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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

With the Grail itself upon an altar within


said no more then on that point; though I did not believe him.

"And there is one more matter I must shew you in your own chamber; if you have any private papers and suchlike."

Then he shewed me in my own room, by the head of the bed that stood along the wall, how one of the panels slid back from its place, discovering a little space behind where a man might very well keep his papers or his money.

"Not a living soul," he said, "knows of that, besides Dolly and myself. You are at liberty to use that, Cousin Roger, if you like."

I thanked him; and said I would do so.

The rest of that day I spent in going about the house, and acquainting myself with it all. My Cousin Dorothy shewed me the rooms. Her own was a little one at the head of the stairs; and she told me, smiling, that a ghost was said to walk there.

"But I have never been troubled with it," she said. "It is a tall old, woman, they say, who comes up the stairs and into the room; but she does no harm to anyone."

Next her room, along the front of the house, lay two other greater rooms, one with a fire-place and one without: then was my chamber, and then her father's: and upstairs were the attics where the men lay. The maids lay in two little rooms above the kitchen.

justify;">It was mighty pleasant to me to be with my Cousin Dorothy. She had changed her riding clothes into others more suitable for a country maid--with a white starched neckerchief that came down upon her shoulders, and a grey dress and petticoat below that. Her sleeves were short, as the custom is in the country, with great linen cuffs folded back upon them, so as to leave her hands and arms to the elbow free for her occupations. But most of all I loved her simplicity and her quietness and her discretion. Her father bade her expressly to shew me all the house; or she would not have done it, for she was very maidenly and modest; but as soon as he said that, she did it without affectation. She shewed me the parlour too, with the hangings upon the walls, and the chapel of the Grail, with the Grail itself upon an altar within, flanked by two candlesticks, that was represented over the fire-place. She came out with me too to shew me the bakehouse where the baking was already begun, and the brewhouse--both of which too were all built of timber and plaster; and there my Cousin Tom came upon us, and carried me off to see his garden and his pasture; for he farmed a few acres about here, and made a good profit out of it: and it was while I walked with him that for the first time I understood what his intention was towards me.

He was speaking, as he very often did, of his daughter Dorothy--which I had taken to be a father's affection only. (We were walking at the time up and down in the pasture below the garden; and the house lay visible among the gardens, very fair and peaceful with the sunlight upon it.)

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