I'd moved to Waseda in October. I was alone in my cavernous study, chin propped idly on my palm, when Miekichi dropped by and suggested I should keep a bird. I replied that maybe I would. I asked, for good measure, what kind of bird. "Bunchō," came his immediate reply.
The bunchō appeared in Miekichi's novel, so I didn't doubt it was a nice enough bird. I asked him, then, to get me one. He kept on, however, insisting that I really should have one. He was, more or less, repeating himself. Chin still resting on palm, I mumbled back my acquiescence. After a while he finally stopped. I thought, for the moment, I'd worn him down with my insolence.
Several minutes later, he started again, this time about buying a bird cage. I told him "fine," but he kept on anyway. To press the matter, he lectured at length on the ins and outs of cages. His lecture was quite involved, but I'm sorry to say I've forgotten it all. I do remember him saying that a nice cage runs twenty yen, at which point I'd objected to any such undue extravagance. Miekichi had grinned in return.
Where on earth, I'd asked him next, does one buy a bunchō. His obvious reply was from a bird dealer. Then what about the cage? The cage was, well, there was somewhere that they had them. His open-ended answer was like grasping at clouds. I scowled back with disapproving mien. If he didn't know then what could I do? Miekichi put his hand to his cheek and spoke of a craftsman in Komagome. The man was old though, and might no longer be living. Miekichi seemed at a loss.
I thought it proper to assign responsibility to the instigator, so I entrusted all to Miekichi. He asked for money up front, which I produced. Miekichi carried a silk trifold wallet he'd bought somewhere. Any money he had, whether his own or from others, went into this wallet. I watched as he tucked my five-yen note down into its depths.