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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Bid him stay till I send Chiffinch to him


has consented," said the Duke in a low voice, "to my bringing him a priest. We must send for one. But I dare not bring one of the Duchess': they are too well-known."

"Sir," said Monsieur Barillon, "I will do so with pleasure. Why not one of Her Majesty's priests?"

The Duke nodded. We three were all standing together about the middle of the gallery. The Comte de Castelmelhor was halted, uncovered, a little behind us. The Duke turned to him.

"Count," said he, speaking in French, "we are on a very urgent business. His Majesty hath consented that a priest should come to him. Will you go for us to the Queen and ask for one of her chaplains?"

The young man flushed up with pleasure.

"With all my heart, Sir," he said. "Which priest shall I ask for? Is there one that can speak English?"

The Duke struck his forehead with his open hand.

"Lord!" he said. "I never thought of that. We must have an Englishman. Where shall we send?"

"Sir," said the Ambassador; "there is one at least at the Venetian Resident's."

Again I broke in. (My impatience drove me near mad. Time was passing quickly. I could have fetched a priest myself ten times over if the Duke had but allowed me to go in the beginning.)

style="text-align: justify;">"Sir," said I, "for God's sake let me go first to Her Majesty's apartments. I'll be bound there's one at least there that knows English. Let this gentleman come with me."

The Duke stared at me as if bewildered. I think he saw that he had done little but hinder the business, so far.

"Go," he said suddenly. "Go both of you together--Stay. Bring a priest with you, if you can find one, to the little room behind the King's bed; but bring him up the stairs the other way. Bid him stay till I send Chiffinch to him."

Then we were gone at full speed.


It was eight o'clock at night; and the priest and I were still waiting in the little room; and no word was come through from the Bedchamber, beyond that Mr. Chiffinch had come through once to bid us be ready.

* * * * *

Once again God had favoured us in spite of all our blunders. The Count and I had run together through to Her Majesty's lodging and there we had found, as I knew we should, a priest that knew English. But I had not thought that God's Hand should be so visible in the matter as that we should find none other but Mr. Huddleston himself, the Scotsman, that had saved the King's life after the battle of Worcester. There was a very particular seemliness in this--though I had not much time to think of it then. But our difficulties were not all over.

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