In order to advance in rank, he would need a wife, but as he had syphilis, permission to marry would be denied. Within three years, they had two children, a boy and a girl, and a disintegrating marriage in an isolated outpost of central Java.He sneaked around the rules, advertised in a local newspaper and was answered by 18-year-old Margaretha Zelle. Mac Leod drank, gambled, kept mistresses, and worst of all, he beat her, violently and regularly.
Mata Hari was part of the creative excitement, and parlayed her reputation for exotic sensuality into finding wealthy lovers to support her in grand style.
When her husband’s second marriage ended in divorce, she tried to get custody of her daughter, but her lifestyle encouraged the court to consider Mac Leod the more stable household.
Ambiguity and mystery were no longer assets, but instead brought her rapidly to the attention of the authorities.
She was a woman with no fixed home, no husband, no steady source of income.“I should have realized before leaving but I thought things were like the year before, and unfortunately, everything has changed,” she wrote on July 6, to her maid in the Netherlands.
The eruption of the war in August took everyone by surprise, but as a foreigner in Berlin, it also froze her bank account and confiscated her goods. She spoke several languages, she traveled around Europe constantly, she had lovers in every country, it seemed.