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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Turned them back again towards His Majesty


told me that I had done very well to come so swiftly; but he smiled a little as he said it.

"His Majesty is closeted with one or two more until ten o'clock. I will send to let him know you are come."

I did not ask him for what business I had been sent for; since he did not choose to tell me himself; and he went out again. But he was presently back once more; and told me that His Majesty would see me at once.

My mind was all perturbed as I went with him in the rain across the passages: I felt as if some great evil threatened, but I could make no conjecture as to what it was about; or how it could be anything that was at once so sudden and that demanded my presence. We went straight up the stairs, and across the same ante-room; and Mr. Chiffinch flung open the door of the same little closet where I had spoken with the King, speaking my name as he did so.

His Majesty was sitting in the very same place where he sat before, with his chair wheeled about, so that he faced three men. One of them I knew at once, for my cousin had pointed him out to me in the park--my Lord Danby, who was Lord Treasurer at this time--and he was sitting at the end of the great table, nearest to the King: on the other side of the table, nearer to me as I entered, were two men, upon whom I had never set eyes before--one of them, a little man in the dress of an apothecary

or attorney; and the other a foolish-looking minister in his cassock and bands. All four turned their eyes upon me as I came in, and then the two who were standing, turned them back again towards His Majesty. There was a heap of papers on the table below my Lord Danby's hand.

His Majesty made a little inclination of his head to me, but said nothing, putting out his hand; and when I had kissed it, and stood back with the other two, he continued speaking as if I were not there. His face had a look, as if he were a little _ennuye_, and yet a little merry too.

"Continue, my Lord," he said.

"Now, doctor," said my Lord, in a patient kind of voice as if he encouraged the other, "you tell us that all these papers were thrust under your door. By whom were they thrust, do you think?"

"My Lord, I have my suspicions," said the minister; "but I do not know."

"Can you verify these suspicions of yours, do you think?"

"My Lord, I can try."

"And under how many heads are they ranged?" asked the King, drawling a little in his speech.

"Sir; they are under forty-three heads."

The King rolled his eyes, as if in a droll kind of despair; but he said nothing.

"And you tell me--" began my Lord; but His Majesty broke in:

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