Father's health slowly deteriorated. His old straw hat with the handkerchief tied behind, the one I'd been alarmed to see him putter around in, in due course fell out of use. When I saw that hat sitting idle on the soot-darkened shelf, I felt pity for my father. Before, when he'd move about easily, I'd worried he was overtaxing himself. Now that he sat quietly, I felt he'd been right in keeping active. I often discussed Father's health with my mother.
"It's all in his head," my mother remarked. She believed Father's suffering was sympathetic, in deference to the Emperor.
"It's not in his head. Do you believe he's really not ailing? I think he's wearing a brave face in spite of his physical failing."
As I answered, I was thinking to myself that I might call the specialist back to examine him.
"I'm afraid this summer's been a disappointment for you. You've graduated from the university, yet there's no celebration. Your father's in such a state, and then there's the Emperor. -- We should have summoned guests immediately on your return."
I'd returned around the fifth of July. A week later, my mother and father had started talking about inviting guests to celebrate my graduation. When we'd finally settled on a date, it was another week and some days further out. From my perspective, the leisurely pace of country life, unfettered by time, had spared me the pain of unpleasant company. My mother still had no idea how I saw things.
When news of the Emperor's death arrived, my father held the newspaper in his hands and let out a sigh.
"It's happened. His Highness is gone. I suppose ..."
He didn't finish his thought.