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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Oates stood in a little pew at one side


I

went into a gallery in the Council room for a little, to confirm with my own eyes whether it were Dr. Titus Oates himself against whom I had knocked in Drury Lane; and it was the man without doubt, though he looked very different in his minister's dress. It was not a very great room, and only those were admitted who had permission. His Majesty himself was there upon the second day; and sat in the midst of the table, at the upper end, with the Duke beside him, and the great officers round about; amongst whom I marked my Lord Shaftesbury, who I was beginning to think knew more of the plot than had appeared; Dr. Oates stood in a little pew at one side, so that when he turned to speak I could see his face. Dr. Tonge and Mr. Kirby and others sat on a seat behind him.

He was dressed as a minister--for he had been one, before his pretended reconciliation to the Catholic Church--in gown and bands and wore a great periwig; and not his face only--which no man could forget who had once set eyes on it--but the strange accent with which he spoke, confirmed me that it was the man I had seen.

My Lord Danby, I think it was, questioned him a good deal, as well as others: and he repeated the same tale with great fluency, with many gibes and aphorisms such as that the Jesuits had laid a wager that if Carolus Rex would not become R.C.--which is Roman Catholic--he should not much longer remain C.R. He said too that he had been reconciled

to the Church on Ash Wednesday of last year; but that "he took God and His holy angels to witness that he had never changed the religion in his heart," but that it was all a pretence to spy out Papistical plots.

His Royal Highness broke out, when he had done, declaring the whole matter a bundle of lies; and when one or two asked Oates for any writings or letters that he had--since he had been so long amongst the Jesuits, and was so much trusted by them--he said that he had none; but could get them easily enough if warrants and officers were given him. I suppose the truth was that he had not wit enough to write them as yet, but had thought the Windsor letters (as I may call them) would be enough. (These questions had also been put to him on the day before, but were repeated now for the King's benefit.)

His Majesty himself, I think, proved the shrewdest examiner of them all.

"You said that you met Don Juan, the Spaniard, in your travels, Doctor Oates. Pray, what is he like in face and figure?"

"My Lard--Your Majesty," said Oates, "he is a tall black thin faylow, with swatthy features"--(for so he pronounced his words.)

"Eh?" asked the King.

Dr. Oates repeated his words; and the King turned, nodding and smiling, to His Royal Highness; for the Spanish bastard is far more Austrian than Spanish, and is fair and fat and of small stature.

"Excellent, Doctor Oates," said the King. "And now there is another small matter. You told these gentlemen yesterday that you saw--with your own eyes--the bribe of ten thousand pound paid down by the French King's confessor. Pray, where was this money paid?"

"In the Jesuits' house in Paris, your Majesty," said the man.

"And where is that?"


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