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A Thief in the Night

The Rest Cure
I had not seen Raffles for a month or more, and I was sadly in need of his advice.
My life was being made a burden to me by a wretch who had obtained a bill of
sale over the furniture in Mount Street, and it was only by living elsewhere that I
could keep the vulpine villain from my door. This cost ready money, and my
balance at the bank was sorely in need of another lift from Raffles. Yet, had he
been in my shoes, he could not have vanished more effectually than he had
done, both from the face of the town and from the ken of all. who knew him.
It was late in August; he never played first-class cricket after July, when, a
scholastic understudy took his place in the Middlesex eleven. And in vain did I
scour my Field and my Sportsman for the country-house matches with which he
wilfully preferred to wind up the season; the matches were there, but never the
magic name of A. J. Raffles. Nothing was known of him at the Albany; he had left
no instructions about his letters, either there or at the club. I began to fear that
some evil had overtaken him. I scanned the features of captured criminals in the
illustrated Sunday papers; on each occasion I breathed again; nor was anything
worthy of Raffles going on. I will not deny that I was less anxious on his account
than on my own. But it was a double relief to me when he gave a first
characteristic sign of life.
I had called at the Albany for the fiftieth time, and returned to Piccadilly in my
usual despair, when a street sloucher sidled up to me in furtive fashion and
inquired if my name was what it is.
"'Cause this 'ere's for you," he rejoined to my affirmative, and with that I felt a
crumpled note in my palm.
It was from Raffles. I smoothed out the twisted scrap of paper, and on it were just
a couple of lines in pencil:
"Meet me in Holland Walk at dark to-night. Walk up and down till I come. A. J. R."
That was all.! Not another syllable after all. these weeks, and the few words
scribbled in a wild caricature of his scholarly and dainty hand! I was no longer to
be alarmed by this sort of thing; it was all. so like the Raffles I loved least; and to
add to my indignation, when at length I looked up from the mysterious missive,
the equally mysterious messenger had disappeared in a manner worthy of the
whole affair. He was, however, the first creature I espied under the tattered trees
of Holland Walk that evening.
"Seen 'im yet?" he inquired confidentially, blowing a vile cloud from his horrid
pipe.
"No, I haven't; and I want to know where you've seen him," I replied sternly. "Why
did you run away like that the moment you had given me his note?"
"Orders, orders," was the reply. "I ain't such a juggins as to go agen a toff as
makes it worf while to do as I'm bid an' 'old me tongue."
"And who may you be?" I asked jealously. "And what are you to Mr. Raffles?"
"You silly ass, Bunny, don't tell all. Kensington that I'm in town!" replied my
tatterdemalion, shooting up and smoothing out into a merely shabby Raffles.
 
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