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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 5
A Brief Detail Of His Education.
Nothing could have more seasonably happened to confirm the good opinion
which the colonel entertained of Ferdinand's principles. His intentions towards
the boy grew every day more and more warm; and, immediately after the peace
of Passarowitz, he retired to his own house at Presburg, and presented young
Fathom to his lady, not only as the son of a person to whom he owed his life, but
also as a lad who merited his peculiar protection and regard by his own personal
virtue. The Countess, who was an Hungarian, received him with great kindness
and affability, and her son was ravished with the prospect of enjoying such a
companion. In short, fortune seemed to have provided for him an asylum, in
which he might be safely trained up, and suitably prepared for more important
scenes of life than any of his ancestors had ever known.
He was not, in all respects, entertained on the footing of his young master; yet he
shared in all his education and amusements, as one whom the old gentleman
was fully determined to qualify for the station of an officer in the service; and, if
he did not eat with the Count, he was every day regaled with choice bits from his
table; holding, as it were, a middle place between the rank of a relation and
favourite domestic. Although his patron maintained a tutor in the house, to
superintend the conduct of his heir, he committed the charge of his learning to
the instructions of a public school; where he imagined the boy would imbibe a
laudable spirit of emulation among his fellows, which could not fail of turning out
to the advantage of his education. Ferdinand was entered in the same academy;
and the two lads proceeded equally in the paths of erudition; a mutual friendship
and intimacy soon ensued, and, notwithstanding the levity and caprice commonly
discernible in the behaviour of such boys, very few or rather no quarrels
happened in the course of their communication. Yet their dispositions were
altogether different, and their talents unlike. Nay, this dissimilarity was the very
bond of their union; because it prevented that jealousy and rivalship which often
interrupts the harmony of two warm contemporaries.
The young Count made extraordinary progress in the exercises of the school,
though he seemed to take very little pains in the cultivation of his studies; and
became a perfect hero in all the athletic diversions of his fellow-scholars; but, at
the same time, exhibited such a bashful appearance and uncouth address, that
his mother despaired of ever seeing him improved into any degree of polite
behaviour. On the other hand, Fathom, who was in point of learning a mere
dunce, became, even in his childhood, remarkable among the ladies for his
genteel deportment and vivacity; they admired the proficiency he made under the
directions of his dancing-master, the air with which he performed his obeisance
at his entrance and exit; and were charmed with the agreeable assurance and
lively sallies of his conversation; while they expressed the utmost concern and
disgust at the boorish demeanour of his companion, whose extorted bows
resembled the pawings of a mule, who hung his head in silence like a detected
sheep-stealer, who sat in company under the most awkward expressions of