Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

it.- Are you sure of it? replied the carate.-A soldier, an' please your reverence, said I, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson ;--and when he is fighting for his king, and for his life, and for his honour too; he has the most reason to pray to God, of any one in the wliole world. --'Twas well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby.--Bat when a soldier, said I, an' please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water,-or engaged, said I, for months together in long and dangerous marches ; harassed, perhaps, in his rear today: harassing others to-morrow:-detached here; -countermanded there ;-resting this night out upon his arms; beat up in his shirt the next ;-benumbed in his joints ;-- perhaps withont straw in his tent to kneel on; must say his prayers how and when he can. I believe, said 1-(for I was piqued, qnoth the Corporal, for the reputation of the army)-I believe, an' please your reverence, said I, that when a soldier gets time to prayhe prays as heartily as a parson, -though not with all his fuss and hypocrisy. Thou should'st 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, Corporal, at the day of judgment (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 scriptare, said my uncle Toby; and I will show it thee to-morrow :

- 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 Corporal.-But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with the 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 laying in his bed, with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow

upon the pillow, and a clean white handkerchief beside it :- The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion, upon which I supposed be 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 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 must present my thanks to your master, with my little boy's along with them, for his courtesy to me ;- - if he was of Leven's-said the Lieutenant- -I told him your 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 acquaintance with him, that he knows nothing

-You will tell him, however, that the person his good nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fevre, a Lieutenant in Angus's - but he knows me not,-said he, a second time, musing ;-possibly he may my story,madded he,

-pray tell the Captain, I was the Ensign at

of me.

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 his eyes with his handkerchief ;- -then well may 1.- -In saying this he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kiss'd 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 hand, and kiss'd it too,then kiss'd his father, and sat 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 (I forget what,) was universally pitied by the whole regiment; but finish the story thou art upon :

—'Tis finished already, said the Corporal,-for I could stay no longer,--so wished his honour a good night ; youny Le Fevre rose from off the bed, and saw me to the bottom of the

and as we went down together, told me they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join their 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.

stairs;

[ocr errors]

It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour, that he set aside every concern, and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor Lieutenant and his son.

That kind BEING, who is a friend to the friend3 less, 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 offered'st him whatever was in my house, thou should'st have offered him my house too :- A sick brother 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 bim, and the old woman's, 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't please your honour, in this world, said the Corporal;—He will march, said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off :-An't 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 nay uncle Toby, firmly. A-well-a'day--do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point,the poor soul will die. He shall not die, by Guy cried my uncle Toby.

- The ACCUSING SPIRIT, which flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed 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 purse 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 sưn looked bright, the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fevre's and bis afflicted son's; the hand of death pressed heavy on his eye-lids, -and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its 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, aud independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an

« ПредишнаНапред »