Okada, a medical student at Tokyo University, is viewed by his fellow students as an exceptionally balanced young man. A good student, an athlete, and a man who knows how to relax in his free time, he lives a well-ordered life free from any kind of obsession. When he is not studying, he likes to go for walks, and he often stops to browse in the local bookshops, looking for the historical romances that are his preferred reading.
Once, during his evening walk, Okada notices an attractive young woman entering a small house that seems to be an oasis of calm in a generally noisy neighborhood. He thinks little about it at the time, but when he passes the house two days later, he sees the woman in the window, and she smiles at him. After that, he always looks for her when he passes by and begins to feel that in some way he and she are friends. One evening, he spontaneously takes off his cap and bows to the woman, who smiles warmly in return. From then on, Okada bows to the woman whenever he passes her house.
The woman’s name is Otama, and she is the daughter of a candy dealer who sells his wares from a stall. Otama’s mother died giving birth to Otama, and the girl is being reared by her father, who adores her. She grows to be a beautiful, charming, and obedient young woman in whom it is difficult to find fault. Otama’s father refuses various proposed matches for Otama because he does not want to lose his daughter, but ultimately he permits her to marry a police officer. The police officer forces the issue because he desires Otama, and the father is afraid to refuse the somewhat frightening prospective son-in-law. As it turns out, the police officer already has a wife and children, and Otama’s marriage breaks up when that information comes to light. Although it is obvious to everyone that Otama did nothing wrong, the incident makes it almost a certainty that she will never receive a decent proposal of marriage.
A local man named Suezo learns of the disaster that befell Otama and her father. Suezo began his career as a servant working for medical students at Tokyo University. Most of his time was spent running errands for the students. Suezo, however, had no intention of remaining a servant all of his life, and he began to lend small amounts of money to students who were in need, making a small profit on each transaction. Over a long period of time, he becomes wealthy. He dresses in fine clothes and dreams of living in even greater comfort. As his financial status improves, Suezo becomes dissatisfied with his wife. Although she does a good job of caring for the children, Otsune is undeniably ugly and argumentative. Suezo begins to believe that he deserves the...
(The entire section is 1102 words.)