On that day, our patient seemed especially dire. When I vacated my post to go to the toilet and ran into my brother in the hallway, he asked where I was going, challenging me with the tone of a guardsman.
"His appearance concerns me. We'll need to watch him closely," he advised.
I was of the same opinion. Forgetting the letter in my pocket, I soon returned to the sickroom. Father opened his eyes and asked Mother to tell him who was present. Mother explained, one by one, who was there. Father nodded at each name. When he didn't nod, Mother repeated herself in a louder voice and confirmed with him that he'd understood.
"Thank you all for your kind care," Father said before again losing consciousness.
We watched him intently for a while. No words were spoken. Finally, one person rose and went to the next room. Then another rose. I was the third to rise, leaving for my own room. I wanted to open that letter I'd placed in my pocket. I could certainly have opened it easily enough there in the sick room. However, given its length, I couldn't well read it through on the spot. I needed to steal away and dedicate some time.
I ripped it open, tearing my way through the fibrous paper that wrapped it. What I found inside was page upon page of neatly-written characters on quad-ruled paper, much like a manuscript. The pages were bent into fourths to facilitate mailing. For ease of reading, I reversed the bends to flatten them out.
Astonished at the volume of writing, I wondered what this mass of paper and ink would tell me. At the same time, the sickroom too was weighing on my mind. If I started in reading, I was certain to be called away before finishing. I had the feeling that something would happen with Father, or if not then that my mother or brother or uncle would need me. I couldn't settle myself to focus on Sensei's words. In a restless state I read just the opening page. Its content was as follows.