Good news, bad news

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The following letter from the family's solicitor is addressed to a
member of the British aristocracy who has been spending much of the
summer in his residence in the south of France leaving his wife in the
United Kingdom to look after the ancestral home.

Dear Sir Royston,

I hope you are having a good time on your holiday.

I say this with sincerity because I am afraid that I have some bad
news for you, although there is good news too. First the bad news. I
am sorry to tell you that your favorite dog, Honey, is dead. The vet
says that she died instantly and could have felt no pain. She was
kicked in the head by your horse, Sherbert, though I'm sure that no
blame can be attached to Sherbert, frightened as he was by the fire in
the barn.

I'm afraid that Sherbert was in the barn along with your other
horses when it burnt to the ground. The fire brigade had been called
within a short time of the barn catching fire and would normally have
been able to put the fire out. Had it had not been for the fact that
the tender crashed into your Bentley in the lane. Your wife had taken
it out for a spin with your brother. As it was, both the tender and
your Bently were written off. No blame can be attached to your wife
for the accident I'm sure.

The Bentley was stationary at the time and your wife was in the back
seat of the car. She managed to escape death only due to the fact that
your brother was lying on top of her at the time of the collision. The
doctors say that given time she will regain her sight but that she
will never walk again. She has also lost her memory and cannot even
remember you. Your brother, unfortunately, was killed.

I should explain how the barn came to be on fire in the first place.
You see a spark from the house blew over and set the roof alight. The
fire started in the main hall of the house where, as you know, your
Mattisse and your Picasso once hung. I say 'once' because they are not
there now. Fortunately neither of these paintings were damaged in the
conflagration as they were stolen beforehand by the burglar who
started the fire.

Although all of this may seem to you very serious it is not in fact
the bad news that I wrote of. Your wife and brother had been visiting
your Insurance Agent in prison where he is serving a three year
sentence for fraud. I'm afraid that none of your insurance policies
are valid. This is the bad news.

As I said, there is some good news. The heat from the fire warmed your
greenhouse and brought your flowers on.

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