What a chapter of chances, said my father, turning himself about upon the first landing, as he and my uncle Toby were going downstairs⁠—what a long chapter of chances do the events of this world lay open to us! Take pen and ink in hand, brother Toby, and calculate it fairly⁠⸺⁠I know no more of calculation than this balluster, said my uncle Toby (striking short of it with his crutch, and hitting my father a desperate blow souse upon his shinbone)⁠⸺’Twas a hundred to one⁠—cried my uncle Toby⁠—I thought, quoth my father (rubbing his shin), you had known nothing of calculations, brother Toby. ’Tis a mere chance, said my uncle Toby.⁠⸻Then it adds one to the chapter⁠⸺⁠replied my father.

The double success of my father’s repartees tickled off the pain of his shin at once⁠—it was well it so fell out⁠—(chance! again)⁠—or the world to this day had never known the subject of my father’s calculation⁠⸺⁠to guess it⁠—there was no chance⁠⸺⁠What a lucky chapter of chances has this turned out! for it has saved me the trouble of writing one express, and in truth I have enough already upon my hands without it.⁠—Have not I promised the world a chapter of knots? two chapters upon the right and the wrong end of a woman? a chapter upon whiskers? a chapter upon wishes?⁠⸺⁠a chapter of noses?⁠—No, I have done that⁠—a chapter upon my uncle Toby’s modesty? to say nothing of a chapter upon chapters, which I will finish before I sleep⁠—by my great-grandfather’s whiskers, I shall never get half of ’em through this year.

Take pen and ink in hand, and calculate it fairly, brother Toby, said my father, and it will turn out a million to one, that of all the parts of the body, the edge of the forceps should have the ill luck just to fall upon and break down that one part, which should break down the fortunes of our house with it.

It might have been worse, replied my uncle Toby.⁠⸺⁠I don’t comprehend, said my father.⁠⸻Suppose the hip had presented, replied my uncle Toby, as Dr. Slop foreboded.

My father reflected half a minute⁠—looked down⁠⸺⁠touched the middle of his forehead slightly with his finger⁠⸻

—True, said he.