耳なし芳一の話 第三・四段落

August 29 [Wed], 2012, 17:54
One summer night the priest was away, so Hoichi was all alone in the temple. It was a hot night. Hoichi went out on the porch overlooking the garden to try to keep cool. While he waited for the priest to return, he practiced the biwa. Midnight arrived, but the priest still had not come back. Just then, Hoichi heard steps approaching the back gate and walking across the garden to Hoichiーbut it was not the priest. A deep voice called his name in the sharp manner of a samurai:ー
“Hoichi!”
Hoichi was frightened by the man's voice, but he managed to answer him.
“Yes! I am blind, so I cannot tell who you are!”
“Do not fear,” the stranger said more gently. “We are staying near this temple and I was sent to you with a message. My lord is staying in Akamagaseki with his family and servants. He wanted to see the place where the Battle of Dan-no-ura was fought. He Hey that you are very good at telling the story of the battle and he wants to hear your performance. So bring your biwa and come with me to the house where my lord is staying.”
In those days, when a samurai gave you an order, it was best to do as you were told. Hoichi picked up his biwa and followed the stranger. The samurai walked very fast. Hoichi could hear the man's armor as he walked. Suddenly the samurai stopped and Hoichi heard a big gate being opened. He was a little surprised, because he couldn't remember any big gates near the temple. They walked across a garden and the samurai stopped again and called out, “I have brought Hoichi.” Hoichi heard low voices of women coming from the inside. He thought they were servants of the lord, but still could not understand where he was. He entered and was taken by the hand deep inside the house. He walked along many corridors, until he came to a very wide space. There seemed to be many people sitting in the room. The sound of their silk kimonos sounded like leaves on the trees.
When Hoichi had finished turning his biwa, a woman servant asked him to play the story of the Heike. Hoichi said:ー
“The whole story is too long to sing at one time. So may I ask what part your lord wants to listen to?”
The woman's voice answered:ー
“Play the part about the battle of Dan-no-ura.”
Then Hoichi sang about the terrible battle on the sea. His biwa made the sounds of the rushing ships, the flying arrows, the crashing boats about the shouting of the soldiers. While playing, he could hear the people saying, “What a wonderful player!”ー“He is better than anyone in our home town!”ー“He must be the best in the whole country!” When he sang about the sad deaths of the women and children, the listeners started to cry in loud voices. They cried so wildly that Hoichi was frightened by the violence of their sadness. They kept crying for a long time, but little by little the sound dropped and finally a deep silence fell over the room. Hoichi heard the voice of the woman servant:ー
“Although we had been told that you are a great biwa-hoshi, we had not imagined that you could be so good. Our lord is very pleased and will give you a good reward for your playing. He wants you to play for the next six nights before he returns home. He will send the same samurai to pick you up and take you home each night. However, you must not tell anyone of your experience here, because our lord is traveling in secret! Now, go back to your temple, but do not speak one word about this.”

Hoichi thanked everyone and was taken back to the temple.
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