—And how does your mistress? cried my father, taking the same step over again from the landing, and calling to Susannah, whom he saw passing by the foot of the stairs with a huge pincushion in her hand⁠—how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, tripping by, but without looking up, as can be expected.⁠—What a fool am I! said my father, drawing his leg back again⁠—let things be as they will, brother Toby, ’tis ever the precise answer⁠⸺⁠And how is the child, pray?⁠⸺⁠No answer. And where is Dr. Slop? added my father, raising his voice aloud, and looking over the ballusters⁠—Susannah was out of hearing.

Of all the riddles of a married life, said my father, crossing the landing in order to set his back against the wall, whilst he propounded it to my uncle Toby⁠⸺⁠of all the puzzling riddles, said he, in a marriage state,⁠⸺⁠of which you may trust me, brother Toby, there are more asses loads than all Job’s stock of asses could have carried⁠⸺⁠there is not one that has more intricacies in it than this⁠—that from the very moment the mistress of the house is brought to bed, every female in it, from my lady’s gentlewoman down to the cinder-wench, becomes an inch taller for it; and give themselves more airs upon that single inch, than all their other inches put together.

I think rather, replied my uncle Toby, that ’tis we who sink an inch lower.⁠—If I meet but a woman with child⁠—I do it.⁠—’Tis a heavy tax upon that half of our fellow-creatures, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby⁠—’Tis a piteous burden upon ’em, continued he, shaking his head⁠—Yes, yes, ’tis a painful thing⁠—said my father, shaking his head too⁠⸺⁠but certainly since shaking of heads came into fashion, never did two heads shake together, in concert, from two such different springs.

God bless Deuce take } ’em all⁠⸻said my uncle Toby and my father, each to himself.