A Thief in the Night
took all. I wanted, but left the whole place exactly as I found it, and shut things
after me like a good little boy. All. that took a good deal longer; to-night I had
simply to rag the room a bit, sweep up some studs and links, and leave ample
evidence of having boned those rotten robes to-night. That, if you come to think
of it, was what you writing chaps would call the quintessential Q.E.F. I have not
only shown these dear Criminologists that I couldn't possibly have done this trick,
but that there's some other fellow who could and did, and whom they've been
perfect asses to confuse with me."
You may figure me as gazing on Raffles all. this time in mute and rapt
amazement. But I had long been past that pitch. If he had told me now that he
had broken into the Bank of England, or the Tower, I should not have disbelieved
him for a moment. I was prepared to go home with him to the Albany and find the
regalia under his bed. And I took down my overcoat as he put on his. But Raffles
would not hear of my accompanying him that night.
"No, my dear Bunny, I am short of sleep and fed up with excitement. You mayn't
believe it - you may look upon me as a plaster devil - but those five minutes you
wot of were rather too crowded even for my taste. The dinner was nominally at a
quarter to eight, and I don't mind telling you now that I counted on twice as long
as I had. But no one came until twelve minutes to, and so our host took his time. I
didn't want to be the last to arrive, and I was in the drawing-room five minutes
before the hour. But it was a quicker thing than I care about, when all. is said."
And his last word on the matter, as he nodded and went his way, may well be
mine; for one need be no criminologist, much less a member of the
Criminologists' Club, to remember what Raffles did with the robes and coronet of
the Right Hon. the Earl of Thornaby, K.G. He did with them exactly what he might
have been expected to do by the gentlemen with whom he had foregathered; and
he did it in a manner so characteristic of himself as surely to remove from their
minds the last aura of the idea that he and himself were the same person. Carter
Paterson was out of the question, and any labelling or addressing to be avoided
on obvious grounds. But Raffles stabled the white elephants in the cloak-room at
Charing Cross - and sent Lord Thornaby the ticket.