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Taiko

Having no other recourse, Hideyoshi turned his army around and withdrew to the fortified camp at Gakuden. He could not deny that the defeat at Nagakute had been a serious blow, even though it had been caused by the overzealousness of Shonyu. But it was also a fact that, on this particular occasion, Hideyoshi had been slow in starting.

It was not because Hideyoshi was measuring himself against Ieyasu on the battlefield for the first time. He had know Ieyasu long before engaging him in battle. Rather, because it was a standoff of master against mastera match between two championsHideyoshi was being especially circumspect.

"Don't pay any attention to small castles on the way. Don't waste time," Hideyoshi had warned, but Shonyu had been challenged by the garrison of Iwasaki and had stopped to crush it.

The abilities of Ieyasu and Hideyoshi would determine the outcome of the battle. When Hideyoshi heard of the defeat at Nagakute, he was convinced that his opportunity had come. The deaths of Shonyu and Nagayoshi would surely be the bait for taking Ieyasu alive.

But the enemy had appeared like fire and disappeared like the wind, and after he had gone, it was as silent as the woods. When Ieyasu withdrew to Mount Komaki, Hideyoshi felt he had just missed bagging a scared rabbit, but told himself that he had suffered only a little wound to the finger. Certainly there had been no great damage to his military strength. Psychologically, however, he had given Ieyasu's side a victory.

At any rate, after the violent half-day battle at Nagakute, both men were extremely prudent and watched the other's movements closely. And while each waited to seize a favorable opportunity, neither man would have even considered making a careless attack. Provocations, however, were made repeatedly.

For example, when Hideyoshi sent his entire sixty-two-thousand-man army out to Mount Komatsuji on the eleventh day of the Fourth Month, the reaction at Mount Komaki was nothing more than a peaceful, wry smile.

After that, on the twenty-second day of the same month, a provocation was set up by Ieyasu's side. A combined force of eighteen thousand men was divided into sixteen units and emerged heading toward the east.

Beating drums and raising war cries, a vanguard led by Sakai Tadatsugu and Ii Hyobu made repeated challenges, almost as if to say, "Come out, Hideyoshi!"

The moated palisades were defended by Hori Kyutaro and Gamo Ujisato. Gazing out at the raucous enemy forces, Kyutaro ground his teeth.

After Nagakute, the enemy had been spreading rumors that Hideyoshi's soldiers were frightened of the Tokugawa warriors. But Hideyoshi had made it clear that the soldiers were to make no sorties without his express order, so they could do nothing more than send runners flying off to the main camp.

When the messenger arrived, Hideyoshi was playing go.

A large Tokugawa force is approaching our men at the double moats," the man announced.

Hideyoshi raised his eyes from the go board for a moment and asked the messenger, Has Ieyasu himself appeared?"

Lord Ieyasu has not come out himself," the man replied.

Hideyoshi picked up a black stone, placed it on the board and said, without looking up, Tell me if Ieyasu makes an appearance. Unless he comes out at the head of his army, Kyutaro and Ujisato can fight or not, as they please."

At about the same time, Ii Hyobu and Sakai Tadatsugu at the front lines sent messengers twice with pleas to Ieyasu at Mount Komaki.

Now is the time for you to make a personal appearance. If you do it immediately, we will undoubtedly be able to strike a fatal blow to the main body of Hideyoshi's troops."

To that Ieyasu responded, "Has Hideyoshi himself made a move? If he's still at Mount Komatsuji, there's no need for me to go out, either."

In the end, Ieyasu did not leave Mount Komaki.

During that time, Hideyoshi clearly meted out the praise and blame for the battle at Nagakute. He was particularly careful about the presentation of increases in stipends and rewards, but did not say a word to his nephew Hidetsugu. And, after having fled from Nagakute, Hidetsugu seemed to feel awkward in front of his uncle. On his return to camp he simply reported that he had come back and later tried to explain the reason for his defeat. But Hideyoshi only talked to the other generals seated around him and did not look Hidetsugu in the face.

'It was my own blunder that sent Shonyu to his death," Hideyoshi said. "From the time of his youth, we shared our poverty, our nighttime amusements, and our whoring around. I'll never be able to forget him."

Every time he talked with others about his old friend, his eyes filled with tears.

Then one day, without letting anyone know what he was thinking, Hideyoshi suddenly ordered the construction of fortifications at Oura. Two days later, on the last day of ourth Month, he gave out more instructions: "I plan on taking a chance tomorrowon the battle of a lifetime. We're going to see who falls, Ieyasu or Hideyoshi. Sleep well, prepare yourselves, and don't be caught off guard."

The following day was the first of the Fifth Month. Expecting that it would be the day on which the great decisive battle would be fought, the entire army had been preparing itself since the night before. Now, finally seeing Hideyoshi in front of them, the soldiers listened to his words in blank amazement.

"We're going back to Osaka! All of the troops should withdraw." Then came his next orders. "The corps under Kuroda Kanbei and Akashi Yoshiro should coordinate with the troops at the double moats. The position of rear guard is to be taken by Hosokawa Tadaoki and Gamo Ujisato."

Sixty thousand troops moved out. Heading west, they began their retreat just as the morning sun appeared over the horizon. Hori Kyutaro was left at Gakuden and Kato Mitsuyasu at Inuyama Castle. Except for them, all the troops crossed the Kiso River and entered Oura.

This sudden withdrawal caused Hideyoshi's generals to wonder about his true intentions. Hideyoshi gave orders in a carefree way, but withdrawing such a large army was even more difficult than leading it to attack. The responsibility of taking up the rear guard was considered to be the most difficult of all, and it was claimed that only the bravest warriors were suitable for the work.

When the men at Ieyasu's headquarters saw Hideyoshi's army suddenly withdraw to the west that morning, they were all seized with doubt and reported the event to Ieyasu.

The generals there were in complete agreement.

"There's no doubt about it. We've crushed the enemy's will to fight."

"If we give chase and attack, the western forces will be totally routed and a great victory will surely be ours!"

Each of them spoke enthusiastically for an attack and asked for the command, but Ieyasu did not look the least bit happy. He strictly refused permission for a pursuit.

He knew that a man like Hideyoshi would not withdraw a large army without reason. He also knew that while he had sufficient strength for defense, he did not have the force to fight with Hideyoshi in an unobstructed battle on an open plain.

"Warfare is not a gamble. Are we going to stake our lives on an event when we have no idea of the outcome? Put out your hand to grasp something only when destiny has come to bless you."

Ieyasu hated taking risks. He also knew himself very well. In that regard, the absolute opposite of Ieyasu was Nobuo. Nobuo was constantly under the illusion that he himself had the same great popularity and genius as Nobunaga. He could not keep quiet at this time, even though the other generals were sitting in silence after Ieyasu had told them that there would be no pursuit.

"It is said that a soldier respects the opportunity given him. How can we sit here and let this heaven-sent opportunity pass us by? Please leave the pursuit to me." Nobuo argued with increasing vehemence.

Ieyasu admonished him with two or three words, but Nobuo was parading his courage more than he ever had before. Arguing with Ieyasu, he acted like a spoiled child who would listen to nobody.

"Well then, there's nothing to be done. Do as you please."

Ieyasu gave his permission, knowing full well that disaster would follow. Nobuo immediately led out his own army and chased after Hideyoshi.

After Nobuo left, Ieyasu put Honda in charge of a group of soldiers and sent him along behind. Just as Ieyasu had thought he would do, Nobuo fought Hideyoshi's rear guard as it withdrew and, while he looked superior for a moment, was quickly defeated. In this way he caused the death in battle of a great number of his retainers.

If Honda's reinforcements had not come from the rear, Nobuo himself might have become one of the greatest prizes of Hideyoshi's rear guard. Retreating to Mount Komaki, Nobuo did not appear before Ieyasu right away. But Ieyasu heard the details of the situation from Honda. With no change of expression, he nodded and said, "It was only to be expected."

When Hideyoshi retreated, it was not just a simple withdrawal. As his army moved along the road he said to his retainers, "Shouldn't we take some nice souvenir?"

Kaganoi Castle stood on the left bank of the Kiso River, in an area to the northeast of Kiyosu Castle. Two of Nobuo's retainers had entrenched themselves there, prepared to act as one of Nobuo's wings in case of an emergency.

Take it." Hideyoshi gave the command to his generals as though he were pointing at a persimmon on a branch.

The army crossed the Kiso River and took up a position at the Seitoku Temple. At the center of the reserve army, Hideyoshi opened the attack on the morning of the fourth day of the month. From time to time he went out on his horse and watched the battle from a hill in the vicinity of Tonda.

During the fighting on the following day, the commander of the castle was killed. The castle itself, however, did not fall until the evening of the sixth.

Hideyoshi had fortifications built for a later day at a strategic point in Taki, and returned as far as Ogaki on the thirteenth. At Ogaki Castle he met with Shonyu's surviving family, and comforted his wife and mother.

I can imagine that you feel lonely. But keep the promising futures of your children in mind. You should try to live the rest of your lives in harmony, rejoicing in the growth of young trees and watching the flowers of the season."

Hideyoshi also called over Shonyu's two surviving sons and encouraged them to be strong. That night he became like one of the family and talked for hours about his memories of Shonyu.

I'm a short man, and Shonyu was too. When that short little man entertained the other generals, he'd often do the spear dance when he got drunk. I don't suppose he ever showed it to the members of his family, but it went something like this." Doing an imitation, he made them all laugh. He stayed in the castle for a number of days, but finally, on the twenty-first of the month, he took the Omi Road back to Osaka Castle.

Osaka was now a large city, radically changed from the little port of Naniwa, and when Hideyoshi's army arrived, the people jostled together along the streets and in the vicinity of the castle, cheering them on until nightfall.

The external construction work for Osaka Castle had already been completed. When night fell, an otherworldly scene unfolded. Bright lamps shone from the innumerable windows of the five-story keep of the main citadel, as well as from the second and third citadels, adorning the night sky and illuminating the boundaries of the castle on all four sides: to the east, the Yamato River; to the north, the Yodo River; to the west, the Yokobori River; and to the south, the great dry moat.

Hideyoshi had left his camp at Gakuden, changing his mind and taking up the strategy of a "fresh start." But how had Ieyasu reacted to that change? He had sat and watched as Hideyoshi's retreating troops marched away. And even though he had heard about the distress of his allies at Kaganoi Castle, he had not sent reinforcements.

"What's the matter?" Voices of indignation rose among Nobuo's subordinates. Nobuo, however, had already ignored Ieyasu's advice, attacked Hideyoshi's rear guard, and met with an ignominious defeat. Saved by Honda, he had finally returned to camp. Thus Nobuo now felt that he had lost his right to say anything at all.

Thus, festering discord had become the weak point of the allied army. More than that, the main advocate of this great battle had been Nobuo, not Ieyasu. Nobuo had preached the cause of duty to Ieyasu, and the lord of Mikawa had risen up to help him. His standpoint, therefore, was one of an ally, and so it was all the more difficult to control Nobuo. Finally he made a suggestion. "While Hideyoshi is in Osaka, sooner or later he will move on Ise. Indeed, for our allies, some worrisome signs have already appeared. I think you should return to your main castle at Nagashima as soon as possible."

Taking this opportunity, Nobuo quickly returned to Ise. Ieyasu remained at Mount Komaki for a little while, but he too finally departed for Kiyosu, leaving Sakai Tadatsugu in command. The people of Kiyosu came out to greet Ieyasu with cheers of victory, but not in the same numbers as the people of Osaka had for Hideyoshi.

The citizens and soldiers hailed the battle of Nagakute as a great victory for the Tokugawa clan, but Ieyasu cautioned his retainers against frivolous pride and sent the following message to his troops:

Militarily, Nagakute was a victory, but in terms of castles and land, Hideyoshi has taken the real advantage. Do not be so happily dull-headed as to get drunk on a false reputation.

During the stalemate at Mount Komaki, the fact was that in Ise, where there had been no battles for a while, Hideyoshi's allies had taken the castles at Mine, Kanbe, Kokufu, and Hamada, and attacked and destroyed the castle at Nanokaichi. Before anyone was aware of it, most of Ise had fallen into Hideyoshi's hands.

Hideyoshi was at Osaka Castle for about one month, looking to the affairs of its internal administration, making plans for regulating the areas around the capital, and enjoying his own private life. For the present, he regarded the Mount Komaki crisis as someone else's concern.

During the Seventh Month he traveled to Mino and back. Then, in about the middle of the Eighth Month he said, "It's boring to drag this out for too long. This autumn Illhave to finish the matter up once and for all."

Once again, he announced that a great army would depart for the front. For two days before the departure, the flutes and drums of Noh plays resounded through the depths of the main citadel. From time to time the boisterous laughter of a large crowd of people could be heard.

Engaging a troupe of Noh actors, Hideyoshi invited his mother, his wife, and his kinsmen in the castle to share one day of enjoyment together.

Among the guests were the three princesses who were being raised in seclusion in the citadel. Chacha was seventeen that year; the middle sister was thirteen; and the youngest of the three was going to be eleven.

Just one year before, on the day Kitanosho Castle fell, the girls had looked behind them at the smoke enshrouding the death of their foster father, Shibata Katsuie, and their mother. They had been moved from the camp in the northern provinces and had seen no one but strangers, no matter where they looked. For a while their eyes were swollen with tears day and night, and not a single smile appeared on the youthful faces that ordinarily would have been full of mirth. But the three princesses finally got used to the people in the castle and, humored by Hideyoshi's easygoing style, became fond of him as "our interesting uncle."

That day, after a number of performances, that "interesting uncle" went into the dressing room enclosure, changed into costume, and came out on the stage himself.

Look! It's uncle!" one of the girls called out.

My, he looks so funny!"

Ignoring the presence of the others, the two younger princesses clapped their hands and pointed, unable to stop laughing. As might be expected, the eldest sister, Chacha, reprimanded them. "You shouldn't point. Just watch quietly," she said. She did her best to sit modestly, but Hideyoshi's antics were so funny that, in the end, Chacha hid her mouth behind her sleeve and laughed as though her sides would burst.

What's this? When we laugh, we get scolded. But you're laughing now."

With her two sisters poking fun at her, Chacha could only laugh more and more.

Hideyoshi's mother also laughed from time to time as she watched her son's comic dance, but Nene, used to her husband's antics and his constant joking inside the family circle, did not look particularly amused.

What interested Nene today was the peaceful observation of her husband's concubines, who were sitting here and there, surrounded by maids.

While they were still in Nagahama, he had had only two mistresses, but after they had moved to Osaka Castle, before she knew it there was a concubine in the second citadel, and another in the third.

It was hard to believe, but in his triumphal return from the siege of the north, he had brought back Asai Nagamasa's three orphaned daughters and was lovingly raising them in the second citadel.

It pained the ladies who served NeneHideyoshi's true wife, after allthat the eldest sister, Chacha, was even more beautiful than her mother.

Lady Chacha is already seventeen years old. Why does His Lordship gaze at her the way he'd look at a flower in a vase?"

They only added fuel to the fire with comments like that, but Nene simply laughed.

"There's nothing to be done; it's like a scratch on a pearl," she'd say.

Formerly, she, too, had been as jealous as any other wife might be, and when she was living in Nagahama she had gone as far as to complain to Nobunaga, who had sent her a written reply:

You were born a woman, and have chanced to meet an extremely unusual man. I imagine that there must be faults in such a man, but his good points are numerous. When you are looking out from the midst of a large mountain, you can't understand how big that mountain truly is. Be at peace, and enjoy living with this man in the way he wants to live. I am not saying that jealousy is a bad thing. To a certain extent, jealousy adds depth to the life of a married couple.

So in the end, it was she who had been reprimanded. Having learned by that experience, Nene had set her mind on self-control and had planned on becoming a woman who could overlook her husband's affairs. Recently, however, there were days when she felt threatened, wondering if her husband wasn't beginning to indulge himself too much.

At any rate, he was now approaching the age of forty-seven, the most prosperous time for a man. While he had his hands full with external problems like the battle at Mount Komaki, he was also very busy with internal affairs like the administration of his bedroom. And so he lived insatiably, day by day, with the vitality of a healthy manso much so that an observer might have wondered how he was able to sort out the common from the uncommon, the magnanimous gesture from the discreet, and grand public actions from the ones that should be totally hidden away.

"Watching the dance is amusing, but when I go out and perform on stage, it's not so much fun at all. In fact, it's hard."

Hideyoshi had come up behind his mother and Nene. He had just a moment ago left the stage at the applause of the spectators and appeared not to have sobered up from the excitement of the act.

"Nene," he said, "let's spend a quiet evening in your room tonight. Would you prepare a banquet?"

As the performance ended, the bright light of the lamps flooded the area, and the guests made their way back to the third and second citadels.

Hideyoshi now dropped in at Nene's room, accompanied by a large crowd of actors and musicians. His mother had retired to her quarters, so husband and wife were alone with their guests.

It was customary for Nene to pay attention to such people and their servants, and to all her subordinates. Especially after today's gathering, she enjoyed thanking them for their services and seeing them frivolously exchanging sake cups, and making conversation with their audience.

Hideyoshi had been sitting by himself from the very beginning, and since everyone seemed to be ignoring him, he looked a little morose.

"Nene, I suppose it would be all right if I had a cup too," he said.

"Do you think you should?"

"Do you think I'm not going to drink? Why do you think I came to your room?"

"Well, your mother said, 'That boy will be heading for Mount Komaki again the day after tomorrow,' and she strictly ordered me to apply the usual moxa to your shins and hips before you leave for the front."

"What! She said to apply moxa ?"

"She worries that the lingering heat of autumn will still be over the battlefield, and if you drink bad water, your liable to fall ill. I'll apply the moxa and give you a cup of sake after that."

"That's ridiculous. I don't like moxa!'

"Whether you like it or not, those are your mother's orders."

"Well, just for that I'm staying away from your room. Of all the people watching my performance this afternoon, you were the only one who didn't laugh. You looked so serious."

"That's my nature. Even if you tell me to behave like the pretty girls, I can't." Nene showed a little anger. Then, suddenly, tears welled up in her eyes as she recalled the old days when she herself was Chacha's age and Hideyoshi was the twenty-five-year-old Tokichiro.

Hideyoshi looked curiously at his wife and asked, "Why are you crying?"

"I don't know," Nene said, looking away, and Hideyoshi turned to face her directly.

"Are you saying that it's going to be lonely when I go to the front again?"

"Since the beginning of our married life, how many days have you spent at home?"

"There's nothing to be done until we put the world at peace, even if you don't like war," Hideyoshi replied. "And if the unforeseen hadn't happened to Lord Nobunaga, I'd probably be in charge of some countryside castle, sitting out my life and forced to be at your side exactly the way you like it."

"People are going to hear the nasty things you're saying. I understand exactly what's in a man's heart."

"And I understand a woman's heart too!"

"You always make fun of me. I'm not speaking out of jealousy, like some ordinary woman."

"Any wife would say that."

"Will you listen to me without making this into a joke?"

"All right. I'm listening with great respect."

"I resigned myself a long time ago. So I'm hardly going to tell you that I'm lonely taking care of your castie when you're on a campaign."

"A virtuous woman, a faithful wife! This is why the Tokichiro of so long ago put his mark on you."

"Don't carry your joking too far! That is why your mother spoke to me."

"What did my mother say?"

"She said I was so submissive that you were going to get carried away and become dissipated. She told me I should speak up to you from time to time."

"Is that the reason for the moxa?" Hideyoshi laughed.

"You don't have a thought about her worries. Your self-indulgent intemperance has led you to be unfilial."

"When was I intemperate?"

"Weren't you making a lot of noise about something in Lady Sanjo's room right up until dawn two nights ago?"

The attendants and actors drinking in the next room pretended not to listen to this rarewell, perhaps not so rareargument between husband and wife. Just at that point however, Hideyoshi raised his voice and yelled, "Hey, now! What does the audience think of this couple's performance?"

One of the actors answered, "Yes indeed, it looks to me like a game of kickball between blind people."

"Even a dog wouldn't nibble at that," Hideyoshi laughed.

"Come on. There's no end to such winning and losing."

"You there, the flutist, what did you think?"

"Well, I was watching it as I might my own business. Who's to blame, who's to fault Blame! Fault! Blam! Foom! Blam! Foom!"

Hideyoshi suddenly snatched Nene's over-kimono and threw it out as a prize.

On the following day Hideyoshi's family was unable to get even a glimpse of him, even though they were in the same castle. Throughout the day Hideyoshi was pressed with the work of giving instructions to his retainers and generals.

On the twenty-sixth day of the Eighth Month, Ieyasu received an urgent report that Hideyoshi was coming. He hastened from Kiyosu to Iwakura with Nobuo, and set up a position opposing Hideyoshi. Ieyasu again took up a totally defensive position and warned his men not to initiate any movement or challenge on their own.

"This is a man who doesn't know the meaning of enough."

Hideyoshi had already found Ieyasu's patience difficult to deal with, but he was not completely without such resources himself. He knew that it was impossible to open the wreath shell's cap, even with a hammer, but if the tail end of its shell was roasted, however, the meat could be taken out easily. It was this sort of ordinary reasoning that now occupied his thinking. Quietly sending Niwa Nagahide to see about concluding a peace agreement was like heating the wreath shell's tail.

Niwa was the most senior among the Oda clan's retainers and was a dependable and popular character. Now that Katsuie was dead and Takigawa Kazumasu was in reduced circumstances, Hideyoshi did not forget the necessity of winning over that warm, good man as his own "chessman in reserve" before the hostilities at Mount Komaki began.

Niwa was in the north with Inuchiyo, but Niwa's generals, Kanamori Kingo and Hachiya Yoritaka, were participating in the war on Hideyoshi's side. Before anyone even knew it, those two generals had gone back and forth a number of times between Hideyoshi and their home province of Echizen.

The content of the letters that were being sent was unknown even to the envoys, but finally Niwa himself made a secret journey to Kiyosu and had an interview with Ieyasu.

Such talks, however, were conducted in extreme secrecy. The only men who knew about them on Hideyoshi's side were Niwa and his two generals. At Hideyoshis suggestion, Ishikawa Kazumasa became his go-between.

Eventually, however, someone within the Tokugawa clan leaked a rumor that secret peace talks had been initiated. That set off great agitation in Ieyasu's defenses centered at Mount Komaki.

When rumors leak out, they are always accompanied by malicious gossip. In this case the name that surfaced was one that was already held in suspicion by his fellow retainersthat of Ishikawa Kazumasa.

It's being said that Kazumasa is the mediator. Somehow there's always something that smells funny between Hideyoshi and Kazumasa."

There were some people who spoke about it directly to Ieyasu, but he rebuked whoever spoke to him and never doubted Kazumasa in the least.

But once that kind of doubt had arisen among the retainers, the morale of the whole clan began to suffer.

Ieyasu, of course, was in favor of holding peace talks, but when he saw the internal condition of his forces, he suddenly rejected Niwa's messenger.

I have no desire for peace," Ieyasu said. "I have no hopes for a settlement with Hideyoshi, no matter what conditions he offers. We're going to fight a decisive battle here, I'm going to take Hideyoshi's head, and we'll let the nation know what true duty is."

When this was announced officially throughout Ieyasu's camp, the soldiers were d, and the dark rumors about Kazumasa were swept away.

Hideyoshi's started to break down!"

Their spirits revitalized, they became all the more aggressive.

Hideyoshi received the bitter cup with resignation. To him, the result seemed not altogether bad. So he did not venture to use military strength that time either, but ordered his forces to occupy strategic areas. Toward the middle of the Ninth Month, he sent his soldiers back once more and entered the castle at Ogaki.

How many times was it now that the citizens of Osaka had watched Hideyoshi and his army leave for the front and then return, going back and forth between the castle and Mino?

It was now the twentieth day of the Tenth Monthalready late autumn. Hideyoshi's army, which usually passed through Osaka, Yodo, and Kyoto, suddenly changed its route atSakamoto and this time passed through Koga in Iga and went on toward Ise. There it left the Mino Road and took the one that led to Owari.

Dispatch after urgent dispatch was sent out from Nobuo's branch castles and spies in Ise, almost as though a dike had unexpectedly opened in a number of places and the muddy waters of a turbulent river were rushing that way.

It's Hideyoshi's main force!"

These are not soldiers under the command of a single general, as we've seen until now.

On the twenty-third of the month Hideyoshi's army camped at Hanetsu and built fortifications at Nawabu.

With Hideyoshi's army closing in on his castle, Nobuo was unable to keep his composure. For about a month now he had had forebodings that the storm was approaching Which is to say that Ishikawa Kazumasa's actionswhich had been kept an absolute secret by the Tokugawa clanhad been mysteriously exaggerated and discussed bysomeone, though nobody could quite say who.

The rumor went that the inner circle of the Tokugawa clan was not really united. It appeared that a number of Ieyasu's retainers were hostile to Kazumasa and were just waiting for the right moment.

It was also being widely rumored that the Tokugawa had been negotiating with Hideyoshi, that Ieyasu was trying to make peace quickly, before news of the rupture of his inner circle leaked out, but that negotiations had been broken off because the conditions set by Hideyoshi were too severe.

Nobuo was frankly pained. What, after all, would happen to him if Ieyasu made peace with Hideyoshi?

"If Hideyoshi changes direction and heads out on the Ise Road, you had better be resigned to the fact that there is already a secret understanding between Hideyoshi and Ieyasu to sacrifice your clan, my lord."

And, just as Nobuo had feared, Hideyoshi's army suddenly confirmed his worse nightmares. There was no plan he could follow other than to report the emergency to Ieyasu and call for his help.

Sakai Tadatsugu was in charge of Kiyosu Castle during Ieyasu's absence. When he received the urgent report from Nobuo, he immediately had a runner relay it to Ieyasu, who raised all his forces on the same day and marched to Kiyosu. He then quickly sent reinforcements under Sakai Tadatsugu to Kuwana.

Kuwana is the geographical neck of Nagashima. Nobuo also took soldiers there and placed them facing Hideyoshi, who had set up his headquarters in the village of Nawabu.

Nawabu was on the bank of the Machiya River, about one league to the southwest of Kuwana, but the mouths of the Kiso and Ibi rivers were close by, and it was an excellent place from which to threaten Nobuo's headquarters.

Late autumn. The numerous reeds in the area concealed several hundred thousand soldiers, and the smoke of the campfires spread out thickly over the riverbank, morning and night. The order for battle had still not been given. The relaxed soldiers even went fishing for gobies. At such times, when the lightly armored Hideyoshi made a tour of the encampments and suddenly appeared on horseback, the flustered rank-and-file would quickly throw away their fishing rods. But even if Hideyoshi noticed this, he would just pass by smiling.

The fact is that if it hadn't been this particular place, he too would have wanted to fish for gobies and walk barefoot. He was still, in some ways, a boy at heart, and such scenes called forth the pleasures of his childhood.

Across this river was the earth of Owari. Under the autumn sun, the smell of the earth of his birthplace tantalized his senses.

Tomita Tomonobu and Tsuda Nobukatsu had returned from a mission and were waiting impatiently for his return.

Leaving his horse at the gate, Hideyoshi hurried along at a pace unusual for him. He himself led the two men who had come out to greet him to a hut in the middle of a heavily guarded stand of trees.

"What was Lord Nobuo's answer?" he asked. His voice was low, but there was an extraordinary expectant light in his eyes.

Tsuda spoke first. "Lord Nobuo says that he understands your feelings very well and gives his consent for a meeting."

What! He's agreed?"

Not only that, but he was extremely pleased."

Really?" Hideyoshi expanded his chest and let out a tremendous sigh. "Really? That's really what happened?" he repeated.

Hideyoshi's intentions in advancing along the Ise Road at this time had been based on a gamble from the very beginning. He had hoped for a diplomatic solution, but if that failed, he would strike at Kuwana, Nagashima, and Kiyosu. That would open Mount Komaki to attack from the rear.

Tsuda was related to the Oda clan and was a second cousin to Nobuo, to whom he explained the advantages and disadvantages of the situation, and from whom he finally elicited an answer.

I'm not the kind of person who likes war at all," Nobuo replied. "If Hideyoshi thinks that much of me and wants to hold a peace conference, I would not be indisposed toward meeting him."

From the very first battle at Mount Komaki, Hideyoshi had seen that Ieyasu would be difficult to deal with. After that, he had studied the inner workings of the human heart and had manipulated the men around him from the shadows.

In the inner circles of the Tokugawa clan, Ishikawa Kazumasa was regarded with some suspicion, due to Hideyoshi's influence. Thus, when Niwa Nagahide moved toward arbitration, the men in Nobuo's inner circle who had former connections with him were quickly ostracized as a peace faction. Nobuo himself was uneasy about Ieyasu's true intentions, and the Tokugawa eyed Nobuo's army with vigilance. This state of affairs had evolved under specific orders from faraway Osaka.

It was an article of faith with Hideyoshi that no matter what kind of diplomatic scheme he used, the sacrifices involved were far preferable to those made in war. More than that, after having tried the alternativesfacing Ieyasu directly at Mount Komaki, engaging in some clever military plan, and even making a menacing bluffHideyoshi felt that making war on Ieyasu was having absolutely no effect and that he would have to try some other tack.

The meeting the following day with Nobuo was exactly the realization of such deliberation and forethought.

Hideyoshi got up early and, looking up at the sky, said, "The weather's just right."

In the sky the night before, the cloud movements of late autumn had given him some anxiety; and he feared that if by any chance it became windy and rainy, Nobuo's side might say it wanted to postpone the time or change the place, and it might then be suspected by the Tokugawa. Hideyoshi had gone to sleep concerned about how unsavory that might be, but this morning the clouds had blown away and the sky was bluer than usual for the time of year. Hideyoshi took it as a good omen and, wishing himself luck, mounted his horse and left the camp at Nawabu.

His attendants were only a few senior retainers and pages and the two former envoys, Tomita and Tsuda. When the group finally crossed the Machiya River, however, Hideyoshi had taken the precaution to hide a number of his soldiers among the reeds and farmhouses during the night before. Hideyoshi chatted amiably on horseback as though he didn't see them, and finally dismounted at the bank of the Yada River close to the western outskirts of Kuwana.

"Shall we wait here for Lord Nobuo to come?" he asked, and, sitting down on his camp stool, he looked out at the local scenery.

Not long thereafter, Nobuo, accompanied by a group of mounted retainers, arrived on time. Nobuo must have spotted the men waiting on the riverbank as well, and he immediately began conferring with the generals to his right and left as he focused his eyes on Hideyoshi. He brought his horse to a halt in the distance and dismounted, apparently still quite apprehensive.

The crowd of warriors that accompanied him opened up to the right and left. Placing himself at their center, Nobuo started toward Hideyoshi, his armor displaying all of his martial prestige.

Hideyoshi. Here was the man who, until just the other day, had been vilified to the nation as the worst kind of assassin and inhuman ingrate. Here was the enemy whose crimes had been enumerated by both himself and Ieyasu. Even though he had agreed to Hideyoshi's proposal and was meeting him here, Nobuo was unable to feel at ease. What were the man's true intentions?

As Hideyoshi caught sight of Nobuo standing in all his dignity, he left his stool behind him and, completely alone, went hurrying toward him.

"Ah, Lord Nobuo!" He was waving both hands, just as though this were some unplanned and unexpected meeting.

Nobuo was bewildered, but the retainers around him, who looked so imposing with their spears and armor, gaped in openmouthed surprise.

But this was not their only shock. Hideyoshi was now kneeling at Nobuo's feet, prostrating himself so that his face nearly touched Nobuo's straw sandals.

Then, taking the hand of the stunned Nobuo, he said, "My lord, there hasn't been a day this year that I haven't thought about wanting to meet you. Before anything else, I'm extremely pleased to see that you're in good health. What kind of evil spirit could have confused you, my lord, and brought us to fight one another? From this day forth you will be my lord, just as before."

"Hideyoshi, please get up. I'm speechless at your repentance. We were both at fault. But first please get up."

Nobuo pulled Hideyoshi up with the hand the latter had grasped.

The meeting of the two men on the eleventh day of the Eleventh Month went smoothly, and the peace accord was agreed upon. It goes without saying that the proper order of things would have been for Nobuo to have discussed the matter with Ieyasu and to have gotten his agreement before the fact. But he responded totally to this opportune blessing, and an independent peace was established.

The simple fact was that the beanbag that Ieyasu had thrown around and used for his own purposes was being snatched from the side by Hideyoshi. Essentially, Nobuo had been taken in.

One can only imagine the sweet words Hideyoshi used to gain Nobuo's favor. In fact, in all his years of service, Hideyoshi had rarely moved Nobuo's father, Nobunaga, to appeasing Nobuo must have been easy for him. But the conditions of the peace that had first been communicated by the two envoys were neither sweet nor easy:

Item: : Hideyoshi would adopt Nobuo's daughter.

Item: The four districts in northern Ise that Hideyoshi had occupied would be returned to Nobuo.

Item: Nobuo would send women and children from his clan as hostages.

Item: Three districts in Iga, seven districts in southern Ise, Inuyama Castle in Owari, and the fortress at Kawada would be given to Hideyoshi.

Item: All of the temporary fortifications belonging to both sides in the two provinces of Ise and Owari were to be destroyed.

Nobuo affixed his seal to the document. As gifts from Hideyoshi that day, Nobuo received twenty pieces of gold and a sword made by Fudo Kuniyuki. He was also presented with thirty-five thousand bales of rice as spoils of war from the Ise area.

Hideyoshi had bowed to Nobuo and shown him respect, and had given him gifts as proof of his goodwill. Treated in that way, Nobuo could not help but smile with satisfaction. It is certain, however, that Nobuo had not considered how his scheming was going to come back at him. In terms of the ebb and flow of the violent tides of the times, Nobuo could only be called an unpardonable fool. There would be no blame if Nobuo had remained on the sidelines. But he had come out at the very center, had been made a tool of war, and had caused a great number of men to die under his banners.

* * *

The one who was most surprised when the facts were out was Ieyasu, who had already moved from Okazaki to Kiyosu to gain a war footing and confront Hideyoshi. It was the morning of the twelfth.

SakaiTadatsugu suddenly whipped his horse to the castle, having traveled overnight from Kuwana.

It was unusual for a commander at the front lines to leave his battle position and Kiyosu unannounced. Moreover, Tadatsugu was a sixty-year-old veteran. Why had this old man traveled all night with only a few attendants?

It was before breakfast, but Ieyasu came out of his bedroom, sat down in the audience chamber, and asked, "What is it, Tadatsugu?"

Lord Nobuo met with Hideyoshi yesterday. The rumor is that they made peace without consulting you, my lord."

Tadatsugu could see the repressed emotion on Ieyasu's face, and, unexpectedly, it lmade Tadatsugu's own lips twitch. He could hardly hold his feelings back. He wanted to shout that Nobuo was a great fool. Perhaps that is what Ieyasu was holding down in his heart. Should he be angry? Should he laugh? No doubt he was repressing all those things inside of himself at once, almost as though he could not accept the violent emotions raging inside him.

Ieyasu appeared to be dazed. He was dumbfounded. That was all his expression said. The two men sat in that way for some time. Finally, Ieyasu blinked two or three times. Then he pinched his large earlobe with his left hand and rubbed the side of his face. He was puzzled. His round back began to move a little from side to side. His left hand dropped back to his knee.

"Tadatsugu, are you sure?" he asked.

"I wouldn't come to report such a thing lightly. But dispatches will arrive later with more detailed information."

"You still haven't heard anything from Lord Nobuo?"

"We heard the report that he had left Nagashima, passed through Kuwana, and stopped at Yadagawara, but I thought he was just looking over the defenses and the disposition of his troops. Even when he returned to his castle, we had no idea of what his intentions had been."

Subsequent reports confirmed the rumors of Nobuo's separate peace agreement, but no word came from Nobuo himself throughout the entire day. The truth was soon known generally among the Tokugawa clan's retainers. Each time they met, their excited voices rose as they confirmed together what they could hardly believe. Gathering at Kiyosu, they accused Nobuo of lacking integrity and wondered aloud how the Tokugawa could face the nation with dignity after the predicament in which they had been placed.

"If this is the truth, we're not going to let him be, even if he is Lord Nobuo," the hot-blooded Honda said.

"First we should take Lord Nobuo out of Nagashima and investigate this crime," Ii added with a furious glare. "After that we should fight a decisive battle with Hideyoshi."

"I agree!"

"Isn't it because of Lord Nobuo that we mobilized in the first place?"

"We advocated the upholding of duty and rose up only because Lord Nobuo came begging for Lord Ieyasu's help and crying that Lord Nobunaga's descendants would perish because of Hideyoshi's ambitions! Now the banner of that war of dutythe embodiment of justicehas tumbled over to the enemy's side. The stupidity of that man is beyond words!"

"As the situation is now, it's an affront to His Lordship's dignity, and we've become a laughingstock. It's also an insult to the spirits of our comrades who died at Mount Komaki and Nagakute."

"They were made to die tragically meaningless deaths, and there's no reason why the living should have to bear such painful thoughts. What kind of decision can our lord have made by now?"

"He stayed in his living quarters all morning. He called a meeting of the senior retainers, and it seems that they've been deliberating all day."

"How about someone here delivering our opinion to the senior retainers?"

"That's right. Who would be good?"

They all looked around at one another.

"What about you, Ii? And Honda, you should go too." Honda and Ii were just about to leave the room as representatives for the others when a messenger came in with specific information.

"Two envoys from Lord Nobuo have just arrived."

What! Envoys from Nagashima?"

The news made the men's indignation boil up again.

As the envoys had already been taken into the large audience chamber, however, it was very likely that they were already face to face with Ieyasu. Calmly reassuring each other that their lord's intentions would now be made clear, the men decided to wait for the result of the meeting.

Nobuo's envoys were his uncle, Oda Nobuteru, and Ikoma Hachiemon. As might be imagined, it was extremely awkward for those men to face Ieyasu, let alone try to explain Nobuos thoughts, and they waited in the room, withering at the mere thought of the meeting.

Soon enough, Ieyasu appeared with a page. He was dressed in a kimono, without armor, and seemed to be in a good mood.

He sat down on a cushion and said, "I've heard that Lord Nobuo has made peace with Hideyoshi."

The two messengers responded in the affirmative as they prostrated themselves, unable even to raise their heads.

Nobuteru said, "The sudden peace talks with Lord Hideyoshi were surely both unexpected and mortifying to your clan, and we can only respectfully appreciate what your thoughts must be, but in fact, His Lordship put much deep thought into the situation before him, and"

I understand," Ieyasu replied. "You don't need to give me some long explanation."

The details are fully explained in this letter, so, ah, if you would read it"

Ill take a look at it later on."

The only thing that pains His Lordship is the thought that you may be angry," Hachiemon said.

Now, now. That's not worth his consideration. From the very beginning, these hostilities had nothing to do with my own desires or plans."

We understand completely."

That being so, the hope I entertain for Lord Nobuo's well-being is unchanged."

His Lordship will be relieved to hear it."

Ive had a meal prepared for you in another room. That this war has been terminated so quickly is the greatest blessing of all. Have a leisurely lunch before you go."

Ieyasu went back into the interior of the castle. The messengers from Nagashima were entertained with food and drink in another room, but they ate hurriedly and soon left.

When Ieyasu's retainers heard about this, they were outraged.

His Lordship must have some deeper thoughts. Otherwise, how could he so easily approve of this monstrous alliance of Lord Nobuo and Hideyoshi?"

During this time, Ii and Honda went off to the senior retainers to inform them of the young retainers' opinion.

Secretary!" Ieyasu called out.

After meeting with Nobuo's envoys in the audience chamber he had returned to his own quarters and sat quietly alone for a while. Now his voice rang out.

The secretary brought out an inkstone and waited for his lord's dictation.

I want to sent congratulatory letters to both Lord Nobuo and Lord Hideyoshi."

As he dictated the letters, Ieyasu looked off obliquely and closed his eyes. Indeed, as he polished the sentences to be written down, he seemed first to absorb thoughts in his breast that must have been like draughts of molten iron.

When the two letters were finished, Ieyasu gave an order to a page to summon Ishikawa Kazumasa.

The secretary left the two letters in front of Ieyasu, bowed, and withdrew. As he left, a personal attendant came in carrying a candle and quietly lit two lamps.

At some point the sun had set. Looking at the lamps, Ieyasu felt that somehow the day had been a short one. He wondered if that was whyeven with all the pressure of workhe was still feeling an emptiness in his heart.

As though from far away, he could hear the sound of the sliding door opening softly.

Kazumasa, dressed in civilian clothes like his lord, was bowing in the doorway. Almost none of the warriors of the clan had yet untied their armor. Nevertheless, Kazumasa realized that Ieyasu had been dressed in plain clothes since the morning and had quickly changed into a kimono.

"Ah, Kazumasa? You're too far away over there. Come a little closer."

The man who had not changed at all here was Ieyasu. As Kazumasa came before him, however, he seemed almost to have been disarmed.

"Kazumasa, I'd like you to be my envoy tomorrow morning to Lord Hideyoshi's camp and Lord Nobuo's headquarters at Kuwana."

"Certainly."

"Letters of congratulation are right here."

"Congratulations for the peace accords?"

"That's right."

"I think I understand what's in your mind, my lord. You won't be showing your dissatisfaction, but when he sees such magnanimity, even Lord Nobuo will probably be embarrassed."

"What are you saying, Kazumasa? It would be cowardly of me to embarrass Lord Nobuo, and a declaration to continue fighting from a sense of duty would look a little strange. Whether it's a false peace or whatever it is, I have no reason to voice dissatisfaction about peace. You are to explain earnestly and even happily that I think it is splendid from the bottom of my heart, and that I rejoice together with all the subjects of the Empire."

Kazumasa was someone who knew his lord's heart well, and now Ieyasu had given him careful instructions concerning his mission. But for Kazumasa, there was yet one more pain he had to bear. That was the misunderstanding the other retainers had had about him from the very beginningthat he and Hideyoshi had some intimate connection. The year before, after Hideyoshi's victory at Yanagase, Kazumasa had been selected as Ieyasu's envoy to Hideyoshi.

At that time Hideyoshi's joy had been extraordinary. He had invited the various lords to a tea ceremony at Osaka Castle, which was still under construction.

After that, whenever there was occasion for some communication with the Tokugawa clan, Hideyoshi would inevitably ask for news of Kazumasa, and would always talk about Kazumasa to the lords who had friendly relations with the Tokugawa clan.

That Kazumasa was quite popular with Lord Hideyoshi was deeply carved into the mindss of the Tokugawa warriors. During the standoff at Mount Komaki, and again during Niwa's attempt at reconciliation, the eyes of his allies would be scrutinizing Kazumasas actions, regardless of the situation.

As might be expected, Ieyasu was not affected by that at all.

Well, it's pretty noisy out there, isn't it?"

Animated voices were coming from the hall, which was a number of rooms away from where Ieyasu and Kazumasa were sitting. It seemed that the retainers who were dissatisfied with the peace accords were expressing their doubts and indignation at Kazumasa's being called before their lord.

Ii and Honda, who were acting as representatives, and some of the others had surrounded Tadatsugu a while before.

Didn't you lead the vanguard and stay in the castle town of Kuwana? Aren't you abashed at not having known that Lord Nobuo and Hideyoshi were able to meet at Yadagawra? And what about the fact that Hideyoshi's messengers came right into Kuwana Castle? What's happened now that you've found out about their illicit peace treaty and have come running here?"

They grilled Tadatsugu. First of all, it was Hideyoshi, a man who was little likely to make a plan that would leak out ahead of time. For Tadatsugu, that was justification enough. In the face of the concentrated dissatisfaction, however, he could only receive indignation and abuse with resignation and apologize to them with the forbearance becoming an old general.

But it was the purpose of neither Ii nor Honda to persecute the old man. Rather, they wanted to deliver their own opinions to their lord and to repudiate the peace accords. And they wanted to tell the world that the Tokugawa clan had nothing to do with Nobuo's peace talks.

Would you please intercede for us? You're a respected elder."

No, that would be a serious breach of etiquette," Tadatsugu answered.

But Honda insisted. "These men have not loosened their armor and are dressed for the battlefield. Everyday etiquette does not apply in this situation."

There's no time for that," Ii said. "We're burning up with the fear that something may happen before he talks to us. If you won't be our intermediary, then it can't be helped. We'll have to appeal directly through his personal attendants and meet him in his quarters."

No! He's in the middle of a conversation with Lord Kazumasa right now. You must not intrude on him."

What! Kazumasa?"

The fact that Kazumasa was alone with their lord at this time only added to their uneasiness and discomfort. From the beginning of the campaign at Mount Komaki, they had viewed Kazumasa as a man playing a double game. And when Niwa Nagahide initiated a reconciliation, it was Kazumasa who had been involved in the negotiations. They suspected that Kazumasa was somehow in the shadows of the most recent maneuvers, too.

When those feelings suddenly broke into a noisy commotion, it reached Ieyasu's ears, even though he was some distance away. A page now hurried down the corridor toward the retainers.

"You're being summoned!" the page announced.

Taken by surprise, they looked around at each other in awe. But the expression on the faces of the obstinate Honda and Ii revealed that a summons was just what they wanted. Urging on Sakai Tadatsugu and the others, they filed into the audience chamber.

Ieyasu's room was soon filled to overflowing with samurai in full armor.

Everyone's attention was focused on Ieyasu. Next to him sat Kazumasa. Sakai Tadatsugu was next, and behind them the very backbone of the Tokugawa clan was represented.

Ieyasu started to speak but, suddenly turning toward the lowest seats, he said, "The men in the lowest seats are a little too far away. My voice isn't very loud, so come up a little closer."

The men all packed in more closely together, and those in the lowest seats all gathered around Ieyasu as he began to speak.

"Yesterday Lord Nobuo made peace with Hideyoshi. I am thinking of sending out an official notice of this to the entire clan tomorrow morning, but apparently you've all heard the news and it's worried you considerably. Please forgive me. I was not trying to keep the facts from you."

All of them hung their heads.

"It was my mistake to mobilize in response to Lord Nobuo's plea. It was also my fault that so many good retainers were killed in the battles at Mount Komaki and Nagakute. Once again, the fact that Lord Nobuo secretly joined hands with Hideyoshi and rendered your righteous indignation and loyal anger meaningless is by no means his fault. Rather, it is due to my own oversights and lack of wisdom. You have all been completely and unselfishly sincere, and as your lord, I cannot find the words to apologize properly. Please forgive me."

At some point, everyone there had lowered his head. No one looked at Ieyasu's face. Shivers of unmanly weeping undulated from shoulder to shoulder like waves.

"There's nothing we can do, so please endure this. Strengthen your resolve and wait for another day."

After they had sat down, neither Ii nor Honda had said a word. Indeed, both men had taken out handkerchiefs and, looking aside, wiped their faces.

"This is a blessing. The war is over, and tomorrow I'll return to Okazaki. All of you should soon be on the road home, too, to see the faces of your wives and children," Ieyasu said, as he too blew his nose.

On the following day, the thirteenth of the month, Ieyasu and the greater part of the Tokugawa army withdrew from Kiyosu Castle and returned to Okazaki in Mikawa. On the morning of the same day, Ishikawa Kazumasa went to Kuwana with Sakai Tadatsugu. After meeting with Nobuo, he went on to visit Hideyoshi at Nawabu. Relaying Ieyasu's formal greetings, he presented the letter of congratulations and left. After Kazumasa had gone, Hideyoshi looked at the men around him.

"Look at that," he said. "That's just like Ieyasu. No one else would have been able to swallow this painful blow as though it were simply hot tea."

As the man who had made Ieyasu drink molten iron, Hideyoshi appreciated his feelings very well. Putting himself in Ieyasu's place, he asked himself if he would have been able to react in the same way.

As these days passed, one man who felt quite happy with himself was Nobuo. After the meeting at Yadagawara, he became Hideyoshi's perfect puppet. Regardless of the situation, he would ask himself, "I wonder what Hideyoshi would think about this."

Just as he had formerly relied on Ieyasu, he now worried about how Hideyoshi would react to whatever he did.

He therefore was inclined to go along with exactly what Hideyoshi had desired in fulfilling the conditions laid down in the peace treaty. Portions of his lands, the hostages, and the written pledges were all presented without exception.

At that point Hideyoshi relaxed a little. Nevertheless, thinking that the army should remain at Nawabu until the following year, he sent a messenger to the men in charge at Osaka and made preparations to spend the winter in the field.

It goes without saying that from the very beginning Hideyoshi's object of concern had been Ieyasu, not Nobuo. Since he had not yet concluded matters with Ieyasu, he could not say that the situation was under control, and his aims were only half-fulfilled. One day Hideyoshi visited Kuwana Castle, and after talking with Nobuo about various subjects, he asked, "How have you been feeling recently?"

"I'm in great health! And I'm sure it's because I have no unpleasant thoughts. I've recovered from the exhaustion of the battlefield, and my mind is completely at ease."

Nobuo displayed a bright and cheerful laughter, and Hideyoshi nodded a number of times, as though he were holding a child on his knee.

"Yes, yes. I imagine that that meaningless war wore you out, my lord. But you know, there a still are few remaining difficulties."

"What do you mean, Hideyoshi?"

"If Lord Ieyasu is left just as he is, he may cause you some trouble."

"Really? But he sent a retainer here with a message of congratulations."

"Well, he certainly wouldn't have wanted to go against your will."

"To be sure."

"So you'll have to say something first. In his heart, Lord Tokugawa would clearly like to make peace with me, but if he gave in on his own, he would lose face. Since there's no reason to confront me, he's probably perplexed. Why don't you help him out?"

There are many men among the sons of famous families who are extremely selfish, quite probably because of the illusion that everyone around them exits for their sake. Never would they think about serving someone else. But, being spoken to in that way by Hideyoshi, even Nobuo was able to conceive of something greater than his own interest.

So, several days later, he suggested that he himself act as a mediator between Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. That was his natural responsibility, but he hadn't thought of taking it on until Hideyoshi had suggested it.

"If he'll agree to our conditions, we'll forgive his armed action in deference to your handling the situation."

Hideyoshi was taking the position of a victor but wanted to convey the terms for peace through Nobuo's mouth.

The conditions were that Ieyasu's son, Ogimaru, was to be adopted by Hideyoshi, and that Kazumasa's son, Katsuchiyo, and Honda's son, Senchiyo, were to be delivered as hostages.

Other than the destruction of the fortifications, the division of lands formerly agreed upon by Nobuo, and the confirmation of the status-quo by the Tokugawa clan, Hideyoshi did not seek any further changes.

"There is some resentment in my heart concerning Lord Ieyasu that will not easily be cleared away, but I can endure it for the sake of your honor. And since you've decided to take on this task, it would be distressing to delay it too long. Why don't you send a messenger to Okazaki right away?"

Thus instructed, Nobuo sent two of his senior retainers as representatives to Okazaki that very day.

The conditions could not really be called severe, but when he heard them, even Ieyasu had to call on his reserves patience.

Even though Ogimaru was said to be adopted, he was truly a hostage. And sending the sons of senior retainers to Osaka was clearly a pledge of the defeated. Though his retainers were upset, Ieyasu remained calm so that Okazaki would remain calm as well.

"I agree to the conditions, and I'll ask you to take care of the matter," he replied to the envoys.

Back and forth they went, a number of times. Then, on the twenty-first day of the Eleventh Month, Tomita Tomonobu and Tsuda Nobukatsu came to Okazaki to sign a peace treaty.

On the twelfth day of the Twelfth Month, Ieyasu's son was sent to Osaka. Kazumasa and Honda's sons went with him. The warriors who saw off the hostages lined up along the streets and wept. Their action at Mount Komakian action that had temporarily shaken the entire nationhad ended in this.

Nobuo came to Okazaki on the fourteenth, toward the year's end, and stayed until the twenty-fifth. Ieyasu did not say one unpleasant word. For ten days he entertained that good-natured man whose future was so obvious, and then sent him home again.

The eleventh year of Tensho came to a close. People had an inordinate number of feelings about the passing year. Among the things they felt keenly was the certainty that the world had changed. It had been only a year and a half since Nobunaga's death in the tenth year of Tensho. Everyone was surprised that such sweeping changes had come so quickly.

The exalted position, the popularity, and the mission that had formerly been Nobunaga's had quickly become Hideyoshi's. Indeed, the liberality of Hideyoshi's character wa in accord with the times, and helped create subtle revolutions and advances in society and government.

Watching the trends of the day, even Ieyasu could not help scolding himself for the stupidity of rowing against them. Of the men who had gone against the tide of fortune not one had escaped with his life since time immemorial, as he knew very well. At the foundation of his thinking was the cardinal rule that the observer should distinguish between the smallness of man and the vastness of time, and not resist the man who had grasped the moment. Thus he deferred at each step to Hideyoshi.

At any rate, the man who saw in the New Year while he was at the very height of prosperity was Hideyoshi. He was now in his forty-ninth year. At the age of fifty, in one more year, he would be in the prime of manhood.

The New Year's guests numbered many times more than they had the year before, and, dressed in their finery, they filled Osaka Castle, bringing with them the feeling of the springtime that was close at hand.

Ieyasu, of course, did not come, and a small number of provincial lords who paid deference to Ieyasu followed suit. Moreover, there were certain forces that even now decried Hideyoshi and rushed around making military preparations and gathering secret intelligence. Those men also refrained from tying up their horses at the gate of Osaka Castle.

Hideyoshi observed all that as he continued to greet guest after guest.

As the year entered the Second Month, Nobuo visited from Ise. If he had come at New Year's with all the other provincial lords, it would have been as though he were making a New Year's call on Hideyoshi, and that would have been beneath his dignity. Or so he reasoned.

There was nothing easier than satisfying Nobuo's conceit. Using the same courtesy he had shown when he knelt in front of Nobuo at Yadagawara, Hideyoshi demonstrated a perfect sincerity in his hearty welcome. What Hideyoshi had said at Yadagawara was not a lie, Nobuo thought. When rumors surfaced about Ieyasu, Nobuo criticized the man's calculating nature because he thought it would please Hideyoshi. But Hideyoshi simply nodded silently.

On the second day of the Third Month, Nobuo returned to Ise in great joy. During his stay in Osaka, he had been told that he had been invested with a court title, thanks to Hideyoshi's good offices. Nobuo had remained in Kyoto for about five days, receiving the congratulations of many callers. It seemed to him that the sun would hardly rise if it were not for Hideyoshi.

The traffic of provincial lords to and from Osaka during the New Year, and the activities of Nobuo in particular, were reported in detail to Hamamatsu. Ieyasu, however, could now do nothing more than observe Hideyoshi's appeasement of Nobuo from the sidelines.

Epilogue

Between the spring and fall of that year Hideyoshi sent ships to the south and horses to the north in his campaigns to subdue the country. He returned to Osaka Castle in the Ninth Month and began overseeing the internal administration and foreign affairs of the Empire.

From time to time he would look back on the mountains he had climbed to get thus far, and at such moments he could not help congratulating himself on the first half of his life. In the coming year he would be fifty years old, the season in which a man reflects on his past and is made to think about his next step.

Then, because he was human and indeed was subject to carnal passions more than the common run of men, it was natural that at night he would reflect on those passions that had governed his life in the past and continued to do so in the present, and would wonder where they might lead in the future.

It is the autumn of my life. Not many more months remain of my forty-ninth year.

As he compared his life to climbing mountains, he felt as if he were looking down toward the foothills after having climbed almost to the summit.

The summit is believed to be the object of the climb. But its true objectthe joy of livingis not in the peak itself, but in the adversities encountered on the way up. There are valleys, cliffs, streams, precipices, and slides, and as he walks these steep paths, the climber may think he cannot go any farther, or even that dying would be better than going on. But then he resumes fighting the difficulties directly in front of him, and when he is finally able to turn and look back at what he has overcome, he finds he has truly experienced the joy of living while on life's very road.

How boring would be a life lacking the confusions of many digressions or the difficult struggles! How soon would a man grow tired of living if he only walked peacefullyalong a level path. In the end, a mans life lies in a continuous series of hardships and struggles, and the pleasure of living is not in the short spaces of rest. Thus Hideyoshi, who was born in adversity, grew to manhood as he played in its midst.

In the Tenth Month of the fourteenth year of Tensho, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu met in Osaka Castle for a historic peace conference. Undefeated in the field, Ieyasu nevertheless ceded the political victory to Hideyoshi. Two years before, Ieyasu had sent his son as a hostage to Osaka, and now he took Hideyoshi's sister as his bride. The patient Ieyasu would wait for his chanceperhaps the bird would yet sing for him.

After a great banquet to celebrate making peace with his strongest rival, Hideyoshi retired to the inner apartments of the castle, where he and his most trusted retainers hailed his victory over many cups of sake. Hours later, Hideyoshi rose shakily to his feet and bid the company good night. Slowly he stumbled down the hall, a short, monkeyfaced man surrounded by his ladies-in-waiting, almost hidden by the colorful, rustling silks of their many-layered kimonos. The laughter of the women could be heard all along the gilded corridors as the tiny figure of Japan's supreme ruler was led to his bed.

In the dozen years left to him, Hideyoshi solidified his grip on the nation, breaking the power of the samurai clans forever. His patronage of the arts created an opulence and beauty still celebrated as Japan 's Renaissance. Titles were heaped upon him by the Emperor: Kampaku. Taiko. But Hideyoshi's dreams did not end at the water's edge; his ambitions reached beyond, to the lands he had dreamed of as a childthe realm of the Ming emperors. But there the armies of the Taiko would fail to conquer. The man who never doubted that he could turn every setback to his own purpose, that he could persuade his enemies to be his friends, that he could even make the silent bird wish to sing a song of his own choosingin the end he had to yield to a greater force, and a more patient man. But he left a legacy whose brilliance yet remains as the memory of a Golden Age.


Master Stroke | Taiko |