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A Thief in the Night

The Criminologists' Club
"But who are they, Raffles, and where's their house? There's no such club on the
list in Whitaker."
"The Criminologists, my dear Bunny, are too few for a local habitation, and too
select to tell their name in Gath. They are merely so many solemn students of
contemporary crime, who meet and dine periodically at each other's clubs or
houses."
"But why in the world should they ask us to dine with them?"
And I brandished the invitation which had brought me hotfoot to the Albany: it
was from the Right Hon. the Earl of Thornaby, K.G.; and it requested the honor of
my company at dinner, at Thornaby House, Park Lane, to meet the members of
the Criminologists' Club. That in itself was a disturbing compliment: judge then of
my dismay on learning that Raffles had been invited too!
"They have got it into their heads," said he, "that the gladiatorial element is the
curse of most modern sport. They tremble especially for the professional
gladiator. And they want to know whether my experience tallies with their theory."
"So they say!"
"They quote the case of a league player, sus per coll., and any number of
suicides. It really is rather in my public line."
"In yours, if you like, but not in mine," said I. "No, Raffles, they've got their eye on
us both, and mean to put us under the microscope, or they never would have
pitched on me."
Raffles smiled on my perturbation.
"I almost wish you were right, Bunny! It would be even better fun than I mean to
make it as it is. But it may console you to hear that it was I who gave them your
name. I told them you were a far keener criminologist than myself. I am delighted
to hear they have taken my hint, and that we are to meet at their gruesome
board."
"If I accept," said I, with the austerity he deserved.
"If you don't," rejoined Raffles, "you will miss some sport after both our hearts.
Think of it, Bunny! These fellows meet to wallow in all. the latest crimes; we
wallow with them as though we knew more about it than themselves. Perhaps we
don't, for few criminologists have a soul above murder; and I quite expect to have
the privilege of lifting the discussion into our own higher walk. They shall give
their morbid minds to the fine art of burgling, for a change; and while we're about
it, Bunny, we may as well extract their opinion of our noble selves. As authors, as
collaborators, we will sit with the flower of our critics, and find our own level in the
expert eye. It will be a piquant experience, if not an invaluable one; if we are
sailing too near the wind, we are sure to hear about it, and can trim our yards
accordingly. Moreover, we shall get a very good dinner into the bargain, or our
noble host will belie a European reputation."
"Do you know him?" I asked.
 
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