Because of his unnatural and, some said, unholy affinity for numbers, Alfred was kept out of certain areas of the house.
It unnerved the ladies when he counted their stitches as they sewed.
The swordsmen were disturbed when he tried to teach their horses to count.
So Alfred spent a lot of time alone. He counted the bricks in the hearth, the steps to his room, the books in the library. For some time, he even made effort to count the leaves on the trees, but the number changed too frequently. Every time the wind blew, he had to start over.
“There’s a truth”, he would say, “in numbers”.
“If you just pay attention to the reality in front of your face… It’s all there. All the answers.”
But almost no one would listen.
Alfred walked with a certainty and peace that struck everyone as intensely attractive, but intensely disturbing at the same time. Holding the feelings simultaneously only added to the eerie feeling of his presence.
When he joined the family for meals, they found themselves unable to speak at length about any of their troubles, as Alfred always waved them away with a silly saying and occasional string of numbers that made no sense to them.
So they offered to bring him meals in his room. It was just too awkward…
For what does one have if not the tedious complaints of the day? What else is there to consider? The sun rises.
The sun sets.