All his subjects do but "wait at his feet," and even his own little child of four years clasps his tiny hands when he speaks to his father. While at Surabaya, Bougainville took the opportunity of visiting the volcano of Brumo, in the Tengger Mountains; and this excursion, in which he explored the island for a hundred miles, from east to west, was one of the most interesting undertaken by him.
The green isle of Madoera, and the level morasses of Eastern Java, bound the wide harbour, the blue cloud of the distant Tengger soaring abruptly on the horizon. The ship becomes our home for a month, and affords a welcome relief from divers struggles on land, involved by a dual language, official red tape, and native incompetence.
This bottomless pit, bubbling like a boiling cauldron, pouring out black volumes of sulphureous smoke, and clamouring with unceasing thunder, was for ages a blood-stained altar of human sacrifice. Every year the fairest maiden of the Tengger was the chosen victim offered to Siva, who, in his attribute of a Consuming Fire, occupied the volcanic abyss.
Grey heather and clumps of cypress-grass dot the wild Sahara with their dry and colourless monotony, but give place on the southern side to patches of fern and turf, the scanty pasture of the mountain ponies, herding together until sickness or accident breaks the ranks, when the hapless sufferer, deserted by his kind, falls an easy prey to the wild dogs of the Tengger ranges.
At length the sylvan scenery gives place to endless fields of cabbage, potatoes, maize, and onions, for the cool heights of the Tengger range serve the prosaic purpose of market-garden to Eastern Java, and all European vegetables may be cultivated here with success.
The route to Ngandwona discloses the Tengger in a different aspect; the volcanos are far away, and this central region is rich in pastoral pictures full of lulling charm.
The flat and flooded land glows with the vivid green of springing rice, tremulous tamarind and blossoming teak bordering a road gay with pilgrim crowds, for the great volcano of the Tengger remains one of Nature's mystic altars, dedicated to prayer and sacrifice. Moslem girls in yellow veils jostle brown men with white prayer-marks and clanking bangles.
Violet mountains lean against the pale blue of a rain-washed sky, tjewara and teak glisten with jewelled lustre, and the Tengger, bathed in amethystine light, lifts itself above the world as the realm of purity and peace, ever revealed and prophesied by the glory of mountain scenery.
The transition from the lofty solitudes of the Tengger Mountains to the steaming, teeming thoroughfares of Surabaya, the metropolis of eastern Java, is not a pleasant one. For Surabaya there are no less than half-a-dozen ways of spelling its name though the greatest trading port in Java, from the point of view of the visitor is not an attractive city.
The island of Bali, and the slopes of the Tengger range, retain a modification of Hinduism, and Bali treasures a Kawi version of the Ramayan and Mahabharata epics. Many inspiring thoughts and noble sentiments, expressed in story and song, have become well-known maxims identified with Javanese life.