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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

You have done enough mischief then


"Now

you will explain, if you please--" she began, with a furious kind of bitterness.

"My maid," said I, "that kind of talk will not do with me"--(for at her tone my anger blazed up higher even than hers). "It is I who have to ask Why and How?"

"How dare you--" she began.

I went up without more ado, and took her by the shoulders. Never in all the time I had known her, had the thought ever come to me, that one day I might treat her so. She struggled violently, and seemed on the point of crying out. Then she bit her lip; but there was no yielding in me; and I compelled her backwards to a chair.

"You will sit there," I said. "And I shall stand. I will have no nonsense at all."

She looked at me, I thought, with more hate than I had ever seen in human eyes; glaring up at me with scorn and anger and resentment all mingled.

"Yes--you can bully maids finely--" she said. "You can come and cringe for their protection first--"

I laughed, very short and harsh.

"That manner is of no good at all--" I said. "You will answer my questions. How did you come here? How long have you been here?"

She said nothing; but continued to look at me. Then again my anger rose like a wave.

justify;">"Do you think to stare me down?" I said. "If you will not answer me, I'll begone to those who will."

"You dare not!"

"Dare not! Do you think to frighten me?--Dolly, my dear, I am not in the mood to argue. Will you tell me how you came here, and how long ago? I must have an answer before I go."

For an instant she was silent.

"Will you go straight home again if I tell you?"

"Yes--I will promise that," said I--for now that I had seen her with my own eyes most of what I desired was done. The rest could wait twelve hours.

"Well, then," she said, "I have been here a month; and my father put me here."

"Your father!"

"Yes, my father. Have you anything to say against him?"

"No: I will say it to him."

I wheeled about to go to the door.

"You have done enough mischief then, you think!" sneered Dolly.

I turned about again.

"Mischief!"

"Why, you have ruined my name," said Dolly, with the savage look in her eyes still there. "But you did not think of that! You thought only of yourself. The whole palace will know to-morrow that you beat down the porter to force your way in. And it will not lose in the telling."

I had nothing to say to that. It was true enough, and the very kind of talk with which the Court continually diverted itself. But I would not show my dismay. Indeed the very thought of any trouble to her had no more occurred to my mind than the consequences to a charging bull.

"We will see about that," I said, "when I speak with His Majesty."

Dolly laughed again, but without merriment.

"Oh! you will do this and that, no doubt," she said. "And when shall you see His Majesty?"

I took out my watch.

"It is nearly nine," I said. "I shall see His Majesty in thirteen hours. You had best be packing your valises. We shall ride at noon."


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