180 JAVA: THE GARDEN OF THE EAST
soft little warm brown bodies bare of ever a garment save the cotton slandang in which they cuddle so confidingly under the mothera s protecting arma let us lift and carry and play with them at will.
We left the main road, and progressed by a narrower way between open fields of pepper, manioc, indigo, and tobacco, with picturesque views of the three symmetrical and beautiful mountains, Soembung, Merbaboe, and Merapia the first and largest one as pure in line, as exquisite and ideal a peak, as Fujiyama, and the others sloping splendidly in soft volcanic outlines. Soembung is the very center of Java, and native legends cling to the little hill of Tidar at its base a the a spike of the universe,a the nail which fastens the lovely island to the face of the earth. Merbaboe, the a ash-ejecting,a has wrought ruin in its time, and a faint white plume of steam waves from its summit still. The capitulations which delivered the Napoleonic possessions of the Dutch East Indies to England in 1811 were signed at the base of Merbaboe, and in our then frame of mind toward the Dutch government we wished to make a pilgrimage of joyous celebration to the spot. The third of the graceful peaks, Merapi, the a fire-throwing,a was a sacred peak in Buddhist times, when cave-temples were hewn in its solid rock and their interiors fretted over with fine bas-reliefs. A group of people transplanting rice, a little boy driving a flock of geese down the road, a little open-timbered temple of the dead in a frangi-pani-grovea all these, with the softly blue-and-purple mountains in the background, are pictures in enduring memory of that morninga s ride toward Nirvana.