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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

And that was to make Hoskyns disclose himself


"Design!"

cried I.

"Why, of course," he said. "Did you not see that? I should have thought anyone--"

"Design," I said again. "Of whom? And why?"

He smiled.

"You are a very innocent young gentleman," he said, "in spite of your dexterity. Of course it was a design; and it nearly deceived even me--"

"My Cousin Tom--" I began.

"Your Cousin Tom is an ass," he said, "a malicious one, no doubt; but a mere tool. I have no doubt he intended to injure you; but he could have done nothing if he had not met with the right man. I have no doubt that he came up with the papers, and gossiped in the coffee-houses till he met other of your enemies: and they have done the rest. But it was Colonel Hoskyns no doubt who manipulated the affair."

"Colonel Hoskyns!" I said. "Why, I have never set eyes on the man before."

"I daresay not," said the page, still smiling. "But I have had his name in my books for a great while."

"Who is he?" I cried. "And what reason had he--"

Mr. Chiffinch shook his head at me lamentably.

"Why he is one of the party," he said, "though I can get no evidence that would hang a cat. I have no doubt whatever that

he has been in the whole Shaftesbury affair from the beginning, and knows that they made shipwreck principally upon yourself. It is sheer revenge now, no doubt; for they cannot hope to make any further attempts upon His Majesty."

"But he is in the Guards!" I said, all in amazement.

The page shrugged his shoulders.

"What would you have?" he said. "I can get no evidence, even to warn His Majesty, though I have told him what I think. And, to tell the truth, I believe His Majesty to be safe enough. But that does not hinder them from wishing to have their revenge. Mr. Mallock--"

"Yes," I said, still all bewildered.

"I wonder what he will attempt next," said Mr. Chiffinch.

CHAPTER V

The dreariness of the time that followed is beyond my power of description. I besought Mr. Chiffinch to let me go abroad again, but he forbade me very emphatically; and I owed so much to him that I could not find it in my heart to disobey. For so desperate was I, at the ruin of all my hopes, that the thought even came to me that I would go back and try to be a monk again; for how, thought I, can I keep my word even to Dolly herself? Every prospect I had was ruined; my coronet was gone like the dream which it had always been; I had failed lamentably and hopelessly; and it was through her father's treachery and malice that all had come about. This I felt in my heaviest moods; but Mr. Chiffinch would hear none of it. He said that it was but a question of time, and His Majesty would come round once more; that he would never be content until I was reinstated; that he had not for an instant lost heart. Besides, he said, I was of use in another way, and that was to make Hoskyns disclose himself. Hoskyns would never rest, he said, till he had made at least one more attempt upon me; and next time, he hoped, he would catch him at it, and get rid of the fellow once and for all.


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