He didn't sleep much these days. He never had: Four or five hours a night was all he could stand before the motor inside him made him jump up and start moving again. But in those younger days, sleep--the sleep of the honestly exhausted--had come easily once he did get off his feet. Now he was never exhausted, because he was always tired.
His leg--the one he had nearly lost in 1902 after the streetcar accident and that, reinjured, had almost cost him his life in the Amazon a decade later--ached constantly. Gout made every step even more of a trial. The fever he had caught in the jungle--or it might have been the malaria from the Spanish war--washed over him at irregular intervals, lathering him in sweat, then chilling him through, even on these mild summer nights. The eye that had been smashed in that White House spar was now dead to all light; the other eye, never good to begin with, gave out after just a few hours of reading. The ear that had festered so badly in the hospital the previous winter still hurt; it had taken him weeks to regain his equilibrium, and he never did regain all his hearing. He could usually hear the birdsongs through the open windows of the house in the morning or when he sat out on the piazza at dusk, but to the annoyance of one who had delighted in showing off to his birder friends, he could no longer distinguish one species from another as surely as before.
On the other hand, there weren't as many species to distinguish. When his family--his father, mother, brother, and two sisters--had started coming to Oyster Bay, it had been an outpost almost in the wilderness. The train stopped at Syosset, six miles south, and of course there were no automobiles to disrupt the rhythm of the tides,