I withdrew my hand from the cage and opened it. The bunchō lay still in my palm. I gazed for a while at the dead bird in my open hand. Then I placed it gently on my seating cushion. After that, I clapped loudly to summon the help. A young maid appeared in response, kneeling deferentially at the entrance. Impulsively, I grabbed the bunchō from the cushion and tossed it before her. She fixed her eyes on the tatami and remained silent. "You didn't feed it, and now it's dead." As I spoke, I glared at her face. She offered no response.
I turned back to my desk and penned a note to Miekichi. "My household help failed to feed the bunchō, and now it has died. To cage such a docile creature, then neglect its care, is unforgivably cruel."
I told the maidservant to post my note and dispose of the bird. She asked where she should take it, and I yelled back at her to do as she pleased. Alarmed, she picked it up and retreated to the kitchen.
I while later, from the back garden, I heard the children clamoring about, preparing to bury the bunchō. The hired gardener consulted with the eldest daughter on an appropriate spot. I took up my pen, but little was produced.
The next morning my head felt heavy, and it was nearly ten when I finally rose. While washing my face, I peered out on the back garden. In the area from which the gardener's voice had sounded the day prior, standing among a thicket of green horsetail, was a small sign. Its height was much less than that of the surrounding horsetail. I slipped on my garden sandals and stepped through the shadows, trampling frosted grass underfoot. Drawing close, I read the words on the front of the sign. "Do not step on this mound." The writing was Fudeko's.
After noon, a reply came from Miekichi. "I'm sorry for the bunchō's unfortunate plight," was all he wrote. As to my household help, there was neither mention of blame nor indignation at the cruel outcome.