Chapter 61

Zounds!___________________________________________Z...ds! cried Phutatorius, partly to himself—and yet high enough to be heard—and what seemed odd, ’twas uttered in a construction of look, and in a tone of voice, somewhat between that of a man in amazement and one in bodily pain.

One or two who had very nice ears, and could distinguish the expression and mixture of the two tones as plainly as a third or a fifth, or any other chord in musick—were the most puzzled and perplexed with it—the concord was good in itself—but then ’twas quite out of the key, and no way applicable to the subject started;—so that with all their knowledge, they could not tell what in the world to make of it.

Others who knew nothing of musical expression, and merely lent their ears to the plain import of the word, imagined that Phutatorius, who was somewhat of a cholerick spirit, was just going to snatch the cudgels out of Didius’s hands, in order to bemaul Yorick to some purpose—and that the desperate monosyllable Z...ds was the exordium to an oration, which, as they judged from the sample, presaged but a rough kind of handling of him; so that my uncle Toby’s good-nature felt a pang for what Yorick was about to undergo. But seeing Phutatorius stop short, without any attempt or desire to go on—a third party began to suppose, that it was no more than an involuntary respiration, casually forming itself into the shape of a twelve-penny oath—without the sin or substance of one.

Others, and especially one or two who sat next him, looked upon it on the contrary as a real and substantial oath, propensly formed against Yorick, to whom he was known to bear no good liking—which said oath, as my father philosophized upon it, actually lay fretting and fuming at that very time in the upper regions of Phutatorius’s purtenance; and so was naturally, and according to the due course of things, first squeezed out by the sudden influx of blood which was driven into the right ventricle of Phutatorius’s heart, by the stroke of surprize which so strange a theory of preaching had excited.

How finely we argue upon mistaken facts!

There was not a soul busied in all these various reasonings upon the monosyllable which Phutatorius uttered—who did not take this for granted, proceeding upon it as from an axiom, namely, that Phutatorius’s mind was intent upon the subject of debate which was arising between Didius and Yorick; and indeed as he looked first towards the one and then towards the other, with the air of a man listening to what was going forwards—who would not have thought the same? But the truth was, that Phutatorius knew not one word or one syllable of what was passing—but his whole thoughts and attention were taken up with a transaction which was going forwards at that very instant within the precincts of his own Galligaskins, and in a part of them, where of all others he stood most interested to watch accidents: So that notwithstanding he looked with all the attention in the world, and had gradually skrewed up every nerve and muscle in his face, to the utmost pitch the instrument would bear, in order, as it was thought, to give a sharp reply to Yorick, who sat over-against him—yet, I say, was Yorick never once in any one domicile of Phutatorius’s brain—but the true cause of his exclamation lay at least a yard below.

This I will endeavour to explain to you with all imaginable decency.

You must be informed then, that Gastripheres, who had taken a turn into the kitchen a little before dinner, to see how things went on—observing a wicker-basket of fine chesnuts standing upon the dresser, had ordered that a hundred or two of them might be roasted and sent in, as soon as dinner was over—Gastripheres inforcing his orders about them, that Didius, but Phutatorius especially, were particularly fond of ’em.

About two minutes before the time that my uncle Toby interrupted Yorick’s harangue—Gastripheres’s chesnuts were brought in—and as Phutatorius’s fondness for ’em was uppermost in the waiter’s head, he laid them directly before Phutatorius, wrapt up hot in a clean damask napkin.

Now whether it was physically impossible, with half a dozen hands all thrust into the napkin at a time—but that some one chesnut, of more life and rotundity than the rest, must be put in motion—it so fell out, however, that one was actually sent rolling off the table; and as Phutatorius sat straddling under—it fell perpendicularly into that particular aperture of Phutatorius’s breeches, for which, to the shame and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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