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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

I know your cousin for a Catholic


It

was a plain but well-furnished chamber in which we sat. Beneath the windows folks came and went continually. There were hangings on the wall; and a press full of books and papers, and two or three tables; but there was no concealment of anything, nor thought of it. Through the door I saw Mr. Grove laying for dinner.

"But you will surely stay for dinner," said Father Fenwick, when I said that I must be gone presently.

I told him that I was to ride to Waltham Cross with my cousins, and that I was to meet them for dinner first at the coffee-house beside the Maypole in the Strand.

"And to Hare Street to-morrow, then," said Father Whitbread--or Mr. White as he was called sometimes.

I told him, Yes; and that I did not know how long I should be there.

"The King will be at Windsor next month, I think," he said; "but he will be back again for August. You had best be within call then, if he should send for you." (For I had told them all freely what had passed between myself and His Majesty, and what His Holiness had said to me too.)

"You can command any of us at any time," he added, "if we can be of service to you. There are so many folks of all kinds, here, there and everywhere, that it is near impossible for a stranger to take stock of them all; and it may be that our experience

may be of use to you, to know whom to trust and of whom to beware. But the most safe rule in these days is, Trust no man till you know him, and not entirely even then. There are men in this City who would sell their souls gladly if any could be found to give them anything for it; how much more then, if they could turn a penny or two by selling you or me or another in their stead!"

I thanked him for his warning; and told him that I would indeed be on my guard.

"Least of all," he said, "would I trust those of my own household. I know your cousin for a Catholic, Mr. Mallock, but you will forgive me for saying that it is from Catholics that we have to fear the most. I do not mean by that that Mr. Jermyn is not excellent and sincere; for I know nothing of him except what you have told me yourself. But zeal without discretion is a very firebrand; and prudence without zeal may become something very like cowardice; and either of these two things may injure the Catholic cause irreparably in the days that are coming. St. Peter's was the one, and Judas', I take it, was the other; for I hold Judas to have been by far the greater coward of the two."

* * * * *

When I came out into the passage with him, I kneeled down and asked his blessing; for I knew that this was of a truth a man of God.

CHAPTER IV


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