Not a member?     Existing members login below:

A Thief in the Night

Out of Paradise
If I must tell more tales of Raffles, I can but back to our earliest days together,
and fill in the blanks left by discretion in existing annals. In so doing I may indeed
fill some small part of an infinitely greater blank, across which you may conceive
me to have stretched my canvas for the first frank portrait of my friend. The whole
truth cannot harm him now. I shall paint in every wart. Raffles was a villain, when
all is written; it is no service to his memory to glaze the fact; yet I have done so
myself before to-day. I have omitted whole heinous episodes. I have dwelt unduly
on the redeeming side. And this I may do again, blinded even as I write by the
gallant glamour that made my villain more to me than any hero. But at least there
shall be no more reservations, and as an earnest I shall make no further secret of
the greatest wrong that even Raffles ever did me.
I pick my words with care and pain, loyal as I still would be to my friend, and yet
remembering as I must those Ides of March when he led me blindfold into
temptation and crime. That was an ugly office, if you will. It was a moral bagatelle
to the treacherous trick he was to play me a few weeks later. The second
offence, on the other hand, was to prove the less serious of the two against
society, and might in itself have been published to the world years ago. There
have been private reasons for my reticence. The affair was not only too intimately
mine, and too discreditable to Raffles. One other was involved in it, one dearer to
me than Raffles himself, one whose name shall not even now be sullied by
association with ours.
Suffice it that I had been engaged to her before that mad March deed. True, her
people called it "an understanding," and frowned even upon that, as well they
might. But their authority was not direct; we bowed to it as an act of politic grace;
between us, all was well but my unworthiness. That may be gauged when I
confess that this was how the matter stood on the night I gave a worthless check
for my losses at baccarat, and afterward turned to Raffles in my need. Even after
that I saw her sometimes. But I let her guess that there was more upon my soul
than she must ever share, and at last I had written to end it all. I remember that
week so well! It was the close of such a May as we had never had since, and I
was too miserable even to follow the heavy scoring in the papers. Raffles was
the only man who could get a wicket up at Lord's, and I never once went to see
him play. Against Yorkshire, however, he helped himself to a hundred runs as
well; and that brought Raffles round to me, on his way home to the Albany.
"We must dine and celebrate the rare event," said he. "A century takes it out of
one at my time of life; and you, Bunny, you look quite as much in need of your
end of a worthy bottle. Suppose we make it the Caf‚ Royal, and eight sharp? I'll
be there first to fix up the table and the wine."
And at the Caf‚ Royal I incontinently told him of the trouble I was in. It was the
first he had ever heard of my affair, and I told him all, though not before our bottle
had been succeeded by a pint of the same exemplary brand. Raffles heard me