« PreviousContinue »
him exquisite pain) when my uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he would never suffer the corporal to stand : And the poor fellow's veneration for his master was such, that, with a proper artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken Dendermond itself, with less trouble than he was able to gain this point over him : for many a time when my uncle Toby supposed the corporal's leg was at rest, he would look back, and detect him standing behind him, with the most dutiful respect; this bred more little squabbles betwixt them, than all other causes, for five and twenty years together.
He was one evening sitting thus at his supper, when the landlord of a little ind in the village came into the parlour, with an empty phial in his hand, to beg a glass or two of sack : 'Tis for a poor gentleman think of the army, said the landlord, who has been taken ill at my house four days ago, and has never held up his head since, or had a desire to taste any thing till just now, that he had a fancy for a glass of sack, and a thin toast." I think," says he, taking his band from his forehead" it would comfort me.'
If I could neither beg, borrow, nor buy, such a thingadded the landlord I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill. I hope he will still mend, continua ed he-we are all of us concerned for him.
Thou art a good natured soul, I will answer for thee, cried my uncle Toby; and thou shalt drink the poor gentleman's health in a glass of sack thyself and take a couple of bottles, with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more if they will do him good.
Though I am persuaded, said my uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the door, he is a very compassionate fellow, Trim yet I caonot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest too ; there must be something more than coinmon in him, that in so short a time, should win so much upon the affections of his host-and of his whole family, added the corpo. 'ral, for they are all concerned for him. Step after him, said my uncle Toby-do Trim, and ask if he knows bis name.
I have quite forgot it, truly, said the landlord, coming back into the parlour with the corporal-but I can ask his son again. Has he a son with him, then ? said my uncle Toby. A boy, replied the landlord, of about eleven or twelve years of age ; but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and Jament for him night and day. He has not stirred from the bed side these two days.
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account; and Trim, without being ordered, took them away, without saying one word, and in a few minutes after brought him his pipe and tobacco, Trir ! said my uncle Toby, I have a project in my
head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman. Your honour's roquelaure, replied the corporal, has not once been had on since the night before your honour receive ed your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas ;-and besides, it is so cold and rainy a night, that, what with the roquelaure, and what with the weather, it will be enough to give your honour your death. I fear so, replied my uncle Toby; but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me I wish I had not koown so much of this affair--added my uncle Toby- or that I ḥad, known more of it.-How shall we manage it ? Leave it, an't please your honour, to me, quoth the corporal ;-l'll take my hat and stick, and go to the house, and reconnoitre, and act accordingly; and I will bring your honour a full account in an hour. Thou shalt go, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and here's a shilling for thee to drink with his servant. I shall get it all out of him, said the corporal, shutting the door.
It was not till my uncle Toly had knocked ihe ashes out of his third pipe, that corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account ;
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back your honour any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick lieutenant-js he of the army, then ? said my uncle Toby. He is, said the corporal--And in what regi. ment ? said my uncle Toby-I'll tell your honour, replied the corporal, every thing straight forward, as I learnt it.Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee;-So sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the window seat, and begin thy story again. The corporal made his old bow; which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak it, “Your honour is good ;" and having done that, He sat down, as he was orderediamand began the story to my uncle' Toby over again, in pretty near the same words.
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honour, about the lieutenant and his son ; for when I asked where his servant wase from whom I made myself sure of knowing every thing that was proper to be asked That's a right distinction, Trim, said my uncle Toby-1 was answered, an't please your honour, that he had no servant with him. That he had come to the ino with hired horses ;—which, upon finding himself - unable to proceed, (to join, I suppose, the regimeni) he had dismissed the morning after he came. If I get better, my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man-we can hire horses from hence,
But alas ! the poor gentleman will never get from hence, said the landlady to me, for I heard the death-watch all night long-and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him ; for he is broken hearted already.
I was hearing this account, continued the corporal, wherr the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of; but I will do it for my father myself, said the youth. Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to set down upon by the fire, whilst I did it. I believe, Sir, said he, very modestly, I can please him best myself. I am sure, said I, his honour will not like the ioast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier. The youth took hold of my hand, and instante; burst into tears. Poor youth ! said my uncle Tobymhe has been bred up from an infant in the arıny, and the name of a solo dier, Trim, sounded in his ears, like the naine of a friend. I wish I had him here.
- never, in the longest march, did the corporal, had so great a mind to my dinner, as I had to cry with him for company:- What could be the matter with me, an't please your honour ? Nothing in the world, Trim, said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose-but that thou art a good natured fellow.
When I gave him the toast, continued the corporal, I thought it was proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (thongh a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father; and that if there was any thing in your house or cellar- and thou mightest have added iny purse too, said my uncle Toby) he was heartily welcome to it : He made a very low bow (which was meant to your honour)-but no answer--for his heart was full; so he went up stairs with the toast; I warrantyou, my dear, said I, as I opened the kitchen door, your father will be well again. Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire, but said not a word, good or bad, to comfort the youth. I thought it wrong, added the corporat-I think. 80 too, said my uncle Toby.
When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack, and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen to let me know, that in about ten minutes, he should be glad if I would step up stairs. I believe, said the landlord, he is going to say his prayers for there was a book laid upon the chair, by his bed side; and as I shut the door, I saw his sou take up a cushion
.. I thought, said the curate, that you gentlemen of the are my, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all. I beard the poor gentleman say his prayers last night, said the landlady, very devoutly, and with my own ears, or I could not have believed it. Are you sure of it ? replied the curate. A soldier, an't please your reverence, said I, grays as often, fof his own accord) as a parson ;--and when he is fighting for his king, and for his own life, and for his honour too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world. 'Twas well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby, but when a soldier, said I, an't please your reverencegi has been standing for twelve hours together, in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water-mor engaged, said I, for months together, id, long and dangerous marches : barrassed, perhaps, in his rear to day; harrassing others tomorrow --detached here-countermanded there resting this night out upon his arms--beat up in his shirt the next benumbed in his joints--perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel onhe must say his prayers how and when he can. I believe, said I--for "I was piqued, quoth the corporal, for the reputation of the army-I believe, aa't please your reverence, said I, that when a soldier gets time to pray-mhe prays as. heartily as a parson-though not with all his fuss and bypocrisy-Thou shouldest not have said that, Trim, said my uncle Toby-for
. God only knows, who is a hypocrite, and who is not. At the great and general review of us all, cora poral, at the day of juugment (and not till then)-it will be seen who have done their duties in this world, and who have not; and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly. I hope we shall, said Trim. It is in the soripture, said my uncle Toby; and I will show it thee tomorrow :-In the mean time, we may depend upon it Trim, for our comfort, said my uncle Toby, that God Almighty is so good and just a governor of the world, that if we have but done our duties. in it it will never be inquired into, whether we have done
them in a red coat or a black one: - I hope not, said the core poral.-But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with the story.
When I went up, continued the corporal, into the Liedtenant's room, which I did not do till the expiration of the ten minutes, he was laying in his bed, with his head raised upon his hand, his elbows upon the pillow, and a clean white cambric handkerchief beside it : The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion upon which I supposed he had been kneeling--the book was laid upon the bed--and as he rose, in taking up the cushion with one hand, he reached oul his other to take the book away at the same time. Let it remain there, my dear, said the Lieutenant, He did not offer to speak to me, till I had walked up
close to his bed side : If you are Captain Shandy's servant, said he, you inust present my thanks to your master, with iny little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me; <if he was of Leven's said the Lieutenant. I told him your honour wasthen, said he, I served three campaigns with him in Flanders, and remember him ; but 'tis most likely, as I had not the honour of any acquaintance with him, that he knows nothing of me. You will tell him, however, that the
person his good nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fever, a Lieutenant in Angus's
but he knows me not-aid he a second time, musings -possibly he may my story--added he--pray tell the Caplain, I was the Ensign at Breda, whose wife was most un. fortunately killed with a musket shot, as she lay in my arms in my teot.- I remember the story, an't please your honour, said I, very well. Do you so said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief-then well may 1.-In saying this, he drew a litile ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kissed it twice. Here, Billy, said hesthe boy flew across the room to the bed side, and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in bis hand, and kissed it too, then kissed his father, and såt down upon the bed and wept..
I wish, said my uncle Toby with a deep sigh-I wish, Trim, I was asleep.
Your honour, replied the corporal, is too much concerned; shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe ? Do, Trim, said my uncle Toby.
I remember, said my uncle Toby, sighing again, the story of the ensign and his wife, and particularly well, that he as well as she, upon some account or other, (1 forget what) was