The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 29
Another Providential Deliverance From The Effects Of The Smuggler's Ingenious
During these deliberations, the wine merchant, with a view to make a parade of
his superior parts and breeding, as well as to pave the way for a match at
backgammon, made a tender of his snuff-box to our adventurer, and asked, in
bad French, how he travelled from Paris. This question produced a series of
interrogations concerning the place of Ferdinand's abode in that city, and his
business in England, so that he was fain to practise the science of defence, and
answered with such ambiguity, as aroused the suspicion of the smuggler, who
began to believe our hero had some very cogent reason for evading his curiosity;
he immediately set his reflection at work, and, after various conjectures, fixed
upon Fathom's being the Young Pretender. Big with this supposition, he eyed
him with the most earnest attention, comparing his features with those of the
Chevalier's portrait which he had seen in France, and though the faces were as
unlike as any two human faces could be, found the resemblance so striking as to
dispel all his doubts, and persuade him to introduce the stranger to some justice
on the road; a step by which he would not only manifest his zeal for the
Protestant succession, but also acquire the splendid reward proposed by
parliament to any person who should apprehend that famous adventurer.
These ideas intoxicated the brain of this man to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that
he actually believed himself in possession of the thirty thousand pounds, and
amused his fancy with a variety of magnificent projects to be executed by means
of that acquisition, until his reverie was interrupted by the halting of the coach at
the inn where the passengers used to eat their breakfasts. Waked as he was
from the dream of happiness, it had made such impression upon his mind, that,
seeing Fathom rise up with an intention to alight, he took it for granted his design
was to escape, and seizing him by the collar, called aloud for assistance in the
King's name.
Our hero, whose sagacity and presence of mind very often supplied the place of
courage, instead of being terrified at this assault, which might have disturbed the
tranquillity of an ordinary villain, was so perfectly master of every circumstance of
his own situation, as to know at once that the aggressor could not possibly have
the least cause of complaint against him; and therefore, imputing this violence
either to madness or mistake, very deliberately suffered himself to be made
prisoner by the people of the house, who ran to the coach door in obedience to
the summons of the wine merchant. The rest of the company were struck dumb
with surprise and consternation at this sudden adventure; and the quaker,
dreading some fell resistance on the side of the outlandish man, unpinned the
other coach door in the twinkling of an eye, and trundled himself into the mud for
safety. The others, seeing the temper and resignation of the prisoner, soon
recovered their recollection, and began to inquire into the cause of his arrest,
upon which, the captor, whose teeth chattered with terror and impatience, gave
them to understand that he was a state criminal, and demanded their help in
conveying him to justice.