Friday, April 15, 2011

"How To Tell Bad News"

Mr. H.: Ha! Steward, how are you, old boy? How do things go on at home?

Steward: Bad enough, your honour; the magpie's dead.

H.: Poor Mag! So he's gone. How came he to die?

S.: Overeat himself, sir.

H.: Did he? A greedy dog; why, what did he get he liked so well?

S.: Horseflesh, sir; he died of eating horseflesh.

H.: How came he to get so much horseflesh?

S.: All your father's horses, sir.

H.: What! Are they dead, too?

S.: Aye, sir; they died of overwork.

H.: And why were they overworked, pray?

S.: To carry water, sir.

H.: To carry water! And what were they carrying water for?

S.: Sure, sir, to put out the fire.

H.: Fire! What fire?

S.: Oh, sir, your father's house is burned to the ground.

H.: My father's house burned down! And how came it to set on fire?

S.: I think, sir, it must have been the torches.

H.: Torches! What torches?

S.: At your mother's funeral.

H.: My mother dead!

S.: Ah, poor lady! She never looked up, after it.

H.: After what?

S.: The loss of your father.

H.: My father gone, too?

S.: Yes, poor gentleman! He took to his bed as soon as he heard of it.

H.: Heard of what?

S.: The bad news, sir, and please your honour.

H.: What! More miseries! More bad news!

S.: Yes sir; your bank has failed, and your credit is lost, and you are not worth a shilling in the world. I make bold, sir, to wait on you about it, for I thought you would like to hear the news.

--by Anonymous, from A Treasury of the Familiar (1942), ed. Ralph L. Woods.

1 comment:

Dana said...

This was one of my mother's favorite entries in "A Treasury Of The Familiar". I still have her worn out copy, as well as another copy I was fortunate to find at a local book sale. Thanks!