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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Coleman hath told the Duke and hath fled from town to night


The

King lifted his heavy eyes and let them fall again. He appeared weary and dispirited.

* * * * *

When we broke up at last, nothing was decided. On the one hand the letters were not destroyed, and the Duke was still unforbidden to pursue his researches; and, on the other there was no permission for a public inquiry to be held. The counsels, in short, were divided; and that is the worst state of all. The Duke said nothing to me, either at the table or before he went out with Mr. Bedingfeld--or Mr. Mumford as he was usually called: he appeared to consider me too young to be of any importance, and to tolerate me only because the King wished it. I handed to Mr. Chiffinch the reports of what folks had said to me in taverns and elsewhere: and went away.

The days went by; and nothing of any importance appeared further. I still frequented the company of the Jesuit Fathers, and the taverns as before; but no more was heard, until a few days before the end of September. On that day I was passing through the Court of Whitehall to see if there were anything for me at Mr. Chiffinch's--for the King was at Windsor again--when I saw Father Whitbread and Father Ireland, coming swiftly out from the way that led to the Duke's lodgings--for he stayed here a good deal during these days. They were talking together, and did not see me till I was close upon them. When I

greeted them, they stopped all of a sudden.

"The very man!" said Mr. Whitbread.

Then he asked me whether I would come with them to the lodgings of Mr. Fenwick, for they had something to say to me; and I went with them very willingly, for it appeared to me that perhaps they had heard of the matter which I had found so hard to keep from them. We said nothing at all on the way; and when we got within, Mr. Whitbread told Mr. Grove to stand at the foot of the stairs that no one might come up without his knowledge. They bolted the door also, when we were within the chamber. Then we all sat down.

"Now, Mr. Mallock," said Father Whitbread, "we know all that you know; and why you have been with us so much; and we thank you for your trouble."

I said nothing; but I bowed to them a little. But I knew that I had been of little service as yet.

"It is all out," said the priest, "or will be in a day or two. Mr. Oates hath been to Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, the Westminster magistrate, with the whole of his pretended information--his forty-three heads to which he hath added now thirty-eight more, and he will be had before the Council to-morrow. Sir Edmund hath told Mr. Coleman his friend, and the Duke's agent, all that hath been sworn to before him; Mr. Coleman hath told the Duke and hath fled from town to-night; and the Duke has prevailed with the King to have the whole affair before the Council. I think that His Majesty's way with it would have been the better; but it is too late for that now. Now the matter must all come out; and Sir Edmund hath said sufficient to shew us that it will largely turn upon a consult that our Fathers held here in London, last April, at the White Horse Tavern; for Oates hath mingled truth and falsehood in a very ingenious fashion. He was at St. Omer's, you know, as a student; and was expelled for an unspeakable crime, as he was expelled from our other college at Valladolid also, for the same cause: so he knows a good deal of our ways. He feigns, too, to be a Doctor of Divinity in Salamanca University; but that is another of his lies, as I know for a truth. What we wish to know, however, is how he knows so much of our movements during these last months; for not one of us has seen him. You have been to and fro to our lodgings a great deal, Mr. Mallock. Have you ever seen, hanging about the streets outside any of them, a fellow with a deformed kind of face--so that his mouth--"


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