It was usually the daughter who came to call me. Sometimes she would follow the veranda around the corner and stop in front of my room, and sometimes she would cut through the hearth room and appear at the fusuma that opened to the adjoining room. She would pause for a moment, then call my name and ask if I was studying. I usually had my eyes on some difficult text that lay open before me on my desk, giving the appearance of industrious study. Truth be told, however, I wasn't engaged so earnestly in my texts. My eyes would be on the page, but my thoughts were in waiting for her to come call me. When she didn't come, I felt compelled to get up myself. I would stop outside the other room and call in the same way, asking if she was studying.
The daughter had a six-mat room adjacent to the hearth room. Okusan was sometimes in the hearth room and sometimes with her daughter. In short, while the rooms were distinctly partitioned, mother and daughter occupied both, moving freely between them as though they were one and the same. When I called from without, it was always Okusan who invited me in. Even when present, the daughter seldom replied.
Over time there came to be occasions when the daughter would come to my room alone on some errand and stay to talk. On those occasions, I found myself ill at ease. I could not, I decided, attribute my unease solely to the presence of a young lady. I'd begin to fidget. I'd imagine my manner was strained, and I'd fear it might betray me. The other party, however, seemed utterly unconcerned. Seeing her so carefree, it was hard to believe she was the same girl who sang so softly with her koto. If she stayed too long, her mother would call to her from the hearth room. Sometimes she would answer back but still remain fixed where she was. Even at this, she was anything but childish. This was quite clear to me. It was also clear that she wanted me to know this.