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Duellist. O heavens! must I bear this? What can I do with this fellow? I have neither sword nor pistol. And his shade seems to be twice as strong as mine.
Mercury. You must answer his questions. It was your own desire to have a conversation with him. He is not well bred, but he will tell you some truths which you must necessarily hear when you come before Rhadamanthus. He asked you what you could do besides eating and dancing.
Duellist. I sang very agreeably.
Savage. Let me hear you sing your "Death Song" or the "War-Whoop." I challenge you to sing. Come, begin. The fellow is mute. Mercury, this is a liar; he has told us nothing but lies. Let me pull out his tongue.
Duellist. The lie given me! And, alas, I dare not resent it. What an indelible disgrace to the family of the Pushwells! This, indeed, is damnation.
Mercury. Here, Charon, take these two savages to your care. How far the barbarism of the Mohawk will excuse his horrid acts I leave Minos to judge. But what can be said for the other, for the Englishman? The custom of duelling? A bad excuse at the best, but here it cannot avail. The spirit that urged him to draw his sword against his friend is not that of honour; it is the spirit of the furies, and to them he must go.
Savage. If he is to be punished for his wickedness, turn him over to me; I perfectly understand the art of tormenting. Sirrah, I begin my work with this kick on your breech.
Duellist. Oh, my honour, my honour, to what infamy art thou fallen!" Dialogues of the Dead."
Uncle Toby's Courtship
"I AM half-distracted, Captain Shandy," said Mrs. Wadman, holding up her cambric handkerchief to her left eye, as she approached the door of my uncle Toby's sentrybox; "a mote, or sand, or something, I know not what, has got into this eye of mine. Do look into it; it is not in the white."
In saying which, Mrs. Wadman edged herself close in beside my uncle Toby, and, squeezing herself down upon the corner of his bench, she gave him an opportunity of doing it without rising up. "Do look into it," said she.
Honest soul! Thou didst look into it with as much innocency of heart as ever child looked into a raree showbox; and 'twere as much a sin to have hurt thee.
If a man will be peeping of his own accord into things of that nature, I've nothing to say to it.
My uncle Toby never did; and I will answer for him that he would have sat quietly upon a sofa from June to January (which you know takes in both the hot and cold months) with an eye as fine as the Thracian Rhodope's beside him, without being able to tell whether it was a black or a blue one.
The difficulty was to get my uncle Toby to look at one at all.
'Tis surmounted. And
I see him yonder, with his pipe pendulous in his hand,
and the ashes falling out of it, looking, and looking, then rubbing his eyes and looking again, with twice the good nature that ever Galileo looked for a spot in the sun.
In vain! For, by all the powers which animate the organ, Widow Wadman's left eye shines this moment as lucid as her right; there is neither mote, nor sand, nor dust, nor chaff, nor speck, nor particle of opaque matter floating in it. There is nothing, my dear paternal uncle, but one lambent, delicious fire, furtively shooting out from every part of it in all directions into thine.
If thou lookest, my uncle Toby, in search of this mote one moment longer, thou art undone.
An eye is, for all the world, exactly like a cannon in this respect, that it is not so much the eye or the cannon in themselves, as it is the carriage of the eye and the carriage of the cannon; by which both the one and the other are enabled to do so much execution. I don't think the comparison a bad one; however, as 'tis made, and placed at the head of the chapter, as much for use as ornament, all I desire in return is, that whenever I speak of Mrs. Wadman's eyes (except once in the next period), that you keep it in your fancy.
"I protest, madam," said my uncle Toby. "I can see nothing whatever in your eye."
"It is not in the white," said Mrs. Wadman.
My uncle Toby looked with might and main into the pupil. Now, of all the eyes which ever were created, from your own, madam, up to those of Venus herself, which certainly were as venereal a pair of eyes as ever stood in a head, there never was an eye of them all so fitted to rob my uncle Toby of his repose as the very eye at which he was looking. It was not, madam, a rolling eye, a romping, or a wanton one; nor was it an eye sparkling, petulant, or im
perious, of high claims and terrifying exactions, which would have curdled at once that milk of human nature of which my uncle Toby was made up; but 'twas an eye full of gentle salutations and soft responses, speaking, not like the trumpetstop of some ill-made organ, in which many an eye I talk to holds coarse converse, but whispering soft, like the last low accents of an expiring saint: "How can you live comfortless, Captain Shandy, and alone, without a bosom to lean your head on or trust your cares to?"
It was an eye
But I shall be in love with it myself if I say another word about it.
It did my uncle Toby's business.
The world is ashamed of being virtuous. My uncle Toby knew little of the world; and therefore, when he felt he was in love with Widow Wadman, he had no conception that the thing was any more to be made a mystery of than if Mrs. Wadman had given him a cut with a gaped knife across his finger. Had it been otherwise Yet, as he looked upon Trim as an humble friend, and saw fresh reasons every day of his life to treat him as such, it would have made no variation in the manner in which he informed him of the affair.
"I am in love, corporal," quoth my uncle Toby.
"In love!" said the corporal. "Your Honour was very well the day before yesterday, when I was telling your Honour the story of the King of Bohemia."
"Bohemia!" said my uncle Toby, musing a long time. "What became of that story, Trim?"
"We lost it, an't please your Honour, somehow, betwixt us; but your Honour was as free from love then as I am." "'Twas just while thou went'st off with the wheelbar
row, with Mrs. Wadman," quoth my uncle Toby. "She has left a ball here," added my uncle Toby, pointing to his breast.
"She can no more, an' please your Honour, stand a siege than she can fly," cried the corporal.
"But as we are neighbours, Trim, the best way, I think, is to let her know it civilly first," quoth my uncle Toby.
"Now, if I might presume," said the corporal, "to differ from your Honour."
"Why else do I talk to thee, Trim?" said my uncle Toby mildly.
"Then I would begin, an' it please your Honour, with making a good thundering attack upon her in return, and telling her civilly afterward; for if she knows anything of your Honour's being in love beforehand, Lord help her!" She knows no more at present of it, Trim," said my uncle Toby, "than the child unborn."
Mrs. Wadman had told it, with all its circumstances, to Mrs. Bridget, twenty-four hours before, and was at that very moment sitting in council with her touching some slight misgivings with regard to the issue of the affair, which the devil, who never lies dead in a ditch, had put into her head before he would allow her half time to get quietly through her Te Deum.
"We'll know the long and broad of it in ten days," answered Mrs. Bridget; "for whilst the captain is paying his addresses to you, I'm confident Mr. Trim will be for making love to me; and I'll let him, as much as he will," added Bridget, "to get it all out of him."
The measures were taken at once; and my uncle Toby and the corporal went on with theirs.