Part 4 out of 4
The two chiefs Kumaso and Takeru wore sitting in their tent, resting
in the cool of the evening, when the Prince approached. They were
talking of the news which had recently been carried to them, that
the King's son had entered their country with a large army
determined to exterminate their band. They had both heard of the
young warrior's renown, and for the first time in their wicked lives
they felt afraid. In a pause in their talk they happened to look up,
and saw through the door of the tent a beautiful woman robed in
sumptuous garments coming towards them. Like an apparition of
loveliness she appeared in the soft twilight. Little did they dream
that it was their enemy whose coming they so dreaded who now stood
before them in this disguise.
"What a beautiful woman! Where has she come from?" said the
astonished Kumaso, forgetting war and council and everything as he
looked at the gentle intruder.
He beckoned to the disguised Prince and bade him sit down and serve
them with wine. Yamato Take felt his heart swell with a fierce glee
for he now knew that his plan would succeed. However, he dissembled
cleverly, and putting on a sweet air of shyness he approached the
rebel chief with slow steps and eyes glancing like a frightened
deer. Charmed to distraction by the girl's loveliness Kumaso drank
cup after cup of wine for the pleasure of seeing her pour it out for
him, till at last he was quite overcome with the quantity he had
This was the moment for which the brave Prince had been waiting.
Flinging down the wine jar, he seized the tipsy and astonished
Kumaso and quickly stabbed him to death with the dagger which he had
secretly carried hidden in his breast.
Takeru, the brigand's brother, was terror-struck as soon as he saw
what was happening and tried to escape, but Prince Yamato was too
quick for him. Ere he could reach the tent door the Prince was at
his heel, his garments were clutched by a hand of iron, and a dagger
flashed before his eyes and he lay stabbed to the earth, dying but
not yet dead.
"Wait one moment!" gasped the brigand painfully, and he seized the
Yamato relaxed his hold somewhat and said.
"Why should I pause, thou villain?"
The brigand raised himself fearfully and said:
"Tell me from whence you come, and whom I have the honor of
addressing? Hitherto I believed that my dead brother and I were the
strongest men in the land, and that there was no one who could
overcome us. Alone you have ventured into our stronghold, alone you
have attacked and killed us! Surely you are more than mortal?"
Then the young Prince answered with a proud smile:--"I am the son of
the King and my name is Yamato, and I have been sent by my father as
the avenger of evil to bring death to all rebels! No longer shall
robbery and murder hold my people in terror!" and he held the dagger
dripping red above the rebel's head.
"Ah," gasped the dying man with a great effort, "I have often heard
of you. You are indeed a strong man to have so easily overcome us.
Allow me to give you a new name. From henceforth you shall be known
as Yamato Take. Our title I bequeath to you as the bravest man in
And with these noble words, Takeru fell back and died.
The Prince having thus successfully put an end to his father's
enemies in the world, was prepared to return to the capital. On the
way back he passed through the province of Idum. Here he met with
another outlaw named Idzumo Takeru who he knew had done much harm in
the land. He again resorted to stratagem, and feigned friendship
with the rebel under an assumed name. Having done this he made a
sword of wood and jammed it tightly in the shaft of his own strong
sword. This he purposedly buckled to his side and wore on every
occasion when he expected to meet the third robber Takeru,
He now invited Takeru to the bank of the River Hinokawa, and
persuaded him to try a swim with him in the cool refreshing waters
of the river.
As it was a hot summer's day, the rebel was nothing loath to take a
plunge in the river, while his enemy was still swimming down the
stream the Prince turned back and landed with all possible haste.
Unperceived, he managed to change swords, putting his wooden one in
place of the keen steel sword of Takeru.
Knowing nothing of this, the brigand came up to the bank shortly. As
soon as he had landed and donned his clothes, the Prince came
forward and asked him to cross swords with him to prove his skill,
"Let us two prove which is the better swordsman of the two!"
The robber agreed with delight, feeling certain of victory, for he
was famous as a fencer in his province and he did not know who his
adversary was. He seized quickly what he thought was his sword and
stood on guard to defend himself. Alas! for the rebel the sword was
the wooden one of the young Prince and in vain Takeru tried to
unsheathe it--it was jammed fast, not all his exerted strength could
move it. Even if his efforts had been successful the sword would
have been of no use to him for it was of wood. Yamato Take saw that
his enemy was in his power, and swinging high the sword he had taken
from Takeru he brought it down with great might and dexterity and
cut off the robber's head.
In this way, sometimes by using his wisdom and sometimes by using
his bodily strength, and at other times by resorting to craftiness,
which was as much esteemed in those days as it is despised in these,
he prevailed against all the King's foes one by one, and brought
peace and rest to the land and the people.
When he returned to the capital the King praised him for his brave
deeds, and held a feast in the Palace in honor of his safe coming
home and presented him with many rare gifts. From this time forth
the King loved him more than ever and would not let Yamato Take go
from his side, for he said that his son was now as precious to him
as one of his arms.
But the Prince was not allowed to live an idle life long. When he
was about thirty years old, news was brought that the Ainu race, the
aborigines of the islands of Japan, who had been conquered and
pushed northwards by the Japanese, had rebelled in the Eastern
provinces, and leaving the vicinity which had been allotted to them
were causing great trouble in the land. The King decided that it was
necessary to send an army to do battle with them and bring them to
reason. But who was to lead the men?
Prince Yamato Take at once offered to go and bring the newly arisen
rebels into subjection. Now as the King loved the Prince dearly, and
could not bear to have him go out of his sight even for the length
of one day, he was of course very loath to send him on his dangerous
expedition. But in the whole army there was no warrior so strong or
so brave as the Prince his son, so that His Majesty, unable to do
otherwise, reluctantly complied with Yamato's wish.
When the time came for the Prince to start, the King gave him a
spear called the Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly Tree (the
handle was probably made from the wood of the holly tree), and
ordered him to set out to subjugate the Eastern Barbarians as the
Ainu were then called.
The Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly Tree of those old days, was
prized by warriors just as much as the Standard or Banner is valued
by a regiment in these modern days, when given by the King to his
soldiers on the occasion of setting out for war.
The Prince respectfully and with great reverence received the King's
spear, and leaving the capital, marched with his army to the East.
On his way he visited first of all the temples of Ise for worship,
and his aunt the Princess of Yamato and High Priestess came out to
greet him. She it was who had given him her robe which had proved
such a boon to him before in helping him to overcome and slay the
brigands of the West.
He told her all that had happened to him, and of the great part her
keepsake had played in the success of his previous undertaking, and
thanked her very heartily. When she heard that he was starting out
once again to do battle with his father's enemies, she went into the
temple, and reappeared bearing a sword and a beautiful bag which she
had made herself, and which was full of flints, which in those times
people used instead of matches for making fire. These she presented
to him as a parting gift.
The sword was the sword of Murakumo, one of the three sacred
treasures which comprise the insignia of the Imperial House of
Japan. No more auspicious talisman of luck and success could she
have given her nephew, and she bade him use it in the hour of his
Yamato Take now bade farewell to his aunt, and once more placing
himself at the head of his men he marched to the farthest East
through the province of Owari, and then he reached the province of
Suruga. Here the governor welcomed the Prince right heartily and
entertained him royally with many feasts. When these were over, the
governor told his guest that his country was famous for its fine
deer, and proposed a deer hunt for the Prince's amusement. The
Prince was utterly deceived by the cordiality of his host, which was
all feigned, and gladly consented to join in the hunt.
The governor then led the Prince to a wild and extensive plain where
the grass grew high and in great abundance. Quite ignorant that the
governor had laid a trap for him with the desire to compass his
death, the Prince began to ride hard and hunt down the deer, when
all of a sudden to his amazement he saw flames and smoke bursting
out from the bush in front of him. Realizing his danger he tried to
retreat, but no sooner did he turn his horse in the opposite
direction than he saw that even there the prairie was on fire. At
the same time the grass on his left and right burst into flames, and
these began to spread swiftly towards him on all sides. He looked
round for a chance of escape. There was none. He was surrounded by
"This deer hunt was then only a cunning trick of the enemy!" said
the Prince, looking round on the flames and the smoke that crackled
and rolled in towards him on every side. "What a fool I was to be
lured into this trap like a wild beast!" and he ground his teeth
with rage as he thought of the governor's smiling treachery.
Dangerous as was his situation now, the Prince was not in the least
confounded. In his dire extremity he remembered the gifts his aunt
had given him when they parted, and it seemed to him as if she must,
with prophetic foresight, have divined this hour of need. He coolly
opened the flint-bag that his aunt had given him and set fire to the
grass near him. Then drawing the sword of Murakumo from its sheath
he set to work to cut down the grass on either side of him with all
speed. He determined to die, if that were necessary, fighting for
his life and not standing still waiting for death to come to him.
Strange to say the wind began to change and to blow from the
opposite direction, and the fiercest portion of the burning bush
which had hitherto threatened to come upon him was now blown right
away from him, and the Prince, without even a scratch on his body or
a single hair burned, lived to tell the tale of his wonderful
escape, while the wind rising to a gale overtook the governor, and
he was burned to death in the flames he had set alight to kill
Now the Prince ascribed his escape entirely to the virtue of the
sword of Murakumo, and to the protection of Amaterasu, the Sun
Goddess of Ise, who controls the wind and all the elements and
insures the safety of all who pray to her in the hour of danger.
Lifting the precious sword he raised it above his head many times in
token of his great respect, and as he did this he re-named it
Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or the Grass-Cleaving Sword, and the place where
he set fire to the grass round him and escaped from death in the
burning prairie, he called Yaidzu. To this day there is a spot along
the great Tokaido railway named Yaidzu, which is said to be the very
place where this thrilling event took place.
Thus did the brave Prince Yamato Take escape out of the snare laid
for him by his enemy. He was full of resource and courage, and
finally outwitted and subdued all his foes. Leaving Yaidzu he
marched eastward, and came to the shore at Idzu from whence he
wished to cross to Kadzusa.
In these dangers and adventures he had been followed by his faithful
loving wife the Princess Ototachibana. For his sake she counted the
weariness of the long journeys and the dangers of war as nothing,
and her love for her warrior husband was so great that she felt well
repaid for all her wanderings if she could but hand him his sword
when he sallied forth to battle, or minister to his wants when he
returned weary to the camp.
But the heart of the Prince was full of war and conquest and he
cared little for the faithful Ototachibana. From long exposure in
traveling, and from care and grief at her lord's coldness to her,
her beauty had faded, and her ivory skin was burnt brown by the sun,
and the Prince told her one day that her place was in the Palace
behind the screens at home and not with him upon the warpath. But in
spite of rebuffs and indifference on her husband's part,
Ototachibana could not find it in her heart to leave him. But
perhaps it would have been better for her if she had done so, for on
the way to Idzu, when they came to Owari, her heart was well-nigh
Here dwelt in a Palace shaded by pine-trees and approached by
imposing gates, the Princess Miyadzu, beautiful as the cherry
blossom in the blushing dawn of a spring morning. Her garments were
dainty and bright, and her skin was white as snow, for she had never
known what it was to be weary along the path of duty or to walk in
the heat of a summer's sun. And the Prince was ashamed of his
sunburnt wife in her travel-stained garments, and bade her remain
behind while he went to visit the Princess Miyadzu. Day after day he
spent hours in the gardens and the Palace of his new friend,
thinking only of his pleasure, and caring little for his poor wife
who remained behind to weep in the tent at the misery which had come
into her life. Yet she was so faithful a wife, and her character so
patient, that she never allowed a reproach to escape her lips, or a
frown to mar the sweet sadness of her face, and she was ever ready
with a smile to welcome her husband back or usher him forth wherever
At last the day came when the Prince Yamato Take must depart for
Idzu and cross over the sea to Kadzusa, and he bade his wife follow
in his retinue as an attendant while he went to take a ceremonious
farewell of the Princess Miyadzu. She came out to greet him dressed
in gorgeous robes, and she seemed more beautiful than ever, and when
Yamato Take saw her he forgot his wife, his duty, and everything
except the joy of the idle present, and swore that he would return
to Owari and marry her when the war was over. And as he looked up
when he had said these words he met the large almond eyes of
Ototachibana fixed full upon him in unspeakable sadness and wonder,
and he knew that he had done wrong, hut he hardened his heart and
rode on, caring little for the pain he had caused her.
When they reached the seashore at Idzu his men sought for boats in
which to cross the straits to Kadzusa, but it was difficult to find
boats enough to allow all the soldiers to embark. Then the Prince
stood on the beach, and in the pride of his strength he scoffed and
"This is not the sea! This is only a brook! Why do you men want so
many boats? I could jump this if I would."
When at last they had all embarked and were fairly on their way
across the straits, the sky suddenly clouded and a great storm
arose. The waves rose mountains high, the wind howled, the lightning
flashed and the thunder rolled, and the boat which held Ototachibana
and the Prince and his men was tossed from crest to crest of the
rolling waves, till it seemed that every moment must be their last
and that they must all be swallowed up in the angry sea. For Kin
Jin. the Dragon King of the Sea, had heard Yamato Take jeer, and had
raised this terrible storm in anger, to show the scoffing Prince how
awful the sea could be though it did but look like a brook.
The terrified crew lowered the sails and looked after the rudder,
and worked for their dear lives' sake, but all in vain--the storm
only seemed to increase in violence, and all gave themselves up for
lost. Then the faithful Ototachibana rose, and forgetting all the
grief that her husband had caused her, forgetting even that he had
wearied of her, in the one great desire of her love to save him, she
determined to sacrifice her life to rescue him from death if it were
While the waves dashed over the ship and the wind whirled round them
in fury she stood up and said:
"Surely all this has come because the Prince has angered Rin Jin,
the God of the Sea, by his jesting. If so, I, Ototachibana, will
appease the wrath of the Sea God who desires nothing less than my
Then addressing the sea she said:
"I will take the place of His Augustness, Yamato Take. I will now
cast myself into your outraged depths, giving my life for his.
Therefore hear me and bring him safely to the shore of Kadzusa."
With these words she leaped quickly into the boisterous sea, and the
waves soon whirled her away and she was lost to sight. Strange to
say, the storm ceased at once, and the sea became as calm and smooth
as the matting on which the astonished onlookers were sitting. The
gods of the sea were now appeased, and the weather cleared and the
sun shone as on a summer's day.
Yamato Take soon reached the opposite shore and landed safely, even
as his wife Ototachibana had prayed. His prowess in war was
marvelous, and he succeeded after some time in conquering the
Eastern Barbarians, the Ainu.
He ascribed his safe landing wholly to the faithfulness of his wife,
who had so willingly and lovingly sacrificed herself in the hour of
his utmost peril. His heart was softened at the remembrance of her,
and he never allowed her to pass from his thoughts even for a
moment. Too late had he learned to esteem the goodness of her heart
and the greatness of her love for him.
As he was returning on his homeward way he came to the high pass of
the Usui Toge, and here he stood and gazed at the wonderful prospect
beneath him. The country, from this great elevation, all lay open to
his sight, a vast panorama of mountain and plain and forest, with
rivers winding like silver ribbons through the land; then far off he
saw the distant sea, which shimmered like a luminous mist in the
great distance, where Ototachibana had given her life for him, and
as he turned towards it he stretched out his arms, and thinking of
her love which he had scorned and his faithlessness to her, his
heart burst out into a sorrowful and bitter cry:
"Azuma, Azuma, Ya!" (Oh! my wife, my wife!) And to this day there is
a district in Tokio called Azuma, which commemorates the words of
Prince Yamato Take, and the place where his faithful wife leapt into
the sea to save him is still pointed out. So, though in life the
Princess Ototachibana was unhappy, history keeps her memory green,
and the story of her unselfishness and heroic death will never pass
Yamato Take had now fulfilled all his father's orders, he had
subdued all rebels, and rid the land of all robbers and enemies to
the peace, and his renown was great, for in the whole land there was
no one who could stand up against him, he was so strong in battle
and wise in council.
He was about to return straight for home by the way he had come,
when the thought struck him that he would find it more interesting
to take another route, so he passed through the province of Owari
and came to the province of Omi.
When the Prince reached Omi he found the people in a state of great
excitement and fear. In many houses as he passed along he saw the
signs of mourning and heard loud lamentations. On inquiring the
cause of this he was told that a terrible monster had appeared in
the mountains, who daily came down from thence and made raids on the
villages, devouring whoever he could seize. Many homes had been made
desolate and the men were afraid to go out to their daily work in
the fields, or the women to go to the rivers to wash their rice.
When Yamato Take heard this his wrath was kindled, and he said
"From the western end of Kiushiu to the eastern corner of Yezo I
have subdued all the King's enemies--there is no one who dares to
break the laws or to rebel against the King. It. is indeed a matter
for wonder that here in this place, so near the capital, a wicked
monster has dared to take up his abode and be the terror of the
King's subjects. Not long shall it find pleasure in devouring
innocent folk. I will start out and kill it at once."
With these words he set out for the Ibuki Mountain, where the
monster was said to live. He climbed up a good distance, when all of
a sudden, at a winding in the path, a monster serpent appeared
before him and stopped the way.
"This must be the monster," said the Prince; "I do not need my sword
for a serpent. I can kill him with my hands."
He thereupon sprang upon the serpent and tried to strangle it to
death with his bare arms. It was not long before his prodigious
strength gained the mastery and the serpent lay dead at his feet.
Now a sudden darkness came over the mountain and rain began to fall,
so that for the gloom and the rain the Prince could hardly see which
way to take. In a short time, however, while he was groping his way
down the pass, the weather cleared, and our brave hero was able to
make his way quickly down the mountain.
When be got back he began to feel ill and to have burning pains in
his feet, so he knew that the serpent had poisoned him. So great was
his suffering that he could hardly move, much less walk, so he had
himself carried to a place in the mountains famous for its hot
mineral springs, which rose bubbling out of the earth, and almost
boiling from the volcanic fires beneath.
Yamato Take bathed daily in these waters, and gradually he felt his
strength come again, and the pains left him, till at last one day he
found with great joy that he was quite recovered. He now hastened to
the temples of Ise, where you will remember that he prayed before
undertaking this long expedition. His aunt, priestess of the shrine,
who had blessed him on his setting out, now came to welcome him
back. He told her of the many dangers he had encountered and of how
marvelously his life had been preserved through all--and she praised
his courage and his warrior's prowess, and then putting on her most
magnificent robes she returned thanks to their ancestress the Sun
Goddess Amaterasu, to whose protection they both ascribed the
Prince's wonderful preservation.
Here ends the story of Prince Yamato Take of Japan.
MOMOTARO, OR THE STORY OF THE SON OF A PEACH.
Long, long ago there lived, an old man and. an old woman; they were
peasants, and had to work hard to earn their daily rice. The old man
used to go and cut grass for the farmers around, and while he was
gone the old woman, his wife, did the work of the house and worked
in their own little rice field.
One day the old man went to the hills as usual to cut grass and the
old woman took some clothes to the river to wash.
It was nearly summer, and the country was very beautiful to see in
its fresh greenness as the two old people went on their way to work.
The grass on the banks of the river looked like emerald velvet, and
the pussy willows along the edge of the water were shaking out their
The breezes blew and ruffled the smooth surface of the water into
wavelets, and passing on touched the cheeks of the old couple who,
for some reason they could not explain, felt very happy that
The old woman at last found a nice spot by the river bank and put
her basket down. Then she set to work to wash the clothes; she took
them one by one out of the basket and washed them in the river and
rubbed them on the stones. The water was as clear as crystal, and
she could see the tiny fish swimming to and fro, and the pebbles at
As she was busy washing her clothes a great peach came bumping down
the stream. The old woman looked up from her work and saw this large
peach. She was sixty years of age, yet in all her life she had never
seen such a big peach as this.
"How delicious that peach must be!" she said to herself. "I must
certainly get it and take it home to my old man."
She stretched out her arm to try and get it, but it was quite out of
her reach. She looked about for a stick, but there was not one to be
seen, and if she went to look for one she would lose the peach.
Stopping a moment to think what she would do, she remembered an old
charm-verse. Now she began to clap her hands to keep time to the
rolling of the peach down stream, and while she clapped she sang
"Distant water is bitter,
The near water is sweet;
Pass by the distant water
And come into the sweet."
Strange to say, as soon as she began to repeat this little song the
peach began to come nearer and nearer the bank where the old woman
was standing, till at last it stopped just in front of her so that
she was able to take it up in her hands. The old woman was
delighted. She could not go on with her work, so happy and excited
was she, so she put all the clothes back in her bamboo basket, and
with the basket on her back and the peach in her hand she hurried
It seemed a very long time to her to wait till her husband returned.
The old man at last came back as the sun was setting, with a big
bundle of grass on his back--so big that he was almost hidden and
she could hardly see him. He seemed very tired and used the scythe
for a walking stick, leaning on it as he walked along.
As soon as the old woman saw him she called out:
"O Fii San! (old man) I have been waiting for you to come home for
such a long time to-day!"
"What is the matter? Why are you so impatient?" asked the old man,
wondering at her unusual eagerness. "Has anything happened while I
have been away?"
"Oh, no!" answered the old woman, "nothing has happened, only I have
found a nice present for you!"
"That is good," said the old man. He then washed his feet in a basin
of water and stepped up to the veranda.
The old woman now ran into the little room and brought out from the
cupboard the big peach. It felt even heavier than before. She held
it up to him, saying:
"Just look at this! Did you ever see such a large peach in all your
When the old man looked at the peach he was greatly astonished and
"This is indeed the largest peach I have ever seen! Wherever did you
"I did not buy it," answered the old woman. "I found it in the river
where I was washing." And she told him the whole story.
"I am very glad that you have found it. Let us eat it now, for I am
hungry," said the O Fii San.
He brought out the kitchen knife, and, placing the peach on a board,
was about to cut it when, wonderful to tell, the peach split in two
of itself and a clear voice said:
"Wait a bit, old man!" and out stepped a beautiful little child.
The old man and his wife were both so astonished at what they saw
that they fell to the ground. The child spoke again:
"Don't be afraid. I am no demon or fairy. I will tell you the truth.
Heaven has had compassion on you. Every day and every night you have
lamented that you had no child. Your cry has been heard and I am
sent to be the son of your old age!"
On hearing this the old man and his wife were very happy. They had
cried night and day for sorrow at having no child to help them in
their lonely old age, and now that their prayer was answered they
were so lost with joy that they did not know where to put their
hands or their feet. First the old man took the child up in his
arms, and then the old woman did the same; and they named him
MOMOTARO, OR SON OF A PEACH, because he had come out of a peach.
The years passed quickly by and the child grew to be fifteen years
of age. He was taller and far stronger than any other boys of his
own age, he had a handsome face and a heart full of courage, and he
was very wise for his years. The old couple's pleasure was very
great when they looked at him, for he was just what they thought a
hero ought to be like.
One day Momotaro came to his foster-father and said solemnly:
"Father, by a strange chance we have become father and son. Your
goodness to me has been higher than the mountain grasses which it
was your daily work to cut, and deeper than the river where my
mother washes the clothes. I do not know how to thank you enough."
"Why," answered the old man, "it is a matter of course that a father
should bring up his son. When you are older it will be your turn to
take care of us, so after all there will be no profit or loss
between us--all will be equal. Indeed, I am rather surprised that
you should thank me in this way!" and the old man looked bothered.
"I hope you will be patient with me," said Momotaro; "but before I
begin to pay back your goodness to me I have a request to make which
I hope you will grant me above everything else."
"I will let you do whatever you wish, for you are quite different to
all other boys!"
"Then let me go away at once!"
"What do you say? Do you wish to leave your old father and mother
and go away from your old home?"
"I will surely come back again, if you let me go now!"
"Where are you going?"
"You must think it strange that I want to go away," said Momotaro,
"because I have not yet told you my reason. Far away from here to
the northeast of Japan there is an island in the sea. This island is
the stronghold of a band of devils. I have often heard how they
invade this land, kill and rob the people, and carry off all they
can find. They are not only very wicked but they are disloyal to our
Emperor and disobey his laws. They are also cannibals, for they kill
and eat some of the poor people who are so unfortunate as to fall
into their hands. These devils are very hateful beings. I must go
and conquer them and bring back all the plunder of which they have
robbed this land. It is for this reason that I want to go away for a
The old man was much surprised at hearing all this from a mere boy
of fifteen. He thought it best to let the boy go. He was strong and
fearless, and besides all this, the old man knew he was no common
child, for he had been sent to them as a gift from Heaven, and he
felt quite sure that the devils would be powerless to harm him.
"All you say is very interesting, Momotaro," said the old man. "I
will not hinder you in your determination. You may go if you wish.
Go to the island as soon as ever you like and destroy the demons and
bring peace to the land."
"Thank you, for all your kindness," said Momotaro, who began to get
ready to go that very day. He was full of courage and did not know
what fear was.
The old man and woman at once set to work to pound rice in the
kitchen mortar to make cakes for Momotaro to take with him on his
At last the cakes were made and Momotaro was ready to start on his
Parting is always sad. So it was now. The eyes of the two old people
were filled with tears and their voices trembled as they said:
"Go with all care and speed. We expect you back victorious!"
Momotaro was very sorry to leave his old parents (though he knew he
was coming back as soon as he could), for he thought of how lonely
they would be while he was away. But he said "Good-by!" quite
"I am going now. Take good care of yourselves while I am away. Good-
by!" And he stepped quickly out of the house. In silence the eyes of
Momotaro and his parents met in farewell.
Momotaro now hurried on his way till it was midday. He began to feel
hungry, so he opened his bag and took out one of the rice-cakes and
sat down under a tree by the side of the road to eat it. While he
was thus having his lunch a dog almost as large as a colt came
running out from the high grass. He made straight for Momotaro, and
showing his teeth, said in a fierce way:
"You are a rude man to pass my field without asking permission
first. If you leave me all the cakes you have in your bag you may
go; otherwise I will bite you till I kill you!"
Momotaro only laughed scornfully:
"What is that you are saying? Do you know who I am? I am Momotaro,
and I am on my way to subdue the devils in their island stronghold
in the northeast of Japan. If you try to stop me on my way there I
will cut you in two from the head downwards!"
The dog's manner at once changed. His tail dropped between his legs,
and coming near he bowed so low that his forehead touched the
"What do I hear? The name of Momotaro? Are you indeed Momotaro? I
have often heard of your great strength. Not knowing who you were I
have behaved in a very stupid way. Will you please pardon my
rudeness? Are you indeed on your way to invade the Island of Devils?
If you will take such a rude fellow with you as one of your
followers, I shall be very grateful to you."
"I think I can take you with me if you wish to go," said Momotaro.
"Thank you!" said the dog. "By the way, I am very very hungry. Will
you give me one of the cakes you are carrying?"
"This is the best kind of cake there is in Japan," said Momotaro. "I
cannot spare you a whole one; I will give you half of one."
"Thank you very much," said the dog, taking the piece thrown to him.
Then Momotaro got up and the dog followed. For a long time they
walked over the hills and through the valleys. As they were going
along an animal came down from a tree a little ahead of them. The
creature soon came up to Momotaro and said:
"Good morning, Momotaro! You are welcome in this part of the
country. Will you allow me to go with you?"
The dog answered jealously:
"Momotaro already has a dog to accompany him. Of what use is a
monkey like you in battle? We are on our way to fight the devils!
The dog and the monkey began to quarrel and bite, for these two
animals always hate each other.
"Now, don't quarrel!" said Momotaro, putting himself between them.
"Wait a moment, dog!"
"It is not at all dignified for you to have such a creature as that
following you!" said the dog.
"What do you know about it?" asked Momotaro; and pushing aside the
dog, he spoke to the monkey:
"Who are you?"
"I am a monkey living in these hills," replied the monkey." I heard
of your expedition to the Island of Devils, and I have come to go
with you. Nothing will please me more than to follow you!"
"Do you really wish to go to the Island of Devils and fight with
"Yes, sir," replied the monkey.
"I admire your courage," said Momotaro. "Here is a piece of one of
my fine rice-cakes. Come along!"
So the monkey joined Momotaro. The dog and the monkey did not get on
well together. They were always snapping at each other as they went
along, and always wanting to have a fight. This made Momotaro very
cross, and at last he sent the dog on ahead with a flag and put the
monkey behind with a sword, and he placed himself between them with
a war-fan, which is made of iron.
By and by they came to a large field. Here a bird flew down and
alighted on the ground just in front of the little party. It was the
most beautiful bird Momotaro had ever seen. On its body were five
different robes of feathers and its head was covered with a scarlet
The dog at once ran at the bird and tried to seize and kill it. But
the bird struck out its spurs and flew at the dog's tail, and the
fight went hard with both.
Momotaro, as he looked on, could not help admiring the bird; it
showed so much spirit in the fight. It would certainly make a good
Momotaro went up to the two combatants, and holding the dog back,
said to the bird:
"You rascal! you are hindering my journey. Surrender at once, and I
will take you with me. If you don't I will set this dog to bite your
Then the bird surrendered at once, and begged to be taken into
"I do not know what excuse to offer for quarreling with the dog,
your servant, but I did not see you. I am a miserable bird called a
pheasant. It is very generous of you to pardon my rudeness and to
take me with you. Please allow me to follow you behind the dog and
"I congratulate you on surrendering so soon," said Momotaro,
smiling. "Come and join us in our raid on the devils."
"Are you going to take this bird with you also?" asked the dog,
"Why do you ask such an unnecessary question? Didn't you hear what I
said? I take the bird with me because I wish to!"
"Humph!" said the dog.
Then Momotaro stood and gave this order:
"Now all of you must listen to me. The first thing necessary in an
army is harmony. It is a wise saying which says that 'Advantage on
earth is better than advantage in Heaven!' Union amongst ourselves
is better than any earthly gain. When we are not at peace amongst
ourselves it is no easy thing to subdue an enemy. From now, you
three, the dog, the monkey and the pheasant, must be friends with
one mind. The one who first begins a quarrel will be discharged on
All the three promised not to quarrel. The pheasant was now made a
member of Momotaro's suite, and received half a cake.
Momotaro's influence was so great that the three became good
friends, and hurried onwards with him as their leader.
Hurrying on day after day they at last came out upon the shore of
the North-Eastern Sea. There was nothing to be seen as far as the
horizon--not a sign of any island. All that broke the stillness was
the rolling of the waves upon the shore.
Now, the dog and the monkey and the pheasant had come very bravely
all the way through the long valleys and over the hills, but they
had never seen the sea before, and for the first time since they set
out they were bewildered and gazed at each other in silence. How
were they to cross the water and get to the Island of Devils?
Momotaro soon saw that they were daunted by the sight of the sea,
and to try them he spoke loudly and roughly:
"Why do you hesitate? Are you afraid of the sea? Oh! what cowards
you are! It is impossible to take such weak creatures as you with me
to fight the demons. It will be far better for me to go alone. I
discharge you all at once!"
The three animals were taken aback at this sharp reproof, and clung
to Momotaro's sleeve, begging him not to send them away.
"Please, Momotaro!" said the dog.
"We have come thus far!" said the monkey.
"It is inhuman to leave us here!" said the pheasant.
"We are not at all afraid of the sea," said the monkey again.
"Please do take us with you," said the pheasant.
"Do please," said the dog.
They had now gained a little courage, so Momotaro said:
"Well, then, I will take you with me, but be careful!"
Momotaro now got a small ship, and they all got on board. The wind
and weather were fair, and the ship went like an arrow over the sea.
It was the first time they had ever been on the water, and so at
first the dog, the monkey and the pheasant were frightened at the
waves and the rolling of the vessel, but by degrees they grew
accustomed to the water and were quite happy again. Every day they
paced the deck of their little ship, eagerly looking out for the
When they grew tired of this, they told each other stories of all
their exploits of which they were proud, and then played games
together; and Momotaro found much to amuse him in listening to the
three animals and watching their antics, and in this way he forgot
that the way was long and that he was tired of the voyage and of
doing nothing. He longed to be at work killing the monsters who had
done so much harm in his country.
As the wind blew in their favor and they met no storms the ship made
a quick voyage, and one day when the sun was shining brightly a
sight of land rewarded the four watchers at the bow.
Momotaro knew at once that what they saw was the devils' stronghold.
On the top of the precipitous shore, looking out to sea, was a large
castle. Now that his enterprise was close at hand, he was deep in
thought with his head leaning on his hands, wondering how he should
begin the attack. His three followers watched him, waiting for
orders. At last he called to the pheasant:
"It is a great advantage for us to have you with us." said Momotaro
to the bird, "for you have good wings. Fly at once to the castle and
engage the demons to fight. We will follow you."
The pheasant at once obeyed. He flew off from the ship beating the
air gladly with his wings. The bird soon reached the island and took
up his position on the roof in the middle of the castle, calling out
"All you devils listen to me! The great Japanese general Momotaro
has come to fight you and to take your stronghold from you. If you
wish to save your lives surrender at once, and in token of your
submission you must break off the horns that grow on your forehead.
If you do not surrender at once, but make up your mind to fight, we,
the pheasant, the dog and the monkey, will kill you all by biting
and tearing you to death!"
The horned demons looking up and only seeing a pheasant, laughed and
"A wild pheasant, indeed! It is ridiculous to hear such words from a
mean thing like you. Wait till you get a blow from one of our iron
Very angry, indeed, were the devils. They shook their horns and
their shocks of red hair fiercely, and rushed to put on tiger skin
trousers to make themselves look more terrible. They then brought
out great iron bars and ran to where the pheasant perched over their
heads, and tried to knock him down. The pheasant flew to one side to
escape the blow, and then attacked the head of first one and then
another demon. He flew round and round them, beating the air with
his wings so fiercely and ceaselessly, that the devils began to
wonder whether they had to fight one or many more birds.
In the meantime, Momotaro had brought his ship to land. As they had
approached, he saw that the shore was like a precipice, and that the
large castle was surrounded by high walls and large iron gates and
was strongly fortified.
Momotaro landed, and with the hope of finding some way of entrance,
walked up the path towards the top, followed by the monkey and the
dog. They soon came upon two beautiful damsels washing clothes in a
stream. Momotaro saw that the clothes were blood-stained, and that
as the two maidens washed, the tears were falling fast down their
cheeks. He stopped and spoke to them:
"Who are you, and why do you weep?"
"We are captives of the Demon King. We were carried away from our
homes to this island, and though we are the daughters of Daimios
(Lords), we are obliged to be his servants, and one day he will kill
us"--and the maidens held up the blood-stained clothes--"and eat us,
and there is no one to help us!"
And their tears burst out afresh at this horrible thought.
"I will rescue you," said Momotaro. "Do not weep any more, only show
me how I may get into the castle."
Then the two ladies led the way and showed Momotaro a little back
door in the lowest part of the castle wall--so small that Momotaro
could hardly crawl in.
The pheasant, who was all this time fighting hard, saw Momotaro and
his little band rush in at the back.
Momotaro's onslaught was so furious that the devils could not stand
against him. At first their foe had been a single bird, the
pheasant, but now that Momotaro and the dog and the monkey had
arrived they were bewildered, for the four enemies fought like a
hundred, so strong were they. Some of the devils fell off the
parapet of the castle and were dashed to pieces on the rocks
beneath; others fell into the sea and were drowned; many were beaten
to death by the three animals.
The chief of the devils at last was the only one left. He made up
his mind to surrender, for he knew that his enemy was stronger than
He came up humbly to Momotaro and threw down his iron bar, and
kneeling down at the victor's feet he broke off the horns on his
head in token of submission, for they were the sign of his strength
"I am afraid of you," he said meekly. "I cannot stand against you. I
will give you all the treasure hidden in this castle if you will
spare my life!"
"It is not like you, big devil, to beg for mercy, is it? I cannot
spare your wicked life, however much you beg, for you have killed
and tortured many people and robbed our country for many years."
Then Momotaro tied the devil chief up and gave him into the monkey's
charge. Having done this, he went into all the rooms of the castle
and set the prisoners free and gathered together all the treasure he
The dog and the pheasant carried home the plunder, and thus Momotaro
returned triumphantly to his home, taking with him the devil chief
as a captive.
The two poor damsels, daughters of Daimios, and others whom the
wicked demon had carried off to be his slaves, were taken safely to
their own homes and delivered to their parents.
The whole country made a hero of Momotaro on his triumphant return,
and rejoiced that the country was now freed from the robber devils
who had been a terror of the land for a long time.
The old couple's joy was greater than ever, and the treasure
Momotaro had brought home with him enabled them to live in peace and
plenty to the end of their days.
THE OGRE OF RASHOMON.
Long, long ago in Kyoto, the people of the city were terrified by
accounts of a dreadful ogre, who, it was said, haunted the Gate of
Rashomon at twilight and seized whoever passed by. The missing
victims were never seen again, so it was whispered that the ogre was
a horrible cannibal, who not only killed the unhappy victims but ate
them also. Now everybody in the town and neighborhood was in great
fear, and no one durst venture out after sunset near the Gate of
Now at this time there lived in Kyoto a general named Raiko, who had
made himself famous for his brave deeds. Some time before this he
made the country ring with his name, for he had attacked Oeyama,
where a band of ogres lived with their chief, who instead of wine
drank the blood of human beings. He had routed them all and cut off
the head of the chief monster.
This brave warrior was always followed by a band of faithful
knights. In this band there were five knights of great valor. One
evening as the five knights sat at a feast quaffing SAKE in their
rice bowls and eating all kinds of fish, raw, and stewed, and
broiled, and toasting each other's healths and exploits, the first
knight, Hojo, said to the others:
"Have you all heard the rumor that every evening after sunset there
comes an ogre to the Gate of Rashomon, and that he seizes all who
The second knight, Watanabe, answered him, saying:
"Do not talk such nonsense! All the ogres were killed by our chief
Raiko at Oeyama! It cannot be true, because even if any ogres did
escape from that great killing they would not dare to show
themselves in this city, for they know that our brave master would
at once attack them if he knew that any of them were still alive!"
"Then do you disbelieve what I say, and think that I am telling you
"No, I do not think that you are telling a lie," said Watanabe; "but
you have heard some old woman's story which is not worth believing."
"Then the best plan is to prove what I say, by going there yourself
and finding out yourself whether it is true or not," said Hojo.
Watanabe, the second knight, could not bear the thought that his
companion should believe he was afraid, so he answered quickly:
"Of course, I will go at once and find out for myself!"
So Watanabe at once got ready to go--he buckled on his long sword
and put on a coat of armor, and tied on his large helmet. When he
was ready to start he said to the others:
"Give me something so that I can prove I have been there!"
Then one of the men got a roll of writing paper and his box of
Indian ink and brushes, and the four comrades wrote their names on a
piece of paper.
"I will take this," said Watanabe, "and put it on the Gate of
Rashomon, so to-morrow morning will you all go and look at it? I may
be able to catch an ogre or two by then!" and he mounted his horse
and rode off gallantly.
It was a very dark night, and there was neither moon nor star to
light Watanabe on his way. To make the darkness worse a storm came
on, the rain fell heavily and the wind howled like wolves in the
mountains. Any ordinary man would have trembled at the thought of
going out of doors, but Watanabe was a brave warrior and dauntless,
and his honor and word were at stake, so he sped on into the night,
while his companions listened to the sound of his horse's hoofs
dying away in the distance, then shut the sliding shutters close and
gathered round the charcoal fire and wondered what would happen--and
whether their comrade would encounter one of those horrible Oni.
At last Watanabe reached the Gate of Rashomon, but peer as he might
through the darkness he could see no sign of an ogre.
"It is just as I thought," said Watanabe to himself; "there are
certainly no ogres here; it is only an old woman's story. I will
stick this paper on the gate so that the others can see I have been
here when they come to-morrow, and then I will take my way home and
laugh at them all."
He fastened the piece of paper, signed by all his four companions,
on the gate, and then turned his horse's head towards home.
As he did so he became aware that some one was behind him, and at
the same time a voice called out to him to wait. Then his helmet was
seized from the back. "Who are you?" said Watanabe fearlessly. He
then put out his hand and groped around to find out who or what it
was that held him by the helmet. As he did so he touched something
that felt like an arm--it was covered with hair and as big round as
the trunk of a tree!
Watanabe knew at once that this was the arm of an ogre, so he drew
his sword and cut at it fiercely.
There was a loud yell of pain, and then the ogre dashed in front of
Watanabe's eyes grew large with wonder, for he saw that the ogre was
taller than the great gate, his eyes were flashing like mirrors in
the sunlight, and his huge mouth was wide open, and as the monster
breathed, flames of fire shot out of his mouth.
The ogre thought to terrify his foe, but Watanabe never flinched. He
attacked the ogre with all his strength, and thus they fought face
to face for a long time. At last the ogre, finding that he could
neither frighten nor beat Watanabe and that he might himself be
beaten, took to flight. But Watanabe, determined not to let the
monster escape, put spurs to his horse and gave chase.
But though the knight rode very fast the ogre ran faster, and to his
disappointment he found himself unable to overtake the monster, who
was gradually lost to sight.
Watanabe returned to the gate where the fierce fight had taken
place, and got down from his horse. As he did so he stumbled upon
something lying on the ground.
Stooping to pick it up he found that it was one of the ogre's huge
arms which he must have slashed off in the fight. His joy was great
at having secured such a prize, for this was the best of all proofs
of his adventure with the ogre. So he took it up carefully and
carried it home as a trophy of his victory.
When he got back, he showed the arm to his comrades, who one and all
called him the hero of their band and gave him a great feast. His
wonderful deed was soon noised abroad in Kyoto, and people from far
and near came to see the ogre's arm.
Watanabe now began to grow uneasy as to how he should keep the arm
in safety, for he knew that the ogre to whom it belonged was still
alive. He felt sure that one day or other, as soon as the ogre got
over his scare, he would come to try to get his arm back again.
Watanabe therefore had a box made of the strongest wood and banded
with iron. In this he placed the arm, and then he sealed down the
heavy lid, refusing to open it for anyone. He kept the box in his
own room and took charge of it himself, never allowing it out of his
Now one night he heard some one knocking at the porch, asking for
When the servant went to the door to see who it was, there was only
an old woman, very respectable in appearance. On being asked who she
was and what was her business, the old woman replied with a smile
that she had been nurse to the master of the house when he was a
little baby. If the lord of the house were at home she begged to be
allowed to see him.
The servant left the old woman at the door and went to tell his
master that his old nurse had come to see him. Watanabe thought it
strange that she should come at that time of night, but at the
thought of his old nurse, who had been like a foster-mother to him
and whom he had not seen for a long time, a very tender feeling
sprang up for her in his heart. He ordered the servant to show her
The old woman was ushered into the room, and after the customary
bows and greetings were over, she said:
"Master, the report of your brave fight with the ogre at the Gate of
Rashomon is so widely known that even your poor old nurse has heard
of it. Is it really true, what every one says, that you cut off one
of the ogre's arms? If you did, your deed is highly to be praised!"
"I was very disappointed," said Watanabe, "that I was not able take
the monster captive, which was what I wished to do, instead of only
cutting off an arm!"
"I am very proud to think," answered the old woman, "that my master
was so brave as to dare to cut off an ogre's arm. There is nothing
that can be compared to your courage. Before I die it is the great
wish of my life to see this arm," she added pleadingly.
"No," said Watanabe, "I am sorry, but I cannot grant your request."
"But why?" asked the old woman.
"Because," replied Watanabe, "ogres are very revengeful creatures,
and if I open the box there is no telling but that the ogre may
suddenly appear and carry off his arm. I have had a box made on
purpose with a very strong lid, and in this box I keep the ogre's
arm secure; and I never show it to any one, whatever happens."
"Your precaution is very reasonable," said the old woman. "But I am
your old nurse, so surely you will not refuse to show ME the arm. I
have only just heard of your brave act, and not being able to wait
till the morning I came at once to ask you to show it to me."
Watanabe was very troubled at the old woman's pleading, but he still
persisted in refusing. Then the old woman said:
"Do you suspect me of being a spy sent by the ogre?"
"No, of course I do not suspect you of being the ogre's spy, for you
are my old nurse," answered Watanabe.
"Then you cannot surely refuse to show me the arm any longer."
entreated the old woman; "for it is the great wish of my heart to
see for once in my life the arm of an ogre!"
Watanabe could not hold out in his refusal any longer, so he gave in
at last, saying:
"Then I will show you the ogre's arm, since you so earnestly wish to
see it. Come, follow me!" and he led the way to his own room, the
old woman following.
When they were both in the room Watanabe shut the door carefully,
and then going towards a big box which stood in a corner of the
room, he took off the heavy lid. He then called to the old woman to
come near and look in, for he never took the arm out of the box.
"What is it like? Let me have a good look at it," said the old
nurse, with a joyful face.
She came nearer and nearer, as if she were afraid, till she stood
right against the box. Suddenly she plunged her hand into the box
and seized the arm, crying with a fearful voice which made the room
"Oh, joy! I have got my arm back again!"
And from an old woman she was suddenly transformed into the towering
figure of the frightful ogre!
Watanabe sprang back and was unable to move for a moment, so great
was his astonishment; but recognizing the ogre who had attacked him
at the Gate of Rashomon, he determined with his usual courage to put
an end to him this time. He seized his sword, drew it out of its
sheath in a flash, and tried to cut the ogre down.
So quick was Watanabe that the creature had a narrow escape. But the
ogre sprang up to the ceiling, and bursting through the roof,
disappeared in the mist and clouds.
In this way the ogre escaped with his arm. The knight gnashed his
teeth with disappointment, but that was all he could do. He waited
in patience for another opportunity to dispatch the ogre. But the
latter was afraid of Watanabe's great strength and daring, and never
troubled Kyoto again. So once more the people of the city were able
to go out without fear even at night time, and the brave deeds of
Watanabe have never been forgotten!
HOW AN OLD MAN LOST HIS WEN.
Many, many years ago there lived a good old man who had a wen like a
tennis-ball growing out of his right cheek. This lump was a great
disfigurement to the old man, and so annoyed him that for many years
he spent all his time and money in trying to get rid of it. He tried
everything he could think of. He consulted many doctors far and
near, and took all kinds of medicines both internally and
externally. But it was all of no use. The lump only grew bigger and
bigger till it was nearly as big as his face, and in despair he gave
up all hopes of ever losing it, and resigned himself to the thought
of having to carry the lump on his face all his life.
One day the firewood gave out in his kitchen, so, as his wife wanted
some at once, the old man took his ax and set out for the woods up
among the hills not very far from his home. It was a fine day in the
early autumn, and the old man enjoyed the fresh air and was in no
hurry to get home. So the whole afternoon passed quickly while he
was chopping wood, and he had collected a goodly pile to take back
to his wife. When the day began to draw to a close, he turned his
The old man had not gone far on his way down the mountain pass when
the sky clouded and rain began to fall heavily. He looked about for
some shelter, but there was not even a charcoal-burner's hut near.
At last he espied a large hole in the hollow trunk of a tree. The
hole was near the ground, so he crept in easily, and sat down in
hopes that he had only been overtaken by a mountain shower, and that
the weather would soon clear.
But much to the old man's disappointment, instead of clearing the
rain fell more and more heavily, and finally a heavy thunderstorm
broke over the mountain. The thunder roared so terrifically, and the
heavens seemed to be so ablaze with lightning, that the old man
could hardly believe himself to be alive. He thought that he must
die of fright. At last, however, the sky cleared, and the whole
country was aglow in the rays of the setting sun. The old man's
spirits revived when he looked out at the beautiful twilight, and he
was about to step out from his strange hiding-place in the hollow
tree when the sound of what seemed like the approaching steps of
several people caught his ear. He at once thought that his friends
had come to look for him, and he was delighted at the idea of having
some jolly companions with whom to walk home. But on looking out
from the tree, what was his amazement to see, not his friends, but
hundreds of demons coming towards the spot. The more he looked, the
greater was his astonishment. Some of these demons were as large as
giants, others had great big eyes out of all proportion to the rest
of their bodies, others again had absurdly long noses, and some had
such big mouths that they seemed to open from ear to ear. All had
horns growing on their foreheads. The old man was so surprised at
what he saw that he lost his balance and fell out of the hollow
tree. Fortunately for him the demons did not see him, as the tree
was in the background. So he picked himself up and crept back into
While he was sitting there and wondering impatiently when he would
be able to get home, he heard the sounds of gay music, and then some
of the demons began to sing.
"What are these creatures doing?" said the old man to himself. "I
will look out, it sounds very amusing."
On peeping out, the old man saw that the demon chief himself was
actually sitting with his back against the tree in which he had
taken refuge, and all the other demons were sitting round, some
drinking and some dancing. Food and wine was spread before them on
the ground, and the demons were evidently having a great
entertainment and enjoying themselves immensely.
It made the old man laugh to see their strange antics.
"How amusing this is!" laughed the old man to himself "I am now
quite old, but I have never seen anything so strange in all my
He was so interested and excited in watching all that the demons
were doing, that he forgot himself and stepped out of the tree and
stood looking on.
The demon chief was just taking a big cup of SAKE and watching one
of the demons dancing. In a little while he said with a bored air:
"Your dance is rather monotonous. I am tired of watching it. Isn't
there any one amongst you all who can dance better than this
Now the old man had been fond of dancing all his life, and was quite
an expert in the art, and he knew that he could do much better than
"Shall I go and dance before these demons and let them see what a
human being can do? It may be dangerous, for if I don't please them
they may kill me!" said the old fellow to himself.
His fears, however, were soon overcome by his love of dancing. In a
few minutes he could restrain himself no longer, and came out before
the whole party of demons and began to dance at once. The old man,
realizing that his life probably depended on whether he pleased
these strange creatures or not, exerted his skill and wit to the
The demons were at first very surprised to see a man so fearlessly
taking part in their entertainment, and then their surprise soon
gave place to admiration.
"How strange!" exclaimed the horned chief. "I never saw such a
skillful dancer before! He dances admirably!"
When the old man had finished his dance, the big demon said:
"Thank you very much for your amusing dance. Now give us the
pleasure of drinking a cup of wine with us," and with these words he
handed him his largest wine-cup.
The old man thanked him very humbly:
"I did not expect such kindness from your lordship. I fear I have
only disturbed your pleasant party by my unskillful dancing."
"No, no," answered the big demon. "You must come often and dance for
us. Your skill has given us much pleasure."
The old man thanked him again and promised to do so.
"Then will you come again to-morrow, old man?" asked the demon.
"Certainly, I will," answered the old man.
"Then you must leave some pledge of your word with us," said the
"Whatever you like," said the old man.
"Now what is the best thing he can leave with us as a pledge?" asked
the demon, looking round.
Then said one of the demon's attendants kneeling behind the chief:
"The token he leaves with us must be the most important thing to him
in his possession. I see the old man has a wen on his right cheek.
Now mortal men consider such a wen very fortunate. Let my lord take
the lump from the old man's right cheek, and he will surely come to-
morrow, if only to get that back."
"You are very clever," said the demon chief, giving his horns an
approving nod. Then he stretched out a hairy arm and claw-like hand,
and took the great lump from the old man's right cheek. Strange to
say, it came off as easily as a ripe plum from the tree at the
demon's touch, and then the merry troop of demons suddenly vanished.
The old man was lost in bewilderment by all that had happened. He
hardly knew for some time where he was. When he came to understand
what had happened to him, he was delighted to find that the lump on
his face, which had for so many years disfigured him, had really
been taken away without any pain to himself. He put up his hand to
feel if any scar remained, but found that his right cheek was as
smooth as his left.
The sun had long set, and the young moon had risen like a silver
crescent in the sky. The old man suddenly realized how late it was
and began to hurry home. He patted his right cheek all the time, as
if to make sure of his good fortune in having lost the wen. He was
so happy that he found it impossible to walk quietly--he ran and
danced the whole way home.
He found his wife very anxious, wondering what had happened to make
him so late. He soon told her all that had passed since he left home
that afternoon. She was quite as happy as her husband when he showed
her that the ugly lump had disappeared from his face, for in her
youth she had prided herself on his good looks, and it had been a
daily grief to her to see the horrid growth.
Now next door to this good old couple there lived a wicked and
disagreeable old man. He, too, had for many years been troubled with
the growth of a wen on his left cheek, and he, too,
had tried all manner of things to get rid of it, but in vain.
He heard at once, through the servant, of his neighbor's good luck
in losing the lump on his face, so he called that very evening and
asked his friend to tell him everything that concerned the loss of
it. The good old man told his disagreeable neighbor all that had
happened to him. He described the place where he would find the
hollow tree in which to hide, and advised him to be on the spot in
the late afternoon towards the time of sunset.
The old neighbor started out the very next afternoon, and after
hunting about for some time, came to the hollow tree just as his
friend had described. Here he hid himself and waited for the
Just as he had been told, the band of demons came at that hour and
held a feast with dance and song. When this had gone on for some
time the chief of the demons looked around and said:
"It is now time for the old man to come as he promised us. Why
doesn't he come?"
When the second old man heard these words he ran out of his hiding-
place in the tree and, kneeling down before the Oni, said:
"I have been waiting for a long time for you to speak!"
"Ah, you are the old man of yesterday," said the demon chief. "Thank
you for coming, you must dance for us soon."
The old man now stood up and opened his fan and began to dance. But
he had never learned to dance, and knew nothing about the necessary
gestures and different positions. He thought that anything would
please the demons, so he just hopped about, waving his arms and
stamping his feet, imitating as well as he could any dancing he had
The Oni were very dissatisfied at this exhibition, and said amongst
"How badly he dances to-day!"
Then to the old man the demon chief said:
"Your performance to-day is quite different from the dance of
yesterday. We don't wish to see any more of such dancing. We will
give you back the pledge you left with us. You must go away at
With these words he took out from a fold of his dress the lump which
he had taken from the face of the old man who had danced so well the
day before, and threw it at the right cheek of the old man who stood
before him. The lump immediately attached itself to his cheek as
firmly as if it had grown there always, and all attempts to pull it
off were useless. The wicked old man, instead of losing the lump on
his left cheek as he had hoped, found to his dismay that he had but
added another to his right cheek in his attempt to get rid of the
He put up first one hand and then the other to each side of his face
to make sure if he were not dreaming a horrible nightmare. No, sure
enough there was now a great wen on the right side of his face as on
the left. The demons had all disappeared, and there was nothing for
him to do but to return home. He was a pitiful sight, for his face,
with the two large lumps, one on each side, looked just like a
THE STONES OF FIVE COLORS AND THE EMPRESS JOKWA.
AN OLD CHINESE STORY.
Long, long ago there lived a great Chinese Empress who succeeded her
brother the Emperor Fuki. It was the age of giants, and the Empress
Jokwa, for that was her name, was twenty-five feet high, nearly as
tall as her brother. She was a wonderful woman, and an able ruler.
There is an interesting story of how she mended a part of the broken
heavens and one of the terrestrial pillars which upheld the sky,
both of which were damaged during a rebellion raised by one of King
The rebel's name was Kokai. He was twenty-six feet high. His body
was entirely covered with hair, and his face was as black as iron.
He was a wizard and a very terrible character indeed. When the
Emperor Fuki died, Kokai was bitten with the ambition to be Emperor
of China, but his plan failed, and Jokwa, the dead Emperor's sister,
mounted the throne. Kokai was so angry at being thwarted in his
desire that he raised a revolt. His first act was to employ the
Water Devil, who caused a great flood to rush over the country. This
swamped the poor people out of their homes, and when the Empress
Jokwa saw the plight of her subjects, and knew it was Kokai's fault,
she declared war against him.
Now Jokwa, the Empress, had two young warriors called Hako and Eiko,
and the former she made General of the front forces. Hako was
delighted that the Empress's choice should fall on him, and he
prepared himself for battle. He took up the longest lance he could
find and mounted a red horse, and was just about to set out when he
heard some one galloping hard behind him and shouting:
"Hako! Stop! The general of the front forces must be I!"
He looked back and saw Eiko his comrade, riding on a white horse, in
the act of unsheathing a large sword to draw upon him. Hako's anger
was kindled, and as he turned to face his rival he cried:
"Insolent wretch! I have been appointed by the Empress to lead the
front forces to battle. Do you dare to stop me?"
"Yes," answered Eiko. "I ought to lead the army. It is you who
should follow me."
At this bold reply Hako's anger burst from a spark into a flame.
"Dare you answer me thus? Take that," and he lunged at him with his
But Eiko moved quickly aside, and at the same time, raising his
sword, he wounded the head of the General's horse. Obliged to
dismount, Hako was about to rush at his antagonist, when Eiko, as
quick as lightning, tore from his breast the badge of commandership
and galloped away. The action was so quick that Hako stood dazed,
not knowing what to do.
The Empress had been a spectator of the scene, and she could not but
admire the quickness of the ambitious Eiko, and in order to pacify
the rivals she determined to appoint them both to the Generalship of
the front army.
So Hako was made commander of the left wing of the front army, and
Eiko of the right. One hundred thousand soldiers followed them and
marched to put down the rebel Kokai.
Within a short time the two Generals reached the castle where Kokai
had fortified himself. When aware of their approach, the wizard
"I will blow these two poor children away with one breath." (He
little thought how hard he would find the fight.)
With these words Kokai seized an iron rod and mounted a black horse,
and rushed forth like an angry tiger to meet his two foes.
As the two young warriors saw him tearing down upon them, they said
to each other: "We must not let him escape alive," and they attacked
him from the right and from the left with sword and with lance. But
the all-powerful Kokai was not to be easily beaten--he whirled his
iron rod round like a great water-wheel, and for a long time they
fought thus, neither side gaining nor losing. At last, to avoid the
wizard's iron rod, Hako turned his horse too quickly; the animal's
hoofs struck against a large stone, and in a fright the horse reared
as straight on end as a screen, throwing his master to the ground.
Thereupon Kokai drew his three-edged sword and was about to kill the
prostrate Hako, but before the wizard could work his wicked will the
brave Eiko had wheeled his horse in front of Kokai and dared him to
try his strength with him, and not to kill a fallen man. But Kokai
was tired, and he did not feel inclined to face this fresh and
dauntless young soldier, so suddenly wheeling his horse round, he
fled from the fray.
Hako, who had been only slightly stunned, had by this time got upon
his feet, and he and his comrade rushed after the retreating enemy,
the one on foot and the other on horseback.
Kokai, seeing that he was pursued, turned upon his nearest
assailant, who was, of course, the mounted Eiko, and drawing forth
an arrow from the quiver at his back, fitted it to his bow and drew
As quick as lightning the wary Eiko avoided the shaft, which only
touched his helmet strings, and glancing off, fell harmless against
Hako's coat of armor.
The wizard saw that both his enemies remained unscathed. He also
knew that there was no time to pull a second arrow before they would
be upon him, so to save himself he resorted to magic. He stretched
forth his wand, and immediately a great flood arose, and Jokwa's
army and her brave young Generals were swept away like a falling of
autumn leaves on a stream.
Hako and Eiko found themselves struggling neck deep in water, and
looking round they saw the ferocious Kokai making towards them
through the water with his iron rod on high. They thought every
moment that they would be cut down, but they bravely struck out to
swim as far as they could from Kokai's reach. All of a sudden they
found themselves in front of what seemed to be an island rising
straight out of the water. They looked up, and there stood an old
man with hair as white as snow, smiling at them. They cried to him
to help them. The old man nodded his head and came down to the edge
of the water. As soon as his feet touched the flood it divided, and
a good road appeared, to the amazement of the drowning men, who now
found themselves safe.
Kokai had by this time reached the island which had risen as if by a
miracle out of the water, and seeing his enemies thus saved he was
furious. He rushed through the water upon the old man, and it seemed
as if he would surely be killed. But the old man appeared not in the
least dismayed, and calmly awaited the wizard's onslaught.
As Kokai drew near, the old man laughed aloud merrily, and turning
into a large and beautiful white crane, flapped his wings and flew
upwards into the heavens.
When Hako and Eiko saw this, they knew that their deliverer was no
mere human being--was perhaps a god in disguise--and they hoped
later on to find out who the venerable old man was.
In the meantime they had retreated, and it being now the close of
day, for the sun was setting, both Kokai and the young warriors gave
up the idea of fighting more that day.
That night Hako and Eiko decided that it was useless to fight
against the wizard Kokai, for he had supernatural powers, while they
were only human. So they presented themselves before the Empress
Jokwa. After a long consultation, the Empress decided to ask the
Fire King, Shikuyu, to help her against the rebel wizard and to lead
her army against him.
Now Shikuyu, the Fire King, lived at the South Pole. It was the only
safe place for him to be in, for he burnt up everything around him
anywhere else, but it was impossible to burn up ice and snow. To
look at he was a giant, and stood thirty feet high. His face was
just like marble, and his hair and beard long and as white as snow.
His strength was stupendous, and he was master of all fire just as
Kokai was of water.
"Surely," thought the Empress, "Shikuyu can conquer Kokai." So she
sent Eiko to the South Pole to beg Shikuyu to take the war against
Kokai into his own hands and conquer him once for all.
The Fire King, on hearing the Empress's request, smiled and said:
"That is an easy matter, to be sure! It was none other than I who
came to your rescue when you and your companion were drowning in the
flood raised by Kokai!"
Eiko was surprised at learning this. He thanked the Fire King for
coming to the rescue in their dire need, and then besought him to
return with him and lead the war and defeat the wicked Kokai.
Shikuyu did as he was asked, and returned with Eiko to the Empress.
She welcomed the Fire King cordially, and at once told him why she
had sent for him--to ask him to be the Generalissimo of her army.
His reply was very reassuring:
"Do not have any anxiety. I will certainly kill Kokai."
Shikuyu then placed himself at the head of thirty thousand soldiers,
and with Hako and Eiko showing him the way, marched to the enemy's
castle. The Fire King knew the secret of Kokai's power, and he now
told all the soldiers to gather a certain kind of shrub. This they
burned in large quantities, and each soldier was then ordered to
fill a bag full of the ashes thus obtained.
Kokai, on the other hand, in his own conceit, thought that Shikuyu
was of inferior power to himself, and he murmured angrily:
"Even though you are the Fire King, I can soon extinguish you."
Then he repeated an incantation, and the water-floods rose and
welled as high as mountains. Shikuyu, not in the least frightened,
ordered his soldiers to scatter the ashes which he had caused them
to make. Every man did as he was bid, and such was the power of the
plant that they had burned, that as soon as the ashes mingled with
the water a stiff mud was formed, and they were all safe from
Now Kokai the wizard was dismayed when he saw that the Fire King was
superior in wisdom to himself, and his anger was so great that he
rushed headlong towards the enemy.
Eiko rode to meet him, and the two fought together for some time.
They were well matched in a hand-to-hand combat. Hako, who was
carefully watching the fray, saw that Eiko began to tire, and
fearing that his companion would be killed, he took his place.
But Kokai had tired as well, and feeling him self unable to hold out
against Hako, he said artfully:
"You are too magnanimous, thus to fight for your friend and run the
risk of being killed. I will not hurt such a good man."
And he pretended to retreat, turning away the head of his horse. His
intention was to throw Hako off his guard and then to wheel round
and take him by surprise.
But Shikuyu understood the wily wizard, and he spoke at once:
"You are a coward! You cannot deceive me!"
Saying this, the Fire King made a sign to the unwary Hako to attack
him. Kokai now turned upon Shikuyu furiously, but he was tired and
unable to fight well, and he soon received a wound in his shoulder.
He now broke from the fray and tried to escape in earnest.
While the fight between their leaders had been going on the two
armies had stood waiting for the issue. Shikuyu now turned and bade
Jokwa's soldiers charge the enemy's forces. This they did, and
routed them with great slaughter, and the wizard barely escaped with
It was in vain that Kokai called upon the Water Devil to help him,
for Shikuyu knew the counter-charm. The wizard found that the battle
was against him. Mad with pain, for his wound began to trouble him,
and frenzied with disappointment and fear, he dashed his head
against the rocks of Mount Shu and died on the spot.
There was an end of the wicked Kokai, but not of trouble in the
Empress Jokwa's Kingdom, as you shall see. The force with which the
wizard fell against the rocks was so great that the mountain burst,
and fire rushed out from the earth, and one of the pillars upholding
the Heavens was broken so that one corner of the sky dropped till it
touched the earth.
Shikuyu, the Fire King, took up the body of the wizard and carried
it to the Empress Jokwa, who rejoiced greatly that her enemy was
vanquished, and her generals victorious. She showered all manner of
gifts and honors upon Shikuyu.
But all this time fire was bursting from the mountain broken by the
fall of Kokai. Whole villages were destroyed, rice-fields burnt up,
river beds filled with the burning lava, and the homeless people
were in great distress. So the Empress left the capital as soon as
she had rewarded the victor Shikuyu, and journeyed with all speed to
the scene of disaster. She found that both Heaven and earth had
sustained damage, and the place was so dark that she had to light
her lamp to find out the extent of the havoc that had been wrought.
Having ascertained this, she set to work at repairs. To this end she
ordered her subjects to collect stones of five colors--blue, yellow,
red, white and black. When she had obtained these, she boiled them
with a kind of porcelain in a large caldron, and the mixture became
a beautiful paste, and with this she knew that she could mend the
sky. Now all was ready.
Summoning the clouds that were sailing ever so high above her head,
she mounted them, and rode heavenwards, carrying in her hands the
vase containing the paste made from the stones of five colors. She
soon reached the corner of the sky that was broken, and applied the
paste and mended it. Having done this, she turned her attention to
the broken pillar, and with the legs of a very large tortoise she
mended it. When this was finished she mounted the clouds and
descended to the earth, hoping to find that all was now right, but
to her dismay she found that it was still quite dark. Neither the
sun shone by day nor the moon by night.
Greatly perplexed, she at last called a meeting of all the wise men
of the Kingdom, and asked their advice as to what she should do in
Two of the wisest said:
"The roads of Heaven have been damaged by the late accident, and the
Sun and Moon have been obliged to stay at home. Neither the Sun
could make his daily journey nor the Moon her nightly one because of
the bad roads. The Sun and Moon do not yet know that your Majesty
has mended all that was damaged, so we will go and inform them that
since you have repaired them the roads are safe."
The Empress approved of what the wise men suggested, and ordered
them to set out on their mission. But this was not easy, for the
Palace of the Sun and Moon was many, many hundreds of thousands of
miles distant into the East. If they traveled on foot they might
never reach the place, they would die of old age on the road. But
Jokwa had recourse to magic. She gave her two ambassadors wonderful
chariots which could whirl through the air by magic power a thousand
miles per minute. They set out in good spirits, riding above the
clouds, and after many days they reached the country where the Sun
and the Moon were living happily together.
The two ambassadors were granted an interview with their Majesties
of Light and asked them why they had for so many days secluded
themselves from the Universe? Did they not know that by doing so
they plunged the world and all its people into uttermost darkness
both day and night?
Replied the Sun and the Moon:
"Surely you know that Mount Shu has suddenly burst forth with fire,
and the roads of Heaven have been greatly damaged! I, the Sun, found
it impossible to make my daily journey along such rough roads--and
certainly the Moon could not issue forth at night! so we both
retired into private life for a time."
Then the two wise men bowed themselves to the ground and said:
"Our Empress Jokwa has already repaired the roads with the wonderful
stones of five colors, so we beg to assure your Majesties that the
roads are just as they were before the eruption took place."
But the Sun and the Moon still hesitated, saying that they had heard
that one of the pillars of Heaven had been broken as well, and they
feared that, even if the roads had been remade, it would still be
dangerous for them to sally forth on their usual journeys.
"You need have no anxiety about the broken pillar," said the two
ambassadors. "Our Empress restored it with the legs of a great
tortoise, and it is as firm as ever it was."
Then the Sun and Moon appeared satisfied, and they both set out to
try the roads. They found that what the Empress's deputies had told
them was correct.
After the examination of the heavenly roads, the Sun and Moon again
gave light to the earth. All the people rejoiced greatly, and peace
and prosperity were secured in China for a long time under the reign
of the wise Empress Jokwa.