Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/33

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ished planking, and round pillared angles too many to remember, and over widths amazing of matted floor,—into the middle of some vast apartment. There he thought that many great people were assembled: the sound of the rustling of silk was like the sound of leaves in a forest. He heard also a great humming of voices,—talking in undertones; and the speech was the speech of courts.

Hōïchi was told to put himself at ease, and he found a kneeling-cushion ready for him. After having taken his place upon it, and tuned his instrument, the voice of a woman—whom he divined to be the Rōjo, or matron in charge of the female service—addressed him, saying,—

“It is now required that the history of the Heiké be recited, to the accompaniment of the biwa.”

Now the entire recital would have required a time of many nights: therefore Hōïchi ventured a question:—

“As the whole of the story is not soon told, what portion is it augustly desired that I now recite?”

The woman’s voice made answer:—

“Recite the story of the battle at Dan-no-ura,—for the pity of it is the most deep.”[1]

  1. Or the phrase might be rendered, “for the pity of that