"Asking the waiter if there isn't some way for us to have tochimenbō, he slips him a 20-sen coin. The waiter says he'll talk to the chef, and he disappears into the back." "Seems he was dead set on tochimenbō." "After a bit, the waiter reappears and expains, apologetically, that if we want tochimenbō they can make it, but it will take some time. Professor Meitei, fully at ease, replies that it's New Year's, and there's no rush, so we're happy to wait. Then he pulls a cigar from his pocket and starts in smoking. To kill time, I take out the Japan News from my sleeve pocket and begin to read. The waiter goes back to talk with the chef." "What an awful lot of trouble." The master, with the same enthusiasm he displays when reading up on the war, pushes the conversation forward. "The waiter appears again, saying this time that the ingredients for tochimenbō are in short supply. They can't be had at Kameya, or even at Number 15 in Yokohama, so most regrettably and unfortunately, for the time being, tochimenbō can't be served. The doctor, looking my way, repeatedly voices his dismay at having come all this way for nought. I can't very well stay silent, so I follow suit and echo his regret, stessing how sorry I am." "Naturally," the master concurs. Just what's 'natural' about all this eludes me. "Then the waiter, with due sympathy, implores us to come back again at such time as the ingredients are available. The doctor asks just what ingredients they use, and the waiter evades him with a laugh. The doctor presses again, asking if the ingredients don't include a certain Japan-school poet. The waiter answers back that indeed that's the case, and hence they can't be had of late, even in Yokohama. He apologizes one final time." "Oh ho ho! So that's the punch line! Amusing indeed!" The master laughs louder than ever. His lap is asway, and I'm just hanging on. Heedless of my plight, he laughs some more. He's greatly relieved, it seems, to know he's not the only one taken in by 'Andrea del Sarto' and the like. "Once we're outside he asks me, beeming with pride, what I thought. Wasn't it amusing, he asks, to work that all around Tochimenbō? I express my admiration, and we part company, but to tell the truth I was famished, and I was also put out for having missed lunch." "I feel for you," the master offers, for the first time showing sympathy. I certainly felt for him too. The conversation subsided for a moment, with master and guest attuned to the sound of my purring.