I went to the school each day and performed my duties, and each day when I came home my landlord would appear to "serve" me my own tea. After a week I had a general grasp of how things worked at the school, and I'd become reasonably well acquainted with my landlord and his wife. Other instructors told me how the first weeks after receiving one's letter of appointment were anxious times, as one worried over establishing one's reputation. This didn't seem to apply in my case. I would cringe each time I blundered in the classroom, but thirty minutes later it would be cleanly out of my mind. I'm the type of man who couldn't worry over anything for very long even if he tried. I was indifferent to the effect of my blunders on the students, or even to how the principal or head instructor might react. As I've said before, I'm not a man with steel nerves, but I am a man of unwavering resolve. If things didn't work out at this school then I was ready and willing to pack up and go elsewhere, so I was not about to show excessive deference to Tanuki or Red Shirt. I also felt no inclination to court the students' approval through coddling or flattery.
While I was getting along fine at the school, my lodgings were another matter. I could tolerate my landlord coming in and drinking my tea, but he also brought along his wares. The first he brought were artists' seals, of all things. He laid out ten or so in a row and suggested I buy the lot for three yen, a bargain price. I'm not a hack painter touring the countryside, so I told him I had no need for such things. The next time, he came in with a hanging scroll of the flower-and-bird genre. It was by an artist named Kazan, or something like that. He hung it in the alcove and remarked on its craftsmanship, so I responded halfheartedly that, yes, it was a nice work. He then proceeded to bore me with a lecture about there being two artists named Kazan, a Kazan something or other and a Kazan something or other, and this scroll was by the Kazan something or other. For me, he could let it go for a mere fifteen yen - how about it? I refused at first by saying I didn't have that kind of money, but he stubbornly proposed a sale on credit. I managed to fend him off by stating more bluntly that even if I had the money I wouldn't buy his scroll. On his next visit, he lugged in a large inkstone, about the size of a corner roofing tile. He mentioned several times that it was a Tankei, so to humor him I asked what a Tankei was. He explained that Tankei stones could be classified according to upper stratum, middle stratum, or lower stratum. Most recent works were of upper stratum stone, but this was certainly from the middle stratum. He directed my attention to the grain markings and noted how unusual it was to find three such marks on one stone. It felt superb in rendering ink. He pushed it toward me and suggested I try it out. I asked how much it was worth, and he told me that its owner had brought it back from China and was intent on selling it, so he could give it to me for only thirty yen. This man was no doubt a bona fide idiot. I felt could I could manage my way through the work at the school, but I wasn't sure how long I could put up with this guy pushing antiques on me.