2948. But he did not finish his sentence because noticing the others in the garden he instantly stopped speaking and began carefully examining the buds on the rose bush just in front of him. As the visitors to the garden passed him he seemed to hunch up his shoulders and squeeze himself into himself as if any space he took up was an imposition on others. He was a very timid man, aware of his failings and the awkward impression he made on everyone.
But the old man’s malady was not a static one, it was a disability in
the process of taking over his entire personality bit by bit, and the
other monks became aware of the degeneration of his condition when at
dinner he would exclaim, apropos of nothing, peculiar comments about
things of no concern to anyone, in a loud voice yet speaking to no one
He would put a spoonful of gruel into his mouth, chew and swallow, but
then suddenly exclaim, “The vicar is unqualified to put out fires in
sundry places, he knows very well that it takes three vats of water to
convert a pound of dirt to mud the consistency of barley soup.”
2951. After saying such things, again he would look around in an embarrassed fashion and quietly resume eating with his head hunched over as if ashamed of himself, as if even he had no idea what he had been saying or what it could possibly mean.