×

We use cookies to help make LingQ better. By visiting the site, you agree to our cookie policy.


image

E-Books (english-e-reader), 47 Ronin a Samurai from Japan (2)

47 Ronin a Samurai from Japan (2)

The Long Wait

And so it was. The soldiers of the Shogun's government came to Ako, took the castle and the land. And then the sixty-two ronin left Ako to go their different ways. Oishi talked to every ronin in the league before they left Ako, and every man had a plan.

Some of the ronin went to Edo. There, they found jobs as workmen, guards, or gardeners. Other ronin went to live in Osaka or other cities.

'Live very quietly,' Oishi told them. 'Don't talk about revenge, don't talk about anything to anybody. Meet secretly, and be careful of spies. Kira's men are going to be everywhere, watching and listening, all the time.'

Oishi took his family, his wife and three children, to live near Kyoto. Three of the ronin went with him - Kataoka, Mimura, and Hara. Kataoka and Mimura lived in Oishi's house, and Hara found a job.

'What kind of job?' said Oishi.

Hara laughed. 'I'm teaching boys how to shoot with bow and arrows,' he said.

'That's not a job for a samurai!' said Kataoka.

'But we're not samurai now, we're ronin, remember?' said Hara. 'And a ronin needs rice to eat.'

*

Weeks went past, and weeks turned into months. Oishi began to live a very different life now from his old life as captain of the Asano samurai. Every day he went into the town, to the old houses down by the river. He made new friends, and spent his time with bad people. Often, he was out all night.

Kataoka and Mimura watched this, and they were not happy about it.

'Why does he go to these places?' said Mimura.

'Why don't you ask him?' Kataoka said.

'Not me!' Mimura said. 'He gets angry when you ask questions. He gets angry at bad news too. You remember when the news came about the seven ronin?'

Seven of the ronin from Ako did not want to be in the league against Kira any longer. The numbers were now down to fifty-five.

One day more news arrived - from one of the ronin in Edo. This man, Isogai, worked in the Shogun's palace gardens. He could watch government workers when they came and went, and sometimes he heard things. He sent this message to Oishi.

Lord Kira does not work in the palace now. His job is finished. People say that the Shogun is not pleased with him. Kira is living in his daimyo house, a big mansion near the Sumida river. Horibe says, can we attack him now?

Oishi suddenly came alive again. 'No, no, no! Not yet!' he said. 'I must go to Edo and talk to them. Kataoka, come with me. Mimura - stay here with my family.'

In Edo, Oishi met secretly with some of the ronin in the league. 'Listen,' he said. 'Kira's wife is from the Uesugi family, and they are very rich and powerful. There are many Uesugi guards around Kira's mansion, because he is still afraid of us. We can never get past all those guards with just fifty-five men. We must wait.'

'But how long?' said Horibe. 'Kira is an old man, and he could die any day! Where is our revenge then?'

'Begin planning,' said Oishi. 'Everybody has swords, but we need armour, spears, and bows and arrows. You can begin to find them, but secretly. And hide them well!'

Oishi and Kataoka went back to Kyoto, and again, Oishi spent his nights in the town with all kinds of bad men. People began saying that Oishi was a samurai without honour. Hara came to visit one day, and was angry.

'This is not good!' he said fiercely to Oishi. 'Where is your honour as a samurai?'

'Get out!' shouted Oishi. 'Get out of my house!'

Kataoka walked with Hara down the street.

'What's happening to him?' said Hara. 'Why is he doing this?'

'It's all right,' said Kataoka. 'Just go home, and wait.'

It was not a happy house. When he was there, Oishi shouted at everyone - his wife, his children, Kataoka, Mimura, the house servants.

Mimura often went out walking in the town, to get away from the house and all the shouting. One dark night he saw the cook from Oishi's house at a street corner, talking to two men. When they saw him, they stopped talking, and the cook walked quickly away. Mimura crossed the street to look at the two men, but they turned away and went into a house. And in the light from the house doorway, Mimura saw something very interesting... He ran home at once with his news.

'Oishi, I think your cook is a spy for Kira! Those men had on their coats the sign of the Uesugi family. It was very small, but I saw it clearly in the light!'

'Ha!' cried Kataoka. 'What shall we do with this spying cook, Oishi? Kill him?'

Oishi smiled. 'Nothing,' he said.

'Nothing?' said Kataoka. 'We can't do "nothing"!'

'Oh yes, we can,' said Oishi. 'This is very good. We want this spy to send news back to Kira - the right kind of news. We know the cook is a spy, but the cook doesn't know that we know. So this is good for us. He can tell Kira that I am now a samurai without honour. And who is afraid of a samurai without honour?'

'Aaah!' said Mimura. 'I think I begin to understand.'

'Good,' said Oishi. 'At last.'

Kataoka laughed.

'So,' Oishi said, 'when you talk in the house, be careful. Remember who is listening.' Suddenly, he began to shout at them. 'Get out! I'm going out into town, and nobody is going to stop me!'

Kataoka and Mimura left the room, smiling.

*

Time passed. Spring 1702 came, and then summer. The death of Lord Asano of Ako was now more than a year ago. In the streets of Edo, there was no talk of revenge by the Asano samurai. They were just ronin, living here and there in different cities in Japan. Their captain, Oishi Yoshio, was without honour, and spent his time with bad men. Kira began to feel safer, and the Uesugi guards around his home went back to the Uesugi mansion across the river.

At the end of the summer Oishi came home late one night after an evening down by the river in Kyoto. When he came into the house, he shouted noisily.

'Riku! Riku! Where are you? Come here!'

Riku, his wife of twenty years, came quietly into the room, and Oishi began to shout at her.

'I'm tired of you - I don't want to see your face again. Go away! Leave my house! Go back to your father's house - our marriage is ended. I can find more beautiful girls in the town. Go!'

Riku put her face in her hands and began to cry, very quietly. From the other side of the room, Oishi shouted some more. Riku did not move.

Then she said, very quietly, 'Must I go?'

Oishi came and stood in front of her. He put his mouth close to her ear, and spoke in a whisper.

'The time is coming. I don't want you here in this house when it happens. You know why. So I must send you away, back to your father. The government cannot do anything to you when you live in your father's house. That is best for you, and the children.'

Riku looked into his face. 'Yes, I understand. Do you want me to take all the children with me?'

They still spoke in whispers, because in that house the walls had ears.

'The younger children, yes,' said Oishi. 'But Chikara is fifteen, nearly sixteen now, and a man. He is ready to be a samurai. He can go with you, or he can stay with me. Ask him. Tell him to come and see me in the morning.'

Riku looked into his face one more time, then turned to go. Oishi put out his hand, and touched her face, just for a second. Then he, too, turned away.

That night he did not sleep. He sat for a long time in the dark, looking out at the stars in the night sky.

In the early morning his son Chikara found him there.

'Father, I want to stay here with you. I want to be a samurai, and I am ready. I am a good swordsman now.'

Oishi put his hand on his son's shoulder. 'Good man,' he said. 'The league needs strong swordsmen like you.' He was silent for a minute. 'Did you say goodbye to your mother?' he asked.

'Yes,' Chikara said. 'She left an hour ago. She...' He did not finish.

'Yes. I know,' said Oishi. 'But this is the life of a samurai. Come - we have work to do.'

CHAPTER FOUR

The Attack

Autumn came. The leaves turned yellow and gold, and fell from the trees. Oishi sent messages to the ronin, and one by one they began to arrive in Edo. They travelled at different times, and went to different 'safe houses' in the city. Oishi made the journey in November 1702. When he arrived in Edo, he called a meeting in a room above a noisy restaurant.

'Now you must decide, for the last time,' he told his men. 'Do you want revenge for Lord Asano, or not? Some of you, I know, have young children, or very old parents. Do those men want to leave the league? You can go with honour.'

Eight men left. There were now forty-seven ronin in the league. There were young men and old men - the youngest was Chikara, now aged sixteen, and the oldest was seventy-six. There were brothers, and some fathers and sons, like Oishi and Chikara.

In the weeks before the attack, many of the ronin wrote letters home to their wives and families - to say their last goodbyes.

They began to get ready. One ronin had a ground plan of Kira's mansion, and Oishi studied this very carefully. There were high walls around the house - 132 metres on the long side and 61 metres on the short side. There were two gates, one in the east wall and one in the west wall. Inside the walls, there was a long building, with courtyards and gardens all around it.

'We need to go in at both gates at the same time,' said Oishi. 'We must have two groups of men, one to attack the front gate and one to attack the back gate.'

'Yes,' Yoshida said. 'And we must stop any servant from leaving the mansion. We don't want them to run across the river to the Uesugi and call for help.'

There were high walls around the mansion.

'How many people are living in Kira's mansion?' asked Hayami. 'And how many of them are samurai?'

'There are more than a hundred and twenty people inside those walls,' said Okuda. 'Perhaps about fifty of them are guards... We don't know how many samurai.'

'What about our weapons?' asked Oishi, looking at Horibe.

'The weapons are ready,' Horibe said. 'Everybody has their swords. We have spears for everybody too, and many bows and arrows. And we have armour.'

'Good,' said Oishi. 'So now we wait for the right time, when Kira is at home.'

*

The right time came on December 14, 1702, a dark night with snow falling from the sky. The people of Edo slept quietly, warm in their houses, but the ronin put on their armour, took their weapons, and waited for midnight.

Before they left, Oishi spoke to his men.

'At last we can finish our work for Lord Asano, and take revenge for his death, now nearly two years ago. We are here to kill Lord Kira Yoshinaka. We must fight his guards and his samurai, yes, and kill them, but do not kill women and children. We are not here to do that. And remember, you all have a whistle. When you find Lord Kira, blow your whistle.'


47 Ronin a Samurai from Japan (2)

The Long Wait 長い待ち時間

And so it was. そしてそうでした。 The soldiers of the Shogun's government came to Ako, took the castle and the land. And then the sixty-two ronin left Ako to go their different ways. そして六十二人の浪人は赤穂を離れ、それぞれの道を歩むことになった。 Oishi talked to every ronin in the league before they left Ako, and every man had a plan.

Some of the ronin went to Edo. There, they found jobs as workmen, guards, or gardeners. Other ronin went to live in Osaka or other cities.

'Live very quietly,' Oishi told them. 'Don't talk about revenge, don't talk about anything to anybody. Meet secretly, and be careful of spies. こっそり会い、スパイに注意してください。 Kira's men are going to be everywhere, watching and listening, all the time.' キラの部下はどこにでもいて、見たり聞いたりしています.

Oishi took his family, his wife and three children, to live near Kyoto. Three of the ronin went with him - Kataoka, Mimura, and Hara. Kataoka and Mimura lived in Oishi's house, and Hara found a job.

'What kind of job?' said Oishi.

Hara laughed. 'I'm teaching boys how to shoot with bow and arrows,' he said.

'That's not a job for a samurai!' 「それは武士の仕事じゃない!」 said Kataoka.

'But we're not samurai now, we're ronin, remember?' said Hara. 'And a ronin needs rice to eat.'

***

Weeks went past, and weeks turned into months. Oishi began to live a very different life now from his old life as captain of the Asano samurai. Every day he went into the town, to the old houses down by the river. 彼は毎日町に出て、川沿いの古い家々に行きました。 He made new friends, and spent his time with bad people. Often, he was out all night. 多くの場合、彼は一晩中外出していました。

Kataoka and Mimura watched this, and they were not happy about it.

'Why does he go to these places?' said Mimura.

'Why don't you ask him?' 「彼に聞いてみませんか?」 Kataoka said.

'Not me!' Mimura said. 'He gets angry when you ask questions. He gets angry at bad news too. You remember when the news came about the seven ronin?' 7人の浪人についてのニュースがいつ来たか覚えていますか?

Seven of the ronin from Ako did not want to be in the league against Kira any longer. 赤穂出身の七人の浪人は、もはやキラとのリーグに参加することを望んでいませんでした. The numbers were now down to fifty-five.

One day more news arrived - from one of the ronin in Edo. This man, Isogai, worked in the Shogun's palace gardens. He could watch government workers when they came and went, and sometimes he heard things. 彼は公務員が出入りするのを見ることができ、時々何かを聞くことができました。 He sent this message to Oishi.

Lord Kira does not work in the palace now. His job is finished. People say that the Shogun is not pleased with him. Kira is living in his daimyo house, a big mansion near the Sumida river. Horibe says, can we attack him now?

Oishi suddenly came alive again. 'No, no, no! Not yet!' he said. 'I must go to Edo and talk to them. Kataoka, come with me. Mimura - stay here with my family.'

In Edo, Oishi met secretly with some of the ronin in the league. 'Listen,' he said. 'Kira's wife is from the Uesugi family, and they are very rich and powerful. There are many Uesugi guards around Kira's mansion, because he is still afraid of us. We can never get past all those guards with just fifty-five men. たった 55 人の兵士では、これらすべての警備員を追い抜くことはできません。 We must wait.'

'But how long?' said Horibe. 'Kira is an old man, and he could die any day! 「キラはおっさんだし、いつ死ぬかも知れない! Where is our revenge then?'

'Begin planning,' said Oishi. 'Everybody has swords, but we need armour, spears, and bows and arrows. You can begin to find them, but secretly. And hide them well!'

Oishi and Kataoka went back to Kyoto, and again, Oishi spent his nights in the town with all kinds of bad men. People began saying that Oishi was a samurai without honour. Hara came to visit one day, and was angry.

'This is not good!' he said fiercely to Oishi. 'Where is your honour as a samurai?'

'Get out!' shouted Oishi. 'Get out of my house!'

Kataoka walked with Hara down the street.

'What's happening to him?' said Hara. 'Why is he doing this?'

'It's all right,' said Kataoka. 'Just go home, and wait.'

It was not a happy house. When he was there, Oishi shouted at everyone - his wife, his children, Kataoka, Mimura, the house servants.

Mimura often went out walking in the town, to get away from the house and all the shouting. One dark night he saw the cook from Oishi's house at a street corner, talking to two men. When they saw him, they stopped talking, and the cook walked quickly away. Mimura crossed the street to look at the two men, but they turned away and went into a house. And in the light from the house doorway, Mimura saw something very interesting... He ran home at once with his news.

'Oishi, I think your cook is a spy for Kira! Those men had on their coats the sign of the Uesugi family. その男たちはコートに上杉家の印をつけていた。 It was very small, but I saw it clearly in the light!'

'Ha!' cried Kataoka. 'What shall we do with this spying cook, Oishi? 「このスパイ料理人、大石どうしよう? Kill him?'

Oishi smiled. 'Nothing,' he said.

'Nothing?' said Kataoka. 'We can't do "nothing"!' 「何もしないわけにはいかない!」

'Oh yes, we can,' said Oishi. 'This is very good. We want this spy to send news back to Kira - the right kind of news. 私たちは、このスパイがニュースをキラに送り返すことを望んでいます - 正しい種類のニュースです. We know the cook is a spy, but the cook doesn't know that we know. So this is good for us. He can tell Kira that I am now a samurai without honour. And who is afraid of a samurai without honour?'

'Aaah!' said Mimura. 'I think I begin to understand.'

'Good,' said Oishi. 'At last.'

Kataoka laughed.

'So,' Oishi said, 'when you talk in the house, be careful. Remember who is listening.' Suddenly, he began to shout at them. 'Get out! I'm going out into town, and nobody is going to stop me!'

Kataoka and Mimura left the room, smiling.

***

Time passed. Spring 1702 came, and then summer. The death of Lord Asano of Ako was now more than a year ago. In the streets of Edo, there was no talk of revenge by the Asano samurai. 江戸の巷では、浅野武士による仇討ちの話はなかった。 They were just ronin, living here and there in different cities in Japan. Their captain, Oishi Yoshio, was without honour, and spent his time with bad men. Kira began to feel safer, and the Uesugi guards around his home went back to the Uesugi mansion across the river.

At the end of the summer Oishi came home late one night after an evening down by the river in Kyoto. When he came into the house, he shouted noisily.

'Riku! Riku! Where are you? Come here!'

Riku, his wife of twenty years, came quietly into the room, and Oishi began to shout at her.

'I'm tired of you - I don't want to see your face again. Go away! Leave my house! Go back to your father's house - our marriage is ended. I can find more beautiful girls in the town. Go!'

Riku put her face in her hands and began to cry, very quietly. From the other side of the room, Oishi shouted some more. Riku did not move.

Then she said, very quietly, 'Must I go?' それから彼女はとても静かに言いました。

Oishi came and stood in front of her. 大石がやってきて、彼女の前に立った。 He put his mouth close to her ear, and spoke in a whisper.

'The time is coming. I don't want you here in this house when it happens. You know why. So I must send you away, back to your father. The government cannot do anything to you when you live in your father's house. That is best for you, and the children.'

Riku looked into his face. 'Yes, I understand. Do you want me to take all the children with me?' 子供たちをみんな連れて行ってもいいですか?」

They still spoke in whispers, because in that house the walls had ears.

'The younger children, yes,' said Oishi. 'But Chikara is fifteen, nearly sixteen now, and a man. He is ready to be a samurai. He can go with you, or he can stay with me. Ask him. Tell him to come and see me in the morning.'

Riku looked into his face one more time, then turned to go. Oishi put out his hand, and touched her face, just for a second. Then he, too, turned away.

That night he did not sleep. He sat for a long time in the dark, looking out at the stars in the night sky.

In the early morning his son Chikara found him there.

'Father, I want to stay here with you. I want to be a samurai, and I am ready. I am a good swordsman now.'

Oishi put his hand on his son's shoulder. 'Good man,' he said. 'The league needs strong swordsmen like you.' He was silent for a minute. 'Did you say goodbye to your mother?' he asked.

'Yes,' Chikara said. 'She left an hour ago. She...' He did not finish.

'Yes. I know,' said Oishi. 'But this is the life of a samurai. Come - we have work to do.'

CHAPTER FOUR

The Attack

Autumn came. The leaves turned yellow and gold, and fell from the trees. Oishi sent messages to the ronin, and one by one they began to arrive in Edo. They travelled at different times, and went to different 'safe houses' in the city. Oishi made the journey in November 1702. When he arrived in Edo, he called a meeting in a room above a noisy restaurant.

'Now you must decide, for the last time,' he told his men. 「さあ、最後に決断しなければならない」と彼は部下に言った。 'Do you want revenge for Lord Asano, or not? Some of you, I know, have young children, or very old parents. Do those men want to leave the league? You can go with honour.'

Eight men left. There were now forty-seven ronin in the league. There were young men and old men - the youngest was Chikara, now aged sixteen, and the oldest was seventy-six. There were brothers, and some fathers and sons, like Oishi and Chikara.

In the weeks before the attack, many of the ronin wrote letters home to their wives and families - to say their last goodbyes.

They began to get ready. One ronin had a ground plan of Kira's mansion, and Oishi studied this very carefully. ある浪人がキラの邸宅の平面図を持っていて、大石はこれを非常に注意深く研究した. There were high walls around the house - 132 metres on the long side and 61 metres on the short side. There were two gates, one in the east wall and one in the west wall. Inside the walls, there was a long building, with courtyards and gardens all around it.

'We need to go in at both gates at the same time,' said Oishi. 「両方のゲートから同時に入る必要があります」と大石は言いました。 'We must have two groups of men, one to attack the front gate and one to attack the back gate.'

'Yes,' Yoshida said. 'And we must stop any servant from leaving the mansion. We don't want them to run across the river to the Uesugi and call for help.'

There were high walls around the mansion.

'How many people are living in Kira's mansion?' asked Hayami. 'And how many of them are samurai?'

'There are more than a hundred and twenty people inside those walls,' said Okuda. 'Perhaps about fifty of them are guards... We don't know how many samurai.'

'What about our weapons?' asked Oishi, looking at Horibe.

'The weapons are ready,' Horibe said. 'Everybody has their swords. We have spears for everybody too, and many bows and arrows. And we have armour.'

'Good,' said Oishi. 'So now we wait for the right time, when Kira is at home.'

***

The right time came on December 14, 1702, a dark night with snow falling from the sky. The people of Edo slept quietly, warm in their houses, but the ronin put on their armour, took their weapons, and waited for midnight.

Before they left, Oishi spoke to his men.

'At last we can finish our work for Lord Asano, and take revenge for his death, now nearly two years ago. We are here to kill Lord Kira Yoshinaka. We must fight his guards and his samurai, yes, and kill them, but do not kill women and children. We are not here to do that. And remember, you all have a whistle. そして覚えておいてください、あなたは皆口笛を持っています。 When you find Lord Kira, blow your whistle.'