It seemed that while he'd been sleeping, the woman and the old man had struck up an acquaintance. He listened in silence to their conversation. The woman was telling the old man her story.
Compared to Hiroshima, Kyōto had better children's toys at better prices. After attending to some business in Kyōto, she'd bought toys by the Tako Yakushi temple. She was returning to her home town after a long absence, and was looking forward to seeing her children, who were staying there. On the other hand, she was returning to live with her parents under some duress, as remittances from her husband had stopped arriving. He had worked for a long time as a mechanic in the Kure Naval Arsenal. During the war he'd gone to work in Ryojun, and he'd returned home after the war's conclusion. A short while later, he'd decided he could earn more abroad and had headed back to Dairen. Things went well at first, with regular letters and monthly remittances. Then, about six months ago, all communication ceased. He wasn't the type to be unfaithful, so she hoped for the best, but she couldn't subsist indefinitely without an income. She was returning to her parents' home to await further news of his status.
The old man hadn't heard of the Tako Yakushi temple, and he seemed to have little interest in children's toys. He merely nodded politely through the first part of her story. However, when she mentioned Ryojun he suddenly took notice and told her sympathetically that he was very sorry for her situation. His own child had been drafted as a soldier and had died fighting abroad. He couldn't understand the meaning of the war. It would be one thing if victory had made life easier, but he'd lost a precious child, and life had only become harder. The whole thing was a fool's errand. When times were good, men didn't need to leave their families to earn a living. It was all on account of the war. At any rate, she must keep her faith. Her husband was surely alive and well. If she just persevered a little longer, he would certainly return. The old man thus sought to reassure her. The train stopped, and he told her to take care. He disembarked with vigor and went on his way.