The Night of Horror
The family moved into Abawara, a city in the heart of the island. M'greet found Java enchanting. She simply loved its lush vegetation and the physical grace so common among its people. Unlike most of the wives of other Dutch military officers, she adored wearing sarongs like a native.
However, the old problems of their marriage followed them to their new home and Rudolph was often jealous as other men tried to flirt with his wife. M'greet wrote in despair, "My husband won't get me any dresses because he's afraid that I will be too beautiful. It's intolerable. Meanwhile the young lieutenants pursue me and are in love with me. It is difficult for me to behave in a way which will give my husband no cause for reproaches."
Rudolph's bad temper worsened and he was mean to servants as well as his wife. He openly took a native woman as a concubine and informed M'greet that such a practice was customary in this neck of the woods so she would just have to adjust to it. He was often drunk and enjoyed marital rapes.
M'greet found herself pregnant during Java's dreaded monsoon season. Heavy rains poured relentlessly down on the country, making transport difficult and sometimes nearly impossible on its dirt roads. Thus, a frustrated, bored, depressed, and often battered M'greet spent much of her pregnancy trapped in her own home.
Probably in order to ensure her utter dependence on him, Rudolph flatly forbade his wife to learn to speak Malay, the language of the people of Java. However, M'greet discreetly got around her husband's order. Like most things Javanese, she found the Malay tongue particularly melodious and charming.
M'greet delivered the couple's second baby May 2, 1898. If she hoped that another child would revitalize their marriage, the new mother was sadly mistaken for Rudolph was disappointed at its being a girl. He named his daughter Jeanne Louise after his sister but the child was usually called by the Malay name Non.
After a year passed, Rudolph was called to Medan, Sumatra. He could not immediately take his family with him but would send for them after he arrived. He dropped his wife, infant daughter, and toddler son at the comptroller's house.
Yet again, M'greet found herself feeling like an outsider in the home in which she lived. Rudolph was slow at sending the promised support payments so she also experienced the familiar, guilty sensation of being a freeloader only now she had two babies dependent on her.
Despite their many marital woes, M'greet was delighted when she got Rudolph's missive summoning her and the children to his home in Medan. His residence was a spacious and well-built home for Rudolph was now a garrison commander.
As the commander's wife, it was M'greet's duty to give lavish parties and this was a responsibility she undertook with aplomb. As Erika Ostrovsky in Eye of Dawn writes, M'greet "could reign like a queen. Dressed in the latest fashions imported from Amsterdam, a paragon of beauty and elegance, she conversed with visitors in their native language whether Dutch, German, English, or French gave instructions to the servants in Malay, played the piano most musically, danced with unusual grace."
The marriage of Rudolph and M'greet benefited enormously for Rudolph was finally proud of his wife and grateful to her for the assistance she gave him in being a social success.
Then their world came crashing down in a single night of horror. It was June 27, 1899, and M'greet had settled down to her comfortable bed for the night. Suddenly she heard terrible screams of agony from the children's nursery. She leapt up from her bed and raced up the stairs to their room.
The room stank of vomit and both youngsters were soaked in it. Moreover, the vomit itself was a bizarre black color. The children convulsed in pain, their bodies twisting grotesquely as they cried and shrieked. Weeping and terrified, M'greet hugged her vomit-covered children to her while a frantic Rudolph ran from the house in search of a Dutch doctor.
Little Norman was dead by the time the physician arrived. The doctor pulled the sick Non from her mother's grasp in order to take the child to the hospital.
The daughter was saved and eventually made a full recovery. Both children had apparently been poisoned. No one ever proved who had done the dreadful deed but it was widely rumored that it was a perverse retaliation by someone, possibly a servant Rudolph MacLeod had wronged.