And when at last it became evident from the letters which arrived from Yedo that Kotsuke no Suke was thoroughly off his guard, Kuranosuke rejoiced that the day of vengeance was at hand; and, having appointed a trysting-place at Yedo, he fled secretly from Kioto, eluding the vigilance of his enemy`s spies. Then the forty-seven men, having laid all their plans, bided their time patiently.
It was now midwinter, the twelfth month of the year, and the cold was bitter. One night, during a heavy fall of snow, when the whole world was hushed, and peaceful men were stretched in sleep upon the mats, the Ronins determined that no more favorable opportunity could occur for carrying out their purpose.
So they took counsel together, and having divided their band into two parties, assigned to each man his post. One band, led by Oishi Kuranosuke, was to attack the front gate, and the other, under his son Oishi Chikara, was to attack the rear of Kotsuke no Suke`s house; but as Chikara was only sixteen years of age, Yoshida Chiuzayemon was appointed to act as his guardian.
Further it was arranged that a drum, beaten at the order of Kuranosuke, should be the signal for the simultaneous attack; and that if any one slew Kotsuke no Suk6 and cut off his head he should blow a shrill whistle, as a signal to his comrades, who would hurry to the spot, and, having identified the head, carry it off to the temple called Sengakuji, and lay it as an offering before the tomb of their dead lord.
Report their deed to the Government
Then they must report their deed to the Government, and await their sentence. To this the Ronins one and all pledged themselves. Midnight was fixed upon as the hour, and the forty-seven comrades, having made all ready for the attack, partook of a last farewell feast together, for on the morrow they must die. Then Oishi Kuranosuke addressed the band, and said:
“To-night we shall attack our enemy in his palace; his retainers will certainly resist us, and we shall be obliged to kill them. But to slay old men and women and children is a pitiful thing; therefore, I pray you each one to take great heed-lest you kill a single helpless person.” His comrades all applauded this speech, and so they remained, waiting for the hour of midnight to arrive.
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