Thus is was that my five yen fell to Miekichi. However, neither bird nor cage appeared in return.
Meanwhile, autumn showed its milder side. Miekichi often dropped by. He'd talk of women then take his leave. There were no further lectures on bunchō or bird cage. Sunlight streamed through the glass doors and brightened the wide veranda. If one were to keep a bunchō, this would be the ideal season. I imagined setting its cage on the warm veranda, and I imagined how happily it would sing.
According to Miekichi's novel, the bunchō sings, "chiyo, chiyo." Miekichi, seemingly fond of this sound, used it repeatedly in his writing. Or then again, perhaps he had fallen for a woman named Chiyo. He never mentioned such an affair, though, and I never had occasion to ask. At any rate, the veranda was bathed in sunlight, but no bunchō sang.
By and by the frost began to settle. I passed my days in the cavernous study, shifting my cold face from composure to consternation, sometimes propping my chin on my palm. Both sets of doors were tightly shut. I fed the brazier with charcoal. The bunchō was all but forgotten.
One day, in early evening, Miekichi burst into the room. I'd been leaning over the brazier, trying to drive the chill from my sullen face. Suddenly, the scene sprang to life. Miekichi had Hōryū with him. Hōryū is nothing but a nuisance. Each of the two was holding a cage. Miekichi, as leader of the operation, also carried a large box. On this early winter's eve, then, my five yen gained me a bunchō, two cages, and a box.