Here however, I can take a moment to do what I have longed to do for so long. I carefully listen to ensure that Patrick, the caretaker, is off on other business. He needn't know about this private juant, and you and I can keep our indiscretions from him. I draw down the words of Sterne and stroke the gently rising pages. His ten cartloads of Volumes 6 and 7 (CHECK!!) seem to still crowd the study, his words are repeated in set after set after set, neatly entombed in time-crumbling brown and gold and black bindings. . I sneak a peek at each volume's singularly beautiful marbled page (Volume III, Chapter XXXVII, but you needn't mark that--all the books seem to have marbled markers at the spot).

Its a lovely solution to a practical problem. (Note that this is exactly what I would say of my own solution---if these study entombed centuries did not constrain my modesty to praise myself that way---dear heaven how the tones in this room reverberate, will I never again find my own voice---of how I used that blood to cure the black current dilemma.) But as to Sterne's most elegant solution---when he wanted a moral individual to each reader, he provided each volume with a unique illustration. A river current is never the same twice, its pattern subtly differs with the constantly changing water. A marbled page captures a moment of ink, currents and eddies, of backwaters and front rapids. A singular perspective.

But I will tell his moral for you. Your worships want to hear it from his words directly? What, you no longer trust me, your trusty narrator? You think that I am now Shandy touching keys in his room, that you hear Sterne playing on the keyboard? Fine. I don't need your trust. I'll simply let him address you, dear reader, directly. Pray first, make yourselves presentable to him. Ladies, go and cover yourselves properly, for I fear he might rise to your immodesty, and then you might blush at his tumescence. Cover your ankles at the very least, mesdames. We shall thus make him feel less of a stranger in time. Gentlemen, all go and put on your best wigs (be sure to shave your heads first, so that you can hide those small, growing, bald places. Next don your finest breeches, or at least the ones your grandfathers left after fortifying the Civil war, the Crimean, or whatever war is long forgotten now, and never dreamed of in his time. (Ahh when fortifications could be made so innocently--what would Tristram's Uncle Toby's hobbyhorse be now, infused with nuclear weapons and capable of mass destruction...but here is a tale we shy from in this gentle room, and you wanted to hear the innocent Sterne himself... His grin awaits you.)

He enters, throws his chasuble over his left shoulder. (CHECK!) He is ready for the lecture, ready to spill his secrets. Assemble, listen. You there, in the fourth row, stop throwing those spitballs, I saw you. You in the third, hands in your own pants if you please. Leave the poor girl alone. The great and noble Sterne is about to address his audience. First he assembles his ventroloquist's dummy, arranges Tristram Shandy dressed in the finest silks (CHECK BETTER SPECIFIC WORD) and breechclouts and of course the little silver fringed ahem...we no longer live in a delicate world, Mr. Sterne. You may describe these articles freely here. You are, if not amongst compatriots, at least amongst friends...very well may whisper if you cannot bear to speak: codpiece. The audience heard your adagio voice, sir, but may not know the term, and are no longer used to interpreting concerts nor even conceits. And I want to keep them with the story, to follow our little shandy down the necessarily circuitous route, that Shandy is now arrayed in Le Fevre's glorious piece that fits over his cock--think of the modern padded bra and what can be done without surgery for breasts, and you'll have the male equivalent idea. And now we are all of us arrayed and prepared to understand Sterne's moral and Shandy tells it thus:

I tell you beforehand, you had better throw down the book at once, for will no more be able to penetrate the moral of the next marbled page (motley emblem of my work!) than the world with all its sagacity has been able to unravel the many opinions, transactions, and truths which lie mystically hid under the dark veil of the black one.