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Kintaro the golden boy.
Start of Story
"This is no ordinary child. Whose son can he be? I will find out before
this day is done."
He hastened after the strange party and crossed the bridge behind them.
Kintaro knew nothing of all this, and little guessed that he was being
followed. On reaching the other side of the river he and the animals
separated, they to their lairs in the woods and he to his mother, who
was waiting for him.
As soon as he entered the cottage, which stood like a matchbox in the
heart of the pine-woods, he went to greet his mother, saying:
"Okkasan (mother), here I am!"
"O, Kimbo!" said his mother with a bright smile, glad to see her boy
home safe after the long day. "How late you are to-day. I feared that
something had happened to you. Where have you been all the time?"
"I took my four friends, the bear, the deer, the monkey, and the hare,
up into the hills, and there I made them try a wrestling match, to see
which was the strongest. We all enjoyed the sport, and are going to the
same place to-morrow to have another match."
"Now tell me who is the strongest of all?" asked his mother, pretending
not to know.
"Oh, mother," said Kintaro, "don't you know that I am the strongest?
There was no need for me to wrestle with any of them."
"But next to you then, who is the strongest?"
"The bear comes next to me in strength," answered Kintaro.
"And after the bear?" asked his mother again.
"Next to the bear it is not easy to say which is the strongest, for the
deer, the monkey, and the hare all seem to be as strong as each other,"
Suddenly Kintaro and his mother were startled by a voice from outside.
"Listen to me, little boy! Next time you go, take this old man with you
to the wrestling match. He would like to join the sport too!"
It was the old woodcutter who had followed Kintaro from the river. He
slipped off his clogs and entered the cottage. Yama-uba and her son
were both taken by surprise. They looked at the intruder wonderingly
and saw that he was some one they had never seen before.
"Who are you?" they both exclaimed.
Then the woodcutter laughed and said:
"It does not matter who I am yet, but let us see who has the strongest
arm--this boy or myself?"
Then Kintaro, who had lived all his life in the forest, answered the
old man without any ceremony, saying:
"We will have a try if you wish it, but you must not be angry whoever
Then Kintaro and the woodcutter both put out their right arms and
grasped each other's hands. For a long time Kintaro and the old man
wrestled together in this way, each trying to bend the other's arm, but
the old man was very strong, and the strange pair were evenly matched.
At last the old man desisted, declaring it a drawn game.
"You are, indeed, a very strong child. There are few men who can boast
of the strength of my right arm!" said the woodcutter. "I saw you first
on the hanks of the river a few hours ago, when you pulled up that
large tree to make a bridge across the torrent. Hardly able to believe
what I saw I followed you home. Your strength of arm, which I have just
tried, proves what I saw this afternoon. When you are full-grown you
will surely be the strongest man in all Japan. It is a pity that you
are hidden away in these wild mountains."
Then he turned to Kintaro's mother:
"And you, mother, have you no thought of taking your child to the
Capital, and of teaching him to carry a sword as befits a samurai (a
"You are very kind to take so much interest in my son." replied the
mother; "but he is as you see, wild and uneducated, and I fear it would
be very difficult to do as you say. Because of his great strength as an
infant I hid him away in this unknown part of the country, for he hurt
every one that came near him. I have often wished that I could, one
day, see my boy a knight wearing two swords, but as we have no
influential friend to introduce us at the Capital, I fear my hope will
never come true."
"You need not trouble yourself about that. To tell you the truth I am
no woodcutter! I am one of the great generals of Japan. My name is
Sadamitsu, and I am a vassal of the powerful Lord Minamoto-no-Raiko. He
ordered me to go round the country and look for boys who give promise
of remarkable strength, so that they may be trained as soldiers for his
army. I thought that I could best do this by assuming the disguise of a
woodcutter. By good fortune, I have thus unexpectedly come across your
son. Now if you really wish him to be a SAMURAI (a knight), I will take
him and present him to the Lord Raiko as a candidate for his service.
What do you say to this?"