Unlike during my home time the previous winter, Father this time was uninterested in shōgi. The shōgi board had been set aside in a corner of the alcove, and it remained there gathering dust. Especially since the Emperor's illness, Father seemed lost in his own thoughts. Each day he waited on the newspaper, and each day he read it first off. When done, he would seek me out, paper still in hand.
"Take a look. There's lots again on His Highness."
Father always referred to the Emperor as His Highness.
"It may be presumptuous of me, but I believe His Highness and I are suffering from the same thing."
As he spoke, a dark shadow of concern clouded his features. I felt anxious myself at his words, wondering when he might next be forced off his feet.
"He'll be all right, though. If a common man like myself can manage ..."
Even as he sought to reassure himself, his words fell heavy with an imminent sense of foreboding.
"Father really fears for his health," I told my mother. "He doesn't share your confidence in ten or twenty more years."
Mother seemed at a loss.
"See if he'll play shōgi with you."
I pulled the shōgi board from the alcove and dusted it off.