My efforts would certainly not have been lost on fellow cats, but the other party, regrettably, were crows. With a gaggle of old crows, what can one expect? Like the industrialist going to great lengths to try to intimidate master Kushami, like the silver cat presented to the poet Saigyō, or like these old crows themselves who target the bronze likeness of Saigō Takamori with their droppings, the impact is nil. Quickly grasping my changed circumstances and the futility of further engagement, I cleanly and neatly withdrew to the veranda. It was time for dinner. Exercise is well and good, but one mustn't overdo it. I was sapped, and my limbs felt like lead. Furthermore, my fur, in the course of my exertion, had soaked up the rays of autumn's afternoon sun, and the lingering warmth was oppressive. The sweat which oozed from my pores, finding nowhere to flow, clung like oil to the base of my fur. My back felt itchy. The itchiness of clinging sweat is clearly distinct from the itchiness of milling fleas. If I could get my mouth back there I'd nip and bite, and if I could get my feet back there I'd scratch just so, but the length of my spine is beyond my reach. In situations like these, one finds the nearest human and cosies up for a rub. Either that or its back-and-forth against pine bark. Without doing one or the other, a comfortable sleep is out of the question. Human beings are a foolish lot, with indulgent pet voices -- An indulgent voice is the voice humans use vis-à-vis a cat. From my cat perspective, I should rather call it, perhaps, an indulging voice. -- Be that as it may. At any rate, human beings are a foolish lot and prone to misunderstanding. When I respond to a human being's indulging voice and cuddle up against his or her lap, it's interpreted, for the most part, as expression of fondness. Not only do they let me have my way, but at times they even assist, rubbing my ears and neck. That being said, a certain species of parasite they refer to as fleas has proliferated, of late, through my fur. Without fail now, my approaches are thwarted. I'm seized by the scruff of the neck and flung away. On account of these insects, barely visible to the eye and hardly worth the trouble to extract, I'm no longer loved. How fickle is human affection. Since when do a thousand fleas, make it two thousand even, warrant such mercenary reaction?