The meeting place with Kobayashi was on a side street, just a short distance from about the half way point of the busiest avenue in Tokyo. To avoid the unpleasantness of having Kobayashi come to call for him at his home, and also to eliminate the bother of his calling on Kobayashi at his boarding-house, Tsuda had decided on the time, and had arranged to meet him there.
The appointed time had already passed while he was riding on the streetcar. But this tardiness, which had come about because he had changed his colthes, received the money from O-Nobu, and for a short while had talked with her, was not sufficient to cause him the slightest distress. In plainer terms, the did not wish to show Kobayashi that he was concerned about strictly observing rules of courtesy. On the contrary, by being slightly late he wanted to unnerve the too free and presumptuous Kobayashi. In name it may have been a farewell party but since it actually was a meeting wherein one was to give money and the other was to receive it, Tsuda was certainly in the superior position. Therefore it was advisable for him to demonstrate the privileges of the superior person as much as possible, and to create beforehand the positions of host and guest, as a means of preventing a display of Kobayashi’s pride. He felt this was appropriate even as a simple act of spite divorced from any consideration of advantage.
As he looked at his watch on the clanging streetcar he thought that even as it was it was perhaps still a bit too early for the cheeky Kobayashi. He went so far as to calculate that if he arrived too early he would go to have a look at the night stalls and increase Kobayashi’s expectations, which were already aroused by desire, a bit further.
When he got off at the streetcar stop, the numerous lights gleaming on all sides of him sufficed to tell him brilliantly of the activity of the metropolis at night. He stood among them, and before turning down the side street which was his objective, for about ten minutes he was perplexed as to whether he should walk along the well-lit main street or not. However, upon folding up the evening newspaper and looking around him, he could not help being surprised.
For Kobayashi, whom he had certainly supposed was already quite tired of waiting, was most unexpectedly standing in the other side of the street. Since he was on a corner
of an intersection separated by the pavement and the streetcar track from where Tsuda had alighted,as long as their lines of sight did not actually meet, the night, the crowds, and the flickering lights were helpful in preventing their mutual recognition. Furthermore, Kobayashi was not facing him directly. He was talking to a young man whom Tsuda had never met. Since from Tsuda’s position only about two-thirds of the young man’s face and about one-third of Kobayashi’s were visible, with hardly any fear of being seen himself he could carefully observe the appearance of the two from where he stood at that moment. They certainly were not looking around them. While Tsuda could clearly make them out as they faced each other and maintained the same stance for a long time, he could also clearly perceive that they were engaged in some serious conversation.
Behind them was wall. Unfortunately since there was no window on the side, there was no strong light cast on them from anywhere. However, an automobile coming from the south screeched as it was about to turn the corner. At that moment the two were caught in the full glare of its large headlights. Tsuda for the first time could clearly make out the features of the young man. His pale complexion, together with an unkempt mass of hair that had not been cut for several months, which hung down on both sides from under his hat, assailed Tsuda’s sight. As the far passed, Tsuda turned swiftly around. And he purposely began walking in the opposite direction so as to avoid the sidewalk where the two men stood.
He had no particular objective. His purpose in looking into each of the brilliantly illuminated shops was simply to note the urban beauty of the scene. Apart from the fact that the articles exhibited differed according to the nature of the shops he could not feel any particular interest in them. Nevertheless he sensed satisfaction with everything he saw. Finally, when he saw some stylish neckties displayed in the window of a certain shop selling foreign foods, he entered the shop, took up the one he thought he wanted, and fingered it awhile.
When he thought that it would now be safe for him, he retraced his steps. The two, who had been standing on the sidewalk, had indeed gone off somewhere. He quickened his pace a bit. Cheerful light streamed into the street from the windows of the brick building where they were supposed to meet. The windows were high, and since the light was obstructed by the patterned ivory tablecloths, it was reflected indirectly into the night. The interior scene, as he looked up at it from the street, was one of a pleasant and fashionable, gas-heated restaurant.
The restaurant, which was on the corner of a long block, and which was of rather austere construction, was not so very large. Tsuda had learned of it only recently. A friend had told him that the food was good since it had been opened by the cook of a man who had for a long time been a minister to French and other European countries, and thus simply because Tsuda had eaten there four of five times he had invited Kobayashi to meet him there.
He pushed the door open brusquely and went in. As expected, he found Kobayashi, with what appeared to be an evening paper in front of his serious face, and with an air of being rather ill at ease.