"Listen!" I said. "Bad news is better told
obliquely – like this: ‘Bess went climbing on
the roof and fell. Her legs and back were gone.
They tried to save her but she was too old.’ "
Ted – who's direct but not a thoughtless man –
was chastened (so he said) and mortified.
"Don't worry, Cousin Edward," I replied,
"we all make gaffes. By the way, how's Gran?"
"Not great," he said. "In fact, to tell the truth,
last night she went out climbing on the roof..."