to Ono during a hunting trip, and there trapped a
badger. Mr. Honda trusted Taro to open the trap,
telling him to dispatch the brute without club or
sword. Though the badger kicked, scratched, and
bit, twisting itself around in a terrible manner, our
boy held on, not afraid of tooth or claw, until he
settled the animal's fate with only his hands and
foot. Mr. Honda himself told me of it. I think
killing a live badger equal to holding a jug of hot
water. There now ! " said Mrs. Rai.
Taro blushed, for he himself had as yet told no
one of it; and Mr. Rai, with a pleased face, con-
"So Yoshitsune" was put in command and marched
THE RED AND WHITE BANNERS. 123
to Kyoto, and thence southward to the castle into
which the He'ike' had taken refuge. The weakest
part of the castle was backed by a high mountain,
having such precipitous sides that it was thought
impossible for any human beings or horses to de-
scend it. Only the wild boar and deer made it
their path. On all the other sides, except one
narrow approach, was the sea. So the He'ike
fancied themselves secure.
" Yoshitsune*, with his hundred picked horsemen,
went around and ascended to the top of the hill
overlooking the steep precipice. Then he set a
horse loose and drove it down into the dense woods.
For a few minutes nothing was seen or heard but
the crashing of sticks and the scraping of tree-
branches, and then the horse was seen trotting
unharmed on the level ground below.
" Then, turning to his men, Yoshitsune' said,
' Follow me ; ' and clapping his stirrups and whipping
his horse he dashed forward and down the face of
the cliff. Forward then followed the whole band,
and, after breathless plunges and some hard brush-
ing against boughs and tumbling over stones and
underbrush, the whole band with white pennons
streaming stood in battle array before the weak wall
of the castle to the terror of the He'ike' garrison.
" Victory and the red flag and many prisoners re-
mained under the white banner. The palaces of
the He'ike' were one after another set on fire. The
He'ike' were driven to the end of the main island
and took to their ships. The Genji prepared a fleet
124 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
of seven hundred war-junks to pursue them and
fight on the water. On the front of their great
square sails were painted in figures, many feet wide,
the crest of each captain and clan in the Genji fol-
lowing such as the three dragon scales, the fire-
tailed tortoise, the five-clawed dragon, the crossed
hawk - feathers, the gentian flowers and bamboo
leaves, and many others. All these were joined
against the butterfly crest and the red banner.
"A storm having arisen, both fleets waited for
calm weather before fighting. In the He"ik6 host
were many nobles, ladies, and children who had fled
with their brothers, husbands, and fathers from the
comfortable palaces of Kyoto, and were now huddled
together in the ships. Yet their spirit was un-
broken, for had they not with them the young
Mikado, Antoku, who, though a boy only seven
years, was the Son of Heaven ? And did they not
have as their talisman the crimson fan on which
dwelt the spirit of the Emperor Takakura, who was
now one of the gods ?
"Their hope and talisman was this fan. Several
years before, Takakura, the eighty-first Mikado of
the heavenly line, had visited one of the holy
shrines in the empire and there solemnly dedicated
to the heavenly gods thirty crimson fans, on each
of which was emblazoned the circle of the sun,
the emblem of the goddess of the Holy Empire.
When the He"ik6 forces, carrying with them An-
toku, successor of the Emperor Takakura, fled de-
feated from Kyoto, they visited this sacred shrine
THE RED AND WHITE ILIXXEBS. 125
to worship and implore the help of the gods. The
priest in charge gave one of these fans to the
young emperor, saying, ' Bear this fan into battle
as thy shield and defense. The sun hereon is the
spirit of the late emperor. If your enemies shoot
at it, their arrows will recoil and strike their own
"The Hdike", therefore, confident in the powers
of the sacred talisman, had kept up heart and hope.
Now on the eve of the battle they resolved to try
the virtue of the fan to draw from it the omen of
success or defeat, and thus learn the will of the
" One morning, just as the sun was rising and the
Geriji advance posts were being ranged along the
strand, the imperial barge of the He'ike' moved out
over the waters towards the Genji camp. A small
boat put off from the barge, in which stood a beau-
tiful lady arrayed in crimson court robes. Yoshit-
sune" watched her with intense eagerness, not know-
ing what her movements might mean. The scullers
bent to their sculls, and the prow was kept shore-
ward, until within fifty yards of the beach, when all
stood up. A turn of the stern scull put the boat
broadside to the beach. There it lay quietly rock-
ing on. the tiny waves.
"At this moment a man in the boat raised a long
bamboo pole split at the top in which was a rich
gilt fan with the sun-circle in the center. The lady
unfolded her own ogi (a court lady's fan of thin
strips of white unpainted wood, laced together with
126 HONDA THE SAMUKAL
a silk ribbon) and waving it defiantly to the Genji,
mockingly dared them to shoot.
" ' It 's a challenge to us to show that the men of
the red banner mean to fight. They mock us with a
woman, and dare us to try our skill at a fan target,'
said the Genji soldiers.
" ' Ho, archers, take your long bows and shoot ! '
cried Yoshitsune". But not a man moved. All
feared the disgrace of failure.
"Then the commander spoke to Mune'taki, the
most famous archer of the eight provinces of the
" * I charge you to maintain the fame of the white
banner before the He'ike',' added the commander.
" ' Your servant will make the attempt, and if he
fail, will commit hara-kiri,' calmly replied Mune'taki.
"Then the archer, mounting his war-horse, with
but a single shaft, and his long bow in hand, rode
out over the shallows into the water as far as he
dared go. The boat rocked on the waters so un-
steadily that failure seemed certain, but, praying to
Hachiman for help, and fitting the shaft to his bow,
he waited a few seconds until the fan-target seemed
for a moment steady in the air. Then, aiming at
the brass rivet in the end of the fan, he released the
" From the spectators on the bows of the He'ike'
boat and from the Genji watchers on the shore alike
rose a mighty shout of astonishment, for the fan
was first knocked skyward and then fell into the
sea. All praised the skill of the eastern archer, but
THE RED AND WHITE BANNERS. 127
one Genji man denied that the fan had been hit at
all; 'for,' said he, warming up with sudden zeal
for the gods, ' the gods snatched away the fan, for it
is profanation to shoot at the sun, the image of the
gods and the symbol of the emperor's soul.'
" ' Quite possible,' said the modest archer, ' but I
did not aim at the sun-circle ; I tried to hit the
" At this even the friends of Mune'taki and those
who had most praised him were very sad, and their
" ' What a pity,' said some, ' that a brave soldier
should thus tell a lie, and spoil his good fame by an
empty boast of doing what is impossible ! '
" ' He lies ! he lies ! ' said the jealous man.
" The archer only said, ' Wait.'
"The shout of admiration from the He'ike' fleet
was succeeded by a calm of dismay, and in a few
minutes after a barge flying the red flag approached
the shore containing a flag of truce. With it were
brought the arrow shot by Mune'taki and the fan
shot at. It was nicked and cut at the place of the
rivet, but the sun-circle was unharmed. So the
archer's honor and skill were alike safe from jealous
tongues. To this day the daimio and descendants
of Mune'taki, lords of the castle of Akita, are proud
of their crest of a golden fan with a crimson sun in
"The He"ik read in this omen the anger of the
gods and the portent of defeat; but they resolved
to fight to the bitter end. Truce having failed, the
128 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
battle began. With oar and sail the fleets gathered
to the work of war. The seven hundred war-junks of
the Genji fleet came gayly on, seeming to rise like
white mountains to the sky. The archers ranged
along the deck opened on the enemy at long range.
The scullers, singing wild war-songs in chorus with
measured rise and fall of sculls, drove their long,
sharp-bowed boats into and through the broadsides of
their opponents, sinking them by the score ; or, sweep-
ing up alongside, the decks were boarded. Then
the swords crossed. Hand-to-hand fights with the
spear swept the decks, while even the scullers joined
in the battle with sculls. The Genji men, with huge
iron forks like meat-hooks, having long handles,
raked the sea as a farmer harrows his field, and drew
in their struggling or drowning enemies, and put
them to death, saving only the nobles as prisoners.
In the thick of the fight, the mother of Kiyomori,
with the young Mikado, Antoku, leaped into the sea,
and both were drowned.
" On that bloody day the fleet and host of the Taira
were sunk or destroyed. The red flag, the butterfly
crest, and the great family passed out of existence.
Shortly after Yoshitsun^ and his army entered Kyoto
in triumph with their prisoners and spoils, and in
the ' Blossom Capital ' rested after the toils of war."
"Why, my daughter, what are you crying for?"
asked Mr. Rai of Kine*, whose face was wet as she
" To think of a Son of Heaven being drowned !
I felt sad to think of the ladies of the court dying in
TEE EED AND WHITE BANNERS. 129
this way ; but to hear of one of our emperors drowned
is too hard to bear."
" Be comforted, my child ; his name is inscribed
not only on the monument erected on one of the
rocky islands near the place of his drowning, but
shines forever on the imperishable roll of rulers of
Everlasting Great Japan."
"Were the Taira, or He'ike', utterly wiped out?
Did none of them escape ? " asked Taro.
" A bare handful reached Kiushiu and fled to the
highlands of Goka in Higo. Here a company of
about five hundred of their descendants still live as
hunters. Their stronghold is surrounded by deep
valleys and marshes, and they allow no strangers
among them. They imagine all other Japanese peo-
ple to be their enemies, and only send out men occa-
sionally to sell their furs and buy rice. Rai Sanyo
says, ' Their crimes were atoned for by their services,
and Heaven would not cut off their posterity.'
Whenever a noble house falls we must remember
their virtues as well as their failings."
FUN, FACT, AND FANCY ABOUT YOSHITSUNE.
WINTER had now fully set in, and all the
mountains in view were coated with snow.
Hakusan, or White Mountain, which glistened in
the north, was like a dazzling mass of undyed silk.
The wild fowl "from Yezo, in their annual southern
flight to warmer valleys, had settled in flocks in the
stubble-fields. On the abundant vegetation, and on
the many dropped grains of rice, which had escaped
reaper and gleaner, they feasted and fattened. At
first, after their long flight, the wild geese, living
incarnations of grace of motion, sailed restlessly in
the sunny air or careered in swift flight across the
moon's disk, until their plumage flashed gold or
silver, according to the light that ruled the heavens.
After a few weeks in the rich fields they were as fat
as the tame denizens of the barnyard in western
lands. Then their motions were noticeably less
swift and graceful, and in going over the highlands
their flight was much closer to the ground.
Taking advantage of this fact, the young gentle-
men of the city, paying to the local government a
small tax for occupying chosen sites on the hills,
went out to ensnare the birds. Going out before sun-
rise, arrayed in waterproof grass-cloaks called " rain-
ABOUT YOSHZTSUNE. 131
coats," to keep them warm and dry as well as to look
like the grass itself, and with wide, flat hats to shed
the dew, they waited patiently, each in his coigne of
When the birds rose upward and flew past their
hiding-places, the fowlers threw before them into
the air a large triangular net set in a frame which
was fixed at the end of a long pole. A skillful
hunter rarely failed to net one and sometimes two
or three ducks ; but it was rare to get more than one
goose at a time. Not often, however, did a man on
a well-chosen bluff near the rice-fields fail to bring
home a bird. Tied to the pole-net each lier-in-wait
had a cord many yards in length to make sure of
his quarry not escaping.
One morning Mr. Rai's nephew, Honda Jiro, pre-
sented himself at breakfast time, and, laying down a
fat goose, begged Mr. Rai to accept it.
" I '11 do it with greediness, Mr. Honda ; that is,
I '11 take your goose and invite you to eat it with us
at dinner this evening. You see, I want you and
the goose both. I request you to take my place as
story-teller, and then I Ml promise to show you some-
thing from Yedo."
" Oh, yes ! do, Mr. Honda ; say you '11 come and
tell us the story of Benke"i and Yoshitsune'. Father
said you could do it so well."
" Yes, do, ray good nephew," said Mr. Rai ; " and
you may mix in some of the stories of the tengus,
which they tell to account for the boy's wonderful
wisdom. I have traveled with them in the rice-lands
132 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
of history; now you can lead them over the moor-
land of fable and fairy tale."
Thereupon Honda agreed, and after the dinner
began as follows :
"Mount Kurama, on which was situated the mon-
astery in which Yoshitsun lived, was the haunt of
the king of the tengus, who, with his long-nosed
and feathered imps and fairies of the mountains,
held his court among the caverns and precipices.
The tengu king was of mighty stature, with hair
and long beard as white as snow and a nose fully
one foot long. His crown was a little round cap, no
bigger than a teacup, and held on the top of his
head by a cord under his chin. His countenance
in anger was terrible to behold. His scepter was
a fan made of a great many hawk's feathers. His
clogs were very high, so that he stood one foot off
the ground. These clogs had but one support in-
stead of two, as mortals have. In sitting he did not
kneel and rest on his shins as men do, but sat with
one leg crossed on the other."
" Just as you see it in the pictures and on the
cups and fans ! " cried Kine*.
" Yes," said Honda. " Many children are usually
in mortal terror of the tengus ; but they never hurt
good boys and girls, you know. They are very wise,
and are willing to communicate their secrets of
knowledge. They understand all that men know
and much more, and all that birds or beasts say or
do. They understand how they do it and can teach
mortals to imitate them.
ABOUT YOSHITSUNE. 133
" In rambling about the mountains, Yoshitsune*
made the acquaintance of the young tengus, so
that the little goblins became quite fond of him,
and told their king of the brave boy. The king
commanded them to bring the child to him, promis-
ing to teach him military knowledge and necro-
mancy. So one moonlight night he was escorted
into the presence of the king of the tengus and all
his court. They stood as usual on their one-propped
clogs while their master sat. Yoshitsund was awed
but not afraid, and sat down before the king to take
his first lesson. Every night after that he came at
the usual hour to the cedar-tree, under which the
king of the goblins had his seat, and, spreading out
his roll, received instructions until midnight. This
great tree is still standing in the forest. It is six
feet thick and is surrounded by a hedge, and is
known as 'the great cedar.'
" He also took lessons in wrestling with the little
tengus. At first the boy was thrown every time,
but finally none of the young goblins could knock
him off his feet. Instead, they lost many a feather
from their wings, and had their noses often badly
bumped on the ground, for Yoshitsune" threw them
easily. At last they would not wrestle with him,
and flew away when he challenged them. After
several years' practice with the tengus, Yoshitsund
could fence, wrestle, and leap up in the air, and fly
for a short distance as though he had wings like
one of these mountain imps.
" You will see why the story-tellers have invented
134 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
these legends about the tengus, when you hear how
Yoshitsune conquered Benkdi, about whom I shall
now tell you," explained Mr. Honda.
"Close to the shores of Lake Biwa, and near
the sacred city of Kyoto, are the two monasteries of
Hiye'isan and Miide'ra. From ancient times these
have been full of monks, or bonzes, and the hum
of their busy voices at study over the sacred books,
or the sound of their prayers, is heard at every hour
of the day. All the bonzes shave their heads, dress
in plain crepe robes, and live, so it is said, only on
water and vegetables.
" About seven hundred years ago there was a
bonze at Hiye'isan named Benkci. He was a coun-
tryman of gigantic strength and loved athletic exer-
cises and feats of prowess far more than to study
Sanskrit letters or to read the sacred texts.
" In those days the bonzes, during the time of
civil war, often became soldiers. They put on armor
and fought in battle. Indeed, they were sometimes
robbers, and gave much trouble to the government.
" Benkel laughed at the idea of any soldier or
strong man being able to overcome him. He boasted
that he could fight any man that came along. So he
went out every night with his big blade-spear in
hand and took his post on the bridge of Sanjo, over
which all had to pass to enter Ky5to. Out of bra-
vado he wore no helmet, but only his priest cowl.
He allowed all quiet citizens and country people to
pass, but whenever he saw an armed man he called
on him to fight. If he declined, Benkdi let him
ABOUT TOSHITSUNfi. 135
pass on, considering him a coward; if he accepted
the challenge, Benkdi fought him, overcoming all
comers. The lusty bonze gave out that he should
stand on Sanjo bridge till he had whipped ten thou-
" Yoshitsune", when yet a mere boy, hearing of this
famous bully, resolved to have a tilt with him, and
lower his pride by conquering strength with skill.
Waiting for a moonlight night, he approached the
bridge, when Benke*i, stepping before him, blocked
up the way with his spear and dared him to fight.
Yoshitsun^ drew his sword and showed fight. Then
Benke*i made a lunge with his spear, expecting to
knock down or pierce his antagonist, whom he
laughed at as a little boy.
" But Yoshitsune', using the power of magic taught
him by the tengus, flew up in the air and leaped on
the copper cap of the bridge-post, hopping around
as lively as a cricket. Benke*i, with his clumsy
strength, followed him about, but could not touch
him. Yoshitsune' flashed his blade over Benk6Ts
head, and though he might have killed the bully,
yet he spared his life. Then Benke*i, seeing this,
that in spite of his gigantic strength he had been
overcome, bowed his head, laid down his spear, and
declared himself Yoshitsune"s servant for life.
" So Benk^i became the retainer of Yoshitsune* and
helped his master in various ways. Benkdi was skill-
ful at many trades. When on a journey he carried
at his back a bag containing a mallet, a reaping-hook,
a rake, an iron club, a saw, pincers, and other tools,
136 HONDA THE SAMUBAI.
which were useful in overcoming many obstacles.
Henceforth Benke"i was secretary, priest, messen-
ger, and armor-bearer to Yoshitsune*, and took part
in many of his master's exploits. His full name was
Musashi Bo Benkdi. Musashi is the province in
which Yedo is situated, so that Benke*i was evidently
an eastern man.
"Once he and Yoshitsun^ went upon Arashi moun-
tain, which is noted for its luxuriant blooming cherry-
trees. One of these was so famous for large blooms,
the size of roses, that it was fenced about with
stone railing. In front of this Yoshitsune', in full
armor, sat on a camp-chair and fanned himself while
Benk^i wrote out a proclamation on a board declar-
ing that no one should pluck a single cherry-blossom
on Arashi yama. 'For every blossom plucked one
finger will be cut off the hand of the trespasser.'
This caused much laughter among the picnic parties
and the people of Kyoto, but they respected the
" Some months after the He*ik enemies had been
slain and their fleet sunk at Shimonse'ki, Yoshitsune'
and Benke"i were crossing the sea over the spot
where the battle took place. The sun had set and
it was a dark night; a great commotion of the sea
arose, though no clouds were in the sky. The winds
blew fiercely, the waves roared and mounted high in
air, and some of the ropes were snapped asunder.
The sail was torn loose from the mast, and the ship
pitched and heaved frightfully. The foam splashed
over the deck till all were wet to the skin.
ABOUT YOSHITSUNE. 137
" ' It 's the ghosts of the He'ike' that are causing
this trouble,' whispered the frightened sailors one to
" ' Aye,' said the captain, as the black tassel on
the prow tossed wildly in the air like the mane of a
horse, 'behold them ! there they are.'
" Yoshitsune", ever brave, and fearing not even the
spirits of his dead enemies, rushed forward with
drawn sword to meet the pallid ghosts that crowded
on the curling wave-tops, unmindful of tossing spray.
In the van stood the leader Tomomori, with the but-
terfly crest of the Hie"k on his cap and on the breast
of his robes. Behind him crowded the shadowy
forms of his followers, with wind-scattered hair and
pale faces like corpses. All the shades had their
spears or drawn swords in their hands.
"Vainly did Yoshitsune brandish his sword and
bid the ghostly throng advance and fight or else go
down and disappear. But there they stood breath-
ing out defiance, while Yoshitsun6 found his own
blood curdling and his arm a-wearying.
" ' Sheathe your sword,' said Benke'i ; ' I will lay
" Then mounting to the prow until he was within
a spear's length of the ghosts, he clasped his rosary
of beads in his hands, bowed his head, and waved
his string of lotus seeds, uttering his prayers.
Down, down out of sight sank the spectral host,
gradually fading into thin air. In a minute's space
nothing was seen but the plashing waves. The sea
became calm and soon they reached the land in
138 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
" Thus Benke*i, who had gained renown as a war-
rior in war, now won the reverence of all as a saintly
bonze ; for one of the most important works of a
bonze is to quiet the restless spirits of departed
men. If the Buddhist priests should lose their
business of ghost-laying half their revenue would
" Of course, young folks, you do not believe in
ghosts as the common people do," said Mr. Honda,
as he saw Kin6 look a little pale.
" Girls do, but not we boys," cried Taro. "Father
tells us that such things belong with the fairy folks
that no one ever sees except in dreams."
" I do not believe what Uh^i and Taka the maid
believe," said Kine', " but I should not like to play
the game of soul-examination which you boys played
last month, when after each of the ghost stories had
been told and each of the ten caudles was blown
out, it fell on you to take the stump off the candle
and lay it on the middle tomb in the cemetery."
" Did you really do it, Taro ? " asked Honda.
" Yes, I did ; but I know one boy who got credit
for being brave who laughed at me for my trouble.
He said he had hired beforehand the ash-man at the
cremation-house, in case the lot fell on him to carry
the candle, and set it on the tomb where the other
boys found it next morning."
" Uhe'i says that the ghosts of the He'ike' still rise
out of the southwestern sea and ask the sailors in
boats to lend them a dipper," said Kine*.
" What do ghosts want with a dipper ? " asked
ABOUT YOSHITSUNE. 139
" I do not know ; but Uh6i says if the sailors give
them any kind of a vessel with a bottom in it, they
will dip up the sea-water into the boat so quickly as
soon to fill and sink it. So the sailors always hand
them a dipper with the bottom knocked out. The
poor ghosts do not know the difference and thus
work all night for nothing."
" How stupid a ghost must be ! " said Taro. " No
winder the Buddhist priests can lay them so easily.
Father says some of the bonzes earn half their