Chapter 43

It was a thousand pities—though I believe, an’ please your honour, I am going to say but a foolish kind of a thing for a soldier—

A soldier, cried my uncle Toby, interrupting the corporal, is no more exempt from saying a foolish thing, Trim, than a man of letters—But not so often, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal—my uncle Toby gave a nod.

It was a thousand pities then, said the corporal, casting his eye upon Dunkirk, and the mole, as Servius Sulpicius, in returning out of Asia (when he sailed from Aegina towards Megara), did upon Corinth and Pyreus—

—’It was a thousand pities, an’ please your honour, to destroy these works—and a thousand pities to have let them stood.’—

—Thou art right, Trim, in both cases; said my uncle Toby.—This, continued the corporal, is the reason, that from the beginning of their demolition to the end—I have never once whistled, or sung, or laugh’d, or cry’d, or talk’d of past done deeds, or told your honour one story good or bad—

—Thou hast many excellencies, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and I hold it not the least of them, as thou happenest to be a story-teller, that of the number thou hast told me, either to amuse me in my painful hours, or divert me in my grave ones—thou hast seldom told me a bad one—

—Because, an’ please your honour, except one of a King of Bohemia and his seven castles,—they are all true; for they are about myself—

I do not like the subject the worse, Trim, said my uncle Toby, on that score: But prithee what is this story? thou hast excited my curiosity.

I’ll tell it your honour, quoth the corporal, directly—Provided, said my uncle Toby, looking earnestly towards Dunkirk and the mole again—provided it is not a merry one; to such, Trim, a man should ever bring one half of the entertainment along with him; and the disposition I am in at present would wrong both thee, Trim, and thy story—It is not a merry one by any means, replied the corporal—Nor would I have it altogether a grave one, added my uncle Toby—It is neither the one nor the other, replied the corporal, but will suit your honour exactly—Then I’ll thank thee for it with all my heart, cried my uncle Toby; so prithee begin it, Trim.

The corporal made his reverence; and though it is not so easy a matter as the world imagines, to pull off a lank Montero-cap with grace—or a whit less difficult, in my conceptions, when a man is sitting squat upon the ground, to make a bow so teeming with respect as the corporal was wont; yet by suffering the palm of his right hand, which was towards his master, to slip backwards upon the grass, a little beyond his body, in order to allow it the greater sweep—and by an unforced compression, at the same time, of his cap with the thumb and the two forefingers of his left, by which the diameter of the cap became reduced, so that it might be said, rather to be insensibly squeez’d—than pull’d off with a flatus—the corporal acquitted himself of both in a better manner than the posture of his affairs promised; and having hemmed twice, to find in what key his story would best go, and best suit his master’s humour,—he exchanged a single look of kindness with him, and set off thus.

The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles.

There was a certain king of Bo..he-

As the corporal was entering the confines of Bohemia, my uncle Toby obliged him to halt for a single moment; he had set out bare-headed, having, since he pull’d off his Montero-cap in the latter end of the last chapter, left it lying beside him on the ground.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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