This is our translation of a legend from the Jambi Province.
This story is about a young man, who though not very educated, was extremely honest and obedient towards his King. Through fortunate circumstances, this young man, without it ever having entered his mind, was raised up and was placed in the position as a king.
A long time ago, in the area (kecamatan) known as Tungkul Ulu (Kabupaten Tanjung Jabung Barat), there was a small kingdom named the Merlungraya Kingdom. The King over that kingdom had a son who was very dear to him and his wife. The son’s name was Baidawi, who also had the title of Pangeran Muda (young prince).
Pangeran Muda was fully aware that he was a descendant of the royal family, so he always worked hard at gaining as much education as he possibly could. Since he knew the time would come when he would be raised to the position of King, taking his father’s position, he wanted to know as much as he possibly could so he could lead his kingdom to become as prosperous as it possibly could.
It was too bad though, because Pangeran Muda, being overly cautious, was very reluctant to take risks. Because of his carefulness in weighing each decision for its potential for loss, he frequently didn’t do anything.
The Merlungraya Kingdom had a close friendship with the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom. The Pelabuhandagang Kingdom was famously known for its princesses, Putri Rembulan. She was the only child of King Betuah.
As part of a marriage proposal ritual, Putri Rembulan would present to young men riddles which they would be required to answer correctly, if they were to be considered for marriage. In the process of time, the prince from the Merlungraya Kingdom, Pangeran Muda (young prince Baidawai), also made a proposal for marriage, which required him to answer questions presented to him by the princess.
The news that Pangeran Muda was proposing to Putri Rembulan travelled throughout the two kingdoms. Everybody wanted to come and witness the event. For several nights before it took place, Pangeran Muda was in deep meditation, because he didn’t want shyness to hinder him from giving a clear and correct answers to the princess’ questions.
One afternoon, Pangeran Muda called out to one of his young male servants who had the responsibility to tend to his goats, “Bujang Selamat, take your late afternoon bath, and after that meet me at the porch of the palace. There’s something I want to say to you.”
“What is it that you can’t tell me right here, Sir,” said Bujang Selamat.
“it’s a secret! Remember, nobody can hear what we have to say. Even my goats aren’t allowed to hear it. If somebody knows my plans, we both could be killed,” said Pangeran Muda.
After the evening prayers, Bujang Selamat was served a meal that was very delicious. He had been the servant of Pangeran Muda since he was 12 years old. He was at this time a little over 25 years old, and he had never had anybody serve him such good food.
“Bujang Selamat, please help me!” said Pangeran Muda, in a voice that was a half-whisper. “Tomorrow there will be a ceremony in the center of the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom (alun-alun). I will be watched by many people, because I’ll be proposing to Putri Rembulan, and this requires me to answer whatever questions she has for me.”
“What is it that you want your servant to do tomorrow? I’d be more than happy to do it for you, whatever it might be. Your servant feels greatly honored, and happy that you can trust me to do whatever you ask,” said Bujang Selamat.
“Thank you for your willingness to help. Tomorrow we will do something very different. You will take my place as Pangeran Muda, and I’ll become you, Bujang Selamat. Tonight we will practice so that our imitations of each other can be perfected,” said Pangeran Muda in a hushed voice.
“How will we do it?” questioned Bujang Selamat.
“Easy! Tomorrow I’ll wear your clothes, and act as if I’m a shepherd, and you’ll wear my clothes and act as if you are royalty. So, we’ll have to practice our language, behavior, and attitude,” said Pangeran Muda.
“When do you want to begin?” said Bujang Selamat.
“Tonight we will begin practicing, and tomorrow morning I will follow you to the center of the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom. When we arrive there we’ll split up. You will sit in the place that has been prepared specifically for me,” said Pangeran Muda.
“So, your servant will be seated at the front, in the very center of the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom all by myself?” asked Bujang Selamat.
“Don’t call yourself a servant any longer! From this very second you must refer to yourself as Pangeran Muda, the son of the King from the Merlungraya Kingdom. I will immediately begin thinking of, and calling myself, Bujang Selamat, the well-known goat shepherd,” said Pangeran Muda.
“It’s too strange for me Pangeran Muda! I’m still wearing the shepherd’s clothing,” said Bujang Selamat.
“Okay, let’s immediately exchange our clothes,” said Pangeran Muda.
The sun was then beginning to emerge over the eastern horizon. The weather that day was very clear and bright. The two young men, Bujang Selamat and Pangeran Muda, had very successfully altered their appearance to resemble each other, and they proceeded to the center of the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom together. When the two entered the area and they saw that it was packed with people, and the leaders of the program sitting in their respective seats of honor, the crowd burst out with shouts and clapping of hands. The entire area was echoing from the happiness of the moment. But, Bujang Selamat, who was dressed as Pangeran Muda, didn’t enter into the merriment, he quickly moved forward to the center of the crowd and took his position, as “Pangeran Muda.”
“All that are present, I respectfully honor,” said the leader of the ceremony, and he continued to explain to all that Pangeran Muda is proposing to marry Putri Rembulan. The princess will present questions to Pangeran Muda, and if he answers correctly, she will become his bride.
Putri Rembulan began with her first question: “Will you rob all the treasures and wealth of my father’s kingdom, the Kingdom of Pelabuhandagang?” With a clear signal, Pangeran Muda, who was really Bujang Selamat, indicated “No.” That response made the princess very happy.
Her second question was then presented: “Will you, Pangeran Muda, take a second wife, in addition to myself.” And again, he clearly signaled, “No.”
With her third and final question she asked: “Will you love but only one person?” The response he gave, with the nod of his head, was a clear “Yes.”
All of the responses were favorable to Putri Rembulan, and plans were then made for all the citizens to conduct a huge wedding party the following week, which would last 7 days and nights.
When the time for the wedding arrived, every type of entertainment was present: dances, music, singing, etc.
One year after the wedding, after Pangeran Muda (who was really Bujang Selamat) was trained and prepared by a group of teachers, he was raised to become the King over the Pelabuhandagang Kingdom.
After his inauguration as King, he was no longer referred to as “Pangeran” (prince), he was now “Raja Muda” (young king). This King, although he was really Bujang Selamat, was no longer able to retain the deep secret that he was not who everyone believed him to be. He then told his wife what he had done, and how it was he that answered her questions, and it wasn’t really Pangeran Muda.
She responded, “My husband, that secret you must never repeat again, ever. Not even to a single person! Wherever you are from, I love you!
If you would agree to it, let’s invite ‘Bujang Selamat’ (who is really Pangeran Muda) to come and see that ‘you’ are really and truly loved by me, and that he can see what has become of you.”
“Yes, my precious wife, because of Pangeran Muda I have the great blessing of being able to be married to you,” said Raja Muda. “You are truly a very wise woman!”
“Yes, I hope that my attitude and behavior will be imitated by all of my friends, and that the deceitfulness used by Pangeran Muda won’t become a behavior of mine,” said the queen (Putri Rembulan).
“And, I ask that you would forgive me my wife, for that deceitfulness on my part, when I played the part of Pangeran Muda,” said Raja Muda.
The queen replied, “Yes, or course I forgive you. And you must remember never to allow that secret to leak out to others. I want you to permanently become Pangeran Muda, and don’t you ever change back and become Bujang Selamat!”