Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
42. The Captive. Paris
THE BIRD in his cage pursued me into my room; I sat down close to my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination.
I was going to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures, born to no inheritance but slavery: but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it near me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me
I beheld his body half wasted away with long expectation and confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was which arises from hope deferrd. Upon looking nearer I saw him pale and feverish: in thirty years the western breeze had not once fannd his bloodhe had seen no sun, no moon, in all that timenor had the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through his latticehis children
He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the furthest corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed: a little calendar of small sticks were laid at the head, notchd all over with the dismal days and nights he had passd therehe had one of these little sticks in his hand, and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye towards the door, then cast it downshook his head, and went on with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs, as he turned his body to lay his little stick upon the bundle.He gave a deep sighI saw the iron enter into his soulI burst into tearsI could not sustain the picture of confinement which my fancy had drawnI started up from my chair, and calling La FleurI bid him bespeak me a remise, and have it ready at the door of the hotel by nine in the morning.
La Fleur would have put me to bed; but not willing he should see anything upon my cheek which would cost the honest fellow a heartacheI told him I would go to bed by myselfand bid him go do the same.