The Southern Threat
“I know who you are, Greek,” Mosafat said. “I realized who you were the moment you stood up to me. But you do not remember me?”
Phaulkon had to think hard what to say. His subterfuge was over. “I remember you,” he replied. “You held up our caravan demanding a share of food. You have come a long way. It’s more than food you want now.”
“Yes,” Mosafat said, “for the Muslim cause. But not to enrich my own pockets, Luang Wijawendra. You too have come a long way.”
The two men had been speaking together in Malay. Phaulkon now spoke to him in Siamese. “You wane hostages for your cause. You can cake me and release the others.”
Upon hearing this, Sorasak jumped to the front. “Yes, yes,” he shouted, “yes, yes, take him. He’s the king’s lackey.”
Mosafat quickly raised his lance, very much annoyed, but Phaulkon motioned for Sorasak to get back. “You ace a very brave man, Mr. Lackey,” Mosafat said, now reverting back to speaking Malay. “Very brave but I think very foolish. Why do you defend the likes of these men, these parasites?”
“It’s a pity we are not on the same side,” Phaulkon said. “I could get to like you.” He still needed time. Time was the very thing that could save them. Words, words, words were arms. He talked on, about everything that came to mind. He smoked a cheroot with Mosafat, and then another, and talked more. Growing weary, Mosafat stood up and dusted himself off. He then gave orders to his men to bind Phetracha and Sorasak. The rebels quickly separated the two men from the others and began binding their hands and arms behind their backs with strips of rawhide fastened co bamboo poles.
They didn’t finish tying the two men. The king’s soldiers arrived and surrounded the area. Diego had managed to get through and brought help.
“You are not as stupid as I thought you were,” said Mosafat. “And very clever, I must say. You will pay for this, Mr. Luang Wijawendra.”
Phaulkon ordered his men to free Phetracha and Sorasak, but he reminded them all that they were all still at the mercy of Mosafat and his men. The Muslims could kill them instantly the moment the soldiers attacked. Phaulkon still had the upper hand, but it might not be for long. The wrong move and they could all be doomed. He ordered his runner to inform the king’s soldiers to wait for his signal to advance.
Phaulkon turned to Mosafat. “There is certain to be much bloodshed and many good men on both sides shall die today,” he said. “The king will be pleased that you have saved the life of his general, and that Sorasak will be punished. Now you can prevent this bloodshed.” Phaulkon felt it best not to tell him the real reason for the wild pigs, that it was he, Phaulkon, that Sorasak wanted to do in and not the general.
“You think that I fear death,” Mosafat laughed. “We die for Allah. Who do you die for?”
“I do not speak of dying. I speak of living,” Phaulkon said. “You know there will be more blood than what will be shed here today. You know the king’s soldiers will certainly slaughter all of you. Your Muslims in the south will seek revenge and a civil war will erupt and there will be no winners. Withdraw your men, and no harm will befall them. I give you my word.”
Mosafat looked around at his men. He had twenty fighters, all loyal followers. The Greek had outsmarted him. He addressed Phaulkon. “I walk with death,” he said. “I live with death. The general here and all the king’s soldiers have not been able to capture me. They have tried. They have tried hard. They have chased my men and me and hunted us for years but they have not succeeded. Yes, if we resist now we will all die. There will be no revenge. To agree to your terms means to fight another day, and for that reason I will accept your terms.”
“Then you and your men can go,” Phaulkon said.
“Yes, I will go now,” he said, “but I fear one day I will have to kill you. There can be no other way.”
“I will remember that, another day,” Phaulkon said and they parted.
As Mosafat gathered his men and prepared to leave, Phaulkon instructed General Phetracha to tell the army commander to give way so that the Muslims could pass. Phetracha was reluctant to do so. But Phaulkon stood his ground. He informed the general that if he was refused, with the power granted to him by the king, he would take command. “It would be much easier, General Phetracha, if you yourself give the command. You have no choice. Besides, you are the first one they will kill.”
Reluctantly General Phetracha gave orders to the commander of the soldiers to let the Muslims pass unharmed into the jungle.
As the Muslims vanished into the forest, Sorasak shouted to his men to quickly pick up their weapons. “We go after them,” he said brandishing his sword above his head.
“What are you doing?” Phaulkon called to him. “You cannot do that,”
”And why not?” Sorasak barked in defiance. “Because I gave my word,” Phaulkon said.
“And I give you my word,” he shouted. “I shall kill them all, enemies of Siam.”
Phaulkon tried his best to stop them. When Sorasak refused to listen, Phaulkon appealed to his men, asking them to stand fast. A few listened and put down their lances but the rest went with Sorasak as he led the charge into the forest in pursuit of the retreating Muslims. The hunting party returned to Louvo, not in victory but in defeat.
Later that night, when they were safely back at the kraal, word reached them that Sorasak had succeeded and although some Muslims escaped many were killed. Mosafat was not among those killed. He made good his escape.
The following day at King Narai’s court, General Phetracha made his report. He stated, with witnesses to prove it, that Phaulkon had conspired with the chief of the Muslims. Admittedly, what Phaulkon had said to them was not quite known, for he spoke to the rebel leader in a language neither he nor his men understood. He said that before he could act, Phaulkon gave orders for the Muslims to flee. It was Prince Sorasak who stood up to the enemy and with his small band hunted them down and killed most of them. Only a few escaped. “Phaulkon was concerned only about his own safety,” he said vehemently. “He proved that by letting the Muslims go free.”
King Narai, having heard enough, dismissed the gathering. As General Phetracha was about to leave, he said to him, “We have been friends since childhood. I fought with you, and I drank with you. And I don’t believe you.”
At the military barracks that night, Sorasak gathered his men around and spoke to them. They were expecting praise, but that was not what they got. “I gave a command today and not all of you followed,” he cried. “Instead you listened to a foreigner.” At that he clapped his hands and a squad of armed guards entered the barracks. He then gave orders to arrest those who had not joined him that day. The guards arrested eight men and bound them with their hands behind their backs.
“Execute them,” Sorasak demanded, shouting at the top of his voice. “They are criminals and are to die like criminals.” The men in the barracks fell silent. They knew what Sorasak meant, how criminals are executed. “Take them to the kraal,” he continued. No one protested. No words of condemnation were said. The condemned men were hustled out of the barracks and placed on an open bullock cart and paraded through the city streets to the kraal. There was no ceremony, no last rites, no blindfolds. The guards pushed the eight men into the kraal with the wild elephants to be trampled to death.