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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas - page 49 / 129





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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

wife and children out of doors, so that he got talked about by the neighbours as having become a drunken beast.

He acted this part so well that one day a man from Satsuma, seeing him lying drunk in the street, was so angry with him that he spat upon him to show his contempt.

The Japanese, being a brave and sober nation, rightly consider that a man who gets drunk is of no use, whether as workman or soldier, and cannot be trusted to behave as a manly fellow.

So when Kotsuke heard, not only through his spies but from other people as well, that Oishi had taken to drinking, he no longer feared him, and therefore gradually discharged his guards. But he kept his castle strongly barred and locked up at night with a guard of armed men at the gate, and three special fighters as his personal bodyguard sleeping in the room next to his bedroom.

At last, when all suspicion was lulled, Oishi secretly called the Ronins together one night in mid- winter.

The forty-seven met at a supper at which they took a solemn oath to avenge their lord that night or to die in the attempt, and that after it was over they would be prepared to commit hara-kiri.

Their plan was to break into the house in two parties, one at the front gate, the other at the back.

A few men armed with bows and arrows were to be posted to shoot any of the guards who tried to run to get help. The Ronins were not to kill anyone unnecessarily, and all women and children and old people were to be kindly treated.

Whoever found Kotsuke was to sound a whistle as a signal for all to come together and capture him. You see, like Scouts, they made all their plans carefully beforehand.

Then silently in the snow they made their way to Kotsuke’s house. A Desperate Fight

They found the sentry muffled up against the cold and overpowered him, as also all the men of the guard, who were asleep in the guardroom. These they gagged and bound.

Then, as they went on, they found doors locked and barred which had to be broken down, and in this way the remainder of the garrison were awakened and the alarm given.

A desperate stand was made by the defenders, who fought gallantly in doorways and passages to defend their master, and many of the Ronins were badly wounded before they made their way from one room to another.

But the crashing of doors from the rear showed that the second party of Ronins were in the place, and very soon the defenders were driven back and overcome.

When they reached Kotsuke’s private rooms they met with the most severe struggle of all, for his bodyguard of the three men fought with desperate bravery, and for a time not only held the attackers, but actually drove them backward for a spell.

But at that moment Oishi came up, and at his rallying words the Ronins made a final rush and overcame their brave opponents.

Then came the search for Kotsuke. He was not in his room and they began to fear he had escaped. But at last after search among the women’s rooms he was found hiding in a closet.

The Death of Kotsuke

The whistle was sounded and the Ronins ran together and surrounded him. They all had first to agree that it really was the man they were after.

Page 49

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