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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Though in a very different manner from Dolly


I

met him however with cordiality, and congratulated him on his looks. He sat down, and presently, to my astonishment, he too opened out upon my prospects, though in a very different manner from Dolly.

"You are a great man now," he said, "in these fine lodgings. I wonder His Majesty hath not made you at least a knight."

I was a little angry at his manner. He said it not pleasantly at all; but as if he found fault. I determined I would not meet his ambitions at all.

"My dear Cousin," said I, "indeed I am not a knight; and have no hope of being so. His Majesty hath a thousand men more competent than I."

"Then why hath he given you these lodgings?" said he, with a sharp look.

I shrugged my shoulders.

"I am of some convenience to His Majesty; and the more so if I am near him. I suppose that these lodgings fell vacant in the nick of time."

He looked at me very earnestly. He had, of course, no idea of in what matters I was engaged: I might have been a mere valet for all he knew.

"That is so?" he said.

"I have no reason to think otherwise," I answered him.

* * * * *

Well; it was

growing late; and I had not supped, as Dolly presently remembered; it was near eight o'clock, and after that time there would be formalities at the gate as they went out. So they took their leave at last; and I kissed Dolly for the thirty-first time, and went downstairs with them, and watched them down the gallery; they having promised to come again next day.

* * * * *

I had scarcely done supper and looked about me a little, when Mr. Chiffinch's name was brought to me; and I went to see him in the little parlour and bring him through to what would be my private closet--so great was I become! He looked older; and I told him so.

"Well; so I am," said he. "And so are we all. You will be astonished when you see His Majesty."

"Is he so much older?" I asked.

"He has aged five years in one," said he.

We talked presently (after looking through my lodgings again, to see if all were as it should be, and after my thanking Mr. Chiffinch for the pains he had put himself to), first of France and then of Rome. He shewed himself very astute when we spoke of Rome.

"I do not wish to pry," he said, "but I hope to God's sake that the Holy Father hath given you a commission to His Royal Highness, to bid him hold himself more quiet. He will ruin all, if he be not careful."

"Why; how is that?" said I.

"Ah! you ecclesiastics," he cried--"for I count you half an one at least, in spite of your pretty cousin--you are more close than any of us! Well; I will tell you as if you did not know."

He put his fingers together, in his old manner.


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