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TALE STORY

It couldn't be true. The voice persisted."I am sorry to tell you but Tjokorde Agung died early last Thursday morning

I first met The Tjokorde Gede Agung Sukawati while I was sitting in the bar at Tjampuhan Hotel, sipping an air jeruk before lunch. A well-groomed, middle-aged Balinese, in the traditional local dress, strolled in from the garden and, as he passed my table, paused to greet me and inquire whether I was enjoying my stay.

Having just arrived in Bali I was not used to the genuine interest the Balinese show in their visitors. When he asked my name, I answered briefly and asked, somewhat indignantly, what was his.

"I am Agung", he said simply. Then, after a pause, added: "Tonight I am making an offering for the spirit of my dead brother. If you would like to see something of our traditions, you might care to come to the Puri about seven this evening."

So began a friendship that lasted until his death.
I once heard an American tourist boast: "I knew he was a Tjokorde the minute I clapped eyes on him. Soon as we stepped out of the automobile I pointed him out to Mamie: 'Lookee here, babe,' I said, 'that chap'll be the Tjokorde; if ever I saw a Tjokorde, that's one.

At the time I thought angrily that these remarks by an American on a whistle-stop trip through Asia, made Agung sound like some rare zoological specimen. On reflection I had to ad it that this was only a variation of the usual tourist question: "Tell me, is he really a Prince

Tjokorde Agung was born a Prince - more importantly he was born a gentleman. A gentleman of high . intelligence and great personal charm. A man steeped in Balinese culture, who had seen many fluctuations in the fortune of his beloved island - who had survived earthquakes and revolutions. Throughout change and turbolence his serenity and his humour remained unshaken.

Certainly Agung brought added meaning to my visits to Bali. There was no festival or ceremony about which he did not have advice. No custom or tradition which he could not explain.

But, on that first evening, when I accepted his invitation and joined his family at the Puri for the offering to his dead brother, I knew nothing of Balinese customs.

I did not, for example, expect to eat a lavish serving of rystaffel squatting cross . -legged on the mat-covered floor of a pavilion which faced directly into the adjoining one, where the body, surrounded by a multitude of ornate offerings, lay inside its

brocade-draped casket. In the narrow space between the two pavilions, a group of thirty or more relatives were playing a lively gambling game, while seated beside the body, an elderly priest was
chanting from a large book spread open across his knees. Occasionally a small boy by his side, solemnly turned a page.

It was at this ceremony I learned that one does not stand higher than a prince. When I wanted to rise, I had to slide on my bottom over several yards of matting, weaving my way between the seated guests, until I could swing my feet over the edge of the pavilion and stand on the ground some 3-ft. below, thus coming to a standing position with my head lower than my host.

Following that evening, my visits to Bali were invariably woven with events suggested by Agung.

There was the day he asked "Have you seen the trance ceremony at Kesiman
Hurrying to that village I found it already seething with emotion and sightseers. And how not. Not one, but seven neighboring Barongs, together with their opposing Rangdas, accompanied by a retinue of virgin boys, would come that day to the Pura Kesiman. In due course, when all the Barongs had assembled in the sacred inner courtyard, the priests would put the young boys into trance and they would