“Oh I yes, sir; his food and his Will. It’s quite a sight to see him turn it over and over, not to read it, of course; and every now and then he asks the price of Consols, and I write it on a slate for him—very large. Of course, I always write the same, what they were when he last took notice, in 1914. We got the doctor to forbid him to read the paper when the War broke out. Oh! he did take on about that at first. But he soon came round, because he knew it tired him; and he’s a wonder to conserve energy as he used to call it when my dear mistresses were alive, bless their hearts! How he did go on at them about that; they were always so active, if you remember, Mr. Soames.”
“What would happen if I were to go in?” asked Soames: “Would he remember me? I made his Will, you know, after Miss Hester died in 1907.”
“Oh! that, sir,” replied Smither doubtfully, “I couldn’t take on me to say. I think he might; he really is a wonderful man for his age.”
Soames moved into the doorway, and waiting for Timothy to turn, said in a loud voice: “Uncle Timothy!”
Timothy trailed back half-way, and halted.
“Eh?” he said.
“Soames,” cried Soames at the top of his voice, holding out his hand, “Soames Forsyte!”
“No!” said Timothy, and stumping his stick loudly on the floor, he continued his walk.
“It doesn’t seem to work,” said Soames.
“No, sir,” replied Smither, rather crestfallen; “you see, he hasn’t finished his walk. It always was one thing at a time with him. I expect he’ll ask me this afternoon if you came about the gas, and a pretty job I shall have to make him understand.”
“Do you think he ought to have a man about him?”
Smither held up her hands. “A man! Oh! no. Cook and me can manage perfectly. A strange man about would send him crazy in no time. And my mistresses wouldn’t like the idea of a man in the house. Besides, we’re so—proud of him.”
“I suppose the doctor comes?”
“Every morning. He makes special terms for such a quantity, and Mr. Timothy’s so used, he doesn’t take a bit of notice, except to put out his tongue.”
“Well,” said Soames, turning away, “it’s rather sad and painful to me.”
“Oh! sir,” returned Smither anxiously, “you mustn’t think that. Now that he can’t worry about things, he quite enjoys his life, really he does. As I say to Cook, Mr. Timothy is more of a man than he ever was. You see, when he’s not walkin’, or takin’ his bath, he’s eatin’, and when he’s not eatin’, he’s sleepin’; and there it is. There isn’t an ache or a care about him anywhere.”
“Well,” said Soames, “there’s something in that. I’ll go down. By the way, let me see his Will.”
“I should have to take my time about that, sir; he keeps it under his pillow, and he’d see me, while he’s active.”
“I only want to know if it’s the one I made,” said Soames; “you take a look at its date some time, and let me know.”