The master, having concluded his reading with a flourish, surveys the company to gage its effect. On account of its brevity, however, its meaning has yet to hit home. All three listeners are waiting, anticipating more. Wait though they might, not a single syllable follows. "Is that all there is?" Kangetsu finally asks. "Yep," the master replies lightly. His reply is almost too light.
Oddly enough, Meitei, perhaps disarmed by the mastery of the work, fails to wield his usual prattle. After a moment he turns to the master and speaks. "You should follow suit and compile your works into a volume. You could even dedicate it to someone." "How about if I dedicate it to you?" the master asks offhandedly. "Thanks, but no thanks," is Meitei's only reply. He takes out his special scissors, the pair he'd showed off to the wife, and sets to work clipping his nails. Kangetsu addresses Tōfū. "Are you really acquainted with the Kaneda daughter?" he asks. "I invited her to our spring recital. Since that time, we've been on familiar terms. I see her a great deal, and each time I see her, she somehow moves me. Afterward, poems and verses come springing forth with delight. Within my collection are numerous pieces on romance, and it's this nearness to the opposite sex, I'm quite convinced, that's inspired them. I feel a keen sense of gratitude toward this young lady, so I'm taking this opportunity to dedicate my work to her. No great poetry, they say, has ever been written in absence of some form of muse." "Is that so?" Kangetsu, behind his eyes, seems to be sporting a grin. Even in garrulous company, words are not without limit, and the flames of conversation here appear to be burning low. Feeling no obligation to subject myself to endless idle talk, I take my leave and head for the garden, hoping to find a mantis of two. The sumac tree weaves a thick verdure overhead, with splotches of sunlight leaking through as the day draws to a close. The cicadas, perched on its trunk, cry for all they're worth. The evening may well bring showers.