« PreviousContinue »
Let it re
morrow :--in the mean time we may depend upon it, Trima 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 corporal. But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with thy story.
When I went up, continued the corporal, into the lieutenant's room, which I did not do till the expiration of the ten minutes he was lying in his bed with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambric handkerchief beside it. -The youth was just stooping down to take the cushion, upon which I suppose
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 out his other to take it away at the same timemain 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 must present my thanks to your master, with
little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me;—if he was of Leven's said the lieutenant-I told him
honour was-then, 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 arquaintance with him, that he knows nothing of me.
You will tell him, however, that the person his good nature has laid under obligation to him, is one le Fevre, a lieutenant in Angus
.. but he knows me not-said he a second time, musing ;--- possibly he may my story, added he: Pray tell the captain I was the ensign at Breda, whose wife was most unfortunately killed with a musket-shot, as she lay in my arms in my tent. I remember the story, an't please your honour, said I, very well Do you so? said he, wiping bis eyes with bis handkerchief, then well may I--In saying this he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black riband about his neck, and kissed it twice-Here, Billy, said he--the boy flew across the room to the bed-side,
and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his band, and kissed it too,--then kissed his father, and sat down upon the bed and wept.
I wish, said my uncle Toby, with a deep sigh, I wish, Trini, 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, with a circumstance is modesty omitted ;-and particularly well that he, as well as she, upon some account or other, I forget what, was universally pitied by the whole reginient ;--but finish the story thou art upon. — Tis finish'd already, said the corporal,
--for I could stay no longer,--so wished his honour a good night; young le Fevre rose from off the bed, and saw me to the bottom of the stairs : and as we went down together, told me they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join the regiment in Flanders- -But alas! said the corporal,--the lieutenant's last day's march is over-Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby.
It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour- -though I tell it only for the sake of those, who, when cooped in betwixt a natural and a positive law, know not for their souls which way in tiie world to turn themselves—That, notwithstanding my uncle Toby was warialy engaged at that time in carrying on the siege of Dendermond parallel with the allies, who pressed theirs on so vigorously, that they scarce allowed him time to get his dinner—that nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, though he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp, and bent his whole thoughts toward the private distresses at the inn; and except that he ordered the garden gate to be bolted up, by which he might be said to have turned the siege of Dendermond into a blockade,he left Dendermond to itself,—to be relieved or not by the French king, as the French king thought good; and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son.
That kind Being, who is a friend to the friendless, shall recompense thee for this.
Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was putting him to bed—and I will tell thee in what, Trim.-- In the first place, when thou madest an offer of my services to le Fevre,—as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knowest he was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to subsist as well as himself out of his pay,--that thou'didst not make an offer to him of my purse; because, had he stood in need, thou knowest, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as myself. -Your honour knows, said the corporal, I had no orders. True, quoth my uncle Toby,—thou didst very right, Trim, as a soldier, but certainly very wrong as a man.
In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hast the same excuse, continued my uncle Toby,- when thou offeredst him whatever was in my house—thou shouldst have offered him my
house too: -a sick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim; and if we had him with us, we could tend and look to him :- -Thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim ;--and what with thy care of him, and the old woman's, and his boy's, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and set him upon his legs.
-In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, : smiling-he might march.-He will never march, an' please your honour, in this world, said the corporal. He will march, said 'niy uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed with one shoe off: -An' please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march but to his grave :-He shall. march, 'cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch,—he shall : march to his regiment. He cannot stand it, said the corporal. - He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby.-He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy? He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. Ah welladay,- do what we can fur bim, said Trim, maintaining his point,--the poor soul will die.He shall not die, by G-d! cried my uncle Toby.
-The Accusing Spirit, which flew up to Heaven's charrcery with the oath, blush'd as he gave it in- and the Recording Angel, as he wrote it down, dropp'd a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.
My uncle Toby went to his bureau-put his parse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician—he went to bed, and fell asleep. The sun look'd bright the morning after to every eye in
the village but le Fevre's, and his afflicted son's; the hand of Death pressed heavy upon his eyelids, and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round it's circle, when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bed-side, and, inde. pendently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would bave. done it, and asked him how he did how he had rested in the night-what was his complaint-where was his pain—and what he could do to help him ?-and without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on, and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal the night before for him.
-You shall go home directly, le Fevre, said my uncle Toby, to my house~and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter and we'll have an apothecary,—and the corporal shall be your nurse,—and I'll be your servant, le Fevre. There was a frankness in
my uncle Toby,—not the effect of familiarity,—but the cause of it
, which let you at once into his soul, and showed you the goodness of his nature; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of le Fevre, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart; rallied back, the film forsook his eyes for a moment,-he looked up wistfully in ny uncle Toby's face-then cast a look upon his boy,--and that ligament, fine as it was, was never broken.
Nature instantly ebb'd again, the film returned to it's place- -the pulse flutter'dstopp'd- -went onthrobb'd -stopp'd again- -mov'd-stopp'd
-shall I go on? -No.
A few hours before Yorick breath'd his last, Eugenins stepped in with an intent to take his last sight and last farewell of bin. Upon his drawing Yorick's curtain, and asking how he felt himself, Yorick, looking up in his face, took hold of his hand, and, after thanking him for the many tokens of his friendship to him, for which, he said, if it was their fate to meet hereafter, he would thank him again and again; he told him, he was within a few hours of giving his enemies the slip for ever. I hope not, answered Eugenius, with tears trickling down his cheeks, and with the tenderest tone that i ever man spoke,–I hope not, Yorick, said he.--Yorick replied, with a look up, and gentle squeeze of Eugenius's hand—and that was all, but it cut Eugenius to the heart, -Come, come, Yorick, quoth Eugenius, wiping his eyes, and summoning up the man within lim,—my dear lad, be comforted, let not all thy spirits and fortitude forsake thee at this crisis, when thou most wantest them; -who knows what resources are in store, and what the power of God may yet do for thee :-Yorick laid his hand upon his heart, and gently shook his head;—For my part, continued Eugenius, crying bitterly as he uttered the words - I declare I know not, Yorick, how to part with thee, and would gladly flatter my hopes, added Eugenius, cheering up his voice, that there is still enough left of thee to make a bishop,—and that I may live to see it.- I beseech thee, Eugenius, quoth Yorick, taking off his nightcap as well as he could with his left hand
-his right being still grasped close in that of Eugenius,
-1 beseech thee to take a view of my head. - I see nothing that ails it, replied Eugenius. Then, alas! my friend, said Yorick, let me tell you, that it is so bruised and misshapened with the blows which have been so unhandsomely given me in the dark, that I might say with Sancho Pancha, that should I recover, and “mitres thereupon be “ suffered to rain down from Heaven as thick as hail, not
one of them would fit it.” Yorick's last breath was hanging upon his trembling lips ready to depart as he uttered