Main And Then (Sorekara)

And Then (Sorekara)

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				By the same author

				I Am a Cat


				The Three-Cornered World


				Ten Nights of Dream

				Hearing Things

				The Heredity of Taste

				To the Spring Equinox and Beyond

				The Wayfarer


				Grass on the Wayside

				Light and Darkness

				Published by Tuttle Publishing, an imprint of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.

				Copyright © 2011 Norma Moore Field

				All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher.

				Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

				Natsume, Soseki, 1867-1916. [Sorekara. English]

				And then : Natsume Soseki Sorekara / translated from the Japanese

				with an afterword and selected bibliography by Norma Moore Field. -1st ed. p. cm.

				Includes bibliographical references.

				ISBN 978-1-4629-0015-2

				I. Field, Norma, 1947II. Title.

				PL812.A8S5813 2011



				ISBN 978-1-4629-0015-2

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				About the Author

				Sōseki Natsume, one of Japan’s most distinguished writers, was born in Tokyo in 1867. At an early age he studied the Chinese classics, and later intended to become an architect. He changed his mind, however, and entered Tokyo Imperial University to take up literature. In 1900 he was sent to London by the Japanese Ministry of Education to study English literature for two years. He was not happy there, and returned to Japan in 1903 to succeed Lafcadio Hearn as lecturer in English at his old university. After publishing his first novel, I Am a Cat in 1905, Sōseki immediately rose to fame, and shortly after this he resigned his teaching post to become literary editor of the Asahi Shimbun. Many more novels followed, and Sōseki became the leading voice of the age, often ruthlessly criticizing his contemporary society for its acceptance of westernization. He died in 1916 at the age of forty-nine.


				I would like to dedicate this translation to my mother and my grandmother.


				Chapter I 1

				Chapter II 9

				Chapter III 19

				Chapter IV 33

				Chapter V 43

				Chapter VI 53

				Chapter VII 69

				Chapter VIII 81

				Chapter IX 93

				Chapter X 101

				Chapter XI 113

				Chapter XII 131

				Chapter XIII 145

				Chapter XIV 163

				Chapter XV 185

				Chapter XVI 197

				Chapter XVII 219

				Afterword 227

				Selected Bibliography 247

				A Note on Japanese Names

				Japanese names throughout this book are given in the Japanese order, that is, surname followed by gi ven name .


				AS HURRIED FOOTSTEPS clattered past the gate, a pair of large clogs hung suspended from the sky. When the footsteps grew distant, the clogs slipped quietly away and vanished. Daisuke awoke.

				Turning to the head of his bed, he noticed a single camellia blossom that had fallen to the floor. He was certain he had heard it drop during the night; the sound had resounded in his ears like a rubber ball bounced off the ceiling. Although he thought this might be explained by the silence of the night, just to make sure that all was well with him, he had placed his right hand over his heart. Then, feeling the blood pulsating correctly at the edge of his ribs, he had fallen asleep.

				For some time, he gazed vacantly at the color of the large blossom, which was nearly as large as a baby’s head. Then, as if he had just thought of it, he put his hand to his heart and once again began to study its beat. It had become a habit with him lately to listen to his heart’s pulsation while lying in bed. As usual, the palpitation was calm and steady. With his hand still on his chest, he tried to imagine the warm, crimson blood flowing leisurely to this beat. This was life, he thought. Now, at this very moment, he held in his grasp the current of life as it flowed by. To his palm it felt like the ticking of a clock. But it was more, it was a kind of alarm that summoned him to death. If it were possible to live without hearing this bell—if only his heart did not measure out time as well as blood—then how carefree he would be! How thoroughly he would savor life! But—and here Daisuke shuddered involuntarily. He was a man so attached to life that he could scarcely bear to picture his heart calmly beating to the coursing of his blood. There were times when, lying in bed, he would place his hand just below his left breast and wonder, what if someone gave me one good blow with a hammer here. Although he lived in sound health, there were instances when his consciousness awakened to the indisputable fact of his being alive as a near-miracle of good fortune.

				Lifting his hand from his heart, he picked up the newspaper beside his pillow. He reached from beneath the covers and with both hands spread out the paper. On the left was a picture of a man stabbing a woman. He quickly averted his gaze and turned to another page where the school dispute was written up in large print. Daisuke read the article for a while but soon let the paper slip from languid hands onto the covers. Drawing on a cigarette, he slid himself about six inches from the bed, picked up the camellia from the floor mat, and turning it over, drew it to the tip of his nose. His mouth, mustache, and nose were all but hidden in the flower. The smoke, mingling with the petals and stamens, curled out thickly. Then placing the flower on the white sheet, he got up and went to the bathroom.

				He carefully brushed his teeth, taking pleasure, as always, in their regularity. He stripped and scrubbed his chest and back. There was a deep, fine luster to his skin. Whenever he moved his shoulders or lifted his arms, his flesh exuded a thin layer of oil, as if it had been massaged with balm that was then carefully wiped away. This, too, gave him satisfaction. Next, he parted his black hair, which, even without oil, was perfectly manageable. Like his hair, his mustache was fine and gave him an air of youthful freshness, elegantly defining the area above his mouth. Stroking his full cheeks two or three times with both hands, Daisuke peered into the mirror. His motions were precisely those of a woman powdering her face. And in fact, he took such pride in his body that had there been the need, he would not have hesitated to powder his face. More than anything he disliked the shriveled body and wizened features of a Buddhist holy man, and whenever he turned to the mirror, he was thankful that at least he had not been born with such a face. If people called him a dandy, he was not in the least disturbed. To this extent had he moved beyond the old Japan.

				Some thirty minutes later he sat at the table. As he sipped his tea and buttered his toast, Kadono, the houseboy, brought in the newspapers, placing them, neatly folded, beside the cushion and beginning loudly, “It’s really something, isn’t it, Sensei, this business!’’ This houseboy always used the respectful term Sensei* in addressing Daisuke. At first, Daisuke had protested with a wry smile, but Kadono had always answered, oh, yes, yes, but Sensei—and so Daisuke had been forced to leave the matter as it was; eventually, it had become a custom so that now, with Kadono alone, Daisuke felt no qualms about passing off as Sensei. It was only when he began to keep a houseboy that Daisuke realized there were no other appropriate forms of address to use toward a master like himself.

* The title Sensei is generally applied to teachers of every variety and to doctors. It is also used for those who have in other ways gained distinction, for example, artists, critics, or politicians.

				“I suppose you mean the school dispute?” Daisuke calmly continued to eat his toast.

				“Well, don’t you think it’s awfully exciting?’’ “You mean, trying to get rid of the principal?”

				“Yes, that’s it. He’s going to have to resign.” Kadono was gleeful. “Do you stand to gain in any way if the principal resigns?”

				“Oh, come on, Sensei, you shouldn’t joke like that. A fellow doesn’t get excited over something just because he might gain or lose.”

				Daisuke continued to eat. “Do they want to get rid of the principal because they really hate him, or is there a question of profit involved—do you know?”

				“No, I don’t know about that. How about you, Sensei, do you know?”

				“No, I don’t know either. I don’t know, but there’s no chance that people today would stir up all that trouble if they didn’t think they were going to get something out of it. They’re just making excuses.” “Is that right?” Kadono’s face showed some concern. With this, Daisuke abruptly put an end to the conversation. Kadono could understand no more. Beyond a certain level, no matter what anyone said, Kadono would unabashedly cling to his favorite “Is that right?” It was impossible to tell whether one’s words had registered with him or not. It was precisely this uncertainty, and the consequent absence of any need to stimulate the youth, that appealed to Daisuke and led him to keep Kadono as a houseboy. He neither went to school nor studied, but spent all his time loafing. Why not try his hand at a foreign language, Daisuke might ask. Kadono invariably answered, do you think so? Or, is that right? Never would he actually say that he would try it; being as lazy as he was, he was incapable of giving a more definite reply. Daisuke, for his part, having better things to do than educate Kadono, had let the matter drop at a suitable point. Fortunately, Kadono’s body, unlike his mind, functioned well, and Daisuke fully appreciated this point. Not only Daisuke, but also his old housekeeper was finding things much easier these days. Consequently, the old woman and the houseboy got along exceedingly well. They talked a great deal in the absence of their master.

				“I wonder what on earth Sensei plans to do, eh, Auntie?”

				“When you get as far as he has, you can do anything. No need to worry.”

				“I’m not worrying. It just seems like he ought to do something.” “Well, he’s probably planning to find a bride first and then to take his time looking for a position.”

				“That’s not a bad idea. I sure wish I could spend my days reading books and going to concerts like that.”


				“Well, I don’t care if I read or not. I just wish I could play around like that.”

				“You know all those things were decided in your previous life. Nothing you can do about it.”

				“Is that the way it is.”

				This was how their conversations ran. Two weeks before Kadono joined Daisuke’s household, the following exchange took place between the young bachelor master and the idle youth:

				“Are you going anywhere to school right now?” “I was for a while. But I’m not any more.” “Where did you used to go?”

				“Well, I went to all kinds of places. But I seemed to get tired of them right away.”

				“You mean you get fed up easily?” “Well, yes, I guess that’s it.”

				“So you don’t have plans to do much in the way of studying?” “No, not really. Besides, things aren’t too good at home these days.” “The old woman at my place says she knows your mother?”

				“Yes, she used to live right near here.” “Then, your mother doesn’t . . . ?”

				“That’s right, she doesn’t have much of a job either. She just takes in odd jobs to do at home. But business is bad everywhere these days, and things don’t seem to be going too well.”

				“Don’t seem to be going well? But don’t you live in the same house?”

				“Well, yes, we live together, but I’ve never really bothered to ask how she’s doing. It’s too much trouble. It seems like she’s always complaining.”

				“How about your older brother?” “He works at the post office.”

				“Is that all in your family?”

				“I have a younger brother, too. He’s at the bank—you might say he’s a step above messenger boy.”

				“Then you’re the only one who’s sitting around, right?” “Yes, I guess that’s right.”

				“And what do you do when you’re home?”

				“Well, most of the time, I guess I sleep. Other times, I go out for walks.”

				“Isn’t it a little embarrassing to sit around when everyone else is out earning money?”

				“No, not really.”

				“Your family must get along extremely well.” “Strangely enough we never seem to fight much.”

				“I should think your mother and older brother would want you to get out on your own as soon as possible.”

				“You might have a point there.”

				“You seem to have an extraordinarily easygoing temperament. Is that how you really are?”

				“Well, I don’t see why I should lie about things.” “So you’re a completely carefree sort?”

				“Yes, I guess that’s what you’d call me.” “How old is your older brother?”

				“Hm . . . he must be going on twenty-six.”

				“Then he’ll probably be looking for a wife, isn’t that right? Do you plan to stay on like this even after he gets married?”

				“I’ll have to wait and see. When the time comes, I’m sure something will happen.”

				“You don’t have any other relations?”

				“There’s an aunt. This one runs a freight business in Yokohama.” “Your aunt does?”

				“Oh, it’s not really my aunt who runs it; I guess it’s my uncle.” “Couldn’t you get them to give you a job? The freight business must need a lot of people.”

				“Well, I’m basically lazy, so I think they’d probably say no.”

				“It doesn’t help if you look at yourself like that. You see, the point is, your mother has asked the old woman at my place if we could find something for you to do there.”

				“Yes, I’ve heard something like that.” “And how do you feel about it?”

				“Well, yes, I’m planning on not being too lazy. ...” “You mean you’d rather come to my place?” “Well, yes, that’s right.”

				“But it won’t do if you’re just going to sleep and take walks.”

				“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. I’m strong at least. I’ll fill the bathtub and things like that.”

				“We have running water so you won’t need to carry water to the tub.”

				“Then maybe I can do the cleaning.”

				Such were the conditions under which Kadono became houseboy to Daisuke.

				Daisuke finally finished his meal and began to smoke. Kadono, who had been sitting with his back propped up against the cupboard, his arms around his knees, decided enough time had passed for him to try another question. “Sensei, how’s your heart this morning?” He had learned of Daisuke’s habit a few days earlier, and his tone was slightly bantering.

				“So far it’s all right.”

				“You make it sound as if it might be in danger tomorrow. The way you worry over your body, Sensei, you’re going to end up really sick someday.”

				“I am sick already.”

				Kadono only said “Oh,” and stared at Daisuke’s healthy complexion and the ample flesh about his shoulders, visible even through his clothes. After such conversations Daisuke invariably felt sorry for this youth. He could only think that Kadono’s skull was crammed with the brains of a cow, for he could follow but half a block down the avenue of conversation that ordinary people walked. On the rare occasions when Daisuke so much as turned a corner, he was immediately lost. And of course, he could never set foot on even the bottom rung of a ladder upon which the foundations of logic were vertically laid. As for his sensitivity, it was a sorrier case still. He gave the impression that his nervous system was a network of coarse straw. Observing the state of Kadono’s existence, Daisuke wondered to what end the youth ventured to breathe and subsist. But Kadono idled away unconcerned. Not only was he unconcerned, he tacitly understood that this very idling conferred upon him a claim to kinship with Daisuke and he was apt to behave more than a little triumphantly. Moreover, playing up his body’s dogged strength, he would close in on the sensitive points of his master’s high-strung nature. Daisuke, in turn, regarded his own nerves as the tax he had to pay for his uniquely keen speculative powers and acute sensibilities. It was the anguish that echoed from the achievement of a lofty education; it was the unwritten punishment dealt to natural aristocrats, those designated by heaven. It was precisely by submitting to these sacrifices that he had been able to become what he was. Indeed, there were times when he recognized the very meaning of life in these sacrifices. Kadono could not begin to understand this.

				“Kadono, wasn’t there any mail?”

				“Mail? Oh yes. A postcard and a letter. I left them on your desk. Shall I get them?”

				“I suppose I could go over there.”

				Given this uncertain response, Kadono got up and brought the postcard and letter. On the postcard was scribbled in light ink this exceedingly simple message: “Arrived in Tokyo yesterday; put up at above inn; would like to see you tomorrow morning.’’ On the front, the names of an inn at Urajimbōchō and of the sender, Hiraoka Tsunejirō, had been dashed off as carelessly as the message.

				“So he’s here already. He must have come in yesterday,” Daisuke murmured as if to himself as he picked up the envelope, which was addressed in his father’s hand. His father first announced that he had returned two or three days before, that there was no particular hurry but that there were many things he wished to discuss and Daisuke was to come as soon as this letter reached him. Then the letter turned to such desultory matters as how it had been too early for the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, how crowded and uncomfortable the express train had been, etc., etc. Folding up the letter, Daisuke compared the two pieces of mail with a peculiar expression on his face. He then summoned Kadono.

				“Kadono, will you go make a phone call? To my house.” “Yes, to your house. What should I say?”

				“That I have an engagement today—I’m supposed to see someone so I can’t come. I’ll come tomorrow or the day after.”

				“I see. To whom?”

				“The old man’s come back from a trip and says he wants to talk to me. But you don’t have to get him on the phone. Just give the message to whoever answers.”

				“Yes, I will.”

				Kadono went out noisily. Daisuke left the morning room and went through the living room to his study. He noticed that it had been nicely cleaned; the fallen camellia had been swept away. He went over to the bookshelves at the right of the vase and lifted a heavy photograph album from the top. Still standing, he undid the gold clasp and began flipping the pages until he came to the middle, where he suddenly rested his hand. There was a portrait of a woman about twenty years old. Daisuke gazed intently at her face.


				DAISUKE WAS THINKING of changing and going to Hiraoka’s inn when Hiraoka made a timely appearance. He casually rode the ricksha right up to the gate. The voice that cried “Here it is, here it is,” ordering the driver to lower the shaft, had not changed in the three years since the two had parted. No sooner had he seen the old woman who met him at the door than he was explaining that he had forgotten his wallet at the inn, that he needed to borrow some change; this, too, was the Hiraoka of their school days. Daisuke went running to the door and all but dragged his old friend in.

				“How are things? Come in and relax.”

				“Oh, I see you’ve got chairs,” Hiraoka observed and threw his body heavily into the easy chair. To judge from the way he handled himself, he set not a penny’s value on his rather ample flesh. He leaned his shaven head against the back of the chair and looked around the room for a moment.

				“Not a bad house. Better than I expected,” he praised.

				Without answering, Daisuke opened a cigarette case. “So, how have things been?”

				“How? Why, you know—I’ll tell you all about it by and by.”

				“You used to write a lot, so I could tell how things were. But lately you haven’t written at all.”

				“I must owe letters to everyone I know.” Hiraoka abruptly removed his glasses and, pulling out a wrinkled handkerchief from his breastpocket, began to wipe them, blinking rapidly all the while. He had been nearsighted since their student days. Daisuke watched him intently.

				“But how about you, how have you been?” he asked, pulling the slender bows over his ears and holding them there with his hands.

				“There’s nothing new with me.”

				“That’s the way it should be. There’s been too much new with me.” Hiraoka knitted his brows and began to stare at the garden. Suddenly, in an altered tone, he said, “Look, there’s a cherry tree over there. It’s just begun to bloom, hasn’t it. The climate’s so different here.”

				The conversation had lost its touch of intimacy. Daisuke answered without interest, “It must be pretty warm over there.”

				With unexpected, almost excessive vigor, Hiraoka came back, “Yes, it’s quite warm.” It was as if he had been startled into a sudden awareness of his own presence. Daisuke looked at his face once more. Hiraoka lit a cigarette. The old woman finally appeared with the tea, putting a tray on the table and apologizing all the while that it had taken so long because she had put cold water into the kettle. While she chattered the two stared at the red sandalwood tray; then seeing that they ignored her, the old woman gave a little self-conscious laugh and left the room.

				“What’s that?”

				“The maid I hired. I’ve got to eat, after all.” “Gracious, isn’t she.”

				Daisuke curled his rosy lips and laughed depreciatingly. “She’s never served in a place like this before; it can’t be helped.”

				“Why didn’t you bring someone over from home? There must be a good many of them there.”

				“Yes, but they’re all young,” answered Daisuke seriously.

				At this, Hiraoka laughed heartily for the first time. “Why, so much the better if they’re young!”

				“Anyway, it’s not good to have somebody from home.” “Is there anyone besides that old woman?”

				“There’s the houseboy.”

				Kadono had come back and was talking with the old woman in the kitchen.

				“Is that all?” “That’s all. Why?”

				“You haven’t got a wife yet?”

				The hint of a blush crossed Daisuke’s face, but he quickly resumed his normal, nondescript manner: “You know I would have let you know if I’d gotten married. But how about you …” and he stopped abruptly.

				Daisuke and Hiraoka had known each other since middle school. At one time they had been almost like brothers, especially during the year following their graduation. In those days their greatest pleasure had been to confide in each other absolutely and to offer each other words of encouragement. On more than a few occasions these words had been translated into action; hence, they firmly believed that the words they exchanged, far from being a mere source of pleasure, always held the possibility of some sort of sacrifice. As soon as one sacrificed, his pleasure immediately turned into anguish: but of this simple truth they went unaware.

				At the end of that year Hiraoka got married and was transferred to a Kansai branch of the bank for which he worked. On the day of their departure Daisuke went to Shimbashi Station to see the young couple off. Clasping Hiraoka’s hand, he cheerfully urged him to come back soon. Hiraoka said it couldn’t be helped, that he had to put in his time. The words were tossed out carelessly, but from behind his glasses there gleamed an almost enviable pride. When he saw this, Daisuke suddenly found his friend odious. He went home and shut himself in his study and spent the rest of the day brooding. He was to have taken his sister-in-law to a concert, but he canceled the engagement, causing her not a little anxiety.

				Hiraoka wrote regularly: a postcard announcing his safe arrival, news of setting up a household, and, when that was over, accounts of his job and hopes for the future. Daisuke responded conscientiously to each letter. Curiously enough, each time he wrote he experienced a certain uneasiness. At times, when he no longer wished to put up with the discomfort, he stopped in the middle. Only when Hiraoka expressed some gratitude for what Daisuke had done in the past did his brush flow easily, allowing him to compose a relatively fluent response.

				In time, however, these exchanges became less frequent, dwindling from once a month to once every two, even three months, until finally, Daisuke did not write at all and began to feel apprehensive about that. Sometimes, just to rid himself of this tension, he moistened an envelope. But after six months had passed in this way, his mind and heart appeared to have undergone a change, so that it no longer mattered whether he wrote to Hiraoka or not. In fact, after establishing his own household he let a year go by before bothering to send his new address, and then he wrote only because it was the season for New Year’s cards.

				Nevertheless, for certain reasons, Daisuke was unable to forget Hiraoka. He remembered him from time to time and occasionally tried to imagine how he might be getting along. But he never went so far as to inquire after him, feeling neither the courage nor the urgency to worry to that extent. In any event, he had let the time slip by until suddenly, two weeks ago, he had received a letter from Hiraoka. In the letter, Hiraoka announced his intention of leaving the branch office soon and returning to Tokyo. He did not, however, want Daisuke to think of the move as one ordered by the office, implying promotion. He had other plans; he had decided to change jobs, and upon his arrival in Tokyo he might have need of Daisuke’s good offices. It was unclear whether the last remark was intended in earnest or simply added as a matter of form, but it was apparent that some drastic change of fortune had befallen Hiraoka. When he realized this, Daisuke was startled.

				Therefore, he was anxious to hear all the details as soon as he saw Hiraoka; unfortunately, their conversation, once derailed, obstinately refused to return. If Daisuke seized an opportune moment and raised the topic himself, Hiraoka would parry, saying he would talk about it at length some day; the talk went nowhere. Daisuke finally suggested, “It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. Why don’t we get something to eat?” But Hiraoka still persisted with his “one of these days, when there’s more time,” until Daisuke simply dragged him to a Western-style restaurant nearby.

				There, the two of them drank a good deal. When they agreed that as far as eating and drinking went they were the same as ever, the ice was broken at last. Daisuke began an animated account of an Easter celebration he had seen two or three days before at St. Nicholas’. The festival had begun at midnight, when all the world was asleep. After circling a long corridor the worshipers entered the sanctuary and were greeted with thousands of lighted candles. A procession of robed priests passed on the other side, their black shadows looming against the stark walls. Hiraoka listened with his cheeks resting on his palms, his eyelids red behind his glasses. That night, around two o’clock, Daisuke had walked alone along the wide avenue of Ōnari, over the tracks that ran straight through the midnight darkness until he arrived at the Ueno woods. There, he stepped into the midst of cherry blossoms lit by street lights.

				“It’s nice, you know, cherry blossoms at night without a soul around,” he said.

				Hiraoka emptied his glass without a word. Then he spoke, with a touch of pity. “It must be nice, though I’ve never seen it myself. As long as you can go around doing things like that, you’re pretty lucky. Once you get out into the world, it’s not so easy anymore.” Hiraoka seemed to be looking down from above at his friend’s inexperience. But for Daisuke it was not so much the content of the response, but the tone that was absurd. As far as he was concerned, that Easter night counted far more than any practical, worldly experience. So he answered, “I think there’s nothing more worthless than this so-called worldly experience. All it can do is cause pain.”

				Hiraoka widened his drunken eyes just perceptibly. “It sounds like your thinking’s changed quite a bit. . . . Wasn’t it your idea that this pain becomes a good, if bitter medicine later on?”

				“That’s just a theory I had when I was young and stupid. I gave in to all those conventional proverbs and spouted off nonsense. I don’t know how long ago I tossed that one out.”

				“But you’re going to have to get out into the world soon, right? You won’t get away with that kind of thinking then.”

				“I’ve been out in the world for some time now. It seems to me that especially since we went our separate ways, my world has grown much bigger. It’s just a different kind of world from the one you went into.”

				“Oh, go ahead and brag. You’ll have to give in sooner or later.” “Of course, if I find that I’m starving I’ll give in right away. But why should a person who doesn’t have any wants at the moment strain to taste these inferior experiences? It would be like an Indian buying an overcoat just to be ready for winter.”

				For an instant displeasure flickered at Hiraoka’s brow. Gazing ahead with his reddened eyes, he puffed at his cigarette. Daisuke, thinking that he might have gone too far, resumed in a more measured tone: “There’s a fellow I know who doesn’t know the first thing about music. He’s a schoolteacher, and he can’t make it teaching at just one place so he moonlights at three, maybe four other places. You can’t help feeling sorry for him. All he does is prepare a lesson, dash off to the classroom, then move his mouth mechanically. He doesn’t have time for anything else. When Sunday comes around, he calls it a day of rest and sleeps the whole day away. So, even if there’s a concert somewhere or a famous musician from abroad performs here, he can’t go. In other words, he’s going to die without ever having set foot in the beautiful world of music. For me, there’s no inexperience more wretched than that. Experience that’s tied to bread might be sincere, but it’s bound to be inferior. If you don’t have the kind of luxurious experience that’s divorced from bread and water, there’s no point in being human. You’re probably thinking that I’m still a child, but in the luxurious world where I live, I’m your senior by years.”

				Tapping the ashes from his cigarette, Hiraoka said in a low, dark voice, “It’s fine if you can stay in that kind of world forever.” His heavy words seemed to drag behind them a curse upon plenty.

				The two went outside, drunk. Because of the strange argument they had begun under the impetus of alcohol, they had gotten nowhere with the real business at hand—that is, Hiraoka’s situation.

				“Let’s walk a little,” Daisuke suggested. Hiraoka was apparently not as busy as he claimed, for with a few half-hearted protests, he strolled along with Daisuke. Daisuke tried to direct their steps toward the quiet side streets where they might talk more readily, and eventually, the conversation came around.

				According to Hiraoka’s account, he had tried working quite hard when he was first transferred. He had done considerable research on the economic conditions of the region in order to learn his new job well. In fact, he had even thought of doing—if given permission—a theoretical study of actual business practices. But his position was not high enough, and he had had to put away his plans and await a future opportunity. Even so, he had tried presenting a number of suggestions to the branch manager, though they had always met with cold indifference. If he so much as mentioned any sophisticated theory, the manager became peevish. His attitude seemed to be, what could a greenhorn like Hiraoka possibly understand? But the manager himself knew nothing. As Hiraoka saw it, his superior was unwilling to deal with him not because he, Hiraoka, was unworthy, but because the manager was afraid. And this was the source of Hiraoka’s chagrin. More than once they had verged on a clash.

				As time passed, however, Hiraoka’s annoyance began to fade, and he increasingly felt comfortable in his surroundings. He made an effort to feel that way, and accordingly, the branch manager’s attitude toward him changed bit by bit. There were even times when he took the initiative to ask Hiraoka’s opinion. And since Hiraoka was no longer fresh out of the university, he was careful to avoid complex issues that would be incomprehensible, hence awkward, for the manager.

				“But it’s not as if I went out of my way to flatter him or manipulate him,’’ Hiraoka emphasized.

				Daisuke answered solemnly, “No, of course not.”

				The branch manager began to show concern for Hiraoka’s future. He even promised, half jokingly, that since it was his turn to return to the main office, Hiraoka should go with him. By that time Hiraoka was quite experienced and had gained considerable trust; his social circles had widened, and he no longer had time for study. At that point, he had begun to feel that study would only get in the way of practice anyway.

				Just as the branch manager confided everything to him, so Hiraoka had trusted in a subordinate named Seki and consulted him on various matters. This Seki became involved with a geisha and ended up embezzling company funds. When this was exposed, there was no question of Seki’s dismissal, of course, but due to circumstances, it seemed that even the manager might be placed in an awkward situation. Hiraoka had shouldered the responsibility and submitted his resignation.

				This was the gist of Hiraoka’s story. Daisuke thought that Hiraoka might have been urged by the manager to tender his resignation, to judge from his last words, “The higher you get in a company, the more you can get away with. If you think about it, it’s really too bad that a fellow like Seki had to get fired for embezzling a piddling sum like that.”

				“So the branch manager’s got the best deal of all?” Daisuke asked. “I guess you could look at it that way.” Hiraoka’s response was slurred.

				“What happened to the money that fellow took?”

				“Oh, it didn’t amount to much, so I paid it off.”

				“I’m surprised you had it. It looks as if you were getting a pretty good deal too.”

				Hiraoka’s face turned bitter, and he darted a sharp glance at Daisuke. “Even if I was, it’s all gone. Now I’m having a tough time just making ends meet. I borrowed that money.”

				“Oh.” Daisuke’s response was calm. He was a man who did not lose his normal tone of voice under any circumstances. And from this tone, subdued but no less apparent, there emerged a note of leisure.

				“I borrowed from the manager to cover up that hole.”

				“I wonder why he didn’t lend to this fellow Seki himself.”

				Hiraoka did not answer and Daisuke did not press the issue. The two walked on in silence.

				Daisuke guessed that Hiraoka had not told all, but he knew he did not have the right to take another step forward in pursuit of the truth. Furthermore, he was too much an urbanite to have his curiosity aroused over something like this. Daisuke, who lived in twentiethcentury Japan, Daisuke, who had barely reached the age of thirty, had already arrived at the province of nil admirari. His thinking was hardly so unsophisticated as to be shocked by an encounter with the darker side of man. His senses were hardly so wearied as to take pleasure in sniffing at the hackneyed secrets Hiraoka might harbor. Or, from another angle, one might say they were so fatigued that stimuli many times more pleasurable could not have satisfied them.

				Thus had Daisuke evolved in his private, distinctive world, which bore almost no resemblance to Hiraoka’s. (It is a regrettable phenomenon that behind every evolution, past and present, lies regression.) But Hiraoka knew nothing of Daisuke’s development. He seemed to regard him as the same naive youth of three years ago. If he were to bare his soul before this little master and confide to him all his weaknesses, it might be like a farmhand’s tossing horse manure before the startled young lady of the house. Better not take such a risk and incur Daisuke’s displeasure—this was how Daisuke read Hiraoka’s thoughts. It seemed to him stupid that Hiraoka walked along without answering him. To the extent that Hiraoka regarded him as a child— perhaps even more so—Daisuke had begun to view Hiraoka in the same light. But when the two resumed their conversation some two or three blocks later, not a trace of this feeling showed.

				“So, what are you planning to do from now on?” “Well …”

				“Maybe, with all the experience you’ve built up, it would be best to stay in the same business?”

				“Well, that would depend on the circumstances. Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk it over with you. What do you think, is there a chance I could get something in your brother’s company?”

				“I’ll ask him about it; I have to go home anyway in the next two or three days. But I wonder …”

				“If there isn’t anything in business, I’m thinking of trying the newspapers.”

				“That might not be bad either.”

				The two walked toward the streetcar stop. Hiraoka, who had been watching the top of the train approaching in the distance, suddenly announced that he was going to take it. Daisuke assented without attempting to detain him, but neither did he make any move to part. He walked on to the red pole marking the stop. There he asked, “How’s Michiyo-san?”

				“She’s the same as ever, thanks. She sends her regards. I was going to bring her today, but the train ride must not have agreed with her; she was complaining of a headache so I left her at the inn.”

				The streetcar came to a halt before the two. Hiraoka started to hurry toward it, but stopped at Daisuke’s warning. It was not his train.

				“That was a shame about the baby.”

				“Yes, it was too bad. Thanks for your card. It might as well not have been born if it was going to die.”

				“And—since then?”

				“No, nothing yet. There’s probably no chance now. Her health isn’t too good.”

				“Well, when you’re moving around like this, it’s probably easier not to have a kid.”

				“That’s true, too. Maybe if I were single like you, it’d be even better—more relaxed.”

				“Well, why not become single?”

				“Don’t kid me. Anyway, my wife keeps wondering if you’ve go tten married yet:’

				The streetcar arrived.


				DAISUKE’S FATHER, NAGAI TOKU, was old enough to have seen the battlefield during the Restoration, but he was still in robust health. After quitting the civil service he had entered the business world, and while trying his hand at this and that, money had seemed to accumulate naturally, until, in some fourteen or fifteen years’ time, he had found himself a wealthy man.

				Daisuke had an older brother named Seigo. After finishing school, he had gone straight into a company with which his father had ties, so that by now he held a position of considerable authority. He had a wife, Umeko, and two children. The older of these was a boy, Seitarō, now fifteen years of age. The girl, Nui, was three years younger.

				Besides Seigo, there was an older sister, but she had married a diplomat and they now made their home in the West. There had been another brother between Seigo and this sister, and still another between her and Daisuke, but both of them had died young. Their mother was dead as well.

				Such was the composition of Daisuke’s family. The married sister and Daisuke, who had recently set up his own household, were gone, so that left five people, including the children, in the main house.

				Once a month without fail, Daisuke went home for money. He lived on money that could be specified neither as his father’s nor his brother’s. When bored, he went more frequently. He would tease the children, play a game of go with the houseboy, or engage his sister-in-law in theater talk.

				Daisuke was fond of his sister-in-law. Hers was a character in which Tempō mannerism and Meiji modernism were ruthlessly patched together. Once she had gone to the trouble of ordering an inordinately expensive piece of brocade with an unpronounceable name through her sister in France. She had cut it up with four or five other people to fashion into obi. Later, when it was discovered that the material had been exported from Japan, the family had a good laugh. It was Daisuke who had investigated the matter by checking the display cases of Mitsukoshi. Umeko also liked Western music and was easily persuaded to accompany Daisuke to his concerts. At the same time, she showed an unusual interest in fortunetelling, idolizing Sekiryūshi and a certain master Ojima. On two or three occasions Daisuke had tagged along in a ricksha to keep her company on her visits to these fortunetellers.

				These days, Seitarō was completely absorbed in baseball and sometimes Daisuke would toss him a few pitches. He was a child with a peculiar ambition: every year, at the beginning of the summer when all the hot-potato venders converted into ice parlors, Seitarō liked to be the first to run over and buy ice cream, well before the first hint of perspiration. When there was no ice cream, he contented himself with ices and still came home triumphant. Lately, he was saying that he wanted to be the first person to enter the new sumō wrestling hall as soon as it was completed. Once he asked if Daisuke knew any wrestlers.

				Nui was given to answering everything with “I’m warning you, you’d better watch out.’’ She also changed her hair ribbon several times a day. She had recently begun violin lessons, and as soon as she got home, she would practice what she had learned, producing sawlike noises. But she would never play if someone was watching. Since she shut herself up in her room and squeaked away, her parents thought she must be quite good. Daisuke was the only one who would ever peek in on her, at which times she would scold, “You’d better watch out.”

				Daisuke’s brother was often away from the house. When he was especially busy the only meal he took at home was breakfast. The children had no idea what he did with the rest of his day and Daisuke was equally ignorant on this point. In fact, he had decided that it was preferable not to know; as long as it was unnecessary, he did not probe into his brother’s outside activities.

				Daisuke was enormously popular with the children, reasonably so with his sister-in-law. With his brother, he could not tell. On the rare occasions when they met, they exchanged stories about their experiences with women. They talked perfectly nonchalantly, like men of the world trading common gossip.

				Daisuke’s biggest headache was his father, who, in spite of his age, kept a young mistress. Daisuke had no objections to this; indeed, he was rather in favor of it, for he thought that it was only those who lacked the means who attacked the practice. His father was quite a disciplinarian. As a child, there were times when this had sorely troubled Daisuke, but now that he was an adult, he saw no reason why he should let it disturb him. No, what bothered Daisuke was that his father confused his own youth with Daisuke’s. Hence, he insisted that unless Daisuke adopted the same goals with which he himself had ventured into the world long ago, it would not do. Since Daisuke had never asked what would not do, the two had not quarreled. As a child, Daisuke was possessed of a violent temper and, at eighteen or nineteen, had even come to blows with his father once or twice. But time passed and soon after he finished school, his temper had suddenly subsided. Since then, he had never once been angry. His father believed this to be the consequence of the discipline he had imparted, and he secretly prided himself.

				In actuality, this so-called discipline had succeeded only in slowly cooling the warm sentiments binding father and son. At least Daisuke thought so. His father had completely reversed this interpretation. No matter what happened, they were of the same flesh and blood. The sentiment that a child felt toward a parent was endowed by heaven and could not possibly be altered by the parent’s treatment of the child. There might have been some excesses, but these had occurred in the name of discipline, and their results could not touch the bond of affection between father and son: so Daisuke’s father, influenced by the teachings of Confucianism, firmly believed. Convinced that the simple fact of bestowing life upon Daisuke permanently guaranteed him grateful love in the face of any unpleasantness or pain, his father had pushed his way. And in the end, he had produced a son who was coldly indifferent to him. Admittedly, his attitudes had changed considerably since Daisuke finished school. He was even surprisingly lenient in some areas. Still, this was only part of the program designed at the moment Daisuke was delivered into this world, and it could not be construed as a response to whatever inner changes the father might have perceived in his son. To this day he was completely unaware of the negative results his plan of education had yielded.

				His father was enormously proud of having gone to war. Given the slightest opportunity, he was apt to dismiss the likes of Daisuke with sweeping scorn; they were useless, those fellows, because they had never fought; they had no nerve. He spoke as if “nerve” were man’s most glorious attribute. Daisuke felt an unpleasant taste in his mouth every time he had to listen to such speeches. Courage might well have been an important prerequisite to survival in the barbaric days of his father’s youth, when life was taken right and left, but in this civilized day and age, Daisuke regarded it as a piece of equipment primitive as the bow and arrow. Indeed, it seemed plausible to him that many qualities incompatible with courage were to be valued far above it. After his father’s last lecture Daisuke had laughed about it with his sister-in-law, saying that according to their father’s theory, a stone statue would have to be admired above all else.

				Needless to say, Daisuke was cowardly. He could feel no shame in this. There were even occasions when he proudly styled himself a coward. Once, as a child, at his father’s instigation he had gone to the cemetery in Aoyama all by himself in the middle of the night. He had withstood the eeriness of the place for one hour, then, unable to endure it any longer, had come home pale as a sheet. At the time he himself was somewhat chagrined. The next morning, when his father laughed at him, he found the old man hateful. According to his father, it had been customary for the boys of his day, as part of their training, to get up in the middle of the night and set out all alone for Sword’s Peak, some two and a half miles north of the castle, where they climbed to the top and waited in a small temple to greet the sunrise. “In those days we started out with a different understanding from young people nowadays,” he observed.

				The old man who had uttered such words, who even now might utter them again, cut a pitiful figure in Daisuke’s eyes. Daisuke disliked earthquakes. There were times when, seated quietly in his study, he could feel their approach far in the distance. Then he would begin to think that everything—the cushion beneath him, the floor, and even the main pillar—was shaking. Daisuke believed that for him, this was the natural response. People like his father were either primitives with undeveloped nervous systems or fools who persisted in deceiving themselves.

				Now Daisuke sat face to face with his father. The small room had extended eaves, so that as one looked out upon the garden while seated, the edge of the eaves seemed to cut off the view. At least, the sky did not look very wide from this room. But it was a quiet room, where one could settle down.

				His father was smoking cut tobacco and had drawn a longhandled brazier close to him. From time to time he tapped off the ashes and the sound echoed pleasantly in the quiet garden. Daisuke arranged four or five gold cigarette holders in the hand brazier; he had tired of blowing the smoke through his nostrils, so he sat with folded arms, studying his father’s face. For all the years, there was a considerable amount of flesh left to that face. Yet the cheeks were sunken and the skin on the eyes sagged beneath the heavy brows. The hair was yellow rather than snowy white. When he addressed someone, he had a habit of distributing his glances equally between the listener’s face and his knees. These eye movements made the whites flash from time to time, producing a peculiar sensation in his listener.

				The old man was holding forth: “Man must not think of himself alone. There’s society. There’s country. Without doing a few things for others, one doesn’t feel right. Take you, for instance, you can’t possibly feel very good just loafing around. Of course, it would be different with an uneducated, lower-class sort, but there’s no reason why a man who has received the highest education should be able to enjoy doing nothing. What one has learned becomes interesting only when applied to actual practice.’’

				“Yes, that’s right,” Daisuke had been answering. Being hard pressed to respond to his father’s sermons, Daisuke had made it his practice to give vague, perfunctory answers. As far as he was concerned, his father’s ideas were always but half thought out. Having resolved a given question to his liking, he would launch out from that point; thus there was not an ounce of significance to what he said. Furthermore, though he might seem to be arguing for altruism as the guiding principle one minute, he would switch to the protection of self-interest the next. His words flowed abundantly, with an air of great importance, but their content was worth hardly a moment of their listener’s reflection. To attack his logic at its foundations and bring it tumbling down would have been an enormously difficult task, and what was more, an impossible one; Daisuke had concluded it was preferable to leave it untouched altogether. His father, however, starting from the premise that Daisuke belonged to his solar system, assumed that it was his right to determine every inch of his son’s orbit. Hence, Daisuke had no choice but to revolve politely around the sun that was his father.

				“If you don’t like business, that’s that. Making money is surely not the only way to serve Japan. I won’t object if you don’t earn any money. I can understand that you wouldn’t take it well if I meddled in your affairs merely for the sake of money. As far as money is concerned, I will continue to support you as I always have. I don’t know how many years are left me, and I can’t take it with me when I die. Your monthly allowance is no problem. So stand up and do something. Do your duty as a citizen. You’re thirty now, aren’t you?”


				“It is unseemly to be idle and unemployed at thirty.” Daisuke had never considered himself idle. He simply regarded himself as one of those higher beings who disposed of a large number of hours unsullied by an occupation. Whenever his father started in this vein, Daisuke felt sorry for him. The crystallization of heightened intellectual and esthetic sentiments—the fruit of all those days and months spent in meaningful pursuits—none of this would register on his father’s infantile mind. Since there was nothing else to be said, Daisuke answered seriously, “Yes, it is a problem.” The old man could not for a moment cease to regard Daisuke as a child, and since in fact his responses invariably had a childlike air about them, being simple and unworldly, the old man was scornful, and complained that little gentlemen were useless even when they grew up. If, on the other hand, Daisuke’s tone was cool, restrained, unabashed, and totally nonchalant, he became annoyed that perhaps this son had gone beyond his reach.

				“You’re in good health?”

				“I haven’t caught a cold in the past two or three years.”

				“You don’t seem to be on the stupid side, either. Didn’t you have a fairly strong record at school?’’

				“Well, yes.”

				“Then it’s a shame to play around like this. What was his name— you know, the fellow who used to come over to talk with you? I saw him two or three times myself.”

				“Do you mean Hiraoka?”

				“That’s the one, Hiraoka. Now, he didn’t have much, but didn’t he go somewhere right after graduation?”

				“But he blundered and came back.”

				The old man could not suppress a sardonic smile. “Why?” “Why? Probably because he works to eat.”

				The old man could not understand Daisuke’s meaning. “I wonder if he didn’t do something unpleasant.”

				“He probably does the right thing for each particular set of circumstances, but the right thing, in the end, probably turns out to be a blunder.”

				“Oh,” was the doubtful answer. Then, changing his tone, he launched out: “When young people ‘blunder,’ it’s because they are lacking in sincerity and devotion. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, and judging from all my experiences, success is impossible without these two qualities.”

				“Aren’t there times when one fails because of sincerity and devotion?”

				“No, never.”

				A frame enclosing the words “Sincerity is the way of Heaven”* hung conspicuously above the old man’s head. He had had it done by the former lord of his clan and prized it greatly. Daisuke hated it ardently. First of all, he disliked the hand. Secondly, the sentiment did not suit him. After the words “Sincerity is the way of Heaven,” he would like to have added, “and not the way of man.”

* From the Chung Yung (the Doctrine of the Mean), one of the four books compiled during the Sung dynasty (960–1279), thought to embody the heart of Confucian teaching.

				Long ago, when the clan finances had deteriorated beyond repair, it was Daisuke’s father who had taken the responsibility of putting things in order. He had gathered two or three merchants who had close ties with the clan lord, and removing his sword and bowing to the ground, had begged for temporary loans. Since he had no way of knowing if they could be repaid, he had honestly admitted as much, and was successful on this account. It was then that he had asked his lord to write out these words. Since then, Nagai had hung the frame in his living room and gazed at it night and day. Daisuke could not count the number of times he had been made to listen to this story.

				Then, fifteen or sixteen years ago, monthly expenditures began to accumulate in the old lord’s household, threatening the finances so painstakingly revived. Once again, on the basis of proven ability, Nagai was entrusted with their restoration. This time he tried heating the bath himself and discovered a discrepancy between the amount he spent on firewood and the figure indicated in the books. Beginning with a thorough investigation of this point, he dedicated his soul night and day for an entire month to this problem until finally, he arrived at the perfect technique for heating the bathtub. Since then, the old lord had lived in relative comfort.

				Given this past history, and given that he had not ventured to carry his thinking one step beyond this past, Nagai continued to proclaim the twin virtues of sincerity and devotion.

				“I don’t know why, but it seems that you are lacking in sincerity and devotion. That won’t do. That’s why you can’t do anything.”

				“I am both sincere and devoted. It’s just that I can’t apply these qualities to human affairs.”

				“And why is that?”

				Daisuke was again at a loss for a reply. Sincerity and devotion were not ready-made commodities that one kept stored in the heart. Like the sparks produced by rubbing iron and stone, they were phenomena that arose from a genuine encounter between two human beings. They were not so much qualities to be possessed as they were by-products of a spiritual exchange. Hence, without the right individuals, they could not come into being.

				“Father, the words of the Analects or Wang Yang-ming are like gold plate, and you’ve swallowed them whole. That must be why you talk the way you do.”

				“Gold plate?”

				Daisuke was silent for a moment. “The words are still gold plate when they come out of your mouth.” Although his curiosity was aroused, Nagai would not venture to grapple with this bookish, eccentric, naive youth’s epigrammatic words.

				Some forty minutes later, the old man changed into street clothes and took the ricksha somewhere. Daisuke saw him to the entranceway, then returned and opened the door to the living room. This room, a recent addition to the house, was Western in style, and many of its furnishings had been executed by professionals according to Daisuke’s design. Of particular interest to Daisuke was the decorative painting around the transom, the result of lengthy discussion with a certain artist acquaintance. Daisuke stood up and examined the colors unfolding like a picture scroll, and was pained to discover that they were not nearly as pleasing as the last time he had seen the painting. Disturbed, he began to scrutinize each section when suddenly, his sister-in-law entered.

				“Oh, here you are,” she said, adding immediately, “Have you seen my comb anywhere?” It turned out to be at the foot of the sofa. She had loaned it the day before to Nuiko, who had misplaced it. As if supporting her head in both hands, she began to thrust the comb into her hair, which was done in Western style; meanwhile, she looked up at Daisuke and teased, “Standing around, looking blank as usual.”

				“I got another lecture from Father.”

				“Again? You do get scolded a lot. How tactless of him, to get going as soon as he’s home. But you haven’t been very good either. You don’t do a thing your father wants you to.”

				“I never argue with him. I always restrain myself and listen to everything.”

				“That’s what makes it worse. Whenever he says something, you say yes, yes, but you don’t do it.”

				Daisuke gave a wry smile and was silent. Umeko sat down facing him. She was a slender, dark-complexioned woman with clear eyebrows and thin lips. “Come, have a seat. I’ll keep you company for a while.”

				But Daisuke remained standing, studying his sister-in-law’s appearance. “That’s a funny collar you’re wearing today.”

				“This?” Umeko drew in her chin and knit her brows, trying to see her collar. “Oh, I bought this the other day.”

				“It’s a nice color.”

				“Never mind that, just sit down.”

				Daisuke took a seat directly opposite hers. “I’m seated.” “What did you get a scolding about today?”

				“I’m not really sure. But I was a little surprised by Father’s ‘service to society and country.’ It seems that he’s been serving without a moment’s rest since he was eighteen.”

				“That’s how he’s gotten where he has.”

				“If serving society and country earns you as much money as it has Father, I wouldn’t mind doing it either.”

				“So why don’t you get serious and start doing something? You think you can make money lying down.”

				“I’ve never yet tried to make money.”

				“Even if you don’t try to make money, you spend it, so I don’t see the difference.”

				“Did my brother say something?”

				“Your brother was shocked by your behavior long ago; he doesn’t say anything anymore.”

				“That’s pretty stiff. But anyway, I think he’s more admirable than Father.”

				“Why? Oh, you awful thing, trying to flatter me. That’s what’s wrong with you. You put on a serious face and then make fun of people.”

				“Is that right?”

				“Is that right, indeed! As if we were talking about someone else! You ought to do some thinking once in a while.”

				“Every time I come here, I end up feeling like Kadono.” “What’s kadono?”

				“Oh, the houseboy at my place. If you ask him anything, he always answers, ‘Is that the way it is’ or ‘Is that right’.”

				“He says that? He must be terribly strange.”

				Daisuke paused for a moment and looked over Umeko’s shoulder between the curtains at the beautiful sky. Far in the distance there stood a tall tree. It had sprouted light brown shoots all over, and the soft tips of its branches melted into the sky, as if blurred by a drizzle.

				“The weather has turned nice, hasn’t it? Shall we go cherry-blossom viewing somewhere?”

				“Yes, let’s. I’ll go. So tell me.” “Tell you what?”

				“What Father said.”

				“He said a lot of things, but I don’t think I could repeat them so that they would make any sense; I’m not smart enough.”

				“There you go again, playing the fool. I know all about it.” “Then let me hear about it.”

				Umeko drew herself up a little primly. “You’ve become rather free with your tongue these days.”

				“Oh, it’s nothing you can’t handle. Anyway, it’s terribly quiet here today. Where are the children?”

				“The children are at school.”

				A young chambermaid, sixteen or seventeen years old, opened the door and poked her head in to deliver the message that the master was on the phone and wished to speak to the mistress. She stood waiting for an answer. Umeko got up immediately. Daisuke also got up. As he started to follow her out of the room, Umeko turned and said, “You stay here. I want to talk to you about something.”

				Daisuke was always amused when his sister-in-law assumed this commanding stance with him. “Please take your time,” he said, and began to study the painting again. After some time, the colors no longer seemed to be painted upon the wall at all, but were leaping from his pupils and flying out to the wall, where they became glued. Soon, by controlling the colors that flew from his eyes, Daisuke was able to correct all the places that had displeased him, and finally, having achieved the most beautiful hues that his imagination could conjure, he sat in a state of rapture. Just then, Umeko came in and Daisuke was brought back to his usual self.

				As he listened politely to what she had to say, Daisuke understood that she was raising the marriage issue again. Even before he had finished school, Daisuke had been presented with a variety of prospective brides, both through pictures and in person, thanks to Umeko’s efforts. At first, he had made his escape in conventionally acceptable objections, but in the past two years or so, he had become brazen. His complaints were curious: this one’s mouth was set at the wrong angle with her cheeks; that one’s eyes were disproportionate to the width of her face; another had misplaced ears. Since they were never the normal excuses, Umeko herself began to wonder. She concluded that she had exerted herself too much, that that was why Daisuke had begun to abuse her kindness and behave so irresponsibly, and that the best thing would be to abandon him to his own resources until he came begging for help. Having settled upon this, Umeko did not utter a word about marriage. But Daisuke had not seemed troubled in the least and had remained an unfathomable entity.

				But now their father had returned from his trip with a new candidate, whose family was deeply involved with the Nagais. Umeko had been told the story two or three days before and had therefore assumed that today’s interview would concern this topic. Daisuke, however, had heard nothing of the matter. Perhaps the old man had indeed summoned him with the intention of discussing it, but observing Daisuke’s attitude, had chosen silence as the wiser course for the day and deliberately avoided the topic.

				Daisuke had a peculiar relationship with this candidate. He knew her family name but not her first name. He knew nothing of her age, looks, education, or character. As for why she had been selected, he knew only too well.

				Daisuke’s father had had one older brother, named Naoki. He was but one year older and was of smaller build than Daisuke’s father, with similar features; people who did not know often took them for twins. Daisuke’s father did not go by the name of Toku in those days, but rather by the childhood name of Seinoshin.

				Just as Naoki and Seinoshin resembled each other in appearance, so were they brothers by temperament. As far as possible, they contrived to be in the same place doing the same thing. They came and went from their lessons at the same time. Indeed, at night, they read by the light of a single lamp.

				It was the autumn of Naoki’s eighteenth year. The two had been sent on an errand to Tōgakuji Temple on the outskirts of the castle town. Tōgakuji was the family temple of the lord of the clan. A priest there named Sōsui was a friend of the family, and the boys had been sent to deliver a letter to him. It was just an invitation to a game of go and required no answer, but Sōsui had kept the boys to talk about this and that, and by the time they left, it was only an hour before sunset.

				There was a festival that day and the town was bustling. The two hurried through the crowds, but just as they were about to turn a corner, they ran into a fellow named Hōguri. Hōguri and the brothers had never been on good terms. That evening Hōguri appeared to be quite drunk, and after shouting two or three words, lunged out at Naoki, sword in hand. Naoki had no choice but to draw his sword and stand up to him. His opponent had a formidable reputation for violence and was powerful in spite of his intoxicated condition. Left alone, Naoki was sure to lose. So the younger brother drew his sword, and together the two cut Hōguri to pieces.

				In those days, the understanding was that if one samurai killed another, the aggressor had to commit seppuku. The brothers went home fully resigned to their fate. Their father, too, was prepared to line them up and assist in the rite. Unfortunately, however, their mother had been invited to an acquaintance’s house for the festival and was away. Their father, out of the very human desire to let them see their mother just once more, sent for her immediately. While awaiting her return, he stalled for time by admonishing the boys and supervising their preparations of the room for the rite.

				Now it happened that their mother was visiting a distant relation named Takagi. Takagi was a man of considerable influence, a convenience in those days when the world was just beginning to stir and the samurai code was not enforced as strictly as it had once been. Moreover, the victim was a villainous youth of ill repute. So Takagi returned with the boys’ mother and persuaded their father to take no action until official instructions were handed down.

				Takagi set out to exert his good offices. He won over the chief retainer, and through him, convinced the lord himself. The victim’s father, unexpectedly enough, turned out to be a man of reason who not only deplored his son’s misconduct, but once it was established that it was he who had dealt the first blow and created the disturbance, made no move to protest the lenient treatment being sought for the boys. The brothers closeted themselves in a single room for some time as a sign of penitence. Then they slipped away without anyone’s notice.

				Three years later the older brother was killed in Kyoto by a roaming samurai. On the fourth year after the incident, the Meiji Era dawned, and five or six years after that, Seinoshin brought his parents over to Tokyo. He found a wife and changed his name to the single character one of Toku. By then, Takagi, who had saved his life, was dead, and his adopted son-in-law headed the family. Nagai tried to persuade this man to come to Tokyo, perhaps to lecture on the procedures of government service, but he refused. The man had two children. The son went to Kyoto and entered Dōshisha University. Upon graduation, he had reportedly spent several years in America, but now he was in business in Kobe, a man of considerable means. The daughter had been married to a man who ranked among the largest taxpayers in the prefecture. It was their daughter who was now being considered for Daisuke.

				“What a complicated story! I couldn’t believe it,” said Umeko to Daisuke.

				“We’ve heard it so many times from Father.”

				“Well, there’s never been any talk of marriage up to now so I didn’t pay much attention.”

				“So Sagawa had a daughter. I didn’t know at all.” “Why don’t you accept her?”

				“You’re for it?”

				“Of course I’m for it. It was fated.”

				“It might be easier to marry a girl fated by my own doings than one fated by my ancestors’.”

				“Is there such a thing?”

				Daisuke smiled ironically and did not answer.


				DAISUKE SAT BLANK, his head propped on both hands, the thin Western book he had just finished still open on his desk. His head was brimming with the last scene. . . . Far in the distance, behind trees that stood cold, two small square lamps swayed noiselessly. There the gallows had been erected. The condemned men stood in the dark. One of them complained that he had lost a shoe, that he was cold. Another asked, what? The first repeated that he had lost a shoe and was cold. Someone asked where M was. Another voice answered, here. Something large, whitish, and flat showed from between the trees. A damp wind came from its direction. It’s the ocean, said G. Presently, the lamps lit up the letter containing the sentence and the white hand—an ungloved hand—that held it. You don’t have to read it out loud, do you, someone said. His voice trembled. Soon the lamps went out. Now I’m all alone, said K. He heaved a sigh. S was dead. W was dead. M was dead. He was all alone. . . .

				The sun came up from over the ocean. They piled the bodies onto a cart. And began to pull. The stretched necks, the popped eyes, the tongues dampened by a froth of blood like a horrible flower—they piled them on and went back to the road. . . .

				Daisuke mentally reviewed the last scene from Andreev’s The Seven That Were Hanged up to this point, then drew in his shoulders and shuddered. At such times, he was overcome by intense anxiety as to what he should do if ever confronted with such a situation. When he thought about it, he knew he could not die. But still, he would be killed against his will—how cruel that was! He imagined his tortured self, trapped between the cravings of life and the oppressions of death, and as he sat picturing the agony of his wandering from one to the other, he began to feel every hair on his back stir until it was unendurable.

				His own father often told how, at the age of seventeen, he had killed a fellow clansman and had to resign himself to committing seppuku. His plan had been to serve as Daisuke’s uncle’s second and to ask Daisuke’s grandfather to be his own second when his turn came. How could he have thought of going through with such a gruesome affair! Every time his father recounted the past, Daisuke found him more distasteful than admirable. Or else he thought of him as a liar. Somehow, it would seem much more appropriate if it should turn out that his father was a liar.

				It was not just his father. There was a story like this about his grandfather also. When he was young, a fellow fencing pupil was so skilled that he had incurred someone’s envy, and one night, as he made his way through the rice fields back to the castle town, he was cut down. Daisuke’s grandfather was the first to rush to the scene, lantern in his left hand and drawn sword in his right, and beating the corpse with the sword, he was said to have shouted, Take courage, Gumpei, the wound is slight!

				Daisuke’s uncle had been killed in Kyoto when a hooded man had noisily broken into the inn where he was staying. The uncle had leaped from the second-story eaves but tripped and fell on a garden rock and was mercilessly cut down from above. The story went that his face had looked like a piece of sliced-up raw fish. Some days before he was killed, he had walked in the middle of the night from Shijō Avenue to Sanjō in high clogs, wearing a raincoat and shielding himself from the snow with an umbrella. About two hundred yards from his inn, a voice had suddenly called from behind, Master Nagai Naoki. Daisuke’s uncle had not so much as cast a glance behind, but with his umbrella held high, had continued walking to the inn door, where he opened the grating and stepped in. Then, the story continued, he slammed it shut and turned and announced, I am Nagai Naoki. What is your business?

				Daisuke’s immediate response to such stories was not admiration but terror. Before he could get around to appreciating the bravery, he was overcome by the raw smell of blood penetrating his nostrils.

				Daisuke’s current theory was that if it were possible for him to die at all, death would have to come at that instant marking the height of a paroxysmic seizure. But he was hardly the convulsive type. His hands trembled. His feet trembled. It was nothing out of the ordinary for his voice to tremble or his heart to skip a beat. But in recent years he never became agitated. Heightened agitation was a condition that naturally enabled one to approach death, and it was obvious to Daisuke that each time it occurred, it became that much easier to die. At times, out of curiosity, he wished he could at least advance to the neighborhood of that condition. Whenever he analyzed himself these days, Daisuke was startled to discover how changed he was from the self of five or six years before.

				He turned the book over on his desk and got up. The glass doors on the verandah were slightly open and a warm wind blew in gaily. It made the red petals of the potted amanthus flutter gently. Sunlight fell on the large blossoms. Daisuke bent over and peered into the flowers, then took a little pollen from the wispy stamen and carried it to the pistil, where he carefully smeared it on.

				“Did the ants get to it?” Kadono came in from the entranceway. He had on his hakama.*

* A long, divided skirt, a standard part of formal wear for men.

				Daisuke continued to stoop and lifted only his face toward Kadono. “You’ve already been?”

				“Yes, I have. Yes, they said they were going to move in tomorrow. He said he had just been thinking of coming over today.”

				“Who said? Hiraoka?”

				“Yes. Yes, it looked like he was terribly busy with something. You’re completely different, aren’t you, Sensei. If it’s ants, why don’t you try pouring vegetable oil over them? Then, when they can’t stand it and come out of their holes, you can kill them off one by one. I can do it if you want.”

				“It isn’t ants. On nice days like today, if you take the pollen and smear it on the pistil, it’ll bear fruit one of these days. I have the time, so I’m doing just as the man at the nursery said.”

				“Oh, I see. The world sure has become convenient, hasn’t it? But bonsai are nice things to have around—they’re pretty, and they give you something to look forward to.”

				Daisuke thought it too much trouble to answer him. Eventually he said, “Maybe I’ll quit fooling around for now,” and got up and sat down in the caned easy chair on the verandah. Kadono became bored and left for his own three-mat room at the side of the entrance. He was just about to open the shoji and go in when he was called back to the verandah. “Hiraoka said he was coming today?”

				“Yes, it sounded like he might come.” “Then I’ll wait for him.”

				Daisuke decided against going out. He had been rather concerned about Hiraoka since the other day.

				When he had last visited, Hiraoka’s situation was such that he could not afford to be leisurely. His story then was that there were two or three possibilities he planned to look into, but Daisuke had no idea what had become of them. He had gone twice himself to their inn in Jimbōchō. The first time Hiraoka had been out; the second time he was in, but he was standing on the threshold of the room, still in his Western clothes, scolding his wife hurriedly— or so it unmistakably seemed to Daisuke though he had caught but a glimpse when he went down the corridor unannounced and appeared before their room. Hiraoka had turned toward him slightly and said, “Oh, it’s you.” There was nothing hospitable in his face or in his manner. His wife’s pale face had peered from the room, and recognizing Daisuke, had blushed. Daisuke somehow felt awkward about sitting down. He brushed aside the mechanical invitations to come in and insisted that he had no business in particular, that he had just come to see how they were doing. If Hiraoka was about to go out, they could leave together. With that, he had stepped out as if to lead the way.

				Hiraoka said that he had wanted to find a house and settle down quickly, but he had been too busy to look for himself. Even when he would hear about a place through the inn, either the people had not moved out or the walls were being painted. He grumbled about everything all the way to the train, where they parted. Daisuke felt sorry for him and said, in that case, he would have his houseboy look for a place. Business was bad, there shouldn’t be too much trouble finding a vacancy. With this assurance, he had left Hiraoka.

				True to his promise, he had sent Kadono out to hunt. No sooner had he left than Kadono was back with a reasonable find. Daisuke had him show the couple the house, and they thought it would probably do; but since Daisuke felt an obligation to the landlord, and moreover, planned to have Kadono look further if this house did not suit them, he had sent Kadono back to get a definite answer. “I hope you went over to the landlord’s to tell him they were taking it?”

				“Yes, I stopped on the way back and told him they were moving in tomorrow.”

				Daisuke sat back in his chair and thought about the future of the couple who were setting up housekeeping for the second time in Tokyo. Hiraoka had changed considerably since they had parted at Shimbashi three years ago. His record was that of a man who had climbed but one or two rungs on the ladder of life before stumbling and falling. The only fortunate thing was that he had not climbed very far; but that meant only that there were no obvious wounds to be exposed to the eyes of society; his emotional state already betrayed signs of impairment.

				This had been Daisuke’s immediate impression the first time he saw Hiraoka. But when he considered the changes in himself over the past three years, he thought it possible that they had affected Hiraoka’s reaction toward him, and he revised his assessment. Still, when he recalled Hiraoka’s manner, his words and gestures that time Daisuke had gone to the inn and left so hurriedly with him without even going in, he was forced to return to his original conclusion. That day the center of Hiraoka’s face had been a bundle of nerve endings. Whether it was the wind or a grain of sand, he had uninhibitedly twitched his brows, which looked as if they were subject to constant irritation. Everything he said, regardless of the content, sounded restless and pressured to Daisuke. Hiraoka’s manner, in short, brought to mind a man with weak lungs who was struggling to swim through a mass of gelatin.

				“He’s in such a hurry,” Daisuke had murmured to himself after seeing Hiraoka off at the streetcar stop. Then he had thought of the wife left behind at the inn.

				Daisuke had never yet addressed Hiraoka’s wife as “Okusan.”* He always called her “Michiyo-san,” just as he had in the days before she was married. After leaving Hiraoka, he had toyed with the idea of going back to the inn—perhaps he would have a talk with Michiyo-san. But somehow, he could not go. He even stopped in his steps to think it over, and though he could find nothing wrong with his going, he still felt uneasy and could not go. If he mustered up his courage, he thought, he could do it. But for Daisuke to be so courageous would be a painful effort. Once he got home, however, he was restless and somehow dissatisfied. So he went out to drink. Daisuke could drink enormous quantities and that night he drank especially heavily.

* A general term designating married women.

				“Something must have come over me then.” Leaning back in his chair, a comparatively detached Daisuke examined his own shadow. “Did you want something?” Kadono came in again. He had taken off his hakama, so that his dumpling-like bare feet showed. Daisuke looked at his face without a word. Kadono, too, looked at Daisuke’s face, and for a moment was left standing blankly.

				“Didn’t you call me? Well, well,” he said and disappeared. Daisuke did not see anything amusing in this.

				“He said he didn’t call me, Auntie. I thought it was funny. I told you I didn’t hear him clap or anything.” These words came from the morning room, followed by laughter from Kadono and the old woman.

				Just then, the much-awaited guest arrived. Kadono, who had gone to answer the door, came back with a somewhat peculiar expression on his face. He wore this expression all the way to Daisuke’s side, where he said, almost in a whisper, “Sensei, it’s Okusan.” Daisuke left his chair without a word and went into the living room.

				Hiraoka’s wife had rather dark hair for a fair-complexioned woman. Her face was oval with clearly shaped brows. Glancing at her, one felt a vague loneliness, reminiscent of the old ukiyoe woodblock prints. Her complexion had noticeably lost its luster since their return to Tokyo. So much so that Daisuke had been a little startled the first time he saw her at the inn. Thinking she might not have recovered from the long, tiring train journey, he had asked if that was what was wrong, but was told no, she always looked like this these days. Then Daisuke had felt sorry for her.

				Michiyo had given birth one year after leaving Tokyo. The baby had died soon after, and Michiyo’s own heart seemed to have been damaged in childbirth. She had often been ill since. At first, she had just rested at home, but no matter what she did, she could not seem to make satisfactory progress. She had finally gone to a doctor; he said he could not tell for sure, but it might be a certain heart disease with a difficult name. If that was the case, then some of the blood pumped into the arteries was backing up; this was a chronic condition with little hope for a complete cure—a verdict that had alarmed Hiraoka. Perhaps because he exerted his utmost for her recovery, she regained a good deal of her spirits at the end of a year. There were many days when her complexion had its old, clear glow, and Michiyo herself was feeling quite encouraged when, about one month before their return to Tokyo, she suffered a setback. The doctor’s story was that this time, her heart was not at fault. It would never be strong, but it had certainly not worsened. He could detect no impairment in the functioning of the valves for the time being—this was what Michiyo herself told Daisuke. Then Daisuke looked at Michiyo’s face and wondered if her condition was caused by some sort of anxiety after all.

				Michiyo’s eyelids had two beautiful lines, one above the other, making a distinct fold. Her eyes were on the long and narrow side, but whenever she fixed her gaze, they somehow became extremely large. Daisuke attributed this effect to her irises. He had often observed this eye movement of hers in the days before she was married and he still remembered it well. Whenever he tried to picture her face in his mind, those black eyes, blurred as if they were misty, rose immediately, even before the outline of her face was complete.

				Shown in to the living room from the hallway, Michiyo took a seat facing Daisuke. She placed her lovely hands one above the other upon her lap. The hand she placed underneath had a ring; the one she placed above also had a ring. The latter was of modern design, a large pearl in a narrow gold setting—a gift from Daisuke three years ago in celebration of her wedding.

				Michiyo lifted her face. Daisuke, instantly recognizing those eyes, blinked in spite of himself.

				She had planned to come with Hiraoka the day after they arrived, but she had not felt well, and after that, she would have had to come by herself, so she had just not gone out at all; but today, she was just... So she began, then cut herself short. Then, as if she had suddenly remembered it, she apologized—the other day, when Daisuke came to see them, Hiraoka was about to go out, and they had been very rude. . . . “You should have stayed and waited,” she added with feminine graciousness. But her tone was subdued. It was, nevertheless, her normal tone of voice, and it served all the more to remind Daisuke of the past.

				“But he seemed to be terribly busy....”

				“Well, he is busy, as far as that goes—but it would have been all right. Even if you’d stayed. You’re being so—formal.”

				Daisuke thought of asking if something had happened between them that day, but decided against it. Normally, he might have gone so far as to ask whether it wasn’t true that she was being scolded then—her face was red, what had she done wrong? Their relationship was close enough to have permitted as much, but he felt that her present charming conversation was a painful effort to cover up an awkward situation, and he did not have the heart to joke.

				Daisuke lit a cigarette, and dangling it from his lips, leaned back in his chair and relaxed. “It’s been such a long time—shouldn’t we get something to eat?” As he said this, he thought that his manner was in some small measure comforting to the woman.

				“No thank you, not today. I can’t stay,” answered Michiyo, showing a glimpse of an old gold tooth.

				“Oh, come now.” Daisuke lifted his hands behind his head and knitting his fingers together, looked at her. She bent over and pulled out a small watch from her obi. When Daisuke gave her the pearl ring, Hiraoka had presented her with this watch. Daisuke remembered how, after buying their respective gifts at the same store, they had exchanged glances, then laughed as they went out.

				“Oh, it’s already after three. I thought it was only two. I’d stopped by places on the way over,” she explained as if to herself.

				“Are you in such a hurry?’’

				“Yes, I’d like to get back as soon as possible.”

				Daisuke took his hands from his head and tapped the cigarette ashes. “You’ve become awfully domestic in three years. I guess it can’t be helped,” he said laughingly. But there was something bitter in his tone.

				“Oh, but we’re moving tomorrow.” Michiyo’s voice was suddenly animated.

				Daisuke had completely forgotten about their moving. But taken in by her cheerful tone, he followed up ingenuously, “Then you should come for a long visit when you’re moved in.”

				“But,” Michiyo started. She was at a loss for an answer, and her forehead betrayed her confusion. She bowed her head. Presently, she lifted her face; a faint crimson had spread over it. “You see, I really came to ask you for a little favor.”

				Daisuke’s sharp intuition told him immediately what it was that Michiyo had come for. In fact, ever since Hiraoka had returned from Kyoto, Daisuke had subconsciously resigned himself to being faced with this problem one day.

				“What is it, don’t hesitate to ask.” “You couldn’t lend us some money?”

				Michiyo’s words were as guileless as a child’s but her cheeks were nonetheless red. Daisuke found Hiraoka’s situation painful indeed, that he should have to force this woman to undergo so humiliating an experience.

				Listening to her story, he discovered that it was not that they needed money for moving or for setting up a household. When they left the branch office, they had brought with them three debts; one of them had to be taken care of immediately. Hiraoka had given his word that he would pay the debt within one week of his arrival in Tokyo; for certain other reasons too, this debt could not be neglected like the others. So a worried Hiraoka had been running about since the day after their return, trying to put together the sum, but so far, it seemed, without success. That was why he had had no choice but to send Michiyo to Daisuke’s for help.

				“Is this what he borrowed from the branch manager?”

				“No, that one can be put off forever, but if he doesn’t do something about this one, it could even affect his plans here.”

				Daisuke thought that that could well be the case. When he asked the amount of the debt, it turned out to be only five hundred yen. What a trifle, he thought; yet actually, he himself had not a penny at his disposal. He realized that although it seemed as if he had never been inconvenienced for money, he was, in fact, quite restricted.

				“But why did he get into debt like this?”

				“It makes me miserable to think about it. Of course, I got sick, too, so you can say it was my fault, but ...”

				“So it was from the expenses when you were sick?”

				“No. There’s a limit to what you can spend on medicine.” Michiyo did not explain further. Nor did Daisuke have the courage to ask further. Looking at Michiyo’s pale face, he felt in it an undefined anxiety for the future.


				EARLY THE NEXT MORNING Kadono hired three carts and went to Shimbashi to pick up Hiraoka’s luggage. It had arrived long ago, but because the couple had not found a place to live, it had been left at the station. Counting the time needed to get back and forth and to load and unload the carts, this was bound to be at least a half-day job. Unless Kadono hurried, he wasn’t going to make it, Daisuke warned the minute he got out of bed. Kadono answered in his usual manner that there was nothing to it. He was unhampered by a sense of time and so could give such a breezy answer; but when Daisuke explained the circumstances to him, his face began to show a glimmer of understanding. When told that in addition to delivering the luggage, he was to stay and help until all the cleaning was done, he readily assented, saying yes, he understood, everything would be all right, and left.

				After he left, Daisuke read until past eleven o’clock. Then suddenly, he remembered a story about a man named D’Annunzio who had furnished part of his house in blue and part in red. D’Annunzio’s reasoning seemed to be that these two colors expressed the two principal moods of existence. Accordingly, rooms where excitement was called for, such as the study or the music room, should be painted in red as much as possible. Bedrooms and the like, on the other hand, where the spirit should repose, were to be done in bluish tones. Thus the poet seemed to have satisfied his curiosity by applying a psychologist’s theory.

				Daisuke was puzzled that a man so readily aroused as D’Annunzio should have required the presence of the color red, which could reasonably be deemed a potent excitant. Daisuke himself was not pleasantly affected by the brightly painted gates at shrines. Had it been possible, he would gladly have set his head adrift by itself to sleep peacefully in the deep green sea. At an exhibit the other day, someone named Aoki had a painting of a tall woman standing at the bottom of the ocean. Of all the entries, Daisuke had found this one alone to be pleasingly executed. This was because he himself wanted to be in such a submerged, tranquil mood.

				Daisuke went out to the verandah and noticed the green that was growing rampant in the garden. The flowers had already fallen; now green shoots and leaves were in their first growth. Daisuke felt the brilliant green as if it had burst in his face. He was glad, though, that there was still a subdued tone somewhere beneath all the brightness that dazzled the eye. Wearing a cap and ordinary cotton clothes, he went out the gate.

				When he came to Hiraoka’s new residence, the gate was open and the house seemed deserted. The luggage did not seem to have arrived; nor, for that matter, was there any sign of the couple. A man who looked like a ricksha driver sat alone on the verandah, smoking.

				To Daisuke’s query, the man answered yes, they had come, but they had decided that at the rate things were going, it would be past noon before their luggage would arrive, and so they had left again.

				“Did the master and mistress come together?” “Yes, they were together.”

				“And did they leave together?” “Yes, they left together.”

				“The luggage should be here soon too. Thanks for your trouble,” Daisuke said and went back to the street.

				He went to Kanda but did not feel like stopping at Hiraoka’s inn. Somehow, though, the two weighed on his mind, so he dropped in. The couple was eating side by side. A maid with a tray in her hand sat at the threshold, her back to the corridor. Daisuke called to them from behind her back.

				Hiraoka seemed startled when he saw Daisuke. His eyes were bloodshot. It was because he hadn’t slept well in two or three days, he said. Michiyo said he was exaggerating and laughed. Daisuke felt sorry but was also relieved. He refused their invitations to stay and went out to eat, then got a haircut, went to Kudan, and on the way home stopped in once again at the new home. Head wrapped in a scarf, sleeves tied back, and a long, printed underkimono sweeping in view, Michiyo was supervising the unpacking. The maid who had waited on them at the inn was also there. Hiraoka was cutting the strings on a wicker trunk on the verandah, and seeing Daisuke, laughed and asked if he wouldn’t help a little. Kadono had taken off his hakama, and with his kimono hoisted up, was carrying in a chest of drawers with the ricksha driver. “Sensei, how do you like the way I look?” he asked, and warned Daisuke not to laugh.

				The next day, as Daisuke sat at the breakfast table drinking his customary tea, Kadono came in, his face just washed and shining. “When did you get home last night, Sensei? I was so tired I just dozed off, I didn’t notice at all. Did you see me sleeping? That was pretty mean of you, Sensei. Anyway, about what time was it when you got back? Where were you until then?” As usual, he chattered effortlessly.

				Looking serious, Daisuke asked, “I hope you stayed until it was all cleaned up?”

				“Oh, yes, we got the whole place cleaned up. It sure was hard work, though. It’s different from us moving, say, because there’re so many things. Okusan stood in the middle of the room, sort of blank, just looking around at everything—it was pretty funny.”

				“Her health isn’t very good.”

				“I guess not. I thought she looked a little pale. Completely different from Mr. Hiraoka. He’s got a good build, doesn’t he? I was pretty surprised when we went to the bath together last night.”

				Daisuke soon went into his study and wrote two or three letters. One was to a friend in Korea to thank him for a piece of pottery he had sent; another was to his brother-in-law in France, asking him to look for an inexpensive Tanagra figurine.

				Past noon, as he was going out for a walk, he looked in on Kadono; he was sprawled out, fast asleep. Seeing his innocent nostrils, Daisuke became envious. As a matter of fact, he himself had had an enormously difficult time falling asleep the night before. The pocket watch he had put by his pillow, as was his custom, had made a tremendous noise. He had reached out and shoved it under the pillow. But the ticking still echoed in his head. Listening to this sound, he had finally dozed off. Even when most of his senses had slipped into the dark caverns of sleep, he was still conscious of a sewing machine that stitched through the night, its needle traveling ceaselessly through his head. Some time during the night, that sound had turned into the chirping of insects, coming deep from the lovely shrubbery at the side of the entrance. . . . When he had followed his dream this far, Daisuke felt as if he had discovered the thread that spanned the space between sleep and wakefulness.

				Daisuke was the sort of man who, once he was disturbed by something, no matter what, could not let go of it until he had pursued it to the utmost. Moreover, having the capacity to assess the folly of any given obsession, he was forced to be doubly conscious of it. Three or four years ago he had tackled the question of the process whereby his waking mind entered the realm of dreams. At night, when he had gotten under the covers and begun to doze off nicely, he would think, this is it, this is how I fall asleep. No sooner had he thought this than he was wide awake. When he had managed to doze off again, he would immediately think, here it is. Night after night, he was plagued by his curiosity and would repeat the same procedure two or three times. In the end, he became disgusted in spite of himself. He wanted somehow to escape his agony. Moreover, he was thoroughly impressed by the extent of his folly. To appeal to his conscious mind in order to apprehend his unconscious, and to try to recollect both at the same time was, as James had put it, analogous to lighting a candle to examine the dark, or stopping a top in order to study its movements; at that rate, it stood to reason that he would never again be able to sleep. He knew all this, but when night came, he still thought, now . . .

				In about a year’s time, the problem faded away without his notice. When he compared his dream of the previous night with this old problem, Daisuke had a strange feeling. It occurred to him that it would be more graceful to cut loose a part of his conscious self and, without his own knowledge, surrender it just as it was to a dream in progress. At the same time, he asked himself if this process did not resemble the state of incipient insanity. Thus far, Daisuke had never believed he could become insane, for he never became impassioned.

				During the next two or three days, neither Daisuke nor Kadono had any word from Hiraoka. In the afternoon of the fourth day, Daisuke went to Azabu to a garden party to which he had been invited. There were quite a number of guests, both men and women. The guests of honor were an immoderately tall Englishman—supposedly a member of Parliament or a businessman of some sort— and his wife, who wore pince-nez. The latter was quite a beauty, almost too beautiful to have come to a place like Japan. She proudly carried a Gifu painted parasol, which she had no doubt acquired somewhere.

				Admittedly, the weather was unusually fine that day. As he stood on the grass in his frock coat under the piercingly blue sky, the feeling that summer had already come spread from Daisuke’s shoulders to his back. The English gentleman frowned and looked up at the sky and said it was beautiful. His wife immediately responded, lovely. Since this exchange was made emphatically in high-pitched tones, Daisuke felt that compliments delivered in English were remarkable indeed.

				Even Daisuke had two or three words addressed to him by the wife. But before three minutes were up, he found it unbearable and beat a hasty retreat. After him, a young lady in kimono with her hair purposely done in traditional style, and a man who was said to have spent some years in New York on business, took over. The latter professed to be a genius at speaking English and never missed an English-language gathering. His greatest pleasure was to converse in English with Japanese, then to deliver a table speech in English. He had a habit of saying something, then laughing loudly as if it were highly amusing. From time to time the Englishman looked at him dubiously, and Daisuke thought he should at least refrain from doing that. The young lady was doing quite well, too. She was the daughter of a well-to-do man who had hired an American tutor, with whom she had practiced English. Daisuke, thinking that she excelled in language more than in looks, listened to her, utterly impressed.

				It was not because he was personally acquainted with the host or the English couple that Daisuke had been invited. An invitation had found its way to him simply because he floated in the wake of his father’s and brother’s position in society. So he made his rounds to all the guests, bowing suitably to each of them, and when that was done, began to saunter about aimlessly. Eventually, he spotted his brother. “Oh, you came,’’ said Seigo, not even touching his hand to his hat.

				“It’s quite a nice day, isn’t it.”

				“Yes, it’s fine.”

				Daisuke was not on the short side, but his brother was even taller. And on top of it, he had put on weight in the past five or six years, which made him look quite impressive.

				“Why don’t you go over there and chat with the foreigners for a while?”

				“No, never,” his brother said, grimacing. He began to toy with the gold chain hanging over his large stomach.

				“Foreigners are quite smooth, aren’t they? Too smooth. With so much flattery, even the weather’s got to behave.”

				“They have that many good words for the weather, do they? It’s a little too hot for me.”

				“For me, too,” said Daisuke.

				Then, as if they had timed it, Seigo and Daisuke pulled out their white handkerchiefs and wiped their brows. Both had on heavy silk hats.

				The brothers walked to a shady spot at the edge of the lawn and stopped. No one was around. It seemed that some sort of entertainment was beginning on the other sid