"Here's what was funny, though. I was instructed to buy a hat of 'appropriate size.' As for the measurements for the coat, I was to use my best judgment and have it tailored at Daimaru ..." "Are they tailoring coats at Daimaru these days?" "They're not. I'm sure the old gentleman was confused and meant Shirokiya." "How could he expect you to guess his measurements?" "That's my uncle being my uncle." "What did you do?" "What could I do? I took my best shot and mailed them off." "A rash undertaking. Did they make it in time?" "Somehow or other, it seems. I checked out the local paper from the day in question, and there was old Makiyama, decked out in that frock coat, of all things, but still clutching his signature iron-ribbed fan ..." "I guess he couldn't relinquish his fan." "I'll tell you, when his days are up that fan, and that fan alone, goes with him in his casket." "It all went well, then, the hat and the coat." "Not quite. Just as I was congratulating myself for having pulled it off without incident, a small package arrived from Shizuoka. Assuming it was some token of appreciation, I opened it up and found inside the derby hat with a letter. 'Despite your efforts in procuring said hat, I must report it's a shade large. I request you return it to the hat shop, with instruction to alter it down. I'll happily reimburse you, via postal money order, the fee involved.' That's what he wrote." "Rather heedless fellow, if I may say so." The master, it seems, is elated to learn of a man in this world more heedless yet than himself. "What did you do, then?" he finally asks. "There was nothing I could do, so I kept the hat for myself." "That's that hat?" The master exclaims with a chuckle. "This man is a baron?" the wife asks with a dubious tone. "Who's that?" "Your uncle with the iron-ribbed fan." "He's a scholar of Chinese classics. In his younger days at Yushima Seido, he found his passion in neo-Confucian texts and the sort. Even today, under modern electric lamp light, he sports his top knot and reverently peruses old texts. He's set in his ways." Meitei rubs his chin the while as he speaks. "Even so, I could swear you described him to that woman as Baron Makiyama." "That is what you said. I heard it from the other room." The wife, on this point, is in rare agreement with the master. "So I did, perhaps. Ha ha ha ha ha." Meitei laughs easily. "I made that up. If my uncle were a baron, I'd be bureau chief by now," he adds with an unruffled air.