When Uncle Forbes came to dinner, his invariable subject was death.
Death, in its infinite varieties. Death by misfortune was a favorite, as was death by misadventure, death from disease, death most foul, death expected, and death unexpected. With Uncle Forbes, the topic was inexhaustible.
When other conversation would spring up about something other than death– how a certain function was performed at court, or the rules of a particular game– Uncle Forbes would deftly turn to the death that invariably lay at its heart.
“The subject of which you speak, though imbecile, nonetheless offers some interesting things to say about death,” he would say. Another time he might inject, “That’s all very well, but any idiot can see the gist of the thing is mortality.”
As he aged, he only grew more obstinate. He took to wearing black every day of the week and staring at his friends in a peculiar way that made them uncomfortable. When invitations inevitably fell off and then ceased altogether, Uncle Forbes passed his days attending the funerals of city men with whom he had at most a passing acquaintance.
“Well, I suppose we all must come to it the end,” he’d intone. If feeling loquacious, he might add, “Ano Domini.”