Despite his persistent air of detachment, the master is, in fact, by no means dispassionate when it comes to ladies. Once, in a certain Western novel the master read, a certain character appeared who fell for ladies left and right. It was sarcastically noted that of the ladies he passed on the street, some seventy percent laid claim to his heart. "Isn't that the truth," the master had concurred. Why a man of such fancy should pass his days here, shut in like a reclusive oyster, is beyond us cats to explain. Some say his heart was broken. Others say it's his weak digestion. Still others say it's a timid nature coupled with lack of means. Whatever the reason, he's a man of no import in this modern era of Meiji, and history will take no note. What's certain, however, is that he asked with envy after Kangetsu's ladies. Kangetsu took his chopsticks, picked up a piece of kamaboko, and bit with relish with his remaining front teeth. I was afraid he might lose another, but this time they all stayed put. "Just a couple of daughters from a certain household, no one you'd know," he answered evasively. "Ahhh ..." the master was thinking thoughts.
Kangetsu sensed it was time to change the subject. "It's a fine day out. If you can spare the time, let's go for a stroll. Ryojun has fallen, and the mood of the town is festive." The master seemed more interested in the identity of Kangetsu's ladies than the fall of Ryojun. He thought a while longer and then, finally seeming to make up his mind, pulled himself to his feet. "Alright, let's go." He went as he was, in his crested black cotton haori and his padded Yūki pongee, a hand-me-down from his brother from twenty years back. However rugged Yūki pongee may be, it can't be worn forever. It was frayed in places, and against the light the seams of its back-side patches showed through. When it came to the master's attire, there was no year-end, and there was no New Year's. He dressed the same at home or away. When he went out, it was without ceremony. Whether he had no other clothes, or whether he had them but couldn't be bothered to don them, I can't say. I can't imagine, however, that all this stemmed from a broken heart.