"Country folk, it often turns out, are no less dishonest than city folk. Also, you told me just now that none among your relatives struck you as particularly dishonest. Do you imagine, though, that humans are of two distinct types, upright or dishonest? There's no common mold from which the scoundrels of this world are cast. All men are virtuous most of the time. Or if they're not virtuous, they're at least ordinary. Then the moment of truth arrives, and the villain appears out of nowhere. It's a frightening world - you have to watch yourself."
Sensei was not finished, and I too had thoughts to share on this matter. We were interrupted, however, by the sudden barking of a dog behind us. We both turned around in surprise.
Cedar saplings had been planted near the rear of the platform, and next to them was a plot in which thick bamboo grass covered the ground. Only the head and back of the barking dog were visible within this grass. A boy of about ten ran up and scolded the dog severely. Then he turned and greeted Sensei, his black insignia cap still on his head.
"Tell me sir, when you came in was there no one in the house?" he asked.
"No one was there."
"But they were. My mother and sister were in the kitchen."
"You should have called hello to them on your way by."
Sensei managed a smile. He took his coin purse from his pocket and placed a five-sen piece in the boy's hand. "Give them my best regards, and allow us to rest here a while."
A smile beamed in the boy's sharp eyes as he nodded his agreement. "I'm the scout today."
With that, he ran downhill past the azaleas. The dog ran after, its tail raised high in the air. A short while later, several more boys of the same age appeared. They too then ran down the hill on the same trail as the scout.