A Thief in the Night
The Last Word
The last of all. these tales of Raffles is from a fresher and a sweeter pen. I give it
exactly as it came to me, in a letter which meant more to me than it can possibly
mean to any other reader. And yet, it may stand for something with those for
whom these pale reflections have a tithe of the charm that the real man had for
me; and it is to leave such persons thinking yet a little better of him (and not
wasting another thought on me) that I am permitted to retail the very last word
about their hero and mine.
The letter was my first healing after a chance encounter and a sleepless night;
and I print every word of it except the last
"39 CAMPDEN GROVE COURT, W.,
"June 28, 1900.
"DEAR HARRY: You may have wondered at the very few words I could find to
say to you when we met so strangely yesterday. I did not mean to be unkind. I
was grieved to see you so cruelly hurt and lame. I could not grieve when at last I
made you tell me how it happened. I honor and envy every man of you - every
name in those dreadful lists that fill the papers every day. But I knew about Mr.
Raffles, and I did not know about you, and there was something I longed to tell
you about him, something I could not tell you in a minute in the street, or indeed
by word of mouth at all. That is why I asked you for your address.
"You said I spoke as if I had known Mr. Raffles. Of course I have often seen him
playing cricket, and heard about him and you. But I only once met him, and that
was the night after you and I met last. I have always supposed that you knew all.
about our meeting. Yesterday I could see that you knew nothing. So I have made
up my mind to tell you every word.
"That night - I mean the next night - they were all. going out to several places, but
I stayed behind at Palace Gardens. I had gone up to the drawing-room after
dinner, and was just putting on the lights, when in walked Mr. Raffles from the
balcony. I knew him at once, because I happened to have watched him make his
hundred at Lord's only the day before. He seemed surprised that no one had told
me he was there, but the whole thing was such a surprise that I hardly thought of
that. I am afraid I must say that it was not a very pleasant surprise. I felt
instinctively that he had come from you, and I confess that for the moment it
made me very angry indeed. Then in a breath he assured me that you knew
nothing of his coming, that you would never have allowed him to come, but that
he had taken it upon himself as your intimate friend and one who would be mine
as well. (I said that I would tell you every word.)
"Well, we stood looking at each other for some time, and I was never more
convinced of anybody's straightness and sincerity; but he was straight and
sincere with me, and true to you that night, whatever he may have been before
and after. So I asked him why he had come, and what had happened; and he
said it was not what had happened, but what might happen next; so I asked him
if he was thinking of you, and he just nodded, and told me that I knew very well