The master's displeasure still echoes in his voice. "For starters, that face is hideous," he states with revulsion. Meitei picks it up from there, adding, "The way that nose, encamped in the middle, singularly dominates." "And crooked at that." "A bit hunchbacked. A hunchbacked nose is in a rarity indeed." Mirthful laughter follows. "A henpecker's beak. The poor husband," the master's resentment is unabated. "Unsold goods from the last century, warming the shelf in this new one. That's what she looks like." Meitei contributes an offbeat remark. At this point the wife emerges from her inner room to interject her woman's perspective. "If you keep badmouthing her so, the cartman's wife will report you." "Good medicine for her if she catches wind of this." "You're stooping low, smearing her looks. No one would choose to be born with that nose -- and it's a lady your talking of. You're too awful." In defending Hanako's nose, she also secures her own features from critique. "Awful's the right word. That's no lady. That's a halfwit ninny. Wouldn't you say, Meitei?" "She may be a halfwit ninny, but watch out. She shredded you but good." "No respect for a teacher. What does she take me for?" "In her eyes, you're no better than the cartman out back. If you want her respect, you'll have to earn your doctorate. If you had more foresight, you'd pursue one. Isn't that right, madam?" Meitei engages the wife with a grin. "A doctorate's out of his reach." The master's own wife has long since written him off. "Who knows? Maybe I'll earn one yet. Don't dismiss me too soon. The likes of you wouldn't know this, but Isocrates, in ancient Greece, penned his magnum opus at ninety four. Sophocles was nearly a hundred when his masterwork took the world by storm. And Simonides produced his best poetry at eighty. Don't count me ..." "Utterly absurd. What man, with a digestive tract like yours, has ever lived that long?" The wife, in her thinking, has factored in the length of his days. "Impudent thing! -- Go yourself and talk to Amaki -- you know why that woman played me for a fool? Because you dress me in patched clothes and this ratty black cotton coat. Starting tomorrow, set out my finer clothes. I'll dress like Meitei." "How can I set out fine clothes? You don't own any. And besides, Madam Kaneda was deferential to Meitei on account of his uncle. It's nothing to do with attire." The wife adroitly deflects all blame.