The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 20
He Prepares A Stratagem But Finds Himself Countermined--Proceeds On His
Journey, And Is Overtaken By A Terrible Tempest.
In the course of this journey, Ferdinand, who was never deficient in his political
capacity, held a secret conclave with his own thoughts, not only touching the plan
of his own future conduct, but also concerning his associate, of whose fidelity
and adherence he began to entertain such doubts as discouraged him from the
prosecution of that design in which the Tyrolese had been at first included; for he
had lately observed him practise the arts of his occupation among the French
officers, with such rapacity and want of caution, as indicated a dangerous
temerity of temper, as well as a furious rage of acquiring, which might be some
time or other satiated upon his own friends. In other words, our adventurer was
afraid that his accomplice would profit by his knowledge of the road and countries
through which they travelled, and, after having made free with his most valuable
effects, in consequence of the familiarity subsisting between them, leave him
some morning without the ceremony of a formal adieu.
Aroused by this suspicion, he resolved to anticipate the supposed intention of the
Tyrolese, by taking his own departure in the same abrupt manner; and this
scheme he actually put in execution, upon their arrival in Bar-le-duc, where it was
agreed they should spend a day to repose and refresh themselves from the
fatigue of hard riding. Ferdinand, therefore, taking the advantage of his
companion's absence--for the Tyrolese had walked abroad to view the town--
found means to hire a peasant, who undertook to conduct him through a by-road
as far as Chalons, and with his guide he accordingly set out on horseback, after
having discharged the bill, left a blank paper sealed up in form of a letter,
directed to his friend, and secured behind his own saddle a pair of leathern bags,
in which his jewels and cash were usually contained. So eager was our hero to
leave the Tyrolese at a considerable distance behind, that he rode all night at a
round pace without halting, and next morning found himself at a village distant
thirteen good leagues from any part of the route which he and his companion had
at first resolved to pursue.
Here, thinking himself safely delivered from the cause of all his apprehension, he
determined to lie incognito for a few days, so as that he might run no risk of an
accidental meeting upon the road with the person whose company he had
forsaken; and accordingly took possession of an apartment, in which he went to
rest, desiring his guide to wake him when dinner should be ready. Having
enjoyed a very comfortable refreshment of sleep, with his bags under his pillow,
he was summoned, according to his direction, and ate a very hearty meal, with
great tranquillity and internal satisfaction. In the afternoon he amused himself
with happy presages and ideal prospects of his future fortune, and, in the midst
of these imaginary banquets, was seized with an inclination of realising his bliss,
and regaling his eyesight with the fruits of that success which had hitherto
attended his endeavours. Thus inflamed, he opened the repository, and, O
reader! what were his reflections, when, in lieu of Mademoiselle Melvil's ear-rings
and necklace, the German's golden chain, divers jewels of considerable value,