Max Havelaar (Wikisource)/12

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Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8 - Chapter 9 - Chapter 10 - Chapter 11 - Chapter 12 - Chapter 13 - Chapter 14 - Chapter 15 - Chapter 16 - Chapter 17 - Chapter 18 - Chapter 19 - Chapter 20 - Chapter 21 - Chapter 22 - Chapter 23 - Chapter 24 - Chapter 25 - Chapter 26 - Chapter 27 - Chapter 28 - Chapter 29 - Chapter 30 - Chapter 31 - Chapter 32 - Chapter 33 - Chapter 34 - Chapter 35 - Chapter 36 - Chapter 37 - Chapter 38 - Chapter 39


The company had lunch in the Adhipatti's house. The commander Duclari had also been invited. Immediately afterwards the Resident left, since he wanted to go back to Serang before nightfall…

"Because. He. Was. So. Extremely. Busy."

…in his coach. Thus Rangkas-Betoeng become a quiet place again, as can be expected from a Javanese place which is inhabited by few Europeans and which is away from any main road.

The meeting between Duclari and Havelaar had soon become a comfortable companionship. The Adhipatti appeared to be satisfied with his new elder brother and Verbrugge told afterwards that the Resident, whom he had accompanied for some distance when he travelled back to Serang, was very satisfied about the family Havelaar, who had stayed a few days in his house, while on the way to Lebak. He also said that Havelaar, abut whom the government had nothing but good reports, would probably soon be promoted to a higher office, or at least moved to a more advantageous department.

Max and his Tine had recently returned from a voyage to Europe. They felt tired after what someone quaintly called a life of suitcases. They were happy to live somewhere after all that travelling, in a place where they would be at home. Before they had travelled to Europe, Havelaar had been Assistant-Resident in Amboina, where he had coped with many difficulties, because the people in that area were in a rebellious state, caused by many bad measures which had been taken in recent times.

It was not without resourcefulness that he had succeeded in suppressing these revolts, but he was disappointed because he had obtained so little help from higher levels, and annoyed about the bad government that has for many centuries been depopulating and spoiling the wonderful regions of the Moluccas.

The interested reader may attempt to read more about this subject. In 1825 it was written about by baron Van der Capellen, and the reader may find the publications of this philanthropist in the State sheet of the Indies of that year. The situation has not become any better in the meantime!

Whatever it be, Havelaar did in Amboina what he could do and what he was permitted to do, but out of frustration because he got no cooperation from those who had been called in the first place to support his attempts, he took ill, and this had been a reason to go to Europe. Strictly speaking he had, when he came back, been entitled to a better choice than the poor department Lebak, since his place in Amboina was of greater importance. He had even worked there on his own, without a superior Resident. Besides there had been intentions to promote him to Resident before he left for Amboina, so it appeared a bit strange that he now received the government of a department which produced very little in the way of cultural emoluments, while many measured the importance of an office by the related wages. Havelaar himself did not complain about that, for he was not so ambitious that he would beg for a higher rank or more wages.

And the latter would have been very useful to him. During his travels in Europe he had spent the little that he had saved in previous years. He had even left debts, so he was really poor now. But he never considered his office as a means to earn money, and when he was appointed to Lebak, he was satisfied with the thought that he would be thrifty. His wife, who did not require much, would stand by him gladly.

But it was hard to be thrifty. For himself he could be limited to what was strictly required. Yes, without any effort he could remain within the borders, but when others needed help, it was his true passion to help, to give. He saw it as rather weak, reasoning that with all the common sense that had been given to him, what injustice it was to support others while he himself required his help more. He felt this injustice even more when his Tine and little Max, whom he loved so dearly, suffered because of his generosity. He berated himself, feeling that his good nature was a weakness, a vanity, an ambition to appear like a prince in clothes. He promised himself to do better and yet, when anyone visited him and appeared to be the victim of bad luck, he forgot everything so that he could help. And all this in spite of the bitter experience of the consequences of this virtue, which through exaggeration had become an mistake. Eight days before little Max was born, he did not have the money to buy an iron cot, which his daring needed to sleep in, and a few times before he had sacrificed his wife's few jewels to help someone who probably was in a better position than Havelaar.

But all this was far behind them when they had arrived in Lebak! With a happy serenity they took possession of the house, where they hoped to remain some time. They had, with distinct pleasure, ordered furniture in Batavia, which would make the house comfortable and snug. They picked out the places where they intended to have breakfast, where little Max would play, where the library would be, where he would read to her what he had written during the day, for he was always busy with the development of his ideas on paper. One day, Tine thought, it would be printed and people would know who her Max was! But he never took anything to the press of what he thought, since he felt a certain shyness, which looked a bit like honour. At least, that was the way he could describe this shyness, whenever someone tried to encourage him to publish his writings, he 'd answer: "Wouldst thou let thy daughter walk on the street without a shirt?"

This was one of the many witticisms that made other people say that this Havelaar was really a peculiar person, and I do not say that they were wrong. But if one attempted to interpret his unusual way of speaking, one would have found in that strange question about a girl's clothing perhaps a text for an article about the chasteness of the spirit, which is embarrased by the looks of the rude passer-by and which withdraws in a shell of virginal shyness.

Yes, they would be happy in Rangkas-Betoeng, Havelaar and his Tine! The only problem they had, was the debts which they had left in Europe, augmented by the unpaid cost of the voyage to the Indies and the cost of furniture for their home. But there was no poverty. Half, even a third of their wages would be sufficient to live on. And perhaps, rather likely, he would soon be promoted to Resident, and in that case everything would be resolved in a short time.

"Although I would be very sorry, Tine, to leave Lebak, since there is a lot to do here. You must be very thrifty, so we can pay our debts off soon, even if I am not promoted. And in that case I hope to stay here a long time, a very long time!"

There was no need to encourage her to be thrifty. It was really not her fault that they needed to save money, but she felt completely attached to her Max, so she did not feel the encouragement as a reproach – which it wasn't. Havelaar knew very well that he had failed and been too generous, and her only fault – if she had a fault at all – was that she had, out of love for Max, allowed everything he did.

Yes, she had allowed it when he met two poor women in Nieuwstraat, who had never left Amsterdam, and had never had a break, and introduced them to the fair in Haarlem, under the funny pretext that the King had ordered him to "amuse old ladies who have behaved well". She had allowed it when he treated the children from all orphanages in Amsterdam to cake and almond milk. She understood completely that he paid the inn of the poor singers who wanted to return to their country, but were unwilling to leave their possessions behind, including the harp, the violin and the double bass, which they needed so much for their poor revenues. She accepted it when he came home with a girl, who had talked to him in the evening, that he gave her food and lodging, and that he did not simply say "Go and sin no more" until he had made it possible for her to sin no more. She found her Max very generous when he bought the piano back for the man, whom he had heard saying that he was so sorry that his girls would be deprived of music after his bankruptcy. She understood very well that her Max paid to free the slave family in Menado, which was so bitterly unlucky when they climbed the auctioneer's table. She found it natural that Max gave horses back to the Alfuros in the Minahassa, whose horses had been ridden to death by the officers of the Bayonnaise. She was not opposed when in Menado and Amboina he called on the shipwrecked persons of the American whalers and cared for them, and felt too proud to send the inn's bill to the American government. She completely understood why the officers of almost every man-of-war usually stayed with Max, and that his house was their favourite pied-à-terre.

Wasn't he her Max? Wasn't it too mean, too unimportant, wasn't it absurd to bind him, him with his princely thoughts, to the rules of thrift and homeliness which are so important for others? And also, if there was for a moment a disagreement between income and expenses, wasn't Max, her Max, destined for a wonderful career? Wasn't it obvious that he would soon be in circumstances which would allow him to be as generous as he liked without exceeding his earnings? Wasn't her Max destined to become a Governor-General of that beloved Indies, or a King? Wasn’t it strange that he wasn't a King already?

If any fault could be found in her, it must have been that she always agreed with Max, and the truth maxim that one must forgive a lot in the one who has loved a lot, was in this case certainly a truth!

But there was nothing to forgive, Without dealing with the exaggerated understanding she had of her Max, one could certainly assume that he had a good career ahead, and when this future had become a reality, the unfortunate consequences of his generosity would soon be cleared away. But a reason of a quite different nature excused her and his apparent thriftlessness.

She had lost both her parents at a very young age and was raised by others in her family. When she had married, she was told that she inherited a small fortune, which was given to her, but Havelaar discovered from some ancient letters and some notes, which she kept in a coffer she obtained from her mother, that both her father and her mother had been extremely rich, but it was not clear how, when or where they had lost that wealth. She, who had never been interested in financial matters, could not answer when Havelaar asked for information about the former possessions of her kin. Her grandfather, the baron Van W., had been to England with William the Fifth and he had been a captain in the cavalry of the Duke of York. It appeared that he had led a joyful life with the family of the stadtholder, and many gave that as an explanation for the loss of his wealth. Later, in Waterloo, he fell in a charge under the troopers of Boreel. It was poignant to read the letters by Tine's father – then a young man of 18 years, who as a Lieutenant in the same charge was hit on his head by a sabre, which caused him to die eight year later, insane – to his mother, in which he complained how he had searched in vain for his father's body.

As regards her descent on the mother's side, she remembered that her grandfather had lived a life of luxury, and there were documents which showed that he had been the owner of the postal service in Switzerland, in a similar way that today in a great part of Germany and Italy such revenues are the major appanage of the princes of Turn and Taxis. This suggested a great wealth, but for unknown reasons nothing, or very little, had been received by the next generation.

Havelaar heard this little information only after his marriage, and during his investigations it amazed him that the coffer which I mentioned a moment ago – with contents which were kept out of piety, without guessing that there might be documents among them which were of financial importance - was lost in a mysterious way. Although unselfish, he developed from this and several other circumstances the opinion that there was a roman intime hidden somewhere, and we will not blame him for the fact, who was always short of money because of his generous nature, would be happy if that novel had a happy ending. However it be with the existence of that novel, or whether there had been any plundering, it is certain that something was born in Havelaar's imagination which might we called a rêve aux millions.

But again, he who would have carefully investigated and defended the rights of other people – no matter how deep they were buried under dusty documents – was very careless when his investigations were in his own interest, neglecting the moment when he had to do something. It seemed that he felt some shame because it was to his own advantage, and I believe that had his Tine married to someone else, and had this someone asked Havelaar to break the cobwebs in which the fortune of her ancestors had been hidden, he would have succeeded in restoring the wealth unto the "interesting orphan", the wealth that belonged to her. But the interesting orphan happened to be his wife, her fortune was his, and he felt that he would behave like a merchant if he asked in her name "Don't you owe me something?"

And yet he could not get rid of that dream of millions, even if he needed only an apology, when he rebuked himself for spending too much money.

Shortly before he returned to Java, when he had already suffered much for want of money, when he had to bend his proud head under the furca caudina of many creditors, he could have conquered his reticence by searching for those millions which he assumed he ought to have. The reply was an old bank account, and as you know there is no defence against such an argument.

But they would be very thrifty in Lebak! And why not? In this uncivilised country there are no girls on the streets who have a bit of honour to sell for a scrap of food. There are no people who live on problematic professions. It does not happen that an entire family comes on sudden trouble because of a change of fortune – and such were the cliffs where Havelaar's good intentions stranded. The number of Europeans in that department was so small as not to matter, and the Javanese in Lebak is too poor to – by whatever chance – draw attention by still greater poverty. Tine did not think of all that – although she had to realise the causes of their less prosperous circumstances, as she wanted to do out of love for Max – but in their new circumstances there was something that breathed calmness and offered no temptations – with a more or less false romantic tint – which so often made Havelaar say:

"Don't you think, Tine, this is really a case that requires my attention."

And she always replied:

"Sure Max, you cannot ignore that!"

We shall see how the simple, apparently indifferent Lebak cost Havelaar more than all the previous extravagances of his heart together. But they did not know! They saw the future with confidence and felt happy in their love and the possession of their child.

"Look at all those roses in the garden," cried Tine, "and there, rampeh and tjempaka and a lot of melati, and look at those fair lilies."

And, being like children, they enjoyed their new house. And in the evening, when Duclari and Verbrugge, who had visited Havelaar, went back to their common home, they talked a lot about the child-like joy of the just-arrived family.

Havelaar went to his office, and he worked all night, until dawn.