In popped Corporal Trim with Stevinus:—But 'twas too late,—all the discourse had been exhausted without him, and was running into a new channel.
—You may take the book home again, Trim, said my uncle Toby, nodding to him.
But prithee, Corporal, quoth my father, drolling,—look first into it, and see if thou canst spy aught of a sailing chariot in it.
Corporal Trim, by being in the service, had learned to obey,—and not to remonstrate,—so taking the book to a side-table, and running over the leaves; An' please your Honour, said Trim, I can see no such thing;—however, continued the Corporal, drolling a little in his turn, I'll make sure work of it, an' please your Honour;—so taking hold of the two covers of the book, one in each hand, and letting the leaves fall down as he bent the covers back, he gave the book a good sound shake.
There is something falling out, however, said Trim, an' please your Honour;—but it is not a chariot, or any thing like one:—Prithee, Corporal, said my father, smiling, what is it then?—I think, answered Trim, stooping to take it up,—'tis more like a sermon,—for it begins with a text of scripture, and the chapter and verse;—and then goes on, not as a chariot, but like a sermon directly.
The company smiled.
I cannot conceive how it is possible, quoth my uncle Toby, for such a thing as a sermon to have got into my Stevinus.
I think 'tis a sermon, replied Trim:—but if it please your Honours, as it is a fair hand, I will read you a page;—for Trim, you must know, loved to hear himself read almost as well as talk.
I have ever a strong propensity, said my father, to look into things which cross my way, by such strange fatalities as these;—and as we have nothing better to do, at least till Obadiah gets back, I shall be obliged to you, brother, if Dr. Slop has no objection to it, to order the Corporal to give us a page or two of it,—if he is as able to do it, as he seems willing. An' please your honour, quoth Trim, I officiated two whole campaigns, in Flanders, as clerk to the chaplain of the regiment.—He can read it, quoth my uncle Toby, as well as I can.—Trim, I assure you, was the best scholar in my company, and should have had the next halberd, but for the poor fellow's misfortune. Corporal Trim laid his hand upon his heart, and made an humble bow to his master; then laying down his hat upon the floor, and taking up the sermon in his left hand, in order to have his right at liberty,—he advanced, nothing doubting, into the middle of the room, where he could best see, and be best seen by his audience.