why thw old man spoke dully?
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The man is uninterested in the question and distracted by thoughts of home. The questions he is being asked do not interest him, thus, his answers are drab and subdued.
"Thank you," he said and got to his feet, swayed from side to side and then sat down backwards in the dust. "I was taking care of animals," he said dully, but no longer to me. "I was only taking care of animals."
The Old Man at the Bridge