"I'd rather it were something serious. These minor colds are the worst thing of all." Sensei looked at me with a wry smile as he spoke.
This from a man who'd never in his life been seriously ill. I couldn't help but smile.
"I'd gladly take a cold in exchange for something worse. I expect you would too, if you once fell truly ill."
"I don't know. If I ever do fall ill, then I'd just as well fall deathly ill."
I dismissed this as idle chatter, proceeded to relate the contents of my mother's letter, and asked if I might borrow some money.
"I'm sorry to hear about your father. We should have adequate cash on hand."
Sensei summoned his wife and had her bring the required amount. She carefully laid out the money, which she'd gone in and pulled from a drawer in the cupboard or elsewhere, on a sheet of white paper that she'd set out before me. "You must be concerned."
"Are his fainting spells frequent?" Sensei asked.
"There was nothing about that in the letter -- is it something that recurs?"
I learned for the first time that Sensei's wife's mother had died of the same illness.
"It doesn't sound good," I said.
"I'm afraid not. I'd take his place for you if I could -- has he felt nauseous?"
"I don't know. There was no mention of it, so I expect not."
"If he's not nauseous then he's still all right," Sensei's wife added.
I left Tōkyō that same day on the evening train.