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and he laughed, and we parted the best friends possible.

'Well, child,' said my aunt, when I went downstairs. 'And what of
Mr. Dick, this morning?'

I informed her that he sent his compliments, and was getting on
very well indeed.

'What do you think of him?' said my aunt.

I had some shadowy idea of endeavouring to evade the question, by
replying that I thought him a very nice gentleman; but my aunt was
not to be so put off, for she laid her work down in her lap, and
said, folding her hands upon it:

'Come! Your sister Betsey Trotwood would have told me what she
thought of anyone, directly. Be as like your sister as you can,
and speak out!'

'Is he - is Mr. Dick - I ask because I don't know, aunt - is he at
all out of his mind, then?' I stammered; for I felt I was on
dangerous ground.

'Not a morsel,' said my aunt.

'Oh, indeed!' I observed faintly.

'If there is anything in the world,' said my aunt, with great
decision and force of manner, 'that Mr. Dick is not, it's that.'

I had nothing better to offer, than another timid, 'Oh, indeed!'

'He has been CALLED mad,' said my aunt. 'I have a selfish pleasure
in saying he has been called mad, or I should not have had the
benefit of his society and advice for these last ten years and
upwards - in fact, ever since your sister, Betsey Trotwood,
disappointed me.'

'So long as that?' I said.

'And nice people they were, who had the audacity to call him mad,'
pursued my aunt. 'Mr. Dick is a sort of distant connexion of mine
- it doesn't matter how; I needn't enter into that. If it hadn't
been for me, his own brother would have shut him up for life.
That's all.'
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