"I only meant that you shouldn't go to great lengths on my account. If you need to placate the neighbors to stop their grumbling, then that's another matter. Far be it for me to assert myself and put you in arrears."
"Don't get so cynical on us." Father looked annoyed.
"Father never said it wasn't on your account, but I trust you have at least some inkling of what societal obligation means."
Mother pitched in her usual measure of female incoherence. In the same vein, she could easily outtalk both Father and I combined.
"You educate a man and he comes back a cynic."
Father said no more. However, in this single remark he'd laid bare his long-standing resentment. At the time, I was oblivious to my own abrasive manner. I saw myself only as a victim of unfair judgments.
That evening, in a quieter mood, Father asked my preferences, if we were to invite guests, for a date. He knew full well that I was biding time in that old house, and any day was as good as the next. Asking my preferences was a conciliatory gesture on his part. In response, I lowered my head in deference. We talked together and settled on a date.
As we awaited our chosen date, momentous news arrived. It was announced that Emperor Meiji had fallen ill. This happening, which the papers immediately proclaimed to the nation, hit our country house and blew asunder the plans for my party, those plans that we'd worked so to settle.
"Well, I guess we'd better hold off," Father said as he perused the paper through his reading glasses. He seemed to also be reflecting on his own health.
I thought back to my recent graduation, and how the Emperor had honored the occasion with his customary appearance.