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.