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Prince Yamato.Part 3
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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
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
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 greatest need.
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 fire.
"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 Yamato Take.