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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 33
He Attracts The Envy And Ill Offices Of The Minor Knights Of His Own Order,
Over Whom He Obtains A Complete Victory.
Such a pre-eminence could not be enjoyed without exciting the malevolence of
envy and detraction, in the propagation of which none were so industrious as the
brethren of his own order, who had, like him, made a descent upon this island,
and could not, without repining, see the whole harvest in the hands of one man,
who, with equal art and discretion, avoided all intercourse with their society. In
vain they strove to discover his pedigree, and detect the particular circumstances
of his life and conversation; all their inquiries were baffled by the obscurity of his
origin, and that solitary scheme which he had adopted in the beginning of his
career. The whole fruit of their investigation amounted to no more than a
certainty that there was no family of any consideration in Europe known by the
denomination of Fathom; and this discovery they did not fail to divulge for the
benefit of our adventurer, who had by this time taken such firm root in the favour
of the great, as to set all those little arts at defiance; and when the report reached
his ear, actually made his friends merry with the conjectures which had been
circulated at his expense.
His adversaries, finding themselves disappointed in this effort, held a
consultation to devise other measures against him, and came to a resolution of
ending him by the sword, or rather of expelling him from the kingdom by the fear
of death, which they hoped he had not courage enough to resist, because his
deportment had always been remarkably mild and pacific. It was upon this
supposition that they left to the determination of the dice the choice of the person
who should execute their plan; and the lot falling upon a Swiss, who, from the
station of a foot soldier in the Dutch service, out of which he had been drummed
for theft, had erected himself into the rank of a self-created chevalier, this hero
fortified himself with a double dose of brandy, and betook himself to a certain
noted coffee-house, with an intent to affront Count Fathom in public.
He was lucky enough to find our adventurer sitting at a table in conversation with
some persons of the first rank; upon which he seated himself in the next box, and
after having intruded himself into their discourse, which happened to turn upon
the politics of some German courts, "Count," said he to Ferdinand, in a very
abrupt and disagreeable manner of address, "I was last night in company with
some gentlemen, among whom a dispute happened about the place of your
nativity; pray, what country are you of?" "Sir," answered the other, with great
politeness, "I at present have the honour to be of England." "Oho!" replied the
chevalier, "I ask your pardon, that is to say, you are incog; some people may find
it convenient to keep themselves in that situation." "True," said the Count, "but
some people are too well known to enjoy that privilege." The Swiss being a little
disconcerted at this repartee, which extracted a smile from the audience, after
some pause, observed, that persons of a certain class had good reason to drop
the remembrance of what they have been; but a good citizen will not forget his
country, or former condition. "And a bad citizen," said Fathom, "cannot, if he