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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

It was at Whitehall I began


it is you, Cousin Roger," she said. "I thought it might very well be. We looked for you before Christmas."

* * * * *

At supper, and afterwards, I learned in what a panic poor Cousin Tom had lived since the news of the plot, and, above all, of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey's death; and what he said to me made me determine to speak to him of my own small peril, for he had the right to know, and to forbid me his house, if he wished. But I hoped that he would not. It appeared that when the news of Sir Edmund's death had come, there had been something of a to-do in the village, of no great signification; for it was no more than a few young men who marched up and down shouting together--as such yokels will, upon the smallest excuse; and one of them had cried out at the gate of Hare Street House. At Barkway there had been more of a business; for there they had burnt an effigy of the Pope in the churchyard; and the parson--who was a stout Churchman--had made a speech upon it. However, this had played upon Cousin Tom's fears, and he had fortified the house with bolts, and slept with a pistol by his bed.

I told him that same night--not indeed all that happened to me; but enough of it to satisfy him. I said that I had been a good deal at the Jesuits' lodgings; and at the trial of the three; and that a fellow had attempted to follow me home; but that I had thrown

him off.

Cousin Tom had the pipe from his mouth and was holding it in his hand, by the time I had done.

"Now, Cousin," I said, "if you think I am anything of a danger to the house, you have but to say the word, and I will be off. On the other hand, I and my man might be of some small service to you if it came to a brawl."

"You threw him off?" asked Cousin Tom.

"It was at Whitehall--" I began; and then I stopped: for I had not intended to speak of the King.

"Oho!" said Cousin Tom. "Then you have been at Whitehall again?"

"Why, yes," I said, trying to pass it off. "I have been there and everywhere."

Cousin Tom put the pipe back again into his mouth.

"And there is another matter," I said (for Hare Street suited me very well as a lodging, and I had named it as such to His Majesty). "It is not right, Cousin Tom, that you should keep me here for nothing. Let me pay something each month--" (And I named a suitable sum.)

That determined Cousin Tom altogether. My speaking of Whitehall had greatly reassured him; and now this offer of mine made up his mind; for he was something of a skinflint in some respects. (For all that I did for him when I was here, in the fields and at the farm, more than repaid him for the expense of my living there.) He protested a little, and said that between kinsfolk no such question should enter in; but he protested with a very poor grace; and so the matter was settled, and we both satisfied.

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