The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom
The Biter Is Bit.
Yet, he had no sooner committed his effects to the care of this triumvirate, than
his fancy was visited with direful warnings, which produced cold sweats and
palpitations, and threw him into such agonies of apprehension as he had never
known before. He remembered the former desertion of the Tyrolese, the recent
villany of the solicitor, and recollected the remarks he had made upon the
disposition and character of his valet, which evinced him a fit companion for the
Alarmed at these reflections, he entreated the bailiff to indulge him with a visit to
his own lodgings, and even offered one hundred guineas as a gratification for his
compliance. But the officer, who had formerly lost a considerable sum by the
escape of a prisoner, would not run any risk in an affair of such consequence,
and our hero was obliged to submit to the tortures of his own presaging fears.
After he had waited five hours in the most racking impatience, he saw the
attorney enter with all the marks of hurry, fatigue, and consternation, and heard
him exclaim, "Good God, have you seen the gentleman?"
Fathom found his fears realised in this interrogation, to which he answered in a
tone of horror and dismay, "What gentleman? I suppose I am robbed. Speak, and
keep me no longer in suspense." "Robbed!" cried the attorney, "the Lord forbid! I
hope you can depend upon the person you empowered to receive your jewels
and cash? I must own his proceedings are a little extraordinary; for after he had
rummaged your scrutoire, from which, in presence of me and your servant, he
took one hundred and fifty guineas, a parcel of diamond rings and buckles,
according to this here inventory, which I wrote with my own hand, and East India
bonds to the tune of five hundred more, we adjourned to Garraway's, where he
left me alone, under pretence of going to a broker of his acquaintance who lived
in the neighbourhood, while the valet, as I imagined, waited for us in the alley.
Well, sir, he stayed so long, that I began to be uneasy, and at length resolved to
send the servant in quest of him, but when I went out for that purpose, deuce a
servant was to be found; though I in person inquired for him at every alehouse
within half a mile of the place. I then despatched no less than five ticket porters
upon the scent after them, and I myself, by a direction from the bar-keeper, went
to Signior Ratchcali's lodgings, where, as they told me, he had not been seen
since nine o'clock in the morning. Upon this intimation, I came directly hither, to
give you timely notice, that you may without delay take measures for your own
security. The best thing you can do, is to take out writs for apprehending him, in
the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, and I shall put them in the
hands of trusty and diligent officers, who will soon ferret him out of his lurking-
place, provided he skulks within ten miles of the bills of mortality. To be sure, the
job will be expensive; and all these runners must be paid beforehand. But what
then? the defendant is worth powder, and if we can once secure him, I'll warrant
the prosecution will quit cost."
Fathom was almost choked with concern and resentment at the news of this
mischance, so that he could not utter one word until this narrative was finished.