Act Seven:

Dramatis Personae:

Ono Kuday? - ex-retainer of Enya, spy for Moronao
Sagisaka Bannai - retainer of Moronao
Yazama J?tar? - ex-retainer of Enya
Senzaki Yagor? - ex-retainer of Enya
Takemori Kitahachi - ex-retainer of Enya
Teraoka Heiemon - ex-foot soldier of Enya, Okaru's brother
Ôboshi Yuranosuke - ex-chief retainer of Enya, leader of the league of loyal retainers
Ôboshi Rikiya - ex-retainer of Enya, son of Yuranosuke
Okaru - wife to Kanpei and sister to Heiemon, now a courtesan at a teahouse


Act seven opens on Kuday? and Bannai arriving at a teahouse in Gion, where Yuranosuke has reportedly gathered all of the best-known women of the quarter. Having already sent a number of reports to Moronao concerning Yuranosuke and Rikiya's apparent fall into dissipation, Kuday? tells of Bannai of his plan to open up the inner-most recesses of Yuranosuke's heart and determine whether his behavior is feigned or not. The master of the establishment quickly shows them inside.

Shortly afterward, J?tar?, Yagor?, and Kitahachi arrive with the intention of getting to the heart of Yuranosuke's recent conduct in the pleasure quarter; what had started out as a trick to induce in Moronao a false sense of well-being and thereby increase the likelihood of a lessening of his personal guard, now seemed to be less and less contrived to his fellow r?nin. Heiemon, a former foot soldier who desires to be introduced to Yuranosuke, accompanies the three samurai. The group finds Yuranosuke drunk and carousing with a number of prostitutes. Although they ask him with all due seriousness when the loyal league will leave for Kamakura to take their revenge, they receive nothing but meaningless, inebriated banter in response. At this point, Heiemon intercedes and, expressing his heartfelt desire to avenge his dead master, begs Yuranosuke to allow him entry into the league. Yuranosuke, with an off-hand, contemptuous reply, scorns his own past plans to avenge Enya as nothing but an ultimately useless, vain way to die. All four individuals are shocked at the disrespectful speech coming from the mouth of the former chief retainer. Completely disgusted with drunk, now sleeping, man before them, J?tar?, Yagor? and Kitahachi ready themselves to kill him as a warning to others; Heiemon, however, stays their hands, suggesting that they wait until he is sober. All four warriors depart to the next room.

Rikiya arrives with a secret missive from Kaoyo and approaches his father, rattling his scabbard to make his presence known. Yuranosuke, upon hearing the noise, suddenly rises and, with a voice completely devoid of dissipation, questions Rikiya closely before sending him away.

Just as Yuranosuke is about to break the seal on the letter, Kuday? calls out to him and enters the room. A discussion ensues in which Kuday? attempts to force Yuranosuke to admit that his newfound frivolousness is merely a trick to enable him to attack Moronao. The exchange reaches a climax when Kuday? asks Yuranosuke if he will eat a piece of octopus with the knowledge that the anniversary of their lord's death falls on the next day. To Kuday? surprise, Yuranosuke gulps down the fish without suggesting the slightest bit of concern.

Having determined that Yuranosuke could not possibly represent a threat, Kuday? exits the room. Although he then creates the impression that he is leaving the establishment with Bannai, he instead circles back around and hides himself under the veranda outside Yuranosuke's room as a last-ditch effort to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, Yuranosuke, sensing that he is alone, unrolls Kaoyo's letter and begins to read. As he does this, two individuals manage to catch a glimpse: Okaru, in the adjacent upstairs room, uses a mirror to read the contents, and Kuday? glances over those sections that unravel beyond the each of the veranda. When one of Okaru's hairpins falls to the floor, Yuranosuke is startled and immediately hides the letter. Feigning drunkenness once more, Yuranosuke calls Okaru down and, with much cajoling, tells her that he will buy out her contract in exchange for three nights with her. Okaru is overjoyed at this prospect to return to her husband and Yuranosuke leaves the room to settle the matter.

Heiemon enters. In the course of their happy reunion, Okaru reveals that, from what she read in the letter, Yuranosuke's dissipation is indeed feigned. Heiemon, digesting this information, realizes that Yuranosuke must be buying his sisters contract to silence her. Her life already forfeit, Heiemon then begs her to allow him to take her life so that he might prove his loyalty to Yuranosuke. Although Okaru eventually agrees to her own death, Yuranosuke intervenes and, visibly impressed by the siblings' loyalty, allows Okaru to live and Heiemon to enter the league.

Somehow aware of Kuday?'s skulking presence, Yuranosuke stabs him through the floor and drags him out from underneath the veranda. Turning a deaf ear to Kuday?'s pathetic pleas, he orders Heiemon to drown him in the Kamo River. Having heard everything, J?tar?, Yagor? and Kitahachi burst in and prostrate themselves before Yuranosuke.