At night I put the bunchō back in its box. When I woke the next morning, the ground outside was white with frost. The bunchō, I thought, must also be awake, but I couldn't pry myself out of bed. Even reaching for the paper by my pillow was a chore. Still, I did manage a cigarette. Just one, I thought, and then I'd get up and pull the cage out first thing. I gazed at the smoke as it left my mouth and meandered away. In the smoke was a hint of that woman from long ago. I pictured her with neck drawn in, eyes narrowed, and brow lightly furrowed. I sat up on the bedding, pulled on my haori, and proceeded to the veranda. I removed the lid from the box and drew out the cage. The bunchō, before even out of the box, sang out in succession "chiyo, chiyo."
According to Miekichi, the bunchō, once familiar with its keeper, would sing to him on sight. Miekichi's bunchō, in fact, was said to sing "chiyo, chiyo" all the while he remained nearby. His bird was also said to take food off the tip of his finger. I wanted to try this myself sometime.
The next morning, too, I dawdled idly in bed. Even the woman from long ago did not intrude on my thoughts. Only after washing my face and eating did it occur to me to check the veranda. To my surprise, the cage was out on top of the box. The bunchō was happily hopping about on its perch. From time to time it extended its neck and glanced up at the outside world. Its gesture was simple and innocent. That woman of long ago, whom I'd teased with the purple tassel, had been svelte and graceful. She would often tilt her neck when engaging another.
There was millet, and there was water. The bunchō seemed well provisioned. I withdrew to my study without tending to either.
After noon I went back out. For some exercise after eating, I intended to read while pacing the long, wrap-around veranda. I found, however, that the millet was mostly gone, and the water was thoroughly sullied. I tossed aside my book and hurriedly changed out both.