I don't know what the master and Kangetsu got into on their walk, but it was late evening when the master returned. The next morning, it was close to nine when he made it to the table. From my customary perch on the rice warmer, I watched as he downed his zōni in silence. He asked for seconds, then thirds. The rice cakes were small, but he finished off a good six or seven before leaving the last one in his bowl. "No more," he said as he rested his chopsticks. He would never have tolerated such indulgence from others, but when it came to himself, he was happy to exercise his head-of-the-household authority. The sight of that last forlorned rice cake, pocked with scorch-marks and bobbing in the sullied soup, phased him not in the least.
The wife opened a cupboard, took out his Taka-Diastase, and set it on the table before him. "I'm not taking that, it's useless," he told her. "They say it does wonders for starchy foods. You should take some," she pressed him. "Starch or whatever, the stuff's no good." He dug in his heels. "Always so temperamental," the wife remarked, more to herself. "It's not about temperament. This medicine doesn't do anything." "You used to take it daily. You couldn't say enough about how well it worked." "That was then and this is now," he answered equivocally. "You can't expect it to work if you take it in fits and starts. Dyspepsia's not like other maladies. If you stay on it, it won't get better. Isn't that right?" she turned to Osan, who was attending the master with tray in hand. "That's the truth. If you don't stick with it you'll never know. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't." Osan readily took up the wife's cause. "Whatever. I said I'm not taking it, and I'm not taking it. What do you women know? Give it a rest." "I guess that's it, I'm just a woman," the wife, determined to win his concession, pushed the Taka-Diastase closer. The master, offering no reply, rose and retreated to his study. The wife and Osan looked at each other and grinned.
On occasions like this, I didn't dare follow along and climb on the master's lap. Instead, I quietly cut through the garden, hopped onto the veranda that skirts the study, and peeked in through a gap in the Shōji. The master had opened a book by someone named Epictetus. If he could follow what he was reading, then that was something. Five minutes later, though, he slapped the book shut and tossed it onto his desk. I'd figured as much. I watched further. He pulled out his journal and wrote as follows.