Living till now, I've been tempted multiple times to follow this path of least resistance, this path which fate has laid out before me. On each such occasion, though, it was consideration for my wife that held me back. And I lack the temerity, of course, to take her with me. To one like myself, afraid to even open his heart, the mere thought of sacrificing my wife to my own fate, of cutting short her life by violent means, was enough to leave me shuddering. Just as my fate is my own, my wife too has a life that is hers. I couldn't but conclude that to feed the two of us, bundled together, to the same fire, would be tragically unjust.
At the same time, the thought of my wife left alone after my passing was equally unacceptable. She'd turned to me after her mother's death and told me I was the only one in the world now on whom she could depend. This memory was ingrained in the depths of my being. I thus remained ever indecisive. There were times when, seeing my wife's face, I was grateful not to have acted. I would pull back from the edge for a while. Then I would sense my wife regarding me, from time to time, with an unfulfilled look in her eyes.
Please understand that this is the way I lived. From our first meeting in Kamakura, to that day we strolled the outskirts of town, my sentiments were by and large the same. A dark shadow has stalked me all of my days. Only for the sake of my wife have I walked so long through this world. It was the same when you graduated and departed for home. When I promised I'd see you again in September, I was not insincere. I fully intended to see you. If autumn passed and winter came, and even if winter passed, I was certain I'd see you again.
Then, at the height of summer, His Majesty, the Meiji Emperor, passed away. I sensed that my time, along with this emperor, had come and gone. A feeling struck me that men like myself, having passed our days in the reign of Meiji, had no business living beyond it. We'd become, as it were, obsolete. I said as much to my wife. She smiled, brushing away my words. Then suddenly, for whatever reason, she added in jest that I could always honor my lord through ritual suicide, accompanying him to the grave.