Based on the widow's appearance and manner, I'd constructed an image in my mind of her daughter. The image I'd constructed, however, was none too flattering. I'd built it sequentially - the wife of a military man was such, and the daughter of the wife of a military man was so. With one glance at the young lady's countenance, my exercise in conjecture was thoroughly put to shame. My mind was infused with a new and heretofore unimagined admiration for the opposite sex. From that moment, the flowers in the alcove ceased to offend me. The koto stored alongside them, likewise, was no longer intrusive.
Those flowers, when their time had passed, were regularly refreshed. The koto too was often carried off to another room, around the corner and diagonally opposite mine. I would sit at my desk, chin propped in my hands, and listen to its sound. I couldn't judge whether it was played well or not. Based on the simplicity of technique, however, I had to believe it was nothing masterful. I had to conclude it was no better than the flowers. I do know something about flowers, and the young lady's arrangements were certainly nothing worth noting.
Be that as it may, a succession of flowers unapologetically adorned my alcove. The arrangements, of course, were always in the same style. The vase, too, was always the same. Of the flowers and music, though, the music was far more eccentric. All one could hear were twangs of the strings. The vocals were absent. It wasn't that she didn't sing, but she sang in a soft voice, almost a whisper. When reproved in her playing, her voice would fade entirely.
I took pleasure in the sight of these uninspired flowers, and I took pleasure in the sound of this unpracticed koto.