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him for company :-What could be the matter with me, an't please your honor? 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 corporalI thought it was proper to tell him I was captain Shandy's servant, and hat your honor, (though 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 my purse too, said my uncle Toby)--he was heartily welcome to it: He made a very low bow (which was meant to you honor)--but no answer-for his heart was full-so he went up stairs with the toast; I warrant you, 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 corporal-I think so 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 prayersfor there was a book laid upon the chair, by his bed side, and as I shut the door, I saw his son take up a cushion.
I thought, said the curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all. I heard 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, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson;-and when he is fighting for his king, and for his own life, and for his honor 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 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; harrassed, perhaps, in his rear to day; harrassing others to-morrow;-detach
ed 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 on-be 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, an't 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 shouldst not have said that, Trim, said my uncle Toby-for God only knows who is a hypecrite, 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 scripture, 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, 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 out 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 must present my thanks to your master, with my 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 honor was- -then, said he, I eved three campaigns with him in Flanders, and re
member him; but 'tis most likely, as I had not the honof any acquaintance 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 Le Fever, a Lieutenant in Angus's--but he knows me not-said he a second time, musing;-possibly he may my storyadded 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 honor, said I, very well. Do you se? said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchiefthen 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-Hers, 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 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, Trim, I was asleep.
Your honor, replied the Corporal,is too much concerned; shall I pour your honor 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 be as well as she, upon some account or other, (I forget what) was universally pitied by the whole regiment; but finish the story. "Tis finished already, said the corporal, for I could stay no longer, so wished his honor a good night; young Le Fever 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.
Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the Corporal, as he was putting him to bed, and I will tell the in what, Trim. In the first place, when thou mad'st an offer of my services to Le Fever, as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knewest 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 honor 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
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 togethgether, 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 honor, 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 honor, 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. A well o'day,do what you can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point, the poor soul will die. He shall not die, by Hn, 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, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out forever.
-My uncle Toby went to his bureau, and put his purse into his pocket, and having ordered the Corporal to go. early in the morning for a physician, he went to bed and fell asleep.
The sun looked bright the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fever'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 its circle, when my uncle Toby, who had got up an hour before his wonted time, entered the Lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair upon the bedside, and independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain, in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have 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 these 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 Fever, 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 Fever.
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 ta ken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirit of Le Fever, 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 wishfully in my uncle Toby's face-then cast a look upon his boy.
Nature instantly ebb'd again-the film returned to its place the pulse fluttered, stopped-went on--throbbed -stopped again--moved-stopped-shall I go on?--No.