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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

And even a joiner or a scavenger for that matter


"They

must be fools if they do not. But there will be no more cleaver-throwing for the present, if you take but reasonable care. Meanwhile, you may go to Hare Street, if you will; though I cannot say I should advise it. And I will look for Keeling."

* * * * *

Well; I did not take his advice. That was too much to expect. I went to Hare Street in April and remained there a couple of months; but I do not propose to discourse on that beyond saying that I was very well satisfied, and even with Cousin Tom himself, who appeared to me more resigned to have me as a son-in-law. To neither of them could I say a word of what had passed, except to tell Dolly that my peril was over for the present, and to thank her for her prayers. During those two months I had no word of Rumbald at all; and I suspect that he lay very quiet, knowing, after all, how little I knew. If he went to Holland, he certainly came back again. Then, in June, once more a man came from Mr. Chiffinch, to call me to town. So here I sat once more, with the birds singing their vespers, in the Privy Garden, a hundred yards away, and the river flowing without the windows, as if no blood had ever flowed with it.

"Well," said Chiffinch, when I was down in a chair, "the first news is that we have found Keeling. You were right, or very nearly. He is a joiner, and lives in the City. He hath been to the Secretary

of the Council, and will go to him again to-morrow."

"How was that done?" I asked.

"Why, I sent a couple of men to him," said the page, "when we had marked him down; who so worked on his fears that he went straight to my Lord Dartmouth; and my Lord Dartmouth carried him to Sir Leoline Jenkins. The Secretary very properly remarked that he was but one witness; and Keeling went away again, to see if he can find another. Well; the tale is that he hath found another--his own brother--and that both will go again to the Secretary to-morrow. So I thought it best that you should see him first here, to-night, to identify him for certain."

"That is very good," I said. "But, Mr. Chaffinch, if I appear too publicly in this matter, I shall be of very little service to the King hereafter."

"I know that very well," said the page. "And you shall not appear publicly at all, neither shall your name. Indeed, the King hath a little more business for you at last, in France; and you will wish perhaps to go to Rome. So the best thing that you can do, when we have seen that all is in order, is to wait no longer, but be off, and for a good while too. Your life may be in some peril for the very particular part that you played, for though we shall catch, I think, all the principal men in the affair, we shall not catch all the underlings; and even a joiner or a scavenger for that matter, if he be angry enough, is enough to let the life out of a man. And we cannot spare you yet, Mr. Mallock."

This seemed to me both reasonable and thoughtful; and it was not altogether a surprise to me. Indeed I had prepared Dolly for a long absence, thinking that I might go to Rome again, as I had not been there for a long while. Besides, waiting in England for the time laid down by Tom and agreed to by both of us, would make that time come no swifter; and, if there were work to be done, I had best do it, before I had a wife to engage my attention.


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