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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Chiffinch was very urgent about them


With

regard to the Duke of Monmouth, affairs had taken a very strange course; and His Majesty, as I think, had behaved with less than his usual wisdom. Before even Mr. Sidney's death, the Duke had made his peace, both with the King and the Duke of York, and had, after expressing extraordinary contrition, and yet denying that he had been in any way privy to any attempt on the King's life, received a pardon. But he had not been content with that; and so soon as the _Gazette_ announced that it was so, and had given men to understand that Monmouth had made his peace by turning King's evidence, what must His Grace do, but deny it again, and cause it to be denied too in all the coffee-houses in town? The King was thrown into a passion by this; and once again His Grace had to sign and read aloud a paper, in the presence of witnesses and of the King, in the private parlour of the Duchess of Portsmouth's lodgings--(where, it must be confessed, His Majesty did much of his business at this time). But the paper was not explicit enough, and must be re-written: and so the foolish shilly-shally went on--and he guilty all the time--and at last he evaded them all, and went back again to Holland.

There was another piece of news that had come to me lately that pleased me better; and that was of the trial of Oates, for treasonous speaking, and his condemnation in one hundred thousand pounds, which caused him to be shut up in prison without more ado, where he could do

no more mischief. Indeed his credit was all gone now, thank God! and all that he had to do in prison was to prepare himself for his whippings which he got a year later. A few months earlier too, the four Popish lords that had been left in the Tower were released again, which I was very glad to hear of.

Other matters too had passed; but I think I have said enough to shew how affairs stood in the month of July when I came back to England--with the exception of what I shall relate presently as of my own experience.

* * * * *

The evening was as bright and fair as that on which I had come back to London near two years and a half ago, with so heavy a heart, to find Dolly at Court; but this time the heaviness was all gone. I had had letters from her continually, and all those I carried with me. She told me that her father seemed a little moody, now and again; but I did not care very greatly about that. He could be as moody as he liked, if he but let her and me alone. It was less than a year now from my twenty-eighth birthday, which was the period that had been fixed.

Now a piece of news had reached me at Dover that made me pretty content; and that was that His Majesty desired me to have lodgings now in Whitehall. These were very hard to come by, except a man had great influence; and I was happy to think that such as I had was from the King himself. So I did not return northwards this time from the Strand, but held on, and so to the gate of Whitehall. Here I was stopped and asked my name.

I gave it; and the officer saluted me very civilly.

"Your lodgings are ready, sir," said he. "Mr. Chiffinch was very urgent about them. And he bade me tell you you would find visitors there, if you came before eight o'clock."

It was now scarcely gone seven; but I thought very little of my visitors, supposing they might perhaps be Mr. Chiffinch himself and a friend: so I inquired very, leisurely where the lodgings were situate.

"They are my Lord Peterborough's old lodgings, sir," said the man. "He hath moved elsewhere. They look out upon the Privy Garden and the bowling-green; or, to be more close, on the trees between them."


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