The Hidden Force gives a picture of life in the Dutch East Indies in the last year of the nineteenth and the first year of the twentieth century. Conditions have altered slightly since then—Dutch ladies no longer wear “sarong” and “kabaai” so generally, and there are other minor changes—but the relations between the Europeans and the natives remain very much as they were.
as blowing away. There was only the moment of respiration; and such mysterious melancholy as he, nevertheless, irresistibly felt stealing that evening through his somewhat softened mood he believed to be connected with his domestic circle: he would have liked to feel that this circle was a little more compact, fitting more closely around the father and husband in him. If there was any cause for melancholy, it was that. It did not come from the sea, nor from the distant sky. He refused to yield to any sudden sensation of the uncanny. And he set his feet more firmly, flung out his chest, lifted his fine, soldierly head and snuffed up the smell of the sea and the fragrance of the wind....
The chief messenger, squatting with his glowing wick in his hand, peeped attentively at his master, as though thinking:
"How strange, those Hollanders!... What is he thinking now?... Why is he behaving like this?... Just at this time and on this spot?... The sea-spirits are about now.... There are caymans under th
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