Hanako, realizing she's out of her element, abandons talk of scholarship for a new subject. "On an unrelated topic -- I understand that over New Year's he damaged his front teeth eating mushrooms." "He did. I can picture him still with mochi stuck in the gap." Meitei, deciding he should field this particular inquiry, was suddenly re-engaged. "Isn't that rather repulsive? Why doesn't he cut first with the skewer?" "Next time he's here I'll caution him," the master replies with a chuckle. "He must have poor teeth to begin with, if mushrooms can do such harm. What do you think?" "They can't be the best of teeth -- wouldn't you agree, Meitei?" "Certainly not strong teeth, but a bit endearing. Curious that he hasn't had them tended to. He'll snare another mochi there yet. It's quite a feature." "Can he not afford to have his teeth tended to, or does he somehow fancy the absence?" "Rest assured, I don't expect he'll be making the rounds as Mr. Absent Incisor for long." Meitei is back in high spirits. Hanako moves on to a new topic. "If you have a sample of his writing, perhap a letter he's written you, I'd like to take a look." "I've plenty of postcards." The master retrieves some thirty or forty from his study. "I don't need to see so many -- just two or three of those ..." "Let's see them. I'll help you choose," Meitei offers. "Here's a good one." He produces a picture postcard. "He does artwork too? A man of many talents. Let's have a look." Hanako takes it in. "Good lord, a tanuki! Of all the thing to draw -- even at that, it's not half bad." She acknowledges the quality of the work. "Read what he wrote," the master suggests with a grin. Like a maidservant reading the newspaper, Hanako tackles the text. "It's the close of the year, by the old calendar. The mountain tanuki, gathered for a garden party, dance to their hearts' content. 'Suppoko-pon-no-pon. 'tis the evening of the year's end, and no one this way comes,' echoes their song." "What nonsense is this? Mischief intended to mock?" Hanako voices her discontent. "How about a heavenly nymph?" Meitei offers another card. A nymph, adorned in celestial raiment, is strumming a lute.