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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

I suppose you have come to see His Majesty


* * * * *

I came up the stairs to Mr. Chiffinch's lodgings, just as himself came out; and he fell back a step when he saw me.

"Why, where do you come from?" he asked.

"They are after me," I said briefly. "But that is not all."

"Why, what else?" said he, staring at me.

"I am come from seeing the martyrdoms," I said.

"For God's sake!--" he cried; and caught me by the arm and drew me in.

"Now have you dined?" he said, when he had me in a chair.

"Not yet."

He looked at me, fingering his lip.

"I suppose you have come to see His Majesty?" he said.

I told him, Yes: no more.

"And what if His Majesty will not see you?" he asked, trying me.

"His Majesty will see me," I said. "I have something for him."

Again he hesitated. I think for a minute or two he thought it might be a pistol or a knife that I had for the King.

"If I bring you to him," he said, "will you give me your word to remain here till I come for you?"

"Yes;

I will do that," I said. "But I must see him immediately."

"Well--" said Mr. Chiffinch. And then without a word he wheeled and went out of the room.

I do not know how long I sat there; but it may have been half an hour. I sat like a dazed man; for I had had no sleep, and what I had seen drove away all desire for it. I sat there, staring, and pondering round and round in circles, like a wheel turning. Now it was of Dorothy; now of the Jesuits; now of His Majesty and Mr. Chiffinch; now again, of the road to Dover, and of what I should do in France.

There came at last a step on the stairs, and Mr. Chiffinch came in. At the door he turned, and took from a man in the passage, as I suppose, a covered dish, with a spoon in it. Then he shut the door with his heel, and came forward and set the dish down.

"Dinner first--" he said.

"I must see His Majesty," I repeated.

"Why you are an obstinate fellow, Mr. Mallock," he said, smiling. "Have I not given you my word you shall see him?"

"Directly?"

He leaned his hands on the table and looked at me.

"Mr. Mallock; His Majesty will be here in ten minutes' time. I told him you must eat something first; and he said he would wait till then."

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