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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Chapter 15
But At Length Succeeds In His Attempt Upon Both.
Having thus gained a complete victory over the affections of these two ladies, he
began to convert his good fortune to the purposes of that principle, from which
his view was never, no, not for a moment, detached. In other words, he used
them as ministers and purveyors to his avarice and fraud. As for the mother-in-
law, she was of herself so liberal as to anticipate the wishes of any moderate
adventurer, and presented him with sundry valuable jewels, as memorials of her
esteem; nor was the daughter backward in such expressions of regard; she
already considered his interest as her own, and took frequent opportunities of
secreting for his benefit certain stray trinkets that she happened to pick up in her
excursions within doors.
All these gratifications he received with demonstrations of infinite constraint and
reluctance, and, in the midst of his rapacious extortion, acted so cunningly as to
impose himself upon both for a miracle of disinterested integrity. Yet, not
contented with what he thus could earn, and despairing of being able to steer the
bark of his fortune for any length of time between two such dangerous
quicksands, he resolved to profit by the occasion while it lasted, and strike some
considerable stroke at once. A plan was formed in consequence of this
determination, and, at an appointment with the mother in the house of their
female friend, our adventurer appeared with an air of dejection, which he veiled
with a thin cover of forced pleasantry, that his mistress might suppose he
endeavoured to conceal some mortal chagrin that preyed upon his heart.
The stratagem succeeded to his wish. She observed his countenance between
whiles overcast, took notice of the involuntary sighs he heaved; and, with the
most tender expressions of sympathy, conjured him to make her acquainted with
the cause of his affliction. Instead of gratifying her request immediately, he
evaded her questions with a respectful reserve, implying, that his love would not
suffer him to make her a partner in his sorrow; and this delicacy on his part
whetted her impatience and concern to such a degree, that, rather than keep her
in such an agony of doubt and apprehension, he was prevailed upon to tell her,
that he had been, the preceding night, engaged with a company of his fellow-
students, where he had made too free with the champagne, so that his caution
forsook him, and he had been decoyed into play by a Tyrolese gamester, who
stripped him of all his ready money, and obtained from him an obligation for two
hundred florins, which he could not possibly pay without having recourse to his
relation the Count de Melvil, who would have just cause to be incensed at his
This information he concluded, by declaring that, cost what it would, he was
resolved to make a candid confession of the truth, and throw himself entirely
upon the generosity of his patron, who could inflict no other punishment than that
of discarding him from his favour and protection,--a misfortune which, how
grievous soever it might be, he should be able to sustain with fortitude, could he
fall upon some method of satisfying the Tyrolese, who was very importunate and
savage in his demand. His kind mistress no sooner found out the source of his