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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter65)

2006-08-22 18:55

  Chapter 65

  When Tom, an‘ please your honour, got to the shop, there was nobody in it, but a poor negro girl, with a bunch of white feathers slightly tied to the end of a long cane, flapping away flies—not killing them.—’Tis a pretty picture! said my uncle Toby—she had suffered persecution, Trim, and had learnt mercy—

  —She was good, an‘ please your honour, from nature, as well as from hardships; and there are circumstances in the story of that poor friendless slut, that would melt a heart of stone, said Trim; and some dismal winter’s evening, when your honour is in the humour, they shall be told you with the rest of Tom‘s story, for it makes a part of it—

  Then do not forget, Trim, said my uncle Toby.

  A negro has a soul? an‘ please your honour, said the corporal (doubtingly)。

  I am not much versed, corporal, quoth my uncle Toby, in things of that kind; but I suppose, God would not leave him without one, any more than thee or me—

  —It would be putting one sadly over the head of another, quoth the corporal.

  It would so; said my uncle Toby. Why then, an‘ please your honour, is a black wench to be used worse than a white one?

  I can give no reason, said my uncle Toby—

  —Only, cried the corporal, shaking his head, because she has no one to stand up for her—

  —‘Tis that very thing, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby,—which recommends her to protection—and her brethren with her; ’tis the fortune of war which has put the whip into our hands now—where it may be hereafter, heaven knows!— but be it where it will, the brave, Trim! will not use it unkindly.

  —God forbid, said the corporal.

  Amen, responded my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon his heart.

  The corporal returned to his story, and went on—but with an embarrassment in doing it, which here and there a reader in this world will not be able to comprehend; for by the many sudden transitions all along, from one kind and cordial passion to another, in getting thus far on his way, he had lost the sportable key of his voice, which gave sense and spirit to his tale: he attempted twice to resume it, but could not please himself; so giving a stout hem! to rally back the retreating spirits, and aiding nature at the same time with his left arm a kimbo on one side, and with his right a little extended, supporting her on the other—the corporal got as near the note as he could; and in that attitude, continued his story.

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