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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

When I came to the Gallery he was at the further end


When

I came up into the gallery of the tennis-court I found it pretty full; yet not so full but that I could get a sight of the players. The Duke was in the court of the _dedans_ when I first came in, so I could see no more of him than his back and his cropped head; but when, after two _chaces_ he crossed over, I had a good view of him.

He was more heavily built than Charles; but his features were not unlike the King's, though he was fairer in complexion, I suppose; and his lip was shorter, and he wore no hair on his face. He had somewhat of a heavier look too in his face, without the fire that burned like embers in his brother's eyes. All this I noticed somewhat of, even from the gallery, though he was all a-sweat with his exercise.

I had left word with one of the men below as to my name and my business; and when the game was ended and the Duke went out, I remained still upstairs for a little, thinking that perhaps another would be played, and then perhaps he would send for me. But a servant came up presently and told me I was to follow to the Stone Gallery, where the Duke would walk for a while before changing his clothes, as his custom was. This Stone Gallery, as I had seen, was roofed, with skylights in it, and had presses of books all along the walls, together with collections of all kinds.

When I came to the Gallery he was at the further end, walking with Sir Robert Murray,

as I learned afterwards, who was a very earnest Protestant, but always at Court; but when he saw me he sent Sir Robert away and beckoned to me to come. So I went up to him and kissed his hand, and he bade me walk with him for a little. (He had put on a cloak and hat to prevent his taking cold.)

Now his manner was wholly different from His Majesty's. There was a courtesy always in Charles that was not in James; for the Duke said nothing as to his receiving me here in his _deshabille_, but began immediately to talk in a low voice.

"I am pleased that you are come to England, Mr. Mallock. I have had news of you from Rome."

Then he asked very properly of the Holy Father, and of a Cardinal or two that he knew; and I answered him as well as I could. But I very soon saw that His Royal Highness wanted nothing like wit from me: he was somewhat of a solemn man, and had great ideas of his rights, and that all men who were below his own station should keep their own. He desired deference and attention above all things.

He spoke presently of Catholics in England.

"God hath blest us very highly," he said, "both in numbers and influence. But we can well do with more of both; for I never heard of any cause that could not. There is a feeling against us in many quarters, but it is less considerable every year. You are to attach yourself to His Majesty, I understand?"

"But I am to have no place or office, sir," I said. "I am rather to be at His Majesty's disposal--to fetch and carry, I may say, if he should need my services."

His Highness looked at me sidelong and swiftly; and I understood that he did not wish any originality even in speech.


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