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.'
'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.'
I am afraid it was hypocritical in me, but seeing that my aunt felt strongly on the subject, I tried to look as if I felt strongly too.
'A proud fool!' said my aunt. 'Because his brother was a little eccentric though he is not half so eccentric as a good many people - he didn't like to have him visible about his house, and sent him away to some private asylum place: though he had been left to his particular care by their deceased father, who thought him almost a natural. And a wise man he must have been to think so! Mad himself, no doubt.'
Again, as my aunt looked quite convinced, I endeavoured to look quite convinced also.
'So I stepped in,' said my aunt, 'and made him an offer. I said, "Your brother's sane - a great deal more sane than you are, or ever will be, it is to be hoped. Let him have his little income, and come and live with me. I am not afraid of him, I am not proud, I am ready to take care of him, and shall not ill-treat him as some people (besides the asylum-folks) have done." After a good deal of squabbling,' said my aunt, 'I got him; and he has been here ever since. He is the most friendly and amenable creature in existence; and as for advice! - But nobody knows what that man's mind is, except myself.'
My aunt smoothed her dress and shook her head, as if she smoothed defiance of the whole world out of the one, and shook it out of the other.