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Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 2.XLIX.

Full Text Chapter 2.XLIX.

Chapter 2.XLIX.

—Then reach me my breeches off the chair, said my father to Susannah.—There is not a moment's time to dress you, Sir, cried Susannah—the child is as black in the face as my—As your what? said my father, for like all orators, he was a dear searcher into comparisons.—Bless, me, Sir, said Susannah, the child's in a fit.—And where's Mr. Yorick?—Never where he should be, said Susannah, but his curate's in the dressing-room, with the child upon his arm, waiting for the name—and my mistress bid me run as fast as I could to know, as captain Shandy is the godfather, whether it should not be called after him.

Were one sure, said my father to himself, scratching his eye-brow, that the child was expiring, one might as well compliment my brother Toby as not—and it would be a pity, in such a case, to throw away so great a name as Trismegistus upon him—but he may recover.

No, no,—said my father to Susannah, I'll get up—There is no time, cried Susannah, the child's as black as my shoe. Trismegistus, said my father—But stay—thou art a leaky vessel, Susannah, added my father; canst thou carry Trismegistus in thy head, the length of the gallery without scattering?—Can I? cried Susannah, shutting the door in a huff.—If she can, I'll be shot, said my father, bouncing out of bed in the dark, and groping for his breeches.

Susannah ran with all speed along the gallery.

My father made all possible speed to find his breeches.

Susannah got the start, and kept it—'Tis Tris—something, cried Susannah—There is no christian-name in the world, said the curate, beginning with Tris—but Tristram. Then 'tis Tristram-gistus, quoth Susannah.

—There is no gistus to it, noodle!—'tis my own name, replied the curate, dipping his hand, as he spoke, into the bason—Tristram! said he, &c. &c. &c. &c.—so Tristram was I called, and Tristram shall I be to the day of my death.

My father followed Susannah, with his night-gown across his arm, with nothing more than his breeches on, fastened through haste with but a single button, and that button through haste thrust only half into the button-hole.

—She has not forgot the name, cried my father, half opening the door?—No, no, said the curate, with a tone of intelligence.—And the child is better, cried Susannah.—And how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, as can be expected.—Pish! said my father, the button of his breeches slipping out of the button-hole—So that whether the interjection was levelled at Susannah, or the button-hole—whether Pish was an interjection of contempt or an interjection of modesty, is a doubt, and must be a doubt till I shall have time to write the three following favourite chapters, that is, my chapter of chamber-maids, my chapter of pishes, and my chapter of button-holes.

All the light I am able to give the reader at present is this, that the moment my father cried Pish! he whisk'd himself about—and with his breeches held up by one hand, and his night-gown thrown across the arm of the other, he turned along the gallery to bed, something slower than he came.