The master, thus taking breakfast in his own time and without mishap, finishes eating, dons his suit, boards a hired cart, and heads off for the Nihonzutsumi branch. On stepping out the front door, his first action is to ask the cartman if he knows Nihonzutsumi. The cartman just grins in response. "It's right by Yoshiwara, known for its red light district," the master adds for good measure. The whole exchange strikes me as comical.
After the master makes his uncharacteristic departure by cart, the wife, per habit, finishes her own breakfast and then turns to the children. "Off to school. You don't want to be late." "But today's a holiday," the children answer back in a leisurely manner, showing no signs of movement. "Since when is today a holiday? Hurry on now," she reprimands. "The teacher reminded us, just yesterday." The eldest sister digs in and stands her ground. The wife, thinking something's amiss, goes to the cupboard and takes out the calendar. Sure enough, the day is marked in red. The master, utterly unaware, had drafted up a notice of absence to dispatch to the school. The wife, also unaware, had walked out and posted it. Meitei too had seemed not in the know, though one never can tell with Meitei. He may well have known and merely been faking. Surprised by this new revelation, the wife tells the children to go play quietly. She then proceeds to take out her sewing box, as always, and sets to work.
For the next thirty minutes, all is calm in the house, with nothing noteworthy to report, until suddenly an odd caller appears - a schoolgirl of seventeen or eighteen. In shoes with worn heels, trailing a purple hakama, and with hair done up like abacus beads, she lets herself in unannounced through the side entrance. This is the master's niece. From what I gather, she's a student somewhere. She calls from time to time on Sundays, has it out with the master on various topics, then takes her leave. Her name is Yukie, which has a lovely ring to it, but her features, I hate to say, do not live up to the billing. Walk one or two blocks down the street, and you'll soon enough see a similar hum-drum face.