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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 6
He Meditates Schemes Of Importance.
It was in these parties that he attracted the notice and friendship of his patron's
daughter, a girl by two years older than himself, who was not insensible to his
qualifications, and looked upon him with the most favourable eyes of
prepossession. Whether or not he at this period of his life began to project plans
for availing himself of her susceptibility, is uncertain; but, without all doubt, he
cultivated her esteem with as obsequious and submissive attention as if he had
already formed the design, which, in his advanced age, he attempted to put in
Divers circumstances conspired to promote him in the favour of this young lady;
the greenness of his years secured him from any appearance of fallacious aim;
so that he was indulged in frequent opportunities of conversing with his young
mistress, whose parents encouraged this communication, by which they hoped
she would improve in speaking the language of her father. Such connexions
naturally produce intimacy and friendship. Fathom's person was agreeable, his
talents calculated for the meridian of those parties, and his manners so
engaging, that there would have been no just subject for wonder, had he made
an impression upon the tender unexperienced heart of Mademoiselle de Melvil,
whose beauty was not so attractive as to extinguish his hope, in raising up a
number of formidable rivals; though her expectations of fortune were such as
commonly lend additional lustre to personal merit.
All these considerations were so many steps towards the success of Ferdinand's
pretensions; and though he cannot be supposed to have perceived them at first,
he in the sequel seemed perfectly well apprised of his advantages, and used
them to the full extent of his faculties. Observing that she delighted in music, he
betook himself to the study of that art, and, by dint of application and a tolerable
ear, learned of himself to accompany her with a German flute, while she sung
and played upon the harpsichord. The Count, seeing his inclination, and the
progress he had made, resolved that his capacity should not be lost for want of
cultivation; and accordingly provided him with a master, by whom he was
instructed in the principles of the art, and soon became a proficient in playing
upon the violin.
In the practice of these improvements and avocations, and in attendance upon
his young master, whom he took care never to disoblige or neglect, he attained
to the age of sixteen, without feeling the least abatement in the friendship and
generosity of those upon whom he depended; but, on the contrary, receiving
every day fresh marks of their bounty and regard. He had before this time been
smit with the ambition of making a conquest of the young lady's heart, and
foresaw manifold advantages to himself in becoming son-in-law to Count Melvil,
who, he never doubted, would soon be reconciled to the match, if once it could
be effectuated without his knowledge. Although he thought he had great reason
to believe that Mademoiselle looked upon him with an eye of peculiar favour, his
disposition was happily tempered with an ingredient of caution, that hindered him
from acting with precipitation; and he had discerned in the young lady's