There I found that same rice cake from the morning, exactly as I'd seen it, stuck to the bottom of the bowl. I'll confess right now that I'd never tasted a rice cake. It looked good in a way, but at the same time, in another sense, was somewhat uninviting. With a front paw, I cleared the greens from its surface. Its outer skin stuck in my claws, leaving a tacky feel. Sniffing at it, its scent was like that of the scorched rice from the bottom of the kettle when they transfer it to the warmer. I surveyed my surroundings, wondering whether to try it. For better or worse, there was no one around. Osan, as she did be it year-end or New Year's, was playing her usual battledore. The children were back in the parlor, singing "What's that you say, Mr. Rabbit?" Now was my chance. If I let this opportunity slip, it would mean another year without having tasted a rice cake. Even as a cat, I seek out truths, and in this moment one formed in my mind. "All living creatures, in the face of rare opportunity, are wont leap, even to their own detriment." In all honesty, I wasn't that interested zōni. On the contrary, the harder I scrutinized this form at the bottom of the bowl, the more unsettling and less appealing it looked. Had Osan opened the kitchen door, or had I sensed the children's footsteps approaching, I'd have ungrudgingly abandoned the bowl. Subsequently, I expect, I'd have thought no further of zōni till the following year. However, no one came. I hesitated and wavered, but no one came. It would be nice, I thought, peering into the bowl, if someone did come. My wish went unanswered. No one came. There was no choice but to try it. Without further ado, I dropped the weight of my body into the bottom of the bowl and sank my teeth into a corner of the rice cake. Given the power of my bite, most anything would have yielded. Not so this time! Satisfied with my ingress, I went to withdraw my teeth. To no avail. I bit in anew, but in vain. These rice cakes, I perceived too late, are diabolical. Just as a man in the mire sinks deeper with each effort to free his feet, so my mouth stuck faster with each bite. Firm as my bite was, its firmness offered me no way out.