The Yalpana Vaipava Malai; or The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna,
Translated from the Tamil by C. Brito. (P. 52.)
This is a work in Tamil prose by a Mr. Mailvaganam. All the information, which the author gives his readers in his preface, is that the work was undertaken at the request of ‘the illustrious Dutch Governor Maccara,’ and that he (the author) is a descendant of the celebrated Vaiya, who wrote the poem Para-Rasa-Sekaran Ula and the chronicle Rasa-Murai. The late Mr. Advocate Brito, who translated the work into English, says in his preface
All that is known of the author is what he says of himself in his preface. The Governor Maccara. of whom he speaks, was Jan. maccara, who was Governor of the Dutch possessions of Ceylon in 1736. And there is sufficient internal evidence to show that the author lived about that time, but the bold language in which the policy of the Dutch is described and the prophecies which the work contains, relating to the English, must be regarded as interpolations of a later date.
It is a pity that the author has not given the exact date of the request or of the composition of the work. Nor has he told us what object the Governor had in view in making the request. It may be that the author himself was not informed of it. But if at all the request was made, it must have been made either directly by letter, or indirectly through some high Dutch Government Official at Jaffna. The publication of the letter in the former case, or the mention of the name of the official in the latter, would have enhanced the value of the book, and saved much of the doubt and disappointment which readers and writers now feel regarding the same.
The Governor to whom the author refers as ‘the illustrious Dutch Governor Maccara,’ and whom the translator takes care to specify as Jan. Maccara who was Governor of the Dutch possessions of Ceylon in 1736,’ commenced his administration of the island on the 7th June 1736.(1) He was succeeded by Gustaff Wilem Baron Van Imhoff, extraordinary Councillor of India, and Governor, on the 23rd July 1736 (2). Thus practically Governor Maccara was Governor of Ceylon for 46 days only. The curious reader is puzzled as to what extraordinary deed Governor Maccara could have done during his administration of 46 days to entitle him to the flattering epithet of ‘illustrious,’ which the author confers on him. The period is too short to enable even the most talented administrator to become acquainted with the working of the different departments of the administration of a colony, to which he had just come and to which he was quite new. Indeed there was hardly time for the Governor, considering the scanty and tardy means of communication that existed then, to have visited at least the most important, towns and districts and taken any intelligent interest in them. It is therefore, passing strange that no sooner had the new Governor arrived and settled down to the onerous duties of administrator of this important colonial possession than he thought of, and took an interest in, remote Jaffna, which was more isolated than now and separated from the seat of Government by nearly two hundred miles of thick and dreary jungle, and cultivating a valuable acquaintance with Mr. Mylvaganam, requested him to undertake its history, over the early part of which an impenetrable darkness hangs. Another point strikes me as singularly curious. If the Governor had requested such a work to be written, why did he not order it to be translated into the Dutch language? Or why was it not at least printed in the language in which it was written? It cannot be said there was then no establishment for printing Tamil books; for in the year 1736, “a printing office for printing books in the native languages was established by the Dutch Government and brought into active operation.” The New Testament translated from the Greek into Tamil by the Rev. Philip De Melho, Clergyman at Jaffna. was printed and published by the Dutch Government. These observations lead me to conclude that the preface to the Vai~pava~Malai is an interpolation, as certain other passages in the book are regarded as interpolations by the Translator.
Mr. L. E. Blaze, B. A., in his excellent History of Ceylon, which is used as a text-book in many of the schools of the island, gives a list of the Dutch Governors (Page 197) but omits four Governors including J. Maccara and dismisses them with the curt remark that ‘after he (Stephanus Versluys A. D. 1729-1732) left Ceylon, four Dutch Governors ruled in succession, but about them little is known.
The account in No. 2 relating to Andrado and Puthathamby, as translated by Mr. Brito, runs thus:-
‘In respect of the Civil Government. they (the Ulanthesar) appointed Puthaththampi, a Velalan, to be Muthali for the revenue branch of the Government and Manuel Anthirasu, a man of the kuru-kula caste, to be Muthali for the writing branch. An intimacy sprung up between the two Muthalimar, and Anthirasu, being one day at Puthaththampi’s house on an invitation to dinner, happened to have a sight of his host’s wife, a woman of transcendent beauty, and was inflamed with a violent passion for her She was a sister of Kayilasa Vannian and had inherited the haughty spirit and stern morality, by which her ancestors were distinguished among the nobility. She received Anthirasu’s wicked proposal with indignation and displayed her resentment by subjecting his messenger to the ignominious punishment of being lashed with a broom. The spurned suitor meditated revenge and planned a diabolical one. He procured Puthaththampi’s signature to a sheet of blank paper, pretending that it was to be filled up with an order for the removal of Government timber from Kachchaiththurai. But the paper was actually filled up with treasonable matters, couched in the form of a letter from Puthaththampi to the Parangkis, offering to assist them to recover the kingdom, if they would but make the attempt. A messenger, who was found carrying the letter, was seized and brought before the Governor. And witnesses were not wanting to fill up the details of the wicked farce. However, a strict investigation having been instituted, Puthaththampi’s innocence was completely established. But the Governor of Yalpanam, who was a friend of Anthirasu, allowed himself to be influenced by Anthirasu’s arguments and entreaties, and Puthaththampi was sentenced to death. The sentence was executed in a great hurry, before news could reach the Governor’s brother, Puthaththampi’s most powerful and intimate friend, who was then absent at Urkavatturai, building the Kadat-Koddai there. On the representation of Kayilaya-Vannian. who went to Kolompu for the purpose, the Governor of Yalpanam and his friend. Anthirasu, were, in the month of Puraddasi, In the year Vilampi, ordered to proceed to Kolnmpu. On their way thither, the former suffered ship-wreck and was drowned, the latter was crushed to death by a wild elephant.”
The above account differs greatly from that given by Baldaeus. Indeed it is quite opposed to it. Baldaeus wrote his account shortly after the occurrence of the incidents, which took place in 1658. Mylvaganam’s account was written about the year 1736. Full three quarters of a century had intervened between the date of the incidents and the date of the Vaipava Malai. It was incumbent on Mylvaganam, who undertook to write the history of an event which had taken place two generations previously, to have given the credentials of his own version, especially when there had already been left an account of the same event by a competent, disinterested, and well recognised writer, who was an eye-witness and contemporary historian, and whose description of the incidents is minute even to tediousness. The previous account, if found incorrect or untrue, should have been contradicted and proofs furnished for the correction. The author of the Vaipava Malai has done nothing of the kind. He has not even given the source of his information. His failure to refer to Baldaeus only shows that he was ignorant of the existence of that historian’s work. He appears to have written from hearsay. Baldaeus is an European, a minister of the Gospel, an alien in race and language to both Puthathamby and Andrado. What motive could he have had in hiding or misrepresenting the truth in connection with an incident touching them? On the other hand, is not Mylvaganam a partisan writer claiming Puthathamby as the representative of his section ?
I shall now proceed to examine the account itself as quoted from the Vaipava-Malai. Though at first perusal, it appears to be a plain and plausible story, it cannot bear the test of a strict and searching analysis. Read in the light of historical records and local conditions, it turns out to be false and absurd. The appointment of the two men for the revenue and clerical branches of the Government, the intimacy that sprung up between them, the invitation to dinner, the sight obtained by one of the other’s wife, the procuring of the signature to the blank paper, the building of the Kadat-Koddai at Urkavatturai, the ordering of the Governor of Jaffnapatam and his friend Andrado to proceed to Colombo, the former going by sea and the latter by land – seem to be clever and ingenious devices trumped up to give an air of truth and reality to a fabrication. Considerable doubt is thrown on each of the above points by the following reasons and considerations.
The passage under review on first reading produces the impression that a settled and systematic form of Government and administration prevailed during the period in question and that the period was one of peace and prosperity. Is the fact really and historically so? Decidedly not. Let us look up history. Quite a different picture confronts us there. We find that the period was one of trouble and excitement. Force, fear, pain, anxiety ruled the land. Two great European powers were at war in the Peninsula. The town was besieged for three and a half months and it surrendered on the 22nd June 1658. With the surrender came a change – a change of rule and administration. The old Government and the old order of things passed away. A new Government and a new order of things came in. The different departments of the public service were unhinged. The heads of departments and other high officials, who were Portuguese, had to leave. Some Portuguese, however, remained and continued to give trouble till the middle of the ensuing September, when the conspiracy came to light and Puthathamby and his confederates suffered the extreme penalty of the law. From the surrender of Jaffnapatam to the Dutch, 22nd June, 1658 – to the execution of Puthathamby, 15th September, 1658 – there was only an interval of about three months. Was this period sufficient for a new Government, which had just obtained the ascendency, to have organised and brought into full working order, a system of administration of the perfection, indicated by the author of the Vaipava Malai. Let the candid, impartial and judicious reader pause, consult history and pronounce his verdict.
The truth of the above picture is fully borne out by the following extract from Rebeiro’s History of Ceilao (p. 387, second edition) by P. E. Pieris Esquire, M. A., L. L. M. (Cantab), and of the Civil Service of Ceylon, presently District Judge of Jaffna.
The siege of our fort was vigorously maintained and after two months’ bombardment in view of the misery we endured and the lack of provisions and other necessaries, the enemy sent us a summons and offered us reasonable terms, which we declined and insisted on maintaining our defense from the 20th of March, when we first retired there till the 22nd of June: but as we saw that we had no powder, rice, or any other kind of provisions, the majority of our men killed, our bastions in ruins, and that there was no possibility of help reaching us: and as for some time the firing from the other fort had ceased – a sure sign that it had fallen – and in view of the great sickness which prevailed, we held a meeting and agreed to surrender the place. We invited the enemy for a parley, but as they saw that we were acting through necessity and that there was no possibility of help reaching us so long as they held Mannar and the fort in the harbour where they kept five ships, they would not give us any honourable terms, They would not rob us of the honour of our arms, but In every other particular we had to submit to their mercy.
Henry Charles Sirr, M. A., once Deputy Queen’s Advocate for the Southern circuit in the Island of Ceylon;” in his “Ceylon and the Cingalese, describes the situation even in stronger language.
It is at all times fearful to contemplate the horrors of war, and its attendant misery to individuals, even of the victorious nation; but how much greater to meditate on the sufferings of those attached, to the conquered country? But in no history do we find greater atrocities recorded than those laid to the charge of the Dutch after the surrender of Jaffnapatam in 1658 and which terminated Portuguese dominion in Ceylon. (Vol. 1. p. 250).
The evils and miseries of war and siege are well-known, and the state of Jaffna after the surrender may be easily imagined. Trade would have been paralysed. Industries would have been suspended. Their suspension would have caused want. Want would have led to criminal modes of subsistence. To repair the waste, to revive the trade, to restore industries, to re-establish order, would have been the anxious concern of the government and the people. The time would have been devoted in paying the best attention to, and employing the most active energies in, repairing fallen fortunes and setting to rights damaged property. Considering the circumstances of the time, and the straitened resources of the people, it is difficult to believe that social amenities were observed by the sons of the soil by cultivating friendship with strangers and giving and eating dinners. To take a modern illustration, could we conceive that within a few months after the reduction of Belgium, a true and patriotic son of its soil, forgetting the recent calamities of his country, forgetting the havoc and destruction done to life and property, could entertain a member of that military organisation, which had contributed to the general loot, wreck and ruin, at a dinner of which the style, extent and variety were so grand as to find a place in the pages of history.
Let us view this question of ‘the intimacy and the dinner’ a little more closely. Andrado was a Singhalese and hailed from the South of the Island. He was an adherent of the Dutch and came to Jaffna as a military captain, probably in company with the armed force that besieged the town. Puthathamby was a Tamil and a resident of the North. He was then a subject of the Portuguese, though the position, if any, he held under them, is not certainly known. During the progress of the struggle between the two European powers for the mastery of the Peninsula, Puthathamby as a loyal subject of the Portuguese, would have looked upon Andrado as a bitter enemy, who had come with the Dutch to wrest his dear country from a Government, under whom he was enjoying the blessings of peace and prosperity, holding perhaps a comfortable sinecure, lording it over his countrymen, indulging hopes of preferment, and forming plans of self-aggrandisement. The defeat of the Portuguese, the surrender of Jaffnapatam and the accession to power of the Dutch, would have been a blow to his position and prospects, and would have led to the destruction of his hopes. He would have been brooding over his disappointment and writhing with indignation. It was natural to expect that Andrado and the Dutch would have been from that time objects of intense hatred to him. It was more probable that he would have employed the time in devising schemes for the subversion of his enemies, as on unimpeachable testimony he has actually done, by planning the conspiracy, which culminated in his execution, than in forming an intimacy with an ostensible enemy.
The facts about the supposed intimacy and the dinner rest on the same basis and must stand or fall together. We have just seen that the conditions were opposed to the growth of friendship between the parties, and without friendship there could have been no dinner given. Nevertheless, let me consider the obstacles that might have been in the way of a dinner.
The Tamils of the North are very fastidious in the matter of where, and with whom, they eat, the Singhalese being not less so (3). The community in Jaffna is in general split up into several classes, clans or castes. A man of one caste naturally feels a reluctance to eat in the house of another man of a different caste. Among the respectable classes, among families that are raised by position, wealth and influence, the feeling is stronger still. Indeed they positively abstain from all such social interdining. Well did our late governor (Sir R. Chalmers) observe that, in Jaffna, family pride and family dignity were raised to the level of a religion. Even at the present day, after more than a century of English education and christian civilization – two great and powerful solvents of caste – these notions and prejudices are as strong as ever. How much stronger would they have been two hundred and fifty years ago, when education and civilization were in a backward state? Puthathamby was a Tamil and a Sivite in his habits, notwithstanding the Christian name he bore. Jaffna was then as now the stronghold of Hinduism; and Puthathamby could not but have been influenced by the ancient beliefs and practices of his country, environed as he was by an atmosphere of conservative habits and conventional surroundings. Would he not have thought it unorthodox under the circumstances, to invite a Singhalese, who was a man of an opposite caste, to be entertained at his table. Likewise, would not Andrado, a Singhalese, a man of a different caste, and one holding an important position in the locality, have thought it prudent to have so acted as to have evaded compliance with such an invitation.
The story of Andrado having a sight of Puthathamby’s wife, and getting passionately enamoured of her, looks like a page of romance. In the case of a wild and wilful youth, brought up in indulgence and given to intemperate habits, it is possible that the sight of a beautiful woman might inflame his passion to a Vesuvian heat. But that an elderly man, a captain, one trained to military discipline and military control, and habituated to keep his passions under perfect restraint, inured to the gruesome sights of war, and accustomed to look on in cold blood on the bombardment of fine fortresses, and on the slaughter of men, women and children, was carried away by the passing sight of beauty, surpasses belief. There is, however, the doubt whether even this evanescent vision was vouchsafed to Andrado. Lord Macaulay has described in his usual graphic style how Eastern jealousy keeps watch over female beauty. The inner arrangements of the dwelling house of a respectable and rigid Hindu may not be unknown to the reader. The portion allotted to the females is quite separate. In this they generally live and move about. Even the purlieus of this portion are carefully enclosed and all intrusion on the part of strangers is vigilantly guarded against. The arrival of a male visitor is the signal for silence and retreat to the inner chambers. All talk, all motion, all noise, is hushed. The women confine themselves to their sanctum sanctorum till the visitor leaves. Under such conditions, as would have existed at the period of which I am writing, with all the strictness of a religious observance, how could Andrado have had a sight of the beauty? Even granting he had a sight, it was a sight and no more. The words of the Vaipava-Malai expressly are :-Anthirasu, being one day at Puthaththampi’s house….happened to have a sight of his host’s wife, Clearly then Andrado had a sight and sight alone and that once and once alone. That is all. Not a word passed. Not a nod, not a beck, not a smile, not a “speechless message from the eyes;” no, not even the slightest sign was there at the moment of any approach to a reciprocal feeling or recognition.
But this sight only, nothing more, nothing less, can be gathered from the whole account in the Vaipava-Malai, read it and read it over, as you may. And be it noted that only the man saw the woman, not the woman the man. Her strength or her weakness, her virtues or her vices, were totally unknown to him. In such a case could we believe that the man would have attempted to offer the woman a rude shock by sending her his messenger with an ugly proposal? For that matter we might as well imagine a man meeting a beautiful woman on the highway, getting inflamed with a violent passion for her, and sending a messenger to her with a wicked proposal! But is such a thing ordinarily possible in real life? Are we in dreamland, or are we in a concrete world of sane beings, calm villains and calculating plotters, who bide their time in devising ways and means, and gaining a knowledge of the ins and Outs, for compassing their evil purposes?
As the Mudaliyar of the Revenue Branch, Puthathamby was evidently the custodian of all the cash collected by way of taxes, rents, etc., on behalf of the Government. His duties would clearly be to keep an account of the receipts and disbursements; while all orders, notices, directions or commissions, to supply goods, would issue from Andrado as the Mudaliyar of the clerical branch. Government timber had to be removed from Kachchaithurai. An order for the same was required. Who should issue the order? Evidently the officer at the head of the clerical branch. Why then should that officer go about, seeking to procure a signature to a sheet of blank paper, pretending to fill it up afterwards with the necessary details? On the other hand, Puthathamby would have grown cautious and suspicious by the time. The affair of the wicked proposal, which his wife could not have failed to apprise him of, would be fresh in his memory. He would be boiling with indignation. He would under the circumstances have insisted upon the order being filled up then and there, which in the case of officers accustomed to official routine, would not have occupied five minutes. In the then state of their feelings, both the men would fight shy of each other. Puthathamby would be loth to sign a blank paper as that would afford Andrado some chance for gratifying his malignity for the ill-treatment accorded to his trusty messenger. Andrado would as stoutly have declined to approach Puthathamby with an absurd request after the stern repulse he had already met with. After all, does it not strike the reader that an easier and more expeditious course was open to Andrado to take sweet revenge, if he was so inclined. A man who would not scruple to fill up a whole sheet of paper with
treasonable matters, would certainly not have hesitated to forge a single name with every character, stroke, dot and dash of which was daily familiar.
A strict investigation having been instituted, says the Vaipava-Malai, “Puthathamby’s innocence was completely established. Now, we are not told by whom this investigation was held. Was there a higher local tribunal than that of the Governor of Jaffna who originally sat in judgment on Puthathamby and found him guilty? Who were the officers who composed this appellate tribunal? How was his innocence established? Of the friendship and the dinner, of the vision and the wicked proposal, of the messenger’s errand and the degrading punishment, of the blank paper and the signature, our author is particular enough. But on the nature of the strict investigation the position of those who held it, on how it was brought about, on the character of the evidence by which the innocence of the accused was established – on these points, our author maintains an ominous silence.
The Vaipava-Malai proceeds to tell us that Puthathamby had a most powerful and intimate friend” and that “the sentence passed on him was executed in a great hurry before news could rach” this friend. Of course the inference is natural that this powerful and intimate friend, who, according to the author, was the Governor’s brother, might have prevented or even delayed the execution of the sentence. Now, we have nowhere found mention made, by any recognised writer or historian, that the Dutch Governor of Jaffna referred to here, had a brother. Only the author of the Vaipava-Malai and those who follow him in their versions of this preposterous story, refer to the Governor’s brother, who, it is stated, was then absent at Urkavaturai, building the Kaddat-Koddai there. This is an anachronism for which there can be no excuse. The Kaddat-Koddai, mentioned in the Vaipava Malai as then building, can refer to no other than Fort Hammenheil, which fell into the hands of the Dutch on the tenth April, 1658, and to which reference is made twice, in the extract given above from Rebeiro’s Ceilao, as (a) For some time the firing from the other fort had ceased. and (b) The fort in the harbour. I give below two other extracts from the same eminent authority, which will show conclusively that the Kaddat.Koddai referred to by the author of the Vaipava-Malai as having been then building by the Governor’s brother, who was reported as Puthathamby’s most powerful and intimate friend, had been built, completed and possessed by the Portuguese long before the Dutch entered the Indian Seas in their career of conquest.
Jaffnapatao, a quadrangular fortress, had four bastions and four half-moons or cobelos in the middle of the line of ramparts, all of which were built of pumice (1) stone. Here was kept the necessary artillery. and It was also the residence of the Governor of that kingdom. On one side outside the walls stretched the town, where resided three hundred families of Portuguese, and seven hundred of service-holders, with the Convents of St. Francisco and St. Domingos, the College of the Society, the Mother Church, the House of Santa Misericordia and the Hospital. Two leagues from the mouth of the harbour was a fort similar to the one of Bugio (2) with good artillery and garrisoned by a Company of infantry. The full number of men of war for the defence of this kingdom was two hundred Portuguese forming six companies, with some native Lascarins. (Page 130. Second Edition)
We made some sorties to stop the works the enemy had begun and so prevented their continuing them. We had a fort at the entrance to the harbour, a little more than two leagues from the town, similar to the one do Bogio; this was held by a company of infantry with fourteen pieces of artillery, a constable, and two artillery men. The enemy set up their batteries at the point of the Elephant’s Quay, as this was where that fort approached the land nearest; and as it was built of pumice stone they easily broke it down; and in little more than a month it was compelled to surrender from want of food and ammunition. (Page 387. Sec. Edition.)
There can be no doubt now that the statement in the Vaipava-Malai regarding the Kadat-koddai is a glaring historical blunder. It affords a clear proof that the author had written his work without proper research and without taking particular care about facts and figures. The whole story must therefore be rejected as utterly false and unfounded.
It has been suggested to me that the reference in the Vaipava.Malai may be to a fort which was built on land close to the entrance of the harbour and of which the traces are to be seen to the present day. But the reference to the Kadat-koddai or sea fortress is quite clear. Mr. Brito, in the Glossary appended to his translation of the Vaipava.Malai, explains Kaddat-koddai as Fort Hammenheil at Kayts. Besides, the following extract from the Colombo Journal, as quoted by Casie Chitty in his Ceylon Gazetteer’ (p. 108) should clear any doubt :- There are the remains of a fort, said to have been erected by the Portuguese, to command the entrance to this harbour, and by a cross fire with Fort Hammenheil, to check the advance of any invading enemy. It is also a fact that the Dutch never built a fort at Kayts.
Lastly the Vaipäva-Malai says that on the representation of one Kayilaya-Vannian who went to Kolompu for the purpose, the Governor and his friend Anthirasu, were ordered to proceed to Colombo, and that on the way thither the former suffered shipwreck and was drowned, and the latter was crushed to death by a wild elephant. Now it is not stated why they were ordered to proceed to Colombo. Of course the inference is natural that the object of the order was to make them answer for the execution of Puthathamby. If so, they were alleged to be guilty. They stood charged of the same offence. They were accomplices. They were to appear before a higher authority to be condemned as vindictive miscreants or acquitted as honest officials who had fearlessly performed an unpleasant duty towards maintaining the safety of the state. In such a case, would they have kept together, or separated and gone, one by sea, and the other by land, thereby losing the benefit of each other’s company and the only chance there was for them of comparing notes and exchanging confidences and of otherwise preparing their defence for the dreaded inquiry that would take place immediately on their arrival in the city? Suppose-and I beg pardon for putting such a supposition even for the sake of argument-that two of the writers, Mr. S. Katiresu, the Proctor and Notary, Jaffna, and Mr. A MootootambyPillai, the Tamil Scholar and Author, Navalar Kotam, both of whom have, the former in his Hand Book to the Jaffna Peninsula, the latter in his Jaffna History, given currency to this obviously improbable and false story, were similarly summoned to Colombo, would they elect to separate and go respectively by land and sea, and that at a time when the land journey especially was attended with perils, peculiarly great and certain by reason of the absence of proper communication, and the path lying through a wilderness infested with ferocious animals and venomous reptiles, without halting places at convenient distances to take rest and refreshment and pass off the night?
I have quoted the remark made by the Translator of the Vaipava-Malai, that the bold language in which the policy of the Dutch is described by the author must be regarded as an interpolation. It should be noted that this story comes in just where the author commences to speak of that policy. The story should therefore share the fate of that remark. It must have been smuggled in, in the course of transcriptions which the work, having been extant in manuscript copies for years, had undergone.
It is significant that so enlightened and liberal minded a gentleman as Mr. Brito, appears to have been influenced by sectional feelings or caste prejudices. To his translation of the work which consists of 58 pages only, he adds an exhaustive appendix, extending to CXII pages and printed more closely, for the purpose of assisting the reader towards a right understanding of the author. This appendix consists mostly of translations and extracts from various books, and documents. Even Indian Mythology has been laid under contribution and an obscure Nadakam by an insignificant poet who, Mr. Brito himself admits, was a very ignorant man, had been studied and summarised with a view to illustrate the Puthathamby story. But all reference to the story as given by Baldaeus is carefully eschewed, though mention is made of that historian in the appendix.
Details from the book Notes on Jaffna, American Ceylon Mission Press, Tellippalai, Ceylon 1923. The entire appendix has been used to discuss the Andrado – Poothathamby story.