“He hates having anyone here,” she went on thoughtfully. “It upsets him.”
“Does it? But why? I can understand it upsetting you. But he—he doesn’t do the work, does he?”
“Not exactly,” the girl smiled. “But—oh well, I don’t believe in explanations. You’ll see things for your-self, perhaps. And now I’ll get you a book. I won’t warn you not to move for I know you can’t.”
With a glance which, true to her promise, was not overburdened with sympathy, his strangely acquired hostess went out and closed the door.
He tried to read the book she had handed him ("Green Mansions”—ho-r had it wandered out here?) but his mind could not detach itself. It insisted upon listening for sounds outside. And presently a sound came—the high, thin sound of a voice shaking with weakness or rage. Then the cool tones of his absent nurse, then the voice again— certainly a most unpleasant voice—and the crashing sound of something being violently thrown to the ground and stamped upon. Through the closed door, the professor seemed to see a vision of an absurd old man with pale eyes, who shrieked and stamped upon an umbrella.
“That,” said Hamilton Spence, with resignation, “that must be father having a fit!”
Letter from Professor Hamilton Spence to his friend, John Rogers, M.D.
Dear Bones: Chortle if you want to—your worst prognostications have come true. The unexpectedness of the sciatic nerve, as set forth in your parting discourse, has amply proved itself. The dashed thing is all that you said of it—and more. It did not even permit me to collapse gracefully—or to choose my public. Your other man had a policeman, hadn’t he?
Here I am, stranded upon a sofa from which I cannot get up and detained indefinitely upon a mountain from which I cannot get down. My nurse (I have a nurse) refuses to admit the mountain. She insists upon referring to this dizzy height as “just above sea-level” and declares that the precipitous ascent thereto is “a slight grade.” Otherwise she is quite sane.
But sanity is more than I feel justified in claiming for anyone else in this household. There is Li Ho, for instance. Well, I’m not certain about Li Ho. He may be Chinese-sane. My nurse says he is. But I have no doubts at all about my host. He is so queer that I sometimes wonder if he is not a figment. Perhaps I imagine him. If so, my imagination is going strong. What I seem to see is a little old man in a frock coat so long that his legs (like those of the Queen of Spain) are negligible. He has a putty colored face (so blurred that I keep expecting him to rub it out altogether), white hair, pale blue eyes—and an umbrella.
Yesterday, attempting to establish cordial relations, I asked him why the umbrella. He had a fit right on the spot?
Let me explain about the fits. When his daughter just said, “Father will have a fit,” I thought she spoke in a Pickwickian sense, meaning, “Father will experience annoyance.” But when I heard him having it, I realized that she had probably been quite literal. When father has a fit he bangs his umbrella to the floor and jumps on it. Also he tears his hair. I have seen the pieces.