Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[123]

NAMPONT.

THE DEAD ASS.

---AND this, said he, putting
the remains of a crust into
his wallet---and this, should have
been thy portion, said he, hadst
thou been alive to have shared
it with me. I thought by the accent,
it had been an apostrophe to his
child; but 'twas to his ass, and to
the very ass we had seen dead in the
road, which had occasioned La Fleur's
misadventure. The man seemed to
lament it much; and it instantly
brought into my mind Sancho's la-

               mentation

[124]

mentation for his; but he did it with
more true touches of nature.

The mourner was sitting upon a
stone bench at the door, with the
ass's pannel and its bridle on one
side, which he took up from time to
time---then laid them down---look'd
at them and shook his head. He
then took his crust of bread out of
his wallet again, as if to eat it; held
it some time in his hand--- then laid
it upon the bit of his ass's bridle---
looked wistfully at the little arrange-
ment he had made--- and then gave a
sigh.

The simplicity of his grief drew
numbers about him, and La Fleur

              amongst

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amongst the rest, whilst the horses
were getting ready; as I continued
sitting in the post-chaise, I could
see and hear over their heads.

---He said he had come last from
Spain, where he had been from the
furthest borders of Franconia; and
had got so far on his return home,
when his ass died. Every one seem'd
desirous to know what business could
have taken so old and poor a man so
far a journey from his own home.

It had pleased Heaven, he said, to
bless him with three sons, the finest
lads in all Germany; but having in
one week lost two of the eldest of
them by the small-pox, and the

  3        youngest

[126]

youngest falling ill of the same di-
stemper, he was afraid of being bereft
of them all; and made a vow, if
Heaven would not take him from
him also, he would go in gratitude to
St. Iago in Spain.

When the mourner got thus far on
his story, he stopp'd to pay nature
his tribute---and wept bitterly.

He said, Heaven had accepted the
conditions, and that he had set out
from his cottage with this poor crea-
ture, who had been a patient partner
of his journey---that it had eat the
same bread with him all the way,
and was unto him as a friend.

              Every

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Every body who stood about,
heard the poor fellow with concern---
La Fleur offered him money.---
The mourner said, he did not want
it---it was not the value of the ass---
but the loss of him.--- The ass, he
said, he was assured loved him---and
upon this told them a long story of
a mischance upon their passage over
the Pyrenean mountains which had
separated them from each other three
days; during which time the ass had
sought him as much as he had sought
the ass, and that they had neither
scarce eat or drink till they met.

Thou hast one comfort, friend,
said I, at least in the loss of thy poor
beast; I'm sure thou hast been a mer-

         ciful

[128]

ciful master to him.--- Alas! said the
mourner, I thought so, when he was
alive--- but now that he is dead, I
think otherwise.---I fear the weight
of myself and my afflictions together
have been too much for him---they
have shortened the poor creature's
days, and I fear I have them to
answer for.---Shame on the world!
said I to myself---Did we love each
other, as this poor soul but loved his
ass---'twould be something.---


                  


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