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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

He remembered to ask where I lodged


"Well, well; it is all the same thing," said James a little impatiently. "Free-lance or drilled soldier--they fight for the same cause."

He continued to talk in the same manner for a little, as if for my instruction; and I listened with all the meekness I had. He did not tell me one word which I did not already know; but I had perceived by now what kind of man he was--well intentioned, no doubt, as courageous as a lion, and as impatient of opposition, and not a little stupid: at least he had not a tenth of his brother's wits, as all the world knew. He solemnly informed me therefore of what all the world knew, and I listened to him.

When he dismissed me at last, however, he remembered to ask where I lodged, and I told him.

"A very good place too," he said. "I am glad your cousin had the sense to put you there. Then I will remember you, if I need you for anything."

"I will go with Mr. Mallock," said the priest, "if Your Royal Highness will permit. I came but to pay my respects; and it is a little late."

The Duke nodded; and gave us his hand to kiss.

As we went out through the Courtyard, Father Whitbread pointed out a few things to me which be thought might be of interest; and I liked the man more at every step. He was a complete man of the world, with a certain gentle irony, yet none the less kindly for it. He did not say one disparaging word of anyone, nor any hint of criticism at His Royal Highness; yet he knew, and I knew that he knew, and he knew that again, that our Catholic champion was a shade disappointing; and that, not in his vices only--of which my Lady Southesk could have given an account--but in that which I am forced to call his stupidity. But, after all, our Saviour uttered a judgment generally as to the children of light and the children of this world, that must always be our consolation when our friends are dull or perverse. Father Whitbread only observed emphatically that the Duke was a man of excellent heart.

He showed me the windows of a number of lodgings on the way, and the direction of a great many more: for indeed this Palace of Whitehall was liker a little town than a house. Father Patricks, he said, had a lodging near the Pantry, which he shewed me.

"There be some of us priests who have an affinity, do you not think, Mr. Mallock? with pantries and butteries and such like--good sound men too, many of them. I have not a word to say against Mr. Patricks."

He shewed me too how the Palace was in four quarters, of which two were divided from two by Whitehall itself and the street between the gatehouses. That half of it that was nearer to the Park held the tennis-court and the cock-pit and the lodgings of the Duke of Monmouth and others nearer Westminster, and the other half the Horse Guards and the barracks: and that nearer the river held, to the south the Stone Gallery, the Privy Garden, the Bowling Green and a great number of lodgings amongst which were those of the King and of his brother and Prince Rupert, and of the Queen too, as well as of their more immediate attendants--and this part contained what was left of the old York House; to the north was another court surrounded by lodgings, the Wood-Yard, the two courts called Scotland Yard, and the clock-house at the extremity, nearest Charing Cross. In the very midst of the whole Palace, looking upon Whitehall itself, was the Banqueting House where His Majesty dined in state, and from a window of which King Charles the First, of blessed memory, went out to lose his head. Indeed as we went by the end of the Banqueting House the trumpets blew for supper; and we saw a great number of cooks and scullions run past with dishes on their heads.


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