Now what can their two noddles be about? cried my father. . .&c. . ..
I dare say, said my mother, they are making fortifications
Not on Mrs. Wadmans premises! cried my father, stepping back
I suppose not: quoth my mother.
I wish, said my father, raising his voice, the whole science of fortification at the devil, with all its trumpery of saps, mines, blinds, gabions, fausse-brays and cuvetts
They are foolish thingssaid my mother.
Now she had a way, which, by the bye, I would this moment give away my purple jerkin, and my yellow slippers into the bargain, if some of your reverences would imitateand that was, never to refuse her assent and consent to any proposition my father laid before her, merely because she did not understand it, or had no ideas of the principal word or term of art, upon which the tenet or proposition rolled. She contented herself with doing all that her godfathers and godmothers promised for herbut no more; and so would go on using a hard word twenty years togetherand replying to it too, if it was a verb, in all its moods and tenses, without giving herself any trouble to enquire about it.
This was an eternal source of misery to my father, and broke the neck, at the first setting out, of more good dialogues between them, than could have done the most petulant contradictionthe few which survived were the better for the cuvetts
They are foolish things; said my mother.
Particularly the cuvetts; replied my father.
Tis enoughhe tasted the sweet of triumphand went on.
Not that they are, properly speaking, Mrs. Wadmans premises, said my father, partly correcting himselfbecause she is but tenant for life
That makes a great differencesaid my mother
In a fools head, replied my father
Unless she should happen to have a childsaid my mother
But she must persuade my brother Toby first to get her one
To be sure, Mr. Shandy, quoth my mother.
Though if it comes to persuasionsaid my fatherLord have mercy upon them.
Amen: said my mother, piano.
Amen: cried my father, fortissime.
Amen: said my mother againbut with such a sighing cadence of personal pity at the end of it, as discomfited every fibre about my fatherhe instantly took out his almanack; but before he could untie it, Yoricks congregation coming out of church, became a full answer to one half of his business with itand my mother telling him it was a sacrament dayleft him as little in doubt, as to the other partHe put his almanack into his pocket.
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