After a while, the old man's whistling abruptly stopped. He opened the lid of the box that hung from his shoulder, picked up the towel by its neck, and flung it in.
"Now it becomes a snake, inside my box. Soon you will see. Soon you will see." So saying, the old man walked directly off. He passed beneath the willow tree and down a narrow path. I wanted to see the snake, so I followed him down the path. As he walked along, he occasionally repeated, "Soon you will see," or, "A snake it will be."
By the time he reached the river bank, his words had formed a song. "Soon you will see, A snake it will be, Have no doubt, The whistle will sound."
There was neither bridge nor boat, so I thought the old man would rest here, and I thought he would show me the snake in his box. Instead, he continued directly into the water with a splash. At first the water reached his knees, then gradually his waist. Even as his chest sank from view, he walked directly on, singing, "Deeper still, The end of the day, Direct is the way." As he sang, his beard, then his face, then his head, then his bandana, disappeared from view.
I thought he might show me his snake when he emerged on the opposite bank. I stood where the reeds rustled, waiting at length, but the old man did not reappear.