Satisfied with my agreement thus far, Miekichi next produced a bag of millet from his sleeve pocket. The bird must be fed each morning. If not changing out the bowl each time, then at least remove it from the cage and blow off the hulls. Otherwise, the bird would have to pick through one by one to find the seeds. Water, too, should be changed each morning. Late sleeper that I was, my schedule would fit the bunchō to a tee. Miekichi persisted on in championing the bird's welfare. I assured him I would take his instruction to heart. Hōryū then produced a food dish and water bowl from his own sleeve pocket and ceremoniously aligned them before me. Now, with all arrangements dutifully made, I was honor-bound to follow through and care for my bird with all due diligence. Inwardly anxious at it all, I put on a brave face and determined to give it my best. If worse came to worst, I figured, other members of the household could help me out.
Before departing, Miekichi carefully placed bird and cage in the box and carried it out to the veranda. I laid out my bedding in the middle of my cavernous study and retired onto the cold cushion. I felt the chill for a while, but once asleep, my dreams were peaceful as ever. The burden of my new responsibilities was not enough to upset them.
When I woke the next morning the sun was streaming through the glass doors. I thought to feed my bunchō immediately. Rousting myself out of bed, though, proved to be a chore. Time and again I told myself I'd best get to it, till eight o'clock had come and passed. Finally, I forced myself upright. On my way to the washroom I stepped out barefoot onto the cold veranda, opened the box, and lifted the cage into the light. The bunchō fluttered its eyelids, as if protesting the abrupt dawn. I felt bad about starting its morning so late.
The bunchō's eyes were jet black. Around its eyelids ran a thin streak of pink, almost like an embroidered silk thread. As it fluttered its eyes, the pink streak would converge to a single line and then open back to a circle. As soon as it was out of the box it tilted its head, shifted its black eyes, and, for the first time, looked at my face. Then it cried "chi, chi."