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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

In Lincoln's Inn Fields put down to the Mohocks


"Why,

it is revenge no doubt," he said. "They know that you are down with the king and have not many friends; and they suspect that you are still in with the secret service, no doubt."

"They are after my life, then?" I asked.

"I should suppose so."

He considered a minute or two in silence. At last he spoke again.

"I will have a word with His Majesty. He is treating you shamefully, Mr. Mallock; and I will tell him so. And I will take other measures also."

I asked what those might be.

"I will have my men to look out closely when you go about. You had best not go alone at all. Within Whitehall you are safe enough; but I would not go out except with a couple of men, if I were you."

I told him I always took one, at least.

"Well; I would take two," he observed. "There was that murder last week, in Lincoln's Inn Fields--put down to the Mohocks. Well; it was a gentleman of my own who was killed, though that is not known; and it was no more Mohocks than it was you or I."

* * * * *

As we were still talking my man James came up to seek me, with a letter that he had found in my lodgings, waiting for me. I knew the hand well

enough; and I suppose that I shewed it; for when I looked up from reading it, Mr. Chiffinch was looking at me with a quizzical face.

"That is good news, Mr. Mallock, is it not?"

I could not refrain from smiling; for indeed it was as if the sun had risen on my dreariness.

"It is very good news," I said. "It is from my cousin--the 'pretty cousin,' Mr. Chiffinch. She is come to town with her maid; and asks me to sup with her."

"Well; take your two men when you go to see her," said he, laughing a little. "They can entertain the maid, and you the mistress."

* * * * *

I cannot say how wonderfully the whole aspect of the world was changed to me, as I set out in a little hired coach I used sometimes, with my two men, half an hour later, for my old lodgings in Covent Garden where, she said, she had come that evening. It was a very short letter; but it was very sweet to me. She said only that she could wait no more; that she knew how ill things must be going with me, and that she must see with her own eyes that I was not dead altogether. I had striven in my letters to her to make as light as I could of my troubles; but I suppose that her woman's wit and her love had pierced my poor disguises. At least here she was.

* * * * *

She was standing, all ready to greet me, in that old parlour of mine where I had first met her six years ago; and she was more beautiful now, a thousand times, in my eyes, than even then. The candles were lighted all round the walls, and the curtains across the windows; and her maid was not there. She had already changed her riding dress, and was in her evening gown with her string of little pearls. As I close my eyes now I can see her still, as if she stood before me. Her lips were a little parted, and her flushed cheeks and her bright eyes made all the room heaven for me. I had not seen her for six months.

"Well, Cousin Roger," she said--no more.

* * * * *


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