Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

he will still mend,” continued 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 cannot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest too; there must be something more than common in him, that in so short a time he should win so much upon the affections of his host.” “ And of his whole family,” added the corporal; “for they are all concerned for him.” Step after him,” said my uncle Toby, “do, Trim, and ask if he knows his

, 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.” "He has 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 lament for him night and day. He has not stirred from the bedside 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,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

i

[ocr errors]

me.

took it away, without saying one word, and in a few minutes after brought him his pipe and tobacco.

“ Trim," said my uncle Toby, “ I am not at rest in my mind since the account the landlord has given

I wish I had not known so much of this affair, or that I had known more of it.

How shall we manage it?"

“Leave it, an't please your honour, to me,” quoth the corporal ; “I'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.

It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the 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 any intelligence to your honour about the poor sick lieutenant and his son; for when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made sure of knowing everything which was proper to be asked, I was answered, that he had no servant with him ; that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, finding himself unable to proceed (to join, I suppose, the regiment), he had dismissed the morning after he

* 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, and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him ; for he is broken-hearted already.'

[ocr errors]

came.

6

6

[ocr errors]

66

“I was hearing this account,” continued the corporal, “ when 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 hinn my chair to sit 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 toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier. The youth took hold of my hand, and instantly burst into tears.” “Poor youth !” said my uncle Toby; "he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend. I wish I had him here."

“I never, in the longest march,” said 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, Triin,” 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 “I thought it was proper to tell him that I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (though a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father; and that if there was anything in your house or cellar” (" And thou mightst have added my purse, too," said my uncle Toby)—“he was heartily welcome to it. He made a very low bow, but no answer, for his heart was full; so he went upstairs with the toast. “I warrant you, my dear,' said I, as I opened the kitchen door, your father will be well again.'

“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 upstairs. “I believe,' said the landlord," he is going to say his prayers, for

“ there was a book laid upon the chair by his bedside; and, as I shut the door, I saw his son take up a cushion.'

“When I went up into the lieutenant's room, which I did not do till the expiration of ten minutes, he was lying in the 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 up the cushion, upon which I supposed he had been kneeling; the book was laid upon the bed ; and, as he arose, 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 bedside. 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 Levens's,' said the lieutenant-I told him

-'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 of me. You will tell him, however,

your honour was

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

• Do you

[ocr errors]

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 be 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.' so ?' said he, wiping his oyes with the handkerchief; then well may I.' In saying this, he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribbon about his neck, and kissed it twice. “Here, Billy,' said he. The boy flew across the room to the bedside, and, falling down upon his knees, took the ring in his hand, and kissed it too, then kissed his father, and then sat down upon the bed and wept. 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.

[blocks in formation]

The sun looked 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 its circle, when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour

« AnteriorContinuar »