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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Sedley leading the way with great solemnity


"You

snore so loudly, sir," he cried, "that you will awake His Majesty, if you do not have a care."

I went sometimes to the chapel, with the crowd, to hear the anthem, as the custom was; for the music was extraordinary good, and no expense spared; and I heard there some very fine motets, the most of which were adapted from the old Catholic music and set to new words taken from the Protestant Scripture.

* * * * *

I went one night in August to the Duke's Theatre, as it was called, to see a play of Sir Charles Sedley, called _The Mulberry Garden_.

This extraordinary man, with whom I had already talked on more than one occasion, was, according to one account, the loosest man that ever lived; and indeed the tales related of him are such that I could not even hint at them in such a work as this. But he was now about forty-five years old; and a thought steadier. It chanced that he and my Lord Dorset--(who was of the same reputation, but had fought too both by land and sea)--were present with ladies, of whom the Duchess of Cleveland was one, in one of the boxes that looked upon the stage; and I was astonished at the behaviour of them all. Sedley himself, who appeared pretty drunk, was the noisiest person in the house; he laughed loudly at any of his own lines that took his fancy, and conversed equally loudly with his friends

when they did not. As for the play it was of a very poor kind, and gave me no pleasure at all; for there was but one subject in it from beginning to end, and that was the passion which the author would call love. There were lines too in it of the greatest coarseness, and at these he laughed the loudest. He had a sharp bold face, of an extraordinary insolence; and he appeared to take the highest delight in the theme of his play--(which he had written for the King's Theatre a good while before)--and which concerned nothing else but the love-adventures of two maids that had an over-youthful fop for a father.

When the play was over, and I going out to my little coach that I used, I found that the Duchess of Cleveland's coach stopped the way, in spite of the others waiting behind, and Her Grace not come. However there was nothing to be done: and I waited. Presently out they came, Sedley leading the way with great solemnity, who knocked against me as I stood there, and asked what the devil I did in his road.

I saluted them as ironically as I could; and begged his pardon.

"I had no idea, Sir Charles," said I, "that the theatre and street were yours as well as the play."

He looked at me as if he could not believe his ears; but my Lord Dorset who was just behind came up and took him by the arm.

"He is right," he said. "Mr. Mallock is quite right. Beg his pardon, I tell you."


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