It was a day in November, when a cold rain was falling. I returned home by my usual route, cutting through the Konnyaku Enma temple and ascending the narrow lane. My overcoat was dripping with rain. K's room was empty, but his brazier glowed warmly with a newly kindled flame. Eager to warm my cold hands over coals, I quickly slid aside the partition to my own room. I found a cold brazier with nothing but pale ash. No fire remained. Discontent washed over me.
It was Okusan who heard me come in and came to greet me. She saw me standing in silence in the middle of the room, and she was kind enough to help me out of my coat and into Japanese attire. When I told her I was cold, she went into the next room and returned with K's brazier. I asked if K was already home, and she told me he'd come back and then departed again. This was a day when K's schedule had him coming home later than me, and I gave her a puzzled look. She supposed he must have had some business to attend to.
I sat for a while and read. The house was silent, with no voice to be heard. Early winter's cold and dreary sting was palpable. I immediately put aside my book and rose to my feet. I needed to get to livelier quarters. The rain had finally lifted, but the sky still weighed heavy, like cold lead. I shouldered my umbrella as a precaution and headed out. I moved east along the earthen wall in back of the armory, descending the hill. This was in the days before the roads were improved, and their pitch was much steeper than now. The road was narrow, and by no means straight. At the bottom, tall buildings flanked the south side, hindering the drainage of water, and the road was awash in mud. The narrow span between the stone bridge and the Yanagi-chō thoroughfare was worst of all.