"It was late last year, I believe on the 27th. That fellow Tōfū, interested in my opinion on literary matters, proposed to visit me at my home and asked that I be present to receive him. I waited from morning, anticipating his call, but the good man took his time in showing. I ate lunch and was in front of the stove, reading a humorous piece by Barry Pain, when a letter arrived from my mother in Shizuoka. As elders are wont to do, she sees me still as a child. Her letter offered various admonishments. During these cold months, I should avoid being out late. A cold bath is fine, but fire up the stove and warm the room to avoid catching cold. Even I, heedless man that I am, was greatly moved in this moment. Who else but a parent ever offers such words. She got me to thinking I mustn't just idle my time. I must, for the sake of family honor, produce a work of utmost import. While my mother was alive to see it, I would establish a name for myself. In Meiji literary circles, Professor Meitei would be known to all. Reading further, she wrote of how truly blessed I was. How the young folk were sacrificing so greatly for our country in the war with Russia, while I was at leisure, year's end as well as New Year's. -- Let it be known that I'm not so much at leisure as she thinks. -- Further on, she lists up by name all my schoolmates who are dead or wounded in the war. In reading those names, one by one, the world struck me as weary, and human existence as tedium. Finally in closing, she wondered if this next New Year's zōni, given her age, might not be her last ... All of this was disheartening, and I felt my spirits sink lower. I wished Tōfū would call, but the good man had yet to show. Dinnertime came, and I thought to write my mother in return, so I penned out some lines, twelve or thirteen in all. My mother's letter was some pages long, but I'm not the prolific writer she is, so I always beg off at ten or so lines. At this point, having spent the full day sitting indoors, my stomach was out of sorts. Deciding that Tōfū could wait if he showed, I went out. I wanted to stroll, and I wanted too to post my letter. Uncharacteristically, I didn't head toward Fujimi-chō but set out instead, without knowing why, toward Dote Sanban-chō. It was a frigid night, a bit overcast and with a raw wind that carried across the moat. Below the embankment, a steam train rolled in from Kagurazaka and let loose a whistle as it passed on. I felt terribly doleful. Another year past, casualties of war, infirmity of old age, the fleetingness of life - all these thoughts raced round in my mind. Word often comes of a man having hanged himself, and I began to think that it must be moments like these that entice one to it. I lifted my gaze, and there on the embankment, directly above me, stood the pine."