KICHIJI and HIS BROTHER KICHIROKU Gold-merchants.
We as travellers dressed--
Our weary feet upon the Eastern road
For many days must speed.
I am Sanjō no Kichiji. I have now amassed a great store of treasure and with my brother Kichiroku am going to take it down to the East. Ho! Kichiroku, let us get together our bundles and start now.
I am ready. Let us start at once.
Hie, you travellers! If you are going up-country, please take me with you.
That is a small thing to ask. Certainly we would take you with us .... but by the look of you, I fancy you must be an apprentice playing truant from your master. If that is so, I cannot take you.
I have neither father nor mother, and my master has turned me adrift. Please let me go with you.
If that is so, I cannot any longer refuse to take you with me. (Describing his own action.)
Then he offered the boy a broad-brimmed hat.
And Ushiwaka eagerly grasped it.
To-day, he said, begins our troublous journey's toil.
CHORUS (describing the journey and speaking for USHIWAKA).
Past the creek of Awata, to Matsusaka,
To the shore of Shinomiya I travel.
Down the road to the barrier of Osaka walking behind pack-ponies,
How long shall I serve in sadness these hucksters of gold?
Here where once the blind harper 1 lay sorrowing
On a cottage-bed, far away from the City,
Thinking perhaps some such thoughts as I do now.
We have passed the plain of Awazu. Over the long bridge of Seta
The hoofs of our ponies clank.
We cross the hill of Moru, where the evening dew
Lies thick on country paths and, caught in the slanting light,
Gleams on the under-leaves till suddenly night
Comes on us and in darkness we approach
The Mirror Inn.
We have travelled so fast that we have already reached the Mirror Inn. Let us rest here for a little while.
I am a servant in the Palace of Rokuhara. I have been sent to fetch back young Ushiwaka, Lord Yoshitomo's son, who has escaped from the Temple of Kurama. It is thought that he has taken service with the merchant Kichiji and has gone up-country with him; so they sent me to bring him back. Why, I believe that is he! But perhaps he is not alone. I cannot be sure. I had better go home and fetch help, for if I were one against many, how could I hope to take him?
I think it is about me that this messenger is speaking. I must not
YOUNG MAN'S MASK
let him know me. I will cut my hair and wear an eboshi, 1 so that people may think I am an Eastern boy.
(He goes to the curtain which separates the green-room from the entrance-passage. This represents for the moment the front of the hatmaker's shop.)
May I come in? (The curtain is raised.)
Who is it?
I have come to order an eboshi.
An eboshi at this time of night? I will make you one to-morrow, if you like.
Please make it now. I am travelling in a hurry and cannot wait.
Very well then; I will make it now. What size do you take?
Please give me an eboshi of the third size, folded to the left.
I am afraid I cannot do that. They were worn folded to the left in the time of the Minamotos. But now that the Tairas rule the whole land it would not be possible to wear one folded so.
In spite of that I beg of you to make me one. There is a good reason for my asking.
Well, as you are so young there cannot be much harm in your wearing it. I will make you one.
(He begins to make the hat.)
There is a fine story about these left-folded eboshi and the luck they bring. Shall I tell it you?
Yes, pray tell me the story.
My grandfather lived at Karasu-maru in the Third Ward.
It was the time when Hachimantarō Yoshi-iye, having routed 1 the brothers Sadatō and Munetō,
Came home in triumph to the Capital.
And when he was summoned to the Emperor's Palace, he went first to my grandfather and ordered from him
A left-folded eboshi for the Audience. And when he was come before the Throne
The Emperor welcomed him gladly
And as a token of great favour made him lord
Of the lands of Outer Mutsu.
Even such an eboshi it is that I am making now,
A garment of good omen.
Wear it and when into the world
When into the world you go, who knows but that Fate's turn
May not at last bring you to lordship of lands,
Of Dewa or the country of Michi.
And on that day remember,
Oh deign to remember, him that now with words of good omen
Folds for you this eboshi.
On that day forget not the gift you owe!
These things were, but shall not be again.
The time of the left-folded eboshi was long ago:
When the houses of Gen and Hei 2 were in their pride,
like the plum-tree and cherry-tree among flowers,
Like Spring and Autumn among the four seasons.
Then, as snow that would outsparkle the moonlight,
Gen strove with Hei; and after the years of Hōgen, 3 p. 73
The house of Hei prevailed and the whole land was theirs.
So is it now.
But retribution shall come; time shall bring
Its changes to the world and like the cherry-blossom
This eboshi that knows its season
Shall bloom again. Wait patiently for that time!
And while they prayed
Lo! The cutting of the eboshi was done.
Then he decked it brightly with ribbons of three colours,
Tied the strings to it and finished it handsomely.
"Pray deign to wear it," he cried, and set it on the boy's head.
Then, stepping back to look,
"Oh admirable skill! Not even the captain of a mighty host
Need scorn to wear this hat!"
There is not an eboshi in the land that fits so well.
You are right; please take this sword in payment for it.
No, no! I could not take it in return for such a trifle.
I beg you to accept it.
Well, I cannot any longer refuse. How glad my wife will be! (Calling.) Are you there?
What is it? (They go aside.)
This young lad asked me to make him an eboshi, and when it was made he gave me this sword as a present. Is it not a noble payment? p. 74 Here, look at it. (The wife takes the sword and when she has examined it bursts into tears.) Why, I thought you would treasure it like a gift matter? from Heaven. And here you are shedding tears over it! What is the matter?
Oh! I am ashamed. When I try to speak, tears come first and choke the words. I am going to tell you something I have never told you before. I am the sister of Kamada Masakiyo who fell at the Battle of Utsumi in the country of Noma. At the time when Tokiwa bore Ushiwaka, her third son, the lord her husband sent her this weapon as a charm-sword, and I was the messenger whom he charged to carry it. Oh were he in the world again; 1 then would our eyes no longer behold such misery. Oh sorrow, sorrow!
You say that you are the sister of Kamada Masakiyo?
How strange, how strange! I have lived with you all these years and months, and never knew till now. But are you sure that you recognize this weapon?
Yes; this was the sword they called Konnentō.
Ah! I have heard that name. Then this must be the young Lord Ushiwaka from Kurama Temple. Come with me. We must go after him and give him back the sword at once. Why, he is still there! (To USHIWAKA.) Sir, this woman tells me she knows the sword; I beg of you to take it back.
Oh! strange adventure; to meet so far from home
With humble folk that show me kindness!
HATMAKER and WIFE.
My Lord, forgive us! We did not know you; but now we see in you Lord Ushiwaka, the nursling of Kurama Temple.
I am no other. (To the WIFE.) And you, perhaps, are some kinswoman of Masakiyo? 1
You have guessed wisely, sir; I am the Kamada's sister.
Truly I have reason to know. . . . And I
Am Ushiwaka, fallen on profitless days.
Of whom no longer you may speak
As master, but as one sunk in strange servitude.
Dawn is in the east; the pale moon fades from the sky, as he sets forth from the Mirror Inn.
HATMAKER and WIFE.
Oh! it breaks my heart to see him! A boy of noble name walking barefoot with merchants, and nothing on his journey but cloth of Shikama to clothe him. Oh! piteous sight!
Change rules the world for ever, and Man but for a little while. What are fine clothes to me, what life itself while foemen flaunt?
As a journey-present to speed you on the Eastern road . . .
So he spoke and pressed the sword into the young lord's hands. And the boy could not any longer refuse, but taking it said, "If ever I come into the World 1 again, I will not forget." And so saying he turned and went on his way m company with the merchants his masters. On they went till at last, weary with travel, they came to the Inn of Akasaka in the country of Mino.
KICHIJI (the merchant).
We have come so fast that here we are at the Inn of Akasaka.
(To his BROTHER.)
Listen, Kichiroku, you had better take lodging for us here.
I obey. (Goes towards the hashigakari or actors' entrance-passage.)
May I come in?
Who are you? Ah! it is Master Kichiroku. I am glad to see you back again so soon.
Be on your guard, gentleman. For a desperate gang has got wind of your coming and has sworn to set upon you to-night.
What are we to do?
I cannot tell.
USHIWAKA (comes forward).
What are you speaking of?
We have heard that robbers may be coming to-night. We were wondering what we should do. . . .
Let them come in what force they will; yet if one stout soldier go p. 77 to meet them, they will not stand their ground, though they be fifty mounted men.
These are trusty words that you have spoken to us. One and all we look to you. . . .
Then arm yourselves and wait. I will go out to meet them.
And while he spoke, evening passed to darkness. "Now is the time," he cried, "to show the world those arts of war that for many months and years upon the Mountain of Kurama I have rehearsed."
Then he opened the double-doors and waited there for the slow incoming of the white waves. 1
Loud the noise of assault. The lashing of white waves against the rocks, even such is the din of our battle-cry.
Ho, my man! Who is there?
I stand before you.
How fared those skirmishers I sent to make a sudden breach? Blew the wind briskly within?
Briskly indeed; for some are slain and many grievously wounded.
How can that be? I thought that none were within but the merchants, Kichiji and his brother. Who else is there?
By the light of a rocket 1 I saw a lad of twelve or thirteen years slashing about him with a short-sword; and he was nimble as a butterfly or bird.
And the brothers Surihari?
Stood foster-fathers 1 to the fire-throwers and were the first to enter.
But soon there meets them this child I tell of and with a blow at each whisks off their heads from their necks.
Ei! Ei! Those two, and the horsemen that were near a hundred strong,--all smitten! The fellow has bewitched them!
When Takase saw this, thinking perhaps no good would come of this night-attack, he took some seventy horsemen and galloped away with them.
Ha! It is not the first time that lout has played me false.
How fared the torch-diviners? 1
The first torch was slashed in pieces; the second was trampled on till it went out; the third they caught and threw back at us, but it too went out, There are none left.
Then is all lost. For of these torch-diviners they sing that the first torch is the soul of an army, the second torch is the wheel of Fate, and the third torch--Life itself. All three are out, and there is no hope left for this night's brigandage.
It is as you say. Though we were gods, we could not redeem our plight. Deign to give the word of retreat.
Why, even brigands must be spared from slaughter. Come, withdraw my men--
Stay! shall Kumasaka Chōhan be worsted in to-night's affray? Never! Where could he then hide his shame? Come, robbers, to the attack!
So with mighty voice he called them to him, and they, raising their war-cry, leapt to the assault.
(Speaking for USHIWAKA.)
"Hoho! What a to-do! Himself has come, undaunted by the fate of those he sent before him. Now, Hachiman, 1 look clown upon me, for no other help is here." So he prayed, and stood waiting at the gap.
(Speaking for KUMASAKA.)
"Sixty-three years has Kumasaka lived, and to-day shall make his last night-assault." 2 So he spoke and kicking off his iron-shoes in a twinkling he levelled his great battle-sword that measured five foot three, and as he leapt forward like a great bird pouncing on his prey, no god or demon had dared encounter him.
(Speaking for USHIWAKA.)
"Ha, bandit! Be not so confident! These slinking night-assaults displease me"; and leaving him no leisure, the boy dashed in to the attack. Then, Kumasaka, deeply versed in use of the battle-sword, lunged with his left foot and in succession he executed The Ten-Side Cut, The Eight-Side Sweep, The Body Wheel, The Hanyū Turn, The Wind Roll, The Blade Drop, The Gnashing Lion, The Maple-Leaf Double, The Flower Double.
Now fire dances at the sword-points;
Now the sword-backs clash.
At last even the great battle-sword has spent its art. Parried by the little belt-sword of Zōshi, 1 it has become no more than a guard-sword.
(Speaking for KUMASAKA.)
"This sword-play brings me no advantage; I will close with him and try my strength!"
Then he threw down his battle-sword and spreading out his great hands rushed wildly forward. But Ushiwaka dodged him, and as he passed mowed round at his legs.
The robber fell with a crash, and as he struggled to rise
The belt-sword of Ushiwaka smote him clean through the waist.
And Kumasaka that had been one man
Lay cloven in twain.
71:1 A tall, nodding hat.
72:1 1064 A. D.
72:2 I.e. Minamoto and Taira.
72:3 1156-1159 A.D.
75:1 Ushiwaka had not heard this conversation between the hatmaker and his wife, which takes place as an "aside."
76:1 I.e. into power.
77:1 I.e. robbers. A band of brigands who troubled China in 184 A. D. were known as the White Waves, and the phrase was later applied to robbers in general.
78:1 Torches were thrown among the enemy to discover their number and defences.
79:1 God of War and clan-god of the Minamotos.
79:2 He feels that he is too old for the work.
80:1 I.e. Ushiwaka.