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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

Rumbald more particularly where I lodged


"That

is best," said my friend.

I tried a sentence or two more; but caution seemed to have returned to him, though a little late; and I presently saw I should get no more out of him. I congratulated him again on the pleasant evening we had spent; and five minutes later we went downstairs together, very friendly; and he winked upon me as I went out, after paying my account, as if there were some secret understanding between us.

* * * * *

I had a cold walk back to Covent Garden, remembering with satisfaction, as I went, that I had not told Mr. Rumbald more particularly where I lodged; and thinking over what I had heard. It was not a great deal after all, I thought. When all was said, I had only heard over again what was known well enough at Court, that my Lord Shaftesbury was behind this demonstration, and had his finger in the whole affair of Monmouth; I had but stumbled upon one of those companies, who were known, well enough, to be everywhere, who were for Monmouth against His Royal Highness: and I had but seen, what surely might be guessed to exist,--the accounts of the refreshments supplied to the actors in the demonstration--and had been told that my Lord's man had paid the score. There might, indeed, be more behind; but of that I had no evidence at all; I had received no confidence that could be of any value: and as for the paper in my skirt-pocket,

I valued it no more than a rush; and wondered I had taken the trouble to secure it.

When I reached my lodgings, I took it out and looked at it again. I had not even the means of reading it. The name of my Lord Shaftesbury, as I have said, was written in long-hand three or four times; and the Duke of Monmouth's twice. There also appeared other names of which I did not know a great deal, and one at least of which I knew nothing, which was "College"; though this for all I knew was for a college in an University. Other names were that of my Lord Essex and John Hampden, and Algernon Sidney. The paper was about a foot in length and six inches across; and I thought so little of it--thinking that a paper of importance would scarcely be entrusted to a man like Rumbald, who threw them about a tavern--that I was very near throwing it into the fire. But I kept it--though God knows that afterwards I wished I had not done so--and slipped it into my pocket-book where I kept three or four others, intending, when I had an opportunity, to give it to some clerk, learned in short-hand, to read for me.

And so I went to bed.

CHAPTER III

It was with a very happy heart that the next night, about seven o'clock, I rode down Hare Street village, and saw the lights of the house shining through the limes.

It was a very different coming back from my going. Then we four had stood together in the dark at the corner of the lane, fearing lest a window should be thrown up. Now I rode back with James, secure and content, fearing nothing: for Mr. Chiffinch had told me that all peril had passed from Dangerfield, even had he met me and known me, which was not likely. They were after other game now than the old conspirators.

I had sent a message to Hare Street on the day after I was come to London, that I would be with them on this day: and so soon as I rode into the yard the men ran out, and I heard a window open in the house; so that by the time I came to the door it was open, and my cousins there to meet me.


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