I was anxious to hear from Kiyo, so I would occasionally ask the old woman of the house if a letter from Tōkyō had arrived. Each time I asked she would reply with a sympathetic look that none had been received. The couple here, unlike in the Ikagin household, were of samurai descent and both of noble character. I had to put up with the old man's practice of chanting Noh passages every evening in a strange sort of voice, but at least he didn't filch my tea like Ikagin had. The old woman would sometimes come to engage me in conversation. She asked me why I hadn't brought my wife along to live with me here. I asked her if I looked like a married man and reminded her that I was only in my 24th year. She replied that it was perfectly natural for a man of my age to be married. She overwhelmed my objection with numerous counterexamples. Some person had taken a wife at 20, and so-and-so had two children already at 22. I told her in that case I'd take a wife, and I asked her in my best country accent to find me one. She asked with a serious look whether I meant it in earnest.
"I do mean it, I'm desperate to have a wife."
"I would guess you are. Every young person feels that way." I was impressed with this answer and had no reply.
"However, if I'm not mistaken, you've already taken your bride. I can see right through your guise."
"You must have a keen eye. How can you see right through me?"
"How? Aren't you anxiously waiting, day after day, for correspondence from Tōkyō?"
"I'm impressed. You really do have a keen eye."
"Am I right?"
"Well now, maybe you are."