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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 8
Their First Attempt; With A Digression Which Some Readers May Think
Be this as it will, our lovers, though real voluptuaries, amidst the first transports of
their enjoyment did not neglect the great political aim of their conjunction.
Teresa's bedchamber, to which our hero constantly repaired at midnight, was the
scene of their deliberations, and there it was determined that the damsel, in order
to avoid suspicion, should feign herself irritated at the indifference of Ferdinand,
her passion for whom was by this time no secret in the family; and that, with a
view to countenance this affectation, he should upon all occasions treat her with
an air of loftiness and disdain.
So screened from all imputation of fraud, she was furnished by him with artful
instructions how to sound the inclinations of her young mistress, how to
recommend his person and qualifications by the sure methods of contradiction,
comparisons, revilings, and reproach; how to watch the paroxysms of her
disposition, inflame her passions, and improve, for his advantage, those
moments of frailty from which no woman is exempted. In short, this consummate
politician taught his agent to poison the young lady's mind with insidious
conversation, tending to inspire her with the love of guilty pleasure, to debauch
her sentiments, and confound her ideas of dignity and virtue. After all, the task is
not difficult to lead the unpractised heart astray, by dint of those opportunities her
seducer possessed. The seeds of insinuation seasonably sown upon the warm
luxuriant soil of youth, could hardly fail of shooting up into such intemperate
desires as he wanted to produce, especially when cultured and cherished in her
unguarded hours, by that stimulating discourse which familiarity admits, and the
looser passions, ingrafted in every breast, are apt to relish and excuse.
Fathom had previously reconnoitred the ground, and discovered some marks of
inflammability in Mademoiselle's constitution; her beauty was not such as to
engage her in those gaieties of amusement which could flatter her vanity and
dissipate her ideas; and she was of an age when the little loves and young
desires take possession of the fancy; he therefore concluded, that she had the
more leisure to indulge these enticing images of pleasure that youth never fails to
create, particularly in those who, like her, were addicted to solitude and study.
Teresa, full fraught with the wily injunctions of her confederate, took the field, and
opened the campaign with such remarkable sourness in her aspect when
Ferdinand appeared, that her young lady could not help taking notice of her
affected chagrin, and asked the reason of such apparent alteration in her way of
thinking. Prepared for this question, the other replied, in a manner calculated for
giving Mademoiselle to understand, that, whatever impressions Ferdinand might
have formerly made on her heart, they were now altogether effaced by the pride
and insolence with which he had received her advances; and that her breast now
glowed with all the revenge of a slighted lover.
To evince the sincerity of this declaration, she bitterly inveighed against him, and
even affected to depreciate those talents, in which she knew his chief merit to
consist; hoping, by these means, to interest Mademoiselle's candour in his