They walk to the nearest public house. The guard goes to get another coach. The passengers make small talk, giving Squeers another opportunity to advertise his school. They decide to pass the time by telling stories.
A melancholy passenger tells this story:
They lived in a wooden house near an abbey of Benedictine monks, whom they paid dues to. One day, a monk paid them a visit and criticized them passing the time doing embroidery. One of the sisters tells him they have done their duties and can enjoy themselves. The monk says there are better occupations for the soul than a decorative ornament that appeals to vanity.
The youngest, who was called Alice, tells the monk that the past-time nurtured the familial bonds.
The monk encourages them to become nuns, but Alice pleads with her sisters to not choose a life of stone and bars. The sisters agree. Though the abbey was left as their guardian when they were orphaned, they are not obligated to devote their life to the veil.
The monk tells them that worldly baubles and attachment eventually lead to heartbreak. The cloister may become more appealing later. He tells them to turn to it when the time comes.
War enters their lives, and with it turmoil. The monk pays a visit to their home, which is now silent and neglected. Alice has died. The sisters are all widows. The monk again encourages them to become nuns. They decide against it, remembering how Alice abhorred the idea.
They have their embroidery become a pattern for a stain glassed window. In time, the sisters die. Their graves are lost with time, but the stained glass window remains to this day.
The melancholy gentleman who told the above story remarks how the youngest was happy, and she died young. The merry gentleman comments that she might have died earlier if she had been miserable, and she wouldn’t have been as well loved.
The merry gentleman then tells a story:
Grogzwig lived a life of pleasure, happily hunting and drinking with his friends every day. However, in time he grew weary of his companions and yearned for excitement. He decides to marry a fellow baron’s daughter. The daughter offers no resistance.
No sooner is he married than his wife demands that he send away his friends. This is the first of many demands, and gradually the baron becomes a hen-pecked husband. They have twelve children. One of the daughters is sickly, which is a source of constant anxiety to her mother.
Grogzwig’s wealth diminishes, and he has no money left when his wife brings their thirteenth child into the world. He decides to commit suicide.
He is reflecting upon his life while smoking his pipe for the last time. Suddenly, a wrinkled creature appears before him, identifying himself as the Genius of Despair and Suicide. This creature uses a stake that is driven through its heart as a cane. He is in a hurry for the baron to off himself, for there are many people who want to commit suicide in these times—and so the creature’s schedule is rather busy. In fact, there is a man who wants to kill himself because he has too much money. The baron thinks this is stupid, and the creature says that it is no more stupid that killing yourself for having a lack of money.
The baron suddenly realizes that the creature is right. He decides he doesn’t want to kill himself. Though he doesn’t die a rich man years later, he dies happy.
When the story concludes, the new coach has arrived.