Mrs. Bev. What tale? Say but he’s well, and I have joy enough.
Jar. His mind too shall be well; all shalt be well—I have news for him that shall make his poor heart bound again!—Fie upon old age! how childish it makes me! I have a tale of joy for you, and my tears drown it.
Char. Shed them in showers then, and make haste to tell it.
Mrs. Bev. What is it, Jarvis?
Jar. Yet why should I rejoice when a good man dies? Your uncle, madam, died yesterday.
Mrs. Bev. My uncle!—O heavens!
Char. How heard you of his death?
Jar. His steward came express, madam: I met him in the street, enquiring for your lodgings. I should not rejoice, perhaps; but he was old, and my poor master a prisoner—Now he shall live again—O, ’tis a brave fortune! and ’twas death to me to see him a prisoner.
Char. Where left you the steward?
Jar. I would not bring him hither, to be a witness of your distresses—and besides, I wanted once before I die, to be the messenger of joy t’you. My good master will be a man again.
Mrs. Bev. Haste, haste then; and let us fly to him!—We are delaying our own happiness.
Jar. I had forgot a coach, madam; and Lucy has ordered one.
Mrs. Bev. Where was the need of that? The news has given me wings.
Char. I have no joy, till my poor brother shares it with me. How did he pass the night, Jarvis?
Jar. Why now, madam, I can tell you. Like a man dreaming of death and horrors. When they led him to his cell—for ’twas a poor apartment for my master—he flung himself upon a wretched bed, and lay speechless till day-break. A sigh now and then, and a few tears that followed those sighs, were all that told me he was alive. I spoke to him, but he would not hear me; and when I persisted, he raised his hand at me, and knit his brow so—I thought he would have struck me.
Mrs. Bev. O miserable! But what said he, Jarvis? Or was he silent all night?
Jar. At day-break he started from the bed, and looking wildly at me, asked who I was. I told him, and bid him be of comfort—Begone, old wretch, says he—I have sworn never to know comfort—My wife! my child! my sister! I have undone them all, and will know no comfort—Then letting go his hold, and falling upon his knees, he imprecated curses on himself.
Mrs. Bev. This is too horrible!—But you did not leave him so?
Char. No, I am sure he did not.