I was in a bit of a bind. A degreed scholar is a formidable adversary. He can latch onto an odd detail in one's argument and bear down relentlessly. My father used to tell me I was reckless and would come to no good, and it seemed indeed that I'd been hasty in reacting to the old woman's story and running over here. I hadn't ascertained the details from Uranari or his mother, and now I was defenseless against Red Shirt's scholarly rhetoric.
I couldn't debate him head on, but I was convinced in my heart that he was untrustworthy. The old woman was without doubt a stingy grabber, but she was no liar, and she wasn't two-faced like Red Shirt. Left with no choice, I answered as best I could.
"What you say may well be the truth. But at any rate, I respectfully decline the pay raise."
"That's even stranger yet. You came all the way back here because you'd uncovered a reason why you couldn't, in good conscience, accept a raise. Having explained away your objection, I struggle to understand why you would still decline my generosity."
"You may struggle to understand, but I decline nevertheless."
"If it's that disagreeable to you then I won't force the matter. However, by completely reversing your position in a span of hours with no apparent justification, I'm afraid you're jeopardizing your future credibility."
"Then let it be jeopardized."
"You can't really mean that. Nothing is more important than a man's credibility. Even if we suppose that what the master at your lodgings ..."
"Not the master, the old woman."
"In either case. Even supposing that what the old woman said were true, your increase is not ill-gotten at the expense of Koga's income. Koga is going to Nobeoka, and his replacement will arrive here. His replacement is coming to us at a slightly lower salary. The plan is to provide that surplus to you, so you've no need to feel bad for anyone else. Koga will be promoted in his transfer to Nobeoka, and the new hire has already agreed to start at the lower pay level. It's hard imagine more fortuitous circumstances regarding your compensation. You can decline if you wish, but I suggest you go home and think it over one more time before doing so."