CHAPTER 8 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please scroll down to earlier chapters as needed.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER EIGHT   Giants Resumed

The thunderous rain vollys seemed to ebb and flow like a tide. Steady one moment, then crashing more horrendously the next.  Adjusting their positions on the hard wooden-slat chairs Secretary Ansel and Regent van Given continued the conversation once more.

Ansel began again,  “There is more to the Kuri-Pasai myth, you know. Are you interested in hearing the Wamesa version of the ending ?”

Just then Budi came through the door leading to the kitchen corridor. The kitchen was a separate cubicle, more or less an addition to the main house structure separated from it by a short verandah that served as a corridor along the back side of the house. It was there that Budi had stoked the crude, wood burning stone oven to bake the fresh bread from the coarsely ground wheat flour that came over from Ambon with van Given.

Ma’af, Tuan-tuan, roti bakar yang segar!” Budi broadly smiled, revealing the empty space in his maxilla where a front tooth should have been. Thus he excused himself at announcing the fresh baked bread. Carefully Budi placed the wooden tray on the table, and began slicing the warm bread. Van Given took opportunity to refill Secretary Ansel’s coffee cup, and reply he was very interested in hearing the end. Ansel continued, his eyes poised upon Budi’s right arm movement, slicing as if sawing, back and forth, back and forth.

“Well, eh, this Kuri fellow was not a very good giant to his fellow countrymen. After Pasai left, the legend goes that he became more intolerable and demanding, and very treacherous in his dealings with others. His reputation as a mean, bullying  giant even went beyond the bounds of his habitat. And so it happened, that one day he again set out to explore more of the vast jungle. In so doing, he ventured away from his territory and came across…, eh, some…”

Van der Kraatj let his voice hesitantly trail off as Sri entered the room to announce the arrival of the now imposing figure that seemed to dwarf the doorway. He was the rain-drenched captain of one of the small supply ships which route between Batavia on mainland Java and the other outlying Dutch outposts. They had shipped out from Ambon, Maluccas Islands three days previous with clear skies and an easterly course.

However, the storm overtook them just as they rounded around back of the bird’s head to arrive at Manokwari. By the time they laid anchor in Dorey Bay nightfall was upon them and the monsoon totally in control. All they could do was weather the storm through the night, not daring to attempt to leave the ship in the darkness. The two men rose from their chairs as Regent van Given introduced Secretary van der Kraatj and himself, and welcomed the captain, offering him a seat at the table.

“Volderman, Hans Volderman, sirs. I’m captain of the Niu Rotterdam. We made port and set anchor last night just as the storm hit. You know what a nuisance the monsoons can be, didn’t dare attempt a dingy to shore until this morning.”

He carried a flat packet under his left arm which he now proffered to van Given. It contained several communiqués from the Resident’s office in Ternate along with posted letters from Holland. The reports momentarily set aside, van Given quickly thumbed through the small post pile making special mental note of the addressees he had yet to make acquaintance. He pulled an envelope addressed to Ansel and handed it to him. Then his eyebrows rose when his gaze fell upon an envelope addressed to him. Slowly he retrieved it and placed it in his pocket. Addresser: Troita Inggavird. The savory pang of excitement at the thought of the greeting it contained quickly dissipated at the sound of the husky, baritone voice.

Volderman continued. “We’ll weather out the storm here, unload our cargo and then weigh anchor for the journey back south around to the outpost at Fakfak, and then on to Batavia. If you have cargo or passengers we’ll gladly accommodate you as best we can.”

“Thank you, Captain.” van Given replied as he filled the cup Budi had brought, and gently slid the saucer over to Volderman. His burly weathered hands enclosed the cup so thoroughly van Given was instantly reminded of the tiny tea set his sister used to play with. So thimble-like were her cups that they, too, disappeared within the clasped confines of a child’s hands.

Ansel van der Kraatj made small talk with the captain concerning his trip up from Batavia, and tried to glean any newsworthy story. His forehead wrinkled as he learned word had reached the Resident of Ternate that the English, who had previously established a small colony outpost most easterly on New Guinea Island, were planning to embark on a geologic survey through to deeper jungle parts of the interior. This information coincided with earlier news that Den Hague was fully aware of the efforts, and had indeed given approval for a Dutch scientific expedition, well manned by Leiden and Utrecht upper echelon. A  ship already enroot could be expected to reach Batavia in less than four to six weeks.

“Extraordinary!” exclaimed van der Kraatj. “Depending on their itinerary, no doubt this means the whole company will acclimate here in Manokwari at some time during the foray.”

Captain Volderman made no comment but already van Given was thumbing through the official communiqués to see if there was advance notice of such a thing. Sure enough, there was.

The captain carefully placed the empty cup on the saucer and began to rise. As he did so he begged pardon of his two hosts, grateful for their warm hospitality, stating it was needful he get back to his ship. Van Given and the Secretary both nodded approval and feigned to rise as Captain Volderman did an about face, squared his immensely broad shoulders, donned his well-worn seaman’s cap, and exited via the way he had come in.

“Interesting fellow.” remarked van der Kraatj. “What do you make of the news?”

“Sounds as if in a couple months we won’t be hard pressed for company,” van Given quipped. What could he make of it. He himself had just arrived. In less than 48 hours he had officiated his first dispute, come to understand how deficit he was in knowledge about aboriginal papuan society, and gained a new awareness of himself as a white Dutch official, descendent of the giant Pasai! Of all things, a provider! And then, of course, the letter from Troita.

At this opportunity, van Given begged pardon of the Secretary, indicating he had notations to write and other matters to attend to. The Kuri-Pasai myth would of necessity be resumed some later time. They arose and vander Kraatj departed. Van Given retired to his quarters, a measure of excitement and trepidation gripping him.

CHAPTER 7 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER SEVEN  The Providers

Van Given was first to break the silence and begin the conversation a new. “Something you said earlier keeps coming to mind. You stated the aboriginals regard us to be the providers, what exactly did you mean by that?”

“You are a very attentive and intuitive listener, Regent van Given. Congratulations for picking up on my mere mention of it. The topic surrounding that moniker is quite interesting, you know, not the kind of thing we’d expect to hear coming from the savage mind. Professor Ni’ik Gevil first used the epithet. Although his deductions about the underlying subject matter are speculative, his observations seem valid enough, and Hasbelt agrees with him for the most part. In time the phenomenon is sure to be under the scrutiny of the ‘scholar’s eye’ so to speak.”

Van Given tried not to look annoyed at Secretary Ansel’s obviously labored reply. He certainly has a flair for intrigue he thought.

“All right.  But please forgive me for my round-a-bout if not protracted explanation.  The term, or what I know of the greater idea behind it, called koreri by the papuan aboriginals, comes from a distillation of Gevil’s analyses based on his cursory investigations of papuan stories, myths actually,  the substance of which he has made notes of here on Manokwari coast, Numfor Island, and on Biak Island.

“Additionally, he perused reported information submitted by outlying station attendants about certain geographically widespread, esoteric events among the aboriginals that show marked similarity. These reports, all of which were made by reputable sources to be sure, concerned strange activities instigated by self-proclaimed aboriginal leaders. Gevil’s best deductions indicate that many papuan tribes share a common notion, a notion that at some time in the future a legendary folk hero will magically reappear to his countrymen. When this hero comes, he will bring with him all the beloved, dead ancestors. The notion, however, is usually locally exploited by prophetic, want-to-be leaders, one from within his own clan group who tries to rally an isolated village to do this or that, in order to hasten the time of their hero’s arrival. Thus, it can be speculated that the hero is a kind of ‘messiah’ figure.

“Furthermore, they believe the sudden return of this ‘messiah’ will initiate a time of health and prosperity such as never before seen in the islands, a golden age if you will. Although the myth scenarios may vary, the notions concerning the return of the ancestors, a hero figure and of a golden age are seen to be common through all of them.”

Van Given just sat there, so intrigued by the things he was hearing he kept silent and allowed Secretary Ansel to continue.

“To make the account even more interesting, various groups from the areas I’ve mentioned also hold the rather absurd notion that material goods, things we know to be of European manufacture, man-made stuff, will also someday materialize to their hearts content ushering in this anticipated time of prosperity! The poor fellows actually believe European goods will fall down to them out of the sky!”

“For the love of …” mumbled van Given quite bemused as he leaned back in his chair. Although his question had not yet been answered, he found this prelude most astonishing.

“Pervasive throughout this region is the Kuri-Pasai myth, about two legendary giants, brothers actually, who had a falling out. Their tale is held dear by Numforites as well as the various coastal groups living all the way down past Roon Island to the bottom of Wandamen Bay.”

“Do you know the myth well enough to tell it?” Van Given asked with interest.

“Well, I‘ve certainly spun a yarn or two in my day, and shouldn’t have too much trouble spinning one of theirs.” The telltale upturn at the corners of his mouth was partially obscured by the twisted golden hair of his mustache. Yet van Given didn’t miss the twinkle in his eyes. He wondered if Ansel had a wife and a family. He could just imagine this charmingly rotund fellow back in Amsterdam, sitting in a burgundy leather high back chair close to a crackling fire, telling wild tales to his young children resting motionless, attentive at his feet. Secretary Ansel tamped his well used pipe and continued.

“Two mythological giants are said to have originated way back up the Wosimi River, the river which now drains the inland mountain waters out to sea, at the bottom of Wandamen Bay.” As he spoke, Ansel withdrew a piece of  paper and a writing instrument from his jacket pocket and began to hastily sketch the geography. This would give Regent van Given a better understanding of the territory in question. He continued speaking.

“Originally, legend has it, this great Wosimi River flowed toward Yeratuar villages lying on the coast of the Greater Bay, east of the Wondivoi Mountain range. Kuri and Pasai were giants, rival brothers, and as brothers often have cantankerous temperaments, they liked to provoke one another. Kuri was eldest, quick to combat and not as bright as the younger Pasai, who seemed very clever in his ways.”

“One day, at Maniami, a legendary inland spot west of Wandamen Bay, south in the Vogelkop range, here,” he pointed to the spot on his map and continued, “a place greatly esteemed by the inhabitants of Dusner village and the surrounding region, Pasai beat his lizard skin drum. Far off in the southern hinterland of Wandamen Bay near the Wosimi River, Kuri heard a most beautiful sound pulsate through the air around him. So, Kuri cupped his hands to his mouth and called out, ‘Is that you, Pasai, beating your drum? The sound is so very pleasing.’ From Maniami Pasai replied affirmatively. Kuri then asked, ‘What kind of skin did you use. It’s resonance is so rich and sonorous. Is it from the old gray lizard?’

“Pasai replied that it wasn’t, and Kuri pressed again to learn of its origin. Now, this Pasai fellow was quite clever indeed. In an effort to trick his brother, he told him he had used some of mother’s belly skin and that was why his drum sounded so beautiful. Kuri, envious of his brother’s beautiful sounding drum didn’t even give it a thought. If Pasai’s drum sounded so good with mother’s belly skin, his drum would sound ever so much better with it, too.

“So, Kuri made his way back to mother, picked her up and laid her on her back. Obviously frightened at his sudden movements, mother quickly asked him his intent. He told her he just needed some of her belly skin for his drum. The old woman pleaded with Kuri not to take her skin, but finally, somewhat reluctant, she gave in. Then Kuri flayed her belly with his sharp pasamai bamboo knife. Unfortunately, the trauma was too much for mother and she died.

“Kuri then realized he had been tricked by Pasai into cutting mother which resulted in her death. Kuri yelled to Pasai that he had taken mother’s belly skin and she had died. Pasai yelled back he had deceived him, his drum head wasn’t really covered with mother’s belly skin at all. The beautiful sound had indeed come from the old gray lizard’s skin.

“Poor mother. Poor dumb Kuri. Poor cleaver Pasai. Mutually mad that mother had died, the two got to it after that and fought from one end of the territory to the other. Kuri threw bamboo spears at Pasai and Pasai threw pasamai bamboo back at Kuri. They say that is why there is so much of this kind of bamboo near the Wosimi River today. During their fighting they kicked heavy boulders into the river and this supposedly made it swell so tremendously, it created two enormous waves which moved along and redirected the course of the river. And that is why the Wosimi River now flows to the bottom of Wandamen Bay.

“These giants hit and poked, cut and stabbed each other and even uprooted tall banyan trees to use as swinging clubs. In time, as the feud wore on, the landscape underwent change caused by their immense, careless quarreling. Finally, Pasai decided to leave the island and go off westward toward the unknown regions where the sun is thought to disappear into the ground. He took only his bow and arrows. Kuri remained the papuan giant of the jungle who took possession of all that Pasai left behind. Most prized was that beautifully sonorous, hourglass shaped drum! It was said that for hours on end he’d just pound it and pound it to make that beautiful boom, boom, boom resonate throughout the land.”

“Interesting. And what of Pasai?” Asked van Given intently.

“Well, as the legend goes, Pasai went westward toward the setting sun. Supposedly he discovered the secret to obtaining kebendaan, material wealth and possessions. That is why aboriginals believe he is the progenitor of all light skinned people, who incidentally know his secret, and like him, have followed his deceiving path. We are tricksters who demonstrate the material wealth but we never reveal the secret conjuring formula that obtains it!

“It is this secret knowledge about how to make things materialize out of thin air that we white people are keeping from the aboriginal! Thus, you see, to the papuan mind we are related! And just as is expected that someday Pasai himself will come back to do good for his kinsmen, these black descendants identifying with Kuri believe we lighter skinned descendants of Pasai are the providers!” Ansel finished.

“Good God, man, I’ve never heard the likes of such a thing! To think we have secrets for conjuring up all sorts of manufactured goods is such an absurd notion. The very idea is preposterous, even if it does come from primitive minds!” exclaimed van Given utterly mystified by the tale.

“Secrets?” he half mumbled to himself. Trying to make sense of the whole revelation as though he could do so in a moment of contemplation. Van Given pushed his chair back from the table and stood to stretch, placing one hand on his hips and the other to his head. He gently ran his fingers loosely through his slightly graying hair, eyes still staring off at nothing in particular. Then he spoke again.

“Secret formulae? Things that materialize out of the air and drop from the sky! We the providers, the providers… Yes!” Van Given’s voice trailed off faintly in concentrated thought as he mentally traced a thought. Turning to Secretary Ansel he exclaimed, “Yes, yes, we might very well indeed be providers! I see it, providers! What fascinating subject matter Gevil has stumbled upon, and you say other myths take similar essence corroborating his conclusions?”

“That’s what Ni’ik Gevil asserts.”

“Fantastic! This koreri notion is so preposterous and yet so tenable at the same time. I should certainly like discussing this whole matter with Mr. Gevil whenever that is possible. I was impressed with him last night. He did an excellent job interpreting for us at the meeting. Now I’m doubly impressed.” Van Given having turned back to his chair sat down as though exhausted with a most affable look upon his face. Secretary Ansel assured him that opportunity in the very near future would present itself as Ni’ik Gevil was staying on in Manokwari for a fortnight before returning to Biak.

CHAPTER 6 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a mystery novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

CHAPTER SIX  The Debriefing

Regent van Given and Secretary Ansel van der Kraatj sat in the dining room trying to discuss the events of the previous night’s Hall Commons meeting over hot Java-bean coffee. The verandah would have been more suitable to van Given’s liking but that was out of the question. Monsoon rains crashed hard during the night, and completely engulfed beautiful Manokwari in shadowy gray drab. The unending curtains of rain assaulted the red tile roof sounding much like militant waves of canon fire, thunderous volley after volley.

The discussion, if it could be called that, was more an oral dual. They somewhat strained with raised voices against the drone. Considering the severity of the weather it was commendable that van der Kraatj had left his quarters at all to make his way up and over to van Given’s house for the debriefing. No longer was the air sweetly humid and tolerably tropic. Without the sun’s rays there was a cold dankness that permeated everything and seemed to indifferently inch its way into one’s marrow. Both men perceived the gnawing sensation and yet, each equally found a measure of solace in the warm cups they clasped. Sipping their hot coffee between shouts, the conversation continued.

“We’ll be locked in like this for several days,” said Secretary Ansel, “ I’ve seen these monsoons hang around without a let up for a week. Actually, we were lucky the rain started when it did. Wet weather always seems to diffuse local hostilities. Although, that thunder and lightning did seem more severe than usual.” He wiped his lips with a kerchief and continued.

“Quite frankly, Mr. van Given, I was surprised at how readily the Hattam big man and his nephew accepted the tribute we offered.”

“Indeed! That Hattam fellow had the countenance of a tough negotiator. Had it not been for his nephew’s anxious glances, he might have held out for a lot more. I almost feel foolish, though, to report that we stayed hostilities and the Queen continues in quiet possession of the 1000 hectares for a mere ransom of three iron axes, several woven throws and a copper cooking pot!”

Beneath the broad smile on van Given’s face lay a genuine concern that could have easily surfaced as a grimace. Had the settlement truly been fair? Were not these naked fellows fully human as himself, to be regarded with the same degree of dignity as he expected to be? His conscience dictated that he, the new Regent, be seen to deal justly in all situations. From the vantage point of last night’s recipients, was the settlement really just?

“I know what you’re thinking, but you must keep in mind that although a real disparity of means will always exist between the aboriginals and ourselves, never-the-less it comes as no surprise that we are perceived to be the providers. Rest assured this same matter will surface sometime in the future and more axes, and throws, and pots will be given away. It is impossible for them to understand our European ways.”

The coffee had taken the bite off the chill, so he opened the top button of his tunic and continued.

“Regent van Given, you must understand. Things here are somewhat different than over there in the Sultanate’s territory. Here, land ownership, or true ownership of anything among these papuan aboriginals, appears to be in the hands of the many. I should propose, in their thinking, this land remains their corporate possession. We are societal freeloaders so to speak, only temporal  occupants. Ancestral spirits, too,  although dead by our standards are just as much a part of the natural course of their livelihood, including being the unseen possessors of the land.

“While this we presume remains their thinking, they may place periodic demands on us and we gladly pay off with such goods as they value. However, in never coming to an understanding of our ways, they for the moment only feign contentment with the things they receive.”

“So, if I understand you correctly, the Hattam actually believe this land is still theirs?” Van Given asked quite puzzled.

“In no uncertain terms! They summarily have it in their thinking that all their ancestral land is their land, regardless of who has momentary possession and use. Thus, we might infer from their perspective, that they’ve never really sold any land at all, as in our European concept of sell with the conveyance of title held in fee. And we are speaking most specifically of this Manokwari parcel the Queen has repeatedly purchased for a pittance!”

Van Given was somewhat taken back at the revelation. Even if the Hattam, or any of the aboriginal groups for that matter, lacked a colonial concept of total land rights relinquishment, they must have some notion approaching it, as when another tribe wins in battle over a piece of land, van Given thought. So, he naively voiced the question, “How do they deal with the problem when they lose land through tribal war?”

“They don’t, usually!” Secretary Ansel replied. “They don’t usually loose land. From one tribe to another they usually do not war over land issues. You see, even the clans within the same tribe have territorial domains that seem firmly fixed geographically and appear to have been so since antiquity. No one group is pressing in to take over the territory of the other. Yet, with that said tongue-in-cheek, there is the question of Biak and Numfor islanders migrating here to the coast. Feuding because of them has gone on for many, many years. Although the Hattam, and Meyah to the north west,  are recognized as inland mountain peoples, aboriginal migrations to their coast are viewed as encroachments and do provide opportunity for hostility and conflagration.”

Taking a deep breath Ansel continued.

“With the establishment of this outpost, it was deemed best to compensate the locals in small measure. Our guard has demonstrated in the past the superiority of our position. Thus our encroachment, if I may state it as such, is not something of further dispute. So, we aim for a calming of hostilities with payments of little consequence.”

“Well, if land is not at issue, what then do they fight over,” asked van Given?

“Oh, pigs, women, tangible things mostly, sometimes honor, and sometimes they fight because of a superstitiousness characteristic to their nature. The tribal wars, though, usually stem from reprisal. My father killed your father, so I kill you in return and your son retaliates and so on and so on. It doesn’t ever seem to stop. The grudges are deep and numerous. You see, it appears that the basis of social order is in their group, a collective voice as a whole. If you wrong an individual, you are wronging the greater whole, his group. Thus, individual rights are seen to be intricately woven into the mosaic of clan rights in total.  The individual is…”

“Eh, if I may interrupt, how did you come by such a deep understanding of the local ways and customs?”

Van Given knew he was disadvantaged in not being more informed of such things. It was his oversight, a matter he purposed to correct. Before Secretary Ansel could answer, the house steward entered carrying a tray with an urn of more steaming hot coffee. Ansel paused while the cups were refilled.

Terima kasih, Budi. That will be all.” van Given said as he put his cup to his lips and breathed the wafting aroma.

“Hasbelt! Reverend Arnold Hasbelt. He’s got quite a reputation among the aboriginals. Speaks enough of the local languages to converse about most matters and has been quite intuitive concerning aboriginal values, superstitions and social order. His insights are most helpful. Really quite an interesting fellow. You should sit and chat with him as soon as you are settled in. He’s mostly out at his mission, but should be coming to the outpost in a few days. He generally comes in once a month around this time for supplies.”

“Hasbelt? Hasbelt?” van Given said to himself half aloud, “Where have I heard that name before? Yes, isn’t he the one who quelled a tribal dispute up in the mountains? I remember there was mention of the incident in Ternate.”

“Dispute nothing! Hell, it was war! It was flat out blood curdling around there. Two head hunting factions, Hattam and Meyah sub-clans, were at it, actually had been at it, tooth and nail for quite awhile. That reprisal stuff, you know. Hasbelt went in there on his own God-given authority and not too long afterward initiated peace between the two groups. Lucky for him they didn’t just do him in right away.”

“Amazing!” remarked van Given.

“Yes, he could have so easily suffered the fate of other evangelizing Europeans who have come to these islands.” Ansel pulled out his pipe and continued. “For sure, he is a brave if not foolish sort of fellow to have gone in there like he did.  To hear him tell it, he relied heavily on the God-given part. Must be true. He was able to quickly learn enough of the language and start his mission. Been there ever since, about three years.”

“Simply amazing! And he’s the one who knows so much about aboriginal society and such?” Van Given remarked rhetorically, not expecting an answer.

“His background is quite impressive. In addition to his ministerial ordination, he holds a doctoral degree in Ancient Religions and Languages from the Conservatory of Ancient Studies in Mintz and has held the Chair in Anthropological Studies at the University of Gristheim in Bern. Quite a learned man.”

“He’s not Dutch, then?” van Given querried.

“No, not Dutch, German. However, please realize that the Utrecht Zendings has German, Swiss, and Scandinavian as well as Dutch members. The Zendings has taken an active interest to converting the heathen in Dutch East Indies. The Reformed tradition has no more fertile ground for reformation of the soul than right here in Netherlands New Guinea.  Although, there are, eh, those who on philosophical grounds will argue whether aboriginals have souls at all, eh, but that’s another matter. In all honesty, Hasbelt is doing a fine job with his mission. Certainly without his presence they’d be back warring again. And only Providence knows where that would lead.”

“Yes, I’d very much like to meet him. When he does come in, Mr. Secretary, please see that we are properly introduced.” They quietly sipped. The severity of the downpour had noticeably lessened, allowing for more congenial conversation.

Van Given mused this new information in light of his recent encounter with the Hattam leader. There was much to learn and much to accomplish if he were to ensure the Dutch maintained their firm footing in New Guinea. As Van Given continued in silent thought, Ansel re-stoked his Meerschaum pipe and drew in deeply then expelled billowing white puffs of smoke. A sweet brandy-like odor enveloped the two men, a scent reminiscent of the men’s clubs back in Amsterdam. Van Given momentarily distant, was awash in thought when it struck him.

CHAPTER 5 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER FIVE  The Mishap

Piercing torrents relentlessly hammered the territory for three days and nights. It wasn’t enough the two major clans on Roon Island continued their tribal wars. A major monsoon storm had hit hard. The unusually intense pummeling came as a sure sign the unseen forces were offended with earthly dwellers. As the last of its chastening presence moved westward, away from Yende village, Womini pondered what else could possibly happen.

Through a crack in the woven leaf wall of her longhouse, weary-eyed Womini saw lightening off in the distance, inland across Wandamen Bay. Dawn would be upon them in several hours. As she deeply breathed the stale room air, she momentarily relaxed, trance-like, and found herself mentally savoring the outside air so crispy fresh and biting. It was always so refreshing after the monsoons watered the jungle foliage; crisp and biting. However, she was shut up inside the hut, and the fierce storm had completely shrouded Wor’s face, without which Yende villagers couldn’t expect to live.

Throughout the  deluge, Womini had wondered if they would ever see blue sky again. Wor, that great marching fire-deity daily passed them by. Wor, who throws arrows of warm light toward the earth, by all his power and might had not been able to penetrate the diobara pimasa. Could big Sky-deity be angry with Wor as much as he was with the earthly Ayambi clan of Yende. And what was the cause for his anger she thought?

Without the warmth of Wor, the air felt cool, uncannily cold. Their near-naked bodies accustomed to steamy jungle heat chilled from the temperature drop caused by the incessant monsoon deluge. Everyone in Womini’s household had crammed into the cooking area at the back of the stilt house to be close to the fire. Such was the case in all the households, where the warm smoky atmosphere was only slightly aggravated by the wafting odor of at least a dozen unwashed bodies. Womini placed several jagged pieces of dried wood on the hard earthen fire pit and poked at the dying coals with her fire stick. Flames quickly ignited, licking the edges, casting an eerie yellow glow about the interior. She poked some more. Everyone else in the stilt house was asleep.

Sleep eluded her. She was physically drained and yet she could not find relief. She was restless. Her once beautiful dark features were sullen and drawn. Her weary eyes were sunken and bloodshot from mourning the loss of her loved one. The all-village mourning ritual had lasted only half a day. That was all they were allowed before the monsoons came and shut them up in their stilt houses. The lamentations of aged women had joined the men’s gloating victory hoots like warp and weft  in cane weaving. Men had danced and celebrated the heads they’d taken. Women, scathed by defeat, agonized over the loss of family members. And then big Sky-deity loosed his wrath. For the last three days, he kept Wor away and darkened the heavens with horrendous monsoon rains that dampened their exuberance and sorrow, all in one mighty show of superiority.

Womini’s two lifeless hollows slowly moved to stare at each resting torso. These were not happy times. These were days and nights filled with sorrow and bobo drinking. Bobo released Yende fighting men to a boisterous liberty, a disguise which hid the gnawing anguish deep within their bellies. They feigned victory, yet circumstance could be read in their eyes. There was an air of defeat. Over several months of fighting, the mounting losses increased as did a gnarling, cancerous pain. Every Yende adult felt it. They had ritualized their kin, but the end to it all was not in sight. Conflagration with the Rudomo clan was certain to continue.

“Oh, when will it stop?”  She cried to herself, “When will the killing stop?”

Like sleep, the answer also eluded her. The inhabitants on Roon Island could not rest until all wrongs were righted. But that was the dilemma. Reprisal warfare never completely ended. It is as a treadmill kept in motion by revenge, revenge fueled by primal hatred. The treadmill, although sometimes lulling for months on end, never completely wound down. The Ayambi clan could expect more heads would be taken, and certainly more heads would be lost.

Womini pensively studied the muscular frames of the men curled asleep against the outer bamboo wall. She knew the depths that anger and hate could press a human soul. She herself had been stolen, taken for a slave. In truth, these were not her clan, and yet, it was the Melanesian way. Either pay for a bride or steal one. Wrenched, literally pried from the arms of her dying brother during one such slave raid, she herself had been taken. Futilely protecting her, her brother’s life forces retreated in dark death. But his last heroic attempt had centered on her safety. As leader of the raiding party, Tomak honored that bravery. Womini’s brother was not beheaded and the young Numfor girl was taken, alive.

Happy, long ago memories of her family huddled together in their Numfor Island stilt house seemed to jab in and out between her present thoughts and concerns. Over the years, her hate and anger subsided. The Ayambi clan treated her fairly; she had not been beaten or molested. At first she was an obedient house slave. They named her Womini, when in truth womi-ni actually means this slave. Her slave status lasted up to the moment her emergent womanhood overshadowed the flowering adolescence she had tried desperately to conceal. When the time came that she should bear offspring Womini was given to Komoi.

This proved to be an economic boon. Normally, an Ayambi male had to purchase a bride from a neiboring clan. This always intailed the collective wealth of many clan families. Slaves however, were clearly possessions, no one paid for Womini, other than her brother, with his life.

Yet, Womini assessed Komoi was a prize. Swift as a wild running deer and youthfully muscular. More than once she caught herself stealing a glance at his glistening torso when he sat pounding the sago palm pulp with his amal or while he worked at mending cracks in his wa, the small dugout canoe every coastal male possessed.

Komoi’s father, Tomak, had defeated her brother and rightfully taken her for spoil. She was his slave, his responsibility and in his house she served. Yet, in time, as her own personal trauma became less and less vivid, she came to terms within herself. She would serve and not be a bother. She would try to be as inconspicuous as possible. If she were fortunate, one of the families would bargain for her and she would be purchased for a bride. On the other hand, maybe not. So naturally, in partial response to the hormonal changes taking place within her maturing body, Womini had often caught herself glancing at Komoi. The lurking thought that she might be given to him only seemed to kindle a primal desire she feared might never be fulfilled.

In time, she and Komoi made good the notion that Numfor women were as fertile as frogs. This earned her the respect of the entire village and saved her paternal clan-in-law from public ridicule. Two beautiful girls and a boy she named Rundawai, meaning large headed, because she travailed more in birth with him than with his sisters. These three and Komoi were her constant preoccupation.

Now all was changed. She felt a deep, sinking sensation within her innermost being. What will life be like without Komoi? How can I go on without him she thought? Why must the killing and suffering continue? Questions, questions, questions but never any answers. It’s the way of things, she thought and again placed several more jagged pieces of wood on the dwindling fire. She slumped, yielding to the fatigue that finally overcame her. Gliding into sleep, amorphous visions flashed in her mind. Komoi, swift as a running deer, and Wor, showering the earth with his warm arrows of light; visions that emerged like some waft of smoke carried aloft by a gentle breeze.  And she thought of  big Sky-deity.

“What will it take to quench your anger?” She breathed out, falling deep into sleep.

Chapter 4 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER FOUR Unforeseen Consequences

Rudomo clansmen at Kayov village were sorely stricken by their losses. The Ayambi had retreated. Although by now it was full daylight, the early morning wake of their strike had produced a penetrating numbness as void and ominous as an astral black whole. Women totally beside themselves beat their chests wailing in lamentation. This anguish of soul became as a mighty rushing avalanche; mourning the dead began gushing forth spontaneously. Men, once erect standing warriors, had shrunken noticeably with forward sagging shoulders. Defeat was a heavy cloak to carry. Retrieving headless kinsmen and mourning their loss was not an easy task. Yet these survivors had lived through their worst nightmare. Besides which they were absolutely dumbfounded that the Ayambi warriors of Yende had broken the moon-cycle tradition and attacked their village without any advance warning.

As far back as memory served no clan group had ever broken the moon-cycle tradition. After a conflagration between two differing clans, the moon-cycle tradition gave time for each group involved in the clash to mourn their dead, heal their wounds and regain a sober sense of being. No clan wanted to totally annihilate the others. The feuds and occasional clashes, for whatever the reasons, didserve certain ethnocentric purpose. These war raids had always been, and were foreseen to be so in the future. Yet now, this attack was different.  It had come too soon, and it initiated change, something innovative and sinister.

The actions of the Yende warriors brought to the forefront the hardship of constant reprisal killing. And up to this time, no one group of any clan had ever broken the moon-cycle tradition. This was a twist, truly making the attack an unexpected surprise. Faced with this knowledge, however, did not lessen the black shroud of anguish that draped heavily upon every Rudomo clansman in Kayov village.

As a precaution, certain elders felt it best to position a sentry near the sacred white rock area close to the spot where the lone Ayambi warrior had entered and disappeared. Not being able to enter the taboo place themselves, they were not going to allow any opportunity for an enemy who might still be alive to escape. Tribal taboo was something an aboriginal did not take lightly.

From the earlier vantage point of two Rudomo warriors, it appeared the lone enemy had leaped into the air, and disappeared. This was not altogether strange in itself as the Rudomo would have conjectured this Ayambi intruder had used karuar power and thus had vanished. However, at the time, the two Rudomo warriors pursuing were disappointed they could not enter the area and investigate further. Consequently, they turned their attentions to the others.

The arrows piercing fallen Ayambi warriors, Bodnini and Andi, failed to penetrate their vital organs. Had such been the case death, as a welcomed friend, would have ensued quickly. In the thicket, Rudomo warriors mercilessly yanked out the arrows instead of killing them outright. The hand-carved ironwood arrow points were fashioned with sharp angular barbs that ripped their flesh and sinew upon withdrawal. Each wound grotesquely enlarged when this happened. The removal ushered on more intense bleeding. The pain each man felt could not be measured, and yet, it was only the beginning of their torturous ordeal.

The warriors beat the two, breaking Andi’s leg in the process and then dragged them back to the village. Even before they could tie them to the vertical foundation posts underpinning the men’s longhouse women thronged helpless Bodnini and Andi. Women, once crazed by belly-knotting anguish as they stared at the headless bodies of their revered warrior husbands and sons, stopped flagellating their own chests and focused their attentions at the two intruders. In furious attacks, the women spit at them, struck them with their fists and bamboo rods. They poked their flesh and savagely bashed their heads until their natural facial features were so rearranged even their clansmen wouldn’t recognize them.

In and out of consciousness they went. When the women finally tired, Bodnini and Andi were unconscious, their ebbing life forces held by a very thin thread. It would have been better for them to have quickly succumbed in battle, fighting with dignity, dying as warriors. Now they could be little recognized, cloaked in humiliation dying in painful shame. When finally, again regaining a measure of consciousness, the women were there to taunt them and poke. But at this last occurrence, the ferociousness of their feminine anger had noticeably diminished, being replaced by a maliciousness that surfaced as a faint  knowing twinkle in their eyes. What intent now motivated their actions?

Several women grasped their bamboo rods by the ends, and twisted them hard to make them split apart. The long thin sections were passed around. Bodnini was first to see through his one remaining but quite swollen eye what they intended to do. A new wave of terror swept over his already unrecognizable countenance as he raised up to fill his burning punctured lungs and coarsely breath out, “Pasamai!”

All too well the women knew what he meant. In a roundabout way Bodnini was begging for death. However, they intended to give him many memorable scars to take with him to the afterworld. The pasamai bamboo, when split apart, possesses an edge as sharp and lethal as any surgeon’s scalpel. Each woman struck to flay the men giving no particular attention to design. They swung their bamboo knives lacerating the two until the curtaining pink inside flesh was more prominent than their once smooth, brown skin.

The two warriors had long ago succumbed to shock. Gripping death was eminent but so miserably slow in coming to their aid. These formerly erect Ayambi warriors were now little more than two masses of amorphous bloody flesh and bone. Each man was impaled upon the coarse pillars, held firm by the blood drenched rattan lashing. Again one mass found the strength to beg, “Pasamai!”

The humiliation could be brought no further. Nearby, a disinterested leader of men took a sharp pasamai bamboo and quickly slit each man’s throat bringing their earthly ordeal to an end. “It is best we mourn our dead than prolong the lives of these two dogs.”  Kukuri spoke without emotion and retreated into the men’s longhouse. The amorphous fleshy lumps slumped lifeless as the women slowly disbursed, and resumed to mourn. Rudomo warriors would make sure the dogs’ heads were properly cared for.

Runners were sent to spread the word to other Rudomo villages that the Ayambi of Yende had broken the moon-cycle tradition and attacked Kayov. The elders and warriors would come. They would all gather together to discuss this strange and unexpected turn of events. Making the next move had to be done by group decision in the wider sense. But what move should they make? Breaking the moon-cycle tradition was a bad precedent, not to be quickly followed. Yet, since one Ayambi clan village broke the tradition, what would prevent others from doing the same.

And what of the Rudomo? Those at Kayov needed time to heal, yet who should take up their reprisal? Roon Island was not that big a land mass. For all the villages to be in conflict at the same time would lead to disturbing consequences.  The men needed time to ponder these issues and discuss them. They needed a convergence of clan.  Runners were sent immediately to other Rudomo clan enclaves.

Unaware a watery catharsis was about to begin, they continued mourning their dead. Toward late afternoon, the pungent fragrance of impending rain was in the air above Kayov. When the monsoon rains finally emerged, fiercely intense, they were prevented from gathering any time soon.

Chapter 3 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

Chapter 3 Savage Encounter

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER THREE  The Plan

Secretary Ansel van der Kraatj wasn’t a man with impressive stature, but as a strategist he certainly seemed he might hold his own. Van Given judged him to be slightly older than himself, possibly in his early forties. Being shorter and a tad bit on the heavy side didn’t lessen the subtle stealth about him he detected. His was an indescribable quality of character. Just in brief conversation, van Given discerned van der Kraatj to be an immensely capable, intuitive man.

Why the Company had failed to recognize such talent was another mystery. Certainly, he was due a promotion. He could have easily filled this Regent posting himself. Van der Kraatj shifted the aged, mustard-colored Meerschaum pipe from his right hand to his left. Quickly he reached up and twisted the similarly patinated end of his handle-bar mustache and continued their conversation.

“Again, you must realize these Hattam fellows are a nasty lot, quite given to violence and bloodshed. The slightest provocation yields disastrous results. They are constantly at each other’s throat, and quite frankly, even more so at odds with the other aboriginals who frequent Manokwari. However, our situation here is not without resolve. We’ve covered this ground before, and I think the Queen’s position is quite established.”

“I agree with your earlier point that it would be futile in the long run to oppose their hostile antics with a show of force, although our police guard is quite capable of doing so, I should think,” said van Given, shifting his chair position.

“You are right, sir, to assume our police guard most capable. However, what we need aim toward is a mutual understanding, one that, again for a season, approaches Her Majesty’s intentions for our very presence here in Netherlands New Guinea. It is very much to our best interests to avoid bloodshed at all costs. May I suggest, albeit yet another payment on our part, that we try to meet their demands in some measure.”

“Yes, Secretary Ansel. Yes I do believe we can work toward that end. Your insights and suggestions have been most informative. Eh, I see by my time piece it is about time. Shall we make our way to the Hall Commons, sir?”

Rising, Regent van Given and Secretary Ansel van der Kraatj stepped out into the early evening twilight. As they headed downhill van Given noted the diffuse lightning still off to the east inching closer. A telltale scent of rain was aloft in the light breeze. It seemed the impending storm was a stone’s throw away. Soon, he reasoned, soon refreshing monsoons will be here. And then they entered the Hall Commons to face a crowd of stone-faced, stone-aged brown skinned men, some clutching their bow and ironwood tipped arrows as if in the ready!

Chapter 2 SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

Chapter 2 Savage Encounter

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER TWO  The Arrival

Setting: Manokwari outpost, North Coast,   Netherlands New Guinea

Leonard van Given loosened his shirt collar and perused his newly acquired quarters. Earlier in the day he had arrived at Manokwari outpost, Netherlands New Guinea by inter-island merchant ship from Ambon, Maluccas. He came to replace the prior Dutch Regent, who was now bound for Holland on medical leave. Duty in the South Pacific hadn’t really appealed to van Given, it did have its risks. But, he was on his way up the company ladder so to speak, and working in the South Pacific offered the quickest road to success. Manokwari, the most recent fledgling Dutch outpost, continued to pose all sorts of developmental concerns his seniors felt could best be tackled by a younger administrator, one with prior experience on the field.

Van Given didn’t consider 32 years of age to be so young. Yet, if he were ever to be appointed to a government position at Den Hague he knew he had to serve his Queen and country. However, this Netherlands New Guinea posting came as a small surprise, it was an administrative add-on. He had already served three years and four months in the Maluccas Islands, and by this time should have been enroot back to Holland himself!

Just then the housekeeper brought him afternoon tea and sweet little rice cakes. “Terima kasih, Ibu Sri,” he said in Malay. Without emotion his eyes traced Sri’s footsteps out of the room.

“Warm tea. Ugh!”  Van Given  thought. He didn’t much care for tea. Unlike many of his Dutch peers, he enjoyed hot coffee not only in the morning but in the afternoon as well. He mentally made note to talk to the house steward about his coffee desires at the next available opportunity.

His university background and affinity for languages helped him acquire his previous posting to the Office of the Resident of Ternate, Maluccas. Ever since the late 1700s, Malay speaking Indonesians had been a constant sight in Amsterdam. The Vereenigde Oost-Indishe Compagna (Dutch East Indies Company, the VOC for short) just couldn’t be without their invaluable pembantu, their house stewards. And it was through one such Indonesian man that van Given had studied the language.

The Maluccas Islands had been a real challenge for the VOC at first. But in the course of time, administration became perfunctory. And it all but remained perfunctory when the Dutch government stepped in to bail the VOC out of it’s bad-debt situation. The VOC no longer operational now meant Den Hague was ‘the Company’. And for over a hundred years van Given’s predecessors, more highly motivated by export profits than political concerns, had come to terms with local ruling powers.

Unlike Java, with its many geographical potentates and fickle manor lords that even now posed numerous challenges for the Governor-General and his small army, the Sultanate of Tidore kept an autocratic hold on the peoples of the Maluccas Islands. The farmers and peasants actually revered its power and authority. So, from the standpoint of two powers coming to terms of agreement, the Dutch early on negotiated their position of strength into an alliance with the Sultanate. Successive treaties had even extended the Sultanate’s authority to parts of Netherlands New Guinea, from which it acquired slaves and yearly tribute. Together, the Dutch and the Sultanate shared the collected tribute, while the Dutch purchased all their export spices through Sultanate assessors. In return, the Dutch ousted the Portuguese and substituted their presence, which deterred other would-be malefactors, namely the English,  desiring to cash in on the lucrative spice trade.

The Dutch claimed territorial rights as early as 1828 for all lands west of 141 degrees East longitude. This claim, though, wasn’t officially acknowledged by Britain and Germany until 1895 and still it took several more years until Dutch outposts at Manokwari and Fakfak on the South coast were established. Britain and Germany had each laid prior claim to portions of the Eastern half of the New Guinea island.

The Twentieth Century dawned with an excitement that energized the here-to-for Colonial aspirations for market domination. Allowing private trade companies in the colonies had secured renewed interest back in Holland. This coupled with the discovery and production of crude oil by the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company in Sumatra made for a bright future.

Dutch presence in South East Asia had become a lucrative stronghold not to be regarded lightly. Netherlands New Guinea was the Eastern gateway to their spice island profits, which now needed to be guarded more closely. New Guinea was a brilliant jewel in the rough, and van Given along with others purposed to pick up the standard of those who had gone on before, and be the immediate jewel cutter.

Van Given carried his cup and saucer out onto the verandah, leaving the rice cakes on the tray inside. He took a sip of the warm, sweet brew, swished it around inside his mouth, puckered, and then swallowed. Gosh, I’m tired, he thought to himself. As he gazed seaward, toward the bay, he was immediately cognizant that his predecessors had indeed chosen a very comfortable spot up on the hillside to build the estate houses. It was from here the breath-taking view of Dorey Bay was most panoramic. Lemon Island, just a short distance out, rose like a sparkling green emerald with minions of majestic coconut palms standing erect as if they were the Queen’s own guard. A golden-white collar of sand glistening in the late afternoon sunlight accentuated the embroidered patches of clear blue, blue-green, and turquoise waters surrounding.

Clean, golden-white inviting sand. Warm inviting sand. Van Given felt his knees weaken a little; it had been some time since he had taken leave. He needed a reprieve, he needed to rest. This picturesque panorama of sea, sky, green jewel and golden sand signaled a melancholy difficult to avoid. He sat hard into the wooden chair without breaking his gaze, and thought of Troita. Breathing deeply, Leonard filled his lungs and then exhaled ever so slowly. The late afternoon breeze had an aromatic, salty character about it, almost as if he were home in Amsterdam. Amsterdam, his real  home so far away. His eyes gently closed.

“Leonard, why did you volunteer for this posting so far from those who love you. Leonard, I love you, don’t you realize that by now?”

He took a long moment to reply, gazing expressionlessly at her flowing satin gown.

“Yes, Troita, and I love you, too. But, eh, I was only contemplating the best for us, eh, our future– you understand, don’t you Troita, my darling? There is so much to consider before we can be together. You understand, don’t you? Tell me you do.”

Tenderly, she reached to touch the side of his masculine jaw, then let her hand fall back into her lap as she looked him square in the eyes.

“I understand that Leonard van Given, the love of my life, is about to flee this stuffy seaport and sail off to only Providence knows what, and I must be content here in Amsterdam without you! Indonesia is so far away, Leonard, why Indonesia?”

“Troita, Troita. You know very well that you are more important to me than my career. But if I am ever to get the posting we both desire here in Holland, I need do this thing. They require my, eh, my administrative expertise to assist the Resident of Ternate. It’s all for the greater economic good of Holland. Plus, my father needs the contacts that I can surely make for his import business. It will only be three years. Suffer, darling, suffer with me that long, won’t you? I promise to return and we’ll be married just as soon as this is over.”

Grasping his hands in hers she replied, “I understand, Leonard. Now, you understand. I love you with all my heart, and I know you must do this thing, as you say for us, if not for the greater good of Holland. I will be content in your absence, I will not cast my honey to another beast. You are a beast, you know!”

Her eyes twinkled as she drew up close to him and he savagely embraced her and kissed her neck.

“And I, too, promise to be faithful, my love. Oh, how I worship you. I love you, Troita,” he whispered.

Tuan, Tuan fon Gifon?” Sri called from just inside the room, mispronouncing his Dutch name. Van Given drew up startled, opening his eyes he heard her repeat, “Tuan fon Gifon, tamu ada.” At this, van Given stood erect and straightened his collar in preparation to meet his unexpected guest, whoever that might be. Stepping back inside the room, he gave a nod of approval.  Sri opened the door and motioned for the stranger to enter.

“Damsma, Tuan, I am Markus Damsma, Head of Building Projects for the Dutch Regency here in Manokwari. Perhaps you have been informed of me?”

“I regret I haven’t been informed of you. Your Dutch is very good, Pak Damsma.” he said, evaluating what might be his descent. Batak? Ambonese? Van Given perceived  Damsma’s swarthy complexion was rather lighter than expected. No. He hadn’t been informed of him. He hadn’t even been there a full day! How could he have been informed? There were so many Indonesians in the service of the Crown no one could keep track of them all if he wanted to. Van Given continued,  “Where did you learn to speak Dutch so well?”

Damsma hesitated, shuffled his feet and replied, “In Amsterdam, Tuan, I was raised in Amsterdam. I accompanied my father when he returned home. I was eight years old then. He is Dutch, you know, my mother is Ambonese. I use her surname, Tuan.”

“Ah, an Ambonese cross marriage, van Given thought. “Such is more and more common these days. No doubt he knows that some of his countrymen call such offspring anakcamput, the mixed-weed children. That must have been the reason for his embarrassment.”

“No, I didn’t know, but go on, Pak Damsma, what important matter brings us two together during the resting hour?”

“The locals, Tuan, they have made another disturbance, over land issues this time. It seems to be a recurring thing with them, disturbances I mean. Matters never settle completely no matter how hard we try. Assuredly they have been paid, several times paid, but they keep coming back. It is always this one or that one who has been left out and they come and create a disturbance. It is all so very exhausting, these aboriginals and their ways.”

“OK, Pak Damsma, I understand. But could not this matter wait until tomorrow? Must I attend to the matter so late in the afternoon?”

He noticed Damsma straighten up slightly, standing more erect as he drew in a deep breath before speaking.

Tuan van Given, I would not have bothered you with this except that the local Hattam big-man is leading to incite his people to burn the inland storage building on the far side of town. He claims his father’s brother’s son was not party to the land negotiations and the building is on his inheritance portion. Believe me, Tuan van Given, we have tried everything to satisfy these aboriginals, it just seems so impossible.”

“Very well, Pak Damsma, if you think my presence could help quell this misunderstanding, I will consent to a hearing this evening. Would you please go and inform the Hattam big-man and his people that we will discuss this issue tonight. We shall all gather at the Hall Commons say around 7:30 then? Is such agreeable with you, Pak Damsma? Is there an interpreter here in town?”

“Oh, Yes! Tuan van Given,  I am sure they will quiet down upon learning that the Tuan Regent will speak with them tonight. Tuan Ni’ik Gevil is here who can translate, I will inform him. Thank you, Tuan, tonight at 7:30 at the Hall Commons. Thank you, Tuan. Permisi dulu, ya?” he said out of habit in Malay and with that he turned and left the room.

Sri was just bringing more warm tea when she caught sight of Pak Damsma exiting through the door. Van Given waved her away with a word, and stepped back out onto the verandah as he began to think of the way in which he would approach the problem on behalf of the Dutch government.

He thought it best to speak with the Secretary to the Regent and enlist his help before the meeting took place. He now knew of necessity he would dine much later that evening and that seemed to prick him. Van Given had hoped to be able to rest before assuming his Regent duties in a day or so. Now that was out of the question. Sighing, he noticed clouds gathering in the east far out to sea. Gathering clouds could only mean a night of cooling monsoon rain. That resolved, he turned, and retired to his bedroom to bathe and change for the evening ahead.

Chapter 1 Savage Encounter

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

CHAPTER ONE   The Omen

Year: 1902

Setting: Roon Island, North Coast  Netherlands New Guinea

An almost tangible element of trepidation seemed to permeate the atmosphere as Ayambi clan warriors of Yende village began their trek at the appointed time. They gathered to assemble at Womaki’s listening place deep in lush tropical jungle. The conclave had been called to ascertain the outcome of their planned attack on Kayov, the closest Rudomo clan village. Womaki, the Ayambi clan seer with the keenest ability to foretell the future, had been chosen to demonstrate his ability, and perform the needed sade ritual.

Young Womini grew sullen as her husband, Komoi, swiftly descended the bamboo runged ladder at the front of their stilt-house, and silently joined the other Ayambi warriors trecking in silence. Tomak led the group. Komoi’s father Tomak was one of the most skillful fighting men of the whole clan. He would lead the raid.

The seerer’s place was a high structure built on tall bamboo stilts. The height gave a momentary measure of safety if there was an attack. It also afforded a good jungle lookout. Located inland on Roon Island toward the base of the rising Roon Island Mountain, it was some distance from the salt-water shore of  Yende.

As quick as a Sumatra monat, Tomak climbed the notched tree-trunk ladder monkey-like fifteen feet into the air to reach the platformed structure, then others followed. They took their places sitting cross legged on the coarse palm bark flooring. Komoi took his position to the rear of his revered elders. In the past, young Komoi had fought in several skirmishes, defending Yende women from village attackers. However, this was to be his first major offensive on enemy ground.

Dim light from the glowing coals in the centrally located fire hearth cast aerie yellow fingers across the shadow on Womaki’s chocolate colored face. He was already sitting, facing east. Wor, the sun-deity, daily climbed the backside of the earth and traversed the waters, making sure all island peoples were cared for. The Ayambi clan, like all the clans of Wandamen Bay, honored Wor the most as he nurtured them in the earth below.

Womaki was eager to begin. He leaned forward in the direction of his daily rising benefactor, aware the jungle night sounds were ill-present. “This is indeed very unusual,” he thought to himself. The customary jungle peeping and chirping had altogether diminished to silence. Womaki perceived this to be a sure sign the sade ritual, and the word he sought was of great consequence.

As a group, the Ayambi warriors had beforehand decided to break the moon-cycle tradition and attack Kayov village sooner than tradition would customarily allow. This fact alone fostered a seriousness about the group. Absent were the chuckles and jibes so often characteristic of male camaraderie. This night, their thoughts were far from power-draining female pleasure, and much disposed to the conflagration that would soon take place. With his right hand Womaki picked up several ancient Cassowary leg bones. He gently rubbed the spindly bones, fondling them between his palms. This added yet another oily layer to their darkly golden, ancient appearance.

Directly in front of  him on the coarse palm bark floor was a huge Chinese porcelain platter.  Blue upon white it was at least thirty inches across, more bowl shaped than flat. The thick edge flared outward at about a thirty degree angle. When lightly struck, the platter would sing in a pleasant, high pitched ring.  Staring pensively at the platter, he began to tap the edge with a small length of bone.

Then, Womaki began to hum to the singular musical note of the ringing. All gazes were attendant to him. He closed his eyes. Opening his mouth, his humming instantly changed to a chant; a chant that called to the ancestral spirits, to the spirit helpers, and to all the other unseen beings whom both chide and direct the lives of mere earthly dwellers.

Ay yei, yei, Ay yei, yei.” He cried out, letting the latter cry drone on with a longer lilt. Over and over he chanted while tapping. Trance like, he kept his body swaying back and forth rhythmically.

Young Komoi noticed the beads of sweat that formed on Womaki’s wrinkle-lined forehead. It was a relatively cool night despite the lack of any breeze. “Peculiar Womaki is sweating,” the young warrior thought. At that very moment of thought, Womaki opened his eyes wide and stared straight past the others to look directly at Komoi. Their eyes briefly met, then Komoi turned his head away, embarrassed by the sudden staring eye contact.

Ay yei, yei, diru ni kavo siepo ma rei, ye,” he cried one last time, then slumped silent closing his eyes. He was now holding the Cassowary leg bones between his palms, about a foot above the plate. He opened his eyes, gazed at the bones and posed the question, “Are these brave warriors going to overpower the Rudomo clan at Kayov village?” Quickly he released the bones. Silence. Everyone stared wide-eyed in amazement.

Komoi felt a tinglely cold sensation run up his naked back as the spindly bones landed upright on end in the center of the plate! A profound sense of awe swept over the onlookers. Everyone except Womaki was in awe at how the bones landed upright without so much as a sound on coming to rest.  Just spindly old bones standing straight up, motionless. Old bones held firm by unseen spirit powers.

Womaki’s face brightened with a broad smile. The sade ritual was finished. He swiftly scooped up the bones with his right hand and addressed the men, “The unseen ones have spoken, the bones confess you will overpower our enemy tomorrow!”

Almost immediately pandemonium broke out as the men whooped and hollered their positive response to this word. Quickly they arose and descended to further prepare themselves for the late night’s canoe journey and the raid. The elders left first then the others. No one seemed aware of Womaki any longer. His usefulness had ended. However, neither did anyone take notice how his dark eyes followed Komoi down the bamboo ladder, and out into the still, black night.

Intro: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER Chapter by Chapter

SAVAGE ENCOUNTER

This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II

Other KDP publications by Mr. Henning include:

The Sauwastika Enigma (a novel)

Releasing The Soul A Balinese Transformation Ritual

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Early Years)

Justin Teaguely Adventures (The Teen Years)

Stone Giant A Young Woman’s Quest For Truth

Mr. Henning’s music is offered at:

http://www.theodoreahenningii.com

This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to bluebonnets_trb@msn.com through Paypal.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Colonial expansion during the 1700’s witnessed the Dutch East India Company (VOC) controlling the spice island territory of the South Pacific. At some point Den Hague, the Dutch central government took oversight of the faultering company. Then, with the dawning of the 20th Century, the discovery of oil in Sumatra, Indonesia engendered new excitement for the colonialists bent on expanding Dutch control. Set against the backdrop of steamy untamed equatorial jungle and vast South Pacific ocean areas, easternmost Netherlands New Guinea offered the promise for profits like never before. Like a jewel in the rough, it needed to be cleaned, cut, and polished. Untold dangers lurk for those who try.

In a male dominated world, a world of cultural and social indignities, struggle and challenges, the lives of three extraordinary women converge in this tale. It is as much their story as they each grasp inner resolve, each in her own way embraces the prospect of an uncertain future, and each seems hellbent to initiate change.