When my brother arrived, Father was reading the paper in bed. Father had always been an avid reader of the news, and now that he was bedridden with nothing to do, his interest was even greater. My mother and I indulged him during his illness and did not try to dissuade him.
"Great to see you're feeling so well. I'd feared for the worst, but it seems my fears were misplaced."
My brother spoke thus toward my father. To me, his tone was much too upbeat and came across as disingenuous. Away from Father's side though, when we spoke in private, he was duly subdued.
"Are you sure you should let him read the paper?"
"I'd rather he took it easy, but he insists on reading, so what can we do?"
My brother listened in silence as I explained myself.
"Does he even know what he's reading?" he asked.
He was questioning Father's mental faculty. He'd sensed, it seems, that Father's illness might have dulled his mind.
"His mind is sound. I sat with him earlier, and we spoke for a good twenty minutes on various topics. Nothing he said was off-kilter. At the rate he's going, he may hold out a good while yet."
My sister's husband, who arrived around the same time as my brother, was even more sanguine. Father talked with him at length, asking after my sister.
"In her condition, I wouldn't want her rattled by the train. If she overexerts herself, she'll be the one at risk," Father said.
"But don't you worry. As soon as I'm better, I'll go see the baby myself. It's time I did some traveling," he added.
When General Nogi died, Father was first to learn of it through the paper.
"It can't be! It can't be!" he exclaimed.
The rest of us, who didn't know what had happened, were surprised by his outburst.