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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

I began to hear that someone had been strangled


"That--Your

Majesty--that house is--is near the King's own house." (But he spoke hesitatingly.)

Then the King broke out in indignation; and beat his hand on the table.

"Man!" he cried. "The Jesuits have no house within one mile of the Louvre!"

It pleased me to hear the King say that; for I was a little uneasy at Father Whitbread's manner when he had spoken of the King's promise; but I was less pleased a day or two afterwards to hear that His Majesty was gone to Newmarket, to the races, and had left the Council to do as best it could; and that the Jesuits had been taken that same night--Michaelmas eve--after Oates had been had before the Council. There had been a great to-do at the taking of Father Whitbread, for the Spanish soldiers had been called out to save the Ambassador's house, so great was the mob that went to see him taken.

* * * * *

The next public event in the whole affair was the last and worst of all the links that were being forged so swiftly: and the news of it came to me as follows.

I had gone to sup in Aldgate, where I had listened to a good deal of talk from some small gentry, as to the Papist plot; and had been happy to hear three or four of them declare that they believed there was nothing in it, and even the rest of them were far from

positive on the matter; and I had stayed late over my pipe with them, so that it was long after my usual time when I returned towards my lodgings, walking alone, for I said good-bye to the last of my companions in the City.

As I came up into the Strand, I saw before me what appeared to be the tail of a great concourse of people, and heard the murmur of their voices; and, mending my pace a little, I soon came up with them. I went along for a little, trying to hear what they were saying upon the affair, and to learn what the matter was; for by now the street was one pack of folk all moving together. Little by little, then, I began to hear that someone had been strangled, and that "he was found with his neck broken," and then that "his own sword was run through his heart," and words of that kind.

Now I had heard talk before that Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was run away with a woman, and to avoid the payment of his debts, which, if it were true, were certainly a very strange happening at such a time, since he was the magistrate before whom Oates had laid his information; but six days were gone by, and I had not thought very much of it, for his running away could not now in any way affect the information that had been laid. He was a very gentle man, though melancholy; and, though a good Protestant, troubled no man that was of another religion than himself--neither Papist nor Independent.

But when I heard the people about me speaking in this manner, the name of Sir Edmund came to my mind; and I asked a fellow that was tramping near me, who it was that was strangled and where the body was. But he turned on me with such a burst of oaths, that I thought it best to draw no more attention to myself, and presently slipped away. Then I thought myself of a little rising ground, a good bit in advance, whence, perhaps I might be able to see something of what was passing; and I made my way across the street, to a lane that led round on the north. As I came across, in the fringes of the crowd, I saw a minister walking, in his cassock; so I saluted him courteously, and asked what the matter was.


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