More and more, I became absorbed in my writing. Mornings, as always, I slept late. Once members of the household engaged in care of the bunchō, I felt my own responsibility lightened. If others failed to, I would change the food and water myself. I would also take the cage out and put it away. Or I would call for help and have it done. My sole duty, now, was to appreciate the bunchō's song.
Even so, I never failed to stop by the cage and check on the bunchō when strolling the veranda. Usually, I would find it hopping contentedly from perch to perch in the confines of its cage. On fair days, it would bask in the faint light that streamed through the glass and sing effusively. It didn't seem, however, to sing at my presence as Miekichi had described.
Needless to say, it also didn't eat from my fingertip. From time to time, when the mood felt right, I would place a breadcrumb on my fingertip and offer it through the bamboo. The bunchō did not come near. When I was overzealous, sticking my fat finger too far in, the bunchō reacted with alarm. It beat its white wings in panic and fluttered about the cage. I felt bad for the bird, and after several such occasions I decided to desist from further attempt. I doubted greatly that any man of the modern age could pull this off. Such feats belonged with the saints of antiquity. I questioned the credibility of Miekichi's claims.
One day, as I sat in the study, my pen scratching out its usual succession of dreary lines, a curious sound reached my ears. It was a persistent rustling, coming from the veranda. It could be a woman, arranging the long silk hems of her kimono, but it was too strong to come from a single such woman. One could also imagine the chafing of hakama pleats as hina dolls strolled across their tiered stand. I set aside my manuscript and walked to the veranda, with pen stll in hand. The bunchō was bathing itself.