When the appointed hour came, the Ronins set forth. The wind howled furiously, and the driving snow beat in their faces; but little cared they for wind or snow as they hurried on their road. At last they reached Kotsukd no Suk£`s house, and divided themselves into two bands; and Chikara, with twenty-three men, went round to the back gate.
Then four men, by means of a ladder of ropes which they hung on to the roof of the porch, effected an entry into the courtyard; and, as they saw signs that all the inmates of the house were asleep, they went into the porter`s lodge where the guard slept, and, before the latter had time to recover from their astonishment, bound them.
Guard prayed hard for mercy
The terrified guard prayed hard for mercy, that their lives might he spared; and to this the Ronins agreed on condition that the keys of the gate should be given up; but the others tremblingly said that the keys were kept in the house of one of their officers, and that they had no means of obtaining them. Then the Ronins lost patience, and with a hammer smashed to shivers the big wooden bolt which secured the gate, and the doors flew open to the right and to the left. At the same time Chikara and his party broke in by the back gate.
Then Oishi Kuranosuke sent a messenger to the neighboring houses, bearing the following message: “We, the Ronins who were formerly in the service of Asano Takumi no Kami, are this night about to break into the palace of Kotsuke no Suke, to avenge our lord.
As we are neither night robbers nor ruffians, no hurt will be done to the neighboring houses. We pray you to set your minds at rest.” And as Kotsuke no Suke was hated by his neighbors for his covetousness, they did not unite their forces to assist him. Another precaution was yet taken.
Lest any of the people inside should run out to call the relations of the family to the rescue, and these coming in force should interfere with the plans of the Ronins, Kuranosuke stationed ten of his men armed with bows on the roof of the four sides of the courtyard, with orders to shoot any retainers who might attempt to leave the place. Having thus laid all his plans and posted his men, Kuranosuke with his own hand beat the drum and gave the signal for attack.
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