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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
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 drunk.
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 Yamato."
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, saying:
"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
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.