Back in Kumamoto, Sanshirō had only had red saké. Red saké was a low grade of saké brewed locally. If you were a Kumamoto student, out for a drink, then it went without saying that you ordered red saké. On occasions when they dined out, there was a beef house they frequented. Rumor had it that the beef at that beef house might be horse meat. The students would grab a handful of meat off the dish and slap it onto the wall. If it slid, it was beef. If it stuck, it was horse. The process was akin to divination. To Sanshirō, this evening's formal gathering was a novel experience. He worked his knife and fork with pleasure, and he chased his bites down with generous gulps of beer.
"This assembly hall food is awful," the fellow next to Sanshirō remarked. He was a mild-mannered fellow with close-cropped hair and gold-rimmed glasses.
"I suppose it is." Sanshirō offered a lukewarm response. If he'd been talking to Yojirō, he would have replied honestly that to a fellow like him from the country, this food was excellent. In this case, however, he refrained. He did not want to be misconstrued as sarcastic.
"Which high school are you from?" the other fellow asked.
"Kumamoto? A cousin of mine was in Kumamoto. Said it was a dreadful place."
"It's not very cultured."
As the two of them were talking, shrill voices erupted from further down the table. Yojirō was conversing energetically with the fellows around him. The words 'de te fabula' occasionally punctuated his speech. Sanshirō had no idea what these words meant. However, Yojirō's listeners burst into laughter each time he spoke them. Yojirō prattled on in high spirits, with, "... de te fabula, young men like ourselves of this new age ..." A refined fellow of fair complexion, diagonally across from Sanshirō, rested his knife for a moment and regarded Yojirō's group. Finally he smiled and commented half jokingly in French, "Il a le diable au corps (he's possessed by the devil)." The boisterous group took no notice. In a triumphant toast, four cups of beer were raised together high in the air.