The burglar had something tucked under his arm. On closer observation, it was the old blanket that the master had tossed into the study earlier. The burglar was wearing a striped cotton half-coat, tied at the waist with a sash of gray-blue Hakata silk. His legs were bare from the knees down, exposing his pale shins. He had just lifted one foot and placed it on the tatami mat when the master, who was dreaming of a red book devouring his thumb, suddenly thrashed about in his sleep and called out, "It's Kangetsu!" in a loud voice. The burglar dropped the blanket and quickly withdrew his foot. In the shadow of the shōji, I could see his slender shins as he labored to stand stone still. The master, with a groan and a mutter, pushed away the red book and scratched at his dark arm as though beset by the itch. After this he reverted back to sound slumber. In shouting out to Kangetsu, it seems, he'd been talking in his sleep. The burglar remained standing on the veranda a while, observing the state of the room. Finally, satisfied that husband and wife were both sleeping soundly, he stepped again onto the tatami. This time, "It's Kangetsu!" was not repeated. The burglar's trailing foot followed into the room. The large room had been amply illuminated by the spring nightlight, but now the burglar cast a shadow across its middle. The wicker trunk, and a good portion of the wall above my head, went dark. Turning to look, I saw the profile of the burglar's face, bobbing vaguely in shadow, two thirds of the way up the wall. Dashing as he was, his face in shadow was oddly contorted, like a taro root mounted on a pair of shoulders. He glanced down at the sleeping face of the wife and then, for whatever reason, couldn't seem to suppress a grin. Amazingly, his grin too matched Kangetsu's to a tee.
By the wife's pillow was a rectangular box, about twelve centimeters square and half a meter long. Its lid was secured with nails. Its contents, it seemed, were of due import. It was, in fact, a gift of yams from one Tatara Sanpei, who hailed from Karatsu in Hizen-no-Kuni and had recently traveled home for a visit. It was hardly the norm to adorn one's pillow side with yams, but the wife was known to store high-grade sugar, which she used for stewing, in her dresser drawers, so suitabiity of place was clearly not her forte. As far as she was concerned, whether storage of yams or storage of pickled radishes, the bedroom served just fine. The burglar though, being only human, had no idea with what sort of woman he was dealing. It was only natural to assume that anything held so carefully next to one's person must be of great value. He lifted the box and appeared satisfied that, in line with expectation, its weight was significant. The thought that he was finally seizing these yams, that this dashing burglar was pilfering yams, suddenly struck me full on in its comedy. Caution called for silence, though, and it was all I could do to restrain myself.