The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 12
He Effects A Lodgment In The House Of A Rich Jeweller.
In consequence of this determination, he to the uttermost exerted his good-
humour among the few friends of consequence his fortune had left, and even
carried his complaisance so far as to become the humble servant of their
pleasures, while he attempted to extend his acquaintance in an inferior path of
life, where he thought his talents would shine more conspicuous than at the
assemblies of the great, and conduce more effectually to the interest of all his
designs. Nor did he find himself disappointed in that expectation, sanguine as it
was. He soon found means to be introduced to the house of a wealthy bourgeois,
where every individual was charmed with his easy air and extraordinary
qualifications. He accommodated himself surprisingly to the humours of the
whole family; smoked tobacco, swallowed wine, and discoursed of stones with
the husband, who was a rich jeweller; sacrificed himself to the pride and
loquacity of the wife; and played upon the violin, and sung alternately, for the
amusement of his only daughter, a buxom lass, nearly of his own age, the fruit of
a former marriage.
It was not long before Ferdinand had reason to congratulate himself on the
footing he had gained in this society. He had expected to find, and in a little time
actually discovered, that mutual jealousy and rancour which almost always
subsist between a daughter and her step-dame, inflamed with all the virulence of
female emulation; for the disparity in their ages served only to render them the
more inveterate rivals in the desire of captivating the other sex. Our adventurer
having deliberated upon the means of converting this animosity to his own
advantage, saw no method for this purpose so feasible as that of making his
approaches to the hearts of both, by ministering to each in private, food for their
reciprocal envy and malevolence; because he well knew that no road lies so
direct and open to a woman's heart as that of gratifying her passions of vanity
and resentment.
When he had an opportunity of being particular with the mother, he expressed
his concern for having unwittingly incurred the displeasure of Mademoiselle,
which, he observed, was obvious in every circumstance of her behaviour towards
him; protesting he was utterly innocent of all intention of offending her; and that
he could not account for his disgrace any other way, than by supposing she took
umbrage at the direction of his chief regards towards her mother-in-law, which,
he owned, was altogether involuntary, being wholly influenced by that lady's
superior charms and politeness.
Such a declaration was perfectly well calculated for the meridian of a dame like
her, who with all the intoxications of unenlightened pride, and an increased
appetite for pleasure, had begun to find herself neglected, and even to believe
that her attractions were actually on the wane. She very graciously consoled our
gallant for the mishap of which he complained, representing Wilhelmina (that was
the daughter's name) as a pert, illiterate, envious baggage, of whose disgust he
ought to make no consideration; then she recounted many instances of her own
generosity to that young lady, with the returns of malice and ingratitude she had