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which, though seldom claimed, he said, was no less in force; he took his sword from his side-Here—said he take it ; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in condition to reclaim it. · ·
The president accepted the marquis s sword-he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives of his house
The marquis and his whole family embarked the next day for Martinico, and in about nineteen or twenty years of suecessful application to business, with some unlooked for bequests from distant branches of his house returned home to reclaim his nobility, and to support it.
It was an incident of good fortune, which will never happen to any traveller but a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of his solemn requisition; I call it solemn-it was so to me.
The marquis entered the court with his whole family; he supported his lady--his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the line next his mother-he put his handkerchief to his face twice
There was a dead silence. When the marquis had approached within six paces of the tribunal, he gave the marchioness to his youngest son, and advancing three steps before his family-he reclaimed his sword. His sword was given him, and the moment he got it into his hand he drew it almost out of the scabbard it was the shining face of a friend he had once given up. He looked attentively a long time at it, beginning at the hilt, as if to see whether it was the same when observing a little rust which it had contracted near the point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his head down over it-I think I saw a tear fall upon the place: I could not be deceived by what followed. ii
“I shall find,” said he, “ soine other way to get it off.”
When the marquis had said this, he returned his sword into it's scabbard, made a bow to the guardian of it—and, with his wife and daughter, and his two sons following him, walked out. O how I envied him his feelings !
STERNE. CHAP. XI.
-THEY were the sweetest notes I ever heard; and I instantly let down the fore glass to hear them more distinctly
-Tis Maria, said the postillion, observing I was listeningPoor Maria, continued he, (leaning his body on one side to let me see her, for he was in a line between us) is sitting upon a bank playing her vespers upon a pipe, with her little goat beside her.
The young fellow uttered this with an accent and a look so perfectly in tune to a feeling heart, that I instantly made a vow, I would give him a four and twenty sous piece when I got to Moulines
-And who is poor Maria ? said I.
The love and pity of all the villages around us, said the postillion :—it is but three years ago, that the sun did not shine upon so fair, so quickwitted, and aniiable a maid; and better fate did Maria deserve, than to have her bans forbid by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them :
He was going on, when Maria, who had made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth, and began the air again —they were the same notes—yet were ten times sweeter : It is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young man
but who has taught her to play it-or how she came by her pipe, no one knows: we think that Heaven has assisted her in both; for ever since she has been unsettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation-she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almost night and day.
The postillion delivered this with so much discretion and natural eloquence, that I could not help deciphering something in his face above his condition, and should have sifted out his history, had not poor Maria taken such full possession of me.
We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting: she was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two tresses, drawn up in a silk net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side-she was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heartach, it was the moment I saw her
God belp her! poor damsel! above a hundred masses, said the postillion, have been said in the several parish churches and convents around for her—but without effect : we have still hopes, as she is sensible for short intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever.
As the postillion spoke this, Maria made a cadence so melancholy, so tender, and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself sitting betwixt her and her goat, before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.
Maria looked wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goat-and then at me and then at her goat again, and so on alternately
Well, Maria, said I softly-What resemblance do you find
I do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humblest conviction of what a beast man is, that I asked the question; and that I would not have let fall an unseasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Misery, to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scattered.
Adieu, Maria adieu, poor hapless damsel some time, but not now, I may hear thy sorrows from thy own lips but I was deceived; for that moment she took her pipe, and told me such a tale of wo with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walked softly to my chaise.
WHEN we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria sitting under a poplar--she was sitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand a small brook ran at the foot of the tree.
I bade the postillion go on with the chaise to Moulines
and La Fleur to bespeak my supper-and that I would walk after him.
She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a silk net. She had superadded likewise to her jacket a pale green riband, which fell across her slioulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she kept tied by a string to her girdle; as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the string—" Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio,” said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered the words, the tears trickled down her cheeks.
I sat down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own and then in hers--and then in mine and then I wiped hers again and as I did it, I felt such undescribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.
I am positive I have a soul; nor can all the books, with which materialists have pestered the world, ever convince me of the contrary.
When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if she remembered a pale thin person of a man, who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before? She said, she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts that ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beaten him for the theft-she had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket, to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which, she added, he had half promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it: she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendrilon opening it, I saw an S marked in one of the corners.
She had since that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once and returned back that she found her way alone across the Apennines had travelled over all Lombardy without money--and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes : how she had borne it, and how she had.got supported, she could not tell—but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.
Shorn indeed! and to the quick, said I ; and wast thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldst eat of my own bread, and drink of my own cup—I would be kind to thy Sylvio-in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would seek after thee and bring thee back—when the sun went down I would say my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldst play the evening song upon thy pipe; nor would the incense of my sacrifice be worse accepted, for entering Heaven along with that of a broken heart.
Nature melted within me, as I uttered this ; and Maria observing, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would needs go wash it in the stream-And where will you dry it, Maria? said I will dry it in my bosom, said she-it will do 'me good. i
And is your heart still so warm, Maria ? said I. de
I touched upon the string on which hung all her sorrows -she looked with wistful disorder for some time in my face; and then, without saying any thing, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin—The string I touched ceased to vibrate—in a moment or two Maria returned to herself-let her pipe fall-and rose up.
And where are you going, Maria? said I.-She said to Moulines-Let us go, said I, together. Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string to let the dog follow --in that order we entered Moulines.
Though I hate salutations and greetings in the market- . place, yet when we got into the middle of this I stopped to take my last look and last farewell of Maria.
Maria, though not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms-affliction had touched her looks with something that was scarce earthly—still she was feminine:-and so much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the eyes look for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, she should not only eat of my bread, and drink of my own cup, but Maria should lie in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.
Adieu, poor luckless maiden !-imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds—the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.. STERNE.