Miekichi was terribly pleased with himself. "Take a look," he said. "Hōryū, bring that lamp closer," he called. At the same time, he was not immune to the cold. The tip of his nose was a light shade of purple.
It was, indeed, a nice cage. The base had been painted with lacquer. The bamboo had been finely worked and was colored as well. He said it had run three yen. "A bargain at that, wouldn't you say, Hōryū?" Hōryū agreed it was a bargain. I myself, having no basis for judging the price, added my voice to the consensus. According to Miekichi, the best cages run twenty yen. This was the second time he'd mentioned this figure. It went without saying that three yen, compared to twenty, was a far more reasonable price.
Miekichi went on about the cage. "This lacquer, professor, will change its hue over time with exposure to light. The black pigments will fade away, exposing a fine vermillion tone. -- And the bamboo's been well steeped, so no need for concern." Concern about what, I asked in return. "Anyway, look at the bird. Isn't it handsome?"
It was a handsome bird. The cage was in the next room, so I viewed the bird from a short distance. It was perfectly still. In the dusk it shone pure white. So much so, that had it not been in a cage, one wouldn't have taken it for a bird. It seemed to be cold.
I asked Miekichi if it wasn't cold. That's what the box is for, came the answer. At night, the bird should be placed in the box. I asked next why there were two cages. The bird, I was told, should be transferred to the rough cage and given the chance to bathe itself. I was thinking how this would require some effort. Next I was told that the bird would dirty its cage with droppings. I should clean the cage from time to time. Miekichi was quite the advocate on behalf of the bunchō's well-being.