is heard But just the cry of ‘minahs’ and ‘bajans.’ Whom shall we call, lest spectres should appear?” They wandered round the ramparts, and a gate Discovered, shut with heavy iron bar,
And vainly tried to open it. Then one Of them went back, and found the King, and said: “Hail, sovereign lord, we have no water found, But a _campong_ here in the desert lone, As splendid as a sultan’s, with all sorts Of trees and flow’rs, and not a mortal there. ‘Tis girt about with double ramparts strong. No name is seen, and all the gates are shut, So that we could not enter.”
Scarce the King
Had heard the _mantri’s_ word when off he rushed To see the fair domain. Before the gate He stood astonished. “Truly, _mantris_ mine, It is as you have said. I once was here And then the wood was filled with thorns and briers.” “‘Tis not a nobleman’s _campong_. It must Have recently been made. Now summon all The _mantris_ here and see what they will say.” They called aloud, “Oh, hasten, friends, and bring The water here.” Seven times they called, but none Responded. Said the King, “It is enough. ‘Tis like as if one called unto the dead.”
“We’d best not enter,” said the _mantris_ then, “It may be the abode of demons fell.
We are afraid. Why should we linger here? Return, O King, for should the spirits come It might to us bring evil. Thou shouldst not Expose thyself to danger.” But the King Upon the _mantris_ smiled. “Ye are afraid Of demons, spectres, spirits? I’ve no fear. Break down the barriers. I’ll go alone
Within the precincts.” When the gates were forced, He entered all alone. The _mantris_ all Were terrified lest harm should come to him. They sought with him to go. He lightly said: “No, _mantris_ mine, whatever God hath willed, Must happen. If in flames I were to burn, In God I still should trust. ‘Tis only He That evil can avert. We mortal men
No power possess. With my own eyes I wish To see this apparition. Should it be
The will of God, I’ll come forth safe and sound. Be not disturbed. In case of urgent need I’ll call upon ye. All await me here.”
The _mantris_ made obeisance and replied, “Go, then, alone, since thou hast willed it so.” Into the plaisance strode the King. He saw That all was like a temple richly decked, With rugs of silk and colored tapestries Of pictured clouds and wheels all radiant, And lamps and candelabra hung about,
And lanterns bright. ‘Twas like a palace rich. The eyes were dazzled with magnificence. And seats there were, and dainty tables rare. As through the palace went the King, the more Astonished he became at all he saw,
But nowhere found a trace of human soul. Then spake the little bird: “Illustrious King, What seek’st thou here? This mansion is the house Of ghosts and demons who will injure thee.” The King was filled with wonder thus to hear A bird address him. But it flew away,
And hid behind a couch. “The bird I’ll find,” He said, and ope’d the curtains soft. He saw Full stretched, upon a bed in dragon’s shape, A human form, in heavy-lidded sleep
That seemed like death, and covered with a cloth Of blue, whose face betokened deepest grief. “Is it a child celestial?” thought the King, “Or doth she feign to sleep? Awake, my sweet, And let us be good friends and lovers true.” So spake the King, but still no motion saw. He sat upon the couch, and to himself
He said: “If it a phantom be, why are The eyes so firmly shut? Perhaps she’s dead. She truly is of origin divine,
Though born a princess.” Then he lifted high The covering delicate that hid the form Of Bidasari sweet, and stood amazed
At all the magic beauty of her face. Beside himself, he cried, “Awake, my love.” He lifted her and said, with kisses warm, “Oh, have no fear of me, dear heart. Thy voice Oh, let me hear, my gold, my ruby pure, My jewel virginal. Thy soul is mine.
Again he pressed her in his arms, and gave Her many kisses, chanting love-songs low. “Thou dost not wake, O dearest one, but thou Art yet alive, because I see thee breathe. Sleep not too long, my love. Awake to me, For thou hast conquered with thy loveliness My heart and soul.” So fell the King in love With Bidasari. “Ah, my sweet,” he said, “In all the world of love thou’rt worthiest.” The _mantris_ grew uneasy at his stay.
They rose and said: “What doth the King so long? If harm befell him, what would be our fate? Oh, let us call him back at once, my lords.” So one approached the palace, and cried out: “Return, O prince accomplished, to us now. Already night is near. Back thou may’st come To-morrow ere the dawn. We are afraid
Lest spirits harm thee. Come, O King, for we A-hungered are, and wait for thy return.” But the illustrious prince was mad with love Of Bidasari. Pensively he cried:
“Branch of my heart, light of mine eyes, my love, Pure gold, thou’rt like angel. Now must I Depart. To-morrow I will come again.”
With no more words he left her, but returned. “My heart would tell me, wert thou really dead. Some trouble hast thou, dearest one?” he cried. “What bitter grief hath caused thee thus to sleep?” He found the nobles murmuring and vexed. “O King,” they said, “our hearts were filled with fear Lest evil had befallen thee. What sight So strange hath kept thee all these hours?” The King Replied with laughter, “There was naught to see.” But they remarked his brow o’ercast with thought, And said, “O King, thy heart is sorely vexed.” “Nay, nay,” the King replied, “I fell asleep. Naught did I hear except the _mantri’s*_ voice. It surely is the home of demons dread
And spirits. Let us go, lest they surprise Us here.” He seemed much moved. “We naught have gained But weariness. So let us all go home
To-night, and hither come again at dawn. For I a promise gave the Queen to bring A fawn and a _kidjang_.” The _mantris_ said: “None have we taken yet. But game we’ll find To-morrow, and will save a pretty fawn.” The King, when they returned, went straight within The palace. There he saw the Queen, but thought Of Bidasari. “O my love,” he said,
“To-morrow I’m resolved to hunt again, And bring thee back a fawn, and win thy thanks. I’m never happy when away from thee,
My dearest love. Thine image is engraved Upon my heart.” Then he caressed the Queen And fondled her, but still his heart went out To Bidasari. All night long his eyes
He did not close in sleep, but thought of her, In all her beauty rare. Before the dawn The royal couple rose. The King then gave Command that those who wished should hunt again With him. At sunrise forth they fared.
On Bidasari let us look again.
When night had gone, in loneliness she rose, And ate and drank. Then to the bath perfumed She went, and coming to her chamber, took Some _siri_ from the betel-box. She saw A _sepah_ recently in use and cast
It forth. She thought within herself: “Who could have used it? Someone hath been here.” She ran through all the rooms, but nothing found Except the _sepah_ in the betel-box.
“Had it my father been, he would have left Some food for me. Oh, he is very rash
To leave me here alone.” Upon the couch She sat and wept, and could not tell her grief To anyone. “When we no longer may
Live happily,” she said, “’tis best to die. My parents never can forgiven be,
To leave me here like any infidel. And if I suffer, they will sorrow, too.” The _minahs_, the _bajans_, and talking birds Began to sing. She took a ‘broidered cloth, And ‘neath its folds she sweetly fell asleep.
The King’s horse flew apace to the _campong_ Of Bidasari. All the _mantris_ said:
“Thou takest not the path for hunting, sire; This is but the _campong_ of demons dread And spectres. They may do us deadly harm.” The great prince only laughed, and made as if
He heard not, still directing his fleet course To Bidasari’s garden, though they sought His wishes to oppose. When they arrived Before the palisades, the _mantris_ cried: “Avaunt, ye cursed demons, and begone
Into the thorns and briers.” Then to the King: “If thou wilt prove the courage of thy men, Lead us behind the barriers, among
The evil spirits. We will go with thee.” “Nay. Let me go alone,” the prince replied, “And very shortly I’ll come forth again.” They said: “O prince, to us thy will is law. To God most high do we commend thy soul.” Alone the prince in Bidasari’s home
Set foot. He was astonished, for he saw the bath Had recently been used, and all the lamps Were trimmed and full of oil. Then opening The chests, he saw the traces of a meal, And glasses freshly drained. The chambers all He searched, and came to Bidasari’s couch, And, lifting up the curtains, saw her there, Asleep beneath the ‘broidered covering. “Tis certain that she lives,” he said. “Perchance It is her lot to live at night, and die At dawn.” Then came he nearer yet, and gazed Upon her beauty. Ling’ring tears he saw Bedewed her lashes long, and all his heart Was sad. Her face was beautiful. Her locks Framed * with curls most gracefully. He took Her in his arms and cried, with kisses warm: “Why hast thou suffered, apple of my eye?” He wept abundantly, and said: “My gold, My ruby, my carbuncle bright, thy face
Is like Lila Seprara’s, and thy birth Is pure and spotless. How could I not love A being fair as thou dost seem to me?
Thy beauty is unspeakable; thou art Above all crowns, the glory of all lands. My soul adores thee. Lord am I no more
Of my own heart. Without thee, love, I could No longer live; thou art my very soul.
Hast thou no pity to bestow on me?” The more he looked the more he loved. He kissed Her ruby lips, and sang this low _pantoum_:
Within a vase there stands a china rose; Go buy a box of betel, dearest one.
I love the beauty that thine eyes disclose; Of my existence, dear, thou art the sun.
Go buy a box of betel, dearest one.
Adorned with _sountings_ brave of sweet _campak_, Of my existence, dear, thou art the sun; Without thee, everything my life would lack.
Adorned with _sountings_ fair of sweet _campak_, A carafe tall will hold the sherbet rare; Without thee, everything my heart would lack; Thou’rt like an angel come from heaven so fair.
A carafe tall will hold the sherbet rare, Most excellent for woman’s feeble frame. Thou’rt like an angel come from heaven so fair, Love’s consolation, guardian of its flame.
At the approach of night the _mantris_ said, “What doth the King so long away from us?” They were disturbed, the prince seemed so unlike Himself and filled with such unrestfulness. “I fear me much,” then said a _mantri_ there, “That some mishap hath overwhelmed the King. Perhaps by some bad spirit he’s possessed, That he to this weird spot should fain return.” One went and cried: “Come hither, O our King! The day declines; we’ve waited here since dawn.” The King responded to the call, and came With smiling face, though pale, unto the gate: “Come here, my uncle; come and talk with me, Thy King. No evil thing hath come to pass.” “O lord supreme, most worthy prince, return. If harm should come to thee, we all should die.” “Be calm, my uncle, I will not this night Return, but he may stay with me who wills.” “O King, with spirits what hast thou to do? Thy face is pale and worn, and tells of care.” The King but sighed, and said: “My heart is full Of trouble, but the will of God is good. Here yesterday a fair celestial form
With angel face I saw. ‘Twas here alone.” And so the King told all that had occurred. “Go back,” he added. “Leave me here with her. Say to the Queen I’ve lingered still a day For my amusement, with my retinue.”
Then half the escort stayed, and half repaired Back to the palace to acquaint the Queen The King would stay another day and hunt. When all was dark, sweet Bidasari waked And saw the King, and tried to flee away. He seized and kissed her. “Ruby, gold,” he said, “My soul, my life, oh, say, where wouldst thou go? I’ve been alone with thee for two whole days, And all the day thou wrapped in sleep didst lie. Where wouldst thou go, my dove?” The gentle girl Was much afraid and trembled, and she thought: “Is it a spirit come to find me here?
Avaunt thee and begone, O spectre dread,” She said, amid her tears. “No phantom I,” Replied the King; “be not afraid. I wish To marry thee.” Then Bidasari strove
Again to flee. Then sang the King a song That told of love and happiness. Its words Astonished Bidasari, and she cried:
“Art thou a pirate? Why dost thou come here? Speak not such things to me. If thou shouldst be Discovered by my father, he would cut
Thee into pieces. Thou shouldst go alone To death, and find no pardon in his heart. Take all my gems and hasten forth at once.” The King replied: “‘Tis not thy gems I want, But thee. I am a pirate, but thy heart
Is all I want to steal. Should spectres come In thousands, I would fear them not at all. No tears, my love, bright glory of my crown. Where wouldst thou go? Hast thou no pity, sweet, For me? I am a powerful prince. Who dares Oppose my will? Pure gold, all virginal, Where wouldst thou go?” So spake the King, and fair Young Bidasari trembled more and more.
“Approach me not,” she cried, “but let me bathe My face.” “I’ll bathe it for thee, dear,” he said. But Bidasari threw the water pure
Into his face. “Not that way, child,” he laughed; “My vesture thou hast wet. But I shall stay And meet thy parents here. Oh, hearken, love. I followed far the chase, and wandered here. I sought a pretty fawn to take the Queen; But now thy face I’ve seen, no more I wish To go away. Oh, have no fear, my child; I would not harm thee. When thy parents come, I’ll ask them for thy hand. I trust they’ll grant My prayer. I’ll lead thee forth from this fair spot Unto my palace. Thou shalt sit beside
The Queen, and live in happiness complete.” Sweet Bidasari bowed her head and wept, All red with modesty. Unto herself she said: “I never thought it was a king. How rude I was! I hope the King will not be vexed.” He calmed her fears with tender words of love. “Branch of my heart,” he said, “light of my eyes, Have no more fear. Soon as thy parents fond Have given their consent, I’ll lead thee forth. My palace is not far. A single day
Will take us there. It is not difficult To go and come.” Then Bidasari knew
It was the King of that same land. With fright She nearly swooned at thought of all the woe The Queen had caused her. “O my lord,” she said, “I’m but a subject humble. Give me not
The throne. I have my parents, and with them Must stay.” The King was overjoyed. “My dear,” He said, “by what names are thy parents known?” With low, sweet voice the tender girl replied: “Lila Djouhara is my father’s name.
He dwelleth in Pesara.” “Dearest one, Tell me the truth. Why have they treated thee In such a fashion–why abandoned thee
In solitude? Thy father is not poor A merchant rich is he, of birth, who hath A host of slaves and servants. For what cause Hath he his daughter left in this far spot? He is renowned among the merchants all, Both good and honest. What hath forced him here Within this lonely wood to hide thee, dear? Oh, tell me all; let nothing be concealed.” She thought: “It was the fault of his own Queen. But if I tell him all–he never saw
Me there, within the palace–should he not Believe, I’ll be a liar in his eyes.”
She feared to speak and tell him of the Queen. She thought, “So cruel was the Queen to me When she but feared a rival, what would come If I should sit beside her on the throne?” Then in her sweet voice Bidasari said:
“My glorious King, I am afraid to speak. I am not suited to a royal throne.
But since thou lovest me, how dare I lie? If thou dost favor me, the Queen will vex Her heart. My parents fear her. ‘Tis the cause Why hither they have brought me. Three long months Ago I came, for terror of the Queen.”
She thought on all the horror of those days, And choked with sobs, and could no longer talk. Then tenderly the King spake to the girl: “Ah, well, my darling love, confide in me The secret thy dear heart conceals. Fear naught; The Queen is good and wise, and knoweth how To win all hearts. Why should she render thee Unhappy? Speak not thus, my pretty one; The Queen could never do an evil deed.
When thou art near her, thou shalt see, my dear, Whether she loves or hates thee.”
At these words
Young Bidasari knew the King esteemed The Queen, and felt her heart sink in her breast. “My words are true,” she said, “but still perchance My prince cannot believe. But was I not Within thy palace six or seven nights?
The sweat of pain became my couch, so great Was my desire to see my parents dear.
They sent me dainties, but all the _dyangs_ Were kept as prisoners by the princess there. She said she’d take me back herself. One day I was, indeed, sent home, but scarce alive.” She told him everything that came to pass. He listened stupefied, and said: “How could It be that thou wert in the palace hid, And I not see thee there? Why was it thou Wert not beside the Queen? I’ve never left The palace for a single day. Where wert Thou hid? Thy strange words I believe, my dear. Speak without fear and let me know the whole.” Urged by the King, young Bidasari told
Him all. And when the conduct of the Queen He learned, the King was wonder-struck. A rage Most terrible possessed him. But his love For Bidasari mounted higher still
And his compassion. “So the Queen thus wrought! I never thought hypocrisy could be
So great! I never in the princess saw Such bent for evil. But be not, my dear, Disconsolate. It is a lucky thing
Thou didst not quite succumb. No longer speak Of that bad woman’s ways. Thank God we’ve met! So weep no more, my love. I’ll give to thee A throne more beautiful than hers, and be Thy dear companion until death.” “O King,” She said: “I have no beauty fit to grace A throne. Oh, let me stay a simple maid, And think of me no more.” The King replied: “I will not give thee up. But I must still Return, and meditate how I may win
Thee back to life complete.” With kisses warm He covered her fair face. She bowed her head, And silence kept; and when the morning dawned She swooned anew. It was a proof to him That she had told the truth. A mortal hate Then filled the prince’s heart against the Queen. Touched with deep pity for the maiden young, He kissed her once again, and left her there, So white and still, as if she lay in death. What of the _mantris_? They awaited long The King, in silence. Then the oldest said: “O sovereign lord, O caliph great, wilt thou Not now return?” “I’ll come again, dear heart,” He said, and sought the city. Straight he went Into the palace, to the Queen, who asked: “What bringest thou from hunting?” He replied In murmurs: “I have taken naught at all. For my own pleasure I remained all night.” “‘Tis nothing, lord, provided no harm came To thee. But say what thou didst seek, to stay So long? I always have prepared for thee The food for thy great hunts, but never yet Have I received a recompense?” The King To this replied with smiles: “Prepare afresh, For I to-morrow shall depart again.
If I take nothing, I’ll return at once.” As he caressed the Queen, upon her breast He felt the little magic fish of gold
All safe. Then gave he quick commands to all. “I’ll hunt to-morrow, and shall surely bring Some wondrous game.” Now when the princess fell Asleep he found upon her heart no more
The little fish. “‘Tis as the maiden said,” He thought. “The princess hath a wicked soul. With such a heart I cannot go with her
Through life.” Through all the night he could not sleep, But thought upon the girl. He was as sad As though he heard a touching song. At dawn The royal couple rose and went to bathe. The King into the palace came again
And sat upon the throne adorned with gems. He donned the royal robe to wear before The dear young girl. A vestment ’twas of silk, All gold embroidered, with a tunic bright, Of orange hue. His mien was most superb, As doth become a mighty king. He bore
A quiver of Ceylon, most deftly wrought. When all the _mantris_ had assembled there, The King within the palace once more went And met the Queen. Caressing her he took The little fish that lay upon her breast. The princess wept, and at the door she cried: “Why takest thou my little ornament?”
The great King gave no heed, and went away, At dawn’s glad hour, when birds begin to sing. Swords gleamed and lances shone, and through the wood They hastened on, with quivers and blow-guns, And seemed a walking city.