After a while, Red Shirt appeared in the entryway with a lamp. He invited me in, saying his guest was no stranger, but Noda. I told him I was fine where I was, that I just needed to speak to him briefly. His face was flushed red. It appeared he and Noda were drinking.
"You mentioned earlier that I might receive a pay raise. I've had second thoughts about it and come to decline."
Red Shirt pushed his lamp forward and gazed at my face from the hallway. He seemed momentarily stupefied and unable to answer. Maybe he thought it curious to have encountered the only person in this world who would turn down a pay raise. Or maybe he was shocked that I'd returned so soon when this could certainly be discussed later. Or maybe it was a some combination of both. At any rate, he stood there in silence with an open mouth.
"When I accepted earlier, I was under the impression that Koga's transfer was in accordance with his wishes."
"It is, in part, fully aligned with his wishes."
"That's not true. He'd prefer to stay where he is. He'd rather have his current salary and remain in his family home."
"Did Koga tell you this himself?"
"No, not directly."
"Then may I ask from whom you heard it?"
"The old woman at my lodgings heard it from Koga's mother and told me this evening."
"So you heard it from the old woman at your lodgings?"
"If you'll pardon my saying so, I believe you're in the wrong on this matter. From what you've said, it sounds as though you trust this old woman's word over that of your head teacher. Is that how I'm to understand the situation?"