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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 2
A Superficial View Of Our Hero's Infancy.
Having thus bespoken the indulgence of our guests, let us now produce the
particulars of our entertainment, and speedily conduct our adventurer through the
stage of infancy, which seldom teems with interesting incidents.
As the occupations of his mother would not conveniently permit her to suckle this
her firstborn at her own breast, and those happy ages were now no more, in
which the charge of nursing a child might be left to the next goat or she-wolf, she
resolved to improve upon the ordinances of nature, and foster him with a juice
much more energetic than the milk of goat, wolf, or woman; this was no other
than that delicious nectar, which, as we have already hinted, she so cordially
distributed from a small cask that hung before her, depending from her shoulders
by a leathern zone. Thus determined, ere he was yet twelve days old, she
enclosed him in a canvas knapsack, which being adjusted to her neck, fell down
upon her back, and balanced the cargo that rested on her bosom.
There are not wanting those who affirm, that, while her double charge was
carried about in this situation, her keg was furnished with a long and slender
flexible tube, which, when the child began to be clamorous, she conveyed into
his mouth, and straight he stilled himself with sucking; but this we consider as an
extravagant assertion of those who mix the marvellous in all their narrations,
because we cannot conceive how the tender organs of an infant could digest
such a fiery beverage, which never fails to discompose the constitutions of the
most hardy and robust. We therefore conclude that the use of this potation was
more restrained, and that it was with simple element diluted into a composition
adapted to his taste and years. Be this as it will, he certainly was indulged in the
use of it to such a degree as would have effectually obstructed his future fortune,
had not he been happily cloyed with the repetition of the same fare, for which he
conceived the utmost detestation and abhorrence, rejecting it with loathing and
disgust, like those choice spirits, who, having been crammed with religion in their
childhood, renounce it in their youth, among other absurd prejudices of
education.
While he was thus dangled in a state of suspension, a German trooper was
transiently smit with the charms of his mother, who listened to his honourable
addresses, and once more received the silken bonds of matrimony; the
ceremony having been performed as usual at the drum-head. The lady had no
sooner taken possession of her new name, than she bestowed it upon her son,
who was thenceforward distinguished by the appellation of Ferdinand de Fadom;
nor was the husband offended at this presumption in his wife, which he not only
considered as a proof of her affection and esteem, but also as a compliment, by
which he might in time acquire the credit of being the real father of such a
hopeful child.
Notwithstanding this new engagement with a foreigner, our hero's mother still
exercised the virtues of her calling among the English troops, so much was she
biassed by that laudable partiality, which, as Horace observes, the natale solum
generally inspires. Indeed this inclination was enforced by another reason, that
 
 
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