The Story of Yoshitsune by Yei Theodora Ozaki
In old Japan more than seven hundred years ago a fierce war was raging
between the two great clans, the Taira and the Minamoto, also called the
Heike and the Genji. These two famous clans were always contesting
together for political power and military supremacy, and the country was
torn in two with the many bitter battles that were fought. Indeed it may
be said that the history of Japan for many years was the history of
these two mighty martial families; sometimes the Minamoto and sometimes
the Taira gaining the victory, or being beaten, as the case might be;
but their swords knew no rest for a period of many years. At last a
strong and valiant general arose in the House of Minamoto. His name was
Yoshitomo. At this time there were two aspirants for the Imperial throne
and civil war was raging in the capital. One Imperial candidate was
supported by the Taira, the other by the Minamoto. Yoshitomo, though a
Minamoto, sided at first with the Taira against the reigning Emperor;
but when he saw how cruel and relentless their chief, Kiyomori, was, he
turned against him and called all his followers to rally round the
Minamoto standard and fight to put down the Taira.
But fate was against the gallant and doughty warrior Yoshitomo, and he
suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Taira. He and his men,
while fleeing from the vigilance of their enemies, were overtaken within
the city gates, and ruthlessly slaughtered by Kiyomori and his soldiers.
Yoshitomo left behind him his beautiful young wife, Tokiwa Gozen, and
eight children, to mourn his untimely death. Five of the elder children
were by a first wife. The third of these became Yoritomo, the great
first Shogun of Japan, while the eighth and youngest child was Ushiwaka,
about whom this story is written. Ushiwaka and the hero Yoshitsune were
one and the same person. Ushiwaka (Young Ox—he was so called because of
his wonderful strength) was his name as a boy, and Yoshitsune was the
name he took when he became of age.
At the time of his father's death, Ushiwaka was a babe in the arms of
his mother, Tokiwa Gozen, but his tender age would not have saved his
life had he been found by his father's enemies.
After the defeat they had inflicted on the rival clan, the Taira were
all-powerful for a time. The Minamoto clan were in dire straits and in
danger of being exterminated now, for so fierce was Kiyomori's hatred
against his enemies that when a Minamoto fell into his cruel hands he
immediately put the captive to death.
Realizing the great peril of the situation, Tokiwa Gozen, the widow of
Yoshitomo, full of fear and anxiety for the safety of her little ones,
quietly hid herself in the country, taking with her Ushiwaka and her two
other children. So successful was Tokiwa Gozen in concealing her
hiding-place that, though the Taira clan either killed or banished to a
far-away island all the elder sons, relations, and partisans of the
Minamoto chief, they could not discover the whereabouts of the mother
and her children, notwithstanding the strict search Kiyomori had made.
Determined to have his will, and angry at being thwarted by a woman,
Kiyomori at last hit on a plan which he felt sure would not fail to draw
the wife of Yoshitomo from her hiding-place. He gave orders that Sekiya,
the mother of the fair Tokiwa, should be seized and brought before him.
He told her sternly that if she would reveal her daughter's hiding-place
she should be well treated, but if she refused to do as she was told she
would be tortured and put to death. When the old lady declared that she
did not know where Tokiwa was, as in truth she did not, Kiyomori thrust
her into prison and had her treated cruelly day after day.
Now the reason why Kiyomori was so set on finding Tokiwa and her sons
was that while Yoshitomo's heirs lived he and his family could know no
safety, for the strongest moral law in every Japanese heart was the old
command, "A man may not live under the same heaven with the murderer of
his father," and the Japanese warrior recked nothing of life or death,
of home or love in obeying this—as he deemed—supreme commandment.
Women too burned with the same zeal in avenging the wrongs of their
fathers and husbands.
Tokiwa Gozen, though hiding in the country, heard of what had befallen
her mother, and great was her sorrow and distress. She sat down on the
mats and moaned aloud: "It is wrong of me to let my poor innocent mother
suffer to save myself and my children, but if I give myself up, Kiyomori
will surely take my lord's sons and kill them.—What shall I do? Oh!
what shall I do?"
Poor Tokiwa! Her heart was torn between her love for her mother and her
love for her children. Her anxiety and distraction were pitiful to see.
Finally she decided that it was impossible for her to remain still and
silent under the circumstances; she could not endure the thought that
her mother was suffering persecution while she had the power of
preventing it, so holding the infant Ushiwaka in her bosom under her
kimono, she took his two elder brothers (one seven and the other five
years of age) by the hand and started for the capital.
There were no trains in those days and all travelling by ordinary people
had to be done on foot. Daimios and great and important personages
were carried in palanquins, and they only could travel in comfort and in
state. Tokiwa could not hope to meet with kindness or hospitality on the
way, for she was a Minamoto, and the Taira being all-powerful it was
death to any one to harbour a Minamoto fugitive. So the obstacles that
beset Tokiwa were great; but she was a samurai woman, and she quailed
not at duty, however hard or stern that duty was. The greater the
difficulties, the higher her courage rose to meet them. At last she set
out on her momentous and celebrated journey.
It was winter-time and snow lay on the ground, and the wind blew
piercingly cold and the roads were bad. What Tokiwa, a delicately
nurtured woman, suffered from cold and fatigue, from loneliness and
fear, from anxiety for her little children, from dread lest she should
reach the capital too late to save her old mother, who might die under
the cruel treatment to which she was being subjected, or be put to death
by Kiyomori, in his wrath, or finally lest she herself should be seized
by the Taira, and her filial plan be frustrated before she could reach
the capital—all this must have been greater than any words can tell.
Sometimes poor distressed Tokiwa sat down by the wayside to hush the
wailing babe she carried in her bosom, or to rest the two little boys,
who, tired and faint and famished, clung to her robes, crying for their
usual rice. On and on she went, soothing and consoling them as best she
could, till at last she reached Kyoto, weary, footsore, and almost
heartbroken. But though she was well-nigh overcome with physical
exhaustion, yet her purpose never flagged. She went at once to the
enemy's camp and asked to be admitted to the presence of General
When she was shown into the dread man's presence, she prostrated herself
at his feet and said that she had come to give herself up and to release
"I am Tokiwa—the widow of Yoshitomo. I have come with my three children
to beseech you to spare my mother's life and to set her free. My poor
old mother has done nothing wrong. I am guilty of hiding myself and the
little ones, yet I pray humbly for your august forgiveness."
She pleaded in such an agonizing way that Kiyomori, the Taira chieftain,
was struck with admiration for her filial piety, a virtue more highly
esteemed than any other in Japan. He felt sincerely sorry for Tokiwa in
her woe, and her beauty and her tears melted his hard heart, and he
promised her that if she would become his wife he would spare not only
her mother's life, but her three children also.
For the sake of saving her children's lives the sad-hearted woman
consented to Kiyomori's proposal. It must have been terrible to her to
wed with her lord's enemy, the very man who had caused his death; but
the thought that by so doing she saved the lives of his sons, who would
one day surely arise to avenge their father's cruel death, must have
been her consolation and her recompense for the sacrifice.
Kiyomori showed himself kinder to Tokiwa than he had ever shown himself
to any one, for he allowed her to keep the babe Ushiwaka by her side.
The two elder boys he sent to a temple to be trained as acolytes under
the tutelage of priests.
By placing them out of the world in the seclusion of priesthood,
Kiyomori felt that he would have little to fear from them when they
attained manhood. How terribly and bitterly he was mistaken we learn
from history, for two of Yoshitomo's sons, banished though they had been
for years and years, arose like a rushing, mighty whirlwind from the
obscurity of the monastery to avenge their father, and they wiped the
Taira from off the face of the earth.
Time passed by, and when the little babe Ushiwaka at last reached the
age of seven, Kiyomori likewise took him from his mother and sent him to
the priests. The sorrow of Tokiwa, bereft of the last child of her
beloved lord Yoshitomo, can better be imagined than described. But in
her golden captivity even Kiyomori had not been able to deprive her of
one iota of the incomparable power of motherhood, that of influencing
the life of her child to the end of his days. As the little fellow had
lain in her arms night and day, as she crooned him to sleep and taught
him to walk, she forever whispered the name of Minamoto Yoshitomo in his
At last one day her patience was rewarded and Ushiwaka lisped his
father's name correctly. Then Tokiwa clasped him proudly to her breast,
and wept tears of thankfulness and joy and of sorrowing remembrance, for
she could never even for a day banish Yoshitomo from her mind. As
Ushiwaka grew older and could understand better what she said, Tokiwa
would daily whisper, "Remember thy father, Minamoto Yoshitomo! Grow
strong and avenge his death, for he died at the hands of the Taira!" And
day by day she told him stories of his great and good father—of his
martial prowess in battle, and of his great strength and wonderful
wielding of the sword, and she bade her little son remember and be like
his father. And the mother's words and tears, sown in long years of
patience and bitter endurance, bore fruit beyond all she had ever hoped
So Ushiwaka was taken from his mother at the age of seven, and was sent
to the Tokobo Monastery, at Kuramayama, to be trained as a monk.
Even at that early age he showed great intelligence, read the Sacred
Books with avidity, and surprised the priests by his diligence and
quickness of memory. He was naturally a very high-spirited youth, and
could brook no control and hated to yield to others in anything
whatsoever. As the years passed by and he grew older, he came to hear
from his teachers and school friends of how his father Yoshitomo and his
clan the Minamoto had been overthrown by the Taira, and this filled him
with such intense sorrow and bitterness that sleeping or waking he could
never banish the subject from his mind. As he listened daily to these
things the words of his mother, which she had whispered in his ear as a
child, now came throbbing back to his mind, and he understood their full
meaning for the first time. In the lonely nights he felt again her hot
tears falling on his face, and heard her repeat as clearly as a bell in
the silence of the darkness: "Remember thy father, Minamoto Yoshitomo!
Avenge his death, for he died at the hands of the Taira!"
At last one night the lad dreamed that his mother, beautiful and sad as
he remembered her in the days of his childhood, came to his bedside and
said to him, while the tears streamed down her face: "Avenge thy father,
Yoshitomo! Unless thou remember my last words, I cannot rest in my
grave. I am dying, Ushiwaka, remember!"
And Ushiwaka awoke as he cried aloud in his agony: "I will! Honourable
mother, I will!" From that night his heart burned within him and the
fire and love of clan-race stirred his soul. Continual brooding over the
wrongs of his clan generated in his heart a fierce desire for revenge,
and he finally resolved to abandon the priesthood, become a great
general like his father, and punish the Taira. And as his ambition was
fired and exalted and his mind thrilled back to the days when his poor
unhappy mother Tokiwa prayed and wept over him, daily whispering in his
ear the name of his father, his will grew to purpose strong. Tokiwa had
not suffered in vain. From this time on, Ushiwaka bided his time every
night till all in the temple were fast asleep. When he heard the priests
snoring, and knew himself safe from observation, he would steal out from
the temple, and, making his way down the hillside into the valley, he
would draw his wooden sword and practise fencing by himself, and,
striking the trees and the stones imagine that they were his Taira foes.
As he worked in this way night after night, he felt his muscles grow
strong, and this practice taught him how to wield his sword with skill.
One night as usual Ushiwaka had gone out to the valley and was
diligently brandishing about his wooden sword. His mind fully bent upon
his self-taught lesson, he was marching up and down, chanting snatches
of war-songs and striking the trees and the rocks, when suddenly a great
cloud spread over the heavens, the rain fell, the thunder roared, and
the lightning flashed, and a great noise went through the valley, as if
all the trees were being torn up by the roots and their trunks were
While Ushiwaka wondered what this could mean, a great giant over ten
feet in height stood before him. He had large round glaring eyes that
glinted like metal mirrors; his nose was bright red, and it must have
been about a foot long; his hands were like the claws of a bird, and to
each there were only two fingers. The feathers of long wings at each
side peeped from under the creature's robes, and he looked like a
gigantic goblin. Fearful indeed was this apparition. But Ushiwaka was a
brave and spirited youth and the son of a soldier, and he was not to be
daunted by anything. Without moving a muscle of his face he gripped his
sword more tightly and simply asked: "Who are you, sirrah?"
The goblin laughed aloud and said: "I am the King of the Tengu, the
elves of the mountains, and I have made this valley my home for many a
long year. I have admired your perseverance in coming to this place
night after night for the purpose of practising fencing all by
yourself, and I have come to meet you, with the intention of teaching
you all I know of the art of the sword."
Ushiwaka was delighted when he heard this, for the Tengu have
supernatural powers, and fortunate indeed are those whom they favour. He
thanked the giant elf and expressed his readiness to begin at once. He
then whirled up his sword and began to attack the Tengu, but the elf
shifted his position with the quickness of lightning, and taking from
his belt a fan made of seven feathers parried the showering blows right
and left so cleverly that the young knight's interest became thoroughly
aroused. Every night he came out for the lesson. He never missed once,
summer or winter, and in this way he learned all the secrets of the art
which the Tengu could teach him.
The Tengu was a great master and Ushiwaka an apt pupil. He became so
proficient in fencing that he could overcome ten or twenty small Tengu
in the twinkling of an eye, and he acquired extraordinary skill and
dexterity in the use of the sword; and the Tengu also imparted to him
the wonderful adroitness and agility which made him so famous in
Now Ushiwaka was about fifteen years old, a comely youth, and tall for
his age. At this time there lived on Mount Hiei, just outside the
capital, a wild bonze named Musashi Bo Benkei, who was such a lawless
and turbulent fellow that he had become notorious for his deeds of
violence. The city rang with the stories of his misdeeds, and so well
known had he become that people could not hear his name without fear and
COULD OVERCOME TEN OR TWENTY SMALL TENGU IN THE TWINKLING
OF AN EYE
Benkei suddenly made up his mind that it would be good sport to steal a
thousand swords from various knights.
No sooner did the wild idea enter his head than he began to put it into
practice. Every night he sauntered forth to the Gojo Bridge of Kyoto,
and when a knight or any man carrying a sword passed by, Benkei would
snatch the weapon from his girdle. If the owners yielded up their blades
quietly, Benkei allowed them to pass unhurt, but if not, he would strike
them dead with a single blow of the huge halberd he carried. So great
was Benkei's strength that he always overcame his victim,—resistance
was useless,—and night by night one and sometimes two men met death at
his hands on the Gojo Bridge. In this way Benkei gained such a terrible
reputation that everybody far and near feared to meet him, and after
dark no one dared to pass near the bridge he was known to haunt, so
fearful were the tales told of the dreaded robber of swords.
At last this story reached the ears of Ushiwaka, and he said to himself:
"What an interesting man this must be! If it is true that he is a bonze,
he must be a strange one indeed; but as he only robs people of their
swords, he cannot be a common highwayman. If I could make such a strong
man a retainer of mine, he would be of great assistance to me when I
punish my enemies, the Taira clan. Good! To-night I will go to the Gojo
Bridge and try the mettle of this Benkei!"
Ushiwaka, being a youth of great courage, had no sooner made up his mind
to meet Benkei than he proceeded to put his plan into execution. He
started out that same evening. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and
taking with him his favourite flute he strolled forth through the
streets of the sleeping city till he came to the Gojo Bridge. Then from
the opposite direction came a tall figure which appeared to touch the
clouds, so gigantic was its stature. The stranger was clad in a suit of
coal-black armour and carried an immense halberd.
"This must be the sword-robber! He is indeed strong!" said Ushiwaka to
himself, but he was not in the least daunted, and went on playing his
flute quite calmly.
Presently the armed giant halted and gazed at Ushiwaka, but evidently
thought him a mere youth, and decided to let him go unmolested, for he
was about to pass him by without lifting a hand. This indifference on
the part of Benkei not only disappointed but angered Ushiwaka. Having
waited in vain for the stranger to offer violence, our hero approached
Benkei, and, with the intention of picking a quarrel, suddenly kicked
the latter's halberd out of his hand.
Benkei, who had first thought to spare Ushiwaka on account of his youth,
became very angry when he found himself insulted by a lad to whom he had
been intentionally kind. In a fury he exclaimed, "Miserable stripling!"
and raising his halberd struck sideways at Ushiwaka, thinking to slice
him in two at the waist and to see his body fall asunder. But the young
knight nimbly avoided the blow which would have killed him, and
springing back a few paces he flung his fan at Benkei's head and
uttered a loud cry of defiance. The fan struck Benkei on the forehead
right between the eyes, making him mad with pain. In a transport of rage
Benkei aimed a fearful blow at Ushiwaka, as if he were splitting a log
of wood with an axe. This time Ushiwaka sprang up to the parapet of the
bridge, clapped his hands, and laughed in derision, saying:
"Here I am! Don't you see? Here I am!" and Benkei was again thwarted
Benkei, who had never known his strokes miss before, had now failed
twice in catching this nimble opponent. Frantic with chagrin and baffled
rage, he now rushed furiously to the attack, whirling his great halberd
round in all directions till it looked like a water-wheel in motion,
striking wildly and blindly at Ushiwaka. But the young knight had been
taught tricks innumerable by the giant Tengu of Kuramayama, and he had
profited so well by his lessons that the King Tengu had at last said
that even he could teach him nothing more, and now, as it may well be
imagined, he was too quick for the heavy Benkei. When Benkei struck in
front, Ushiwaka was behind, and when Benkei aimed a blow behind,
Ushiwaka darted in front. Nimble as a monkey and swift as a swallow,
Ushiwaka avoided all the blows aimed at him, and, finding himself
outmatched, even the redoubtable Benkei grew tired.
Ushiwaka saw that Benkei was played out. He kept up the game a little
longer and then changed his tactics. Seizing his opportunity, he knocked
Benkei's halberd out of his hand. When the giant stooped to pick his
weapon up, Ushiwaka ran behind him and with a quick movement tripped him
up. There lay the big man on all fours, while Ushiwaka nimbly strode
across his back and pressing him down asked him how he liked this kind
All this time Benkei had wondered at the courage of the youth in
attacking and challenging a man so much larger than himself, but now he
was filled with amazement at Ushiwaka's wonderful strength and
"I am indeed astonished at what you have done," said Benkei. "Who in the
world can you be? I have fought with many men on this bridge, but you
are the first of my antagonists who has displayed such strength. Are you
a god or a tengu? You certainly cannot be an ordinary human being!"
Ushiwaka laughed and said: "Are you afraid for the first time, then?"
"I am," answered Benkei.
"Will you from henceforth be my retainer?" demanded Ushiwaka.
"I will in very truth be your retainer, but may I know who you are?"
asked Benkei meekly.
Ushiwaka now felt sure that Benkei was in earnest. He therefore allowed
him to get up from the ground, and then said: "I have nothing to hide
from you. I am the youngest son of Minamoto Yoshitomo and my name is
Benkei started with surprise when he heard these words and said: "What
is this I hear? Are you in truth a son of the Lord Yoshitomo of the
Minamoto clan? That is the reason I felt from the first moment of our
encounter that your deeds were not those of a common person. No wonder
that I thought this! I am only too happy to become the retainer of such
a distinguished and spirited young knight. I will follow you as my lord
and master from this very moment, if you will allow me. I can wish for
no greater honour."
So there and then, on the Gojo Bridge in the silver moonlight, the bonze
Benkei vowed to be the true and faithful vassal of the young knight
Ushiwaka and to serve him loyally till death, and thus was the compact
between lord and vassal made. From that time on, Benkei gave up his wild
and lawless ways and devoted his life to the service of Ushiwaka, who
was highly pleased at having won such a strong liegeman to his side.
Although Ushiwaka had now secured Benkei, it was impossible for only two
men, however strong, to think of fighting the Taira clan, so they both
decided that the cherished plan must wait till the Minamoto were
stronger. While thus waiting they heard a report to the effect that a
descendant of Tawara Toda Hidesato named Hidehira was now a famous
general in Kaiwai of the Ashu Province, and that he was so powerful that
no one dared oppose him. Hearing this, Ushiwaka thought that it would be
a good plan to pay the general a visit and try to interest him, if
possible, in the fortunes of the House of Minamoto. He consulted with
Benkei, who encouraged the young knight in his scheme of enlisting the
General Hidehira as a partisan, and the two therefore left Kyoto
secretly and journeyed as quickly as possible to Oshu on this errand.
On the way there, Ushiwaka and Benkei came to the Temple of Atsuta, and
as they considered it important that the young knight should look older
now, Ushiwaka performed the ceremony of Gembuku at the shrine. This was
a rite performed in olden times when youths reached the age of manhood,
They then had to shave off the front part of their hair and to change
their names as a sign that they had left childhood behind. Ushiwaka now
took the name of Yoshitsune. As he was the eighth son, it would have
been more correct for him to have assumed the name of Hachiro, but as
his uncle Tametomo the Archer, of whom you have already read, was named
Hachiro, he purposely did not take this name. From this time forth our
hero is known as Yoshitsune, and this name he has glorified forever by
his wonderful bravery and many heroic exploits. In Japanese history he
is the knight without fear and without reproach, the darling of the
people, to them almost an incarnation of Hachiman, the popular God of
War. And as for Benkei, never can you find in all history a vassal who
was more true or loyal to his master than Benkei. He was Yoshitsune's
right hand in everything, and his strength and wisdom carried them
successfully through many a dire emergency.
From Kyoto to Oshu is a long journey of about three hundred miles, but
at length Yoshitsune (as we must now call him) and Benkei reached their
destination and craved the General Hidehira's assistance. They found
that Hidehira was a warm adherent of the Minamoto cause, and under the
late Lord Yoshitomo he and his family had enjoyed great favour. When the
general learned, therefore, that Yoshitsune was the son of the
illustrious Minamoto chief, his joy knew no bounds, and he made
Yoshitsune and Benkei heartily welcome and treated them both as guests
of honour and importance.
Just at this time Yoshitsune's eldest brother, Yoritomo, who had been
banished to an island in Idzu, collected a great army and raised his
standard against the Taira. When the news about Yoritomo reached
Yoshitsune, he rejoiced, for he felt that the hour had at last come when
the Minamoto would be revenged on the Taira for all the wrongs they had
suffered at the hands of the latter.
With the help of Hidehira and the faithful Benkei, he collected a small
army of warriors and at once marched over to his brother's camp in Idzu.
He sent a messenger ahead to inform Yoritomo that his youngest brother,
now named Yoshitsune, was coming to aid him in his fight against the
Yoritomo was exceedingly glad at this unexpected good news, for all that
helped to swell his forces now brought nearer the day when he would be
able to strike his long-planned blow at the power of the hated Taira.
As soon as Yoshitsune reached Idzu, Yoritomo arranged for an immediate
meeting. Although the two men were brothers, it must be remembered that
their father had been killed, and the family utterly scattered, when
they were mere children, Yoshitsune being at that time but an infant in
his mother's arms. As this was therefore the first time they had met
Yoritomo knew nothing of his young brother's character.
One of Yoshitsune's elder brothers had come with him, and Yoritomo being
a shrewd general wished to test them both to see of what mettle they
were made. He ordered his retainers to bring a brass basin full of
boiling water. When it was brought, Yoritomo ordered Noriyori, the elder
of the two, to carry it to him first. Now brass being a good conductor
of heat, the basin was very hot and Noriyori stupidly let it fall.
Yoritomo ordered it to be filled again and bade Yoshitsune bring it to
him. Without moving a muscle of his handsome face Yoshitsune took hold
of the almost unbearably hot vessel and carried it with due ceremony
slowly across the room. This exhibition of nerve and endurance filled
Yoritomo with admiration and he was favourably struck with Yoshitsune's
character. As for Noriyori, who had been unable to hold a hot basin for
a few moments, he had no use for him at all, except as a common soldier.
Yoritomo begged Yoshitsune to become his right-hand man and zealously
to espouse his cause. Yoshitsune declared that this had been his
lifelong ambition ever since he could remember,—as they both were sons
of the same father, so was their cause and destiny one. Yoritomo made
Yoshitsune a general of part of his army and ordered him in the name of
his father Yoshitomo to chastise the Taira.
Delighted beyond all words at the wonderfully auspicious turn events
were taking, Yoshitsune hastened his preparations for the march. The
longed-for hour had come to which through his whole childhood and youth
he had looked forward, and for which his whole being had thirsted for
many years. He could now fulfil the last words of his unhappy mother,
and punish the Taira for all the evil they had wrought against the
Minamoto. All the wild restlessness of his youth, which had driven him
forth to wield his wooden sword against the rocks in the Kuramayama
Valley and to try his strength against Benkei on the Gojo Bridge, now
found vent in action most dear to a born warrior's heart. With several
thousands of troops under him, Yoshitsune marched up to Kyoto and waged
war against the Taira, and defeated them in a series of brilliant
The stricken Taira multitudes fled before the avenger like autumn leaves
before the blast, and Yoshitsune pursued them to the sea. At Dan-no-Ura
the Taira made a last stand, but all in vain. Their lion leader,
Kiyomori, was dead, and there was no great chieftain to rally them in
the disordered retreat that now ensued. Yoshitsune came sweeping down
upon them, and they and their fleet and their infant Emperor likewise,
with their women and children, sank beneath the waves. Only a scattered
few lived to tell the tale of the terrible destruction that overtook
them on the sea.
Thus did Yoshitsune become a great warrior and general. Thus did he
fulfil the ambitions of his youth and avenge his father Yoshitomo's
death. He was without a rival in the whole country for his marvellous
bravery and successive victories. He was adored by the people as their
most popular hero and darling, and throughout the length and breadth of
the land his praise was sung by every one.
Even to this day there is no one in Japan who has not heard the name of
Yoshitsune. The next story, "The Story of Benkei," will tell you more of
Yoshitsune, for the two lives are linked together in the fame and glory
of noble deeds done, of dangers passed, of troubles and reverses borne,
and of honours earned and joy and victory shared together—to be told
and remembered forever.
The Story of Benkei