After Tōfū's departure, the master went into his study to find that a letter from Meitei had been placed on his desk.
"Allow me to offer my happiest New Year's wishes ..."
An uncharacteristically sober opening, the master mused. Meitei's letters were seldom so sober. The other day he'd written, "No lady thereafter has captured my heart, and no sweet words arrive at my door. Rest assured, though, that my days continue. I bide my time quietly, neither engaged in exploit nor mired in mishap." Compared to that, this New Year's letter seemed most mundane.
"I mean to call, but unlike you, refrained in your ways, I'm out grabbing life by the horns. I've embraced this new year, the best of all years, in a dizzying whirl of activity. I humbly trust that you'll understand ..."
The master could certainly imagine how a fellow like Meitei, flitting about through the holiday making his rounds, must surely be busy.
"Yesterday, stealing a spare moment, I sought to treat Tōfū to tochimenbō. Most unfortunately, however, the ingredients for tochimenbō are in short supply, and my plan came to naught. A terrible shame. ..."
Recognizing the quintessential Meitei, the master floated a grin.
"Tomorrow we gather for cards with a certain baron, and the following day is the Aesthetics Society banquet. The day after that is Professor Toribe's welcome party, and the day after that ..."
"Enough already!" The master skipped ahead.
"As you can see, I've a gathering for Noh songs, a gathering for haiku, a gathering for tanka, a gathering for modern-form poetry - the list goes on, with no end in sight. Occupied as I am by this succession of gatherings, I humbly and necessarily ask that you accept, in the meantime and with no ill feeling, this congratulatory letter in lieu of my calling. ..."
"Don't go put yourself out, then." the master voiced his reply to the letter.