Page images

-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, faid the landlord, he is going to lay his prayers,- for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bed-side, and as I'fhut the door, I saw his son take up a cuThion.

· I thought, faid the curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr Trim, never said your prayers at all. I heard the poor gentleman fay 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 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 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 to-day, 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 without straw in his tent to kneel on ;-he 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 pray,—he prays as heartily as a parfon,-though not with all his fuss and hypocrify.Thou should not have said that, Trim, faid 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 fhall be advanced, Trim,


accordingly. I hope we shall, said Trim.-- It is in the Scripture, faid my uncle Toby; and I will fhow 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 governour 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 Itory.

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, his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambric handkerchief beside it:

The youth was just stooping down to take up thie 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-lide :-If you are Captain Shandy's fervant, said he, you must present my thanks to your mafter, with my little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me ;-Íf he was of Levens's said the Lieutenant.--I told him your honour was—Then, faid he, 1 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 perfon his good nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fever, a Lieutenant in Angus's-but he knows me not,--said he a second time, musing ; poffibly 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 his eyes with his handkerchief,--then well may I.In faying this, he drew a little ring out of hin bofom, which seemed tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kiss'd it twice-Here, Billy, faid 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 fat 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 conkerned ;-hall I pour your honour out a glass of fack to your pipe ? --Do, Trim, faid my uncle Toby.

I remember, said my uncle Toby, fighing again, the Hory of the Ensign and his wife,--and particularly well that he, as well as the, upon fome 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 honour 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 lait day's march is over. Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby.

Thou hast left this matter short, faid my uncle Toby to the Corporal, as lie was putting him to bed,—and I will tell thee in what, Trim.-In the first place, when thou mad'It an offer of my services to Le Fever,--as fickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knewest he was but a poor Lieutenant, with a fon to fubfitt 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 knowelt, 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 haft the fame excuse, continued my uncle Toby,when thou offered ft himn whatever was in my houfe,--thou shouldft have offered him my house too :--a fick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim; and if we had him with us, we could tend and look to him; thou aft


an excellent nurse thyself, Trim ; and what with thy care of him, and the old wainan's, and his boy's, and inine together, we night recruit him again at once, and fet him upon his legs.

- In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, srailing, he might march. He will never march, an't please your honour, in this world, said the Corporal. He will march, faid my uncle Toby, rifing up from the fide of the bed, with one shoe off. -An't please your honour, said the Corporal, he will never march, but to his graves---He thall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a fhoe on, though without advancing an inch, he shall march to liis regimeat -He cannot stand it, faid the Corporal.

He shall be supported, faid my uncle Toby.--He'll drop at lait, said the Corporal, and what will become of his boy !-He shall not drop, faid my uncle Toby, firmly.--A-well-o'day,--do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point,--the poor soul will die, -He shall not die, by H-n, cried my uncle Toby.

-The ACCUSING SPIRIT, which flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, blush'd as he gave it in ;--and the RECORDING ANGEL, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.

My uncle Toby went to his bureau,-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 fun looked brighit 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 eye-lids,- 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 by the bed-lide, 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 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 Fever, faid 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 fomething in his looks, and voice, and manner, fuperadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter underhim; sothat before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son infenfibly pressed up close to his knces, and had taken hold of the breast of his, coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fever, which were waxing cold and flow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart,--rallied back, the film forsook his eyes for a moment, a he looked up wilhfully 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-stopp'd, -went onEhrobb’d-stopp'd again,omoved-stopp’d,~-Shall I go en No.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »