"Have Nonomiya-san and Satomi-san know each other for long?"
"Yes. They're friends."
Sanshirō wondered about the nature of their friendship. Just a casual male-female friendship seemed unlikely. However, he had no way to probe this further.
"I hear that Professor Hirota taught Nonomiya-san."
Her short affirmations impeded the flow of conversation.
"Do you feel about lodging at the Satomi place?"
"Me? I suppose I wouldn't mind it. But I hate to impose on Mineko's older brother."
"She has an older brother?"
"Yes. He graduated the same year as my brother."
"Then he's also a scientist?"
"No, he graduated from the college of law. There was also an eldest brother who was a friend of Professor Hirota, but he passed away at an early age, so now there's only Kyōsuke."
"And their parents?"
"They have none." Yoshiko laughed lightly, as though the idea of Mineko having parents was somehow absurd. Apparently they'd passed away years before, and Yoshiko had no memory of them.
"That's how Mineko is acquainted with Professor Hirota then?"
"Yes. They say that her eldest brother was very close to the professor. And Mineko is interested in English, so she sometimes goes to him for lessons."
"Does Satomi-san visit you here?"
Without his noticing, Yoshiko had resumed her watercolor work. She seemed fully comfortable with his presence, and she was more talkative when painting.
"Mineko?" While asking, she shaded in the thatched roof below the persimmon tree. "It's a little dark, don't you think?" She held it out for him to see.
"Yes, it's too dark." This time Sanshirō answered her honestly.
Yoshiko wetted her brush and dabbed the dark area. "She does come over." She finally returned to Sanshirō's question.
"Fairly often." Yoshiko's attention was back on her drawing paper. Since she'd resumed her painting, Sanshirō found the pace of their conversation comfortable.