"I've no regrets that we haven't done right by our cat. We called in a priest to recite a sutra, and she's been assigned a posthumous name." "Indeed. She's been greatly favored in our care. I only wish that that Gekkei-ji priest's sutra could have been more substantial." "It seemed to end quite soon, so I asked him if he hadn't been awfully brief. He assured me it was a potent sutra, adequate to carry a cat to the Pure Land." "Well then ... That stray on the other hand ..."
As I've stated often enough, I don't have a name. In spite of that, this maidservant insists on calling me "stray." Insolent thing.
"Grave are his transgressions. No sutra, however potent, will deliver that stray to salvation."
How many myriad times she called me stray thereafter, I cannot say. Having had enough of their endless claptrap, I slipped off the cushion, jumped down from the veranda, stood every hair of my body on end, and gave myself a hearty shake. Since then, I've kept my distance from the koto teacher. It may be nigh time that the Gekkei-ji priest send her off herself with a modest prayer.
Of late, I'm not so bold as to venture out. The world seems, somehow, a weary and listless place. I'm a do-nothing cat, no less reclusive than my master. They say it was a broken heart that led the master to shut himself up in his study, and I can understand now how this may well be.
I've yet to catch a mouse still, and Osan has argued for putting me out, but the master sees things differently. He knows I'm not the typical cat, and he allows me to idle my days in his home. I appreciate greatly the master's benevolence, and I eagerly express my respect, whenever the occasion presents itself, for his well-discerning eye. Osan, oblivious to my merits, continues to mistreat me, but I take no offense. In due time, another Hidari Jingorō will emerge to carve my likeness into pillars of tower gates. Or a Japanese Steinlen will appear to set my image to canvas. Then, finally and for the first time, will such dimwits look back with shame on their own ignorance.