Hearing something, Hoichi stopped his playing and listened. Through the night came footsteps, measured by a steady clank, clank—the sound of armor.
A samurai coming to the temple, thought Hoichi. What could he want at this hour?
The footsteps moved through the back gate of the temple and across the garden. Clank, clank. They were coming straight toward him! As the young man’s heart beat faster, the footsteps halted before the veranda.
“Sir!” replied the young man. Then he added, “Please, sir, I am blind. I cannot see who you are.”
“You have nothing to fear,” said the voice. “My master, a lord of high rank, is lodging nearby. He came to visit Dan‑no‑ura, the scene of the famous battle. Now he hears of your talent in reciting the tale of the Heike. He wishes you to come at once to perform for himself and his attendants.”
“I am most honored,” said Hoichi.
The young man slung his biwa on his back and slipped into his straw sandals. Then his arm was clasped in a grip of iron, and he was led rapidly away.