©2005 Ohio University. All rights reserved.
The Legend of the Rich King (Told by Mr. Lukman Hakim)
There is a story of a rich king. This man was extremely wealthy. He had three children whom he doted upon in the worst way. When they were growing up, whatever the children wanted their father bought for them. By the time they were adults they had become thoroughly spoiled.
Then their father died leaving his wife behind. She lived on for awhile, and then she died too, leaving the children extremely rich. They had much wealth, but they were foolish. For a long time they had been spoiled. They had everything in their house. Moreover they owned huge fields, and their holdings were vast. But because they were foolish their money soon was gone. They sold their fields. After selling the fields, the money from the sale was soon gone, too, and then they had to sell their household goods. They owned many houses, but soon those places were gone, too. They even sold their own house.
The three children were girls. The youngest sister became quite despondent. She was exhausted from warning her older sisters about their behavior. Her sisters did not like it, and did not follow her advice. So for a long time the three sisters lived like that, using up their wealth.
Finally, because they had no father, they were forced to wander in the forest. When they went to the forest, they brought with them a machette a hammer and a spade. On they went deep into the forest.
When they arrived deep in the forest, the younger sister said, “Let’s not go too far because there are wild animals there,” she said. “We had better just make a shelter here.” So they made a shelter in the middle of the forest. When they were making a shelter in the forest they gathered date palm leaves. After living in the forest for a long time the date palm leaves dried out. The littlest sister also said, “Try using coconut palm leaves, too. Lalang leaves are usually the best,” she said. “Because when we were rich, father’s attendants often built our cattle corals like that,” she said. So after they had done so and the shelter was made, they slept there for many nights.
There was a king from a neighboring province who went hunting in that deep forest. Once when the king was hunting he saw the shelter in the deep forest, and he heard the voices of people talking. While they were talking the king overheard everything they said.
The oldest of the three sisters spoke first, saying: “What do either of you intend to do?” said the oldest of the three.
The younger ones said, “We do not know what we want to do.
The eldest said, “What I would like is to become the servant of a king. Whether it be a cook or a washerwoman makes no difference. At least I would be able to eat expensive rice, chicken, and whatever else I wanted,” said the eldest of the three. Then the second one spoke up, saying: “I agree with what our older sister wants to do.”
If our older sister washes dishes, for example, then I will sweep the house. If older sister sweeps the house, I will wash the dishes,” she said. “The point is, whatever work my sister does, I will help her. I will help with whatever our older sister wants to do,” said number two.
Then the eldest sister asked the youngest, “What are you going to do, Little Sister?”
The youngest sister answered. “I want to become the wife of the king,” she said.
The two sisters reprimanded her, saying: “You are being ridiculous! You are terrible!” they said. “Baby wants to be a `Very Important Person’!”1 In truth, the youngest one was by far the most beautiful as well as the most intelligent.
When the king from the neighboring province heard what they were saying, he called off the hunt in order to investigate whether2 these people were really people or whether they perhaps were spirits. After marking the area around the house so that he could find his way back, he hurried to his home province. But soon thereafter, he came back in force bringing his soldiers. And he ordered his soldiers to arrest the three sisters.
After arresting them, as they led the three away, they treated them respectfully. They questioned the three persons politely. When they arrived at the king’s palace, the sisters were to be given away in marriage. Thus the king welcomed them as if he were their father, all in the proper way.
“Although they were living in the deep forest,” said the king, “they should be welcomed warmly and properly married. They should be married in our way, the way of the Rejang people, with the bride-giver holding a seven-day feast – with music, for example, like the way we marry, with lots of people around.”
As the three sisters were about to be married, they spoke among themselves. The oldest said, “Oy! Is it really true that our little sister is really being married to the king?”
“What about us?” said the second sister. “What did you say you wanted before? You wanted to become a dishwasher, didn’t you?”
Indeed, the king had overheard the two sisters when they were talking back in the shelter. Moreover, he now intended to be married to the youngest sister. After all, she was very beautiful. As for the other two, he ordered them to work in the kitchen as cooks. Food and rice was given, chicken to eat — whatever they wanted was given.
A long time passed after the marriages, and the older sisters were quite jealous of their little sister. While the king was far away, across another sea, their little sister gave birth to a son. Because of their jealousy toward their younger sister, they, acting as the child’s nursemaids, bundled up the child, placed it into a wooden box, and floated it downstream.
Floating downstream, it drifted a long, long way before it was discovered by an old couple at the riverbank who did not have any children of their own. When they noticed the box the old couple went to see what it was.
“What’s that over there?” they said. The wooden box was trapped on a small dam there. “Is it a box of clothes?” they asked. The old couple said, “Let’s go get it – maybe somebody’s clothes got swept downstream, or somebody’s house was swept away by the current.”
So they fetched box of clothes and took it home. When they arrived at their farm, the place where they lived, they unwrapped the clothes and saw that there was a baby boy inside who was laughing happily. So the baby boy was given a name, Ujang. Because they had no children of their own to love, they named him Ujang3.
As the child grew up they began to teach him. That is, they taught him the way that other people teach their children even though they themselves were childless.
Now let’s go back to where the two older sisters snatched away the baby. Immediately after the baby was born they floated it downstream, and then they substituted the child with a newborn puppy. When the king returned, the two women, the older sisters, said to the king, “Oh, Your Majesty! Our little sister has given birth to a dog!”
The king was shocked. “How can it be?” he asked? “It is simply impossible for a human being to give birth to a dog,” he said. “No one may speak of it, ” said the king.
“We never once left our little sister’s side. Is it perhaps the will of God that our little sister has given birth to a dog?” they said.
The king was furious, only he couldn’t express his anger because this was really his own offspring, he thought.
Oh, how lovingly the woman cared for that puppy, and this was ridiculed by many people. “The king’s child is a dog,” they said. The king paid no attention to them. The king just ignored them.
A long time passed. Then one day when his wife started acting sick and ill-tempered again, the king went away. While he was gone, that cranky woman, as we can guess, gave birth again to another boy. And the two older sisters did the same thing again. They put the baby into a wooden box, wrapped it up snugly, and floated it downstream. Then the two oldersisters returned home.
Upon returning home they said that their little sister had given birth again. This time they said the baby was a cat. The king was even more furious than before. It was just impossible, he said, for this to happen a second time – his first child a dog and now a cat! After that he could no longer look at his wife.
When the king refused to look at her, his wife spoke to him. “We should not be discussing this, it is just our fate, she said.”
The king listened to the words of his wife and believed her. He said, “If this is our fate, then we shall not speak of it anymore. Take good care of the kitten.”
As for the little baby child who was floating downstream, the same old woman, who had gone to throw some trash into the river, saw another wooden box, and she went to fetch it as before. Upon retrieving it she took the box home and opened it. Like the last time, she thought it would contain clothes that had washed downstream, or perhaps other goods from a house that had been knocked down and destroyed by the river. In any case since the box had been trapped on the embankment it had to be removed. She brought it home, opened it, and saw the face of a baby boy that looked almost the same as the previous one. And so they named the second baby Buyung. The name of the first one was Ujang.
Because the old couple didn’t have children of their own, they were very happy to have these children. And so they raised the two children, who began to grow. Pretty soon they could walk, and after they could walk, they started to talk. Before the usual time for babies to talk they were already talking; before the usual time for walking they could already walk.
The story now returns to the three sisters. The mother became quite despondent as she kept thinking and thinking about what had happened. “What can be said?” she thought. “My child seems to be a dog.” And that woman loved the dog, holding it and kissing it. She wept to see that the one looked like a dog and the other like a cat.
After a long while her time came again, and it happened again just as before. Again the king was not there. He had gone away across the sea when his wife came again into her bad temper. He always went hunting when that happened, yes? The king went away when his wife became sick and cranky. While the king was away she gave birth again, this time to a baby girl. When the girl was born, because of their terrible jealousy, the two older sisters said, “Let’s do the same thing again.”
Owing to their hatred they felt they could do anything they wanted with the child. So when the third child – the baby girl – was born they did the same thing to her. They stole her away and left her to drift down the river. By the time the king had returned home they had made another exchange. This time in place of the baby girl they laid a goat.
The reason they did these terrible deeds was because they wanted very much for the king to divorce his wife and marry them. “We will be happy queens,” they said, “wives of the king.” And this one, our little sister, we will put to cook in the kitchen and wash the dishes,” they said. “She will live well enough,” they said. That’s why they acted as they did.
Soon after they had made the third exchange, the king returned and when he found out he said: “That is the limit!” Many of his people were ridiculing the king. They said that his offspring were animals – a kitten, a puppy, and a kid goat. They did not resemble human children at all. At that the king thought, “Why is this? Is my wife not a human being? Is she an animal? Why is my wife so strange?”
After that the king’s soldiers arrived. They said forthrightly, “King, your wife is not a human being. We have to tie her up.” They tied up his wife and placed her in stocks near in the main road. They placed her in stocks with her feet and her hands bound. Whoever passed by struck the woman until only her Note: The change to pitch (10) and font (2) must be converted manually.sarongNote: The change to pitch (10) and font (1) must be converted manually. remained. (Pardon my mentioning her clothes.) Whoever passed by struck her. Her flesh was torn, and then they added hot spices or vinegar. O how they tortured that poor mother day after day!
We now return to the baby girl drifting downstream. She too was found by the same old couple. When the old couple found her, they said, “That is a box, there is another one. It must be another baby. Somewhere someone does not want their babies. Someone does not love their babies. Who knows, perhaps they are illegitimate children or something,” they said. And they rescued the tiny baby.
After adopting the infant they taught her everything. They taught the three children everything. The girl’s face was beautiful and she looked very much like her two brothers. The only thing different was that she was a girl. That girl began to laugh well before the normal time for children to laugh, and before the time that other children walked she could walk, exactly like her two older brothers. Grandfather, too, was a very sturdy man possesing great knowledge and many weapons. This he taught the two brothers. He taught martial arts, for example, and fencing to Ujang and Buyung. The little one, the girl, her name was Upik. The reason for the name is that they didn’t have any children of their own, yes? They heaped all kinds of favors on the child called by that name4.
And so the oldest boy, Ujang, was taught by grandfather. However, he did not use the name Grandfather, but rather Father. He called the man Father because there, he was their father. And so Grandfather taught the older boy to shoot. Even before Grandfather had a chance to finish the lessons, Ujung was already an expert. After that Grandfather taught him martial arts, and before long he was expert in that, too. Finally he practiced with a bow and arrow. As an exercise, Grandfather placed a target on a bamboo pole. The boy took aim and hit it. Both of the brothers became extremely skillful. They threw targets into the air, aimed and hit them. They learned extremely quickly. The skill of the first brother was extraordinary, and before long the second brother was exactly the same.
And the girl had weapons at home. That one, she was a real beauty. She was good with weapons, too, and she could ride a horse.
Grandfather had a duty to perform every day. His job was hunting, and he taught the children to hunt with a bow and arrow. They never called him Grandfather when they were children, the way I have been calling him Grandfather. They called him Father. So, their father continued to teach them to hunt. Then one day their adopted father was hunting. They all went hunting with the old man in the deep forest. Deep in the forest they suddenly spotted a deer which they killed and brought home. There the five of them ‑ two parents and three children ‑ shared the meat happily together.
After that they used to go hunting for long stretches. The one who most often went hunting was the oldest boy. His younger brother watched over their baby sister at home with Grandmother.
Grandmother’s duties there were tending the flowers and decorating around their house. She worked hard at gardening, and planted flowers which grew very well. Whoever came saw the flowers. That’s what Grandmother did while her husband5 was out hunting.
And Grandmother lived with her husband the hunter, a man who had hunted for many years. Her husband had become very old. Soon he died, leaving Grandmother alone with only the two brothers to look after her. It was now their duty to hunt for food.
The little girl was unhappy when their father died and when Grandmother mourned. She worried about Grandmother. She said, “What are Grandmother’s words? Are we going to die? Are the two boys going to die?”
For a long time the two brothers continued to hunt for deer. When they went hunting, they didn’t expect the deer to stand still before they shot at it. The younger brother said he wanted to test their skills. “Older Brother,” he asked, “What do you want to shoot, a deer or a mousedeer?”
His older brother said, “I am grown up, I will shoot a deer just like that!”
The younger brother said, “If so just stay here. I will chase the deer out of the forest,” and he went to flush the deer.
The deer came out running fast. Nevertheless, the older brother easily shot it dead. Then it was time to test the skill of the younger brother. “Now you, Little Brother, you shoot at the deer, and I will flush him out.”
Again a deer was flushed out, and crossed in front of them. It was running extremely fast, yet the second brother shot and killed it.
Every day the result was the same. Eventually they were unable to eat all the meat they obtained.
After a while they went home again to their hut. When they went hunting they never got in a hurry. They were usually in the deep forest for up to two days.
The main work of the youngest, the girl, was to work with their Grandmother, whatever the Grandmother did. For example, they made clothing and fishnet out of thread. Grandmother taught her how people catch fish. That’s how the little one spent her time every day.
When the two brothers returned, Grandmother had something important to tell them. Before he died, Grandfather had left a message with Grandmother which she now shared with the two boys, Ujang and Buyung. Grandfather’s words were – “Take good care of your little sister. Don’t permit this little girl to have an accident or be harmed in any way. She may be small but she is extraordinary in many ways.” Another message from Grandfather was also given to Grandmother at that time – “If those two boys go hunting, they shouldn’t go to the mountains, away from the area where they usually go. If they should hunt in unfamiliar terrain they might have an accident or run into danger or some calamity.”
From that time on Grandmother was never informed by those two boys, Ujang and Buyung, when they went hunting together in unfamiliar territory.
Once when they were hunting in an unfamilir forest they met a man who was gathering rattan. He was surprised to see them, and so he asked straight out, “What are you out looking for in this deep forest?”
“We are out looking for deer,” they said.
“Oh, there are plenty of deer here,” he said. “That’s why people do lots of hunting. But that’s all they do – hunt,” he said. “They can shoot at the deer all they want but they never hit them,” he said.
The younger brother said, “The deer here must be very intelligent!”
“That’s true,” he said. As they were talking a deer crossed in front of them, and the rattan gatherer pointed to it. “A deer! Shoot!” he said. The deer heard it, too, and stopped short.
One of the boys said, “If you want me to shoot the deer go and make him run.” So the rattan gatherer went to chase the deer, and the deer began to run. He ran very, very fast, but the boys shot that deer dead. When the deer was killed, the rattan gatherer became somewhat uneasy because only the king was supposed to hunt deer.
In fact, none of them knew that the king was the father of Ujang and Buyung. Their father’s hobby was hunting, too. But the king, although he often went hunting, he never hit anything. Every day the king shot at the deer, but he never got anything. But those boys had bagged one straightaway.
What can be said? Ujang and Buyung got a deer. They gave it to the rattan gatherer, saying: “The deer is for you. Take it home, we don’t need it.” Although, as I said, they didn’t want the deer, they did take a small cut for themselves which they roasted and ate there in the forest. And so they remained in the deep forest for some time.
The rattan gatherer halted his expedition right there. He was so happy to receive the deer that he went straight home. He took the deer to his village – which was the place where Ujang and Buyung were born, but of course he did not know this.
When he brought the deer home he invited everybody together in the manner of the Rejangs. Many people were called to join the feast. The king also happened to pass nearby, and he was invited, too.
The king asked, “What is this? Where did you get that deer? I myself have hunted deer quite often, but never have I any luck. Perhaps you can tell me how you got this deer?”
“This was not a live deer,” said the rattan gatherer.
“You just picked it up? You are eating a deer’s carcass?” he said. With that he started to berate the rattan gatherer, who answered: “It was not like that. There were two people hunting deer, two young boys. They were very beautiful. In fact, they looked just like you!” said the rattan gatherer.
Then the king said, “In that case, all right. But when do these boys usually hunt?” he said.
“I think they go hunting there every day – they seem to enjoy it,” said the man.
The king had never been to that particular forest, so he readied his soldiers. The soldiers went prepared for anything, whether to fight a war or to look for deer.
Off they went into the forest. When they were in the forest the king met up with the two boys – who were his sons, although he didn’t know it.
When he met the two boys, he said: “What are you doing?”
“Hunting deer,” said the two boys.
“I am hunting deer, too,” he said. “I would like to hunt deer with you,” said the king and unknowing father of those boys.
“If you want to find deer,” said the rattan gatherer – who had come along to lead them to the place – “there are still some more deer here.”
The orphaned boys said, “Then let’s go shoot another.”
Suddenly the king – the father of the two boys – saw a deer. “There goes a deer! Shoot it!” he cried, ordering the two children to shoot.
The children said, “You may order us to shoot, but let’s not shoot it while it is lying down. If someone is going to shoot a sleeping deer, let the king do it,” they said. So the king shot at the deer but missed it.
After that the younger brother of Ujang, that is, Buyung, said, “Don’t go hunting with us if that’s how you shoot! See how we do it if you want to shoot deer.”
Immediately after he spoke, a deer passed by in front of them. The king said, “A deer! Shoot!”
“If you order me to shoot a deer,” said the younger child, “go flush one out so it comes running. The king went to flush a deer, and soon a deer came out running very fast. Buyung shot the deer dead. Seeing the deer killed, the king was very surprised. He stood in amazement as a tiny mousedeer suddenly crossed their path running fast, and his brother shot it from behind and killed it. It was so skillful that the king was put to shame.
Seeing the king put to shame, his followers became angry. They said, “What kind of people are you?”
“We aren’t sure where we are from,” they answered. “We live deep in the forest. This is what we do all the time,” they said. A soldier of the king said, “You think you are so proud to be living in the forest. We live in the town, not like you. Our way is cultured,” he said. “But we don’t act proud because of our customs,” he said. Then the king’s soldier also said, “If you really want to compete, let’s do it! We will have a contest right now. Let’s have a competition on whatever you say,” he said.
“It you want to invite us to compete, all right!” they said. “Let’s shoot at citrus fruits placed on the end of three bamboo poles.”
“Agreed!” they said. The ones in the competition were the king and the king’s two sons, although he didn’t know that it was his sons competing against him. The boys said that the king himself should shoot first. The king shot but missed. After the king had shot, they told the king’s followers to shoot next. “Please, fire away!” they said. There were more than thirty shots taken but none hit the target.
After that the king said, “Now it is your turn. You shoot.” Those two small boys shot and hit the target, splitting the citrus in two. The two children said, “The citrus is splattered.”
“You are too proud,” said the soldiers.
But the boys answered: “You challenged us first to set up a target. But when we set up the citrus fruit, you shot and missed. Now if you really want to see our skills, watch this!” they said. They took a citrus fruit, threw it up, shot and shattered it. The reason they hit the target was because their Grandfather had taught them using banana hearts. They had practiced and practiced. They laughed at the people who had challenged them to a contest. Even when someone tossed moving targets they were able to shoot them down.
The king became angry. The king was about to return home in anger, but before he went he asked the two boys: “Where do you live?”
“We live deep in the forest,” they said.
The king said, “One day soon we will visit you in your place in the forest.”
“Please do!” replied those two orphans. Then they all went home. The orphans went home to Grandmother’s place. The king went home to the king’s place.
When the boys arrived back at Grandmother’s place, they found that she was sick. In her weakened condition, Grandmother spoke to them, saying: “I will not live much longer. You are not really my children. I found you floating downstream, all three of you. This is a true story. You must still have a father and a mother somewhere.” The older boys were shocked. She said to them, “You must watch over your little sister very well. Don’t let anything befall her,” she said.
“We won’t!” they said.
They had been calling Grandmother “Mother.” “Do not call me “Mother.” Just call me “Grandmother,” she said. They all cried to hear the story that they were not that woman’s children, but that they had been living with foster-parents.
She asked them to do something for her. She told them to watch over their little sister very carefully. Those two boys became very, very sad listening to Grandmother’s request. “Whatever she needs, don’t fail to get it, and don’t fail to give it to her,” she said.
“As you wish, Grandmother,” they said.
So Grandmother died. They buried her in a plot in the cemetery. After she was laid to rest, the two boys together began to cry. Sadly they went off hunting.
While they were hunting they discovered that they no longer enjoyed hunting for the various kinds of deer, so they just brought home small game and various birds. It had been Grandfather and Gramdmother who liked to eat venison, and it was Grandfather who enjoyed hunting deer. After that they just hunted birds.
Once when they returned from hunting birds, their little sister told them that she wanted something. “I ask a favor of my brothers,” she said.
“What is it?” said her older brothers.
“I have a request from Grandmother before she died,” she said. “Grandmother told us to find some things. She said to get a fountain of quicksilver. She said to find a flower that can sing. She said to find a bird that can speak. These things are in the mountains. Grandmother said for us to get them on Mount Tepuk,” she told the boys.
Her brothers said, “We’ll do it!” They agreed to do it because Grandmother had said that whatever their little sister requested, they must not fail to get it. They remembered.
In order to look for that flower, for that bird, and for the fountain of quicksilver, the brothers had to obtain horses. When they got the horses, they tied them in front of their hut and spoke with their little sister.
“You stay right here in this hut,” they said. “Don’t you leave. The food here is sufficient for you,” they said. “We are really going to go,” they said, “and you must watch for our signs. If we find what grandmother or you requested, all will be well,” they said. “If not, we don’t know what to say.”
Before they left they prepared signs. As his sign, the oldest brother’s put a plate on top of a shelf, which secured carefully. “If this plate breaks it is a sign that I am dead,” he said.
Next his younger brother hung a knife from a roofbeam. He said, “If my knife drips blood onto brother’s plate, it is a sign that I am dead, too,” he said. Then those two brothers went away.
When they went, they didn’t go in the same direction. The road branched, and so Ujang went one way and Buyung went the other.
Ujang came to a crossroad where he met an old man6 who gave him some advice. The old man said: “If you go looking for a bird that can talk, a flower that can sing, and a fountain of quicksilver, then whatever you see on the way, don’t kill it. Don’t be careless. Continue going straight,” advised the old man. Then the old man said “Take Care!”
Those two boys were very manly, very brave. On horseback, after separating at the crossroad, they were disturbed by many things. Ujang saw tigers and deer crossing in front of him, and he saw bats as big as houses screaming into his ears, which caused him to became disoriented. He was still confused when he drew near the mountains. But he remembered the warning of the old man at the crossroads – Whatever you see do not shoot … if you shoot at anything you will be in danger – and so he continued on his way.
But because he was so irritated by those disturbances on the road, he wanted to shoot an animal, a tiger. Just as he was about to shoot the tiger he turned into a statue and died. Ujang died and turned into a statue.
So only Buyung remained. He rode and rode but lost his way. After a long time he found himself back to where the two roads branched, and he saw again the old man, who said: “See, your older brother went in this direction and you went in that direction. Why are you back here again?”
He said, “I don’t know the way. Now I just want to follow the path of my older brother.” Then the old man gave him the same advice. “If you follow your brother’s path, whatever you see, don’t disturb it.”
“I won’t,” he said, and he got back on his horse. While riding his horse, he experienced many disturbances, until finally he saw a bird. The bird screeched. The sound was deafening. He tried to shoot that bird, and so the second brother also turned into a statue.
Back at their home in the forest, the sister of the two boys was staying alone. In the house she saw the first sign, that of Ujang. She saw the plate break. “My older brother has died,” she said. She saw Buyung’s sign, the knife. Blood dripped onto the plate, the broken plate. “Ay!” she said, “Those are the signs that my brothers are dead,” and then she got her things ready. She brought out her weapons and fetched a horse and tied it up. But before departing she visited the grave of her grandmother. She said as follows: “Grandmother, I am going to look for my brothers’ bodies because I think my brothers have died. I must find their bodies. If they happen to be still alive, I ask that they be safe,” she said. “I do not know if they are still alive,” she said.
Then she heard a voice. The voice she heard was coming from the soul in the grave. “Go! You are permitted to go!”
After the voice had given permission to go, she set out immediately following the trail of her brothers. Following the trail, she saw the old man there who called to her from his hut. The old man invited her to the hut and asked: “Where are you going, Girl?”
She said, “I am going to look for my brothers. Also, I am looking for a bird that can speak, a flower that can talk, and also something else, a fountain of quicksilver,” she said.
“If you want to get those things, follow this road.” He indicated the road taken by her brothers earlier. “But there is one small condition,” he said. “Whatever animals or anything else bothers you, don’t you kill it,” he said.
“I won’t!” she said. Before she set out, the little sister put cotton in her ears so that hardly anything could be heard. She rode on horseback. Riding on horseback she arrived there at the place and saw her brothers. There were many other disturbances as well. Except she didn’t pay any attention to them, she didn’t hear them. She saw her brothers turned into statues. Her older brother was facing upriver toward the mountain and her younger brother was facing downriver toward the sea. Her second older brother was facing downriver toward the sea7.
She cried to see her brothers. While she was crying, a bird came, a bird that could speak. It said, “Where are you going, Girl?”
She was startled. She answered, “I came here to fetch my brothers,” she said.
“The bird said, “Your brothers were certainly brave. They would never belittle their ancestors,” said the bird. “They carried themselves bravely,” it said. “Now there is something else. If you want to talk to your brothers again, fulfill this one condition,” it said. “Fetch a container full of water. The water is to be sprinkled over them, mixed with a small amount of rice‑water,” it said. “If there is any possibility that they can be brought back to life, that is what you have to do,” it said.
She fetched the water and, when she sprinkled it over their feet and hands, the two boys came to life. Their horses had been turned to stone too – I had fogotten to mention it. The horses came back to life, too.
After they had been restored to life, but before they departed, the bird came to them and said: “Are you on a quest?”
Said the girl, “We seek a bird that can talk, a flower that can sing, and a spring that gushes forth quicksilver.
It said, “If that’s what you seek, go fetch them on that mountain, they are not far from here.”
They went there and found them just as the bird had said. As they were returning home the flower they held sang, and the bird spoke. They also had quicksilver from fountain that gushed quicksilver right out of the ground.
Riding their fine horses, they all returned home. The quicksilver was sprinkled near the graves of the two grandparents, and the singing flower was planted in a spot facing the wind. As for the bird that could speak, they just let it free. Whatever words could be spoken by people, that bird could say.
It made them so happy to see everything all around them like that. Back when they were still babies, many fruit trees – guava and manggis trees – had been planted around their house. The manggis trees now bore fruit.
Once, when trees were heavy with fruit, the two boys went to visit the palace of the king intending to approach him and invite him to go hunting with them. The king agreed to go hunting with them.
As they set forth on their hunting trip they saw the woman on the road again. They asked, “Why is everybody torturing that woman?” They were looking at that woman, who was their mother8. They said, “You are the king’s subjects. Why are you torturing her like that?”
The woman was startled to see them, as were the people tormenting the body of the woman. But she no longer felt the pain of the vinegar being poured on her wounds, she no longer felt the hot peppers, so great was her shock when she saw what looked like her children. And they really were her children.
The king paid little attention to all this. The king was that type. He ordered his men to ignore the situation, and so they continued on their way. As they continued on their way, the mother was still crying to see those two boys.
They continued on their hunting trip. But soon, after they had hunted awhile, the king too became despondent. The king was feeling depressed, and when the boys encouraged him to hunt he refused.
The boys said: “If that’s how you feel, just come with us to our home,” they said – the place of the three: the girl, Ujang, and Buyung.
Upon arriving at their forest retreat, they heard many voices singing. The flower that had been placed facing the wind was singing. They also saw something like quicksilver gushing. Indeed it was a fountain of quicksilver. Next came the bird that could speak. And the floor of the house! It had been covered with marble through the magic power of their grandparents.
When the king saw all this he said, “How beautiful this place is! Many kinds of flowers, a nice view, plenty of fruit trees,” he said. Soon he was even more amazed when the bird called to the king to enter the house. As he was entering the house, he started to roll up his pantlegs.
“Why are you rolling up your pantlegs, King?” they asked. “That is not water here,” they said. “This is our place,” they said.
The king sat down in a state of amazement upon seeing all this, and he began to think: “This whole area would be good to seize for my9 kingdom, to make it part of my kingdom. If I owned this place, how beautiful my kingdom would be. This place would be famous.”
His followers had not come into the house because they were busy eating the fruit, inspecting the many fruit trees, and listening to the flower that could sing and the bird that could speak.
The king wanted to leave. He asked permission, speaking politely to the three children. “It’s time for me to go now,” he said. But the king intended to come back soon afterwards to challenge them to go to war. He wanted to fight the three children, his own children, in order to sieze their territory.
When the king came back with his army, his soldiers didn’t have any appetite for fighting when they saw all those fruit trees. They ran off to eat the fruit.
As they were occupied with the fruit, the bird revealed the real intentions of their father. “He wants to fight us ‑ get ready,” it said. The three orphans prepared themselves, for the three orphans could see clearly what was happening.
The three children called the king to the house. The king intended to shoot them, to make war on them, but he saw his soldiers still eating the fruits. Their appetites were such that their interest in fighting disappeared. They just climbed through the trees eating the fruit, while the three children just went back inside the house.
Finally, when the children, Ujang and Buyung and the girl, were ready to come out again, the soldiers came down from the trees. They came down because they had eaten their fill. Now they were eager to fight, and they expected to win.
Then the bird said, “I know why you came here. You do not come with good intentions, quite the contrary. You intend to harm us – you intend to attack the three children. Go ahead and start the war!” said the bird. “Shoot at us!”
Seeing this, the king became angry. He was a hot‑tempered kind of person. They opened fire. The three children were lined up in a row with the bird on the roof. They fired again. The king and his soldiers fired and fired repeatedly but nobody hit anything even though they had many weapons.
The children laughed in his face10. “You want to seize our territory, but you can’t.” The king was so ashamed he was forced to admit that he had been in the wrong. He acknowledged his defeat and returned home.
After the king left the children came across a book containing geneological records that had been owned by their grandparents. The book said the three children had been found in the river long ago, yes? They had never been told about this detail. And it said that they had been adopted. The book explained the whole geneological record, explaining who is the child of whom. They read in that geneology the names of the fathers and the names of the mothers.
They set out straightaway to visit their birthplace, the village of their father. On their way they crossed the road and again they saw the woman11 in the stocks. Upon seeing the woman, they were reminded of something in their grandparent’s birth‑book. So they asked the people there. They said, “What is the name of that woman?”
The people told them the name of the person in the stocks. They mentioned the name of the king. It was their father, the king, who had caused the woman to be tied up there.
After that they visited the king. “You,” they said to their father, “are our father.”
When they addressed him `Father’ like that, the king was very surprised. “Why do you address me as your Father?” he asked.
Ujang said, “It is like this. Here are our grandparents’ records. From the time we were newborn infants, our grandparents raised us. They found us in the river at the dam, all three of us.
The king remembered. “Oh, these must be my children!” he said. Then he recalled his earlier suspicion that the two older sisters might have done this vile deed. He finally understood that here were his children.
In the meantime their mother continued to be tortured, but she no longer felt any pain. Her wounds had healed as soon as she laid eyes on her children. She wept and wept.
She was weeping when their father went to cut her loose. He said, “It was not your fault. Here indeed are our children.” They looked through the children’s book. It foretold the entire sequence. It had all come to pass. The whole story had come true.
“This was not my doing,” said the mother.
“No, it was done by your two older sisters,” said the king.
So everything was revealed. The family of five drew close and wept. Also wailing until they were hoarse were the two older sisters. The soldiers said, “This was all because of the actions of the bride’s older sisters. These two women must be killed.” Upon saying that, the soldiers tied them up and killed them. Just as someone was about to say – Don’t do it! – their necks were already severed. The three children said not to kill them, but even as they spoke it was too late. The older sisters died at the hands of the king’s soldiers because of their evil deeds.
That is the end of the story.
That is my story for Dick in the village of Embong Panjang, and for Kartini at home, and her mother. The storyteller is Lukman Hakim bin Abdul Gatur of Embong Panjang who lives in the paddy or in the field. Until we meet again!