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A Thief in the Night

mine is, of course, no patch upon it, but coiled up on the chest it really looks
much the same. To be sure, there was no second velvet bag; but I replaced my
stick with another quite like it, and I even found an empty cartridge to understudy
the setting of the Polynesian pearl. You see the sort of fellow they have to show
people round: do you think he's the kind to see the difference next time, or to
connect it with us if he does? One left much the same things, lying much as he
left them, under a dust-sheet which is only taken off for the benefit of the curious,
who often don't turn up for weeks on end."
I admitted that we might be safe for three or four weeks. Raffles held out his
hand.
"Then let us be friends about it, Bunny, and smoke the cigarette of Sullivan and
peace! A lot may happen in three or four weeks; and what should you say if this
turned out to be the last as well as the least of all. my crimes? I must own that it
seems to me their natural and fitting end, though I might have stopped more
characteristically than with a mere crime of sentiment. No, I make no promises,
Bunny; now I have got these things, I may be unable to resist using them once
more. But with this war one gets all. the excitement one requires - and rather
more than usual may happen in three or four weeks?"
Was he thinking even then of volunteering for the front? Had he already set his
heart on the one chance of some atonement for his life - nay, on the very death
he was to die? I never knew, and shall never know. Yet his words were strangely
prophetic, even to the three or four weeks in which those events happened that
imperilled the fabric of our empire, and rallied her sons from the four winds to
fight beneath her banner on the veldt. It all. seems very ancient history now. But I
remember nothing better or more vividly than the last words of Raffles upon his
last crime, unless it be the pressure of his hand as he said them, or the rather
sad twinkle in his tired eyes.
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