Max Havelaar (Wikisource)/32
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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
It was in the afternoon. Havelaar came from his room and found his Tine on the front porch, where she waited with tea. Mrs Slotering lef ther house and it seemed that she wanted to go to the Havelaars, but suddenly she turned to the gate, en with wild gestures she sent a man away who had entered a moment ago. She remained there until she was sure that he had left. Along the lawn she walked back to Havelaar's house.
"At last I'd like to know what this means!" said Havelaar, and when the greeting was over, he asked, in a jesting way, so she would not think that he denied her a bit of authority on the premises that used to be hers:
"Why, Madam, do tell me why you always send people away if the enter the premises. Perhaps that man was someone who wanted to sell chickens or something else we need for the kitchen."
Mrs Slotering's face showed a painful feature, and Havelaar saw it.
"Oh," she said, "there are so many bad people!"
"Sure, that's everywhere. But if you prevent people to come near, the good ones will also stay away. Come Madam, do tell me why you supervise the premises so strictly."
Havelaar looked at her and tried to read the answer in her eye. He insisted that she should answer, and the widow broke down in tears. She said that her husband had been poisoned in the house of the district chief in Parang-Koedjang.
"He wanted to be righteous, Mr Havelaar," the poor woman continued, "he wanted to finish the maltreatment. The people craves under it. He admonished, he threatened the chief, in meetings and in letters. He guess you found his letters in the files."
Yes, he had. Havelaar had read those letters, and copies are in front of me.
"He often spoke with the Resident," the widow continues, "but always in vain. Since it was generally known that the extortion occurs for the Regent, and with his protection, and the Resident does not want to accuse him at the government, so all those complaints only mean that the complainers are punished. Therefore my husband had said that if nothing happened about it before the year was over, he would go straight to the Governor-General. That was in November. Short afterwards he left for an inspection, he had lunch in the house of the Dhemang in Parang-Koedjang, and short afterwards he was taken home in a very bad condition. He pointed to his stomach, screaming "fire, fire!" and a few hours afterwards he was dead. And his good health was always exemplary."
"Did you call the doctor from Serang?" asked Havelaar.
"Yes, but he treated my husband only a short time, since he died very soon after his arrival. I dared not say what I thought to the doctor, because I was in a condition which made it impossible to leave the place soon, and I was afraid for revenge. I heard that you also want to fight against the extortion, just like my husband, so I am very uneasy, all the time. I anted to hide all this for you and your wife, because I was afraid to frighten you, and therefore I only guard the house and the premises, so that no strangers have access to the kitchen."
Tine understood why Mrs Slotering continued to have her own household, and why she had refused to use the kitchen of the Havelaars, although this was big enough.
Havelaar sent for the Controller. In the meantime he wrote a letter to the doctor in Serang, and asked for the symptoms he saw when Slotering died. The reply he got was not in the spirit of the widow's suspicions. According toe the doctor Slotering had died of an abscess in the liver. I have no indications that such a disease can reveal itself so suddenly, and whether it causes death in a few hours.. So I believe I must pay attention to the declaration of Mrs Slotering that her husband has always been healthy. But if one attached no value to such a declaration – because health may be judged very differently, in particular by people who are no doctors – one may still wonder whether someone who dies today of an abscess in the liver, could have been on horseback yesterday to inspect a mountainous area, which is in some distances twenty hours wide. The doctor who treated Slotering could have been a skilled physician, and yet he may have made an error in his judgement of the symptoms of the disease, since he was not prepared for a crime.
However it be, I cannot prove that Havelaar's predecessor had been poisoned, since Havelaar had not the time to make this clear. But I can prove that everyone in the environment thought that he had been poisoned, and that this was related to his willingness to fight against injustice.
The Controller Verbrugge entered Havelaar's room. The latter asked shortly:
"Why did Mr Slotering die?"
"I don't know."
"Has he been poisoned?"
"I don't know, but..."
"Speak clearly, Verbrugge!"
"He attempted to prevent the abuses, just like you, Mr Havelaar, and... and..."
"Well? Go on."
"I am convinced that he would have been poisoned if he had been here longer."
"Write it down!"
Verbrugge wrote it down. I have his statement here in front of me!
"Something more. Is it true or not that there are extortions in Lebak?"
Verbrugge did not reply.
"Tell me, Verbrugge!"
"I don't dare to say."
"Write down that you don't dare!"
Verbrugge wrote it down. It is in front of me.
"Good. Something more: you did not reply to my last question, but the other day you said, when we spoke about poisoning, that you were the only support for your sisters in Batavia, didn't you? Is that the cause of your fear, of what I always called half-heartedness?"
"Write it down."
Verbrugge wrote it down. His statement is in front of me!
"It's fine," said Havelaar, "I know enough." And Verbrugge could go.
Havelaar went out and frolicked with little Max, whom he kissed very dearly. When Mrs Slotering had left, he sent the child away and called Tine into his room.
"Dear Tine, I want to ask you something. I want you to go to Batavia with Max. I bring a charge against the Regent today."
She fell around his neck, disobedient for the first time, and sobbing she cried:
"No Max, no Max, I won't... I won't! We eat and drink together!"
Was Havelaar wrong when he said that she had no right to blow her nose, just like the women in Arles?
He wrote and sent the letter of which a copy follow below. After explaining the situations in which this letter was written, I don't think I need to show how he was ready to do his duty, nor how Havelaar remained meek, which moved him to protect the Regent against a severe punishment. But it will not be redundant to speak about his care, which made him remain silent about his recent discovery, so his charge would not be weakened by an important, but not proven accusation. He intended to disinter his predecessor's body for a scientific investigation, as soon as the Regent had been removed and his train made harmless. But he did not get the opportunity.
In the copies of official documents – which are exactly equal to the original – I believe I should replace the foolish titles by simple pronouns. I expect that my readers will have the good taste to accept this change.
- Nr 88. Secret. Urgent. Rangkas-Betoeng, 24 February 1856.
- To the Resident of Bantam.
- A month ago I accepted my task here, and most of the time I have been busy with investigating how the native chiefs deal with their obligations to wards the people, when it comes to forced labour, poendoetan and the like.
- Very soon I discovered that the Regent called people, on his own authority, and to his own benefit, and far more that the legally allowed numner of pantjens and kemits.
- I doubted whether I should report this immediately, since I preferred to detain the native chief clerk by meekness, and perhaps by threatening, with the double purpose to stop the extortions and at the same time prevent a strict treatment of the old servant of the government, in particular because of the bad examples which, I believe, have always been given, and because of the special circumstances that he expected to be visited by two relations, the regents of Bandoeng and of Tjanjor, at least the latter – who, I think, is already on the way with a large train – so he was tempted more than otherwise – even forced, in view of his financial position– to supply with illegal means in the preparation of that visit.
- All this led to meekness, regarding everything that has happened, but it should not result in tolerance I the future.
- I insisted that this illegal behaviour stop immediately.
- I already informed you about this preliminary attempt to bring the Regent back to his duty with meekness.
- However, I have seen that he ignores all my instructions with cheeky impudence, and I find that my oath requires that I inform you about this:
- that I accuse the Regent of Lebak, Radhen Adhipatti Karta Natta Nagara, of abuse of authority, by illegal use of the labour of his subjects, and suspect of extortion, by requiring the yields of agriculture, without payment, or with arbitrary insufficiënt payment; furthermore that I suspect the Dhemang of Parang-Koedjang, his son-in-law, of complicity in these facts.
- In order to be able to instruct both cases, I suggest that you order me:
- to send said Regent of Lebak, with most hurry, to Serang, and taking care that he will neither before his departure, nor during the journey, be in the opportunity to, by bribing or otherwise, influence in the testimonies which I shall find;
- to take the Dhemang of Parang-Koedjang in temporary incarceration;
- to apply the same measures on persons of lower rank, who belong to the Regent's family and can be expected to influence the quality of the required investigation;
- to make sure that the investigation will take place immediately and to send an extensive report of the results.
- I take the freedom to suggest that you prepare for the coming of the Regent of Tjanjor.
- Finally I have the honour – it is redundant for you, since you know the department better than is possible for me – to assure you that there are absolutely no objections against a strict righteous treatment of this case, and that I would sooner be afraid for danger if this case was not properly resolved. For I have been informed that the common man who, as a witness told me, is of the extortions, has been waiting to be saved for a long time.
- I needed power for the hard duty to write this letter, which I obtained partly from the hope that I will soon be allowed tob ring some hting which excuse the old Regent. For although it is his own fault that he is in this position, but I deeply pity him.
- The Assistant-Resident of Lebak
- MAX HAVELAAR.
The next day he got a reply. From the Resident of Bantam?
This reply is a precious contribution to the knowledge of the way the government is exercised in the Dutch Indies. Mr Sliming complained "that Havelaar had not first informed him by word of mouth of the case which was mentioned in letter number 88." Of course because that would make it easier to compromise. furthermore: "that Havelaar disturbed him in his busy tasks!"
Perhaps the man was busy with a annual report about quite rest! The letter is here in front of me and I cannot believe my eyes. I read the letter of the Assistant-Resident of Lebak again. I put him and the Resident of Bantam, Havelaar and Sliming, side by side.