Looking back toward the bathing district, the glow of the lantern lights was washed in moon beams. The drum beats I could hear were no doubt coming from the red-light district. The river was shallow, but its flow was rapid. The water sparkled haphazardly, almost as though fretful. When I'd wandered along the embankment about half a kilometer, a human figure came into sight ahead. Then, by the light of the moon, I discerned that it was two figures. Probably some youngsters returning to the village after bathing, though in that case they were strangely quiet, not even rendering a tune.
I walked on, and my pace was the faster, so the shadow figures gradually grew larger. One was a woman. They heard my footsteps, and when I'd drawn within 20 meters or so the man suddenly looked back. The moon was behind me. I gasped to myself when I glimpsed his face. The couple resumed walking again as before. I had a thought, so I sped up and approached them at my fastest gait. Having taken no notice, they continued on leisurely as before. I was close enough now to catch their conversation. The top of the embankment was about two meters wide, just enough room for three to walk abreast. I caught up to them without difficulty and brushed past the man's sleeve. I planted my heel two paces in front of them, spun round on it, and looked into the man's face. The moonlight hit me from the front and abruptly revealed my features, from my close-cropped head and on down to my jaw. The man drew a breath and quickly turned away. He pressed upon the woman, hastily, that they should return.
Perhaps Red Shirt intended to brush the situation off in some audacious manner, or perhaps he was too timid to acknowledge it. In any case, I wasn't the only one to suffer from the smallness of this town.