Even those in stilted sandals or high boots were forced to tread carefully. All were intent on adhering tightly to a narrow path down the middle of the lane, a place from which the mud had been pushed away to either side by the foot traffic. The width of this narrow path was no more than half a meter, so it was almost like walking on a ribbon that had been unfurled down the lane. All moved slowly, and in single file. Walking this ribbon, I suddenly encountered K. I'd been preoccupied with my feet, and I didn't notice his presence until we were face to face. Only in the moment when I found my way blocked and happened to lift my gaze did I first recognize him standing there. I asked him where he'd been, and he replied simply that he'd just been out for a bit. The manner of his reply was terse as always. K and I maneuvered around each other on the narrow ribbon. As we did so, I saw there was a young lady behind him. I'm nearsighted, so it wasn't apparent to me at first, but after moving past K and seeing her face, I was quite surprised to recognized her as the young lady of our house. She greeted me with a slight blush on her cheeks. Hairstyles then were different than today, with no extending brim. Instead, her hair was coiled like a serpent over the center of her head. I gazed vacantly at her hair for a moment, before realizing that one of us would have to yield the way to the other. Resolutely, I stuck one foot in the muck, making way for her to pass with relative ease.
I continued on to the Yanagi-chō thoroughfare, but from there had no idea where to go next. Nothing was of any interest. I tramped through the mud with abandon, paying no heed where it splashed. Then I turned and headed home.