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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 14
He Is Reduced To A Dreadful Dilemma, In Consequence Of An Assignation With
The Wife.
Nor was his whole care and attention engrossed by the execution of this scheme
upon the daughter. While he managed his concerns in that quarter with incredible
ardour and application, he was not the less indefatigable in the prosecution of his
design upon the mother-in-law, which he forwarded with all his art during those
opportunities he enjoyed in the absence of Wilhelmina, who was frequently called
away by the domestic duties of the house. The passions of the jeweller's wife
were in such a state of exaltation, as exempted our hero from the repulses and
fatigue attending a long siege.
We have already observed how cunningly he catered for the gratification of her
ruling appetite, and have exhibited pregnant proofs of his ability in gaining upon
the human heart; the reader will not therefore be surprised at the rapidity of his
conquest over the affections of a lady whose complexion was perfectly amorous,
and whose vanity laid her open to all the attempts of adulation. In a word, matters
were quickly brought to such a mutual understanding, that, one evening, while
they amused themselves at lansquenet, Fathom conjured her to give him the
rendezvous next day at the house of any third person of her own sex, in whose
discretion she could confide; and, after a few affected scruples on her side, which
he well knew how to surmount, she complied with his request, and the
circumstances of the appointment were settled accordingly. After this treaty, their
satisfaction rose to such a warmth, and the conversation became so reciprocally
endearing, that our gallant expressed his impatience of waiting so long for the
accomplishment of his wishes, and, with the most eager transport, begged she
would, if possible, curtail the term of his expectation, that his brain might not
suffer by his standing so many tedious hours on the giddy verge of rapture.
The dame, who was naturally compassionate, sympathised with his condition,
and, unable to resist his pathetic supplications, gave him to understand that his
desire could not be granted, without subjecting them both to some hazard, but
that she was disposed to run any risk in behalf of his happiness and peace. After
this affectionate preamble, she told him that her husband was then engaged in a
quarterly meeting of the jewellers, from whence he never failed to return quite
overwhelmed with wine, tobacco, and the phlegm of his own constitution; so that
he would fall fast asleep as soon as his head should touch the pillow, and she be
at liberty to entertain the lover without interruption, provided he could find means
to deceive the jealous vigilance of Wilhelmina, and conceal himself in some
corner of the house, unsuspected and unperceived.
Our lover, remembering his adventure with the daughter, would have willingly
dispensed with this expedient, and began to repent of the eagerness with which
he had preferred his solicitation; but, seeing there was now no opportunity of
retracting with honour, he affected to enter heartily into the conversation, and,
after much canvassing, it was determined, that, while Wilhelmina was employed
in the kitchen, the mother should conduct our adventurer to the outer door, where
he should pay the compliment of parting, so as to be overheard by the young
 
 
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