I returned home and thought things over. There are men in this world whose motivation escapes me. Why find fault with one's home town and set out for hardship in an unfamiliar place, especially when one owns an estate and is employed at a respectable school? I could understand the allure of a modern city with electric street cars, but Nobeoka in Hyūga? This country I'd come to had a decent harbor for landing, yet I was homesick after only a month. Nobeoka was in the middle of the middle of the mountains. According to Red Shirt, after disembarking from the boat, it was first a day's travel by wagon to Miyazaki, and then it was a further day's travel by rickshaw from Miyazaki. Even the name of the place had a backcountry ring to it. I supposed it was inhabited fifty-fifty by people and monkeys. However much of an ascetic Uranari might be, it was beyond me why he would want to go off and commune with monkeys. What eccentricity.
At this point the old woman appeared, as usual, with my dinner. I asked if we were having potatoes again today, and she told me that, no, today it was tōfu. More or less the same thing.
"I hear that Koga will be leaving us for Hyūga."
"Yes, I feel terribly sorry for the poor man."
"You may feel sorry for him, but if it's his preference then no one can stop him."
"His preference. Isn't Koga setting out to satisfy his own eccentric wanderlust?"
"I should say not. You're dead wrong and thoroughly confused on that point."
"Dead wrong, am I? Red Shirt told me so just now. If I'm dead wrong then Red Shirt is a flagrant liar."
"I'm sure whatever the head teacher said is correct, but it's also correct that Koga does not wish to go."
"Okay, then both are correct. I admire your impartiality, but what's the real story here?"
"Koga's mother came by this morning, and bit by bit she told me how this all came about."
"What did she tell you?"
"Just as we surmised, things have not gone well for the family since the father passed away. The mother went to the school principal and asked if her son's salary couldn't be increased just a little, given that he'd put in four years of service."